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September 25, 2016

Open thread 214
Posted by Patrick at 07:24 PM * 1030 comments

The air’s deciduous of letterhead.

Comments on Open thread 214:
#2 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2016, 07:59 PM:

The air in my area is certainly deciduous of something, as we're having a Santa Ana.

#3 ::: Megpie71 ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2016, 08:49 PM:

Request for help: I'm doing research for a story, and need some help from people who are knowledgeable about the US mid-west. The full drama is over here:

All help, suggestions etc will be gratefully accepted, and if people have suggestions about other places to ask for help, or resources I could use, those will be gratefully accepted too.

Thanks in advance!

#4 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2016, 09:03 PM:

Nice lighting in here.

Hey, all the sockets are three prong!


#5 ::: Seth ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2016, 09:44 PM:

P J Evans @ 2

I'm not sure Kansas falls down as badly as you think, or at least Lawrence doesn't. I know there have been gay clubs in the past... Also the KU football team is a joke, so if you need a place with a high quality engineering school and crap football, KU's a good model... Or Iowa City; they're pretty chill. Anyway if you want to know what life in a college town in a Midwestern American state, you can ask me whatever, with the caveat that I'm a huge nerd with the usual social limitations.

#6 ::: Seth ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2016, 09:44 PM:

Augh that should have been #3 ::: Megpie71

#7 ::: Singing Wren ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2016, 11:10 PM:

Megpie71 @ 3:

So, the football thing? All six states you listed have at least one school in one of the so-called "Power 5" conferences. Specifically, the SEC, the Big 10 (which has 14 schools in it) and/or the Big 12 (which has 10). (The numbers are historical artifacts.) (Iowa has one school in the Big 12 (Iowa State) and another in the Big 10 (Iowa).)

But! Because "everyone" knows the big name schools, there are more students who want to play football at them than there are scholarships available. Your scholarship student is probably someone good enough to get a full athletic scholarship from a smaller school, or a walk-on position at a big school (no scholarship, no guaranteed playing time).

Real life precedent: Ben Rothlisberger, quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers, went to Miami University of Ohio, which is rather better known for its fraternities than its football teams.

#8 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2016, 11:17 PM:

Megpie, I live in Iowa City, and I think you're going to have some handwaving/mashup work to do with the variety of constraints you want. I think you can pick a major-looking city in an area you like that doesn't already have a university and drop something there. You might consider grad school as a draw, too; I knew people from further away during grad school than during undergrad.

#9 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2016, 11:24 PM:

My mother was from Kansas; I've been there.

#10 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2016, 04:17 AM:

Megpie71 #3: Late-night posting, so this may not be very coherent... I don't know much about the Midwest in particular, but what strikes me about your list of constraints is that as state-wide characteristics, they're politically inconsistent -- that is, you're mixing features from different political environments. However, that's OK, because our "states" are large, and a lot of the things you're talking about are actually implemented on lower levels -- county or city/town.

I think what you want is something similar to my current environment in Charlottesville, Virginia. This is Southern rather than Midwestern, but the city is a "blue dot in a red state" -- that is, a liberal outpost in a mostly-conservative state, perpetuated and protected by a strong university (University of Virginia) and several other colleges. While colleges and universities in the US aren't always liberal bastions, they do trend that way, and this one was founded by Thomas Jefferson, arguably the most liberal of the USA's Founding Fathers.

Thus we are indeed an at-will state, but while the state's sexual politics (and probably things like stalking laws) are iffy when not ludicrous, the city government, local police, and local culture, are extremely liberal. The county we're embedded in (Albemarle) is mostly rural-conservative, but UVA/Charlottesville's political and financial mass is such as to affect county politics as well.

As far as the sports situation, others will be far more informed than I, but I'll note that a student might well get a scholarship for one of a school's "off" sports -- that is, they're championship-level in something else, but they're still hoping to up their game in this other sport. Also, re tuition, a "state school" like UVA (as opposed to a private university like Harvard) will have drastically lower tuition for the children of state residents (that is, there needs to be some prior residency, exact rules will depend on the school's administration).

#11 ::: Nickelby ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2016, 09:50 AM:

AKICIML: First use of "If it bleeds it leads!"

My own brief search says 1982 but I could swear that I heard a journalism student use it in '77,'78, or '79. She was interning at a newspaper and was horrified/bemused by their addiction to "newsworthy" stories. I think she was quoting her boss at the time. I would've thought that it goes back to the'30s and possibly even the yellow journalism era.

Meg #3. I'll put in a vote for Lawrence, KS. It is a blue dot in a red state just like Dave Harmond's. It's a city of 87,000 but 23k-ish are students at KU. It's 35 miles west of Kansas City and 25 miles east of Topeka. By a narrow vote it was named Lawrence instead of "New Boston"

Football at any of the big land grant universities is a big deal. It makes them a lot of money. Stadiums that hold 50k to 100k fans. KU's team has had its moments but the past few years have been sad. Last year they had a perfect season...yep, zero wins. So they need help.

#12 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2016, 09:58 AM:

Megpie71@3: Another terminological question plus local (national) educational organizational thing occurs to me. You say "university", but I'm not sure you actually require one. Is it important that both graduate and undergraduate degrees be offered by the institution? Because in medium-sized midwestern towns, there are a LOT more good colleges than universities, and because the cultures of the private institutions (mostly colleges) may be more conducive to what you want than the public ones (state-run schools), and because that gives you a wider range of town sizes to choose from. Also, a mostly-residential institution, as many of the colleges in those environments are, can be more effectively a bubble in social attitudes and such. (There are private universities certainly, including many of the well-known names like Harvard, Yale, Stanford; but not so much in smaller towns in the midwest.)

#13 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2016, 11:00 AM:

Megpie71 @3:

You are an Australian, planning on writing a fanfic set in the US. I appreciate your attempts to try to be accurate as far as local law and custom are, but one thing you should be aware:

US-written, US-based popular media doesn't get it right most of the time, and nobody cares. The errors tend to get missed for the needs of the story.

To take an extreme example, people love Batman, people love Superman, people love Batman and Superman crossovers. Almost nobody asks how Gotham and Metropolis, both obvious doubles of New York City, are so different from each other, or where they are. In the TV show Smallville (set in the middle of Kansas) you could see the lights of Metropolis (a port city, a minimum of 8 hours drive away) on the horizon. Few people complain about this inconsistency.

It is helpful to be internally consistent, but it looks like you have good rules for that.

Some specific details: Few university IDs list age, and few bars will accept university IDs as proof-of-age. Most require State-issued licenses or ID cards. Having your students try to use college ID to get into a bar would stand out as wrong.

To address your "easily distinguished" concern, some states (including every state you are considering) issue under-age licenses in "portrait" format, and adult licenses in a "landscape" format. It is immediately obvious, when presenting an official ID if it was issued when the holder was under-age (and all include a line like "Under 21 until 06-07-18" next to the photo with a red background to deal with the "but I'm of age now" lie).

I think that plopping a 200K-500K population-sized city in the middle of a state may be a bit much. Syracuse, NY, the 5th largest metropolitan city in New York, is between 145K-700K, depending on if you count the city proper or the metropolitan area. In most of the midwestern states you are considering, a city of 200K would be one of the top 3-4 cities in the State, if not #2. It's too big to just plot there without causing a disruption. The standard way to handle that in fiction is to ignore it, however.

But a more realistic idea would be a smaller city. My "home city" is Binghamton, NY, about 50,000 people, one major university (one of the four "University Centers" for the State University of New York system), and fits a lot of what you need. There is lots of non-university work available, it pulls people from a diverse area, it's a State school, so tuition is good for those in-state, etc. Obviously, you'd want to be in the midwest, not New York, for your other constraints, but putting in a small city with an industrial history and a university in the middle of any of those states would be easy to do. Take a look at Urbana-Champlain, IL, Emporia, KA, Columbia, MO, Kearney, NE, or Broken Arrow, OK. These are cities which range from 30k-110k people and host a public university of the sort you want.

As for the quality of the school, city size is not an issue. My current city has a population of about 30k, and sports not one, but two high-quality universities, including an Ivy League school (putting it in the same category (well, sports league) as Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, and academically in the same class as those, plus MIT and Berkeley).

A football (gridiron) scholarship might be difficult. While the big football scholarships tend to go to the schools famous for football, and smaller schools just don't put that much money into it. On the other hand, unless it is important that they be there for football, many schools do offer athletic scholarships for many things. Crew (rowing) is often times regarded as a relatively easy way to get into college on an athletic scholarship, simply because there's so little competition for Crew scholarships. Heck, you could even have them in school on an (association) football scholarship, and even have the school have a competitive association football team.

#14 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2016, 11:14 AM:

Buddha Buck@13: The general point that an amazing amount can be overlooked is spot-on. Also that "big" things (like plopping down a city) are often easier to overlook than small things (like details of how licenses indicate age).

My experience is that even small schools where sports aren't that important have more money in the football program than elsewhere and hence more scholarships there.

Huh; can't figure out which two of the schools in Binghamton you're thinking of. Nothing on that list trips my "in the academic class of Harvard and Yale and MIT" sensors, though. (I had friends who went to SUNY Binghamton for grad school long ago and thought there were the remnants of a good small school there more and more buried by the university, which probably isn't a good predictor of what it's like now.)

#15 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2016, 11:40 AM:

David Dyer-Bennet @14:

From the age of 10 to the age of 20 I lived in the Binghamton area. I no longer live there, but it's probably the closest to a "home town" I've got. I'm unaware of a second post-graduate degree-granting school there, other than SUNY Binghamton.

My current city (Ithaca) is about 45 away from Binghamton, and sports both Cornell University (Ivy League, many Nobel Laureates in its history) and Ithaca College (highly rated, but not in the same scale as Harvard, Yale, etc).

#16 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2016, 11:50 AM:

Boddha Buck@15: Oops, okay, that's why I couldn't make sense of it; I misunderstood it. Sorry!

#17 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2016, 12:05 PM:

Another example:
Lubbock, Texas: population about 200K, home of Texas Tech, has an airport with scheduled service
from at least three carriers. 50 miles north, Plainview, population about 25K, home of Wayland Baptist University.

#18 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2016, 12:08 PM:

Usually, if it seems real - if the characters and plot ring true, the details of the setting aren't going to matter that much. As long as you don't have icy roads in July or swimming parties in January on Lake Superior, it should be good.

All IMO, of course.

#19 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2016, 12:14 PM:

Buddha Buck, #13: When I was growing up, I was totally convinced that Gotham City was an analogue for Chicago -- and while intellectually I know now that it's supposed to be NYC, if I don't actively focus on that it's still Chicago to me. It just fits better with the "darker/grittier" aspect IMO.

Someone (possibly here) said a while back that Metropolis was NYC by day and Gotham City was NYC by night, and that also makes some sense to me.

#20 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2016, 12:21 PM:

I always thought Metropolis was NYC and Gotham was Boston.

#21 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2016, 12:28 PM:

Lee @19: Sometimes, when DC authors have felt a need to do so, they have put Gotham where Chicago is. The Chris Nolan Batman movies used Chicago as a Gotham standin. Sometimes, when DC authors have felt a need to do so, they have put Gotham roughly in northern New Jersey, around Newark.

The "NYC by night vs. NYC by day" analogy is common, and explains the feel difference well. When Paul Dini was doing the Batman and Superman animated series, he had the artists "paint" on black backgrounds for the Batman shows, and on light backgrounds for the Superman shows exactly for that dichotomy. But it doesn't help explain, in the story, the existence of the two cities.

But, as was my original point, despite the major confusion over Gotham and Metropolis, it is basically ignored.

#22 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2016, 12:43 PM:

Buddha Buck @13: I think that plopping a 200K-500K population-sized city in the middle of a state may be a bit much.

Unless you're Colorado. (Boulder: 103,166; Denver; 649,495; Colo Springs: 439,886—all 2013, so those numbers have probably gone up.) But I don't know if we qualify as "midwestern," though I think we can claim "western", and we're certainly in the middle of the country. And there are colleges and universities, both public and private, scattered all over the state. Also note that Colorado is equidistant from nearly everywhere. (Which means that decent cons are nearly always 800-1K miles away. :-\)

Megpie71 @3:

You could probably slide a fictional city in somewhere along the northern Front Range without too much fuss. (We seem determined to do that ourselves, in point of fact.) If it's near Boulder, just give it a name that starts with "L". :-)

As of Spring 2014, Colo is given a middlin' rating wrt stalking enforcement.

Colorado is, sadly, "at-will." The euphemism is "right to work."

flexible attitude toward non-heterosexual couples

Check. (Well, Boulder, anyway. Denver, too. Colo Springs, not so much.)

Gay bars: Check.

Given our concentration of tech and science, an MIT-like institution would not be beyond the pale. In fact, CU has graduated a number of astronauts (though it has a Big-8 (or whatever) football team).

WRT age/alcohol, many service providers (in Boulder, at least) card everybody, regardless of age, if alcohol is being purchased. It's less that they'll lose custom than they get their asses thrown in jail.

#23 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2016, 12:49 PM:

Just when you though the man couldn't get any more appalling: down in this story there's the tale (documented at the time but largely blown over) of Trump's treatment of his brother's family.

#24 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2016, 02:26 PM:

Jacque @22:

My point was that in most places in the midwest a 200K city would be a major city, and adding one would change the state. Colorado has the space, sure, but would a second Boulder change how the state works? I bet it would.

But a major university in a small city could easily be added just about anywhere and it would be fine. There are about 2500 public and private 4-year schools in the US, or about 50 per state. Many of these are in small cities or towns.

I recall a celebration a few years ago in one nearby town because they were getting their first stop light -- at the intersection of the main road and the entrances to the Alfred State College (on one side of the road) and the private Alfred University (on the other side of the road. Those 4-year schools are everywhere.

The five states that Megpie71 chose might make sense, but offhand I don't see why it would be limited to those. Kansas is the geographical center of the country, and all five states are within about 300 miles of Topeka, Kansas (but so is Arkansas). When I decided for my (unfinished) story to put a major university in the center of the country, I chose Indiana. Colorado would also work. But maybe there's an unstated reason why it wouldn't.

#25 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2016, 02:27 PM:

I'm reasonably sure that some of Trump's supporters aren't ignoring Trump's cruelty-- they actually like it.

#26 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2016, 03:07 PM:

I am saying it here, but Joel Polowin did a HORRIBLE THING at 1019 in the last thread AND HE KNOWS WHAT HE DID.

(specifically, made me squeak so loudly my dogs became Concerned. He worried my dogs! He's a filthy dog-worrier!)

(see you at OVFF, I hope. :-> )

#27 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2016, 03:10 PM:

I always assumed that Metropolis was Not-Chicago and Star City was Not-... something in Ohio, like Cleveland.

But apparently Metropolis is meant to be on the Atlantic seaboard. I thoguht it made sense that cornfed Smallville boys wanting to make it in The Big City would go to Not-Chicago, but.

#28 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2016, 03:21 PM:

I have always assumed that Metropolis was Chicago. Of course, I grew up near Chicago, so I suppose that colored my impression. Gotham, however, has always been New York City to me. (Which is why I was a little bemused to see the Dark Knight movies obviously set in not-Chicago, what with the El, and the (general, not specific) architecture, and the river bridges, and the checkerboard police hats, and all....)

#29 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2016, 03:30 PM:

It amazes me that DC has always assumed every one of their major, superhero-having, cities are on the East Coast except a few in California.

#30 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2016, 03:34 PM:

Megpie71 @3 taking your linked items in order

Kansas isn't as hostile to gay/bi as the media makes out -- at least not in the type of cities you want to use. We just have one very loud-mouthed objector in a small, family-based organization who gets a lot of media. Because spectacle.

As for major cities, any you create would be an aberration. Chicago is the second or third largest city in the US as a whole. We have a lot of small to mid-sized cities. However, a lot of those do base their economy on one large employer -- like a university. I work at one of those universities, so if you have any questions about how one works, feel free to ask me.

I will note that some land grant, open enrollment universities (like mine) in the mid west are cheaper to attend for the out-of-state students than if they "stayed home". (Out-of-state tuition being more expensive than in-state tuition for "state" universities.) State universities, aka: "public" universities, partially operate on a tax-revenue basis. So if you grew up in or have a full time residency in any given state, you qualify for a "discounted" tuition in that state at a public (or "state") university.

You might want to change the sport of choice. Football is a religion in this part of the US. Every mid-west state has at least one Big Name Team in a league. Football (American-style) is a thing here. Also... there's an unspoken rule of thumb regarding universities. Either they're good academically or they're good at sports. Not both. It's pretty common for a scholarly type who is good at sports to go to a bad team school on a sports scholarship for the purpose of getting an education.

The rules against drinking are handled at universities (at least my university) on an "educational awareness" basis and by issuing edicts to the Sororities/Fraternities that throw parties. (They're along the lines of "If you don't police yourselves, you won't like what happens when we do it for you.") My university, Kansas State University/Manhattan doesn't allow liquor sales on campus. Off-campus stores are required to card using a driver's license. University IDs are not used much off campus.

#31 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2016, 04:25 PM:

Buddha Buck @24: would a second Boulder change how the state works? I bet it would.

Heh. Maybe, maybe not. As I say, given the current market, we could bid fair to be trying that ourselves.

#32 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2016, 04:55 PM:

Steve C. @ 18 ...
Usually, if it seems real - if the characters and plot ring true, the details of the setting aren't going to matter that much. As long as you don't have icy roads in July or swimming parties in January on Lake Superior, it should be good.

Is it a bad sign that my first thought was "What about polar bear swims"?

#33 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2016, 05:23 PM:

Another point about big colleges/universities in small towns/cities is that it's not necessarily a static situation. Boston's surrounding area has been progressively taken over by the universities, as in they've been buying up the land in the surrounding towns and probably Boston itself.

Charlottesville used to be a small town, but several decades of growth have upgraded it to where it's now approaching small-city status (and the old-timers aren't too happy about that). We're also becoming a more national focus for food (starting with my boss's old side project, the C&O restaurant), music (led by the Dave Matthews Band), the arts (Virginia Festival of the Book, assorted studios developing), and probably next lifestyle issues, thanks to the development/sustainability conflicts all this growth has caused. In any case, there will be town/gown tensions over such things, and there may be larger political issues.

#34 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2016, 05:47 PM:

Song Titles from the Viewpoint of the Other Character

What Do You Mean (I Have to Teach My Own Boyfriend a Masterclass on the Crappy Way Women Get Socialized)

Hotline Bling (Dammit, I Thought I Blocked That Number, You Moved Away, Genius, So Quit Trying to Curate My Life)

Jolene (Has Just Discovered That Her Boyfriend Is Married)

Talk Dirty to Me (Because I'm Too Dumb to Realize that Acting Like I'm the Greatest Thing Since Dental Dams Is Just Your Job)

#35 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2016, 06:41 PM:

Jenny Islander @34: "Somebody I Used To Know" is notable in that the bridge IS from the pov of the other partner, who makes it clear that the main character IS A FUCKING ABUSIVE STALKER.

Explicit dramatic irony in the top 40, not common.

Its original-artist music video is strange and avant-garde, though it notably inspired an amazing Star Wars parody video.

But for a video of the original song that makes a short film dramatizing its lyrics, I prefer this one, deliberately made with trans and genderqueer actors and musicians in all parts, and in ASL. Many of the on-screen actors are also Deaf.

#36 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2016, 07:45 PM:

Nancy, #25: I'm reasonably sure that some most of Trump's supporters aren't ignoring Trump's cruelty -- they actually like it.

When you listen to the other things they say, it's impossible to reach any other conclusion. Most of his supporters are bullies who like him because he's a bully on a scale they can only dream of. But only against Those People, of course.

Elliott, #29: Central City is in the middle of the country; I'm not sure whether it's St. Louis, Kansas City, or Denver. (It's been a long time since I read the comics, and I haven't seen the show.)

#37 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2016, 08:07 PM:

I vacillate on Gotham and Metropolis, though a good friend is adamant that Gotham is Chicago so there forever. However, I think I am the only person to see a Spider-Man movie and decide out of nowhere that yup, Spider-Man lives in Philadelphia.

#38 ::: Megpie71 ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2016, 08:14 PM:

David Dyer-Bennet @ 12: I had no idea there was a difference between a "college" and a "university" in the USA (see why I'm doing my research?). I mean, any Australian institution which offers tertiary bachelor level degrees automatically does graduate degrees - they're all universities these days, and have been since about the late 1980s or thereabouts. The next level down in the Australian system from degree offering institutions is "technical colleges", or TAFE, which offer trade and vocational qualifications complying with a national system of recognition for these.

Buddha Buck @ 13 - Yeah, I'd sort of guessed there wouldn't be that much commitment to accuracy in the popular media - let's face it, if the only understanding you have of Australia is from "Neighbours" or "Home and Away" plus watching "Crocodile Dundee" and the "Mad Max" movies a few times (I'm picking some of our bigger cultural exports here), you're going to be looking at a very distorted picture of the place. But the distortions in these cultural products are acceptable to Australians (because we know where they're getting it wrong, and often why) while things like, for example, the reproduction US West Frontier Town in US Frontier Land ostensibly located in the Australian Outback which cropped up in the X-men comics back in the 1980s, or the accents of the newsreaders (not to mention the characters attempting an Australian accent) in "Pacific Rim" just grated. So I'd like to avoid as many obvious blunders in the reverse direction as I can.

One such blunder which is becoming clear is me thinking a city of 200,000 to 500,000 people is "small". This is because for Australia, it is - we tend to concentrate our population a lot more than folks in the USA seem to. I suspect this is a result of environmental factors more than anything. I'm going to be scaling back my city a bit, I think - might try for something about the size of Bunbury or Kalgoorlie/Boulder (to use examples I'm familiar with - and I think of each of these as "large country towns" rather than "cities").

While the character who has the sports scholarship was originally going to be a (gridiron) football player, I'm not particularly wedded to it. Might try a different team sport instead. Probably not basketball; maybe field hockey? Do you play that over there, or is it all ice hockey? Or I can change the code - I understand the US has a growing soccer scene? (It has to be the sort of team sport that's likely to attract "Real Man" types - I have a plot thread for the third year growing out of problems attached to this team surrounding things like homophobia, rape culture etc[1]).

Thanks for the information about the IDs. How would that work for out-of-state students? Would there be an acceptance of out-of-state IDs (for example, here in Australia every state has a "proof of age" card as well as drivers licences, and a card/license from Victoria is acceptable in Western Australia, and vice versa; I think there's also a common format for ID documents across the various states here) or would someone who comes from Minnesota be required to get an Iowa proof of age card in order to be able to drink legally in Iowa? Are all forms of proof-of-age ID photo ID (they tend to be here in Australia - drivers licences have a photo on them, proof of age cards have a photo on them).

Jacque @ 22: The reason I chose the five states I did is because I have a character (the focus character for the first year or so of the story) who has left a small town in Arkansas (mountainous region) by motor bike, looking for work, and really, Nebraska is about as far as I can realistically see him going on the amount of money he would have had saved for fuel and other sundries by the time he finished high school. While I'm sure he's going to eventually see all of the continental states, money is definitely a constraint for him at present.

Basically, the way I saw things working for him was he essentially finished high school, picked up his graduation certificate/high school diploma and transcript, packed those in his duffle bag, and was out of there, and then he just aimed to get as far away from his small town as he could before the money ran out and he had to stop moving. He has the name and address of the nephew of a neighbour in his pack; this person lives in this fictional city and was willing to lend a couch to a stranger who'd been helpful to his aunt.

Victoria @ 30: Ah, I think I see another area where my Australian cultural assumptions bash into US culture and come off second best. Every university I've heard of in Australia has a tavern or pub on campus. That's because our national drinking age is 18 - and high school finishes for most people in the year they turn 17. So the next year, they go to uni, and they can drink, and one of the more popular informal subjects in Australian universities, for at least the first years, is "Tavern Studies". Whereas I think for most of the US the drinking age is 21, isn't it? So I'm going to have to get rid of the tavern I'd automatically placed on campus in the "student services" sector, by the sounds of things.

Again, this is why I'm doing my research FIRST, before I get too far into the writing.

[1] Which, come to think on it, might work better if I'm using a sport which isn't (gridiron) football anyway, because I think some of the points I want to make about these things involve masculine culture in confined groups.

#39 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2016, 08:46 PM:

Magpie71 @38: It’s worse than that.

There are some post-secondary educational institutions called “colleges” for the entire shebang. There are others called “universities”. The latter are usually more prestigious.

Inside a “university” there are often many “colleges,” which generally speaking are administrative categories or departments to group particular majors. Each will have their head and staff, and will set some policies while others are university-wide. In universities of this sort, technically the college confers the degree, but it’s a degree from the university.

We don’t “go to university” or “go to uni” colloquially here, though we can ask, “What university do you attend?” if we wish to sound snootier than “where do you go to college?” But in the general case you could say, “My niece went to college this year and her parents are redecorating the room.” Even it’s a prestigious university, you still “go to college” when you attend it. You might attend “The College of Medicine” or something if you’re talking very specifically with someone who already knows what university you attend.

It’s also “college football” for the whole league. Leagues. There are several, of varying prestige (and budget).

(Is it bad that my major Australian-culture touchstones are Australian Masterchef and Dance Academy? My daughter also likes that mermaid show)

When it comes to prestige, the only college sports that really have it are (gridiron) football and men’s basketball, and to a minor degree, baseball. Some schools also get really het up about swimming as a national competition, but it will never get TV coverage. Swimming is viewed as less manly than either football or basketball by the people who play/view those sports, but reasonably manly and athletic to those outside its demographic. Swimmers do still have that masculine, homophobic locker-room culture, perhaps especially because swimmers are treated as less manly/more likely to be “queers” or “pussies” by players of the more manly-esteemed sports.

Soccer is just getting started, but its fanbase is basically limited to people who play it, people who played it as kids, and the entire Hispanic population (plus recent European immigrants).

If you have a valid driver’s license or state ID card from any state in the Union, you are only required to get ID from the state in which you are residing after 6 months of continuous residency — unless you’re a college student, in some states. Any state’s ID will work in a bar or for any picture-ID-needed situation. In some states, underage licenses are printed portrait instead of landscape, or have a different background color in the portrait, to make it easy to tell at a glance that they’re under-21. Similarly, new-driver licenses (you get a provisional one for a couple years before you get full privileges) are visually distinctive in some states.

The rules about what has to be on licenses/state ID cards (two separate things; the second is identical to the first except you can’t drive on it) are, to a degree, federal, but the graphic design and any extra information is state-by-state. Rhode Island’s license is so incredibly difficult to read that we called it Rhode Eyestrain in a job I held that had to check IDs: tiny, tiny text in a color very similar to the background, with no color highlighting to draw the eye to a date or the name or anything. Some states, like Arizona, issue you a license at 16 and that’s your license until you have to take the eye test again at 60 — so I had some laminated-by-gluing-between-two-layers-of-plastic pieces of cardstock, falling to bits, with a picture of a teenager with horrible 70s sideburns, and a balding dude standing in front of me. Thanks, Arizona. Really useful. So it varies a lot.

Transcript: you don’t usually get one upon graduation. When you apply at a postsecondary institution (community college, two-year college, four-year college, or university) their admissions department requests a copy from your high school via fax. Most people I know have never held their high school transcript in their hands.

There are certainly bars right NEXT to college campuses in the US, and some of them are less careful about checking ID than others. The cops, of course, tend to try to keep an eye on it, but drunken student hijinks and property damage are well-known, as are drunken loud parties in the dorms (with package goods bought and brought back by someone with a legal ID — or a good fake one, which can be reasonably easy to acquire if you know someone who knows someone).

#40 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2016, 08:51 PM:

Oh, in re postsecondary education and bars:

In college towns that are small to middlin', there's often a separation between the "college bars", with largely student or college-affiliated customers, and "townie bars", which are mostly people who live in the area and are NOT affiliated with the college, and often feel resentment towards the college or its students, especially if the students are more affluent or otherwise culturally different from the surrounding population.

In towns small enough to have only one gay bar, it is mixed, and often towards the outskirts in an unobtrusive area.

#41 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2016, 08:59 PM:

Field hockey is mostly a women's sport in the US, for some reason. Soccer exists; so does basketball - and because basketball teams are relatively small, they're more common at smaller schools. Wayland Baptist, for example, has something of a reputation in basketball, especially the women's team (called the "Flying Queens" - they got nicknamed that because a couple of the local businessmen funded travel for the team, using their own planes).

#42 ::: Singing Wren ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2016, 09:06 PM:

Megpie71 @ 38:

A brief perusal of the Wikipedia page for the NCAA (the group that regulates college sports) suggests that field hockey is only sponsored in Women's athletics, but ice hockey and soccer are both sponsored as Men's sports. Rugby is possible, but less likely as there's no national championship. Since you're talking athletic scholarships, that means a Division I or II school.

Out of state students will most likely still have an id from their home state, either a driver's license or a non-driver id. It's still considered valid id, but some bartenders/bouncers/convenience store clerks will hassle people with an unfamiliar looking one. They're supposed to accept it, but some people are lazy or jerks.

A popular thing for US college students to do is go to a store just after midnight on their 21st birthday to buy beer. When my brother did this, he was turned down for having an invalid id - most drivers licenses expire on your 21st birthday and have to be renewed in the state that issued it. A passport will get you around this issue, but a lot of people in the US don't have one because you can go a long way without leaving the country.

#43 ::: Singing Wren ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2016, 09:13 PM:

Oh yes, one more thing about sports: football and Men's basketball are the money sports. They get the major television revenue, they get the major corporate sponsorships, and they basically fund the rest of the athletic department. And even then, probably not fully. This can and often does lead to resentment against those teams by the rest of the student athletes, who believe that the football and basketball players are getting special treatment compared to everyone else. Which they sometimes are, plus being more likely to leave for a pro career than finish their degrees.

#44 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2016, 10:57 PM:

College sports: University of Tennessee/Knoxville had a very successful and popular women's basketball team for many years under the direction of Pat Summitt. Summitt also coached at least one USA Olympic women's basketball team. But that was very much an outlier in terms of popularity and influence by comparison to the men's teams.

Also, there's some regional variation in which of football or basketball gets the heaviest emphasis. Throughout the Deep South, football is nearly a religion. In the area that the NCAA calls the Mideast (and everyone else calls the Midwest), basketball gets a lot more attention, right down to the high-school level. I remember being jolted when I moved from Detroit to Nashville and first went to look for the high-school basketball scores in the local paper; instead of the 4 or 5 pages of "everybody gets at least highlights, the top 6 or 7 matches get full write-ups, and the top 2 get that plus a photo" that I was used to, all the basketball scores were 2-inch summaries, for about half a page total.

Bars on campus: There may be a difference between public and private institutions. Vanderbilt has a student pub (beer only) in the Student Center. Rice has not just one, but two -- Willy's in the Student Center, and Valhalla in the basement of the Old Chemistry Building; the latter is specifically the grad-students' pub, but Willy's is for anyone who's legal. My partner says he's unaware of anything along those lines at University of Houston, and I don't recall seeing one in the student center at UT/K when I used to go there for contradance weekends.

#45 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2016, 11:07 PM:


We do have some big cities, but they tend to be coastal, not in the middle. The entire population of the states you picked combined is less than the population of California, for instance. If you drop Illinois (and thus Chicago), there's 4 states with bigger populations.

Think of it this way: Kansas City (a metropolitan area split between Kansas and Missouri, right in the middle of the area you are talking about) has a population the size of Perth, but is located relative to the population centers of the US analogous to Alice Springs. The US has 30% more land area than Australia and 10 times the population. Australia has 5 cities with more than a million people, and the US has 10 (7 of which are port cities); Australia has 16 cities with more than 100,000 people, the US has over 300, spread across the country fairly evenly. With the exception of Illinois, the remaining states are all land-locked, with no deep-water access (Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma border the Mississippi, but not near a deep-water port). The cities were built around rail, cattle, and farming centers.

For your story, it probably won't matter much, but the area you are dealing with has the largest group of "dry" communities in the country. Most of northern Arkansas is dry, and much of Kansas is dry-ish. Large parts of Kansas require bars to get 30% of their revenue from food. I don't know how that affects the college bar scene, though. Liquor laws vary wildly across the US, on a state-by-state basis, so once you pick a state, it might be worth it to look to exactly alcohol is allowed to be sold.

I am uncertain how your main character would get a football scholarship (those tend to be negotiated while still in high school), but if the jock isn't your main character, then it's probably worth saying that he took a year or two between high school and college if he went the "drive a random direction" route to get out of his home town. There are some financial issues involved with going to school which may be difficult with that background as well. If you want, I'll go into more detail tomorrow.

#46 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2016, 01:21 AM:

Soccer as a professional sport is just getting started for the fourth time, or something, here in the US. But college soccer was well-established a long time before highschool soccer took off and the "soccer mom" was codified. Solidly around at a lot of schools back into at least the 1950s. My father lettered in soccer at UC Berkeley in the 1930s, and Carleton had a well-established soccer team, playing all the other schools in the conference they were in, in 1960 when we moved there. But Northfield highschool never had a soccer team while I was there (I'm sure it does now).

What's maybe getting established these days in college athletics is Ultimate Frisbee. And I'm kind of waiting to hear about someplace starting a college roller derby team.

#47 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2016, 02:16 AM:

Re Passports: I routinely see stories on Not Always Working about liquor store clerks and bar doormen in the US who do not recognize or refuse to accept US passports as ID.

#48 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2016, 02:23 AM:

@Elliott Mason no. 35: I love the way she roars "Somebody that I used to know!" right back at him.


Evil Ways (That My Man Uses to Scare the Hell Outta Me; Jean, Joan, I'm Ready, Come By Tomorrow at 10, I'll Be Packed and Waiting at the Door with the Kids)

Hello, I Love You (In a Relative Way, Because at Least You Didn't Actually Follow Me Down the Street, Unlike Most Creeps)

#49 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2016, 03:28 AM:

Metropolis originally was modeled on Toronto. I like that interpretation. Toronto is a great city.

#50 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2016, 04:56 AM:

You've gotten a lot of good advice and suggestions in this thread.

A couple of points I will mention in addition to those I've seen:

- It's my perception (and this may be wrong), but in Midwestern university/college towns (and these can range in population from 10,000 to more than 100,000), you don't see the "town & gown" separations the way you do in English university cities. In many of these cities, the economy pretty much runs entirely around the university. And part of this is because, especially in state-funded universities, there is not the sense of elitism you will see at English or Ivy League (in the U.S.) universities, which are mostly on the East or West Coast. This is because people don't have to come from wealth to attend most Midwestern universities, especially the state-funded ones.

- State-funded universities are reasonably affordable (for values of what passes as "affordable" these days) to students who can document "residency". So you might consider giving your protagonist an estranged parent or step-parent or aunt/uncle with a local address whom they could use to establish residency (this is a pretty common workaround). Also, a lot of states have reciprocal agreements: for instance, the state universities in Iowa and Illinois, or Iowa and Minnesota, have reciprocal agreements which consider residents of the other states to be residents of their states for tuition purposes.
(PLEASE NOTE: my knowledge on this may not be current; you will need to do a little research on what reciprocal agreements exist.)

- Both the University of Iowa and Iowa State University have strong football programs for which someone talented might reasonably qualify, and they are both well-known for certain academic specialties: U of I for Journalism/Mass Communications and Medicine (and of course the University of Iowa Writers Workshop), ISU for Engineering, Computer Science, Agriculture, and Veterinary Medicine.

- When you say, "shouldn't have a top-ranked team" -- honestly, there are many U.S. universities who have teams that vacillate from strong to not-so-strong. It's completely different from Australia, where rugby teams are all basically professional or semi-professional. Very few collegiate teams are considered perennial powerhouses, year-in and year-out (and there are hundreds of them).

- Despite being in what is considered a somewhat conservative state, both Iowa City (U of I) and Ames (ISU) have fairly strong LGBTQIA populations and cultural support. My cousin's son just graduated from ISU in engineering, and he belonged to an openly gay fraternity there. (Iowa was the 4th state to legalize same-sex marriages, in 2009.)

- If you're wanting a university city which is paranoid about legal drinking age, hoo boy, just Google "VEISHEA" (formerly ISU's annual campus celebration, rioted out of existence by alcohol-fuelled, out-of-control parties).

- Honestly, it grieves me to say this, but most U.S. states, with perhaps the exception of those on the west coast, have poor anti-stalking laws (or at least lukewarm enforcement of those laws).

I hope that you may find some of this information helpful. (I can even probably connect you with my cousin's son, if you wish to ask detailed questions about the current "state of the nation" for someone who is gay.)

#51 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2016, 04:57 AM:

Arrrgghh. The post at #50 was intended for Megpie71 at #3.

#52 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2016, 07:00 AM:

Lee, I've been pushing the idea that Trump supporters identify with Trump, but there is only one Trump. If you aren't Trump, you are dealing with Trump, and that's very different from being Trump. I don't think I've convinced anyone who didn't already agree with me.

Less seriously, I have doubts that Trump is a human being. He has mysterious powers of persuasion, and he doesn't look like a human. I suspect he's some kind of low-quality elf. Alternatively, he's a lizard who embarrasses the other lizards.

For the sports discussion:

Map of highest-paid state employees

#53 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2016, 08:14 AM:

Website for people in relationships with people with personality disorders

It looks sensible, but I wasn't sure whether this sort of non-personal thing belongs in the Dysfunctional Family thread.

#54 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2016, 09:22 AM:

Jenny Islander @ 34 ...
She Came in Through the Bathroom Window (

#55 ::: Jim Parish ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2016, 10:15 AM:

Not quite what Jenny Islander @ 34 was describing, but I've always been amused by the fact that, on one of Linda Ronstadt's early albums, she sings "Long Long Time" and "Different Drum" back to back - two songs that could easily be the same situation through the eyes of the two principals.

#56 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2016, 10:54 AM:

Along the lines of Gotye, how about "One Way or Another" by Blondie. It starts out very stalkery (One way, or another, I'm gonna find ya...I'm gonna win ya...I will drive past your house and if the lights are all down I'll see who's around), but later verses flip it (One way or another, I'm gonna lose ya...give you the slip...lead you to the supermarket checkout, some specials and rat food, get lost in the crowd).

#57 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2016, 12:12 PM:

Megpie71 @ 38:::
"large country towns" rather than "cities"
Hays and Fort Hays State may be of interest to you for calibrating your expectations. I don't much care for wikipedia, but it's good for general information about size and economy stuff derived from the US Census Bureau who tracks that sort of stuff.

If you want the most manly, least tolerant sport to match your criteria, stick with football. Basketball is a close second. Just send them to a smaller university with a low-ranked team. Some of universities may have "walk-on" status for athletes rather than athletic scholarships up front. A scholarship may be worked out after the fact, depending on how such things are handled in-university and in athletic organizations for the university. It's a way to disguise pay-for-play status from the collegiate athletics governing bodies.

FWIW, "non-traditional students" don't usually get athletic scholarships (those are determined by athletic scouts who follow high school sports teams for a living), they do qualify for a number of regular scholarships. A traditional student goes straight from secondary school into a college/university/community college. It sounds like your character is very much a "non-traditional student".

Megpie71 would someone who comes from Minnesota be required to get an Iowa proof of age card in order to be able to drink legally in Iowa?
Nope. The legal drinking age in the US is 21 unless otherwise noted. So your character would not be able to drink legally anywhere. However there is something called "fake IDs" created for the purpose of underage drinking. It's a college/university thing here. Any business serving alcohol is required by law to check people for legal drinking age. The government spot-checks business for compliance. Usually in the form of sting operations.

State issued IDs are good from state to state. They have all the same information on them, just in different formats. It's as close as we get to a national ID card without using our social security ID. All drivers licenses (and state-issued IDs) have the following: State where it was issued. Date of birth, height, weight, gender, home address, ID number (which is now different from the federal social security ID# -- they used to be the same ID # before identity theft became prevalent) ID issue date, ID expiration date, type of vehicle you're trained to operate, if you have vision correction and whether or not you're an organ donor. Plus photo and your signature. You're required by law to update your license every time you move your permanent residence, as well. Even if it is just across the street, let alone to a new state. College students are considered exempt since the assumption is they only live at the college 9 months out of the year. Their "permanent address" is their parent's address unless they make a concerted effort to "cut the financial strings". Or move in with a relative who is a resident in the state. Or take time off from school to establish residency before enrolling at the university/college.

What kind of work does your character do? That is also important. Some kinds of jobs are easier to get than others for someone with a mobile lifestyle.

#58 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2016, 01:02 PM:

The big thing about the college bar situation is that in the US most undergraduates can't legally drink, accounting for the underage drinking raid on student parties as a news story. Around UMCP in Maryland, for example, all the old student dives have one by one succumbed to lack of freshmen who will drink anything, anywhere.

College towns tend to be fairly tolerant about public homosexuality. College "towns" outside the east tend to be mid-sized cities.

The sports situation: in the midwest I think your best bet for a manly sport is going to be wrestling. It's very big in the area, it isn't contaminated by the pro-sports-minor-league situation, and there are generally scholarships. Plus there is definitely a gay thing going about the, uh, revealing uniforms.

#59 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2016, 01:28 PM:

Town/gown exists in places where the university isn't considered part of the city, for one or another reason. Santa Barbara and UCSB have a difficult relationship - the university and most of the student housing (the community called Isla Vista) are in the county; the professors and the employees live in Goleta or in Santa Barbara. The city would very much like the prestige of having the campus without having to have any of the students around. (It's been that way for at least 50 years.)

#60 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2016, 01:36 PM:

Megpie@38, Me@45:

School funding: This is a bit of a big thing going on the US right now. School tuitions tend to be high (University of Kansas in-state resident tuition is about US$10K/year, not counting food, housing, books, etc). As such, almost no one pays for it full up front, and almost everyone relies on some form of financial aid (as grants, loans, scholarships, etc).

The trouble I see for your character is that almost all the available financial aid is "needs-based", and that need includes an expected contribution from parents. If your character is estranged from their parents (as evidenced by, say, picking a relative several hundred miles away in a different state and driving to them upon high school graduation), they may be unwilling to fill out the forms necessary to apply for financial aid. Without the forms, no grants, no scholarships, possibly no loans, even non-needs-based aid may be unavailable.

There are a few ways to be considered "financially independent" of your parents for financial aid purposes, but they all usually involve things like military separation, death, marriage, etc. Personally, I had to take a break from school until I was 25 after my parent's inability to complete their taxes on time eliminated my financial aid opportunities.

This sort of detail might be easily glossed over, but if you are having other characters attending this school due to financial reasons, this is more of a relevant issue.

#61 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2016, 03:10 PM:

Megpie, may I suggest a couple of schools for you to research? All three are midwestern, but two are in states you haven't mentioned--but not really all that much farther than, say, U of Illinois. One is the University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor; the other is the University of Wisconsin in Madison (the closer of the two to your geographic area, really). I thought of both because of your "city size" reference and the contrast between the politics of the state and the cities involved; both also have a solid academic reputation in certain fields. Both are Big 10 schools, and UMich is in particular football-crazy--people talk about "bleeding maize and blue," which are the school colors, and the college fight song has to be heard to be believed.

If you're willing to go suburban--Northwestern University, in Evanston, IL? Evanston is a suburb of Chicago, NU is also a Big 10 school (major sports conference, as some have mentioned) but a very small one; the academic standards are high enough that the university has a problem recruiting athletes in some areas. They've also got a full athletic program--football and basketball are still the "money" sports, but I can't conceive of a team sport that they don't play. How about Wrestling, if you want a low-profile "macho" sport?

Another Illinois college you might consider is Bradley University, in Peoria--which I thought of mostly due to its location. Good luck!

#62 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2016, 03:33 PM:

Megpie71 @38: The reason I chose the five states I did is because I have a character (the focus character for the first year or so of the story) who has left a small town in Arkansas (mountainous region) by motor bike, looking for work, and really, Nebraska is about as far as I can realistically see him going on the amount of money he would have had saved for fuel and other sundries by the time he finished high school. While I'm sure he's going to eventually see all of the continental states, money is definitely a constraint for him at present.

Are you using Australian or US gas prices? A quick calculation ($1.22Au/litre vs $2.19US/gal) suggests that (if my arithmetic can be trusted) Aussie gas prices are about triple the US's, which may change this characters's range...?

Whereas I think for most of the US the drinking age is 21, isn't it?

Drinking age in the US varies by state and type of alcohol.

Also, availability of alcohol does not correlate particularly well with drinking age, as fake IDs and other work-arounds are well-worn practices, particularly in US college culture. Witness the number of drunken-rape scandals coming out of US fraternities.

Elliott Mason @39: The cops, of course, tend to try to keep an eye on it

Heh. As a matter of fact, the underage son of a coworker has been working undercover with the local PD to check/enforce the carding practices of local bars.

drunken student hijinks and property damage are well-known

As well as the odd riot—in Boulder, anyway.

Buddha Buck @45: it might be worth it to look to exactly alcohol is allowed to be sold.

And when (hours/days of operation) and to whom (some variation in what proofs can be sold at what ages).

#63 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2016, 03:51 PM:

re "The Four Trumps": every now and then I wonder how people wind up grown far enough away from anything I consider decent (cf Welch to Joe McCarthy) that they would vote for Trump. Are they so desperate that they can't see through him? ("He'll appoint good advisers", says one North Caroline supporter in a BBC story, despite the fact that he seems incapable of taking advice.) Have they been deliberately groomed [sic] by Republican operatives? (I've read that the party deliberately started and got support for right-wing think tanks as far back as Goldwater's defeat, to put out rationales that would sound plausible enough to drag the electorate to the right.) He's obviously taken a page out of the Edward J. King playbook ("We put all of the hate groups in one pot and let them boil", said a campaign official after incumbent Dukakis was defeated in the 1978 MA primary), but I wonder how many people that gathers -- a small number of jackasses can make a lot of noise in this age.

Mary Aileen @ 213::911: interesting to know.

Tim Walters @ 213::916: I rcognize Anchor Liberty but not the taste, although I'm sure I tried it back when; in your view is it still what it was? There are a couple of hundred-tap bars around here so I might be able to find it. Note also that "IPA" as a name never died; the Ballantine label only died well after the surge in craft brewing.

Diatryma @ 213::931: Bolcom & Morris's album Lime Jello: An American Cabaret did a number of ~"good songs from bad shows". (These probably also show up on some of the ~dozen prior albums, but this is the one that became known in SF fandom.)

Benjamin Wolfe @ 213::993: another wedding last weekend! (We spent a chunk of Saturday at a friend's reception in CT.) Congratulations, and many years to enjoy it. We're past 22, with some hope for 50 despite my taking forever to realize it would work.

Carrie @ 20: Boston is small for Gotham, and was way too staid during the first decades of Batman.

Lee @ 36 re Elliott Mason @ 29: My recollections of childhood impressions are that Green Lantern was also in the midwest, but I couldn't swear to it -- maybe I'm confused from at least one crossover.

Dave Harmon @ 33: Another point about big colleges/universities in small towns/cities is that it's not necessarily a static situation. I'd hardly call Boston a small city (despite the above to Carrie); I think the population never got below 500,000 at its low point a few decades back. However, I was at school in western MA ~45 years ago when a newspaper pointed out that the population of UMass-Amherst had passed the population of its namesake community (both in the upper-teen thousands IIRC). Another issue to think of when dropping in a school is where it came from; like many now-gigantic state schools, the above started as an agricultural school (thinly parodied in Charlotte McLeod's Peter Shandy mysteries), which is why it was founded in a low-population area (providing practical study) that may have had time to become used to it \and/ room not to be crowded (unlike Boston schools as others have noted in this subthread).

Megpie71 @ 38:
* wrt size, note that in at least some states there is clear nomenclature distinction: a town decides major issues in a town meeting (where anyone, or a very large set of fractional-time representatives, can vote), while a city does everything through a city council (board of aldermen) but can be small -- <50,000?
* wrt one-way travel, someone with a motorbike, a bedroll, and sitzfleisch can get anywhere in the contiguous US for <$100 or less at current prices; if your TBR pile isn't big enough, look for Beagle's only nonfiction, I See by My Outfit, and think about why the character would stop sooner. (College towns all over the US tend not to be as shy of strangers as other towns.) Or don't if it doesn't need to be a plot point; someone that age and that detached can act on whim and opportunity, especially given mobility. (I assume you don't want to reproduce Route 66...)
* wrt alcohol, the drinking age was dropped to 18 in March 1973, then pushed back up by a variety of concerns (e.g., 18-year-old idiots willing to buy hooch for 12-year-old kids, drunk driving (since cars are so common in the US), etc.) with pressure from the US govt to get reluctant states (where most laws are made) in line. Someday US behavior re alcohol may be saner. (Someday winged monkeys will fly out of my ass?)

PJ Evans @ 59: what's Claremont like now for town/gown? I was admitted to Harvey Mudd in 1971, but they acknowledged on a visit that the town wasn't interest{ing,ed} and anyone without a car (to get to LA) was hosed.

Buddha Buck @ 60: speaking of Mike -- IIRC, parental unwillingness re forms was why he wound up at IU instead of MIT.

several re Mike: I spent Sunday not thinking about the anniversary, after being reminded of it the day before by my wife (who chaired AFAIK the only con he was GoH at). I remember saying as we drove away from The Dish (the one near Canberra, not the one the movie focused on) that he would have enjoyed visiting there -- and realizing it was the fourth anniversary. Time to reread again; I was defending/providing-alternates-for The Dragon Waiting on File:770 a few days ago and realized I hadn't read it in way too long.

local sighting: a squareback (not VW) with many science stickers on the back (Darwin fish, "Got Shale?", "Schists Happen", ...) and VA license plate "OROGENY". They have plenty of examples to look at....

#64 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2016, 04:18 PM:

Jacque @61:

Drinking age in the US varies by state and type of alcohol.

That hasn't been true for decades - it's been 21 everywhere since sometime in the 1980s, when the federal government threatened to use the big hammer of highway funding to force the issue. (The wikipedia page you link to confirms this, with the exception of places like Guam and Puerto Rico that are not states.)

#65 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2016, 04:50 PM:

@lorax, there is one exception to drinking age; in some states (Connecticut and Illinois are two; I don't know how common this is) that a parent or guardian can serve a minor alcohol. I think in Illinois it's limited to beer or wine, but I'm not sure. So in some cases a parent can order a beer in a bar for their 16-year-old kid, or a glass of wine to go with a restaurant meal, so long as the parent is the one to give it to the kid.

This is not applicable to Megpie71's story, however.

#66 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2016, 05:15 PM:

The Illyrian Alphabet That Wasn't: how two centuries of European printers circulated an imaginary Balkan script.
"The 'mysterious' Illyrian script, in other words, belongs somewhere between the chain of early-modern biblical typos, litanies of unfortunately transcribed script tattoos, and the comedies of errors through which Google Translate error messages and out-of-office emails end up written on signs."

IOW, a fine example of the Pastafazool Cycle in action.

#67 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2016, 07:06 PM:

I have no idea. The closest I ever got to the Claremont colleges, outside of maps at work, was Cal Poly Pomona.

#68 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2016, 07:16 PM:

CHip @63: I See by My Outfit is not Beagle's "only nonfiction" by any means. American Denim, The California Feeling and The Garden of Earthly Delights are all nonfiction books, and there may be others depending on how you count. Maybe you ignored them because they were illustrated fairly profusely? They all have significant text, and are fun to read. I notice that only one of those is listed in the ISFDB (California Feeling is down in the "non-genre" list at the bottom, and you may not have gotten that far -- but I don't understand why they don't have the other two).

#69 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2016, 07:38 PM:

Some state schools will offer in-state tuition, or close, to any out-of-state student with a reasonably good grade point average (GPA) and/or standardized test scores. Sample: "Arkansas State University-Jonesboro Undergraduate Out-of-State Scholarship. Undergraduate students who meet the following criteria are eligible to receive a scholarship equal to the out-of-state portion of tuition costs: (1) high school GPA of 3.000 or higher and ACT composite score of 24 or higher or comparable SAT score, (2) attendance beginning on or after August 20, 2007, (3) attend ASU-J as a full time student, and (4) a resident of any one of the 49 states in the United States other than Arkansas or resident of any U.S. territories."

#70 ::: Singing Wren ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2016, 07:57 PM:

Also, unlike grants and student loans, scholarships don't always require a student to fill out a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). This was referenced above - it's the form that wants not only the student's information, but their parents' as well. And unlike student loans, you don't have to pay back a scholarship. Given how rapidly the cost of even an undergraduate education has been rising, a scholarship (especially a full scholarship) can be what causes a student to pick one college or university over another. Heck, even in the mid 1990's I dropped a very good private university off my list of candidates when I learned they didn't offer academic scholarships to freshmen.

#71 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2016, 07:57 PM:

Tom Whitmore@68: "but I don't understand why they don't have the other two" -- you know what to do!

#72 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2016, 09:10 PM:

CHip @ 63: I rcognize Anchor Liberty but not the taste, although I'm sure I tried it back when; in your view is it still what it was?

As best I can tell, yes, although it's been a while since I had it on tap.

Note also that "IPA" as a name never died; the Ballantine label only died well after the surge in craft brewing.

I stand corrected!

#73 ::: Megpie71 ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2016, 09:11 PM:

Elliot Mason @ 39: Yeah, we have the various colleges or schools as administrative divisions within a larger university thing happening here in Australia (more likely to be "schools" than "colleges", mainly because "college" here comes tainted with the label of "college of advanced education", which were definitely lesser institutions prior to about the mid-1980s).

I'm not really requiring the sport the jock character is playing to have prestige, as such. I mean, I have two other "sports scholarship" characters, one for archery, and another for martial arts, so I figure this place has a pretty diverse range of sports represented. I'd like it to be a team-based, or strongly team-oriented sport, simply because I do want to get the whole "toxic male bonding" thing happening (the whole thing where the attitudes of your team-mates/workmates etc start to matter more than the attitudes of your friends and family, to the point of over-riding moral and ethical considerations), but if necessary I can probably dump him into a fraternity for the same sort of thing. What you're saying about swimming might work.

Thanks for the info re: the transcript. Okay, so I'm putting the high school the "white trash" character went to in the next town over from his hometown, because that way he's more likely to encounter high school admin staff who won't judge him by his hometown reputation, and won't be so surprised by a request for his transcript they'll stuff the whole mess up in shock.

Singing Wren @ 42: Thank you very much for the link to the NCAA Wikipedia page - very helpful for me! Means I'm going to have to change a scholarship for one of my jock characters from archery to rifle - nuisance, but do-able. My martial arts student was going to be one of the "comfortably well off" ones anyway - so he's going to keep up his martial arts studies at a dojo in town, and be studying sports science and sports psychology without a scholarship.

With regards to passports, I think I have a maximum of two characters who might have one - and one of those is ex-military, going through college on the GI bill after having served a term in the military.

Buddha Buck and others: I can see I've confused people. I have a collection of characters. One of these is the "white trash" guy who left his home in Arkansas for anywhere which wasn't there (and this guy is eventually going to be studying engineering). He's going to have turned 20 in the year the story starts, so he's been living and working in the state where the university is based for a couple of (rather eventful) years. Another is the jock from Minnesota who got a sports scholarship to my fictional university (currently for football, although I'm thinking of changing this to something else), who is going to be turning 18 in the year the story starts. There is a geek (mathematics/computer science) who is going to be turning 17, and another very precocious character who isn't yet 16 who are the reasons I'm chasing up alcohol rules.

The "white trash" guy is going to be the focus character for year one, the sports jock is currently planned to be the focus character for year three (year two, for the curious, has a guy who's doing arts/law as the focus).

The "white trash" guy lucked out and managed to get given a rather beat-up motorcycle by a lady back in his home town (she'd pretty much inherited it from a son who'd died in a non-vehicular accident, and had no use for it herself - she gave it to the character as payment for about two years of house repairs and four winters of wood chopping and snow shovelling, plus grocery runs and other odd jobs as required). She also gave him the name and address of a nephew of hers who was living and working in a big-ish city in a different state, as someone who might be able to help him out. So the work he's been doing in his new home state is largely courier work - first as part of an established courier firm, then as a solo operator for a small client base. He combines this with working part-time as a sort of roustabout/admin assistant/general gopher/"can you hold this for a minute" guy for a local mechanic shop (where the nephew of his helpful neighbour works).

It actually gets interesting, because he was offered a mechanic apprenticeship by the proprietor, and when he applied at the local community college for the pre-apprenticeship course, the administrator took one look at his transcript and asked why he wasn't studying engineering instead. Then she got onto the Dean of Engineering at the university, shot a copy of the transcript over to him, and started pulling strings and arranging things to get this character into the mechanical engineering courses on every scholarship they can think of (because otherwise money is a severe constraint). He has plans to continue the courier business around his studies.

I'm pretty sure he's able to establish financial independence from his family. His only real family is his mother - she thought she was in a more solid relationship with the guy who became his father than she had been (his father, on the other hand, was basically using his mother as a mobile Fleshlight) only to be dumped summarily when she became pregnant (genuine oops - failure of birth control following a bout of a stomach bug). As far as I'm aware, the guy who fathered our first year focus character doesn't even know the kid exists (and probably couldn't afford to pay child support even if he did). Anyway, she went back home to her parents (granddad died of miner's lung years before; grandma died when the kid was about eight or so) and the derision/spite of the locals. She was always bitter about the kid, because she blamed him for the end of the relationship, and they had a rather dysfunctional relationship full of resentful silences on her part and bewildered ones on his.

#74 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2016, 10:00 PM:

I seem to recall we were discussing this once.

#75 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2016, 10:06 PM:

I wonder if it is useful to distinguish between:

a. People who think Trump would be a good president.

b. People who prefer Republican appointees and to Democratic appointees, and figure that Trump means Republican appointees and thus broadly Republican policies.

c. People who want the set of ideas associated with Trump (border security/deportation, disapproval of BLM/support of the police, dislike of Muslims, etc.) to gain in status or acceptability.

(a) seems the least defensible of these to me--nothing Trump has said or done in the last couple years has suggested he'd make a good president.

(b) is presumably why most Republicans are willing to vote for him--they broadly approve of Republican policies and ideas, and figure Trump will have no choice but to appoint prominent Republicans as his advisors and cabinet secretaries and such. I can think of at least a couple people I know personally who I think are in this category.

(c) is the category I've seen the most support for, but that may simply be an artifact of what I read online and the people I know.

All this is based on knowing only a small number of people who support Trump in person, and a somewhat larger set of people I sometimes converse with online.

#76 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2016, 10:13 PM:

Megpie, some of your story ideas are making me remember the fact that the poet Jack Kerouac had a football scholarship, but had to drop out of school due to being injured and unable to play football. His dropping out of school led to the travels that provided inspiration for On The Road.

#77 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2016, 11:59 PM:

category (d) is people who think that having Trump as president will somehow Bring the Revolutions that they've been hoping for and we'll all have sparkly rainbow unicorns. (These tend to also be hardcore Bernie fans.)

#78 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2016, 01:31 AM:

Rewatching The Princess Bride now--my husband's choice after a hell of a long day on the job, while sick, without backup. Everybody in the room is quoting, including the six-year-old. It reminds me of one of my favorite stories about the movie: that the first time Golding saw it was the premiere and the second time was 25 years later at a special anniversary showing, at which he was absolutely gobsmacked to see a multi-generational bunch of fans packing the room, cheering, and reciting every line.

#79 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2016, 01:58 AM:

CHip @63: Green Lantern was based in Coast City, which was on the coast. (Go figure.) It was not-Los Angeles in the same way that Gotham was not-New York.

(In JLA - Avengers Kurt Busiek posited that Earth-DC was slightly larger than Earth-Marvel, to make room for the extra cities.)

#80 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2016, 04:34 AM:

I was at Iowa State during the time when the drinking age was 18. There was a bar on campus, in the student union, called The Maintenance Shop. There were many bars in Dogtown; one was named The Library. Another, Dugan's Deli, was close to my dorm. A beer and a bialy at Dugan's were frequently my Sunday supper. Alcohol was legal in the dorms.

I forget who was discussing geography above, but Kansas and Oklahoma do NOT border on the Mississippi River.

#81 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2016, 06:00 AM:

Jenny Islander@78: I suspect you mean Goldman. (Though for some reason he and Golding are especially easy to confuse - I've done it more than once myself.)

#82 ::: Singing Wren ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2016, 07:19 AM:

Anne Sheller @ 80:

I have been told that many college town and university districts in larger cities have a bar near the college/university called The Library. I was also told this is so students can honestly say the were at The Library when they were out drinking.

Even in the mid-late 1990's Ohio State allowed alcohol in dorms, so long as it was purchased, kept, and consumed by students who were at least 21. Most students who weren't RA's had moved into off campus housing by this point, but there was at least one senior on my brother's floor when my brother was a freshman. As you might expect, this was a rule honored more in the breach than the observance.

#83 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2016, 10:57 AM:

Mary Frances @61, as a native of the area I might have to suggest against UMich; it's a very expensive, fairly bureaucratic school, and the string-pulling Megpie @73 might work there, but is less likely to do so than at a school that is slightly less full of itself.

The financial aid office is also rather inflexible on the topic of estranged parents; I believe that in order to establish independence, you need a signed letter from the estranged parent stating that they have no intent of ever supporting you financially ever again in any way... This actually might be a difficulty with the FAFSA rather than the fin aid office as such. As stated above, the only real ways out of it are a) joining the military, b) getting married, or possibly c) having been an emancipated minor or similar legal construct that you can no longer do once you're 18. Anyway, the implications for people who, say, have never met their father, or need to never talk to their parents again for personal safety reasons, should be distressingly apparent. I have a friend who got married at age 18 or 19 in order to get aid for community college, because they need to never talk to their mother again.

#84 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2016, 11:22 AM:

It's like financial-aid people think everyone has a 1950 TV-type nuclear family. when that's more the exception than the rule. And wasn't all that common even 40 years ago.

#85 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2016, 11:22 AM:

lorax @64: That hasn't been true for decades

Wow. I clean missed that right-most column. Banner-blindness FTW. :-\

*nevermind* /latella

#86 ::: Sten ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2016, 12:22 PM:

Albatross @75: I wonder how useful it would be to split the Trump-voters into categories based on the set who will vote because of Trump and the set who will vote despite Trump. The *outcome* will be the same but obviously what would make them change their mind would be very different.

And I am not sure how to classify the ones who take the position that most of what politicians do is evil and that they therefore should do as little as possible - and from there go to vote Trump because he will supposedly be opposed from both sides and unable to get any of his policies through.

#87 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2016, 01:09 PM:

When I was a grad student at UC Berkeley ('62-'64), all you could buy within a mile of the campus was "near-beer" (what it was near to wasn't beer). However, clustered just outside the one-mile zone were numerous 24-hour liquor stores. And they delivered.

#88 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2016, 01:09 PM:

#83 ::: estelendur

I'll add one more to the category-- a parent who is intractably uncooperative. It might be mental problems (disorganization, phobia, incapability) or it might be an refusal to help in any way.

#86 ::: Sten

At least some Trump voters hate Clinton.

I can't find the clip, but Howard Stern says that some Trump supporters believe that the government isn't working, and giving it a hard whack will help. (I heard it on NPR today.)

#89 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2016, 01:26 PM:

The only person I've lately hung out with (but again, I live in a "blue dot") who claims to intend voting for Trump, is seriously depressed and passively suicidal, with serious anger issues.

The GOP is clearly reaping the whirlwind, the question is how many of us will suffer for it.

#90 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2016, 03:13 PM:

I know a Trump voter. He's a friend. (I avoid talking politics with him.)

He's packed up the machines factory he works in and shipped them, with his job, to Mexico... TWICE. (When his job moved to Mexico the first time, he found another job... in a company that is currently moving to Mexico. He's now job-hunting again.) He blames the Clintons.

He's not a bad person. I don't agree with his decision, but I can't say that I don't understand his bitterness. He doesn't seem to be able to notice, because of his resentment, that Trump buys all his campaign swag in China...

His wife and daughter are both voting for Clinton.

People are complicated.

#91 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2016, 03:17 PM:

me @90, that should be, ...he's packed up the machines in the factory...

(And I do mean that literally. He was in charge of unhooking, disassembling, and packing the machinery.)

#92 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2016, 03:26 PM:

I just wonder when it will dawn on the gods-blasted media that some of us out here don't care about the emails.

I'm a retired Federal employee, and up until the early-adopters got into the management stream computers were more used by administration (i.e. clericals) than by the 'professional' staff. Which meant it took a while before many Federal agencies had 100% of their population using computers.

The upper echelon of the Bush Administration used a private server located in the headquarters of the RNC. I suspect that in addition to more privacy, they just didn't want to bother with the technical stuff (this tends to be the hallmark of the Republican Administrations I dealt with over the years).

Those of us who were comfortable using them usually had more than one email address, the more geeky monied sort had (gasp!) HOME computers. In the next wave of Federal nerds were the BlackBerry users...

What Clinton did was allowed for many years -- it's only under the Obama administration that they tightened up on the rules. When management didn't give a damn about computers ('those are for secretaries NOT me!') it was pretty much anything goes. Clinton's only crime, if it can even be considered one, is that she wanted to keep her personal matters private and yet wanted the convenience of using her BlackBerry.

IF security was the goal, then the bloody damn NSA is culpable, because Clinton asked up front for a secure version of the BlackBerry, and NSA said, "No." Should Clinton be elected, I hope she fires the people at NSA who behaved with such lack of foresight.

#93 ::: cyllan ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2016, 05:46 PM:

HLN: Area woman is diagnosed with shingles. When asked by her physician if she's under any stress, can merely give the doctor a look that attempts to convey "Have you seen the politics going on lately" as an answer. Area woman is grateful to her spouse for forcing her to the doctor today. The virus was caught fairly early, and hopefully the anti-virals will kick in soon. In the meantime, expect a lot of swearing.

#94 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2016, 05:48 PM:

cyllan #93,

Sympathies & hope the anti-virals get the job done. I understand shingles can be painful.

#95 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2016, 06:18 PM:

A shingles vaccine is available. It's pricey (~$200) and not 100% effective, but it's recommended for those over 60.

#96 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2016, 07:04 PM:

Lori Coulson at # 92: Clinton asked up front for a secure version of the BlackBerry, and NSA said, "No."

The way I remember reading it, Clinton is a Blackberry addict who didn't want to switch to whatever mobile phones were supported on the secure government networks. She wanted whatever solution let the POTUS use a Blackberry securely, and didn't understand why they couldn't do it for her too.

This next part is my speculation: Obama's Blackberry is not as secure as it should be, but the NSA couldn't tell him no.

#97 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2016, 07:18 PM:

Lori@92, Allan@96:

The way I heard it was that the Blackberry she was offered could not deal with getting mail from two different (personal and work) accounts, so she would either have to carry two devices, put her personal email on a government-owned server (and thus subject to FOIA requests), or put her work email on a privately-owned server.

#98 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2016, 07:40 PM:

Most sincere sympathy, and the antivirals will do a lot for you.
(I've had that stuff twice, once with antivirals and once without. After the second time, I got the shot - via ACA coverage - in hopes of better immune-system response if it happens again.)

#99 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2016, 07:42 PM:

It was about $230 last fall, and they're actually recommending it for over-50.

#100 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2016, 07:47 PM:

The one Trump supporter I know is bitter about jobs going outside the US.

#101 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2016, 09:40 PM:

estelender @ 83: Good information about UMich. I was suggesting it solely on account of the location and the sports/academic record; the only thing I know about the place, really, is about third-hand from a second cousin alumna . . . I can well believe that everything you say is true not only about UMich, but about most big state "flagship" schools (which would include UW-Madison, of course).

#102 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2016, 09:47 PM:

Theophylact wrote: "However, clustered just outside the one-mile zone were numerous 24-hour liquor stores. And they delivered."

Whiskey Gulch! Real scruffy and run down. But thriving, I imagine.

It was still around when I lived in Belmont. I was told it was situated on the one patch of down-scale East Palo Alto that was west of 101.

Last time I was down there the area was being redeveloped and cleaned up.

#103 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2016, 10:26 PM:

I understand people being bitter about jobs being offshored. What I don't understand is what people think Trump can do about it. There is no possible magic wand that anyone can wave to turn the Rust Belt back into the factory belt.

#104 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2016, 03:18 AM:

Hey, I just got a giant push update for Windows 10. It came with the usual puffery but nothing concrete about what it does. Anybody else get one, and what does it do, exactly? Are there new security holes for me to plug?

#105 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2016, 04:27 AM:

Anne Sheller, #80: I was at Iowa State during the time when the drinking age was 18. There was a bar on campus, in the student union, called The Maintenance Shop. There were many bars in Dogtown; one was named The Library. Another, Dugan's Deli, was close to my dorm. A beer and a bialy at Dugan's were frequently my Sunday supper. Alcohol was legal in the dorms.

OMG, I think you and I may be contemporaries. Cy's Roost, and The Cave Inn, which had 10c draw night and always closed down with Jimmy Buffet's "Why Don't We Get Drunk and Screw", and the disco place (which later burned down, dammit I can't remember the name) with the special on daiquiris of all flavors on Wednesday nights. And the dance club that I pretty much lived in for a year or two, until I got a romantic partner (and I can't remember the name of that one, either, dammit!).

And the blizzards! When the snow started to avalanche down, and we all blew off class for the afternoon and went to The Keg Shop for a keg and had a party while the campus was snowed in, and played Manfred Mann's "Stranded in Iowa".

Oh, dear. I think I'm going to pass out from an overdose of nostalgia.

#106 ::: cyllan ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2016, 08:47 AM:

Thanks to all for the good wishes. They're much appreciated.

Cassy B. @103: I suspect it's less that they are thinking that Trump can do something about the loss of jobs and more that they're just grateful to have someone they feel understands their position. (Which isn't to say that other politicians don't understand, but they aren't focused on that demographic.) Sometimes when you're buried, you don't want a solution so much as you want someone to acknowledge that your situation sucks.

#107 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2016, 08:59 AM:

cyllan, I'm just going by my soon-to-be-unemployed friend as a bellwether, here; he says "Trump will bring the jobs back!..." and he seems to believe it.

I seem to recall Trump making that promise several times on the campaign trail; never with any substantive explanations of HOW he'd bring them back, however. Other than taxes. Which Trump himself doesn't seem to think he personally needs to pay. The contradictions, they make my head hurt....

#108 ::: Pfusand ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2016, 09:40 AM:

When I had shingles (not a bad case), I would apply a paste of witch hazel and fuller's earth (ask your pharmacist) to the lesions. When it had dried, I'd -- gently! -- remove it with more witch hazel. Repeat. Then my skin would be very dry, and I'd apply a zinc oxide ointment for an hour or so. Then back to the fuller's earth paste. It helped.

#109 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2016, 10:27 AM:

cyllan @ 93:

My grandfather had shingles a few years ago, and seemed to recover quite well with the treatment they gave him. Best wishes to you.

It's too late for most of us now, but there is a chickenpox vaccine these days, and it looks like having been vaccinated against chickenpox is likely to reduce the risk of shingles later in life. All I know is I'd much rather have had the vaccine than chickenpox.

Cassy B. @ 107:

When driving through the San Joaquin valley, I saw a few signs that read something like "Another farmer for Trump. Water for families and farms." All I could think was, "where did Trump even hint that he cared about you or water issues?"

#110 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2016, 10:30 AM:

It's the local irrigation district's astroturf group. They're against all Democrats, including the Blue Dog who's represetning a lot of them. (Apparently Congress controls rainfall now.)

#111 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2016, 10:46 AM:

Theophylact @ 95 & P J Evans @99: I got the shingles vaccine last December. My doctor recommended getting it at the pharmacy, rather than in her office, because insurance seemed to be paying better if it was at a pharmacy. I called my usual pharmacy (in the Giant Eagle grocery store), and a nearby RiteAid. My usual pharmacy was confused about whether I needed a prescription and how much it would cost.

RiteAid told me it didn't require a prescription, checked my insurance, and told me it would be covered 100% with no co-pay. I got it free at RiteAid.

This will naturally vary with the insurance company involved. I think the "requires prescription" may vary with both state and insurance plan. I'm glad I called more than one pharmacy. I did that based on a Consumer Reports article that said costs can vary significantly between different stores.

#112 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2016, 10:49 AM:

I went to a pharmacy, also; I also got a flu shot (for luck) and the tetanus/pertussis booster (my brother's youngest grandkid just turned one this summer, and I wanted to not give him anything I might be carrying).

#113 ::: GAY! Xopher Halftongue QUEER! ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2016, 12:08 PM:

I live in Hoboken, but was nowhere near the Hoboken Terminal when the train crash happened. Lenore is also OK.

As for other people I know in Hoboken, it's early days yet. The people on the train would have been commuters from other parts of New Jersey, but Hobokenites go into that terminal for all sorts of reasons.

Latest reports I've heard say at least 3 dead and over 100 injured.

#114 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2016, 02:23 PM:

Elliot Mason@35, Very cool video (the ASL one.) I hadn't realized how very chilling it is to deliberately not look at someone who's speaking to you in sign language.

Megpie71 @ 38, "tavern" seems to be a generic phrase for you, while for us the generic phrase is "bar" and "tavern" is only kept as part of a slightly old-fashioned name. Separated by a common language and so forth.

As far as sports, I don't know enough (localized or otherwise) to help.

#115 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2016, 03:04 PM:

Thanks - I was a little worried.

#116 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2016, 03:57 PM:

Jenny Islander@104: perhaps it's the same one I got about 2-3 weeks ago, and which started a long installation process when the machine was running unattended, which annoyed me. It didn't change much except to annoyingly revert some of the config changes I'd made when I finally upgraded to W10 a few months ago (Edge became the default browser again, tap touchpad to do a mouseclick was switched on again which I hate, it tried to get me to use Cortana again, boasted about a few new Windows Apps that I'll never use.) Annoying at the time but no long-term damage.

#117 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2016, 05:31 PM:

(Yes, the substring 'annoy' does get overused surprisingly much in that last post. That's Windows updates for you.)

#118 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2016, 06:52 PM:

JJ at # 105: Disco place in Ames? If this was the late 1970s, it would be Granddaddy's.

#119 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2016, 08:01 PM:

AKICOML: I once saw a book, an sf collection, called "Uranian Worlds", and thought it might refer to planets of extreme axial tilt, but it did not. Now I am curious to find stories/books that do. M.A. Foster's "Warriors of Dawn", and Poul Anderson's "Man who counts", I think the latter was, but can't recall any others--pertaining to Uranus itself [all right, there was a Weinbaum story] or others like it. [I'd go with Foster and use the term "Uranoid".] Anyone here got any leads?

#120 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2016, 09:03 PM:

Pfusand @108: I once heard dermatology summarized as: "If it's wet, make it dry. If it's dry, make it wet."

#121 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2016, 09:27 PM:

"Irrigation district's astroturf group" sounds like an oxymoron, in the sense that astroturf does not need to be irrigated.

#122 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2016, 09:41 PM:

Megpie, it occurs to me you might appreciate the movie "Breaking Away" It's a coming-of-age story of a young man living in a university town, with bicycle racing.

#123 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2016, 09:49 PM:

Xopher, good to hear you're OK.

Apropos of nothing: Swiped from a side thread on Customers Suck:

I recently purchased Frosty Paws for my dog. The directions say to put the cup in the food dish. My dog DOES NOT like that! So she does this.

#124 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2016, 09:54 PM:

in The Tick, there are official panels that decide which superheroes are assigned to which cities. The Tick gets assigned to The City.

#125 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2016, 10:49 PM:

Jacque @120: A dermatologist in training once told me that dermatology is the ideal medical specialty. Your patients never get well, they never die, and they never call you at 3AM.

#126 ::: Megpie71 ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2016, 10:54 PM:

Sandy B @114 - Actually, "tavern" is pretty much a university-specific usage, and it may be further localised to the various universities here in Western Australia. Everywhere else in Australia, the place which serves alcoholic drinks by the glass is called the "pub".

#127 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2016, 11:01 PM:

#122: I watched Breaking Away a few months ago, for the first time in . . . two decades?

It held up wonderfully. A forever movie.

#128 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2016, 11:16 PM:

Stefan Jones @#127

As I recall, Breaking Away is set in Bloomington, Indiana, where my wife went to grad school circa 1980. It covers a number of points relevant to Megpie71's fic in progress, including the town vs. gown situation. My wife says it wasn't quite as separated as the movie shows it. The town's major industry at that time was the RCA assembly plant making TVs.
Certainly the SCA and fanish communities included both town and gown. The university's big sport is basketball.
Now, the last time we visited Bloomington, I wound up driving out of a state park embedded in a large pack of Hell's Angels motorcycles. This may also say something about the demographics.

#129 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2016, 11:35 PM:

That Feeling Where: You know you read a piece of fiction, and love love love LOVED certain aspects of it, and you KNOW you have enough keywords that you oughtta be able to find it again, but noooooo.

And then you ask just the right person and they give you a link and YAAAAAY!

(specifically it's a fanfic involving a character learning all about ethical BDSM and how that works; email me via the gmailz at 2ells2tees if this might interest you)

#130 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2016, 12:02 AM:

Angiportus @119: Uranian Worlds is a bibliography of gay and lesbian SF, written by Lin Paleo and Eric Garber, rather than an anthology. I recommend it, though it's a bit out of date at this point.

As for extreme axial tilt novels, would you count ones where the world is half-day, half-night? This could happen if the planet revolves around the axis that's in the plane of the ecliptic. Not thinking of any offhand, but looking at Mercury-related stories might give you a couple.

#131 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2016, 01:10 AM:

Allan Beatty, #118: Disco place in Ames? If this was the late 1970s, it would be Granddaddy's.

Yegods, I'd forgotten about Grandaddy's. But that was downtown, right? I think you're right, in that I was remembering the multicolored squares of light that made up the dance floor, and it did burn down later. I think I've accidentally melded that with the place that had daiquiri specials on Wednesday nights, which was right near Campustown. Does Mondo's sound right? I don't know why, but that's what keeps poking itself into my brain.

And there was a dance bar that opened in an old warehouse near Campustown at the beginning of the 80s, painted all black inside, that played pop and rock music. I pretty much lived there for a year or two.

And the pranks... like the Engineers, sticking a huge pumpkin on top of Marston water tower.

I haven't thought about any of this in years. What a trip down Memory Lane.

#132 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2016, 07:08 AM:

AKICOML: A friend recently got a new neighbor, a 9yo black girl. My friend did a literature search, and can't find fun SF/F books with a young black female protagonist. She can find books with young black female protagonists, but they are "educational" -- about history, slavery, social justice, etc.

Does anyone know of any suitable "young adult" SF/F starring black teenage girls?

#133 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2016, 07:26 AM:

Henry Troup @ #128, Breaking Away was filmed where I live (Athens, GA). They filmed some parts in the winter and had to glue leaves on the trees. (That was before I lived here, alas, but there are still many dedicated cyclists here in spite of terrible infrastructure. 2 deaths this month alone.)

#134 ::: Singing Wren ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2016, 07:32 AM:

Well, that's sorted.

I have confirmed I am registered to vote in November's election, and filled out the form to request an absentee ballot. Despite any other shenanigans, Ohio at least is making the absentee ballot bit simple - you no longer need to provide a reason why you need an absentee ballot, the office of the Secretary of State mailed me the request form, and no additional paperwork unless I also go to the polls on Election Day.

#135 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2016, 07:43 AM:

Megpie71 @ #126:

Hah, had I been asked to hazard a guess, I would've guessed "pinto" (pronounced as "pint-oh"), analogous to a "bottleo".

#136 ::: duckbunny ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2016, 07:43 AM:

Buddha Buck @ 132: I would recommend Tamora Pierce's Circle of Magic books, which have four teenage protagonists, one book from each POV. Daja is black and from a minority in the local context (it's a fantasy setting unrelated to Pierce's Tortall books), and she has a black mentor.

#137 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2016, 08:37 AM:

Hoping I put in the right email for a new computer here.

Black protags in YA (and middle grade, really) SFF: Pierce, yes. Okorafor, definitely. Farmer's Ear, Eye, and Arm might hold up. There's probably a better list somewhere but I can't find it, or much of anything with American protags rather than African or secondary-world. Larbalestier's fairy book, maybe.

#138 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2016, 08:56 AM:

Buddha Buck @132, I think of 9 as a little young for some of YA. I googled "Diverse Middle Grade science fiction and fantasy" and found a few recommended lists, some of which look good. Nothing I personally can vouch for.

#139 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2016, 08:57 AM:

"Larbalestier's fairy book" is How To Ditch Your Fairy, whose protagonist is not explicitly Black.

Larbalestier's "Liar," however, has an explicitly multiracial kid of which one of the races is Black, and her navigating the complexities of racial identity and "passing" is part of the entire thrust of the book.

#140 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2016, 10:13 AM:

It's been a while since I've read it, but Akata Witch might qualify.

#141 ::: Quill ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2016, 10:44 AM:

Buddha Buck @ 132: HM Hoover's Away Is a Strange Place to Be is good.

There's also the Andre Norton Star Ka'at series, but it's somewhat out of date.

#142 ::: Herberta ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2016, 11:51 AM:

Buddha Buck, #132: "The True Meaning of Smekday" by Adam Rex is a fun, humorous middle grade SF novel with a black girl protagonist. My own 9yo girl really liked it.

#143 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2016, 12:22 PM:

Is this a good time or place to talk about the Best Series Hugo?

#144 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2016, 12:41 PM:

Singing Wren @134:

Ohio learned its lesson from 2004, when many polling places had people standing in line to vote for more than four hours.* After that debacle, they expanded early voting and relaxed the rules on absentee ballots.

*I was one of them, and I had to call my office and tell them I'd be late. It was the first time I'd reached my polling place in the early, early morning and found a line...

#145 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2016, 01:02 PM:

Buddha Buck:

It's not exactly YA (or high literature), but Neal Stephenson's book Reamde has a young black (North African ancestry) protagonist. It's somewhat violent, has at least some sexual content (though not much), but it's not a bad read.

#146 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2016, 01:07 PM:

On alcohol sales, if I'm not too late, there are such things as local option states (most of the South). In such states, local governments determine whether or not alcohol can be sold, and under what conditions, within limits set by state law. As a result, bootleggers flourish in the South.

This also means that there is a trifold classification of counties: dry (no legal beer, wine, or liquor sales); wet (beer, wine, and liquor legally sold); and moist (the county is dry but it contains one or more wet municipalities).

#147 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2016, 01:29 PM:

Doug @143:


#148 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2016, 02:28 PM:

Prompted by an obnoxious meme I saw on Facebook....

It's another piece of shit from Breitbart
Another piece of lying screed
It fills the Internet with malice
And promotes more and more evil deeds

It fills up minds with horrid mistruths
Spreads memes of hatemongering disease
Engaging in a long campaign of slime
Sends rationality to flee.

It's another piece of shit from Breitbart
And I want it all to disappear please!

#149 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2016, 02:32 PM:

So I just got a popup, white letters on a black field. It reads:

Restart required
We'll restart your computer outside of active hours. Click here to change the restart schedule or restart now.

Do they realize that that reads like somebody just walking into my living room, leaning over my shoulder, and watching me type while waiting to push the button?

#150 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2016, 03:03 PM:

Jenny Islander @ 149 ...
I'm sure whomever came up with it thought it sounded friendly, rather than creepy ...

#151 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2016, 04:04 PM:

(Noting that Abi said fine @147, not that I was worried about it in an Open Thread.) Doug@143: I see that Helsinki has just announced they'll use their right to award an additional Hugo category to run a trial of this proposed (waiting for ratification and then to take effect) award.

Series are really extremely important in the field, and I've felt periodically that the Best Novel award was hijacked by a work that wasn't really the best, but in a series that people thought was the best. I think having a real award for a series will help some, and will basically be a good thing. I'm comfortable with the proposed re-eligibility rules (if a series has been a winner, it can't be nominated again. If it has been a finalist but not a winner, it can be nominated again if, since it was most recently a finalist, it has grown by at least the amount needed to qualify for this award in the first place, at least 3 volumes and 240k words).

I think we'll just have to live with series that are great, win, and then get something obnoxious or embarrassing grafted on. Won't happen that often, and the dates of things will make it clear that the obnoxious new bit wasn't what the award was given for.

#152 ::: crazysoph ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2016, 04:10 PM:

Just coming here to do the equivalent of squishing my forehead forelornly on the cool surface of a refridgerator or (sturdy) windowpane.

A friend is dying; I'm too far away to do anything meaningful, for them, anyway. (She's married, to a superbly supportive partner.)

Crazy(not ready yet for a cup of tea, or even to cry, just yet...)Soph

#153 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2016, 04:48 PM:

Sympathies, crazysoph. If you're accepting internet hugs, you have mine.

#154 ::: Sarah E ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2016, 05:43 PM:

JJ@ #105:

Oh, special on *daiquiris*, plural, of all flavours. I was about to ask after this "Daquiri of All Flavors." It sounded good. Or possibly scary.

#155 ::: GAY! Xopher Halftongue QUEER! ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2016, 05:45 PM:

Dave 123: Thanks.

crazysoph 152: Hugs if welcome.

#156 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2016, 05:49 PM:

Buddha Buck @132: Princeless. It is a comic book series and it is the best. My 10yo Black niece was super disappointed when she discovered that I'd already given her all of them and she would have to wait for the next one to be written.

#157 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2016, 06:49 PM:

Trek Against Trump.

"Star Trek has always offered a positive vision of the future, a vision of hope and optimism, and most importantly, a vision of inclusion, where people of all races are accorded equal respect and dignity, where individual beliefs and lifestyles are respected so long as they pose no threat to others. We cannot turn our backs on what is happening in the upcoming election. Never has there been a presidential candidate who stands in such complete opposition to the ideals of the Star Trek universe as Donald Trump. His election would take this country backward, perhaps disastrously. We need to elect a president who will move this country forward into the kind of future we all dream of: where personal differences are understood and accepted, where science overrules superstition, where people work together instead of against each other."

And look at that list of signatures! It reads like a Who's Who of all the series, and the movies as well.

#158 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2016, 09:37 PM:

Sympathies, crazysoph.

#159 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2016, 09:51 PM:

crazysoph @152: Ouch. :-(

#160 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2016, 10:02 PM:

I have a complaint: I have now read all the T. Kingfisher books to date, and there are not more.

It is totally UNFAIR that it takes longer to write books than to read them.

#161 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2016, 10:32 PM:

Tom Whitmore @ 68: I was thinking of straight prose -- to the extent that I was thinking.

Tim Walters @ 72: Guess I'll have to swim down to the local go-ahead-punk-count-my-taps and try it.

David Goldfarb @ 79: so much for >50-year-old memories. I suppose not-LA was a more plausible location for a test pilot.

Cassy B @. 90: I suppose I should have included PJ's type (d) -- because that's what it takes to believe that Trump is going to do anything about jobs moving away. (I can just see him tearing up GATT and walking out of the WTO -- and then being lynched when people realize how little of what they buy at Walmart, Target, ... is made in the US. Maybe they'd even get there ahead of the 1%.) re your followup, I wonder whether he's really so stupid as to believe the Laffer curve, or just latched onto it crying "Ooh! Shiny!"

P J Evans @ 110: the claims I hear amount to "The eco-nuts are blocking our water!" (\Real/ Republicans are all against eco-nuts.) IIRC, this is semi-true -- well north of you, where wild-aquacultural businesses have good reason to oppose diversion of water to land.)

crazysoph: sympathies; watching from a distance is not fun, even if you know there's local support.

HLN: today's life lesson was part 2 of "Don't trust flat-pack furniture that comes with wheels." (Each movement focuses stress on joints that really aren't designed for dynamic loads.) Fortunately I was able to spring some loose joints just enough to slip some "super glue" into them, and then apply the ratchet straps that my wife decided a few years ago would be a good thing to have around the house.

#162 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2016, 10:49 PM:

The current Big Water Fight is over Jerry Brown's wish to install two very large tunnels under the Delta to move water south - without all the necessary impact statements done first, and without input from the most-affected parties. What some people want to think is that most of the water will be going to cities in Southern California, but the big beneficiaries will be the irrigated farms in the southern San Joaquin valley (mostly luxury-type items like almonds - a lot are exported - and pomegranates and pistachios). The big losers will be the Delta, with all its recreation and farming, and the cities around it that use well water, because the flow will be reduced to where there's saltwater intrusion.

I don't think Jerry Brown has been closer to the Delta in the last 40 years than crossing the river to get to the airport. He got elected on his reputation, and he's doing a fine job of trashing it.

#163 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2016, 10:52 PM:

Clifton @160: I read an interview with Lois Bujold where she described how Baen bought her first three books and published them in three consecutive months, giving her early fans the entirely mistaken notion that she could write a book a month.

#164 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2016, 02:16 AM:

JJ & Allan - my ISU years were '74-'79, 4 years stretched over 5 by the engineering co-op program. I only vaguely remember Cy's Roost and the Cave Inn, didn't actually spend that much time in bars (though there was that FAC, Friday Afternoon Club, where after classes on that day we'd get moderately drunk before facing Friley food). I lived in a little shoebox dorm called Westgate, which has since been torn down. Had to walk about 1/4 mile on Iowa winter mornings for Friley food breakfasts.

#165 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2016, 04:35 AM:

Clifton @160: It is totally UNFAIR that it takes longer to write books than to read them.

Maybe if we read them all serially? Yeah, like that'll happen. :-)

CHip @161: ratchet straps

::trots off to add to McGuckins list::

I think you may just have solved several problems for me. See also: Your wife is a very smart lady.

Anne Sheller @164: Iowa winter mornings

Friend of mine reported that his first winter 8am class at Grinnell was the last time he shaved. (Well, until he had to start using a CPAP forty years later....)

#166 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2016, 05:04 AM:

151: That's about where I am, too, and I'm already a member for Helsinki (w00t! the country where I quite want to be), so I'm excited to be part of the trial run.

I hope that people don't expend too much energy talking about edge cases, and that we get a good set of nominees to choose from.

#167 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2016, 08:16 AM:

P J Evans @ 162: so a Democrat is giving the farmers someone else's water and the farmers are still voting Republican?!?

Jacque @ 161: compliment passed on. If you don't find them in major-local-hardware-store (only reference I can find), the big chains (Lowes, Home Depot, ...) will certainly have them -- probably under a different name, but a salesman should know what you're asking for.

a waking-up thought re Trump and jobs: he's an updated Lord Summerisle, promising the jobs will come back if we just burn a few people -- except that Christopher Lee at his worst was better-behaved than Trump....

#168 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2016, 12:57 PM:

I think a chap could do business with Lord Summerisle. He wouldn't welsh on his deals.

#169 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2016, 08:56 PM:

#132 Two possibilities, neither one a perfect fit:

Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older has a Puerto Rican female protagonist, but might be for slightly older audience.

Deeba Resham, the hero of MIéville's Un Lun Dun is black or brown in a lot of fanart. I don't remember what the book says, but she's more likely of South Asian than African ancestry. And, of course, a Brit.

#170 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2016, 10:15 PM:

Dave Bell @168: I think a chap could do business with Lord Summerisle. He wouldn't  welsh  renege on his deals.


#171 ::: Pfusand ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2016, 11:15 PM:

Buddha Buck @132

My cousin and a few friends started up an educational non-profit, called Tumblehome Learning. They have a series of books, labeled
Galactic Academy of Science. They are educational, but it's not painfully obvious. My cousin wrote the first one, The Desperate Case of the Diamond Chip, and one of the protagonists is a young black girl.

#172 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2016, 09:26 AM:

Jacque #170: I think that was meant to be a joke on the character being Scottish.

#173 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2016, 11:30 AM:

[Capclave GOL?]

Checking interest in a GOL at Capclave this weekend.

Capclave is a local SF convention being held this Friday through Sunday at the Hilton Washington DC North/Gaithersburg. The hotel is on Perry Parkway, just off of I-270.

Driving directions can be found at the hotel website. Transit instructions and other information can be found at

Any GOL would probably be either Friday or Saturday evening. Last year the GOL walked over to Yu Zhou Cafe.

#174 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2016, 03:58 PM:

The Wicker Man, made at the very start of our European Economic Community (as it then was) adventure, has a few odd Brexit resonances now. Islanders who very much Have Their Own Way Of Doing Things dealing with the outsider who comes from the mainland to interfere...

(If Trump did win, the US would take the Joke Anglosphere Nation crown that we proudly won on June 23rd, but we'd definitely win it back during the exit negotiations that'll happen in the next few years.)

#175 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2016, 05:47 PM:

Elliott Mason @26: Heh. Would've worked better with larger fonts at the end, but I can understand why the "<big>" tag isn't enabled.

I'm afraid that OVFF is extremely unlikely this year for us. There's a drastic shortage of spoons and a copious lack of free time. And sometime soon we will probably end up in court for Inge's divorce action, and it's almost certainly going to be ugly. (Perhaps I should say "uglier"; it's currently at the "no one has yet alleged abuse of the kids, but..." level. For all intents and purposes, we haven't seen the kids in a bit more than two years. "Think of the children!" indeed. We think of them often.) We don't know what the scheduling of that will be.

#176 ::: GAY! Xopher Halftongue QUEER! ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2016, 07:19 PM:

David 172: Still an insult to the Welsh, no matter how much english you put on it or claim that leaving it out would scotch the joke.¹

Steve 174: (If Trump did win, the US would take the Joke Anglosphere Nation crown that we proudly won on June 23rd, but we'd definitely win it back during the exit negotiations that'll happen in the next few years.)

Is the JAN what's known on this side of the pond as the World's Stupidest Nation award? Because if Trump wins I'm pretty sure we have that sewn up for four years, or until the end of the world, whichever is shorter.²

¹Yes, of course I'm kidding.
²Not kidding about this one, and I did mean shorter.

#177 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2016, 05:52 AM:

Jacxque @ #170:
Xopher @ #176:

As far as I'm aware, the phrase "Welshing on a bet" is a slur on the English Royal House, referring to "the Prince of Wales" (well, a specific one who was in the habit of not paying his lost bets) rather than to actual Welsh people. That aside, I would in general be happier if the phrase wasn't used.

#178 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2016, 11:10 AM:

Ingvar M @177: Huh. I had no idea that was a reference to a specific individual. I figured it was of a class with financial insults about Jews.

And my objection to @172 is not mitigated by the explanation, since its joke nature only works(?) if you'd read the book. Which I hadn't even know existed, prior to that comment.

In other news, I have to say, you win the prize for most-original misspelling of my name. Not, strictly speaking, a misspelling, since it's obviously a typo resulting from a finger landing between keys. But I've never gotten an actual X before! =:o) You gave me a good chuckle.

#179 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2016, 11:50 AM:

Jacque @ #178:

At least it wasn't a "w". Yeah, it's a phrase that is unproblematic only if one happens to know that tiny tidbit of English idiom history. Most don't, so I would, in general, advise not to use it.

In completely different news, about a week ago, I took part in a sportsing tournament for the first time and did not place last in the field (#6 out of 9, if memory serves me right). I've signed up for another sportsing event in December and seem to be scheduled (more or less accidentally) for yet another one sometime in October.

#180 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2016, 02:26 PM:

Xopher@176: yes, it boils down to the same thing, but thinking about this a little, I suppose I prefer the 'joke nation' formulation to the 'stupid nation' one because it feels uncharitable to call a nation stupid on the grounds of a finely-balanced national vote that only just goes the wrong way. The Brexit win was narrow and presumably a Trump win would be too. (And 'joke nation' is ultimately objective: Brexit did quite verifiably cause a hell of a lot of amusement around the world in the first few days.)

Lessons learned from 2016? Satire is very much overrated as a tool against populism; the anti-EU campaign in the UK was a source of mirth for years; the Onion and countless TV funnypeople have not stopped Trump. Against certain types of populism, satire is ultimately as ineffective as it was in the Weimar Republic's cabarets.

#181 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2016, 02:56 PM:

On the verb 'to welsh', or 'to welch':'s copy of the OED merely says 'Of obscure origin'; my 3rd edition of the Shorter OED from the 80s says 'Of unkn. origin'. Given that rhymes about the alleged criminality of the Welsh were still just about current when the OED was compiled, it's interesting that the OED doesn't mention the 'obvious' etymology even to rule it out (does the current OED have any more information?)

#182 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2016, 03:08 PM:

Steve @181:

The current OED has, for the etymology:

Etymology: Origin uncertain; perhaps < Welsh adj., on account of alleged dishonesty of Welsh people (see note). Earlier currency is probably implied by welsher n.1, welshing n., and welshing adj.
Compare (from the same source as quot. 1859 at welshing adj.):
1859 Morning Chron. 5 Nov. 8/5 The phrase ‘Welshing book-maker’ seems to owe its origin to a nursery rhyme, commencing with ‘Taffy was a Welshman, [Taffy was a thief,] &c.,’ and, as we understand, means a dishonest betting man on the turf.

The referenced note says "Sometimes considered offensive in view of the conjectured connection with Welsh people."

The entry was last revised for the OED 3rd edition in 2011.

#183 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2016, 03:27 PM:

Buddha Buck@182: thanks for that—presumably the sudden availability of scanned newspapers led to this discovery. Amazing how the original OED was all done in handwriting on little scraps of paper. How anyone got any work done in the quill/dip-pen era I'll never know.

#184 ::: J Homes ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2016, 04:18 PM:

And further to ethnic slurs and the like, or not, I understand that "scotch" as used by Xopher above is cognate to "scorch" not "Scots".

J Homes.

#185 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2016, 04:21 PM:

Buddha Buck@182: Arguably, that nursery rhyme, which is one I know, could by itself make the term offensive to those with Welsh sympathies; it implies a relationship between "Welsh" and "thief" that, if you view it that way, certainly would be offensive. Regardless of the origin of any of the terms.

#187 ::: Dave Crisp ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2016, 10:24 AM:

J Holmes @184 etc: That's certainly what's happened with "Scot free" - "Scot" in this case is an old Norse word for a tax or fine, but lots of people think the phrase has something to do with the 1745 Jacobite rising.

#188 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2016, 10:49 AM:

Similar issues in the US around words like "renege" and "niggling"

#189 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2016, 11:35 AM:

Dave Crisp @ #187:

Probably a cognate of the modern Swedish "skatt" (which, interestingly, means both "tax" and "treasure", so the tax department truly is the treasury department, even in name).

#190 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2016, 01:57 PM:

Once upon a time, I told my then-boss that everything was hunky dory, but he was concerned that this was a racist expression. I then asked my lesbian black co-worker about that and she laughed. My boss had gotten 'hunky' confused with 'honkie'.

#191 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2016, 02:47 PM:

I had the impression that "honkie" was derived from "hunky", which was a late-19th-century derogatory term for Hungarian (or other Eastern European) immigrants, typically miners or steelworkers. Wikipedia lists this as the first of 3 possible etymologies. But the OED suggests that "hunky dory" is based on an older positive meaning of "hunky", dating back to at least the 1860s.

#192 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2016, 02:51 PM:

My own understanding (take it with a grain of salt, what with English not being my native language) that 'honky' was a deragotary term toward all white people. For all I know, the term is now as quaint as saying 'swell'. :-)

#193 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2016, 02:57 PM:

I thought some of you might like this article about letter openers, paper knives and the differences between them.

#194 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2016, 03:30 PM:

Serge @192:

I think you have the right understanding. Being white, and surrounded by white culture, I rarely hear the word so I don't know if it's considered old-fashioned and quaint. I don't think it is.

I recall the memorable Saturday Night Live word association sketch from 1975 where Chevy Chase gave words (which became increasingly racist) to Richard Pryor to respond to. The last three word associations were "jungle bunny"/"honky", "spade"/"honky honky", and "nigger"/"dead honky".

I don't think the language in the skit has aged that much in the intervening 40 years. It's still understandable, and still as offensive.

#195 ::: Quixotic James ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2016, 05:45 PM:

Growing up in Western Canada, I understood Hunky to be a derogatory term for Ukrainian immigrants.

There was some drama, when I was a kid in the seventies, related to an entrepreneur self-applying the title to himself and his product, "Hunky Bill's Little Perogie Maker", which is still made and marketed under that name today. The slur has passed far enough out of common usage, that I really only explain it to people in reference to the product. As an adult, I've literally only heard it's use in that context.

#196 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2016, 06:17 PM:

Benjamin Wolfe @OT113 #993: Belated congrats for many great years together.

Tom Whitmore @OT113 #926: Absolutely, and thanks

Cat update two weeks post-op. Good news: staples out as of this evening (she only removed four herself). Behaviour getting more normal. Bad news: histo report was bile duct adenocarcinoma i.e. malignant, with a less than 20% chance of it not having spread. We will have to wait and see, and enjoy what time we have with her.

#197 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2016, 06:24 PM:

In 19th century and early 20th century US slang "bohunk" was similar derogatory slang - or perhaps sometimes admiring? - for Czech immigrants (from Bohemia, often synonymous with Czech lands as a whole.)

#198 ::: Jim Parish ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2016, 07:13 PM:

"Bohunk" was still in use as late as 1983; I recall seeing it in the Marvel "Hawkeye" miniseries, put in the mouth of Clint Barton himself. (The person he was referring to turned out to be Steve Rogers - Captain America; Clint hadn't recognized him.)

#199 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2016, 07:24 PM:

AKICIML: Opinions pro/con about Android Pay / Apple Pay? I was in a conversation over the weekend with a couple of people who were raving about them as being much more secure than a physical card, and I was thinking, "Yeah, right up until your phone is stolen." Am I being overly paranoid? And how useful are they, as in how many places accept them? I know that our chipreaders can both accept them, but in the last year we've had exactly 2 people ask about it, which suggests that their popularity is either low or regional.

(I have Android Pay on my smartphone, but I haven't activated it yet.)

#200 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2016, 07:30 PM:

Lee: If the phone is stolen and they don't have your access code (or fingerprint), they can't get to the pay app -- which is definitely a layer of security that cards don't have. It's like "chip and PIN" security, ne?

That said, I haven't activated Apple Pay because I'm a slow adopter of new technologies.

#201 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2016, 08:15 PM:

I think the only times I've ever heard the word "bohunk" spoken were in the movie "16 Candles".

#202 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2016, 09:08 PM:

I like Android pay. I haven't studied the security much myself, but summary articles make it sound quite good, certainly no worse than bare cards.

I haven't found very many places where it works. It does work at the grocery stores I use, so that's convenient. And I think it's ramping up fast -- places are accepting NFC payments more and more.

It's much faster than chip readers, and even than swipes, I find, which is convenient.

#203 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2016, 09:21 PM:

Fossilized ethnic slurs!

(I don't mean they're harmless today; though to go dig out every case of anything that was ever a slur and then treat them all equally and try to completely stamp them out does seem to me like it would be an overreaction.)

Lots of them I've never heard in the wild as slurs (some of them I've heard as self-description).

Even historically it gets weird. In Skylark Duquesne, published in 1965 (but part of a series started in probably 1910 though not published until somewhat later) Duquesne is interested in a woman named Stephanie de Marigny (she's a PhD physicist, working the same place he and Seaton worked). Whose nickname is "Hunky". I don't see the slightest suggestion (not even subtext) that it's somehow a demeaning nickname; it's more like a different slang usage, meaning she's beautiful and curvy rather than skinny. But with that name and background I'm pretty sure we are supposed to know she's of Hungarian ancestry (I can't find any reference in the book explicitly though). So, did Smith not think of that as possibly a demeaning term? Was he actively working against it? Or is he playing with a tension between that meaning and the other slang when applied to a character portrayed very favorably? I have no real idea what he though he was doing there!

#204 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2016, 09:48 PM:

Kurt Busiek has a bit character in the latest run of Astro City (in a story set in 1931) nicknamed Hunky. It doesn't seem to be a derogatory name, and I'm inclined to trust Kurt's research on the subject.

I have set up Apple Pay on my iPhone 6 and on my watch. The version on the phone uses the biometric security: you have to provide a fingerprint. The watch seems to be less secure, but you do still have to unlock it with a 4-digit code, and if a wrong code is entered 10 times running the watch locks.

It doesn't seem to be taken in many places, at least so far. The only place I go at all frequently that does is Walgreens. (I was once able to use it at a soda machine.) I do have to admit that I get a bit of a kick out of paying for things using a watch.

#205 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2016, 09:55 PM:

A friend of mine was, at one point, going through the ban-list of words for an online chat system related to a videogame, because users had complained that it was censoring way too much of their ordinary communications, to the point of being unusable.

He discovered a BUNCH of things in there that are fossilized slurs -- worse even than the Hasbro-era Scrabble dictionary, which took out things like "papist" and "Popery" on the grounds that they're offensive. Many he hadn't even known about, though he researched each word in the list that he didn't immediately recognize. "Eggplant," for example, while nowadays much more likely to be used in culinary contexts, was an Italian-against-Black slur in New York in the early 1900s (because of skin color).

He said it was educational.

And, of course, myriad words had been accreted onto the ban list over the years that didn't ever belong there, which he sorted. I don't remember what his "in-or-out" criteria on the fossil slurs was, though obviously anything that's even slightly hinky by modern standards stayed banned.

(Sorry, Scunthorpe and Pen Island-dot-com)

#206 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2016, 10:05 PM:

It's tough to recognize fossil slurs without reinvigorating them to some extent; when I was in high school, a friend showed me a poem from class that included several questionable words that I just didn't know were slurs. My go-to test is actually Scrabble: if a given combination of letters gets, "Huh, I guess that's a word," rather than, "Oh shit am I a bad person for playing this?" on first check, I treat it as a fossil. But I grew up sheltered and oblivious, white middle-class without much contact outside that circle, and so none of the slurs have been used against me. My sensors are not calibrated for all humans.

On cards and paying, I am so annoyed that my credit card is a chip thing now and that stores are getting the chip readers. It takes so much longer. With a swipe, I can take out the card, swipe, put it away while the computer thinks, then continue. With a chip, it's all about watching the computer think, no multitasking. Oh, technology, not being ideal for my exact purposes at all times.

#207 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2016, 10:18 PM:

Some of the chip-readers are much faster than others. (I was annoyed by the swiper at the grocery store Saturday: swiped debit card, keyed the PIN, did the cash-back, accepted the amount - and it claimed I'd cancelled it, so I had to do it over again.)

#208 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2016, 10:44 PM:

I was in the States in August, and it was so weird to just swipe my card in so many places. What if I'd dropped it? People could just swipe it! It was a bit like time-travel.

On the other hand, we've moved past it now to a "hold the card against the card reader" fastpay system for small transactions, which, while very fast and convenient, also gives me security willies. "Small transactions" are up to and including fifty dollars, which really isn't that small.

I gather that debit cards there are also manifestly different from ATM cards, as well, and operated by the credit card companies rather than the bank? That also seems weird. I suspect it's a question of the USA having so many banks that it's hard for them to coordinate on anything like a standardized debit system without having to go through a third party; would that be accurate?

#209 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2016, 10:49 PM:

My ATM card is also my debit card, and this is not in any way unusual as far as I can tell.

#210 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2016, 11:01 PM:

My ATM card is a debit card, and can also be used as a credit-card-with-signature. There are also debit cards which can only be used as debit/ATM cards, and credit cards which can only be used as card-with-signature. All of these types of cards are issued by the same credit-card companies; which type you get depends largely on your specific bank.

I really don't get the "but it takes so LONG!" thing. It doesn't take any longer than either having to key in your PIN or having to sign the slip/screen.

What does rather bug me is the chipreader terminals at Target specifically, which signal the end of the transaction with a loud "ENH-ENH-ENH" that my brain automatically parses as "transaction failed" -- even when it went thru just fine. They really need to have a different sound for "transaction processed".

#211 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2016, 11:13 PM:

"Hunky" from "Bohunk" from Bohemian?

#212 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2016, 11:21 PM:

My debit card is also an ATM card which can be treated as a credit card. How it's used actually determines (to some extent) my liability if it's stolen: credit cards generally have significantly more protection than debit cards.

On not understanding that something might be a slur: I was sent to the principal's office only once in high school. We were discussing Greek mythology, and I made the comment "Pandora, who was famous for her box...." The all male class erupted in laughter, and nobody would explain the joke to me -- not even the principal. They did finally realize that I had no idea why this might not have been an appropriate thing to say.

#213 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2016, 11:46 PM:

Stefan Jones @211: Bohunk from Bohemian/Hungarian, as in "What practical difference does it make?", as in "The wogs start at Calais."

#214 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2016, 11:52 PM:

My understanding is that in the US there are three different systems for processing cards -- ATM, debit, and credit -- each with their own networks, rules, and fees.

ATMs have their own networks, which is why you'll see on ATMs a bunch of ATM network logos, and you have to look for the ones on your card that match. Usually, it isn't a problem. I do have one ATM card from an online bank which uses an uncommon network. I have to look online to find what ATMs I can use (but no fees, though, which is nice).

The two big networks for credit and debit processing is Mastercard and Visa. As such, a merchant who takes Mastercard or Visa will almost always be able to take either debit or credit cards, and will have different fees depending if they run it as debit or credit. Debit cards can be run as credit, but not vice versa.

There's also different security: debit cards use PINs, credit cards don't, but what you have to use depends on which network is processing the card: If I use my chipped debit card as a debit card, it's chip-and-PIN. if I use it as a credit card, it's chip-and-sign. Before, it was swipe-and-PIN and swipe-and-sign (and it still is, in places which don't do chip yet).

It's really confusing, not integrated, and from talking with friends in the business of credit card processing, the middle layers (between the merchant and the banks) are really, really, complicated and messy.

#215 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2016, 01:39 AM:

David Levine has reported that his wife, Kate Yule, died today from the brain cancer that has been affecting her for the last two years. I expect some folks here know David and Kate, so I'm passing it along.

#216 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2016, 01:49 AM:

I wouldn't say I know them well, but I met them a few times at conventions (including at least one Farthing Party), and one time they gave me one of their zines more or less out of the blue. Thanks for passing it along, but what awful news.

#217 ::: crazysoph ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2016, 04:19 AM:

*deep sigh* I'm so going to miss Kate.

Life is feeling very unfair - not a productive place to be, so I'm going to try and head that off at the pass by sharing a short Kate anecdote.

Years ago, a friend received a beautiful purple and gold thread woven textile, via an ambassador her husband worked with. The gift was for my friend something of a white elephant. However, she decided to ask me if I wanted it.

In a hot second, oh yeah! So, friend handed this textile to me.

It made a very nice wrap, the kind you decoratively tuck into your elbows and let drape behind your back. However, by the time I'd gotten to wearing it at conventions, I'd hit on a different way to wear it - pleating it then securing one end of it to my shoulder, using a penannular broach to wrap around the whole of the cloth. The weight of it generally kept it in place, and no holes needed poking into either the textile or the underlying dress.

Kate saw this at the Scottish Worldcon, and first admired my "sari" - then she took a step back, and realised her mistake. She complimented the engineering of it, saying, "You just see the shoulder bit and then the mind just deposits a sari!"

She had a wonderful mind, she did.

Crazy(*sigh* *moves forehead to next cool bit of surface on the refrigerator door*)Soph

#218 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2016, 07:42 AM:

There's a non-English-speaking character in "Chicago" (the stage version) who gets called a "damn Hunky nut" by another character.

#219 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2016, 07:44 AM:

Condolences to David and all others who are grieving the loss of Kate. May memories be blessings.

#220 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2016, 09:41 AM:

I just heard "bohunk" used as a slur in Ed Sanders's satirical 70s track, "The Iliad," (as part of a cadenza of bigoted slam names—over twenty non-endearing terms in a quarter of a minute).

Also, I thoroughly commend the Beau Hunks' album of music from Hal Roach comedies (mostly, I think, by Leroy Shield of "Our Gang" theme fame). Talk about smooth, sweet, and utterly soothing after the cares of the day. They also have a subset group that plays saxophone quartets, and I sometimes almost download one of those albums as well… it'll happen.

#221 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2016, 11:12 AM:

Dave Bell @ 168: on some deals, maybe -- but that's based on being a "gentleman". Did he actually believe the paganism he preached, or was he deliberately manipulating people he felt were beneath him? Or did he simply believe in himself above all else? (The analogies just keep piling up....)

Steve with a book @ 174: I agree with Xopher; May just doesn't have Trump's chutzpah. Now if Farage got in, you might have a chance -- and I see from this morning's news that he's back in charge of the UKIP.

guthrie @ 193: fascinating!

Elliott Mason: I guess MA supersets from Hasbro's prohibited words; the last time I filed for unemployment (entirely electronically, unlike previous cases) the system refused to accept my family name (Hitchcock) as an ID.

Diatryma @ 206: With a chip, it's all about watching the computer think, no multitasking. How so? All of the chip readers I've used beep a second or so after they're done with the card; the only multi-tasking they block is putting the card away.

various on ATM cards: I was annoyed when that "capacity" was added by my bank -- I've written "SIG INVALID" with a marker on the signature block, but I have no idea how often a there would be a person to actually spot a misused card. My most-used grocery and drugstore both have self-service checkouts. (The next-preferred of both had them, then removed them. I wonder whether the drugstore's HQ thought the nearby ]housing project[ was a risk.) And even when there's a person, the odds they'll look at the signature vary; most of the stores I go to let me swipe a card in front of a cashier without showing them the signature side.

Tom Whitmore @ 215: and the year goes on sucking. We had at least one meal with them at almost every WFC; we'll miss her.

And I can't complain it makes the year worse considering his age, but I was still surprised to read a Neville Marriner obit; I've never seen more than a couple of minutes of Amadeus, but his lead of the overture to The Marriage of Figaro is still one of my all-time favorite recordings.

#222 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2016, 01:32 PM:

One of my daughters, some years ago, was complaining vociferously about her incompetent high school health teacher, who couldn't stand anyone mentioning something she didn't know or had gotten wrong, and yet was constantly imploring students to "think outside the box." I had to explain why I was laughing so hard. Apparently box=vagina is now very elderly slang indeed.

#223 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2016, 01:51 PM:

re 214: To further confuse matters my ATM/debit card in many but not all situations presents the choice between "Mastercard debit" and " debit", including at my own bank's ATMs.

#224 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2016, 02:39 PM:

One of the things I'm grumpy at my credit union about is that they keep trying to replace my ATM cards with debit cards when the old ones expire. Really, no, I'm fine carrying around a card that can only steal $500/day rather than drain the entire account if some ATM has a skimmer on it or my wallet gets stolen. (The other is that their new online bill-pay system insists on emailing me with every transaction it's about to make, which is a hopeless security mess.)
Even with those problems, they're still better than just about every bank I've dealt with.

#225 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2016, 03:37 PM:

Bill @224:

I have a debit card I use for day-to-day transactions, a credit card I use for scheduled monthly transactions (and, formerly, for "payday loan" purposes, but my new job has reduced that need), and a backup credit card I've used less than a handful of times since I've opened the account.

Guess which card sends me a text message a day with my account balance?

My gripe with my credit union's online bill pay is that it allows me to schedule a payment for delivery on a particular date, not for withdrawal on a particular date. So if, say, Monday is Columbus Day and the banks are closed, all the payments I scheduled early next week get taken out of my account a day earlier than I had planned. And if I don't have the funds in the account a day earlier than I had planned, then I get to pay overdraft fees.

Fortunately, I get emails reminding me of upcoming payments so I have time to go in and fix it. So the zealous emailing you hate mitigates a problem I have.

#226 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2016, 04:39 PM:

My hack for that (great if you can manage it) is to have a full month's $$ in my checking account at the end of the month.

Now if I could just figure out how to manage this with vacation time....

#227 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2016, 04:47 PM:

Putting the card away is the multitasking I meant; swiping it then putting it away takes just about as much time as it takes the computer to think.

#228 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2016, 07:52 PM:

[Capclave GOL?]

Reposting just to check. (Original post at 173)

Checking interest in a GOL at Capclave this weekend.

Capclave is a local SF convention being held this Friday through Sunday at the Hilton Washington DC North/Gaithersburg. The hotel is on Perry Parkway, just off of I-270.

Driving directions can be found at the hotel website. Transit instructions and other information can be found at

Any GOL would probably be either Friday or Saturday evening. Last year the GOL walked over to Yu Zhou Cafe.

#229 ::: Sarah E ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2016, 08:07 PM:

Kip @220 -- I'm guessing the Beau Hunks named themselves in reference to Laurel and Hardy's Hal Roach comedy, "Beaux Hunks," a title which plays on the Hungarian slur but, iirc, parodies a French Foreign-Legion film called "Beau Geste."

#230 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2016, 12:26 AM:

More political verse...

Donald so vain, was that cocaine
Sniffing on the cam'ra, on TV
Bombast ahead, bombast behind
The notion that you're lying, in my mind

Your old taxes secrets you keep
You won't release them, you're a creep
Hits rat'nal people as affronting, too
At the program end we know you've lied again.

Donald so vain, was that cocaine
Sniffing on the cam'ra, on TV
Bombast ahead, bombast behind
The notion that you're lying, in my mind

Bombast ahead, HIllary in red
From the planet's well-being you'd be better off dead.
Mainstream's sleeping, Citizen's United applies
They're funding screed commercials that elections buy

Donald so vain, was that cocaine
Sniffing on the cam'ra, on TV
Bombast ahead, bombast behind
The notion that you're lying, in my mind

Lying from you is this mis'ry for me
Got two working eyes but you just won't see
Send round the bend you'll the species end
The rational scream and your smirk just gleams...

#231 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2016, 12:47 AM:

#204 Davie

EE Smith had a female character named or called Hunky de Marigny....

#232 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2016, 01:57 AM:

Paula@231: Yes, I brought that up in #203

#233 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2016, 07:32 AM:

For those who might want to know, three fairly widely-loved filkers have also died recently: Kira Heston and JoEllyn Davidoff, from the east coast, and Howie Harrison, comedian and guitarist extraordinare, whose health had prevented him from widespread convention attendance for a while.

I need to make sure to check with the Hugo in-memoriam crawl people, but they seem to be pretty good at getting to filkers on their own.

#234 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2016, 09:40 AM:

So I participate on the question-and-answer website Quora my profile there, if you are interested in my content).

Some of us in emotionally-fraught and troll-ridden topics find their moderation policies and application ... ineffective. I'm going to go with ineffective. And disappointing. It tends to lead to user attrition among those with the most skill to share, in those topics, because the barrage of abuse is soul-destroying.

In an off-site group for people trying to deal with the stress and share light, I ended up perpetrating poetry, and it occured to me that some of you fine folks would enjoy it. :->

'Pon Quora, whose curst neglect doth lead to drink
Our fifthéd and twice hundredweight disdain!
For newest depths and darker clefts remain
Twixt those who care for truth and clickbait's gain.

This was sparked by me saying that I seconded and fifthed someone's comment, then replied to myself about how my eyes wanted to read it as either something akin to "filth" or some other word being lisped. My conversational partner pointed out that "fifthéd" would be perfectly grammatical in several pre-modern Englishes, and ... well.

(my brain is whispering that I should sonnetize but I don'wanna, don'wanna ... Quatrains in iambic pentameter are totally a thing, right?)

#235 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2016, 09:59 AM:

Something up there reminds me of my recent disquiet, while spending two and a half hours at the Genius Bar, on how I was only aware of hearing them ask anybody for photo ID two times, and both times were for black customers. Was this a company policy? A store policy? They didn't ask me for one, and I felt complicit in retrospect.

Sarah E
Your speculation is on firm ground. The Hunks have recorded at least one album of music from Laurel & Hardy movies. I've grown accustomed, sometimes even a little fond, of the sound of older methods of recording, but the clarity of their recordings of the Hal Roach music is awesome, and puts it all into a new dimension for me.

#236 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2016, 10:44 AM:

Is anyone else going to Capclave in Gaithersburg this year? I'm considering coming for at least part of it--my weekends tend to be pretty busy, but some of the discussions look interesting, and I haven't actually been to a con for a couple decades now.

#237 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2016, 10:53 AM:

@236, meet @228.

#238 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2016, 06:58 PM:


I think I can make a GOL--my wife and I are thinking about about going to at least some of the con. Would Friday or Saturday night be better? Is anyone else from ML coming?

#239 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2016, 07:33 PM:

I hope anyone on the east coast of Florida is either getting out if recommended or taking precautions. Matthew is a very dangerous storm. Be safe!

#240 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2016, 07:34 PM:

I was maybe a little naïve in high school, as exemplified by my health class project on the virtues of vegetarianism with a posterboard emblazoned with MEET YOUR MEAT – KNOW WHO YOU EAT. There was also the song we sang in choir that was some sort of paen to the 19th century homesteader lifestyle that had the phrase “… singing snatches…” It took weeks for the tenors and basses to pull themselves together enough to actually sing that one.

#241 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2016, 08:36 PM:


I don't have a strong preference about which night. Saturday may be marginally more convenient.

I haven't seen any messages about anyone else from ML attending.

#242 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2016, 11:54 PM:

OT rave, retrieved from wrong thread: I don't usually buy hardcovers, especially new. But based on Hope Jahren's blog writing, I made an exception for her memoir, Lab Girl. And indeed, this book is holy-cow good. Once I've finished it, I'll almost surely be passing it on to my niece and nephews.

#243 ::: GAY! Xopher Halftongue QUEER! ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2016, 01:26 AM:

Loosely connected to the whole Bohunk conversation: did you know that Bohemia (which used to actually be a country) was the only country in Europe that freely welcomed the Roma, and gave them citizenship? Many were still nomadic, and as they traveled through other countries they were sometimes called Bohemians.

It is my understanding that this is how people of countercultural lifestyle began being called that: not by association with the majority culture of Bohemia, but with the Roma.

#244 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2016, 07:55 AM:

re Capclave: I can't make the con (something about having carefully designed and frantically implemented a new feature and finding out that it was designed to an utterly wrong requirement set) but I would like to get together with people if that can be arranged.

#245 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2016, 10:36 AM:

Dave Harmon @242, I highly recommend the book also. It is a love song to science, a case study of being a success while also being non-neuro-typical without the narrative being all about obstacles, and a source of lots of thought nuggets on growth and change in biology and in life.

And I didn't know she had a blog. Oh my. Resisting until I have a little more time.

#246 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2016, 12:34 PM:

I have retired my over-20-year-old cordless drill. The battery is dying, and I know it is at least that long since some of the repairs I did with it were done.

The replacement isn't new either, but I rather think it might outlast me. I suspect that, as well as the battery of the old drill, some of the mechanical parts, such as the switch, are failing. The original came with a set of drill bits, and these days such things seem to be an extra. I think I have a good deal.

For those into such geekery, the new drill is a Makita, and the same model is being sold new for about twice what I paid. But it is the previous generation. It's somewhere at the bottom end of the professional level of kit, not the latest battery tech, with the more or less standard features, able to operate as a hammer-drill into brick and concrete, as a standard drill, or as a rather heavy power screwdriver.

If you had been buying new kit, about five years ago, you would have had a choice of several different items using the same battery/charger combo. A bit like USB ports and phones, it's the sort of detail which writers didn't think about in their vision of the future. And I noticed that you could get a USB charger than attaches to the latest generation of battery. I don't think I need other cordless tools. Anyway, even with voltage conversion losses, 25 Wh available is a lot of recharges.

We can look at our phones and tablets, and forget what else good rechargable batteries can change. And don't forget the implications of a hedge-trimmer that doesn't need a trailing mains-voltage power lead.

#247 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2016, 03:26 PM:

Dave Bell@246: I just gave my two Makitas a new lease on life. These are the old 9.6v models; I've had them right about 20 years I believe. The batteries were dead (and I'd had one or two re-celled earlier). My computers run on both power and network cabling I installed using them (as does most everything else in the house, actually).

For years I've been thinking I would need a new drill if I were doing anything big because new batteries were listed at $70 each (I have 4) and a new 18v kit with a drill and an impact driver (a more useful pair than my two drills) from good brands is only $200.

But just recently I found a two-pack of batteries for my Makitas for only $35, and bought them. Not as nice as a good new kit, but something that works well enough, works now, and costs a more reasonable amount.

#248 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2016, 05:14 PM:

"Honky" is certainly a fossilised term. I haven't heard it used in years. It certainly isn't in general use now, as opposed to "whitey", which is certainly in frequent use.

#249 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2016, 06:01 PM:

@david bell:

Interesting about a USB charger adaptor for those tool batteries. Probably only something available for name-brands like Makita.

I have one cordless drill set and a multi-tool set, both no-name-brand items I got as gifts. So far they've held up for my household maintenance projects. The solo drill came with a tiny selection of bits and screw driver heads; I supplemented these with a giant collection of bits I bought at a pop-up store. Hundreds of bits and attachments. Not highest quality, but with spares of common bits. It cost about $50.

#250 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2016, 06:05 PM:

Fragano @248: Honky was already deprecated, to the point of being a joke as to how NOT offensive it was, back when Bill Cosby was doing standup.

I know quite a few white folks five or ten years younger than my forty years who've got basically no idea it's intended to mean "white people" at all, much less that it's supposed to be an insult.

#251 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2016, 06:32 PM:

The Sidelight on the side effects of canceling a Wells Fargo card is interesting, but it ignores some questions:
* Is a canceler any worse off (on the average) than those of us who never got victimized? ISTM that such a person can get some other card if their credit rating supports it AND they need to improve their statistics. Is there some penalty simply for canceling a card, in addition to the statistical effects cited?
* Just how significant are those statistical effects?
* How do the advantages of a better credit score weigh against the cost of the card? Or were the cards permanently free, rather than free for a year as many are? If the latter, I'd be tempted to leave it in play as it will cost WF some CPU cycles to be aware of, without affecting the holder.

#252 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2016, 09:24 PM:

I mostly think of the word "honky" in the context of the story premise that TV Tropes used to call "What These People Need Is A Honky" and is now just called "Mighty Whitey"*. Prime examples include Lawrence of Arabia, Last of the Mohicans, and Avatar (the one with the blue aliens, not the one with the inexplicable lack of Asian actors.)

*Obvious warning is obvious: this is a link to TV Tropes.

#253 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2016, 12:16 AM:

I have made my decision about the presidential election. I am voting for the lesser of two egos.

#254 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2016, 05:01 AM:

Stefan Jones @249

It is something fairly new, and this morning I discovered that Makita also sell a coffee machine that runs from their current batteries. I am not sure if there's a US version, because the coffee machine itself has a standard IEC connector at the Europe-wide mains voltage, and the battery attachment plugs into that. It's likely the "kettle" type rather than the plain 3-pin IEC on most desktop computers, rated at a higher temperature limit with a notch to distinguish the two female plugs.

It was labelled "espresso" but looks to be more of a drip-filter type. Or hot water if you want to use a cafetière. One of those shop-around things, but if you have the batteries anyway it looks a good deal. And not terribly badly priced for mains power use.

I wonder if there is a solar charger... Apparently not, and you would likely need a fair-sized solar panel. Best bet looks to be charging from a standard lead-acid system at 12v nominal, and not the battery you use to start up the truck to go home.

#255 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2016, 07:29 AM:

[Capclave GOL]

Let's meet in the lobby of the convention hotel (Hilton Washington DC North/Gaithersburg) at 6 pm this evening. I will have the restaurant guide with me. The guide can be found at under the "printable material" item.

#256 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2016, 12:03 PM:

Ok, I'll see you at 6.

#257 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2016, 12:06 PM:

CHip @251:

I am uncertain of any dings to your credit score that come from cancelling a card, other than the age of the accounts and the credit utilization issues mentioned in the article.

There is some potential dings from applying to a card (they look at how recent, and how often, your credit report has been pulled for the purposes of offering you credit), so presumably when WF fraudulently opened the account in your name you got dinged then, but that ding is short-lived.

I'm wondering what benefit there is to closing the fraudulently opened account. You didn't ask for it, but you got it. Why not use it?

(There are some issues I know of: when you try to get a loan, they look at your total possible debt compared to your income. If you have $30,000 of available credit from WF that you don't know about, that might mean the difference between a bank thinking you can, or cannot, afford the mortgage you want.)

#258 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2016, 02:03 PM:

Elliott Mason #250:

I can well believe it. "Ofay", similarly, is a fossil term. I've never once heard it used.

On t'other hand, I've had an argument online with a white person who insisted that "buckra" was a pejorative term for white people. It isn't, certainly not in Patwa and other West Indian Creoles. It just means "white person". It can actually be used more broadly, as I found out 47 years ago when I was addressed in the morning "Maanin bakra maasa" by an old man on his way to his field. I found out, long after I got over the shock of being addressed as "white master", that this was a customary form of address to mulattoes but only on the first encounter in the morning. As this was recorded by Walter Jekyll at the beginning of the twentieth century, I may have been one of the last mixed-race people so addressed.

#259 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2016, 04:34 PM:

[Capclave GOL] I'll see you there as well. Look for a guy holding a red and white flashlight.

#260 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2016, 04:49 PM:

Buddha Buck:

I think the whole point of signing up customers for those accounts was that the bank made money off the fees they charged. The sequence was (as I understand it--someone please correct me):

a. Wells Fargo management realizes they can make more money if they get customers to sign up for accounts that have more fees.

b. Management creates big incentives for their employees to get more customers to sign up for those accounts (which aren't to benefit the customers, remember, but rather to bring in more account fee revenue).

c. Employees respond to these incentives by signing customers up for a bunch of accounts they didn't agree to, didn't ask for, and didn't want.

d. This goes on for years, all over the country--if this had happened in one bank branch somewhere, Wells would never have gotten hammered by the fines as they did. The fact that it went on for this long strongly suggests that the bank management either was aware of it and was turning a blind eye to it, or had extremely weak controls over what their employees were doing and really bad oversight of their customer service, because they must have been getting a lot of complaints about this over the years it was happening. (Most likely, they just apologized and removed the extra charges when someone complained and insisted, but I don't know. That's the usual pattern for this kind of fraudulent behavior.)

I doubt the fines were big enough, even though they were quite large. If the probability of the fraud actually ever getting caught is 1/100, and the company makes $100M on the fraud, then the fine needs to be more than $1M to be an actual incentive for the company not to do it. This damages Wells' reputation, but the truth is, most customers (like me) halfway expect this behavior from big companies. This is pretty-much standard practice from cable and phone companies, and I believe at least one big cable company was giving incentives like this to its low-wage call-center people as of a few years ago.

Honestly, the best deterrent would be fines large enough to put Wells Fargo entirely out of business, or actually sending some of its C-suite executives to prison. Absent that, I expect this kind of fraudulent behavior to continue. I have heard stories of people having similar problems at other banks, and it wouldn't surprise me if a similar scandal hit some other banks, because it's a pretty good way to make money as long as nobody calls you on it, and the bipartisan ruling class consensus for the last 30+ years has been that big companies (especially banks) need to be regulated with great deference and gentleness, and that things that would be illegal if done by a small mom-and-pop business turn out to be forgivable missteps, when done by big companies with lobbyists and legal departments.

#261 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2016, 04:54 PM:


I recall Turtledove having his black Communist revolutionaries (in his South-wins-the-Civil-War alternate history) using "buckra" as a term for whites. I didn't get a particular sense of it being a term of endearment, but then, they weren't in a situation that would have much endeared their white neighbors to them.

#262 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2016, 07:48 PM:

Do other businesses actually sign up customers for accounts without even asking? Because that's the impression I got, that the customers weren't even asked first: the accounts were created without their knowledge or permission.

#263 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2016, 09:27 PM:

Pejorative terms: The first time I ever heard the term "coonass" I flat-out freaked, because I know damn good and well what "coon" means; it was said by someone I'd been corresponding with in e-mail, and I dumped them so hard it left skidmarks. When I tried, hesitantly, to cross-check my reaction later, I was told by another white person that it was what white folks in Louisiana call themselves; when I asked a black co-worker, he gave it the same kind of side-eye I did. You still won't ever catch me using it, but if anyone here has better information about the term I'd be pleased to hear it.

#264 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2016, 11:23 PM:

My only experience with the word "coonass" is reading John McPhee's article "Atchafalaya" (available in the New Yorker's online archive here), where it's used several times in the introduction – in a way consistent with "what white folks in Louisiana call themselves".

It's a damn good article, by the way.

#265 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2016, 11:51 PM:

More specifically, what (some) Cajuns in Louisiana call themselves and each other. My suspicion is that many of them don't find it all pejorative when used within the group and only slightly pejorative, if at all, when used by people outside the group. And some of them find it highly amusing when non-coonasses get all shook up about it.

#266 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2016, 03:21 AM:

Lee @263 & David Goldfarb @264: My dad used that term to refer to the dent the hammer makes in the wood when you miss the nail. (Though I think he might have used the possessive, and added "hole".) It was only until years later once I got out into the world and got a little education that I was retroactively appalled.

#267 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2016, 06:19 AM:

In the years we lived in Louisiana, I remember a joke that went Q: What's the difference between a coonass and a horse's ass? A: The Sabine River (the boundary between Louisiana and Texas).

I don't remember it as coming with racial overtones, although it's certainly possible I was tone deaf.

#268 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2016, 08:42 AM:

Some boasting for an open thread:

A long time ago - after the internet but before the world wide web - I wrote myself a program which showed a Roman numeral digital clock. It looked pretty cute and I showed it to a friend, but instead of telling me how clever I was, he said “but that's not how Roman time worked”, and proceeded to explain that the Romans counted 12 hours in a day, from sunrise to sunset, so every day was a different length...

Many decades later, I've finally ticked something off my todo list: I've written a Roman digital clock which *does* keep time Roman style if you want it to. It also gives the date Roman style (so 9th October is “Ante diem Id. Vii October”, or “VII days before the ides of October”), and the help text is bilingual - English or Latin. As it says at the start of the help:

"Sequens programmatiunculum ad Horologium Romanum pertinens conscripsi ut peregrinatoribus qui ab Imperio Romano ad haec tempora iter faciunt auxilio sit. Immo vero etiam aliis lectoribus forsitan utile esse possit."


"Horologium Romanum - the Roman Clock app - was written as an aid to time travellers from the Roman Empire who have chosen to visit the 21st century. Even if you do not fall into that group you may still find it useful."

I hope that others in the Fluorosphere might find this as pleasantly pointless as I did. There's some more details at:

#269 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2016, 10:02 AM:

Jacque @266: I have heard those hammer dents called jackass tracks, or mule tracks in polite company.

#270 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2016, 01:48 PM:

Light was made at the Texas Renaissance Faire yesterday. That's Caroline Ring, my partner, and me. (Her husband, who was not in garb, took the picture.) We had a fun day, topped off by excellent Indian food on the way back.

Bruce H., #265: And some of them find it highly amusing when non-coonasses get all shook up about it.

Well then, I see I needn't worry about my reaction to the term. The feelings of assholes are of zero interest to me.

#271 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2016, 03:39 PM:

Steve Taylor @268: I've been waiting MM years for an app like that.

#272 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2016, 03:44 PM:

TomB @271: It has MI uses around the house.

#273 ::: Alan Hamilton ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2016, 04:47 PM:

@260: Not exactly. The idea was for these accounts to fly under the radar, and it's less likely to do this if they're accruing fees. There were some fees incurred accidentally (like overdraws due to transferring money to these accounts), but that wasn't intentional.

It worked like this: One measure Wall Street uses to evaluate a bank is "engagement": how much business their customers are doing with them. Wells did in fact have a higher than industry norm number of accounts per customer, and this would inflate their stock price.

Usually this is costly because banks normally hand out bonuses for opening lots of new accounts, but it's in their interest to ensure these are genuine, lest employees open tons of bogus accounts. They'd end up paying bonuses for no new business.

Wells, on the other hand, used the stick approach: open a certain number of accounts or lose your job. This way it didn't cost much.

I used to work at a bank (not Wells) that paid bonuses, and I assure you than any reports of "I didn't open this account" were jumped on. There were people who tried it, but got caught pretty quickly.

So the CEO of Wells may be trying to pull the Mission: Impossible defense ("The secretary will disavow all knowledge of your actions."), but he had to know. Even if he didn't directly order it, the first thing to ask when your numbers are really good is to ask "How did you do it?"

#274 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2016, 04:50 PM:

Steve Taylor @272: While we're on the topic, can you explain why a T-shirt size M is smaller than L, and L is smaller than XL? It's very confusing.

#275 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2016, 05:21 PM:

TomB @ #274


#276 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2016, 07:17 PM:

TomB @ 274 ...
Steve Taylor @272: While we're on the topic, can you explain why a T-shirt size M is smaller than L, and L is smaller than XL? It's very confusing.

It's very similar to the way that wire is sized -- the higher the number, the smaller the T-shirt ...

#277 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2016, 07:47 PM:

TomB @274: That really is one of the big questions. I wish I had some wisdom to offer...

#278 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2016, 09:10 PM:

Steve Taylor @268: I'm posting that link to the latinstudy list at No doubt they'll be tickled.

#279 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2016, 09:54 PM:

David Goldfarb @278:

Thanks for that David - I've been trying to figure out where I might find people who might be amused by such oddities - apart from Making Light of course.

#280 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2016, 10:08 PM:

Magnificent Seven remake (no spoilers):

Was anyone else pleased and tickled by the Comanche warrior's name?

#281 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2016, 12:54 AM:

I stuck it in the "linguistics" thread at CJ Cherryh's blog.

#282 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2016, 01:24 AM:

P J Evans @281


Was she a Latin teacher in a previous life, or am I misremembering that?

#283 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2016, 01:34 AM:

Hey, so after the latest massive download-budget-breaking push-update of Windows 10, my Dell reboots about once a day without warning me or giving me a chance to save out of whatever I'm doing. When it comes back up, everything I've been doing is lost. I looked in the Power and Updates parts of Settings and saw that it refers to this exasperating little dance as "checking for updates." However, I can't find any way to get the damn thing to warn me when it's going to pull this crap! All I can do is pick a regular time and "make sure my PC is plugged in at that time." But when this computer is on I am working on it, and when I am not working on it it is off and a rocker switch disconnects it from the Internet.

So. Does anybody know how to either get the automatic update feature to go away and quit bothering me, or warn me before it destroys the last 15 minutes of work on a document I DO NOT HAVE THE FRICKING TIME TO RECONSTRUCT?

#284 ::: Singing Wren ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2016, 07:05 AM:

Jenny Islander @ 283:

I saw this article in one of my feeds shortly after my brother complained about much the same thing, and passed it on to him.

Not having Windows 10 myself, I can't vouch for the effectiveness of the suggestions, but they seem a plausible place to start.

#285 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2016, 08:20 AM:

I have just been rewarded for procrastination, which will no doubt lead me to procrastinate more. My car is overdue for routine service, and I'd been putting off making the appointment. I got a call Friday that the dealership now had the parts to do a recall repair that's been pending for some time, and so I can get both done at the same time. I'd be annoyed if I had dutifully and responsibly gotten the routine work done on time and now had to take the car back in.

#286 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2016, 10:43 AM:

You're remembering correctly. (I think she studied archaeology, also.)

#287 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2016, 12:05 AM:

With regards to etymology, though not with regards to slurs or words which might be perceived as such:

I'm taking an upper-level Old English class this year, which so far has been both far more work than I really should have taken on and a lot of fun. Today I learned the word "micelre" meaning "much/a lot/many".

I thought, "huh. Many a mickle makes a muckle." And do you know, I was right. I feel sometimes like "the understanding of the universe" is one of those puzzles with the pieces that have to slide around, and every so often one just slots right into place. Humanities and hard science are the same thing; they're just ways of sliding the puzzle pieces around to find the pattern.

Words are cool, is what I'm saying.

#288 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2016, 05:34 AM:

Em @287:

I've sometimes thought that in learning French I'm not really quite learning a foreign language at all, so strong are the links between French and English, and that I should try learning something really different like Russian or Zulu.

Eventually I came to realise though that much of the fun I have in language learning is playing 'spot the etymology', and that I'd miss out on that pleasure if I learnt a completely alien language.

Just this evening I was putting away some honey ('miel' in French) and felt a little thrill of pleasure in linking it to mellifluous - speaking in honeyed tones. (Hmm... Just wondered then about dulcet tones and 'doux' (sweet) in French)

Of course, half of my supposed etymologies could be nonsense, but let's not dwell on that and ruin the fun.

Words are indeed cool.

#289 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2016, 06:12 AM:

Steve Taylor @ #288:

And a lot of the French that English is influenced by is Norman French, which is the bastard offspring of East Norse and whatever was spoken in Normandy at the time.

I think "dulcet" is more straight from Latin's "dulcis" ("dolce" in Italian, apparently "doux" in French and the Spanish seems to be "dulce"). The Swedish is "söt", the Dutch is (IIRC) "zoet" (as opposed to salt, which would be "zout").

I guess if you're going for interesting cognates (and many a false cognate) and weird interacting etymology, you could always try one of the Nordic languages (although for Finnish, the only English cognate I can think of is "sauna").

#290 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2016, 08:15 AM:

Ingvar M @289:

Yes - must keep in mind that apparent links can just be common ancestry - Latin permeates everything. (which reminds me - I remember in - I think- Jared Diamonds _The Third Chimpanzee_ there was a bit of an attempt to cobble together some proto Indo-European based on commonalities between child languages. I don't know if linguists would take the chapter seriously or not, but it was an interesting idea that was new to me.)

As for learning something Nordic - yeah, it would be fascinating to get to know some of English's northern roots.

This is a hoot - this wikipedia entry:

mentions that one of the Norse words came to English via Norman French (as you mentioned) is "flaneur", which seems irredeemably French to me.

#291 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2016, 08:35 AM:

Em @287: a lot of childhood rhymes or idioms have their roots in deprecated vocabulary or grammar.

"Hickory Dickory Dock", for example, is related to a much older Anglo-Saxon counting system. A similar counting system has traditionally been used in Wales for counting sheep.

More recently, some of the grammatical differences between how American English is spoken in Ohio and Pennsylvania versus the rest of the country -- independent of accent -- is the retention of certain German grammatical forms, because of the influx of Pennsylvania Dutch (Deutsch) immigrants in the 1800s. Even when their descendants have assimilated into the mainstream culture, language fossils remain, as when someone says "The dishes need cleaned" or "This dish needs cleaned" instead of "The dishes need to be cleaned."

#292 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2016, 09:16 AM:

Steve Taylor @290, on Latin imbuing everything: It's worse than that. We have individual English words that were:

* Borrowed directly from Latin into Anglo-Saxon or Middle English, because priests and literacy

* Borrowed from Latin to Old Norse, and thence to English and Norman French (and then reborrowed from Norman or modern French to English)

* Borrowed from Norman French directly while Norman French was actually a thing

* Borrowed from French to English during the Renaissance

*Borrowed from Latin to some other nearby language in the 1100-1500 time range, and THEN to English

* Borrowed from Latin directly to English during the Renaissance, because international exchange of scientific ideas

* Borrowed from French to English in the 1800s or later, because cultured snooty people think French sounds fancy

* Borrowed directly from Latin to English in the 1800s or later, because Latin having been the language of scientific exchange in the Renaissance means it feels all sciency by then and you kind of need to Latinize or Greekify your terms if you want to be taken seriously

... and more than that, actually. And that's still leaving out the number of LATIN words (or other languages) that come from one Indo-European root.

The hilarious part is that all those borrowings and reborrowings can end up with entirely distinct meanings, which is why the same Latin root word turns up in five or ten OED entries. This is why blood and bladder and bloom and blossom and flower and phallus and bollocks and belly and balloon and flatulence are all cognate with an ancient word for something like "swelling".

#293 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2016, 09:56 AM:

#251 ::: CHip

More detail about the effects of the unasked-for Wells Fargo accounts

It's complicated-- mostly harmless or only slightly harmful, but occasionally very destructive.

If you'd like to see a really evil bank, check out The Royal Bank of Scotland.

#294 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2016, 10:20 AM:

Steve Taylor @ 288: Russian has a surprising (if you don't know the history) amount of Greek embedded or borrowed. The Cyrillic alphabet was adapted from the Greek, for example.

Zulu, I wouldn't know, although there are words loaned to English.

#295 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2016, 10:30 AM:

Steve Taylor @288: I should try learning something really different like Russian

'Cept that if you've got Latin, you've pretty much got Russian (it's Yet Another Indo-European Language), only with a different alphabet. You want capital-D Different, go for something like Japanese and/or Chinese. (AIUI, the etymology there is in the character forms.)

#296 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2016, 10:43 AM:

HLN: Local annoying humans are being annoying. Your correspondent has a burning desire to grab them by the lapels, scream in their faces, and then beat them senseless with a rolled-up newspaper. Correspondent will probably have to be satisfied with unsubscribing from the relevant listserve.

#297 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2016, 10:48 AM:

which reminds me - I remember in - I think- Jared Diamonds _The Third Chimpanzee_ there was a bit of an attempt to cobble together some proto Indo-European based on commonalities between child languages. I don't know if linguists would take the chapter seriously or not, but it was an interesting idea that was new to me.

Linguists do not need to take Jared Diamond seriously or not, because they've done it themselves. The Wikipedia page is a quite good overview.

'Cept that if you've got Latin, you've pretty much got Russian (it's Yet Another Indo-European Language), only with a different alphabet.

As someone who's got a decent grasp of French, can puzzle out Latin, and has recently been trying to learn Yes, Russian is also Indo-European, but that doesn't really mean as much as you'd think. Being able to recognize ~10% of the verbs and a scattering of governmental terms isn't really very useful.

#298 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2016, 11:05 AM:

D. Potter @ 294:

Russian is Indo-European, but the branch it belongs to diverged before Latin originated. It did, however, borrow a lot of French terms about the same time English most recently did. It's still more similar to English than Chinese or Japanese, but I don't know that it's similar enough to not be hugely foreign all the same.

With Chinese, in theory the etymologies are in the characters. In practice, any of the pictorial content in the characters was lost centuries ago. And then Japanese borrowed the Chinese characters and applied them to the equivalent Japanese words, so any etymology chain there in Japanese is broken.

For a fun introduction to the writing system, I like Zompist's page about writing English like Chinese.

#299 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2016, 12:56 PM:

The easy way to tell if something's borrowed from Latin or if it's just cognate with Latin is the first letter; if it's a borrowing it'll start with P (paternal, piscine) but if it's cognate it'll start with an f (father, fish -- or, as I'm spelling it these days, fisc). Hooray for Grimm's Law.

#300 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2016, 01:10 PM:

(Sorry about the double post!)
Lowering the Bar, coincidentally topical, just made a post about legal terms in English as affected by the Norman Invasion.

#301 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2016, 01:38 PM:

#274 Tom

Steve Taylor @272: While we're on the topic, can you explain why a T-shirt size M is smaller than L, and L is smaller than XL? It's very confusing.

Maybe because they're acronyms and not dates? Please stop trying to palm off things taken fro the wrong branch of the wrong tree...

#302 ::: James E ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2016, 01:38 PM:

In re borrowings from French, there’s a bunch of paired English words that came into the language twice – once from Norman French and once when Calais was under English rule in the 14th-15th century (I think… don’t have to hand David Crystal’s very excellent The Story of English in 100 Words, where I learned this). “Guardian”/“warden”, “guarantee”/“warranty”, “guile”/“wile”, “garden”/“warren” etc etc. He also talks about the Normans’ doubling of legal terms mentioned @300, which IIRC was basically “we can’t be bothered to unpick centuries of precedent in two separate legal codes which have given these terms subtly different definitions so we’ll just use both”. Cracking book, highly recommended to all present.

#303 ::: Jim Parish ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2016, 01:50 PM:

One of my favorite French borrowings is a stealthy one: "very". (It's derived from the Norman version of "vrai", true.)

#304 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2016, 01:54 PM:

@301: Or one could just recognize the joke and laugh—or not, if one doesn't find it funny.

#305 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2016, 01:56 PM:

...or be really slow, figuring out the response....

#306 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2016, 02:26 PM:

Steve T., #288: Yes, you do have to watch out for "false friends". There's a well-known one in Spanish, embarazada. Sounds like the English word "embarrassed", but actually means "pregnant". Many a beginning Spanish student has embarrassed themselves with this one!

Nancy, #293: The only conceivable proper outcome of all this is for Wells Fargo to be completely dissolved, its upper management prosecuted and stripped of assets related to the fraud, and its existing customers given assistance in selecting and moving to another financial institution. Nuke and pave.

#307 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2016, 02:41 PM:

Law French managed to just about hang on in the English legal system into the 17th century, and resulted in daft sentences like this, which sounds exactly like a native English speaker trying to do Foreign by inserting all the translated words he knows and hoping for the best:

Richardson, ch. Just. de C. Banc al Assises at Salisbury in Summer 1631. fuit assault per prisoner la condemne pur felony que puis son condemnation ject un Brickbat a le dit Justice que narrowly mist, & pur ceo immediately fuit Indictment drawn per Noy envers le Prisoner, & son dexter manus ampute & fix al Gibbet, sur que luy mesme immediatement hange in presence de Court.

I've found Russian fascinating to study but have never got beyond a sort-of-OK reading knowledge that disappears regularly when I stop practising. The perfective/imperfective aspect system for verbs is theoretically straightforward but it's weirdly difficult to have to remember two different verbs (which might differ by a prefix, or be of different declensions, or just be totally different) for each English equivalent. And after years of effort I never got the verbs of motion down pat.

#308 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2016, 03:21 PM:

Heinlein asserted, probably in Tramp Royale, that the Russian words for anything more complicated than hoeing cabbage were all borrowed from French.

I once saw an assertion that compared to Hopi, English and Russian look like the same language.

#309 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2016, 03:35 PM:

Bruce H.@308: Heinlein was certainly wrong about that, but the statement is sort of correct if you restrict 'Russian' to 'Russian as spoken by some aristocrats 200+ years ago'. Around 1800, there were still some aristocrats so imbued with the Frenchification of the previous century that their Russian was actually quite rudimentary: good enough for shouting at the stable-hands, but probably not for discussing anything complicated. (War and Peace starts in French and goes on macaronically for some time.)

ISTRT Natasha's Dance, by Orlando Figes, discusses this at some length.

#310 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2016, 05:47 PM:

Weirdly, when my Spanish teacher in high school did the 'embarasada' thing (and spelled it thus, too, so if it's wrong I'll have it wrong for a good long while), I saw the first three letters and thought 'embryo'. Nothing to do with much of anything, but I did like that my wrong idea was sort of right, even if it can't really show its work.

I like the way that transliterated Russian words are pronounced in my head.

#311 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2016, 04:59 AM:

Open threadiness: I don't know if there are any other LLamas in the Fluorosphere, but you may enjoy answering the questions to the recent one-day Geek Love quiz. Nonsense was a lot of fun too.

And if someone wants to give it a shot next season, I've got one invitation up for grabs.

#312 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2016, 05:13 AM:

Swedish has the interesting "same root word, via different import paths" pair of "juice" and "sky" (the latter is pronounced with the 'sj' sound, similar-ish to the "ch" in loch), both starting from the French "jus". The first is very much a liquid procured by smashing/grinding/pressing fruits/berries/vegetables to small bits and extracting the resulting liquid, the second is the juices (ahaha!) left over when frying (typically) meat.

The latter, with exactly the same pronounciation and spelling, is also another word that is a cognate to the English "sky", sometimes combined with the word "fall" to indicate a rather heavy and sudden-onset rain. Which is why I was very baffled when a Bond movie picked a Swedish word as its title.

#313 ::: Craft (Alchemy) ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2016, 06:10 AM:

James E, #302: Also wardrobe/garderobe, though the latter's not exactly in common use any more.

As well as the cases where *both* versions of a French word have made it into English, there's the ones where the W-version was adopted and the G-version wasn't. E.g. war/guerre, wasp/guêpe.

An analogous thing happened a bit earlier when the Saxons were fighting off/assimilating the Vikings. We have a lot of word pairs where we got one of them from A-S and the other from (closely related, but distinct) Old Norse. Some of these are readily distinguishable by spelling - "sk" is a distinctively Old Norse feature, where Anglo-Saxon derivatives would use "sh". There's shirt/skirt, and also ship/skep, for example. The latter also turns up across Yorkshire in place names - Shipley (sheep meadow) is Saxon; Skipton (sheep town) is Norse.

#314 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2016, 07:20 AM:

Diatryma @310:

> I did like that my wrong idea was sort of right

My favourite personal example of that: Andre Norton (Alice Mary Norton) was a classic case of a female writer using a male pseudonym to make herself publishable - but I was reading her as a 9 year old and I'd never encountered the name 'Andre' before.

I just assumed that was how 'Andrea' was spelt.

#315 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2016, 01:28 PM:

Steve Taylor (314): You are not alone in that. I remember one of my high school friends referring to the author as Andrea Norton. My friend is mildly dyslexic and may have just misread the name, however.

#316 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2016, 01:36 PM:

Steve Taylor @314: I never had her name confused with "Andrea", but it never occurred to me that she might be male, either. I was very amused when I heard the story that that name was adopted to look male.

#317 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2016, 03:32 PM:

HLN: My Uncle Bob has just suffered a massive stroke -- initial report was that he had died, but it turns out he is brain-dead on life support. His children are flying in tonight for the Decision. We had just seen him at our Rosh Hashana gathering, where he seemed in good spirits -- having been able to see him recently is some grace in this.

#318 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2016, 03:48 PM:

I'm sorry, Dave.

#319 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2016, 03:54 PM:

Condolences, Dave.

#320 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2016, 04:11 PM:

Dave, no words can help. But I'll offer my condolences anyway.

#321 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2016, 05:10 PM:

My sympathy, Dave.

#322 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2016, 05:54 PM:

I can attest that facility with Romance & Germanic languages is of little help learning Slavic ones. I've spent a few years desultorily picking at Czech & the only thing I can say about previous language studies is that it did help to have had experience with words that change to express case & verb aspect. Though the exact cases and verb aspects are quite different.

Very few of the Slavic root words are immediately recognizable the way the Romance & Germanic ones are. You just have to memorize a new set. Though once you get familiar-ish with a number of them, you can begin to see a faint resemblance.

On the plus side, having a tiny scanty ineffectual beginning in Czech also gives me a similar beginning in Polish, Serbian, Croatian, Macedonian, Sorbian, etc., since the Western & Southern Slavic languages diverged a pretty short time ago. For some reason Russian, Ukrainian, etc. are considerably less similar, though they also diverged a short time ago. To my ears & eyes anyway. Though I can always tell when any Slavic language song has apples, falcons, or evenings in it. A surprisingly large number of them do.

#323 ::: J Homes ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2016, 06:45 PM:

Condolences to Dave.

#324 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2016, 07:23 PM:

Dave H., #317: My condolences. May he be remembered well.

#325 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2016, 07:24 PM:

HLN: area man is subjected to a medical procedure that rejoices in the name "nuclear stress test". Results are now in. "The doctor told me that some damage was found," man said, "but that exposure to radioactivity has kickstarted a healing factor which erased it!"

Asked to comment, a medical technician at the clinic noted, "Area man is telling porkies. It's true his results were good, but this stuff about a 'healing factor' sounds like something out of a comic book."

#326 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2016, 08:22 PM:

Thanks for the condolences, folks.

Apropos of nothing, in the course of random browsing I've stumbled upon a rather entertaining blog, which I think will appeal to a lot of folks here: Wait, but Why. Thoughtful, well-written, somewhat techie without being hardcore about it, posts on an assortment of semi-random topics.

#327 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2016, 09:45 PM:

Dave, my condolences as well. Safe travels to all who are traveling.

#328 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2016, 01:13 AM:

So sorry to hear the news, Dave. I'm glad you got to be with him recently.

(I am reminded that I'm down to just one uncle.)

#329 ::: John M. Burt ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2016, 03:27 AM:

Dave, hold onto that grace. I will hold you in the Light.

#330 ::: John M. Burt ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2016, 04:05 AM:

Steve Taylor @288, those false cognates can be funny and/or embarrassing, all right.
I remember asking a Spanish teacher whether broma was a cognate of bromide, and she politely explained that a bromide was a joke so well-worn it was liable to put you to sleep, hence its comparison with bromine-based sleeping powders.
Speaking of which, bromides are the only example I can think of where an addictive drug was successfully removed from wide use. This was achieved not by any kind of Draconian or Orwellian laws, but by the availability of equally effective non-addictive sleep aids.

#331 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2016, 04:54 AM:

Coming in late for Buddha Buck @132, but here are a couple of possible book selections:

The Egypt Game, by Zilpha Keatley Snyder. An oldie (1967) but one of the protagonists is a black girl - around age 10 or so I think.

Almost any of the picture books by Jerdine Nolen. They are mostly for the 5-8 age range, but very well done and the images are lovely. I particularly like Raising Dragons and Irene's Wish.

Bayou Magic, by Jewell Parker Rhodes. More magical realism than straight out fantasy, but how can you go wrong with spells and mermaids?

Niobe, She is Life. A graphic novel series available on Kindle

#332 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2016, 08:37 AM:

Coming soon: Bob Dylan. In white tie and tails. In Stockholm.

#333 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2016, 09:08 AM:

Or, for those who like links to breaking news: Bob Dylan wins Nobel.

#334 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2016, 09:14 AM:

Dave, I'm sorry about the loss of your Uncle Bob. God damn strokes.

#335 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2016, 01:43 PM:

I guess I never posted anything about it, but Michael, C Wingate and I met for a nice dinner and chat at Capclave, in a very small GoL. Since C Wingate and I were both there, this pretty much counts as the ML version of a vast right wing conspiracy, but I'm afraid most of our political discussion involved lamenting the existence of Trump, so it wasn't very effective as political conspiracies go.

#336 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2016, 01:44 PM:

Dave: My condolences.

#337 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2016, 02:17 PM:

Condolences to Dave.

#338 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2016, 02:48 PM:

Dave, sorry for your loss.

#339 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2016, 04:03 PM:

It's not a conspiracy until you're being sinister. Were you being sinister? (Would you admit it even if you were?)

I'm glad the gathering happened.

#340 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2016, 04:29 PM:

These days, being Dexter has worse connotations.

#341 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2016, 05:14 PM:

Condolences, Dave.

Now, question. Does anyone else here have a problem with song lyrics that almost make sense but not quite? That was my main impression of Bob Dylan, although I must admit I haven't heard all of his stuff, but I kept wondering what in the @#$% is this guy talking about? Sort of a verbal Uncanny Valley. And the same thing runs rife with many other artists today, it seems.

Back when song words were all endless blather about love, it was/is tiresome and irrelevant to me, but at least I could sort of file it away and enjoy the music. But with the stuff I am talking about, I find myself forming the start of a picture or something and then having to abort it, again and again, and I am starting to wish there weren't any lyrics at all. It uses up too much of my mental RAM or something, and no coherent whole forms to take a hold of.

Now, some folks have told me I'm smart, and good with words--there's been enough times I've read between the lines of prose and so on and gotten a meaning out of it--but song lyrics, and some poetry, I have a problem with. I dropped out of school [eventually got a GED] party because of not having a clue what I should regurgitate about this or that pile of wordage they threw in front of me. And years later when someone tells me that some x stands for y in a poem or story, I don't always feel like believing them when I read it. I'm not one of those real literal-minded types, I don't think, but still.

Does anyone else have this problem? Is it another form of neuro-atypical-ism?

#342 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2016, 05:55 PM:

A friend of mine once said that Yes lyrics sound like they were generated by Markov chain. To a certain extent that's kind of just the nature of poetry, but yeah, I know what you mean.

#343 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2016, 06:56 PM:

Lyrics are often meant to convey a mood or impression rather than to convey information. With Dylan the impression is usually political to some extent. With Yes it is new age mysticism. Unless "There'll be no mutant enemy, we shall certify" is really an advertisement for Malware Bytes.

#344 ::: GAY! Xopher Halftongue QUEER! ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2016, 07:59 PM:

Dave 317: I'm sorry for your loss. May his memory be for a blessing.

Jim 303: And like all words that start out meaning that in English, it's morphed (π) into a comparative meaning "more so." 'Really' has also gone through that process, and my generation's outcry is loud against the same thing happening to 'literally'.

The tide may be destructive, but you can't hold it back.

Steve 309: My favorite story about that: A French woman visiting St. Petersburg saw an upper-class lady drop her purse. A peasant man saw it, grabbed it and ran after saying "Madame, Madam, your purse!" in Russian. She turned and thanked him profusely.

This stunned the French woman, because what he said in Russian was vash retikul, "your purse," which sounds VERY similar to French vache ridicule, "ridiculous cow"!

I collect these (I already have 'aquí es una mesa' which means "a cow eats without a knife" in Yiddish), so if you know of others (phrases or sentences, not single words, that mean one thing in one language and something unrelated in another), please let me know.

David 325: Congratulations, and please use your superpowers for good.

Allan 343: Yet sometimes he was literal (literally literal) and refreshingly direct. Here's a lyric that's been coming to mind a lot lately:

And I hope that you die
And your death’ll come soon
I will follow your casket
In the pale afternoon
And I’ll watch while you’re lowered
Down to your deathbed
And I’ll stand o’er* your grave
’Til I’m sure that you’re dead
(No, not about Trump. About practitioners of "conversion therapy," who make me want to carry an icepick in case I meet one. Yes, I'm doing prayers for serenity.)

*in my headcanon, 'dance on'.

#345 ::: Sarah E ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2016, 08:52 PM:

John @ 330: I think bromide used to be slang for "cliche" in English as well, but I don't recall seeing it used recently.

#346 ::: Jim Parish ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2016, 09:14 PM:

Xopher @ 344: I (somewhat playfully) class French words and phrases in English as "tourists", "resident aliens", and "naturalized citizens". "Arrondisement" is a tourist; someone might use it in discussing French government, but with no pretense that it's English. "Savoir faire" is a resident alien; no one has real trouble with it, but that it's a French borrowing is obvious to all. "Very" is a prototypical naturalized citizen. I think "chauffeur" (with the stress-shift from second to first syllable) and "chaise longue"/"chase lounge" are applying for citizenship.

#347 ::: SunflowerP ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2016, 07:55 AM:

Sarah E @ 345: Specifically, for soothing cliches, particularly (or so my much-younger self deduced from context) those which are empty and meaningless aside from being intended to soothe.

#348 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2016, 08:38 AM:

Jim Parish #346: Heh. Google Translate turns "chaise longue" into "deck chair", but doing the individual words confirmed my suspicion that the literal meaning is just "long chair".

#349 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2016, 08:50 AM:

Sarah E & Sunflower P, the second definition in Merriam-Webster online for bromine (the first is the chemical) is:

2 a : a commonplace or tiresome person : bore
b : a commonplace or hackneyed statement or notion.

I've never heard "bromine" (almost always "an old bromine") used in the context of a person, but I have heard it used in the context of a cliche or folk saying. Almost always a debunked one. "Oh, that's just an old bromine. If you step on a crack you won't really break your mother's back."

#350 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2016, 09:14 AM:

Cassy B. (349): I think you mean 'bromide'. Bromine is something else.

#351 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2016, 09:32 AM:

Open threadiness, moderation and free speech style:

Zeynep Tufekci (a very smart sociologist who studies social media) had this wonderful comment on Twitter:

Twitter is a study in how "freedom-of-speech" on the cheap—through crappy moderation—sabotages its core function: freedom-to-assemble.

We've talked a lot here about moderation and its role in making conversations possible. This struck me as capturing something important about this.

#352 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2016, 09:54 AM:

Mary Aileen <headdesk> Yes, bromide. I looked up the right word, and wrote the wrong one.

#353 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2016, 10:09 AM:

@Dave no. 317: When it happened in my family, a lot of people seesawed between being grateful for how quick it was (she had a no-life-support order and poor quality of life) and grieving her loss. Hang in there.

#354 ::: H. Wessells ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2016, 12:38 PM:

Amid all the fanfare for the Nobel laureate, how about a few moments to think about our late friend Paul Williams, long-time chronicler of Dylan -- and, along the way, founder of Crawdaddy!, inventor of PKD for a mass audience with the Rolling Stone interview, and then shepherd of the collected stories of PKD & Sturgeon.

In 1966 Paul wrote:

Perhaps the favorite indoor sport in America today is discussing, worshipping, disparaging, and above all interpreting Bob Dylan . . .

Would he be surprised? I don't know, only met him once in person, but I remember his smile.

And of course this makes me think of another otaku-level Dylan aficionado, Paul’s friend David Hartwell, who would certainly have been ready to utter a substantial discourse on the subject.

Henry W.

#355 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2016, 01:15 PM:

Xopher @344: My one addition to the collection is the punchline of a joke about a man who only speaks Spanish attempting to get help finding socks in a department store in an English-speaking country: on seeing them after a long search with help from the clerk, he exclaims "Eso si que es!" (I have lost the proper accent marks), "Yes, that's what it is!", and the clerk demands to know why he hadn't just spelled it like that in the first place.

#356 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2016, 02:36 PM:

Dave Harmon @348

This may be a UK/USA difference in how "chaise longue" is used. Maybe just being nearer France has given me a mental image of an asymmetric settee/sofa rather than a simple long chair of the lounger-style. And the user tends to lay on their side rather than their back.

But the modern French usage does include deck chair styles, and they have some more-specific names to distinguish the styles.

So maybe I just live in the wrong circles to have noticed.

#357 ::: tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2016, 05:24 PM:

AKICIML: I manage the 'mailman' mailing list for a local choir. The addresses of 2 the 60 members are 'bouncing'. I've spoken to both members: one is fairly tech-savvy (ex GP) - the other said he'd have to ask his 12-yr-old grandson to check if his email address has any filters.

Both addresses are @aol. No other members have @aol accounts, and no other addresses are bouncing.

Are aol accounts more 'bouncy' than, say, gmail?

Should I draw the obvious conclusion and ask them to change their email provider?

#358 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2016, 07:16 PM:

tykewriter: I don't know anything about the current state of AOL, though I used to keep up on deliverability problems and I'm friends with the woman who was once effectively in charge of AOL mail and anti-spam.

However, I can offer some generalities from years in the ISP business and later anti-spam involvement: Mail service at very large scales is hard to maintain; it takes highly skilled staff and a significant investment. Over decades I've observed that when an ISP or service company is in decline, the quality of mail service declines more rapidly than the company as a whole. Because it's expensive and it's seldom a revenue center, it's very tempting to skimp there, or just to freeze the budget while the demands on it keep going up.

So my answer is, though I have no specific present day knowledge of the situation with AOL, it's very likely that both AOL and Yahoo, for instance, are currently more "bouncy" than GMail. You could suggest they try creating a Gmail account and see if it reliably gets through to them there.

#359 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2016, 07:30 PM:

tykewriter (357): I have heard that neither AOL nor Yahoo play well with email lists.

One thing that might help is if both people put the originating address(es) in their AOL contacts list/address book. If the list just for announcements, that may fix the problem. If there are messages to/from other members of the group, each person's address would have to go in the contacts list individually, which is a right royal pain.

#360 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2016, 07:39 PM:

Steve Taylor @ 290: that is indeed a wonderful discovery.

too many other interesting remarks to highlight, but I've forwarded the snark on Norman legal overlays to my wife, who as a Saxon SCA persona was just slightly miffed that the stairwell decorations on the Viking Star were sections of the Bayeux Tapestry.

Angiportus @ 341: there's been commentary on this (e.g., on the BBC), with various quotes suggesting that Dylan's lyrics are deliberately vague rather than multi-layered, deeply meaningful, etc. He's not the only one; I've read that Robert Hunter wrote loosely so that listeners could impose their own meanings -- see, e.g., "Uncle John's Band".

#361 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2016, 07:56 PM:

Albatross #261: (Long-delayed answer, sorry). The Dictionary of Jamaican English entry for BACKRA, BUCKRA gives the etymology as "Ibo, Efik,mbakára, white man, he who surrounds or governs." This is an entirely denotative term. Negative connotations, as in Turtledove's Southern Victory series, are situational. Buckra in the US is a Gullah word. As far as I can make out, in Gullah, as in its ancestral West Indian and West African Creoles and Pidgins, the word is purely denotative.

#362 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2016, 08:14 PM:

Dave Harmon #317: My condolences.

#363 ::: Queer Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2016, 11:08 PM:

Jim 346: Not only amusing, but a helpful analogy! Thanks for that.

Fade 355: I love it! Thanks.

#364 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2016, 06:37 AM:

After an evening following Neil Gaiman around YouTube, I eventually wound up at Douglas Adams, and delightedly rewatched Parrots the Universe and Everything. Gaiman commented that once one has encountered Adams's viewpoint, it's really hard to see in the old way again. Among many gems, I'm particularly fond of the puddle metaphor, which comes back to me in many many contexts.

#365 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2016, 09:08 AM:

Cassy B. @ #349:

I have encountered "bromide" in the "commonplace or tiresome person" sense in exactly one context, which is the Gershwin song The Babbitt and the Bromide, introduced in the 1946 Ziegfield Follies.

(A babbitt, according to the same dictionary you consulted, is "a person and especially a business or professional man who conforms unthinkingly to prevailing middle-class standards".)

#366 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2016, 12:58 PM:

My folks used "bromide", dismissively, but I make no representation as to how common the term is..

#367 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2016, 04:05 PM:

I've seen bromide used about cliches, but not about people.

#368 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2016, 04:10 PM:

Heads-up: "Hidden Figures" moved up to Christmas release date.

This is a biopic about the black women who worked as NASA mathematicians in the early days of the space race. And with a 2016 release date, it'll be eligible for the Hugos in Helsinki. The main question is whether to nominate it under BDP Long Form or Best Related Work, but the precedent of Apollo 13 suggests the former.

Also, check out the trailer (embedded in the article). This is going to be worth watching for the snark alone!

#369 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2016, 09:19 PM:

Lee: I'm in. Whee!

#370 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2016, 12:03 AM:

tykewriter @ 357 ...

I would suggest that starting here AOL Postmaster is likely to be of general use.

#371 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2016, 09:51 AM:

At the Holiday Inn @ Fort Washington, nice place --- looks new, good art, good breakfast area. Waiting for the funeral this afternoon.

#372 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2016, 09:13 PM:

My grandfather, B.J. Babbitt, was never very happy with Lewis for that book. Though he was an engineer (with so many interests, he should have been a fan: astronomy, earth science, photography, travel), he had something of the soft appearance of the protagonist of the novel (who was almost called Gunch), and people used to speculate that the book was something to do with him.

I have all this at second hand, via Mom, since he died before I was born. I was also named after him—his nickname was Kip. (I was also named after his son, my Uncle Dick, who died in WW2. His middle name was Kipling.)

Apropos of that, there's a town called Kipling near where my sister lives up in Michigan, and I wondered if that was the place he had taught for a while, early in his career. It would have explained the nickname. Nobody else, however, believes that it was the place, so there's another lovely theory shot down by a cruel world.

#373 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2016, 09:51 PM:

Gofundme where Democrats (or anyone!) can donate to rebuild the GOP headquarters in NC that was firebombed:

#374 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2016, 09:24 AM:

So, I'm back. Funeral was at a local Reform synagogue, various family and friends telling stories about him. Unfortunately, we had to dash home afterwards due to my sisters' and the kids' various obligations at home. (Kudos to my BiL for marathon driving....) Other family members had come in and left before the funeral for similar reasons, while still others are staying with her afterwards.

Irony: One of Uncle Bob's hobbies/spare-change-jobs was acting as a "model patient" for medical students, his specialty was strokes (yes, he had had some minor strokes previously).

Thanks again for the continued condolences.

#375 ::: tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2016, 09:27 AM:

Thanks to Clifton, Mary Aileen, and xeger for your replies to my mailing list problem (357). I should have added that I can email these members directly at the addresses they have provided for the mailing list.

Other people have had the same problem with aol, Yahoo, and hotmail.

I'm about to send a test message after changing the 'not metoo' settings on the bouncing addresses. If that doesn't work I'll ask them both at rehearsal tonight if they wouldn't mind using another address for choir emails.

#376 ::: tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2016, 10:28 AM:

Nope. Still bouncy-bouncy, and not in a good way.

Plan B then.

#377 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2016, 11:14 AM:

#317 Dave
My sympathies on your loss.

#341 Angioportus

Surpassing repetitive lyrical banality with appalling bad/stupid grammar, combined with mushmouth elocution (or lack thereof) make me want to destroy audio systems to stop the propagation/promulgation and neural pain. The current example springing fastest to my mind is "Blame It on Me" but there are a lot of others...

#378 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2016, 03:49 PM:

Jenny Islander: This is referencing waaaaaay back to the last Open Thread, which I am only now reading. And the reason I'm only reading it now is because I've been very very busy.

Very very busy preparing to be in a production of The Pirates of Penzance, as it happens. Photos here.

So a couple of things:
1. A lot of people I know love the 1983 movie of Pirates a lot. And a lot of people I know hate it. I haven't seen it since sixth grade, so I'm having to work off of memory here, but some of the reasons for the hate from the latter are that Papp went and mucked about with the script (including lifting a song from a different G&S production, Ruddigore, which is one of my personal favorites), Frederic is quite a bit bland, the musicality isn't as high as my classically-trained friends would like (oh, the notes we get on proper pronunciation!), and "it's kind of boring the way they filmed it."

2. Gilbert & Sullivan musicals are often derided or mocked for having tinkly little songs. This is a misconception derived from the popular score "piano parts," which attempt to compress a whole orchestra into something marginally playable by one set of human hands. If you look up "When the Night Wind Howls" from Ruddigore or the Act I finale from Iolanthe, you'll hear some amazing orchestration. (The D'Oyly Carte Company is considered the gold standard, but if Lamplighters from the SF Bay Area has anything up, they're quite amazing too—and some of their recordings feature our director as lead tenor.)

3. *Do* go see G&S productions live if you have the opportunity. They are a lot of fun in the right hands, and they can be good even in the wrong hands. For the former, a friend of mine is directing a steampunk version of Pirates for the MIT Players soon.

#379 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2016, 04:25 PM:

@B. Durbin no. 378: Which song? There's a point where the entire crew crashes a production of another G&S piece in mid-chorus. As for the staging, it's a lot of fun IME, because it's all done in a very stagey way--like the parts in Munchkin Land in the iconic Wizard of Oz film. The songs are robust and very funny! But some bits do lag--where it's clear that the actors are trying so hard to remember all their lines that they don't have much left over for chemistry.

Watching it now is a little sad, though, because you're looking at a production from the Sexual Revolution, with men free to be awfully pretty and gay men, if not uncloseted, at least able to associate freely behind the scenes--but oh, look, there's another actor I never heard of because while I was just hearing about these new things called VHS and cable, he was dying of AIDS.

#380 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2016, 04:32 PM:

The "Matter Patter" song (and apparently the "Sorry Her Lot" from HMS Pinafore as well.) The original trio for that song is comprised of a cursed baronet, his younger brother (who held the title while the older brother was hiding under an assumed name in order to dodge the curse), and the younger brother's mad wife. Note that in Ruddigore, it's traditional for the actor playing the younger brother to be quite a bit older than the older brother, for the reason that vice ages you. When we did it in 2009, the "younger brother" was actually played by the father of the other guy.

#381 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2016, 04:57 PM:

In the "can't find it" category -- I have on tape, somewhere (no longer findable) a filk based on the movie 'War Games', starting out with:

"Greetings Professor
Indicate your access please
I've waited at the backdoor for a long time now ..."

Does anybody have enough information on this to make finding a copy a reasonable venture?

#382 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2016, 04:59 PM:

... and, predictably, now that I've posted to ask, I've promptly managed to find the information -- It's by Julia Ecklar, and called "War Games".

At least the usual effect of asking seems to stick ;D

#383 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2016, 05:15 PM:

... or then again, maybe not -- at least barring War Games, FilKONtario 9, Track 06.wmv which claims thusly (and seems to align to my fuzzy recollection), I'm finding nothing at all :(

#384 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2016, 10:05 PM:

I ended up swapped in the last minute from being Third Townsperson To The Right to being the Companion in a Doctor Who musical put on at a filk convention that had songs from a whole range of different G&S musicals ... because I could do the Matter Patter song, and the person who previously planned to do the part knew all the songs BUT that one.

(This musical.

Luckily, my backup "wear on Sunday" t-shirt said, "My parents got abducted by aliens and all I got was this stupid T-shirt", which was really appropriate for a Doctor's Companion. :->

#385 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2016, 10:35 PM:

I am about to lose my cool with someone on Daily Kos who is critising one of my favorite authors because they don't allow fanfic of their 'universe.'

I've come over here to cool down before I say something unfortunate.

#386 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2016, 10:45 PM:

Not sure how authors can stop it. Though some fandoms respect such requests out of courtesy.

#387 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2016, 10:48 PM:

Threaten to sue, and if violator continues, do so. Usually most authors issue a "cease and desist" letter, then follow up with a law suit if necessary.

#388 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2016, 12:39 AM:

Rewatching Ghostbusters. One of the funniest moments is when a white guy tells a fat woman, a black woman, an autistic woman, and a woman who endured years of therapy directed at a problem somebody else decided she had that they have no idea how unfair life can be. The bit where Kevin wanders in and takes credit and people offscreen keep throwing him metaphorical cookies is right up there too. I LOVE THIS MOVIE.

Also, this:

Will never get old. (Video: Holtzmann's Crowning Moment of Awesome.)

#389 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2016, 01:07 AM:

re 379/380: They even sing "though we sing this song from Ruddigore it really doesn't matter." We are after all talking about the patter song that mocks patter songs.

The Papp movie definitely leans on the "silly" side of G&S but their staging of "When the Foeman Bares the Steel" does one of the great production numbers justice.

#390 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2016, 09:38 AM:

Most of the criticisms of the Papp Pirates that I've seen aren't really about that version so much as that it became so popular that people wanted to see Pirates done that way or felt they had to do it that way. I quite enjoyed the movie version of it.

I think It Really Doesn't Matter fits into Pirates pretty well, and it didn't take much changing of the lyrics.

As for the criticisms of the Papp production, I think at least some of them should more rightly be about Pirates in general. Frederic really is rather bland, and there are portions of the score that really aren't that musically interesting because Sullivan wrote them at the last minute. I still enjoy it anyway, and will happily sing along to Pirate King in the car.

#391 ::: Quill ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2016, 10:14 AM:

Has anyone seen The Pirate Movie? I know it was poorly received, and it's quite silly, but I enjoy it all the same--it plays around with the musical and has a lot of fun with it, and the in-jokes are amusing.

#392 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2016, 11:31 AM:

Well, as a rule the tenor hero role has the Tamino Problem in spades. He's there largely to advance the plot, not to be an interesting character. Come to think of it, G&S and Magic Flute present similar issues in terms of the singing roles, and never mind the Queen-of-the-Night/Katisha's costuming.

#393 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2016, 12:57 PM:

There may be people who haven't heard my anecdotes of being Honorable Third From Left in the 2000 CNU Mikado—oh, how I pity them!—but no time for them all now. Instead, here's the audio link to "A More Humane Mikado," for which I was tasked to write new, contemporary lyrics. At the point of interruption, the audience is laughing at every member of the cast, chorus, and orchestra checking their costumes ("Is it mine?"). The person saying, "Moshi-moshi?" is I. It was a golden moment for American Theater.

Link to MP3 at Let me know if it doesn't work. The whole story and audio are posted at the New Pals Club Web-Log (search "Mikado" there), but I can't seem to reach it at the moment. Foo.

#394 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2016, 02:27 PM:

It may be the migraine meds talking, but hear me out: Minecraft: the Motion Capture Console Edition.

You can play it in any mode. To get into your inventory or a chest or use your crafting table or forge, swipe and hold. To walk, walk in place; to run, run in place; to jump, jump in place; to swim or climb a ladder, hold your arms high; to sneak, crouch. Combat, picking flowers, and tool use are represented by punching. To gather dropped blocks, walk around a bit. To place something, grab it from inventory or on-hand and slap downward firmly.

The one item you start with in Survival mode is a bed, not a map, so you can take breaks during every night cycle. The game flashes a reminder to grab a drink and assess your level of fatigue.

#395 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2016, 02:34 PM:

There does seem to be a certain orthodox style expected of G&S productions, and that rather forgets that part of the point was to poke fun at contemporary society. A monarch with a troublesome son who keeps chasing girls: is that just The Mikado?

#396 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2016, 03:28 PM:

So... Hugh Jackman sang R&H's "Oh What A Beautiful Morning" at a Hillary fundraiser?

#397 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2016, 04:26 PM:

#332, 333, 341, 343, 354, and 360:

I offer congratulations to Bob Dylan upon his receipt of the Nobel Prize, and a wish that the next phase of his career will be less tumultuous than its beginning.

#398 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2016, 04:58 PM:

Jenny Islander #394: I know there's a Wii version, no idea how the controls work.

#399 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2016, 05:12 PM:

Jenny Islander @394: I've fantasized about something like that for my work computer, so I could get some exercise during the course of the day.

#400 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2016, 05:41 PM:

Serge Broom @396: He's been in Oklahoma! on stage before, so he already knew the song.

His reputation in Australia and here, as an actor, are rather different, because of his breakout transpondian role. :-> (Example.)

#401 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2016, 06:03 PM:

Elliott Mason @ 400... Indeed he did. We have the DVD of it. :-)

#402 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2016, 09:07 PM:

Quill @ #391:

I have seen The Pirate Movie once, when I was old enough to know what it was doing and young enough that I would have enjoyed unless it were much worse than it was. Which is to say that I enjoyed it but don't feel qualified to speak on whether it was any good.


Here's the direct link to Kip W's Mikado anecdote. Worth reading.

#403 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2016, 09:20 PM:

Buddha Buck @132: Does anyone know of any suitable "young adult" SF/F starring black teenage girls?

Dunno if this would help, but this just came across my Twitter feed:

Tanita S. Davis ‏@tanita_s_davis Writers, help, please. My YA novel has a black girl protag with albinism, and I'm looking for a beta reader. DM me and/or RT, thank you much!
#404 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2016, 10:45 PM:

Paul A.

Thanks for that! reminds me that I need to extract the video for that number and put it up somewhere. The microphone line for the video was erratic through the first part of the show, which had most of the parts I was in, but it was fine during that number. If I had to choose one or the other, I'd have chosen what I got, but… sigh, anyway. I still like our production better than most others I've seen (the exception would be the partial production seen in TOPSY TURVY—how I wish they'd done the whole thing!).

Speaking of TOPSY TURVY, our cast headed to Norfolk to see that at the Naro, and as the curtains were closing, our Ko-Ko, Fred Arsenault, stood up at the front of the balcony and shouted, "CNU is doing The Mikado! Come and see the CNU Mikado!" I was tempted to stand up after one of our performances and shout at the audience to go see TOPSY TURVY, but only Fred would have gotten the reference.

#405 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2016, 01:07 AM:

I took part in a community-theater production of The Mikado once, as part of the men's chorus. Yes, men's chorus -- I sing tenor, and they're always short of tenors. I was much younger and slimmer then, and an Ace bandage and bulky kimono covered a lot of... things.

They had a makeup artist for the principals, but those of us in the chorus were expected to do our own (using materials provided). I gave myself heavy masculine eyebrows and a Fu Manchu mustache/goatee. It was apparently quite effective; the night a couple of friends of mine came to the show, they couldn't pick me out of the rest of the chorus!

But the thing I remember most vividly from that show was our Katisha. She was a true contralto, and had been doing the rehearsals at half-voice. The night of the dress rehearsal she made her first entrance and let fly in full voice, and the rest of us just froze. She was AMAZING. I wish I could remember her name, but it's lost in the mists of time.

#406 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2016, 05:42 PM:

Physics(?) question for the assembled luminaries:

When I microwave leftovers, they get plenty hot but then cool off much more quickly than the food originally did after being cooked on the stove/in the oven. What's going on here? Is it not actually as hot as it was before? (It certainly seems/feels/tastes as hot.) Is it something about the microwaves? Or what?

#407 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2016, 05:49 PM:

Mary Aileen@406: I don't observe the same thing here.

Theories that come to mind include:

The outside isn't actually at the same temp as before

The outside is the same temp but inside is cooler

The food is dried out enough that it has less mass and hence cools faster (transfer through fixed surface area)

The escape of steam has changed the texture to allow more air circulation so it cools faster

Or, always a useful hypothesis to keep handy in investigations like this, something much more interesting that hasn't occurred to me :-) .

Note that some of these are contradictory.

#408 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2016, 06:03 PM:

Dave: belated condolences.

#409 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2016, 06:12 PM:

Harriet Tubman coming to the $20 bills! Andrew Jackson's out (good riddance), Hamilton's $10 gets saved by his musical, various other interesting figures appear on several bills' backsides.

Mary Aileen #406: Adding to DDB #407: You're likely microwaving a smaller amount of food than you originally cooked, with the usual square-cube effects. Also, probably in a thinner, less heat-retaining container.

#410 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2016, 06:16 PM:

Mary Aileen @406: Microwaves heat unevenly. If you're eating a hot spot first, it's very hot, but the temp of the object tends to average if it sits.

#411 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2016, 06:17 PM:

Dave Harmon @409: The murderous, genocidal asshole is still going to be on the back, alas.

#412 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2016, 06:24 PM:

re 406: It will depend on certain factors. Microwaves tend to deposit their energy about 1/2" in, so everything else is by conduction/convection (the latter not happening if we aren't talking a pretty thin soup). In initial baking the greater time span gives more time for conduction to work, and typically the time for most recipes represents how long it takes to get the center to the right temperature and do whatever reactions are needed. the few minutes for typical reheating just doesn't allow much time for heat movement.

#413 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2016, 07:15 PM:

Thanks for the suggestions, all.

These three--

The food is dried out enough that it has less mass and hence cools faster (transfer through fixed surface area) and

The escape of steam has changed the texture to allow more air circulation so it cools faster

You're likely microwaving a smaller amount of food than you originally cooked, with the usual square-cube effects. Also, probably in a thinner, less heat-retaining container.

--seem the most plausible to me.

I don't think I'm eating a hot spot first, as Elliott suggested, because the effect is remarkably consistent.

#414 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2016, 04:29 AM:

The time factor is why the reduced-power mode on a microwave is useful. The magnetron is pulsed on and off to give the 50%, or whatever is set, so there is more time for heat conduction. The hot spots don't get quite so hot, which can be a good thing, as long as the whole item gets hot enough. The conduction is part of why the instructions tell you to wait a minute or two after the microwave stops, and there's still some time needed. Also, the lower temperature differences do slow the heat flow, so I wouldn't reduce the waiting time.

It depends what you're doing, but it can give a better balance between the peak temperature near the surface and the core temperature. It is, for instance, less likely to overheat grated cheese

#415 ::: quercus ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2016, 12:25 PM:

microwaved food cooling faster: The consensus seems to be three actual issues (as well as some confirmation bias, etc.). First, microwaves heat food unevenly so there are hot spots. Your fingers and mouth feel the temperature of the hot spots, so the food feels hot, but the hot spots soon lose their heat to the rest of the food, making the apparent temperature colder, even without losing any heat overall.
Second, unlike a regular oven, the dish/container isn't heated, so the food loses heat to the dish.
Third, you're usually microwaving a small amount of something, rather than a full pot. And small things cool off more quickly, no matter how they've been heated.

#416 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2016, 01:17 PM:

quercus (415): That all makes a lot of sense. One thing about your description puzzles me, though. To me, "hot spots" has always suggested that some mouthfuls would feel hot and some cool/cold, which has not been my experience; my first few bites are always hot. Does this Your fingers and mouth feel the temperature of the hot spots, so the food feels hot mean instead that the hot spots are very small, so that every mouthful would have both hot and cooler spots and thus the whole thing feels hot?

#417 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2016, 02:48 PM:

Mary Aileen @416:

If you take a plate and cover it with something like cheese or chocolate, something that melts at a low temperature, and turn off the spinny thing in your microwave, you will see after 30 seconds to a minute a regular pattern of melted/burnt spots in the cheese/chocolate.

These are essentially one form of "hot spot" that forms in a microwave, and is caused by the geometry of the oven and the way that the microwaves bounce around inside. The spinny thing in the microwave is designed to mitigate this issue by moving the food through these hot spots so that the energy isn't concentrated on one point in the food.

There's also a recipe out there for "Frozen Florida" -- essentially, an inside-out baked alaska. Inside a shell of frozen meringue, you put a liqueur, then microwave the sucker. The meringue stays ice-frozen, but the liqueur heats up to near boiling temps. This is the second cause of "hot spots": the meringue is mainly made of non-polar proteins, which don't absorb the microwaves and allow them to pass through without heating. The liqueur is made mostly of water and alcohol, both highly polar and highly absorbing of microwaves, so they get hot quickly. So different parts of the food are affected by microwaves differently, yielding differential heating.

Finally, the interiors of foodstuffs tend to be shielded by the exteriors, and (as Dave Bell said) mainly get heated by conduction, not microwaves. So the outer half-inch of the food gets most of the microwave heat, while the interiors take a while to heat up. Since the first part that you eat is the outside, you get hit with that heat first. It's a largish hot "spot", but it's still differential heating.

The main differences, regarding that last point, between conventional oven and microwave oven cooking is that in a conventional oven, a small amount of power is being applied over a long time, so heat has time to flow, whereas in a microwave oven, a large amount of power is being applied over a short time, so heat doesn't have time to flow. Also, in a conventional oven, the heat is only being applied to the exterior of the food, while in a microwave it's being applied to a thicker surface layer.

#418 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2016, 02:56 PM:

Buddha Buck (417): Thank you. That's very informative.

I mostly encounter the effect when reheating takeout Chinese (because it's always a huge plate of food, even as leftovers; other things that I reheat are much smaller portions and thus get eaten fast enough that they don't have time to cool much). That's a bunch of small things--grains of rice, bits of vegetables and meat--not one big mass, so there's not a lot of interior to heat up more slowly.

It sounds as if, to avoid the rapid cooling effect, I should microwave things for longer, then let them sit for a minute to equalize the heaat.

#419 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2016, 03:05 PM:

Mary @418:

Being a bunch of small, independent things, it may also be hard for conduction to work well. My advice in that case (assuming that the takeout Chinese can be eaten this way) is to nuke it for a short period, then stir it up, and repeat.

It's also one of the best ways to melt chocolate at home: put a bunch of chocolate chips in a cup or bowl, then repeat nuking for 15 seconds and stirring, until it is completely and consistently melted. Without the stirring, the uneven heating will burn parts and not melt others.

#420 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2016, 03:41 PM:

Mary Aileen @ 418:

Yes, lower power for longer, and letting stand briefly will help. Stirring aggregate items like rice will also help distribute the heat better. For items that may have dried out a little in the refrigerator, like leftover rice, I also add a splash of water before cooking.

If you're interested in cooking things in the microwave, which might also help your intuition for reheating food, you can find some microwave cookbooks from the '70s and '80s in used bookstores. I'm not entirely sure why cooking in microwave ovens never took off, but they seem to mostly be used for reheating foods and cooking frozen foods any more.

Many old microwave ovens had a stirrer mechanism inside to mitigate hotspots, and modern ones have a rotating turntable. I don't like the turntables so much, but I have to deal. That said, with no stirrer, and a disabled turntable, you can measure the speed of light using a microwave and marshmallows.

#421 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2016, 04:03 PM:

Looking at my microwave, it doesn't look hard to avoid using the turntable. There is a shaped bottom to the oven, with a supporting wheeled ring, and a central rotating cog coupled to a plate (probably silica glass).

You can get plastic plates/spacers to let you stack two plates of food for reheating.

Removed the wheeled ring and the turntable-plate, cover the cog with a spacer, and you have your non-rotating target.

Mine has a fixed heating element at the top, no sign of rotating vanes, but I suppose there's a hidden rotating vane to scatter the microwave energy, something in the wave-guide that couples the magnetron to the oven-space proper. But you could do a reversible test to see what happens.

#422 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2016, 04:17 PM:

I note that my copy of Kerbal Space Program is quite sufficient to satisfy my desire for smoke, flames, and earth-shattering kabooms. Why should I bother with a microwave oven hack?

One of the factors in cookery is the coupling between the food and the heat source. It's one of the things that makes a difference between a fan-assisted oven and others. The air isn't necessarily hotter, but without the fan there's a near-static layer of air that isn't so good a conductor. The air circulation also can reduce convection effects, though you already know it matters which shelf you put something on.

Anyway, there's McGee On Food and Cooking

#423 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2016, 05:08 PM:

Mary Aileen, #418: Or heat them for about half the time you expect it to take, then stop the oven, open the door, and stir the food to rearrange the parts that are hot and not hot yet. That works well for me with things like frozen soup, because there will be a frozen lump in the middle that I can break up with the spoon.

#424 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2016, 05:30 PM:

My sister Julie passed yesterday. The cancer won. However she was joking and pranking to the very end.

#425 ::: Queer Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2016, 06:38 PM:

Victoria 424: I'm sorry for your loss, but glad you can take some comfort from her enjoyment of every last minute.

#426 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2016, 06:47 PM:

KeithS @420: Many old microwave ovens had a stirrer mechanism inside to mitigate hotspots

Once decided to [not] pull the leg of a coworker, who was pretty smart, but didn't have much tech education beyond high school. I said, in my best setting-up-a-joke voice, "Hey, Jay! Do you know what the paddles in the top of the microwaves are for?" "No, what." "They're to—" dramatic pause "stir the microwaves."

He took the bait. "Nah. You're kidding. C'mon. I was born in the night, but I wasn't born last night." I giggled muchly.

We've been going through a series of microwaves at work, because we keep getting old and/or cheap replacements. The last-but-one had this hot-spot that was at about ten o'clock off of the turntable axle. I'd put my cereal in, and it would bubble in that one location, which slowly moved through the cereal as the bowl turned.

#427 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2016, 06:49 PM:

Victoria: Condolences. One hopes she pranks the greeters at the Gates.

#428 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2016, 07:05 PM:

Condolences, Victoria. May her memory be a blessing.

#429 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2016, 07:13 PM:

Condolences, Victoria.

I am going to the funeral tomorrow of a friend in her mid-thirties. Cancer sucks.

#430 ::: Louis Patterson ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2016, 09:08 PM:

It's also one of the best ways to melt chocolate at home: put a bunch of chocolate chips in a cup or bowl, then repeat nuking for 15 seconds and stirring, until it is completely and consistently melted. Without the stirring, the uneven heating will burn parts and not melt others.

I use it for making starch paste for bookbinding: tablespoon of flour, sufficient water; stir and repeat until clear.

#431 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2016, 11:44 PM:

Sorry to hear the news, Victoria. #$^#$ Cancer.

* * *

My microwave has a turntable shut-off function. It is a button; there may be hidden control settings as well.

There are some foods that I "start" in a microwave, then put in a toaster oven for a bit. For example, a frozen egg roll I cooked the other day. After cooking half the suggested microwave time (flipping as well as using the turntable) I put it in the toaster oven and used the high toaster setting. Eliminates some of the sogginess.

#432 ::: Queer Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2016, 01:07 AM:

Buddha 419: It's also one of the best ways to melt chocolate at home: put a bunch of chocolate chips in a cup or bowl, then repeat nuking for 15 seconds and stirring, until it is completely and consistently melted. Without the stirring, the uneven heating will burn parts and not melt others.

Hmm. Only if you don't plan to let it cool back down. As described that will break the tempering of the chocolate, and it will cool down to a sticky mess. If, instead, you nuke it until the chips are just starting to melt, then stir vigorously, you'll have melted chocolate that will keep its temper and cool down to the smooth surface you know and love.

It takes practice to get this right.

#433 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2016, 01:42 AM:

Re: microwaves, I have a story. It will demonstrate that I come by my creative baking ability (see: chocolate-orange stabwound cake, in the last Open Thread) honestly.

The summer I was six and my sister was two and a half, my mother went to England by herself and left us alone with my father. This really wasn't a bad idea, despite people tutting over it; like most men, my dad was thoroughly capable of being a good parent, and indeed is the kind of dad I wish everyone got to have. My mother very carefully made two weeks' worth of casseroles, labelled them with dates, and froze them. She arrived home to find that they were all still in the freezer. Dad had decided to cook with us.

"Girls!" he said. "We should make rice krispie squares!"
We made rice krispie squares, and lo! They looked great, because it's pretty hard to muck up rice krispie squares.
"Girls!" he said. "Do you think we should melt some chocolate to spread on top of the rice krispie squares?"

Of course we did. It is worth mentioning at this point that chocolate chips, if not stirred regularly, keep their shape when microwaved.
"Hm. A bit longer," he said. And then: "hm. A bit longer. They must be nearly done now."

Some days later, we picked my mother up at the airport, with handmade "WELCOME HOME MUMMY" signs, flowers, the whole bit. We arrived home and she walked into the kitchen to make herself a cup of tea. Then she walked out again.
"Michael," she said, which I thought was very funny because my dad's name is Mike, not Michael (it is actually Michael. I'd just never heard anyone call him that.)
"Yes, dear?"
"That microwave is grey."
"Yes dear. You noticed that."
"Our microwave is brown with a wood-effect case*"
"It was, dear."
"I thought you deserved a new one, dear. As a nice surprise."
"Look, this one has some extra settings!"
"I'm so glad you're home, dear."

I was keeping very quiet, loyal and stalwart ally to my father that I was. My sister, on the other hand, was a complete traitor and piped up in delighted tones, as if it was the best thing that had happened to her in her entire life to date: "There was a FIRE!"

And that's how I learned two things: one, that even daddies can get into trouble, and two, that chocolate chips are combustible if microwaved for too long.

*Why yes, this WAS 1990.

#434 ::: SunflowerP ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2016, 02:38 AM:

Dave Harmon @ 317 et seq (belatedly), Victoria @ 424, OtterB @ 429 (and for that matter anyone else grieving a loved one's passing):
A thousand of bread
A thousand of beer
A thousand of every good thing
May Bob ascend. May Julie ascend. May friend-of-Otter ascend.
And may you all be comforted.

#435 ::: Errolwi ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2016, 06:30 AM:

Em, that was delightful, and well told. Thank you.

#436 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2016, 07:51 AM:

Em @433: Shortly after they got a microwave -- fairly early in their history as household appliances, because my grandmother loved being on the cutting edge of elegance -- my grandfather had one of those ... encounters.

Since he was a consultant before we had words for that kind of thing, he often picked me up from school and entertained me until my mom was home and then dropped me off there (or kept me all night and I slept at their house).

It was time for afterschool snack. We had a regular "Madam/Butler" running schtick, so I would sit in their dining room with a formal place setting and a fabric napkin (they didn't use paper ones anyway), with a lofty expression and he'd bring some food in that he'd had a lot of fun crafting, visually, while still being food I ate.

So he decided that day, I should have toast-with-cheese*, a small bowl of applesauce, and a boiled egg.

So far so good.

Then he decided that warm hard-boiled eggs are far nicer than cold ones, and hey presto! We have a microwave now! They're magic and make food warm.

Still not that bad an idea, in theory. But Grandpa didn't cook, and he had only read enough of the manual to know how to make instant oatmeal without having to put on the kettle.

He gave the egg thirty seconds at a time (the smallest amount we could do; spring-loaded time dial) until the outside felt reasonably warm.

But he didn't peel it first.



The kitchen in their house was separate, with a swinging wood door (the kind that is like a pinball paddle and will stop in either position). The dining room side of the kitchen wall, which became lofty, high-ceilinged, and formal, was entirely covered by foot-square tiles of mirror.

Because I'm from the universe-next-door where vaudeville rules of physics and probability are the ones in effect, he was just processing formally through that door, with the tray held properly at chest height, in his very stuffiest English Butler character, when the egg exploded.


I never needed an explanation of "caught with egg on his face". Because reasons.

Also the entire wall of pristine mirrored tiles, 9 feet high and 18 feet wide, was FLOCKED with tiny white or yellow egg particles.

The entire rest of the afternoon until Grandma came back from work was consumed with him on a stepstool and me doing everything from my highest reach downwards, both of us wiping off the mass and then Windexing and buffing very carefully to its usual pristine glory.

We Never Spoke Of It Again, at least until I was in high school and forgot anything but that it was funny and she turned her stiff-lipped, eye-not-quite-glaring face (which had cowed hardened government bureaucrats and mechanics trying to treat her like an airheaded woman who didn't know about cars) upon her husband, who was doing his very best not to burst out laughing, because that would make it so much worse. :->


My mother, who HAD read the manual (of COURSE we told my mom -- she's the handy one in the family, and he was worried that there might be something wrong with the microwave, and now it was going to explode everything), pointed out about a week after it happened that things with an outer wrapper/layer need to have that layer pierced in several places to let the steam out.

Hard boiled eggs were stored peeled in their fridge henceforth, despite my grandmother's grumbles that they don't last as long that way. Grandpa said, completely persuasively, that it was far easier to peel them warm, and made a horrible mess at table if we had to do it there every time.

Also he aggressively forked baked potatoes before warming them. You can never be too careful.


* toast-with-cheese is toasted whole-wheat bread, enough butter to make the top lovely and hot-soft without sogging out the bottom, and sliced colby sufficient to cover in a mostly single layer. Often he would cut the underlayer diagonally and the cheese layer latitudinally. I said he carefully crafted their appearances, I didn't say he wasn't a prankster. :-> Sometimes it was toast-with-two-cheeses, with cream cheese instead of butter)

#437 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2016, 08:06 AM:

Victoria, OtterB, I'm so sorry.

#438 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2016, 08:12 AM:

My early experience with microwave ovens isn't nearly as... dramatic... as Em's or Elliott Mason's. We got a microwave back in the mid-1970s (I remember I was in grade school, but not which grade). It was bleeding-edge technology at the time. It came with a very thin cookbook; there was virtually nothing else available about how-to-use-a-microwave. So my mom decided to make dinner rolls. You know, the kind that come refrigerated in a tube? She set them in the microwave and cooked them for a minute or two, then looked at them. Still white, still small. So she nuked them another minute or two. No change. After several iterations, she finally gave up in disgust and pulled them out of the microwave and prodded them with a fork or something. At which point we discovered that the rolls were white on the outside, and burned to charcoal briquettes on the inside....

#439 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2016, 08:28 AM:

I am still sad that we lost-in-a-flood the original cookbook (shipped with it, along with the manual) for my grandparents' microwave, which was a no-fooling hardcover book, about equivalent to the big end of childrens' picture books. I haven't found one on eBay for a reasonable price, and I loved paging through it regularly.

Behold the cover of the 1979 Tappan Microwave Cooking Guide. Note, if you will, that it is the "new and updated" one, meaning it's not the first edition.

Aside from the time capsule nature of the extremely in-fashion-and-luxe late-70s cookware and dishes throughout, and the brown-and-olive-and-burnt-orange color schemes, the recipes are ... of their time.

And the diagram showing exactly what's been discussed in this thread -- that microwaves heat kind of unevenly and you have to take that into account, was illustrated by a plate full of ice penguins.

I'm not kidding. Ice penguins. (Why penguins? I have no idea, ask Tappan)

That shot is also large enough to read the text beneath, but for accessibility, I shall transcribe:

This photo was taken only a few minutes after the penguins were in the microwave at High (100%). Note how the melting water has tunneled out the ice in uneven patterns. Note the penguin in the center has melted less because it was shielded by the microwaves from the surrounding mass. It is important to avoid this uneven defrosting so that's why you'll be defrosting on lower power levels. Study the next pages and the specific defrosting instructions in this cookbook's recipe instructions.

#440 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2016, 08:32 AM:

Victoria, OtterB: My condolences. May their memories be a blessing.

Also, thanks to all again for the condolences I've received.

Elliott Mason #436: Because I'm from the universe-next-door where vaudeville rules of physics and probability are the ones in effect

Heh. A lot of folks have been burned (sometimes literally :( ) by that one. Smaller "sealed envelopes" can also burst -- beans especially aren't as spectacular, but they can certainly spatter the food.

Mary Aileen #416: "Rapid cooling" would be colder on the outside. I more often run into uneven heating or "not heated through", where the first bite or few is fine, and then Ew!, a cold bite.

#441 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2016, 08:38 AM:

And thanks to searching for images to illustrate my post @439, I have now discovered copies of it in good condition on eBay for FAR less than the last time I looked. Which is weird, you'd think they'd get rarer and more expensive over time, because of attrition?

Anyway. $6 for 8"x11"x.25" of nostalgia is a pretty good deal. :->

This copy even has the dust jacket, which was removed instantly in my grandparents' house, stuck carefully between the microwave and the wall "to keep it nice", and never again put back on it.

#442 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2016, 09:15 AM:

The microwave story I heard was from a boss, who had a grandkid being helpful. Said grandkid, who was about 8 or 9 at the time of the - incident, decided to make baked potatoes. He asked how long they had to be baked for, and she said "about 40 minutes". The kid nuked the potatoes for 40 minute, and there was nothing left but powder.

#443 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2016, 09:51 AM:

Microwave story:

This was told by my friend Rob Downes, who died a few months ago. Long may it be told.

Rob's father worked in a Macy's store on Long Island in the 60s. The employee break room had a bunch of vending machines, including for wrapped sandwiches, and an early model microwave. A big industrial thing.

Some of the sandwiches, which cost $0.35, were meant to be microwaved. Buy sandwich from machine, put in microwave = hot sandwich.

Then the vending machine company decided to raise prices. To $0.37. The vending machine didn't deal with pennies. So they set it to $0.40, and . . . taped three pennies to the sandwich wrapper.

Not everyone took the pennies off before sticking the sandwich in the expensive microwave, and . . . ZZZZzzzzt.

#444 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2016, 09:55 AM:

My grandmother had a microwave oven in the '60s, before they were available as home consumer devices. It was a large, water-cooled beast that required 220 V (normal home power in the US is 120 V). She enjoyed it because it was fast, convenient, and modern, and also because she got to be all food-sciency about it. Because it was early in the history of microwave ovens, it had wire mesh on the door, but no glass. Also because it was early in the history of microwave ovens, people hadn't debugged all the recipes yet.

She tells the story of the time that she tried making hard-cooked eggs in the microwave. It said you could do them, after all, and it would certainly be more convenient than getting a pan, heating the water, and all that. Well, the eggs did what we now know eggs in the microwave do, which is explode messily all over the inside of the microwave. And, because of the construction of the door, all over the kitchen in front of the microwave, too.

Even after a lot of cleaning, cooking in it apparently smelled somewhat sulfurous for the next few weeks.

I would never do eggs in the microwave, but I will say that it's about the best way I know to do ears of sweetcorn.

#445 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2016, 10:06 AM:

Stefan Jones @443, Keith S @444: I love Making Light so much, and it's for things like this.

#446 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2016, 10:31 AM:

Elliott Mason #441: Which is weird, you'd think they'd get rarer and more expensive over time, because of attrition?

That's assuming you're seeing the whole supply, and they disappear as they get discarded or sold. In practice, what's happening is that various online resellers get them from estate sales, tag/garage sales, junk boxes, and the like (where they were previously invisible). And since demand is low, they accumulate over time in the now-visible inventories of the resellers.

#447 ::: Queer Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2016, 11:56 AM:

A friend replaced his microwave, and decided to do an experiment with the old one. At the time he was fortunate enough to have a house with a large yard with, no kidding, a large concrete slab in the middle of it.

This was before every microwave came with a turntable, but after they all came with a glass plate in the bottom. The experiment was to find out what the glass plate was for. So he made a box of microwave brownies exactly to instructions, and put them in the microwave (on the concrete slab, with an extension cord and cutoff switch) without the glass plate.

I'm not sure how far over the listed time he ran, but he reported that the top of the brownies burst into flames while the bottom was still raw.

#448 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2016, 12:11 PM:

On the immortal G & S: How many of the Fluorospherians have seen Topsy-Turvy, a wondrous film that encapsulates an entire performance of The Mikado?

#449 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2016, 12:28 PM:

Microwave story: One of the young ladies at work decided to clean the microwave the 'easy' way. She put a container of water in it and set it for 20 MINUTES...

I don't know what the final countdown number reached was, but there was a god-almighty boom from the break room and the door flew off the microwave. Luckily, none of my office mates were IN the break room at the time. No one in the office that day ever let her live that one down.

Condolences to all those who have lost a dear one recently.

Is anyone up for a Gathering of Light either at World Fantasy or OVFF?

#450 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2016, 12:30 PM:

Xopher, the house I grew up in had just such a concrete pad in the back yard, about eight to ten feet from the back door, completely surrounded by the lawn. It was about the size of a standard sidewalk square, or maybe a little bigger (it's been over thirty years since I lived there, and memory fades). Its purpose, at least as we used it, was to provide an area on which one could safely burn autumn leaves in the fall. If it had another function I never learned it.

It was made redundant when I was a teenager when the town instituted a leaf-burning ban.

#451 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2016, 12:51 PM:

Xopher @447: After my grandparents' first microwave (the one from my story) broke the spring in the how-long dial, it became my microwave because they replaced it.

I got used to just hitting the 'power' button to microwave things, setting a separate timer or going on instinct, and then turning it off to stop it.

Many years later, we got a newer microwave. The old one then became, in crafter's term of art, "Someone Else's Microwave." There are a variety of processes that you're recommended to do in Someone Else's Microwave, either because they'll make it no longer food-safe or because you might set things on fire.

Crackling CDs, for example. Making plasmas. Setting toxic dyes in wool yarn.

I should note here that the Tappan cookbook I referenced up above had instructions for defrosting a whole, frozen chicken that involved PUTTING ALUMINUM FOIL on the tips of the wings to keep them from over-defrosting.

You heard me right.

Metal. In a microwave. On purpose.

Some time after it became Someone Else's Microwave, John got curious about its innards, so we opened it up and looked. It had a massive torus of cast iron in the top (above the cooking box). No wonder it was so frakking heavy. And durable. And could cook ridiculous shit without breaking (though fire was still an option).

When we say something is "made of cast iron" (a stomach, for example), we don't usually mean it literally. But hey.

Alas, that valiant machine met its end in our basement about six years ago, when we had three nasty floods in a row in less than two weeks and prioritized saving other, precious things over dealing with stuff we hadn't used in a while. It killed our chest freezer, too. Alas. I think we gave the corpse to the junk-metal man living next door.

#452 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2016, 01:13 PM:

Cassy, #450: Sometimes those concrete pads would have a hole in the middle, with a metal sheath inside it. That was for putting up your outdoor clothesline, which was made along the same lines as a patio umbrella and looked like a square spider-web.

I had a friend in Nashville who had one of those concrete slabs in his back yard. Then we had an ice storm, and (because he lived on a large lot with many trees) he had a superfluity of downed branches, some of them quite hefty. Rather than let them rot where they fell, he gathered them into a pile to dry and started having regular "firewood parties" for the local SF Club. People would bring the makings for s'mores, or whatever else they felt like toasting; sometimes I brought steak-onna-stick. It turned into a regular event until the store of wood ran low.

#453 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2016, 01:16 PM:

Fragano @448: I started it but found it too nonlinear and art-filmy for me to even be able to track what was happening.

#454 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2016, 01:25 PM:

One place I worked had to replace the break-area microwave. Twice. Due to someone putting their cup-o-noodles in the machine with the foil-lined lid on. (It catches fire.) The same person, both times.

#455 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2016, 01:28 PM:

Burning popcorn in the microwave is guaranteed to make your coworkers hate your guts for MONTHS until the smell dissipates.

#456 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2016, 01:48 PM:

Elliot @451:

There's nothing inherently wrong with putting metal in a microwave. It is, after all, a big metal box.

What causes problems is thin metal loops, or sharp points. The microwaves induces current loops in the metal (which counter the microwave field and make the microwaves bounce off of it). If the metal is too thin, then its resistance causes the metal to heat up disturbingly hot. If the metal has sharp points, then the voltages at those points can get high enough to cause arcing and sparks.

The idea of the aluminum foil on the tips of the chicken wings is to shield them from the microwaves (since thick aluminum foil should cause the microwaves to bounce off). Still probably not the best of ideas.

But many microwavable packaging today incorporates metals or foils for the purpose of intentionally using the effects of the metals or foils. Anything which is designed to crisp up, or brown, generally needs something that'll get controlled direct heating in specific areas, and metal foils can do that.

#457 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2016, 01:59 PM:

Speaking of CDs in the microwave...

A few years ago, I had a CD with some confidential information on it to dispose of at work. We only had shredders for paper. I went to the safety guy and asked how I should get rid of it.

The safety guy told me to snap it in half over a wastebasket.

I looked at him, somewhat incredulously, thinking of the potential for sharp mylar shards to go everywhere and that this was the safety guy. He looked at me as if I were a small child and offered to do it for me.

In retrospect, I should have gone to the admin assistants and asked them how they made confidential CDs disappear. Still, it all ended well.

I took the CD back upstairs and asked a couple of coworkers, "Have you ever seen what happens to a CD in the microwave?" "No." "It's really cool, like something out of Close Encounters of the Third Kind."

So we went off to the break room, gave the CD a good zap, watched it arc and shimmer and sparkle for a couple seconds, then pulled it back out. I still have it hanging up at my desk as art.

#458 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2016, 02:06 PM:

Fragano @ #448, me! And I enjoyed it, too.

It helped a LOT that I know the Mikado very well (having sung in the chorus of a community-theater production).

#459 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2016, 02:35 PM:

Buddha Buck @456:

What causes problems is thin metal loops, or sharp points. The microwaves induces current loops in the metal (which counter the microwave field and make the microwaves bounce off of it). If the metal is too thin, then its resistance causes the metal to heat up disturbingly hot. If the metal has sharp points, then the voltages at those points can get high enough to cause arcing and sparks.

A couple months ago, I had to melt some shea butter for my son's hair; it melts right around 100 F, so I popped it in the microwave on low power for 20 seconds, same as I would for butter-butter. We were almost out so I just put the whole tub in. I heard a little pop, didn't think much of it, and then smelled something awful. I turned back around to see a merry little flame in the microwave. It turns out that the tub of shea butter had a little metal tag, composed of narrow loops, on the bottom, on the inside covered by the oil; it sparked and caught the oil and plastic on fire. I was fast enough to prevent damage to the microwave, but the kitchen smelled awful for a couple days.

#460 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2016, 02:38 PM:

Fragano @448:
I have! More than once. There's a tedious bit at the end with the wife's lament, but the next time I get it I'll remember that's what the "skip" function can be used for.

#461 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2016, 03:15 PM:

Anyone being affected by the big DDOS attack currently swallowing Twitter, Amazon and several other websites? FaceBook appears unaffected, according to Karen (who's on FB, where I'm not).

#462 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2016, 03:33 PM:

Tom @461:

It's taking out a couple of sites which I use, including GitHub. Fortunately, I have a relatively recent copy of my work repositories, so it won't slow me down too much.

Amusingly, it apparently took out an ad network that a click-bait site was using, as I kept getting extra windows popping up saying that a third-party site was not reachable.

#463 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2016, 04:12 PM:

I think the worst of it was over by the time I was up and on the 'net this morning, but I did notice that the Twitter URL shortener seemed to be completely gone from DNS.

From initial reports, this seems to be the first fully committed attack following an earlier series of measured and calibrated attacks against DNS providers to test their vulnerabilities - the thing Bruce Schneier and others were talking about a few weeks back.

I have a bad feeling that this could be the beginning of something prolonged, nasty, and much bigger, along the lines of hearing that a few shots just got fired from Fort Sumter. In just the last 10-15 years, US and global society have become so dependent on the Internet for normal functioning that I don't think we have any clear idea what would happen if the Internet were taken down for a substantial period of time. It could happen.

#464 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2016, 04:12 PM:

That lump of "cast iron" in the microwave is probably the Cavity Magnetron.

#465 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2016, 04:19 PM:

I used to get Someone Else's Microwave from Goodwill for about $10 when we had Mad Science Parties. (We only had three, and the first was by far the most impressive.) Cheaper than the food, the booze, OR the safety equipment.

I highly recommend a Mad Science party. Our rules were "You don't have to bring an experiment but it's encouraged" and "Nothing as or more dangerous than thermite." People kept showing up with things that they said weren't experiments, and we kept proving them wrong.

If you get a Goodwill microwave, make sure it works, at least a little bit, before the party. The second and third did not.

#466 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2016, 04:35 PM:

Fragano@448: I know and love Topsy-Turvy! I grew up on G&S; the first album I ever owned was...maybe Mikado? Not sure what order I was given the Big Three in. (I think mine are pre-stereo; D'Oyly Carte of course, London "FFR" recordings on LP.) And I've seen at least 6 different live performances of Mikado in addition to hearing multiple recordings endlessly.

#467 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2016, 05:40 PM:

TOPSY TURVY is an incredible movie. I only wish it included a complete performance of the Mikado. When I bought the disk, I looked closely, just in case, but apart from an additional scene or two, there was no more Mikado. I would wager that, had they done a complete performance, it would have been even better than the one we did at CNU in 2000, and that's saying a lot.

I opined at YouTube that I wish they had done a complete Mikado, and every few weeks, I get a notification that someone else has agreed with me.

For those who've seen the movie, I'll add that Gilbert did at least two shows (without Sullivan) that used the 'lozenge' plot that Sir Arthur would never consent to. The Palace of Truth features a deus ex machina that causes people to incontinently tell the truth, while they themselves believe they are telling their customary rehearsed lie. The Mountebanks has a d.e.m. which causes people to become what they are pretending to be, which produces, among other things, an actual clockwork Hamlet. I've recently learned of another, Creatures of Impulse, which I haven't read yet, but I think I was told it works by opposites (due to a gypsy's curse).

Gilbert, incidentally, wrote a short play about Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, which is nowhere near as good as it ought to be. (I talked a little about TOPSY TURVY up at #404, too, I now see.)

#468 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2016, 05:50 PM:

Incidentally, in addition to having a flourishing stage career, George Grossmith, Jnr., recorded several 'sides' that are still available to us. This is the son of the man who originated George Wellington Wells, and Ko-Ko on the stage, as well as other Gilbertean roles, and he's portrayed in TOPSY TURVY. The father, not the son. Is that not unclear?

My favorite of his (Jnr's) recordings is Murders (1915), a century-old comedy record that's still funny to me. The theme is somewhat Gilbertean, come to think of it. Trigger warnings: murder, and mother-in-law humor. "I murdered him, that organ man. I don't think I was wrong…"

One aspect that intrigues me is how much he sounds like Hans Conried. Was Conried imitating him? Consciously? Or wee both perhaps partaking of a tradition?

I hope to figure out the accompaniment myself some day, and cultivate this number for my own purposes. (See, Senior was the Savoyard, and Junior recorded Murders…)

#469 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2016, 05:59 PM:

Well. Wikipedia quotes a Wodehouse scholar as saying that Grossmith might have been the inspiration for Bertie Wooster! The whole entry is interesting. He was also a writer and producer, up into the 20s, producing (among others) Primrose, with book by Wodehouse and a Gershwin score.

I think I'm done now.

#470 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2016, 06:21 PM:

Some woodworkers and luthiers have found techniques to use pieces of CD where one would traditionally inlay mother-of-pearl. It's beautiful.

#471 ::: Nicole Fitzhugh ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2016, 08:15 PM:

I am relieved to learn that I am not alone in exploding eggs in the microwave.

NPR had a segment on something that I had never heard of before, due to my intense hatred of the vegetable in question:

See? I was right.

#472 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2016, 08:30 PM:

At school, we sometimes have occasion to peel eggs. This is tedious and difficult for the students, plus it takes a long time and we'd rather be cooking or not cooking rather than sort of cooking. One recipe recommended microwaving a hard-boiled egg for thirty seconds, letting it cool a bit, then peeling.

I have exploded one egg in my quest to confirm this, and peeled a lot of others. It is actually a lot easier.

My very good friend once set a potato on fire in the microwave.

#473 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2016, 08:35 PM:

I think this community will appreciate Grant Snider's Guide to Proofreader's Marks.

#474 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2016, 09:11 PM:

In my hard cooked egg reheated in the microwave story, the egg doesn't explode until I bite into it. I don't recall being injured, but I certainly was surprised.

#475 ::: Victoria LEcuyer ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2016, 10:45 PM:

Thank you for all your thoughts. The following day, my Aunt Karon died. From cancer as well.

On the one hand, two funerals in two days will suck. On the other hand, I won't need to ask for additional funeral leave at work.

#476 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2016, 11:09 PM:

Double condolences, Victoria.

This can't be an easy time. Please don't forget to take care of yourself.

#477 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2016, 11:34 PM:

My condolences on your doubled loss, Victoria. Also condolences to Otter B and Dave.

I've been quiet but hanging around. Today's HLN can now be shared: Area woman finally, after a prolonged engagement, got married this morning, to the woman of her dreams. The happy couple explained, "We decided to elope; that way, it was equally unfair to everyone, and no one would be more disappointed." We called my parents on our way to the courthouse, and returned home to flowers from them. Further details were a bit hazy, as the Real World conspired against our intrepid pair.

#478 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2016, 11:50 PM:

I wish you many good years together!

#479 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2016, 11:54 PM:

Almost-foolproof microwave poached eggs:
- Take a bowl with a rounded bottom, add 1/2 cup water (or 150ml if you prefer those.)
- Crack one or two eggs in it.
- Put it in the microwave with a plastic plate or paper towel over it (because this is only almost foolproof.)
- Microwave for a Your-Microwave-May-Vary amount of time, which for my microwave is 50 seconds for one egg and 80 for two.
- Remove eggs from water with a slotted spoon.

#480 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2016, 12:07 AM:

Sometime I will got to Austin for reasons that don't involve a funeral, but not this time. My aunt Margaret was 92, and had been declining health for a couple of years. Her husband Bob died a couple years ago. Two of their kids live in Austin, and she and Bob had lived in a small town an hour away for many years. They both had the last name Stewart before getting married (she was my dad's sister); I forget whether they were distant relatives or whether we couldn't find a connection, though he was second cousin to another cousin's husband.

#481 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2016, 12:57 AM:

Victoria, #475: Oh man, that sucks. Condolences, and take extra care of yourself for a while.

Ginger, #477: Congratulations! May you have many happy years together.

#482 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2016, 02:49 AM:

Victoria: Oh dear. My condolences.
Condolences also to OtterB.

And to Ginger and wife, congratulations, Mazel Tov, and may you have many more happy years together!

#483 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2016, 04:58 AM:

Bill Stewart @479

You can do this with an ordinary ceramic mug, and plastic microwave-safe mugs and bowls with vented lids are commonplace. The cheap ones depend on the plastic flexing for a hinged clip, but I have not had one of those break yet. You do need some way for the steam to escape.

They're useful to have, whether you're heating up a can of soup. or just want a safer way to carry a hot drink. There are also insulated mugs, and some of them may be microwave safe. Some are obviously not.

I have one of those infra-red thermometers, and that made it fairly easy to check the timing to heat up milk to around 75°C for mechanical frothing. I would put the container off-centre on the turntable. It's a good way of getting hot milk.

#484 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2016, 06:27 AM:

Dave Bell: "mechanical frothing" sounds like a description of a twitter-bot or other automated trolling application.

#485 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2016, 09:16 AM:

Ginger (477): Congratulations! May you have a long and happy life together.

#486 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2016, 12:24 PM:

Victoria: More condolences... it sucks when deaths team up on you.

Ginger: Congratulations!

#487 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2016, 05:46 PM:

Ginger, congratulations.

#488 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2016, 06:16 PM:

Condolences (and hugs where appropriate) to all those who have lost friends, acquaintances, and family members recently. 2016 is so fired.

Lori @ 449

That really doesn't bear thinking about: a substantial steam explosion in a small metal box as it 'bumps' and the superheated water expands to 1400 times its volume. (I may try it sometime, with an expendable microwave and suitable safety precautions.)

Ginger @ 477

Congratulations on converting your Fabulous Fiance into an even more Fabulous Wife. Best wishes for maximum happiness to both of you.

#489 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2016, 10:21 PM:

Congratulations to Ginger and spouse!

#490 ::: Queer Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2016, 12:03 AM:

Ginger: Mazel Tov, and Bright Blessings!

#491 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2016, 12:13 AM:

In the easy-peeling category, both peaches and nectarines may be readily peeled by dropping them in boiling water for 15 seconds.

#492 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2016, 07:32 AM:

C. Wingate #491: I knew about doing tomatoes that way, but peaches and nectarines too? Hmm....

#493 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2016, 09:48 AM:

I worked it out myself from the tomato trick, back in the days when I did a lot of preserving. It will only work with pretty ripe fruit, though, and you need to watch it of the peel with just disintegrate.

#494 ::: Sarah E ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2016, 11:29 AM:

B. Durbin @#380: Note that in Ruddigore, it's traditional for the actor playing the younger brother to be quite a bit older than the older brother

I've mostly seen the 1980s tv version in which Sir Despard (the older brother) was played by Vincent Price.

#495 ::: Sarah E ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2016, 11:39 AM:

Kip W @ #467 Gilbert did at least two shows (without Sullivan) that used the 'lozenge' plot that Sir Arthur would never consent to.

I don't know whether Karen Blixen/Isaac Dinnesen knew of "the lozenge plot" or came up with the idea independently, but her story "The Roads Round Pisa" contains a scene in which the PoV character ** comes across a puppet show called "The Revenge of Truth" which uses the idea, and ends with one of the puppets breaking the fourth wall and declaring they they are all fiction.

** I can't call him the protagonist, or the main character, because the whole point is that he's found himself on the sidelines of some other people's highly operatic story, and is rather enjoying the escape from his own troubles. The puppet show kind of symbolizes this.

#496 ::: Queer Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2016, 03:02 PM:

AKICIML: This one is for British solicitors or barristers or whomever is supposed to know this stuff: does anyone know if the precedent established in Saverland v. Newton still holds? (Or ever did; I'm not sure how British law works in terms of precedent setting, and this was a jury verdict followed by an opinion from the "Chairman," whatever that role might be, not a formal ruling from a judge.)

#497 ::: David Crisp ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2016, 05:09 PM:

Xopher @496 My understanding - and IANAL, but do live with them - is that as a lower court ruling it would not set any sort of binding precedent, but might be cited as a persuasive authority should similar circumstances again arise.

That said: the case doesn't appear to actually have been formally reported; the account Wikipedia cites comes from the 1830's equivalent of a tabloid newspaper. I'd take its contents with a pinch of salt.

#498 ::: Queer Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2016, 08:31 PM:

David 497: Thanks, that makes sense. I've been using it as a story to tell Trump defenders what *I* think should happen to people who behave as he does, but the most recent time I did so I joked "here's some case law for you," and I wondered later if it qualified as actual case law. Sounds like not.

#499 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2016, 11:16 PM:

Xopher @496 - Chairman of the jury, perhaps? Still, it does read more like urban legend. Snopes sits firmly on the fence for this one. Just no sufficient evidence.

#500 ::: Queer Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2016, 12:33 AM:

Especially since they called her Miss Caroline Newton early in the account, and later said she had a husband. Strikes me as unlikely that a 19th century account wouldn't call her Mrs. Newton.

#501 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2016, 06:20 AM:

Queer Xopher Halftongue @ #496:

Looks as if BAILII does not have that case in its databases. This may or may not mean that it can be found, somewhere.

#502 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2016, 09:31 AM:

Sarah E
That sounds like a story I would wish to read. I've noted the info, and thanks. Seems to be one of Seven Gothic Tales. Who knows? Perhaps Gilbert's non-Sullivan works were part of a canon 'everybody' read, or at least knew, but I sure don't know enough about it either way.

I once considered writing an alternate version of Rex Stout's The Second Confession as told by Theodore Horstmann, Nero Wolfe's in-house orchid nurse. It would be a dozen or so pages long, dwell mostly on the incident with the orchids and broken glass, spend much of the rest whining his dislike for "that Archie Goodwin," and never really grasp that anything else was going on.

#503 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2016, 12:35 PM:

Victoria, OtterB, Bill Stewart: Far too much of that sort of thing going around lately. Witnessing.

Elliott Mason @436: microwave ... egg

Well, look at it this way: at least mirrors are easy to clean. Think of what it would have been like with, say, stucco. <g,d&r>

Actually, I'd have worried even if he had peeled it. I've heard that you have to breach the yolk membrane too. (I've generally found it sufficient to put a cover on one's chilli in the mic.* One does enjoy the sound of microdetonations, indicating that the substance is fully heated.)

* I have decided that the proper familiar term for a microwave is a "nukyulator" (unsure what the proper spelling would be). You heard it here first.

Cassy B. @438: charcoal briquettes on the inside

I first encountered nuked food back in the late '70s at a local restaurant when I ordered a chocolate chip cookie for dessert. They nuked it so it would be warm, but that was in the very early days, staff was inexperienced, and the heart of my cookie turned out to be burnt.

Some months later, a coworker had a big cookie to go with his lunch, though, "Ha! I'll microwave it so it'll be warm!" I warned him not to nuke it too long, but he did anyway. The look on his face when he bit into it and discovered the accuracy of my prediction was worth it, though.

Lori Coulson @449: Here's my introduction to the concept of superheating. Not recommended. (Interestingly, I've had a less-dramatic version of this problem heating filtered water for tea. I've taken to putting a stirrer in the cup, because without a nucleation center, even with a seasoned mug, it still wants to abruptly sneeze half of its volume all over the microwave.)

Elliott Mason @451: ObJonSinger: Bad Silly Things You Can Do in Your Microwave Oven

P J Evans @454: The same person, both times.

We had that person's brother living in an apartment building on the next block. Fire Dept. called after he decided to reheat his dinner on the stovetop. In a Tupperware.

Some while later, he decided to start his fireplace with lighter-fluid, but it went up faster than he expected, so he pulled it out of the fireplace to put it out. On the carpet. By the time the FD arrived for that one, the building was a total loss, and wound up burning (literally) to the ground. Two people died in that fire. They did finally catch up with him. I don't know if he's still in jail or not.

Clifton @463: I have a bad feeling that this could be the beginning of something prolonged, nasty, and much bigger, along the lines of hearing that a few shots just got fired from Fort Sumter.

One hopes that at the very least, them as wants "benign" backdoors to aid law enforcement, and various other in-built security holes, will maybe rethink their positions. I predict it'll take something really bad, though, to get it through their noggins that security is, you know, an actual thing. (Which reminds me, I caught an add on YouTube over the weekend with Edward Snowden, pointing out that "good-guy" access is still access, and I can't find it in it's own right. I'd like to watch it again. (And when is this guy going to get his Nobel Peace Prize?)

I don't think we have any clear idea what would happen if the Internet were taken down for a substantial period of time.

Which is kind of ironic, considering the original motive behind its development. The taken down part, not the dependence on it part.

Elliott Mason @470: Some woodworkers and luthiers have found techniques to use pieces of CD where one would traditionally inlay mother-of-pearl.

A friend of mine discovered that you can also, if you're careful, break the CD open, peel the diffraction grating off of the plastic, and use in the manner of gold leaf.

Nicole Fitzhugh @471: I've heard that bell pepper has similar issues.

Ginger @477: Yay! ::confetti:: I love the rationale for eloping.

#504 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2016, 01:12 PM:

Kip W @502: Your mention of Nero Wolfe reminds me that for a long time I've been thinking that nobody talks about Archie Goodwin as an unreliable narrator. But I think he is. And just how unreliable is he? That could make for some very interesting reinterpretations of most of the books.... (A simple example of Goodwin's unreliability: he considers Wolfe grossly overweight at 285 pounds -- and always describes that weight as "a seventh of a ton." While that's large, even in the days when Wolfe was writing it wasn't that uncommon.)

#505 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2016, 01:35 PM:

I may as well mention the time I didn't bother to poke holes in a spaghetti squash.

It's a good thing I wasn't in front of the microwave when a third of the squash blew off, knocked the microwave door open, and travelled about five feet.

#506 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2016, 02:24 PM:


One of my kids managed to fill the house with smoke twice in about a year, putting instant mac-and-cheese cups into the microwave without water. The first time this had one positive side-effect--it let us realize that we needed a smoke detector on the main floor. (The installed ones in our house are in the basement and on the top floor, which is good for avoiding false alarms from the kitchen, but not so good for detecting actual fires on the main floor, which is also the only real way from our bedrooms out of a burning house.)

#507 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2016, 02:43 PM:

Tom Whitmore@504: It's the bit about requiring custom-built furniture to support his huge body that gets me. I know too many people in that range and considerably higher. Now, the bit about the comfort of the chair built just for him makes sense.

What we think of as normal weights today are probably not what Archie (or Stout) grew up with, either.

Wolfe's weight actually makes me think about what Mark Vorkosigan explicitly did -- gained the weight to limit his physical options (the inner Killer in Mark's case; plus Mark also got a benefit from distinguishing himself visually from Miles, which doesn't seem to have figured in Wolfe's story).

#508 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2016, 03:06 PM:

Locus is reporting that Sheri Tepper has died.


#509 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2016, 04:57 PM:

In the Crafters Are Certifible department, I've spent the day making patterns and plans to piece a stuffed cat out of cotton. At least eleven different fabrics, probably more like thirteen. Seventy-seven pieces, not counting the interfacing. Only a quilter could think this is a good idea.

It's going to be calico* cat.

And it's going to be awesome.

*first and third definitions

#510 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2016, 05:17 PM:

Mary Aileen: You *know* you're going to have to make a gingham dog too. (Or have you already made one?)

#511 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2016, 05:18 PM:

I tend to nuke the water for stuff like that in a measuring cup, then add it to the food and cover the cup. (Frequently I dump the dry ingredients into a steel double-walled mug, because handle and Not Hot. Also Not Nukeable.)

Having the smoke alarm near the bathroom door is also not always a good idea. Sometimes there's enough particulates in the vapor coming out to set it off.

#512 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2016, 05:30 PM:

Cassy @508: she had a good run, and left behind some awesome books.

#513 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2016, 05:51 PM:

Victoria, Bill, Otter B: Condolences.

Ginger: Mazel tov! Wishing you many happy years together.

Paul A. @473: Appreciated! :-)

#514 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2016, 06:22 PM:

Clifton (510): You're probably right.

::runs off to add it to list::

#515 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2016, 06:58 PM:

AKICIML: Currently our homeowners' and auto insurance is with State Farm. We have just discovered that State Farm is a member of ALEC.

It's time to investigate other options. We don't want to go back to Allstate, after a previous bad experience with them. We'd prefer to keep both policies with the same company. Who has a recommendation for someone they've been happy with?

#516 ::: Sarah E ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2016, 08:49 PM:

#502 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2016, 09:31 AM:
Sarah E
That sounds like a story I would wish to read. I've noted the info, and thanks. Seems to be one of Seven Gothic Tales.

It is indeed (CW for off-stage rape, for once rather important to the plot).

#517 ::: Sarah E ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2016, 08:59 PM:

David Dyer-Bennet @ #507:

An anthropologist friend has told me that it's a myth that people were uniformly smaller in the past, but I have read a lot of stories in which someone is described as absolutely enormous, and eventually this turns out to mean "six feet tall, and nearly two hundred pounds." Maybe there are just a lot of short authors.

#518 ::: Queer Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2016, 09:28 PM:

Sarah 517: Similarly, lack of understanding of statistics makes people think no one in ancient times lived past 40, or that they were shriveled old people at that age.

No, folks, "threescore and ten" is a really old estimate of lifespan, and people who died at 40 died young. People who didn't die of disease or wounds or starvation lived just as long as people in the 19th century.

#519 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2016, 10:02 PM:

AKICIML, academic advice edition:

I am, after fourteen years of false starts and picking-myself-up-to-try-again, in my final year of a Bachelor's degree. Much to my surprise, my marks are good and I find myself eyeing Master's programs. I've been doing some googling, and while it doesn't seem to be considered too weird to apply to two different programs at the same university, I can't work out if it's weird to do so with what is essentially the same research topic. The actual subject would be the same, it's just that the program would determine the angle of inquiry (Communication Studies v. English Lit, if that's useful).

I'm also trying to figure out if I can courteously ask a professor to write recommendation letters for four different applications at three different universities plus a couple of scholarships. That's a lot of unpaid work.

Halp. I know there are academics here. I'll take any advice you can offer.

(Yes, my university DID offer "applying to grad school information sessions". They offered two of them during time I had lectures, and another when I was working. Not their fault, just really unfortunate timing.)

#520 ::: Sarah E ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2016, 10:20 PM:

Queer Xopher Half Tongue--

I think it's that both average size and average life-expectancy vary by locale/social class/etc, but the mistake is assuming that they just progress upward over time. See also age at time of first marriage....

#521 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2016, 11:16 PM:

re 517: There is some hard modern data behind this in the form of height/weight measurements taken on US Army recruits, so I'm not sure what contrary data there is out there. That said, the modern difference is not that huge (on the order of four inches or so mean height) and it's not terribly unlikely that the WW I numbers are pretty close to medieval European numbers.

re 515: SF is a mutual company, so you are well within your rights as a co-owner to rustle up other policyholders and present a resolution at the annual meeting.

#522 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2016, 12:11 AM:

Lee @515: It is not entirely clear from that Wikipedia citation that State Farm supports ALEC. A person whose affiliation is State Farm is on their board (as a representative of the insurance industry). That doesn't mean the whole corporation supports them, or necessarily that corporate money is going to them. It's probably the way to bet, but it's far from a sure thing.

ALEC is notoriously secretive about its funding. That list is made up not of funding sources, but of companies that can be connected with ALEC in some (probably meaningful) way.

#523 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2016, 12:36 AM:

Sarah E. #517: It's not just older works. There's a Spider Robinson story from the 90s in which a character is described as looking like "a sexy samurai". In another story featuring the same character, she's described as tall for a woman (say, 5'9" or more) and weighing around 200 pounds.

For those of you who have met me, I weigh about 200 pounds, at 5'6". (For those who haven't, here's a picture.) So the same weight on me is going to look fatter than it would on her. Do I look like a samurai?

Many people just have no idea how to estimate weight from height and build.

QXH, #518: Or childbirth. Women dying in their 20s and 30s goes a long way toward pulling that average down, and that used to be not unusual.

#524 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2016, 01:05 AM:

For people who have difficulty picturing various combinations of height and weight: The Photographic Height/Weight Chart. It goes from 90 to 380 pounds, and 4′10″ to 6′8″, though they haven’t managed to get photos for every spot on that grid. (I don’t expect them to fill the upper left and lower right corners.)

Note, some of the slots have multiple photos, because even people of the same height and weight can have different builds. If you click on the 6′0″ 250 lbs spot, you see a body-builder with a wedge-shaped torso, but scroll down and there’s a second photo of a different guy who’s more barrel-shaped.

As far as samurai go, I dunno, that outfit looks pretty forgiving.

#525 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2016, 02:37 AM:

Lori Coulson @ 449 - I'll be at OVFF, would not be averse to a gathering.

#526 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2016, 04:02 AM:

Jacque @ #503:

At home, we use "nucrowave".

Ginger @ #477:


C Wingate @ #521:

I believe there's height and weight data for "males aged approximately 18" in Sweden, going back 100-200 years.

And in HLN, Area Man finished a new kind of craft project over the weekend (well, I say "finished", but it's now in the real of Things Done Before and no fiddly bits left).

#528 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2016, 07:47 AM:

Well, applying Avram's link to Lee's example, 5'9×200#. The second image is of a woman, who looks to be in decent shape -- not a serious athlete, but hardly a couch potato either.¹ A samurai would surely qualify as an serious athlete by modern standards, and would be considerably more muscular.

Given that Spider has regularly flown the flag for non-fashionable body forms, I see no reason to challenge the description. Especially if the descriptors also cover "ethnic decorations" and/or "The Most Common Superpower" (per TVTropes).

Ingvar M #526: Is that a blacksmithing project? Looks interesting -- what's the intended purpose for that blade?

¹ By comparison, I'm an inch shorter and 25# lighter than her, with broader shoulders, sans breasts but with a visible paunch. While I'm not very athletic myself, hyperactivity and walking/hiking has kept me in rather better shape than I deserve.

#529 ::: Sarah E ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2016, 08:13 AM:

Wasn't she described as a sexy sumo wrestler, rather than a samurai (point about size stands)?

#530 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2016, 09:09 AM:

Dave Harmon @ #528:

It's entirely done using material removal. Main purpose is "see if it can be done". Next, get good at it, because it's actually quite fun. Still not sure what to do with the number of blades I expect to build up over time.

#531 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2016, 10:49 AM:

P.J. Evans #511:

We used to stay in a motel in Pacific Grove with this problem. It was guaranteed that sometime or another during our stay, somebody would set off the alarm while showering, even though warned to close the door. One awful time it was us (*with the door closed*).

Our own family word for the results of overenthusiastic microwaving is "artifacted".

#532 ::: Quill ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2016, 10:56 AM:

I have the same problem with my shower and smoke detector, but can't adjust them as I live in an apartment and the detector is wired in. I solved the issue by showering with the door open, so there's no sudden burst of steam into the hallway.

Of course, I live without other humans, so privacy isn't an issue. The cats like open doors.

#533 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2016, 11:08 AM:

I remember reading somewhere that muscle was denser than fat, so some athletes were classed as obese using simple BMI calculations, and some people in the medical profession didn't even seem to realise there was a difference.

A lot of my weight was muscle, but the difference doesn't show under clothing. It was stable, and I've been told my back muscles made a big difference when I fractured my spine, likewise for my father's back: strong back muscles.

Looking at the pictures, that BMI thing doesn't correlate well with my view of "attractive", but looks aren't everything. Those pictures do, I think, show that there is a difference between fat and muscle, people with the same BMI who look a little different.

(I was doing a little heavy lifting yesterday, the sort of weights that alarm health and safety people at the office. I was a farmer. It was more that there was only one of me, the awkwardness of the object rather than the total weight, that made it tricky, but the usual one-person limit I hear today is about half what I was used to handling. You do have to know what you are doing.)

#534 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2016, 11:35 AM:

Ginger #477: Congratulations, and many, many happy years.

#535 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2016, 11:57 AM:

Dave Bell: bluntly, BMI is a bad metric, and not just because of the muscle/fat thing.. AIUI, It was hand waved by a statistician at the Census department, with no medical expertise or input from doctors, but with the power of the US government behind it (not to mention being able to calculate it without ever actually looking at the person), it has gotten everywhere.

And muscle counts at least as much as knowledge. Knowing proper posture and such is surely helpful, but it won't let me lift as much as my much bigger buddy who does lawn care and moving for a business... any more than he could match my hiking stamina the other day. We have very different exercise patterns in our respective pasts, and different natural builds as well.

#536 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2016, 12:18 PM:

David H. / Sarah E.: Yes, that was a brain-fart. The description was indeed "a sexy sumo". My annoyance should make more sense now.

Ingvar, #527: Very nice! I have a knife similar to that, but with a knapped stone blade rather than metal, in my collection. You might consider marketing them to medieval reenactors once you've built up some inventory of things you consider salable quality.

#537 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2016, 01:05 PM:

There's a comment - I tracked it down to "Time Travelers Strictly Cash" - where Spider Robinson says he has been 6'1" and 115 lb. since the age of 13. Which might lead to mis-estimating what others' bodies look like.

In other news, I'm trying to figure out if there's a fancy plural of "Crucifix" (as in index, indices) and I figured this should be my first stop.

#538 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2016, 01:58 PM:

Sandy B. @537: I make rosaries, and all the parts places use 'crucifixes' for the plural...

Anne Sheller @525: Ok -- GoL at OVFF, so we're now up to 2

#539 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2016, 02:05 PM:

Dave Harmon

I see BMI as a simple "do we need to worry" index, and it's older than you seem to think. While the boundary numbers we see now might have changed, it was devised in Belgium, over 150 years ago.

And, like the idea of "normal" temperature, health and diet have changed since it all started. One observed effect is that well-fed children grow into taller adults (The Netherlands in WW2 showed the effects of poor nutrition rather well) so the height/weight distribution shifts.

One of the things that happened in 19th Century Britain, with the move into the cities, was that poorer nutrition meant people became shorter. It worried the British Army. Knowledge of things such as vitamins helped reverse that.

But BMI only really began to attract attention about 40 years ago. And I see that the numbers apply to sedentary people. I was still farming when they started pointing it out to me.

It doesn't seem to help when you say something that suggests you know more than your doctor about a problem.

#540 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2016, 02:29 PM:

Ingvar M @527: How very meta! (Whittlin' knife, you know ;-> )

#541 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2016, 02:37 PM:

Sandy B @537:

Etymology Online says "crucifix" comes from the Latin "cruci fixus" (via Old French). May I suggest "crucifixi" as the "fancy plural"? It also apparently referred to the person affixed to the cross, not the cross itself.

Dave Bell@539:

A clear example of the relationship between height and nutrition can be seen between North and South Korean teenagers. NK teens average less than 5 feet, SK teens average 5'7".

#542 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2016, 03:18 PM:

@Dave Bell no. 539: I personally know a woman who couldn't get any health insurance because her BMI was "too high." She had the minimum body fat required for health and was as strong as an ox, because she was a farmer and a commercial fisherman. I also know somebody who was strong, fast, and muscular, but not cut, because he fought with steel swords for fun. In other words, he had an old-school action hero's body. He was ordered to go on a wasting diet during which he did nothing but sit around and feel hungry because the Coast Guard was obsessed with his BMI being "too high." He came out of it weak, ill, and out of shape. Meanwhile a guy with a BMI even higher than his was given a pass because he was a bodybuilder who had done all the stuff bodybuilders do to get cut.

I think BMI as a metric of personal health is about as useful as phrenology.

#543 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2016, 06:40 PM:

The pseudoscience of BMI annoys me; if you're putting weight and height in, don't bother pretending you're doing something pretty with the data to get more than a ratio. My district does a health screening every year, fasting blood test, body composition thing, fifteen dollar gift card to somewhere that doesn't have alcohol (used to be HyVee, but then the alcohol rule came in, sigh). They invariably tell me I need to lose weight... and there is no screening for eating disorders. None. Zero. I have told them that this is a problem, in email, to the director's face, in email again, and all I get is the same receipt-thing saying I have x% body fat and x BMI and I should lose weight.

Not as bad as your friend, Jenny Islander, because damn, but another data point of BMI being stupid.

Plus it's meant to be applied to populations, isn't it? Not to individuals?

#544 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2016, 06:51 PM:

I heard a similar story from someone who was a martial arts guy and in the air force - they thought his BMI was too high.

#545 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2016, 07:09 PM:


I'm in. :->

#546 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2016, 08:01 PM:

Re discussion beginning at 504, I'm amused how much it resembles a discussion from a couple of years ago, beginning here:

#547 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2016, 09:08 PM:

HelenS @546 -- true, and I'd like to go back to the discussion of Archie Goodwin as an unreliable narrator -- but that doesn't seem to get much traction.

#548 ::: Sarah E ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2016, 08:20 AM:

Sorry if I derailed.

Was your original point something along the lines of "Archie exaggerates his boss's eccentricities, possibly for the sake of a better story?"

#549 ::: Sarah E ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2016, 08:21 AM:

Hope that didn't sound snarky, I'm typing on my morning commute and composed the sentence in a hurry.

#550 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2016, 09:35 AM:

I'd enjoy more discussion about Archie Goodwin.

#551 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2016, 12:17 PM:

Elliot Mason @545:

AAANNNNNNDDD we're up to three for GoL at OVFF.

#552 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2016, 01:16 PM:

Archie regularly exaggerates, both about Wolfe and about people he meets and describes. And yet he's considered by most readers to be an entirely reliable reporter. I don't understand that.

#553 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2016, 01:29 PM:

Tom Whitmore @ 552:

I've read a few Nero Wolfe stories (not enough to be an expert by any means), but part of it might well be that since Archie projects himself as an earnest, clean-cut, all-American boy, readers take him at his word on a lot of things. A private eye whose idea of a good drink is a tall glass of milk is leaning a little more toward the Rocket J Squirrel side of things. Sure, this doesn't square up with some of his other activities, but it's all about the presentation.

#554 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2016, 02:51 PM:

Sizes of doorways, historical sizes of people: I've been noticing this in Midsomer Murders, and I notice it in person when I'm over there. Some doorways, especially in parts of castles, I can easily believe are sized based more on defensibility than convenience. But I found the same thing in private homes, pubs, hotels—when they dated from long past, I mean.

Much more recently, in my generation it seemed nearly a given that we were taller than our same-sex parent (and, not infrequently, taller than both parents). There could be attention issues on that perception, and for sure it's local to where I was—though, as a college town, the people I knew were from all over the place, they weren't particularly homogeneous, very few of the college people were local.

As to Archie being unreliable—tell me more. I've read those a lot, and of course, being first-person, we're limited to what Archie knows, and to what he's allowed to reveal. But beyond that I don't recall noticing instances of his misleading me beyond any way he was mislead himself, so let's have details! It's possible to be inappropriate for an open thread, but not off topic, right? And Archie's reliability doesn't seem inappropriate.

#555 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2016, 03:36 PM:

So. Because of some reason I don't even get what it is, the only way for me to continue homeschooling my children is for me to submit all of their progress reports, etc., in this macro-ridden Word document, which must be saved as a Word document.

Not Open Office (yes, I know about the security holes). Not LibreOffice. Word.

Yes, the school district's IT department signed off on this. No, I don't know why.

So I have to go through the interrogation process to activate my copy of Word, even though I already paid for the damn thing.

Any tips on how to avoid giving MicroManage any more handles to yank me around by than I absolutely have to? I will only be using Word a few times a year, for these stupid, stupid documents.

#556 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2016, 04:06 PM:

I haven't had any problems opening Word docs in LibreOffice, with saving them from LibreOffice to Word doc formats, or with opening them in Word after that. FWIW, YMMV, etc.

#557 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2016, 04:57 PM:

Jenny Islander: There is a free Word viewer available from Microsoft, but I doubt it would let you enter and save anything.

#558 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2016, 04:57 PM:

Tom Whitmore @ 552:
I've never gotten into Nero Wolfe - I don't think I ever tried them - but wouldn't part of the problem be that a great many readers simply don't know how to read a story with an unreliable narrator? AIUI this is one reason college English classes like to throw students at Lolita.

#559 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2016, 05:00 PM:

Jenny Islander, my experience is the same as P J Evans' experience. You can probably take their Word document, edit it in either Open Office or Libre Office and use "Save As" to resave it in the same variation of Word format. I've done this a number of times with various types of documents. Occasionally I've had minor quirks of formatting come out differently, on the order of pages breaking at a slightly different place, but never any serious problems.

#560 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2016, 05:03 PM:

Oh wait - you mentioned that it's full of Word macros. I missed that on first read. OK, I've never tried that because I avoid Office macros like the plague for security reasons; the LibreOffice approach might not work then.

#561 ::: Nickelby ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2016, 05:18 PM:

555 Open Office & Libre Office both need the notoriously insecure java to work.

I tried out Ableword (not to be confused with Abiword) and it asks if you want it to be the default handler for .doc & .docx files.

I liked the very brief test I gave it. It only does word processing though. It is not an office "suite".

#562 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2016, 07:45 PM:

From the help files for LibreOffice 4.0:

Basic Macros in MS Office Documents

In Tools - Options - Load/Save - VBA Properties you can specify the settings for the VBA macro codes in MS Office documents. VBA macros are unable to run in LibreOffice; they must first be converted and adapted. Often you only want to use LibreOffice to change the visible content of a Word, Excel or PowerPoint file and then save the file again in Microsoft Office format without changing the macros they contain. You can set the behavior of LibreOffice as desired: Either the VBA macros are saved in commented form as a subroutine of LibreOffice and when the document is saved in MS Office format are written back correctly again, or you can select the Microsoft Office macros to be removed when loading. The last option is an effective protection against viruses within the Microsoft Office documents.

#563 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2016, 08:48 PM:

Nickleby@561: It's Java plugins in browsers that have the bad security rep. (And I don't know how, actually -- they had a real security architecture from the beginning, they started out being the much more secure alternative to running random code in your browser with Javascript.)

#564 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2016, 11:09 PM:

The discussion of BMI reminds me of:

When I was a kid I went to the Museum of Science and Industry with my father and there was this exhibit where you could tell a computer about yourself and get an ideal nutritional profile or something. He told it he was 1 foot tall, weighed 1000 pounds, and was 100 years old. The computer accepted that as valid input and generated a result.

#565 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2016, 11:14 PM:


At the peak of his bodybuilding career, Arnold Schwarzenegger's published height and weight were 6'2" and 235 lbs. That's a BMI of 30: "obese". I've convinced a couple of people of the limitations of BMI by showing them a picture of "a man with a BMI of 30".

#566 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2016, 11:21 PM:

More on Goodwin -- yes, he does present himself as if he's reliable (as Keith S points out in 553); and people don't read unreliable narrators very well (I prefer PALE FIRE for pointing that out if we're going to talk about Nabokov, Clifton @558). But still -- we're a pretty intellectual bunch here at ML, and I've hung out in some other places where we can count on people looking at things oddly. And pretty much everybody believes Goodwin. And it's been too long since I read the books for me to pull specific thoughts out. But the serious gaffe in the late book where someone dopes a bottle of wine with two tablespoons of LSD (!) to make someone act bad at a board meeting -- is that Stout being incomprehending, or Goodwin being seriously unreliable?

#567 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2016, 06:17 AM:

David Dyer-Bennet #563: Java can still be far more secure than Javascript, and probably safer as a matter of course.

But, its compilers and interpreters are well beyond the level of complexity where a security model can really be guaranteed. Especially in the hands of real-world programmers who are potentially malicious, foolish or merely rushed -- and whose work may get folded into the next layer of libraries for future programmers.

So, Java gets its own cycle of people finding security bugs, and Oracle fixing them, likewise for various libraries inside or outside Oracle's reach, and mutatis mutandis for GNU's Open Source implementation. Then too, until recently most installations of Java kept the old versions around, along with their security holes.

#568 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2016, 11:36 AM:

FWIW, Ubuntu lists a Java runtime as a recommended dependency for libreoffice, not a requirement.

Personally, it's the macros in Word that I'm explicitly avoiding. My company does financial stuff, and we had one customer nearly loose 6 figures via a key logger trojan, and the one they traced it to was the fedex word document trojan that's flying around.

I wonder if anyone is renting word by the hour in cloud instances. If I needed it, I'd much rather run it on someone else's machine.

#569 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2016, 03:15 PM:

Diatryma@543: Seven rugby players got stuck in a lift in Bath the other week. They weighed 755kg in total, well over what the lift could take, which (unless a few of them are seven foot tall) puts them all in the overweight category, or more likely the obese category.

Which shows that BMI, perhaps of some value as a measure of a population's health, is pretty lousy when applied to a population of athletes.

#570 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2016, 03:50 PM:


Yesterday, when I clicked in the address bar on a Making Light page and hit enter, it would jump to the anchored comment, regardless of where I had actually been in the page.
Today, Chrome keeps my scroll position after I do that, even if it's loading a page with an anchor link in the URL.

To the best of my knowledge I didn't update Chrome, although I did update the OS. Used to be normal Win10, now it's the Anniversary Edition update.

What caused this change and how do I fix it?

(Note that this is different from refreshing - that always reloaded the page with my scroll location intact. Hitting enter in the URL, however, would jump to the anchor. I want this behavior back.)

#571 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2016, 06:10 PM:

Steve with a book #569: BMI, perhaps of some value as a measure of a population's health, is pretty lousy when applied to a population of athletes.

Nope, when it punishes the most healthy of a population, it's flatly not valuable to measure the population's health. Remember, when you set a testable goal with penalties for not measuring up, you get what you test for. Arguably, the prominence of BMI indicates Goodhart's Law has already corrupted the system -- we've had accounts just in this thread of people sanctioned for being too athletic. Imagine the potential effects on say, a school PhysEd program if BMI becomes an official goal.

#572 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2016, 07:00 PM:

People forget that the basic numbers, the setpoint of what counts as normal/overweight/underweight, were originally generated by a Victorian gentleman looking at his friends and guessing how tall and heavy they were, then putting it on a chart.

I'm not even kidding.

The 'common sense' ratio of height to weight that he derived from this invented dataset is still the one we used today -- although about fifteen years ago the named categories shifted down, making a bunch more people "obese" who used to be just "overweight".

This last is why we suddenly have a nationwide obesity epidemic -- I am borderline between overweight and obese, at 5'6" and a very stable 190 -- the setpoint changed from 180 to 190 after gestation and hasn't changed since.

I am not an athlete. I am not cut or slim, but my padding is moderate and appropriate.

I completely believe that 36% of the US population is as heavy-for-height as me, and it's sure as hell not just the athletes. I could, in theory, have even more adipose weight on my frame than I do and still not look to an observer as if I am "fat" (which is how the original standards were created, after all).

This does not mean that 36% of the US population are at any increased health risk because of their height-for-weight ratio.

It's nonsense. It's meaningless nonsense that is treated as an "objective standard" because it's easy to measure.

#573 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2016, 01:07 AM:

Microsoft Word is usually available on public library computers, isn't it?

#574 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2016, 05:57 AM:

It's worth remembering that the Victorian gentleman, Adolphe Quetelet, suggested that an exponent of between 2.3 and 2.7 would be better. That suggests that he was trying to get a good fit to reality, as he observed it.

Anyway, I doubt his original numbers feed into the modern figures, but it makes me wonder why there was the shift in the exponent. He was one of these people who was pioneering population statistics, in a time when the height and weight of people was changing with the move from agriculture to urban industry. There were changes in what we knew about health. Whether, 150 years later, the equation is the best fit, people have changed.

But was the change in the boundaries because of better knowledge of health outcomes, things such as less effect from disease, or changes in height (we're taller) putting us on a different part of a badly-fitting curve?

Other people did suggest using a cube law, but it didn't catch on in the same way.

The fact that the boundaries were shifted does suggest that people have been measuring current heights and weights, and current outcomes. It ought to be more useful, and Quetelet's original figures really don't matter.

I have picked up enough of a clue from the Family Statistician to suspect that, while there are smart people in the business, the sort of medical professionals we meet just don't understand. Somewhere along the line, BMI has become the official measure, and it's not even a suggestion any more that other things need checking. There are some fairly simple checks for excess body fat, but nobody seems to bother.

It is the medical equivalent of teaching to the test.

Incidentally, I would be inclined to doubt that Quetelet would have thought that Arna Ýr Jónsdóttir was too fat to win a beauty contest. And the organisers are griping that she broke the rules by walking out on them...

#575 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2016, 07:08 AM:

Weighing in as a public health professional here: it is pretty thoroughly reflected in the professional literature that BMI is not a very good predictor of anything. Waist circumference without reference to height is at least equally good, and that is an extremely crude measure. But it's one of those "I dropped my watch over there but I'm looking for it over here because the light is better" problems: BMI is a single number, familiar, easy to calculate if you use metric units, with few cutoffs (underweight, normal, overweight, obese). So people keep using it.

And speaking of "teaching to the test": there are numerous examples of clinical trials aimed at changing some lab value (e.g. blood glucose level) that turn out not to benefit, and in some cases actively to harm, patients. But we keep trying it, because it is SO MUCH EASIER than trying to treat a whole person.

#576 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2016, 07:30 AM:

Dave Bell #574: Somewhere along the line, BMI has become the official measure, and it's not even a suggestion any more that other things need checking.

Indeed, that's what I was saying at #571. Note that even checks for "excess body fat" have been dumbed down to "pinch an inch". Any test that can't be done on automatic, or takes more than a checkbox's worth of space on a form, simply gets ignored.

Perhaps more dire -- the original sense of a beauty contest was to find the people that the community considered most attractive.

Between globalization and "celebrification" of the contests, the people controlling them have given in to hubris. They feel they're fully entitled to "cast people into the outer darkness" at their own whim, and never mind other folks' opinions, or that the contestants are the actual players in this game.

A nasty idea: Perhaps start a new Twitter/blog game: Most (and Least) Attractive Beauty-Contest Official. Nominations can include judges, MCs, and funders. Categories to include Face, Physical Condition, Courtesy, and Overall Personality. (Yeah, I know, but I can dream.)

#577 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2016, 02:41 PM:

Dave Harmon@571: when I said 'perhaps of some value as a measure of a population's health' I was referring to the rather weak notion that knowing the distribution of BMIs across a population gives you some information of public health value about that population as a whole. (See point 1 here; I'm sure I've read many similar articles saying that BMI is something that you should only be talking about with regard to populations rather than individuals; can any medical-stats folk confirm that it used to be used this way, before it became a shibboleth of personal general health?)

#578 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2016, 04:50 PM:

I have been working (mildly) on the school district's health and wellness people to never ever do the Biggest Loser thing again. Or, even better, change it to resting pulse. Easier to check (if they're willing to buy a scale for every school, they can buy an automatic sphygmomanometer, which is my favorite health work as long as I spelled it right) and harder to cheat (says the person who sort of cheated her way into victory for her building via heavy shoes, a pound of water, and hating the contest.)

#579 ::: kimiko ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2016, 08:28 PM:

eric, at 568,

Isn't Microsoft offering Word via some cloud-based web interface now?

Everyone else,
I've gained great joy from using a pulse/Ox - one of those slip on the fingertip, shows you what your pulse and O2 levels are. A pretty objective measure of how I'm doing when I do exercise, and a handy way to see what my "real" resting pulse actually is. Cheap (i.e. not too calibrated) ones are available from the usual Internet River company. I'm pretty concerned about my resting pulse, and think it's not a bad measure for my overall cardio health, but I'm no doctor.

#580 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2016, 02:04 AM:

HLN: Area man replaces his backpack.

For the second time in less than two years.

I was looking for a new backpack, and from among the offerings at REI, I found one with a laptop pocket and various places to put tech stuff. Seemed useful, and indeed was. But in under a year the stitching failed on one of the main zippers, and the sliders came off the teeth, so that the pocket was permanently open.

Well, Outdoor Products offers a lifetime warranty. So I shipped the backpack to them -- I had to pay for that shipping, which was a noticeable amount of money, if less than the cost of a wholly new pack; also I had to print out and fill out a form from their website; also I had to use a grotty old backpack I had lying around for several weeks.

But a few weeks later I had a new one of the pack I liked.

And now, some months later, the new one has developed exactly the same problem. (On a different zipper, to be sure.)

Well, I had a hunch that might happen, so a while ago I bought a backpack from Groupon. So I've now gone to Outdoor Products' site and submitted via their contact form some advice that poor quality stitching is a false economy. And now I'll see if High Sierra can do any better.

#581 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2016, 12:21 PM:

kimiko @ 579 MS has a subscription based office, but it's monthly minimum, and it's a download and install thing, not a run it up in the cloud deal. Unless they have a javascript version that runs in a web browser. I think. It's not 100% clear from the website. I think they're trying to do what Adobe is doing, which is convert a highly pirated expensive program into monthly rental payments.

But I just want to run it at 10 cents an hour, on someone else's machine, when I actually need it. I can do that with tons of programmer tools, it should be possible with office tools. (Actually, that's pretty similar to what I want with Visual Studio as well -- let me fire up a fully installed and patched version for the hour or two that I need it when I'm debugging something on windows.)

David Goldfarb @ 580 -- Too late for this time, but I really like my Tom Bihn bags. I've had them for ~ 10 years, and they're still in excellent shape. They're made in Seattle, by a small company with a lot of attitude. They're a little pricey, but they're a good value.

#582 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2016, 05:40 PM:

AKICIML, calling the chemists! So, last night I put four reusable hand warmers (the plastic sachets containing sodium acetate and a metal disk) into a pan with water, set it to heat and forgot about it until the smoke detector started beeping... Everything came out of the pan easily once it had cooled, but the stainless steel pan is slightly discoloured where the sachets were touching it. It's a good pan and I don't want to discard it. Anyone know whether it's still safe for food use, or do we need to worry about toxic residues?

#583 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2016, 06:34 PM:

It might be heat discoloration. If so, it's safe to use.

#584 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2016, 08:35 PM:

What if poets wrote poems that are anagrams of their names?

Featuring, among others, "Toilets" by T.S. Eliot (Let us go then, to the john.).

#585 ::: cmk ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2016, 10:04 PM:

I don't know about Archie Goodwin and LSD, but it used to fascinate me how Ngaio Marsh presented aspirin as something that could be a) dissolved in water, and b) administered unawares as a sleeping draught.

I can only think Dame Ngaio never was made to gargle with an aspirin suspension, which used to be an ordinary thing in my youth.

#586 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2016, 10:26 PM:

I was under the impression that at one time aspirin was also available (or maybe instead) as a powder.

#587 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2016, 10:50 PM:

There is powdered aspirin (e.g. "B. C. Powder"), but it is neither tasteless nor soporific. And it doesn't really dissolve; it's more of a suspension.

I wonder, however, if she originally had something a bit stronger but less legal, and the editors changed it?

#588 ::: cmk ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2016, 11:03 PM:

I don't know, but this is not in just one book, it's something she appears to rely on.

#589 ::: J Homes ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2016, 01:07 AM:

@585 and following,

Well, here in New Zealand there is (or was) a brand of aspirin that loudly proclaimed that it "dissolves before you take it" and is therefore faster acting. Ngaio Marsh was of course from New Zealand.

I wouldn't call it tasteless.

J Homes.

#590 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2016, 01:39 AM:

So, I recently realized I have mice. Nothing so subtle as finding chewed bits, or mouse droppings. Happened to glance over one evening about a week ago, and saw one, like, walking the fuck around about five feet away from me. He or she disappeared into the cluster of buckets of art projects I have sitting over there, by an unused guinea pig habitat. Have seen them elsewhere around that side of the room since, as well as hearing various rustlings.

Went to McGuckins last Wednesday to pick up a live-trap and some repellent. Haven't gotten around to deploying either; I'm waiting until I can get the pigs out of reach before driving them (we hope) from their current range.

Well: First mouse accounted for! He or she is currently futiley attempting to jump out of a Homer bucket (which is covered with a tight screen lid, on the remote chance that he or she manages a super-mousian jump at some point during the night).

Turns out I had inadvertantly created an effective pit trap.

The other night, I was doing whatever, and I heard scritchings and rustlings over by the kitchen, so I went over and investigated. Scritchings went on quite unconcerned at my approach, and I managed to narrow it down to my greens-twisties collection.

I have several of those knee-high rectangular plastic trash bins sitting up on the chest of drawers next to my desk to contain various scavenged materials I use in my artwork. The front-most one is where I've been collecting my greens twisties that come off the guinea pigs' lettuce, parsley and such. So I stand there listening for a minute, but I can't see anything. Scritchings continue. So finally, figuring to flush the little monster, I rattle the bin hard. Silence. No jumping or dashing. I look; no movement. I finally look around the other side of the bin, just in time to see a little brown shape, about the size of the end of my thumb, stealthily disappear around the back of the bin. Poof! Gone.

Hm, sez I, settling down to have a good hearty freak-out about what this implies about the decluttering job I have ahead of me, to abate mouse attractiveness.

But.... Who knew that old greens twisties were an attractive nuisance to mice? This evening, I'm sitting over in the dining area, working on installing my fancy new bike lights. Off to my right, I hear CRUNCH CRUNCH CRUNCH.

Oh peachy, sez I to myself. It sounds like he or she is gnawing a hole in the drywall. Just freaking great. (Not as bad as it might be; on my second trip to McGuckins yesterday, I ask the paint dept. guy what's good for spackling up mouse holes. "Have you tried steel wool? Just pack it as tightly as you can into any little hole" ::blink:: Yes, that would certainly do the job.)

Anyway, I finally get up (he or she doesn't seem in any particular hurry, despite the bright light on over in that part of the room). Paddle over quietly: lo and behold, the noise is coming from the greens twisties again.

I think myself back to when I was in Minneapolis, working at Gopher Rubber Stamp, and dealing with the mice we had there. (It was a very old building, long gone now.) Came in one morning to hear Priscilla (our resident Princess, before being a Princess was fashionable—she once demanded our boss give her a ride the two blocks to work because she didn't want to go out in the (light) rain.) declaiming that there was a RAT by her desk. (I don't remember if she was actually standing on a chair or not; she certainly was in the spirit.)

I look down into the waste-basket (just such a one as my greens twisties are in), and there's a wee little mouse, not quite the size of my thumb, who apparently wandered out a little too far onto a ledge of typing paper—and fell in. Jumping for all he or she was worth, sure that his or her demise was imminent. (I took the bin with its occupant out around the back of the building and dumped him or her out; probably back in their nest before lunch.)

So, I think—is there any remote chance—? I lift out the first big bundle of twisties (the ones that are long enough to stick up out of the top of the bin), fully expecting my little intruder to come zipping up the twisties, my arm, and off to freedom. (My mom had caught a mouse in a live trap when I was a kid. Meaning to be kind, she slipped the lid open with the intent of giving a piece of celery until we dumped it outside. ZOOM gone so fast as to be almost invisible.)

I hear a scuffle and see a flash of motion down in the shadows at the bottom. Lift out the other three bundles and—OMG I'M GOING TO DIE ka-jump! ka-jump! ka-jump! zoom around ka-jump! ka-jump! ka-jump! But! No actual escape!

Well, now. How very handy! One might even say, considerate! I pick up the bin (more frantic ka-jumping), and decant its contents into the bucket I had been hoping (with the addition of a screen ramp and some shreds of cheese, plus some TP for bedding and a TP roll as a hidey-hole) would serve precisely this function.

OMG I'M GOING TO DIE ka-jump! ka-jump! ka-jump! zoom zoom zoom ka-jump! ka-jump! ka-jump!

Turns out the Internet was right; looks like about a foot is pretty consistently the upper limit of the jumps. This is very useful information.

I drop in a raspberry, and a couple of narsty greens sprigs rejected from the pigs' dinner (since the mouse was, near as I can tell, attracted to the dried bits of greens at the bottom of the bin...?) and spend the next half hour fashioning a lid from a square of window screen (I finally turned up my tin-snips the other night when I heard a similar crunch crunch crunching RIGHT NEXT TO MY FREAKIN' CHAIR, somewhere 'round about my tools can—cleaned it out; no mouse, but hey! Tin snips!) and an unbent coat-hanger.

Finished off installing one of the four bike lights. (To the occasional jump! jump! jump!) (Hey, ya gotta try, right?) Tomorrow, I plan to take the bucket over to the little park a half-mile from my condo, and introduce Mx Mouse to hir new home.

The depressing thing is that they can probably just walk right in through my patio door. Whoever installed the damn thing put it on inside-out (with the slidey part outside), and put the screen door on the wrong side besides. This means that if it's even a little bit open, there's a gap that's probably like a superhighway to a mouse. I haven't seen/heard much traffic in the last two days, so I speculate that they're still foraging outside, since the weather is still quite warm. Hot, actually. I did get some Critter Ridder at McGuckins. Maybe I'll try spritzing that around the door. No way to tell if it actually works, until the cold sets in and the house stays sealed up for a while. Not holding my breath this year. (That's another even more depressing and not particularly original or interesting rant.)

But I will have to say, little tiny Mx Mouse Person is incredibly cute. (If it wasn't for hir clear unhappiness at being confined—and the whole hanta-virus thing, I could be sorely tempted to keep hir.)

#591 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2016, 03:55 AM:

Poor little mouse. "I want out! Let me out!" :-(

#592 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2016, 11:51 AM:

I lived in an apt with the sliding door installed that way - all the units were like that. Apparently it's A Thing, for reasons I never quite got. (Never had mice. An alligator lizard, once, though.)

#593 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2016, 12:29 PM:


I once caught the same mouse twice in a live-trap. The first time I decanted it from the trap into a too-small bucket. The second time I put it into a larger bucket (with the other mouse I caught in the meantime).

I drove them (and the bucket) to the other side of town to release them into the woods.

#594 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2016, 01:53 PM:

I've started making the calico cat I mentioned upthread.

#595 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2016, 01:55 PM:

Trying to shake loose a stuck post. The server apparently doesn't appreciate punny stuffed animals.

#596 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2016, 01:56 PM:

Weird bug report: When I posted #595, I hit Post, but it showed the preview again instead. When I opened a new window and checked, however, the post had gone through. Source of some of the double-posting problems here?

#597 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2016, 03:31 PM:

Buddha Buck @593: I once caught the same mouse twice

Heh. That live-trap my mom inadvertantly released the mouse from? I don't recall that we ever caught another mouse with it. Apparently word got around.

My saddest experience, though, was one winter when I was working at NCAR. Caught a beautiful little dear mouse who had taken up residence in the first basement, where my office was. She was gorgeous, tawny body, white belly, and a little notch in one ear. Kept her in a jar for a little while, until I took her outside and released her back of the lab. Like I said, this was winter (back when we still had actual, cold winters, with real snow). A week or so later, caught another dear mouse—with a very familiar-looking notch in one ear. And who was looking very sickly. Took mouse out, released into the out-of-doors.

I probably killed her. :-(

Mary Aileen @594: So at this stage, it's what you might call a flat cat? <g,d&r>

#598 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2016, 04:19 PM:

Jacque (597): They're always flat cats at this stage. It's fun watching how flat pieces of cloth become 3D.

Also, I just put another picture on that page, of the right side pieces (side and underbody). The underbody already has the darts sewn, so it's not flat. :P

#599 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2016, 05:25 PM:

A thought crossed my mind,after I signed up for NaNoWriMo. How does the editing process of today compare with that of 75 years ago? There's the basic copy-editing to deal with ordinary mistakes, but I hear, from friends and acquaintances of just hum much re-writing there can be between the first draft and the published version. What was it like back then?

One anecdote I remember is that Edgar Wallace (or some such prolific author of his time), kept changing the names of characters without realising, and he had a secretary who fixed this.

Some of those old stories, which I read thirty or forty years ago, and enjoyed, evoke different reactions today. But that's a different sort of issue.

#600 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2016, 06:06 PM:

Dave Bell @599 -- Global search-and-replace makes that kind of character name change much easier, but it has its pitfalls. One author changed the name of a character from David to Dondi -- which resulted in someone riding away on a Harley-Dondison until someone caught it, before publication.

#601 ::: Louis Patterson ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2016, 06:10 PM:

I have a book that points out that before the invention of monotype and linotype machines your typical printer only had enough type to set books maybe a couple of sections at a time.

Which meant that from an editing perspective there wasn't a huge difference between serialised and once-and-done novels, which may have been part of the reason serialisation was so common. And also the fight to get the author to do their damned corrections so that the section could be stereotyped/printed and the huge cost of the type released for the next job.

Also covers the introduction of stereotyping, which introduced a distinction between an impression and an edition, making texts much more fixed.

[also, time constraints on serialisation meaning that they weren't often author-proofed, and how this impacted with the use of the serialised versions as clean copy for setting the volume editions.]

We're much more constrained by our technology than we realise.

#602 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2016, 06:44 PM:

Tom Whitmore @600:
You have to take precautions for that sort of thing. Include the trailing space in the search string so as not to affect portions of words. Sadly, the writer would also need to replace the name with a comma after it, with a period after it, and maybe others I haven't thought of. Saving steps is hard work, and takes many steps.

#603 ::: Sarah E ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2016, 06:49 PM:

A year or so back, my spouse noticed that in the edition of The Martian Chrinicles he was looking at, a character in 'The Moon Be Still as Bright' changes names between Gibbs and Biggs in the first few paragraphs. As he collects Bradbury, he started going through every version of the story he had on hand, and found that while there are some editions from the 'nineties onward that correct the name for consistency, the Biggs/Gibbs switch appears in all the older versions, including the original magazine publication; which led us to suspect it was in Bradbury's original manuscript.

#604 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2016, 07:04 PM:

Well, Mr. Mouse (and he was clearly a Mr, once I got him into the jar for transport and got a good look at him) is now making his way in a park of a few acres with some brush and tall grass along a drainage through the middle. I explained to him that he probably doesn't want to go inside any more houses, warm and appealing though they may be, as his fate may not be nearly so benign next time. And stay away from birds and cats, though, being a free citizen, he probably has that one covered. Oh, and I gave him his raspberry and almond chips to go.

Mary Aileen @598: It's fun watching how flat pieces of cloth become 3D.

I was using a friend's sewing machine to make a duffle. He was sitting across the table, watching me, while he was talking to a friend on the phone. He's more of the mathy-musical bent than visual-spatial, so I guess he found the permutations I was putting the cylinder through confusing as I added bits and alternated between sewing on the inside and the outside. "Yeah, Jacque's over here committing topological improbabilities on a piece of denim."

The underbody already has the darts sewn, so it's not flat. :P

It's whatcha might call "peeked"? XD

Dave Bell @599: Can't speak for the editing process, as I've never been published, but I lived through the transition from typewriter to computer, and the authoring process is much improved (for values of "improve" that quietly ignore endless dithering and disappearing into one's belly-button). So much so that I didn't actually start writing seriously until I had access to a Mac. Back In The Day, writing was so much more laborious, when one had to go through and make changes by hand on one's typescript, and then retype the whole damn thing all the way through to get a new version. Without, it must be remembered, anything resembling "undo" (Ghods' single greatest contribution to work-flow). Or copy and paste. There was "backspace," and "delete," but only in very arduous, rudimentary form. Very time-consuming. For my taste, at least, it really weighed down the composition process.

Now, composition/editing can be much more fluid (though by all accounts composition Flow is best achieved by setting editing mind aside entirely for the duration), and as such I, at least, am far more likely to just try stuff out and see where it goes, than back when I would have had to Deal With all that text in a rewrite.

Can't speak to whether the effect on the quality of my writing has been good or bad. (Probably good, as I am far more willing to go back and make that one last pass.)

I am amused to note, however, that particularly with the advent of copy and paste and spell checkers, a whole new class of typos has arisen. Somewhat fewer misspellings, more syntax weird missing and.

Where I know for sure computerization has had a massive impact is in printing. Whole professions that used to sit between the editor and the printing press have disappeared as it became possible to do the page comp earlier in the process. The final layouts could be, essentially, laser-written straight onto the printing plate, without the involvement of a typesetter, paste-up artist, or camera operator. This is particlarly conspicuous in the realm of newspapers.

One big impact I do recall hearing on the editing process, though (probably via Our Gracious Host) is in the realm of slush. With modern word processors, professional-looking manuscripts became far more common, and consequently it was much harder to eliminate the obvious tyroes with a quick glance at the ms.

#605 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2016, 07:17 PM:

Jacque at 604:

"Whole professions that used to sit between the editor and the printing press have disappeared"

That includes a job I used to have.

I worked for a regional newspaper group 1993-2009. I was doing paste-up and photostats as I came in, sending pdf files over the wire as I left.

I made want ad sections in one part of my job, Craigslist phased them out. Craigslist helped me find my next job.

It was an excellent apprenticeship for a job that was ceasing to exist.

#606 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2016, 07:28 PM:

Dave Bell at 599, editing (digital vs on paper)

Sometimes it's easier to miss stuff when digital.
Perhaps with paper the amount of attention you pay per each word is proportional to its physical size and weight, whereas the amount of attention you pay to each word on the computer screen is proportional to nothing in particular.

I work better making the first draft on paper, for some reason. Then it can be re-shaped digitally once it's finished coming into being on the paper.

I just need to have something that exists substantially even when the newfangled electronics are not favoring me.

#607 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2016, 08:13 PM:

On aspirin as a stimulant/sedative--Orwell implies something similar in "The Road to Wigan Pier."

Unemployment is an endless misery that has got to be constantly palliated, and especially with tea, the English-man's opium. A cup of tea or even an aspirin is much better as a temporary stimulant than a crust of brown bread.

My theory is that given heavy work, poor food, and cold houses, most people suffered from some amount of chronic pain (this is still common among tradesmen); aspirin by relieving pain would both increase energy and deepen sleep.

#608 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2016, 08:20 PM:

me @597: That would be "deer mouse." :-\

Erik Nelson @605: It was an excellent apprenticeship for a job that was ceasing to exist.

I have learned to be ever-mindful that my trade is constantly evolving out from under me. Painful, for a dedicated luddite. The only thing that saves me is the shiny new toys coming down the pike along with the game-changers. (Photoshop, FTW!)

#609 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2016, 08:30 PM:

committing topological improbabilities on a piece of denim

I would like to recommend to him sarah bel castro's books on math and crafts. (I knit a cross-cap. in finer yarn, I can see it as a cat-toy.)

#610 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2016, 08:33 PM:

Jacque @608 -- and here I thought that "dear mouse" was a deliberate pun....

#611 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2016, 08:56 PM:

On Mice.

Lo! These many years ago when this moose had just entered the dinosaur-herding business, we had a wildlife problem. Actually, we had several of them:

1) The works cats, usual colour dark grey, shading to jet black the closer they lived to "Compound Prep." aka "The Mill". It was a tyre factory, carbon black does that to you.

2) "Rubber Bugs" the generic term for all manner of tropical insects that arrived in batches of raw latex and found a cosy home in the "subways" under the factory. (These were universally dark, warm (steam mains) and humid (steam leaks).)

3) Mice. Usually ending up as a brief crunchy squeak (see (1), above).

Item 2 was a regular visitor to the offices, you could hear the crickets chirping at all hours, and some really odd insects occasionally made it into the Dinosaur Pen. I remember a pallid white heart-shaped bug with long rigid antennae that then terminated in flexible ends that almost touched the floor. Thankfully we didn't get the 6-inch cockroaches turning up, though I'm sure tape head cleaner (trichloroethane and isopropanol) would have done for them fairly quickly.

Item 3. At 3am one day, moose wanders down the ramp and into Form Handling and is greeted by a frantic scampering sound. A mouse, startled by the sudden light, is doing a perfect cartoon "running on the spot" impression for several seconds before digging a claw in and disappearing in the usual grey blur.

(Later on, the air conditioning was "upgraded" resulting in a large hole appearing in the break-room wall. It was winter, complaints had no apparent effect, until a "Beware of the Mouse" sign appeared next to the 12" x 9" hole.)

#612 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2016, 09:12 PM:

Tom Whitmore @610: and here I thought that "dear mouse" was a deliberate pun....

What? Oh, yes, yes! Totally intentional! I meant to say that, yes. ::whistles casually while staring at the ceiling::

Hm. Large weather we're having today....

#613 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2016, 09:15 PM:

@609: misread as "meth and crafts."

Time for bed, I think.

#614 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2016, 09:54 PM:

My mother and stepdad, I think I have previously mentioned, are naturalists. In my childhood, both were involved in various native-species studies and captures★, as well as things like nonnative plant removal from habitats, and so on.

Because of this, a nontrivial number of specimens filed in formalin in the Field Museum of Natural History have my mom's surname and initial on their tags as collector. One of them has both hers, and my grandfather's, for two separate captures of the same individual.

You see, we would often bring caught critters home either to photograph them enticingly in good light and backdrops before release, or (if thought to be genetically interesting) to keep in tanks until they reached their natural lifespan, after which they would be promptly formalin'ed☂.

This was done with a bull snake with a particularly interesting coloration variant. At time of capture it was about 25 inches long, and fairly vigorous.

I should note for those of you unfamiliar with bull snakes that not only can they lift well over half their length into midair while resting on their tails, they can also quite handily shove their bodies into narrow spaces and "chimney" using rib pressure and prodigious musculature. They are well known among herpetoculturists as escape artists, rather in the way that moose are in zoos.

He (confirmed by cloacal probe upon capture) was the first bull snake to live with us for any significant length of time. My mother opened his cage one day to drop in a freshly-killed mouse, without first carefully ascertaining that the entire snake was visible and on the floor ... he'd been pulling a Natasha Romanov, wedge into the gap between the lid and the tank all the way around its circumference. Voom and he was in the wind, behind the racks of cages and the collections of random auto parts.

It was fall. We used heating rocks and lights to keep all the herps in the basement alive. We mourned him and moved on, a little sad that we didn't get him preserved at the museum (your diversity will be added to our own).

A little house geometry, to make this next part clearer. I grew up in a two-story 1870s brick storefront, intended for the first floor to be retail space and the second floor for the shopowner to live in. It had a hard life and various users in the early 20th century, and when my mother renovated it in the early 80s, she put back roughly the original upstairs wall geometry, and cleared out the main -- very-high-ceilinged -- storefront's final kludged layout to two large airy spaces, which she then rented out for a variety of uses while we lived above. We also had a full basement. The basement is where the herps mostly lived (with a few actual pets upstairs with us).

Several years after the bull snake got out, our downstairs commercial tenant happened to be my grandfather. He was a consultant far before consultants were a thing, and generally did business matchmaking: helping Firm X in China find Firm Z in the US and cementing a mutually profitable relationship between them. He needed new, smaller office space, and my mom was happy to rent it out to him -- it made him loosely supervising me after school much simpler, for one thing.

So. Here we are. My grandmother had occasionally trapped a mouse or so in trash cans as described above in the thread, and had grown somewhat intrepid in her interactions with our menagerie. So when she called up the stairs at us, "We have another of your ... creatures ... down here. It's in the bin. I'm not going to get anywhere near it, YOU come get it," we imagined a mouse must be the reason.

Instead, in large black bin (instead of the cute cylindrical desk cans the mice usually fell into), doing his best to climb and chimney back out again, under a lid formed by putting one of last summer's taken-down window screens on top and then piling a variety of heavy, flat things on THAT, was the bull snake. ☍

He was much bigger. Like, five feet long. And exceedingly well fed and vigorous.

Clearly the same one -- unusual color pattern and all. We figured he must have been living well off whatever rodents he could find (occasional escapees from our breeding colonies of feeders would interbreed with the wild-type mice that occasionally colonized from outside), and sticking around in the walls of the living spaces to keep active and warm in the winters.

We put him in a much more sturdily designed tank and kept him for the rest of his natural lifespan, MUCH more careful about escape attempts from then on.

And when he went to his smelly, preserved rest, his tag had two names on it, and two dates and locations of capture.

Only seemed fair, really.

★My stepdad's main study animal for over a decade was Ambystoma laterale, the blue-spotted salamander, which is a congenial and placid creature. They are quite easy to catch with 6" drift fencing made of aluminum roof flashing set on edge, and occasional big-tomato-can pit traps. Until the raccoons and foxes start checking your traps before you can get to them. Um.

☂ For most of my 5th-11th grade years, the basement had rank upon rank upon rank of plastic sweater boxes, each with a single salamander in them (a rotating population of individuals). We bred fruit flies and crickets so we could give them size-appropriate meals. My mother amusing herself breeding fruit flies is entirely an anecdote too large for this margin to contain.

☍ Did I mention before that bull snakes like to open their mouths and hiss when they feel cornered? Surely, I must have mentioned that. Well, they do. My grandmother: certified badass. For having helped with the bin-moving and lid-improvisation while my grandfather kept using the handle end of a broom to poke the snake (which he had initially he had lifted off the floor and containerized) gently back down into the bin again to prevent further escapes, she completely earned the "I'll just be over in the other corner staring sternly at you while YOU deal with it!" freakout that followed.

#615 ::: Elliott Mason pokes internal server error? ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2016, 09:54 PM:

Heeeere, postie postie postie, nice postie, come out please?

#616 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2016, 10:53 PM:

Elliott Mason @615 -- That would have been a terrible post to have lost! It's marvelous, and long, and wouldn't have been the same rewritten.

#617 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2016, 01:22 AM:

Elliott Mason @614 - my sister's first roommate at Iowa State had a pet bull snake. Illegal in the dorm but quiet, so tolerated. They lived on the top floor, with steam pipes running below the ceiling. Angie the snake would climb the front of their cabinets, built in at one end of the room, and get up on the pipes. She usually eventually fell off onto someone, much to their surprise.

She was a docile creature, used to being handled by humans. Pat did say that it was rather disconcerting at first to lie down for a nap and wake up with a fairly large snake coiled up on top of her, but she got used to it.

Looking forward to meeting you at OVFF. I've probably seen you, but to the best of my recollection we've not yet met.

#618 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2016, 04:29 AM:

I hope this isn't too political for an Open Thread. It was provoked by thinking of the "Trump says Clinton would let 650 million people into US in a week" headline as a logistics challenge on the scale of the moon landing.

The queues stretched out of sight, car exhausts steaming in the frigid late-autumn dawn.

“You know, the Hajj used to be the biggest,” Malik said.

“The Hajj? That’s only, what, ten million?”

“Not even”

“What about the Olympics?”

“Peanuts. Less than a million. And that’s two weeks.”

Radios squawked, then the marshalls jogged down the long rows: “Ok people, 90 minute warning”

“Next time I want to get one of the flights”

“You planning to get rich without me?”

“There’s the lottery”

“Dream on. Every plane they’ve got, every airport, and it’s still only a couple of million. Just be thankful we’re in Canada now, not lined up down to Panama every fourth November, looking at hurricane forecasts.”

“Sometimes I wonder why we still do it.”

“It’s the Dream. 650 million. One week. Make American Great Again.“

#619 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2016, 08:59 AM:

Tom Whitmore @616: I had it open in another tab in case I needed to repost. :->

#620 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2016, 09:06 AM:

Tom Whitmore @616: I had it open in another tab in case I needed to repost. I am Wise to the Ways of internetz eating tasty little toast-posties.

Anne Sheller@ 617: I am familiar with your name primarily from the byline on a variety of songsheets whose contents I adore, so, well. I'm pleased that you want to talk to me, too. :->

thomas @618: I think that's an amazing piece of extrapolative microfiction, not necessarily political in itself (any more than any other writing, obviously), but working from the classic SFnal "If this is true, then what?" recipe.

#621 ::: LizardBreath ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2016, 12:09 PM:

Tom Whitmore @552: I've actually reread all the Nero Wolfes this year, and I can't see Archie as having been written as a systematically unreliable narrator (as opposed to Stout being wrong about stuff like how LSD works). There are a couple of spots where he explicitly says "I'm not telling you something I know so you can figure it out," but other than that I don't recall a single spot where Stout makes the reader realize that Archie was seriously in error or self-deceived about what he reports.

Is there something you're thinking of? Not just Archie being wrong, but Stout making it clear within the book that Archie is wrong?

#622 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2016, 12:21 PM:

LizardBreath @621: I think the simplest one is Archie's attitude towards women, and the way he describes women as reacting to him (as opposed to their actions). He's pretty clearly self-deluded there, throughout. (And it's been a long time since I read the books, so I'm working from old memories -- you are probably more current than I am!)

And it makes for an interesting way to read the books, IMO -- different from what Wolfe intended, I expect, but an interesting difference.

#623 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2016, 02:08 PM:

Dave Bell @574: There are some fairly simple checks for excess body fat, but nobody seems to bother.

My employer's health screening has added that game-console E-meter thing that measures percent body fat, but then I'm in an area that's kind of ahead of the curve on stuff like that.

Arna Ýr Jónsdóttir

Jesus. Go, her! (And: fat!?!? Maybe according to Anorexia Quarterly....)

Elliott Mason @614: My mother amusing herself breeding fruit flies is entirely an anecdote too large for this margin to contain.

Perhaps another comment is indicated...? (Yes, this is a hint. Subtle, you know. With a capital B.)

I have a skin off of a formerly-six-foot bull snake. The foot or so of the middle is a bit, whacha might say, blurred, where it apparently got run over. I found it as roadkill on the side of the highway near my house, when I was out for a bike-ride. It apparently died not too long before, so it was actually in pretty good shape. Picked it up, looped it over my handlebars. And then promptly got a flat.

Lady stops her car ahead of me, offers me a ride into town—and then sees what I'm carrying. "Oh, well, you'll be fine, I'm sure!" and drives off.

Fortunately, Fa's house wasn't too far away, so I stopped there and we skinned out the snake. I managed to keep all of the skin from the face, but she lopped off the last six inches of tail skin. :-\

Amazing musculature. Radial tread, like.

I still have it. Haven't found a good way to keep it supple, though, so every few years I soak it and apply more glycerine.

thomas @618: *snerk!* Hey, the population of NYC is only 8.4 million.

#624 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2016, 02:53 PM:

Heh. Just heard a good offspringism for vegetables: "wegebles."

#625 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2016, 02:56 PM:

re 618: For comparison's sake, the Sturgis Rally roughly doubles the population of South Dakota for a week; Sturgis itself enlarges by a factor of about 100.

#626 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2016, 03:54 PM:

The entire population of the US at the end of 2015 was only about 322 million, according to the Census Bureau. So yeah, that 650 million figure is more than a little dubious. But the Banana Republicans tend not to have math as a strong suit.

#627 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2016, 04:30 PM:

Lee #626:

There is a tactic I've noticed a lot lately that goes along these lines. You have some idea you want to argue for. And there is a reasonable argument for your position, facts that support it, etc.

Now, you could put out the argument that's grounded in actual facts--perhaps with links to official statistics, or news stories in relatively careful and reputable media, or some such thing. You could make your case rationally, in calm language, with no particular nastiness. But if you did that, you wouldn't get a lot of attention. A few people on your side would forward it, maybe honorable and intelligent people on the other side would try to refute it with facts, but mostly it would just disappear into the ether. Engaging with you would be work, after all.

So you take that same argument, and you outrageously inflate the facts, exaggerate the argument to the point of self-parody, throw in some gratuitous nastiness, etc. And the result is, you get *way* better spread of your argument. Now, honorable and intelligent people will roll their eyes and ignore you, but who cares about them? There are plenty of outrage-farming operations online who are only too happy to write a snarky takedown of the idiots on the other side, when the argument is so obviously wrong.

And many partisans will also repost/retweet/resend the argument. On your side, plenty will either send it along without applying any critical thinking at all (it's coming to the right conclusion, what's not to like?), or will chuckle and say "this'll get those losers on the other side good and mad." On the other side, lots of people will send it along with a snarky "this is what the other side is like--they're all idiots, obviously." You will actually have better success with a factually-wrong, nasty, outrage-inducing argument than with a calm, rational, factually-based argument.

The master of this--probably the trope-namer, in fact, is Donald Trump. I'm not sure whether this is strategy or just his nature, but he routinely takes some defensible argument (some illegal immigrants coming from Mexico are criminals) and exaggerates it into something both offensive and wrong (they're sending us their rapists and murderers). And it works for him--people who agree with his conclusion nod and think "yeah, maybe he's overstating things, but he's got the right idea and the right enemies", and people who disagree with him give him lots of airtime and attention and retweet/quote/etc. his misinformation and screwy arguments so they can mock him and his followers. (And of course, even when his arguments' weakness is visible to his followers, the mockery from the other side is a lot more immediately upsetting.)

My big worry about this election is that we're not seeing a one-off in Trump[1]. Instead, maybe we're seeing the discovery of a new and improved strategy for getting media attention and gaining power, one that wouldn't have worked in the past but now does. Maybe we can expect a whole long string of Trumps, both parties, using the same awful tactics and style to get their ideas heard and gain power and votes.

[1] I'm more worried about this than about a Trump presidency. We've survived having fools in the white house before. A systemic change in US politics in this direction is much more worrying, to me.

#628 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2016, 05:33 PM:

Jacque @624: My favorite from Beka is "peesta," because, let's face it, the tz phoneme IS pretty rare in English. Also "breffus".

#629 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2016, 07:48 PM:

Healing thoughts to Teresa, who reports via Twitter that she is in the hospital dealing with a a nasty infection caused by abscessed old dental work.

The photo she posted of her Halloween lunch is appropriatly horrifying.

#630 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2016, 08:15 PM:

TNH: I've only ever had to deal with a teeny tiny little infection; most unhappy-making. Sending healing thoughts.

Elliott: "peesta", which of course goes well with the traditional "basketti". I like "breffus".

Theodore Sturgeon (in, I think, "The Widget, The Wadget, and Boff") provides "yunch" and "mixter."

#631 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2016, 08:20 PM:

Halloween report: quite a lot of kids-- I live in a fairly high density row house neghborhood.

Lots of princesses, lots of muscle suits. Only one Harry Potter costume, no political costumes. Two Star Wars. High quality latex horror masks. One clever homemade costume-- a pizza slice which was the kid's idea. Several Jason hockey masks. Probably a bunch of media references I didn't get.

Speaking of, I saw a man this afternoon wearing bright yellow with a yellow necktie with black polka dots. Anyone know who that was?

#632 ::: Sarah E ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2016, 08:36 PM:

Someone attempting to do David S. Pumpkins and reversing the colour scheme?

#633 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2016, 09:08 PM:

The kid density was way down this year -- costumes were something around 95% store bought, and (I think[0]) batman seemed to be a partcular favourite.

[0] The commercial costume was of insufficient quality for accurate identification.

#634 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2016, 09:41 PM:

xeger (633): I had a lot more kids than usual here, partly because I didn't miss the early birds. I don't normally get home from work until after 5:30; I see batches of kids walking around the neighborhood as I'm driving home, but they don't make it to my door while I'm there. Then there's another smallish wave after dinner until about 8:30 or 9:00. This year I was home* but got no kids until about 6:15, then a number of multiple-kid batches until sometime after 8:00. I turned out the lights about twenty minutes ago. I ran out of candy somewhere in the middle of the proceedings, but still had the cheap toys** I was giving out. The vampire fangs were a hit, especially among the boys. I gave out 26 mini-candy bars, so there must have been 35-40 kids. Typically it's more like a dozen or so.

*recovering from bronchitis that would have become pneumonia in another week if I hadn't gone back to the doctor
**I had planned to go toy-only this year but chickened out and bought two bags of candy on Saturday. The upstairs neighbors came home with candy shortly after I ran out, so only one group didn't get any.

#635 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2016, 10:26 PM:

In past years I've had very few trick or treaters. This year, between 6 and 9, a steady stream. A princess or two and a rainbow pony, as well as some girl ghouls, undead girls in gory makeup, and a girl Joker. Superman and Krypto. Several costumed dogs. The werewolf next door sang the chorus of Werewolves of London with me. Some tall kids spattered in "blood" with pretty good gaping wounds shambled convincingly. Everybody said "trick or treat" (except Elmo, who was falling asleep) and "thank you". Most of my candy is gone, and a good time was had.

#636 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2016, 10:28 PM:

In past years I've had very few trick or treaters. This year, between 6 and 9, a steady stream. A princess or two and a rainbow pony, as well as some girl ghouls, undead girls in gory makeup, and a girl Joker. Superman and Krypto. Several costumed dogs. The werewolf next door sang the chorus of Werewolves of London with me. Some tall kids spattered in "blood" with pretty good gaping wounds shambled convincingly. Everybody said "trick or treat" (except Elmo, who was falling asleep) and "thank you". Most of my candy is gone, and a good time was had.

#637 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2016, 11:14 PM:

Frisbie sent me a photo of the costume he wore to a party last Friday evening. He had a paper plane (the classic dart shape) apparently stuck about two inches into one side of his forehead, with gore and bruising. He mentioned one comment: "the worst paper cut they'd ever seen".

#638 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2016, 11:22 PM:

Re 618:

I did some back-of-the-envelope math on trying to move 20 million people a day. New York City moves 2 million commuters into Manhattan a day, and back out, which made the problem seem relatively doable. We might be able to move 7 million people a day by bus, 6 million by plane [I was surprised too!] and, surprisingly, only a million or so by rail.

(Assumptions: 140,000 fifty-person buses a day from Canada and Mexico, round trip; 30,000 flights a day holding 200 people each; and Amtrak having around 1500 passenger cars, 80 people each, 4 crossings per day. We have plenty of surplus buses, which we can use to empty out the train stations and airports. I suppose Amtrak could buy more cars. )

Are there any significant passenger ships left? I guess there are ferries from, e.g. Vancouver to Seattle. And how, after the first couple days, would we get several million people a day into Canada and Mexico?

#639 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2016, 11:34 PM:

There is no direct ferry service from Seattle to Vancouver -- only to Victoria (on an island). It's possible to transfer there to a ferry to Vancouver, but it's a pain. TripAdvisor on the subject for those who like references.

#640 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2016, 11:45 PM:

Tom Whitmore @ 639 ...
... and there are many, many jokes on the subject of said ferry ...

#641 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2016, 12:19 AM:

Getting 650 million people into the USA in a week actually seems fairly trivial, if one ignores their needs for food and shelter once they get there, and before they start. The trick's in preparation. You can even do it from a single country.

Canada's land border with the USA, including the Great Lakes, is per Wikipedia 8 891km long. Assume that we're spacing people a metre apart, and that gives you a line of 8 891 000 people.

Have them take one step (or paddle; I've put the ones on water boundaries in white-water kayaks) forward, and that's 8 91 000 people already, in the space of a few seconds.

You'd only need seventy-three rows of people. If you got them all lined up beforehand, you could get 650 million people into the USA in a couple of hours.

#642 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2016, 12:24 AM:

What gets to me is the idea that the whole world would be living in the US in about 3 months.

#643 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2016, 12:53 AM:

Average annual border crossings (I think this means in either direction!) are about 100 million (reference here). At that level of accuracy, it's probably irrelevant that there are a lot of definitions of "the US" out there -- none of the definitions should make more than a factor-of-two difference no matter how one jiggers them.

#644 ::: Tom Whitmore talks to the servers ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2016, 12:55 AM:

The comment shows up in my VAB, so it should actually be here....

#645 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2016, 12:56 AM:

Nancy @ 631: bright yellow with a yellow necktie with black polka dots. Anyone know who that was?

I think that would be "the man with the yellow hat" from the Curious George books. I had to look at a couple pictures, and yes his tie has black polka dots.

#646 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2016, 01:00 AM:

My son is doing Halloween as Boo from Monsters Inc. - a big shapeless purple-pink tee/dress, pink leggings (too short on him), and his hair pulled into two pigtails with pink bobble hair ties. I have said nothing about it, but I am silently so pleased he doesn't worry about whether he looks masculine.

#647 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2016, 01:04 AM:

Clifton, that's probably it. Thanks.

#648 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2016, 02:50 AM:

me at #618:

The Hajj is not quite four million, but that involves getting everyone pretty close to some key points.

Allahabad apparently got 30 million in one day during the 2013 Kumbh Mela.

There's an XKCD "What If" that's on point

On the other hand, Chinese internal tourism for the National Day holiday week in October is of roughly that order of magnitude (they claim over 500 million), so it definitely could be done given enough planning.

If you're doing it on short notice (as in the original setup), the supply of people is just as tricky as the border bandwidth. There's only about 700 million people in the Americas outside the US, and you can't get more than a few million in quickly. The total annual US air passenger count is about 80 million, so maybe 2 million in a week if pressed, but not all those planes could fly to Europe or Asia easily.

#649 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2016, 03:00 AM:

Just went back to check the US air passenger statistics, which seemed very low.

They are. It's 800 million a year, so perhaps 20 million in a week. Doesn't really affect the story, fortunately.

I think I must have seen statistics for July in various years and thought they were '12 months to July'

#650 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2016, 07:12 AM:

Halloween report: Less than last year -- I wasn't tracking costumes (as usual, the interaction takes too much attention for more than a brief glance), but there were some cool ones (and, as usual, some not-even-trying). Offhand: A bouncy 5-year-old Dracula with cape and fancy shirtfront ("RAWR!"), a princess with "blood-drips" marked from her mouth, one unknown character with an anime-spiky wig, a few assorted armor-suits.

General trend continues with younger kids -- the teens present were mostly supervising a group, often uncostumed.

#651 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2016, 09:37 AM:

Ouch. Sympathy for Teresa. I dodged the bullet she’s recuperating from, pretty much. Mounting pain in a back tooth, dental visit, prognosis of upcoming root canal, apprehension of infection—then the crown started coming off the adjacent back molar, so I got an appointment right away to cement it back on, and that’s when the doctor realized I didn’t have a dying root, just a tooth that was falling apart in my mouth. He took off a small corner that was loose, and the gums stopped with the thing of pain, and now the only thing will be having a tooth removed that had a root canal thirty-five or forty years ago. Won’t even replace it with anything.

We used to have hundreds of trick-or-treaters, when we lived in West Springfield, MA. Ours was the first neighborhood families arrived at when they drove across the bridge from Springfield. So we bought lots of candy, and complimented their costumes.

I saw none last night, because I was at the Halloween party for the Irish jam session I go to every Monday. We did our rehearsed pieces, enjoyed some snacks, enjoyed some applause from guests, and when the party ended at nine, we didn’t go home. First we did some Italian songs, because Tony, and that segued into oldies, because me. Two hours later, we finally called it a night. I may have partially persuaded one or two people to come over here and just do songs some time. I was also invited to the Harp and Shamrock Ceili coming up on Saturday, and am informed that they don’t mind electronic keyboards by the fellow who dropped by to mention it and stayed to listen a while. Before he left, he complimented my playing. A good day.

When I got in, it looked like we had a lot of candy left. Probably not a big year for trick-or-treaters. I think the majority of kids in the neighborhood are aging out of the ritual, or possibly starting a block or two over where there is a higher density of porch lights shining.

I like ferries (great transition!). The Jamestown ferry, back in Virginia, was part of the highway system, and you didn’t have to pay each time you used it. Just drive onto it, cross the river, look around a bit, then cross back over on another. One night, Cathy and Gecko and I were trying to find a lightspill-free spot to watch the Perseids (or maybe the Leonids), and ended up trying the ferry. As luck would have it, we got a boat (there were three) with an upper deck that had a spot that was shadowed from the ferry’s own lights, and enjoyed several minutes of streaks in the sky.

#652 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2016, 09:43 AM:

I don't think physically moving the people across the border is difficult. My back-of-the-envelope calculations figured in lines of busses, 100 to the mile, 50 immigrants to the bus, two lanes (so 10,000 immigrants per mile), crossing the border at 50 miles/hour (500,000 immigrants/hour), per border crossing (call it 100 border crossings), or 5 million immigrants/hour, 120 million per day, or 840M/week.

Although some border crossings have dozens of lanes, I figured that the limiting factor would be the size of the roads feeding the border crossing, not the crossing itself. Besides, some crossings are smaller than others. I also figured that the other lanes would be used for empty busses headed back to Mexico or Canada to pick up more passengers.

I stopped there, before figuring out the passenger capacity of wide-body jet liners flying in and out of every US International airport Berlin Airlift-style.

This, of course, implies that we are importing people without worrying about any sort of documentation or even name-taking. Even if we are able to process 1 person per minute (on average), to do all 600 million in a week would require 60 thousand INS workstation, staffed by, say 240,000 INS workers, for that week.

With preparation, it might not be impossible to hire and train temporary workers for the task. It may even be possible to do some of that work in the preparation camps in Canada and Mexico while the infrastructure is being set up int he US (the processing buildings, designed for maximum throughput, the training, etc).

It couldn't be done without a lot of preparation, though.

#653 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2016, 10:26 AM:

Moving the people is relatively trivial (for untrivial values of "relatively trivial) compared to FEEDING the people. And toilets. Can't forget toilets.

#654 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2016, 10:36 AM:

NickPheas over on File770 mentioned that Teresa has been hospitalized with a brain infection.

Brain infection???

I'm really hoping he's wrong, but sending my best wishes to Teresa in any event.

#655 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2016, 10:54 AM:

shadowsong @570: Today, Chrome was slow to load, and I was getting some weird behavior: comment-level link going to [somewhere in the vacinity] after resizing the page. Even reloading didn't help. Worked better once I went back and access the comment from the 1000-last page.

Smells like some sort of "improvement."

#656 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2016, 10:54 AM:

shadowsong @570: Today, Chrome was slow to load, and I was getting some weird behavior: comment-level link going to [somewhere in the vacinity] after resizing the page. Even reloading didn't help. Worked better once I went back and access the comment from the 1000-last page.

Smells like some sort of "improvement."

#657 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2016, 11:35 AM:

In the department of "oh, look, the interface changed again" sinking feelings, I finally got a helpful one!

On my Android tablet, the pictionary-type game "Draw Something" (which I enjoy very much) has spent over six months refusing to open, or opening only if I delete the app and reinstall it. Just the first time after reinstallation, mind.

Drove me up a wall. I kept periodically trying to take turns, because I like the game that damn much. It's kept updating (I can tell because the icon changes to seasonal themes), but finally last night I went to open it and IT OPENED. Quickly. And all the items were bigger (bigger fonts, using more of the screen for the same stuff). And it keeps opening! Hallelujah, I think they fixed it (for me).

Relatedly, anyone want to play Draw Something with me? :-> I think it lets you search by email, in which case my gmail identity is " 2ells2tees ".

I'm not the world's greatest sketch-with-your-finger artist, but I seem decent at getting across the word you're supposed to guess within the limitations of the medium.

#658 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2016, 12:00 PM:

Kip W @651: having a tooth removed that had a root canal thirty-five or forty years ago. Won’t even replace it with anything.

I have a question: I just finished having an upper incisor replaced with an implant (a 9 month process, during which I had a gap that was filled by a single-tooth "denture"). One of the most conspicuous effects was that, when I didn't have my false tooth in, the teeth adjacent to that slot felt significantly less stable and more vulnerable. (To the point where my other front incisor could wiggle slightly, and was generally quite painful to pressure.)

Since the installation of the crown on the implant, it's amazing how much more rigid the whole upper assembly feels. It became clear to me just how much more my teeth support each other than I had realized. It might be less of an issue for back teeth, that have more root-age. But OTOH, they also deal in much more mechanical force. What are your dentist thoughts on that?

#659 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2016, 12:01 PM:

We bought 800 pieces of candy, we gave away that many (excepting a few eaten by me and spouse to keep our strength up), one piece per bucket, in the course of less than two hours. Lots of commercial costumes from the local supermarket and the Halloween store, but some home-made ones as well. Mostly superheroes of various degrees of execution, but I was charmed by the "Hamilton" gang, Eleven and the Girl in the Tardis dress, and somebody who went as a big bunch of purple grapes. Clearly the adults were more on the ball than their kids.

We live in a mixed-income New Urbanist walkable neighborhood with row houses, yard homes, apartments and lots of sidewalks and front porches. After a couple of years exhausting myself opening the door every two seconds, I started sitting on the bottom steps to the front porch, right on the sidewalk, which gives you a lot more interaction with the street. After a year in which I came down with every variety of cold and con crud immediately after Halloween, I started wearing gloves--and to make it less obvious I was into germ prevention, I started doing costumes that would support that. This year, I was planning on doing Miss Fisher, but the very cheap black wig from Those People in Arkansas did not at all look like its picture, so I went as a red-headed flapper with a silver glitter scarf draped/tied as a bandeau, much jewelry, and elbow-length black gloves. A few people got it, but the kids all wondered if I were a gypsy or a pirate, and one adult thought opera singer.

#660 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2016, 02:55 PM:

Best wishes and sympathies for Teresa. Bodily infections are No Fun At All.

#661 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2016, 03:04 PM:

Best wishes and healing thoughts for TNH. Miss seeing your posts!

#662 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2016, 03:34 PM:

My best wishes to Teresa.

#663 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2016, 05:21 PM:

There would be a G&S discussion right when my WFC obligations went pear-shaped.... (Lori@449: sorry I missed your note.)

B. Durbin @ 378: I second your endorsing of live G&S; it's certainly worthwhile seeing some of them at least once, and often worthwhile going back because each cast will have a different slant (even without an external motif such as steampunk). The sexism* and ~ritual roles may play badly today, but the tunes and the snark are timeless. (I'm biased; I was introduced very early, and did assorted shows around college, then produced the three "Rivets" musicals for Boskone. @380: I had forgotten "Matter" -- but count me as someone who likes the movie; the original has never been one of my favorites.

(*) Gilbert's concession to popular taste, perhaps; one of his stage plays was very cutting about the double standard.

Much amusement re microwaves....

Fragano @ 448: How could I not have seen Topsy Turvy, given my history? I was most surprised by the tiny stage, which I was told was authentic -- bringing into question the numbers given in a couple of the opening choruses.

Ginger @ 477: Congratulations. We also found that ~eloping made our lives much simpler.

re the latest cyber-attack: I was amused to see the Chinese trying to blame users of their net-capable devices for not changing the password. I wonder how many people think of such devices as being passworded, and whether there was any warning (let alone a prominent one) to do this; I'm thinking such devices should be shipped with individual passwords, just as combination locks are (were?) sold with individual combinations.

Jacque @ 590: the pest controller who is currently failing to deal with the rat in my ceiling says a mouse can get through a hole the size of a dime.

Tom W @ 622: I don't think that a 1950's man's misrepresentation of what women think of him means he's unreliable in general; his ego would be on the line more than usually.

Thomas @ 648: China starts with 4x the US population, and a transport network sized accordingly. Plus most of those 500,000,000 are in China to start, where you note that the Trump claims would require transoceanic travel.

Halloween: we help a friend, who ran out of 1230 full-size bars at 7:21. (For the last hour we had two people passing out, plus support staff opening and passing boxes and crushing empties.) The street is known (good houses in a challenged area), but his house is notorious. Favorite costume: "Miss Smartypants", clothes covered with Smarties.

Best wishes for TNH's recovery.

#664 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2016, 05:22 PM:

@629: Sympathies and best wishes to Teresa (and also Patrick).

Buddha Buck@652: I'm not sure 50 MPH is achievable given that all the roads across the border are carefully constructed to control the traffic throughput. Lane widths and turns needed and such probably don't support buses moving en masse at 50 MPH.

(Enjoying playing with the logistical details, while considering the actual proposal absurd on so many levels.)

(Halloween) we gave away a few bags of candy by leaving them out in a basket (doorbell, which is a doorphone on our house, has been flaky for a while). Presumably the first party to come by took it all. I did not wear a costume to teach my course, and nobody showed up in one.

#665 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2016, 05:24 PM:

And an infamous typo has come around again; I go to check my mail after the catchup and find bulk from AMC telling me to "Enjoy a Star Wars Rouge One Popcorn Tub". That's just stupidity, not a homophone error.

#666 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2016, 06:07 PM:

CHip @ 665:

I'm sure they'll find a way to make up somehow.

Best wishes to Teresa.

#667 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2016, 07:28 PM:

And an oddly common one, CHip @665 -- I expect you remember the book ROUGE QUEEN by L. Sprague de Camp (the Bluejay edition, on the spine).

#668 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2016, 07:44 PM:

Best wishes to Teresa.

#669 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2016, 07:54 PM:

CHip @ #665: Over-reliance on automated spell-checking is what that is, I suspect.

Tom Whitmore @ #667: On a previous occasion that edition was mentioned here, it was pointed out that the cover also claimed that the author was L. Spraque de Camp.

#670 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2016, 09:08 PM:

Hmm, it seems the gnomes' post-mangling machinery might have tangled up my good wishes for Teresa and also Patrick, so I will add them again: good wishes!

#671 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2016, 10:53 PM:

thomas @648:
Chinese internal travel for New Year's dwarfs what you're talking about for the October holiday.

I've had some chats about it with one of my Chinese co-workers. He said he feels one of the main benefits of living in the US is not having to travel at New Year's, because it is considered an absolute obligation for everyone in China to travel back to their home town to visit their parents at the lunar New Year, followed by visiting their other relatives, followed by visiting all their childhood friends. When people didn't move far from their place of birth that wasn't much of a problem, but now that China is a modern and very mobile society, a huge fraction of the population has to travel across the country all in the same few weeks. Much of the travel is by train, and he said that's absolute hell; in most trains, people are packed in, standing room only, and with that many people the bathrooms are unusably filthy after the first few hours of what may be a multi-day ride.

Here are a couple articles about it, with some boggling numbers: a best estimate of 2.9 billion passenger journeys during this period in 2016, in the space of a few weeks. (It says 40 days, but I think most of the travel is in the week or two right before the New Year and the week right after, returning.)

Chunyun (Wikipedia)
Chinese New Year travel: Billions of journeys as people head home in world's largest annual human migration (International Business Times)

"When the 40-day travel frenzy ends on 3 March, the estimated total volume of passengers is expected to reach more than 2.91 billion, an increase of 3.6% on last year. There will be about 2.48 billion journeys by road, 332 million by railway, 54.55 million trips by air and 42.8 million by water during this period, according to official estimates."

(That number suggests that on average every person of the 1.3 billion in China is traveling more than twice during this period.)

So... about 4 times Trump's claim, in maybe about 4 weeks, so with the right infrastructure it could maybe be possible? I know, he could outsource it to China!

#672 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2016, 11:08 PM:

Health and happiness to the NH's, please!

Rouge/rogue - it is a VERY common typo. None of my theories why seem to bear fruit. I've never seen it come up the other way round, but I don't see "rouge" much in the wild.

I'm in a weird nearly-theological situation: I'm doing contract negotiations with someone (it's a startup, so it's low-odds big-payoff hypothetical future money) and the goalposts have been shifted dramatically on something I thought we'd settled. I know I'm gullible and bad at judging people. I'm trying to figure out if I'm getting Tesla/Edison'd .


#673 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2016, 11:21 PM:

Oddly enough, I never see the Pogues referred to as the Pouges.

#674 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2016, 07:52 AM:

Coming in late to say: Ow, Teresa, feel better soonest!

#675 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2016, 08:09 AM:

Sarah B @ #603, as soon as I saw "The Moon Be Still as Bright" in your post, this popped into my head in its entirety (words by George Gordon, Lord Byron; music by Richard Dyer-Bennett; performance by Joan Baez).

As a person who really likes using lines of poetry/song as story titles, this tickled me to no end.

#676 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2016, 08:24 AM:

Teresa, you are in my prayers. Yikes!

#677 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2016, 08:26 AM:

Yes! An expedient and full recovery is wished for Teresa, and all possible strength for both Patrick and Teresa. I can't even.

Jacque, the dentist told me we don't really need to put something in where the old tooth was, but I'll certainly consult the oral surgeon on that. The medical theme will continue, for me, with a hearing test on Friday, as part of recent efforts to see if we can get my ears to stop ringing. I understand they usually can't.

"Star Wars Rouge One" — that's just a fancy way of saying Red Leader, right?

In other news, I have finally located a local SF club—R-SPEC—and attended a meeting. They're as much a writers' group as readers, and have maybe four reading meetings per year, and this was one of them. I read one of my short stories, and was thrilled with the positive feedback I got on it. They suggested someone could read it for a podcast, and I countered that I could do it myself. I had a great time. I even knew one of the other participants from the Shakespeare group that meets in the same room.

So. Two good nights in a week, and the prospect of another coming up. One hopes this isn't something to do with Owl Creek Bridge.

#678 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2016, 02:32 PM:

Interesting. Kip's comment #667, directly above this one, is not showing on the Recent Comments list.

(Let's see if this posts.)

#679 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2016, 02:33 PM:

And that fixed it. Weird.

#680 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2016, 02:39 PM:

CHip @663: the pest controller who is currently failing to deal with the rat in my ceiling says a mouse can get through a hole the size of a dime.

The Interweebs sez 1/4" which, having got a good look at Mr. Mouse, I can well believe. I think even that might be conservative.

Lila @675: music by Richard Dyer-Bennett

Hm! Any relation to David Dyer-Bennett, of this parish?

Kip W @677: recent efforts to see if we can get my ears to stop ringing.

Datum which may or may not be useful/unknown to you: ISTR reading some while ago that some cases of tinnitus is caused by hearing loss, and is the ear's effort to [do something having to do with noise and signal enhancement].

#681 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2016, 03:17 PM:

I just spent a pleasant few minutes walking around outside my house, squirting sealant foam in everything that looked like a possible gap that might let a mouse in. We have at least one mouse already, and I'd like to avoid adding any more.

#682 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2016, 03:23 PM:

Jacque: Any relation to David Dyer-Bennett, of this parish?

I have no idea, but I was wondering the same thing.

#683 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2016, 04:03 PM:

Interesting, he said, referring to #678 and #680.

I had some difficulty with that message. I added to it in preview, and couldn't get the changes to preview, but (after copying the whole thing as a precaution) it 'took.' I then tried to post about that, and couldn't get it to post, not even when I tried an hour or two later in a fresh browser. So this may not post either. (Copy, copy, copy.)

Jacque, thanks for the datum. I think I'm hearing okay. I've been hearing the ringing for some time, like a year or who knows how long, but have always dismissed it as a temporary thing or as an effect of sitting at a computer or whatever. When I put on headphones and it got louder, I suddenly realized. I'll see how the hearing test goes on Friday.

(Well, made it to Preview, anyway. Copycopycopy.)

#684 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2016, 05:17 PM:

Best wishes for Teresa.

#685 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2016, 05:27 PM:

Lila@682, Jacque@680: Yes, Richard was my uncle (and I grew up on his recordings, and went to his concerts when he came close enough). Like the rest of us, only one 't'!

His albums at Smithsonian Folkways.

Biography (by a childhood neighbor of mine).

Are two links too many? Will this end up in moderation?

#686 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2016, 06:09 PM:

Apologies for the misspelling!

#687 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2016, 08:32 PM:

Where is Matt Dancing, 2016 edition:

#688 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2016, 08:42 PM:

I watched that one, and I rewatched the one from 2012 -- it was better than I remembered it being. They still don't have that shock of the new that the 2008 one had, but there's no recapturing that.

#689 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2016, 10:40 PM:

Best wishes and prayers, Teresa, for a quick and complete recovery.

#690 ::: Megpie71 ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2016, 08:06 AM:

Best wishes for Teresa, and may her recovery be swift and uncomplicated.

#691 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2016, 09:01 AM:

Not to get too in-depth in a general thread where specific squeeing (spoilers?) may be off topic, but one thing about last night's game that amazed me was getting two runs off a wild pitch.



#692 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2016, 09:30 AM:

Nate Silver on the current probabilities in this election.

According to his model, it's about 70/30 that Hillary will win. He points out that a lot of people have a hard time talking or thinking about a 0.7 probability--they either want to map it to "she'll certainly win" or "it's a tossup," when neither one is true. I suspect a lot of this is that most people don't have an intuitive sense of what probabilities mean. (I think playing a lot of RPGs involving dice helps develop this kind of intuition--how rare is it *really* to roll a 15 or higher on your 20-sided die?)

#693 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2016, 09:38 AM:

In a Twitter posting that I can't get back, I saw a reference to Teresa being out of the hospital, and some awfulness averted. Can someone with knowledge expand on that a little? I understand that our hosts' hands are likely a bit full at the moment, but maybe another moderator has some details.

At any rate, the news seems to be good, for which I am indeed happy.

(Couldn't post from Firefox, but it seems like Safari will let me. Here's hoping.)

#694 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2016, 10:01 AM:

Elliott Mason, it was a nailbiter. Sincere sympathies to any Cleveland fans; your team played their hearts out.... but

GO CUBS! It's finally Next Year!

#695 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2016, 10:11 AM:

One of the two-kinds-of-people questions seems relevant at this moment:

Assuming your favored team wins, would you rather the game is a landslide or a nailbiter?

Myself, while I find landslides emotionally satisfying, I think nail-biters provide more overall entertainment.

#696 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2016, 10:15 AM:

@Kip: Abscessed tooth => Infection that crossed blood/brain barrier.

Teresa was tweeting photos of bad hospital food so you know she had her wits about her.

#697 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2016, 11:17 AM:

Carrie, #695: I have zero interest in sportsball of any type, but when I'm playing a board game, my preferred ending is one that goes right down to the wire -- where any of the players could pull it out given the right cards/dice and a little luck. Blowouts are boring, even when I'm the one in the lead.

#698 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2016, 11:27 AM:

Lee @697:

One of the things I like about the newer generation of board games is that they tend to have multiple ways to win, and it can be hard to tell, during the game, who is winning.

In Ticket to Ride, for instance, until the route cards are revealed, you don't know for sure how people are doing. Someone might have tracks all over the board, but missed getting to that last location, and so instead of having +20 points, have -20 points for that route.

It takes away from the feeling of "Oh, I'm losing, so I'm bored and just going through the motions".

#699 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2016, 11:52 AM:


I'll be at the con on Friday afternoon and Saturday afternoon, does anyone have a favored time to meet?

#700 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2016, 12:50 PM:

Stefan Jones @696: she had her wits about her.

From Monday's Twitter feed:

SP: Hi, I'm the speech pathologist.

Me: The sea ceaseth and sufficeth us.

SP: You pass.

#701 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2016, 02:14 PM:

Here's to Teresa, may you continue to improve!

#702 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2016, 03:18 PM:

OVFF, re @699: I'm there all weekend, arriving sometime before dinner Friday I HOPE.

I can't GoL during the Mondegreen one-shot (sometime Saturday afternoon) but am otherwise available.

#703 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2016, 03:52 PM:

For what it's worth, a British site that lists, err, sports-related probabilities (I'm trying to avoid being inadvertently spam-trapped here; sorry to the moderators if that happens) puts HC fairly consistently at around 4/9, and, symmetrically, DT at around 9/4. Which is a 4/13 = 30% chance of a DT win. 'What it's worth' may be very little, given how poorly such methods predicted the Conservative overall majority in the 2015 UK General Election and the Brexit result.

#704 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2016, 04:10 PM:

Teresa, you sound like the kind of patient that improves a clinician's whole week. (Cf. the kind of student who justifies one's decision to become a teacher.)

#705 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2016, 08:47 PM:

albatross @ 627

There is a great discussion of the phenomenon you describe here: The Toxoplasma of Rage

Best wishes to Teresa for a quick and complete recovery.

#706 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2016, 11:31 PM:


Hip hip hooray!
Ctl-C! Ctl-V!

RPG Probabilities: For all the money I've ever spent on RPG's, I like to think that there's a good chance I've saved more on learning conclusively that I AM NOT PARTICULARLY LUCKY and successfully avoiding the temptation of gambling.

I had a semi-shocking moment the other day, though. I got a new book and actually tried rolling a character "straight" - essentially 3d6, six times, in order. I was like "I forgot you COULD roll a five. And a seven. And nothing over a fourteen. On the same character."

I did it twice more and, while the dice have no memory, my luck was well below average all three times.

It was a very cheap lesson about luck and probability, and smug assumptions about past luck carrying forward...

#707 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2016, 06:58 AM:

Sandy B. #706: Heh. D&D's basic problem was that they'd defined their stats as mapping 3d6 to "normal human range", then assigned the associated effects accordingly. Turns out an average bunch of people don't make very good adventurers in a hazardous fantasy world.

#708 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2016, 07:33 AM:

Dave Harmon @ #707:

It's probably arguable that it's somewhat realistic that a bunch of average people probably would not make for excellent adventurers in any extremely hazardous environment.

#709 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2016, 08:34 AM:

Ingvar M #708: Indeed, especially when you consider the resulting party's apparent failure even to self-select for the business. Some of the fixes included "roll N characters and pick your favorite", though my favorite was "roll 4 dice and pick the best 3", or even "roll 2 and split N points among the characteristics", where N could be as low as 21.

Of course, they also didn't extend the scale far enough above 18 to account for really exceptional or magically-enhanced character abilities....

#710 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2016, 11:59 AM:

Dave Harmon @709 -- but they built in a mechanism for increasing abilities with experience (or magical enhancement). And every adventurer has to start somewhere!

Just noticed that Natalie Babbitt, author of TUCK EVERLASTING (among other books) died a few days ago. While not (AFAIK) an active member of the SF community, she's still at least tangentially connected by that book.

#711 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2016, 12:05 PM:

Teresa and Patrick -- best wishes for a speedy recovery!

And Google broke my heart this morning, the doodle is an homage to Walter Cronkite, I didn't know his birthday was one day before mine...

And that's the way it is.

#712 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2016, 03:16 PM:

And now for something completely different: I keep seeing products like "caramel with sea salt" and I have to wonder, why would anyone add salt to caramel? I'm sure there's a reason, and if someone offered me a taste, I'd try it, but my immediate reaction to the idea is Do Not Want. What gives?

#713 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2016, 03:35 PM:

Mary Aileen @ 712

I make a tart with salted caramel and chocolate; it is . I think of caramel with salt as a French thing, because I first encountered it in France.

There are basically two ways to use salt in caramel. The first is the French "caramel with salted butter"; that is basically caramel made with salted rather than unsalted butter (if you add cream, you add a little salt too, but it's properly about as much as you'd add to the cream if making salted butter), and has the same difference in taste, roughly, as salted vs unsalted butter. It's not salty--it's more caramelly somehow.

The second is salt as a flavoring itself: that's a less common style. For that, use large-crystal salt, and sprinkle just a little on the top of the caramel. It's a contrast element; think of pretzels with caramels.

#714 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2016, 04:11 PM:

SamChevre (713):...more caramelly...

One of those counterintutive things, then. Although pretzels with caramel don't sound that appealing, either. (I do note that that was my initial reaction to the thought of chocolate covered pretzels as well, and those I do kinda like.)

#715 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2016, 04:53 PM:

Mary Aileen @712:

A small amount of salt - not enough to taste salty - is commonly used in sweet dishes because it makes the flavors less flat and can even make them taste sweeter. Think about basically any cookie recipe, for instance.

There's also the "savory plus sweet" issue for the saltier version of salted caramel. That's a bit of a polarizing combination. I personally love it (things like maple syrup with bacon, or chocolate-covered pretzels) but a lot of people hate it.

#716 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2016, 05:52 PM:

Salt on caramel is very similar to the current vogue for sprinkling a little coarse salt on the top of chocolate chip cookies after they're baked. That sounds dumb, but it does somehow seem to make the sweet and chocolatey flavors a little more intense, and it's not at all the same as just adding a little more salt to the batter.

This flavor enhancement is after all one of the reasons salt used to be so prized.

#717 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2016, 06:25 PM:

See also the dark-chocolate-with-sea-salt bars. The salt makes them taste better. Mostly they use large crystals sprinkled on top.

#718 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2016, 06:29 PM:

Huh. Okay. Thanks, all. I will reserve further judgement until I've had occasion to try some.

#719 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2016, 08:49 PM:

Trader Joe's has a dark chocolate bar filled with caramel and sprinkled with black sea salt (has a little charcoal in it?). I was skeptical but curious; as it turns out, I like the combination very much.

#720 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2016, 10:35 PM:

Tom Whitmore #710: but they built in a mechanism for increasing abilities with experience

When was that? After 2nd Edition, certainly: I played Basic/Advanced and 2nd Ed. (before discovering other RP systems in college), and there was no hint of boosting stats with experience.

#721 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2016, 11:01 PM:

Dr Strange spoiler thread, huh, huh, pretty please?

#722 ::: Queer Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2016, 11:10 PM:

Oh, dear. How did I miss Teresa's health crisis? Best wishes if welcome for a speedy and complete recovery, Teresa!

Sandy 706: That's why in the D&D campaign I grew up in (in a manner of speaking) we had the option of throwing out any character whose stats totalled less than 60. Below-average people are no fun to play, play with, or DM.

#723 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2016, 11:28 PM:

I enjoyed Doctor Strange, perhaps a little more than I expected.

I know the Ancient One was originally an Asian guy, and they probably could have found an Asian leading lady, but Tilda Swinton did a fine job.

I really had doubts about Cumberbatch as Strange, but he was great. Kudos to his voice coach.

I have a couple more observations I'll save for the spoiler thread.

#724 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2016, 12:09 AM:

I once played Gamma World with a group of friends including one who rolled up a 'swarm of rats' type of character with an Intelligence of 5. She had just had surgery and was on the good drugs, so we decided it worked, and her swarm of ferrets did all right, given the game.

I am a large-salt salted caramel person-- I've had ice cream where the salt was actual salt and it was amazing. I like the border of the two flavors. And salt in general.

#725 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2016, 03:51 AM:

@Xopher Halftongue no. 722: I beg to differ. I played two characters in 2e who had an Int of 5 and a Con of 3 respectively. I explained that they both caught a dread disease as children and survived, but one had brain damage and the other a damaged heart. The one with brain damage wanted to be a paladin, but couldn't pass the entry requirements and so tried to be the best fighter she could be instead, always choosing the lawful good response as best she understood it. The other one chose to study magic and insisted on adventuring even though her wealthy family wanted to keep her close; if she was going to die, she was going to live first.

They had some astounding adventures before I retired them.

#726 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2016, 03:52 AM:

Agh, whatever creeping grue struck our host sounds horrible. I hope it's gone and over with!

#727 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2016, 05:34 AM:

The bad news is I am stuck awake again. The good news is I have found an awesome thing and it appears to have given me the motivation to go to bed. Behold, a machine what plays a tree:

Good night!

#728 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2016, 08:22 AM:

Today I learned (h/t to aporeticelenchus on tumblr) about the Curse of the Colonel, the Hanshin Tigers' equivalent of the Cubs' goat curse.

I knew that Kentucky Fried Chicken was the Traditional Christmas Meal in Japan, but this baseball curse was new to me.

Also, I just like to say Kāneru Sandāsu.

#729 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2016, 10:20 AM:

Dave Harmon @720, I've been playing D&D since the Little Tan Books in 1978 or so. (Still have them somewhere....) In v1 and v2, you could get permanent stat bumps from a generous DM with certain rare items, like Books. You could get temporary stat boosts with certain items like bracers of strength. In v3 and v3.5, every four levels you're allowed to boost one stat by one point. I don't know v4; never played it. (I've looked at v5 but not played it yet; I think it has the bump-a-stat-every-four-level thing but am not motivated enough to find the book to check.)

My gaming groups have all, after about 1982 or so, used the "roll four dice drop the worst one" system. (After about 1990 or so, we could re-arrange stat order so we got the character class we wanted.) And most DMs I've run with will allow you to keep rolling characters until you get one with at least one "good" stat (usually defined as 16 -- you're HEROES after all, not ordinary mooks).

But there's nothing wrong with having a really bad stat as well; it adds interest and flavor. "The virtue of a redeeming flaw" as it were. Superman is boring if there's no Kryptonite.

There's a character my husband runs with a combined wisdom and intelligence of 10. (Don't recall if it's 5/5 or 4/6). He's a fighter, and he was told about Chivalry at an early age and internalized it, and cannot be persuaded as to nuance, subtlety, or situation. If we're sneaking up on a foe and he sees them, he'll shout a challenge and charge (blowing the ambush). If a giant he's fighting rolls a one and drops his club, the fighter will stand back and allow him to pick it up again before resuming the fight.... It's actually a fun character although sometimes really annoying. My husband's had the chance to boost one or both mental stats with levels (this is a v3.25 game (hybrid v3 and v3.5)) but won't because that would ruin the character.

#730 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2016, 10:36 AM:

My first RPG, and the one I still write for, is "Tunnels & Trolls."

It started out with 3d characteristics, used best-of-four in a later edition, and now has "3d triples add and roll over."

You burn experience points to raise attributes, and there's no upper limit, so eventually you get ludicrously powerful PCs. This is part in keeping with the "medieval fantasy as interpreted by Marvel Comics" feel of the game.

I wrote a solitaire adventure for the game designed to either quickly kill, or redeem, drastically under-powered characters.

FWIW, Deluxe T&T is part of the current RPG "Bundle of Holding:"

#731 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2016, 01:17 PM:

So I'm playing Minecraft on the Xbox 360 in Survival-Peaceful. My world seeded with three(!) villages. One is just a well between two hills. One is a pretty conventional village except that it's built out onto the ocean, with sandstone walkways connecting the houses; I named it Little Venice. And the third, which is tucked away in a tiny cove I didn't find for weeks, was just two houses connected by a causeway to make their own oceanic island. I named that one Little Dubai.

Little Dubai and Little Venice are separated by a stretch of very steep and rugged coastline with hardly any shallows. I decided to connect them and encourage my villagers to have villagelings. This involves a lot of digging and filling, but I've already opened two sunny vistas that used to be a brooding cliff face and a wooded hillside respectively. I'm building houses and planting crops. When I get the two villages blended into one, I'll go back and prettify everything; I've been collecting specimen flowers and so forth.

But back to Little Dubai. The villagers--a librarian and a blacksmith--seemed quite contented to wander around on their unfenced islet with its well in the middle of the sea. I built a land bridge for them and they immediately began to explore and invite me to trade. I fenced the entire village because the water is pretty darn deep and also I have a Thing about drowning. I built more houses along the shore with enough doors to allow for another villager, grew some wheat, and started throwing bread at the two Little Dubaians to try to get them to have babies. It hasn't worked yet--they don't go into love mode at the same time for some reason. It'll happen eventually.


I left a little gap in the fence because I had to save out of the game and I never filled it. Eh, I figured, I'd hung around Little Venice for a dozen game-days at a stretch and not seen anybody fall into the water, although enough chickens had gone in that I named that stretch of coastline Dumb Cluck Bay. I had only fenced it because of my Thing about drowning. But OF COURSE the blacksmith of Little Dubai found that one gap in the fence and in he went!

Off I went to the edge of the deeps, chucking in blocks of dirt to make underwater steps, and there in the water the blacksmith was bobbing along, sometimes right on the edge of the one-block-deep floor I was building for him and still not getting out. In fact, although he seemed happy to see me, he insisted on bobbing away from safety into water so deep he was going down past his eyes!

So there I was, figuring I was about to watch the doofus die--when the sun went down and he suddenly remembered his sense of direction and zoomed across the narrow shallows into the nearest house.

Has anybody else seen something like this happen? Can the ninnies actually drown? How do you get them out of the water?

#732 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2016, 01:33 PM: has been having weekly puzzles. Last week they had us gerrymandering the state of Colorado, and this week when they were showing solutions they used my map!

Here's this weeks' Riddler which includes the solutions from last week.

#733 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2016, 02:18 PM:

Keith @ 666: Ya missed! I'd already finished my lunch! (Nice number for that comment, though.)

Tom @ 667: That's why I said "again". (Did you know that the artist on that version was a Bostonian, responsible for the Noreascon Two souvenir-book cover? Also one of the higher-numbered wands in Bruce's deck.)

Tom @ 710: Wikipedia lists a number of other YA fantasies for Babbit (whose obit I \just/ saw -- local paper is behind again). Tuck Everlasting the musical was supposed to try out in Boston 3 years ago (I remember the posters) but got withdrawn. (W says it opened in Atlanta.)

Mary Aileen @ 712: I'm another one who finds salt either in or on either chocolate or caramel enhances the taste. OTOH, one local source salts 50% chocolate, which I find weak even with salt, so I mate it with their 85% (normally too dark for me).

#734 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2016, 02:22 PM:

and me @ 663: just in case anyone thought the DDoS based on IoT was a one-off, an NPR experiment shows how quickly a new device is attacked.

#735 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2016, 05:45 PM:

Jenny Islander #731: Was night falling? They do go inside in advance of night (or storm).

AFAIK a villager, like most mobs (except slimes), will not drown in still/flat water: They'll just keep floating indefinitely. Currents can push them under a waterfall, and they might be able to be pulled under by a down-current.

#736 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2016, 07:31 PM:

Re Minecraft: I have an iron golem who, after the demise of all the villagers in the village it was guarding, walked down to the bottom of a pond and is still there, many many days of play later. I tried building steps, and I tried walking into it to try to push it forward, but no go.

#737 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2016, 11:09 PM:

Mary Aileen @712:
Salted caramel might be good if, as several people above have said, there isn't enough salt to identify it as a separate taste. Unfortunately, in my experience, that isn't how it's done. Most "salted caramel" products I've tried have had enough salt that the flavor was Just Not Right.

#738 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2016, 01:34 AM:

Making caramel sauce, in three tries using two different overall approaches (brown sugar vs. actually heating the sugar to cause breakdown), has demonstrated to my satisfaction that some added sugar is necessary (even with salted butter), and that the amount is very important.

This test didn't show me, but I believe on general principles, that there will be a considerable range of preferences among people if you sample enough people.

My experience when they advertise salt as part of the package is that it's considerably more salty than anything I'd choose as an ordinary caramel sauce. I don't love it as much as some seem to or hate it as much as some others seem to, and I think it works for smaller quantities eaten at a session. But it can work for me.

#739 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2016, 08:59 AM:

I'm not crazy about salted chocolate, and I suspect that the craze for salted carmel has displaced coffee/mocha chocolate bars.

I've found some good ones, but I'd like a bar with coffee/mocha filling.

Meanwhile, this has a good strong coffee flavor, is available online, and isn't hideously expensive.

#740 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2016, 10:11 AM:

David Dyer-Bennet (738): some added sugar is necessary (even with salted butter)

Do you mean 'salt' rather than 'sugar', there? I'm pretty sure you do.

#741 ::: currious ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2016, 03:15 PM:

Question for sci-fi publishers and others: is there a list of utopia-ish (or at least not the opposite) stories set 20 or 30 or 100 years from now, that are in accordance with the laws of nature, economics, capitalism, tech change, human behavior, political physics, etc, that paint a world that we might feasibly get to from November 2016?
(sorry if this has been addressed before)

#742 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2016, 03:21 PM:

Mary Aileen@740: Sigh; yes, salt.

#743 ::: nickelby ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2016, 03:58 PM:

Utopian Fiction lists can be found at


#744 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2016, 01:17 AM:

Hmmm. Is Twitter misbehaving for others?

Wondering if there's a DDOS attack underway.

Also wanted to see if this site is OK!

#745 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2016, 09:43 AM:

(Twitter had a ~20 minute outage last night, apparently worldwide.

I hope this wasn't a test of something designed to screw up a method of coordinating and organizing on Election Day.)

#746 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2016, 09:54 AM:

Open Threadiness: today's find on is "How Rifleman Brown Came to Valhalla":

He's sitting between Miki Endo and Vince Coleman.

#747 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2016, 09:57 AM:

Stefan, the University of Georgia's online class portal is also suffering intermittent outages from a DDOS attack.

#748 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2016, 10:07 AM:

Area cyborg, recuperating from 2nd knee replacement, bemoans a troublesome year for the hurling community.
First, the Snohomish pumpkin toss was canceled because the organizer was very sick. Then, the Burlington one got scrubbed (and my hospital in Anacortes on lockdown for the night) due to the effects of a shooting at a local mall. And now I just read that at the national contest in Delaware, an air cannon exploded before it could fire and 2 people were hurt, 1 critical. That event had been moved, and canceled twice, for safety/insurance concerns. This isn't going to help.
I would hate to see large trebuchets and onagers (never mind the air cannons) go extinct (again) for lack of space to practice and crowds to thrill. And records to set.
Like the election hasn't got me nervous enough...

#749 ::: Cath ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2016, 11:25 AM:

Steve Tayor waaay back up at #268

The Roman clock is very cool and I have shared it with my SCA friends. Alas, I don't use an iPhone. Do you have any plans to write an Android version?

#750 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2016, 11:30 AM:

Steve Taylor #268, indeed, coincidentally, just a day or two ago someone on one of the Compuserve forums was complaining about Daylight Savings Time and wishing for a clock that set noon at astronomical NOON, darn it. So I pointed him to your clock... <grin>

#751 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2016, 12:03 PM:

Mary Aileen, #712: Adding salt to EVERYTHING is currently a fad; I expect to see salty fruit pies soon, if they don't already exist. I've tried Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt*, and my reaction was "will not buy again". I can't recall offhand whether I've actually tried salty caramel, but I would expect my reaction to that to be similar. This is really, really not a case of "you can't spoil kasha with butter".

Clifton, #716: I don't want salty chocolate chip cookies either. That's a horrible waste of a good cookie!

* IOW, nobody even think about saying any variation of, "But you just haven't had GOOD salty chocolate."

#752 ::: currious ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2016, 12:07 PM:

Thank you nickelby. It's almost all dystopias there, in the late 20th c. section. I guess by its nature fiction needs drama, the more contrast the better, so it's not a good place to go looking for functioning societies.

How is Teresa?

#753 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2016, 12:10 PM:

Cassy B. in #750:

Compuserve forums?? That guy's clock must be really slow. Like, 1989.

#754 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2016, 12:11 PM:

Lee @ 751 -


It's interesting how food fads spread. I remember thirty years ago when blackened everything was all the rage. Never cared it for it.

Since I detest cheese (except on pizza), fondue was another wasted thing.

And just out of sheer middle-aged obstinance, I'll skip kale and quinoa too.

#755 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2016, 12:53 PM:

I personally require a modicum of salt in my chocolate chip cookies (cf Tollhouse recipe), and also caramel requires a touch of salt (per making the flavor "more rounded", as above), the idea of adding salt as a flavor element in its own right leaves me cold.

I am amused at the convergence of the "salt to add dimension to sweets" and "flawed D&D characters can be interesting" threads.

SamChevre @705: The Toxoplasma of Rage

I'll bet this phenomenon, or something very like it, also accounts for some of the more accute failure modes of capitalism that we're seeing these days. Not cluefull enough to provide specifics, but it "smells" similar to me.

#756 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2016, 12:55 PM:

Dr. Strange SPOILER thread?

Since our esteemed hosts seem occupied elsewhere, we could repurpose the latest MCU spoiler thread...?

#757 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2016, 01:02 PM:

Steve C @ #754:

It's eminently possible to have non-cheese fondue (just plain oil / oil + butter + garlic / butter + cream + garlic / other variants I have not explored), but I guess "cheese fondue" is probably the default.

#758 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2016, 01:43 PM:

Bill Higgens, a few of them are still active. In fact, I'm currently running a book discussion of Malka Older's Infomacracy in the SF forum there...

#759 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2016, 02:12 PM:

Steve C @ #754:

Kale is fine if you eat it in an "unhealthy" way -- big, surly leaves boiled into submission with plenty of fatty pork pieces. I've been eating kale since before it was trendy. In the early 70s we often lunched in the old Interior Department cafeteria, where the little old ladies served up a different kind of greens every day. They'd ask if you wanted greens, but no matter what you said, they dished them up. Greens were good for you and you would eat your greens!

Kale is also good in, and an important part of, the greens mix for traditional Southern Maryland stuffed ham. And it's about time to start making them for the holidays.

#760 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2016, 03:38 PM:

Jacque, #755: Precisely. Salt used in a recipe as a flavor enhancer doesn't announce itself with a loud shout of SALT!!! IMO there appears to be little difference between the trendy usage of "salted" (meaning having visible crystals of salt scattered over the surface) and the older usage of "salty" (meaning that the taste of salt is noticeable and marked, and contends violently against the other flavors).

Ingvar, #757: Fondue is technically a cooking style in which small chunks of Stuff are speared on a stick and dunked into a dish of hot Other Stuff by the diner at the table. Cheese fondue and chocolate fondue have pretty much overtaken common usage, but fancy fondue restaurants such as The Melting Pot still have the option of cooking chunks of meat in a pot of hot oil.

#761 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2016, 04:03 PM:

I can take kale or leave it, mostly, but the one recipe I enjoyed enough to make repeatedly is sweet potato gnocchi with kale & brown butter. That, I actually like, and it's not too much work.

#762 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2016, 04:43 PM:

Warfighter: Middle-Earth

Being a military analysis of the Battle of the Pelennor Fields. Well worth reading for more than just the Horrible Pun in the middle of it!
(H/T File 770)

#763 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2016, 04:46 PM:

Don't worry, various persons, I will eat ALL YOUR SALTED CARAMEL with the very big chunks of salt. All of them. There will be none left to glare at you uneaten.

#764 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2016, 05:25 PM:

Diatryma (763): You're welcome to mine!

#765 ::: Queer Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2016, 06:47 PM:

I will help Diatryma.

#766 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2016, 07:32 PM:

I will join in this salt-saving quest with the others!

I actually don't like particularly salty foods, by and large; dishes that I find almost too salty to be edible will have other people in my household reaching for the salt shaker to spice it up a bit. But I do like salt as a flavor in contrast to other flavors. Salt crystals, in particular, a lovely addition to chocolate or caramel or pretzels or any number of things; if they were mixed in evenly, rather than bursting in tiny distinct shocks of SALT, they wouldn't appeal to me at all.

#767 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2016, 08:15 PM:

Fade Manley (766): Huh. I think you and I are opposites. I like things salty*, but I don't want any salt taste in sweet things like caramel or chocolate. On pretzels, sure, but they're on the savory side of things, not the sweet side.

*I've been known to say that it's possible to get things too salty for me, but it takes some doing.

#768 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2016, 09:12 PM:

re comments 268, 750, 753:
What I want is a smartphone app that says what time it is on Mars. In xats and xodes.

#769 ::: SunflowerP ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2016, 10:37 PM:

Lila @ 746: That reminded me of a very different (yet in other ways similar) take I read recently on who qualifies for Valhalla: Valhalla does not discriminate against the kind of fight you lost.

#770 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2016, 01:35 AM:

Can someone give me a virtual pat on the back and reassurance that things are going to be all right? I am feeling overwhelmed by existential election-related dread.

#771 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2016, 01:52 AM:

If it's at the national level, David -- has shown Clinton in the 70+% win column for several hours now. The Senate is a bit more problematic, but the Presidency looks good.

#772 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2016, 07:03 AM:

Ingvar #757, Lee #760: You can also use hot broth, which I grew up calling "Mongolian Hot Pot".

#773 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2016, 07:57 AM:

I'm making a list to myself of reasons Clinton should win.

* Upshot says 85%, Princeton Election Consortium has been saying in the 97-99% range.

* Active military supports her 3-1. And they are traditional R voters.

* The quiet votes of women who've been grabbed by the ... whatever. The quiet votes of women who've lost out on promotions to the loud incompetent white male. And so forth.

* Everyone (both campaigns and the media that wants you watching) wants to sell the idea that this is a "close race".

* Hundreds of thousands of Hispanics who are angry enough to do something about it. I don't think they've forgotten.

* This election is the first one where I've actually mobilized to get out the vote. Yes, it's appalling that I have to drive to Pennsylvania and knock on doors because it might be close. But if this can lever me off my ass for the first time in 28 years, it's levered a LOT of us off our asses.

The only thing I have on the Trump side is

* He's been a surprise before.

#774 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2016, 08:07 AM:

SunflowerP @769, I'm crying. But they are good tears. Thank you for posting that link.

#775 ::: Craft (Alchemy) ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2016, 08:42 AM:

746/769, on Valhalla: I teared up at all of those - thank you.

#776 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2016, 08:42 AM:

Now more than ever one can say the Parties aren't two sides of the same coin.

#777 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2016, 08:52 AM:

I find that I like the salted candies I've tried (including licorice) about as much as the other sorts. Since I'm hovering in a twilight zone of being not-quite diabetic, I can't assume that I'll be able to clear anyone's table. Rest assured, however, that, if duty calls, I can and will eat too much of it.

#778 ::: Quill ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2016, 10:06 AM:

Dave Harmon @772: Wow, you call it that too? I thought it was just a name my mother had made up.

#779 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2016, 10:14 AM:

Sunflower P, that is excellent.

David Goldfarb, the people that you know and trust, the people who have your back, will still have your back tomorrow, no matter what happens.

#780 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2016, 12:25 PM:

There used to be restaurants that advertised Mongolian Hot Pot dishes. They may still exist, possibly using a slightly less Anglicized name.

#781 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2016, 02:21 PM:

Does anyone here play Pokemon Go? I just had a very weird thing happen. I fought a level nine friendly gym to get it to level ten so I could assign my pokemon. After several combats, I got the gym to level ten, and, when I clicked on the gym again to add my defender, found that one of my pokemon (NOT the one I'd planned to assign) was already assigned to the gym, apparently automagically. I think, but am not sure, that it was one of the six that I'd had in my combat group....

I've gotten into dozens of gyms (I'm currently in six, counting this one) and I've never ever seen this happen before

Is this a new "upgrade"? Or just an odd glitch? I don't know where to ask, so I'm asking here...

#782 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2016, 02:30 PM:

The British sports-related probability sites are now putting HC at 2/9, DT at 9/2: 18% chance of a Trump win. Approximately Russian Roulette odds...

US elections are a terrible temptation to stay up way past (UK) bedtime, which I will try to resist. Hang on in there, everyone.

#783 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2016, 04:34 PM:

I am the queen of democracy: I helped my students vote. Regardless of result.

And now I'm going to read too much fic, eat a lot of cheese and sausage, and eventually bake some pies.

#785 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2016, 06:13 PM:

#786 ::: cmk ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2016, 06:33 PM:

Tracie @759: but stuffed ham is an Easter specialty, not Thanksgiving/Christmas. Kale, "watercress" (field cress, I don't remember names names that might be recognized elsewhere) and cabbage are all used in stuffing. One of my relatives by marriage was locally famed for using wild garlic in her ham stuffing. (Come to think of it, she was related both by pedigree and by marriage.)

#787 ::: cmk ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2016, 06:34 PM:

Tracie @759: but stuffed ham is an Easter specialty, not Thanksgiving/Christmas. Kale, "watercress" (field cress, I don't remember names that might be recognized elsewhere) and cabbage are all used in stuffing. One of my relatives by marriage was locally famed for using wild garlic in her ham stuffing. (Come to think of it, she was related both by pedigree and by marriage.)

#788 ::: cmk ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2016, 06:34 PM:

Tracie @759: but stuffed ham is an Easter specialty, not Thanksgiving/Christmas. Kale, "watercress" (field cress, I don't remember names that might be recognized elsewhere) and cabbage are all used in stuffing. One of my relatives by marriage was locally famed for using wild garlic in her ham stuffing. (Come to think of it, she was related both by pedigree and by marriage.)

#789 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2016, 06:59 PM:

What I tell you three times is true?

(Either that or the server had an attack of hiccoughs.)

#790 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 12:19 AM:

Our only hope may be that the Trump head cake was made by a low-bid bakery who used toxic food coloring.

Fuck, fuck, fuck.

#791 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 12:23 AM:

I'm so glad my parents didn't live to see this. Kind of wishing I hadn't.

#792 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 01:02 AM:

Do people who used to say here that the two Parties were the same still feel that way?

#793 ::: Emma in Sydney ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 01:03 AM:

Sending light to all my American friends in the computer. The mood among my friends in Australia is shocked and appalled, and I can't imagine how much worse you must all be feeling. So sorry that this has befallen you all. Us all. The implications for climate change alone make this a disastrous result for the whole world.

#794 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 01:27 AM:

Well, shit, this looks kinda ominous.

#795 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 02:08 AM:

Donald Trump loves the poorly educated, and they loved him.

Evangelicals thought this lecherous, cheating, braggart would make a good leader.

I hope they enjoy what they wrought.

#796 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 03:04 AM:

Now is the time when you need to wonder if any American computer, any computer owned by an American business, is a safe place for your data.

#797 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 03:11 AM:

I am poorly educated (scraped by with a HS degree) and definitely on the "lower" end of the lower-middle class. And Donald Trump can fuck right off. To my LGBT and non-pasty friends - I am so sorry. I utterly repudiate everything he stands for. Also, I am very drunk on Polish vodka and not sure how I am going to show up to work tomorrow. Perhaps wiser folks than I will draw up a treaty between us and Scotland to weather the next couple of years. I hardly know what to do with myself but maybe it will all become clear? Whatever. I hope that this is not the origin story for when I started to wreck my liver.

#798 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 03:26 AM:

Dave Bell @796 -- I think most of us have been wondering that for at least 5 years now. I think what's changed is that now we have an answer.

#799 ::: SunflowerP ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 07:24 AM:

Paul A. @ 784: Thank you for digging deeper; that adds so much more texture! I especially liked that it didn't (as it looked at first like it might) reject the possibility of Valhalla being a fitting home for some of those whose battles weren't on a traditional battlefield, just recognized the wide variety of needs and aptitudes (and of honorable tasks come Ragnarok) that Valhalla alone couldn't begin to cover.

And to all you folks south of 49, my heartfelt sympathy.

#800 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 07:35 AM:

I can't say I'm pleased with what this says about my country.

#801 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 07:36 AM:

Election: Well, crap. Trump and a Republican senate too.

#802 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 07:36 AM:

I can't say I'm pleased with what this says about my country.

#803 ::: Singing Wren ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 07:37 AM:

I feel sick. It's not just last night's bourbon.

Even more than I worry about policy, I worry that the bigots among Trump's supporters will take last night's results as justification to act on their bigotry. I'm a woman in IT - I already have to deal with the unconscious bias stuff. I really don't want to deal with active gender based harassment. (And I'm a straight white cis person - things will be worse for people who aren't so privileged.)

My husband has reassured me that my workplace is fine (true, afaict), and that actively spouting bigoted crap makes it easier to identify the bigots (also true, but he's not the one they'll be targeting).

I'm starting to wonder if I should see how serious his company was about their offer to give me a job at their headquarters. In Toronto.

#804 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 07:56 AM:

Keep in mind that while the Democrats didn't take either the House or the Senate, they significantly cut into the Republican Majority. The Senate now has only 51 Republicans, down from 54. The House has 10 fewer Republicans (although it looks like 8 races are still not decided).

#805 ::: Terry Hunt ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 08:43 AM:

What rough beast slouches towards Washington to be sworn?

#806 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 09:24 AM:

Get a Linux computer. Use encryption. Maybe there should be a thread for this.

I'm going to use all of my year-end charitable donations for civil rights organizations. I'm open to suggestions.

The last time I felt this cynical was after GWBush was (re?)elected. I started investing in companies dealing with fast food, liquor, soda pop and gambling machines. I did really well. I'm in that kind of mood again.

#807 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 09:55 AM:

Yeah, I've been thinking that for the indefinite future, gridlock in Congress is going to be our friend.
Although there are a lot of Republicans in the House who are not going to be happy - the RWNJs in the "freedom Caucus" are going to be making it hard even for them.

#808 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 09:57 AM:

Also I've been wondering how many of the people who voted for the Cheeto-colored shitgibbon will be denying it when things get worse, or complaining because things are worse.

#809 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 10:39 AM:

It's like 2000 all over again. With interest. At payday loan rates.

#810 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 10:39 AM:

PJ Evans @808, remember, there's a hardwired human need to justify one's choices. It's documented that beliefs within doomsday cults actually get STRONGER when the predicted doom doesn't happen on schedule. I see no reason to believe that Trump supporters are immune to this phenomenon. They'll blame the media, or luke-warm Republicans, or minorities, or some far-flung conspiracy if/when Trumps policies don't get passed or don't work the way they thought they would.

#811 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 10:48 AM:

Taking bilious comfort in Garrison Keillor's editorial:

Alas for the Trump voters, the disasters he will bring on this country will fall more heavily on them than anyone else. The uneducated white males who elected him are the vulnerable ones and they will not like what happens next.

To all the patronizing b.s. we've read about Trump expressing the white working class's displacement and loss of the American Dream, I say, "Feh!" — go put your head under cold water. Resentment is no excuse for bald-faced stupidity. America is still the land where the waitress' kids can grow up to become physicists and novelists and pediatricians, but it helps a lot if the waitress and her husband encourage good habits and the ambition to use your God-given talents and the kids aren't plugged into electronics day and night. Whooping it up for the candidate of cruelty and ignorance does less than nothing for your kids.

#812 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 10:48 AM:

This is what I'm using right now to keep (being able to) breath(e/ing).

#813 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 11:03 AM:

I feel icky. I've felt icky since last eve. I didn't sleep well. My appetite needs a jump start. I'm full of everyone else's worries as well as my own.
But Jacque, your link helps a bit.
Don't give up, people.

#814 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 11:32 AM:

Chatted with my boss this morning. She passed this along:

There are three things which are real: God, human folly, and laughter. Since the first two pass our comprehension, we must do what we can with the third.

—Aubrey Menen, Rama Retold

#815 ::: venusm ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 11:37 AM:

I'm queer in the bible belt. I couldn't sleep last night. I can't look at the news any longer because I keep having panic attacks and then I can't breathe.

I want someone to tell me that everything will be OK. That I am safe. That 49% of the country doesn't hate me.

I am too old to believe lies.

I am having flashbacks. In high school, some of the white guys got together, put down body outlines with tape, oysters for brains, ketchup for blood, names of my friends to identify each one, and die fags die.

That's all I can think of right now--we are there again. die fags die. That's what America wants, except not just fags. bad hombres, like my neighbor kids. women, like my mom, who said 'don't touch me there, it's private'.

This is a nightmare and I can't wake up.

#816 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 11:40 AM:

Sickened by the election results, absolutely sickened. I'm also deeply ashamed of my country -- particularly the white religious people who voted for Trump. The next four years are going to be very difficult, so I'm rolling up my sleeves and getting back to work. We've got a lot to do on the trials, the mid-term elections, and then the next Presidential election. No time to waste! As Winston Churchill once said, "Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm”. He also said "Never give up", and that is my motto for the next four years.

#817 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 11:50 AM:

Ginger: +1

I very much hope I'm wrong about Trump, and he turns out to be a competent and non-horrible president. The best way I can see to encourage that is to stay engaged in politics, and to make our voices heard when we don't like the direction things are going.

#818 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 12:39 PM:

albatros @817:

I'm expecting him to be an incompetent, and ineffectual, president. He doesn't know what it takes for the job, and there are a lot of people around him to try to make sure he doesn't do anything too bad.

Also, just because he's a Republican president doesn't mean that the Republican congress will grease his rails (or whatever the right metaphor is). Some of them hate him as much as the Democrats do. I wouldn't be surprised if some of his nominees get reported out of committee unfavorably, and lose up/down votes.

#819 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 12:46 PM:

A suggestion for the next few years for people who are more active on social media than I am: Every time people you know who voted for Trump express frustration that their lives are not improving, every time stuff that he bellowed about happening doesn't happen or stuff that he promised to make happen either doesn't happen or ends up costing a hell of a lot of money--quote him. Quote him exactly and directly. With citations.

#820 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 12:47 PM:

A suggestion for the next few years for people who are more active on social media than I am: Every time people you know who voted for Trump express frustration that their lives are not improving, every time stuff that he bellowed about happening doesn't happen or stuff that he promised to make happen either doesn't happen or ends up costing a hell of a lot of money--quote him. Quote him exactly and directly. With citations.

#821 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 12:59 PM:

Imagining all of the ignorant racist dads telling their dimwit bully sons that tonight proves that they, too, can be president someday.

#822 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 01:42 PM:

The emboldened bigots are already starting. On Monday, one of the employee diversity groups at my workplace sent out a perfectly routine "come share this perfectly voluntary cultural celebration" e-mail announcement for Diwali. (We have a lot of these, plus our annual whole-site Diversity Celebration. Plus special events like our Safety Fair, and the Operational Excellence fair, and...oh, right, the blow-out-the-stops holiday celebration in December right before the paid holidays for Christmas.) And there's been a whole string of "reply all" responses from people saying things that clearly indicate that the mere existence of non-Christian religions and their celebrations is something they find oppressive. (I was going to quote some of the things that got said, but I don't want to give the wrong impression to folks here that this is about Christianity.)

This morning I submitted a complaint to HR that people using the site e-mail network to distribute intolerant responses to a company-sponsored cultural event feels a lot like a hostile work environment to me. And I was shaking while I did so. I think I'll need to get used to shaking.

#823 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 01:53 PM:

America's finest news source is in top form today.

#824 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 02:42 PM:

Stefan Jones @ 806:

I'm going to use all of my year-end charitable donations for civil rights organizations. I'm open to suggestions.

My plan is the same, and I would like suggestions as well (and for organizations fighting climate change while folks are at it).

The ACLU is already on my list.

#825 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 02:57 PM:

Cory Doctorow suggested:
EFF (already got that)
Planned Parenthood

Someone on Twiter suggested:
Human Rights Watch

I've donated to Amnesty International in the past. Maybe someone should start Amnesty Domestic.

#826 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 03:23 PM:

Southern Poverty Law Center, who do civil rights work and keep an eye on hate groups.

#828 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 03:30 PM:

Donation suggestion: RAINN.

Because this country just knowingly elected to its highest office a man who's on tape as bragging about habitually committing sexual assault.

As a woman, I feel utterly betrayed by my country.

As a white cis-woman, I can only *begin* to imagine how much worse that betrayal feels to those with less privilege.

#829 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 03:38 PM:

The thing that worries me is that they will gut the safety net completely.

Current Speaker of the House, Ryan, wants to turn Medicare into a voucher program and make a host of changes to the Social Security system. The health, insurance and pharmaceutical industry may prevent the former, and I suspect the changes to SS may be gradually rolled in, but...

...the angry, childish side of my psyche is thinking,"If they don't change MY benefits, I don't care what happens to the other potential beneficiaries, especially those who voted for HIM." Not very noble of me, and all I can offer for an excuse is that I am scared.

#830 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 03:49 PM:

I donated to RAINN through the CFC, and plan to donate separately to the ACLU. I did include the American Indian Education Foundation as well, because those folks need a lot of support for the next few years. (MSF or Doctors Without Borders got my final choice this year.)

Not only should we be prepared to cite on social media, I feel we should be able to help others who need to escape. Most of what Trump has promised is unattainable, impractical, or idiotic, but he's got enough ideas that will hurt anyone who isn't white and rich. Like Bush, he's self-centered and not interested in education. He will be at the mercy of his aides, much like Reagan was. I expect the political appointees to be another group of about-to-be-indicted fellows.

So. We got our work cut out for us.

#831 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 04:05 PM:

"... especially those who voted for HIM."

I had much the same thoughts, so don't feel bad.

I'd like to see social media histories scanned for rants about Entitlements and Freeloaders and Takers and send the authors an email thanking them for opting out.

#832 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 04:30 PM:

albatross @817: I very much hope I'm wrong about Trump, and he turns out to be a competent and non-horrible president.

Hey, stranger things have happened! Like, for example, yesterday.

#833 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 04:41 PM:

It's a beautiful sunny day here in Northern California. I walked over to the local taco shop, had lunch outside, and you almost couldn't see the haze of evil lurking everywhere in the distance.

I should go read some Philip K Dick to cheer up, or something. (Actually I'm currently getting around to reading A Dance with Dragons, for any of you who need a primer on different ways to change governmental regimes and have a few spare dragons handy.)

#834 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 05:41 PM:

Well, the GoL at OVFF happened as an unplanned hallway conversation. I'd missed the comments asking when we should meet. Talked to Lori Friday, and she described Elliott to me. Ran into Elliott Saturday, and then we accreted Lori. It was very good to see Lori again, and I enjoyed meeting and talking to Elliott.

The election, fuck. I spent all day at local Dem HQ working the phones, then watched results there.I left before it was called. Today I'm just about numb.

#835 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 05:44 PM:

Thank you all for your kind wishes.

What sent me to the hospital wasn't a brain infection per se; it was an infection -- a jaw abscess -- that was affecting my cognition, and had the potential to do rotten nasty things to my brain.

It took me a while to figure out that I might have a serious problem. By the time we got to the ER and were being processed through Triage, I had a disturbingly large lump on my jaw, I was prone to being startled and momentarily infuriated by just about anything (for instance, being spoken to unexpectedly), and I couldn't remember stuff like having major surgery earlier this year. Good thing Patrick was with me.

I recall explaining to the nice doctor lady that I'm familiar with several different kinds of derangement, and this didn't feel like any of them; but I'm otherwise hazy on subsequent events that night. Basically, NYU Lutheran put me under "possible stroke/TIA" protocols and ran the usual battery of tests for those plus some other possible causes. They also admitted me (I remember that that surprised me for some reason), and ran large antibiotics through my IV all night and most of the next day. The lump got smaller and I got more coherent, so they sent me home with a prescription for the non-IV version of the large antibiotic.

I'm still taking the antibiotic. It makes my joints hurt. The jaw lump is pretty much gone. I'm still experiencing brief and oddly well-defined gaps in my memory and thought processes, but I'm having a lot fewer of them.

Want to know how stupid I can be? The area where the abscess blew up had been episodically swelling up a bit, then subsiding, for I'm-not-sure-how-many months prior. During that same time, I noticed that I was having an unusually hard time remembering names and other discrete facts. Did it occur to me that these might be related? It did not. I'm so used to having low-level neurological spitzensparken und blinkenlights that I forget that can happen for other reasons.


And then there's that other thing, the one that happened last night. That was so much worse.

#836 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 05:55 PM:

HLN: Local man, still in shock from election results, gets second shock by returning home from vet with an empty cat carrier. "This is the second time in a row this has happened." he said, "Last year it was a fast-growing cancer, this time a congenital heart defect".

Both cats were in their teens, and neither had shown problems until a week or so before being taken in. "My last cat is only 3 years old, hale and hearty, and I've got an appointment for him on 3 December" he said, "let's hope the 3rd time's the charm."

#837 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 05:57 PM:

re 818: A problem I can see is that he isn't going to do anything much to keep the right-wing corporatist craziness of congress in check. I suspect that the Dow's rise through the day is founded in believing that.

#838 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 05:59 PM:

Been trying to point out my double post since this morning. My browser (went back to Firefox because Safari was too wonky, ha ha) has this thing where a link opens the window I'm already in. Over and over. (Finally got a preview window by opening Safari again.)

Anyway, here's my philosophy (or whatever) of life, which is mine, and which gets me through life. Ready?

Right foot.
Left foot.
If not there yet, repeat.

Not saying it works for anyone else, but it's about the smartest thing I ever thought of for me.

Teresa, someone has to ask: (with two syllables) …Wha-at?

#839 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 06:03 PM:

Buddha Buck, condolences on the losses. I still miss my cats.

#840 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 06:11 PM:

It's a beautiful sunny day here in Northern California. I walked over to the local taco shop, had lunch outside, and you almost couldn't see the haze of evil lurking everywhere in the distance.

I should go read some Philip K Dick to cheer up, or something. (Actually I'm currently getting around to reading A Dance with Dragons, for any of you who need a primer on different ways to change governmental regimes and have a few spare dragons handy.)

Oh, and the ACLU Card? Don't leave home without it.

#841 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 06:55 PM:

Ursula Vernon decided to do something nice as a distraction and posted three new chapters of Summer in Orcus today, even though it's not a regular update day. I put the link to chapter 16 in the Spoiler thread here on ML; you can get to 17 and 18 from the links at the end of each previous chapter.

#842 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 07:22 PM:

Buddha Buck, condolences. It's hard enough when it's expected; it's even worse when it's a surprise. <scritches> to your remaining cat.

#843 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 07:28 PM:

Condolences, Buddha Buck. The cat gods just loan us their acolytes for a short time, so we can support them.

Hm, T, I wonder whether that short instance of undefined anger at Worldcon that I happened to notice was related to this. You commented on it being out of character at the time.

#844 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 07:40 PM:

SunflowerP @ #799:

Just to be clear, which I see I failed of on my first attempt: I didn't write it, all I did was read it and decide to point it out.

#845 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 08:12 PM:

#835: Thanks for the report, Teresa. I tried to report as accurately as I could from your tweets. (Which, showing a sense of humor, provided some assurance.)

#846 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 11:52 PM:

All right.



#847 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 12:23 AM:

Teresa Nielsen Hayden @ 835 ...

I'm very glad to hear that you're vastly improving ... and ...

Want to know how stupid I can be? The area where the abscess blew up had been episodically swelling up a bit, then subsiding, for I'm-not-sure-how-many months prior. During that same time, I noticed that I was having an unusually hard time remembering names and other discrete facts. Did it occur to me that these might be related?

Uh, hmm... y'know... maybe I might want to see about that too ...

#848 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 02:17 AM:

Teresa, so good to hear about it from the horse's no longer abscessed mouth, so to speak. And that you're solidly on the mend.

(Apparently I cannot spell "abscess" without outside intervention. Is this one in your demonic spelling test? Or maybe I'm not as good a speller as I think I am.)

I managed not to sit around watching the results come in last night mainly because I was at my roller derby league's board of directors meeting, being the secretary and getting utterly exhausted at the gumbo ya-ya multithreaded style of discussion going on there. Then I came home and found my husband had the scotch out on the table and clearly not just because he likes scotch. It was that bad. I took a look at the latest on Five Thirty Eight, then went back out into the living room, said, "I need a hug," and spent the next five minutes just weeping into his T-shirt.

Then I thought something along the lines of, "Damn this, I'm going to do good work now, they can't take that away from me," and spent the next couple hours getting my meeting notes presentable.

I didn't want to get up and see the official announcement this morning. Have been crying off and on. But have also been spending the day in that same spirit of "they can't take this away from me" protest: Doing the good work of daily writing, doing dinner-anna-movie with my husband, focusing really hard on how the weather's still beautiful and the leaves are still doing the autumn thing and the sun indeed rose upon the world despite everything.

A dear friend and teammate posted to our league's facebook group that she's so glad she spent election night at practice, doing ridiculous and scary and bad-ass things on skates, and how nothing about how the election turned out can take the joy of that away.

I really appreciate all the hopeful and determined things people are posting, about being kind to each other, about the quiet importance of telling stories and doing good work, about fighting every step of the way against those who would do harm.

So. Onward, I guess.

#849 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 07:09 AM:

Buddha Buck #836: My condolences!

#850 ::: Quill ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 09:10 AM:

Can the electoral college change the outcome? I've seen a couple of mentions that it might, but I don't know anywhere near enough about the subject.

#851 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 09:37 AM:


They could, and if you look at the bizarre institution from certain democracy-distrusting angles it would be its duty to do so, but it would be unprecedented.

If the electoral college did pull the rug from under Trump, it would either be written out of the constitution or the rules would be written to outlaw "unfaithful delegates."

Probably the latter, because the electoral college system is useful for amplifying the power of rural states, and thus for furthering GOP power.

#852 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 09:50 AM:

Quill @850:

The Electoral College is an independent body, nominally selected by the State Legislatures, but legally and in practice selected by the voters on election day. I technically did not vote for the President, but rather for a slate of electors who have said they would vote for my candidate in the Electoral College.

The Electors can choose to vote however they want, but Trump's slate of electors in any state would not have been chosen if they weren't committed to Trump.

Many states have laws which require electors to vote in the electoral college as pledged. There are strong indications that the SCOTUS would consider such laws unconstitutional, but it has never gone to court (the SCOTUS has held that states can require pledges of prospective electors, and in that ruling implied that enforcing the pledges wouldn't be legal).

In this case, it would require nearly 40 Electors chosen because they are pledged Trump supporters to vote for Clinton instead. It doesn't seem likely.

#853 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 10:23 AM:

HLN: Local woman, entering her second month with bronchitis, has forgotten what it's like to have a normal voice. "I look ahead to family visits at Christmas," she reports, "and think how hard it will be since I can't talk above a croak. Then I catch myself--I should be over this by then, surely?" She continues, "Even worse, when I recall conversations I had last summer and earlier, my remembered voice is this same ragged croak."

In other news: ARGH!!

#854 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 10:35 AM:

Buddha Buck @836, my condolences as well. :(

Yesterday I was pretty unfocused and adrift during work, but, though the trumpets of the apocalypse itself should sound, so long as life goes on we still need to carry out our daily tasks. In my case, home care agencies still need scheduling software that works reliably and fulfills their needs.

Last night a good friend came over and he and my partner made pizza and beer bread while I dyed my hair stormcrow-black. I was planning to dye it soon anyway, just because it looks good, but the timing was apropos.

This morning is sunny and beautiful. Life continues, step by step. I have tea, and a paycheck, and kind coworkers, and a loving home in a safe hometown. I am, for now, able to put down the fear and walk along.

I stand witnessing for all those who cannot put down their fear, for themselves or their loved ones. I will definitely be looking at US-based charities for end-of-year giving.

#855 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 10:49 AM:

Stefan Jones in #851, on whether electors could betray their candidate, writes:

They could, and if you look at the bizarre institution from certain democracy-distrusting angles it would be its duty to do so, but it would be unprecedented.

Then we can dismiss the possibility. I am quite sure that from now on, nothing unprecedented will occur.

#856 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 11:07 AM:

I can sort-of imagine Trump losing in the electoral college if he had just barely won--like he came out on top by two EVs or something. But with the size of the EV win he got, I don't see it happening. And honestly, I'd rather have the voters decide elections (even when they choose as badly as they have this year) than sabotage that.

The election was decided on a very thin margin--even though the EV totals look pretty one-sided, a 1% shift of Trump voters to Clinton voters, or a small change in level of turnout of Clinton voters, would have changed the outcome of the election. Both 538 and SlateStarCodex point out that it's easy to get tied up into a narrative of "what it all means" that misses that fact.

On one side, Trump winning has huge consequences for what policies we'll see in the next four years, as a nation. On the other, even if he'd lost, we'd still have the same issue that about half the voters were willing to vote for him. The social/political reality behind Trump is a separate issue from what he does in office--even if Trump turns out to be a pretty standard-issue Republican in office, we still have that movement to deal with. I suspect the Republican party is going to go through a re-alignment as big and important as the adoption of the Southern Strategy and the movement of Southern white conservatives from the Democratic to Republican party.

#857 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 11:53 AM:

The upshot of this is Trump is going to be president, and though his beliefs violate many of theirs the GOP establishment will support him 100%, even if videos of him loving up an underage wolverine surface.

#858 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 12:29 PM:

Speaking of faithless electors, Hillary Clinton won the state of Washington, but before the election Robert Satiacum said he's refusing to cast his electoral vote for her.

#859 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 02:44 PM:

The one possible amusement of the next year will be watching Defective find out how much the President CAN'T do.

I am wondering if the insurance and health care industry likes the flow of money from ACA enough that THEY might be willing to fight for it...

I can't wait until senior citizens get a good look at what Ryan intends to do to Medicare and Social Security. Just how stupid are the folks at the levers of the GOP?

#860 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 02:58 PM:

Teresa posted this time last year about the 2015 John Lewis (employee-owned UK retail partnership) Christmas ad, and in particular the opinion of it offered by Stuart Heritage of the Guardian. Here's Stuart Heritage's take on this year's John Lewis Christmas ad (video embedded, doesn't autoplay. A YouTube link is here).

#861 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 03:20 PM:

I wonder whether Trump will actually serve a full term: he's used to working hard but only to enrich himself; the jetting around and Being The President will be fun for him but long days of Presidential meetings and briefings and press conferences (he will not now be able to avoid press conferences) are something quite different. Stay a bit longer than Kennedy or Harding managed, then plead a diplomatic health problem and bask in the glory of Having Done It?

Soon after I saw the first Trump rallies I was reminded of Russell Eigenblick, the mysterious evil president (from The City, too!) in John Crowley's Little, Big who was a huge hit with crowds. Little, Big is a glorious book but I had always though it was a minor failure that the small snippet of Eigenblick's oratory that's quoted is not really great oratory, just vaguely moving disconnected emotion-stimulating nonsense. This (as I thought) minor failure turned out to be quite prescient.

Someone please hand President Trump a deck of cards and put him on a train.

#862 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 05:39 PM:

Stefan Jones @851:

If the electoral college did pull the rug from under Trump, it would either be written out of the constitution or the rules would be written to outlaw "unfaithful delegates."

If they get to play that card only once, this seems like a good time to use it.

I know, I know. Not very plausible. Still.

My stomach still clenches when I think about this in any depth. I'm being sort-of-earwormed by songs like "Hard Times Come Again No More" and "Light One Candle". Just a couple of weeks ago I happened to re-read Jane Yolen's Briar Rose, which in retrospect was probably a bad idea. I'm fighting the urge to re-read Raphael Carter's The Fortunate Fall with its history of the "Square Mile" camps, AKA the McGulags. A psychiatrist of my acquaintance suggested that at least Trump wasn't one of the crazy Christian fundamentalists who want to ban abortions and gay marriages, and I told him "No, that's his VP candidate, to whom Trump has said he's delegating all of his foreign and domestic policy decisions."

I'm sorry. This is horrifying in so many ways, not least what it says about half of your electorate. Being in the next country over just doesn't seem enough. But if any of my friends really need to move to Canada, I'll do what I can to help, little though that may be.

#863 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 05:53 PM:

Looking for some tech help here.

I recently moved my iTunes to a Fiio X1, which stores the playlists and music files on a 128GB micro SD card. It says there are 125GB of music files. My iTunes "songs" folder has 117GB of music files.

I believe the difference is due to music files I have deactivated but left in their folders, which made sense with my iPod, because I could activate them again. I can't do that with this. Consequently, I'm moving 7–8GB of music files around that I don't see in playlists. I could go to them and play them, but I don't know where in all those folders they are.

I'd like a way to ferret these audio files (some may not be music) so I can put them in one place and sift through them for possible gems, which I could then put into the room that this would get me.

I searched for a way to do it, and got this:

You could move the location of your iTunes Media folder, which will only move those files actually in the iTunes library.
It may take a while, even if the source and destination are both on the same drive (it's still got to tell the OS to move each file individually), but should leave behind any files that aren't in the library.
The iTunes Media folder location is set in iTunes Preferences, under the Advanced tab. This will of course only work if you have "Keep iTunes Media folder organized" checked (which judging by your question is the case).
I would suggest something as simple as changing just the name of the folder it's currently set to (i.e. keep it somewhere in your home folder, or whatever drive it's currently on), and then move it back after you've cleaned out the 'orphaned' files.
I'm not sure that they spelled it out in enough detail for me to grasp what they are saying, plain as it seems. Are they saying to move the folder? Are they saying to change which folder iTunes points to?

I am leery of messing with my iTunes folders. Could someone give me a hand with this? Perhaps in email? I'm at gmail, mrkipw. I suggest email because I might have to ask questions. No weirdos, please! (Just kidding about that last part.)

#864 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 06:18 PM:

Looking for some tech help here.

I recently moved my iTunes to a Fiio X1, which stores the playlists and music files on a 128GB micro SD card. It says there are 125GB of music files. My iTunes "songs" folder has 117GB of music files.

I believe the difference is due to music files I have deactivated but left in their folders, which made sense with my iPod, because I could activate them again. I can't do that with this. Consequently, I'm moving 7–8GB of music files around that I don't see in playlists. I could go to them and play them, but I don't know where in all those folders they are.

I'd like a way to ferret these audio files (some may not be music) so I can put them in one place and sift through them for possible gems, which I could then put into the room that this would get me.

I searched for a way to do it, and got this:

You could move the location of your iTunes Media folder, which will only move those files actually in the iTunes library.
It may take a while, even if the source and destination are both on the same drive (it's still got to tell the OS to move each file individually), but should leave behind any files that aren't in the library.
The iTunes Media folder location is set in iTunes Preferences, under the Advanced tab. This will of course only work if you have "Keep iTunes Media folder organized" checked (which judging by your question is the case).
I would suggest something as simple as changing just the name of the folder it's currently set to (i.e. keep it somewhere in your home folder, or whatever drive it's currently on), and then move it back after you've cleaned out the 'orphaned' files.
I'm not sure that they spelled it out in enough detail for me to grasp what they are saying, plain as it seems. Are they saying to move the folder? Are they saying to change which folder iTunes points to?

I am leery of messing with my iTunes folders. Could someone give me a hand with this? Perhaps in email? I'm at gmail, mrkipw. I suggest email because I might have to ask questions. No weirdos, please! (Just kidding about that last part.)

#865 ::: Kip W can't say anything once ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 06:20 PM:

God damn it. I even opened up the page in a completely different browser to be sure it hadn't posted before I hit it again.

#866 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 06:41 PM:

It's also going to be interesting to find out what he'll do when he discovers that a blind trust won't allow him to simply hand over his businesses to his kids, and that he won't be able to run a TV network (or a reality show) from the White House. (Both of are those things he seemed to think he could do as president.)

I do believe that he thinks the President can spend a lot of time playing golf or otherwise having fun - that's the view of Obama that Fox was pushing - and that he's never actually had to do the heavy work of actually running anything, including his businesses.

#867 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 07:16 PM:

Kip W:

The size difference could be as simple as devices using different definitions of "gigabyte". 117 binary gigabytes (2^30=1,073,741,824 bytes) is right around 125 decimal gigabytes (1,000,000,000 bytes).

#868 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 07:56 PM:

Scientists have found out that rats like having their bellies tickled. The video is fun to watch.

#869 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 08:09 PM:

Kip W It looks to me that if you have the "Keep iTunes Media folder organized" option set, using iTunes Preferences to change the location of said folder will make iTunes actually move the folder, and your music with it -- but only the files it's actually tracking. Your hope is that those "deactivated" files will be left behind.

#870 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 08:54 PM:

Leonard Cohen has died at age 82. Fuck 2016.

#871 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 08:58 PM:

2016 claims another: Leonard Cohen dead at 82

#872 ::: MinaW ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 09:08 PM:

I just today had a really strange thought about how it could be worse.

Considering my determination to stand up and fight, as Michael Moore, and Van Jones, (and, I hope, Bernie) have called for, even though I have been a wimp before — I suddenly wondered what it would be like if DT had lost.

Instead of all of us in the street protesting "Not My President", it would be DT's more rabid supporters. With guns. With DT egging them on, and promising to pay their legal fees, and claiming that the system was rigged, and the election had been stolen from him.

Even if only 1% of them are that horrible (and that feels like an underestimate), that’s a lot of people out there shooting up minority neighborhoods, or assassinating anyone who looked happy…

#873 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 09:09 PM:

Found on Facebook: Apparently in England, people are advertising that they are safe allies by wearing a plain safety pin on their shirts. I think maybe we should start doing that as well.

#874 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 09:35 PM:

Steve C. @ 870, C. Wingate @ 871 ...
Yeah, no kidding -- but I find myself twitchy that 2017 might be worse :(

#875 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 10:46 PM:

I already have a safety pin on my bag; I heard about the practice through G+ about two months ago and it seemed like a good one.

#876 ::: ma larkey ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2016, 12:54 AM:

Woman walks into pharmacy to line up, older woman is sitting very near the end of the line, so she asks older woman, "are you in line?" She says "No." Woman thinks that is the end of the story, but nope, older woman then turns to the janitor who is mopping the floor nearby to complain loudly that she, unlike Muslims, knows how to read signs and knows about lines.

Woman figures out that the older woman thinks *she* is a Muslim. And can't read signs.

Woman also meets two other women in her building who stare coldly at her and tell her, "well, now you can go home."

Woman reports incidents to building manager and clinic manager.

Day One after the election, folks.

#877 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2016, 01:36 AM:

#876: Oh, FFS.

Am now fantasizing Trump getting struck by lightning during his next golf game. He's not the cause of the hateful bullshit attitudes in the country, but he made them respectable.

#878 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2016, 02:12 AM:

Kip W @ 863:

If you're on a Mac, and are comfortable with the Terminal, you can do this, translating the italicized paths:

diff -q "/path/to/orig_dir_on_mac" "/path/to/new_dir_on_sd" | grep -v "^Common"

That will print a line for every file that exists in one directory but not the other. If you're on Windows, there's probably some equivalent, but I don't know what it is. I don't know offhand if there are any non-Terminal applications that do this.

Chris @ 867 may well be right that it is a byte-counting difference rather than a file difference. AFAIK iTunes doesn't move a file when you uncheck it.

#880 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2016, 03:19 AM:

Me @ 878:

I forgot a flag. The correct command is

diff -rq "/path/to/orig_dir_on_mac" "/path/to/new_dir_on_sd" | grep -v "^Common"

#881 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2016, 04:03 AM:

Something from Leonard Cohen, for today.

In Flanders Fields

(YouTube, posted from the Canadians)

And then a dose of William Owen, about the glib old lies.

Dulce et Decorum Est

#882 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2016, 04:06 AM:


Wilfred Owen

Maybe we need to get into the habit of checking everything we read.

#883 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2016, 06:35 AM:

Apropos of nothing, Octopus Pie has just broken new ground (at least for them) in NSFW visual hyperbole: Now that's an orgasm.

#885 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2016, 09:45 AM:

Thanks, Tim. I don't know that this applies, though, unless I make a second directory, and it's that days-long process I was wishing I could avoid (in addition to not understanding it very well at the time).

I can't guess about the counting theory. The device's files are on a 128GB card, which is counted on the same computer that holds the other file. If their 128GB is really 117GB, well, damn.

Anyway, not much time to think about it now. Off to school, soon. To quote from my philosophy of life: Left foot. Right foot. If not there yet, repeat.

(This business of Firefox not opening links is getting tedious. It just grinds, and then opens the same place I clicked from. I can't post a comment unless I open Safari, and it was Safari's recalcitrance that led me to go back to bleeding Firefox.)

#886 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2016, 10:04 AM:

Daniel Kahn's Yiddish cover of 'Hallelujah', which I didn't know I needed until it was in front of me.

#887 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2016, 10:58 AM:

Kip W @ 885: If I understand your original post correctly, you already have two folders--the songs folder on the Mac (125GB) and the one on the SD card (117GB). If I'm right about that, you wouldn't need to copy anything; you would simply mount the SD card and figure out the two paths as above. But maybe I am misunderstanding you.

To try another tack entirely, it's easy to find deactivated tracks in the iTunes app. Click My Library at the top, Songs on the left, and then in the column headers (Name, Time, Artist, etc.) click the one on the far left that is just a check mark. This will sort the tracks so that all the checked tracks are above all the unchecked tracks, so you see the latter by scrolling all the way to the bottom.

#888 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2016, 12:19 PM:

Nancy, #884: Is that the same person I once knew as i abra cinii? I can't find anything online which would tell me one way or the other.

#889 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2016, 12:41 PM: appears to be down. It's not starting already, is it?

#890 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2016, 12:55 PM:

Nancy: Only three things that keep me from following her:

1. I haven't done my part.
2. I have no confidence things would be any better on The Other Side.
3. I can't abandon my friends, the things I love, and my world.


Oh, my goodness. Donkey is being very snuggly today. He hasn't done this in months.

I wonder if it was prompted when I wailed in dispair after reading the link @884.

#891 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2016, 03:54 PM:

P J Evans@866: was thinking today of Clive James's review of Nixon's memoirs, which I read many years ago but still remember whole chunks of (CJ is memorable like that). 'The Presidency is not a finishing school,' he says memorably on page 1,078. 'It is a magnifying glass.' We shall see some instructive magnifications.

#892 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2016, 04:59 PM:

Tim Walters: As I see it (ICBW), I have a "songs" folder [in this case, actually a playlist that contains all the active songs in my iTunes]. Let us call this "S". Then I have the actual iTunes folder on my hard drive, which I will call "I". Lastly, there is the folder on my X1, which should be an exact mirror of "S".

What I think is happening is that the X1 has imported the entire "I" over, and though I believed I had taken all the deactivated files out of it through some clever maneuver I can't even remember now—something like copying it all to a backup drive and then deleting all unchecked items from iTunes and recreating "I"—I am now wondering if I missed that many. If I did, I'd like to move them to another location.

But if I compare "I" to "X", I don't expect to see any difference between them.

Having written that, it occurred that I might also see the size of the actual folder "I". It says it's 168GB, which is larger than the entire drive "X" is on. Clearly, "I" wasn't copied to "X" in its entires, but was generated from the playlists in iTunes (specifically, generated from any playlist or playlist folder with "Dapper" in the name, which is what the program looks for).

This seems to bolster the suggestion that bytes are being counted differently on my hard drive ("I") and on the microSD card ("X"), and that any savings of space I may have been contemplating were illusory. Back to editing it down the hard way, album by album, track by track.

But I'll try that code some time, when my brain is up to figuring out exact filepaths. And thanks again for your explanations, which I do believe I actually understood.

I just got a call that the ultrasound the did on my kidney shows no new stone. It just ached on the day I went to the doctor's, for some dumn reason. [And the ringing in my ears is an artifact of losing some unnoticeable portion of my upper range of hearing. My hlepy brain is trying to make up the deficit with a constant diet of a sound sort of like the 15,750Hz noise TV sets used to make.]

#893 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2016, 05:31 PM:

#888 ::: Lee

No, that's a different Abby.

The person you're thinking of is posting as sodyera.

#894 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2016, 05:31 PM:

#888 ::: Lee

No, that's a different Abby.

The person you're thinking of is posting as sodyera.

#895 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2016, 05:41 PM:

And in 2016's continuing reign of the suck fairy: Robert Vaughn has gone to the great secret agency in the sky.

#896 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2016, 06:16 PM:

Lee @ 889: People are signing up for healthcare in higher number than ever. The site probably just got overwhelmed for a bit.

Trump election helps spur top Obamacare signups this month

#897 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2016, 08:01 PM:

janetl, #896: Yeah, I was able to get in later. And despite the scary letter I got last month threatening a 50% increase, my premium is going to be more or less stable.

For as long as I have coverage, at least. I expect to lose it sometime during 2017. And saying "well, only 5 more years until I qualify for Medicare" has lost its ability to comfort, since that's on Ryan's hit list too, along with Social Security.

#898 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2016, 09:46 PM:

Having gotten the news that Amelia Sefton is another of 2016's casualties, I pulled out my copy of The New York Tarot to show her picture to Karen (Queen of Cups, if you're looking at one); and discovered that one of the other cards in there is one Christoper Hatton. I Did Not Know That. Xopher, which card?

I miss Amy. Her health always had problems, but that did not define her at all.

#899 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2016, 09:47 PM:

Lee @ 897: I'm hoping they realize that there are a LOT of old voters in the GOP camp who do not want anyone to touch their Social Security and Medicare. Threatening the sacred cow might be a negotiating tactic?

#900 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2016, 09:54 PM:

janetl, #899: I don't think so. Ryan's young, remember? He's not worried about anything but taking away Entitlements from the Undeserving. And being too old to work is one Republican definition of "undeserving".

#901 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2016, 10:05 PM:

Ryan will carefully make Medicare & Social Security cuts phase in gradually, so current and just-about-retirees won't be effected.

Everyone else will get screwed so the GOP's REAL base can get tax cuts.

#902 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2016, 10:15 PM:

There's also a lot of pulling up the bridge after him: he benefited from his father's Social Security, but the rest of us don't deserve it.
Cutting them wouldn't be so bad, if people could get jobs that paid well enough to live on, even when they're over 60. But they don't believe in age-discrimination laws, either.

#903 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2016, 10:27 PM:

In my estimation, Social Security is safe. The voting bloc of seniors is too big to ignore. Back in 2003, Bush could not even pass an attempt to partially privatize SS accounts. There COULD possibly be changes to how COLA increases are done.

Medicare is another matter. I'm eligible for that in January 2018 (strange considering I'm such a youthful person, right?). What is more likely there are changes in Medicare reimbursement to hospitals and physicians.

#904 ::: Race Traitor Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2016, 11:12 PM:

Tom 898: The five, or was it the seven, of Swords. I'm the guy in a suit buying knives from a skeevy-looking character (actually a perfectly respectable actor friend of Gianni's) in Washington Square Park.

#905 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2016, 11:37 PM:

This is just to say that my attempt to put together a Remembrance Day post was done in by my malfunctioning computer.

Patrick finally fixed it by upgrading the OS.

I'll try to get something posted over the weekend.

Good night, all.

#906 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2016, 12:06 AM:

There COULD possibly be changes to how COLA increases are done.

The one they want to use is chained CPI, which results in lower COLAs.

#907 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2016, 12:40 AM:

Xopher @904: It's the seven. I didn't recognize you with hair.

#908 ::: Megpie71 ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2016, 07:52 AM:

For those who are overwhelmed, numb, flattened, or despairing in the wake of recent events, I offer the following:

How To Get Through This: Tips From A Lifelong Depressive.

#909 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2016, 01:22 PM:

Thank you, Megpie71, very helpful.

#910 ::: Race Traitor Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2016, 04:52 PM:

Tom 898: Xopher @904: It's the seven. I didn't recognize you with hair.

You should have heard Teresa scream the first time she saw me after the hair was gone. "Oh my God, what did you do?!?" I explained that I got old.

When your golden locks turn sandy light brown, thin out, and some of them turn gray, it's not so much fun anymore. If, in addition, the brown hair is curly and the gray is not, management becomes an insurmountable issue. Hence, shaving.

#911 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2016, 07:02 PM:

Ah well, I seem to be sticking with the hair in the old-fashioned way (till the shining star appears).

That tarot deck has become quite collectible, it seems.

#912 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2016, 07:43 PM:

Xopher: Interesting; for me it's the gray ones that are curly and the brown ones that are straight. (My mother, when she started to go gray, and had the little curly, shorty gray ones that'd stick out from her otherwise straight, dark hair, used to refer to those as "Slan tendrils.")

Arrival: Saw it this afternoon. Enjoyed it a great deal. Additionally weird, on top of this week's anxiety, but it actually seemed to help. (And I find the timing of the premier to be really interesting.)

#913 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2016, 09:43 PM:

re organizations to support: I'm interested in hearing how people balance the ACLU's good works with its blind opposition (according to when I was last paying attention) to campaign finance controls. Is being able to be heard not a civil liberty? Not a theoretical question, as my partner and I are looking at politically-oriented donations (which we haven't been doing for some time, thinking that most of the money we give directly helps people, where it's never clear how much use political donations are). Looking at leverage rather than amelioriation, what do people think of EMILY's List?

Fascinating to hear about grey coming in a different texture; I've never seen it in anyone, but I can imagine what a pain it would be. (I've been greying SSLLOOWWLLYY (16 years since first hairs, and still more color than grey); I wonder whether that has an effect.) I remember a friend whose straight bright-red hair came in crinkly-sandy after chemo, but that's a rather greater trauma than going grey.

#914 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2016, 12:36 AM:

My (relatively few as yet) white hairs are finer than the rest. But there's a complicating factor: most of my hairs are slightly asymmetrical and striped longways. Each has a bit of a glint when seen at the correct angle relative to a light; if it's twisted, one can see the helical pattern if one looks closely. It isn't always easy to tell the white ones from the regular ones that happen to be reflecting well.

Thinning on top... well, my father was bald (total alopecia) when he was a couple of decades younger than I am now. I can't complain on that score. I always figured I'd end up looking like Peter Yarrow: short, wiry, bald on top. I'm not so wiry as I'd expected, now.

#915 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2016, 09:18 AM:

Another con dream last night. Nobody was wearing nametags, but I talked to Bill Bowers, who thought I was someone named Gary.

I found some coins on the ground. FIrst a couple of pennies, then a Kennedy dollar (too big for a half) and some gold-tone coins the same size. Someone congratulated me on my luck, and I said I only wished it was real.

I showed someone a magazine cover I spotted that literalized a joke I'd made in the 70s, but the letters changed by the time she looked at it, so I probably looked like a chump. You win some, you lose some.

I had some thoughts of playing the piano, but before I knew it, the room we were in had morphed into a van taking Cathy and me away, talking of upcoming events. Some sort of protest? Not sure. Short con, anyway. I woke up thinking I should do more fan art.

Back in waking life, I think I mentioned that I finally (after eight years) found the local SF club/writer's group. I got a very good reaction on a short-short, and will probably bring some Toon River Anthology entries to the January meeting (none in December). Hey! Today's the Shakespeare meeting. Lucky I looked at the calendar.

#916 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2016, 09:21 AM:

Question: In British novels of an earlier time, a character may be offered a choice of two kinds of tea -- I recall it being Indian or Chinese. Did that mean green or black tea? Which was which? Was one more aristocratic?

#917 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2016, 09:31 AM:

A quick reminder about the value of go-bags...
I arrived in Christchurch this afternoon, and at midnight there was a 7.5 earthquake. It's nice knowing that one bag holds a few days worth of (hard to just buy) essentials. It's a go-bad within a travel bag.
The news says there was light damage in Wellington and elsewhere (by the main quake or an aftershock?): here there hasn't been a single emergency vehicle siren sounded.

#918 ::: Andrew Wells ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2016, 11:03 AM:

Kathryn @917, I am pleased to hear that you are okay. My sister in law and her family, and some friends of ours, live in Christchurch, so we have been following the news closely for the last few hours.

#919 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2016, 11:54 AM:

2016 does it again: Leon Russell.

But I bet somewhere they're having a really great party.

#920 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2016, 01:26 PM:

Just a thought - there must be some extra security on Trump's Twitter account. I imagine they probably change passwords frequently, and perhaps some poor sod is tasked with taking Trump's phone and updating the password there.

On second thought, if someone did hack Trump's Twitter account, how could you tell? What could they tweet that would be more offensive than what he usually does?

#921 ::: Andrew Wells ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2016, 01:58 PM:

Steve C @920, we might be able to tell if the tweets became less offensive than usual.

#922 ::: J Homes ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2016, 03:05 PM:

HLN and reference to 917.

We felt it, did we what, but no damage in the immediate vicinity. We understand there is damage in the Wellington CBD, and the trains are stopped until they can check the tracks.

Gavin, my stepson, has been called in, not for actual Search and Rescue, but to shadow a building inspector as they check that various places are safe before the are re-opened.

J Homes

#923 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2016, 04:15 PM:

In cheerier news, I finished making the calico cat I was working on. That link is to the completed cat; there are more process pictures before it, showing right and left sides and underneath before stuffing.

#924 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2016, 06:22 PM:

I speak under correction in the matter, but I believe "China tea" and "Indian tea" in older British novels both refer to black teas, China being considered more aristocratic and uncommon, and generally drunk without milk, whereas Indian tea was drunk by all classes, generally with milk. Of course there were many varieties of each available at various prices. Green tea was available, but somewhat unusual, and not the first thing one would think of serving to guests.

#925 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2016, 06:23 PM:

Yesterday I learned about the Wulver, a Scottish wolf-person who lives in the woods, likes fishing, helps out lost travelers, howls in mourning for the dead, and leaves gifts of fish on the windowsills of poor people.

Somehow this makes my world better.

#926 ::: Errolwi ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2016, 06:39 PM:

Re #eqnz
Once all the bits of rail infrastructure are checked/repaired, it will still take time to get the freight network running (Wellington suburban will be simpler) to normal capacity. For instance we have been told that no fright trains will leave Auckland southbound for 48hrs, as the railyards etc are clogged with units that are stuck for a while (Wellington terminal broken, Picton terminal broken, Picton-Christrchurch line blocked by multiple slips).

#927 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2016, 11:00 PM:

Here in Christchurch I'm at a conference, and there was a short sharp 6.3 during the opening speaker's talk. The audience murmured for a moment and she noted it, and then powered on through her talk. It's been the largest aftershock so far.

#928 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2016, 11:00 PM:

Here in Christchurch I'm at a conference, and there was a short sharp 6.3 during the opening speaker's talk. The audience murmured for a moment and she noted it, and then kept going. It's been the largest aftershock so far.

#929 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2016, 11:00 PM:

Here in Christchurch I'm at a conference, and there was a short sharp 6.3 during the opening speaker's talk. The audience murmured for a moment and she noted it, and then kept going. It's been the largest aftershock so far.

#930 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2016, 03:26 AM:

Lee@889 front page opens for me, and the Trump Administration won't get to kill it off until/unless they get a bill through the new Congress and signed by the President. They're starting to put out their own stuff under .gov, but that's just publicity stuff for now.

#931 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2016, 02:09 PM:

AKICIML: Ages ago, in (I think) Patrick's Sidelights, was a link to The Memo that started the whole Right's coopting of the public sphere: degredation of public education, voting rights, and so on. I've tried to find it, but I've come up dry. Any body here remember enough specifics to find it or point me to it?

#932 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2016, 03:22 PM:

And 2016 gets another: Gwen Ifill has died

#933 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2016, 03:43 PM:

I'd say "2016, you're so very fired!" except for the fact that I'm now actively afraid of 2017.

What a god-awful year this has been.

#934 ::: crazysoph ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2016, 04:59 PM:

I've been discovering how needle felting can be very therapeutic these days - provided I don't accidentally stab myself in the finger. (Luckily, very sharp needle means the pain is limited, and the wound closes quickly because clotting does what it should.) Still, "stabby, stabby, stabby, stabby, stabby", not even envisioning any particular person I'm aiming at, just paying attention to the needs of the craft itself (positioning fingers to hold wool/yarn bits stable while limiting exposure to earlier mentioned risk of a stab injury).

Would one of the moderators be open to a suggestion of a crafts as therapy for current events thread? Something like "I'm doing ____ and it means ____ to me"?

Here's hoping... and thanks, either way it goes.

Crazy(but also impertinent)Soph

#935 ::: crazysoph ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2016, 05:00 PM:

I've been discovering how needle felting can be very therapeutic these days - provided I don't accidentally stab myself in the finger. (Luckily, very sharp needle means the pain is limited, and the wound closes quickly because clotting does what it should.) Still, "stabby, stabby, stabby, stabby, stabby", not even envisioning any particular person I'm aiming at, just paying attention to the needs of the craft itself (positioning fingers to hold wool/yarn bits stable while limiting exposure to earlier mentioned risk of a stab injury).

Would one of the moderators be open to a suggestion of a crafts as therapy for current events thread? Something like "I'm doing ____ and it means ____ to me"?

Here's hoping... and thanks, either way it goes.

Crazy(but also impertinent)Soph

#936 ::: crazysoph ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2016, 05:02 PM:

And, OOOPS! sorry for the double post! I really thought I'd checked to see if the first attempt had posted.

Crazy(actually kinda amused - my first "internal server error" in all my years of posting here!)Sop

#937 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2016, 03:05 PM:

From Matt Levine's Money Stuff

Mr Buffett had sworn off airline stocks since suffering heartburn on an investment he made in US Airways in 1989. In 2003, he joked he had set up a freephone number to call counsellors who would talk him down if he got the urge to buy airline stocks. “My name is Warren and I’m an aeroholic,” he said.
By the way, what if he wasn't kidding about the hotline? What if there was actually a counsellor waiting by the phone for 13 years, ready to talk Buffett out of buying airlines? And then the phone rang, and the counsellor excitedly leapt into action, but Buffett persuaded him that airline stocks are good now?...I would read a short story about Buffett's anti-airline hotline counsellor.

So. Um.

It hadn't been a full-time job, exactly, but it ruled out a lot of other careers. The Client wanted him available at no more than 30 minutes notice, 24/7, and had paid -- not overpaid, the Client was known for frugality -- but paid adequately for his attention. In the past few years, with in-air WiFi, he'd even been able to take flights himself, though he hadn't really missed post-9/11 aviation. Yes, you could get to Florida in a few hours when the train took days, but he didn't have many deadlines. And you couldn't get decent bagels in Florida.

He'd expected a more active role. When the phone rang at 9:32pm on the fifth day of his contract it was hard to hide the excitement; when it was just the random check-in it wasn't just his date who found it hard to get back in the mood. As the months rolled on, he thought of getting a real job, one he could talk about, even if it meant giving up on his novel. Then The Client himself called, to reassure him the job was important.

"I'm an aeroholic, and a lot of people trust me with their money. I hope I can trust you"

They chatted for a few minutes. There aren't decent bagels in Omaha, either.

When the time finally came, he was ready with all the argument he'd researched and rehearsed, quotes from The Client's famous annual reports, data on carbon pricing, terrorism trends, the uncertainty of bankruptcy laws. It was no use. The Client had done his research, too. Thirteen years, and it was over in as many minutes.

He thought about job interviews. "Tell us about one of your successes in your last job". "Describe some examples where you demonstrated initiative." "Tell us about a disagreement with a client and how you settled it". Huh. He could do that one.

"The client is always right"

#938 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2016, 04:25 PM:

Microfiction seed:

I was listening to a podcast about cruddy, cruddy movies and how they get made, and a Big Megalomaniac Villain plot was involved. It was not an interesting plot. It made no sense. But one thing notable about it was the incredibly detailed 3D model of Silicon Valley, with various earthquake faults and oil mines marked on it in LEDs of many colors.

The hosts then posited the existence of a guy, with your classic tradesman's way of speaking, whose entire job is building props and dioramas for supervillains. "So, ok, you wanna map? Ok, how big? What of? Great. You want lights? I can do lights, ten percent extra. And it has to come up out of a table, all dramatic and slow? Sure, I gotta guy who does hydraulics, but does it need to come up and go back down, or, like, just up once and done? Is anybody going to be jumping up on it? 'Cause I have to reinforce that, there's safety rules ..."

#939 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2016, 10:10 PM:

Elliott: I wish Mike Ford were still with us; I can imagine how he would run with that, especially after the passage in Growing Up Weightless involving an athletic 3D maze that self-destructs as it's solved.

#940 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2016, 09:39 AM:

Elliot: That reminds me of the Mitchell & Webb skits of the supervillain trying to get work done on his headquarters and running into problems with health-and-safety. The contractor insists that the trap door under the seat at the conference table has to have safety barriers, a rotating light, etc when its open, the rotating bookcase can't be put in because it's a load-bearing wall, and so forth.

#941 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2016, 09:47 AM:

crazysoph @ 934

I've always found knitting therapeutic in the same way you find needle felting -- it controls my need to fidget and results in something useful. Although, while I sat with Belle in the hospital, I found embroidery equally soothing.

#942 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2016, 07:30 PM:

Good thing: due to the day's schedule rearranging in a way I initially thought would add stress, I can make my chorus's last optional all-parts rehearsal, with decompression time beforehand. Yay more practice!

#943 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2016, 10:03 PM:

Oh my goodness. Speaking of therapies, Mr. Donkey asked for a snuggle (somewhat unusual these days, as he gets more than enough luvins from Maarten). He was really in the mood, insisting on smooshing right up under my chin. And he settled in for about forty-five minutes (which is a long time for a guinea pig to go without peeing).

By the time he finally asked to go home, I felt like I'd run a full bag of IV-tranquilizer. I swear, guinea pigs emit sleepions with intensities to match any napping cat.

::blear:: I still feel dopey, most of an hour later.

#944 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2016, 10:35 PM:

Buddha Buck @ 940: oh my. The things I find by googling "Mitchell & Webb Supervillain".... Thank you for that reference.

Links of possible interest:
The referent of Suzanne's "tea and oranges"?
Another vector on the taste experiments done at the Gathering of Light in Montreal (2009).
Expunging sodomy charges -- in Tennessee.
A prizewinning foldable bicycle helmet made of paper. My bicycling days are probably over, but not having the bulk of a regular helmet at one's destination looks like a win.

#945 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2016, 11:12 PM:

And 2016 claims another victim somewhat close to some folks here. Sam Williams, aka Smerdyakov of the Flying Karamazov Brothers, had a heart attack and died while driving a Seattle Metro bus today. The passengers managed to stop the bus before it went off the edge of the viaduct.

It's black humor to think that he almost died in a joke -- "I want to die quickly of a heart attack, like my father -- not screaming in terror like his passengers." All of that said, he was a really nice guy, and I'm sorry to see him go.

#946 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2016, 11:48 PM:

I can't complain to Dell because I have no idea what my order number is, so I'm going to vent here.

Exactly how much deep-fried marinated stupidity does a person have to imbibe to think that shutting down the hard drive WITHOUT WARNING THE USER is somehow good? I gather that it's supposed to be super duper energy efficient. OK, OK. But there is no visible timer. No warning. Just, you're typing along and all of a sudden THE MONITOR GOES BLACK. And, just for added Plastic Pal-ness, the thing where you change this "helpful" feature is buried two menus deep ANNNNNNND you can't turn it off. Just put it off.

Dell, if I had more money, I would be shet of this thing in a heartbeat.

#947 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2016, 10:32 AM:

Sam Williams c. late 70s or early 80s

#948 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2016, 12:30 PM:

Jenny Islander @946: I'm familiar with energy-efficiency settings that make a machine hibernate or shut down when it has been "inactive" for some period, where "inactivity" can involve definitions that are obscure. My Linux box at work seems to have some definition of "inactivity" that isn't consistent with the explicit setting in the screensaver config window, for example. But I've never heard of one that regarded a device as being "inactive" while one was typing. Can you please give more details?

#949 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2016, 12:48 PM:

I had Chrome open to a couple of text-heavy pages and I was typing a text file. I do most of my writing in Notepad because it's minimally distracting, then C&P into a LibreOffice document. It's done the insta-black no-save thing when I was working on a LibreOffice document too.

This thing is also in the habit of "helpfully" tucking a Buy It Now button for some movie or other into the icons on my whatever they call the programs menu these days. Because I so want to see the latest boobs'n'butts shootemup while I'm working on the kids' progress reports.

But this was what I could afford that my husband is willing to help me with, so.

#950 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2016, 12:49 PM:

Jenny Islander @946: re: your order number, somewhere on your machine there should be a small-ish sticker with the machine's service ID codes. With those, you can go into the Dell website and get your order number, as well as getting driver updates and a few other things of that sort.

#951 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2016, 02:25 PM:

Oh, forgot: every time I get a push-update, Insta-Black resets to 90 minutes. Note that there is nothing in the menu about "of inactivity." Just every 90 minutes, beeeeeeooop, all your work is gone, Chrome shuts down incorrectly, it's basically an engineered power outage.

#952 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2016, 05:57 PM:

Joel Polowin @ #948:

I don't know if this is precisely the same issue as Jenny Islander's, but my computer developed a similar behavior when I first upgraded to Windows 10: from time to time it would spontaneously restart, without any warning and regardless of what I was doing. A couple of times I had unsaved files open and lost their contents.

In my case, the answer turned out to be in the Update configuration: it was set to check for Windows updates, download them, and if they called for it to restart the system, all in the background without a word to me. I told it to ask me first if it was planning to restart the computer, and it's behaved itself since.

#953 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2016, 06:01 PM:

Jenny Islander @ #949:

I think I recall that you can get rid of any button in the program menu area by right-clicking on it. (I may be wrong; that's off the top of my head and without a suitable computer handy to check.)

#954 ::: Jim Parish ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2016, 06:36 PM:

Paul A @ 952: Even that's not quite foolproof. I remember an occasion when I was moving to click on something, and the "Restart Now?" box appeared directly in front of where I wanted to click, just as I clicked. Of course, I hit the "Yes" button...

#955 ::: Race Traitor Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2016, 08:32 PM:

Perhaps a little late to the party, but I'm seeing "trust us again" commercials from both companies, and it pisses me off.

Oho the Wells Fargo banker is a comin' now;
Lock up your money and all your property!
Because the Wells Fargo banker is a thieving scumbag,
And he could be
Here to rip off
You and me!

Oho the car from Volkswagen is a comin' now,
And it's a-spewin' out poison in its wake.
Because the car from Volkswagen went through all that testing,
But the emissions
That were tested
All were fake!

#956 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2016, 10:04 PM:

WF is reporting a lot fewer new customers this fall than they were a year ago. It would be interesting to know how many of last year's "new customers" were due to fraud.

#957 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2016, 10:43 PM:

Because this is an open thread and there are people here likely to appreciate it, a link to an old piece of filk of whose existence I have just learned.

Pappersframmatningen är trasig is in Swedish (there's a translation at the link), is sung to the tune of "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head", and is the lament of a fan whose mimeograph has broken when they have a zine due out at the end of the week.

#958 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2016, 10:44 PM:


Saw "Arrival", the movie based on Ted Chiang's "Story of you life" which I love and didn't think could be adapted into a movie. I am happily eating my words. Everyone should see it. It's the best SF movie I've seen in a long time.

#959 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2016, 11:51 PM:

Soon Lee @ 958: I would have said the same about that story, but everyone seems to like it. A friend reviewed it as:

"You will have enjoyed Arrival."

#960 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2016, 02:41 PM:

Hah! Nice one Clifton.

#961 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2016, 07:32 PM:

I'll second or third the recommendation for Arrival.

Note: Not a delightful hanky-free romp.

#962 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2016, 09:13 AM:

I'll add my recommendation for Arrival.

I'd say it's not a romp at all.

#963 ::: MinaW ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2016, 03:34 PM:

crazysoph, Victoria, Jacque,

Rexie needle felts too. It's the second time my cats have independently invented felting. I have an alpaca formerly-knitted neckband-which-used-to-be-a-headband which is almost completely felted. I wear it for warmth in the winter.

He/she is 6 years old and still thinks he's my kitten.

It is very therapeutic, his oodging up under my chin and kneading and purring. He has been doing it a lot this week...

#964 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2016, 06:48 PM:


Local man receives advertising mailer. Inside are four identical booklets promoting a pearl necklace. Local man wonders why they didn't just send one booklet, since four in the same envelope seems a waste of money.

#965 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2016, 08:32 PM:

Michael I: Underpaid temp with a deadline to meet?

#966 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2016, 08:32 PM:

Michael I: Underpaid temp with a deadline to meet?

#967 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2016, 09:45 PM:

Jenny Islander @ 946/949: The behavior you're describing isn't standard for Windows 10 in my experience. If it were shutting down normally, or restarting intentionally, I think you'd see the little dots spinning in a circle pattern while it was shutting down or restarting.

The behavior of just abruptly going black at regular intervas sounds to me more like it's got some kind of bug on your system where it is crashing every so often; perhaps some update got installed that's incompatible with your hardware or something of that kind. Possibly there would be something in the system event logs in that case. However, now that Microsoft has taken almost all control away from the users, it's hard to know whether there's anything you could do about it other than change to a completely different OS.

#968 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2016, 12:08 AM:

Michael I@964: Oh no, they save considerable money this way -- they did this instead of sending the four in separate envelopes with separate postage! :-)

#969 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2016, 08:47 AM:

Jenny Islander @ 946/949: That sounds a little like my laptop (not dell) when it's in windows, I've finally traced it to a combination of aggressive power/performance settings and the CPU getting too hot. If it hits 100c, it dies.

For a long time tho, the only time it happened was when windows update ran. Which was basically whenever I booted into windows. It was rock solid on linux for weeks at a time, but 1/2 hour on windows. (It didn't help that windows update makes the machine nearly unusable for an hour or more every time I need the blue os.)

Then I ran some heavy stuff, and it happened in another context, and I finally figured out that the bios is set for max performance on wall power, and this model has known issues with the CPU heat pipe getting less effective with age.

So one bios setting later and it's a little slower when I hammer it, but I haven't had a sudden stop in the middle of work since.

#970 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2016, 12:54 PM:

"Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" was very enjoyable, with Rowling's humanism in ample evidence.

At least one other person I conversed with had the same problem as I: It is difficult to follow some of the dialog. As though the characters were mumbling a bit. I'd be curious what others think.

#971 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2016, 01:45 PM:

Re: Jenny Islander's unexpected shutdown issues with Windows

I recently discovered that my wireless mouse might be causing my computer's narcolepsy.

The computer is supposed to go to sleep only after a long period of inactivity (an hour, I think). The mouse, however, goes to sleep after a just few minutes of inactivity to conserve its battery life. And for some reason, I often find that the mouse going to sleep triggers the computer to go to sleep as well.

So if you have a wireless mouse, try plugging in a wired one instead and see if your computer still blacks out.

#972 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2016, 02:29 PM:

On a completely different note: I've looked for this fanfic in all the usual places, but no luck. You know those stories in which a character who had a bad time wakes up at the beginning of the story, with all the knowledge they gained by living through the plot? This one features Wormtongue, and has a very Tolkienian ending. Has anybody else seen it? ISTR that it was on LJ or Tumblr.

#973 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2016, 02:30 PM:

Oh, wow. My re-reading of old threads has reached November 2012. On the Election 2012: The Morning After the Morning After thread, Teresa posted Trump's tweets in reaction to Obama's win. Go check them out; they're priceless.

#974 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2016, 10:53 PM:

Sharing that around, Mary Aileen. Thank you!

#975 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2016, 02:21 AM:

And a second interesting find: a vintage clothing dealer found a concentration camp jacket at an estate sale. and donated it to a NY Holocaust museum. They've turned it into the centerpiece of an exhibit with lots more info about the person who wore it. Fascinating history.

#976 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2016, 05:12 PM:

Have seen Arrival. That's going to be a very strong, perhaps even runaway, contender for the 2017 Hugos.

#977 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2016, 09:55 PM:

I second all the plaudits for Arrival. Whoah. What a gorgeous movie.

Speaking of gorgeous, have you read Samantha Murray's 'Of Sight, Of Mind, Of Heart' yet? It's achingly beautiful and beautifully aching.

#978 ::: Andrew Wells ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2016, 04:50 AM:

Stefan @970, we too had occasional difficulty in hearing what the characters were saying.

#979 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2016, 10:15 AM:

I too thought the characters in "Fantastic Beasts" mumbled somewhat. For example, I couldn't quite catch Depp's final defiant line. Anyone know what he said...?

#980 ::: alisea ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2016, 02:16 PM:

Arrival has finally come to this side of the pond and thanks to the multiple recommendations from here I went to see it today. My thoughts are still reeling.

I'd love to discuss this more deeply. Would there be any chance of a spoiler thread?

#981 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2016, 04:25 PM:

alisea: Since Our Gracious Hosts seem to be variously up to their alligators, I'd suggest just threadjacking on old spoiler thread, like we did for Dr. Strange. How about using the Mad Max: SPOILER Road thread? I'll throw a starter comment over there.

#982 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2016, 06:15 PM:

I really enjoyed "Moana." Pure-quill Journey of the Hero stuff.

Girls are getting a real fine set of role models (?) lately.

#983 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2016, 11:41 PM:

Seconding the enjoyment of Moana.

#984 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2016, 11:57 PM:

Here's a yummy thing I just made, while sick even:

*Some boneless pork shoulder (whole or cuts) or dark meat of chicken
*Tall can of mushrooms
*Head of bok choy
*Scant 1 cup chicken broth or a soy sauce/water mixture
*2 teaspoons cornstarch
*Half teaspoon sugar
*Some pepper, and some salt if you use chicken broth
*Oil for the wok

Cut the meat into chopstick-ready bits and the bok choy into 2-inch pieces. Drain the mushrooms into a small bowl or jar, add the cornstarch and pepper, and mix. Put the chicken broth or soy sauce/water mixture into another bowl or jar and add the sugar and the optional salt.

Heat 3 tablespoons oil in the wok on High and stir-fry the meat just until done. Take it up; pour any juices into the jar with the chicken broth. Heat 3 more tablespoons oil in the wok; put in the bok choy, dump the mushrooms on top, and cook just until the bok choy isn't raw. Pour on the broth or soy sauce mixture, cover, and cook 3 minutes. Uncover and put in the cornstarch mixture. Return to a boil, take off the heat, and serve immediately with rice, noodles, or big soft buns to soak up the plentiful pan juices.

#985 ::: Karl T. ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2016, 12:49 AM:

Jacque #931:

Are you talking about the Powell memo? There's a link here:

#986 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2016, 02:11 AM:

Karl T.: Maybe. My recollection is that it was much more cold-blooded and calculating than that one. Making note, anyway.

#987 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2016, 10:32 AM:

Today would have been my father's ninety-seventh birthday. As it is, he died in 2001, just 11 days short of his eighty-second. As my own mortality keeps trying to catch up with me, I can't help but wonder what he would have made of the world we're in today.

#988 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee, Gardener of Threads ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2016, 11:54 AM:

Hey, there's an Arrival spoiler thread.

If you need such things and no one seems to be about, please email me at abi at this domain. It's a busy and difficult time, so I'm not reading every comment within 24 hours, but I am reachable.

(New Open thread in a day or so)

#989 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2016, 07:45 PM:

I've been re-reading Wood Sprites, the fourth volume in Wen Spencer's Tinker series, and came across the cutest little easter egg. Jillian and Louise are at the emergency room with a tengu who has a broken leg. They are talking nonsense in Elvish to thwart the translation machine.

"They're going to kidnap Tinker domi..." Louise started and faltered.

"She invented hoverbikes." Jillian launched into an elaborate mime that seemed to involve weaving cloth. "They are full of eels!"

#990 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2016, 08:11 PM:

AKICIML: Say that somebody discovers that a renter has been using a camp toilet and repeatedly dumping it in the back forty of one's property, to the point where there is, to be blunt, a pile. Is this the kind of thing a septic service might handle? Who could one call? (This has not happened to me.)

#991 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2016, 08:45 AM:

In re Moana, without getting into spoilers: It's a hero tale. But it's mostly NOT a Campbellian romp.

Its structure, resolution, and obstacles are much more similar to traditional Polynesian stories of similar derring-do than to the cliches of "how American white writers tend to write adventure stories and coming-of-age heroism". They subverted the presumptions of consumers of Disney Princess merch, a couple of times explicitly in the dialogue, but far more in the structure and the way that problems are handled.

I've noticed a lot of the white, cisgender, male people I've seen reviewing it have missed this layer entirely, which leaves the movie shallow, unsatisfying, and boring in their eyes. To me, it was none of those things.

Which is itself interesting.

#992 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2016, 12:20 PM:

Hunting for a song from half-remembered lyrics heard once, 25 years ago. What I remember:

* An Irish folksinger was singing it in the sort of Irish bar where you can hear "Do You Sing Any Dylan" but not "The Boys Of The Old Brigade."

* I remember it as an angry-farmer sort of song, maybe Canadian.

* The refrain was something like "Break the law/there's nothing you can do [...] Break the law, or the law breaks you."

Anyone recognize it?

#993 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2016, 12:45 PM:

Sandy @992 -- possibly a different version of Bob Rea's The Law? Lyrics seem about right, but his version sounds more rockish. It'd play nicely as an acoustic ballad, though.

#994 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2016, 02:41 PM:

Sounds similar, surprisingly so, but not the same. Maybe there's some root song they both come from?

#995 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2016, 03:00 PM:

No idea. I just found that one through google winnowing.

#996 ::: Douglas Davidson ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2016, 03:18 PM:

Sandy @992, I'm guessing you mean Doug McArthur's "Break the Law", notably performed with Garnet Rogers.

#999 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2016, 01:36 PM:

Sandy B.@992: definitely something like that, matching the specific textual details you remember, associated with the Rogers family :-) . I had expected to be able to find the local copy in the music archive here but so far it's not coming up, which is annoying. I'm not finding the lyrics on google, and I *am* finding other songs that use "before the law breaks you" which are *not* the one I'm remembering (which is probably the same one you are). Success is thin enough so far that I hope posting "I remember it too" is of some small value.

#1000 ::: Mary Aileen points to old spam on a closed thread ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2016, 02:46 PM:

undeleted spam here

#1001 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2016, 05:12 PM:

For those who know Carol Siegling, apparently her mother Betty Ellsesser died within the last few days. I got a notice of her funeral from my choir director, but since I'm in Iowa at the moment was unable to attend. Carol came back to Portsmouth OH to take care of her mother after her father died, and Elan Litt moved in with them a few years ago. I don't know whether they'll stay out at the farm now.

#1002 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2016, 07:18 PM:

The songwriter's website mentions a connection with Garnet Rogers, and the song appears to have been on G. Roger's first solo album -- that may make it easier to find.

#1003 ::: Nonyme ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2016, 08:34 AM:

Does anyone know if there's a way to alert Wattpad to a plagiarized fanfic other than to file a DMCA with them? They insist on real name/physical address for the DMCA. Of course they do. It's slash. I'd rather not leave myself open to potential doxing.

#1004 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2016, 02:36 PM:

Thanks for the detective work, all ! If you get obscure enough, Amazon won't play you snippets...

#1005 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2016, 07:50 PM:

re Beasts, I also remember it as not entirely intelligible -- and we saw it in the highest-tech 2D theater in the newest plex around Boston. Would it have cost them so much to get some of the actors back for a day of loopbacks -- especially since they're probably under multi-movie contracts?

related AKICIML: I've seen complaints on other fora about the whiteness of the crowds. I wouldn't have assumed downtown NYC in 1926 (for what little we saw of it) was particularly integrated, on the grounds that there would have been few reasons for non-whites to be there. I know there was a movement north over decades due to better opportunities, but would those have extended to jobs in offices or department stores, or even the canning factory Kowalski worked at?

#1006 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2016, 10:58 PM:

Acto the Wikipedia article, NYC was almost entirely white in 1920 and wasn't that much blacker in 1930, and then mostly in Manhattan (which presumably is dominated by Harlem). In the downtown area where the film was set you wouldn't have seen a lot of non-whites.

#1007 ::: Race Traitor Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2016, 03:07 PM:

C. 1008: Really? Not just going by where people lived, but where they worked? I wonder who cleaned the streets, waited on the toffs, shined the shoes? I don't think that holds up without more evidence.

#1008 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2016, 03:38 PM:

Eagerly awaiting the explanation for why crowds in movies are 80% male.

According to the census bureau, by the way, the population of Manhattan was 4.8 percent black in 1920, and 12 percent black in 1930. It took me less than 10 minutes to find this information.

#1009 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2016, 05:22 PM:

Here's a slightly earlier period crowd scene from Shorpy. Here's another. And another.

Looking at these Shorpy photos it's striking to me how very few women show up in them. In some of them even all the men look alike (the sea of boaters in the one, for instance; it's also common to come across a field of derbies). There are some crowds where there are a lot of women (beach scenes, for instance, and some parade crowds) but by and large it was a sexist world in which women were not out on the streets as much. Here's a more typical period street scene but even in a marketplace there seem to be more men than women. More recent crowds (e.g.) are more balanced.

As far as race is concerned, looking through these same crowd pictures the ones where the crowd isn't monochromatic stand out. There's one I found, for example, of spectators at a game in Griffith Field back in the teens which is pretty mixed race, but it is unusual. Of course a modern filmmaker can show whatever they want (and personally, at the movies I just don't see this sort of thing, one way or the other, so I'm taking reports of film crowds strictly on faith), and surely in Old Hollywood generic crowds were white because actors were generally white; but it doesn't seem to me that mostly white crowds in NYC before the depression are misrepresenting what people would mostly have seen.

#1010 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2016, 05:36 PM:

Xopher @1007 In the 1920's New York, the street-cleaners, factory workers, waiters, and such, were mostly recent European immigrants - Italians, Poles, Russians, Czechs etc.

#1011 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2016, 05:43 PM:

re 1010: Percentage of foreign born in NYC through the period was consistently around 35%, regardless of borough.

#1012 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2016, 07:50 PM:

Looking at these Shorpy photos it's striking to me how very few women show up in them. In some of them even all the men look alike (the sea of boaters in the one, for instance; it's also common to come across a field of derbies).

Since we're sharing, what struck me about the sea-of-boaters photo was how many people of colour I found in it, just on first glancing over it and not even looking for people of colour in particular.

#1013 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2016, 11:11 PM:

It should be noted that DC in the period was much blacker than NYC-- 27% vs 11% for Manhattan.

#1014 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2016, 01:33 AM:

Doesn't Fantastic Beasts include a scene in a speakeasy in Harlem? (I haven't seen it yet.)

#1015 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2016, 07:56 AM:

I would note that in 1926, the Italian, Polish, etc street cleaners were not regarded as white, though we think of them that way looking at pictures now.

#1016 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2016, 08:11 AM:

Something else to keep in mind: until Gordon Parks came along in the 40s, professional photographers were all, or nearly all, white, and nearly all male.

Just because a photograph records an image in the real world doesn't mean there's no selection going on.

For example, these three photographers all documented the same Japanese-American internment camp:

#1017 ::: Pfusand ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2016, 08:54 AM:

I once looked -- carefully -- through an entire Life book on the home scene during World War II. I was looking for women's clothing styles. I found one picture that might have included one woman, and one studio portrait of a woman. She was modeling a gas mask.

An. Entire. Book. Of. Photographs.

#1018 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2016, 09:07 AM:

Pfusand: And it's not like documentary photographs weren't TAKEN of women, and even published in Life in those years. Certainly factory workers at minimum, and other war workers in general, were prominent in the official photos of the era.

#1019 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2016, 05:59 PM:

Four new elements in the Periodic Table! Why, it almost makes up for losing a planet.

#1020 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2016, 12:15 PM:

Got to play my first game of Terraforming Mars last night. I liked it a lot, and recommend it to anyone here who plays board games. The debt to Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy is obvious, and acknowledged in the rulebook: both explicitly, and in the examples of play where the players are named "Stanley" "Robinson" and "Kim".

#1021 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2016, 12:48 PM:

Tom Whitmore @1019: It's kind of a shame that there are so few elements that there almost certainly won't be a Lehrium.

I'm amused by the current W'pedia entry for oganesson, which notes that "although oganesson is a member of group 18 – the first synthetic one to be so – it may possibly not be a noble gas, unlike all the other elements of that group. It was formerly thought to be a gas under normal conditions but is now predicted to be a solid due to relativistic effects." That would be assuming that one could collect enough of it, and not merely keep the sample free of decay products, but cooled from the decay energy. It appears that researchers have so far detected evidence for three (or possibly four) atoms of it.

#1022 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2016, 12:57 PM:

Alfred Palmer's October '42 visit to the Douglas plant in Long Beach is full of "Rosie" shots. And here's another interesting candid crowd shot showing a group of workers at another aircraft factory in the same era, which gives a good idea of how far Rosie did get at the time. These were all shot for the OWI, though, and it's possible that Life felt it should be using its own pictures.

#1023 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2016, 06:51 PM:

Just heard that the Army Corp of Engineers will halt construction on the Dakota Access pipeline.

Don't know if they might re-start after Trump takes office, of course.

#1024 ::: Sarah E ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2016, 07:18 PM:

I don't know if this is true, but someone said that since the decision came from the ACoE and not the White House, it can't be reversed by the next PotUS (which in retrospect may be why Obama didn't step in).

#1025 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2016, 09:18 AM:

Today is the 9th anniversary of Abi becoming an ML moderator.
Today is the 9th anniversary of Abi becoming an ML moderator.
Today is the 9th anniversary of Abi becoming an ML moderator.

#1026 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2016, 09:47 AM:

Happy moderatoraversary, Abi!

#1027 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2016, 10:35 AM:

Many happy returns of the day, abi, and thanks for your work!

#1028 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2016, 11:19 AM:

Happy abiversary!!

Meanwhile, entirely unrelated to anything else: I just finished the first volume of Sandman, "Preludes & Nocturnes."

Question for the commentariat: how representative is it of the series overall? (I'm thinking more tone and content than quality of writing/artwork.)

#1029 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2016, 11:26 AM:

Thank you. You remind me that we need a new Open Thread, and I've taken the opportunity to blether on a little.

But thank you very much. <3

#1030 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2016, 01:03 PM:

@Jacque: I find myself suspecting that you want to know if there are any more stories like that one. No, there aren't.

If you are wondering whether to continue reading, I suggest you skip forward to the third collection, Dream Country. It's a standalone collection of shorts that doesn't have any spoilers for The Doll's House, and it's a lot more representative than the first in terms of tone, content, and quality. There's still stuff that might require trigger warnings: one story features a woman held captive and repeatedly raped, for example. But there's also a story about cats plotting to take over the world, and one about the world premiere of A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Basically, the rest of the series does sometimes go to dark places, but nothing quite so deep black as "24 Hours".

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