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February 1, 2017

Is this Open thread 216?
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 12:53 PM *

What is your name? What is your quest? What is your favorite color?

Wait, give me some time to think.

What do you want?*

Do I want to start a new Open Thread? Yes, yes I do.

Statement. One-love.

* see also

Comments on Is this Open thread 216?:
#1 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2017, 01:29 PM:

1. Carol
2. can I get back to you on this?
3. Teal, no YAAAAAAAA

#2 ::: Will "scifantasy" Frank ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2017, 01:49 PM:

The full set of B5 Questions (and the Crusade Question) seem very appropriate these days...

Who are you?

What do you want?

Why are you here?

Where are you going?

Who do you serve, and who do you trust?

#4 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2017, 02:03 PM:

@2: Somehow...especially appropriate, these days....

#5 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2017, 02:09 PM:

Does anybody really know what time it is?

#6 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2017, 02:11 PM:

How many clocks do you think we have?

#7 ::: Will "scifantasy" Frank ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2017, 02:15 PM:

What do you do with a BA in English?

How do you solve a problem like Maria?

When? Where? Who? Which?

#9 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2017, 02:34 PM:

But if I've lost my talkative stove-top, how am I going to find my vocal range?

#10 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2017, 02:40 PM:

Re whistling, @959 and 960 in 215: I do it with lips pursed and tonguetip to the backs of my lower front teeth. Pitch is controlled by tiny variations in the pursing of my lips, and largely by the height and shape of the hill in my tongue.

I taught myself to do that as a child, and ran up against the limits of its range. I found this frustrating. Eventually I learned to whistle on the INHALE, which gives me a whole additional lower range with the same technique (mostly the same; the tongue motions are not identical, but rhyme strongly).

I can now start at the bottom of my combined whistling range and glissando upwards starting with an inhale and proceeding smoothly to an exhale, ending up as high as I can go.

According to a documentary on competitive whistling I watched, there are two schools of whistling technique. What I do is close to what they described as the bird-call-inspired method.

I did discover not long ago that everyone I've asked to do it for me has a DIFFERENT mouth technique for making Donald-Duck style quacking noises. It's fascinating.

(mine involves clenching my teeth, making my tongue fill my entire mouth almost firmly, and sucking air in through my lips past the OUTSIDES of my teeth, admitting it past the very back of my tongue. This makes sort of squishy quacking noises, whose pitch is controlled by smiling or grimacing motions of the corners of the lips)

#11 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2017, 02:40 PM:

What's going on here? What's this all about?

Can I join in?

#12 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2017, 02:44 PM:

Shouldn't we thank an anna?

#13 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2017, 02:48 PM:

Oldster @9

Do you think I didn't see what you just did there?

#14 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2017, 02:59 PM:

Whither? Whence? Wherefore?

#15 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2017, 02:59 PM:

Does that only work in American dialects?

(Are e.g. Brits, Aussies, etc. equally at home on the range?)

#16 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2017, 02:59 PM:

How long do you think we can keep this up?

#18 ::: an anna ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2017, 03:07 PM:

Are there futurists who are worth their salt, metaphorically, who do *not* write Sci Fi? Or are authors pretty much the cream of the crop?

My question: How do we detect and catch bots behaving badly? If we can't, what social structure for human living is the most likely to still work well?

#20 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2017, 04:10 PM:

Are you the same "an anna" who was suspected of being a spam probe yesterday?

Isn't it great that today you're trying to detect bots behaving badly? Is there any better camouflage for a bot, then pretending to be a bot-hunter?

#21 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee, Who Can See Things Like IP Addresses And Kinda Knows A Bit About Bots ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2017, 04:29 PM:

Can we please assume good faith? Or do I have to get cranky?

(an anna, please make sure the email address you enter matches exactly so that you build up a commenting history. No one but a mod can see the email address, but the ability to view all your posts is keyed to it.)

#22 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2017, 04:31 PM:

Do we really want a cranky Idumea?

#23 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2017, 04:36 PM:

Would Idumea Arbacoochie and her fellow gnomes like some Lindor Chocolates that I happen to have here...? (Not as good as Belgium, perhaps, but worlds better than Nestles...)

#25 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2017, 04:40 PM:

Did I sound like I was questioning anyone's good faith?

If so, may I express my abject apology? Will Idumea and an anna please forgive me?

(But if I actually suspected I was dealing with a bot, would I really tease it about pretending not to be a bot, given that bots have no sense of humour?)

And will someone more knowledgeable than I am, address the substance of an anna's question?

#26 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2017, 04:41 PM:

I can whistle in two ways, one basically making a shhh sound that sometimes turns whistley, if that makes sense? And the other I can do only if I have a forkful of hot food in front of me, however strange the connection between brain and mouth may be-- does anyone else have that kind of thing? Or am I alone in my inability to whistle on command without dinner?

#27 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee, Speaking Around a Mouthful of Chocolate ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2017, 04:44 PM:

Do we all remember the failure mode of clever? Can newcomers expect to know our culture when even the moderator thought the comment was a dig?

Shall we move on, though?

#28 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2017, 04:49 PM:

How could I have managed to completely forget how the movie set that scene? Or is this not the version with Dreyfuss as the Player?

How could Jon Rubinstein be such a sharp-edged Guildenstern(*) just a decade after playing the classic naif in Pippin?

How young must someone have been not have seen the Karamazovs doing those lines while steal-juggling?

(not abi's clip; 20th-anniversary stage production, with John Wood as the Player.)

#29 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2017, 04:49 PM:

an anna @18: Is Wikipedia's list of futurists any good?

#30 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2017, 04:51 PM:

catchups from the previous thread:

seconding Elliot Mason @ 902: the deepest bass I've ever sung with reminded me of the description of Gordon in The Chrysalids (uka Rebirth) -- although his speaking voice was also low. That's a very extreme case (an MD told me years later that this guy probably knew what was coming (death very young of congestive heart failure), but I'd say the tenors in my current chorus average wider than the basses and at least as tall.

Elliott Mason @ 925: what, they've never heard of Lauren Bacall?

Bill Higgins @ 959: I use over-the-tongue whistling for rough effect (e.g., if I'm trying to imitate an instrument or vocal style that needs more treble). Have you tried converting that to flutter-tongue? (I taught myself that after Noyes Fludde, which uses it for the flight of the dove, because I thought it was a neat effect.) My whistling range is somewhere very close to my voice range -- which is baffling since the pitch mechanisms are (AFAIK) completely unrelated.

#31 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2017, 04:52 PM:

Relatedly, does Henry Ford count as a futurist?

Do the Quaker utopian industrialists, like Hershey and Cadbury and Pullman, who created model toy villages for their workers and tried to shape the entire future of living?

Does Frederick Law Olmsted, who tried to do similar things through landscape design?

#32 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2017, 04:56 PM:

I wonder if my great-grandmother's hog call method counts as whistling?

Does anyone else know how to put their tongue near the top of the hard palate and hold it there while relaxing the tip, and blow past, so it flutters and makes a purring sound (unvoiced), or an ay-yi-yi Xena-esque call if voiced?

#33 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2017, 04:57 PM:

Does Eli Whitney count as a futurist, for his long championing of interchangeable parts as the ideal case of manufacturing? Does it matter that he never actually managed to pull it off in practice? Or does that lack of payoff in his own lifetime make him even MORE future-looking?

#34 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2017, 05:27 PM:

Is there any online resource for learning these multitude of whistling techniques?

Am I alone in thinking that Lauren Bacall's famous instruction are more for blowing a raspberry than for whistling?

#35 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2017, 05:30 PM:

Does Buckminster Fuller count as a futurist? Alvin Toffler? Neither of them wrote SF, right?

#36 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2017, 05:35 PM:

When we get tired of questions, could we use, like, uptalk?

Would that make even, like, the statements? Sound like, you know, questions?

#37 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2017, 05:38 PM:

Or would doing as oldster suggests just make us sound Canadian?

#38 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2017, 05:39 PM:

Is it possible to get tired of questions?

#39 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2017, 05:50 PM:

After only 38 comments? Including three with no questions at all in them?

Are the shades of Pemberley to be thus polluted? (Does anyone else think The Shades of Pemberley would be a great band name?)

#41 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2017, 05:54 PM:

In HLN: Can Local Man appeal an erroneous parking ticket? Did the parking enforcer notice that the house number they wrote on the ticket, 210, did not match the "odd" side of the street prohibition the local man was cited for? Is local man happy that the appeal form is on paper and needs to be mailed on?

Does Bettridge's Law of Headlines apply to HLN?

#42 ::: David Crisp ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2017, 06:00 PM:

Seen elseweb as a possible new nickname for the present inhabitant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue: Caestulus.

What does the Fluorosphere think?

#43 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2017, 06:00 PM:

Is chocolate the answer? This may explain a lot.
* * *
Growing up back east, I was vaguely aware of "hard water" and "water softeners." I always figured this involved a filter, or chemical that caused precipitation, to get rid of the excess minerals.

The other week I was roaming around Fred Meyer, looking for ice-melt solution, the powdered stuff you spread on icy walks and drives to melt it. Not a bag or shaker-bucket to be found. I did find a big sack of . . . "Morton Water Softener" pellets. Which turn out to be basically . . . salt? Bean-sized pellets of glossy salt.

Which leads me to ask: Does "softened" water pose problems to people on low-sodium diets? Is the amount required so small that it is just background noise?

(I ended up buying the salt pellets, and having at them with a mallet. They seemed to work in the last ice storm.)

#44 ::: an anna ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2017, 06:04 PM:

Oldster #20, I had missed that, sorry. I will use this email address from now on.

Tom #25, how well did Buckminster Fuller and Alvin Toffler do at visualizing where we are now?

Elliott #29, thank you for the Wikipedia list. It's long. Does anyone know which ones were visionaries, in the sense of seeing us as we are in 2017 and how we could steer to get to a good place?

Idumea #27, I had forgotten the failure mode of clever and had to look it up. It is something like "a shoal".

I am asking about the bots thing because I'm not sure how you structure society so that individuals and societies (especially online ones, but also real life ones) aren't (both) vulnerable to them. I don't think we're doing a great job.

#45 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2017, 06:16 PM:

Two non-SF-writer futurists that come to mind: James Cascio and Alex Steffan. Neither of whom are in a sprightly mood right now.
* * *
I finished my move to Oregon 15 years ago . . . well, tomorrow or Friday, as best as I can recall.

The office is getting its first update (carpets, paint, lobby re-work) ever since I started work here. Also, they're replacing fogged window panes this week . . . when we have temps in the 30s F, high winds, and snow and ice blowing through tomorrow and the day after. Hmmnnnnrrrrr?

#46 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2017, 06:51 PM:

Stefan @ #43

If chocolate is not the answer then you ae asking the wrong question.

Water softeners are an ion exchange process, and the salt is used to reactivate the ion exchange matrix when it stops working.

The word 'Permutit' rings a faint bell.

(Unless my tinnitus is playing up again.)

Seagoon: What is that lump on your nut?

#47 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2017, 06:52 PM:

Moriarty "That is the difference between margarine."

#48 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2017, 06:57 PM:

If you're really worried about sodium, consider asking your plumber if he can fix it so the cold-water tap in the kitchen is hard water, and the others are soft. It's doable, but not necessarily easy.
(My father had the cold water in the kitchen in Texas, and the instant-hot-water thing, plumbed for hard water. The rest got softened. The water softener was in the basement, and the bags of salt pellets are 40 lbs....I can lift that much, actually. But the bags got to ride the chairlift down.)

#49 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2017, 07:11 PM:

#46: "reactivate the ion exchange matrix" sounds wonderfully like a bit of Star Trek: TNG techno-babble.

#48: No sodium problems myself, just curious if that's a problem. The local water is fine; there are probably folks with hard well water in the rural areas beyond the urban growth boundary.

#50 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2017, 07:15 PM:

Stefan Jones @43:

"Hard water" typically has lots of calcium, magnesium, and other barely water-soluble minerals dissolved in it, in small quantities. These precipitate out in pipes, toilet tanks, humidifiers, heating systems, etc and cause problems.

Most obviously, soaps are metallic salts of fatty acids. The sodium salts are solids, and the potassium salts are liquid (at room temperature) and thus form bar and liquid soaps. Both sodium and potassium salts are water-soluble, so they bind with grease and oils and rinse them down the drain.

But calcium and magnesium salts of fatty acids are not water soluble, so in hard water instead of helping oil and water mix down the drain, it precipitates out onto your skin , tub, clothes, or dishes (depending on what you are trying to wash with soap), and can even help clog drains.

Water softeners that use salt attempt to do an "ion exchange": by passing the hard water through a resin bed that is full of sodium ions, the calcium ions bind to the resin, and the sodium ions are released to take their place. The end result is that instead of having 100 ppm of calcium carbonate, it'll have 100ppm of sodium carbonate, which isn't going to come out of solution the same way.

100ppm of sodium isn't a lot; seawater is in the 6000ppm range.

#51 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2017, 07:16 PM:

Ah, Permutit is artificial zeolite.


#52 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2017, 07:20 PM:

I grew up and live in Chicago. Apparently our water is neither hard nor soft as a general thing, though individual houses can have enough mineral or iron buildup to stain their porcelain fixtures, build up in pipes, etc.

I've never really noticed a problem with hard water, possibly because of where I've lived, but in Modesto, CA, where my in-laws live, HOLY CRAP is everything OVERSOFTENED.

In the hotel I had to start taking a shower with the amount of soap I'd usually use to wash my HANDS lightly because it took five minutes of rinsing to get the slippery off. And don't even ask me about washing my hands in public restrooms.

Every. Flipping. Building. has water softeners on all their lines, and all set to "OBLITERATE".

Why do people do that?

#53 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2017, 07:47 PM:

#50 Thanks for the summary!

I once encountered phenomenally hard water. It was in a cattle watering "pool" on a farm in southern Kansas where a high-power rocketry launch was held. It tasted and smelled of clay; enough that no one really wanted to drink it when there was any alternative, e.g., brought from town.

I had no problem drinking it, and submerging my head and shoulders and as much of my torso in it as I could arrange, after wandering out in the sun for upwards of an hour in search of a lost rocket.

It was hot and dry enough that day that my t-shirt was dry within minutes.

#54 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2017, 07:50 PM:

The water in California tends to be just slightly softer than the rocks. I used to have to clean out my tea-kettle, because I'd get a quarter inch of mineral deposits on the inside bottom. Every year. (My mother's description of the water without softening was something like "you need a cold chisel to get it out of the tap".)

#55 ::: Devin ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2017, 08:24 PM:

As far as Ford, Pullman, and the like... I think a "futurist," proper, can be distinguished by an emphasis on predicting or exploring the future rather than building it. You could be both, but I think to do that you'd have to separate the activities at least a bit: set out your predictions and also try to build something. "I think X is going to happen and so I want us to have Y around when it does" counts, "I think the world would be better with Y" is something different.

Whitney blurs the case, but I think "trying and failing" has maybe more in common with building than with exploring?

In that sense, you're writing a certain species of SF, but whether you also write genre novels/short fiction is (it seems to me) more the question here.

Anna, what does it mean for a futurist to be "worth their salt?" If you're looking for specific predictive accuracy, that's a very hard criterion to meet. "Does this provide a useful way of thinking about the world" is more my speed... But then, I tend towards a historian's worldview, and that's also what I expect of a history.

("Something like a shoal" was beautiful, by the way.)

#56 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2017, 09:27 PM:

Have you considered the question Elliott raises in #29?

an anna @18: Is Wikipedia's list of futurists any good?

Shouldn't Albert Robida be on it?

If Bruce Sterling (undeniably a futurist) is best known as an SF writer, shouldn't that be mentioned?

Is alphabetizing by first names really a good idea?

By what criteria are some SF writers listed as futurists, while others do not qualify? Might our packet-pal Charlie Stross make the grade?

Did Leonardo da Vinci really make pronouncements about the future, or did he merely invent cool stuff?

Is it fair to call Richard Feynman a futurist, just because some list-editor was fond of Feynman?

Should every artificial-intelligence researcher be added to the list?

Is Renzo Provinciali really the only Italian Futurist who is also a futurist in the sense meant here?

#57 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2017, 10:58 PM:

And is there honey still for tea?

#58 ::: Elyse ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2017, 12:05 AM:

Regarding softened water: some of the slippery on your skin is not soap, it is your skin oil dissolving more than it does in hard water.

I have really horrible well water, softened and filtered and technically drinkable, though I buy spring water in 5 gallon jugs for drinking and cooking. If I stop feeling a bit of slickness on my skin during showers I know I've gone too long between refilling the salt tank.

If I spend too much time in hotels with unsoftened water my skin feels sludgey -- it is all a question of what you get used to.

#59 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2017, 01:53 AM:

HLN: Am I officially a crazy cat lady again? After about 3 years of having 3 cats and insisting that was the limit, local woman has adopted a 4th. Pretty little one-eyed female, about 4 1/2 months, pastel orange and white. Local kitten is active, playful, and cuddly; appears to be recovering well from loss of eye. Local adult cats' reactions are varied.

#60 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2017, 02:01 AM:

If I end a sentence with a rising inflection, does it count as a question? #Australian #Kiwi

#61 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2017, 04:24 AM:

Why is a mouse when it spins?

Which sf novel cites this? I think I picked it up from John Brunner.

#62 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2017, 07:08 AM:

If the WH says that Trump had a tantrum because "he was tired & fatigue was setting in," is that a "declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office"?

25th Amendment time yet?

#63 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2017, 09:03 AM:

And incidentally: what's 2 cubed times 3 cubed?

If my die is cubed, what are the odds of rolling three 2s in a row? three 3s in a row?

What's the date two weeks from today (in US format)?

#64 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2017, 09:15 AM:

Having decided in advance which barricades I'm willing to die on, how do I keep from dying before I get to the barricades?

#65 ::: Quill ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2017, 10:21 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz @61: I don't know what it's originally from, but I know the Fourth Doctor quotes it--either in "Robot" or in "Robots of Death".

Not sure what it is about robots that invokes mice.

#66 ::: Quill ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2017, 10:24 AM:

Elliott Mason @52: My grandmother lived in Acampo, which is about forty miles or so from Modesto, and her well water was so softened that it was (to me) almost too revolting to drink. My parents always said she used too much softener, but I don't know what the water was like without it.

Now the place is on the municipal water line, but I haven't been in it for twenty years, so I don't know if it's any better.

#67 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2017, 10:34 AM:

Read me, Dr. Memory?

#68 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2017, 10:39 AM:

"Don't you think he looks tired?"

As long as Bannon goes with Trump, I don't care which part of the constitution is used to get rid of him.

#69 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2017, 11:17 AM:

As Mr Morden and his associates would ask: What do you want?

(Points to Vir for the best answer.)

#70 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2017, 11:18 AM:

How does asking questions make you feel?

There are a number of ways in which I whistle. I can't whistle with my fingers in my mouth, so that's the loudest one gone.

There's the plain way, mouth the size of the inside of a Life Saver (you can whistle through a Life Saver when you first take it out of the package, by the way) with the tongue controlling pitch. Whistling low this way seems almost like a different method. You can also whistle on the inhale with this one, and if you don't sound overly different doing that, you can manage some pretty long phrases. A variant is to have the tip of the tongue anchored behind the front bottom teeth, and pitch is controlled by moving the middle of the tongue up and down. A high range is found when the tongue contrives to fill most of the mouth, leaving a small area controllable by the tip of the tongue in the front of the mouth.

There's whistling through your teeth, a melodious ess sound with the mouth moving a lot.

There's the Andy Griffith Theme ("The Fishing Hole') whistle, which has the tip or side of the tongue anchored, so as to produce two tones, usually about a third apart.

Trilling or warbling is something I usually do by putting the back of the tongue where the soft palate will catch the air just right and give the intermittent air supply.

Can't seem to think of any others right now that I have any success with.

Footnote: I have this theory that Doc Savage's mysterious trilling sound doesn't actually issue from his mouth, or even from his head. Did he smile or look around afterward? The writers don't say.

#71 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2017, 11:22 AM:

Open threadiness: Has anyone else been watching _The Expanse_? I've been pretty impressed with the first season (which I just finished). Pretty decent hard SF, engaging characters, political/social/economic turmoil, and while the storyline isn't especially close, a lot of the imagery and mood of the story (especially the parts set in the Belt) remind me of Firefly.

#72 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2017, 11:47 AM:


3 4 5 6 BOXCARS

#73 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2017, 12:11 PM:

How many roads must a man walk down before you call him a man?

#74 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2017, 12:12 PM:

Oldster @62:

Have you read the text of the 25th Amendment recently? Have you noticed it's actually really hard to invoke without the agreement of the President?

#75 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2017, 12:13 PM:

albatross @71:

I watched the first season last year, and then read the first book of the series it was based on. I was surprised by the divergence from the book (none of the book is set on Earth, so the entire Earth-based story arc is not in the book; the first season ends about 2/3 of the way through the book). My feeling is that the TV adaptation is working off of the whole book series, and the Earth side of things is in a different book.

I plan on watching the 2nd season, but I'm afraid it falls into the "in my copious free time" category right now.

#76 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2017, 12:35 PM:

"The Expanse" stopped where it did because they wanted to end Season One on a cliffhanger. I could ask Daniel & Ty on Saturday if the tv show will - as suggested here - adapt individual books, or the book series as a whole. As for Avasarala and Bobbie being brought in earlier in the tv version... After the first novel, the authors realized that they had given short shrift to women and corrected the situation with these two characters who turned out to be so popular that tv put them in Season One. One last thing... In Season Two, Avasarala may be a bit more foul-mouthed, and more like her book counterpart.

#77 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2017, 12:58 PM:

Why would you ask whether I have read it, when I pasted a portion of it in my earlier comment? Didn't that suggest to you that I had in fact read it?

Did you notice the part in Section 4 whether the VP and a majority of the cabinet can trigger it without the agreement of the President?

And did I say it would be easy? Did I suggest it would be likely to happen?

Can we avoid squabbling over small things, when in all likelihood we probably agree about the larger ones?

(Is there something about interrogation that makes people sound ill-tempered?)

#78 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2017, 12:59 PM:

Has anyone else read Lagoon by Okorafor?

Does anyone else think it's vaguely like Illuminatus!

Would people like a spoiler thread for the book?

It mentions that the aliens ask such good questions it's a pleasure to answer them. I think this is all off-stage, but it's still an ideal I like.

#79 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2017, 01:15 PM:

Aw. May I leave these KIND nut bars with dark chocolate and sea salt here for the gnomes? (Do gnomes like sea salt with their chocolate bars?)

Have we thanked an anna enough for starting this?

And (for those of you who like this sort of thing) -- does everyone have the latest installment of the Peter Grant series by Ben Aaronovitch?

#80 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2017, 01:24 PM:

I watched and enjoyed The Expanse, S1, but it seemed like a chore at times because so many unpleasant people. A lot of the impetus to keep watching came from the "wow, they're getting so much of the actual-interplanetary-travel stuff correct!"

I tried watching the season opener of The Magicians last night. I liked season one, and actually thought it was more interesting than the book, but half way through S2E1 I thought "I'm not sure what's going on, and you know, I really don't like any of these characters." CLICK.

Having dialed back on news and Twitter, I have been watching more silly TV. I'm catching up on Season 7 of Adventure Time, and I have a week of Steven Universe in reserve.

#81 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2017, 01:40 PM:

Re: the "flapping his hands around" thread.

Does ASL include the pulling your thumb off gesture? If so, what does it mean? If not, why not?

#82 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2017, 01:50 PM:

TV notes:

I'm looking forward to S2 of The Expanse. I watched S1 of Magicians, but I decided it was too much "assholes being assholes" so I have dropped it.

(Penny is not an asshole. He is permanently pissed at being surrounded by assholes.)

(The Expanse contains assholes, and also war, privation, misery, and death. But... it's the optimistic show anyhow. Somehow.)

I am watching Supergirl, Flash, and Arrow (but not Legends). Steve Universe, of course. And I have just started S1 of Person of Interest; it plays *weird* against the current political climate.

(Did Killjoys gets renewed? I think iZombie did.)

#83 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2017, 01:54 PM:

When I first started whistling couldn't do it exhaling, but only inhaling. That has resulted in me being able to whistle continuously and endlessly, without having to take breaths-- because whistling IS breathing.

Re countertenors: the best countertenor I ever knew was a true tenor, but he sang church repertoire; we had another fellow in the same group who was of the operatic Italian sort (in all senses), and he couldn't do it.

#84 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2017, 02:13 PM:

oldster @77:

Do you mind if I drop the questioning aspect for the rest of this post?

I hadn't noticed that it was you who posted part of the text earlier, my apologies. It's exactly the "agreement of the Cabinet and the VP" portion that becomes difficult, with a Cabinet selected on the basis of personal loyalty to the President, I think; it becomes even more so since that's only a temporary measure unless Congress agrees to its continuation.

It's really written for "The guy's seriously ill, but may recover" rather than "The guy is barking mad, but we will profit from his madness."

#85 ::: John M. Burt ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2017, 02:31 PM:

Elliott Mason @31, Henry Ford definitely was a futurist, an enthusiastic one -- but like most futurists, he was wrong most of the time.

Ford believed that he could and should transform all fair-skinned immigrants into pseudo-Englishmen, thus ensuring the preservation unto eternity of the perfect culture.

Ford believed that he could assemble a (literal) boatload of experts to bring a swift end to the First World War.

The ways in which Ford actually did shape the 20th Century were things which he would have done anything he could have done short of shutting down his factories to prevent: radical changes to teen dating habits and sexual mores, for instance.

#86 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2017, 02:40 PM:

The American eugenics movement and its main thinkers were also, under that reasoning, futurists.

I mean, not ones whose future I would want to live in, but that's certainly not a requirement for the position.

#87 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2017, 02:45 PM:

oldster, lorax @84:

It seems, at a minimum, given an unwilling Trump, to require the following sequence:

1. Cabinet and VP tell Congress Trump is Bonkers.
2. Trump tells Congress that so-called Acting President Pence is a disloyal liar who lies, and he is decidedly not bonkers.
3. Cabinet and VP tell Congress (within 4 days) that Trump really is Bonkers.
4. Congress convenes, holds quick hearings on the matter, and votes by 2/3 majority that Trump is bonkers within 21 days.
5. At that point, we have a regency, with Acting President Pence.

#88 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2017, 02:53 PM:

albatross @69:

Yes. Third link in the OP, plus footnote.

Next time I just give up and Rickroll you all.

#89 ::: J Homes ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2017, 03:23 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @61,

Are you looking for Eric Frank Russell, in a short story which I think was called Diabologic.

J Homes.

#90 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2017, 03:23 PM:

When are we getting ostriches?

#91 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2017, 03:42 PM:

abi @ #88

Indeed, and this moose had a very enjoyable time watching the B5 clips that followed, to the point that the DVDs will be hauled out and rewatched soon.

Appropriately, '88' is "Love & Kisses" in telegraphese, which is exactly what you deserve for all your efforts on our behalf.

#92 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2017, 03:45 PM:

For 25/4 purposes, does the cabinet include the un-vetted-by-congress aids, family members, and cronies?

#90: After extreme vetting.

Poor ostriches.

#93 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2017, 04:13 PM:

Elliot #86:

The Eugenics movement is sort of an object lesson in how widely-held elite opinion can go off a cliff. A huge number of the best and brightest were true believers in this idea that now looks to us like monstrous[1] nonsense. Keynes, Pearson, Fisher, Huxley, Sanger, Galton, Wells, and a whole lot more prominent people were supporters of eugenics (mostly the coercive kind), and there were eugenics laws in the US, UK, and a lot of Northern Europe.

And now, all that stuff is widely seen as horrible, and "eugenics supporter" is approximately equal, in the public mind, to "literally a Nazi."

It makes me wonder what widespread ideas of our time, held by all the smartest and most forward-looking people in our society, our grandchildren will think of as horrifying.

[1] Though the monstrous stuff was the coercive and violent parts of the eugenics idea. Without genocide and forcible sterilization, eugenics is mostly just harmless quackery.

#94 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2017, 04:14 PM:

abi #88:

I don't know how I missed that one!

#95 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2017, 04:19 PM:

How long is a piece of string?

#96 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2017, 04:50 PM:

How many roads must a man walk down?

#97 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2017, 05:03 PM:

albatross, #93: Don't forget that Lazarus Long is reportedly the product of an ongoing private eugenics experiment (breeding humans for a longer lifespan) that functions by means of bribery rather than coercion.

Or at least I hope so. Were the female candidates offered the same deal as the male ones? Or did they just have to take whatever guy picked them? I'm not sure that was ever made clear.

#98 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2017, 05:06 PM:

Does your countertenor go to eleven?

#99 ::: an anna ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2017, 05:07 PM:

(i think i have the email address right. but this is from my phone, so might not.)

My purpose in requesting a thread of questions was to see what things other people were concerned about and thought were important, that hadn't been getting heard, and to see if we could get them kind of concisely. Maybe if I'd made that clearer it would have helped.

Are contributors to this thread regular Making Light contributors? Where are Patrick and Teresa?

#100 ::: an anna ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2017, 05:10 PM:

Idumea's people of good faith, I meant.

#101 ::: Elyse ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2017, 05:15 PM:

Have you heard the people sing?

Do we need a new anti-fascist anthem?

Or possibly more drums and instruments at marches?

#103 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2017, 05:26 PM:

Terry @ #102

I think it all depends which bedpost you leave it on.

#104 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2017, 05:30 PM:

Are more and more people here reminded of Greg Stillson every time they hear of Trump's latest antics?

#105 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2017, 05:31 PM:

an anna @ #99

Good luck with that.

(Though I note that we haven't had a poetry outbreak yet.)

#106 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2017, 05:36 PM:

Whose side are you on?

I take no side.

You're skating the edge!

I *am* the edge.

#107 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2017, 06:03 PM:

an anna @99: Most of the people here (this thread) are pretty regular posters. And the posts are pretty much the usual run of serious and silly -- you'll find some of the kind you want, but finding anything specific requires mining ability.

P&T don't comment all that often -- they have jobs and complex lives, and I'm always glad to see them when they have the time. They do much more starting the balls rolling (and it's always worth reading their links off the front page, even when I disagree with the articles).

#108 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2017, 06:19 PM:

an anna--

I'm not a regular contributor, so don't take my behaviour as representative of the site. I pop in sporadically and try to offer a bit of silliness, but as abi pointed out, it often doesn't work.

You started a good thing on the last thread, even if it was not precisely the good thing you intended. That kind of serendipitous result is not uncommon on this site, which is part of why I visit it.

I hope that your suggestion will also be taken up in the way you intended, i.e. by people voicing their concerns, esp those that are not generally heard. That way, you will have started two good things.

#109 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2017, 06:20 PM:

Why does the turtle cross the road?

#110 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2017, 06:26 PM:

Are you going to Scarborough Fair?

Oh where, and oh where, has my highland laddie gone?

#111 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2017, 06:56 PM:

You may ask yourself:
Where does that highway lead to?

You may say to yourself:
My God, what have I done?

#112 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2017, 07:01 PM:

an anna #99: Yup, the contributers so far are mostly regulars (and contra oldster's comment, she comes around here often enough to count).

Any given thread here generally winds up with at least one of puns, party games, or poetry, but it's not uncommon for them to also start with one of those. Deeper questions probably will turn up over time -- no guarantees, but it takes a while to work up to that sort of thing anyhow.

#113 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2017, 07:15 PM:

On roadcrossing: I encountered an apparently suicidal opossum* last night. I slowed, drove up to it, blinked my lights at it because I'd heard that frozen deer will leap off at that, admired its bloody jaws and wiggly-niffly nose, and then drove over it. There were two small suspicious thumps as I did so, and I may have said something along the lines of, "You'd better not be fucking dead," but it wasn't, or at least it was not-dead enough that the lights of the car behind me (which drove around it rather than over it) showed it in the same posture, presumably a little miffed that its dinner was disturbed.

I mean, I like opossums. I like most mammals**. They eat a million ticks and don't carry rabies, and they look like RsOUS and have the most teeth of any mammal, and also babies, and I would totally have one as a pet if I found one at a suitable developmental stage.

On eugenics: I tend to put it in the same bucket as the death penalty these days-- sure, it looks nice in theory, but there's no way to test that theory without implementing it in a way that we are absolutely not capable of, nor can we expect to be capable of it any time soon. But I still want to take my students in for IUDs the second they start talking about dating or babies. The oh-no-you-will-ruin-your-life please-don't-second-generation-this-problem feeling might apply to gen-ed students as well as mine, but I doubt it.

Then again, a way we haven't tried to fix the problems eugenics pretends to be able to fix is actually supporting everyone. Much less life-ruining going on*** if group homes take people with kids.

*Also an excellent band name
**My mental mammal-petting flowchart seems to include 'is it actively harming me' and 'ectoparasites, y/n?' as fail conditions. I guess smell, too? Still.
***One particular student.

#114 ::: MinaW ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2017, 07:30 PM:

Elliott Mason @ 32 I think that's what I do when purring and petting a cat. Tried to check, but I can't seem to do it in the computer lab at school...

Stefan Jones @ 43 Houseplants can die from being watered with softened water, I learned while working in a nursery.

#115 ::: an anna ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2017, 07:37 PM:

Thanks Tom, Dave, Oldster. That's helpful.

#116 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2017, 07:51 PM:

#89 ::: J Homes

I really think it was also in Brunner-- maybe something about more advanced humanity.

Meanwhile, which is heavier, feathers or lead?

#97 ::: Lee

Beyond This Horizon has a rather modest sort of eugenics (best traits from both parents) portrayed favorably and ambitious bioenigineering portrayed as very bad.

#112 ::: Dave Harmon

Food and cooking are also strong attractors for this blog. Sometimes they are deliberately invoked to cool down conflict.

#117 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2017, 08:03 PM:

an anna @various:

In a way, this place reminds me of a certain bar on Long Island that Spider Robinson used to write about. There are other online forums which try to recreate that bar more exactly (and I see several folks here from there), but this place is not directly inspired by it. Rather, I think the owners have similar ideals, leading to attracting similar people, as what lead to Robinson's creation.

We talk about anything, have flights of fancy (like whole threads where speaking in questions is encouraged, or breaking out into poetry, or recipes), share joy, share pain, ask for and give advice, comfort, etc.

This place wouldn't run without the moderation of Abi, Avram, Teresa and Patrick (and others? does the list need to be updated)? Most visibly, they remind people to be civil, and only occasionally have to be more aggressive. The rest of us keep an eye out for spam and let them know so they can nuke it.

Welcome! Look around!

Do you write poetry?

#118 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2017, 08:25 PM:

Oldster @62:
If the WH says that Trump had a tantrum because "he was tired & fatigue was setting in," is that a "declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office"?

Or is it just a rephrased version of "tired and emotional"?

#119 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2017, 08:36 PM:

Buddha Buck #117: Hmm! Checking the front page, John Macdonald seems to have dropped off the masthead. Admittedly, we haven't heard much from him lately... he was last reported indulging in the enthusiastic practice of street magic. ;-)

#120 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2017, 08:37 PM:

Chris @118:

Of all the faults of Trump, it appears he's serious about not letting "tired and emotional" apply to him.

#121 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2017, 08:46 PM:

#61, #65, and #89 set me to hunting.

In his 1955 story "Diabologic," Eric Frank Russell treated the question "Why is a mouse when it spins?" as though it were a common saying. And indeed it was, as Eric Partridge attests in A Dictionary of Catch Phrases: American and British, as was its answer, "Because the higher, the fewer." Partridge thinks it dates from "hardly before 1900." He offers an example from a 1919 letter by John Dos Passos.

Google Ngram Viewer helped me learn that the riddle was commonly known in the 1920s and 1930s. As Partridge suggests, this n-gram doesn't show up in Googles corpus of books or magazines before 1890 or so.

A solid data point: G. K. Chesterton mentions the riddle in his essay "Asking the Right Questions" in the Illustrated London News for 5 January 1907. And he seems to assume that everybody knows it.

At some point in the 20th century, the riddle slipped out of common discourse-- though it does make an appearance in the Star Trek: Next Generation episode "Cost of Living."

#122 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2017, 09:14 PM:

Serge Broom @ 104: IIRC, Stillson didn't throw public temper tantrums; he only broke his good ol' boy persona in private.

#123 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2017, 09:15 PM:

Daggit, now I'm trying to remember what story had an annoying chorus of "the higher, the fewer!" as a verging on nonsense thing.

#124 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2017, 10:05 PM:

In English, statements are converted to questions by an inversion of order.

What moral difference does their coldness make?
You found them sweet; how does that exculpate?
How does their savor earn you favor’s sake?
Is your forgiveness something you dictate?

If meant for dinner, would you have abstained?
Why speculate on their intended use?
Why emphasize their rightful owner’s thrift?
Does their location offer some excuse?

Is it fair-minded, once the deed is done
to boast of having stolen them this way?
Why not request permission first?
Once they’ve been eaten, is this just to say?

#125 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2017, 10:29 PM:

Plums, peaches, or nectarines?

#126 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2017, 10:48 PM:

Chris, #118: Or perhaps, "Someone is up way past their bedtime"?

#127 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2017, 11:09 PM:

Elliott - I remember "the higher, the fewer" featuring on an episode of ST:TNG that also involved Lwaxana Troi and Alexander (son of Worf) on the Holodeck. In a mud bath.

#128 ::: Patrick Connors ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2017, 11:31 PM:

Terry @102:
Dunno, the cats are repurposing it for something ev-- ...interesting.

#129 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2017, 11:35 PM:

I can whistle through my teeth, or with my tongue position and mouth shape varying as I change pitch -- I've got a range of a tad more than two and a half octaves. Whistling on the inhale, my range is more limited.

I occasionally poke at the problem of trying to whistle and vocalize/hum simultaneously, in harmony. The two can be varied somewhat independently but I have a lot of trouble trying to do it. I've got too much muscle memory keyed to vocalizing or whistling at some single tone at a time; it's a very automatic thing. And I expect that there are mouth-shape factors involved in both in ways that can't be separated.

#130 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2017, 12:05 AM:

abi @88,

I'm never gonna to give you up, I'm never gonna let you down... or did I just?

an anna @99,
I'm a mostly lurker myself, but recognize most of the posters as regulars. One of mine might be: in a democracy, how do we save us from ourselves? (As a species we tend to choose/vote selfishly which usually results in less overall societal good, and in the long term we (as individuals & collectively) end up in a worse state.)

oldster @124,
Is it being too enthusiastic to post a "Bravo!"?

#131 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2017, 12:45 AM:

Nancy @78: I've read Lagoon but not Illumiatus! so I'm no help with the question. But I might be able to summon something to say about it though most of the time these days all of my conversations devolve into earnest exhortations to Resist & Call Your Representative. I could talk about Nnedi' work though I think?

My question: are people reluctant to read trilogies these days? What if the trilogy in question is all finished before the 1st volume is published? (in fact started life as a single volume & came to the conclusion it was better off dividing)? Asking for a friend.

#132 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2017, 05:32 AM:

#131 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer

I'm good for discussion of Lagoon from other angles.

#133 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2017, 06:01 AM:

Quill @ #65: Not sure what it is about robots that invokes mice.

It's probably just a coincidence of which the author of "Robot" was unaware, but there is a connection with cybernetics: according to one theory, the "mouse" in the riddle is actually part of the feedback mechanism found in a type of steam engine.

#134 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2017, 06:05 AM:

an anna @ #18: Are there futurists who are worth their salt, metaphorically, who do *not* write Sci Fi?

I am reminded of the very first convention panel discussion I ever attended, at which Stephen Dedman said firmly that predicting the future is not the purpose of Science Fiction, and is something that SF writers achieve only occasionally and usually by accident. "If we were any worse at it," he said, "we would be economists."

#135 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2017, 08:44 AM:

Oldster #124: Applause!

#136 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2017, 09:32 AM:

Is this just to say?

Have I eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox?

you probably
saving them
for breakfast?

Would you forgive me?
Were they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold?

#137 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2017, 09:50 AM:

Bill Higgins #72
Hey, man, I think you broke the President.
Hey, Pablo!
He broke the President!

#139 ::: Tony Zbaraschuk ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2017, 10:15 AM:

When is chocolate the sweetest?

Why does the weather in Texas change every twenty minutes or so? (Seriously, it's weird here in my new home... 70-degree warm snaps followed by 20-degree cold.)

How many trails must a hiker walk down, before he reaches the top?

#140 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2017, 10:27 AM:

Is my name Cow?
Wen is it nite?
Wen will the moon
be shiyning brite?
Wil all the men
haf gone to bed?
Am i up late?
Lik i the bred?

#141 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2017, 10:50 AM:

oldster@124: Hear? Hear! Hear‽

How many were going to St. Ives?

I was just thinking about this question. I remember, in childhood, learning the "right" trick answer. It's only recently that it occurred to me to reevaluate that, given that you can meet all sorts of people on the road; not everyone walks at the same rate, after all, even when they're not herding 2744 cats and kittens and coordinating bathroom and meal breaks for eight people.

#142 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2017, 11:04 AM:

#124 oldster, AWESOME.

#141 dotless ı, there's a recent John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme that has a sketch about the St. Ives riddle. Can't remember which one though! But it's one from Series 6, one of the episodes available for streaming now via iPlayer.

Question: any of you particularly interested in the criminal justice system of New York (the state)? Because I've been invited to offer ten minutes of testimony (and then answer legislators' questions) at the New York State Assembly's public hearing on government oversight of forensic science laboratories on February 8th -- Wednesday of next week -- in NYC (PDF with more info, hearing calendar webpage). It's a hearing held jointly by the Assembly Standing Committees on Codes, on Judiciary, and on Oversight, Analysis and Investigation. I'll speak on the importance of auditability and transparency in software used in devices the government uses in laboratories and field tests, for evidentiary reasons and to improve the defensibility of convictions upon appeal, and open source as an approach to improve these. And I'll testify to the efficiency, cost savings, security, and quality gains available by using open source software and by reusing and sharing open source software with other state governments. (The hearing starts at 10 a.m. and will last into the afternoon, but I do not know when within the hearing I will speak.)

Come on by. Or, if there are things you wish me to know/bring up, let me know.

#143 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2017, 11:27 AM:

When that Aprille? Like, seriously: when?

And how cruel is it, compared to other months?

Thanks for the applause, all. It cheers me right up. If I had had more time I might have got the rhymes and scansion right.

Now it's time to call my Republican rep and let him know that I am watching and I will remember.

They are pushing through so many wicked bills in such a hurry and with so little notice, that it's almost like they realize that they have no legitimacy, no mandate, and no popular support.

But in case they're not sure, I'm happy to tell them so myself.

#144 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2017, 11:35 AM:

Roses are red.
Violets are blue.
My dog is dead.
He smelled my shoe.

(stolen from 'Starlog')

#145 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2017, 11:40 AM:

oldster @124, applause! (or should that be "applause?"?)

an anna, I like the kinds of questions on this site that lead to conversations and sharing of experience, sometimes (not always) in threads specifically flagged as "nonpolitical." This is not specifically requesting such a nonpolitical thread at this time, just saying that when they arise I always enjoy them. I remember with particular fondness a discussion on the bodies of water people were attached to, and conversations about the numinous.

#146 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2017, 11:50 AM:

Serge @ #144 (And yes, that was pretty gross):

Are you sure that wasn't one of the "Excerpts from the notebooks of Hazardous Pong"?

#147 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2017, 12:57 PM:

Lee @97: Don't forget that Lazarus Long is reportedly the product of an ongoing private eugenics experiment

Well Actually, Bob, IIRC, he was a wild-type mutation, actually arose before the Howard Families were a thing.

an anna @99: Are contributors to this thread regular Making Light contributors?

Most are familiar names, yes. If you want to get a sense of a commenter's participation, you can click in the View All By link next to their name, and see their commenting history. (One of the neater features of ML, IMHO.)

Where are Patrick and Teresa?

Not presuming to speak for them, but, yes, they've been thin on the ground in recent times. IIUC, Patrick got promoted to a publisher post recently, and is doubtless up to his eyebrows as a result. Teresa is a Technomage: "Expect me when you see me."

oldster @108: I'm not a regular contributor

Are, too. ;-) See also: define "regular." =:o)

Buddha Buck @117: this place is not directly inspired by it.

Also, this community (or this instantiation of the larger community) predates the Web, and even predates the Internet. The pre-Web version that I'm most familiar with was the Usenet newsgroup cluster rec.arts.sf.*, some of which can still be found via Search Engine of Your Choice. (I don't know if there's a comprehensive archive anywhere; would be cool if there was.)

Of the pre-Internet community(ies) (which continues to exist in all its multifarious manifestations) that gave rise to the rasf* groups, there are several (many?) participants here whom I have known, or known of, for nigh onto forty (!?) years. (Boggle.)

(It was, in point of fact, Spider that prompted me to go to my first Worldcon, Iguanacon, in Phoenix in 1978. Teresa and Patrick were both on Iggy's concom. So there's a certain personal convergence there, come to think.... 8-> )

& 120: Of all the faults of Trump, it appears he's serious about not letting "tired and emotional" apply to him.

In the sense of not admitting to it, or the sense of not letting himself get to that state? 'Cause, seems to me, if the latter, he's got some considerable work to do....

#148 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2017, 12:59 PM:

Howard eugenics is also "pay for more children," not "prevent undesirables."

I feel there's a moral difference there.

#149 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2017, 01:02 PM:

And in point of fact explicitly set up resources and services to support those who, as an innevitable result of inbreeding, had health and cognition issues.

#150 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2017, 01:04 PM:

I saw this over at Lawyers, Guns, and Money, in the comments on the Bowling Green Massacre post. It's the Bowling Green Massacre Survivors Fund, and if you follow the link it's well-worth your while to click on the DONATE button, even if you do not, in fact, choose to donate.

I'd say it's one of the best rick-rolls ever.

And the mayor of Bowling Green, Kentucky has had to issue a formal denial of any massacres within the city limits. I'll bet the folks at city hall there are way less amused by this sudden fame than they could be.

#151 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2017, 01:07 PM:

Jacque @147--

"tired and emotional" has a very specific sense in the British tabloids: it means staggering drunk on alcohol. (This originated in a report of an obviously blotto MP who was described as "tired and emotional" as a euphemism. Was it in Spy?)

Like Buddha Buck, I actually believe that Trump does not drink alcohol to excess. I suspect he may abuse amphetamines or other uppers, possibly cocaine, but alcohol will not be his drug. It lowers one's defenses, both physical and emotional defenses, and he will never want to feel that he is less than in complete control.

Of course he is deluding himself to think he has any control over himself or his surroundings, but he still clings to the belief that he does, and alcohol would threaten that (unlike the uppers, which support the illusion).

TL; DR: of course in the non-British sense, Trump gets tired and emotional all of the time. But in the special Brit sense of "falling down drunk", Trump does not get "tired and emotional".

#152 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2017, 01:17 PM:

This is heartening: Progressive activism takes its toll on congressional Republicans

Finding and making a stink at public appearances is right out of the playbook, which is in turn from the Tea Party playbook.

Continue to give them f**king hell.

This morning I wrote my senators, asking them to demand that the Senate put Bannon through confirmation hearings, since he is effectively a cabinet member.

* You See?

#153 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2017, 01:25 PM:

Elliot, Lee, Jacque:

Yeah, the Howard Foundation stuff was different in a couple ways:

a. It was all voluntarily. If someone wants to do all-voluntary eugenics, with rewards for having extra kids with the right people, that might feel kinda creepy, but it doesn't seem particularly evil.

b. The effect they had was from selecting people with the desirable trait out of the population and then keeping their future offspring in this same selected-out group. This isn't trying to make the whole population longer-lived, it's trying to select and selectively breed a longer-lived sub-population.

I think there's something a bit like (b) that goes on all the time in the US, because of assortative mating. College graduates tend to marry college graduates; graduates from elite colleges tend to marry other graduates from elite colleges. The result is that smart men tend to marry smart women, and tend to have somewhat smarter kids than the surrounding population.

#154 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2017, 01:43 PM:

What is the "pulling your thumb off gesture"?
And what does it mean? (I know people who are fluent in ASL. Asking them requires explaining what I'm after.)

#155 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2017, 01:45 PM:

Cadbury Moose @ 146... that Starlog cartoon's title was "He-man and the Masters of the Loony Verse".

#156 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2017, 01:47 PM:

Jacque @147:

I'm familiar with rasf*. Usenet never died, and rasf* is still alive. One of the more recent threads is about who is the youngest-dying famous person (specifically about people who were famous in their own right (not because of family, etc) before dying young death. The currently youngest mentioned is Heather O'Rourke, who died aged 12. The most recent message in that thread is about TV aspect ratios, letterboxing, and pan-and-scan. So, you know, typical thread drift. has made a concerted effort to preserve Usenet.

As for Trump and "tired and emotional", his elder brother "tired and emotionaled" himself to death in the early 1980's, and Trump has been a teetotaler since (and possibly before). Even stories told of the parties he hosted in the 1980's are consistent with him abstaining from alcohol. Others drank and did drugs, but he didn't. So he can't even claim he was too drunk at those parties to be in control of himself when he groped women, or worse.

#157 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2017, 03:00 PM:

Jacque @147: the lineage goes back pre-personal-computer, even, with the history of fanzines and all. Making Light grew more out of fanzines than out of rasf* -- P&T have a long history of being involved in print fanzines of the 70s and 80s, before computer communication was A Thing, and are very cognizant of the earlier history.

And print fanzines still exist, too, Buddha Buck @156. Though the economics of producing them have gotten more difficult.

#158 ::: an anna ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2017, 03:22 PM:

The last time I saw Patrick NH on here, he was aghast that the tone of the gathering took so little heed of what was happening to the U.S. government. Now he's absent from comments, and the tone is overwhelmingly joky and convivial.

Maybe I need to go back to arithmetic school.

#159 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2017, 03:40 PM:

oldster @151: "tired and emotional" has a very specific sense in the British tabloids: it means staggering drunk on alcohol.

Ah, thank you. Totally missed that.

Stefan Jones @152: “we’re getting hammered.”

::toothy grin::

That reminds me: I need to make my calls today. To my Dem Senator and Representative: "Wild applause and cheering crowd." I've got an R Senator, though, who I don't know what to do with. Last I tried calling, his local number produced a fast-busy, and his DC line's mailbox was full. I've been sending emails, and getting receipt notices, which I guess are better than nothing.

demand that the Senate put Bannon through confirmation hearings, since he is effectively a cabinet member.

That's an excellent idea. Added that to my list.

#160 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2017, 03:50 PM:

Buddha Buck: Usenet never died, and rasf* is still alive.

Oh, yay! Last I looked in, it had been hopelessly swamped with spam, though that was 10ish years ago. How are they faring these days on that front?

Others drank and did drugs, but he didn't.

Though that "cocaine sniff" he was exhibiting at the debates was highly suggestive....

#161 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2017, 04:07 PM:

an anna @158:

It's not really my place to try to explain what's going on in another person's head, but let me assure you that what you're reading into the presence or absence of Patrick or Teresa isn't accurate.

Let's draw this line of speculation to a close; it's actually kind of intrusive. If you want to reach him at a time when you think he isn't reading Making Light, I'd suggest his Twitter account, which is (unsurprisingly) @pnh.

#162 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2017, 04:34 PM:

The Main Stream Media won't even acknowledge that the horrific Bowling Green Massacre happened!

Don't forget the victims and survivors. Donate today!

;-) x 1000

#163 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2017, 04:44 PM:

re 150: The Bowling Green Massacre has inspired more internet creativity than anything I've seen in quite a long time.

#164 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2017, 04:59 PM:

(Didn't see that #150 had posted the link to the parody site; I searched for the relevant four letter acronym before I posted #162!)

#165 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2017, 05:08 PM:

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?

#166 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2017, 05:08 PM:

@157: The Tom Whitmore who is, of course, one of the pre-electronified parties into whose Oort Cloud Jon Singer introduced me, Back In The Day. :-)

#167 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2017, 05:13 PM:

Also: an anna: if there are deep questions you feel want asking, I'm confident this commentariat would likely find them interesting and worthy of discussion. We have, in fact, had some number of related conversations in various threads, in the last couple-three months.

That's one of the (many) lovely things about this community: we are not solely dependent on our hosts to provoke meaningful exchanges.

#168 ::: Sarah E ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2017, 05:38 PM:

dotless@ #141:

Is it possible that at the time the riddle originated, "met" had a more specific meaning, i.e. it didn't cover "falling in with someone going the same way?"

#169 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2017, 05:43 PM:

Sarah E #168: But then it wouldn't be a riddle. If the meaning of "met" actually did shift (which I'm a bit dubious about, because too easy), the riddle would have shown up just after the new meaning appeared, but before it was routine.

#170 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2017, 06:27 PM:

an anna: Some of us are deeply enough affected by and concerned with what's currently going on in government that there tend to be specific threads for getting into that stuff, to keep it off the Open Thread, where many of us are trying to have a life not entirely filled with peril, terror, and dystopia.

WHich is to say, those conversations are happening and can happen, but not in the Open Thread.

#171 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2017, 06:32 PM:

#170: I need to get in the habit of posting relevant stuff in those and not here.

#172 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2017, 07:02 PM:

Nancy @ 132: There's a lot that's interesting to me about Lagoon. I don't know where to start! I like the many points of view, the bravery in writing like that in these days of general disdain for the omniscient pov. For one thing.

#173 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2017, 08:05 PM:

Might you want to click on this for the context to abi's glorious contribution @140?

#174 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2017, 08:32 PM:

P J Evans @ #154:

Pulling your thumb off

#175 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2017, 09:13 PM:

@Lee: The Howard experiment offered monetary amounts to couples from their selected group who married, and bonuses for each child they had. In fact, they were encouraged to try for kids *before* getting engaged, to make sure they were cross-fertile. I believe this is where the Heinlein phrase about a bride doing in seven months what takes most women nine comes from.

In the book that deals with Lazarus Long's mother, it's evident at the beginning, the late nineteenth century, that the man takes care of all the funds because that's what the culture did. By the time she divorces her husband, it's quite clear that she has decided that her half is hers, and she's taken enough law to make it stick.

#176 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2017, 09:18 PM:

Why won't people use "whom" anymore? I direct this question to all the persons whom it may be relevant.

Why is salmon not packed in water, tuna is?

Where, o where, is fancy bred?

#177 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2017, 09:27 PM:

Why are the people not aware
Of the attack on Bowling Green?
Why have they not been filled with fear
At enemies dark and unseen?

We have to ask, we need to know
Exactly why they did not act
When our great nation faced the blow
Of evil alternative fact?

Why have our leaders not yet done
those actions to protect this shore,
and those deeds underneath the sun
that will ensure we win this war?

All we can know is we'll be led
By Mr Douglass, forenamed Fred.

#178 ::: Errolwi ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2017, 09:40 PM:

Diatryma @113
In NZ, Australian possums are TB-carrying ecosystem destroyers. We play "who can get the best freak-out from a visiting Aussie?" by telling tales of hunting trips, and swerving to hit them.

#179 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2017, 09:49 PM:

B. Durbin, #175: The sentiment, if not the exact phrase, long predates Heinlein. ISTR that there was a discussion about that here some years back, in which there were links to research showing that the percentage of firstborns who were "premature" was much, much higher than that of later children, and that they were generally uncommonly well-developed for "preemies". And people have been able to count on their fingers for a long, long time before there was any research to back it up.

#180 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2017, 09:53 PM:

In # Jacque writes:

Also, this community (or this instantiation of the larger community) predates the Web, and even predates the Internet. The pre-Web version that I'm most familiar with was the Usenet newsgroup cluster rec.arts.sf.*, some of which can still be found via Search Engine of Your Choice. (I don't know if there's a comprehensive archive anywhere; would be cool if there was.)

As Buddha Buck mentions in #156, Usenet can today be accessed, even posted-to, through Google Groups. The search interface is skittish and sometimes shy.

I've been on Usenet a very long time. I know Andrew Plotkin, Elliott Mason, Lucy Kemnitzer, and Jacque from there.

Near the end of the Nineties, fans fleeing the collapse of the GEnie service's SF forums settled on rec.arts.sf.fandom and related newsgroups. Patrick and Teresa were among the immigrants. There was a golden age for a while. The rise of blogs shifted the locales of discourse.

Of the pre-Internet community(ies) (which continues to exist in all its multifarious manifestations) that gave rise to the rasf* groups, there are several (many?) participants here whom I have known, or known of, for nigh onto forty (!?) years. (Boggle.)

Nobody here was in the habit of reading the fanzines and apas to which I contributed in the Age of Paper. But a pal got AZAPA and I know the names of Kip Williams, PNH, TNH, and other fans from reading over my pal's shoulder. A few other names, I saw in zines over the years.

Fanzines and APAs have been part of SF fandom since the 1930s, so we are just the inheritors of those traditions.

Then there are conventions. I've met a great many of you in person, some after long online acquaintance, some not. Here's hoping I get to meet more.

#181 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2017, 10:21 PM:

Man. When the last time I went on Usenet? 20 years?

Some groups I looked at for lurid "OMG, there are people who do that?" thrills.

Others were immensely useful sources of information and/or community (rasf, and rec.models.rockets). The latter hung on an unexpectedly long time, then was overrun by spammers.

My campus SF club had its own group, which might have been rec.sf4m (science fiction forum). But so many people thought that meant "single female for men" or perhaps "single female, four men." Ugh. Argh.

#182 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2017, 11:29 PM:

I am comparatively an infant, Usenet and forums-with-dots-wise.

Errolwi, North American opossums are... not cute. Not spinning-fiber animals, definitely. Also not invasive, which is really the most important thing. I figure if I ever go to New Zealand, I will get some possum socks or something.

#183 ::: Errolwi ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2017, 12:11 AM:

I hung out on Usenet a little, especially in the late 90's. In fact, my lack of updated knowledge of NZ history discovered via soc.history.what-if lead to some self-education.
From memory Charlie Stross (and others, I'm sure) announced his first sale on one of the rec.sf fora

I'm vaguely aware of the non-cuteness of American possums :-)
Any NZ tourist store will sell you possum-based products. I like the belly-button warmers.

#184 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2017, 12:20 AM:

I was active on rasfwritten, rasffandom, and to a lesser extent, rasfcomposition.

#185 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2017, 12:48 AM:

The Woman's Day Encyclopedia of Cookery has a brief entry on Opossum. "A small marsupial animal found in the southern and midwestern United States, and increasingly in the central Atlantic states. The common, or Virginia, opossum is about the size of a cat, with grayish fur and black ears and feet. Opossum is often used for food, the flavor resembling young pig. It can be prepared in the same manner as roast suckling pig."

Granted the 1979 publication date, I'm still a bit weirded out, even allowing for my being vegetarian. "Often used for food"?

#186 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2017, 01:10 AM:

How do you know that nerdy stuff has become the mainstream? When an article in a recent issue of Sunset needs a way to explain something quickly, and uses Comic-Con as a metaphor that needs no introduction.

#187 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2017, 01:22 AM:

I have been converted t a (North American) possum lover through the efforts of my daughter who makes a convincing case for all her favorites (many of whom are birds and reptiles, not just odd mammals. There are also some pretty convincing possum-love tumblrs out there.

#188 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2017, 01:43 AM:

I am still active on rec.arts.sf.fandom and rec.arts.sf.written. (Waves hi to Bill Higgins.) Both groups are shadows of what they once were, but are far from extinct. (Unlike, say, .composition.) I don't go through Google Groups: when UC Berkeley dropped Usenet, Sean Eric Fagan was kind enough to give me an account on his private little UNIX server. (I think he gets his feed from Stanford, but I'm not sure. It works, and that's good enough for me. It does occasionally get amusing when Dorothy Heydt says something about Usenet, and I can reply to her from the perspective of using not just the same newsreader, but the exact same installation of it on the exact same machine.)

#189 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2017, 01:48 AM:

We have possums that come up and eat leftover cat food on our back porch. One is old, with misshapen, tiny forepaws and a bad comb-over. You may guess what we call him.

Another, young and dapper, we call Rubio.

#190 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2017, 02:52 AM:

Paul A. @174, P J Evans @154: Thank you for the link, Paul. That is the gesture I was referring to.

#191 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2017, 05:14 AM:

Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey @180: Nobody here was in the habit of reading the fanzines and apas to which I contributed in the Age of Paper.

Well, not quite nobody, as I did dip a toe into the 'zine era. In fact, have a few stashed away in a box in my  walk-in Fibber McGee's Closet  spare room. Izzard? Was that a thing? Also, Arthur Hlavaty and Ed Zdrojewski, if memory serves. Even had an actual paper version of The Enchanged Duplicator thrust into my hands by (who else?) Jon Singer. Never participated much beyond being a reader, and lost track rolling into the '80s. But I did get some exposure.

#192 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2017, 07:18 AM:

I was active in several apas.

#193 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2017, 08:12 AM:

I was also active on USENET in the late 80's and early 90's. In college, I published AFAIK the first set of public cheatsheets for the then-hot roguelike "nethack".

(Amusingly, 30-odd years later I found myself doing a fair bit of work on the wikis for a couple of its descendants, POWDER and Stone Soup.)

#194 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2017, 10:27 AM:

Joel @#185, my 1975 edition of Joy of Cooking includes a recipe for opossum (including "if possible, trap 'possum and feed it on milk and cereals for 10 days before killing"). It also has recipes for muskrat, beaver, woodchuck, raccoon, armadillo and porcupine.

However, although I've lived in Georgia my entire life (small town thru high school, suburbs as an adult) I have never eaten possum, nor have I ever been offered it. (I have eaten alligator, frog legs, rabbit, dove, quail, blackbird, duck, venison, and rattlesnake--in a quiche. I'm pretty sure the gator and frogs were farm raised, but the rest was game.)

Possums are not nearly as common here as they were 15-20 years ago, based on my observation. Possibly because coyotes are more common.

My eldest sister had a possum as a pet (the dog found it washed down a gutter after a rainstorm). When I was a teenager, my father found a roadkilled mother possum with 6 live babies in her pouch, and raised them on canned cat food & fruit until their teeth came in, carefully not taming them. When he judged they were big enough to forage, he opened the door of the cage and kept putting food in it until they stopped coming back.

#195 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2017, 10:58 AM:

That's kind of how we ended up with a pet raccoon for a while. Dad found Lefty while walking the dog, and since we'd already been walked through the squirrel-keeping-alive protocol (though it wasn't successful and I'm still kind of sad about that) we ended up with her living under the water meter in the woodpile for a while. We gave her to a couple rehabbers outside of town so she could figure out how to be a raccoon properly.

Are opossums soft at all? Or trainable? Killdee House (or a title like that) had trained raccoons and spotted skunks, but I'm not sure about oposssums. That would be the most terrifying guard creature....

#196 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2017, 11:35 AM:

I was a member of two apas, but I don't think there's any overlap to people here, or to the ones that Everyone Who Was Anyone were in.

Hmmm, waitaminnit... Cassy, were you in Capacity? That would be an overlap.

#197 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2017, 12:08 PM:

They're kind of soft, but to me they seem like irascible furry lizards. But recall that I have never been around a tame one (I wasn't born yet when my sister had hers).

#198 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2017, 12:16 PM:

I was in Golden Apa, Apa Nu, Pagan Apa, and The Junto. I have a feeling I've forgotten something....

I also wonder whether the slower pace of apas (typically once a month, though Apa-L was weekly and there was at least one yearly apa) had any effect on the quality of conversation, but I don't know if anyone would put up with that for an online venue.

#199 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2017, 12:50 PM:

#172 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer

The omniscient point of view is part of what reminded me of Illuminatus!.

When the one character point of view novel became popular, it was something of a relief for me. I'm not the best at following complex details in fiction.

However the single character point of view (is there a short term for this?) has gotten to feel claustrophobic.

Another Illuminatus! thing is the prologue for the third section from the bat's point of view. I think it could be dropped into Illuminatus! without causing any sort of a jolt.

And speaking of non-local intelligence, it was very weird to find one of my story ideas in Lagoon-- I get ideas without working them up, and one of mine was a section of road which causes accidents because it likes blood.

Zber fhofgnagviryl, V guvax cneg bs vg vf nobhg punatvat cnfg ubeevoyr guvatf-- abg chavfuzrag, abg sbetvirarff.... V ernyyl qvqa'g yvxr vg gung xvyyvat gur nyvra yrq gb ure qvffbyivat vagb qhfg naq nqqvat (cerfhznoyl cbfvgvir, zbfgyl) nyvra genvgf gb Yntbf. Gbb Puevfgvna sbe zl gnfgr? Ba gur bgure unaq, gur jnl gur nyvraf pnzr gb Yntbf jnf cerggl veerfcbafvoyr.

Nf V erpnyy, gurl rkphfrq chfuvat crbcyr vagb qbvat jung jnf va gur onpx bs gurve zvaqf. Naq envfvat gur jngre yriry pnhfrq n ybg bs qnzntr. "Jr ner n punatvat crbcyr"-- naq jr'er tbvat gb punatr lbh, jurgure lbh jnag vg be abg. Be fubhyq V whfg fnl gung gur havirefr vf yvxr gung, naljnl?

V jnf vagrerfgrq va gur pbagenfg? onynapr? orgjrra "Yntbf vf jbaqreshy, fb shyy bs yvsr" naq "Gurer'f n ybg juvpu vf ubeevoyr nobhg Yntbf."

Nyfb, V qba'g guvax gurer jnf n sbyybj-hc ba jung gur lbhat zna jub tnir hc fpnzzvat jnf tbvat gb qb.

By the way, I'm not especially recommending reading Illuminatus! unless you're very willing to forgive it for being from the seventies.

#200 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2017, 02:17 PM:

Opossums are very fuzzy and trainable; the zoo my sister works at has one that they raised from a baby (so cute, honestly, she's adorable) and that they use as an education animal. Like all their trainable animals*, she's trained in behaviours that make it easier to take care of her, and she's trained to walk around on a leash a couple of feet away from a line of seated, quiet children without being scared or aggressive.

She's not trainable in the same way that a dog is; the zoo is always careful to emphasize that their animals are "wild", regardless of how acclimatized to people they are, but she's handleable by the people who are responsible for handling her.

*As opposed to the ones they have to dart to run vet checkups on, either because they're large dangerous carnivores like the bears or the wolves or because their intelligence is all geared towards fleeing like the deer.

#201 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2017, 02:58 PM:

I lurked -- i.e., was never active -- on various sf.* groups in the early to mid 90s. Most of my time on Usenet was spent in the soc.culture and talk.politics hierarchies. And in alt.flame.

Who remembers Serdar Argic?

#202 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2017, 03:02 PM:

Lila #194: I see them fairly often as roadkill. Oddly, not as often as either porcupines or deer.

#203 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2017, 03:05 PM:

@196, why yes, Lee, I *was* in cAPAcity. "Clone Comments." I hadn't realized you were that Lee....

I don't know what happened to my old issues; perhaps Cally got them when we split our stuff when I got married...

#204 ::: Eli ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2017, 03:28 PM:

#75, #76: The Expanse show is definitely adapting the series as a whole, not book by book - the authors have said so, but it's also apparent from the content. In season 1, for instance, there's Avasarala who isn't in book 1, doing things she plausibly might have been doing prior to book 2; there's also some backstory for Fred Johnson which comes from one of the Expanse spinoff short stories, "The Butcher of Anderson Station" (I won't be surprised if they eventually do the same for Amos, whose backstory novella "The Churn" provides more of a look at non-elite life on Earth than the first four books combined).

#205 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2017, 04:05 PM:

Lila @194 and others

Cookbooks tend to leave recipes in and get thicker. (Until there is a complete revision and lots gets deleted.) The older the cookbook, the more likely it is to have recipes for possum, squirrel, pigeon, etc. People used to rely on these for extra protein in the diet, especially in rural areas. I have a Settlement Cookbook from 1936 that includes "how to pluck a wild duck", "roast partridge", "rabbits", "venison" and "reindeer steak". It also has a whole chapter on making jelly.

#206 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2017, 04:14 PM:

I used to hang out on Usenet -- mostly in parenting groups, but with an occasional foray into rasfw and the like.

#207 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2017, 04:40 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz #199: As usual, the alien is a mirror for humanity.

#208 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2017, 04:41 PM:

Wait, blackbird as food? How even? I mean, I guess doves and pigeons are small but doable, and quail are tiny, but... they just don't seem like foodbeasts to me.

Some years ago, I realized that I autocorrect certain POVs in prose. I've gotten used to present-tense storytelling enough that I mostly read it as it is rather than in past tense, but if I'm surprised by it, or by past tense, I'll switch things around. And urban fantasy written in third person completely throws me because I will remember it being in first person every time I put the book down.

#209 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2017, 04:42 PM:

They may still have them - does the cookbook have a section on "game"?

(James Beard's "American Cookery" is good for this kind of recipe, along with other older ones that have gotten lost, like "portable soup". And "mayonnaise cake".)

#210 ::: Daniel Boone ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2017, 05:07 PM:

As a not-eating-meat-currently person for health reasons, I regard most of the critters on the property (up to and including the deer) as an emergency calorie reserve for when/if times get considerably harder. But I'll confess I never seriously considered the opossums in that light. (Nor does "prepare as suckling pig" tell me very much, although presumably I could Google that. I've never even seen suckling pig; it's a phrase that parses as "food; encountered in old books" to me.

Due to my dogs' play habits, these would be very easy calories. "Possum playing dead in the yard again, better call the dogs inside so it can wake up and scurry away" happens every couple of weeks around here.

#211 ::: Daniel Boone ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2017, 05:10 PM:

Diatryma #208:

There's a nursery rhyme, part of which goes:

Sing a song of sixpence,
A pocket full of rye.
Four and twenty blackbirds,
Baked in a pie.
When the pie was opened
The birds began to sing;
Wasn't that a dainty dish,
To set before the king.

That's the closest I get to knowing how to eat blackbirds.

#212 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2017, 05:20 PM:

#207 ::: Dave Harmon

Aliens are a mirror for humanity, or at least some humans, but that does squeeze some of the fun out.

For example, I don't know of any humans who identify as a changing people, even though some cultures change pretty fast.

What would be different if there were people who identify as changing?

And a bit more about Lagoon:

Vg gheaf bhg gung fbzr bs gur uhzna orvatf unir fhcrecbjref. Jura nfxrq jung gurl ner, gurl fnl "Jr ner Avtrevnaf", juvpu vf engure n pbby zbzrag.

Nyfb, vg'f n ovg hahfhny va fs gurfr qnlf gb unir orarsvprag, be rira frzv-orarsvprag nyvraf.

#213 ::: Errolwi ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2017, 05:21 PM:

Aussie possums are the most common form of roadkill in many parts of NZ, they tend to freeze in headlights (or the light taken for these purposes on hunting trips).

#214 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2017, 05:30 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz #212: First thought: Steve Jobs, Elon Musk and so on?

Second thought: For that matter, the entire concept of progressivism depends on continuing change, both within the movement and attempting to affect others.

#215 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2017, 05:54 PM:

Yes, I was a dedicated participant in Usenet from 1988 through... 2011, I think.

But the number of groups I participated *in* must have peaked around, oh, 1991. My Usenet experience is a 25-year trail of abandoning newsgroups because they either died or got swamped by conversations I didn't care about.

RASFW was the last one left by the side of that trail. Mind you, I was killfiling and filtering heavily long before I left.

(I just went to look at RASFW. It's the same old people having the same conversations that I bailed out of, five-ish years ago.)

(I still read the Panix local newsgroups, so I still fire up tin regularly. Just not for anything in the rec.*, comp.*, sci.*, or alt.* trees.)

#216 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2017, 06:32 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @201: By the time I got on USENET, M. Argic was someone one heard of but never saw unless one mentioned early 20th century genocide. (I only know of several of the Great Monsters of USENET by hearsay.)

On the other hand, I posted my last post to a newsgroup in either 2003 or 2004.

Google Groups seems to have lost a few conversations over time.

#217 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2017, 06:46 PM:

I thought some of you might be interested in this article about Burmese concertina book binding:

#218 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2017, 07:53 PM:

Diatryma @#208, my father was dove hunting and a flock of blackbirds (starlings?) happened by. So he shot a few, mainly out of curiosity, and Mama cooked them along with the doves. They were pretty similar, not even much smaller.

#219 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2017, 08:01 PM:

Fragano @ #202, porcupines? Really? I have never in my life seen a roadkilled porcupine. (Or a live one, for that matter, in the wild.)

#220 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2017, 08:14 PM:

I loved the part with the road too. The aliens were sufficiently alien! I'm all out of practice discussing books-- I've been so withdrawn. The ease with which Nnedi Okorafor slips into the consciousness of animals inspires me (&one of the things it inspires me with is envy).

So but one of the things that caused me to withdraw was the politics of the newsgroups. It was just so exhausting and sometimes frightening to deal with the right-wingers who would turn on me relentlessly no matter what the subject was. And since in those days nobody knew how seriously to take those people, I always felt stupid to feel threatened by the eliminationist rhetoric they employed when talking to me. The tremendous hostility and the very narrow range of opinions that wouldn't trigger attack behavior was a constant grind.

On the other hand, there's a pretty large crew of people I met there who I treasure to this day for our conversations over the years and for things we have done together, to support each other. I've never been consistent in any fan activities so it was a great revelation for me to find people to talk to about the literature I loved & still aspire to contribute to and it was depressing when I realized I couldn't keep it up any more.

#221 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2017, 08:41 PM:

Andrew Plotkin
Not sure how long it's been since I stopped posting on RASF*. I switched from F to W for a while, then cross-posting started amplifying the voices from whom I'd purposely moved away, and I just shrugged, with some regret, hoping that some of those I'd left behind would show up here.

Bill Higgins
A list of the fans I first knew through AZAPA would be impressive. And I keep encountering them, or I stay in touch with them. Corflu/Ditto used to be a super way of being around the nucleic core of 'my' fandom, and then RASFF was like a continuation and amplification of my first apa. Lately, I've found something akin to it over at FILE770 (as well as here, which has kept the original flame going for quite a while now).

Also, for the first time since leaving Virginia, I've found local fans again. When we were in MA, I thought I'd hit it when they announced Pi Con in my town, and was somewhat floored to find that all the organizers were from somewhere else.

Note to self: Meeting is Tuesday night.

Additional note to self: Read previous note to self.

#222 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2017, 09:10 PM:

Lucy Kemnitzer @ 131: My approach to trilogies depends on the nature of the material; e.g Hutchinson's Europe in/at ... are somewhat individual, where I won't open a Cherryh "Foreigner" book until I have all three in hand because I \know/ that they're one large novel divided into 3 books due to the limitations of publishing. If I don't know anything but the blurb, I think about whether reading the first book will save me from wanting to read the others.

Jacque @ 147: No, Woodrow Wilson Smith (aka Lazarus Long) was the child of a Howard family; this is made absolutely clear near the end of "Time Enough to Screw Around", when his mother participates in the sign-countersign. He was a ridiculously successful result for that early (although Mary Sperling couldn't be more than two generations later), but he wasn't outside the program.

Lila @ 194: I've eaten small game once -- in a stew at an SCA event. This was in Rhode Island, so opossum might or might not have been involved (it was almost 40 years ago). I remember a newspaper article from <20 years ago noting the new edition of Joy and mentioning that it no longer discussed preparing game; not sure if such was new with that edition.

I co-edited a couple of issues of a clubzine and was in a couple of APAs in the 1970's, and was on SFLovers when it was still an ARPAnet-only digest (starting in January 1980, IIRC just after it was forced to convert from a distribution machine to a digest by the flood of discussion over Star Trek: The Motionless Picture). I went cold-turkey on Usenet twice in the mid-1980's, as following just a couple of social groups was turning into a multiple-hours-per-day habit; one of these days I'll learn to skim. (I was also on a homebrewers' digest in the early 1990's.)

#223 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2017, 09:49 PM:

Yeah, I miss having a consistent source of discussion about new SF/F books. I'm good at following favorite authors; much less good at discovering new ones.

So, what's new and good? My recent discovery is _A City Dreaming_ (Daniel Polanksy), which is urban fantasy of a low vernacular style which I haven't seen since Stephan Zielinski wrote _Bad Magic_ and then disappeared.

Also _The Entropy of Bones_ (Ayize Jama-Everett), which is about a teenager with ninja superpowers. Instantly engaging voice. It turns out to be part of a series I haven't read, which throws the pacing off, but it still works.

#225 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2017, 10:58 PM:

Lila @194: rattlesnake--in a quiche

I've had rattlesnake. My friend Susan Crites brought me a piece from the annual spring Lamar Rattlesnake Round-Up. Not much meat on 'em that time of year. And yes, it does taste like chicken.

Rattlesnake is off my list now, though; I try to avoid eating species I've met socially.

By the way, I'm not especially recommending reading Illuminatus! unless you're very willing to forgive it for being from the seventies.

Oh? ::grin:: I think I tried to read it once, Back In The Day, but didn't get very far. What, to your mind, makes it particularly "from the seventies"? (And, one assumes from this comment, that it hasn't aged well?)

Em @200: the zoo is always careful to emphasize that their animals are "wild"

I think people mean "wild" in the sense of "unpredictable, untamable, and likely to be dangerous", but my mental translation is always "non-submissive self-owned fellow citizen, who isn't particularly interested in your agenda, isn't necessarily willing to tolerate your human-privileged shite, and is more than willing to let you know if you cross their personal boundaries. And who may or may not regard you as potential dinner if they happen to be hungry."

Viewed from this angle, non-human cohabitants are perfectly lovely people—as long as you behave yourself and treat them with awareness and respect.

Lila @219: porcupine. (Or a live one, for that matter, in the wild.

My friend Patti and I came across a fairly young one (3 lbs-ish?) on a hiking trip one time. Fortunately, we spotted it before the dog did* (and he was on a leash anyway).

I did take a stick and hold it over so the 'pine could flip at it with his (or her) tail. Somewhere in my box of treasures (assuming the mealy moths haven't got to it**) I have an wee envelope of leeetle tiny porcupine quills. I should store them with the ones I bought at a gift shop near Seattle, which are eight to ten inches long, and, like, a quarter inch in diameter.

* When I was a kid, we did a lot of car-camping. Absolutely. Every. Time. we'd get to the campsite, open the car door. Dog would disappear. We'd set up camp. Dog would come back. Dad would get out the pliers, get the dog up on the picnic table, put a knee in his chest, and extract the mouthful of porcupine quills. Every. Single. Time. Smart dog. I guess he just enjoyed the chase more than he disliked the consequences.

** I once had the shed skin of a little teeny snake, about six inches long. The moths ate that, as well as the wild canary wing joint I kept with it. :-[

221: And, of course, I know Kip W from Way Back At The Dawn Of Time, when I dabbled in the Denver/Boulder area SF scene, made all the more convenient by the fact that Lois Newman Books (and the nascent Mile Hi Comics (which later evolved into Time Warp)) was right downstairs from my karate studio (or was for a year until I went with the offshoot studio over across town.) That would have been...'74?

CHip @222 No, Woodrow Wilson Smith (aka Lazarus Long) was the child of a Howard family; this is made absolutely clear

Huh. I thought distinctly that the point was specifically made that he was a sport unaccounted for by the breeding program. But I've only ever made it through TEFL once (maybe twice), and that was a very long time ago, so my memory is not to be relied upon.

the new edition of Joy and mentioning that it no longer discussed preparing game

My copies of Adelle Davis actually lists dandelions in the nutrition tables in the back. Pretty impressive. Vit C ammounts for broccoli, spinach, kale, DANDELIONS!!!. I've been told, though I've never run across verification, that dandelions were actually imported to this area. Malnutrition was rampant at the early part of the last century, so some bright soul ordered a big box of dandelion seeds from back east, and a bunch of people went up to the mouth of Boulder Canyon on a windy day, and released handfuls of them out over the valley.

No idea how one would even go about looking this up; it'd be fascinating if this was actually true, given how ubiquitous they are now.

and was on SFLovers

Did you ever encounter there a gentleman name of Howard Davidson? He was the first person I met (from Boulder!) at Iguanacon.

CHip @224: Norwegian ex-PM detained at US border due to Iran visit

The former prime minister was flying to the US to attend the national prayer breakfast event in Washington - which President Donald Trump also attended. take the opportunity to mock Arnold Schwarzenegger's TV ratings. Our tax dollars at work, yes indeedy.

Female chess master throws game as a protest against not being assigned male opponents

Masculinity Is an Anxiety Disorder. He makes an interesting case.

#226 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2017, 11:21 PM:

Jacque, #225: Re Lazarus Long, I believe that both statements are correct. He is a product of the Howard Families breeding program, and he is also a sport because he was born fairly early in the project, well before they expected to see any significant results.

#227 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2017, 12:31 AM:

@Em no. 200, Lila no. 197: Cute Overload (RIP) had a minor kerfuffle over whether possums were classically cute enough to feature on the site. Finally they threw up their hands and put up a poll. Verdict: Just about cute enough. The video of the possum that liked to snowboard on the bunny slope, then toddle back up the hill to do it again probably clinched it. IIRC it had a wee possum parka.

#228 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2017, 12:41 AM:

@Em: my daughter (also Emma) works at a zoo too! They're developing an approach to training that looks forward to the whole life of the animal and the whole life of the zookeeper. They ask: "what does this animal need to know to have a comfortable time in each stage of their life?" and "what does the keeper need to know?"

For example, as the animals age they need to have medical exams and treatment. To profit from this the animals need to be calm during the procedures.So the keepers need to be trained in how to do these procedures as unintrusively as possible and the animals need to learn how to recognize these as safe-even if uncomfortable-and to behave calmly (calm behavior translates into calm feelings, too).

Her zoo has a lot of geriatric animals and a fair number of native animals who have recovered from injury but not enough to live in the wild, as well as some animals who are endangered back home (usually due to pressure on their habitat), so are living in zoos in a species-survival plan.

I forget whether they currently have possums but they have turkey vultures!

#229 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2017, 01:48 AM:

Elliott Mason @52

When I lived in Davis, CA, in the Central Valley, the water was either oversoftened or hard as hell, full of borates. The oversoftening was because the city was constantly warning about the level of borates, so people tended to overreact, and overfilter.

#230 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2017, 01:51 AM:

Bill Higgins @56

"Did Leonardo da Vinci really make pronouncements about the future, or did he merely invent cool stuff?"

As Alan Kay once said, "The best way to predict the future is to create it."

#231 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2017, 02:00 AM:

Bill Higgins @72


#232 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2017, 02:17 AM:

Paul A @133

The juxtaposition of "cybernetics" and "mice reminded me of an SF story I read many years ago. Looking it up, it turns out to be "The Mechanical Mice" by Maurice A. Hugo, published in Astounding in 1941. In it a scientist copies the plans for an interesting device from the future, and deeply regrets it.

#233 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2017, 09:40 AM:

re water hardness: Here in Balto.-DC suburbia, you get three options. WSSC (DC) water is a little hard; most of it comes from the Potomac, which collects all the dissolved limestone from parts of four states (and a bunch of other mineral crud) which will eventually kill your houseplants, but not hard enough to intefere with the washing. Balto. water is pretty soft because three of the four reservoirs are in the Piedmont, which is mostly clay and granite. Well water is incredibly soft, with nary a calcium ion to be seen anywhere.

#234 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2017, 10:41 AM:

rec.bliss.* was it in that dawn to be alive,
but to be young was very rec.arts.heaven!

#235 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2017, 11:44 AM:

@67, @72, @230:
With all this Firesignage, can it be that nobody has asked the really important question yet?
Why does the porridge bird lay its eggs in the air?

#236 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2017, 01:47 PM:

This discussion of robot mice (#232 and above) makes me ask a question I have asked before to no avail: Does anyone remember a story in Analog, circa summer of '78 or '79, in which a landlord buys little robot cars that chase cockroaches?

#237 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2017, 01:48 PM:

Kip may not want to brag on himself, so I'll do it for him. First, read this article about a stone marten that shorted out the Large Hadron Collider.

Then check out the filk provided by Kip over on File 770:

Once there was a marten so fine,
Thought he’d take Collider off line
Everyone said, “Your mind’s flyin’…
You can’t take that off line!”

But he had
High hopes,
He had
High hopes,
He had
Sky-high don’t-care-if-I-die hopes
So whether mouse or mink,
If your Brain can think
You can scheme with Pink-
-y till nine.
Oops, there goes the Large Collider off
Oops, there goes the Large Collider off
Oops, there goes the Large Collider off line



#238 ::: an anna ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2017, 02:57 PM:

Elliott #170: ok, thanks. I had not grasped the context: in their Venn diagram, "open thread" type questions and democracy-at-risk questions don't really intersect.

#239 ::: Harry Payne ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2017, 03:28 PM:

Why are we all here?
Because we're not all there...

#240 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2017, 04:01 PM:

I was active in APA45 in my youth, back when fans born in the late 40s-early 50s were still youths, and could lightheartedly complain of [older] fandom plodding along.Page 4

In a fit of nostalgia, I produced a couple of hectographed zines after discovering some old hecto gel in an art store. After nearly 50 years, they can still be read, but they're not worth reading. ("We printed crud, we printed trash, our fiction really smelled ...")

#241 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2017, 08:22 PM:

Jacque @ 223: I try to avoid eating species I've met socially. I've never met anyone who would acknowledge meeting a rattlesnake socially. I suppose that means cuy is also off the menu?
     I do not remember a Howard Davidson, but that was a \long/ time ago, and I've been gone almost 30 years.
     Schwartz makes an interesting case, but reads as if he assumes that the pathology of his background is universal, or at least very common; one wonders, for instance, how many gamers quietly support the trolls and how many simply have limited resilience against being trolled.

Lee @ 226: exactly.

#242 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2017, 09:44 PM:

B. Durbin @175, Lee @179:

In my genealogy research, I’ve found that firstborn children tend to fall into three categories: those born several years after the wedding, those born almost exactly nine months after the wedding, and those born four to seven months after the wedding.

#243 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2017, 10:27 PM:

Chris @242
You omit cases like me, first-born children born before the wedding. I think I was two when my parents married, about 1961. We celebrated my parents anniversary, but they never mentioned the number. There was family drama, of course, related to that.

I was in TAPA, the Toronto APA for a while, and Mixed Company for a few issues.

I spent some part of the late 80's and early 90's sharing my office with an old SUN machine that was one of the BNR (Bell-Northern Research) Usenet servers, running B news. Alt.folklore.urban was one of the places I used to hang out, when Snopes was a person and not a corporation. I may been the person who sent the creation message for Alt.folklore.urban.

And I was occasionally confused with Henry Spencer in my U of T days. The oldest thing I can find on the Internet is a review of God-Emperor of Dune I wrote pre-1984, courtesy of the archives from the same Henry Spencer.

#244 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2017, 10:55 PM:

Henry Troup @243:

It may just be the specific families I've been working with, but I haven't found many of those. They may be covered up in some cases where no wedding date is available. That listing also omits a few cases where there was never a wedding at all.

#245 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2017, 11:57 PM:

There is a fannish Howard Davidson in the Bay Area. When he worked at Sun his business card read "Quantum Mechanic" because, well, that's what he did. He collects electron microscopes. He organized a splendid science program for ConFrancisco. Last I heard he is running an engineering research lab at Facebook.

#246 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2017, 01:41 AM:

CHip @241: I suppose that means cuy is also off the menu?

Oh, you bet your sweet bippy it does! Thankfully, I seem to have gotten past that state (which lasted about twelve years) where absolutely everybody who, upon learning that I kept guinea pigs, felt compelled to ask, "You know what they do with them in Peru?" And then there was the barely-tolerated (now resolutely ex-) "friend" who thought it was just hilarious to send me a picture of a food platter offering at some Peruvian festival or other.

It took me a couple of days, but I finally emailed back, "Why would you even do that!?" His response: "Oh, I thought it was funny." Funny to whom, you asshole? Needless to say, I actively avoid dealing with this person, now.

Yeah, sorry. Bit of trauma around that topic, I guess.

TomB @245: Yeah, that's the man. Facebook, huh? That's...not something I would have expected....

#247 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2017, 09:16 AM:

Well Actually, Bob, IIRC, he was a wild-type mutation, actually arose before the Howard Families were a thing.

It's been a while since I read the relevant books, but I seem to recall that Maureen and Brian's marriage was pretty early in the HF program but not "before" it. I don't know if her parents had also been Howards or if I'm just assuming that from the fact that they engaged in premarital sex to be sure they were fertile together, and Brian's were I believe unspecified so he might have been a true first-generation, i.e. "had four old-enough grandparents".

That said, Lazarus was certainly a sport in some sense, since one wouldn't expect such dramatic results so early. (Maureen clearly had good genes, as she's ~80 and looks ~60 by the end of her 'first life', but that's within normal variation.)

#248 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2017, 09:30 AM:

Carrie S. #247: Maureen clearly had good genes, as she's ~80 and looks ~60 by the end of her 'first life', but that's within normal variation.

Indeed it is. I still get people thinking my mother is my wife or girlfriend. Not only was I born well into her twenties, but folks were making that mistake even when I was 25.

#249 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2017, 10:22 AM:

Jacque @246: I wondered too, but Facebook is big enough, they really need someone with deep expertise in actual physical matter. His lab does all sorts of special projects: analyzing remnants of servers to figure out why they caught fire, building drones, and so on. Howard is perfect for that job. If they weren't paying him, he'd have to do it at home with much fewer resources.

#250 ::: Angiportus Librarysaver ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2017, 10:31 AM:

HLN: Area retiree, after noticing too much light coming in through the shades at midnight, reawakens to find the entire world outside covered with a thick coating of white matter. Retiree rejoices in having gone to the store yesterday, and now in the delicious silence.

#251 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2017, 10:34 AM:

an anna: I am not someone who Knew These People before coming here.

Sometimes I still feel like a new kid because of that.

Andrew@223: I would be in favor of a new "Whatcha reading" thread. Our old one is here but had its last burst of functionality in July 2016. (Making Light has been around long enough that I sometimes feel like we've had one of EVERY discussion, then I find out about invasive NZ possums and go "Not even close.")

@175/179, there are a lot of variations and have been for a long time. "Babies take nine months, except the first" is the one I remember best.

#252 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2017, 10:37 AM:

Elliott Mason @ 123 and nerdycellist @ 127:

You're thinking of the TNG episode "The Cost of Living".

It has Lwaxana Troi, Alexander, and the holodeck, and yet it is not the worst Lwaxana, Alexander, or holodeck episode. Fortunately. Not that it's a great episode, mind you...

#253 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2017, 12:14 PM:

Daniel Boone @210:

"Suckling" pig is a piglet that is still young enough to be nursing from its mother. Like veal, it is very tender, and therefore requires careful preparation that that tenderness be preserved.

I've never had it, but it would not surprise me to find out my grandparents did, because one of my great-grandfathers DID raise pigs.

#254 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2017, 12:40 PM:

I've had deep-fried rattlesnake as an appetizer a couple of times. It was disappointing-- tough and flavorless. There might be a better way to prepare it.

Alligator is great.

I've had muskrat at the home of someone who's so allergic to soy that he can't eat anything which ate soy. He lives on a farm for tolerably obvious reasons. The muskrat (in a chili) wasn't all that interesting.

#255 ::: cmk ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2017, 01:01 PM:

I don't think I've ever had dove; I do remember when my grandmother made blackbird pie. They were smaller and bonier than quail, which was our standard game, and I believe the meat was a bit darker; it was a long time ago.

One of my uncles (on the other side) found me a "pet" possum once; we took one look at each other, the possum hissed and bared its very impressive teeth, and I recoiled and wanted nothin further to do with it. I was probably six.

Possums are not limited to the eastern locations described, we have numbers of them in the Central Valley.

#256 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2017, 01:39 PM:

Update to #142: I have found experts more expert than I to testify at the oversight hearing, so I'll just be submitting written testimony.

Completely separate question:

Where (when you're at home, or when you're in the places you are most often, such as at work or school) is your nearest automated external defibrillator? On average, when a person in the US calls 911 because someone's suffered cardiac arrest, emergency medical responders get to the scene in 8-12 minutes (Red Cross) -- but for people suffering cardiac arrest, for every minute defibrillation is delayed, the chance of survival goes down about 7-10% (American Heart Association, PDF). Bystanders who use AEDs on victims can help a lot - but only if they see the AEDs or know they're nearby. In one French study, of individuals who were about 100 meters from an AED in a public place (train station, city mall and public park), only 16% knew where the closest AED was.

(I've been learning a lot about AEDs and PAD (publicly accessible defibrillation) programs recently and it's fascinating!)

#257 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2017, 01:52 PM:

I think we have an AED in this building, but no idea where it's actually located (so might as well not exist). Also, wherever it is, it's almost certainly behind locked doors after hours, and possibly during working hours, too.

#258 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2017, 01:54 PM:

Supposedly I had alligator once, but it was covered in a thick layer of spicy breading and drowned in White Glop, so I have no idea what it actually tastes like.

ISTR having snake once (in a restaurant! but I don't remember what kind), but it was also served with a spicy sauce that covered the actual flavor.

I've had frog's legs; they were okay, but too heavy on the garlic. (Are we sensing a theme here?)

I've had quail, and never again -- they taste fine, but they're tiny; it's more work to get the meat off the bones than you get in calories by eating it! Rock Cornish Hens are just barely large enough to escape the same reaction.

#259 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2017, 01:55 PM:

At work, they were in cabinets, usually in the galley kitchen next to one of the doors. With a sign on the cabinet, so you knew where to look.

#260 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2017, 01:59 PM:

I always look for AEDs in public places; we don't have one at home. There's one in the office of the apartment building next to the chiropractic office where I work, and there's one downstairs at the Senior Center where I do massage. My partner Karen writes web copy for Cardiac Science, one of the AED manufacturers which specializes in AEDs for community use; I have a personal connection.

#261 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2017, 02:03 PM:

cmk @255:

How big was the blackbird pie, and how many blackbirds were used?

How big would a pie have to be to have four and twenty blackbirds?

#262 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2017, 02:05 PM:

@Lee, I recently had squab (pigeon) at a Fine Restaurant. Because, honestly, how often am I going to have the opportunity to have squab? It was served with some kind of fruit sauce or glaze; can't recall exactly what. Something like blackberry. It was relatively light, though, and you could taste the meat, as opposed to having a spicy breading or being buried in White Glop. <grin>

It was rather like your experience with quail. Tasty enough but honestly too much work. All things considered, I'd rather have duck.

#263 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2017, 02:11 PM:

I have an app on my phone that tells me where the nearest AED is. Mostly I assume that if they're in businesses I'd be asking at the reception desk.

They are awesome, awesome things. Genuine "how lucky we are to be alive right now" items. I only wish they were on airplanes as well*.

* I researched after Carrie Fisher died; it's not required

#264 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2017, 02:23 PM:

Our office is undergoing renovation. The AED cabinet is currently lying on the floor, near where it used to hang. I hope the contractors remember to remount it.

Until perhaps three years ago, when the whole Agile / Scrum "let's work really hard get things done deadline deadline deadline" set in, and a significant percentage of the folks around here became contractors, and the one who weren't had a really rapid turn-around, the office encouraged people with EMT / emergency training to put a flag on their cubicles, so you'd know who to ask if there was a emergency.

#265 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2017, 02:24 PM:

On possums: n years ago I said to Jeff Smith, author of Bone, that he was, as far as I knew, only the second person after Walt Kelly to make baby possums look cute. He said "Oh yeah, have you looked at them? They're all teeth, like this..." and drew me a great sketch of a baby possum, all teeth and edges, looking in mutual puzzlement at one of the soft, round baby possums from Bone.

On Usenet: It would take some archaeology for me to remember why I stopped reading Usenet. I suspect I just drifted off in other directions.

Lori Coulson@253: I've had suckling pig, although the last time was...difficult. The dish (in northern Spain) was a wonderful casserole, and thoroughly enjoyable until cneg jnl guebhtu rngvat jr fcbggrq gur phgr yvggyr rne, naq gura whfg pbhyqa'g.

The whole family tends to like game birds, although I can't say I like picking shot out of my teeth, which is a frequent hazard.

Andrew@223, Sandy B@251: I'd also be very happy for a new recommendation thread, although I'm finding myself shorter of reading time (and reading energy) than I'd like right now, and still have a backlog of recommendations. The last novel I read was A Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, thanks to abi's recommendation (for which, thanks!).

#266 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2017, 02:32 PM:

I've had quail and liked it. I'm probably more fond of doing fussy things with my hands than a lot of people are.

I've even considered a slow meditative meal of pomegranate, crab, and artichokes, though I admit I haven't done it.

Quail eggs are tasty and the shells are very cool-- speckled brown on the outside and pale green on the inside.

I think frog legs taste like chicken, only better. They fit with my theory of eating non-standard meat because it's less likely to have been optimized for price rather than flavor. The same theory applies to goat.

#267 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2017, 02:42 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz@266: Frog legs tasted, to me, a lot like chicken but with a texture that was halfway to fish, which seems completely appropriate for an amphibian.

#268 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2017, 03:26 PM:

Our "floor wardens" (the people charged with getting us out and keeping us together and organized in emergencies) have actual orange cones on their cubes. (Or did, last I saw.) Those with CPR training also get a band around the cone with hearts or "CPR" or something similar. It makes it possible to spot them from a distance.

#269 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2017, 03:35 PM:

Sumana @ #256, I have no AED anywhere near me at home, but my former workplaces (a hospital and a school of public health) have them all over the place. The ones at the university also have "stop the bleed" kits (tourniquets, gauze, gloves, etc.) enclosed in the case with them.

#270 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2017, 03:42 PM:

I'm an ERO (Emergency Response Officer). The Dutch term is BHV'er, Bedrijfshulpverlener, which translates as "business help provider", but using ERO means our head EROs get to be HEROs.

I digress.

We haven't got cones, but our pictures are on a notice board on by the elevators, and we have viz vests on our chairs. We're all CPR-trained. Two of us on each floor carry pagers (who gets 'em depends on who gets in first).

#271 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2017, 03:46 PM:

Abi, would you mind telling me (private email is fine if it's private) what app you use, and whether it's just for the Netherlands or it has a broader scope? I'm doing a bit of research into the world of AED registries and locators.

#272 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2017, 03:55 PM:

I started getting interested in AEDs when I took a CPR class, then started trying to figure out where my nearest AED is. Many hours later, here's a MetaFilter post with a bunch of the research I did.

#273 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2017, 04:02 PM:

I'm happy to put it publicly- it's AED4.EU Watch, which was paid for by the Dutch Red Cross.

Its original data load was from 2015, but they claim they're crowdsourcing updates.

#274 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2017, 04:04 PM:

One of the places where I worked did a big song and dance about putting in AEDs everywhere. Then, a year or two later, all the AEDs disappeared. The wall were still there, though, just empty.

Where I currently work, they have AEDs in the break rooms.

On the topic of food, I tried a coworker's homemade possum stew once. The broth was good, but the meat was bland.

I've finally found a supplier of reasonably-priced goat meat near me. As in, competitive with supermarket beef prices, and cheaper than lamb.

I know that there's all sorts of acrimonious history which eventually lead to cattle ranching becoming dominant over sheep grazing in the US. Still, I know that there are farms that raise sheep right here in California, so why is the only lamb I can find imported from New Zealand, and why isn't there any mutton at all?

#275 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2017, 04:45 PM:

There isn't mutton because the US redifined lamb to include much of what used to be called mutton. Made people more willing to buy it.

#276 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2017, 04:47 PM:

Jacque @225: I think '75 was the year everything happened for me. The Fort Collins Comic Center opened up (and I found myself working in it soon after, and managing it until Good Friday of '76). That was also when I first made it to Lois Newman Books and found Tintin reprints. Up till then, I'd been collecting Children's Digest from thrift shops in a vain quest to get at least one complete story.

It was also in 1975 that Gordon Garb started SFFFFC (aka S-Fuck) and unilaterally put several of us onto the AZAPA spec list. The club mutated several times, becoming the CSU Anti-Martian Society (and the CSU Society for the Protection of Martians) before it was handed off to a younger generation who I think got bored with it soon after. We threw a convention at CSU (Fort Con) that didn't make it to a second year.

I'm not sure exactly when I went to my first convention. It would have been a MileHiCon. I probably joined DAPA the same time I joined DASFA, since the collation took place at meetings. I'd have wanted in on that. I met my lovely wife, Cathy, at a DASFA Dead Dog party.

Lee @237: Cool! Thanks.

#277 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2017, 04:50 PM:

275 Tom Whitmore: I want to say mutatis mutandis, but suspect I would earn scorn by wrongly applying it to mutated mutton.

#278 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2017, 05:24 PM:

Tom Whitmore #275: There isn't mutton because the US redefined lamb to include much of what used to be called mutton. Made people more willing to buy it.

Funny, that would have the opposite effect on me, given my awareness of the cruelty issues with veal and lamb. That is, if I ever bought from the butcher's section, which I almost never do for other reasons.

#279 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2017, 05:28 PM:

And why do otherwise reputable companies screw up so badly on their websites?

I wanted to buy some Powerstep orthotics. Their website listed all their varieties, but every time I tried to click "BUY" or look at the shopping cart, it hung on the refresh. "" bounces. I wound up buying them through Zappos.

#280 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2017, 05:31 PM:

We get our lamb from a tiny farm not much further than right around the corner from us. It's the only way we can afford it.

When I was in boarding school the dining hall would have spasms of, um, one-off odd things at certain times of the year. So one time, one time only, we had game hens. Each table sat ten, so here comes underclassman bearing a tray of from the kitchen with ten little roast birds on it.

There used to be a restaurant in No. Va. which sprinkled among its Franco-Russian dishes had various odd game dishes (antelope and emu, for instance). It closed year or so back because someone reported on Google that it was closed on weekends, leading to a steep dropoff in business.

#281 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2017, 05:37 PM:

parkrun here in the UK is working towards every single one of the events having an AED of its own unless there's already one within five minutes (there and back). Mine is in discussions with our local council who have said they will provide one for our park, but haven't done so yet. Already been several lives saved around the country.

N.B. (o)possums sub-thread: you do all know that American opossums and Australian possums are rather different beasts*?

*The American one is Didelphis virginiana and the common brushtail possum in new Zealand, that originated in Australia, is Trichosurus vulpecula.

#282 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2017, 05:57 PM:

an anna @238: The current political-engagement thread is, I think, this one

#283 ::: Singing Wren ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2017, 05:59 PM:

I have no idea where the nearest AED is when I'm at home. The one at work is in the kitchen, near the door on the west wall*.

Most of our office staff are trained in its use, too. When it was installed last summer, the company offered CPR+AED training free to anyone who wanted it. (I think the outliers are people who weren't yet employees and people who work remotely.)

*Not to be confused with the door on the south wall, near which the kitchen fire extinguisher lives.

#284 ::: cmk ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2017, 06:44 PM:

Sorry, Buddha Buck, I can picture my portion in front of me, but no recollection what the dish looked like. Four and twenty blackbirds would not require a great big container, though.

#285 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2017, 06:53 PM:

For the somewhat novice amateur computer text-mangler: What is a good way to take an html page, extract only the text that is within certain tags, such as all the paragraphs or all the list items or all the list items? All the tools I see for this sort of thing seem like installing the whole kitchen when I just want to have a snack. (I prefer to work in Python)

What I want to do is use arbitrarily chosen websites as source for text manglers

#286 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2017, 07:41 PM:

@281 "Totally different animal, same name" is something that shouldn't have surprised me but did. New Information Gained!

#287 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2017, 07:47 PM:

Not the only place that happens, Sandy B: look at all the different bugs that are called mosquitos around the world. It's an entire biological family!

#288 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2017, 08:04 PM:

And it's worse with plants -- even the "Black-eyed Susan" can be one of at least two different flowers (the daisy-type is the one local to me). Let alone all the various plants called "bluet" or "buttercup".

#289 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2017, 08:38 PM:

Erik Nelson @285:

There are a lot of ways to parse HTML badly, which is why the folks who want to do it right use the "whole kitchen" tools.

Typically, I would recommend using a library to load the HTML file into a DOM tree, then use XPATH to get the nodes you want. There are a variety of libraries in various languages to do it. I'm not that big of a Python person myself, but there seems to be strong recommendations to use either BeautifulSoup or lxml, both of which are supposed to be good at parsing badly-written html.

A page on lxml, with examples of code in both BeautifulSoup, is at lxml: An Underappreciated Web Scraping Library

That article is old, and it's link to lxml is broken. It appears the current link is LXML.

#290 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2017, 08:46 PM:

Erik Nelson @285: I'd probably go after it with shell scripts. Sed, specifically. Either sort for everything between <p> and </p>, or sort out everything between </p> and <p>.

To what end are you ultimately mangling text?

#291 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2017, 08:47 PM:

...come to that, one could do a hack with Excel, using similar principles....

#292 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2017, 08:49 PM:

...are you dealing specifically with badly-written html? I didn't catch that. I read your comment to mean you're dealing J. Random HTML.

#293 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2017, 08:51 PM:

Sandy B @286 et seq: There is very specifically an England/US repeated pattern of this, and a more widespread "homeland/colonies". You miss the critters of home, and also you have a critter that's roughly equivalent, so you call it that.

For example, American robins are thrushes with brick-red or dark orange chests. European "robin redbreasts" are much smaller sparrow-y things, with a brilliant red chest blob.

This shows up in science fiction worldbuilding, too, with people on new planets deciding that such-and-so is close enough to be called a "tree," and this other critter is a "cat-lizard", or a "flying otter", or a "fishoid".

#294 ::: Errolwi ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2017, 08:58 PM:

@286 Different names
Northern hemisphere flax and NZ flax are also different plants, although they can sometimes be processed into similar products. The later were a major part of 19thC Maori-Euro trading.

#295 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2017, 09:09 PM:

Jacque @290-292:

Parsing HTML with sed, or similar, is one of the examples of how to "parse HTML badly" that I was referring to. XML/HTML is not a language which plays nicely with regex-based tools. As I read it, your sed-based solutions would not handle a paragraph all-on-one-line, or paragraphs without closing tags (which are legal HTML), for instance.

And "arbitrarily chosen websites" typically means "badly-written HTML", unfortunately.

#296 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2017, 10:02 PM:

At work, the nearest AED is in a cabinet right by my desk. I have no idea where the one closest to my home is.

#297 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2017, 10:34 PM:

"Dusty Miller" - that's the common name for at lest three different species of flowering plant.

#298 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2017, 10:39 PM:

281 et al: robin elk dolphin marten

#299 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2017, 10:57 PM:

I'd realized it was a Thing In General, but I didn't know ... any of those examples. If you asked me "Do they have robins in England" my first instinct, WHICH MAKES NO SENSE GIVEN COCK ROBIN AND CHRISTOPHER ROBIN, would be to say "I wouldn't think so." Martens seem to be related (same genus), Robins are not, and the Elk/Moose/Elk thing -I'm still getting my head around that. I'm like "I guess ... moose walked around the north pole? I should go look at a globe."

All sorts of things are now making sense, like why American robins have terrible examples of red breasts.

Cool !

#300 ::: Elyse ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2017, 11:31 PM:

You know North American caribou and Eurasian reindeer are closer than wolves and dogs?

And a Eurasian glutton is rare enough in Europe that it is hard to tell whether it is the same species as North American wolverines.

Beavers seem to be making a comeback in Britain after being extinct for a few centuries: I think those are a different (but closely related) species compared to the North American ones.

#301 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2017, 12:11 AM:

Lucy @228

My sister's zoo also mostly has animals which wouldn't survive outside of captivity for various reasons; one-winged owls, for instance. They have an artic fox (named Gandalf, in the theory that he'd go from grey to white) who is blind, and is always white. They're not sure why he doesn't change colour like he should do, but my own utterly uneducated* guess is that because his brain never gets the "wow, it's getting bright out" stimulus, it never thinks it's summer.

They also are doing some very good research into frogs.

I'm an Emily, as it happens, but I don't think I've ever spelled it out here :).

Speaking of nicknames, Sandy @299, if I understand it right, Robin was originally a nickname for Roberts. I don't know if it's related to the bird etymologically. I should look it up.

*Compared to wildlife biologists, zoologists, and veterinarians, anyway. My last biology class was in grade nine; the theory's interesting enough, but I'm very squeamish and focussed on physics and chemistry instead afterwards.

#302 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2017, 12:54 AM:


Elk in North America = a species so close to the red deer that until recently people thought they were conspecific.

Moose in North America = the really big dude with the palmate antlers and the long blobby nose. The one where if you hit it with your car your car goes to the wrecker but the moose just has a bad afternoon.

But in Europe, elk = moose.

#303 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2017, 01:12 AM:

Em, #301: Re the fox, that was my first thought as well, before I even got to the end of the paragraph. I guess to prove it, though, you'd have to take a sighted fox and blindfold him in such a way that he couldn't get it off (probably meaning a hood) and leave him that way for at least a year. And that would probably not pass the "humane" section of the experimental regulations.

Jenny, #302: A quick scan thru Google Images suggests to me that American elks have thicker, blockier bodies than red deer, and the racks on the bucks tend to be larger as well. But you do kind of have to be looking at a whole bunch of pictures at once to notice that.

#304 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2017, 01:19 AM:

Lee@303, you could also keep a sighted fox indoors, in the dark (or very dim light), for a year; you'd probably have to do it from birth, though, so that its brain never gets the "hey, summertime now" stimulus at all. Less ethically-iffy than a hood, I suspect, but still iffy, and ultimately it'd only be to satisfy curiosity.

#305 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2017, 01:30 AM:

And the four-and-twenty blackbirds baked in a pie? In England they'd be Turdus merula - thrushes, similar in size to American robins (Turdus migratorius). In the US they could be any of various icterids, such as red-winged blackbirds, Brewer's blackbirds, or grackles.

#306 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2017, 01:55 AM:

Four-and-twenty great-tailed grackles would require a fairly sizable pie.

#307 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2017, 06:34 AM:

When E.R. Eddison mentioned the kingfisher as a symbol of joy, I was surprised. The only kingfisher I knew of (from a picture, I've still never seen one in person) is a fairly dignified looking bird-- blue-gray with a white belly, a black ring around the neck, and a crest.

It turns out that the European (English?) kingfisher is turquoise! with a pink! belly, and no crest. The only thing they have in common is a pointed black bill.

#308 ::: Jimbeaux D ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2017, 08:21 AM:

I've been in and out of Apa-50 from '75 to the mid aughts. Finished off my last membership with a 4 year stint as the O.G.
I still have a trunckload of mailings and assorted fanzines from members who sent me theirs.

#309 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2017, 08:40 AM:

Re seasonal cycles: some critters and plants go on weather change, some on day length, some by time elapsed (literally by the number of days), and others by other methods entirely, like maturation of OTHER species.

In Chicago it's becoming clear which species of garden plant are cued on temp and which on day length, because the former are sprouting and flowering.

In early February.

When they would usually go off in late March or so.

There's going to be a lot of frost-killed tulips, I tell you what, if our weather reverts to mean for this time of year ...

TimeHop tells me that on Feb 4, two years ago, I was shovelling 8 vertical inches of snow off the walks, and it was still coming down pretty hard. This year it's fifties and foggy, full-on Chicago spring or Pacific Northwest winter. Welcome to global weirding, as increased worldwide atmospheric heat and energy disrupts usual weather patterns (sometimes making an area warmer, or colder, or wetter, or dryer, but always disrupting).

#310 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2017, 08:42 AM:

Re the Arctic fox question: there must be more than one blind Arctic fox in captivity. You could do a census of all records of captive blind Arctic foxes, and ask: When did the fox become blind? Is it/was it completely blind? Did it change color before it became blind? Did it change color after becoming blind? (Can you tell I'm an epidemiologist?)

#311 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2017, 09:07 AM:

Elliott Mason #309: I was just talking to someone who was squeeing that "the robins are back! That's how you know it's spring!" Never mind that some of our (Charlottesville, VA) biggest snowfalls of recent years happened in March. Yet another "damn, we broke the planet" moment.

#312 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2017, 09:57 AM:

WIth this talk of birds, climate change, and things shifting temporally thereof, I idlely wonder what's going on with scheduling in Capistrano.

(Wikipedia says that the sparrows moved to new homes north of San Juan Capistrano in 2009, presumably because of urban sprawl)

#313 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2017, 10:34 AM:

Em @301/Lee @303. The trigger won't be brightness but almost certainly daylength change (lots of species use this for all sorts of seasonal processes). So you don't need to blindfold or keep in dim light, just keep at 12 hours light, 12 hours dark all year.

North American elk and European red deer are different subspecies of Cervus elaphus (Cervus elaphus canadensis and Cervus elaphus elaphus respectively)
North American Moose (= European elk) are Alces alces
North American caribou and Eurasian reindeer are all Rangifer tarandus. The subspecific distinctions for those are more difficult and in flux, e.g. those on Svalbard (Norway) are Rangifer tarandus platyrhynchus and those on the Arctic islands of Canada are Rangifer tarandus pearyi.

Abbreviating common names can lead to serious misunderstandings - I was once at a zoo meeting and wandering round the zoo at lunchtime with one of the other participants. We got to talking about ringies, and were disagreeing about every aspect of their husbandry. I suddenly realised I was talking about ring-tailed lemurs while he was talking about ring-tailed coatis, so that did make sense!

#314 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2017, 10:38 AM:

Buddha Buck @312: Correcting you to be polite: It's swallows.

#315 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2017, 10:47 AM:

David Goldfarb #306:

Ah, but the satisfaction that comes from actually *doing* something to them would entirely repay the effort for the giant crust. (One crust or two?)

#316 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2017, 10:52 AM:

(One of the witnesses got sick so I'm speaking at the oversight hearing tomorrow after all! Gotta prep my testimony and make twenty copies!)

#317 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2017, 11:08 AM:

Dave Harmon @311:

Robins aren't actually migratory in this part of the country (or most of the country, for that matter), and most migratory birds base their spring migration on day length or elapsed time rather than on temperature changes. (Considering many species spend the winter someplace warm enough that temperature changes are minor, this is entirely sensible.) We are probably going to see problems very soon with migratory birds arriving after their food sources of insect larvae or fruit have peaked, though, since the timing for insect activity and fruiting do tend to be temperature-driven.

#318 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2017, 11:17 AM:

D. Potter #216: By the time you got on, Mutlu & co may have moved back to Turkey (pardon me, Turkiye).

Lilia #220: I may be wrong.

#319 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2017, 11:37 AM:

On eating game:

I've eaten deer once, some years back here in Atlanta. To my surprise, the deer was imported from New Zealand. My, perhaps unrefined, palate detected a similarity to liver.

I've eaten turtle once. It was, I believe a green turtle (though it might have been a hawksbill). I was seven years old, on my first visit to Jamaica, and it was caught and killed by my uncle's employees. I realise that the animal is endangered, but it was more than half a century ago, I didn't know at the time, and I was a child.

#320 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2017, 12:09 PM:

Sandy@299: I don't think Christopher Robin is actually connected with the robin bird. Robin as a boy's name is originally a diminutive of Robert: the bird is then called after the boy, rather than the other way round.

#321 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2017, 12:48 PM:

I've had venison several times. It's amazingly easy to overcook, so all but one of those times it's been fairly tough. The exception was at a very fancy restaurant in the Detroit area (vacation splurge) where it was served with a sauce of Michigan wild cherries, and was excellent.

#322 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2017, 12:49 PM:

For animals, I have to remind myself that badgers on the American side of the pond are different from the badgers I grew up with.

Some notes on the Shepherd's/Cottage Pie[1] I made the other day, so that I don't forget them.

  • About 1.5 lb / 0.65 kg mashed potatoes, however you like to make them
  • About 1.5 lb / 0.65 kg ground beef (or lamb, or whatever) [1]
  • 1 smallish yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 0.5 lb / 0.25 kg frozen peas
  • 1.5 cups / 350 ml beef bouillon
  • 1 spoonful of corn starch (optional)
  • 1/8 lb (1/2 stick) / 60 g butter
  • Salt, pepper, Worcester sauce to taste
  • Chives, chopped

In a large enough pan for everything except the mashed potatoes[2], melt butter over medium-high heat, and fry onions and carrots for about 8 minutes. Add ground meat, and cook until meat is browned. Drain the fat[3]. Stir corn starch into bouillon, and pour into pan. Add the peas. Season with salt, pepper, Worcester sauce, and whatever else sounds good at the time. Cook for an additional 5 to 10 minutes.

Transfer contents of pan to glass or stoneware baking dish[4]. Top with mashed potatoes, and try to spread mashed potatoes all the way to the edge with a spatula. Bake at 350°F / 180°C / Gas Mark 4 for about 30 minutes.

Top with chopped chives and let cool for a few minutes.

Serve and tuck in.

I guess that's more of a recipe than notes. I got carried away. Adjust quantities to desired size. Maybe top with shredded cheese instead of chives.

[1] Depending on locale, Shepherd's pie might exclusively refer to the variant of this dish that uses lamb, with cottage pie for the variant that uses beef or other meats. Shepherds keep sheep, after all. I used ground beef because that's what I had.

[2] Or in an oven-safe pan that is big enough for the mashed potatoes too.

[3] Note to self: remember to do this next time.

[4] If you use a baking dish that's just barely big enough (I used a 13 × 9 inch baking dish), put something under it to catch the drips in the oven.

#323 ::: Errolwi ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2017, 01:44 PM:

Deer have been farmed in NZ for decades. Many bush areas (including National Parks) were infested with them. Once turbine-powered helicopters became available, it was economical to shoot them in truly large numbers, then to capture them.

Early capture efforts involved tranq guns, or wearing lots of clothes before jumping on them from the landing skid. Then they used net guns.

Your average NZ supermarket has venison steak, patties, meatballs etc. Low fat, yum!

#324 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2017, 01:56 PM:

Errolwi@323: The last time I was in New Zealand, several years ago, I remember there was an attempt underway to create a protected appellation for New Zealand venison, "cervena". It sounded a bit like an attempt to recreate the magic of renaming "Chinese gooseberry" to "kiwifruit", but this time ensuring that New Zealand profited from it.

#325 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2017, 02:08 PM:

dotless ı @ 324:

"Cervena" sounds more like a brewery in a Spanish-speaking country liked the sound of Klingon blood wine and wanted to make a beer based on the idea.

#326 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2017, 02:33 PM:

Fragano@319: my only knowledge of hawksbill turtles is of Stephen Maturin reassuring his daughter that a particular turtle cannot be eaten: "Never in life, my dear: he is a hawksbill."

#327 ::: Quill ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2017, 02:52 PM:

Where are we going?

I defy anyone to not find this 'possum cute.

#328 ::: Errolwi ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2017, 03:18 PM:

See, 'kiwimeat' just wasn't going to fly.

Sorry, I'll get my coat...

#329 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2017, 03:56 PM:

KeithS@325: There's an artery to marketing a product like that.

#330 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2017, 04:56 PM:

dotless ı @ #329 I'm sure someone will continue in this despicable vein.

#331 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2017, 05:02 PM:

329, 330: You horrible creatures! Why, aorta clobber you ...

#332 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2017, 05:21 PM:

Those puns are really out on a limb.

#333 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2017, 05:27 PM:

Now, now. I think we could all use a heart-y laugh.

#334 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2017, 05:52 PM:

Opossums: they're a pest here in Oregon. Apparently some immigrant from the American South brought them here as food animals (possibly during the Depression), and they've settled in well. Luckily the roadkill fits into the crows' diet. We also have nutria, though I don't know if people eat them.

Sometimes I think our state motto should be "Land of Invasive Species". We're deadlocked in battles with English Ivy, iceplant, and tansy ragwort. We've also got problems with Asian Carp, and an incipient problem with feral swine.

#335 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2017, 05:58 PM:

Re choices of uncommon meat: I was on staff in a graduate physiology dept. at a med school for 4 years. One thing I learned was that grad students in the biological sciences choose experimental animal species based on extracurricular utility. Quail and quail eggs were a favorite for their food value, frogs likewise, but the prize was one student who used sheep in a study of kidney function; he sheared them and made coats from the wool, then ate mutton all year.

#336 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2017, 06:09 PM:

" . . . and an incipient problem with feral swine."

Damn. That's bad. There's absolutely nothing that can be done about those once they get a hoof-hold in a region. Nothing!

#337 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2017, 06:18 PM:

Someone introduced them in California in the 1890s, and they've been spreading ever since.

#338 ::: Angiportus Librarysaver ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2017, 06:28 PM:

#329-333: Y'all are helping me stay sanguine.

#339 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2017, 07:56 PM:

Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers)@335: That might be even better than the lab I was told about that studied lobster nerves, and therefore wound up with a lot of lobster bodies that needed to be disposed of somehow.

#340 ::: Race Traitor Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2017, 08:34 PM:

I think it was Bertrand Russell who said "Robins (the British, not the American species) peck an elderly robin to death; while men (the British, not the American species) give an elderly man an old-age pension."

Apropos of nothing, am I the only one watching Riverdale? (I know I'm not, just seeing who'll admit it here.) Here's my current theory about what's going on (spoilers through ep 2):

  1. Cbyyl Pbbcre qvqa'g unir n areibhf oernxqbja ng nyy. Ure cflpubcnguvp zbgure ybpxrq ure hc gb xrrc ure njnl sebz Wnfba Oybffbz. (Be znlor xvyyrq ure, V'z abg fher.)
  2. Purely naq Wnfba pbbxrq hc n fpurzr gb snxr Wnfba'f qrngu, fb ur pbhyq erfphr Cbyyl, naq gurl pbhyq or zneevrq naq yvir va $SneNjnlFgngr haqre nffhzrq anzrf.
  3. Guvf fpurzr jrag jebat fbzrubj (Wnfba sbhaq bhg Cbyyl jnfa'g va gur ubfcvgny, ohg vf npghnyyl qrnq, be fbzrguvat), fb Wnfba pnzr onpx gb Evireqnyr gb gryy rirelbar gur gehgu.
  4. Zef. Pbbcre (jubfr svefg anzr vf Nyvpr, arrq V fnl zber?) fnj Wnfba orsber nalbar ryfr qvq, fubg uvz, naq qhzcrq uvf obql va gur evire.
V'q nyfb yvxr gb cbvag bhg gung Wnfba qvrq n jrrx NSGRE Nepuvr naq Zf. Tehaql urneq gur thafubg, fb gurl qba'g unir gb pbasrff nalguvat abj. Ohg Nepuvr vf n qhzzxbcs, fb ur jvyy.

#341 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2017, 08:36 PM:

One of the characters on Riverdale is named after one of the Salem witches?

#342 ::: Race Traitor Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2017, 08:39 PM:

It's also amusing to me that the Rot13 of 'Cheryl' is 'Purely'.

#343 ::: Race Traitor Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2017, 09:04 PM:

David 341: Cooper, not Parker.

#344 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2017, 09:57 PM:

Oh, man, I'd forgotten about Riverdale.

I guess I could catch up, but there are SO many genre shows these days and only so much time to keep up.

Sometimes I wonder if I should stop watching The Flash. I gave up on The Magicians already. Hrrmmmmph.

#345 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2017, 11:07 PM:

Xopher 343: On doing some research, I find that something I'd thought was true, was not. It's good to learn things.

#346 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2017, 09:03 AM:

KeithS @ #322: For animals, I have to remind myself that badgers on the American side of the pond are different from the badgers I grew up with.

On a related note, someone told me recently that the famous Pennsylvania tradition about the groundhog and his shadow started out as a German tradition about a badger; the Pennsylvania Deutsch couldn't find any badgers when they arrived in the new world, so made do with groundhogs instead.

#347 ::: Terry Hunt ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2017, 10:32 AM:

Em, #301: Re the (British) Robin. The bird was originally called the Redbreast. I have read that, after the Penny Post services were introduced, postmen were nicknamed 'Robins' (perhaps because one such service was co-founded by a Robert Murray? Cf: 'Bobbies' for policemen after Robert Peel), and because they wore red uniforms the name was expanded to 'Robin Redbreasts'. This was transferred to the birds, for whom 'Robin Redbreasts' eventually shortened to 'Robins', while the postal uniforms changed to another colour and the nickname became obsolete and died out: nowadays we just call them 'postmen/women' or 'posties'.

Much of the above may well be apocryphal.

#348 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2017, 10:52 AM:

Speaking of animals being where they shouldn't be, or having names they shouldn't have, I recently hear a RadioLab podcast about Guadeloupe raccoons.

These raccoons are native to two islands in Guadeloupe, and have become a national symbol on the islands (which are a French overseas District, not their own country). The people there are very protective of the raccoons, because they are theirs, not the French, and are unique to the island. Even so, their dwindling populations earned them a place on the IUCN endangered species list in 1996.

Except they aren't unique: in the 1990's a raccoon scientist looked at the type specimen on file at the Smithsonian and thought, based on the size, dental morphology, and other features, that it looked like a juvenile common raccoon, not a separate species. DNA studies since then have confirmed that there's not much unique about the Guadeloupe Raccoon, and that it was probably introduced to the islands by humans a few hundred years ago.

The government in Guadeloupe is ignoring the issue: they aren't publicizing the fact that the national symbol, the pride and joy of Guadeloupe, is an invasive species, not a unique animal to Guadeloupe.

Some scientists hold the opinion that the Guadeloupe raccoon isn't a separate species now, but if it doesn't get wiped out, then it could be in the future.

#350 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2017, 12:04 PM:

Terry Hunt@347: I think that the bit about their originally being called 'redbreasts' is true: 'Robin Redbreast' is a nickname like 'Jack Daw' or 'Mag Pie'. However, the other bits look apocryphal to me. 'Who Killed Cock Robin' is first recorded in 1744, implying that the bird had that name by then at the latest.

(Not that postmen may not have been called Robin Redbreasts, but if so it was after the bird and not the other way round.)

#351 ::: giltay ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2017, 03:54 PM:

#347, #350: I did a quick search of a Shakespeare corpus, and "robin-redbreast" occurs as early as The Two Gentlemen of Verona. (Other occurrences of "robin" are all names.)

That story reminds me of one I heard about how robins became a symbol of Christmas in Britain, because of the association of Christmas cards with postmen.

#352 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2017, 08:38 PM:

giltay@351: Pushing it back a bit further, my out-of-date copy of the OED dates "robin redbreast" back to 1450, and "robin" (for the bird) to 1549.

#353 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2017, 08:44 PM:

me@352: The same OED puts "redbreast" at "c. 1401".

#354 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2017, 11:52 PM:

Sandy B. @ 251: I only knew P&T before coming here, and that very glancingly. OTOH, I've been in and out for 16 years, so I'm familiar -- but I don't recall anyone biting when I showed up.

Lori Coulson @ 253: the one time I had home-cooked (by a first-timer working out of the Nero Wolfe cookbook) suckling pig I was ask to carve, which turned out to be more like spooning, which I was told was typical; I'm not sure making it tough is possible.

Keith S @ 274: I know that there's all sorts of acrimonious history which eventually lead to cattle ranching becoming dominant over sheep grazing in the US. Really? I got the impression that regions favored cattle or sheep depending on climate; something that grows a winter coat that has to be shorn might be disadvantaged in Texas. I also wonder whether the result was biased by what the immigrants were used to. (Or at least dominant immigrants; I've read that genuine Irish stew has lamb instead of beef, but considering how the Irish were treated here for a century or more it's not surprising their preferences (if existing) didn't take.) I have gotten locally[Massachusetts]-raised whole lamb (aged ~7 months -- not sure whether that used to be mutton, pace Tom W) for a barbecue, but that was a special case -- don't think they supplied mainline groceries.

Stefan Jones @ 336: NPR online had a story about DNA testing being useful to find where to hunt feral swine; unfortunately their search engine is not helpful.

#355 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2017, 12:22 AM:

CHip @ 354:

Your comment made me double check my history knowledge. Turns out it was even more acrimonious than I remembered!

Some links about the Cattle and Sheep Wars:

A whole stew of resentment and entitlement by the cattle ranchers, fear that the sheep would graze the grass down too far for the cattle to eat, not always great management by the shepherds, and racial animus all rolled into one package. History is weird. And fascinating.

#356 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2017, 12:32 AM:

To be fair, none of those claim that the conflict was why beef won out. The tensions did eventually simmer down, and there were and are still people raising sheep. I can't help but think that the conflict was a large contributor to why beef seems to be easy to come by in the US and lamb/mutton not so much, but actually showing that would require me to do more digging.

#357 ::: SunflowerP ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2017, 05:27 AM:

Open-thready signal boost for the Nonbinary/Genderqueer Stats Survey 2017. Cassian Lodge (whom some folks here might know as the creator of the 'Poly in Pictures' webcomic) has been doing this survey annually for four years now, though I only learned of it last year - it's quite short and easy, so I encourage any folks who ID as nonbinary, genderqueer, gender-variant or gender-nonconforming, or otherwise feel that their gender isn’t fully expressed or described by the gender binary, to consider taking part.

Errolwi @ 328 - I see what you did there!

KeithS @ 355/356 - After reading all three of your links, my main takeaway is, 'Wow, there's a lot of classism lurking under all that.' I suspect classism - particularly regarding mutton, more than lamb - might also be a significant factor in the predominance of beef.

#358 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2017, 06:48 AM:

Lori Coulson @253, CHip @354: roast suckling pig is a specialty in the Philippines by way of Spain. A restaurant that featured it as a menu special would bring the dish to the table then phg hc gur cvtyrg hfvat n fnhpre'f rqtr yvxr n cvmmn phggre gb fubj whfg ubj graqre vg jnf.

#359 ::: James Moar ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2017, 06:49 AM:

HeithS@355: There's also "Drag-a-Long Droopy" for a cartoon version of the Cattle and Sheep Wars.

#360 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2017, 08:37 AM:

Data point on knowing people before coming here: I showed up as a freshman in college who knew approximately zero people on the site. There are a couple different addresses I should maybe link together for my view-all-by, since Gmail wasn't around then. So knowing people isn't necessary, nor is being around in the relatively long-ago ages when the internet didn't look like it does now.

Oh, also, before I forget, if anyone knows teen writers, applications are open for Alpha. Spread the word, encourage them to apply, it's a good workshop and dear to my heart.

#361 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2017, 09:36 AM:

James Moar @ 359:

Thank you! I had a vague recollection that there was a Droopy cartoon that I'd seen, but I wasn't sure of it.

On knowing people before I came here:

I don't actually remember how I found this place, but I didn't know anyone before I came here. Hasn't stopped them or me.

#362 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2017, 09:45 AM:

These mentions of sheep reminds me of the Far Side cartoon where an old couple is driving at night and a car zips by, driven by sheep, one of whom moons the old couple. The caption of course was...

"Sheep passing in the night"

#363 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2017, 10:11 AM:

I liked the other film adaptation of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. Wool-E is such a great character.

#364 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2017, 10:16 AM:

Another data point on paths to this community: I was never on Usenet. I ended up here on Making Light because my better half saw a link on Scalzi and thought it might be a place that interested me.

I lurked for a while, then started commenting. It seemed to me that my comments were sinking without a trace, that I was basically invisible. I took that as a kind of freedom to do whatever I wanted without fretting about what people would think of me.

(Turns out I was wrong, in the long term, about being invisible. But I was right to relax and just be myself.)

Only much later did it I find out that Patrick and Teresa know my best friend from high school.

#365 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2017, 11:05 AM:

abi @ 364... It *is* a small world.

#366 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2017, 12:28 PM:

Due to the Portland area's bizarre winter weather, our office is finally holding its Holiday Party, two months after it was originally scheduled.

The ice storms seemed to have been timed to hit on each of the previous attempts to reschedule.

At 5:30 am this morning, it was 53 F, windy, and raining buckets. Fingers crossed . . .

#367 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2017, 12:37 PM:

Although I was active on Usenet once upon a time, I don't think I made any associations that carried over to ML. I can't remember now what first brought me here; I do know that a friend had earlier given me a copy of Making Book, and that's why I recognized Teresa's name.

#368 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2017, 01:11 PM:

I'm pretty sure I got here by way of a link from somewhere else, but I don't recall where.* While I've found a few people here that I knew from other venues, most of the regulars I didn't know until I started posting here.

* And, interestingly, from looking at my VAB stats it appears that I showed up once to post a single comment, but didn't actually start hanging around until a couple of years later.

#369 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2017, 01:19 PM:

My internet activity was close to less than nil until I started showing up here after hearing about it in a column by the San Francisco Chronicle's Jon Carroll.

#370 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2017, 01:50 PM:

I think I first visited back in 2007, coming from Jim Henley's site. Got more active in 2009-2010 (tho under a different 'nym).

I don't believe I know anyone here in any other capacity in real life.

But I've always appreciated the make-your-own-fun vibe, and people are generally willing to tolerate my tomfoolery, so I come back, sporadically, as my work-load will permit.

#371 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2017, 03:25 PM:

Opposums, deer, and, now, rabbits have gone wild (feral) in Jamaica, of all places, in recent years.

The possums arrived, it appears, off a ship (or ships) in 1982 since they were reported in Kingston in that year. The deer were imported by private owners (there was one, I know of, kept in a garden in Kingston in the late 1970s) and released into the wild by Hurricane Gilbert in 1989. The rabbits have been around for decades as 4-H projects. Gilbert, and human error, have also released them into the wild. A friend of mine is currently reporting one in her backyard.

Meanwhile, the Jamaican monkey went extinct about 300 years ago. The Caribbean monk seal has been extinct for decades. I may have seen with my own eyes one of the last of the peadoves, a bird that a century ago flocked in abundance, as we nursed one that had been illegally shot back to health. In southwestern Jamaica we didn't have the other Old World feral, the wild boar. We did, however, have a recent African immigrant, the white gaulin (cattle egret) welcomed by farmers.

#372 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2017, 04:24 PM:

Terry Hunt @ #347: There's a delicious Irish single pot still whiskey called Redbreast. I've only ever had the 12-year-old 40% abv, but it is good.

#373 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2017, 07:19 PM:

I looked in on RASFF now and then in the late 90s but probably never participated. I came to Making Light because I vageuly knew Patrick and a few other not-so-regulars from the fanzine world of the 1970s.

#374 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2017, 08:32 PM:

I don't remember how I got here, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't a direct link from someone I knew. (My VAB is chopped up among at least two E-mail addresses, I didn't take the time to chase backwards to find my true First Post)

I've since discovered a few people here I knew from elsewhere... and at least one who remembered me, but who I'd forgotten. (For various reasons, my memory of my college years is a bit choppy, and I'm also really bad at remembering names and faces in general.) Then of course there's a few "social nexus" folks who drop in here occasionally, where "I've met them, but who hasn't?" ;-)

#375 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2017, 11:11 PM:

I once intended to write a story about the cattle men and the sheep men, in a war over grazing rights. In the end, this being science fiction, they would celebrate victory by grazing.

DRAG-ALONG DROOPY has such a great opening shot. I wish I had Joe Adamson's description of it handy. We pan in on prairies absolutely jam packed with cattle, into the fenced farmyard, which is also full of cattle, and into the house, which is also jammed with cattle. The Wolf looks out at us, and in a Daws Butler drawl, says, "You know, I raise cattle."

#376 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2017, 11:30 PM:

I first got here by following a link from Crooked Timber. I'd read a bit of comp.lang.c back when it still worked, but no other Usenet.

Initially I read the archives of posts -- it took a while to realise that reading the comments was actually worthwhile here. And longer to try commenting.

#377 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2017, 06:08 AM:

Coming soon, "Graze of Our Lives"

#378 ::: Brenda Kalt ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2017, 08:38 AM:

Patrick and Teresa mentioned ML at Viable Paradise--which they, along with Jim Macdonald, Debra Doyle, and guest instructors, run. I was looking for a way to keep the VP vibe alive.

#379 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2017, 10:37 AM:

I stumbled across ML in 2004 via a link on a mutual acquaintance's blog. I had been on Usenet for several years, starting in 1996 (didn't have Internet access before that): rec.crafts.textiles.quilting and I was just in rctq for the quilting tips and stopped reading after a year when the quilting conversation was subsumed by the budding community. I stuck with atxf until the show went off the air, and made friends there that I still keep up with.

#380 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2017, 01:12 PM:

I see from my VAB that I first showed up with a comment in 2006, and not again until a year later. I was never on usenet but was reading various things about writing and about SFF online, and so must have followed a link from one of those. Ginger, albatross, Michael I, and I met to hear Lois McMaster Bujold speak at the National Book Festival some years ago, and I went to hear UrsulaV and get a book signed when she was in town on a book tour, but otherwise I've never met any of the fluorosphere in person.

#381 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2017, 01:48 PM:

I really don't remember how I got here (Slushkiller, maybe?!?) but the company's excellent and they've never been less than welcoming. (Impostor Syndrome aside.)

Perhaps I will write a 5-minute sonnet later. ("Good, quick or cheap, pick two." My verse is FREE.)

#382 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2017, 04:53 PM:

I got onto usenet back right after Tim Maroney's infamous rant against UNC, and was pretty active in a few groups (and the author of a fruitcake recipe that is still bouncing around the internet). I moved on to GEnie for a while and came here (I see) for the first time back in 2005. Doyle was my wife's housemate at some point and they are the authors of a well-known filk, which along with MacDonald would be my route into this place, I imagine. And I am a member of one of the surviving apas, though at this point it has drifted a long way from its original intent, I would imagine.

#383 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2017, 04:56 PM:

Writer Ed Bryant passed away last night.

#384 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2017, 05:06 PM:

I'm sad to hear that, Serge. He's had major health problems for years, but he was looking pretty good at Worldcon last year. At least I sent along something he wanted after the con. I'll miss him.

#385 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2017, 06:03 PM:

Serge Broom @383: Damn. 2017 seems to be feeling a certain sibling rivalry with 2016.

Speaking of fannish origins, Ed Bryant was probably the first pro I met in person. Susan Crites was known to describe him as "wry, dry, and sly." I encountered him at an(other) author signing at a con. He was pushing a hand-cart loaded with a couple of boxes (probably his to-be-signed stock for the weekend; I gather he was a collector.)

When I inquired as to the contents of the boxes, he said, deadpan, "Donor organs."

C. Wingate @382: Where I come from, UNC refers to the University of Northern Colorado. May I assume this is not what you're referring to?

#386 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2017, 06:39 PM:

Jacque @385: Ed was indeed a collector, and a very nice quiet man (to me -- YMMV). He had a very slight smile when he delivered that sort of reply; and he did it so consistently that I can't pull out a specific example.

#387 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2017, 08:52 PM:

I found ML because Teresa did a post about the projective plane hat and I was googling (or possibly yahoo-ing?) for that kind of thing.

#388 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2017, 09:01 PM:

re 385: Sorry, back here it's U. North Carolina.

#389 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2017, 09:11 PM:

According to my View All By, I started posting here in (good Lord) 2005. I cannot for the life of me remember how I found my way here. Jennifer Pelland is the only person I can think of that I've encountered here whom I already knew from elsewhere; perhaps I followed her here?

#390 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2017, 09:26 PM:

#385 ::: Jacque

Yeah, Raymond Smullyan (wrote about logic and puzzles) just died.

#391 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2017, 10:43 PM:

Jacque, Ed was my first pro as well. There was an event at the Fort Collins Comic Center (before I even worked there), and Ed came and spoke in the store, after closing. (We did something like that for early SFFFFC meetings, before the problems of having people in a closed store dawned on someone.) Ed autographed Phoenix Without Ashes, his authorized novelization of Harlan Ellison's original conception of "The Starlost" TV series, and I think there were copies of the Dangerous Visions with his first shark story in it, too.

I had much fun at Denver conventions, happily heckling Ed as he emceed events, and I wouldn't have kept it up if he hadn't taken it in the spirit offered. He was witty and good-natured and patient with this neo.

I've missed him since we left the region in 1980, and always looked at his reviews and columns in Locus, because they were by him.

#392 ::: Terry Hunt ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2017, 02:10 AM:

Theophylact @ #372: Thanks for the tip, I'll ask my Irish friend, Paddy the ex-RN cook, about it when I see him in a couple of weeks. I myself am not a big whisky/whiskey drinker, despite living in Scotland for several years: I enjoy savouring one single malt, but not a second. I'm more a Real Ale fan, and have actually brewed a couple of gyles on a commercial 5-barrel plant (part of a work trial for an Assistent Brewers' job – I didn't get it, unfortunately).

I can't properly recall exactly how I wound up at Making Light. Despite being active in UK fandom from the late '70s (mid-'70s if you count my University SF Society), I wasn't an early computer user, and didn't get online until the mid-'90s. I think I stumbled over a link on some other SF site, possibly Dave Langford's Ansible, around a decade or so ago, and – liking the civilised and erudite atmosphere – have mostly lurked ever since.

#393 ::: Terry Hunt ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2017, 02:19 AM:

"Assistant", damnit. An ex-proofreader shouldn't have missed that.

#394 ::: SunflowerP ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2017, 04:16 AM:

My 'online in the '90s' was on local dial-up BBSes (a couple of which were CitadelNet nodes, so my interactions weren't purely local), since I didn't have Internet access until early '03 - by which time Usenet already had a rep for being riddled with porn, spam, and trolls. On the meatlife side, I've been going to SFF cons since '91 - but the only Fluorospherian I know from fandom is Cath, and I didn't know she was here until she stepped up to organize the Sasquan GoL.

How I actually got here... well, I'd been coming by occasionally, when someone or other in places I frequented elsenet linked to a post, for years - that quite likely goes back as far as '05, and conceivably farther. It took a while before I figured out that comment threads were always well-worth reading, not just when the person linking a post explicitly stated that they were pointing at the ensuing convo - not that I was adhering too strictly to 'Never Read The Comments', but I was daunted by how long so many comment threads were. And for similar reasons - 'I don't have enough time to follow a blog that's that busy!' - it wasn't until the first whiff of Puppydoggle (which, fortunately, I was pointed at not long after it went up, when there weren't overwhelmingly many comments) that I started reading regularly, first for breaking Puppydoggle news and conversation thereon, then for the discussions on how to improve the Hugo nominating procedures... and then everything, because I was hooked on the local culture. (And soon discovered that keeping up with ML doesn't really consume a lot of time, as long as I keep up.)

abi@364: 'It seemed to me that my comments were sinking without a trace, that I was basically invisible.'

Thank you for saying that; I've been feeling exactly that about my own comments here. It's very reassuring that you had that experience too.

#395 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2017, 08:16 AM:

Me #374: And, this subthread having kept me up late last night reading old ML threads, I have found a decent candidate for my first post here, with the natural "wow, cool place" intro: 2007 on the Author Identity Publishing thread. That gives some hints to where I came from: Likely via Bruce Schneier, or else from an SF blog that I've since lost track of.

#396 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2017, 09:43 AM:

What should you think about when using Facebook?

SunflowerP: "Puppydoggle"

*snerk* :-) Best name for that I've seen so far.

#397 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2017, 11:04 AM:

I met Ed Bryant a couple of times at the Jack Williamson Lectureships. Nice and quiet. My favorite memories of him were at the 1981 Hugo Ceremony in Denver, in which he rollerskated his way onto the stage.

#398 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2017, 02:24 PM:

I have no idea what specifically brought me to ML. My oldest posting (according to my VAB) was in 2013, and was on a thread of fanfic ideas. The second comment I posted here got a reply by Xopher Halftongue to the effect of "Do I know you?"

I wasted a lot of time looking over old Usenet threads to find my earliest references there. I hung out frequently in the early 2000's on alt.callahans. Looking at old posts there I saw many names that I still see on LJ or FB, but there doesn't seem to be a large overlap here for some reason.

#399 ::: Race Traitor Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2017, 02:47 PM:

And, for those in suspense, I did know him.

I've known Patrick and Teresa since the Fanoclast meeting after they first moved to NYC. I probably found Electrolite first. I remember I was in on the conversation with Phllp Shrpshr that led to the invention of disemvowelment; at that time you could still get the email address for any poster by clicking their name, and I tried to reason with him both via email and in the thread.

How utterly naïve that seems today! Shrpshr was just a sea lion, and verbose even for that particular type of online troll.

#400 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2017, 06:32 PM:

Now that you mention it, Xopher, I haven't seen anyone need disemvowelling for a while. Huh.

#401 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2017, 07:18 PM:

I know I was on ML when I got my first dog in 2004, and might have been after the 2000 election. Perhaps lured here by my cousin Julia, a friend of the Nielsen Haydens going way back.

#402 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2017, 11:40 PM:

"...I haven't seen anyone need disemvowelling for a while..."

Oooooh, Iiiii dooon't knooooow aaaaboouuut thaaaaaat--

sooomee ooof uuuuus wooouuuld beeeeneeeefiiiiit froooom haaaaaaviiiiiiiing aaaaaaa feeeeew voooooooweeeels reeeeemooooveeeed.

#404 ::: Singing Wren ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2017, 10:16 AM:

Jacque @ 403:

That white tuft of fur on top of his head looks so distinguished! I am all asquee!

#405 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2017, 01:23 PM:

I first got online in 1985, when we (my first wife and I) got our first computer, a Sanyo (because it came with WordStar and the accompanying suite of programs). We had a 300 bps modem, and I had to dial the BBSs I called on our rotary phone. (Historical note, the business where we bought the computer was located in the World Trade Center.)

In the late 80s, thus, I was active on local NYC BBSs, local San Diego BBSs, when we moved to the west coast, and Fidonet. Then I discovered Usenet in 1988.

I remember coming across the rec.arts.sf hierarchy and lurking on it (mostly). Also getting told off by Laurie Mann for being stupid. Discovering the talk.politics hierarchy and realising that Randroids were robots (when you come across the expression "filthy altruists" you're certain about the psychology of the author). Discovering alt.flame (now, that was fun). And, finally, settling in the more secure and sedate areas of soc.culture.caribbean (where we could wonder why Americans believed we said "mon") and soc.culture.british where the only problems were raised by the odd Spaniard coming in to start a flame war about Gibraltar.

I first found Making Light over a dozen years ago, but didn't start posting here till 2006. I've never known a community more civilised and welcoming.

#406 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2017, 04:10 PM:

My first post was in 2008 (about beer! I had clearly taken to Belgium by then) but I got here a year or two earlier, after finally following the via Making Light link that seemed to be at the bottom of every cool thing that Cory Doctorow posted in those days. That's how I discovered that AKICIML.

#407 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2017, 07:50 PM:

Jumping from rotary phones: every once in a while, a rotary phone pops up at the thrift store where my students volunteer. Is there anything I should be looking for slash considering in terms of acquiring one, beyond 'is it a rotary phone or a fake rotary phone with buttons, why do people do that'?

I find I miss the brown wall-mount phone that came with my parents' house. We still call that area 'across from the telephone' even though the phones are now cordless.

#408 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2017, 08:21 PM:

Diatryma @407:

In the US at least, before the 1984 breakup of AT&T, most, if not all, phones were leased from the local Bell company. They were made by Western Electric and had both the Western Electric and Bell logos on them.

These phones were built like tanks, with metal frames under the plastic covers, and two slightly-different sized bells (to give a classic two-tones ringing sound, and electronics that was way over-engineered for reliability.

After the Bell breakup, Western Electric continued to make phones, but they no longer had the Bell system logos. They also started to face competition from other manufacturers, who were no longer kept off of the phone network by the monopoly. Western Electric continued the making the rotary desk phone until 1985 or so, then discontinued it in favor of their touch-tone desk phone.

My feeling is that if it is a WE model then it's something that collectors will probably like.

#409 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2017, 08:53 PM:

Obligatory anecdote: Western Electric telephones were supposedly sturdy enough that operators responding to emergency calls (pre 911) suggested that they be used to smash a window to aid in escaping a burning building.

* * *
For a short time after the telephone equipment virtual monopoly was broken up, WE ran an advertisement that showed cheap store-bought telephones falling to the floor and breaking. The ditty began "Second class phones are made for second class homes!"

It was kind of a catchy tune, but that's all I remember of it!

#410 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2017, 09:25 PM:

Buddha Buck #408: I remember when I was quite young, my grandfather got hold of a "surplus" phone of that vintage for me to take apart (I liked disassembling various machinery). Besides being built like a tank as you note, it had a peculiar feature, which I'm not sure whether it was anti-tampering or part of the durability engineering: Once we got it open, we found the interior completely filled with Vaseline. Unfortunately, the resulting mess put an early end to my disassembly efforts.

In the course of wandering various old ML threads, I stumbled across a link to this adorable video, which is happily still online: Horse Nuzzles Cat. The thing that strikes me here is that the horse isn't just randomly licking or nudging, it's purposefully petting that cat with it's nose, and the cat is clearly "getting into it" as such, stretching and rubbing much as it might for a human petting it.

#411 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2017, 11:15 PM:

Oh ghods, T*p is showing up in my dreams now. Get it off, get it off WHERE'S THE BRAIN BLEACH—!??!?

#412 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2017, 11:29 PM:

Singing Wren @404: ::grin:: And it's the perfect kissing spot, too!

Buddha Buck @408: These phones were built like tanks, with metal frames under the plastic covers

Yeah, don't drop it on your foot. Corner first. I did, once. Instantly raised a hemi-hen's-egg size bump (I suspect I burst a blood vessel) and lamed me for a couple of weeks after. Ca. '78 or so. (Crossing threads, I was on the phone with one of the Boulderite's I'd met at Iguanacon.)

#413 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2017, 11:47 PM:

My grandfather was an engineer at Western Electric for years. Mom had several lovely Bakelite phones. I kept one in my room for a while, not connected to anything, just looking good and businesslike.

He died in the 50s, and supported his family for decades after. Grandma lived on his AT&T stock, and after she died, there was money to distribute among her heirs, so it helped my mom as well. My hat is certainly off to him as a provider. Who among us has done half so well?

#414 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2017, 11:47 PM:

My grandfather was an engineer at Western Electric for years. Mom had several lovely Bakelite phones. I kept one in my room for a while, not connected to anything, just looking good and businesslike.

He died in the 50s, and supported his family for decades after. Grandma lived on his AT&T stock, and after she died, there was money to distribute among her heirs, so it helped my mom as well. My hat is certainly off to him as a provider. Who among us has done half so well?

#415 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2017, 12:01 AM:

I didn't even click it a second time this time. Just waited it out. And it still double posted. I blame Scapegoat Man! It's about time he was brought to justice.

#416 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2017, 08:16 AM:

When the split-up happened my mom bought ten or twelve 500 sets (that classic black "telephone-shaped" telephone tank everyone's talking about), specifically because they're so simple and durable.

Those were the phone we had all over the house when I was a kid, and she also had one with a short plug that she brought when she was doing phone-wiring jobs (general contractor and handyperson), to check the line was working.

Nowadays when we call the phone company for an outage and they say, "Well, the problem is probably past the NID and that makes it your problem," we can say, "I plugged a 500 set into the NID and it's still broken, it's on your side." Then sometimes we have to tell the tech what a 500 set is, but.

#417 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2017, 08:23 AM:

New job! Which is interesting, busy and made me miss roughly 2 weeks of Making Light, but I'm just about caught up now...

Fragano Ledgister @ #201:

Um, yes, vaguely. But, you know, words of power and all that.

Stefans Jones @ #264:

Two jobs ago, there was a green sign, with a white cross and the text "First Aider" hanging over my desk. And a fluorescent jacket on my chair, for when fire alarms happened.

Jenny Islander @ #302:

My mental model for a car/moose interaction is "car breaks all or at least most moose legs, moose starts falling due to gravity, moose lands in the windscreen, causing instant death in most, if not all, front seat passengers" (why Volvo cars tended to have WAY oversized front windscreen pillarythings), so I wouldn't necessarily say walk off unscathed. I prefer to not think about moose and motorcyclists.

Diatryma @ #407:

First and foremost, check if the phone goes "1 pulse = dialled 1" or "2 pulses = dialled 1" (there's two distinct pulse dialling schemes, one is strictly n + 1 pulses, the other is n pulses, except 0 is 10 pulses). It may even be obvious from how the numbers are arranged (if they're 1, 2, 3, ..., 9, 0, it's probably the US/UK scheme, if they're 0, 1, 2, ..., 9 it's probably the scandawegian scheme) Second, if you want to actually use it, ensure that your local exchange actually supports pulse dialling. I don't think that's a guarantee anymore. But if the pulse generation scheme is wrong, it would be sufficiently annoying to use anyway.

#418 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2017, 10:46 AM:

A relative (who is best described as "nutty uncle" even though I'm not exactly sure how he's related to me) gave me a GTE payphone of approximately 1980s vintage. The thing is built like a tank, and weighs about as much as one too.

I still have half a mind to put it on a backpack frame and put cell phone guts into it, but the all-metal body would probably block the reception. I'd also have to put a hefty battery in there to be able to ring the bell.

#419 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2017, 11:04 AM:

“Sir Elf, what do you see with your immortal eyes?”
The question is wrong, although in their defence
I can read more when I look at the skies;
The difference not optics but experience.

The question is wrong, although in their defence
You can’t see out if you don’t know it’s a gutter.
The difference, not optics, but experience;
This town stills star-song down to a mutter.

You can’t see out if you don’t know it’s a gutter –
But it’s not like the fey live anywhere aloof.
This town stills star-song down to a mutter
Their houses, their lives, all built on untruths.

It’s not like the fey live anywhere aloof.
I can read more when I look at the skies;
Their houses, their lives all built on untruths.
“Sir Elf, what do you see with your immortal eyes?”

#420 ::: Quill ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2017, 11:13 AM:

OtterB @ #380: ursulav - at Takoma Park?

oldster @ #402: Flashbacks to Mrs. Which!

#421 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2017, 11:39 AM:

Ironically, the first pushbutton phone I bought actually did pulse dialing underneath. Fun fact: we built a crystal radio from a kit, which needed a ground. They recommended running a wire to the finger hook on the phone.

#422 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2017, 11:55 AM:

A show I was in had rehearsals in a public building that had been a school (it was a clone of the one where I went to kindergarten, in fact). There was a phone on a desk in the hall that had a lock on the dial, which made me want to use it. By tapping the cradle button evenly, I could call the Time of Day (484-7070). A very minor rebellion.

I remember touch-tone phones that had a switch between pulse dialing and tone dialing. I think our phone in small-town Georgia used the pulse type. Worst little phone system ever. I always suspected the whole thing ran on a car battery, and that there were places where it used fences and/or clotheslines to make connections. It was also the last place where you could dial just the last four digits if your party had the same prefix as you did.

Neil W. — Well done.

#423 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2017, 12:04 PM:

Neil@419--excellent work!

This thread needs moar poams!

#424 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2017, 12:16 PM:

KeithS @418:

If you are trying to go as far as to make the payphone-on-backpack a working phone, there are a couple of things you can do:

First, you can put the cell-phone guts into the handset, and use the wires going back to the body for power and signalling. You'd probably have to put custom electronics in the body anyway. The handset has a 4-wire connector, which you could probably run USB over.

Second, even if you want to keep the cell-phone guts in the main body, you can run a line to an external antenna mounted inconspicuously on the backpack frame.

Third, you can get cell-phone "shields" for Arduino (or "hats" for the Raspberry Pi) that would allow you to basically build a cell-phone using one of those platforms rather than having to gut an existing cell phone. That might be better/easier to design and build.

#425 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2017, 12:23 PM:

Neil W, <applause>

#426 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2017, 01:05 PM:

Quill @420 OtterB @ #380: ursulav - at Takoma Park?


#427 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2017, 01:52 PM:

Elliott Mason @ 416...

"The more they overthink the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the drain."
- Montgomery Scott

#428 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2017, 02:08 PM:

I'm quite sorry to learn I missed an ursulav appearance in Takoma Park. Alas.

I came here originally from Baen's Bar, which was devolving into open racism upon the recent election of Mr. Obama to his first term. I know I'd stumbled by prior to that, but didn't lurk until after I gafiated from the Bar. It was Serge and Fragano punning away that drew me out of lurkerdom.

As for meeting folks from the flourosphere, I'd met Jon Singer through local Baenites in College Park (the Burmese restaurant, if you know what I mean). Then I dared to meet up with OtterB, albatross, Michael I at the Library of Congress Book Fair to see Lois Bujold, and the rest is history.

#429 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2017, 02:38 PM:

Kip W noted: "I remember touch-tone phones that had a switch between pulse dialing and tone dialing."

My parents refused to pay for touch-tone service for as long as it was an added-charge service. When touch-tone driven "Press 1 for . . ." services became common, I bought my folks one of those two-mode phones.

It was hooked up in the basement (the main phone was a wall-mount dial phone) so they had to amble down there when they had to deal with a service. Like a less extreme version of the "Green Acres" telephone gag that required Eddie Albert to climb to the roof to place a call.

#430 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2017, 03:11 PM:

Stefan Jones (429): My parents had one of those dual-mode-with-switch phones for a few years, for the same reason. They had one of those ancient Bell dial phones† hardwired* into the wall for a long time, too. They had stopped using it to dial out, because it took too long, but they were still picking up calls on it until a few years ago. It finally flaked out, though. I can't remember if it's still sitting there unused or if they got rid of it.

*When ATT broke up, the local phone company offered its customers a chance to buy their existing phones for $25** each, or to have the phones taken out and jacks installed instead. The main phone, on the first floor, had never given us any trouble so my parents kept that one, but they had the wall-mounted phone in the basement removed.

**about the cost of a generic new phone at that time

†It weighed a ton, too. By the time I was in high school, my friends were exclaiming how heavy it was when they used it, because the newer phones†† were much lighter, although they looked the same.

††This would have been the late 1970s; my parents' phone had been in the house when they moved in in 1962.

#431 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2017, 03:14 PM:

Ginger @ 428... It was Serge and Fragano punning away that drew me out of lurkerdom

I thought I had noticed an increase in your comments whenever we did that.

#432 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2017, 03:22 PM:

I floated past here a couple of times, stayed lurking after Slushkiller, became for a while, if not regular, at least less irregular than I have been recently when I have not had time to keep up. Today I came to the end of an open thread while I had a pantun from last year in another window so it seemed appropriate.

I was introduced to the pantun in a creative writing class and have been unable to avoid them ever since. I keep thinking there ought to be a way to write one where the second time each line comes around it means something different. If I could write all four verses simultaneously it might work!

#433 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2017, 03:45 PM:

I didn't get my first computer until several months after my mom died, so probably early 1993. No idea now what service I started off with, and there may have been a couple before I wound up where I still am for email. I think I found out about blogs from Wil Wheaton at one of his con appearances in Pasadena. Through him I found both Neil Gaiman and John Scalzi, and I think I found ML through one of them.

I lurked a while, being intimidated by the level of discourse and random acts of poetry (at which I am not very good). I'll have to post this before I can VAB for my earliest comment...

#434 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2017, 03:53 PM:

Aaaaaaaaaannnnnndddd my first VAB is in 2007...but it doesn't read like a first post to me, so I wonder if I used one of the no-longer-remembered emails when I first started and didn't know how to link old and new VABs.

Anyway, at least a decade on ML. One of my happy places.

#435 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2017, 04:07 PM:

Buddha Buck @ #424

Somewhere in one of the gazillion banananana boxes resulting from the house move, this moose has a "Fixed Cellular Terminal" - intended to run from an AC adapter or 6-volt battery pack so that you can have a site office in the middle of a field. It supports LD (Loop Disconnect) i.e. pulse dialling as well as DTMF (tone) dial and will support a traditional fax machine. The plan was (and maybe still is) to mate it to a 1940-vintage GPO 332 bakelite phone as a conversation piece. Regrettably the internal bell is not that loud, and various moose have been looking for a Bellset 1A and maybe a 250-series instrument to make it even less practical. (The Bellset 1A is the wooden case with top mounted gongs that can be heard 50 yards away because telephone calls were important in those days.

The other useful tool (military surplus from eBay) is a "Portable Exchange Line Simulator" that will fit in a big pocket, runs off a small 9v battery, and will test all the functions of a POTS instrument. (Ideal for testing interesting telephones before you buy them, and it really does cause the seller to boggle....)

#436 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2017, 04:10 PM:

Ginger #428: One of the few times I've been a force for good.

#437 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2017, 04:15 PM:

Total Recall: The people who never forget.

Click-baity headline, but the article is both thorough and thoughtful. The topic is people whose levels of memory storage-and-recall are extreme.

#438 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2017, 05:09 PM:

I found Making Light through the links sidebar on Charlie Stross' blog, maybe around 11 years ago. Since I'm in Scotland I've met Charlie, but not anyone else from that I know of.

#439 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2017, 06:33 PM:

re 405: The first computer I owned was a Kaypro which I bought precisely because (a0 it came with a suite of software, and (b) it had a 24x80 screen. It' still sitting in the basement somewhere though I doubt I could find the key floppies needed to boot it.

#440 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2017, 06:49 PM:

This moose appears to have first posted in 2004, but may well have been lurking before that.

#441 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2017, 07:11 PM:

My first post appears to have been in 2012. But I lurked for a considerable time before that.

#442 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2017, 07:37 PM:

On reading Carlo Rovelli's "Reality Is Not What It Seems"


Newton's laws connected Earth and space,
Maxwell showed us waves of light in fields.
Einstein proved that time depends on pace,
mass shapes spacetime, which then motion yields.

At smallest scale division has to cease,
Quanta are the smallest things there are.
Actions there are governed by caprice,
But laws are there, no matter how bizarre.

Loops or strings or graphs of Planck dimension
The matrix of which quanta are composed.
The smallest bits are made of information,
Events between which nothing is enclosed.

Each theory is as close approximation.
As we can come just then to our creation.

#443 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2017, 07:53 PM:

My first introduction to fandom was as a kid around 1960; Tom Purdom was a friend of the family. Life got in the way shortly thereafter, while I kept reading SF, I wasn't an active fan.

My second introduction was on Usenet. In the early 80s I tripped across the Arpanet SPACE mailing list, which pointed me back to various usenet groups. I was active on rec.arts.sf and various sci and comp groups until the signal to noise got too low for me, about 2004.

I don't remember how I came to Making Light, might have been via Charlie Stross' blog. That's made me more active in meeting people; I've had beers with Charlie a couple of times when he's been in Portland, and had a couple Meetings of Light here (not recently, unfortunately).

My first comment on Making Light was in response to Avram's first post: "So Muqtada al-Sadr, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and Ahmed Chalabi walk into a bar...", in 2007. And now I'm glad to be back.

#444 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2017, 08:21 PM:

@442: sweet!

#445 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2017, 08:34 PM:

Are you in the American middle class?

Pew Institute comparative calculator, which adjusts for family size, region, race, age, and education level.

According to this, we are near the lower bound for the middle-class tier, which in our metropolitan area includes 51% of the population. I suspect that our cat population equates roughly to having a third person in the household, which would push us into the lower tier.

#446 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2017, 10:34 PM:

My first comment is in 2008? That can't be right. Oh well, at least it's kind of witty. And here's a filk I don't remember writing, and can't guess what the occasion was.

2008? I was already in NY that year. I thought I'd been doing this since Virginia.

#447 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2017, 11:18 PM:

National Security adviser Michael Flynn has resigned. The first of the dominos?

#448 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2017, 12:54 AM:

Lee @445: A lot depends on how you calculate income. By taxable income from work, my household is lower class; by increase of value of investments we're definitely middle or possibly upper. But the investments don't count as income until they're realized. And the investment in the house even more so.

So that calculator is very problematic.

#449 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2017, 10:27 AM:

Puns are always a force for good! After all, everything is relative, and here we are: one big happy family.

(See? It's still Serge and Fragano dragging me out of lurking more.)

This thread does need moar poems.

#450 ::: James Moar ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2017, 10:40 AM:

This thread does need moar poems.
I will try but
I'm not very good
At it.

Even my blank verse
Is just chopped-up

#451 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2017, 12:07 PM:

I will try but I'm not very good at it;
my blank verse is just chopped-up prose.
It grows in bits and in pieces,
and then falls apart. So it goes.

I've learned about poetry from masters
(and mistresses): I cried reading Ford.
I've studied it: why, I've taken classes!
But my poetry leaves people bored.

Is my meter too formal, too regular?
Is my blank verse disjointed and rough?
Are my rhymes too short and predictable?
I think I just don't have the stuff.

My couplets and sonnets are facile.
You do it: for me, too much hassle.

#452 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2017, 12:09 PM:

James Moar:

This is just to say
You have taken
The internets
That I was saving
For myself

#453 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2017, 12:10 PM:

For an open thread
the Fluorospherians cry:
Write more poetry!

#454 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2017, 12:16 PM:

My gifts of rhyme are but tricks and cheats
My blank verse is naught but chopped up prose
My take on plums sounds like worn out tweets
And my long form works make my friends doze.

My verse is short, and shall not last long,
And now I am done, and it all feels wrong.

#455 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2017, 12:41 PM:

The limerick's really my speed;
It does everything that I need.
My sonnets are pained,
My free verse is... chained.
But this form, it fits me, I concede.

#456 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2017, 01:04 PM:

A fine fellow named Moar
Heard a cry from the crowd – a roar
Of need for poetry
That crucial symmetry
Which was too great to ignore

So Moar, being a fine fellow
Lowered his voice from a bellow
To declaim with ease
His syllabees,
Thus spake he, quite mellow

But Moar’s quick scansions
Failed to allow for expansions
Overlooked the plums
For which the thumbs-
The rest was too contentious.

#457 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2017, 01:18 PM:

James Moar @450: I see what you did there. :-)

See also: See what you did!?

#458 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2017, 01:52 PM:

In our own (uni)verses, rhymes are lead.
We think our readers look to loathe, and see
Exactly what we cringe at. What we dread.
But they have other views of us, and find
The treasures that we never meant to hide.
Our blockish works are boxes, and inside
The hidden gold that is the writer's mind.
And you know what? The readers' drive to read
Into our words the patterns of the world
And out of them, a deeper truth unfurled
Is greater than our shame-faced anxious need
To doubt ourselves, to treat ourselves as poor
When we have wealth of words. All right, James Moar?

#459 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2017, 04:16 PM:

Word prediction amusement. I was typing an email on my phone organizing something for chorus, and typed that so-and-so did not not have a roommate yet. Word prediction suggested a roommate yeti. Now I want a roommate yeti.

#460 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2017, 04:57 PM:

Pour me out some verses!
Versez-moi d'la poésie.
For triumphs and reverses
it's the drink for drunks like me.

Up-thread i chanced to ask
for a refill and a poam.
abi poured out, not a flask,
but a brimming jeroboam.

#461 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2017, 04:59 PM:

In other words--I really liked your #458, abi!

#462 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2017, 05:01 PM:

In related news, I have been trying to come up with a cow-poem set of wedding vows, mostly to make the other participant laugh and because 'I lik the bride' is hilarious to me.

#463 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2017, 05:54 PM:

I agree about the class calculator. The metro area I was put in is also too broad: people in our sub-area face a much higher cost of living, mostly due to housing costs. Of course that cuts both ways: people like us who've paid off their houses (bought 20 years ago for what now seems a ludicrously small amount) are also living unusually cheaply for our area, and are therefore richer than they look.

#464 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2017, 07:05 PM:

I also agree about the class calculator. It doesn't figure in debt or assets. People can make a very large paycheck and still be functionally not well off if they have an enormous debt-load. People can make a modest paycheck and still be functionally in the middle or upper class if they have little or no debt (and a paid-off house, car, etc.)

#465 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2017, 08:57 PM:

A bit early here, but over there, I believe it is now abi's BIRTHDAY.

Happy Birthday, abi!!!
Happy Birthday, abi!!!
Happy Birthday, abi!!!

#466 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2017, 09:22 PM:

Happy Birthday Abi!

I hope the weather is suited to a bike ride along the canals.

#467 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2017, 09:49 PM:

Happy Birthday Abi!

I just got back from my Mom's birthday dinner. As always, it was wonderful being with my family. (As usual, I also got throughly licked by one of the dogs, who is particularly fond of my beard but also managed to put nose-prints on my glasses.)

Also, this morning I had the final follow-up appointment from my appendectomy. Aside from scheduling snafu (my 15-minute appointment was 2 hours late), it went very well. Pathology reports nothing scary found in my redacted appendix, and the incisions are healing so well that the guy who made them couldn't find one of them.

Modern-surgery amusements: They were sealed with glue instead of stitched. I'd expected the glue to be quietly absorbed, but as they healed over the past weeks, they actually forced some of the glue out of the incisions, as little flaps. (I took nail-clippers and scissors to those so I wouldn't be fiddling with them.)

#468 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2017, 04:35 AM:

Merriment was made; making light.
Another poetry style; alliterating
Known across the lands; Kenned perhaps
Invigorating us; Inspire
Now for poetry; Neverwhen?
Grudgingly short; Gnash of teeth?

Life is bright; Laugh it
Invisible rays; Inspire
Greetings all; Gallop!
Hailing friends; Hug them?
Terminal line; Terminates

#469 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2017, 05:37 AM:

Very nice, Ingvar!

A grumpy arachnid
An irritable neural reflex
An x-shaped check-mark

#470 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2017, 06:04 AM:

Thank you, Serge, Stefan, and Dave. A sunny day, which is nice in February.

Enjoying the poetry!

#471 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2017, 08:11 AM:

Happy Birthday Abi!

#472 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2017, 09:06 AM:

Many happy returns, abi

#473 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2017, 09:23 AM:


my name is Grum
and Im in luv
lets mak the moon
go lovy-duv
but frist we take
our gests inside
befour the cake
I lik the bride

#474 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2017, 10:01 AM:

My name is Bryd
I luv him too
I've got my flawrs
And dancing shu
I trade a ring
and jump the brum
Before my kake
I lik the grum

#475 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2017, 10:25 AM:

Um... can someone explain "cow-poem" to me? I presume the last two entries are examples, but I've not encountered the form before.

#476 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2017, 10:32 AM:

@475: I shall explain! Well, I shall link to an explanation, which has the backstory of it all. But basically:

Someone wrote a poem in sort of comedic misspelling about a cow licking bread, based on an incident where a cow did do that. The poem became very popular on Tumblr, and, much like the good old plums poem, inspired many many riffs on it, with a variety of animals, circumstances, fandoms... A lot of the Tumblr versions are based on specific photos of animals (ideally, licking something).

The original is:

my name is Cow,
and wen its nite,
or wen the moon
is shiyning brite,
and all the men,
haf gone to bed -
i stay up late.
i lik the bred.

#477 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2017, 10:41 AM:

Additional bred likking at MetaFilter.

#478 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2017, 10:52 AM:

Fade Manley and Bruce H, thanks much! As you might guess from my befuddlement, I'm not on Tumblr...

(Going down a rabbit-hole of cow-poems. Leaving a train of, ahem, bred-crumz.)

#479 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2017, 11:06 AM:

We are not sure, our lives are plain,
but while we walk above the dust
with minds that have not gone to rust
we'll drink the loyal toast again.
Some will recite in bold quatrain,
while limerick and sonnet must
have their right turn, it is but just;
aught else would go against the grain.
There is a place of good resort
with happy friends, and wits most bright,
so I the poetaster shabby
arrive to have my day in court,
where all good things have been made light,
and wish a joyous day to Abi.

#480 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2017, 11:07 AM:

BTW, that was an excellent poem o Speaker to Managers.

#481 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2017, 11:43 AM:

Let's milk this subject for all it's worth and until we feel cowed.

Roses are red
Violets are blue
We spread on our bread
Som'thing from the moo

#482 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2017, 11:55 AM:

Our Abi livvs
Where toolipz gro
The windmillz keep
the watur lo.
and for hir birfdae
wish I mayk:
take those toolipz

and eet the cayk.

(Happy birthday!)

#483 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2017, 11:55 AM:

Happy Birthday abi! In your honor, I have committed some, er, poesie:

Her name is abi,
It’s her berthday
We ate her plums
All nite for they
So cold and tastee
Better than bred
Even wen liked
Cake insted?

#484 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2017, 12:29 PM:

oldster@469: a spasm for horizontal clues?

and HBTY, abi!

#485 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2017, 03:55 PM:

Michael, OtterB, Fragano (sonnet!), Cassy, Ginger, Tom, thank you!

There was cake. There will be more cake tomorrow. I may do more than lick it.

#486 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2017, 03:56 PM:

Many happy returns of the day to abi!

Hope you are having a wonderful time, and all good wishes for the future.

#487 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2017, 04:08 PM:

Tom @484--
Indeed! Or a corvid's crutch.

Abi, I feel presumptuous in wishing you a happy birthday, since I don't know you. But I'd rather appear presumptuous than uncivil or unkind.

So: happy birthday!

#488 ::: Race Traitor Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2017, 06:31 PM:

Happy Birthday, Abi!!!

#489 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2017, 07:46 PM:

Toss-off comment found elseNet, and I do not have the talent to even contemplate this. So if you do, or know someone who does, have at, because I would read the hell out of this fic...

Mad Max: Furry Road

#490 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2017, 08:20 PM:

My name is catte
Wen ther is sight
Of tasty milk
In bottle whyte
I cannot reach
Wat I desire
So with a shrug
I lik the jar

(I have a photo of my cat licking condensation off a glass milk when she was a kitten.)

#491 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2017, 09:15 PM:

@Lee: I saw, on Twitter, lots of one-off art based on that idea.

Maybe somebody followed up?

#492 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2017, 08:36 AM:

Naomi Parkhurst @490

My cat will lick the condensation off the window so that she can see out. It's really cute.

#493 ::: Selcaby ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2017, 12:24 PM:

my name is Cat.
wen werld is cold,
and indor fogs
the windoes hold,
I cannot see
wen berdys pass -
so from the sil
I lik the glass.

#495 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2017, 02:53 PM:

The rhyming is also important. The canonical scheme seems to be

But I have seen several with

#496 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2017, 03:13 PM:

Thank you, Moose, oldster (you know me well enough), Xopher.

For Reasons, we didn't end up having my birthday dinner last night. So we had it tonight. There was cake. It was not a lie.

#497 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2017, 03:46 PM:

abi @ 496: so, it was factual cake. Was it of uniform density? If so, would it be at all related to spherical cows? "Consider a factual cake of uniform density..."

Sorry, I don't know where my brain is today. Also, happy belated birthday!

#498 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2017, 04:04 PM:

I like to write
in haiku form
for me to rhyme
is not the norm
but now it seems
much to my dread
the kids today
they lik the bred.

#499 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2017, 05:57 PM:

Your brain is in a space that make me LOL.

and happy birthday, abi!

#500 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2017, 06:30 PM:

My name is Will
and tho it's rood
I sometimes still
my nabor's food

my Will powerz low
and I succumbs
jus so's you know:
I lik the plums

#501 ::: Selcaby ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2017, 06:31 PM:

my name is Duck.
my hyoomin's Luke.
we hav such luk,
it may be fluke.
the tungs we twist
are not mistakes.
we hav our likes.
we lik the lakes.

(With apologies to Dr Seuss.)

#502 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2017, 06:36 PM:

oldster (500): ::wild applause::

#503 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2017, 06:57 PM:

Cake late better than cake never.

I am way overdue to bake something for co-workers.

#504 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2017, 07:15 PM:

On me thou mayst a bovine title fix
and tell of my nocturnal ramblings rare
as ‘neath Selene’s candelabra’s wicks
I shamble through the solitary air.

All sleep; the world is swathed in lethargy
Save I, and I alone, who walk awake
Past midnight, near the witching hour of three,
I kiss Demeter’s humblest wheaten cake.

#505 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2017, 07:21 PM:

I can't believe I blew it by not putting a colon at the end of the second-to-last line.

Okay, just imagine there was a colon there, would you? Much appreciated, thx.

#506 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2017, 07:37 PM:

re phones; anyone remember party lines where different people had different patterns of long-and-short rings, and you had to only pick it up when it rang your ring?

#507 ::: J Homes ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2017, 08:20 PM:

Erik Nelson @506,

Yes. My grandmother had one such, when she was living in Waikanae (Kapiti Coast, Wellington Province, New Zealand). IIRC her number was 201K where 201 was the party line, and K her suffix. I think the ring pattern was the Morse code for the suffix. This would be late 1950s, early 1960s.

People on the same party line could ring each other directly by cranking out the ring pattern, Otherwise, all calls to or from a party line had to go through the local operator. At the time, local calls in most areas were direct dial, and long distance Subscriber Trunk Dialling was just being introduced.

J Homes.

#508 ::: Race Traitor Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2017, 08:28 PM:

My grandmother had a party line in Berwyn, IL in the 60s.

#509 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2017, 08:52 PM:

My grandmother had a party line when my mother was young. We, having always been city folk, never lived where they were still extant even when I was a kid.

#510 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2017, 08:57 PM:

We had a party line for a while when I was a kid. I don't remember it myself - I was too young to use a phone - but I heard we got a private line because the other family's kids thought it made a great intercom.

#511 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2017, 10:09 PM:

There was a party line at my grandmother's lake cottage (near Wautoma, WI) until about 1970 or so.

#512 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2017, 12:39 AM:

I don't remember having a party line, but I do remember a how-not-to-behave-badly movie for children which featured a very angry blue man (puppet?) who insisted on hogging a party line.

#513 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2017, 01:01 AM:

Family friends had an island (!) on Moskoka Lake in Canada. One and only place I knew that had a party line. Pretty sure it was still that way on my last visit in '74. When we visited our parents had to tell us not to answer impulsively.

(The family friend's kids couldn't afford to keep the place up, and sold it. It is apparently a minor legend up there, wondered about on discussion boards.)

#514 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2017, 02:54 AM:

I think I need to back away from Tumblr for a while. I'd been lurking at the blogs (they're still called blogs on Tumblr, right?) of some authors whose work I enjoy. One of them started talking about numinous happenings in their neighborhood, which, OK, I'm a mystic too, and I know firsthand how very nice being bless-your-hearted for being a mystic is--but then people started asking them for advice.

And I found myself tartly anonposting something to the effect (details have been changed to protect the posters) that if somebody reports a symptom of a hereditary, progressive, and devastating medical condition and wants to know whether it could have been caused by that condition or by gnomes, you do not ignore the potential medical crisis and instead say that it's gnomes.

Heck, for all I know it is gnomes. But the thing the blogger should have said before going off on all the gnome talk was, "Hie thee to a doctor, stat!" And they didn't. Just post after post about anti-gnome security.

Anyway, they get reblogged at other places I read on Tumblr, so I think it's time to let it all go.

#515 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2017, 09:41 AM:

oldster @504: And now I want to see all the lik the bred variants done up in such a style! Especially the back and forth between the cow and calf and cat about appropriate licking there.

#516 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2017, 10:25 AM:

Fade @ 515--

You're the person to write them!

I'm very glad you liked my Elizabethan cow. It's another exercise in code-switching, which is a game that all of us here enjoy.

#517 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2017, 10:50 AM:

Jenny, #514: AFAIK, Tumblrs are not blogs, they are Tumblrs. Just the way a Twitter feed is not a blog.

#518 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2017, 11:58 AM:

oldster @ #516:

Code-switching vitsar is an entire konstform in Swedish. Eh, I mean, "code-switching puns is an entire artform in Swedish".

Then there's the very related "say something in Swedish that isn't a pun, but becomes one with a round-trip to English and back, given the right return path".

Polyglot punning is punnier punning.

#519 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2017, 12:34 PM:

Agreed, Ingvar--and polyglot vitsar the best wits!

#520 ::: Joseph S. ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2017, 12:54 PM:

Jenny Islander@514:

I have had this issue on Tumblr at times as well - my wife recommended the "New Xkit" extension for whatever browser you read Tumblr on. It lets you block posts that appear with a certain keyword (such as "gnome") and other really useful things like that. That may help with your situation; you should be able to block that particular discussion, or reblogs from the person you want to avoid, that sort of thing. That said, I find sometimes taking a break from Tumblr is great too, so ymmv. :)

General: Hi! It's been a while since I last posted here, so I feel awkward de-lurking. But I still read nearly everything here and in the DFD threads. I love all the poetry going on in this thread. I've seen a bunch of the 'lik the bred' style poems via Ann Leckie's tumblr, and the ones here are superb! :)

#521 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2017, 01:40 PM:

re: "lik the bred" style poems:

I know the origin, but I keep reading* 'lik' as 'like' instead of 'lick' and having to go back as reparse. It doesn't help that in most of them 'like' would make just as much sense.

*and typed it 'like' in my initial attempt at the first line in this post

#522 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2017, 01:52 PM:

You're not the only one, Mary Aileen! Me too.

#523 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2017, 01:53 PM:

If I were rich, I would commission a series of books, with AV tie-ins, called "The All-Time Greats." The focus of this series would be written works with named authors that endured in popular consciousness for centuries. Each work would be provided with a top-notch translation (if needed) and annotation, performances, and articles about its origin, changing influence, and eventual dwindling away (if it has dwindled away).

The first in the series might be The Hymnal of Enheduanna, if evidence suggests that it was actually in use for 500 years rather than copied as a state relic, although the matter of enduring lyrics might expand the series to unwieldy size. The last would probably be Shakespeare at the Bar, although there may well be 17th-century works in Europe or elsewhere that fit the description.

#524 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2017, 02:08 PM:

Oh, it's a relief to know it's not just me!

#525 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2017, 02:33 PM:


The "lik/like" confusion is one of the reasons my entry began "I like to write", and nearly ended similarly. It's hard for me to read it as "lick".

#526 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2017, 03:26 PM:

P J Evans (524): When I was reading in the late 1990s, we evolved a matching pair of acronyms: aitoo (Am I the only one?) and yntoo (You're never the only one). Less-often acronymized but still common were "Is it just me?" and the response "It's not/never just you."

Because no matter how rare a given interpretation/reaction was, it was *never* just one person having it.

#527 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2017, 03:31 PM:

I suspect that lik/like/lick issue stems from LOLcat, which IIRC does use "lik" to mean "like". So that's how a lot of us (including me) are used to decoding it.

Open Threadiness: King Henry laid claim to his book.

Down in the comments is a poem in the same meter as the cow poems, but IMO much more readable:

my name is hal,
and i am eight,
i like to rede
and stay up layte,
i take my pen
these wyrds i signe-
prynce i am.
thys boke is myne.

#528 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2017, 03:58 PM:

Mary Aileen @526:

I first heard that as Ugol's Law, which in the formulation I'm most familiar with is "If you ever ask 'am I the only one who _________?' the answer is invariably 'no'.".

Given the section of Usenet it comes from, the fill-in-the-blank was usually not family-friendly, but the sentiment remains outside that context.

#529 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2017, 05:14 PM:

Mary Aileen @ #521:

liek the ice cream? It tasts just lik cream, I screm!

#530 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2017, 06:42 PM:

All this talk of party lines has made me think of an even more primitive form of rapid communication, the telegram (and cablegram). When I was a farm boy in the early 70s we used to get them from time to time, delivered by the postman on his regular rounds (the man had a healthy eight mile walk).

My mother was always alarmed, although they usually weren't announcements of death, disease, or damnation.

#531 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2017, 07:13 PM:

re: lik/lick/like/liek

Much as Sendak's young correspondent loved the letter so much that he ate it, a lick is an acceptable way to show that you like something.

#532 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2017, 08:04 PM:

Mary Aileen @521: I keep reading* 'lik' as 'like' instead of 'lick'

Further complicating matters, or perhaps simplifying them, one assumes that one would not 'lik' something that one does not 'lik.' Or visa versa. If you get what I mean.

& @526: aitoo ... and yntoo

This sounds like it ought to be the names of two aliens you see, over the backs of their heads, looking out the dome of their flying saucer, delivering a running comentary of the doings of those strange humans scurrying about on the Earth below. (Probably drawn by Matt Groening.)

Buddha Buck @528: "If you ever ask 'am I the only one who _________?' the answer is invariably 'no'.".

This is both the blessing and the curse of the internet age. I feel a lot less weird (but also a lot less unique) than I did back in the days when I was the only [locally deprecated character trait] within my acquaintance.

#533 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2017, 11:21 PM:

Hm. Chicken and dumplings dumplings are not cooking properly. At some point I shall get better at these.

In the case of the wedding vows, I do in fact lick the groom occasionally (and hush, you.) Not quite the way the cat does, but it's in the same bucket as 'I learn physical affection from the cat and books'.

#534 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2017, 12:23 AM:

I was recently surprised to find a party-line phone in a short story from the 1960s (setting: a Cambridge/Boston apartment). I hadn't realised they were still going then, but they obviously were.

#535 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2017, 12:29 AM:

My name is Cow, my name is Cow,
*Every night and all*
And when the moon is shining bright,
With fire and fleet and candle-light
And bread for all on this aye night
*Then Christ receive thy soul.*

-- The Lik-Wake Dirge

#536 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2017, 02:04 AM:

I also have a tendency to read "lik" as "like". I think "lick" ought to go to "likk".

#537 ::: tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2017, 07:25 AM:

Andrew Plotkin @ 535

There should really be a lik button.

#538 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2017, 08:35 AM:

tykewriter @ #537

With the Rolling Stones tongue on it?

(If you lik it a little sign should pop out (possibly with a slurping sound) stating "Please do not lik this button again".)

#539 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2017, 09:08 AM:

Jenny Islander @ #523: Shakespeare at the Bar

"But there is no joy in Stratford: / Mighty Shakespeare has struck out"?

#540 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2017, 09:52 AM:

The outlook wasn't brilliant for the Elsinore last day.
Hamlet now was missing, with but one Act left to play.
The trouble all had started when the King had wed his Queen
His brother had forgot his lines, and ruined ev'ry scene.

#541 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2017, 10:13 AM:

I’m less well known
than my son Leif
tho more than Thjodhild
his mom, my wife

he found some land
or so it’s said
You know my name:

#542 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2017, 10:21 AM:

Incidentally, on the principle that AKICIML:

I'm looking for a proverb or folk-saying (like "handsome is as handsome does," or "it's an ill wind that blows no one good" or "a word to the wise is sufficient") whose meaning is roughly that people interpret ambiguous news (words, gestures, events) in a way that reflects their antecedent character.

E.g., timid people will take the same portent to be discouraging, where the bold will take it to be encouraging. Or wicked people will take a nod as license to commit wicked acts, where scrupulous people will take it as an admonition to follow the rules.

A recent expression of the sentiment is "a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest," but I'm fairly confident that there are older versions of this.

Any language or culture welcome, though I'll need translations for non-English expressions.

#543 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2017, 10:57 AM:

Erik @506

Our ring was two shorts. Our Party Code was 5, or maybe 7. I think it may have changed one time. If we wanted to call someone else on our party line, we had to dial their number, hear a busy tone, then dial the party code and hang up. We would then listen to the phone ring, and when it stopped, that meant they'd picked up, so we would have to pick up and hope they hadn't already decided nobody was there and put the phone back on the hook.

We didn't know anyone who was on our party line, so I never had occasion to call anyone that way. I figured out one day that I could use the procedure to call my own phone, though, and tried to prank my sisters with it. I don't recall any details of that, but they must have recognized my voice right away, and that was that.

I think the Robbs, down at the corner, may have been on our line, but I never had occasion to call them. I was in their house one time, for some reason I don't remember, and they had an extension phone on the wall with no dial. Last time I was back in my home town, I saw the Robb house in a derelict state, and it will probably be gone next time I visit. Seems to me this is about the only time I ever saw a house I'd been in in better days waiting for the wrecker. The only other candidate is the Clark place (next door to the Robbs, come to think of it), but that one had a fire first, and so might not count.

#544 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2017, 04:04 PM:

My boss still has the remains of an old-style rotary phone mounted next to his desk -- I assume it hasn't worked in decades. (The bookstore's been there over 40 years.)

#545 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2017, 04:25 PM:

@Paul A. no. 539: I was thinking about how people will bust out with "Hamlet, Hamlet, end of story/Hamlet, Hamlet, pretty gory" and just about everybody in a collection of random strangers (say, at a bar) will know who Hamlet is.

I don't know enough about Enheduanna's works to know if people were quoting her all the time or what. Most of the cuneiform documents that have ever been found are still sitting untranslated in boxes somewhere--so how would we really know?

#546 ::: Sarah E ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2017, 08:28 PM:

oldster @ #542:

"To the man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail?"

#547 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2017, 08:34 PM:

Sarah@ 546--

Ah! That's good.

It's not exactly what I had in mind, but it's definitely in the right direction.

#548 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2017, 08:44 PM:

Sarah E #546: It's worth noting that's already well-simplified from the original quote; IIRC it started as "When the tool to hand is a hammer, every problem begins to resemble a nail". Much more erudite, but not exactly snappy.

#549 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2017, 09:37 PM:

@542: In kinda the opposite attribution direction than you requested, this page discusses the quote "We see things not as they are, but as we are"-- attributed by Anais Nin to the Talmud, but apparently not found in there. Actual origin seems uncertain.

The story of the blind men and the elephant seems hematically related, but not quite the thing.

#550 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2017, 09:54 PM:

Julie L. @549

That's great! We quote from the Talmud, not what it says, but what we want it to say.

These are all helpful avenues of enquiry.

#551 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2017, 10:56 PM:

Oh mah dooness! We haz triumphses!! Miss Maarten has climbed to the very TOP of the newspaper pile!

#552 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2017, 12:13 AM:

Today, in the mail, I received a corrected passport.

It has an M on it.

(for what protection that shall bring me henceforth, dayenu)

#553 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2017, 12:58 AM:

Elliott: ::applause::

#554 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2017, 09:09 AM:

Elliott Mason #552: Congratulations!

#555 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2017, 09:12 AM:

oldster #550: We quote from the Talmud, not what it says, but what we want it to say.


#556 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2017, 09:36 AM:

And a sensawunda break: The comments seem to suggest that this video is new-made, in any case it is certainly spectacular: Scarborough Fair.

#557 ::: SunflowerP ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2017, 10:50 AM:

Elliott@552 - That's wonderful news!

#558 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2017, 11:01 AM:

For those who have not yet seen it, the short film/music video "Shelter" is a beautiful and atmospheric piece. It is a short-short science fiction story in visual form. Strongly emotional, hinting at worldbuilding, joyous and despairing.

#559 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2017, 01:28 PM:

Another ignorant† food-prep question:

I read somewhere that baby potatoes don't need to be peeled*. Does this mean that they don't need to be de-eyed, either? Because that's incredibly time-consuming with such tiny potatoes.

*not that my family normally** peels potatoes
**although I did peel one this morning, because it was green under the skin
†I almost typed "stupid"

#560 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2017, 01:55 PM:

Gandalf tours New Zealand.

A landscape photographer carried a Gandalf costume with him on a New Zealand tour and asked people to wear it and be in the pictures he took. The results are outstanding. I'm pretty sure I recognize some of those sites from the movies, too!

#561 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2017, 02:21 PM:

As recently as 1977 I called someone in rural Iowa who was using a party line. He warned me to be discreet in case someone else listened in.

#562 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2017, 02:37 PM:

Posted today: two more epitaphs in the Toon River Anthology (part 17).

"…They went to Heaven. Yeah, Heaven! And I'm still here."


"… I used to think I'd grow up and get big…"

#563 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2017, 02:47 PM:

I wouldn't de-eye them unless the eye was large or starting to grow a root.

#564 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2017, 03:13 PM:

P J Evans (563): Thanks! That makes them much more practical. For some reason, my local supermarket does not carry loose non-baking potatoes. I don't want to buy a 5lb bag when I only need a few potatoes at a time. The baby Yukon Golds come in a reasonably sized bag and are very good, but that's a lot of surface area to de-eye. If I can skip that step, my life gets a lot easier.

#565 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2017, 04:02 PM:

I'm sure I've seen misspellings which looked like typos but were actually puns. Anyone remember some good ones?

#566 ::: Race Traitor Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2017, 05:29 PM:

Elliott 552: Congratulations, sir!

Mary Aileen 559: In my experience the eyes have an unpleasant texture, but if you don't have that problem with the little ones, and there's no sprout, I can't see why you'd need to. The sprouts are the poisonous part.

And you're quite right to get rid of any green on potatoes. It's toxic too. I've asked for the manager in a local grocery to say "you have these potatoes right out under the light. See how they're turning green? The green part will make people sick."

Result: Let's put it this way. If I'd waited for a snowfall and tried to write "KEEP POTATOES FROM LIGHT" by peeing, I'd have achieved exactly the same effect on the placement of the tubers in question.

#567 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2017, 06:22 PM:

Xopher (566): I had always heard that one should cut out the eyes, period. Are you saying that that's not necessary unless they're sprouting? (I suppose cutting them out regardless would eliminate any question of whether or not any particular one is actually sprouting.)

#568 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2017, 07:19 PM:

So should I take this to mean that if I've had a potato out on the counter for a while,* and it has, like, little leaves on it, maybe I shouldn't eat it...?

* Severe tuit deficiency, all shapes, including round.

#569 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2017, 07:38 PM:

Such poems that are in this thread
Wow! All the words and all the memes.
Much fun we had in play with words.

So many things to lik and lik
Much plums and cats and other themes
Such poems that are in this thread

Wow! Puns and rhymes, not to dislike
Such taking fun out to extremes.
Much fun we had in play with words.

So Shakespeare swings and gets a strike
Wow! Fire, fleet, and bright moonbeams
Such poems that are in this thread

Such meta poems, drop,the mike!
So moar the lines float from our dreams,
Much fun we had in play with words.

Wow! Limericks, sonnets, cows, alike,
So poetry in all its schemes.
Such poems that are in this thread
Much fun we had in play with words.

#570 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2017, 07:59 PM:

Mary Aileen @559, Jacque @568

I peel potatoes for potato salad after I boil them, because leaving the peels on disrupts the texture I prefer.

For potatoes I'm going to fry, I peel them only if they are green or if they are so rough and dirty that it's faster to peel them than to wash them.

I've never de-eyed them, and never suffered any distress that I could attribute to eating potato eyes.

If they have sprouted, I break the sprouts off and proceed as described above. I've never had any with leaves, probably because I keep them in a drawer (i.e. out of the light), but if I did, I would break the sprouts off and proceed as above.

#571 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2017, 08:25 PM:

Bruce H. (570): That's very interesting. Thanks.

#572 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2017, 08:37 PM:

One more note on potatoes, my local Wendy's serves fries with the skin on. I haven't examined them closely enough to tell whether or not they excise the eyes, but given that the prep is almost certainly a highly automated process, I'll bet a dollar they don't.

#573 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2017, 09:11 PM:

"home style" fries and oven fries usually don't get peeled - I like the peels on them. When I've had fries at In-n-Out, they're peeled (non-automatically, AFAIK) but frequently there are bits that are missed. I can't tell if they de-eye them, but given the number of potatoes they go through, I shouldn't think so. (Not that theirs generally have time to sprout, and they get them in sacks.)

#574 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2017, 10:05 PM:

Just dropping this here to re-set my "Don't make me type all this again," after clearing cookies. (Trying unsuccessfully to get Netflix to let go of the new arrivals alert it keeps showing me....)

#575 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2017, 10:46 PM:

Bruce @569--

nice work. Reminds me of that famous air from Handel's Messiah, "I know that my Meme Reader liveth".

#576 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2017, 10:50 PM:

I don't take eyes out of potatoes, and peeling them varies by purpose. It's not something we teach our students, either.

#577 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2017, 01:53 AM:

Various Alaskan cooks have told me that if the stuff in the eye doesn't actually look stem-ish, then there's no point cutting it out because you won't even know it's there in the finished dish. If it's still an integral part of the potato, the texture won't be different, and if it's started to actually grow then scrubbing will get rid of it. On the other hand, all green parts must come off.

#578 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2017, 04:50 AM:

There's a breathless hush in the pit tonight—
Men to kill and the crown to win—
A re-wed Queen and the party's light,
Enter the Prince as the last man in.
And it's not for the sake of his father's crown,
Or the lustful hopes of a kinky game,
But a ghostly figure not making a sound
"Stay, illusion!" is sounding lame.

The seat of the throne ends sodden red—
Red with the blood of a murdering king—
The palace is littered with dying and dead,
And a funeral's due to that dithering thing.
The river of death has brimmed his banks.
And Norway now can the kingdom take.
Let Fortinbras give his easy thanks,
For Hamlet lost for vengeance sake.

This is the play that year by year.
Since the author's son was untimely dead,
The powered elite must always hear,
And promptly scour out of their head.
All they learn is to strike out fast,
Time for thought is not to be.
Until, from out their ruthless past,
Another ghost comes to claim the fee.

#579 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2017, 10:25 AM:

Kip W @ #562:

Turns out I've missed the last few Toon River updates, so this is the first time I've seen the Richie Rich one. There's something about the voice you've given him that seems oddly familiar...

#580 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2017, 01:35 PM:

Dave Bell in the house, y’all

There’s a blog outta Brooklyn where the rhymes are cookin’
and the undisputed master—no poetaster—is MC Bell.

Say Big Dave Bell, y’all, he’s dope as hell, y’all,
the crowd says, “Damn! Let him loose on that Ham-let!”

He’ll put you in pain when he gets on that Dane,
He’ll kick your teeth in, it’s Elizabethan,
free-stylin’ rhymes with no net beneath him.

Or in other words: I liked your poem at #578, and I think it does as much exceed in greatness the rest of the verse on this thread as a Cathedral doth a parish church. (Props to anyone who recalls, without googling, the origin of that comparison.)

#581 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2017, 03:20 PM:

OT: Henry Kaiser hanging out underwater with seals in Antarctica. Music, scientific exploration, and cute mammals -- what's not to like?

#582 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2017, 04:59 PM:

When I was young I lived, variously, where there were party lines (having more than one person using the same wires) and farm lines. In addition to more than one person using the same wires, farm lines had other characteristics. First, they were in rural areas. There were quite a number of persons on each line, and everyone could listen in to all the calls. Everyone heard every ones' rings, and if too many people were interested in your news, the sound would get very faint, as it had to be divided between all the listeners. You might have to ask people to get off the line so you could hear your caller.

Second, farm lines were not owned by the phone company, but by the people who used them, and they were responsible for maintenance. The commonest problem was that the wind might blow down the pole, or blow the line off the pole, and if it touched the ground, you could no longer hear any calls.

Th "party line" was a feature of phones in cities, even big cities. Each line had four subscribers on it, in two pairs. You could hear the ring of the other phone of your pair, and if you picked up, you could hear the call, and participate in it. This was bad manners, though. Calls to members of the other pair could be heard, but you could not hear their rings. Rings were of two types, either "Brriiiiiing!" or "Brring brring!" so that the members of each pair could distinguish their calls.

Both of these phone systems were in common use when I was first married, and in fact when my first child was born. In fact, I believe I can say that in the city where I lived, party lines were not abolished until 1960. In the surrounding rural areas, farm lines lasted a few years more.

Years later, when my first child was grown up and married, she and her husband lived in what we were told was the last place in the US to have regular service installed. That was in about 1980. Prior to that, there was only one phone in the valley, at the store, and people had to go to town to make a call. I believe the phone was a satellite phone. The issue there was the very tall mountains which made any wire-stringing or radio transmission difficult, and no phone company wanted to spend the money, nor did the residents -- they were too few to make it practical.

It is surprising what one forgets. I haven't thought of those times, particularly the phone service of those times, for years. Now of course, I have a phone in my pocket. With which I can call anywhere in the world.

#583 ::: Nonyme ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2017, 06:09 PM:

On green potatoes *puts on gardener nerd hat*:

Historically, with heritage varieties of potatoes, the presence of green WAS a warning sign that a potato might contain toxic levels of the compound solanin. However, this trait has been bred out of modern potatoes, and any commercial variety you find in a store will have negligible levels. It's just not enough to worry about, unless you were to, say, eat just the green parts of bushels of potatoes.

"Don't eat the green part" is one of those old wive's tales with a grain of truth behind it. There were heritage varieties where this was an issue, historically speaking.

Also, the reason we propagate potatoes via what is essentially cloning (by using root cuttings -- chopping the tomatoes up into pieces, one eye to a piece, and planting them) is because commercial potato varieties don't breed true. If you were to grow them from seeds, you may very well end up with very toxic potatoes (with or without the green bits.)

Potato leaves and fruit should be assumed to be poisonous.

And green potatoes usually don't taste all that great. They're generally past their prime. Cutting the green bits off does help with the flavor.

#584 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2017, 07:30 PM:

And, of course, don't use jimson weed as root stock for your tomato grafts.

#585 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2017, 07:43 PM:

Apparently I fat-fingered my first attempt to post this--so now of course it's going to post twice.

AKICIML: Have Bramah's Kai Lung books been visited by the Suck Fairy? (I've never read them, only heard them quoted many times with approval.) If not, are they suitable for teens?

#586 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2017, 08:02 PM:

Nonyme #583: One of my nieces tried cutting up supermarket potatoes (one eye per piece) and growing them. She got a decent batch of "baby" potatoes before she went off to college.

#587 ::: Nonyme ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2017, 08:06 PM:

Jacque @ 584 -- eek. Jimson weed is so pretty, and so deadly ...

I've often thought that potatoes would be a prime candidate for some genetic engineering to create a plant that produced both potatoes and edible tomato-like fruit. Potato plants often set fruit in the garden anyway. What if those fruits were non-toxic and tasted like a good tomato?

Of course, people would scream about genetic engineering and it would probably never be marketable ... but what if it were possible? (Possibly, you could do it through selective breeding, without involving scary sounding science, but that might take a lot longer.)

#588 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2017, 08:35 PM:

Jacque @ #584, Berton Roueche for the win! (That story is my favorite example of how nonfiction doesn't have to be plausible.)

#589 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2017, 09:03 PM:

Nonyme @587:

People already graft tomato plants onto potato roots to create a plant that grows both, called a "pomato". It's even commercially available in the UK as the TomTato.

#590 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2017, 09:57 PM:

Nonyme @587: Jimson weed is so pretty

We had a big jimson weed in our front yard for many years, until one year, it just quietly failed to come up. :-(

Some while after that, the area PTB got all twitchy about it because apparently some local teens got the bright idea of using it to get high....

#591 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2017, 11:51 PM:

Roxane Gay writes,

"Because I’ve been asked, I will not be publishing my book with Simon & Schuster now that they have dropped Milo. After I pulled my book, they changed the release date of Dangerous from March to June 13, the day my next book, Hunger, comes out."

When I was a bookseller (and part of the promotions team at a large independent), I was just on the receiving end of pub dates. That change seems gratuitous, dickish.

#593 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2017, 03:15 AM:

Doug, #591: That was well said. It's not what S&S found to be a bridge too far that's really telling, it's what they didn't.

#594 ::: Race Traitor Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2017, 01:17 PM:

Nonyme 583: Very useful information, thank you. Apparently I've been "educating" my local grocery store with outdated information.

Also, the reason we propagate potatoes via what is essentially cloning (by using root cuttings -- chopping the tomatoes up into pieces, one eye to a piece, and planting them) is because commercial potato varieties don't breed true.

You say tomato, and I say potato...

#595 ::: Clarentine ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2017, 04:32 PM:

Dave Harmon @544 and the rest of the rotary dial phone thread: those phones can be purchased with a modification that allows them to be used with modern phone lines. I bought two off eBay - a wall phone for the kitchen, the better to hear that really loud bell ringing when I'm outside, and a desk model (a red one!) for my office. The only downside is that, while you can send and receive calls, you can't "press 1 now."

#596 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2017, 04:35 PM:

I remember when we moved, when I was in high school, my father got a wall phone (black, of course) and mounted it next to the fridge, so that two people could be on the line at our end and see each other while talking. It didn't ring, though. (This would have been around 1967, so it wasn't a strictly-legal phone. Or, why it didn't ring.)

#597 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2017, 07:43 PM:

Lee @593, Precisely.

Clarentine @595, I used to have a device that would produce touch tones, for exactly that reason. I want to say this was in the mid-1990s when I was living in Central Europe and the telephony was eclectic and occasionally exciting.

#598 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2017, 09:38 PM:

AKICML: anyone have any expertise in tenant law in Nevada? (Worth a shot...)

#599 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2017, 04:28 AM:

Doug @ #597:

Those hand-held DTFM generators were quite popular in Sweden in the early 90s, for a variety of reasons. Some even came with memory functions, so you could pre-program a bunch of numbers and carry your stored numbers from landline to landline.

It may also have been possible to subvert pay phones to allow free calls, using them, maybe. For a while, until that was fixed.

#600 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2017, 04:32 AM:

Me @ #599:

Not DTFM, DTMF. If anyone is actually interested in how tone signalling works under the hood, there's basically a 4 x 4 "grid", each row and column has a specific pure tone associated with it and to signal the button on a specific position, you simply emit the tones for the row and column of the key.

From memory, a full grid looks like:

The A-D buttons are pretty much only ever used for telco diagnostics of various kinds and probably work differently depending on what telco network standard you happen to find yourself on.

#601 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2017, 08:12 AM:

Ingvar M #600: Those A-D buttons also had control functions, which were used by the first-generation phone phreakers. That first generation was before my time, but IIRC the basic tone generator was called a "blue box" -- there were also other colored boxes, representing various other things you could do to manipulate the phone system.

#602 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2017, 09:52 AM:

Dave Harmon @601:

Blue Boxes simulated a different set of control tones, not DTMF. The operator MF tones (blue box) did two tones out of 6 possible frequencies, for 15 signals, while the DTMF used for dialing uses two tones, one from a set of 4 frequencies, the other from a set of 3 or 4 frequencies, yielding 12 or 16 possibilities.

The two systems did not share any common frequencies, so you couldn't use a DTMF pad to send operator signals. That's why they had to make blue boxes to make the tones.

From what I recall of reading the history of DTMF, the extra four buttons A-D were used in some systems for special purposes, but not generally used by consumers. I believe the military used it, not for dialing calls, but for menu, "Press A to launch missiles, B to hear this menu in Spanish", style applications.

#603 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2017, 12:00 PM:

Looking it up because I was curious: DTMF stands for "dual tone, multi-frequency." There's your trivium for the day.

#604 ::: crazysoph ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2017, 02:17 PM:

Not really local news, that is, not directly in my neighborhood - but I have family - estranged, but nonetheless family - near some of the flooding in San Jose and Sacramento that I'm reading about.

So far, the feels have confined themselves to checking out flood plain maps, and figuring based on them that they're probably okay.

So, it's someone's hyper local news in California, living in my head.

Crazy(and still worried, despite the distances of time, space, and [non]rapport)Soph

#605 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2017, 02:36 PM:

P J Evans @ #596

Your second phone probably had the bell brought out to a separate terminal that wasn't connected. In the 'old' rotary-dial telephone days, dialling was performed by interrupting the circuit between the instrument and the exchange. (Known as LD or Loop Disconnect signalling.) The bells worked on alternating current (16 - 19 Hz at around 75 - 90 volts) and the telephone itself on -48 volts DC. (The two were kept apart by a blocking capacitor in series with the bell coils to prevent a continuous path for the DC that powered the phone and was used for signalling to the exchange.) If you connected multiple phones together, dialling on one phone would make all the others 'tinkle' as the 48 volt supply was interrupted by the dial contacts. The solution was to connect all the bells together, bypassing the dial contacts.

Modern phones use DTMF (Dual Tone Multi Frequency) instead of LD (Loop Disconnect) for dialling out, so there's no need for a separate bell wire.

It's far too complicated for this moose to explain at this time of night, and I've probably confuzzled everyone.

#606 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2017, 02:44 PM:

So the day is off to a wonderful start -- I check my bank account daily online. Today the first transaction shows that someone has my debit card info and has run-up almost $800 dollars in merchandise in a VERY fancy store -- one that I have never set foot in at any time in my life. Hell, this is the first time I've heard of the merchant.

So, called the bank, they've shut off the card and I get to pick up a temporary card tomorrow, and I'll have a new chip card in a week or so. Per the nice lady's instruction, I sent them an e-notification on the transaction, and they'll restore the money in the next 48 hours.


#607 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2017, 03:04 PM:

Lori Colson @606, sympathies.

HLN. The reason the ankle I twisted two weeks ago was increasing in pain rather than decreasing is that I have a small fracture. I am not supposed to put weight on it for 6-8 weeks, and since it's my right foot I'm also not supposed to drive. This is high-level nuisance. I was planning surgery on that foot in late April (delayed until after the March for Science, which I really wanted to participate in) but the doctor suggested that since it's the same foot, I consider moving the surgery up so that I could recover from both at once. I will probably do that. Sigh.

On the plus side, between the immobilizing boot I got yesterday afternoon and the prescription-strength Motrin, it feels much better than it has for the past week.

#608 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2017, 03:09 PM:

Sympathies, OtterB and Lori.

#609 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2017, 03:33 PM:

A far better response I got when someone used my number to charge $400 at Seaworld in Florida (a state which I've never visited). It took multiple calls to the bank to get them to take it off the account, after I'd verified it wasn't my charge and the account had been closed. (I will say that they were good at quickly notifying me of weird charges.)

#610 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2017, 03:36 PM:

So THIS is what NASA has found...
'Near' is too weak a word.

#611 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2017, 04:58 PM:

Lori, #606: Sympathies. If it helps, the fact that your new card is chipped will greatly reduce the likelihood of something like this happening again. My personal debit card is coming up for renewal in a couple of months, and I need to bug the credit union about wanting a chipped card this time.

#612 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2017, 06:32 PM:

Thanks all, about a half hour after I posted the above I was contacted by the CU's Fraud Center. The lady calling was delighted that I'd already contacted my local branch, and she verified all the info on the fraudulent charge.

I've gone from panic to anger and on to relief. I really appreciate the support.

#613 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2017, 07:37 PM:

Ginger @ 428: That's probably the restaurant Jon took my wife and me to in 2003; I remember it fondly.

Bruce Cohen @ 442: Applause! I wish Mike could see that; I think he'd like it.

abi @ 458: both excellent and moderative.

thomas @ 534: that's before my move to Boston so I can't swear it's true -- but I'm not surprised; Boston was a backwater, and old tech can hang on even where unexpected until there's a major reason to drive it out. Case in point: a stage-tech article I read 40+ years ago saying that Broadway theater lighting ran on DC until A Chorus Line -- which was so complex it required electronic controls, which work only on AC. (It's possible the article (or my memory) was/is too general; the issue may have been specifically with the Shubert, which is one of the older Broadway theaters.)

The discussion on ancient phone systems that people have actually dealt with is fascinating to this suburban boy; the only odd tech I remember was from a year living in Millbrook NY, which was so small/discrete (2000 people; <300 phones) that you could dial within the village with just 4 digits. (Strange fact: Millbrook then was so isolated that the eponymous local prep school had its own fire crew, on the grounds that it had to do something while waiting for the official engine to make the 8-mile trip from the village. The school was used for the movie of The World According to Garp; I have long suspected (but never verified) that the crew rushing Garp's stretcher out to the heli-ambulance is in fact the fire crew.) I remember that the even-more-rarefied Pine Plains area had an independent phone company serving 4 communities, but that was a large enough area that everyone had to dial 7 digits.

Dave Bell @ 578: ouch. "The only thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history"....

abi: unfortunately I am massively behind due to Boskone; please consider a slice of the giant many-peoples'-birthdays cake I helped serve there reserved for you, retrospectively. (6" high, filling based on mascarpone instead of sugar)

VAB dates me back only to 2009, but that may be due to changes in e-address; my text-name shows up in December 2003 if I start further back, and I'd swear I came in around the time SCOTUS stole the 2000 election for Shrub. I'd been out as a reader since 1968, a MITSFS keyholder ca. 1974-1981, a Boskone area head since 1976, and on SFLovers from early 1980, but Nancy Lebovitz is the only person(*) I remember recognizing here from elsewhere.

Congratulations to Elliot Mason.

(*) other than our hosts, who sent me a fanzine (last issue of Izzard, perhaps?), possibly in response to my snark at a Lunacon.

#614 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2017, 09:51 PM:

AKICIML question: has anyone encountered a coffeeshop AU fanfic for the Vorkosiverse? After finding one for the Raksura that worked much better than I would ever have expected, now I'm curious -- about both the tag in general, and that fandom in particular. (Yes, I know about the "Violet Nights" Hobbit coffeeshop AU, and was following it for a while.)

#615 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2017, 10:16 PM:

Gosh, CHip, you don't remember me?

#616 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2017, 11:47 PM:

When I was working at the answering service, we had one rather unusual day. Melting snow got into the buried phone cables (no phone poles in my home town!), and conducted electricity well enough that the ringing voltage just wasn't there.

Consequently, we were having a quiet old time up there on the third floor, which we passed by plugging into our trunk lines and answering them, one after the other. Every fourth or fifth time, we would get someone calling in. We couldn't take or deliver messages from individual lines, but we were at least able to explain the situation to some of our clients who called in. Then the alarm came from the bank below us.

They were a client. When we heard that alarm, we would pick up a direct line we had to the police and have them send officers to the bank. This time, we didn't have that option. Yet we had a job to do. I had an idea.

There was an alarm in our office that would also bring the police. By setting that off, we would get them to come, and then we could tell them that the bank's alarm had gone off. This actually worked, though with the drawback of the high-decibel clanging of the alarm bell itself going off not at all far from our heads. (The office manager had a splitting headache anyway. This was the same manager who had gone through the records the day an irate doctor called and told me my failure to act had killed a patient—long story short, she determined that his account of the event was a self-serving lie, and they called me at home where I'd retreated in horror to let me know that I wasn't a murderer.)

Nonetheless, it worked, and after only fifteen minutes of ear-splitting clangor, the alarm was shut off (only the police could do that, apparently). Another normal day.

#617 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2017, 12:28 AM:

A college friend of mine and his good friend from high school once managed to dial the operator on a touch-tone phone by singing into it. (It takes two tones for each number, not one, so both of them had to sing, is the way I remember the story.)

#618 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2017, 07:37 AM:

Serge Broom #610: Holy cow. Anyone else flashing on Niven's puppeteers?

#619 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2017, 08:49 AM:

Lee @ #614:

The nearest thing that's coming to mind is a college AU where the Dendarii are Miles's rock band. The series as a whole never grew on me, but there's the one really entertaining story which is just a beta-reader's comments on an RPF AU someone is writing in which Miles and his bandmates are space mercenaries...

#620 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2017, 08:50 AM:

(Which really isn't *that* much like a coffee shop, I admit, but I wanted an excuse to mention it anyway.)

#621 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2017, 09:25 AM:

Lee @614, where is the Raksura coffeeshop fanfic? I want to read it.

#622 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2017, 09:33 AM:

Paul A, have you got a link to that? It sounds delightful and I'm all about the meta. :)

#623 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2017, 10:06 AM:

I used to make calls on a phone with a locked dial by tapping the hook. It was a limited rebellion: I just used it to call the Time of Day (484-7070). Keep a steady rhythm and don't lose track.

I used to dream of having a Blue Box. There was also the Black Box, which let you receive incoming calls at no charge to the caller, and the Red Box, which simulated the sounds coins made going into payphones.

#625 ::: Incoherent ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2017, 10:17 AM:

Lee @614, OtterB @621 -- is this it?

Finding Family by tucuxi

#626 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2017, 10:57 AM:

Paul, #619: I think I've seen that one. I may have even recced it here, in one of the fanfic discussion threads.

Incoherent, #625: Yep, that's the one. It was one of the best stories in this year's Yuletide. Apparently Martha Wells has seen it too and approved, because she was the one who mentioned it in the consuite at ConDFW.

#627 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2017, 12:04 PM:

Lori -- My sympathies.

Have you also made a police report? A few years ago I had two cards lifted. I noticed in time to cancel one, but someone successfully used the other to charge over $2000 at a nearby office supply place, despite the sales clerk realizing that it wasn't the guy's card and calling him on it, It was caught on camera, as were the unsuccessful attempts to charge over $1000 in diapers and cigarettes and $400 in diapers and beer. That card was a debit card and the issuing credit union (out of state) wanted a police report to refund the money. It took nearly a week to convince the Fairfax County authorities to take the report, but lo and behold! they eventually used my report and the surveillance to tie it to other crimes and caught the guy. I'm not sure in which jurisdiction you would make the report -- yours or the merchant's or both -- buy good luck. What a pain!

#628 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2017, 01:02 PM:

Thanks, Tracie -- no police report necessary, because there is only ONE card and it's physically in my possession.

I'm guessing the info was stolen from an online source. I may have to be limiting my online purchases to Amazon, or those merchants who use Paypal.

The thing that's making me angry this morning is the fact that this is one of those new-fangled chip cards that supposed to be oh-so-secure. Bah!

#629 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2017, 02:30 PM:

A local festival at which my Morris team performs has decided that they need a "radius clause": no performers who are a part of the festival can perform anywhere within a 30 mile radius of the site from May 15 through August 13. Is this even remotely reasonable? Is this something they can possibly be induced to give up on if enough people push back?

Mind you, I don't know any of the other groups that play there so I don't know if we could coordinate any kind of push-back. But it seems outrageous, given that AFAIK a 30-mile radius encompasses nearly the entire usual performance area for most of the local groups they bring in, including us. They also don't pay very well, as I understand it. Not well enough to give up an entire gig season.

#630 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2017, 02:36 PM:

The thing that's making me angry this morning is the fact that this is one of those new-fangled chip cards that supposed to be oh-so-secure. Bah!

The catch, of course, is that chip cards are only oh-so-secure in transactions where the chip is actually used. In card not present transactions (such as anything done online), it's no more secure than anything else.

#631 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2017, 03:02 PM:

estelendur @629 my experience with these things is small, but my chorus has performed at a local folk festival for the past few summers and we would find that completely out of line. Granted ours is a unpaid gig, but we like performing in the summer, we don't generally travel to perform, and so that clause would rule out most of our summer. No.

I also think it's short-sighted of the festival. It's to their advantage to feature performers that people have seen elsewhere. When I'm looking at a festival lineup, recognizing some of the performers as groups I've seen and liked before doesn't chase me away. Often I'm happy to see them again. And if not, it gives me some faith in the organizers' judgement that I'm also likely to enjoy the ones I haven't heard of before.

#632 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2017, 03:23 PM:

estelendur@629: I think it's completely unreasonable as well. If they don't want you if you won't sign -- they can go find someone else, would be my reaction. I was with Berkeley Morris for about 10 years, much of that as Bagman (treasurer) -- and I've been involved in some high-level volunteering at Northwest Folklife. That's to show I have some experience in these matters. This is completely inappropriate for a festival to ask of a Morris side. (Ask me to tell you sometime why I stopped dealing with the Revels folks in Northern CA.)

Now, if you want to get around it: form a second team, wearing different kit, just for the festival. You can have all the same members, but you have a plausible deniability that you're actually "competing" with them. And you won't announce their festival at your gigs as Local Morris, or announce your Local Morris gigs when you're being Festival Morris. There's a slight expense for extra kit in this, so it's only a good compromise if you reallllly want to do the Festival.

#633 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2017, 04:42 PM:

Dave Harmon @ 556: I'm not sure how the visuals and the song connect, but the visuals are indeed spectacular.

#634 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2017, 05:01 PM:

estelendur @ 629: is telling them FOAD an option? Is assembling a chorus of groups to do the same an option? I can understand if the latter is too much work for the return, but it might get a bad operator -- or at least someone who's been reading too many of the wrong B-school case studies -- out of circulation.
      Tom W: as someone who was in almost the first Revels I am appalled to hear any of their groups connected to this behavior and am wondering whether there was something I should have known about going on while I was just in the unpaid chorus. I would hope not, as Jack was still actively involved when I backed off due to time issues, but that was a long time ago (1985, for which Cambridge did 18 performances).

Tom Whitmore @ 615:
but you're so quiet...
but I'm using all my brain cells on Tippett...
but I can't even \remember/ how far back...
This is especially embarrassing because you're the subject of a weird-family-connection story that I know dates to 1999 -- and now that I think of it I remember we talked at the 1987 Westercon.

#635 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2017, 07:11 PM:

CHip @634: It was not quite as bad as a non-compete agreement, but it was close. They asked lots of local dancers to perform for free (while the early musicians got paid) and then refused to allow anybody to put out flyers for their dance/etc. troops (while hoping everyone would put out their flyers). This is a classic form of exploitation -- don't support the people who provide you with performers. I finished the season with the Mummers' Play (the show must go on, and all that) and wrote a Stern Note to the organizer, who did share it with some others: I got a note back from someone lower down who said "Oh, they're not like that at all, and they've got good reasons for doing this, and..." -- not dealing with the substance of the letter at all.

In the end, it came down to me feeling that they were exploiting community in the name of creating a faux-sense of community among people who paid to attend, but didn't actually care to build community themselves. And this was while Langstaff was alive.

#637 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2017, 07:12 PM:

Ohno second later: troupes, not troops.

#638 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2017, 08:01 PM:

estelendur #629: Utterly and completely out of line. Compare to this gem from Ask A Manager. Note there the unanimous chorus of WTF, wherein the most charitable comments amount to "maybe they're totally new at non-profit, and don't know what the hell they're doing".

In any case, the appropriate response is to tell them to FOAD, and warn anybody local who might be considering performing there. If they're lucky, they might manage to get some troupes or bands from distant parts... if those don't get squicked and offended by the demand.

#639 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2017, 08:40 PM:

estelendur @ 629: These sorts of clauses are fairly common for major, big name acts in areas where performances can reasonably expect to draw patrons from another nearby city. When I worked for the University og Georgia Performing Arts Center, these clauses were routinely part of our contracts, for a radius of 50-80 miles for several weeks (i.e., the Atlanta area) for nationally and internationally prominent orchestras, ensembles, and soloists. They were also routinely negotiated out of the contracts. For instance, this year the Chieftains will perform in Atlanta and Athens less than a week apart. BTW, those contracts were almost never "our" contracts, in that we did not draft them. They were presented by the entertainers' agents to the presenting organization, and negotiated, added to and deleted from until everyone agreed and they were signed. The exclusion was a standard request of the entertainer(s), but we were successful in convincing them that Atlanta and Athens were not really competing markets, even though most of the venues were within the exclusion radius.

Putting in a small radius, long-duration exclusion clause for a local festival is unprofessional and ridiculous. Local and smaller entertainers, vendors, etc. using a small local presenter's contract isn't unusual. However, it looks to me that the festival has gotten ahold of a contract from a much larger presenter of much larger acts and has just uncritically copied it. I regularly perform at festivals, and I've never run into it. If I were to, I would ask the festival organizers to strike the language from the contract, as it is not appropriate for your situation.

#640 ::: Sarah E ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2017, 08:57 PM:

I'd heard of a festival here (Toronto) having such a clause for (paid) rock bands, and the local music press seemed to think that three months was a ridiculously long time not to play any other concerts in the area.

#641 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2017, 09:51 AM:

@ festival subthread:

My partner, and a couple other members of the team, seem to be generally agreeing that telling them to FOAD is a good plan if they won't drop the clause - moreover, if they won't drop the clause for all small local groups. The festival has been around for at least a couple decades, and this is certainly the first year they've tried to impose this clause on our team. I wonder if there is someone on the committee who is new and has got some funny ideas -- as CHip said @634, "a bad operator."

It also hurts because right now it's one of only two or three paying gigs we do per year (both of the others are outside the exclusion time), so while we can and will tell them to FOAD, we're going to need to hustle more than we have in the past. Oh well, we wanted to pick up more paying gigs anyway. (For a while, I gather there was inconsistent membership and low numbers; now, with the addition of me and a couple others, we have enough consistent dancers to commit to things again.)

One of my friends who's familiar with the area pointed out that among the performers this will hurt is the local high school band/orchestra performance groups - the summer is the only time they're able, because of member time constraints, to perform more than one gig a month. It is good to get such unanimous assurance that, yes, this is completely out of line.

Tom Whitmore @635: That is appalling. :(

Tracie @639: I did get the general gist of that (these clauses being used for big, national or international, acts) by googling "radius clause" but I am glad to hear from someone involved with the biz that it is really not appropriate for a small local festival.

Dave Harmon @638: Wow, that Ask A Manager question is really something. I cannot begin to comprehend the mindset that would lead to such a request on the part of the non-profit, except perhaps someone who doesn't understand any differences between "non-profit" and "for-profit" besides tax breaks.

#642 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2017, 10:05 AM:

estelendur @ #641:

The only thing I can think of that would make sense, in terms of "limit engagement for other non-profits" is that I wouldn't want any full-time employee of my hypothetical non-profit to have a full-time job with another outfit, be they non-profit or not.

But I don't think I would put that in a contract, it's more a well-being concern, people doing two "full-time job" time commitments have a distressing tendency to collapse from stress and that's not good for anyone.

#643 ::: Quercus ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2017, 12:55 PM:

estelendur @ #641: As someone who's helped run small festivals, my response would be to write the festival contact, saying "We've enjoyed performing at X festival, and would love to do so again, however this radius clause seems quite out of character, and we couldn't agree to it as it is now. Could we discuss modifying this? "

If they say take it or leave it, then one more e-mail, copied to as high a level in the festival organization as you can, saying "we hate to miss the festival but that's a complete deal-breaker. Let us know if you ever revisit that" (and forward that to any other groups you know who perform there). Or if you have other ways of contacting other people in the festival organization, use those, too. The point being to make sure the whole of the festival organization is aware of why performers are dropping out.

#644 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2017, 02:05 PM:

estelendur: The thing that jumps out at me is that they want you to blank a full 3-month period, for a festival that I'm quite sure doesn't run nearly that long. I did some Googling, and if you're talking about A2SF, even that is only a month. Asking you not to perform anywhere else at a time when the festival is not itself running is completely unreasonable.

#645 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2017, 03:10 PM:

Dave Harmon @638 The one counter-argument I can think of is if the other organization has goals diametrically opposed to the one you are going to work for. When I worked at Planned Parenthood, I had to sign an agreement (don't remember the details, it's been over 20 years) that I would not be involved in any way with any group that opposed PP.

#646 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2017, 03:15 PM:

"...for reasons that amount to 'I'm bored'." I think I may die laughing. Thank you, Paul A!

#647 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2017, 03:28 PM:

Lee @644: nope, it's only a weekend. And, for that matter, it blanks out A2SF!

#648 ::: Susie ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2017, 03:49 PM:

Lee @644, and others: Teammate of Estelendur's de-lurking to mention that the festival in question is a day-and-a-half-long outdoor "Celtic" festival (Friday evening and Saturday daytime & evening). Many local performers have been supporting this festival for decades by appearing for very modest pay and the chance to hear some great acts from elsewhere. I'm in some other groups that regularly participate; I hope we'll all push back on the radius clause.

Festival management has had some turnover in recent years; I think this is only the second year for this particular booking agent, and it's unclear how much experience he had before last year. It will be interesting to see what happens. Thanks for all the supportive comments!

#649 ::: Susie ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2017, 03:53 PM:

Oops, wrote #648 while estelendur was posting #647 and didn't check for new comments on preview...

#650 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2017, 09:58 PM:

OT sucking on the Glass Teat...

I remarked on my FB page about being nearly finished with binging on Smallville and we've also binged on Star Trek: Enterprise, Star Trek: DS9 and Bones.

Anyone else have some binging sins to confess. :)

#651 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2017, 01:46 AM:

Buddha Buck@602 - The ABCD TouchTone row, at least as used on the US military's AUTOVON phone network, got you Priority, Immediate, Flash, or Flash Override precedence if you dialed it before a phone number, on a line that was enabled for it (or you could ask the operator to dial for you, remember operators?) If there was a circuit available, your call went through, or if not, it could kick off any lower-precedence call to let you through.

During the Cuban Missile Crisis, President Kennedy was unable to make a phone call between DC and Florida at a critical time, so they had AUTOVON built. The precedence system (plus an adequate supply of circuits) meant that a general could always get through if he had to, and that a general's secretary setting up a golf date could almost always get through, but a grunt ordering ammo might not, especially for international calls, where there were never enough circuits. But if a grunt saw a nuclear explosion, he could still ask the operator to place a Flash-level call. The network circuits were routed physically diversely, and the backbone switches were mostly located far outside major cities, at the intersections of AT&T long-haul cable routes in case they needed to steal circuits during a war. (Atlanta's was out near the beltway; Lyons Nebraska wasn't somewhere the Russians would nuke by accident, etc.)

Phone networks mostly ran on relays back then, so it was a fairly crude system, but impressive that it could do as much as it could. Electronic switching systems and divestiture later gummed up many of the design assumptions (e.g. the AT&T 4ESS in Atlanta was right downtown, in upper floors of a building, so it and the long-haul trunks feeding it would get destroyed if Atlanta got nuked, instead of being available to borrow out on the beltway), plus the ESS switches were better at finding alternate routes than the old hierarchical-control relay-based switches were.

#652 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2017, 04:42 AM:

Many years ago I spent a few weeks working in Facilities Control in a large comm center. The order wires between comm centers that we used to set up and troubleshoot circuits were tone-controlled, so when things were relatively unchaotic we would have contests to see who could unhook and dial up an order wire by whistling. I got fairly good at it, but there was one senior tech who had perfect pitch and could beat any one else at speed.

#653 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2017, 05:49 AM: do they have any idea how perfect pitch actually works...?

#654 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2017, 10:06 AM:

Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) @652

You know, this exemplifies one of the things I love that human beings are capable of. We set up something technologically complex, meeting a need and making our lives better - and then, on the side, we have fun with it in nondestructive ways.

#655 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2017, 11:22 AM:

re 653: It's generally agreed that it works off superior tonal memory. My relative pitch sense is rock-solid but If you have me start singing something from memory there's no telling what ky I'll start in.

#656 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2017, 11:49 AM:

Tom Whitmore @ 635: I'm appalled -- and wondering whether I should have found out more about how the local version was running. I suppose there's no point regretting since I'm so far removed; I haven't even gone since 2005. (His replacement probably isn't bad (and has more skills) but I just sat there missing the music teacher during 5 of my middle school years.) But that's so out of the spirit I remember.

@ 637: can a dance troupe or corps have esprit d'escalier? Or is that too dangerous? (I know some people can make it work; Faye Ringel was cast in a Mikado whose choreographer had everyone running up and down steps -- except Faye, whose knees wouldn't do that (so she appeared with a fake baby bump until the last scene).)

Dave Harmon @ 638: yep, that's a corker. I wonder if anyone dimed them to state or federal authorities; they should lose both their 501(c)3 (or other applicable) certification and any sales-tax exemption. I'd like to think I'd have the courage to do that if it was pulled on me; as I'm somewhere around 200 pints given, the block on blood donations (noted in the comments) would send me through the roof.
      I'm also ... amused ... by the brouhaha over Glassdoor (which I hadn't heard of before); my last employer used to nudge people over the Boston Globe's annual great-places-to-work not-a-poll, but it wasn't nearly as blatant as this.

Tracie @ 639: I am fascinated that an agent would \volunteer/ not to perform too close too soon; ISTM that they've forgotten the meaning of "agent" -- or perhaps are too busy being Big Frogs, or think they can make more money by screwing the people they represent (cf the current federal argument over the fiduciary rule).

#657 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2017, 12:48 PM:

CHip @656: It's long enough ago that nothing should be done; it just still rankles me.

And your response to Tracie: there's a good economic excuse, if not a reason, for agents to put in an exclusion clause like that. They'd rather have one performance that drags in people from 50 miles around than several performances that get about the same number of people in total. The number of people who will go more than once is a relatively small part of the audience (like SF fans who so identify are a small part of the SF audience): why make the performer work 5 nights to get 2000 total paying attendees when the performer can get 1500 in one night if the agent makes an exclusive-appearance deal? This is not an unlikely scenario.

#658 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2017, 01:30 PM:

Weather Yikes! This morning: Sunny. 20 minutes ago: Cloudy. 5 minutes ago: Lightning in the clouds.

Currently: Howling storm. I tried shooting some video of it out my doorway, and instantly had a flooded kitchen, with ice to boot. Yup, it's hailing too.

#659 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2017, 01:40 PM:

Tom Whitmore #657: But that also assumes all those people would (and could) come to the same performance, or at least the same day or two -- when in practice, a fair number of them couldn't make it that day, but might well make it another day in that lengthy period. Especially when the organizers are trying to do that to multiple acts/troupes at once.

#660 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2017, 02:38 PM:

Dave Harmon @659: I said it was an excuse/reason: I didn't say it was a good one. Balancing all those factors is what an agent is supposed to do: and the calculus of doing so is not always easy. And note that this is for large, internationally famous acts; for local people, building up a small but active following is a much better plan.

#661 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2017, 03:05 PM:

Me #658: And, now it's sunny again.

#662 ::: Johan Larson ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2017, 05:30 PM:

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Art thou more lovely and more temperate?
Do rough winds shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease, hath it too short a date?
The eye of heaven sometime shines too hot?
And is his gold complexion often dimmed?
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimmed?
But shall not thy eternal summer fade,
And lose possession of that fair thou ow’st?
Shall death not brag thou wand’rest in his shade,
When in eternal lines to Time thou grow’st?
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
Does this lives on, and gives its life to thee?

#663 ::: Del Cotter ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2017, 06:25 PM:

Very good, I would just like to change the last line, either to "Doth this live on, and give its life to thee?" or "Lives this so long, and gives this life to thee?"

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

#664 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2017, 07:09 PM:

Steve C. @650: Anyone else have some binging sins to confess. :)


One almost call it a way of life....

#665 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2017, 07:51 PM:

Which reminds me: out to the mailbox to get 1st two disks of Dr. Who s10. I hope it's better than s9 was.

#666 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2017, 08:20 PM:

Jacque, #653: It's a super-power, like eidetic memory or Sherlock's internal Google Maps. Some people have it, most people don't.

#667 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2017, 08:38 PM:

Perfect pitch is apparently a lot more common in people who are raised speaking tonal languages, but still far from universal. I think most people have the capacity to develop much better pitch memory than is currently the average.

#668 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2017, 09:37 PM:

I think it would be interesting to be tested for various pitch things-- I'm not in shape, vocally (sigh, though I realize I am only recently in a headspace where I could sing happily) but I have reasonable skill. I'm a top-of-note soprano, though, used to compensating a bit for flatting choirs and warm-ups that go higher rather than lower, so I expect I'd slide predictably up. It happens if I'm singing something repetitive to myself.

#669 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2017, 11:49 PM:

my name is clerk
wen time to rite
my tool is fine
tho hard to scribe
wen ink get stuck
tho now and then.
it's still my fave
I lik the pen

#670 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2017, 12:03 AM:

Soon Lee, you cannot see the gaspy-oooooh face I just made because of that, but good job.

#671 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2017, 12:09 AM:

That Diabolical Feminist pithily summarizes why dudebros will freak out and beat up a gay (or gay-looking) man who they suspect of looking in their general direction, but turn around and harass a woman nonstop without an inkling that they're being massive hypocrites:

The last sentence, especially: "A major component of male entitlement is the bedrock assumption that anyone having emotions that don’t cater to a man’s interests is somehow attacking him."

#672 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2017, 01:15 AM:

Diatryma #670,

Thanks! I don't normally do poetry though I very much admire those who can. This time, the "like"/"lick" idea wouldn't let go, and I got there after playing around a bit for a couple of hours on & off this afternoon. It was made easier by having a structure (as Bruce H. @495 pointed out) as a guide.

#673 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2017, 07:42 AM:

Soon Lee: Chutney lik? Lik chutney?

#674 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2017, 10:22 AM:

AKICIML. Uber vs. taxis. I'm not driving for the next 6-8 weeks due to a fracture in my right ankle. I have never used Uber. When it first became hot I didn't have a smart phone, and now that I do, I've never felt the need. I'm in the DC area, and on the rare occasions Metro or busses don't get me where I need to go, I've been fine with taxis. So what's the big advantage with Uber?

#675 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2017, 12:51 PM:

Price. Uber fare tends to be about 70% of what a taxi costs.

#676 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2017, 01:06 PM:

Not necessarily true in DC, David. I don't know the current situation, but taxis there used to be regulated and zoned in such a way that they were much more affordable than in other parts of the country. The theory was that congressmen like to take taxis, and they set the regulations.

#677 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2017, 01:42 PM:

OtterB, #674: And part of the reason Uber's prices are so low is that they abuse their drivers. (I know a few people who have signed up with Uber as a way to make extra money to make ends meet. It's not working well for any of them.) And the drivers aren't vetted in any meaningful way, which means, among other things, that a single woman is at significant risk. And the corporate culture is astoundingly toxic as well -- they seem to function on the principle of "the worst assholes rise to the top".

In your position, I would take taxis unless this caused financial stress. Uber's entire business model is built on having a large pool of people who are desperate enough to put up with being exploited and mistreated so that the top management can get richer.

#678 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2017, 02:03 PM:

It hath occurred to me that the sonnet, having been invented by a lawyer (honest!), might be the best form for presenting legal briefs (why are they called briefs, anyway, and why does this give me images of barristers in periwigs and underwear?). I cannot, for the life of me, think of appropriate sonnets at this moment. Can anyone help? Please!

#679 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2017, 04:10 PM:

Just saw Jordan Peele's new horror film Get Out last night (yes, this is Peele of the very genre-savvy Key and Peele which did, for instance, a Stan Lee sendup). I very rarely see horror films at all, making rare exceptions if I hear there's something thought-provoking/extraordinary about them. (The last one I saw was Whedon's Cabin in the Woods, I think.) I liked it and wrote up a few scattered spoilery thoughts on MetaFilter. If you like suspense and can stand jump scares and a little bit of gore, and you want to see tight racial satire about how white people treat black people, Get Out is worth your time.

#680 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2017, 04:16 PM:

I've heard it described as "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner meets The Stepford Wives," if that helps anyone decide whether or not to see it.

#681 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2017, 04:20 PM:

Fragano@678: maybe not what you meant, but here's a sonnet about fair use:

#682 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2017, 05:55 PM:

I'm certainly not disagreeing about the problems with Uber, and I didn't know about the DC-area taxis. I will stand by my statement that the reason people choose Uber over a regular taxi is price.

#683 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2017, 06:18 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @678: a relative of mine a few generations ago, a judge, wrote several rulings in rhyme. They weren't sonnets, if I recall correctly, but quatrains. I may be able to find one, but I wouldn't bet on it (my filing is chaotic at best).

#684 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2017, 07:26 PM:

This link:

will take you to some rulings and decisions in verse, of a sort. But I have to say that none of it's very inspiring as poetry.

If judged purely as verse, most of these judgements would need to be re-versed on appeal.

#685 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2017, 07:46 PM:

Fragano @678--

I agree with you about the natural suitability of the sonnet form for the expression of legal judgments.

After all, you could have one quatrain each for the prosecution's view, the defense's response, and the judge's summing up, and then deliver the verdict in the final couplet. What could be neater?

#686 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2017, 08:43 PM:

When I was working in DC, I found that the taxis there were as convenient, flexible, and ubiquitous as anywhere except maybe for downtown Manhattan. It's not like that in most of the country, and San Francisco's heavily-regulated taxis are particularly useless unless you're downtown, or even then. There are only N medallions out there, and the companies who own them keep pressure on the city never to expand the number.

A friend of mine had to get to the airport, the yellow cab she'd called hadn't shown on time, and seemed to be in no particular hurry when she called them again. She had signed up for then-new Uber, had it show up, and was at the airport before the cab got to her flat. (She's in a mostly-residential neighborhood maybe a mile from the Mission, but taxis don't go by the main street near her unless they're bringing a passenger from somewhere else in town.)

These days, because Uber's been really obnoxious to their employees and supporting evil politicians, I'd probably go with Lyft, if they're available. But while people have said bad things about how they treat their drivers, medallion-regulated taxis also have that problem, and a lot of people have found they can make more money from Uber/Lyft. Even if they can't, each one of them is one more taxi.

#687 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2017, 09:41 PM:

oldster @684, I saw what you did there.

Thanks for the comments on Uber. I remember now having read about their undesirable business practices, but since at the time I didn't anticipate becoming a customer, I didn't pay much attention. I believe I will aim for a taxi and use Lyft as backup.

#688 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2017, 10:09 PM:

Elliott Mason @552 - Congratulations!


Re: rotary phones, I just gave mine a quick try, for the first time in a couple of years. Works fine. Many of my younger friends have never seen one before. I like it for its durability and for the sound of its ringer. It would be nice to add a tone generator to it so it could navigate systems that need touch-tone inputs.

#689 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2017, 04:05 AM:

Diatryma @ #668:

Back when the Stockholm Museum of Technology and Science had their "The Human" display, there was a rather interactive section for mapping a whole slew of genetic things.

One was a "smell organ" (multiple capped tubes, with various smells, one being musk), since there's apparently a genetic "can or cannot smell musk".

Another was a pitch-test thing. YOu pressed a button and were presented with a tone. After a short while (1s? 2s?) it went out and you could start tweaking a big round knob to vary the tone out of a speaker, when you were happy that the tone you're controlling is the same as the original one, press the "it's the same" button. Repeated five times. I can't say I recall how the scoring worked, but I do recall that I got the right tone twice, one octave lower twice, and one octave higher once. NBo idea how well I would've done with longer time between "listen" and "try to match", I suspect much worse.

#690 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2017, 07:32 AM:

Every time I've been in a DC cab, the DC friend I've been visiting has had to get into an argument with the cab driver -- they've taken a longer route on purpose, or are charging ridiculous extra amounts for 3 people sharing the cab, or similar. (Friend is not otherwise a grumpy or overly-demanding customer; I believe it's the cabs and not her.) Ridesharing services usually tell you the price up front. That's the big plus for me -- no worrying that the driver will try to cheat me by running up the meter or claiming obscure surcharges that may or may not be real.

I realize you can dispute and report such charges, but it's a hassle I would rather just avoid entirely.

Also, since with rideshares you pay by credit card using an app, there's no worry about having enough cash if the cab CC reader doesn't work (or the driver claims it doesn't work). I like to tip the rideshare drivers in cash, but that's just a few bucks.

Overall I've had much better experiences with rideshares than with cabs.

#691 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2017, 07:48 AM:

For a while I've had a vague idea that it would be interesting to set something up to see what keys people tend to start common songs in. I mean things like "Happy Birthday", national anthems, etc--not the kind of song where there's one canonical recording that everyone probably heard first (thus omitting most pop songs), but the kind you pick up by listening to other people sing it. Is there a key most people think "The Star-Spangled Banner"(/"God Save the Queen") should be in?

#692 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2017, 08:17 AM:

It's never a good sign on a transit trip when they have to stop and reboot the bus.

#21stCenturyProblems ...

#693 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2017, 08:53 AM:

I just received a phishing email, threatening that I must click on a link or my email account would be shut down. The normal illiteracies in its formulation, including this:

"P.s: No action taken in less than an hour, your mailbox will be diabled."

"Diable!" I thought, "and morbleu as well!"

#694 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2017, 08:55 AM:

I just received a phishing email, threatening that I must click on a link or my email account would be shut down. The normal illiteracies in its formulation, including this:

"P.s: No action taken in less than an hour, your mailbox will be diabled."

"Diable!" I thought, "and morbleu as well!"

#695 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2017, 09:10 AM:

A Misleading Sonnet

The truths of the past now are obsolete.
The banker's diktat now has changed the law.
Where once my learned peers led down a street
The choices now come from un-common flaw.
No more the cow, negotiable or not,
May let us measure out the National Wealth.
Some phantom number defines the worker's lot,
And strange machines steal from us all our health.
And now a case for libel is the tool,
By which the rich suppress the truths we crave,
Until bold Haddock brings forth a banner cool:
'tis not a libel, flagged above the wave.
And so, in joy, I stand beside the fish,
Awarding costs, granting Haddock's wish.

#696 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2017, 09:51 AM:

Thank you, Dave. I had somehow never heard of Albert Haddock and "Uncommon Law". I just learned more here:

and will look up more in print.

#697 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2017, 10:12 AM:

oldster @ #693:

A, no, it will be "diabled" which is the imperfect of "diableed", although I guess the use of "dia" for a slide transparency is perhaps dialectal. But the Greek root "dia" (through) is still appropriate for context.

#698 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2017, 10:37 AM:

Ingvar @ 697--

Ah! Of course--they are threatening to exsanguinate my account.

That's diabolical!

#699 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2017, 11:33 AM:

oldster @696 to Dave Bell @695 -- I read a great deal of APHerbert's legal amusements last year. They are underappreciated.

#700 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2017, 12:53 PM:

I’m in Los Angeles, where the public transit leaves much to be desired. I use Lyft, who are probably Target to Uber’s Walmart (they’re both pretty rotten, but Lyft seems a little less evil) when I need a “cab”. LA had a law for many years that you were not permitted to hail a taxi on the street. That means I had to phone for a cab, and each time I would request one with a credit card reader. The last time I took a traditional cab, it took over a half an hour for them to find Michael Levine’s Fabric Store (by no means an obscure place) downtown, when we’d given them the exact address. Also, every cab I’ve taken, even those I’ve called for and specified I would be paying with a card, has insisted that their card-reader is not working. As soon as I mention that I confirmed with dispatch that I could pay by card and also noted that I had no cash whatsoever, the car-reader would magically be functional.

As someone with a certain amount of anxiety around money, if I don’t know how much the ride is going to cost, how would I know how much cash to have on hand? I don’t know how the price comparison is, but at the point where I want the convenience of not having to worry about parking, it’s not the cost that bothers me – it’s the unknown. If the cabs around here had developed a policy for taking credit cards, I might never have downloaded the Lyft app.

#701 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2017, 01:00 PM:

Oh hey, I found a new-to-me kittencam:

Trailer for Keeping up with the Kattarshians

#702 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2017, 02:31 PM:

nerdycellist @ 700:

The smartphone app Flywheel is good for getting a cab and handling payment. It works in LA, San Francisco, and a few other west-coast cities. I used it when I needed a cab in San Francisco, and it worked pretty well.

That said, couldn't find Michael Levine, really? There's something to be said for London's The Knowledge.

#703 ::: Sten ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2017, 05:03 PM:

The first few times I used Uber, it was on behalf of other people. If I am not able to pick up a friend, it is amazingly simple to book a ride and tell her "there is a car coming towards you in two minutes, black Opel, license plate XY1234, it is turning the corner now." Then I can see the actual ride on a little map on my phone.

But yes, I admit that my reasons are cost-based. That said, there are cases where it works out great for all involved. I recently had an Uber ride from Santa Clara to San Francisco (about 50 miles) in the morning. The driver said he worked in San Francisco, lived in my area and signed up for Uber so he could bring passengers going in the right direction on the way to and from his work.

#704 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2017, 05:25 PM:

Why is Uber cheaper?

"Uber passengers fares only covered 41 percent of the actual trip cost"

So they are radically underselling all other taxi services, and also underselling their own costs, in a non-sustainable way.

The rest of the money--the 59% of the cost--is propped up by venture capitalists. Why would VC money do this?

Because Uber is not really a taxi-company; it's a long-term plan for replacing all taxi-drivers with robotic cars.

And the first stage of that plan is to drive viable taxi services out of business by underselling them.

Then in a few years, all of the drivers who have switched from other taxi companies to Uber will be dropped on the unemployment roles when Uber switches to autonomous robotic cars.

At that point, the VC people think, they will be in possession of a huge income stream that employs hardly anyone at all!

What's better than squeezing workers to death? Cutting them out of the business altogether!

There are many reasons to #deleteUber.

#705 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2017, 05:30 PM:

Dave Harmon @618

Serge Broom #610: Holy cow. Anyone else flashing on Niven's puppeteers?

More like: this is where the Monks come from. :-)

#706 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2017, 06:27 PM:


"the unemployment roles" should be
"the unemployment rolls".

#707 ::: Race Traitor Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2017, 07:12 PM:

Unemployment roles are why most actors work as waiters or temps instead.

#709 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2017, 11:37 PM:

Tom Whitmore @ 676: It was certainly true the last time I took a taxi in DC (1995) -- but IIRC it was true only for DC; Congressional writ doesn't extend to the suburbs (and DC is a small city in area).

David Goldfarb @ 682: IMO, marketing is also a large factor; Uber in Boston has been pushing its alleged hipness and modernity very hard. It will be interesting to see whether drivers and passengers decamp to Lyft given recent stories.

Bill Stewart @ 686: from what I can find, all taxi companies do their best to make as much money as possible off drivers; however, the latest stories show Uber maltreating its employees as well. Taxi companies may be doing this unseen, because they're generally single-city where Uber is big enough to be noticed by national coverage -- but that wasn't in any of the charges against Boston's biggest medallion owner.

Joel Polowin @ 705: how so? IIRC we learn nothing of the Monks' home planet (if they still have one), while Louis Wu finds out that the Puppeteers' system is a Klemperer rosette.

#710 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2017, 03:02 AM:

More about Uber.

As always, once one person makes the decision to speak up, other examples start coming out of the woodwork. It's a recurring pattern -- this kind of shit doesn't come out of nowhere, and it doesn't happen to just one person.

#711 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2017, 11:30 AM:

Lee @ 710: There's never just one mouse in the house...

#712 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2017, 12:08 PM:

Open theadiness: The writer of SlateStarCodex has another really fun story.

#713 ::: Johan Larson ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2017, 04:13 PM:

There is a mountain that reaches from the sea to the sky, well past the atmosphere and on into space. Carved into the side of it is a stairway stretching the full height of the mountain. No one knows who made it, or when.

If you climb the stairway you will pass many remains of travelers who tried to make the climb before you. You will certainly need a spacesuit to reach the top yourself. There you will find a platform the size of a tennis court. There is nothing else, just the curve of Earth below you and the black of space above.

#714 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2017, 06:53 PM:

It's a Zelazny story (IIRC without checking), but why quote it here?

#715 ::: Johan Larson ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2017, 08:00 PM:

Tom Whitmore, I'm not sure what you're talking about. What I wrote in #713 is my own.

#716 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2017, 09:51 PM:

Apropos of Uber:

#717 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2017, 09:53 PM:

It was reminding me of "This Mortal Mountain" by Zelazny, and also the Hemmingway quote about the leopard and Mount Kilimanjaro.

In any case, it's a good piece of writing.

#718 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2017, 10:30 PM:

A couple of decades ago when I was at university in Kingston, Ontario, the taxis worked on a sort of zone system. Every change to a different zone incremented the fare. That made it possible to determine in advance what the fare would be. IIRC when I went back for a visit a few years later, they'd switched to a more conventional distance-driven/time fare system.

CHip @709: Have you not heard of the Trappist Monks?

#719 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2017, 03:46 AM:

Joel Polowin @ #718:

While I have heard of the Trappist Monks, I more immediately think of the beer of said brothers when I hear an unadorned "Trappist" mentioned.

#720 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2017, 03:47 AM:

As mentioned by several posters, the are many reasons to delete Uber. The latest involves a recording making the rounds of the internet in which the CEO upbraids a driver who complains of not being able to make a living wage for "not taking responsibility for his life." Sound familiar?

I occasionally have to use taxis to get to and from medical appointments when I'll be getting anesthesia. There's a local cab company, Radio Cab, all If whose drivers are veterans and owners, and I use them whenever possible.

#721 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2017, 03:55 AM:

Thoughts on first listening to Marian Call's latest album, "Standing Stones" (especially the song of the same name, which gave me goosebumps on first hearing).

All We Leave

Our minds are worlds within which are confined
Mirrors of that which is outside the skin.
The colors outside are more dull we find,
Those deeply saturated lie within.

Our brain states hide behind the mortal skull.
Words flow back and forth to keep us synched.
Meaning comes from evolution's cull.
Writing keeps the generations linked.

What we think and feel and are we leave behind.
But shape it into concrete things by hand,
By tools, devices, others' hands, then bind
To matter thoughts we wish time to withstand.

Each of us has richest life internal.
We leave a small part in the world external.

#722 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2017, 09:01 AM:

Bruce @721--that's terrific.

#723 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2017, 09:56 AM:

Bruce Cohen #721: Wow. That's probably the briefest "complete" summary of the human experience that I've ever seen!

#724 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2017, 11:33 AM:

Bruce Cohen, <applause>

#725 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2017, 12:22 PM:

AKICIML: Are there good SFF stories out there using Kabbalah as the basis for the unreality/magic/sufficiently-advanced-technology? The only one I know about is the WIP webnovel UNSONG, and I would like more please. :)

#726 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2017, 12:24 PM:

Also, joining in the praise for Bruce Cohen @721

#727 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2017, 01:04 PM:

estelendur @725: Can you give me a bit more of what you're looking for, there? Since most Western ritual magic has a lot of Kabbalistic underpinnings, it's hard for me to pick out just what you might be looking for. Any golem story, for example, might be considered Kabbalistic; stories using numerology (gematria), too.

Are you looking for the mystical/philosophical approach, or the ritual approach?

#728 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2017, 01:13 PM:

Re: my 718, to all but especially CHip: my apologies; that probably came across as snappish. I meant to #include $HUMOUR_MARKER.

For some years, I've been toying with a filk of the "I am so proud" Trio from The Mikado.

I am so tired
If I aspired
but I never get anywhere on it because, you know, tired.

#729 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2017, 01:32 PM:

Tom Whitmore @727: I'm looking mainly for "obviously drawing on Jewish sources," to be honest -- so a golem story might count, but Discworld's golems would be a bit far afield.

The premise of UNSONG is that Kabbalah is literally true, and you can cast spells by reciting Names of God, which are made up of Hebrew letters/syllables. It also goes into little kabbalistic-analysis diversions, which occasionally become plot relevant. To take a representative example of a diversion from the first chapter:

The little countdown clock on my desk said I had seven minutes, thirty nine seconds until my next break. That made a total of 459 seconds, which was appropriate, given that the numerical equivalents of the letters in the Hebrew phrase “arei miklat” meaning “city of refuge” summed to 459. There were six cities of refuge in Biblical Israel, three on either side of the Jordan River. There were six ten minute breaks during my workday, three on either side of lunch. None of this was a coincidence because nothing was ever a coincidence.
#730 ::: Charles Stross ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2017, 01:54 PM:

Checking the front page right now, I see no entries prior to January 1st, 2017.

(I looked at the sidebar list of archives and a spot check shows that earlier entries exist, but they're not showing up on the front page of the blog.)

#731 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2017, 02:32 PM:

I've only started reading King of Shards, but it promises to be very good and at least somewhat cabalistic.

Not what you're looking for, I'm just going to mention Planet of the Jews-- I was at the Judaism's Influence on SFF at Arisia. There's a lot of influences from Judaism on SFF, but not a lot of specifically Jewish-themed work.

So.... Planet of the Jews is pretty awful in a lot of ways. The exposition is easily competitive with Left Behind. It's evidence that if you want genuinely odd fiction, you might do well to look at self-published work.

It's not clear that the author (a rabbi) even *likes* Judaism. It's just a book which is fascinated by Jews and Judaism.

#732 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2017, 02:43 PM:

estelendur, #725: You might want to check out Ted Chiang's short story "Seventy-Two Letters", available in his collection Stories of Your Life and Others. I described it as "steampunk meets Jewish mysticism meets 18-century biology" and the focus is on the science of magical nomenclature.

#733 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2017, 02:54 PM:

That's recent - probably today, seeing as today is the first of March, and (IIRC) the last post before January was the Christmas texts. (It was there last week.)

#734 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2017, 03:03 PM:

Found on File 770, a joke I'm sure many folks here will appreciate:

Q: What did the thesaurus have for breakfast?
A: A synonym roll.

#735 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2017, 03:22 PM:

estelendur @ 725/729:

The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon might be sort of what you're looking for. Kabbalah isn't front and center, but part of the mystery does revolve around Jewish mysticism.

There's always the movie Pi.

Charlie Stross @ 730:

As I recall, the blog software keeps the posts from the current month and the previous two calendar months on the front page, not a particular number of posts. Since today is March first, anything before January won't show on the front page.

#736 ::: Race Traitor Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2017, 05:13 PM:

Bruce 721: Wow, that's magnificent!

estelendur 725: K. T. Katzmann, "The Bread-Thing in the Basket." It's in the collection Hidden Youth, edited by Mikki Kendall and Chesya Burke. A Jewish boy trying to sell bagels on the street in 1750 Poland is harassed by a corrupt cop. His grandfather fixes the problem.

I can unreservedly recommend the entire collection, which is of stories about young, marginalized people in history. Historical fantasy, mostly.

#737 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2017, 08:00 PM:


Jewish mysticism plays a central role in "A Highly Unlikely Scenario" by Rachel Cantor.

#738 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2017, 08:30 PM:

Bruce Cohen #721, again: Do you mind if I pass that on to my sister's family? They are geeky enough to appreciate it. Also, it occurs to me that I see deep influence from Mike Ford here.

#739 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2017, 09:17 PM:

New cat news - we haz cats again! Bruce and Wayne are ~7-year-old brothers who have come to join us. (Yes, the people we got them from named them after Batman.) Wayne is blind (infection when he was a kitten) and has extra toes. Bruce has a weird eyelash problem and occasional balance issues but is otherwise normal.

We picked them up last night, and they're gradually getting used to our place, which currently means they're locked up in the guest bedroom until they're a bit more comfortable. They spent last night sitting in their carriers, and in the morning Bruce moved to the closet and this afternoon came out and is sitting under the bed. Wayne's adapting better, and spent the day wandering around trying to learn where things are and sitting on the rug by the window. In a day or two we'll let them out to explore the rest of the place.

#740 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2017, 09:31 PM:

Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) @721:


#741 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2017, 11:36 PM:

Bill Stewart @739: One suggestion I've heard about blind cats is that putting down runs of masking tape for routes you'd like them to know is a good idea: they can feel the tape through their feet, and it gives them much more of a sense of how their place is laid out. And you know enough not to move furniture around a lot, right? Good for you for taking on the pair -- they sound pretty wonderful!

#742 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2017, 12:26 AM:

I vaguely remember reading Wandering Stars: An Anthology of Jewish Fantasy & Science Fiction, but nothing about its contents apart from a couple of stories that I know from other collections.

#743 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2017, 12:43 AM:

Oh wait, there's Lisa Goldstein's The Red Magician. "[...] The tale of Kicsi, a young girl in a backwoods Eastern European village in the early 1940s, a hamlet so isolated that the villagers know nothing of the brewing war -- have no hint of the future save for ominous dreams. Into this village comes Voros, a redheaded wanderer, a juggler and magician, to disrupt their lives and antagonize the local rabbi... with whom he must fight a cabbalistic duel to which Kicsi is a secret witness."

I know that I read it a couple of decades ago; it's been sitting on my bookshelves. I remember nothing about it, but a friend of mine thought highly of it and it has had a lot of very positive reviews as well as winning the American Book Award.

I seem to recall that there was a group of rabbis using Kabbalistic magic in one or two of Kevin Hearne's "Iron Druid" novels. And I think at least a passing mention in one of Zelazny's later Amber novels... a Trump with an image of the Tree of Life, something like that..?

#744 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2017, 12:52 AM:

Joel Polowin @742: Wandering Stars and its sequel, Wandering Stars II, were edited by Jack Dann (just to make it easier for folks to find them).

#745 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2017, 01:28 AM:

Tom Whitmore - Masking tape? Hmm, that could be useful. (And yeah, moving around obstacles on the floor is something we'll need to be more careful about.) I'll also be interested in seeing if we can tell whether Wayne's circadian rhythms are any different because he's blind (or if it's just "he's a cat, so sometimes he's sleeping because it's night and sometimes because it's daytime.")

#746 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2017, 06:47 AM:

Joel Polowin #743: The Amber reference has barely more to it than your summary -- a Shadow-magician uses a magical tapestry to blindside and capture Merlin. The magician briefly describes it as depicting the Tree of Life and giving access to several worlds (demonstrating one), before Merlin removes magician and tapestry from the continuing story.

In-universe, it was apparently created by one Shadow-magician for their trainee as a teaching aid, but when we later learn more about Shadow-magicians, the Tree of Life concept does not reappear.

#747 ::: crazysoph ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2017, 07:58 AM:

HLN beer edition. Sub-topic - can't always go home again (and that's good!!)

Many years ago (heck, the guts of two decades!) Dear Hubby & I lived in The Hague. There are reasons we still "go back", meaning indeed that it's often a trip down memory lane. But we're also pretty impressed with how Den Haag has embraced mostly good changes.

One of those is Den Haag's very own local brewery. Now, I wasn't really much of a beer drinker until a VERY hot summer and a trip to Belgium, but since then,... this was a change we found totally delightful. The brewery is called Kompaan, and all of its beers are named with synonyms for friends and partners in crime. We even surprised ourselves by dragging back to our home in Belgium a full range of the beers - we don't love our current home any less, just... wow!

Beer natter (skip to last paragraph if the taste/smell doesn't please you) - the Kameraad is quite a light tasting blond beer, really best on its own. Astringent yet not too bitter/hoppy. On the other hand, I've had two very different reactions to the "hopped blond" Bondgenoot - first time I tried to have it on its own and I nearly gagged. I guess I'd still been in the mood for something light, but this was not only "super" bitter, but spicy in a way that reacted badly to my internal chemistry. A following occasion, I confirmed what that first encounter left me suspecting: this would go very well with a meal. What I'm writing about now is a third encounter - without food (to start with - now I am munching on cheese and spinach "kroketjes") and while still extremely hoppy, there's some lovely flower blossom going on here, as well as those spice tones I found too heavy previously.

It still has the power to amaze me, how my experience can change, even if I don't think I have.

Crazy(and so far from the girl she was, for whom "If you don't like booze / better get your running shoes" could have been written)Soph

#748 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2017, 10:16 AM:

Huzzah, thank you all for the recommendations! Now to see which of them I can get easily through my friendly local library system/state-wide sub-ILL. :)

Dave Harmon @746, Joel Polowin @743: Yes, I believe I have read that Amber book and the reference is barely that, unfortunately. I should rather have liked to know more about those Shadow-magicians, but theirs was mostly only to get steamrollered by the protag after failing to steamroller him themselves, IIRC...

#749 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2017, 05:01 PM:

An interesting article on propaganda and media-manipulation techniques.

I remember noticing the "many mutually-exclusive stories" technique being thrown at Obama during the 2008 election and his time in office--he was supposedly simultaneously a secret Muslim, a member of a radical black Christian church, a socialist, gay, etc.

One reason I think this trick often works: Suppose I'm inclined to think ill of Obama--perhaps for partisan reasons, or racist ones, or whatever. Each time I hear one of these stories, I'm casting around in my mind for obvious contradictions with a story. If one pops into my head, then I'll dismiss it ("yeah, he's a no-good bastard, but that's still nonsense"). It's like I've got a chance to fail my saving throw against propaganda each time, independently. Sooner or later, I'm going to roll a high number and end up believing the propaganda story, and since I *want* to believe it, once it's gotten past my initial defenses, I'll believe it.

It's important to realize that even really smart, sophisticated people are susceptible to having their (our) perceptions changed by pervasive propaganda. Worse, propaganda from our own side is about 20x more dangerous--if I see propaganda from Fox News, they'll use the wrong assumptions and tropes to convince me. If I see it from The Economist or NPR, they'll be aiming at something a whole lot closer to my worldview, and they'll use language and cultural assumptions that fit mine pretty well.

Zeynep Tufekci (a very smart sociologist who thinks hard about technology and society) has written a lot about how the modern version of censorship is less likely to be suppressing the information, and more likely to be flooding the world with distracting information to make it hard to find. I feel like the Trump administration (intentionally or not) has been massively doing this--stirring up outrage, and thus creating an endless storm of outrage-focused news. And a lot of the time, the outrage is over something that's not terribly important (think of Milo's various publicity stunts), and meanwhile really serious stuff is happening, things that will shape the world over the next decade or two. And almost nobody is paying attention, because driving away the top tier of career State Department employees is kinda boring and unsexy (they're mostly kinda boring unsexy people using big words and wanting to talk about faraway places), and can't compete with the latest outrageous Trump tweet.

#750 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2017, 06:31 PM:

Zeynep Tufekci (a very smart sociologist who thinks hard about technology and society) has written a lot about how the modern version of censorship is less likely to be suppressing the information, and more likely to be flooding the world with distracting information to make it hard to find.

Like why there isn't any coverage currently of Black Lives Matter. It's not that they've stopped. It's that between the Women's March and any random thing coming out of the Trump administration, they're not co vered.

#751 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2017, 10:44 PM:

estelendur: most of Wandering Stars has to do with the immigrant experience, but you might find "The Dybbuk of Mazel Tov IV" somewhat relevant. "On Venus, Have We Got a Rabbi" is also fun, but it's Talmudic rather than mystic. Both of these are original to this anthology, but ISFDB lists several instances so it's probably findable. I haven't read the successor anthology; I should dig it up sometime.

#752 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2017, 08:38 AM:

HLN: The retailer Land's End appears to be under the impression that local man lives in the UK (local man actually lives in the DC metro area). Local man keeps getting advertising emails giving discounts in pounds and talking about "free UK delivery".

#753 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2017, 09:18 AM:


I think this was more-or-less Trump's strategy in the primaries, especially early on. His once-a-week media-eating outrage-fest basically sucked all the oxygen out of the room for the other candidates, leaving little chance for anyone other than Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, or Ted Cruz. Everyone else *had* to get attention early to succeed, and they could't, because Trump was jamming their transmissions.

Trump is perfectly adapted to the outrage-cycle of cable news and social media. We've had this broken setup for a long time--24 hour news channels have been a force for evil in the world for decades now. But Trump exploits it, like a perfectly-adapted parasite subverting the normal life cycle of its host to serve the parasite's needs.

#754 ::: Terry Hunt ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2017, 01:00 PM:

estelendur: If graphic novels fall within your ambit, you might look at the comic book series Promethea by Alan Moore et al, which has significant cabbalistic content.

#755 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2017, 01:19 PM:

For graphic novels with general Jewish content, you can't miss Will Eisner, especially A CONTRACT WITH GOD. Strongly based on Jewish sources!

#756 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2017, 01:26 PM:

I've read more of King of Shards-- it's definitely got kabbalah as part of the story.

Variant spellings

#757 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2017, 03:12 PM:

albatross @753: a perfectly-adapted parasite subverting the normal life cycle of its host to serve the parasite's needs.

I would extend this metaphor: the host is at a maturation threshhold (think puberty)* that has left its immune system,** which is already under assault,*** weakened. This increases the host's vulnerability to this kind of attack.

* The phase change in public discourse occassioned by cable news X the internet

** Education in history and rhetoric

*** The ongoing efforts of the right wing to subvert public institutions, such as education, law, and regulation

#758 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2017, 04:25 PM:


The media have been badly weakened by the destruction of their traditional business model--Google and Facebook and Craigslist have basically eaten the revenue that used to support actual news operations. As I understand it, most media sources *urgently* need to be visible on Facebook, via forwarded stories that get clicked on--that's how they get page views that ultimately pay their bills. That's made even pretty respectable media sources almost *have* to write clickbaity stories that will get posted to Facebook.

One claim I remember reading several times during the campaign was that cable news shows that had Trump on got *enormous* ratings spikes. Even when the hosts of the programs despised Trump, they had a big incentive to get him to come back on. (And those folks would sell their own grandmothers to the dogfood plant to get ratings.) It doesn't take a genius to figure out how that situation (news sources need me more than I need them) plus a deserved reputation for holding a grudge could twist a lot of discussion about Trump.

#759 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2017, 06:43 PM:

Bruce Cohen & Dave Luckett:

Those are marvellous sonnets. I am deeply jealous.

#760 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2017, 06:45 PM:

It is worth noting that Republican presidents have been associated with major scandals. Grant with the Credit Mobilier affair. Harding with Teapot Dome. Nixon with Watergate. Reagan with Iran-Contra.

None of them, however, seem to approach what is likely to be the peak scandalousness of Trump's first hundred days.

#761 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2017, 09:10 PM:

#587 ::: Nonyme: "I've often thought that potatoes would be a prime candidate for some genetic engineering to create a plant that produced both potatoes and edible tomato-like fruit."

Well, not exactly, but there is a grafted "ketchup and fries" plant available.

Like most combination things, it's not as useful as the individual components.

#762 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2017, 04:02 AM:

Thank you all for your praise of my sonnet. As I said in the original comment, it was an attempt to express my reactions to Marian Call's song, which hit some very deep resonances in me. And, yes, most everything I've written in the last few years has had some influence by Mike Ford. The resonances from Mike's work are like a deep temple bell to me.

Dave Harmon @738 and anyone else who wants to pass on the sonnet: feel free, as long as it's attributed to me. Treat it as Creative Commons non commercial use and remix license.

#763 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2017, 04:09 AM:

Zeynep Tufekci's book "Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest" will be released in May, 2017. I follow her on Twitter and am on her email newsletter list, both of which are thoughtful, informative, and often very moving.

#764 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2017, 07:16 AM:

Fragano Ledgister #760: The Democratic Presidents are not completely clean -- in particular, I note that they seem to tend to sexual scandals. Many of which appear minor or laughable to some folks, but dire to others.

I wonder if it would be possible to add to certain Oaths of Office a phrase to the effect of "for the honor of the United States of America, I will conduct my personal affairs with honor and integrity". (Yeah, right :-) )

#765 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2017, 11:21 AM:

There once was a woman online
looking for something to do with her time
She said "I'll do an MA"
And asked "let me in, eh?"
And the university wrote back and said "fine."

(With full funding! Wheee!)

#766 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2017, 11:21 AM:

There once was a woman online
looking for something to do with her time
She said "I'll do an MA"
And asked "let me in, eh?"
And the university wrote back and said "fine."

(With full funding! Wheee!)

#767 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2017, 12:21 PM:

Em @ 765: Yay!

#768 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2017, 01:15 PM:

Congratulations, Em!

#770 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2017, 04:49 PM:

Congratulations, Em!

What's your field?

#771 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2017, 10:54 PM:

I don't know what's going on but only 2 of the main posts on this weblog are visible on its front page right now.

#772 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2017, 11:32 PM:

The front page apparently only keeps two months posts.

#773 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2017, 12:53 AM:

Thanks :D I'm very pleased, because (among other things, and due to untreated health problems) I flunked out of university seven years ago, and thought that was it for my academic career. One of the local universities let me in three and a half years ago, and I've apparently done well. :)

OtterB @770, the official MA title is "Literatures of Modernity", which seems to be a catch-all for "literature by people who're either alive or have been dead for less than a hundred years". My own area of research will be in conjunction with the digital humanities lab, because I'm looking at how video games use more traditional forms of literature, especially poetry. (I couldn't decide if I wanted to look at ludology or literature, and figured hey, let's combine the two.)

The only downside is I have to move to Toronto, which as a Montrealer I'm obliged to be disgusted about*.

*Not really, though. Terrible hockey team aside, Toronto's pretty neat. Even if it is so flat I'll get lost all the time because I'm used to orienting myself to uphill/downhill.

#774 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2017, 03:53 AM:

"Literatures of Modernity" is an intriguing label, but that "dead for a hundred years" neatly hits WW1, and that is a discontinuity visible in what people wrote. I know that Kipling's writing changed.

It's not just the trenches, it's the whole shift in the politics with four empires vanishing in Europe.

All that is pretty obvious, and there is an arument for chaning that convenient round figure for an explicit link with WW1, but when do you set the ending? I think we might be too close to events for anything in this century, but I can imagine 9/11 as a marker: that and the subsequent long war. I'm sure there are others.

In the long run, using the label "The Century of Communism" might work.

#775 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2017, 07:50 AM:

The Pope's Latinist

Describes an extraordinary and successful effort to revive Latin.

#776 ::: Jim Parish ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2017, 08:07 AM:

774: I've seen more than one reference to "the short twentieth century, 1914-1991" (and at least one to "the long nineteenth century, 1789-1914").

#777 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2017, 09:31 AM:

Reminder for anyone eligible to submit nominations for this year's Hugo awards.

The deadline is 11:59 pm PST March 17. You can submit nominations if you are a member (supporting or attending) of either the 2016 or 2017 (by January 31, 2017) Worldcon.

(So one of the things I need to do next weekend is figure out what I want to nominate.)

#778 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2017, 11:45 AM:

AKICIML: I'm writing a story set in the suburbs of London in the mid-'70s. For reasons, I need a stray pig for an upcoming scene. Is this at all likely? How close to suburban London would the nearest pig have been?

#779 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2017, 02:46 PM:

Em @773: My reflex interp of "ludology" was "the study of Luddites." :-)

it is so flat I'll get lost all the time because I'm used to orienting myself to uphill/downhill.

Despite there being many perfectly lovely (I'm sure) places which are flat, I am morally opposed to flatness. Makes me feel like I'm going to fall off the planet. </Colo Front Range chauvinist> And also:

I was in my 30s when I realized that from a gravitational point of view, the sun was DOWN. I freaked out for several minutes about that. —John Scalzi
#780 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2017, 03:07 PM:


Yes, I'm definitely looking forward to her book.

#781 ::: Sarah E ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2017, 04:02 PM:

Em @ #773: Even if it is so flat I'll get lost all the time because I'm used to orienting myself to uphill/downhill.

The problem is, Toronto's not *completely* flat, and having to cheat around the ravines means the street grid warps as you get further from the downtown core.

#782 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2017, 04:51 PM:

Dave Harmon #764: This is true. Nor would I claim that Democratic presidents are saints (nor that Republican presidents are all evil incompetents, not with the examples of Lincoln, TR, and Eisenhower available).

#783 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2017, 05:41 PM:

Jenny Islander @778:

Well, given a lion lived in London, pigs don't seem a stretch. The pig doesn't have to come from a farm does it?

I also found this link about a farm in the middle of present-day London.

Contrary to what you might expect, this inner-city farm, less than half a mile from Westminster, is actually able to give animals more attention than they would get on a larger working farm. At the same time, it provides educational opportunities for urban schoolchildren who have no direct access to green space or living animals. This is in keeping with the principles of the city farm movement, which began in Kentish Town, London in 1972. Since the 1970s, city farms have spread throughout the UK – around 120 are represented by the Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens (FCFCG) – but the highest concentration is in London.


#784 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2017, 07:02 PM:

Farm animals on the loose in British cities. I did have a very little experience, and there are pics of me, pre-school, standing amongst the cows. I think that counts for something. I have a sense that animals aren't automatically dangerous, but I have to be aware of them.

Times have changed. The ordinary farm has gone from a mixture of livestock and crops to near-monoculture. Many livestock markets have closed. Most of them in my part of the world have gone.

The last time a cow got loose in Hull, and I am not sure where it came from, it ended up being shot by the Police. Nobody could think of anything else to do. I know I didn't know enough to handle it, but I I still have the habit of staying calm, trying not to be a threat. I wouldn't, for instance, have shouted: about all that would have done would be send it, even more scared, in a different direction.

There was a ginger tomcat the prowled the farm. He had a terrible reputation. Even his so-called owners were a bit nervous. We didn't have any trouble with him. If he got locked in the workshop, I would let him out and carry him home. Our dog would work with him to hunt down mice.

We ended up with a cat who had been dumped on the farm, maybe by somebody who thought farms were good places for cats. Perhaps they were when farms had cattle. Whatever the reason she came to the farm, Tabitha settled with us, and, when my parents were old and frail, was officially listed as a "very well-behaved cat". She stayed out of the way of the visiting carers. but she didn't run away. She was friendly without being a nuisance. I never had any trouble with clipping her claws. When I came home after my car accident, she insisted on sleeping with me, and woke me up at about 6:30, walking over my face on her way to her litter tray.

I knew I was home.

#785 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2017, 09:39 PM:


As a follow-up to your article about the Pope's Latinist.

Reginald Foster's successor, Dan Gallagher, has left the Vatican and joined the faculty of Cornell:

#786 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2017, 09:49 PM:

Oh yeah and: allow me to reiterate my praises of a vet who does housecalls. On Sunday. (Mr. Donkey's abscess is now, we hope, on the way to healing.)

#787 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2017, 11:30 PM:

Michael I @ #777, and anyone else considering Hugo nominations, don't forget the "I see you like SF" thread includes suggestions for nom-worthy works, with this year's eligibles beginning around comment 582.

#788 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2017, 12:52 AM:

Today's Google Doodle animated interactive quiz? Test your knowledge of Komodo Dragons.

Me: 4 out of 5, thanks in large part to Bob and Ray.

#789 ::: Jen Birren ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2017, 06:39 AM:

Jenny Islander #778:
That's a surprisingly hard question without knowing what you mean by "suburbs of London"- like, of the boroughs that are officially Greater London,
(map) I'd say quite a lot *are* suburbs. Certainly the outer ring have lots of green space, parks and bits of countryside, and one could imagine pigs living in places there quite easily (probably rare-breed/free-range farmed or pets rather than intensively farmed). The closer you get in towards Westminster and the City, the less likely that becomes; but there are still lots of parks and commons. The south and east, the poorer areas, would be the most crowded and least likely to have space to keep pigs (though people do keep the most unsuitable animals in back yards, until the RSPCA hear of it). Mid-70s London was a LOT less unaffordable, and also there were more derelict areas and squatters than there are now, I think.
Then as Soon Lee and Dave Bell say, there are inner-city farms for children to visit. Or you could get a truckload of pigs on the move between farms crashing and a whole lot escaping, cue hijinks galore (cf the Tamworth Two).

Basically it would definitely be unlikely both then and now but certainly not impossible; I'd probably want an explanation in-story. It would almost certainly be the amusing bit at the end of the local news for the day (or a less amusing bit in the middle of the news if it had been mistreated by its owner or if it was killed rather than captured) and there would be punny headlines in the local paper the next day.

#790 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2017, 07:47 AM:


punny headlines about pigs loose in London? mais porkquoi?

"Big Ben? Or Pig Pen!"

#791 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2017, 08:35 AM:


Minor correction. March 17 is after the changeover to Daylight Savings Time in the U.S., so the deadline is 11:59 PDT.

I've also posted a reminder message on the "I See You Like SF", in case anyone wants to post suggestions there.

#792 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2017, 12:50 PM:

Jenny Islander @778, Jen Birren @789: I actually saw a pig running along the side of the San Francisco Bay Bridge (near Treasure Island) -- it was being transported across the bay, and had escaped the truck. It was used by a plumber, IIRC, to check out smallish tunnels, and they needed it in the East Bay. So -- there are also working pigs to think about.

Bill Higgins @778 -- I got 5 of 5 without even knowing the Bob and Ray bit, for which much thanks.

#793 ::: tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2017, 01:01 PM:


East Ham, Fulham, Hammersmith, Squealing Broadway, Black Pudding Lane, Sowth Mimms, Hoggerston, go on make a pig of yourself, this could get boaring. I should be writing for the S*n.

#794 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2017, 01:08 PM:

tykewriter @793--

Lord Bacon in the House of Lards!

#795 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2017, 01:34 PM:

That's a more literal version of "pigging" than is usually met!

#796 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2017, 02:14 PM:

Thanks for the input on pigs, everybody! I had known about the urban farming movement, but my searches gave me the impression that it had started in the '90s.

Kentish Town City Farm (then called City Farm 1) was a trip. I love seeing stuff that hippies and arty types started in the '70s that's still going.

#797 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2017, 02:22 PM:

If you're into the Language of Flowers, look at this! It's a spreadsheet compilation of a bunch (heh) of primary sources.

#798 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2017, 03:31 PM:

Jen Birren @ 789

Talking of "most unsuitable animals in back yards"--someone in the next town over kept an alligator in their back yard--in Massachusetts. For 26 years.

#799 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2017, 03:41 PM:

Re the alligator: shades of the Melendy family!

#800 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2017, 05:58 PM:

I'm wondering how the alligator managed in the winter.

#801 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2017, 09:34 PM:

In Europe the twentieth century may have been 1914–1991, but I maintain that for the USA it was 1898–2001. 1898 for the Spanish-American war and the beginning of permanent overseas involvements. 2001 is obvious.

#802 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2017, 10:44 PM:

I've got a rough cut on my Hugo nominations recorded. Still to do: Pro Artist, which is a task for tomorrow, and perhaps reading a few more novelettes and novellas. I actually had more short stories on my list than there were nomination slots, which shows that I've been paying better attention in that category at least.

#803 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2017, 01:48 AM:

tykewriter #793 And the former village of Scary Ham (pronounced "scrum"), a hard scrabble area near the now completely paved-over river Scar. Of course, "Scary" is not scary and "Ham" is not a pork reference but Olde English for "slightly less soggy spot" which is why there are so many of them around London. But it is fun to imagine Scary Ham as a place where undead pork products frighten the children.

#804 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2017, 08:18 AM:

Allan Beatty@801 2001 is obvious.

Of course. That was when we discovered the monolith orbiting Jupiter.


#805 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2017, 08:33 AM:

TomB @803--

I love the story of Scary Ham (one of the five Ham Girls, along with Posh Ham etc.?).

But I have not been able to find any references to it on the web, or to an English town called Scrum. What's the best link to follow up on this?

#806 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2017, 09:52 AM:

Tom Whitmore @ 792:

I've never heard of a real, live pig being used for pigging before.

TomB @ 803 and oldster @ 805:

A different (and entirely unrelated) Scary Ham story.

#807 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2017, 10:30 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz@800:

Florida vacations.

*innocent look*

#808 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2017, 10:50 PM:

Jenny Islander - My main expectation about a pig in London in the 70s is the one that escaped from Pink Floyd over the Battersea Power Station.

#809 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2017, 08:25 AM:

Dear Sire and Modem,

Since today is National Proffreeding Proofreading Day, I have stolen a joke from Sandra Boynton. I hope it makes you smile as much as I did.

I Needed That

#810 ::: Quill ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2017, 09:51 AM:

More from Sandra Boynton: a random pig generator.

#811 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2017, 01:18 PM:

Quill (810): Yes! I bookmarked that so that I can return to it again and again.

#812 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2017, 01:47 PM:

Have you seen the Improve any novel by changing its second line to “And then the murders began” thing on Twitter?

I contribute this:
“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. And then the murders began."

#813 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2017, 02:05 PM:

Soon Lee (812): Yes, my social circles have been having great fun with it on both Twitter and Facebook. It works disturbingly well with a lot of children's books.

#814 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2017, 03:45 PM:

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, and then the murders began?


#815 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2017, 03:56 PM:

Technically, I think the murders didn't begin until after the Expulsion.

#816 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2017, 04:18 PM:

Teen Vogue has an excellent basic article on communications security. Strongly recommended.

#817 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2017, 05:56 PM:

Open Threadiness: The Great Eskimo Vocabulary Hoax.

Basically, it's the linguistic version of the Pastafazool Cycle.

#818 ::: Race Traitor Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2017, 06:00 PM:

Hmm. "to wound the autumnal city. And then the murders began" doesn't really work. How about "to wound the autumnal city. So cried out to the world as the murders began"?

#819 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2017, 10:06 PM:

I went down to the Piraeus yesterday with Glaucon, the son of Ariston. I wanted to say a prayer to the goddess, and I was also curious to see how they would manage the festival, since they were holding it for the first time. And then the murders began.

#820 ::: Rainflame ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2017, 11:02 PM:

It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. And then the murders began.

#821 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2017, 11:35 PM:

Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
And then the murders their commencement took.

#822 ::: Race Traitor Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2017, 11:36 PM:

Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word; it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, that thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed. And then the murders began.

#823 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2017, 11:54 PM:

I am Sam. Sam I am.

That Sam-I-am. That Sam-I-am!
I do not like That Sam-I-am.

And then the murders I begam.

#824 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2017, 12:27 AM:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. And then the murders began.

#825 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2017, 01:31 AM:

This is just to say

#826 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2017, 05:39 AM:

It was a dark and stormy night. And then the murders began.

#827 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2017, 08:18 AM:

TomB @824: Strangely similar to how it played out, actually ...

#828 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2017, 08:55 AM:

Dominating twice a hundred square miles of campus, parade-ground, airport, and spaceport, a ninety-story edifice of chromium and glass sparkled dazzlingly in the bright sunlight of a June morning. And then the murders began.

#829 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2017, 09:10 AM:

Elliott @ #827:

Lessa woke, cold. And then the murders began. even closer to the story.

#830 ::: Craft(Alchemy) ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2017, 09:22 AM:

It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. And then the murders began.

#831 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2017, 09:25 AM:

Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming down along the road and this moocow that was coming down along the road met a nicens little boy named baby tuckoo...And then the murders began.

#832 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2017, 09:53 AM:

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.

And then the murders began...

Bret Easton Ellis's Pride and Prejudice.

#833 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2017, 10:44 AM:

Darn it, D. Potter, you beat me to it!

Bel Riose traveled without escort, which is not what court etiquette prescribes for the head of a fleet stationed in a yet-sullen stellar system on the Marches of the Galactic Empire. And then the murders began.

"We need you to kill a man." And then the murders began. (Perhaps too apropos?)

A sea of mist drifted through the cloud forest--soft, grey, luminescent. And then the murders began.

#834 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2017, 10:55 AM:

Lee @ #815:

It depends who you ask. Neil Gaiman's written a story with the premise that the first murder was committed before the earth was created, during the period when the angels were designing and testing various components that were to go into its construction, and one of the angels got a bit too much into trying out the feature set that included "love" and "jealousy".

This is true. Ten years ago, give or take a year, I found myself on an enforced stopover in Los Angeles, a long way from home. And then the murders began.

#835 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2017, 10:56 AM:

The door dilated. And then the murders began.

Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-two million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea. And then the murders began.

The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel. And then the murders began.

The Shakespearean ones above seem like apt descriptions of the plays.

#836 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2017, 11:33 AM:

For anyone who hasn't seen the news elsewhere, Crooked Timber is running a seminar on the first two books in Ada Palmer's Terra Ignota series.

Jo Walton's contribution is already up. Henry, who organized the seminar, comments here occasionally and got me into blogging.

(And then the murders began.)

#837 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2017, 11:34 AM:

My cat Sebastian has been ill for two weeks. X-rays and ultrasound now indicate aggressive lung cancer. He's 13 years old.

He'll be making his final trip to the vet tonight.

#838 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2017, 11:36 AM:

On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago, all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it, all sought to avert it. While the inaugural address was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war, insurgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without war—seeking to dissolve the Union and divide effects by negotiation. Both parties deprecated war, but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish. And then the murders began.

[This is a reminder that what Lincoln actually wrote--the four-word coda, "And the war came."--is one of the most brilliant and effective rhetorical gut-punches ever written.]

#839 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2017, 11:54 AM:

I'm surprised nobody has proposed the counterpart game, where you insert "And then the orgasms began."

(Which I believe is an *actual dead-serious line* from a Julian May book. I'm not going back to check.)

#840 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2017, 12:21 PM:

Elliott @827: wrong Tom.

#841 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2017, 12:32 PM:

Cassy B. @837:

My sympathies, you and Sebastian will be in my thoughts and prayers today.

(blurry monitor syndrome)

#842 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2017, 12:42 PM:

Paul, #834: That's extra-canonical. :-) And that Gaiman story sounds as though it may have some of the same roots as the creation myth in Diane Duane's Young Wizards and Doors books.

Cassy, #837: That sucks. Sympathies.

#843 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2017, 01:43 PM:

I was debating posting this under "I see you like science fiction…", but it crosses a couple of threads here, including the widespread Hamilton love: thanks to retweets of retweets, I just wound up listening to the album "Splendor and Misery" by clipping., which was being suggested for a "Short Dramatic Presentation" Hugo nomination. The Hamilton connection is that Daveed Diggs—Lafayette and Jefferson in the original cast—is 1/3rd of clipping..* The album is completely outside my usual listening range, but

  1. it's an entirely plausible nomination candidate (which I might write more about on "I see you like science fiction…");
  2. I'm really enjoying it; and
  3. it's put me in that uncomfortable but pleasant position of realizing I know almost nothing about the musical context.
A friend has offered to put together a targeted Music Appreciation 101 list for me (well, not 101 if it's that focused, I suppose; maybe a 401 seminar), which I'll take him up on; but currently I'm enjoying that vertiginous experience of suddenly looking at a whole lot of interesting background I hadn't really thought about before.

* Ok, how do you punctuate a name that includes punctuation?

#844 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2017, 01:53 PM:

My favorite failure mode (so far) is "Call me Ishmael. And then the murders began."

#845 ::: Louis Patterson ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2017, 01:57 PM:

There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and then the murders began.

#846 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2017, 02:17 PM:

Andrew @839:

I think I nearly gave up on a Nebula-winning novella when I came to a chapter that ended "And then the orgy started." It wasn't Jullian May, though. It was Kaye Baker.

#847 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2017, 02:49 PM:

Sandy B. (844): That one works well if you use the first two sentences.
Sympathies, Cassy. That's rough.

#848 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2017, 03:04 PM:

Buddha Buck @846:

At least an orgy is a social event! I mean, it at least *implies* some character interaction.

#849 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2017, 03:43 PM:

Alan Beatty #801:

I might date the American twentieth century from 1894 (when the US colluded with Nicaragua to suppress the British protected kingdom of Mosquitia, in the process reducing the number of black-run states in the Americas by half), the year when the US felt able to push a European great power out of a long-held territory in the Americas, to 2001. That's a long century, as opposed to the short European twentieth century of 1914-1989.

#850 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2017, 03:46 PM:

All love to Cassy B. and Sebastian.

#851 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2017, 04:01 PM:

***dreaded internal server error***

#852 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2017, 04:02 PM:

Well...that didn't seem to work. Apologies if this ends up being a duplicate...

The Gaiman story Paul A. @ 834 mentioned is "Murder Mysteries"--it's in the collection "Smoke and Mirrors" and a reading/performance of it featuring Brian Dennehey was on a CD I picked up ages ago, along with a reading by Bebe Neuwirth of "Snow Glass Apples".

Cassy B, my condolences. :(

#853 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2017, 04:15 PM:

Cassy B @837: Our condolences, and best wishes for an easy passage to Sebastian.

#854 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2017, 04:21 PM:

Cassy B @837: that's not very old for a cat, but it's in the range where cancer often shows up. My condolences, and I hope Sebastian rests easy and you remember him well.

#855 ::: Sarah E ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2017, 05:17 PM:

Cassy B @ #837: My sympathies to you (and to Sebastian, but I think it will be harder on you.)

#856 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2017, 05:25 PM:

Cassy B. , my condolences as well.

#857 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2017, 05:46 PM:

"The village Choral Society had been giving a performance of Gilbert and Sullivan's "Sorceror" in aid of the Church Organ Fund; and, as we sat in the window of the Anglers' Rest, smoking our pipes, the audience came streaming past us down the little street. And then the murders began."

(suitable for any number of Wodehouse stories)

#858 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2017, 05:50 PM:

BTW the house version of this (my house anyway) is to use "But everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked."

#859 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2017, 05:52 PM:

Speaking of dear old Bertie, if you want a similar fop in a major role in a fantastical quest, Ursula Vernon's "Summer in Orcus" is now available for purchase as an e book (or readable for free on the serializing website too), and it has a lovely hoopoe chap, eh wot? Who is very much in the same vein.

#860 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2017, 05:54 PM:

Cassy B, #837: My condolences.

Syd #852: IIRC It was also done as a graphic novel.

#861 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2017, 06:30 PM:

Two thousand million or so years ago two galaxies were colliding; or, rather, were passing through each other. And then the murders began.

#862 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2017, 06:53 PM:

No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man's and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. And then the murders began.

#863 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2017, 07:21 PM:

"Where's Papa going with that ax?" said Fern to her mother as they were setting the table for breakfast. And then the murders began.

#864 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2017, 07:26 PM:

Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her. And then the murders began.

#865 ::: Singing Wren ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2017, 07:44 PM:

Maia woke with his cousin's cold fingers digging into his shoulder. And then the murders began.

#866 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2017, 08:05 PM:

Elliott, #859: I have to disagree with that assessment. Yes, Reginald is a Regency fop, but he's a likable and intelligent Regency fop. I've tried Wodehouse and bounced off it HARD every time because I can't stand Bertie.

Singing Wren, #865: Ooh. That's the horror remix. And it would be really easy to rewrite the story in that direction, given the political situation.

#867 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2017, 08:54 PM:

Lee (866): Have you tried Wodehouse's Blandings Castle books? I like them a lot more than Jeeves and Wooster. My favorite is Pigs Have Wings, and not just for the title.

#868 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2017, 08:54 PM:

trying to shake loose an Internal Server Error

#869 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2017, 10:31 PM:

Half-past six on a July morning! The Mariposa Belle is at the wharf, decked in flags, with steam up ready to start. And then the murders [begin]. (Can we edit for tense?)

#870 ::: Adrian ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2017, 10:53 PM:

"Too many!" James shouted, and slammed the door behind him.
"What?" said Will.
"Too many kids in this family, that's what. Just TOO MANY." James stood fuming on the landing like a small angry locomotive, then stumped across to the window-seat and stared out at the garden. Will put aside his book and pulled up his legs to make room. And then the murders began.

#871 ::: Adrian ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2017, 10:57 PM:

"Too many!" James shouted, and slammed the door behind him.
"What?" said Will.
"Too many kids in this family, that's what. Just TOO MANY." James stood fuming on the landing like a small angry locomotive, then stumped across to the window-seat and stared out at the garden. Will put aside his book and pulled up his legs to make room. And then the murders began.

#872 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2017, 11:03 PM:

Over at File770, at least one person was wanting to edit the posts that didn't adjust the tense to match.

#873 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2017, 12:34 AM:

So, Susan Cooper as rewritten by Thomas Hardy? Noooo.

#874 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2017, 07:09 AM:

The education bestowed on Flora Poste by her parents had been expensive, athletic and prolonged; and when they died within a few weeks of one another during the annual epidemic of the influenza or Spanish Plague which occurred in her twentieth year, she was discovered to possess every art and grace save that of earning her own living. And then the murders began.

#875 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2017, 07:09 AM:

The education bestowed on Flora Poste by her parents had been expensive, athletic and prolonged; and when they died within a few weeks of one another during the annual epidemic of the influenza or Spanish Plague which occurred in her twentieth year, she was discovered to possess every art and grace save that of earning her own living. And then the murders began.

#876 ::: Quill ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2017, 09:14 AM:

"Christmas won't be Christmas without any presents," grumbled Jo, lying on the rug. And then the murders began.

#877 ::: Craft(Alchemy) ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2017, 10:09 AM:

“Confused today,” they wrote on her notes. And then the murders began.

#878 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2017, 11:19 AM:

The man who was not Terrence O'Grady had come quietly. And then the murders began.

(...which is not entirely inaccurate, at that.)

#879 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2017, 11:21 AM:

Left Munich at 8:35 p.m., on 1st May, arriving at Vienna early next morning; should have arrived at 6:46, but train was an hour late. And then the murders began.

#880 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2017, 12:51 PM:

A vampire is haunting Whitby; it's traditional. And then the murders began.

#881 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2017, 01:28 PM:

I see in Lunaya Pravda that Luna City Council has passed on first reading a bill to examine, license, inspect - and tax - public food vendors operating inside municipal pressure. And then the murders began.

#882 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2017, 01:39 PM:

Lee @866: A difference of degree, not kind, to me.

I didn't get why J&W was funny at all until I saw the Fry and Laurie version, and suddenly I saw what pictures in my head were supposed to be evoked by the words.

#883 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2017, 02:16 PM:

Elliott, #882: The character Reginald reminds me of is Freddy Legerwood from Cotillion, but with more snap. The same kind heart, and the same willingness to put himself out for his friends even though it's a terrible inconvenience.

#884 ::: Race Traitor Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2017, 02:46 PM:

Cassy 837: I'm sorry for your loss, Cassy.

#885 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2017, 03:08 PM:

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again. And then the murders began.

#886 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2017, 03:11 PM:

Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the riverbank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, 'and what is the use of a book', thought Alice, 'without pictures or conversation?' And then the murders began.

#887 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2017, 03:48 PM:

Dave Bell @ 886:

Which brings us to Christina Henry's Alice. I wanted to like that book more than I did. (For one, the editing. Oh, the editing.)

#888 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2017, 06:04 PM:

"Tonight we're going to show you eight silent ways to kill a man." And then the murders began.

#889 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2017, 07:15 PM:

Hwæt! Wé Gárdena in géardagum
þéodcyninga þrym gefrúnon·
hú ðá æþelingas ellen fremedon.
Ðá ongunnon morþres.

[probably got numbers and conjugation wrong--I'm no A-S expert.]

#890 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2017, 09:13 PM:

Condolences to Cassy B.

Andrew Plotkin @ 839: the recently-retired director of my highschool theater caused no end of amusement by announcing, during a visit to the set of As You Like It, that all of Shakespeare's comedys could be better understood by appending "Between the Sheets" to the titles.

Buddha Buck @ 846: Kage Baker, maybe? Her eternals were definitely a hard-living bunch....

I'd say the lot of you ought to be ashamed of yourselves over "And then the murders began", but I'm laughing too hard.

#891 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2017, 09:22 PM:

Lee @ 817: I'd heard the number was grossly inflated, but seeing the mess traced is fascinating. And given who first poured gasoline on the fire, one wonders what that says about the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis.

#892 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2017, 09:35 PM:

The meme is inescapable:

He was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad. And then the murders began.

#893 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2017, 10:45 PM:

"Call me, Ishmael." And then the murders began

#894 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2017, 02:20 AM:

Thoughts in Wind Farm Country

“Magic beans sold here.”
A world of white whirligigs.
Giants have children.

New Century Flicks--
Hovercars slalom through fields
racing at high speeds.

Lines of chorus girls
twirling out of step, frozen,
and dancing in time.

Distant rows look like...
a mad daisy spinning its
sharp petals like blades.

These windmills are not
iron sunflowers on stilts
sipping aquifers.

Linear trios,
up close, resemble Kali.
Powerful. Immense.

#895 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2017, 07:00 AM:

British politics has become insane.

"And then the Brexit began" seems to be replacing murders

#896 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2017, 09:56 AM:

oldster @889 -- the nice thing about conjugating verbs in Old English is that the ending for past-plural-or-dual is "-on" regardless of whether it's 1st, 2nd, or 3rd person. But "morþor" is a strong neuter noun, so you've given it a genitive singular ending instead of a plural nominative ending. (If you're curious, Peter Baker's Magic Sheet is amazing).

Hwæt! Wé Gárdena in géardagum
þéodcyninga þrym gefrúnon·
hú ðá æþelingas ellen fremedon.
Ðá ongunnon morþre.

(I'm nearing the end of a year spent studying this stuff, which makes me just enough of an expert to be wrong with confidence. I couldn't find an attested nominative form of "morþor" and UofT's Dictionary of Old English is only up to H so far, so I'm extrapolating from the attested accusative/dative/genitive forms I did find.)

There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did scan,
Was that night on the marge of Lake LeBarge
With Sam when the murders began.

#897 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2017, 10:26 AM:

Em @896--

thanks for the grammar help! So I got the verb right, but not the plural form. I stand corrected, gratefully.

I like your ballad as well--more than serviceable.

#898 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2017, 10:44 AM:

"more than serviceable"

I see what you did there.

#899 ::: Del Cotter ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2017, 10:47 AM:

When Mr. Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventy-first birthday with a party of special magnificence, there was much talk and excitement in Hobbiton. And then the Mordor began.

#900 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2017, 01:24 PM:

Marc Laidlaw's clever tweet went viral. And then the murders began.

#901 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2017, 08:56 PM:

Over at Slacktivist, Fred put up a new post with some book covers that look like stuff Jim Macdonald would write: "Augustine Frost, Calvinist Detective".

#902 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2017, 10:02 PM:

TomB@900: And then "And then the murders began" began.

#903 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2017, 03:15 AM:

P J Evans #901: That's probably a heretical suggestion.

#904 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2017, 03:17 AM:

P J Evans: But nihil obstet

#905 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2017, 08:33 AM:

dotless i @902--

And then the meta began.

#906 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2017, 11:30 AM:

The combined bar and dining room of the Malamute Hotel was famed as the first to have a working automated waitstaff, and after some initial teething troubles it stopped making headlines.

Until the unfortunate incident when a customer was accidentally treated as a dish of sauteed vegetables.

Perhaps the sauteeing of Dan McGrew by the Robot Service was inevitable.

#907 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2017, 12:53 PM:

Nihil obstat -- And then the murders continued.

(spoiler thread? for those who have finished? I feel like I need some Venn Diagrams.)

#908 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2017, 06:19 PM:

Apparently, kinetic energy can be measured in stone acres per square fortnight.

#909 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2017, 07:47 PM:

We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold. And then the murders began.

#910 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2017, 07:55 PM:

Dave Bell * #908

Frightening but true.

(It's late at night for this moose, and I actually had to stop and think about that one, but yes.)

#911 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2017, 09:16 PM:

I am facing a blank Hugo ballot and time is running out. I was *going* keep a list in 2016, but if I did, I can't find it now. Does anyone have pointers to lists of works eligible for nomination? I think there were some in the thread "I see you like science fiction", but not very many.

#912 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2017, 09:23 PM:

There's a wikia where people have put up things they liked.

Hugo Nominations Wikia.

File 770 has a page listing every series eligible for Best Series here.

#913 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2017, 04:03 AM:

Cassy B.: Sympathies for Sebastian. That's really hard, particularly at such a relatively young age. May you be able to enjoy your memories of him.

#914 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2017, 04:57 AM:

Cadbury Moose @ #910:

Similarly, a Volt could be expressed in pound acres per fortnight cubed ampere. Doesn't nearly roll off the tongue as nicely, though.

#915 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2017, 10:25 AM:


It may not be easy to say, but that conversion factor is going to be a *huge* help for all of the consumers who were previously purchasing their charge-differentials by asking for pound-acres per fortnight cubed amperes.

"Oh! You mean you want a volt! Why didn't you just say so?"

"Well, it's just less intuitive, somehow, given that I live on 40 acres and need 73 pounds per ampere for every acre, at a rate which accelerates by a fortnight every fortnight, every fortnight. So, I mean, call it a "volt" if you like, but I don't think it will catch on."

Did I get that story right? Can it be contextualized, i.e. told as a story about Jane the shepherdess or some arbitrary consumer?

#916 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2017, 11:30 AM:

oldster @ #915:

I am idly reminded of the two competing ways of looking at fuel consumptions (essentially (in imperial units) "miles per gallon" and "gallons per mile")). One is expressed in (ignoring fixed scaling factors) "per acre" and the other "acre". Or "foot square", since it probably ends up being very very small areas we're talking about here...

#917 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2017, 01:39 PM:

Can't believe nobody's done this yet:

It was Monday the 13th, the first day after Daylight Savings Time started. And then the murders began.

#918 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2017, 01:42 PM:

David @912 Thank you! This is exactly what I was looking for.

#919 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2017, 02:13 PM:

Magenta@911, David@912

There's also a thread on File 770 (started April 14, 2016) where people have posted recommendations.

There are also a few suggestions for 2016 Hugo nominations in the discussion to the "I see you like science fiction..." article on Making Light.

(You can find them in the article by searching on [2016] or [2017], although you may want to make sure that [2016] is referring to publication year, not intended Hugo award year.)

(The article itself was posted on September 4, 2016. Or you can scroll down the Previous 1000 comments until you see a comment to that article.)

Just a note. Mike Glyer posted on 3/5/17 on File 770 that he is withdrawing File 770 from contention for the 2017 Hugos.

#920 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2017, 02:37 PM:

Michael I @919, As a further note, it was File 770 specifically that was withdrawn (possibly because Vox Day nominated it, although Mike did not give a reason); Mike Glyer did *not* withdraw himself for consideration as Best Fan Writer. For what that's worth.

#921 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2017, 03:29 PM:

Ingvar @916:

There's the great confusion involving "specific impulse" (Isp) in rocket science.

Specific Impulse is defined as the total impulse (change in momentum, thus force times time) you get per unit mass of fuel you burn. This can also be expressed as the amount of thrust (force) per mass-flow (mass per time) of the rocket. It's a fundamental design parameter of a rocket engine, and is usually dictated by the fuel used.

The units traditionally used for specific impulse (in the US, at least) are pounds of thrust, and pounds of fuel per second. This leads to engineers cancelling out the pounds (force) and pounds (mass) units, and thus reporting ISP as "seconds".

The actual dimensions of ISP is velocity. It happens to be equivalent to the average velocity of the rocket exhaust, and in the "rocket equation" it is in fact used in exactly that manner, but usually with an extra factor of "g" to convert between "seconds of ISP" and the exhaust velocity.

#922 ::: Tom Whitmore has a note for a moderator or gnome ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2017, 04:14 AM:

Hey, moderators!

T's link for Ignaz Trebich Lincoln is busted for Firefox. It's easy enough to Google and find the Wikipedia page it's supposed to link to, but it would be nice if it worked the way it should. I expect it's a trivial fix.

Not sure who this should be addressed to, so I'm marking it the way I did. Thank you, whoever fixes it!

#923 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee, Straightener of Links ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2017, 05:08 PM:

Tom @922:

Fixed. It was trivial. Thanks for the heads-up.

#924 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2017, 08:30 PM:

Ingvar M @916:
The area for fuel consumption is, in my experience, best measured in (fractional) square millimeters. My car gets about 0.07 mm^2.

#925 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2017, 10:58 PM:

Dave Bell @ 908: measurements at MIT are sometimes given in the furlong-elephant-fortnight system, just because.

#926 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2017, 11:33 PM:

Related to measurement systems, I found out today that there's a unit of weight called the batman.

#927 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2017, 04:19 AM:


I still tend to think in acres of 10 square chains, because of my farming life. And, for some of the key farming operations, a fortnight was a convenient time unit. I know that I was good for about a fortnight of intense work during harvest, then I was tired, and started to make mistakes.

Acres are a unit I was used to, but from the early nineties the Hectare became the standard unit for all of the EU, and the way the (British) politicians implemented the rules that used them, it was clear that they were not used to them either.

Some of the old units almost explain themselves in their names. The Chain was the length of a surveyor's chain, sub-divided into links, It was the standard tool, and I remember using one with my father to measure the parish allotments.

We were on the bleeding edge of the farming revolution in those days, but the small farmer was going to be squeezed out. A thousand acres has gone from supporting about 20 people to supporting 1. Expensive machinery has to be bought to work for a couple of weeks per year.

One thing hasn't changed, the millers need the farmers, but it's the millers who make the money. They put the storage costs of their raw materials on their suppliers.

Farming: buy retail and sell wholesale.

#928 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2017, 04:19 AM:


I still tend to think in acres of 10 square chains, because of my farming life. And, for some of the key farming operations, a fortnight was a convenient time unit. I know that I was good for about a fortnight of intense work during harvest, then I was tired, and started to make mistakes.

Acres are a unit I was used to, but from the early nineties the Hectare became the standard unit for all of the EU, and the way the (British) politicians implemented the rules that used them, it was clear that they were not used to them either.

Some of the old units almost explain themselves in their names. The Chain was the length of a surveyor's chain, sub-divided into links, It was the standard tool, and I remember using one with my father to measure the parish allotments.

We were on the bleeding edge of the farming revolution in those days, but the small farmer was going to be squeezed out. A thousand acres has gone from supporting about 20 people to supporting 1. Expensive machinery has to be bought to work for a couple of weeks per year.

One thing hasn't changed, the millers need the farmers, but it's the millers who make the money. They put the storage costs of their raw materials on their suppliers.

Farming: buy retail and sell wholesale.

#929 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2017, 04:39 AM:

Dave Bell @ #927:

In Sweden, the old-style measure for farm-land was "the barrel land" (that is, how much land can a standard barrel of seed be used for, sensibly). It's about half a hectare

Somewhere, I may still have my write-up of Swedish measurement units from ~1750 onwards, there are some that have the same name, but where you need to know what year(s) the measurement subscribes to, to convert it to something sensible (there were, for a while, three separate inches, 24.742 mm, 29.69 mm and the "London inch" at 25.4 mm).

#930 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2017, 11:26 AM:

Dave, I saw chains occasionally in surveys at work, from as late as the 1950s. (This is in California.) It still shows up as street widths of 66 feet.
I've also run into rods (5.5 yards), but that's usually in much older documents.

#931 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2017, 11:27 AM:

Dave, I saw chains occasionally in surveys at work, from as late as the 1950s. (This is in California.) It still shows up as street widths of 66 feet.
I've also run into rods (5.5 yards), but that's usually in much older documents.

#932 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2017, 11:54 AM:

I find units of measure fascinating from a historical perspective, even as I find the riot of non-metric ones a tremendous pain to actually work with. So many of them are natural and make sense, but hard to translate either within the system that they grew up in, or across systems.

Whose foot is a foot? Leading to the French foot being longer than the English foot and then to the myth that Napoleon was short.

Areas of land wound up defined by the amount that can be worked in a day (journal, tagwerk, and even the acre). Very sensible, if somewhat variable before they got defined as specific areas.

For more units of measure than you might have ever even dreamed existed, and some interesting history, there's always Russ Rowlett's Units of Measurement page.

#933 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2017, 12:08 PM:

Interesting article in Forbes, of all places, on the racism built into our benefit/tax structure and how it explains Trump supporters apparently voting against their own interests. I was particularly struck by this passage:

Why are economically struggling blue collar voters rejecting a party that offers to expand public safety net programs? The reality is that the bulk of needy white voters are not interested in the public safety net. They want to restore their access to an older safety net, one much more generous, dignified, and stable than the public system – the one most well-employed voters still enjoy.

#934 ::: Clarentine ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2017, 12:43 PM:

I think the Dutch vote is today - anyone have an idea when the results ought to be known?

#935 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2017, 12:50 PM:

Clarentine @934:

The Dutch government has moved all voting and counting back to paper (except some spreadsheets on air-gapped computers).

Given that it's an untried system, we're not really sure when the results will be known. And remember that because Dutch governments are always coalitions, and there is an unprecedented number of parties this year, it may be some time after the results are known that we know what the government will be like.

#936 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2017, 05:30 PM:

C. Wingate @ 933--

That article is astounding!

Or rather--it's content is not so astounding, since this is the sort of thing that Ta-Nehisi Coates has been saying for a long time.

But the fact that it got published in Forbes, boggles the mind!

Great article, and I highly recommend it.

My only concern is that Forbes readers will draw the wrong lesson from it: not that we should extend "socialism for white people" to the rest of the nation, but rather that we should slash every remaining shred of the social safety net, in the interests of removing anything that can be called "socialism".

#937 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2017, 05:31 PM:

C. Wingate, #933: Thank you for that link! It comes up very aptly in that I've been trying to figure out how to explain to Some People that everybody pays for everybody else's health care, not just them paying for people on Obamacare. And that article provides the explanation I need.

Forbes has been running quite a few really stellar articles over the last few years. I used to think of them as Republican big-business shills, but maybe they've had a change of management or something. I'm considering subscribing.

#938 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2017, 09:17 PM:

Utterly random typo-nitpick: the top entry in TNH's "Particles" credits an article to "John Holmbo", which should be "John Holbo".

#939 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2017, 06:11 AM:

I'll be very interested in hearing Abi's take on the results of the Dutch election. In the meantime, there's an interesting discussion of the election (both before and after the results came in) on Crooked Timber, and real-time results are here (in Dutch, but you can use the Crooked Timber discussion to see what party's what).

It looks like Geert Wilders' anti-immigrant PVV party didn't get the big win they hoped for, though they still gained some seats. The largest party, the right-of-center VVD, is still the largest, albeit with fewer seats than before. There were notable gains for "Christian Democrats" (CDA), which I gather is on the liberal side of the spectrum, along with D66 (described as "progressive liberals") and GL (described as "green left"); on the other hand, their PvDA "labour" party lost big, possibly for similar reasons that British Labour lost support after Blair's ascendancy.

Altogether, it looks like 13 parties won seats, and any majority coalition would have to include at least 4 parties. It's not clear at this point how that coalition will form, but it looks at this point that the anti-immigrant parties are not in control.

That's how it looks to a non-Dutch-speaking outsider, at least. I look forward to hearing more from Abi or others who actually have some knowledge of the workings of Dutch politics.

#940 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2017, 10:39 AM:

AKiCiML: Dog door terminology issue.

Several years ago, I was investigating the possibility of making my dogs transportationally independent, in/out.

At that time, simple google searches turned up airlock-style units: two doors and a box between, so that there's never a straight open-door passage from my warmly heated home to the ice planet we call Chicago winters (or, vice versa, in summer). They were ubiquitous.

Now I can only find single-plastic-flap nonsense, no matter what search terms I use. Does anyone know what terms I should look under to find the former designs?

#941 ::: Clarentine ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2017, 11:52 AM:

Elliott @940 - I searched "dog door airlock" and got several hits - maybe this is what you're after?

#942 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2017, 08:47 PM:

THank you, but that's still just one flap; when it is open, air is flowing directly.

The ones I saw were like a box with a door on each end, meant to be mounted through a wall or window.

#943 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2017, 10:57 PM:

Elliott - I found several "dual flap" and "2 flap" pet doors, but they don't seem to be set up with much distance between them. 2 flaps, yes, but they're both open at the same time as the pet pushes through.

Could you buy two 1-flap things and build your own box?

#944 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2017, 10:30 AM:

I think they got a bad name from the one that was marketed under the brand name,

"I'm sorry, Dog, I'm afraid I can't do that".

#945 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2017, 04:42 PM:

"It was a bright, cold, day in April. And then the murders began."

#946 ::: Race Traitor Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2017, 05:05 PM:

Apropos of nothing, and in the realm of research that doesn't take you where you thought it would...I was thinking (for reasons I cannot now recall) about the song from Kismet where they sing about Virtue ("Virtue is the foe of depravity! Barricade to Hell's dark cavity" etc.). I couldn't find it anywhere, until I looked for it under its real title, "Rahadlakum."

I wondered whether 'Rahadlakum' was a word they made up for the show (they proclaim that "Virtue is Rahadlakum," and it's the thing that draws the lord back to his handmaiden's embrace), so I looked into that.

It means Turkish Delight. No kidding. The starch-jelly candy kind. For reals. The word is from Arabic rāḥat al-ḥulqūm, "comfort of the throat." These days, we use Hall's for that purpose, but never mind.

If you don't see why I find this hilarious, listen to the song. Personally I think the writers were getting around the censors of the time.

#947 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2017, 06:46 PM:

Sometimes Turkish Delight had marijuana in it as well....

#948 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2017, 11:30 PM:

#946 ::: Race Traitor Xopher

Rahadlakum had me at the big thumping big band accompaniment. All I want is for it to be part of a production of The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.

#949 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2017, 12:00 AM:

Which makes me think about NARNIA: THE MUSICAL, which surely must exist in some alternate world....

#950 ::: Race Traitor Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2017, 12:09 AM:

Nancy 948: I love it! If only we could get the late Joan Diener to play the White Witch.

#951 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2017, 02:42 AM:

From the Department of Ow, My Brain Hurts:

The Astonishing Simplicity of Everything

Very cool, notwithstanding the fact that I actually get maybe 10% of what he's saying....

#952 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2017, 06:49 AM:

Well, that's it.

The Hugo Nominations have closed.

I didn't nominate anything, I haven't seen or read anything.

Hopefully there are some good nominations, and some sort of voting package, but I wonder if I am in the middle of gafiating.

I am wondering if there is going to be a future. The Politics, English and American, since last summer have been insane. My pension is within sight, but this lot couldn't run the proverbial piss-up in a brewery.

This isn't a Wyndhamesque cosy catastrophe. Our glorious leaders want to kill us. We're of no use to them.

#953 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2017, 11:51 AM:

Not Recommended for Actual Consumption:
Peep noodle soup

Teresa, you might like the pickled Meyer lemons from a couple of months ago: lemons, a bay leaf, salt, and water.

#954 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2017, 01:32 PM:

Dave Bell @ 927: I'd heard of chains, but had never seen one (even though I grew up far enough out from DC that roads and lands were often being remeasured for new uses) until visiting the Victoria (AU state) Museum. It makes sense in historical terms (cordage would change size and steel measuring tapes were in the future) but feels removed -- count me among today's 10,000, as I hadn't realized that the chain was sized to the acre (accounting for its odd length).

Ingvar M @ 929: what kind of seed? Or were smaller seeds assumed to produce smaller plants and therefore sown more densely?

C. Wingate @ 933 / oldster @ 936: Forbes can be surprisingly sensible on occasion; when I went to a local car museum (Larz Anderson) for an exhibit of dead marks, the Saturn section had a blowup of a Forbes article ripping GM a new one for being intolerant of a new, collaborative management style and so tearing down the successful new brand. The article in itself has interesting resonances; I wonder how conscious of "white welfare" Pohl & Kornbluth were when they wrote Gladiator at Law (where benefits were more explicitly tied to a job than in Space Merchants).

oldster @ 944: aauugghh! (and flashbacks to the 1986 Worldcon.)

#955 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2017, 04:09 PM:

CHip @ 954

I never knew why a Chain was 22 yards, until I realised an Acre was ten square chains, and a furlong was 10 Chains long, and was the distance a horse could pull a plough without a break. And an acre was reckoned as a day's work for a plough. Which meant that it varied, depending on the land. It wasn't used for cultivated land in the Domesday book.

That's about ten miles of furrow. My late father did some horse plowing, and there was a lot more time spent on the horse maintenance than there would be for a tractor, but that does sound plausible to me.

#956 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2017, 06:31 PM:

Dave Bell @955: I did not know that, and it's an amazingly cool insight. Thank you!

#957 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2017, 06:57 PM:

2017 does it again: Chuck Berry, at 90. Roll over, Beethoven, and tell Tchaikovsky the news!

#958 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2017, 07:12 PM:

I have an Open Thread request for help.

I have worked for many years as the personal care aide to a research chemistry professor who uses a power wheelchair. She has been invited to present at the prestigious American Chemical Society conference this April.

Due to her physical disabilities, she needs to travel with an aide (me) to help with her daily needs.

While in the past, the university has paid the costs to have an aide travel with her, as a reasonable accommodation, this year, they have only given her enough to cover her costs as if she wasn't disabled (one person traveling, a cheaper hotel on the non-accessible shuttle line rather than one that she could reach the conference from in her wheelchair, etc.)

As a personal care aide, I am not paid enough to cover my costs to travel with her.

So I have set up a gofundme campaign, in hopes of raising enough to cover the additional costs of the accommodations she needs to travel for business as a disabled research professor.

If anyone here can afford to donate even a little, it would be much appreciated. In addition, it would help if you could share the link through your social media, so we can hopefully reach more people who might help a little.

Thanks, Ursula

#959 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2017, 10:47 PM:

Tom Whitmore @949: I was in a Narnia musical when I was doing youth theater as a kid. I can't remember any details about the composer or librettist, but I do remember that there were some very cool harmonies in the song "Deep Magic". Also that the directors were pissed at the guy playing Aslan because he was old enough to be Too Cool To Show Up On Time.

#960 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2017, 11:58 PM:

CHip, Dave Bell:

People of the cricket-speaking world may be more familiar with chains -- a chain is the length of a cricket pitch.

#961 ::: Race Traitor Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2017, 03:20 PM:

shadowsong 959: Also that the directors were pissed at the guy playing Aslan because he was old enough to be Too Cool To Show Up On Time.

Method acting. IIRC characters in those books spend a lot of time wondering when Aslan is going to show up and save the day.

#962 ::: Singing Wren ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2017, 03:46 PM:

Dave Bell and others, re: chains:

My dad is a land surveyor - more or less retired these days, unless there's a job hat particularly interests him. I remember him showing my brother and myself his various tools when we were kids in the eighties. In addition to the plumb bob, the tripod, and the transit, he also carried a chain. By this point, the chain was no longer an actual chain, but rather a folding wooden ruler. I wish I had thought to ask if the size of the ruler segments was related to the size of the links from the days when the surveyor's chain was an actual chain.

#963 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2017, 07:17 PM:

Update on the new cats, after 2-3 weeks. (They're about 7 years old, and jointly named after Batman.)

Wayne, the blind one, is adapting pretty well. He's learned his way around downstairs, and has made a couple of trips upstairs (where our bedroom is) but isn't there regularly. I've moved my computer downstairs so I'm around him more, and my MidAmerican computer bag now has lots of cat fur on it. He prefers to sleep in enclosed spaces, so either his carrier or cardboard boxes. He recently found the bag of old catnip his brother discovered, shredded it and had a great time.

Bruce turns out to be a very cuddly cat, and spends much of his time on the bed with my wife or else sleeping in the back of the bedroom closet. He does throw up a bit, mainly if he eats dry food fast, so he got to be the first one to get a vet visit. Turns out he has a problem called "megacolon", where the colon gets distended from chronic constipation, so he got a couple days of treatment at the vet, needs a low-residue wet-food diet (already gets that plus some dry), and he'll need meds twice daily for a while. (Sigh, though at least he's usually calm enough it should be possible to do.) Currently, he blames me for the vet trip, since I'm the one who dragged him there and back, so when we got home he cuddled Laura and said hi to Wayne, but hissed at me a few times and is currently hiding in the closet. Hopefully he'll calm down enough to dose him tonight.

#964 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2017, 11:53 PM:

HLN: Local woman is going to the Humane Society on Tuesday to pick up her new cat, a 2-year-old gray-and-white tuxedo shorthair. Said cat rejoices in the shelter name "Catnip Everdeen". Needless to say, said cat will be renamed posthaste...

Current top contender for her new name is "Cordelia", but this reporter wishes to make it clear that the final decision has not yet been ratified.

It is hoped that New Cat will be a good sister/playmate/friend to Dante, who is still missing his big brother.

#965 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2017, 11:55 PM:

<kicking the server>

#966 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2017, 03:04 AM:

There's been a tab lurking in my browser for strange aeons (probably a week, but long enough I've forgotten where I got it) that looks like the sort of thing I'd have seen from TNH or Ben Wolfe or some other usual suspect, but my Twitter-fu isn't finding it, probably because Some Conspiracy Hid It or it's something Man Was Not Meant To Know.

Anyway, a lovely Lovecraftian article on things to do with Buddha's Hand, the Citron Of Tentacles.

#967 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2017, 03:54 AM:

What? "Catnip Everdeen" is a great name! (Says the owner of a guinea pig named Donkey.)

#968 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2017, 03:56 AM:

Late to the party, but I have to do it, if only so Scaramouche doesn't hog all the glory:

"He whom they called the Tavern Knight laughed an evil laugh—such a laugh as might fall from the lips of Satan in a sardonic moment. Then the murders began."

#969 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2017, 04:49 AM:

CHip @ #954:

Not (as far as I'm aware) specified, so presumably one (or all) of "oats", "wheat", "rye", and/or "barley".

[ freshly translated from Swedish, taking the first two sentences, since it would be a bit too jarring otherwise ]

Once upon a time there was a boy. Fourteen years old, tall and thin, with linen hair. Then the murders began.

#970 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2017, 05:05 AM:

me @ #969:

I probably should've translated that as "flax-coloured" or, possibly, "straw blond". "Linien haired" looks like it only makes sense if you're sufficiently fluent in Swedish.

#971 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2017, 08:21 AM:

Ingvar: In US English, there is "flaxen" hair, which is flowing, straight, and light golden, and there are kids who are "towheads," after the short wispy crap parts of the flax left over after you rett it. Towheads have unmanageable, sticky-uppy, nearly white-blond hair.

(I was so geeked out to find out that "towheaded", which was a word I knew from lots of kidfic, was a textile reference)

#972 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2017, 08:41 AM:

I'm kicking around alpha testing for a structured-doodling dice game, and I've hit a conceptual wall.

One die has shapes, the other die says what you do with them. There are currently twelve states and four actions (because blank dice), though the shapes could be split into a d6 and a d8 (toss out the one you don't want).

The four actions are, currently,
"fill" (use as texture over an area),
"iterate" (use that shape in some kind of pattern or fractal, repeating an action algorithmically),
"echo" (follow an existing line in the piece with that shape in whatever size/s), and
"concentric" (do it bigger and bigger on itself).

Which is fine for most of the shapes. But there's an x and a # (well, grid/crosshatch of infinite breadth), and I'm damned if I can figure out how to echo or concentric them.

#973 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2017, 09:56 AM:

Bill Stewart at 966: I hadn't seen that. It's excellent. I've had a harder time finding Buddha's Hand citrons since moving back to the east coast, but I'm very fond of them. Maybe next citrus season, I'll have to acquire some for my own experiments with tentacular citrus.

#974 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2017, 09:58 AM:

Elliott Mason @972

For the concentric #, wouldn't the next smaller size fill the center square of the grid? Or is that your fractal?

#975 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2017, 10:07 AM:


Naomi: Yes, there is overlap among the actions. MOst of them could also be Iterate.

This may not be a flaw. Interpreting it however you want to is part of the game.

I could concentric an X by adding chevrons on all sides outward, but I'm not sure if that's still X. Probably is.

#976 ::: Tony Zbaraschuk ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2017, 10:24 AM:

In the beginning God created heaven and earth. And then the murders began.

#977 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2017, 10:38 AM:

Elliott @975, @972.

I don't know what your other shapes are, but it seems to me that the difficulties with X and # are that they are not simple shapes. The saying os "X marks the spot", because X makes one think of a point, not an area. Similarly, the octothorpe is self-intersecting, which makes some of your actions hard to understand.

Is it necessary for the game to define how to echo and concentric them? Or can that be left up to the interpretation of the artist?

If pressed, I can think of different interpretations of "echo" and "concentric" for these "shapes" if they came up in the context of an actual work. And different works might call for different interpretations.

For instance, given an "echo X" die roll, I might make a series of small x's crossing out a line in the work. I might even simply erase that line (Xing it out, as it were). To concentric an X, I might do chevrons, or I might draw an outline around the X, either loosely (so blank canvas appears between the X and it's concentric, or tightly (so the X fills the X outline, possibly in a different color).

If, as you say "Interpreting it however you want to is part of the game", then you don't have to be too specific.

#978 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2017, 11:00 AM:

Huh. Yeah.

We have it out to alpha-testers; I've played it a few times with my kid and ironed out some obvious "WOW that's broken I hadn't thought of that" problems.

(if anyone else wants to try and you've got your own blank polyhedral dice, or an electronic facsimile, gmail me via 2ells2tees)

#979 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2017, 11:03 AM:

There is also the all-important "If you dont' like the shape, reroll" option.

#980 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2017, 11:42 AM:

Elliott Mason @ #multiple:

One of the things that occur to me is to have an action that means "roll another shape, add the first (second) shape multiple times, to form the second (first) shape". I hope that makes as much sense outside of my head as it does inside...

#981 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2017, 12:13 PM:

Yesterday, CBC Radio's national Sunday-morning show played a piece by musical satirist and comedian Randy Rainbow: "Putin and the Ritz". (Trump is orange. And round and flaky.) I went to his YouTube channel and found lots more, such as "Fact Checker, Fact Checker". Lovely stuff.

#982 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2017, 01:03 PM:

Note that Open Thread 217* is now open.

* I initially mistyped** 2017.

** I tried to misspell*** "misstyped."

*** Monday morning, you say?

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