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March 20, 2017

Open Thread 217
Posted by Teresa at 09:17 AM * 1128 comments

Allow me to observe that bluegrass musicians will cover anything.

Comments on Open Thread 217:
#1 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2017, 10:31 AM:

I really, really love this album:

#2 ::: Elliott Mason speaks to gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2017, 10:35 AM:

Also, methinks a digit is missing from the thread number?

#3 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2017, 11:55 AM:

Back home after a week in London, then a day in NY.

Really glad I took the day off from work. Sooo many bills and emails and real-mails.

#4 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2017, 11:55 AM:

Oh for pete's sake, how did that happen?

It's fixed now.

#5 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2017, 11:55 AM:

Not Stefan. He's fine the way he is.

#6 ::: Phil Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2017, 12:33 PM:

While we're discussing great - or, at least, suitably mind-bending - bluegrass covers, please allow me to plug Japanese duo Petty Booka and their timeless rendition of "Material Girl", from their 1999 album Sweetheart of the Radio. They also provide a suitably twanged-out rendition of "Proud Mary" on the same album, but to my mind it lacks the sheer impact of hearing J-pop bluegrass Madonna.

#7 ::: Fred ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2017, 12:48 PM:


#8 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2017, 01:01 PM:

breadcrumbs back to Open Thread 216.

#9 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2017, 01:10 PM:

Yes, bluegrass musicians will play anything. I saw The Del McCoury band in the Tractor in Ballard (Seattle) back when I was going to shows, and I was blown away by how smooth and professional they were compared to the other bands that I'd been sing at the time.

As for covers, These two David Byrne mixes cover a lot of ground.

Tons of Beatles Covers.

This one has a chicha version of 'Another One Bites the Dust', Latin torch song versions of Early Madonna, Johnny Cash doing 'Hurt', and Petra Haden doing 'Under Pressure'. A Capella. (herself. doing all the parts, using a multitrack): Covers, Oct 2013

(and the Petra Haden is also available on it's own here)

#10 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2017, 02:45 PM:

Confirming recommendation for Randy Rainbow's satirical songs. Really well done.

#11 ::: cleek ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2017, 03:06 PM:

Doc Watson frequently included the Moody Blues' 'Nights In White Satin' in his sets.

Nickle Creek used to do Britney Spears' 'Toxic'.

i attended Merlefest one year where there was an all-star bluegrass show where they duplicated all of Led Zeppelin II.

i once had the notion to gather up some of my pickin' friends and do a bluegrass cover of Pink Floyd's 'Fearless'. but when i checked YouTube - yup, been done.

#12 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2017, 03:53 PM:

Personal open threadiness:

I went off to lunch by myself today after a midday doctor appointment, and took along a notebook and some work papers. Opening the notebook to look for some scratch paper, I found a bunch of notes I wrote to my dad the last few days of his life--he had gone deaf (cancer had invaded his good ear, the other was deaf from noise exposure long ago), so all our communications were by me writing notes to him and him reading them. (I could shout and be heard, more-or-less, for very simple things. But that didn't work for anything much more complicated than "Hello!")

It hit me hard. It's been about a year now since he died. By the end, death was probably a relief--his body was visibly failing from the cancer, he was in constant pain, nauseated and constipated from the pain medicine (and on scary doses of opiods--I suspect the dose he was on would have killed me, since he'd had several months to build up increasing tolerance and he was in a lot of pain from the cancer), and on oxygen because he was having trouble breathing (probably metastases in the lungs, but there was plenty else going wrong by then).

When I got to his house on my final visit, he was having trouble breathing and asked to use my inhaler. I took him to the doctor the next day (I found the note where I told him I had called his doctor and they would work him in), and after an exam and an X-ray, he wound up in the hospital. I also found the note where I told him that the doctor was asking about a DNR. I remember being impressed that the doctor managed to communicate with him, be absolutely clear on what Dad wanted done (and that it was his choice, not mine or anyone else's), and then signed off on the DNR.

We got him released to hospice in his home after a few days (I found the note where I told him we were getting him back home). When I pointed out his that most of his long list of medicines didn't make any sense anymore, the hospice doctor took him off everything but painkillers, laxatives, and antinausea medicine. I can't evaluate much of his medical care independently, but the hospice nurse certainly seemed like she was interested in making sure he was comfortable and letting him die on his own terms. She asked if he wanted to talk to their chaplain (he didn't), told me what to expect (including needing to move him to a nursing home soon), warned me about getting rid of the cigarette lighters so he didn't set himself on fire once he was on oxygen, etc. (Long-term smokers will light a cigarette without even thinking about it.)

After about a week at home, we had to move him to a nursing home. The final descent was abrupt. His last day at home, his lawyer (also an old friend) came out and helped him with some final paperwork, and also just sat and talked with him one last time. Within a couple days of getting him to the nursing home, he basically lost consciousness until the end.

Rereading those notes brought the whole experience back. It's strange to have a memory that's simultaneously awful and precious--I hated living through all that, but wouldn't trade it for anything.

#13 ::: J Homes ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2017, 03:57 PM:

Hamilton County Bluegrass Band, for many years New Zealand's leading bluegrass band, did a cover of "God Defend New Zealand". I do not have a link handy.

Instrumental only, but vastly more uplifting than the dirge-like original.

J Homes

#14 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2017, 04:25 PM:

albatross @12:

It's been nearly a year already? Wow. You've been on my list for candles and prayers since he passed.

Hard to come on a reminder like that, though, however dear.

#15 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2017, 05:23 PM:

I feel utterly compelled to post this particular bluegrass cover.

With bonus cute kids sitting next to their dad as he plays. One, in a wheelchair, happy-flaps repeatedly.

#16 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2017, 05:25 PM:

Poor Man's Whiskey, presumably inspired by the Austin Lounge Lizards cover of DSOTM, has an entire album called "Dark Side Of the Moonshine".

#17 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2017, 05:27 PM:

217 is 7 x 31--nice pair of primes.

Out here in the sticks there is an excellent local band that plays bars, bar mitzvahs, and other venues, bar none. They play oldies of all sorts, and anything you can hum to them.
They call themselves "The Tarps," because they cover anything.

#18 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2017, 05:55 PM:

albatross #12: *Hug*

#19 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2017, 06:30 PM:

albatross, #12: Hearing, witnessing.

#20 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2017, 06:52 PM:

albatross@12: Witnessing, and holding you in the light.

Reading your note brought back some memories of my own, simultaneously painful and cheering, which I'm happy to sit with right now.

#21 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2017, 06:57 PM:

bluegrass musicians will cover anything

I was immediately reminded of this definition of cover:

a : to copulate with (a female animal) a horse covers a mare

#23 ::: Randall ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2017, 09:31 PM:

And yet, not one mention of Luthor Wright and the Wrongs' cover of the entire album of Pink Floyd's the Wall?

#24 ::: Bonnie McDaniel ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2017, 09:56 PM:

"Senor" comes from an entire album Tim O'Brien put out of Dylan covers, Red on Blonde. It's quite good.

#25 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2017, 11:42 PM:

albatross @12: Wow. Amazing story. Thank you for sharing it.

#26 ::: elise matthesen ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2017, 11:45 PM:

Randall @23: Oh, good, another Luther Wright and the Wrongs appreciator! Rebuild the Wall is a splendiferous thing. Gotta love the haybales-as-bricks album cover.

#27 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2017, 11:59 PM:

Thunderstruck by Steve'N'Seagulls.

#28 ::: Sam Smith ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2017, 12:15 AM:

I see your covers and raise you

#29 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2017, 03:50 AM:

And then there's Hayseed Dixie.

#30 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2017, 04:59 AM:

Many happy returns, Teresa!

#31 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2017, 07:01 AM:

The 3rd Brandenburg:
1st movement, not exactly bluegrass
3rd movement, exactly bluegrass
(Where's the second movement? Well, you play whatever want for the second movement.)

#32 ::: C. Wingate says hello to the gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2017, 07:27 AM:

Let my youtubes go....

#33 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2017, 07:51 AM:

...and I think I've posted this before, but in my opinion this is one of the most awesome covers of anything by anyone.

#34 ::: Handslive ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2017, 09:26 AM:

That's a good one, Sam, but I like their cover of Put a Ring on It just a little better.

#35 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2017, 10:24 AM:

abi, Fragano, Lee, dotless i, Jacque, and anyone else I missed: Thank you.

#36 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2017, 12:48 PM:

Here is a cover I first encountered in Hawai'i:

Country Roads

My reaction: They've got FILK here!

#37 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2017, 12:54 PM:

AKICML, domestic wildlife version: So we've had a wicker loveseat on our front porch for the last seven years, with big old puffy tufted cushion in it. A week or two ago, we noticed that the cushion, which was already looking a bit ratty and very sun-faded, had suffered depredation by squirrel, who had dug a hole in it and removed much stuffing. We, in our innocence, believed that was the end of the matter and got a new cushion with no puffiness. Yesterday I headed out for the mail and noticed a whacking great big hole in the new cushion. (Fortunately not all that expensive, but still...)

Question: most of the squirrel-repelling stuff seems to be intended to keep them out of your garden, which is not what's going on here [*]. What can I put on a tile porch floor or onto the plastic wicker or the cushion? All the things I see recommended involve pepper spray or other things that people don't want to sit on or track into the house.

[*] Frankly, we don't care what happens in the garden as long as Evil Neighborhood Cat doesn't eat the birds that like to play in the fountain.

#38 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2017, 02:34 PM:

C. Wingate, #31: Whoa. Found the first guy's album on Amazon, but I'm not seeing the Brandenburg on any of the Punch Brothers albums. Do you know if it's available anywhere?

Both of those are stellar examples of the art of arrangement! (Side note: I played the first movement of Brandenburg 3 in my high-school orchestra, and I was amused by the way my ear still automatically follows the cello line.)

#39 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2017, 03:39 PM:

Felicitous natal anniversary, Teresa!

#41 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2017, 05:21 PM:

For years, I simply thought this *was* a bluegrass song, and a damn fine one.
Only later did I learn that it was originally a soul song from the Stax label, covered by its author William Bell and more famously by Otis Redding.

The band, "Emerson's Old Timey Custard Sucking Band," played around Baltimore in the early '70s. No idea what happened to them.

#42 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2017, 05:25 PM:

Which reminds me that there is another thread on some other version of this blog right now, reflecting on the way that country and bluegrass has appropriated African American music since the beginning.

#43 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2017, 05:46 PM:

Joann @37: The only thing I can suggest is getting or making a cover for the cushion that is unchewable.

If it wouldn't poke your butt, you could put a thin layer of steel wool between the cushion and the cover -- biting steel wool is VERY PAINFUL.

#44 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2017, 05:54 PM:

Ska bands are also famous for covering damn near anything.

(apologies to the gnomes in advance. Chocolate chip cookie?)

#45 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2017, 06:02 PM:

(I will admit that results vary greatly, mostly on the downside.)

#46 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2017, 06:14 PM:

Happy Birthday, Teresa!

#47 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2017, 06:32 PM:

Happy Birthday, Teresa!

Unrelated: I just saw a movie called The Dressmaker. It's very odd and somewhat satisfying. Anyone care to recommend a peculiar movie?

#48 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2017, 06:35 PM:

Elliott Mason #43:

Sounds like I should be investing in those godsawful plastic or vinyl sun pads? Ick, but whatever it takes, I guess, up to and including just the wicker to sit on. (So far they've ignored the chairs with the flat cushions, although acorns tell me they've been on them.)

#49 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2017, 07:15 PM:

Happy Birthday Teresa!

#50 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2017, 07:48 PM:

I'm having fridge-logic issues with the new R-rated Wolverine movie, Logan. It may not be worth a spoiler-thread of its own, but please indulge me here.

Vs Ybtna jnf tvira gur jebat xvaq bs cvyyf, ubj pbzr gur cvyyf pbagvahrq gb jbex gb fhccerff Cebsrffbe K'f frvmherf naljnl?

Nsgre gurve ubzr va Zrkvpb vf vainqrq, gur punenpgref qevir njnl va n yvzbhfvar. Ng fbzr fhofrdhrag cbvag (gur tnf fgngvba? gur pnfvab ubgry?) gurl ner va gur Havgrq Fgngrf. Gur zbivr qbrf abg rkcynva ubj Ybtna trgf npebff gur obeqre va n ohyyrg-jenpxrq pne, juvpu, V'q rkcrpg, zvtug nebhfr gur fhfcvpvba bs n obeqre thneq, naq jvgu Nzrevpn'f Zbfg Jnagrq Gryrcngu va gur onpx frng.

Tvira gur erfbheprf gurl nccneragyl unir, jul qvq gur onq thlf tvir hc punfvat gur tbbq thlf nsgre gur genva fprar? Va fcrrqvat guebhtu n qrfreg jnfgrynaq, gung pne vf cebonoyl envfvat n pybhq bs qhfg ivfvoyr n ybat jnl bss. V'q rkcrpg gurz gb unir pnhtug hc jvgu gur tbbq thlf fbba nsgre, engure guna znal qnlf yngre.

Jul qvq Cebsrffbe K vafvfg ba fgnlvat sbe qvaare, zhpu yrff bireavtug, jura ur xarj gung gur shtvgvirf jbhyq or chggvat gur ubfg snzvyl ng evfx sebz onq thlf? Naq nyfb ng evfx bs n envq sebz ynj rasbepref, jub va gur jnxr bs gur vapvqrag ng gur ubgry, zhfg fheryl or pbzovat gur pbhagelfvqr va frnepu bs uvz (gubhtu guvf arire orpbzrf n cybg cbvag)?

Jura Ynhen gnxrf bire gur gnfx bs qevivat gur Oebapb, fubhyqa'g fur ng yrnfg fuvsg gur frng sbejneq?

Ubj qvq npphengr pbbeqvangrf sbe gur eraqrmibhf cbvag svaq gurve jnl vagb gur pbzvp obbx?

Vs gur punenpgref fvzcyl nterrq gb zrrg ng pbzcyrgryl neovgenel pbbeqvangrf gurl bognvarq sebz n pbzvp obbx, ubj qvq gurl xabj gung gurer jbhyq or n pbzsbegnoyr ohg nccneragyl nonaqbarq sver-gbjre pnzc gurer? Be jnf vgf cerfrapr zreryl n yhpxl pbvapvqrapr?

Fnl, jnf gung sver pnzc ERNYYL nonaqbarq? Jung orpnzr bs gur sberfg enatref? Fynhtugrerq ol zhgnag puvyqera, creuncf?

Rirelobql jnagf gb trg gb Pnanqn. Jul jbhyq Pnanqn or fnsre guna Zrkvpb be gur H.F.? Ner gurer ab oynpx FHIf, uryvpbcgref, svernezf, be ehguyrff zrepranevrf ninvynoyr sbe chepunfr va Pnanqn?

Isn't it about time for a movie where the sinister ruthless mercenaries drive around in gaily-colored SUVs?

(I note that "black" in Rot13 becumes "oynpx," which is kinda close to "onyx," but not really.)

Qvq gur fvavfgre fpvragvfg trg xvyyrq va gur svany fubbgbhg? Znlor V zvffrq fbzrguvat. V qba'g erpnyy frrvat uvz trg njnl, gubhtu.

Thanks, it's good to get that off my chest.

#51 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2017, 07:50 PM:

OK, in the course of looking around for stuff for this thread, I have found a whole new level of awesome:

Apparently you can cover anything on the gayageum.

#52 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2017, 08:21 PM:

Bill Higgins @51:

In re Ynhen gnxrf bire gur gnfx bs qevivat gur Oebapb, I would like to note that pnabavpnyyl Ybtna vf dhvgr fubeg, jryy vagb gur nirentr-srznyr urvtug enatr, be rira vagb vgf ybjre crepragvyrf.

Haven't seen the movie. Just noting.

#53 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2017, 08:37 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @ #47:

For some reason, I thought first of Nabbie no koi, or "Nabbie's Love", a Japanese movie my brother caught once on the TV channel that shows the foreign movies and spent ages trying to find a home video version to throw money at. (I see it's now available on Bluray with English subtitles. I'll have to see if he knows.) It's set on a small island off the coast of Japan, and was actually filmed there, with the co-operation of the local population; there's a plot, but on one level it's as much about getting a record of the island's lifestyle and traditions (and the ways they've changed to accommodate, or refused to change to accommodate, modern times).

Of a more recent vintage, and presumably easier to find, there's Hunt for the Wilderpeople. It's in English, though depending on how good your ear is at tuning to a New Zealand accent, you might find yourself wishing it had subtitles too.

#54 ::: Quercus ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2017, 09:25 PM:

Sandy @ 46 beat me to posting the Ska/Pink Floyd cover (and she's right about sometimes better than others: that band's version of "Sunshine of your Love" isn't nearly as good)

For bluegrass, how about this one (which popped up as I watched one of Teresa's)

#55 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2017, 09:30 PM:

How about Rocket Man?

#56 ::: Errolwi ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2017, 09:40 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz, Paul A @53
Wilderpeople: Presumably Sam Neill enjoyed acting with a Kiwi accent for a change.
Are sub-titles for the deaf are available via standard delivery methods? There is a meta-layer of references that you need to be a Kiwi to get, but I think an excellent movie even if you miss that aspect.

#57 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2017, 10:54 PM:

Bill Higgins @50: "Onyx" in rot-13 resolves to "balk," which may be useful if I ever have to discuss baseball spoilers here.


#58 ::: Race Traitor Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2017, 11:01 PM:

Happy Birthday, Teresa Nana Lankara Bhushite!

#59 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2017, 12:06 AM:

There were a few moments in Logan that were, umm, noncanonical and a few that were also probably non-self-consistent.

Fridge Logic:

Gurfr ner zl engvbanyvmngvbaf.

Cebs. K jnagrq gb fgnl jvgu gur snzvyl orpnhfr ur jnagrq gb fubj Ynhen jung n erny snzvyl jnf yvxr. Orpnhfr ur jnf byq naq gverq. Orpnhfr ur gubhtug ur unq zber gvzr, gurl jrer snegure nurnq. Orpnhfr ur sbetbg ubj guvatf tb jura Ybtna'f bhg ba uvf bja.

Jbyivr qvq trg n erny obggyr bs erny cvyyf, ohg gung jnfa'g jung Pnyvona jnf fubjvat uvz. Gurer jnf n fjvgpu va gurer.

Cebs K znl unir unq n yvggyr ovg bs ohvyg-hc gbyrenapr gb gur cvyyf; ur'f gur zbfg cbjreshy cflpuvp va gur jbeyq naq rira vs ur'f 99% fhccerffrq ur'f tbg n srj cneybe gevpxf. Gung zvtug rkcynva gur Fcrrq bs Cybg punfr. (V nyfb unq gur vzcerffvba gung gur genva va dhrfgvba jnf uhaqerqf bs pnef ybat naq gbbx, yvxr, unys na ubhe gb cnff.)

V guvax nyy gur aba-zhgnag vaabprag olfgnaqref, gur ivpgvzf, jrer abajuvgr; V nz cerggl fher gung jnf abg nppvqragny sbe rvgure gur qverpgbe be gur ivyynvaf.

V qba'g unir nal ernfba jul gur sver gbjre jnf erny, jul gur Pnanqvna obeqre jnf fnsr (Nycun Syvtug znlor?), jul gur TZB'f jbexrq gur jnl gurl qvq, jul nqnznagvhz vf n fybj cbvfba.

The main point, for me, was that this was a movie about old age. Wolverine was like 190, Charles was a nonagenarian, and it showed. The way every morning there was the sort of mental check, can I move this body part ... I'm starting to recognize that.

#60 ::: Quill ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2017, 09:11 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz @ #47: Lifepod--slightly dark sci-fi/suspense. Or American Dreamer, which does romantic comedy in a way that miraculously doesn't make me want to throw anything at the TV.

#61 ::: john, who is incognito and definitely not at work ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2017, 10:01 AM:

Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey @ 50, Sandy B. @ 59:

Gur ovg jvgu gur snzvyl obgurerq zr n ybg; vg frrzrq yvxr fhpu n curabzranyyl onq vqrn gb fgnl jvgu gurz gung V jnf nccnyyrq naq znqr guvf vaibyhagnel fpbssvat abvfr jura Cebsrffbe K fnvq gurl'q or unccl gb fgnl sbe qvaare.

#62 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2017, 10:41 AM:

@Quill no. 60, Nancy Lebovitz no. 47: Lifepod is IMO one of the best movies the whatever-the-Sci-Fi-Channel-is-calling-itself-these-days ever made. Two quibbles: There is a harrowing scene of emergency surgery done by amateurs, and also at one point they're all freezing nearly to death and yet still bareheaded.

My offering is The Quiet Earth, a New Zealand film that's also on my short list of movies that transcend the books they are based on. A man wakes up to discover that New Zealand is empty of animal life except for him, some spoilers, and a few insects and fish. I don't mean that they're all dead; they're all just plain not there. And then it gets weird.

#63 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2017, 11:57 AM:

Happy birthday, Teresa!

#64 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2017, 12:14 PM:

Happy birthday, Teresa!

#65 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2017, 03:26 PM:

Just got back from viewing the live-action "Beauty and the Beast." It's gorgeous, a little darker than I expected, and very satisfying.

I just ordered the soundtrack (deluxe edition) and will order the film when it comes out on Blu-Ray.

Emma Watson has a LOVELY voice, I've seen some sniping in various reviews with which I do not agree. The protagonist is not supposed to have an operatic instrument.

I got a kick out of the call outs to various musicals, by my tally it's Oliver!, Sound of Music, (pick your favorite musical) choreographed by Busby Berkeley--and tucked into that sequence a hat tip to Singing in the Rain.

Very enjoyable, but I wouldn't take anyone under 10, the darker sections could be scary for a child.

#66 ::: Errolwi ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2017, 03:46 PM:

Trailers and extras from many NZ films are available from NZ On Screen

There are spoilers in the description (below the 'fold') of The Quiet Earth

A 2010 NZ film with some international success is Boy, directed by Taika Waititi (Hunt for the Wilderpeople)

#67 ::: Daniel Dern ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2017, 04:21 PM:

Back to the bluegrass'd:

John Hartford, "Piece of My Heart"

and, going farther back (both in performance and material)

Pete Seeger, "Goofing-Off Suite"
with audience humming along in spots
(longer, includes other classical stuff too)

(I'm not immediately finding the version I know best, which I think comes from an album that Seeger did along with Big Bill Broonzy...)

#68 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2017, 07:01 PM:

Forgot to mention the cover that The Strange Rangers did at Telluride back in 92 about how this guy Jim-Bob Hendrix taught them how to play Purple Hay.
(They probably did it some other times; I heard it on the car radio one day, so the details about who played it and when come from YouTube.)

#69 ::: rm ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2017, 07:28 PM:

Daniel Dern #67: I can confirm the "Goofing Off Suite" is on the Seeger/Broonzy album, and it gives Broonzy the occasion to define folk music: "All the songs I've heard in my life is folk songs; I've never heard horses sing none of 'em yet." I'm sure he used that line at other times as well.

#70 ::: Sten Thaning ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2017, 07:31 PM:

Bill Higgins @ 50:

Nobhg gur pbbeqvangrf: Zl haqrefgnaqvat jnf gung gur pbbeqvangrf jrer pbzcyrgryl enaqbz. Gurl hfrq gur pbzvp obbx pbbeqvangrf nf n onfr sbe gurve cyna orpnhfr gung'f jung gurl unq, naq gura gurl fcernq gur jbeq gung gur zrrgvat cbvag jnf gur bar nqiregvfrq va gur pbzvp obbx. Gur snpg gung gur enaqbz pbbeqvangrf tnir n ybpngvba gung nccneragyl jnf va jnyxvat qvfgnapr sebz gur Pnanqvna obeqre jnf cheryl n pbvapvqrapr.

#71 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2017, 08:46 PM:

Happy birthday TNH!

My local growing-up-in-N.H. bluegrass band did a great cover of "Paperback Writer." My friend Glenn Pillsbury, whose dissertation (and now book) was Damage Incorporated: Metallica and the Production of Musical Identity introduced me to the album Iron Horse - Fade to Bluegrass: Tribute to Metallica. They're on YouTube:

#72 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2017, 08:55 PM:

rm @ #69:

I've also heard that line attributed to Louis Armstrong.

#73 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2017, 09:42 PM:

TNH @ 0: so I guess Emma Bull was only a bit ahead of time when she had Bird That Whistles playing Glenn Miller and The Who (in the eponymous story from 1986)? (Not very far ahead, given Bill Stewart @ 68's link from just 6 years later.)

Ingvar M @ 216::970: "lin" also shows up in Romance languages (and in a Debussy piece), so a fair number of us \should/ recognize it -- but I admit I didn't catch it immediately.

C. Wingate @ 33: that is indeed awesome -- or at least awesomely weird....

Bill Higgins @ 50 (plausible answers only -- some I think aren't answerable):

Nterr jvgu Fnaql O. nobhg gur yratgu bs gur genva (juvpu jnf nyfb abg zbivat ng cnffratre fcrrq), naq nobhg gur pbbeqvangrf orvat frzv-enaqbz. (Gur 30-lrnef-ntb svpgvbany jevgre znl unir tbggra fbzrguvat sebz n znc whfg sbe sha.) Vs vg jnf cheryl n sver pnzc, vg jbhyq bayl unir orra vaunovgrq qhevat sver frnfba; jung gvzr bs lrne qb jr guvax gur zbivr vf frg va?

V guvax Pnanqn vf va snpg uneqre gb qb oynpx bcf va; V fhfcrpg, sbe vafgnapr, gung gur obeqre thneqf gnxr n qvz ivrj bs n pebjq bs crbcyr jvgu zvyvgnel-tenqr thaf, naq V guvax fhpu ner uneqre gb ohl gurer. Abg gung gur cbyvgvpny pyvzngr gung pybfr gb gur Ebpxvrf vf cnegvphyneyl yrsg, ohg zl vzcerffvba sebz n gevc gb Pnytnel vf gung gurl qba'g unir arneyl nf znal ongfuvg penmvrf nf whfg fbhgu bs gur obeqre.

Zl dhrfgvba nobhg gur ybpngvba: jul pbhyqa'g gurl unir whfg tvira jrfgrea-Zbagnan pbbeqvangrf vs gurl jnagrq qenzngvp fprarf ba zbhagnvaf, vafgrnq bs fnlvat vg jnf va (abgbevbhfyl syng) Abegu Qnxbgn?

And a non-spoiler question: in scene ~2, Logan's fast-healing body expels what look like cartridge casings rather than bullets. WTF?

Elliott Mason @ 52: well, yes, but not \that/ short -- and only in the books, not at all in any of the movies.

Belated BDay congratulations to Teresa. (I didn't check in yesterday because the evening was spent learning the quirks of a new conductor, and preparing to add settings-of-the-Xian-mass #20 & 21 to my life list. Conclusion: Haydn did a number of things well, but Mozart wrote much better work for choruses.)

And another WTF: National Geographic 18 months ago was being taken over by a Murdoch branch (21st Century Fox); IIRC, reactions here were predictable and plausible. But it has carried on with what I see as a balanced--to--left-of-center tone, including a January 2017 issue about gender ]malleability[ that uses preferred pronouns and doesn't tut-tut at anything. Has the debate boundary moved that far to the right, or is the magazine somehow keeping its own path?

#74 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2017, 10:16 PM:

Re Elliott: Va er Ynhen gnxrf bire gur gnfx bs qevivat gur Oebapb, V jbhyq yvxr gb abgr gung pnabavpnyyl Ybtna vf dhvgr fubeg, jryy vagb gur nirentr-srznyr urvtug enatr, be rira vagb vgf ybjre crepragvyrf.

Lrf, ohg gur Ynhen va dhrfgvba vf ryrira. Rira pbzvpf-pnaba Ybtna vfa'g gung fubeg. :)

Re Sandy B: jul nqnznagvhz vf n fybj cbvfba

Zl gurbel vf gung Puneyrf' svefg frvmher fperjrq jvgu Ybtna'f urnyvat snpgbe. Vg frrzf yvxryl gb zr gung gur Jrfgpurfgre Rirag jnf gur svefg bar, fb ab bar xarj ubj gb fgbc vg naq vg jrag ba sbe na rkgen-fcrpvny ybat gvzr (guhf nyfb rkcynvavat jul n ohapu bs lbhat, urnygul crbcyr qvrq bs vg). Ybtna pbhyq fheivir vg, ohg vg jnf onq sbe uvz. Vg'f nyfb pbzvpf-pnaba gung vs uvf urnyvat snpgbe tbrf, gur nqnznagvhz pnhfrf urnil-zrgny cbvfbavat, nf jryy vg fubhyq.

And in non-Logan stuff, Quill mentions American Dreamer which is one of my very favorite movies ever. I always wanted to see the (sadly non-existent) sequel.

#75 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2017, 11:31 PM:

Carrie S and CHip, in re Logan's canonical height: Oh! Was unaware of context from movie (as mentioned, haven't seen).

He may be taller in movies than comics, because he's Hugh Jackman, who's 6'2". That may be, by the way, "Hollywood short" for a man, just as certain actors or characters are "Hollywood plain/ugly", and the prefixing adjective sets it out with a much higher value than most of us have access to.

Current average US height for white men is 5'10", for reference.

ADDENDUM: I googled for average leading-man Hollywood heights and found something I didn't expect: they tend to be on the average-to-short side for their ethnicity in the US. I stand corrected.

#76 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2017, 05:21 AM:

Many @ #(element of the natural numbers):

Va er "jul Puneyrf Knivre vafvfg va qvaare"? V guvax ur'f dhvgr sne sebz uvf shyy zragny snphygvrf naq sryg gung fubjvat Ynhen "snzvyl" jnf zber vzcbegnag guna nalguvat ryfr.

Elliott Mason @ #75:

It's amazing, what you can do with a camera, if you put your mind to it (or, just by having strategically placed out-of-fram boxes and holes in the ground).

#77 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2017, 06:33 AM:

#69 ::: rm

I've framed it as "Folk music is music showing the influence of only one planet."

#78 ::: cori ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2017, 08:59 AM:

Local NYC band The Delorean Sisters exists to do bluegrass covers of 80s pop tunes. Their cover of the Fixx's "One Thing Leads to Another" is a personal favorite.

#79 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2017, 10:07 AM:

Please call your Congress people today and beg them to vote "no" on this health-care abomination.

The "Freedom Caucus" just rewrote it last night to make it even worse--stripping out the "Essential Health Benefits" (EHB) provision that required insurers to cover basics like ER visits, pediatric coverage, and opioid addiction coverage.

A lot of moderate Republicans are ready to jump ship. Please call and give them a push. If this bill goes down in flames, you will have the satisfaction of having helped it die.

#80 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2017, 11:55 AM:


I understand that there is software that will keep track of how long you use a certain program or website. When I try to look it up, I get a lot of time tracking systems for employers, which is more or less the functionality that I need, but they all look way too elaborate. There's also a zillion of them; I don't have a good way to thin down the herd.

Does anyone have any suggestions/recommendations? Something aimed at freelancers might be better than the big business systems that I'm finding. Free or very low cost is a bonus. Search terms for a more targeted Google search would help, too.

#81 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2017, 12:11 PM:

Mary Aileen @80 I like Toggl at I do not use the website/application tracking feature but I believe it has one, even in the free version.

#82 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2017, 12:19 PM:

OtterB (81): Thanks, that looks useful. I'll have to check it out in depth when I have the time to concentrate on it. I wish they would tell you exactly how it works without signing up, though.

#83 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2017, 01:40 PM:

Question: Do you all think Trump actually wants this Obamacare revision to get passed? Or is he giving the congressional Republicans centered on Ryan enough rope to hang themselves, encouraging them to try to do something very unpopular and fail so that he gains in power relative to them in the party? Or something else?

#84 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2017, 01:51 PM:

Open threadiness: Israeli police arrested a guy for making a bunch of phone calls threatening to attack Jewish temples, schools, daycare centers, etc. Oddly, he's Jewish and an American/Israeli citizen.

I wonder about the effect of media attention on this kind of crime. Some fraction of people are seriously messed up, and they crave some kind of attention or feeling of importance. Hoax bomb threats give that to them, and they become more rewarding, in some sense, when they've being reported more widely.

It's a little like mass-shootings--I wonder how it would affect the rate of these crimes if they were less widely reported. And yet, it's hard to imagine any kind of free media that *wouldn't* report on either mass-shootings or daycare centers having to be evacuated because some jackass called in a bomb threat. It's newsworthy, but the news coverage seems like it probably make it more common.

#85 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2017, 01:56 PM:

albatross @83

Bannon has explicitly said that his "long game" is to kneecap Ryan, and this may be his intention.

But like many would-be Machiavellis, Bannon is nowhere near as clever as he thinks he is.
If Trumpcare is voted down, it is going to damage Trump's brand more than Ryan's.

#86 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2017, 02:11 PM:

albatross @ 83:

My opinion from observation of Trump's past and present behavior is that he only does things with the goal of making himself feel good, and secondarily to benefit his family and 'friends'. His only attachment to any of his policies is that he thinks they'll make him popular and thus he'll feel good.

And @ 84:

Great... Now we get to deal with all the anti-Semites crowing about how now they have proof that Jews really are threatening and vandalizing their own communities to drum up sympathy, instead of just their own assertions.

#87 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2017, 02:23 PM:

Happy birthday, Teresa! (I think a day late, but still.)

#88 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2017, 03:50 PM:

I agree with Ingvar@76. Cebsrffbe K vf sne sebz jung ur jnf, naq abg va gur Ubyyljbbq "V'z bayl fravyr jura vg qbrfa'g vagresrer jvgu zr qbvat vzcbegnag guvatf" jnl.

As far as "Hollywood short" - the joke with the book "Get Shorty" is, it could be ANYONE. Tom Cruise is infamously short (Also Michael J. Fox, Dustin Hoffman.) It is really annoying to me that they wimped out and put Danny DeVito in the role.

#89 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2017, 04:18 PM:

#86 ::: KeithS

Not just anti-Semites-- there are also conservatives who've been claiming that liberals (progressives?) believe the US has much more prejudice than it actually does.

They may be right on this one, at least for anti-Semitism.

#90 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2017, 04:41 PM:

#76 ::: Ingvar M @76, in re leading man heights:

I was aware that Gene Kelly was considered fairly short for leading men of his day (looks it up; 5'7") because of all the stories around Singing in the Rain and Cyd Charisse. First of all, she's a statuesque amazon of dancing wonderfulness, taller than him in flats. Then add in the heels she was wearing. The entire dream sequence on the set of stairs was choreographed, in part, to let Gene be taller than her all the time. It's also why when she's near him she's in plie almost all the time.

#91 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2017, 05:34 PM:

Nancy #89:

This Pew Center summary shows that Jews get about the highest favorability ratings of any religious group. Muslims and Atheists get the bottom scores, with Mormons fairly low as well.

I have no idea how this maps to any particular definition of anti-Semitism, but it doesn't seem particularly consistent with there being widespread hatred of Jews in US culture.

#92 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2017, 07:45 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz #89, albatross #91:

That high approval vale is an average, which indicates Jews aren't facing widespread hostility from the population-at-large, but even they note a minority of perhaps 10% that were a lot chillier. I wonder about the regional balance of their survey (coastal vs. midwestern and southern, urban/rural, etc). I'm sure there are still pockets of anti-Semitism , but I'd expect them to be mostly invisible from my east-coast background, lately transplanted to a "blue dot" in the South. In "my world", you don't really get away with anti-Semitic comments, let alone attacks -- but I've little doubt that there are pockets of the country where things are otherwise. That said, I suspect that these days, any specific anti-Semites are overshadowed and absorbed by the "anti-everybody" reactionaries who've lately taken hold of American politics.

#93 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2017, 08:14 PM:


I'm pretty sure that Trump DOES want the Obamacare repeal to pass. He hates losing at anything and if the repeal doesn't pass it's a defeat for him (although I fully expect him to say some version of "I meant to do that" if that happens).

It is, however, very likely that Trump doesn't understand much about what the repeal actually does.

#94 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2017, 08:45 PM:

Unicorn chaser: David Malki has been tweeting hummingbirds. (Note: I have no idea how that link works, but it does seem to gather the hummingbird tweets over some time. I don't know how long it will last.)

#95 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2017, 09:07 PM:

On anti-Semitism: my experience in the South would lead me to guess that anti-Catholicism is stronger than anti-Semitism, still. I had Jewish colleagues in both places I worked in Virginia, and there was a Jewish synagogue in Jackson TN where I started college long before there was a Catholic parish.

#96 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2017, 09:57 PM:

Anna's hummers, most likely. There's one nesting in the entryway to my apt building, inside the front door and across from the mailboxes. She's been sitting on the nest for about 11 days. (It's a couple of inches above my eye level, so I won't know about babies until I see beaks above the edge.)

#97 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2017, 11:42 PM:

TIL that it isn't only psittacids and flamingos who dance when they hear music they like. Behold the reaction of an ostrich to "The Shire Theme" played on a pennywhistle:

I clicked over to some footage of ostrich courtship, which does not include these particular moves. This isn't a mating display; the ostrich was indeed inspired to boogie down.

#98 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2017, 12:11 AM:

David #92:

Surveys are good at telling us about the averages, not so much about the extremes. The 1/1000 or 1/10000 extremely anti-Semetic people arent going to show up.

The good news is that those guys can't arrange widespread persecution or mistreatment when 99%+ of the surrounding population is against them. The bad news is, they can still do individual nasty actions like vandalizing synogogues or graveyards.

#99 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2017, 01:36 AM:

An amazing piece of collaborative microfiction in the comments to a webcomic (that has an amazing commentariat).

Thread contains no particular spoilers for the comic. All you need to know is that there is a supernatural being called in this thread the WFB, which appears with a plethora of magical spiders as its minions.

#100 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2017, 01:41 AM:

albatross @91, I dunno ’bout that survey. Scroll down to the part that talks about how many people say they know people from various religions. It says that 61% of US adults know someone who’s Jewish, yet only 58% know someone from a mainline Protestant denomination.

The mainline Protestants are Lutherans, Episcopalians, Methodists, Presbyterians, etc. They outnumber American Jews by more than 7-to-1, and are more widely distributed. There is no way in hell that more US adults personally know a Jew than personally know a mainline Protestant.

There’s also no way in hell that white evangelicals actually feel as warmly towards Jews as that poll says. I’m pretty sure this is a case of people reporting how they think they ought to feel, instead of how they actually feel.

#101 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2017, 06:54 AM:

Avram @ 100

I would agree that there's no way more Americans personally know a Jew than a mainline Protestant--the numbers just don't work--and share the sense that the poll may not be entirely reliable. I wonder if part of it, though, may be that (observant) Jews are much more obviously identifiable than mainline Protestants. (AKA, the only neighbors on my block who I know their religious affiliation, here in Massachusetts, are the observant Jews.)

I do wonder why you think the numbers for evangelicals are wrong. They look plausible to me; evangelicals generally are very friendly to "Jewish-identified" Jews who are not actively and overtly hostile. (AKA, I expect that a lot of evangelicals despise Mikey Weinstein and George Soros, and think well of Benjamin Netanyahu, Charles Krauthammer, and Rabbi Meir Soloveichik.)

#102 ::: Brenda Kalt ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2017, 09:18 AM:

Forty years ago, when I (Methodist) told an elderly cousin (also Methodist) that I was marrying a Jewish man, she said, "That's okay. That's 'roots'."

#103 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2017, 10:39 AM:

Avram #100:

I know polls can go wrong in a variety of ways. The Pew Center is a reputable organization and I think they try to get things right, but there could definitely be people shading their answers based on social availability, or subject to other biases. But I'm not sure how else to try to get an actual answer to the question of how widespread anti-Semitism is. News reports of hate crimes seem a lot worse--whether a hate crime gets reported has a lot to do with whether other media have been reporting them lately, many of the ones in the news appear to have been hoaxes, etc.

As an aside, how do you know that your intuition about how evangelicals feel about Jews is more accurate than the polling data? Do you hang around with a lot of evangelican Christians, so that you know their inner thoughts and beliefs that they wouldn't share with a pollster?

#104 ::: Sarah E ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2017, 11:03 AM:

Recently rewatched Trouble Bound (1992) which is basically a screwball noir.

#105 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2017, 12:06 PM:

Lori Coulson@65: Agreed on Beauty and the Beast: it was beautiful, especially in the Busby Berkeley bits, and I really liked Emma Watson (even if my brain did keep trying to turn her into Hermione whenever there was magic flying around). I thought they did about as well as they could with the problematic aspects of the story, given how closely they were bound to stick to it.

I did find myself flashing frequently on Ursula Vernon's Bryony and Roses in a "but what if..." way, but that's not a bad thing.

#106 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2017, 12:20 PM:

I have just spent roughly 25+ work hours on my backyard, and it's finally getting to the point where we might actually be able to do something with it. We paid the neighbor's son and his buddy to do brush pile and log cleanup (from a tree that fell and was taken apart last year, but not removed.)

Now I have some privet removal (I've gotten everything I could with loppers, but we still have to remove the ones with delusions of tree-hood.)

Now, what to do with a lawn where the *best* part is bermuda grass...

#107 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2017, 12:43 PM:

dotless i @105 LOL! When the movie reached the point where Maurice is rescued by Agatha, my brain said, "Aha! We are in one of Lackey's 500 kingdoms, because there's the Fairy Godmother to save the day!"

That was only reinforced by the events that occurred when all hope was lost...

#108 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2017, 12:53 PM:

#103 ::: albatross

It's really hard to say how much anti-Semitism there is in the US, and harder to figure out the intensity level.

I'm not sure it matters if someone believes that Jews have too much influence on Hollywood but doesn't actually care very much, doesn't encourage hatred, and treats actual Jews decently.

The amount of anti-Semitism I've run into personally has been *very* small. On the other hand, it seems to be less than what many of the Jews I know have experienced.

There have been some anti-Semitic murders, but just a very few in the past decade or so. (None of them killed Jews, people were killed for being around Jews.)

Trump has targeted Muslims and immigrants much more than Jews.

I'd like to believe that Americans are about as destructively bigoted as they want to be, and Trump isn't making things worse.* I'm obviously not right-- there have been more violent hate crimes than usual, but not a lot more. As this point, I'm inclined to think there isn't a large reservoir of hatred waiting to be activated.

*I'm just talking about violence by individuals. Government policy and laws are another and more dangerous matter.

#109 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2017, 02:40 PM:

albatross @103, I actually had a bunch of conservative Christian friends in my dorm at college. They weren’t all evangelicals (at least one was a conservative Catholic, and another a Mormon), but I think some were. Still, that was over 30 years ago. I’m only still in touch with one of those people today.

Anyway, my intuition is based in a lifetime of watching evangelicals on television complaining about “those northeastern liberals who control our media and don’t support our Christian values.” The code is pretty obvious. They love Israel, because it occupies a special place in their religion, but they don’t talk like they have any particular affection for the Jews who are living here in the US.

#110 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2017, 04:41 PM:

B. Durbin - If you're still out near Sacramento, digging up that grass to plant tomatoes sounds like an obvious plan.

#111 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2017, 05:36 PM:

So... No vote on the AHCA, which means the ACA remains the law of the Land.

#112 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2017, 07:19 PM:

Some time ago, I read an article that posited that anti-Jewish prejudice tends to be qualitatively different from anti-anything-else. The article said that it's basically a scapegoating thing, where Jews are allowed to get close to the top but can be blamed for things, with a side of lying and betrayal because they aren't really Us, now are they. Also interesting was an article, possibly linked here, about an Aryan prison gang and the Jewish inmate who ate with them.

I find a lot of Judaism interesting, but this is probably because the friend who converted has a really interesting way of looking at religion, at festivals, at terminology, et cetera. It means I have a weird patchwork understanding of festivals, too.

In more local news, I have planted a wee succulent in my Bulbasaur planter and rearranged a number of other plants, which will hopefully not die immediately.

#113 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2017, 08:54 PM:

If you phoned your representatives, then celebrate tonight.

If you went to a town hall, then celebrate tonight.

If you marched on DC with the Women's March, then celebrate tonight.

If you are a decent human being who wants more healthcare for more people and less suffering for the poor, then celebrate tonight.

We're going to have to fight every step, every day, until decent Americans regain control from the Russian moles.

But for tonight, we can celebrate.

#114 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2017, 09:15 PM:

Elliott Mason @ 75: in the heyday of Hollywood, there were a number of men picked for looks and acting skill rather than height, and a number of sleights used to disguise this. Some were mechanical, as Ingvar M. notes (cf the box Prince Charles stood on for the official photograph with Diana, who was much less than a head shorter). Some involved casting; John Houseman in Front and Center says that Alan Ladd would say of any significantly taller actor (either gender) that they just weren't quite right for the part and somebody else should be found.

albatross @ 83: Trump is certainly that selfish -- I don't think he believes in a government of three branches -- but I don't think he can think that strategically; he expects to proceed from triumph to triumph (even if he has to skew them, witness the latest justification of his claim of being wiretapped, or outright ignore the failures like the casino and the airline shuttle), and figured he could get the "Freedom Caucus" to fold. (Can you imagine him trying to campaign for civilized Republicans to beat teabaggers in primaries? Talk about unconvincing....) Interesting late-breaking tidbit: at 4pm EDT (GMT-4), the Boston Globe said that a Ryan spokesperson said Trump called and ordered the bill pulled. (Of course, the President couldn't make Congress pull a bill, but Trump doesn't know that.) However, I don't see that in the current crop of stories; the summary of the top story says Ryan did it with Trump's acquiescence, but the story proper says nothing. Given the crop of pathological liars in the White House and Ryan's unwillingness to deal with simple truth, I figure we'll be luck to know the truth in three decades; learning Deep Throat's name was easy compared to this mess.

#115 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2017, 10:09 PM:

This time is going to make one cracking good dark-comedy movie someday.

I hope today is the setup for the scene where the Young Conservative Idealist character hears his heroes tearing into each other through a closed door and realizes the whole mess is teetering on the brink.

#116 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2017, 11:31 PM:

And speaking of selfish politicians:
(from File:770, due to SF mention near the end.) I suppose Farage doesn't really care what Londoners think of him, as he (like Trump) draws support from people who despise current cities....

#117 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2017, 03:45 AM:

Stefan Jones @115

Have you seen the (late, lamented) TV series "BrainDead"? Medium dark comedy by the writers of "The Good Wife" which blames the current political climate on brain-eating insects from outer space. Very funny.

#118 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2017, 03:56 AM:

Nancy Liebowitz @47

Two of my favorite peculiar movies:

"Wristcutters: A Love Story" about the afterlife awaiting suicides (actually a somewhat funny and romantic story, unexpectedly)

"Map of the Sounds Of Tokyo Bay" a sad, but moving story about an assassin who falls in love, which introduced me to Rinko Kikuchi.

#119 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2017, 01:50 AM:

On the bluegrass Brandenburg, and "will cover anything": mandolinist Chris Thile did a wonderful cover of Bach's Sonatas & Partitas which were composed for solo frickin violin Here's Sonata 1 in G Minor

#120 ::: Emily ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2017, 07:43 AM:

I think this thread needs the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain...

#121 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2017, 12:15 PM:

#112 ::: Diatryma

Anti-Semitism is weird. There are a number of other middleman/market minorities (people who are better at commerce than the surrounding population)-- Ibo, Bengalis, oversea Chinese (incomplete list)-- but so far as I know, Jews are the only group that has weird conspiracy theories woven around it.

Anti-Judaism: The Western Tradition is about how non-Jews have invented a version of Judaism to be opposed to.

Some anti-Semitic tropes go back to ancient Egypt, and the author thinks it's because as a minority, Jews look to the top of the government for protection, and as a result, people who are unwilling to attack the top of the government directly attack the Jews instead.

This isn't the whole story. Christians made theories about people who were worshipping the same God but who wouldn't choose a superior religion. I am very grateful to be living in the modern era.

#122 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2017, 01:40 PM:

PNH "Disruption" Sidelight: I wonder how many Slate readers have actually heard of the Triangle Shirtwaist Company. A fair number, I hope, but I expect less than half.

#123 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2017, 05:30 PM:

Tom Whitmore #122: How many have been taught Marxist theory in that building?

#124 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2017, 07:21 PM:

Fragrant Ledgister @ 123: It was mostly used for science labs when I went there (NYU's Brown Building).

#125 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2017, 07:23 PM:

Me @124: Damn autocorrect! Sorry, Fragano.

#126 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2017, 07:25 PM:

Me @124: Damn autocorrect! Sorry, Fragano.

(And this may double post. We're just error central today.)

#127 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2017, 08:49 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz at 121:

I think the Sogdians were the subject of conspiracy theories, but they no longer exist as a people.

#128 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2017, 08:53 PM:

At least "fragrant" has a good meaning. I once had autocorrect turn my husband's last name into "Stinks."

#129 ::: Louis Patterson ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2017, 05:28 AM:

#119 ::: thomas

A lot of this is convergent evolution, but mandolins are actually pretty similar to violins in a lot of respects. Same tuning, for example. Mandolins can't play as high up the fingerboard and generally aren't as agile, but it's pretty straightforward to transfer over most of the repertoire.

[there's even the mandolin orchestra or quartet, with larger mandolin relatives filling the viola and cello slots]

#130 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2017, 07:48 AM:

HelenS @128: My mom was issued an email when she went back to school. Their scheme was "first initial, first five of last, number if not unique." She was ebeltz, which was unique.

While writing papers, WP kept autocorrecting to "eyeballs".

It amused her so much she didn't teach it to the dictionary. Of course, she's also a massive fan of the original Gorey Addams Family, so. :->

#131 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2017, 09:13 AM:

Elliot: "the original Gorey Addams Family" ?

Do you mean>these?

Chas Addams was the cartoonist. (If you're not one of today's 10,000, apologies for overexplaining. And if Edward Gorey did some Addams Family work, I'd love to see it. )

#132 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2017, 11:42 AM:

...Although, to be fair, there totally ought to be a Gorey/Addams mash-up....

#133 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2017, 11:44 AM:

..."Psst! Chutney!"

Me: "Noooooo.... I already don't have time...!"

#134 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2017, 02:39 PM:

Seeing the Sidelight on Disruption! made me think of another great classic of Management Literature:

Donnie in the Room (with apologies to Ernest Lawrence Thayer)

The outlook wasn’t brilliant for Republicans that day.
They’d promised for six years that they’d repeal the ACA.
But when the caucus gathered, and they looked from man to man
They knew that not a one of them had ever had a plan.

“I’d counted on a veto,” said a rep from Tennessee.
“The blame Obama always took would fall on Hillary.
Then Pennsylvania went for Trump, and Michigan the same.
And now we run the government, we can’t just play a game.”

A colleague from Wyoming was equally concerned.
Shaking his head sadly, he stated what he’d learned.
“My hopes from the beginning always had one little flaw.
I’d pictured making speeches, never thought I’d write a law.”

Neither had the others, though they often said they would.
They knew what programs shouldn’t do, but not the things they should.
Then said a man from Texas, “We’ll never have success.
We got so used to saying No, we’ll never get to Yes.”

“I know,” said Ryan hopefully, “that’s sometimes how it feels.
But Donnie wrote the book about the art of making deals.
I know agreement’s hard to find, and deadlines closely loom.
But we can still succeed if we get Donnie in the room.”

Oh Donnie! Clever Donnie! How everyone agreed.
The plan that he campaigned on was just the one they’d need.
It ended it all the mandates! It set the markets free!
And still it covered everyone, from sea to shining sea!...

I won't spoil the ending.

#135 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2017, 03:16 PM:

John A Arkansawyer @ 134... Or maybe they had a very subtle plan that's still unfurling as we speak.

Baldrick: "I can't see any subtle plan."
Blackadder: "Baldrick, you wouldn't see a subtle plan if it painted itself purple and danced naked on top of a harpsichord, singing 'Subtle plans are here again!'"

#136 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2017, 05:19 PM:

Elliott Mason @ 130... While writing papers, WP kept autocorrecting to "eyeballs"

That reminds me of the day I escaped from the Gap and, as I wrote my goodbye letter, the word processor tried to change my boss's name, giving me a choice between 'valuator' and 'violator'.

#137 ::: Angiportus Librarysaver ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2017, 09:18 PM:

HLN: Area web-surfer, recalling a headline about a quasar "streaking across the sky", wonders if this is what they mean by a naked singularity.

#138 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2017, 10:25 AM:

Angiportus: ::applause::

#139 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2017, 03:21 PM:

Serge Broom @ 135: Well, of course not. If it's tap-dancing, it's not a subtle plan. Unless you're the Mad Thinker, I suppose.

#140 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2017, 04:53 PM:

AKICIML: My new computer, which I have named Plastic Pal, wants me to open a Web browser in order to read a PDF that I have downloaded to my desktop. Failing that, it wants me to use Word.


Does Adobe still make a thing that reads PDFs for free, and what is it called? I went to their site and was deluged with ads for clouds and apps and I don't know what, and I couldn't find a search window.

#141 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2017, 05:04 PM:

Slate's Triangle Shirtwaist piece -- OUCH. It hurt to read and it was perfect. So glad to be pointed to it.

#142 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2017, 05:04 PM:

Jenny Islander @ 140:

Adobe's latest and greatest is Adobe Acrobat Reader DC. Aesthetics are a value judgement, and I judge it to be kind of ugly. Remember to uncheck the optional offers on the download page before you click the install button.

I used to keep track of free alternative PDF readers that were lighter-weight, or had different features, or just had the advantage of not being made by Adobe. They were all terrible in various ways that encouraged me to put up with Adobe's standard product instead.

#143 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2017, 05:05 PM:

Jenny Islander @140:

Here's the link to download Adobe Reader. I personally quite like Foxit Reader.

#144 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2017, 07:39 PM:

I was doing my taxes the other day. At the end of the process TurboTax offers to save your returns as a PDF and print them up. It uses their own PDF viewer for both of these tasks.

I saved the PDF to a couple of places, then asked for a print job. I let it chunk off the 42 pages of forms and worksheets and such, stapled 'em together, and was about to file it when I noticed . . . high weirdness. Not PostScript code, but a churned-up mess of characters. Recognizably my return, layout-wise, but with nothing readable.

It turned out that my printer's "eco friendly" driver was responsible. Turned off "save the earth" mode, and it rattled off readable pages.

#145 ::: Errolwi ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2017, 07:40 PM:

Jenny Islander @140
I have a similar issue, with the hassle of a layer of corporate b*llsh!t. Edge/Chrome don't provide a competent PDF reader (about 20% of the time I want to rotate the scanned page I've been sent, for instance). Our local IT had to agitate for a separate reader to be installed, and it is clunkier than it should be to utilise it.

#146 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2017, 11:40 PM:

Recent weirdness from NPR: March Madness boosts urologists' business -- because a vasectomy is a great excuse to sit on a couch for three days.

And Davey and I were both wondering whether TNH (collector of strangenesses) knew about these collectable Bosch figurines; I guess they have the advantage that no Antarean parakeets were harmed in the making of these bizarreries.

#147 ::: duckbunny ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2017, 07:48 AM:


They've gone and done it.

I'm scared.

Now what?

#148 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2017, 01:38 PM:

duckbunny #147: You're not the only one.

#149 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2017, 06:57 PM:

It was a grey damp day in March, and the clocks were striking thirteen. The young vixen came out of Shadwell DLR, turned left, and headed for the river. She could have been any vixen, if a little skinny, wearing an army-surplus sweater, denims, and distinctly practical boots, just like any other in London, except there was still light in her eyes, still a subtle spring in her step, and her muzzle shifted towards a momentary snarl as she passed the derelict Kebab House, that still filled her nostrils with the scents of fire and death.

Anyone who noticed either didn't care, or sensed it would be better not to say anything. She seemed alert, and there was a certain hardness in her gait, that matched a certain sort of Police Officer who was recruited from far beyond the limits of the city.

Better, it felt, not to irritate her.

#150 ::: Sarah E ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2017, 08:33 PM:

HelenS @ #128: At least "fragrant" has a good meaning.

I think it might be turning into a euphemism for "foul-smelling" though -- I can't recall the last time I saw it used unironically.

#151 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2017, 10:13 PM:

Sarah E (150): "Fragrance" certainly means foul-smelling to me; most of the ones added to products* aggravate my asthma.

*It's in just about everything these days.

#152 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2017, 10:31 PM:


(Summary: Gigantic fossilized dinosaur footprints have been found on the coast of Western Australia. The largest previously-known such print was 106 centimeters; the largest ones at this site are 170 centimeters. There are literally thousands of prints from at least 21 different types of dinosaur.)

#153 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2017, 10:46 PM:

At least I can get unscented laundry detergent. That's the biggest offender in my life - the stuff you can smell 15 to 20 feet away. (I also avoid candle and perfume sections in stores, as much as possible.)

(I've heard that it's mostly artificial fragrances that do this, and I haven't had the problem with natural fragrances, like essential oils. Some of the artificial ones are "safe", also.)

#154 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2017, 10:54 PM:

PJ, Axe Body Spray (I assume) is my bane. When I go to a movie and there are teenaged boys sitting near me, my nose starts to run. (Because it's proximity to the teenaged boys more than the girls, I'm assuming it's Axe or some similar product.) But it's not just the kids; at plays, surrounded by adults, there's often an almost visible cloud of scent around some of the patrons, both male and female. Wheezing and sniffling does not enhance my play-going experience....

When I was a girl, I was instructed that you lightly dabbed perfume on your wrists; you didn't douse yourself with it.

...In a related note, you kids, get off my lawn...

#155 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2017, 10:55 PM:

<drenching the server with perfume>

#156 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2017, 11:12 PM:

Car license plate spotted today: "N VWLS".

#157 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2017, 11:34 PM:

I remember that there were some women on my train commute who had me holding my breath as they walked by. Perfume. Strong. Something very floral, like lotus.

(There weren't many teenage boys on the train, and they weren't objectionable in that way.)

#158 ::: Race Traitor Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2017, 01:28 AM:

So pissed off right now. Legion just established a male character as gay.

It's a villain, of course. What's worse than a show with no queer representation? A show where only villains are gay.

The character appeared in the pilot, but we didn't know anything about his personal life. We did know he tried really hard to kill the hero. Now that we know he's gay, he's also horribly disfigured. Of course.

I've really been enjoying this show, but this makes me so mad I could spit.

#159 ::: Devin ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2017, 05:17 AM:

My mom taught me, back when I was a teenaged boy, that the right amount of scent is just enough that someone can smell it when they hug you, but not so much that they'll catch more than a hint if you just shake hands.

I'm not saying you should always take fashion and grooming advice from your mom, especially as a teenager, but she was certainly right about that.

#160 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2017, 10:30 AM:

I have highly selective scent allergies. 90% of the time, shampoos and detergents and the like have no effect. But the right stinkum will hit me hard.

Perfume departments in departments stores -- the latest one I encountered was Harrod's, in London -- cause me to sneeze and weep. Really awful.

Parts of craft stores, the aisles with potpourri, do the same.

#161 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2017, 10:34 AM:

Xopher @ 158... "The Flash", "Supergirl", "Legends of Tomorrow" and "Riverdale" are doing a good job. And yes, all of these shows are produced by the same people, so I'm expecting a crossover where the Flash's Cisco crosses the multiverse and accidentally winds up having the Legends join forces with Archie, the Justice League of Riverdale and with Josie & the Pussy Cats as the Luthors do their evil thing.

#162 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2017, 11:08 AM:

Cassy B. @ 154:

It certainly was when I was a young teenager. Lots of he boys in the changing room would each empty half a can of Lynx (Axe) all over themselves. It would make the air hazy, and my tongue feel furry. Nasty stuff.

Later on in high school:

Girl 1: What's that you're wearing?
Girl 2: Oh! It's <some perfume name>. You can smell it?
Me (downwind): tries hard not to gag and choke from the stench

I often need to stay away from perfume counters, scented candles, and Bath and Bodyworks stores.

Race Traitor Xopher @ 158:

I hate this so much. It always seems like the largest percentage of GLB representation on TV (what trans people?) is lesbian/bi male-gaze-friendly female heroes with a side-order of gay/lesbian/bi male and female villains, you really have to wonder.

Then, of course, there were the people who were upset that, oh no!, there was a gay character in the new Beauty and the Beast, and what about the childruuuuuuuuun? And here's me groaning because of course it's a villain. Of course.

It's utterly sad that people get excited about a very brief scene in a Disney movie that might, just might, have Disney's first official gay couple in it, even though it's not ever explicitly said (family in Frozen, and the two loud roommates in Zootopia). My response is always that Disney has enough clout that if they really cared, they'd just do it and wouldn't resort to half a second of maybe/maybe not.

#163 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2017, 11:56 AM:

Oh, lord, perfume counters and candle shops... <wince> I buy one sister a specific perfume for her birthday every year; it's the only thing she wants, and I've been her birthday perfume supplier for some thirty years now. I breath as shallowly as I can and get out as fast as possible, dodging the Free Sample Try It Now! ladies like a football player heading for the end zone.

And as for candle stores (or candle/potpourri aisles in craft stores)... the last time I went incautiously into a Yankee Candle, I fled ignominiously with eyes streaming and nose dripping.

#164 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2017, 12:09 PM:

KeithS @ 162... "Riverdale" features a male homosexual character who - gasp! - actually kisses his boyfriend.

#165 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2017, 12:37 PM:

Keith S. @162:

Actually, "LeFou" is a side-kick, not a villain, and he does try to defuse or re-direct SOME of Gaston's behavior, unsuccessfully.

If he really were a bad guy the crumbling castle would have taken him out too...but look how he ends up!

#166 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2017, 12:44 PM:

I was out with my sister and one of her then-co-workers, a year or so back, and we went to a Lush store. I had to go back outside and wait for them; it was too much. (Oddly enough, I have some perfume oils that don't bother me at all - the "Tea Rose" from the Body Shop is one I enjoy. In small doses.)

#167 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2017, 01:11 PM:

One acid response to an overpowering fragrance I'm saving is "Nice perfume. Must you marinate in it?"

#168 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2017, 01:14 PM:

P J Evans (153): For me, natural fragrance is as bad as artificial. The gardenias blooming on a co-worker's desk almost killed me a few years ago. My big split is edible/non-edible: vanilla, cinnamon, citrus, etc. are all fine; floral and musk are very emphatically not.

Unscented laundry detergent is a god-send*. I haven't found any unscented dish soap, but I can handle the lemon and orange scents (see above re edible scents). For shampoo, I buy shampoo base in gallon jugs and decant it to a smaller bottle for use; it's sold for crafters making small-batch shampoo, but it works just fine as is.

*But stay away from All Free and Clear dryer sheets, which are very definitely scented. I was astonished; All Free and Clear is my go-to detergent.

#169 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2017, 01:21 PM:

Working at the reference desk at a public library, I get assaulted by all kinds of strong fragrances. When helping someone marinated in the stuff, I do my best to breathe shallowly and try not to get too close. It doesn't always work.

The main entry to the local Macy's is past the perfume counter; I always have to hold my breath as I go in and out. Bath and Body Works is so bad that I detour around the entrance to avoid choking.

#170 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2017, 01:44 PM:

I've found them. The one I have is colorless - I think it's one of the varieties of Palmolive, but I suspect that most of the big brands have one.

#171 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2017, 01:45 PM:

My dental hygenist has taking to wearing a face-mask at all times, not just when she's working on patients, because "scents".

Lately, I've been noticing a very light, delicate, juuuust detectable floral scent (think rose or orange-flower water). Entirely tolerable, and very nice. If this is a trend, I approve!

#172 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2017, 02:04 PM:

P J Evans (170): They may exist, but either none of my local supermarkets carry them or they're not labeled unscented/fragrance-free. I did buy Palmolive Pure and Clear dish soap once, thinking that it would be unscented; besides the name, it claimed to have "no heavy fragrances." The fragrance was so strong that I had to throw out the bottle* and rewash the batch of dishes that I had used it on. So now I am very wary of unfamiliar products. And I don't trust Palmolive any farther than I could throw their corporate headquarters.

*Normally I would have given it away, but I couldn't have it around for even a few days while I found someone who wanted it.

#173 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2017, 02:12 PM:

KeithS, #162: My partner has the same issues with B&BW and other scent-heavy stores.

I'm normally not scent-sensitive, but I've had a couple of cow-orkers over the years who were very hard to deal with. There was one office where it was a trial for me to go up to the executive offices because the secretary there not only bathed in rose perfume, she had rose potpourri all over the office. She left a trail thru the main lobby whenever she came in or went out. And smokers, of course, reek at 10 feet.

About Disney, I'm with you. It's not as though they ever let people bully them down about offering domestic-partner benefits, after all. They know perfectly well that the number of people who are going to get bent out of shape is minuscule compared to the number who either approve or don't care one way or the other.

P J Evans, #166: I love Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab and have a bunch of their essential oils. I don't wear them all the time, but they don't bother me and usually they don't bother my partner either, which is a huge plus. Experimenting with them taught me a lot about what fragrances do and don't work for me -- and they make it easy to experiment by selling sample vials for (last I checked) $4 each.

#174 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2017, 02:19 PM:

The allergy/scent tie is so random.

A few years back I . . . [shameful confession] found a nice sturdy bucket out by the dumpsters (OK, fine, in the dumpsters OK???) which was full of almost-full bottles of cleaning supplies.

I've seen this kind of thing before; neighbors moving out of an apartment do a lost-minute cleaning before inspection, and since their stuff is already on the truck they just toss away the floor cleaner, bathroom cleaner, and oven cleaner.

So, I wipe everything down, clean out the bucket, and put it and its contents into my cleaning inventory. [/shameful confession]

This one load of supplies included a gallon container of "Fabulosa," an all-purpose cleaner, seemingly marketed to Hispanics, with a rather astonishing floral scent.

I was really leery about opening the bottle, much less using it, given my sneezhistory, but damn if it doesn't cause a single watery eye, does a really good job, and the scent is actually welcome.

#175 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2017, 02:54 PM:

Stefan Jones: FWIW, I'm a shameless dumpster diver. Goes with my tree-hugger eco-fascist tendancies. Hey, we even have institutionalized trash recovery.

We've actually got this tradition well-installed in my condo complex. People leave stuff that might be "good enough" in a special spot by the dumpsters, meaning: "Here, take this away, I don't want it." (Typical college-town practice, I imagine.)

It's kind of embarrassing how much of my household kit came from there. And it's eery how often I'll be thinking "I need an [X]" and X will turn up in that spot.

#176 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2017, 02:56 PM:

Oh yeah and: that wariness about new products? I'm extremely conservative, after Lava started putting green dye in their soap, and I discovered it basically takes my skin off. Likewise, Irish Spring.

#177 ::: Adrian ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2017, 03:02 PM:

Devin #159, you (or perhaps those around you) were fortunate that your mother gave you such good advice. Mine wanted me to use lots of perfume. LOTS. As a remedy for being so sensitive to it.

When I was a teenaged girl, I had a terrible time with perfumes triggering my migraines. Not all perfumes set off my migraines, just some. I couldn't identify what made some perfumes safe and others problematic, other than by smelling them. Sometimes I only knew somebody in the room was wearing a problematic perfume, sometimes I could identify which person and dared ask what they were wearing. That's how I knew the names of a few perfumes that set me off.

Unfortunately, one of the worst perfumes was White Linen. My Spanish teacher loved it. Everybody (her, the principal, my parents) thought I was being unreasonable to ask her not to wear it. They thought I was saying she was giving me headaches because I hated her so much. Possibly even that the emotional strain of hating her so much was giving me headaches. But I shouldn't antagonize her.

It wasn't just her, of course. White Linen was a very popular perfume for a couple of years in the 1980s. They even made a shampoo designed to smell like it. "I'm not wearing perfume!" body lotion that was scented to resemble really popular perfume...

My mother may have honestly intended to be helpful. She came up with the clever idea that I could find a safe perfume, a perfume I liked, and wear so much of it that I couldn't smell anything else. That didn't help me. It just meant I had no warning before I got a perfume-triggered migraine. And, of course, it must have been awful for anybody who had to be in a small space with me. Everybody who is bothered by perfumes has different things that bother them, so when something was safe for me it likely wasn't safe for others.

#178 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2017, 03:21 PM:

"Lush"! We hates it forever, we do.

It's the one store that this moose will cross the street (or on one 'memorable' occasion walk around the (.uk) block so as to approach the target doorway from upwind) to avoid.


#179 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2017, 03:23 PM:

Stefan Jones @174:

Thanks for mentioning Fabulosa. Somewhere the other day (possibly here) was a discussion of juice-like beverages which looked like cleaning supplies, and I couldn't remember the name of the brand of cleaning supplies which looked like a juice-like beverage. Fabulosa is it.

#180 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2017, 03:39 PM:

I'm not allergic to any scent, that I know of, but there are a number of them I dislike. I've always LOATHED White Linen. There was a secretary where I worked once who wore it. I used to hold my breath delivering mail to her desk.

#181 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2017, 03:48 PM:

I have one coworker in my rather small office who wears (in my opinion) an excessive amount of perfume; enough to bother me when she's too close. Fortunately, her desk is on the other side of the office, so it's rarely an issue. Unfortunately, she will sometimes re-apply her perfume in the ladies room, and the lingering overwhelmingness of scent can take some time to clear....

I've found no diplomatic way to say anything. I just breath shallowly when she's too near. If I worked closer to her, I'd have to say something, but as it is I'm spared the social awkwardness.

#182 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2017, 04:10 PM:

I've said things to coworkers whose fragrances were bothering me, including the one whose gardenias were such a problem. One conversation went roughly like this:

"The perfume you're wearing today is a problem for me. Could you please not sit quite so close to me?"

"I'm not wearing perfume today. Just bodywash."

"Okay, then the bodywash is a problem."

"Oh! I never thought of that."

Fortunately, it was mild enough that as long as she stayed at least at arms length I could manage. Unfortunately, she was one of those people who likes to have their chair rightnextto yours, so I kept having to remind her to back off a little. Fortunately, she wasn't offended; she just kept forgetting.

#183 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2017, 04:57 PM:

I don't think I have a strong sense of scent or taste, but some things just come across as wrong. Others I notice, and like, but I sometimes wonder how other people will take it.

Latest example, a dehydrated pineapple juice which might have been handy this summer if it actually tasted like pineapple.

#184 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2017, 05:02 PM:

That appears to be the stuff I have - but I have to have my nose nearly in the bottle to smell it.
Clearly YMMV. (It's actually labelled "not heavy fragrance". Most "unscented" stuff seems to have some small amount of "masking fragrance", which isn't usually a problem for me.)

#185 ::: Race Traitor Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2017, 06:37 PM:

I can't stand artificial scent. I get the Wisk Free and Pure, the Clorox Free and Clear, and the Bounce Free and Gentle. I use unscented hand soap, unscented antiperspirant, and the most mildly-scented shampoo I could find.

When I wash my hands with scented soap, the smell persists for hours. I had to stop using soap when I washed my hands before eating, if I was going to have a sandwich; Brie with mustard on a rose-scented baguette is not a good flavor at all.

I once worked in an office near a woman who liked to wear perfume. Apparently most people could barely smell it, but it gave me an asthma attack (mild) all the way from my desk. When I finally told her, after much encouragement, she said "Oh, then I'll stop wearing it," and only forgot once or twice ever again, from that day until she died on 9/11.

#186 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2017, 07:03 PM:

#175: I have an entire Flickr album devoted to "Trashure:"

I miss my old apartment complex. It had eight or so wonderful dumpsters. Because it is near an Intel plant, there were many engineers who occasionally discarded quite decent computer hardware.

When the weather is better I should drive over and walk the dog around the place, looking for more goodies.

#187 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2017, 07:27 PM:

Race Traitor Xopher: Ouch. :-(

Stefan Jones: You would probably enjoy dumpster diving with Jon Singer. He turns up all sorts of exotic stuff.

#188 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2017, 07:46 PM:

Jacque @175 >> ... "I need an [X]" and X will turn up in that spot.

I had a similar experience several years ago with 5 gallon buckets. I decided and needed some, and they started appearing by the side of the road.

Sadly, when I tried the same experiment with walnut veneer plywood, it didn't work.

#189 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2017, 08:27 PM:

Not-so-local-news: Massive fire on I-85 South in Atlanta. This is not terribly far from my parents' house.

#190 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2017, 08:42 PM:

It takes a seriously hot fire to do that kind of damage (something like a gasoline tanker). What was under that freeway?

#191 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2017, 08:53 PM:

P J Evans (190): Some kind of industrial park, apparently.

#192 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2017, 09:04 PM:

Dave B., #183: ICE brand sodas have a flavor that they call Kiwi Strawberry, which is light green in color. I can't taste either kiwi or strawberry in it, but the first time I tried it my immediate reaction was, "This is what honeydew melon would taste like if it actually tasted good!" To me, it has a distinctly melon-ish flavor -- but pleasant, which I have yet to find an actual melon that is.

#193 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2017, 10:52 PM:

HLN: Area woman now has four quart jars with Meyer lemons in brine stashed in cupboard, pickling. Also six half-pints, each with one regular lemon, also pickling. Two of the quarts also each have a bay leaf in with the lemons. (They're big enough that only two would fit in the quart, without cutting them in halves or quarters. Several months from now, when they're reasonably well pickled, that might actually happen.)

#194 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2017, 08:56 AM:

Xopher mentions using unscented antiperspirant, which I do too--it boggles me that they make scented antiperspirant in the first place. Isn't the whole point of the stuff to avoid having to smell yourself all the time?

#195 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2017, 09:03 AM:

PJ Evans @153: We've used exclusively unscented for over a decade. But when I buy thrift-store clothes, it's not the mildew (if any) that offends: it's the mixed melange of clothing washed in so many CONFLICTING scented detergents hung next to each other on the rack!

It usually takes a hot wash with copious baking soda and then several more in our detergent to make them not stink anymore.

#196 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2017, 10:16 AM:

Carrie S. @194: Antiperspirant and deodorant are often conflated, but many people don't trust antiperspirant proper and plain deodorant doesn't stop sweat. So it's scented to cover the body odor. I think there are people this works for; I am not one of them -- I can smell like I've not bathed in a week within a couple hours of showering if I'm unlucky and adding any deodorant scent to this is just unpleasant. So it is unscented antiperspirant for me as well.

My partner gets nauseated by artificial scents. For dish soap, we use Seventh Generation Free & Clear, which seems to be genuinely unscented. It may not be available in less crunchy-granola towns, though.

#197 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2017, 01:47 PM:

There are passages in books that grab you and won't ever let you go. This one has stayed in my memory since the autumn of 1969:

"When did it begin? With every other emotion it is possible to define the moment, the circumstances of response. Admiration, hatred, contempt, pity, boredom, fear, even liking, all have their accessible reasons. Only love enters unobtrusively, furtively, and lodges to trouble you with its suddenly announced presence: like an uninvited, ruthlessly demanding guest ringing a bell for attention in a room you cannot find. A few months ago, at some reception, when Oliver made one of his rare surrenders to tipsiness, I overheard him disturbing one of those well-intentioned, determinedly liberal, wholesome and indefinably irritating Americans who wear their genteel seriousness like an academic gown: one is always tempted to cause them pain until one remembers their real decency, their unconstrained kindness, their enviable anxiety to be of use. “ Love!” Oliver was barking at this woman. “ Don’t believe what you have been conditioned to accept. It’s a venereal infection. Like syphilis. A side effect o f capitalism and the mobile unit of society. It only came into existence when feudalism began to decay. A neurosis. A huge psychic hire purchase acquisition to keep up with the Joneses. I’m not talking about homosexual love,” he added with quick concession as if she had pounced on an omitted line in his argument. “ That’s natural and healthy. Like the love of parents for children. But this business between men and women! We can’t do without it now and it’s more destructive than tobacco.” He continued the sort of talk that, remembering it in the morning, one winces apologetically; but perhaps he was obscurely aware of one essence. Our intuitive vocabulary does speak of “making love”, in a way that, for instance, we do not speak of “making hate”, reminding us that this is the only act to which we give the name of the emotion."

John Hearne, Land Of The Living

#198 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2017, 01:50 PM:

People who misspell my name as "Fragrant", btw, find themselves obliged to present at my department's weekly graduate seminar.

Exodus 20 vii.

#199 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2017, 02:08 PM:

I think our thrift stores spray the clothes with Febreze or something, because they all smell the same. I'm not sure if Value Village clothes smell different from Goodwill or Thriftko, but definitely all the clothes from one store smell the same.

#200 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2017, 04:20 PM:

Fragano, #197: I really like the first three sentences of that. After that point it rapidly descends into CWAA territory.

#201 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2017, 04:50 PM:

I read Lee@200's comment, and thought "I have no idea what that acronym means". Then I went and read the quote at 197, and halfway through thought "Oh, right." (For anyone else who also wasn't quick on the uptake, it's one of the New Yorker Universal Cartoon Captions people have proposed at various times.)

It was an interesting experience for me-- not just because I learned the meaning of an acronym purely by example, but also because the reply to the Hearne quote that immediately came to my mind was a passage in a *different* book that also hasn't let me go since I first read it decades ago. It's a passage spoken by by Proginoskes in Madeleine L'Engle's _A Wind in the Door_ that includes the lines "Love isn't a *feeling*'s what you do".)

Of course, there's an important difference between "passage that doesn't let you go" and "passage that perfectly reflects what you yourself think now", whether the passage is from Hearne or from L'Engle.

#202 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2017, 05:03 PM:

Lee #200/John Mark Ockerbloom #201 :

I can understand Lee's response, but wonder if it's to the author or the character. The words, either way, were written over fifty-five years ago.

In any case, over forty-seven years ago this passage of one of the first "grown-up" literary West Indian novels that I'd ever read just stuck in my head.

#203 ::: Race Traitor Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2017, 05:57 PM:

Serge 161: I gave up on Flash before there were any queers in it; is the gay character a speedster or a sidekick/plucky comic relief character? (Online research suggests that the identity of the gay character has not yet been revealed.)

Never watched Supergirl.

I disagree with you about Legends of Tomorrow; the queer character is a lesbian-for-the-male-gaze, as KeithS comments in 162.

It's Riverdale that's really touching the third rail with an out gay character whose dad just tries to keep him from cruising for anonymous sex, and with an intense male makeout scene. Kevin Keller is an extremely minor character so far, but we take what we can get.

I keep hoping for a reveal that Archie and Jughead used to "mess around" together, but only when I'm high on hopeful pills.

KeithS 162: ALL of what you say here. So much. Especially: I hate this so much. It always seems like the largest percentage of GLB representation on TV (what trans people?) is lesbian/bi male-gaze-friendly female heroes with a side-order of gay/lesbian/bi male and female villains, you really have to wonder.

Yeah, I feel that the message is "Lesbians are OK as long as they titillate straight men, and gay men are only there for the straight men to fight, hint hint." It's a very See Johnny Write (as I call him) viewpoint, really.

Who was queer in Frozen?

Serge 164: Boyfriend? What did I miss? Pretty clear they made out and probably had sex the night they met, but are they, like, actually dating? (If not, does the term 'fuckbuddy' mean anything to you?)

Lee 192: To me, kiwi has a distinctly melon-ish overtone, but if that were what you meant, I feel certain you'd've said so.

estelendur 196: I use the Seventh Generation Free & Clear hand soap, and I agree.

#204 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2017, 06:32 PM:

Fragano, #202: Primarily Oliver, who is overtly being a major asshole to a woman at a party. But the narrator comes in for some opprobrium as well, for both his internal description of the woman and the fact that he apparently doesn't see anything wrong with Oliver's behavior at all. And if/to the extent that the narrator reflects the opinions of the author, well...

In any event, none of my feelings about the passage have anything to do with you personally.

RT Xopher, #203: There's apparently a good deal of speculation in Archie fandom that Jughead is ace. There's also speculation that he's gay and attracted to Archie. The comic-book portrayal can be read either way, but insofar as I have an opinion, I lean emotionally toward the ace interpretation, because they are even less represented in pop culture than gays are.

#205 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2017, 06:58 PM:

And the thing I came over here to post and then forgot about: an amusing poetic take on a recent fad.

#206 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2017, 07:45 PM:

Xopher @ #203:

re: Frozen, there's been a lot of speculation about the owner of the trading post where Anna meets Kristoff, given his mannerisms and the fact that the cutaway to his family includes another man who's the right age to be a co-dad and no plausible candidates for a mom.

#207 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2017, 10:08 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @ 198: My iPad would be happy to do so (I may not be giving it enough intellectual stimulation), but it's not allowed out of the house.

Lee @ 204: Jughead? (No, I haven't seen an Archie comic since 1975 or so, but Jughead was never paired off with anyone, so ace would work. On the other hand, Jughead may be the least self-aware character in comics, and I cannot imagine him giving sexuality any more thought than that hat of his.)

#208 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2017, 10:44 PM:

HLN: area woman has seen a teeny hummingbird bill sticking up out of the nest in the entryway of her apt building. (The edge is a bit above eye level for her, so the interior is not visible.)

#209 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2017, 10:49 PM:

more on a subject that has been discussed here before

#210 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2017, 12:13 AM:

D. Potter @207: But Jughead was (back in the 70s) always trying to avoid Big Ethel. He clearly had some thoughts about sexuality in that context, if only to be running away from it. Ace seems moderately appropriate in that context; gay is not ruled out, but not clearly supported. My reading of Archie comics is not much more current than yours, other than the zombie reboot (which I do recommend for those who read the older comics).

#211 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2017, 12:19 AM:

On the topic of horrible scented cleaning products, one of my new cats spent the night overnight at the vet, and came home reeking of Febreeze. (Yeah, I understand why, unlike at hotels, it's possibly better than what the vet's would smell like without it, but still, arrgh.) A day later, he still smells a bit like it, but it's a lot milder, so I'm mainly noticing his snoring rather than the smell.

This was an initial checkup for him, and he's got the same digestive problems as his brother (sigh), and needs wet food and the same medicines. Fortunately, they're both happy to eat drugged cat food, so I don't have to fight them to squirt meds in their mouth, which the other cat really hates.

#212 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2017, 02:40 AM:

I remember that back when Febreeze was introduced, it was unscented. I've been told that there was little market for that product. It doesn't make sense to me; I know lots of people who'd like to buy it.

It's based on cyclodextrins, according to my chem profs, but I don't know if they're modified, or what the concentrations are. They're mid-price-range as chemical compounds go; not super cheap, but nowhere near the high end of the organic chemical price list.

#213 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2017, 03:29 AM:

In the rebooted Mark Waid / Chip Zdarsky / et al. Archie books*, Jughead has been explicitly identified as ace. (Using that word, even.)

*Which are surprisingly good.

#214 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2017, 07:04 AM:

David Goldfarb #213: So The Kids These Days are now abbreviating "asexual" to "ace"? Interesting.

#215 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2017, 09:52 AM:

#208: Hold up a mirror gently?

#216 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2017, 11:37 AM:

Dave H., #214: At least since the start of Sherlock, which I think is when I became aware of it. And that means it was probably around earlier than that.

Demisexuality is also not completely ruled out as a possibility for Jughead -- but if so, then he's also completely het, or one would have expected it to come into play with Archie by now.

#217 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2017, 03:09 PM:

P J Evans @ 190: the stories I've seen (on the GA fire) that get into specifics mention stacks of PVC pipe. Such memories -- I worked on the first Ethernet installation at my early-1980's job, and remember management having a heart attack over having to pay ~5x the cost for not-PVC trunk cable, because the cable was going above the dropped ceiling, which was HVAC plenum which would spread the toxic fumes from burning PVC all over that floor. Hope Mary Aileen's parents are far enough away not to be breathing that stuff.

re deodorant scents: choruses have been aware of this issue for decades. Unscented deodorant (and no perfume) are part of the concert-wear spec for both the groups I sing in now, but I'm reasonably sure I remember my one Tanglewood gig (1978) including the observation that the smell of clean bodies was preferable to any perfume (especially relevant in an outdoor hall where the men were all supposed to be wearing jackets).

#218 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2017, 04:10 PM:

CHip (217): Toxic fumes--something else to worry about! My parents should be far enough away, thankfully.

#219 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2017, 05:40 PM:

The Meyer lemons having softened up nicely, each jar now has a quartered regular lemon in with it, so there are now only two half-pints of regular lemons. (And a small jar of kosher salt in brine, that hadn't dissolved.)

#220 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2017, 06:21 PM:

Lee #204: I wonder if that wasn't the author's own feelings about Americans being expressed (in any case, Oliver could not have been a vehicle for the auctorial ego for technical reasons, and the narrator rather less so). I was struck by the fact that such ideas about emotion, and particularly love, existed and could be uttered in a world with which I was then becoming familiar.

The character, Oliver, is in the process of becoming an asshole (in an earlier novel in which he had appeared as a secondary character, he had his life saved by another who went on to become a tragic hero). The narrator is finding his way in a strange land.

The bit about homosexual love being perfectly normal, and comparable to parental love, is fascinating. What makes it so is that it was written by a Jamaican more than half a century ago.

#221 ::: Race Traitor Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2017, 06:27 PM:

Well, Riverdale has a new take on all the characters. Jughead is definitely not ace, and at least partly het, because there's a girl he's longing for. This does not rule out some past with Archie, of course.

His hat isn't quite as goofy as in the comics, and he wears what he wears because he can't afford better.

I really like the part where Moose and Kevin find a body because they're down by the river looking for a place for some DL sex. Kevin later tells Moose sorry, no more closet cases for me.

In other news, I now have someone in the FB discussion about Legion telling me that the mutant-killers are the good guys, because people with powers have to be stopped from using them.


#222 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2017, 08:20 AM:

Xopher @ 203... Well, it looked like a date to me. :-)

When Supergirl's sister and the gang's cop lady came out about being each other's Significant Other, one of the guys turned to the Martian Manhunter and said "You knew?", to which he responded by pointing out that he IS a psychic, but he'd said nothing because it wasn't for him to tell until the ladies did.

#223 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2017, 04:44 PM:

I just got an automated email from the USPS telling me that my search request has expired. Ah, woe.

It started in January, when Scalzi said something like, "I may have to get this t-shirt. Well, I thought the shirt was cool also, so I went ahead and ordered one.

Three weeks later, it seemed to me that the package was taking an inordinately long time to reach me. I rechecked my email, and discovered that Dark Bunny Tees had included a tracking number. So I did the track. And discovered that it had reached the spot where the Royal Mail (DBT's is in England) was supposed to hand it over to the USPS, and gotten stalled.

So I went to the USPS web site, and tried to ask them to find it. Turned out I had to register an account with them. So I did that, and I jumped through their hoops. Well, it worked! Three days later, the shirt was in my hot little hands.

And two weeks later, the USPS emailed me saying, "We're sorry we can't find your package, but we're still looking." And I'm like, "Say what?" But there wasn't anything obvious to do about it, so I did nothing. I've continued to get emails at intervals, until just now when I'm told that the request has expired. So it goes.

#224 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2017, 05:54 PM:

Has anybody else, who relies mainly on supermarket fare, noticed that there is less variety available in the frozen and canned sections compared to even 5 years ago?

I can remember choosing among broad flat green beans (whole or cut into parallelograms--I think these were immature favas) and "green beans" that were really snap beans (whole, cut into short pieces, or julienned). Now I can get either the julienned snap ones or small bags of very expensive super-duper organic whole snap beans. If I want snap beans in any other form they are part of a vegetable mixture. And there are no flat green beans at all.

Vegetable mixtures--once upon a time, I could pay the store-brand price for a bag of black beans with corn, peppers, onions, and bits of broccoli (OK, whatever) that I could throw into a wok with some oil and seasoning, then fill out with whatever leftover salsa/sour cream/grated cheese/cooked meat I had in the house, and there was dinner in 10 minutes. They don't sell it anymore. They don't sell a lot of mixtures anymore in the store brand, and what they do sell is mostly ringing changes on broccoli, carrots, celery, snap beans, and onions; they all taste the same. I could pay the cost of steak for some of the mixtures I used to get in the store brand, but even there, it's mainly broccoli, carrots, celery, snap beans, and onions--just fancier.

Likewise, I could, once upon a time, choose among canned blueberry, gooseberry, blackberry, raspberry, strawberry, plum, rhubarb, apple, cherry, and peach pie fillings. Now I can have apple or cherry.

Is this just a regional thing?

#225 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2017, 07:52 PM:

I noticed it WRT canned food. The canned food aisle is one of those that was shortened at my store, to make room for the deli cheese counter and the in-store coffee place. (The other aisle most affected was cereal. They weren't the only ones, but the others seemed to have been affected less. Hot cereals, especially, where if you're not into Q-brand, too bad.)

#226 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2017, 08:32 PM:

#224 I've seen bags specially put together for stir frying. There might have been others. I'll have to pay attention next time.

#227 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2017, 08:49 PM:

Lee #216: And I had to google "demisexual"....

Xopher #221: IIRC, Jughead's iconic hat represented an actual teenage style of the 40's or 50's when the strip started; teenagers would cut up one of their dad's old fedoras.

Jenny Islander #224: what I've noticed is that some of my favorite varieties of Progresso soup seem to have gone bye-bye, notably the Pasta E Fagoli.

#228 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2017, 09:13 PM:

I remember it used to be possible to get a frozen mix that was corn and lima beans. That's not around - but it's easy to replicate. Nor is peas with pearl onions (and finding pearl onions? good luck with that).
I suspect that supermarkets are concentrating on the stuff that "everyone" buys, so those of us with different tastes get shut out.

#229 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2017, 09:20 PM:

Grumble. Grocery store selection, grumble. My local Safeway recently had a massive remodel after being bought by Albertsons. After they stirred the stock with a stick, I had a hell of a time finding the Lipton's tea (which they still don't carry in loose-leaf—though I haven't looked for that explicitly in a while). It was relegated to a spot on a lower shelf waaaay down on the end of that isle, because those freaking coffee-pod things had taken up like two thirds of one side of that isle. :-\ The good news is that at least they're carrying my preferred flavor of Suave shampoo again.

On coming home from the vet smelling like stuff: I took Donkey to the vet to get a couple of abscessed scent glands lanced (and an adventure that was!). On the way home, I stopped to get some additional kit. There was a dog tied up to the tree where I locked my bike. He was friendly to another cyclist who offered a knuckle to sniff, and he looked like he was going to come over and be friendly to me, too—and then he caught a whiff of me, and backed all the way back as far as his leash would let him, and stared at me in alarm the entire time it took me to lock up my bike. I'm guessing he recognized That Smell.

Rot-13ed for disgustingness:

Qbaxrl unq gjb fprag tynaqf gung unq tbggra vzcnpgrq naq nofprffrq. Gur ovttre bar unq tbggra gb or gur fvmr bs n fznyy tencr. (V unqa'g ernyvmrq vg jnf gung ovt! Jung V fnj ba gur fhesnpr ybbxrq whfg crn-fvmrq.) Bapr jr* tbg cnfg gur vavgvny erfreibve bs oybbq naq frehz, vg cebqhprq jung ybbxrq yvxr abguvat fb zhpu nf na nqzvkgher bs oenvaf, pnyvsybjre, naq xvooyr. Vg jnf whfg fcrpgnphyneyl tebff. (Sbeghangryl, zl irg yvxrf guvf cnegvphyne oenaq bs tebff.)

Gur fznyyre bar qvq cebqhpr fbzr znlbaanvfr, naq ybbxrq yvxr gur erfg bs vg jnf gur fnzr fghss nf gur svefg bar, ohg vg jbhyq abg fdhrrmr bhg. Naq nsgre gra zvahgrf bs wnpxvat jvgu vg, vg jnf na bhgvr engure guna na vaavr. Gur irg fnvq vg ybbxrq yvxr jr'q whfg riregrq gur tynaq.

Fur fgnegrq chfuvat vg onpx va (guvf yvggyr crn-fvmrq juvgr-cvax oenva-ybbxvat guvat). V fnvq, "Jungpun qbva'?" nyy pnfhny yvxr.

"Jryy, vg'f abg pbzvat bss, fb—" fueht. V fnvq, "Nsgre jung jr whfg jrag guebhtu trggvat gung bhg? Bu, uryy ab, lbh ner abg whfg chggvat gung onpx jurer lbh sbhaq vg!" Fur ynhturq, naq tbg bhg yvggyr fpvffbef naq gevzzrq vg bss.

So that was our afternoon today.

* I say we because, while she did all the technical work, I held Donkey's head and reassured him, and he, well, he put up with the whole experience with remarkably good humor, only complaining or twitching a few times. My pigs are generally very good at the vet, but even so, she gave him a hit of bupropion, so he was very chill through the whole thing. "High," I think was the word she used.

When we got home, I had him on his back to put silver sulfadiazine and Desitin on his pressure sores, and he just slid back and lay there, all, "Yeah, okay, I'll just know ... yeah. ... 'kay." I was almost tempted to get up and get my camera, but I decided he'd been through enough by then.

#230 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2017, 09:31 PM:

Things no longer available at my local supermarket: kimchi, beef heart, beef kidneys, tripe, small red beans.

The canned fruit selection seems a lot smaller than I remember.

On the plus side, I can buy frozen peas in a package with four individually wrapped servings, which I don't remember from 10 years ago.

#231 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2017, 10:45 PM:

I by the four-serving bags, where they're all in the one bag. It's less expensive (10 for $10) and allows me to do things like mixing peas and corn.

Peas and corn takes a surprising amount of time to nuke.

#232 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2017, 10:53 PM:

Sad news -- not knowing who here knew her, but Pamela Ann Rapinan, AKA Raven, who did massage at a lot of NorthWest conventions, died unexpectedly this weekend. She's had health problems, but this seems to have come out of nowhere.

I didn't know her half as well as she deserved, but I went out and supported her when she put together massage therapists to help the first responders at the big Oso mudslide. She was a bit crusty. She put her energy where her mouth was, and I respect her for that.

#233 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2017, 11:27 PM:

Tom: Is that the Raven of this parish? (Although there may be several folks who go by variations of that moniker.)

In any event, sad to hear.

#234 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2017, 01:38 AM:

The filk community has also lost Casey Sledge, of the Dallas area. He collapsed while mowing his lawn on Friday and could not be revived; a heart attack is the presumed cause of death.

#235 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2017, 02:14 AM:

@P J Evans no. 228: Playing it safe probably has something to do with it, but due to my job I also know that supermarkets can get money directly from vendors for putting stuff on the shelf. Sometimes that money is so good that the store will pull an old reliable item to make room for some new thing that generates more money per inch of shelf space even though fewer people buy it. I just have no way of knowing if those little bags of multi-colored frozen carrots that retail at $6.78 per pound are actually generating more sales profit than the old $2.79 Fiesta Mix, or whether the producer of the Organic Carrot Rainbow Pak paid mega-boodle for the opportunity to stock it.

Either way, I'm not actually buying the Organic Carrot Rainbow Pak, or the artificially colored cherry pie filling, or the apple pie filling that costs four times as much as just cutting up some apples and sprinkling stuff on them before I put on the top crust. If I'd wanted that stuff, I would've bought it back when I had more options. I'm buying the even cheaper remaining vegetable mixes and putting stuff on them to give them some variety, or throwing up my hands and getting fresh cabbage instead!

I guess I just don't know how to be a good consumer. Like those millennials who just won't get with the program and buy fabric softener like they're supposed to.

#236 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2017, 03:14 AM:

I am somewhat affected by scented soaps, perfumes, etc., but my wife is massively affected. We had to stop going to the symphony, because everyone wears perfume there, causing her to cough so deeply I thought she would injure her diaphragm. So we were both horrified to find that some of the products marked "unscented" do have a scent. It's as if the manufacturers think "unscented" is a kind of scent.

#237 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2017, 04:17 AM:

Current UK political outbursts make me seriously unhappy. I shall say no more on that subject, since that would likely induce ranting and possibly mouth-foaming, at least in myself.

#238 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2017, 12:31 PM:

Jenny Islander @ 224: I haven't looked for snap beans for a while in Boston, but the crosscut (non-julienned) ones were available in multiple brands the last time I looked. I don't look at frozen mixes or at canned fruits (although I'm surprised you ever found canned gooseberries), but I saw stories a month or so back about a shortage of broccoli -- just about the time the regular (non-organic) frozen broccoli was out-of-stock for a couple of weeks at Trader Joe's. Are any of your favorites cyclic (cf a chunk of kitchen-tools area going to canning jars for a few months each year), or are they gone for good?

P J Evans @ 228: I get the impression that grocery stores are trying to cover even more bases, rather than concentrating on what "everybody buys"; around here the footprints keep getting larger, by either closing 1-2 stores after finding a place for a much larger one (more common for Stop & Shop), or expansion-in-place (the Chestnut Hill Star had no lateral room and no abutters willing to fold, so the store was rebuilt on stilts with the loading dock underneath). Even Whole Foods (which took over some of the too-small-for-the-dense-chains spaces) has opened at least one local store big enough to need a central crosswise aisle.
      It's possible that covering more non-Anglo foods (jicama, sugar cane, batata, platano, ...) squeezes out \some/ food of our childhood, but I wouldn't assume it given the footprints. It's also possible that the stoppage is with the packagers rather than the stores; if enough stores slow orders because something sells slowly, running a high-speed packaging line may not be worthwhile. I saw this in miniature several years ago; two vendors the gigantic Madison WI farmers' market who used to have microwave-ready packages of special popcorns (black, red, "baby rice", ...) had to drop it because the packager wouldn't do less than 10,000 units of a type. (One of them had sold 20-30K units/yr of all microwave types together.) OTOH, I \know/ why nobody but WF carries ground pork in bulk; health laws (at least in MA) require a separate grinder, so everybody (else) buys fixed-size packages from a specialist.

#239 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2017, 03:07 PM:

Ingvar M #237:

You don't mean the sudden conversion of UK national politics into The Pirates of Penzance?

"I bid you yield in Queen Victoria's Name!" "You do? "I do!"

#240 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2017, 04:14 PM:

Bill Stewart @110: "digging up that grass to plant tomatoes"

HAHAHAHAHA! You obviously have no experience with Bermuda grass.

It's also known as Lazarus grass, is highly invasive, is both seeded and rhizome, and can provably survive multiple summers with no water whatsoever for five or more months. To "remove" it, you basically have to remove all dirt down several feet. And then use Roundup. Twice. And barrier. Maybe do three months of solarizing under plastic as well.

Napalm is not outside of consideration.

(Short version: The reason I don't currently have a garden is that I need to nuke the area thoroughly before even putting down sheet mulching, landscape fabric, and gravel as a barrier before putting in RAISED BEDS. It's that bad, and the grass ate my last garden whole.)

#241 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2017, 04:25 PM:

I have a friend who posts from time to time about The Cologne Cloud of Doom. Apparently the guy marinates in it and has resisted giving it up despite repeatedly being asked to.

#242 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2017, 05:15 PM:

And can take being mowed damned near down to its roots. It's been used on golf courses because of that.

We took out a back lawn that was about half bermuda grass and turned it into garden. The main reason we got away with it is because the garden plants tended to crowd it out: tomatoes and a peach tree on the sunny edge, leaf lettuce on the shady edge, and bush beans in between. (It beat trying to mow it with a push mower. Which was my job.)

#243 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2017, 08:10 PM:

Thanks for the warning, Jacque. As an experienced pet owner I can take it. And using the same kind of language that you did, you might be amused to know that I once called up the vet and made an appointment for my cat who had n intvany qvfpunetr gung ybbxrq yvxr gubhfnaq vfynaq qerffvat.

#244 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2017, 08:31 PM:

Allan: Oh my. That sounds—exciting? What did it turn out to be?

I wish I could take credit for the style of metaphor, but I think I picked it up from my coworker who used to be a vet tech.

#245 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2017, 08:37 PM:

Well, that's irritating. I dropped the pen for my drawing tablet (weird. I mistyped "cabinet") down into a cluttered, inaccessible corner a while ago, and left it there because I a) didn't need it at the moment and b) didn't have the spoons to do the excavation necessary to extract it.

Well, I've now done the excavation. (Yay! Formerly nasty corner, now clean.) But no joy. This is irritating, not only because my art project is now stalled, but also because replacing it will probably be non-trivial, potentially involving a system upgrade that will break a whole bunch of other stuff. Grumble. I love technology. :-\

#246 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2017, 09:33 PM:

A few weeks back, I was trying to put a lobster clasp (bright shiny silver) on something, and it got away, I heard it land, and I know the general area - but I can't find it. And it's an area that's lit.
I blame gremlins. Or elves.
Plus other stuff that's "around here somewhere" and I can't find it, even though I think I know where it should be.

#247 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2017, 09:34 PM:

Frack . . . I was planning on a career change at the end of this year, or at the end of next year if the stock market turned dodgy*, but for the second time in my career the business unit I work in is being sold off. No buyer yet. No idea when (if ever?) it would happen. No idea if I'd be laid off early to make the business more "attractive" as the HR lady put it.

Worst case is I'm given a choice between relocating or taking a minimal severance. (No idea if that would happen, but it is what happened 16 years ago.)

Grrrr. I really didn't want to start third career planning yet.

*Putting Goldman Sachs in charge of everything is just asking for a bubble.

#248 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2017, 11:01 PM:

Jacque @233: Not so far as I know, but I don't know.

#249 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2017, 11:19 PM:

Anthony's Law of the Workshop: Any tool, when dropped, will roll into the least accessible corner of the workshop.

Corollary: On the way to the corner, any dropped tool will first and always strike your toes.

Me: ... in such a way as to mislead you with regard to the direction it's really going. Which leads towards the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle regarding the product of the position and momentum of an object.

#250 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2017, 12:22 AM:

AKICML: Soooo I just got a Dreamwidth account, finally, and imported my LJ. Like a dodo, I went ahead and consented to the new LJ TOS in order to see and edit my own darn posts before I had a rush of brains to the head and went, "Oh, hell, Russians!"

So I was wondering if anybody here had some tips about how to really truly zorch my LJ. Is there something non-obvious that I really ought to do?

FWIW, both my LJ and my new DW account have unique passwords. I base my passwords on stuff that happens to be lying on my desk (mail, children's homework, library books, grocery lists...) with added l33t.

#251 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2017, 01:45 AM:

Jenny, #250: This must be brand-new. The post I made 2 weeks ago cross-posted with no problems; the one I made today failed with a message of "Terms of Service Agreement required" -- but I never got any sort of notice or request to sign one. Further information about this would be welcome, because I can't make a decision without it.

#252 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2017, 02:20 AM:

Somebody on that thing wot tumbles said that the TOS in English include fine print that only the TOS in Russian are legally binding and you have to click a link to see them.

#253 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2017, 04:01 AM:

Fragano Ledgister @ #239:

The fragment of (filked) song that comes to mind is "Springtime for Tessa in Brexitland" (which is depressing, becaiuse I thought writing down "Springtime for Donald" would've purged the urge to filk that tune ever again).

Jenny Islander, Lee @ #250 - #252:

Ah, darn, that probably means I'll have to stop cross-posting my "this is what I've been reading" posts to LJ and leave them solely on DW (from where I've been cross-posting them for a long good while now).

#254 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2017, 05:19 AM:

Saying that a specific language is authoritative for a company's TOS is reasonable, though the shift from English to Russian is worrying.

The way things are going in England, I may as well drop LiveJournal. I've not used it for years.

#255 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2017, 06:15 AM:

Lee @ #251:

It is brand new - last night was business as usual, this morning I went to look at my LJ friendslist and got a modal popup displaying the new TOS and not letting me continue without agreeing.

(I haven't agreed yet, and perhaps won't.)

Jenny Islander @ #252:

It does say that, although "fine print" is not the mot juste - it's in a highlighted box at the very beginning of the English-language TOS.

#256 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2017, 10:46 AM:

The 2017 Hugo Award finalists have been announced. Looks like there's plenty of good stuff in every category this year.

Some of my own thoughts:

Looks like there's only minor interference from the usual suspects.

I have some catching up on reading to do. What a hardship.

Yay, Hidden Figures is a finalist in Best Dramatic Presentation Long Form! It has some stiff and worthy competition.

There's only one Doctor Who episode in Best Dramatic Presentation Short Form. I am astounded.

#257 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2017, 10:51 AM:

KeithS @256, in a related note, File770 seems to be down. Slashdotted...?

#258 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2017, 10:55 AM:

Speaking of reading, I'm currently re-reading the first book in a series that young teenaged me thought was awesome. The story itself might still wind up being epic and amazing, but the prose goes "clunk". It's not bad, but it's constantly distracting. I'm a little disconcerted.

Cassy B. @ 257:

That would be my guess.

#259 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2017, 10:57 AM:

I'm really, really thrilled by the 2017 Hugo Ballot.

Looking at it, in a lot of categories I'm going "I think this is my first choice, but I've heard really good things about this work, and this one, and this one... so it's going to be hard." It's an excellent problem to have.

#260 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2017, 11:12 AM:

...and as soon as I posted the above, I was able to get to File770.... <wry>

#261 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2017, 11:55 AM:

So, somebody dug into the English legalese of the new LJ TOS. Here's the thread, or whatever Tumblr calls threads:

The gist: If you say dirty dirty things, like, "I think that gay people should not be rounded up and put in camps and murdered because I don't think that being gay is wrong," LJ will find and pass along your meatspace identity so that you can be punished.

So. Can I just follow the directions at LJ for deleting and purging my journal or is there a gotcha in there I need to be aware of?

#262 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2017, 12:11 PM:

KeithS: "There's only one Doctor Who episode in Best Dramatic Presentation Short Form."

There was only one Doctor Who episode in 2016! (If that was the joke, I apologize...)

Like all, I am pleased by the lists. I happend to have read nearly all of the novel and novella finalists, and every one I read was impressive in some way. Often in many ways.

The Best Series list, however, confirms my opinion that this is not a useful category. I can't usefully compare old favorites with new favorites. That is to say, I can, but it's comparing backrubs to oranges -- an exercise in arbitrary numbering.

On top of that, the Best Novel category already has a problem (IMHO) with previous authors attracting too much re-nomination attention. The Best Series list is, well, I'd say the effect is amplified. (I count ten prior Best Novel nominees there, of which eight are Bujold.)

I'm not saying that Best Series is a stain upon the Hugos' honor, just that I don't think it is a successful experiment.

#263 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2017, 12:50 PM:

P J Evans @246: I blame gremlins. Or elves.

"Zen Cosmic Sinkhole" is the story my family generally goes with.

Joel Polowin @249: Oh, definitely. "If I had a nickel for every time...."

Or if it's a prescription pill, it will lodge in the most obscure and inaccessible location that nevertheless allows the pets to eat it.

#264 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2017, 02:05 PM:

Andrew Plotkin @ 262:

Well, that explains why the category doesn't like Best Dramatic Presentation, Doctor Who Form this year.

I don't entirely agree on your assessment of the Best Series list. Seanan McGuire has been a finalist for best novel as Mira Grant, but never won, and has never been a finalist as Seanan McGuire. Ben Aaronovitch has never been a best novel finalist at all, and neither has Max Gladstone. That's three entire book series that have never had any best novel love.

That said, I don't know how useful it is as an annual category, since series are long-term affairs. Perhaps once every decade, without the restriction that a new book must have come out in the previous year. You still run into the comparison problem, but you have that to a certain extent anyway in the other categories.

#265 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2017, 02:48 PM:

KeithS @ #264:

If I remember the proposed language right, there's no requirement that a series has had a book in the previous year to be eligible for a finalist place. However, any series that reaches "finalist" is not eligible until at least a certain word count has been published since it was finalist (can't say I recall the exact number, but I think it was 250 kwords) last. Any series that's won, is then forever uneligible.

I think it'd be perfectly sensible to have it every year, based on the fact that more (probably many more) series are started, or have books published in them, every year. There may become a time when this is no longer true, but I am not sure it'd actually happen.

#266 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2017, 04:40 PM:

Okay, so LJ seems to be making a huge IP grab and putting some unacceptable language in their TOS. As it happens, I've been using my LJ as a mirror for my DW account (rather than the reverse, which it was when I first got on DW) for at least the past 4 or 5 years. And I ran an import recently, so I currently have all but about 3 LJ-side comments archived on DW as well.

This leaves me with the decision: Do I accept the new TOS long enough to make a "This is my last post here, and this journal will be going away soon, find me on DW at [username]" post, grab those last few comments, and delete/purge after a few days? Or should I simply refuse to accept the TOS and abandon it in place?

My partner is adamant that I should abandon in place. Because if you accept the new TOS even for a few seconds, then they'll have a copy. But if I leave it there, they'll have a copy anyhow. But they won't have your permission to use it. And like they're going to care whether they have my permission or not? This is a very nebulous argument that isn't making sense to me.

Someone elseNet has argued that if the point of this is to stifle political discussion on LJ, then deleting your journal is giving them what they want. I think that this argument is at best misapplied in this context. The political discussion will still be happening in a gazillion other places; what does one platform more or less matter (except for Russian citizens) at this point?

Personally, I'm inclined to the "accept, close, delete/purge" option. But I'm willing to consider abandoning in place if anyone can come up with an argument for it that doesn't sound like hand-waving.


#267 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2017, 04:58 PM:

Lee: I guess it depends to an extent on just how paranoid you are. Given the current climate, I'd be inclined to be more paranoid than less paranoid. What I can say with confidence is I'm glad I zorched* my account a couple of months ago.

How much would you lose if you access the page w/o logging in and just select-all and copy?

* Totally stealing Jenny Islander's word.

#268 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2017, 05:12 PM:

There was only one Doctor Who episode in 2016!

And 2015 as well. (Though both the last two years may have been the result of canine interference.)

#269 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2017, 05:52 PM:

Ingvar M @ 265:

I seem to recall when filling out my nominations for this year's Hugos that a book in the series had to be published in the period of eligibility. That might not be a part of the more general proposal, though.

Lee @ 266:

I haven't read the new T&Cs yet. I really don't have anything on LJ except for a couple of comments, so I'll probably let my account rot in place. Easier to do nothing for me.

For someone like you with an extensive posting history, it's a harder call. Worrying about whether to accept the T&Cs presupposes that they'll honor you saying no, and I don't trust them to do that. They already have all of your posts, since they're hosted on their servers, and they have them backed up too[1], so deleting them won't make a difference if they really wanted to go look at them.

Weighing the options of rot-in-place versus delete, I come down weakly on the side of delete. Sure, they already have your stuff, but no need to make it easy on them. Let them faff about with backup tapes if they really want to. You also have some friendslocked stuff on there which is not currently open to casual browsing, but what if they decide that in the glorious new future of LJ, controlling who sees your stuff is no longer acceptable? (Yes, this is blatant fearmongering whatiffery.) Easier to delete it now while you know you have account access.

If you decide to delete your stuff, you may as well post a pointer to your Dreamwidth journal.

IANAL, nor do I play one on TV, but it might be argued that if you have to accept the new T&Cs in order to delete your journal and/or close your account, it's a coerced contract and therefore unenforceable. See again that I don't necessarily trust them to abide by their side of things anyway, but if it makes you feel better about clicking "I agree" in order to clean up after yourself, then I'm all for that argument.

[1] At least, I'd assume they have them backed up, because that's just reasonable IT procedure.

Andrew M @ 268:

I checked IMDB after Andrew Plotkin replied to me, and there really was only one Doctor Who episode released in 2016. IMDB counts two, but it looks like one of them was a short or a teaser trailer, not an episode.

#270 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2017, 06:16 PM:

Jacque, #267: I'm not worried about my content; that's all mirrored on DW. But I can't delete my account without accepting the TOS -- if I could, that's what I'd have done and I wouldn't have to be asking these questions.

#271 ::: Race Traitor Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2017, 06:19 PM:

Jenny 261: Can I just follow the directions at LJ for deleting and purging my journal or is there a gotcha in there I need to be aware of?

I've just been trying and there appears to be no way to get to the page where you delete your account without agreeing to the UA, which is in Russian (the English version is bad enough, but you're agreeing to the Russian version, with no guarantee that they match).

I'm letting it rot in place for now. I'm regretting not zorching my account a long time ago.

#272 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2017, 06:55 PM:

In re the Hugo 2017 list, I am greatly cheered that the text fiction categories (the first however many until dramatic) are strongly woman-majority, and not entirely white.

#273 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2017, 06:56 PM:

I've read five of six Best Novel nominees, and had the sixth (Death's End) on my list. Ranking Too Like the Lightning, The Obelisk Gate, A Closed and Common Orbit, and Ninefox Gambit is going to be a difficult exercise. (All the Birds in the Sky is going below those four, and I strongly suspect that the Liu will also, although I'm not ruling out that it will knock my socks off.)

#274 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2017, 07:13 PM:

Let me say that I am not dissing All the Birds in the Sky, merely saying that it was less to my taste than the others. I'd say this is one of the strongest novel ballots in quite some time.

#275 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2017, 09:14 PM:

FOUND IT! me @245: It originally fell down behind a rack of open-grill utility shelves, parallel to the bars, so I not unreasonably figured it would be on the floor. But I thought of one last place it could possibly be, if it had bounced off the wall and landed in the gutter running along the rim of the last-but-one shelf. Well, couldn't tell, even with a bright light, without pulling the whole business out again, which I didn't want to tackle tonight (and besides it was unlikely anyway). But just as I was moving to get up, something caught my eye on the bottom shelf.

There it was. It had contrived to land on the bottom shelf, perpendicular to the bars, (near the front of the shelf—bwuh? How the hell?) and had been sitting there, within easy reach, the whole time. I hadn't seen it because it's black, I would have been looking at it end-on, and that was seemingly the least likely place for it to fetch up.

So whew! (And I got a couple of new clean spots for my troubles.)

(And meanwhile, have I mentioned how much I hate batteries? I have a lovely bluetooth trackpad, but the damn batteries had died, and the spares in my cabinet were too low to satisfy it. Rrrr. But I have a USB mouse, so I'm in business.) (It's a pain to use the laptop's trackpad in conjunction with the drawing tablet.)

#276 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2017, 11:19 PM:

Jacque, it was a treatable infection that cleared up before she succumbed to an unrelated terminal condition that the vet was already seeing her for. This was long ago so I don't remember all the details.

#277 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2017, 02:34 AM:

One recently rediscovered advantage of having new cats is that we can again say, when hearing a loud crash from somewhere, "Oh, it's just the cats", instead of having to actually wonder what happened. The cat who can see likes climbing, and there's a high windowsill in the bedroom that he's trying to figure out how to get to, trying different furniture to see if he can reach it from there.

#278 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2017, 02:55 AM:

Luckily, I have a User-ID on LJ which doesn't obviously connect with my ID on other services, though there are elements such as email addresses which will connect.

I am not sure that I will bother with Dreamwidth, and I haven't posted anything new for years. I may just nuke the account. Some of the LJ backup tools haven't been updated for years. They still pop up on Google but may not work any more.

( seems to be working for the text: Python script, and I am using Linux; a lot of the tools seem to involve Windows (spit).)

It's not hard to see how the USA and the UK might be headed in the same direction as Russia on internet use and privacy. Is that exaggeration? I hope so, but I wouldn't put money on that. Maybe there is a market opportunity for services based in the EU, who can honestly declare that they are following the EU laws on protecting personal data.

#279 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2017, 03:30 AM:

Well, that's it. Nothing posted to LJ since 2014, all the text now safe here.

ljdump works

Photos, incidentally, were stored on a defunct service. I've deleted the account. Stuff will linger on their servers for 60 days in case I should change my mind. It's hardly likely, now is it.

#280 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2017, 08:33 AM:

Question on Ursula Vernon's blog: I've been keeping an eye on the Red Wombat Studio site, where she apparently migrated, but there hasn't been a post there for some time.

Is she just busy? Or in her transition from LJ have I mislaid this connection?

I miss her.

#281 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2017, 08:58 AM:

Carol @280:

I haven't been to LJ since the changes in the Terms of Service (so I haven't seen first-hand what people are complaining about), but I recall seeing a new post of hers in LJ within the past couple of weeks. She is (or was) birding in the southwest, if I recall correctly.

#282 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2017, 09:10 AM:

Buddha Buck: thank you

Is my problem that I don't have a Dreamwidth account?

When I search for her using that and TKingfisher all I get is a spinning icon.

I was able to call up LJ Bark Like a Fish and find more recent posts. I hadn't been checking there as I assumed it had been abandoned.

#283 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2017, 09:21 AM:

Carol Kimball, I'm not on twitter but I kinda follow her twitter account; if you google Ursula Vernon Twitter it comes up and you can read it without having to sign up for anything. She's been birding with friends.

#285 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2017, 09:43 AM:

Carol Kimball @ 280:

She has not been posting much of late. Her Dreamwidth is

#286 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2017, 11:19 AM:

Thanks, everybody. Red Wombat's links haven't been updated for a while. I can live with that as long as I can find her.

#287 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2017, 11:29 AM:

She's been commenting the last couple of days at File770 - apparently she's been very busy; she barely got her Hugo nominations in before the deadline.

#289 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2017, 01:16 PM:

Keith@269: Ah, I misunderstood. Still, the point holds that it's been a while since Doctor Who dominated this category.

#290 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2017, 01:34 PM:

Dave Bell, #279:

Does "ljdump works" mean "for a user who has agreed to Livejournal's new Russian-language terms of service" or rather "even for a user who has not agreed to the TOS?"

(LJdump is apparently a Python program. I don't know how to run this, but can probably find help at a giant physics lab near here.)

Livejournal has been the site of my blog (username "beamjockey") since 2005. Guess I will have to start over somewhere else.

Because there are pointers all over the Web to stuff I've written on that site. I am reluctant to remove it entirely. I don't understand all the implications yet.

#291 ::: Jennifer Barber ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2017, 02:02 PM:

One thing I've discovered is that it's possible to navigate and copy/paste or print around the TOS box without agreeing, in case anyone else needs to do that.

(I haven't posted to my LJ in years, or even kept up with what's left of my flist, so with one or two exceptions losing it is no hardship from that perspective. OTOH, I have a lot of Memories from other people's journals that I don't want to lose--mostly fic I haven't seen on AO3 yet, or meta--and I'm trying to save what I can before more of those journals get deleted. The problem is, most of those memories are Private, so I have to be logged in to get at them, which means dealing with the TOS issue.... *sigh*)

#292 ::: Rob Wynne ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2017, 02:43 PM:

#175: When I moved from Atlanta to Seattle, there was a fair bit of stuff that was too big to take with us, but too functional or useful to just toss out -- most notably a less than 5-year-old king-sized mattress and box springs with frame. So my friend who finished closing out our apartment for us so we could get on the road left it all at the front of the garage, with the garage door open, and a sign saying "Free. Please take".

I got a call later that day, as we were driving through Texas, from an alarmed property staffer, who told me that all that stuff needed to be removed to the dumpster within 24 hours or they'd have to charge me to remove it. I said "I'm sure other people will take care of that. In any case, I'm a thousand miles away already and can't do anything about it. So, whatever you need to do."

It was never mentioned again. I have every faith in my neighbours that they saw good useful things and are, I hope, enjoying them to this day.

#293 ::: Zack ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2017, 02:51 PM:

I've been telling people to delete all the content off their old LJs, unfriend everyone, blank the profile, and change the password to a freshly-generated random string, but not to push the "delete account" button, because you don't want old external links to your posts to mysteriously turn into links to spam. This way, they'll be 404s permanently.

I did this for mine a couple-three months ago, and at that time it was possible to do it without agreeing to the new ToS; don't know if it's still possible now.

#294 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2017, 06:19 PM:

Didn't even know Ursula Vernon had a blog. I've been checking out her Tumblr regularly.

"Birding in the Rio Grande."

#295 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2017, 06:35 PM:

Two Tumblrs, actually: the other is "Kingfisher Feathers"

#296 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2017, 01:10 AM:

So... there's no way in hell I can go to Helsinki, but I'm thinking seriously about San Juan. The problem is that to get nonstop flights at convenient times, I may have to fly in on Wednesday and out on Monday. This adds 2 nights and over $300 to a hotel amount that was already *gulp*.

Is anyone here going who might be interested in a roomsplit? It doesn't have to be for the whole period -- even 2 or 3 days would help a lot. I don't smoke (and don't want a smoker, sorry), but I do snore (and am happy to supply earplugs).

The rooms are double/double (which may or may not mean queen-sized beds; in my day it meant double beds, but the usage seems to be shifting), so 1 person or a couple would work.

#297 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2017, 03:40 PM:

I'm told if you disable javascript in your browser you don't get the TOS popup and can do what you want, including deleting your account, without agreeing to the TOS. I have not tried this myself.

#298 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2017, 04:02 PM:

My feeling on Jughead is that he's ... not interested in girls [or sex, or both] yet? Archie was traditionally aimed at pre-teens and there was and may still be a huge "romance is stupid" feeling among preteens. I remember, like, at 11 I was absolutely not interested in girls, and at 12 the switch flipped. (To the girl I was horrible to because she had a huge crush on me at 11: I am sorry.) Jughead's sort of in the same category (maybe there's a cultural pendulum that's swinging back?) as the supporting characters in cowboy movies that don't think the hero should be wasting his time with girls that are going to make him take baths and settle down or whatever.

Is Jughead too old for "romance is dumb"? Realistically, probably. I think it's in the same category as "Why is Batman fighting crime with a 12-year old?" Because that's what the audience liked to see.

#299 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2017, 09:06 PM:

Random open threadiness: the current XKCD has a list of 'bad security advice' like "Change your maiden name regularly". One that might be appreciated here: "Only read content published through"

#300 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2017, 11:04 PM:

NPR extends the theme of @0 with a group that admits they stretch the term "bluegrass" to the limit.

#301 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2017, 02:00 AM:

Thomas @299: I think the idea is that the content on goes through a slushpile so snoopers cannot tell who it really came from. Or "Stubby the Rocket" is a pseudonymous bowser.

I like to recommend using the SHH protocol to connect to libraries.

#302 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2017, 02:01 AM:

Thomas @299: I think the idea is that the content on goes through a slushpile so snoopers cannot tell who it really came from. Or "Stubby the Rocket" is a pseudonymous bowser.

I like to recommend using the SHH protocol to connect to libraries.

#303 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2017, 02:06 AM:

I got the dreaded "Internal Server Error". Cleverly, I copied my post to the desktop, cleared it, and went back to the top of ML. No post. I reloaded this page. No post. I copied the text back in and submitted. Got two. The second attempt must have jarred the first one loose in the database.

#304 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2017, 11:17 AM:

Okay, this is driving me nuts. I just watched the trailer for King Arthur: Legend of the Sword and I know they're using a Led Zeppelin song as background, but I can't recall the title of it. Help?

#305 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2017, 12:47 PM:

"Babe I'm Gonna Leave You." (Lyric actually in the title, who'd'a thunk?)

Beats "Kashmir" in the John Carter trailer.

#306 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2017, 10:48 PM:

How about some covers we'll never get to hear? I had a dream one time of Henry Rollins covering the Who's Substitute. I would have also liked to hear Type O Negative covering Veruca Salt's Seether.

#307 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2017, 01:01 AM:

TomB @ 301: Randall's playing on the name collision between Tor, the publisher, and Tor, the anonymized internet browsing software.

#308 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2017, 01:20 AM:

(URL below contains a Word Of Power that attracts gnomes looking for distributors of canned meat products. Sorry if it causes trouble.

Curing Jet Lag For Hamsters. (Eastbound hamsters only; sorry for those of you whose wheels are rolling west.) Smithsonian mag link. Apparently those pills which I shall not name here have uses other than their popular ones - they also reduce altitude adjustment problems in humans at smaller doses (friend reports 1/4-1/2 the usual is enough), and can help jet lag (at least in hamsters, at mg/kg doses lower also much lower than the typical human dose.) The article indicates that they have not yet been officially tested for jet lag effects in humans.

#309 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2017, 01:40 AM:

Clifton @307: And here I was thinking it was because Tor is ROT backwards.

I read somewhere that Tor stands for "The Onion Router". Does this mean that Tor anonymizes your browsing by translating web pages into satirical newspaper stories? That would be fantastic. I love The Onion. But will it scale? I don't think The Onion has enough writers on staff to satirize all traffic on the internet.

#310 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2017, 03:35 AM:

TomB @ #309:

TOR actually works by Shrekking your package, then sending it through layers of ogre, because everyone knows that ogres are like onions, they have layers.

Joking aside, it is essentially like giant game of pass-the-parcel. You as a TOR user go "hey, I want to browse site.tld, so I shall construct a route that is N layers deep, encryot each layer, so only the entity sending the package to the next layer can read the instructions, with the innermost layer having the URL of site.tld at hand!"

Then your browse request goes through this long and complicated process built mostly of somewhat fascinating math, until site.tld says "Oh, here's the page", it comes back and your browser then goes "darn, there's a bunch of pics here, lemme send off another 15 TOR requests for the GIFs", and those go off, each one using a different route through the TOR-cloud, all making it more than a little non-trivial to match the requests reaching site.tld to you.

#311 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2017, 01:21 PM:

HLN: Local woman slowly realizes, in the course of coloring a page-a-day calendar featuring samples of an entire line of doodle-esque "anti-stress" coloring books for grown-ups that is sold in big box stores, that the artist(s) liked drawing yonis. Like, really really liked drawing yonis. Leaves: yonis. Feathers: yonis. Fur: yonis. Abstract shapes (that is, doodles): yonis. Some of them are rather abstract, but others are pretty anatomical.

#312 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2017, 01:35 PM:

Am waiting for a thing to happen, meanwhile looking for funny videos. Like this!


A HUMAN: starts to play guitar

ONE BIRD: nods to the rhythm

OTHER BIRD does not

ONE BIRD: ~crest flarrrrrre~


ONE BIRD: headbangin!

OTHER BIRD: sidles away


OTHER BIRD: inches clear to end of perch

ONE BIRD: Oh, come on, this is AWESOME. *sidles closer, continues to rock out*

OTHER BIRD: leans awayyyyy

ONE BIRD: Fine, more room for me to STRUT.

OTHER BIRD: holds foot up, otherwise will not move


OTHER BIRD: combination hunch and side-eye

#313 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2017, 02:09 PM:

Tried to watch Jenny Islander's video recommendation, but the link had a misspelling. I managed to find it anyway, and it is funny. I see Other Bird thinking "can't take you anywhere..." Just imagine if they could find this dude a teeny little lampshade to wear.

#314 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2017, 02:20 PM:

I've found that many coloring books aimed at adults are very hard to color. They were probably very soothing to design, with all the fiddly patterns in there, but they are not to my taste. I prefer Theo Lorenz' work-- that can actually be colored.

#315 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2017, 02:50 PM:

Older @313: I get a "this video does not exist" from your link as cut&pasted into my browser.

#316 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2017, 03:53 PM:

Jenny Islander #312: OTHER BIRD: holds foot up, otherwise will not move

"Personal space, dude!" The quiet bird's raised foot seems actually to be pushing or holding the dancer away.

#317 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2017, 04:29 PM:

The link was a straight C&P. How in the heck did it end up with a misspelling?!

#318 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2017, 04:59 PM:

It didn't have a typo for me, Jenny Islander. Perhaps it's an autocorrect failure?

#319 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2017, 08:51 PM:

Older's link works for me. That is one seriously weird cockatoo; I wonder whether the singer's moves looked like a display to him?

#320 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2017, 09:14 PM:

The original link @312 works fine for me. If you or your autocorrect changed "birb" to "bird", that will break it.

#321 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2017, 12:22 AM:

@312 &seq: But, dang that boy's got him some moves on him!

#322 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2017, 01:15 AM:

@CHip no. 319: Videos of birds who boogie are all over the System of Tubes. Most of them are psittacids, but I've seen others as well. The dancing-birds-on-Youtube thing has actually attracted scientific interest. The last I heard, it appears that it isn't a misplaced mating display. They just love to git down to the beat. They even have favorite songs.

Here is a summary of scientific research as of 8 years ago, featuring the seminal video of Snowball the cockatoo who loves to high kick to the Backstreet Boys.

#323 ::: Sarah E ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2017, 10:14 AM:

Sandy B. @ #298
Is Jughead too old for "romance is dumb?"

Well, he appears to be in the same high-school grade as the rest of the characters, and *they're* a raging mass of hormones. I suppose he could be a late bloomer, but my money used to be on "loves Archie, but knows Archie's straight, so keeps quiet about it and channels his feelings into the pursuit of hamburgers." Asexual makes sense too, though, and U believe is currently cannon in the comics.

#324 ::: Sarah E ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2017, 10:14 AM:

Sandy B. @ #298
Is Jughead too old for "romance is dumb?"

Well, he appears to be in the same high-school grade as the rest of the characters, and *they're* a raging mass of hormones. I suppose he could be a late bloomer, but my money used to be on "loves Archie, but knows Archie's straight, so keeps quiet about it and channels his feelings into the pursuit of hamburgers." Asexual makes sense too, though, and U believe is currently cannon in the comics.

#325 ::: Sarah E ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2017, 10:23 AM:

^^ Damn, I've finally been hit by the double-post curse.

#326 ::: Sarah E ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2017, 10:38 AM:

On another topic -- I feel like it says something about the Puppies that they can't do a good imitation of Chuck Tingle.

"Alien Stripper Boned From Behind By The T. Rex" doesn't sound like a Tingle; it sounds like a mainstream porn cliché with the words "alien" and "T. Rex" thrown in.

"Stix Hiscock" is just aggressively tin-eared. Even something like "Styx Hitchcock," would have been a very tiny bit subtler and ten times easier to pronounce.

#327 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2017, 10:41 AM:

Dan Piraro lays it out on LGBTQ rights. (After the cartoon mentioning trangender folks.)

#328 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2017, 12:03 PM:

I have a question for the Fluorosphere: What do you do when a book has a brilliant premise, is fluidly written, yet keeps throwing you out every few pages because the linguistic affect is wrong. And not just the language, even nomenclature is incorrect, being American rather than correctly suited for the period/place/society where the tale is set.

I won't name the book/author, save to note that it was published by a house not unassociated with our hosts. It has a specific historical setting well-known to me, and quite a lot of other people here. The dialogue, however, was persistently contemporary American, except in one or two places. In those places, magically, it was even more wrong (wrong units of linear measurement, for example).

I feel rather irritated because, as I said, the premise is brilliant and the writing fluid. It's a wonderful story, except for the fact that I kept being kicked out every other page.

#329 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2017, 12:08 PM:

Did anyone here take part in the Place experiment on Reddit? They put up a blank canvas and let people place one pixel at a time, in various colors, with a wait before that person could place another pixel. The waves of collaboration and anti-collaboration are fascinating to watch.

Despite this starting on 1 April, I think it's real; and amazing in any case.

#330 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2017, 12:18 PM:

Fragano @#328: If it's been translated into another language that you're fluent in, try reading the translation instead.

#331 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2017, 01:23 PM:

Lila #330: I don't know if it has been. That might or might not help (French, for example, would preserve some of the errors).

#332 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2017, 01:59 PM:

I suppose 'seethe in frustration and complain to friends' has been done already.

I once quit a book because the author needed to grow some semicolons.

#333 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2017, 02:22 PM:

Diatryma #332: Indeed.

#334 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2017, 03:52 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @ 328:

For me, it depends on how egregious the issues are, and how invested I am in wanting to stick it out. I either continue to read the book anyway until the errors become background noise, continue to read the book and accept that I'm going to grind my teeth every few pages, or give up on it and decide it's not for me.

#335 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2017, 04:35 PM:

Fragano, I usually decide not to read that any more. Too bad if it's an important author, because I just can't stand it.

I am very old, and my early education was in the hands of some very old relatives, so I learned (among other things to be mentioned later) the correct use of "will" and "shall", and to hear them misused just drives me nuts.

I understand current usage, and I believe I speak it well enough, but there *is* no currently accepted way of dealing with these words, and every author mangles them differently. So there are books/authors I just can't read.

Among the things I learned as a child was whom to introduce to whom, and how to curtsey. I passed these skills on to my daughter, who said once that she was the youngest person she had ever met who knew them.

#336 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2017, 04:40 PM:

Open threadiness: I'm going to be in the East Midlands in two weeks (Loughborough). Anybody want to meet for lunch or even better a stroll, there or anywhere near-Leicester or beyond?

#337 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2017, 04:40 PM:

Diatryma -- You know, some folks have too many semicolons. I am a member of a writing group, and in critiquing other members' work, I almost always have to cut apart extremely long sentences that have been constructed by pasting together a bunch of shorter ones, often using semicolons as glue. "And" and "but" are also popular.

#338 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2017, 06:26 PM:


Would it help at all to think of the book as having been translated into contemporary American dialect?

#339 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2017, 06:44 PM:

KeithS #334: I finished the book.

Older: The last time I saw someone curtsey in the flesh, as it were, was a little while back (1971 to be precise). The person to whom the curtsey was addressed referred to it as "an old-fashioned curtsey" in his speech. He commended it as a sign of good manners in "these slacker times".

Michael I #338: Not really.

#340 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2017, 06:55 PM:

Sarah E @ #326:

Is there a reason to think that Stix Hiscock is a creation of the Puppies? My understanding is that 'mainstream porn cliché with the words "alien" and "T. Rex" thrown in' is an existing subgenre in online self-published erotica, with several authors working in it, and it was just the Puppies' bad luck that the first time they dipped into it for an obviously inappropriate nominee they pulled out Chuck Tingle.

#341 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2017, 07:10 PM:

Paul A @ #340

This moose neither knows nor cares, but by slating that piece onto the ballot they have provided the best argument possible for the introduction of 3-stage voting.

Every time they try to disrupt the Hugo awards they seem to create larger and more painful holes in their own feet.

They're almost a textbook example of the self-flagellating dead horse.

#342 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2017, 08:37 PM:

Just started reading Too Like Lightening, and I'm immediately tickled by the in story trigger warnings.

#343 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2017, 10:59 PM:

Jacque: I recently started on the second book. You'll be amused to know that it opens (more or less) with a brief official explanation of why the following chapter should be censored from publication.

BTW, those trigger warnings come back and bite just when you've almost forgotten them.

#344 ::: Derryl Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2017, 11:58 PM:

Ever-so-late to the party, and you therefore may miss it, but one of my faves is Ricky Skaggs & Bruce Hornsby covering Rick James' "Super Freak."

#345 ::: SunflowerP ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2017, 02:16 AM:

Sarah E @326 / Paul A. @340:

According to io9, Paul's surmise is accurate (though it sounds like the work in question is more genuinely SFFnal than that).

(Credit where it's due: The io9 article was linked from a comment by zombieflanders, deep in the MeFi thread Sumana linked @284 - which, I second Sumana's rec.)

#346 ::: Jen Birren ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2017, 06:21 AM:

Fragano @328:
In the fanfiction world this crops up frequently with (say) Americans writing Harry Potter stories or Brits writing Captain America; having someone of the correct nationality look over your story to get rid of tooth-grinders is regarded as good form. (Hey, look, a wild semicolon).
There's a name for this sort of editing- "Britpicking" is the one for stories with a UK setting. So what I'd say to that book is "aargh, needed a [setting]-picker, it really threw me out of the story."
(You do get the oddest ones. In Melissa Scott and Lisa Barnett's Armor of Light, set in Elizabethan England, it's pretty flawless except for an errant treefrog! The things the author doesn't know are region-specfic, thus never thinks to check, are the ones that trip them up.)

#347 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2017, 11:32 AM:

Fragano: I had an editor change the line "A promise, then," in my somewhat-medieval fantasy to "It's a deal."

I tried to be very polite when I explained why that would not do, but oh man, that grated. At least she didn't go through and put "Okay," everywhere. (And yes, my re-correction stood.)

#348 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2017, 02:01 PM:

I've been tossed out of otherwise really good LOTR fics because characters used "okay." It just doesn't fit!

#349 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2017, 04:02 PM:

The lord high god of terrible phrasing choices comes from Auel's Shelters of Stone:

"Ayla's train of thought derailed."

This is about CAVEPEOPLE. The ancestral Mary Sue, yes, but CAVEPEOPLE. And that's a joke about the phrase 'train of thought' anyway! You lose your train of thought, because it and choo-choo trains are related to the same origin!

It might be the worst sentence in all of fiction. I don't know; I haven't had enough of my cinnamon roll not to be hyperbolic.

#350 ::: J Homes ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2017, 05:01 PM:

Older @335, Fragano @339,

I do Scottish Country Dancing, and the curtsey is alive and well in those circles. I could probably manage a passable one myself, even though it's not usually taught to us men.

J Homes.

#351 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2017, 05:17 PM:

Jen Birren #346: I've seen some amazing things in published books (a mountain range of Rocky Mountain proportions in the west of England, for example, or the astonishing belief that the English university system is structured exactly like the American -- so that there are, say, pre-law and pre-med students, and everyone is planning for an optimal four years [making those of us who finished in the normal three into extraordinary geniuses, I suspect]). And language leads to a whole range of issues. Not only the problem of Brits speaking American (say an Englishman a century ago saying "truck" instead of "lorry"), but, and this one grates on me constantly, Caribbean Anglophones who say "mon". In 14 years of living in Jamaica, I never heard anyone say this. I've not heard it in Trinidad, in Belize, in Grenada, nor for that matter, on the Mosquito Coast, nor even in Guyana (the other parts of the Caribbean I've spent time in aren't Anglophone).

B. Durbin # 347: That was pretty awful.

Jenny Islander #348: Indeed so. It's one of those things that pulls you out of the high fantasy setting and into the modern world in an instant.

Diatryman #349: I've avoided Jean M. Auel, and that sentence is a good reason to justify my avoidance. You're reading a book set thousands of years in prehistory. All of a sudden a turn of phrase thrusts you into the Flintstones.

#352 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2017, 06:22 PM:

@nos. 349, 351: To give Auel some credit, she has a funny bit of business hinging on the idea that if we can identify distinct coeval toolkits, then the people who originally made the tools certainly could--and if you got two of them together in one room they could entertain each other (and bore everybody else) talking shop about their chosen style.

#353 ::: Race Traitor Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2017, 11:49 PM:

The writers of Doctor Who occasionally put Americans in, and they always get the American dialect a little wrong. Example: 'clever' doesn't mean just highly intelligent in America. It means quick AND original or surprising, even devious.

It can mean intelligent, but it carries a lot more connotation than that. An American character on DW used it in a way that clunked to my ear; I instantly thought "that's not how an American would say that."

#354 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2017, 04:53 AM:

RTX @353: Yes, and those American connotations of clever are what feed into Scalzi's bon mot, "The failure mode of clever is asshole."

#355 ::: Pfusand ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2017, 08:33 AM:

Every time I read it, I am thrown out of a particular Regency novel by Georgette Heyer. She uses (metaphorically) the term "burked." Just, no.

#356 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2017, 09:44 AM:

Pfusand @355: That may not be quite as bad. Burke and Hare did their deeds and became famous in the late Regency Period (admittedly, after George IV was crowned and no longer Prince Regent, but before William IV or Queen Vic).

I can see "burked" being used figuratively in this way (and in fact, the OED has a pre-Victorian citation supporting that: 1835 J. A. Roebuck Dorchester Labourers 6/1 (note) , "The reporters left it out... Those who spoke in favour of the poor men, were what the reporters call burked.")

But if the novel still had the Regent a Regent and not King, well, yeah, anachronistic.

#357 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2017, 02:01 PM:

Oh, Powers spare me, Auel... Escapist fiction, and definitely Mary Sue's many times great-grandmother.

I was able to suspend disbelief up through Plains of Passage...but Shelters of Stone? I had to restrain myself from pitching the book across the room at every repetition of the Mother's Song. So I slogged on through.

Being a glutton for punishment I read "Land of Painted Caves," supposedly the final book in the series. It's a rehash of EVERY SINGLE PLOT in the preceding six books, and by my lights she left openings for an eighth book, possibly about JonAyla. I cannot muster ANY enthusiasm about that.

#358 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2017, 09:34 PM:

I remember at one point joking with my ex that the plot of the next Auel book would have to be "Ayla invents steam engines and the atomic bomb."

#359 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2017, 10:26 PM:

Jen Birren @346: In reading Armor of Light, I kept getting thrown by the American spellings. In the title, frex.

#360 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2017, 10:37 PM:

Joel: how fair is the spelling complaint? IIRC, spelling in the period of the book was extremely fluid. (I note the 'our'/'or'/ especially because the professional copyeditor who looked over my first real editing job said ~"This is a US-published book; it should use US spelling uniformly", even for a ~UK-set story that IIRC had never been printed in a US magazine.)

#361 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2017, 10:49 PM:

Having read an 18th C diary (actual original paper diary), I can attest to the fluidity of spelling at that point in history. It's amazing how easy such a thing is to read, and how difficult it is to transcribe.

#362 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2017, 11:01 PM:

Auel has a place in my heart because I was eleven and loved the books to pieces, quite literally; we tried to chase down one of the segments to have her sign a few years ago, because of course they're still on a shelve somewhere, but couldn't find them in time. I don't even really read them any more; I just use the pages as shorthand for what my eleven-year-old self remembers. Which was extremely Ayla Shows Them All.

But only the first four. My family would have waited another five or ten years for a better fifth book.

#363 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2017, 11:49 PM:

LiveJournal (Bill @290 and others)
I went in with my BlackBerry tablet with JavaScript disabled. I was able to:

  • delete comments - reduces the quality of the social net extractable
  • set my account to revert to free and not charge my credit card
  • delete my user pic
  • remove "Memories"
  • delete my Schools
  • turn off notifications
  • change my time zone
  • maybe changed my password, I'm unsure if it took, no email received

So far I could not, without being challenged for the Terms of Service agreement

  • delete posts
  • unfriend

#364 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2017, 11:54 PM:

363 and earlier
D. Duane wrote about what she did with her LJ on her blog here

#365 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2017, 03:30 AM:

Tom Whitmore @ #361:

For my sins (I guess), I'm currently in the process of translating a Swedish "fechtbuch", published in 1698 to English. The inconsistency in spelling, phrase-marking and the like is astonishing. I swear there was one page that spelled the same word three different ways, two of them in the same paragraph (or, possibly, paragraph-sized run-on sentence, it was hard to tell).

In the end, I realised I could not go from "17th century Swedish in blackletter" to "ENglish" in one step, so my current tsrategy is "transcribe the book in original spelling; translate original spelling Swedish to something vaguely resembling English", but that gets rid of the cognitive load of the blackletter, so it kinda works, even if it's slow work.

#366 ::: duckbunny ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2017, 05:22 AM:

Thank you for the information on American usage of "clever" - that's a distinction I wasn't aware of and suspect I'll find useful.

I had a moment of revelation recently when one of the seasonal abundance of thinkpieces on "small town America" finally gave a population figure for one of the "small towns", and it was ca. 200 people. Oh, thought I. Oh. They mean a village when they say "small town". Sometimes even a hamlet. That explains so much.
For example, I lived in Crewkerne for a while, in Somerset. Crewkerne (pronouned "Cruk'n") is a small town. It has about four thousand residents, a Wednesday market, a monthly farmer's market, three small-ish supermarkets to suit a range of incomes, a swimming pool, multiple takeaway places and estate agents and cafes, and a main line train station with hourly trains to London. It's got a dentist and a community hospital and a garden centre. It has four antique shops. It's not exactly cosmopolitan - nobody actually catches that train - but it's recognisably a town, because there's stuff there.
Two miles down a winding, unlit road and over the hill is the village of Merriott, population two thousand. Merriott has a doctor's surgery, a corner shop, and a petrol station. If you want any other amenities or to buy anything after 5pm, you have to go to Crewkerne. You can tell it's a village because there's nothing there.
I had been reading "small town America" as meaning the first of those archetypes, and struggling to place the extreme insularity of some of that cultural shorthand, because a town to me is inherently a connected place, even if only to its surrounding villages. Learning that I should be including village-type settlements, even hamlets, in that concept made things much clearer.

#367 ::: Craft(Alchemy) ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2017, 08:35 AM:

duckbunny @366: ... thank you for passing on that nugget of information. That makes a great deal more sense to me as a similarly-confused Brit.

I grew up in a village with a population of 2,400. Wikipedia lists its amenities as "a convenience store and off-licence, two pubs, a library and two churches". I also remember a doctor, dentist and hairdresser.

For anything more interesting, you had to go into the city, but then the city was maybe a twenty-minute drive away. I still can't quite wrap my head around the scale of the rural USA, where you can live in a village-sized place and have nothing but other village-sized places for hours in every direction.

#368 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2017, 09:58 AM:

duckbunny (366)/Craft(Alchemy) (367): To further confuse the issue, here on Long Island (New York), the distinction between 'village'* and 'city'** is how the incorporation papers were written, and 'town' is township, kind of a sub-county. This is not the way the rest of the country† uses those words, and it confused me greatly when I first moved here. It still doesn't make much sense to me.

*most of the communities on Long Island
**there are at least two, Glen Cove and Long Beach. The latter is slightly bigger than the surrounding communities, but there are no real differences in amenities or housing density.
†New England has townships in this sense, but I believe they are all centered on a community of the same name, which is not true here. Actual New Englanders can correct me on this.

#369 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2017, 10:10 AM:

"We put the hospital back in 'hospitality'."

"Southwest... We beat the competition. Not you."

People have been having a field day with Untied Airlines.

#370 ::: Quill ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2017, 10:13 AM:

Craft(Alchemy) @367: The old saw about how "Americans think a hundred years is a long time, and the British think a hundred miles is a long way" is so true. When I (an American) was living in Bath I was astonished at the sheer age of things still in use; I had classes in a building older than my nation.

My brother spent some months at the Sorbonne during college. In one of his classrooms there was an old wall running through the back of the room, where the building had been constructed around it. He used to sit on it from time to time...and then was horrified when someone finally informed him it was part of the original wall that had encircled Paris.

On the other hand, a past friend startled me by reaching his thirties without ever going further from Bedfordshire than Wales; all I could think was “But France is right there!” Perspective, huh.

#371 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2017, 10:33 AM:

Quill #370:

You can take literal insularity even further; the historian Edward Muir recounts his experience, not that many decades ago, of talking to some older women in Venice who had never been out of their parish, a smallish island not far from the Rialto.

#372 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2017, 10:50 AM:

@duckbunny no. 366: The cultural assumption (as opposed to the technical description) varies by region in the U.S. In parts of the urbanized East Coast, a small town has "only" 50,000 people in it. Meanwhile, I live in a city of about 7,000 people in Alaska.

#373 ::: duckbunny ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2017, 10:57 AM:

When I was working in Somerset my colleagues regularly expressed astonishment that I would take the train to visit friends in London. They would never dare, they explained. They'd never been to the Big Smoke in their lives. They wouldn't know where to begin. What if I got lost? What if something happened? It was so far away!
It was two hours twenty on the train, and it only took that long because it's old single-track line down there - it was also a two and a half hour car journey. But they had never been. They could not process "going to London for the weekend" as a real possibility. They thought themselves very daring for going to Bristol or Exeter for university.

But, dear reader, before I disclaim my rural cousins completely: I grew up a quarter mile from the Heathrow runways, and a forty minute commuter train ride from the Eurostar terminus, and I have never been to Paris.

#374 ::: duckbunny ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2017, 11:02 AM:

Relatedly, on the subject of the antiquity of European things: Cambridge University predates the Aztec Empire.

#375 ::: RuthG ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2017, 11:05 AM:

Mary Aileen @ 368: Townships in NE, I'd generally say, are a town proper and the surrounding area, which might be forest, agricultural land, or suburbs. In Maine, though, we have a lot of unincorporated or unorganized townships, which are areas of land that have no formal municipal organization. According to the state website "the unorganized territory consists of over 400 townships, plus many coastal islands .... slightly over one half the area of the entire State of Maine" and has about 9,000 full time residents.

#376 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2017, 11:51 AM:

And townships in Illinois are (if memory serves from civics classes <mumble> years ago) of a more-or-less fixed size, which means that in densely populated areas there can be multiple towns in one township, and yet also multiple townships for one town if the township border runs through the middle of the city.

#377 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2017, 12:40 PM:

I vaguely remember being told by other family members that there existed people of their acquaintance who, living in northern New Jersey urbs and suburbs with bus, train, and car modes and many ways leading thereto, had never been to New York.

And some of them were proud of that.

#378 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2017, 12:43 PM:

In New York, towns are subdivisions of counties, and are distinct from cities (usually, when a city incorporates, it separates from the town). Towns contain incorporated villages and unincorporated regions. Towns range in size from 0.74 square miles to 452 square miles, and populations from 38 to 760,000, with widely varying population densities.

#379 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2017, 12:44 PM:

Jenny Islander @372: In parts of the urbanized East Coast, a small town has "only" 50,000 people in it.

And by contrast, Boulder, which runs ~100K in population, counts as a small city. (Of course, we're tied in economically to the whole Front Range, including Denver, ~30 miles south, so that affects perception, too.)

duckbunny @373: They could not process "going to London for the weekend" as a real possibility.

I remember, the fall I spent in the Bay Area, a friend driving 2 hours up from Carmel, just to have dinner with me. Californians view the world from a whole 'nother scale. (And then, of course, there are Australians. There, if I've been told correctly, grazing range is measured in acres per sheep.)

#380 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2017, 12:59 PM:

I grew up 50 miles from San Francisco, and it was a day trip (an hour's drive each way, for a start). Going to Half Moon Bay or Santa Cruz, from that same location, was definitely a full-day trip. Longer trips were at least a weekend.

I also grew up with driving between the Bay Area and L.A (full day's drive), and this confuses people: why would I drive now when I can take the plane? ...well, I need the car at the other end. (And, actually, driving is currently less expensive than flying.)

#381 ::: Race Traitor Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2017, 01:09 PM:

I remember Californians being confused when I said I commuted 20 minutes in the morning and 15 in the evening. To them "20 minutes" was a distance. I live at the bottom of a hill and worked (then) at the top! (And the idea of walking to work was also unfamiliar to them.)

One of my favorite stories about UK/US distances: when Anne Laurie Logan (who lived in East Lansing, MI) and Avedon Carol (who lived in Kensington, MD) were co-editing a fanzine, Avedon wrote (words to the effect of): "One British fan appears to be confused about distances in the US. Kensington, MD is more than five hundred miles from East Lansing, MI. It is not convenient for Anne Laurie to hand your fanzine off to me when she's done with it. Don't send my trade copy* of your fanzine to Anne Laurie, and I won't send your copy of our fanzine to Germany."

*Note for younger readers: before the internet, people printed fanzines on paper and mailed them around. This wasn't for money; it was for "the usual," which was either a trade copy of the other person's fanzine, or, for people who didn't have their own fanzine, a substantial letter of comment (LOC).

#382 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2017, 01:15 PM:

@Jacque no. 379: Economics are at the root of the perception, definitely. The "small New England town" I went to for freshman year was a run-down riverside city the size of Fairbanks. But it had only two bookstores...the one that sold textbooks, and the one that sold porn. And you had to drive on the highway in order to see a first-run movie.

On the other hand, my tiny city has sushi joints, museums, art galleries--all plural--a municipal bus line, a first-run movie theater, an arts council that has attracted international acts, and three farmer's/crafter's markets.

#383 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2017, 01:21 PM:

P J Evans @380 -- sounds like you grew up near Gilroy (or maybe Hollister). Yes?

#384 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2017, 01:28 PM:

Mary Aileen@368: In Massachusetts, at least, "town" vs. "city" basically describes the form of government (although there is a minimum size of 12,000 people for a city, and there are almost certainly weird edge cases), and I'm not sure if there's any formal meaning to "village". This has resulted in a number of cities (currently 14) whose names are "the Town of X", occasionally showing up in legal contexts as "the city known as the Town of X".

#385 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2017, 01:45 PM:

no - Livermore.

#386 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2017, 02:03 PM:

Where I live (Illinois), people use "city" and "town" fairly interchangeably, at least colloquially. (I believe there's a technical difference involving style of government.) But in the suburbs of Chicago, if you say you're going into the City (capitalization often audible) you're understood to mean you're going to Chicago.

"Village" is another term without a noticeable size limit; I work in Elk Grove Village, which has a population of 33,419 as of 2013. I believe, but am not sure, that "village" as a term of art also refers to type of city government.

I've never heard of a population center being called a "hamlet" except for in literature; if this term is used, it's not used locally to me. It sounds to me from the above that "hamlet" might be equivalent to the disparaging term, "a wide spot in the road". Or a "one-stoplight" town. Certainly there are rural, erm, population centers which are little more than a few farmhouses clustered together with perhaps a general store, train station, small school, and/or post office.

#387 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2017, 02:33 PM:


It seems around here (upstate New York) that a "hamlet" is essentially an unincorporated village: a small population center in a town that isn't big enough to have its own government. Wikipedia lists three in my county, including Podunk, NY.

#388 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2017, 02:43 PM:

Buddha Buck, <blink> Podunk is an actual place? My family uses it as a synonym for "tiny, insignificant place somewhere far, far away."

Which, on reflection, seems rather accurate, from your description... <grin>

#389 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2017, 02:48 PM:

Growing up in (suburban) Atlanta†, I always understood "city" and "town" to be divided by size; I didn't have a good grasp of exactly where the line was, but Atlanta and nearby Decatur were definitely cities and somewhere like Dahlonega* was definitely a town. Villages only appeared in books set in England, but seemed to be very small towns. Western Long Island was a shock, with its towns being subcounties and villages that are not only fairly large, many of them, but also all mushed together with no obvious dividing lines between one and the next.

†actually in an unincorporated part of DeKalb County, but our mailing address was Atlanta
*in north Georgia; I went to camp near there.

#390 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2017, 02:52 PM:


(first, sorry about misspelling your name in @387)

I have probably driven through Podunk, based on where Google Maps says it is. It's only about 20 minutes from here, right near a major local waterfall. I have no recollection if there's even a sign for it. I was able to find a street sign online for Podunk Road in Podunk. Apparently a meeting house was built there in 1811.

#391 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2017, 03:20 PM:

Fragano Ledgister@351: a mountain range of Rocky Mountain proportions in the west of England

This sounds like something out of Middle Earth, although there it's clearly intentional (pace Kirill Eskov).

Race Traitor Xopher@353: The writers of Doctor Who occasionally put Americans in, and they always get the American dialect a little wrong.

This is more about accent than word choices, but I remember being young and seeing TV sketches from the UK that I only much later realized were supposed to depict (exaggerated) Americans; the accents didn't even register as mistakes. The mirror of that is a friend, born and bred in London, who said she was an adult before she realized that Dick Van Dyke's character in ''Mary Poppins'' was supposed to sound cockney; she grew up loving the movie, and that character was just the funny man who spoke in a funny way.

Race Traitor Xopher@381: UK/US distances

Some years ago we drove down from London to visit friends in Devon, about 3.5 hours of driving. Before our return trip one of our friends started to reel off a long list of places where we should stop and rest along the way. Eventually, the other looked our expressions and interrupted with, "Remember, they're Americans."

#392 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2017, 04:04 PM:

Wasn't there a novel about a big mountain range in the British Isles? Possibly dividing Scotland and England. And it was alternate geography/history, not a mistake.

This is a vague memory-- I think it was something I heard of, not something I read.

#393 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2017, 04:58 PM:

In the UK:

'City' is a jealously guarded title, requiring either a royal grant or immemorial custom. Historically, in England at least, the title went along with having a cathedral, but this connection was broken in the late 19th century, and there are exceptions both ways.

'Town' means a fairly large settlement, and 'village' means a smaller one. Although 'town' has since the 70's been the name of a particular local government set-up, with a town council, it's applied to lots of places which don't have that. In many cases the local government term is in fact 'borough', but that term is only used when actually discussing local government; no one says 'there's a borough over there'.

People can come to blows about whether somewhere which is a city can also be a town. As there is no formal definition of 'village', people can also come to blows about whether a particular place is a village, and there's lots of room for debate about the biggest village in England.

I believe historically 'town' was connected with having a market; nowadays it would at least be a place that looks as if it might have a market. 'Village' was sometimes linked with having a church and/or an inn, though I don't know how closely that was ever adhered to. 'Hamlet' was available for places that didn't have them. There's a football club called Dulwich Hamlet. because it was one in the 17th century, though it's long since become a village, before becoming a district of South London.

#394 ::: duckbunny ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2017, 06:01 PM:

I wouldn't expect somewhere to describe itself as a hamlet. I'd expect it to call itself a village, but if it was too small to sustain the communal things of life - a church or a village shop being the big ones - I would think of it as a hamlet. Hamlet as the accurate categorisation of the place, and village as the courtesy title.

I have very suddenly developed a preference for describing things in terms of approximate population, and this sort of thing is why. Iceland is the size of Sunderland, or the East Riding of Yorkshire - the size/importance ratio of a settlement is surely different there.

#395 ::: Race Traitor Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2017, 09:00 PM:

I guess a hamlet is a village so small that it keeps having to decide whether to be or not to be.

#396 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2017, 09:14 PM:

CHip @360: That might have some validity if the spelling throughout the book conformed to period fluidity. But the spelling used was consistently modern American, apart from archaic words that aren't used at all now, which nonetheless were spelled consistently.

Serge @369 - "United Breaks Grandpars".

#397 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2017, 09:20 PM:

I grew up in a suburb of Ottawa called/named Blackburn Hamlet. At the time it had schools and churches, a local doctor, gas stations; there was a sort of corner grocery store. A bit light on commercial options; it was more of a bedroom community than an independent village.

#398 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2017, 10:09 PM:

Xopher (395): Ouch!

#399 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2017, 11:27 PM:

I went to college with a lot of people from the moneyed Chicago suburbs (it was a private college, so 'moneyed' was kind of assumed for many). I deeply resented that some of them would talk about their small towns or villages and how no, really, they're from a small town, it has only X,000 people... and they can drive all the way to Lake Michigan on a road with constant stoplights. At a certain point, you have to give up being a small town and accept that you have been assimilated.

I refuse to believe that municipalities are separate unless there's agriculture between them. Corn or cows, or whatever else you have handy.

On distance: fiance and I spent the weekend of the first driving about eight hours to Oklahoma to visit some of his family for two nights. Friday, my mother is driving twelve or so to Pennsylvania to visit hers, also two nights.
Depending on what she reports, fiance and I might be spending a weekend driving fourteenish to Pennsylvania. Rather, spend Friday driving, spend Saturday visiting, spend Sunday driving. I do that drive every year for Alpha.

The record for our family is twenty-seven hours from northwest Illinois to Key Largo, Florida.

On the other hand, I live about three hours from the Field of Dreams and I've never been there, or to the future birthplace of Captain James T Kirk, or to the Mississippi River aquarium an hour away.

#400 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2017, 11:36 PM:

"Californians drive a lot & never walk" is a generalization that holds up only weakly. It depends on the part of California. Rural Californians drive a lot, generally, because they have to: & people drive more in Southern & Northern than in Central California. (I've had conversations with people from Southern California who were surprised at Santa Cruz folks' reluctance to drive certain distances for spontaneous purposes). Myself, I walked to work for years, rode a bike to work for some other years, took the bus for yet other years. I wish we had European-style public transportation here, though...

& we should never forget the bicycle centaur, so common in California cities and suburbs.

#401 ::: Race Traitor Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2017, 01:21 AM:

Mary Aileen 398: *bows*

#402 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2017, 04:14 AM:

Andrew M @ #393:

In Sweden, it gets complicated. Not least because for a long good while, there was only one city in Sweden, Sigtuna, everything else being mere "kommun central place*"s. But anything that used to have city privileges is now (I believe) a city again, including Stockholm. There's also the term "katedralsstad" (cathedral city) for any city that happened to also be the seat of a bishopry.

There's no (legal) term, that I can think of, that would correspond to 'town', but the colloquial term would be "småstad" (literally "small city").

The Swedish term for a village ("by") is the term used for a city in Danish and Norwegian (and a close cognate for the Icelandic), and the Swedish for farm ("gård") is a close cognate of the Russian 'gorod'. The colloquial "one-horse town" would either be a "village hole" (byhåla) or just a plain "hole" (håla), sometimes described as "there's one street crossing, that's where the Alcohol Monopoly and the hot dog stand is."

* It just occurred to me that the Swedish word "ort" can either be glossed as "place" or "mine tunnel" (and possibly an "adit"), I don't know if these things are connected or not, but it now amuses me.

#403 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2017, 05:57 AM:

me @ #402:

Note to self (and others). Yes, the colloquial term for a very small settlement is definitely a slur. It is perfectly fine to refer to your own place of origin as one, but it is quite impolite to do so for the place of origin as someone else.

#404 ::: tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2017, 09:07 AM:

Picking up on Americans getting Britishness wrong, and of course it happens vice versa but this ticked me off royally (swIdt?). An author, who is known for his meticulous research, is imprisoned and forced to write a sequel to his series set in Victorian England. Bloopers included: a Church of England vicar, described as a Padre (I may have got that wrong), emerging at night from the churchyard where he has been administering the Last Rites to a parishioner; Cornish locals speaking with an accent like nothing ever heard in the Principality but more like Oirish; someone travelling from Cornwall to Doncaster for a day at the races; and chirping frogs in the English countryside. I really thought these were clues that were intended to alert his readership to his reduced circumstances (geddit?) and proximity to a crazy lady with man-eating porcines. Imagine my misery (I really must stop) when I found that these were not clues at all, but well, I hesitate to say. No American writer in the genre (sc. male, red-blooded etc.) would make such basic errors regarding, say, the range of a particular firearm, or the specifications of a make and model of vehicle. Would they?

#405 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2017, 10:15 AM:

P J Evans #380, #385:

And yet, there was a fellow opera chorus singer who lived and worked in Livermore and, depending on his musical commitments, would drive to Palo Alto or San Francisco multiple times a week for rehearsals or performances.

We always called the minimum one-hour startup time to get out of the Bay Area before you could actually *go* anywhere the "event horizon".

#406 ::: Jim Parish ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2017, 10:28 AM:

Nancy Lebov @392: Probably not what you're thinking of, but there was a short story by Fred Hoyle (in the Element 79 collection, which I no longer have) which involved the creation, by diabolic means, of a mountain range between England and Scotland.

#407 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2017, 11:12 AM:

Ingvar M @402

The "by" element for a village is very common in Northern England, though some have have grown a bit. "Selby" is technically a city, while "Mavis Enderby" is a civil parish, and has a church, but some call it a hamlet.

And, while some placenames pre-date the Norman Conquest, some don't. "Norton Disney" (and there is a connection) has a name referencing a French place, but "Normanby" just has the same "Northman" roots.

And some instances of "Newtown" and "Newport" are very old, while "Scunthorpe" is made up of "Ashby", "Bottesford", "Brumby", "Crosby", "Frodingham", and "Scunthorpe", and only became a municipal borough in 1936.

#408 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2017, 11:39 AM:

tykewriter @404:

I'm not so sure. I would expect that if an American author was engaging in gun or car porn ("he field stripped his Glock for cleaning, releasing the magazine and racking the slide to clear the chamber. Gently but firmly holding the slide, he slid it back to release the slide lock, letting the slide move forward until it was free...") then he would get all the details exact. But I would not be surprised to see someone cocking the hammer on their Glock in even a crime story. Glocks don't have a hammer, and don't need to be cocked in that way.

But despite the reputation in the US for guns and cars, most people aren't all that familiar with them, especially in the fine details. There are motorheads who can tell you the gear ratios in their favorite cars, and gun nuts who can tell you the powder and bullet weights in standard police ammunition, but they are hobbyists, who are only slightly more respectable than folks who stand on train platforms wearing anoraks writing down train car numbers in a notebook.

For the most part, to many people, a gun is a gun, a car is a car, especially in literature. People expect the bad guys to miss the hero when shooting him from 10 feet away but the hero to hit the bad guy from 100 yards with a pistol (the missing at 10 feet is surprisingly reasonable, the hitting from 100 yards is incredibly unlikely).

To me, the issues you site (calling Dawn French's character "Padre", giving Last Rights, driving 6 hours one way for a day at the races, chirping frogs) sound like more common knowledge for England, not minutia like range of a firearm, or the specifications for a particular make and model.

But I know people from New Jersey get thrown out of books when they read about a character pumping their own gas in Atlantic City, or accents/dialects are wrong, or people talk about a day-trip from Boston to Manhattan, for much the same reasons as you getting thrown out of books by an Anglican Padre performing Last Rites on a parishioner the night before a day-trip halfway across the country to the dulcet chirping of English frogs.

Yet books get written, and published, with self-service gas stations in New Jersey, with police driving from Annapolis MD to Norfolk VA and back in time for lunch, with Saguaro cactuses in Death Valley, and lots of other similar bloopers.

#409 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2017, 12:21 PM:

Lloyd Biggle, in Interface for Murder (a deservedly lesser-known mystery), had his detective buy a beer from a vending machine at a hotel in Los Angeles. How very not.

#410 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2017, 12:23 PM:

Buddha Buck @ #408:

I'd consider day-tripping Boston-Manhattan to be doable, maybe (get on the 07:15 Acela, get off at 10:45 at Pennsylvania Station, then take another train for, what, 10-15 minutes), then head back at ~5 PM and be home for 9 PM. But I wouldn't want to do it as a daily commute...

#411 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2017, 12:23 PM:

#406 ::: Jim Parish

That is almost certainly it. I read the Fred Hoyle collection long ago.

I'm amused that my livejournal/dreamwidth handle has made enough of an impression to overwrite my name.

#412 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2017, 12:33 PM:

That's probably a lot more recent than when we lived there - we left just before the interstate highways came in.

#413 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2017, 12:38 PM:

Ingvar M @410:

I have a carless friend who I'm fairly certain went to a MetroStars/Revolution game a few years ago from Somerville in one day, but even he felt that was unusual.

#414 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2017, 12:49 PM:

Buddha Buck @ #413:

When I lived in Linköping (Sweden), I did occasionally pop up to Stockholm to watch a movie in the evening after work. Now, this was normally paired with "early exit from work" (16:30, or so), catching the fast intercity train (~1h50) and a 19:30 (or so) show start, then pretty much straight back to the train, cab from the train station to home, then crash into bed.

For a while, I also did work at customer site(s) in Stockholm, with either "whole week at hotel", "couple of days at customer, rest in the office" and a few horrible weeks of "day-commute to Stockholm, Mon, Wed, Fri". Thus my firm conviction that "get to train station, then no more than 2h, then no more than 15-20 minutes" is my extreme for a livable-with one-way commute.

#415 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2017, 12:50 PM:

They've named a species of shrimp for Pink Floyd.
(Note: story comes with a couple of artworks that are worth seeing.)

#416 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2017, 01:26 PM:

Ingvar M@414: fast intercity train

I love science fictional ideas like this.

(Grumble, grumble, US train infrastructure, grumble...)

#417 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2017, 01:29 PM:

Diatryma #349: I did a double-take when a friend was telling a story about a train-wreck on a mountain trail. It was a pack train. One of the mules fell into the river rapids and he jumped in and saved her (and her precious load of cheese).

But of course it still would be anachronistic for cave people to have trains before the domestication of horses and donkeys. And I'm pretty sure that horses and donkeys didn't haul on rails until modern times.

#418 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2017, 01:58 PM:

Xopher #395: The melancholy din you hear is the echo as your sleep is murdered by a Scottish chap.

#419 ::: Dicentra rubra ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2017, 02:53 PM:

Even our machines are soaking in it:

According to The Guardian, "as machines are getting closer to acquiring human-like language abilities, they are also absorbing the deeply ingrained biases concealed within the patterns of language use":

#420 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2017, 05:19 PM:

P J Evans #412

Yes, in the 80s.

We ourselves would drive up to The City from Palo Alto at least once a month, more if there was something musical going on. The event horizon began to come into play if we wanted to visit friends in Berkeley, but was much more obvious if we were headed south to Santa Cruz or Carmel.

#421 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2017, 06:05 PM:

@408 : Not Manhattan specifically, but once, when I had a six-hour layover at Newark airport, a friend came over from Boston for the day, and we did take the train into Manhattan for lunch. Granted, she drove.

#422 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2017, 06:43 PM:

I checked on something about guns- something "even I knew was wrong" - and found out that Jack Reacher's author was British and lived in NYC. Hence his impression that shotguns spew an SFnal giant cone of death out to twenty-plus yards, I suppose, in the first book. I didn't read another one.

#423 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2017, 01:49 AM:

I'm considering going to RavenCon, but am aware that 2 weeks is pretty short notice. Anyone else from this parish going there? Anyone know the situation with hotel room supply offhand?

#424 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2017, 01:59 AM:

Never mind the reservation-info request, I've belatedly found an actual link to the hotel, and discovered the main hotel sold out a month ago, overflowing to the Courtyard Marriot.

I'm a little ambivalent about going in any case (I'd apparently be taking the bus from Charlottesville, as Amtrak indicates insane transfers), but I'd still like to know if anyone from here is going.

#425 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2017, 02:17 AM:

And... further investigation (my browser is way flakier than it should be) indicates the overflow hotel is also sold out. Pah.

#426 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2017, 02:18 AM:

is it there are no frogs in the UK or that none of them chirp? As in all of them having low voices or what?

#427 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2017, 06:09 AM:

A character referring to Dawn French as "Padre" in "The Vicar of Dibley" could make sense. I'm not sure if it's current, but it suggests to me that the character has a background in the Army. (I don't remember much of the series.) It's not quite slang but it certainly was used, and became a marker in film and television. It's informal and conversational, in character-voice rather than narrator-voice.

I'd class it as correct but perhaps confusing.

But the way tykewriter @404 words it, I doubt that programme is the target.

#428 ::: Devin ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2017, 06:45 AM:

TomB @417

Depends on what you mean by "modern" times. Railways in mines were common even back to the later Renaissance (so technically the Early Modern period but not what folks mostly mean by modern times). I'd imagine they were mostly human-powered, given the circumstances, but I'd be surprised if none of them was ever horse-, donkey-, or dog-powered.

Interestingly, I suspect those would have been railways but without trains: no locomotive, obviously, and little reason to connect more than one or perhaps two carts, so no real concept of a "train."

#429 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2017, 10:11 AM:

duckbunny @366, in re small-town America: It's worse than that. There are no towns in England as far away from EVERYTHING as quite a lot of rural communities are in the US. The only thing that comes close is some of the outlying islands where they have one plane flight every couple days and a ferry that comes through once in a while.

It is not uncommon to have to drive an hour or more to reach a hospital, and by no means is every town within half an hour of a simple doctor's or dentist's office. In some towns you must drive your child more than half an hour to school -- that is the closest one.

Rural communities in the US can be very, very isolated, physically, though access to national media and the internet some are beginning to become more connected in thought.

#430 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2017, 10:23 AM:

joann @405: There's a member of my chorus who drives to Chicago from Beloit, WI for rehearsals every week (100mi). In certain performances it's just expected he can't possibly be on time, so which numbers he's in is adjusted to account for it.

For obvious reasons, he almost never stays after rehearsal for the "hang out at a bar and sing karaoke" afterparty ... rehearsal goes from 5:30PM to 9:15PM, and even at that hour he's got 45-60min of solid driving to get home.

He's a teacher at Beloit College.

#431 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2017, 10:43 AM:

Elliott Mason #430:

Now I think of it, there is a science fiction writer who lives at the further reaches of the next county north of Austin, and drives 45 miles each way in to a downtown church for rehearsals and choral services.

Looks like there's something about musicians ...

#432 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2017, 10:50 AM:

Devin @428: I remember reading an article about mine horses. They persisted long enough into modern times that there were photographs. They pulled carts on rails. Because of the constrained space, I don't think they had teams of horses or trains of carts. Not a great life for a horse but you could say that for the people in the mine too.

#433 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2017, 11:08 AM:

TomB @432:

One of the major branches of Morris Dancing (rapper) uses flexible steel "swords" (with handles on both ends) which supposedly were used to scrape dirt and coal dust off of pit ponies (the small horses which hauled carts on rails in the coal pits/mines). The style originated in the coal towns of Northumberland and County Durham.

#434 ::: Susie ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2017, 11:38 AM:

Joann@431, "Looks like there's something about musicians...":

A friend has described the lot of a folk/dance musician as providing opportunities to drive hundreds of miles to play for tens of dollars.

#435 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2017, 11:51 AM:

Buddha Buck@433: Is there any evidence for the "pit pony scraper" theory of rapper swords? My memory is that the swords might been made from mining equipment, but there wasn't anything to connect them to the ponies. I haven't read up on the history recently, though.

Rapper history is fairly recent, given that it requires flexible steel—which, even these days, isn't always flexible enough not to crack in use. (I used to keep a set of broken rapper blades as cheese knives, which was more amusing than practical.) Whatever the source, there must have been some interesting sword failures in the earlier days, working with cast-off and stressed bits of metal.

#436 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2017, 12:00 PM:

Joann @431, "Looks like there's something about musicians..."

Inge feels like crap most of the time. But she saves up her spoons to get to the local SCA instrumental and choral music practises every weekend. Music is a passion, and it's a time for desperately-needed social contact, working with other people to create art for the enjoyment of others.

#437 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2017, 12:03 PM:

dotless ı @435:

Wikipedia says that rapper dance has to be late-19th century, as the steel wasn't available until after 1855 (and there is documentation of rappers in the late 19th century).

There was older rigid sword dancing in the area, apparently, but no one knows for sure when it switched to flexible swords.

And there seems to be less evidence of the pit pony theory than I had been lead to believe.

#438 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2017, 02:51 PM:

Lucy Kemnitzer @426: We don't have tree frogs in the UK. The frogs that we do have croak during mating season, but don't chirp.

#439 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2017, 05:04 PM:

Jacob Bacharach writes sonnets about contemporary events. I found today's entry very moving.

Dying In Moab

Aujourd’hui, the mother of all bombs is dead.
Or was it yesterday? I can’t recall.
The world was bombless once. She spawned them all.
Her ravening brood ate her, starting with her head,
and then, silk-borne on a breeze, her babies fled
into the vast sky above the wrinkled sprawl
of the Hindu Kush, on which they fell, and fall
still: indiscriminate, a wed-
ding or a funeral, a village or
a narrow road. Her million children live
but once and very briefly; none will ever
bear their own next generation; war
can only eat; it cannot love, nor give
itself any meaning whatsoever.

#440 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2017, 06:41 PM:

I once applied to a job where, even before listing duties, they basically said, "You know this is the middle of nowhere, right? Like Oregon Trail middle of nowhere. Apply wisely." Not quite as funny as the ones that began with, "BEARS. You will have to carry a shotgun and definitely use it against BEARS."

The weirdest thing about driving west for me isn't the towns becoming more scarce-- on the interstate, you can't necessarily tell anyway-- but the agriculture becoming more so.

#441 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2017, 07:30 PM:

I lived in Casper, Wyoming, for a year and a half in the late 1980s*. It was quite a culture shock after growing up in suburban Atlanta. What got to me wasn't so much the fact that Casper only had about 50,000 people** as that that made it the place that people came to from 100 miles around to do their shopping, etc. Outside of Casper was just empty country, with a few tiny communities dotted across the landscape. The nearest place that I would call a city was Denver, six hours away by car--when the passes weren't snowed in. Which happened quite regularly in the winter.

I was glad to leave there for Long Island.

*only librarian job I could get with a shiny new master's degree in library science
**compared to 2+ million in metropolitan Atlanta at the time (it's even bigger now)

#442 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2017, 11:40 PM:

I lived for quite a while in Corner Brook, Newfoundland (absolutely gorgeous town, definitely visit the area at some point if you're into geology), and "going to the city" (if you meant anything other than Corner Brook) involved fourteen hours of driving and an overnight stay. Corner Brook is "the city", generally, for an area roughly half the size of England. It has the major trauma centre, among other things.

Wikipedia tells me that in 2011 it had a population of about twenty thousand, plus about five thousand more in the "conglomerated area".

A lot of my family is in England, and even after visiting Canada a bunch, they still have a hard time with the concept that you can drive for more than about twenty minutes without seeing evidence of human habitation other than the road itself. I remember the first time I went to visit them by myself at nineteen, my plane was landing at Heathrow (early in the morning, mind!) and my seatmate asked me what I was up to next.
"Oh, I'm going to Victoria Station to catch a bus to Harrogate."
"What, today?"
"But that's all the way across the country!"

It's amazing how a sense of scale changes. I'm moving to Toronto in August, and I'm grateful that it's so close to my folks here in Montreal. Meanwhile my cousin, who moved a much shorter distance to go to university, feels so far away from home*.

*Despite the fact that she lives in a country where you can get the train everywhere, easily and cheaply, and it's generally very pleasant. There's another disconnect -- I don't understand why Brits are always harping on their railway system! It's magnificent by my standards! You can do things like "use it to go places"! :p

#443 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2017, 04:08 AM:

The last two working pit ponies in Britain retired in 1999.

There are numbers in the article for the post-WW2 nationalised coal industry. Pit ponies were still being used in those mines when I was in school.

Coal mining is an industry that routinely kills people.

#444 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2017, 07:26 AM:

I'm in the middle of submitting a thing to publishers for publication. I realized yesterday that I've been following people in the publishing business for years (editors and authors alike), because I like reading their comments on a variety of topics. But along the way, I've picked up a notion of what to expect from publishers and how I should conduct myself, even though I wasn't planning to ever write a book.

It's making a huge difference for me, both in terms of navigating the process and in terms of managing my emotional state.

I don't have a good way to say thank you to all those people. This was the best I could do.

Thank you for sharing your experiences and expertise. I don't know if I'll ever have this thing published, but if I do, your generosity will have helped me get there.

#445 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2017, 09:12 AM:

Re mine pit ponies: The feral Chincoteague and Assateague horses off DelMarVa were, it is thought, initially seeded from a wrecked shipment of pit ponies headed for Spanish silver lodes in South America.

#446 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2017, 11:09 AM:

I once heard someone sing,

"My sweetheart's the mule in the mines
I drive her without any lines
On the bumper I sit
As I chew and I spit
All over my sweetheart's behind"

which might have been a spoof of a song that went

"I'm in love with the man in the moon
and I'm going to visit him soon
Gonna hide in a cloud
Where no one is allowed
And make love to the man in the moon"

Anyone know the source?

#447 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2017, 12:18 PM:

Erik Nelson @446: Per, the latter is -- if I'm parsing the credits correctly -- from vaudeville originally, then the 1941 film The Parson of Panamint.

#448 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2017, 03:57 PM:

Is it just me, or was the opening episode of Doctor Who rather disappointing?

#449 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2017, 04:28 PM:

It was a standard enough new-companion story; but I am not quite sure why the Doctor got involved with Bill in the first place. The first ten minutes or so felt very weak.

#450 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2017, 06:57 PM:

Watched Moana yesterday. I love things that are (a) gorgeous, (b) wonderful, and (c) prompt me to go scurrying off to Look Stuff Up.

#451 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2017, 01:40 AM:

Didn't know that New Who was happening. DVR has been reminded. Thank you!

#452 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2017, 01:47 AM:

The Cartoon Network series Adventure Time is working through its final episodes; multi-part stories like "Islands," which reveal the origin stories of Susan Strong and Finn. Both really sad.

Another multi-parter the week after next.

#453 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2017, 03:11 AM:

We're learning about the Beatles (musical trends, changes in youth culture, international communications, mass media, fashion history, etc.) in homeschool. I have discovered that the more I listen to "Norwegian Wood," the less I like it. So this happened:

I once had a friend;
Actually he
Thought he had me.
We talked of Dore',
Art and the fire
Of his desire.

I was proud of my very first place, so I asked him up there--
A little dark sublet too small to have room for a chair.

He drank up my wine;
At our cafe'
He wasn't this way.
He fondled my knee,
Talked of the fire
Of his desire.

I told him I worked in the morning with a nervous laugh,
So he called me a bitch and threw up and passed out by the bath.

I sat up 'til day
At the cafe',
Worked anyway.
And while I was gone
He lit the fire
Of his desire.

Lennon I am not. It needs work. But it sort of had to come out.

#454 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2017, 04:33 PM:

Craft(Alchemy) @ 367: I was once asked by a Brit (IIRC in the ?naval? museum in Greenwich) about just how much larger the U.S. was and answered that from there to Athens was less than halfway across the U.S. That's a good-enough estimate -- the answer is less or more than that depending on where you measure, but never quite as much as London-Istanbul-London which I was also thinking of. (I'm sure there's an eastern-European capital that would come closer to the mean but I can visualize the Mediterranean better than that area.) And those distances contain vaguely similar numbers of people, so it's not surprising that they're more spread out in the U.S.

Jenny Islander @ 372: Where is 50K a town (mentally, not legally)? Perhaps only in the orbit of a metropolis? Coming from DC, I still thought of Northampton MA (pop ~35K in the late 1960's) as a city even before I knew that it was formally so (per below).

Mary Aileen @ 368 (continuing @384), more specifically: a town decides matters of import by a town meeting (although large towns' meetings have representatives for every small-number-of-people), where a city delegates them to a mayor and city council (board of aldermen to some Brits?). Anyone in eastern MA who forgot this has recently been reminded of it, as Framingham (perhaps the largest-in-area town) voted narrowly to become a city, and the losers are demanding a recount (having won twice before).

Xopher @ 395: augh.

Diatryma @ 399: I refuse to believe that municipalities are separate unless there's agriculture between them. Corn or cows, or whatever else you have handy. Boundaries around Boston are jealously guarded (e.g., it looks like a hand, with Brookline in the space between finger and thumb) for tax-base, historic-ethnic, and other reasons. The hinterlands can also be sticklers; a dead army air field that was an obvious place for a commercial nexus (nobody to displace) was refused permission to incorporate by abutters whose boundaries through the base were still known, at least partly because they wanted the apparently pain-free revenues.

Buddha Buck @ 408: add me to the Boston to Manhattan daytrippers; I've done it by car, as such once, and once ~past (to Borough Park); and at least twice by charter to sing in concerts. And the absence of self-pumping in NJ is an aberration that appears about to end; when did it start?

#455 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2017, 04:36 PM:

@CHip no. 454: It had become a bedroom community for NYC. The promotional material described the setting as "rural New England." I had a shock, to say the least.

I've seen communities of similar size in the Sea-Tac catchment area described the same way.

#456 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2017, 04:47 PM:

Rosa Parks's Detroit house transported to Berlin. Key quote: “It's resurrected in the month of Easter in a city reborn after a wall was taken down and was not valued in a country that's intent on building a wall,”

#457 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2017, 05:07 PM:

Ireland is roughly the size of Washington State, in area and population. Also, Dublin is roughly the same population as the Seattle metro area.

Apart from that, the rest of the country has many more small towns, more evenly spread out. And the rain is more uniformly distributed as well.

It is possible to take a longish day bike ride in Ireland and make a significant mark on the country wide map. (e.g, it's ~150 flat miles from the coast near Dublin to Galway, on the Atlantic)

#458 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2017, 06:15 PM:

CHip (454): New England towns may decide matters via town meeting, but Long Island towns have a supervisor and town council. Not sure how things are arranged in rural New York towns.

#459 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2017, 06:54 PM:

When I was in high school, we had the son of a Brit friend visit us on his trip around the world (he hadn't liked Australia, so he had some extra time to kill.) When we were driving through the northern part of the SF Bay Area, he mentioned that the countryside looked a lot like Britain—except that you could drive for fifteen minutes at a time without running into the next village.

Since then, I have driven 400 miles and back the next day* six weeks running (a move that we didn't want to drive a moving van due to LOTS OF WIND) and also driven 500 miles with my kids on a regular basis to see their Grandma. One way, one day. Without devices. People ask me how they tolerate the ten hours so well and I have to shrug and admit that the only reason they put up with it is because we've been doing that since they were babies.

*Well, within a 24 hour period—late night Wednesday and early morning Friday. Which was good the time a wildfire blew through the Columbia River Gorge on the "off" day and burnt an astonishing 60,000 acres. (I was working at a news radio station and could look it up.)

#460 ::: duckbunny ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2017, 08:54 PM:

I will grant that our trains will take you places, but I will dispute "cheaply". To get from where I am to central London - which takes forty minutes or an hour depending on how many stations you stop at - will cost me £40 for a return ticket. To go from here to, say, York, will cost me in the region of £80. To go to Edinburgh will cost a hundred.
These are not small numbers. They only sound like small numbers. I can get a hotel for five nights in Edinburgh for twice the cost of the train ticket. I can get a ticket to a West End evening performance for half the cost of the train. Going to York will cost me a quarter of my monthly disposable income (meaning after rent and council tax, but before bills and food).
Advance tickets are much cheaper, if you buy them at least a month in advance, but if the bus doesn't come on time, I lose the cost of the advance and still have to buy the on-the-day ticket, and I have to catch a specific train home.
The cost of train travel is a hot political topic. It's not helped by the loss of a lot of branch lines and connecting routes. Dr Beeching has a lot to answer for.

(Yeovil has a train line that runs London-Exeter, and another train line that runs Weymouth-Bristol. These lines physically cross. There is no way to transfer between them; the actual junction at Yeovil Junction station was lost in the Beeching cuts. The hub-and-spoke model makes it very difficult to get between any places - the trains take you into major hubs and out again, without sideways options. You can't even get the train between Oxford and Cambridge except by going into London and transferring on the Tube.)

(But we do, still, have a functioning intercity railway system where America largely doesn't. It's just that it's slow, expensive, unreliable, and difficult to use for lateral travel. It's increasingly cheaper to fly between cities than get the train and that aligns with my perception of how the system is being run - that trains are an inferior form of air travel, not a long-distance equivalent of the bus.)

There are parts of the South West where you'll travel more than an hour to reach a hospital, and similarly parts of Wales and other rural places, but that's as much about road quality as distance. Direct, fast roads are a recent alteration to the British landscape and building them requires a huge amount of negotiation with landowners and stakeholders. The main artery to the south west goes straight past Stonehenge and is consequently a single carriageway A-road - delays around Stonehenge routinely add an hour to journey time - and they've been unable to agree on a plan to widen, move or replace that road for decades.

#461 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2017, 11:01 AM:

It's pretty cheap in advance, though -- in July, I'm doing the London-York-Knaresborough trip for 23 pounds.* I do have the luxury of travelling in the UK as a "person who is having time off work" rather than "need to fit this around work schedule", and that probably is colouring my view of it since I can build more margin around getting-to-station timeframes. (Booking right now, it looks like the "refundable if I miss it" option is an extra two pounds). Once I'm up in Yorkshire, you can get between towns on buses as well, which is something that blows my mind ;)

*For comparison, a trip on the same day from Montreal to Toronto (a roughly equivalent trip) would cost me what google tells me is the equivalent of about 68 pounds, with no option to get to a smaller-town-near-Toronto, plus what it costs me to get to the train station -- from the place where I grew up, about thirty minutes' drive from central Montreal, it's a two-hour bus ride with a transfer), even booking in advance. Booking in advance isn't always practical, but it's nice to have the option.

#462 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2017, 11:49 AM:

Mary Aileen @458: Small towns in NY also have supervisors and town councils; the counties have a county executive and county council as well. My father was a town supervisor (elected, with a two year term) for a brief period in the early 1980s.

#463 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2017, 11:58 AM:

CHip@454: Boundaries around Boston are jealously guarded

No kidding. And despite a large, apparently contiguous incorporated area, many things that could really scale more effectively to larger administrative units are generally handled at the town level, which…isn't always optimal.

A particularly silly side effect is that most/all books of street maps (remember those?) split up the maps alphabetically, town by town, regardless of how the towns tile together. "To go ten blocks north, go to page 33 and turn the book sideways (because of the shape of the town); until you cross the next town boundary five minutes later, at which point turn to page 66 and turn the book 90 degrees again."

#464 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2017, 02:30 PM:

At least the county-level map books we had (still have?) in California ignored that kind of thing: the pages went across from one edge of the county to the other. They used an assortment of colors for the cities, instead, with the main city being not colored (aka white).

#465 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2017, 02:40 PM:

P J Evans@464: Yeah, maybe we shouldn't get started on the history of counties in Massachusetts…

#466 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2017, 03:28 PM:

Can't be much different from counties elsewhere. (I've read the legal descriptions of county boundaries in California. My favorite record of survey was run in the early 80s, rechecking one from 1862 or so, where the only record of the original was surveyor's notes filed in L.A., the ones in S.F. having disappeared with the Federal Building in 1906.)

#467 ::: Race Traitor Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2017, 06:31 PM:

Alternate-universe fiction idea: in the fictional world, the change from 'count' to 'earl' was carried over into descendant terminology. So they have Hudson Earldom, New Jersey (with its Earldom Seat and Earldom Courthouse in Jersey City) and so on.

#468 ::: Adrian ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2017, 07:04 PM:

Chip #454, my town (Arlington, MA) has the same number of people as Burlington, VT, yet Burlington is a city and we're a town. The form of government is certainly important to that.

I'm not sure what features make it socially "town" rather than "city." Maybe because we don't have industry here? I'm not sure what it does to urban/rural sensibilities to tell newcomers, "In the city across the street they can keep chickens, but it's not allowed inside the town border."

#469 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2017, 10:00 PM:

#467 Xopher:

Dukes Earldom presided over by the Duke of Earl?

#470 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2017, 01:02 AM:

@nos. 467, 469: Don't forget spelling reform! It's E-R-L-D-O-M, and if you spell it with a completely unnecessary A your teacher will know that you've been reading a lot of British fiction again.

#471 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2017, 04:05 AM:

And erldom is, of course, a region ruled over by an elf. (See erlking.)

#472 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2017, 04:28 AM:

Jenny Islander @ #470:

Not "Jarldom" (or possibly "Yarldom")?

#473 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2017, 09:07 AM:

In international news, UK politics has definitely entered "surreal". Possible new parlament election coming up in June.

#474 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2017, 10:32 AM:

Xopher (467): Wouldn't 'earldom' reeflect the older form of the term, not the newer? I'm pretty sure the Anglo-Saxon/Norse* 'jarl' predates the Norman Conquest, which is when the Frenchified 'count' would have reached England.

Unless I'm completely confused again. That's always possible.

*not sure which of those it is

#475 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2017, 10:33 AM:

470/471/472: And an URLdom is government by internet entity.

#476 ::: Adrian ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2017, 11:05 AM:

Applause for Jenny's song at #453. Especially "actually."

#477 ::: Quill ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2017, 11:15 AM:

duckbunny @460: When I was in England twenty years ago, I was delighted that I could get almost anywhere by train (I did have a student pass) and if not by train, then by bus; in the US just about anything but cities is reachable by car only.

However, I was also appalled to realize that the lack of elevators in train stations, and the steps into the cars themselves, meant that one could only travel by train if one could walk. Has that changed? I really hope it has.

#478 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2017, 11:17 AM:

The company that makes wooden eggs for the White House Easter egg roll referred to it as a "marquis event" .

#479 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2017, 11:55 AM:

Quill@477: Speaking as an occasional visitor, not a resident: it certainly hasn't changed everywhere. Wheeling a strollerpushchair around London—meaning that had options not available to, say, wheelchairs—we still found it important to plan travel in terms of more or less accessible Tube and rail stations. Fortunately we had local friends who could warn us away from the worst spots.

After the London Olympics I recall seeing more signage indicating accessibility, but "accessible" and "easy" aren't synonymous. At least one station I remember had three levels and three different sets of non-adjacent elevators, with some connections requiring the use of all three elevators. There were diagrams posted, but a diagram can only simplify things so much and still be accurate.

#480 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2017, 12:14 PM:

P J Evans@478

marquis event

I suppose one could consider that phrasing a noble effort...

#481 ::: Terry Hunt ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2017, 12:47 PM:

@474 Mary Aileen
You're correct that the Normans introduced 'County' to the British Isles as a regional designation (earlier 'Comites'/'Counts' of the Roman and post-Roman era were military offices), but although Counts partly replaced Anglo-Saxon Earls, the notionally replaced Anglo-Saxon regional designation was not 'Earldom' (though this existed as an overlapping concept) but 'Shire'. Thus we wind up today with, for example, The County of Hampshire (in which I live) which lies within the notional domain of the Earl (and Countess) of Wessex (which title is actually a very recent creation, though other Earldoms are genuinely old).

(In Britain, we never entirely throw out the old stuff when we get new, we just mash it all together.)

#482 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2017, 01:07 PM:

Earls continued to be at least officially linked with counties until the reign of James I (though the terminology rather obscures this - although each earl had a link with a county, his title might come from the county or its principal town, or from his family name or estate).

From James's time on, there have been too many earls for the link with counties to be preserved in all cases, though some earls are still called after them. (While Hampshire seems to have no earl of its own right now - if it did, he would probably actually be called Earl of Southampton - I'm fairly sure some other counties within Wessex do.)

#483 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2017, 02:26 PM:

#477: Visited London last month. I don't need a wheelchair, and neither did my traveling companions, but I nevertheless noticed how unfriendly things seemed to be:

Pedestrian crossings didn't give you a lot of time. In some cases, a few seconds. Crossings with count-down lights were relatively rare. (And traffic is INSANE in London.)

There were tube stations with elevators and access, but they were few enough to have to be pointed out.

Do those double-decker busses "kneel?" Didn't see any in action.

Relatively few ramps, esp at historic places.

#484 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2017, 02:27 PM:

#477: Visited London last month. I don't need a wheelchair, and neither did my traveling companions, but I nevertheless noticed how unfriendly things seemed to be:

Pedestrian crossings didn't give you a lot of time. In some cases, a few seconds. Crossings with count-down lights were relatively rare. (And traffic is INSANE in London.)

There were tube stations with elevators and access, but they were few enough to have to be pointed out.

Do those double-decker busses "kneel?" Didn't see any in action.

Relatively few ramps, esp at historic places.

#485 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2017, 02:40 PM:

P J Evans@466: Can't be much different from counties elsewhere.

I haven't looked much at the systems elsewhere, but the majority of Massachusetts counties were effectively dissolved 15-20 years ago, leaving only a couple of offices like sheriff (linking to Terry Hunt@481) and organizational divisions in the courts. The fact that they're not completely gone is itself a source of confusion, since every now and again people have to remember (or look up) what county they're in.

#486 ::: Odalchini ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2017, 03:17 PM:

In defence of British trains: most stations were built long before the era of disability-consciousness. London stations built or rebuilt since the late 90's have full wheelchair access, e.g. Jubilee line east of Waterloo, Docklands Light Railway, etc. Lifts are being gradually installed in mainline surface stations – I'm not sure about the London Undergound's surface stations. Retrofitting lifts in undergound stations can be tricky, and in deep stations, difficult to impossible. It all takes time, and lots of money.

I don't think double-decker buses can 'kneel', due to their height and weight. Modern single-deck buses can 'kneel'.

Stefan @484: if you think London traffic is INSANE, try Rome or Naples ...

#487 ::: Odalchini ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2017, 03:28 PM:

No,my mistake: modern double-decker buses can 'kneel'. The classic Routemasters can't, of course! AFAIK they're still operated on one 'heritage' route in London.

#488 ::: Race Traitor Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2017, 06:51 PM:

OK, now I'm confused. The Normans had only been French for, was it two generations? I had thought they had jarls/earls (being Norse themselves).

If it went the other way, and I'm sure you would know better than I would, why did they change the wife-of-an-earl title to 'countess'? That was why I thought 'count' had to be older.

(The wife of a jarl, as far as I know, is also a jarl.)

#489 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2017, 08:39 PM:

Off to see Scalzi in Boulder. Whee!

#490 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2017, 09:52 PM:

Re: municipalities

I just poked around the census data for the Manassas area, where I grew up.

The area I think of as "Manassas" is a Public Use Microdata Area covering about 44 square miles, of which less than a quarter is the actual city of Manassas. It had 97K people when I last lived there in 2000.

I always described it as "the ass end of the DC suburbs", which is still pretty accurate. Another 5 or 10 miles farther out on 66 and things got less suburban and more rural; 15 miles in towards DC and you're at the outermost Metro station.

Anyone know how much the suburban/rural boundary has moved since I left? Have Gainesville or Warrenton been engulfed yet?

And of course now I have moved to not-quite-the-ass-end of the Seattle suburbs. I'm not actually sure where the border is - are Kent and Auburn suburbs of Seattle, or do they belong to Tacoma instead?

#491 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2017, 10:33 PM:

They're both south of SeaTac, shadowsong, so I think they belong more to Tacoma. They're also east of both. But that's kind of like asking if Palo Alto belongs to San Francisco or to San Jose -- it's a separate city between the two, kinda suburban but not really part of either. There's a large megapolis that includes the whole area, not very well defined, both here in Seattle and in the SF Bay Area.

#492 ::: idgecat ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2017, 12:34 AM:

I grew up in S. King County, between Seatac and Kent at the time, and all of the south county area is locally considered as related to Seattle, not Tacoma. Neither Kent or Auburn really counts as a suburb, heck, Auburn has 2 suburbs. In living memory, Kent was the main "city" in the valley in WA state terms given that "city" just means incorporated local population center. To count as a suburb of Tacoma, you really need to cross the county line, as even Federal Way is tied more to Seattle than to Tacoma.

#493 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2017, 02:41 AM:

471: Except for the part that was previously Pennsylvania Dutch, which gets a Zwölf instead.

490: Friends in Warrenton describe it as suburbia. One of the pair commutes to downtown DC.

#494 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2017, 08:11 AM:

The Normans, by the time they arrived in England, were quite definitely French. They called themselves 'French', not 'Normans'. And they spoke French. So the weird local princelings who called themselves 'earls' were referred to, in French, as 'comtes', and their wives as 'comtesses'. Somehow the native word for the nobleman himself stayed unchanged in English, but not the word for his wife. (The names for other ranks of nobility, Duke, Marquess, etc., all come from French anyway.)

#495 ::: Allen J Baum ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2017, 09:33 AM:

Back to the Bluegrass side of things:

There is an entire CD of Bluegrass Grateful Dead - but of course, some of it was Bluegrass to begin with (e.g. Cumberland Blues).

At the annual Merlefest, the Hillside Album Hour - an entire album played bluegrass style by some of the top bluegrass musicians around- has been going on for 10 years now. They've done the Who's Tommy, Led Zepplin, Bruce Springsteen ...

You can Bluegrass anything, yes.

#496 ::: Quill ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2017, 10:27 AM:

Stefan Jones @484, Odalchini @486: Thanks. Yeah, I can see how retrofitting the stations would be a massive undertaking, especially since so many of them seem to be built over the tracks themselves--all those stairs...

I landed at Heathrow in 1996 with a lot of luggage (I was expecting to stay a year) and was promptly derailed from taking the train by the realization that I couldn't possibly handle the station stairs with all my stuff. It was my first experience of the cultural differences, asking where the elevator was and being told that there wasn't one.

The second came from waiting in the bus line later that day and seeing a young woman in the same line reading a fairly blatant porn magazine--and nobody paying the least attention. I could see a man in the United States doing that, depending on the venue, but not a woman.

#497 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2017, 12:16 PM:

shadowsong @490

Gainesville is being engulfed, Nokesville is on the edge but not quite there yet, Haymarket is still rural.

Warrenton, rather than being engulfed, is sprouting tentacles of development stretching along the 'major' roads (if you can call 15 and 17 major).

#498 ::: Race Traitor Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2017, 01:50 PM:

Andrew 494: OK, I accept that, yet Norman French does have some words borrowed from Norse. I just thought 'earl/jarl' might be one. Looks like I was wrong about that.

You say Somehow the native word for the nobleman himself stayed unchanged in English, but not the word for his wife.

See, having learned which way it went, as a linguist I'm looking for the answer to that 'somehow'. How? Why? It's very odd.

#499 ::: Louis Patterson ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2017, 04:49 PM:

Don't go down that rabbit-hole, Xopher.

[avoidance of near-homophones, is the reason I've seen suggested. But I don't think we know that for sure; not that we'd expect to have documentation on that point, of course.]

#500 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2017, 06:27 PM:

Since we're speaking of bluegrass again, my old friend Jenine is in "New Zealand's only all female bluegrass band" Hot Diggity. They're now raising funds on Pledgeme, the NZ Kickstarter equivalent, to put out their first album as a download + CD; while they just hit their minimum mark (meaning it's guaranteed to go forward) more funding would be helpful.
If anybody's interested, that number is:
(For reference, $1 NZ is about $0.70 US, so US residents can mentally knock about 1/3 off the pledge levels.)

#501 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2017, 06:37 PM:

Well, there may be no explanation beyond 'people are weird'. But at a guess: ordinary people were already familiar with earls, so would go on saying 'earl'. The other peerage ranks (in England) came in later: 'baron' developed gradually from being a form of tenure to being a rank; dukes were introduced, I think, by Richard II, and to start with were all from the royal family; marquesses and viscounts came in even later, and for a long time were quite rare, generally being given in cases of 'oh dear, this guy needs a promotion, but we can't make him a duke/earl, what shall we do?'. So there were no names for them beyond the French ones.

The only really puzzling thing is 'Why countess?'. Perhaps ordinary people had less to do with the wives of earls? Perhaps wives of earls didn't have a specific title before the Normans came? Or something.

#502 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2017, 06:41 PM:

Did someone mention the old form of an Earl's wife and I missed it? Because now I really want to know.

#503 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2017, 07:16 PM:

It seems that Anglo-Saxon women, apart from queens, simply didn't have titles.

#504 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2017, 08:36 PM:

dotless ı @ 463: most/all books of street maps (remember those?) split up the maps alphabetically, town by town. I was under the impression that was a matter of scaling rather than ~politics. I have a book that covers out to 128+ by sectors; another covers past 495 by municipalities -- with each map scaled to fit everything on a page (or sometimes spread). This means that all streets are findable in most places, instead of making an unmanageably large book or shrinking most areas until the streets are unfindable.

Adrian @ 468: I'm not sure Burlington has industries per se, but it probably has a lot more jobs (cf the office parks on both sides of 128 west of the former Readercon hotel). I saw the Framingham argument go by with no explanation of the reasons presented by either side.

Ingvar M @ 473: why is that any more surreal than any parliamentary-dismissal system? (says he snarkily while ignoring the effect of known election dates on U.S. politics, e.g. campaign financing.) May actually had a point: an election in the middle of Brexit would probably make matters even worse.

Xopher @ 488: (The wife of a jarl, as far as I know, is also a jarl.) Jarla, according an acquaintance who was one in the SCA -- but I can't disprove Helen S @ 503, since SCA titling was probably less policed in the 1970's; witness the friend-of-a-friend-of-Doyle (maybe &Macdonald?) who took his peerage as a bishopric.

shadowsong @ 490: I think DC will go on expanding forever. I grew up there 60 years ago, when there was a dairy farm opposite our house; the site of the 1994 Disclave (aka "how did they get that phallic display past the planning board?") had nothing but grass and forest behind it (quite a contrast with the Pike out front) but was massively developed several years ago (possibly in anticipation of the Metro passing through on its way to Dulles Airport).

#505 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2017, 09:51 PM:

re DC suburbs: on the Maryland side the county is the fundamental political unit. There are some towns and "cities" (and Baltimore City functions as a separate county-- it and Balto. County are disjoint) but there isn't a lot of rhyme or reason to it. Silver Spring is the largest city in Montgomery County (to the point of having a skyline) but politically it doesn't exist, whereas Chevy Chase is for some reason divided up into a town and several "villages". As a rule a city has its own police force and a town does not, but this isn't invariably true. Howard County has no incorporated places at all, but Columbia only exists as a set of covenants on the various properties in it.

The area bends the word "suburban" into a pretzel, between the intensely urban inner ring of "suburban" towns and the many fragments of housing on the edges. Hammond Village, fifty-five years later, is still a "development", isolated and with no commercial center, whereas Cloverly is a town because it has stores. There's this whole broad swath which isn't really rural but isn't classical suburbia.

#506 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2017, 03:46 AM:

CHip @ #504:

But an election before actually serving the Article 50 paperwork would've been even better (this is, technically, "an election in the brexit negotiations", although more towards one end than the other, and the scheduled election would've been post-due-date (scheduled for 202, 2 years from March 2017 is March 2019).

#507 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2017, 08:20 AM:

"A Day in the Life of a Food Vendor", from the New York Times. Touching and edifying.

#508 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2017, 10:13 AM:

Larry Skywalker?
And his weird bear?

John Oliver recently did a segment on France's upcoming elections and the top candidate is Le Pen's daughter, just as bad as her dad, but more 'polite' about it. The segment began with a recap of some of the other candidates, one of whom made a disparaging reference to Star Wars' Larry Skywalker and his weird bear. At least he didn't make fun of Dwayne Solo.

That being said... French politics look as dismal as America's.

#509 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2017, 10:48 AM:

Dreams reveal our anxieties.

Last night I dreamt that I was looking closely at my good headphones, and discovered hitherto unseen LEFT and RIGHT indicators. It turned out that I've been listening to them backwards these past three months.

Local Man wonders if his subconscious is reaching.

#510 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2017, 11:18 AM:

Kip, #509:

You've been listening to music from the Antimatter Universe!

#511 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2017, 12:18 PM:

In Hawai'i, the counties correspond to islands, or groupings of islands. Thus Hawai'i (the Big Island) is one county, Maui and Molokai make up one county, the island of O'ahu is City and County of Honolulu, etc.

Because Honolulu County also includes the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands out to Pearl and Hermes atolls, a little short of Midway, by some measures it's the geographically largest county in the US. (Though Wikipedia disagrees, I don't think the numbers given there are taking that into account.)

#512 ::: Race Traitor Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2017, 03:03 PM:

CHip 504: Xopher @ 488: (The wife of a jarl, as far as I know, is also a jarl.) Jarla, according an acquaintance who was one in the SCA -- but I can't disprove Helen S @ 503, since SCA titling was probably less policed in the 1970's; witness the friend-of-a-friend-of-Doyle (maybe &Macdonald?) who took his peerage as a bishopric.

Yes, Bishop Geoffrey. That definitely wouldn't be allowed today (in fact, by 1991 he was known as Master Geoffrey d'Ayr of Montalban, 'Bishop Geoffrey' having become a nickname with no official status). (I met "Bish," as he was known to his friends in the SCA, at ConStellation in 1983. I haven't seen him since, and I'm not sure what happened to him. He was a very nice, friendly guy, as I recall.)

I knew a woman who had been a Countess in the SCA, but changed personas (and I think to an Icelandic persona, which if true may be where I got the idea it was Norse) and became Jarl Embla.

But I don't find that in the SCA title tables. Closest (in this table) is 'Iarla', which is an Irish and Scots Gaelic version of 'Count' (the Irish also used 'Cunta' (pronounced COON-tuh), and 'Countess' is 'Cuntaois' (roughly COON-teesh).

The Old English table gives 'Eorl' for Count (and also for Duke), but the feminine title is 'Hlæfdige'. Can't blame Countesses for wanting to discard that in favor of 'Countess'! (For those who don't know me well, that's a joke. Of course 'Hlæfdige' wouldn't seem awkward to a native speaker.)

That actually sheds some light on the matter: if (as the SCA surmises) Eorl's wives were never called by any variation of 'Eorl', there's no reason for their wives to subsequently be called variations of 'Earl'. And, all kidding aside, I bet the Norman French did have some trouble pronouncing 'Hlæfdige'.

#513 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2017, 03:23 PM:

Odd question related to recent personal experience:

Can anyone think of a reason why someone using stolen credit card information to shop online would have the goods sent to the cardholder?

#514 ::: Adrian ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2017, 03:28 PM:

Chip, 504, I meant to compare my little town of Arlington, Massachusetts with the great city of Burlington, Vermont, on Lake Champlain. It's not the state capital, but it's the biggest city in the state of Vermont. Commuters go TO work there. (Commuters in Arlington live here and work elsewhere.) In some ways, Vermonters treat it like we treat Boston--even if you don't live there, you expect to go there occasionally to see a concert or a medical specialist or to pick somebody up from the airport. I'm interested in the comparison because the numbers of people are almost exactly the same. (42,800.)

Comparing Burlington, MA to Burlington, VT is also interesting. It's organized as a town, and it's a lot smaller than Arlington if you count by people--it seems almost twice as big by square miles, but a lot of that is parking lots. There's a hospital and an enormous mall, which makes it a destination like Burlington, VT. People commute there to work, drive there to shop or see doctors, in ways that just never happen in Arlington.

#515 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2017, 03:39 PM:

Chris @ 513:

Using a stolen number typically works by ordering a <$20 item on the card, and, if it's not caught by the cardholder within a few days, then running up a massive bill and absconding with the goods. Maybe, while doing this, they forgot to send their purchase to a different address.

It's entirely possible this particular crook isn't too bright.

Other incredibly low-probability reasons might include:

  • They expected to be able to steal the item out of the mail and couldn't
  • They expected to pose as you while you were out on a trip, but you weren't out
  • The item was bought by drunk you ordering something you wanted but couldn't bring yourself to buy sober
#516 ::: Angiportus Librarysaver ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2017, 03:41 PM:

Kip, #509, Bill Higgins, #510--way back in the pre-CD days an audio mag had an ad for a turntable with the picture reversed, so the arm was on the viewer's left side. A bunch of people wrote in to point this out, and one asked if that was for hearing the evil messages supposedly inserted backwards in certain pieces. --The editors said yes, and it has a very sinister sound.

#517 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2017, 03:43 PM:

Chris @ #513

Stupidity? Most likely they tried to put in a shipping address that wasn't the cardholder address and the merchant ignored it.

Might give the card company (or the law) a lead on the crook.


#518 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2017, 05:04 PM:

HelenS #503: Lady, as counterpart of Lord, is of Anglo-Saxon origin. The OED's entry is too long to paste here.

#519 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2017, 06:42 PM:

Knitting question: so I'm making a wedding shawl and have been beading along happily. I discovered that, for the sake of symmetry, I should have added beads along one edge or not beaded along the other edge in one pattern section.

Can I remove the beads by smashing them with a hammer?

Will I regret this?

I mean, everyone has a point where they just want to destroy a project. Maybe this is the one time I can?

#520 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2017, 07:17 PM:

I'd crush them with pliers, myself, but it can be done if you're careful.

#521 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2017, 07:53 PM:

I'm pretty sure "Hlæfdige," referenced above, is the origin of "lady." I don't think of Lady or Lord as titles in the same sense as Duke or Duchess, though.

#522 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2017, 07:55 PM:

I'm pretty sure "Hlæfdige," referenced above, is the origin of "lady." I don't think of Lady or Lord as titles in the same sense as Duke or Duchess, though.

#523 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2017, 01:02 AM:

Kip notes:
". . . and discovered hitherto unseen LEFT and RIGHT indicators . . ."

I wish the earphones I have right there had those. I have to guess, in real life, every time.

Last night's anxiety dream involved leaving my dog tied to a tree in a park while I used mass transit to go to a AAA office, presumably to do something related to my car not being around. (Which turned out to be in a wonderfully shabby old mall full of marginal businesses. And was out of business; just an un-faded spots on the wall in the shape of the logo.) Of course the dog was gone when I got back to the park. The "how could I done something so stupid?" fretting continued for an hour after I was jolted awake.

#524 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2017, 07:43 AM:

Allen J. Baum@495: Speaking of bluegrass and the Grateful Dead, I knew I'd left the tab with my uncle's obituary open for a reason. I'd had it there because his youngest daughter (the only cousin of that generation younger than me) died and I couldn't recall her married name. March was rough that way. My mom (the last of Roosevelt's siblings) and another cousin died, too, so I've been thoughtful.

After that, all I can say is that anyone who thinks April is the cruelest month should think again. April's pretty sweet. I'm digging it.

#525 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2017, 09:40 AM:

Re: earlier subthread about being thrown out of stories: I've been binge reading the Eve Dallas book and got the large print version of one of them, because that's what the library had available. It didn't exactly throw me out of the story, but it was jarringly noticeable that the italics were rendered in a sans-serif face.

#526 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2017, 10:34 AM:

'Lady' can certainly be a title on occasion - for the wife of a knight, say, or the daughter of an earl - but has always been used in a broader way which does not make it a title. So if that was the only title for the wives of earls, it wouldn't be distinctive of them, and one can see why the Normans might feel the need of a more specific title.

#527 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2017, 12:50 PM:

"Hlæfdige" IF I remember rightly, roughly translates as "loaf giver."

#528 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2017, 01:08 PM:

Adrian @ 514: Dawn breaks over Marblehead -- I didn't parse the "VT" in your previous. Further addressing your original, the obvious guess is that a town is a dependent where a city is a focus; cf the city of Northampton MA, pop. 29K (which makes it much larger than the surrounding communities). At a guess, the closest foci to Burlington VT are Albany, Plattsburgh, and Montreal (Montpelier seems too small to be relevant even if it is the state capital) -- and all of those are 1-2 hours' drive away. wrt your latter, Burlington-the-focus lies right on a highway, where the nearest highway to the core of Arlington is more-or-less the boundary between it and Belmont, so Burlington is a more obvious destination (especially with Fresh Pond to draw people away from Arlington -- although I've gone to the Capitol movie theater several times as it's much less grody than Fresh Pond, and I'll be singing in Porchfest this June as our music director lives there). There's also the matter of intent(?); IIRC Arlington was dry until relatively recently, which made starting a good restaurant hard.

Xopher @ 512: I know Bish was still around in 1992 (my last Philcon) but haven't heard anything since. (Not that that means much, as I drifted from the SCA in 1985 and am back only very locally since 2007.)

#529 ::: Zack ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2017, 04:30 PM:

If I might change the subject a little: I'm doing a research project related to online censorship, which you can help with, by visiting in any reasonably recent version of Firefox, Chrome, or IE. (You must have JavaScript enabled. It doesn't work in Safari, which unfortunately means you cannot use an iDevice.) Press the Start button on the map, wait for it to finish, and then click the "Tell me more" button (which appears when it's done) and read the text and follow the instructions. It is especially helpful if you do this on a computer physically located somewhere other than Europe and North America.

The experiment is testing "active geolocation", which is when you try to figure out where a computer physically is by measuring how long it takes a packet of information to go round-trip between one computer and other computers in known locations. This has been studied carefully within Europe and the continental USA, but much less so elsewhere.

This is relevant to Internet censorship because, in order to measure Internet censorship, you need access to a computer within the sub-network run by a censorious country or organization. Commercial VPN services are one way to do this. Unfortunately, the countries that are most aggressive about censoring the Internet are also countries where it is difficult and expensive to host servers. I suspect that several commercial VPN providers' claims of widespread server hosting are false: they are placing servers in countries where it is easy to do business, and then adding false entries to commonly-used geolocation databases. If whatsmyip and the like tell their users that the VPN server is in the right country, that's good enough to make a sale...

I have run these measurements myself on many VPN servers, but I don't know how accurate they are, and the accuracy varies depending on the true location. By visiting this page, running all the way through a measurement, and then telling me honestly where your computer really is, you provide me with data that I can use to calibrate the VPN measurements. Again, data from places other than Europe and North America is especially helpful: I particularly want Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, and South America.

#530 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2017, 04:54 PM:

Chris at 513, My husband and I are even now reading a mystery story in which this happens. A woman, now deceased, is found to have, over some years, massively ripped off some of her college, ah, "friends". In each case, at some point she has sent each of them a dressing gown from Victoria's Secret, paid for by a card in the recipient's name.

We haven't gotten to the part where her motivation is revealed. In case you are interested, the book is _Confidence Woman_, by Judith Van Gieson.

If you don't care *that* much, I can post the answer, when we find it.

#531 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2017, 04:58 PM:

513: My sister once ordered something to be sent to me, and it was sent to her instead. (She still has it, five years later.) So I go with the 'merchant sent it to the wrong address' theory.

#532 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2017, 05:20 PM:

@513 : Speaking as someone who does customer service for a variety of online merchants, our billing system only requires the shipping address, not the billing address. It's not uncommon for people to not read the labels and get in touch with us going "I meant to send that to this other address and there was no way to put in the shipping address!"

I've also been responsible for tracking fraudulent purchases (though for a different company -- MMO currency and items are a very popular way to launder money), and "make a small purchase that might not get noticed to test that the card number on this giant list of stolen numbers I've purchased is valid" is fairly common.

#533 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2017, 06:29 PM:

Em/KeithS: The only problem with the "small purchase as a test" theory is that this was not a small purchase. It was a pair of very nice ski jackets worth several hundred dollars. I re-checked the past several months of charges, and there was nothing there that could have been a test purchase.

Whatever happened, I'm very glad it did come to me. While I check for unauthorized purchases every month before paying my bill, this purchase was made just a couple of days after the last time I did. If it had been sent to the thief, my card could have been compromised for almost a month before I found out.

#534 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2017, 06:48 PM:

Zack @529:

Done. I've added my results to your North American data-set.

The "where your browser thinks you are" was disturbingly accurate.

#535 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2017, 07:40 PM:

re: #519 Diatryma

Can I remove the beads by smashing them with a hammer?

Simply smashing them (or crushing with pliers) may cut the thread/yarn. Safer is to put a pin (or thin needle) through the bead first and then have at it.

#536 ::: Rail ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2017, 07:52 PM:

Chris @533: It wouldn't happen to be a Kohl's card, would it?

#537 ::: J Homes ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2017, 11:10 PM:

Zack @ 529,

Actually Wellington, New Zealand.

It thinks probably somewhere in New Zealand, but it would believe the east coast of Australia, or our sub-Antarctic islands.

J Homes.

#538 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2017, 11:57 PM:

Zack @529:

IP and browser both place me in the same location, which is a six-hour drive West of my actual location. (I'm in Montreal; it's placing me in the Toronto area, probably Mississauga since that's where my ISP HQ is.)

It's also where I'm moving to in a few months, so maybe it's just displacing me temporally ;)

#539 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2017, 12:49 AM:

Zack: it placed me precisely in Seattle, where I am.

#540 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2017, 10:23 AM:

It puts me, I think, in northern Orange County, CA, where my ISP's (or the telco's) servers are. Physically (and according to my browser) I'm in the northwest corner of the city of L.A.

#541 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2017, 01:49 PM:

Zack #529: It accurately placed me exactly where my browser thinks I am.

#542 ::: Jim Parish ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2017, 02:01 PM:

It put me somewhere in North America, which is true but uninformative. (Honest, the inmost circle covered most of the continent.)

#543 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2017, 02:06 PM:

Zack @529

Result submitted from the UK. but there looks to be a huge imprecision, easily a 1500km radius, and I suspect a chunk of that is down to the relatively local part of the internet. Most domestic internet connections go through ISP networks based close to London, and in my experience the ping times to London are around 50ms, about a third of the total ping time to anything in the USA.

The totals are little different to what I was getting in the days of dialup, though it might save a few ms over an analogue modem, It makes me think that the main part is the hardware in the telephone exchange which connects a subscriber line to the digital network. It's been an all-digital trunk network since 1990, though some parts have changed.

The last named node in the UK was at 56ms, then one at 60ms, and then all the USA at around 180ms. Most of that jump is the trans-Atlantic wet string, of course, but it seems that the British trunk network has direct connections from every exchange to every other exchange (but can I believe Wikipedia on System X?) But it looks as though the ping times within the UK don't show a useful difference between locations.

Of course, the paranoid might think everything goes through GCHQ anyway.

#544 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2017, 02:06 PM:

Jack Dann-ism spotted in the wild:

Only God Forgives a Film by Nicolas Winding Refn

#545 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2017, 08:14 PM:

Zack @529: done mine. The active geolocation thing pinpoints me with eerie accuracy (which I suspect is because the Home Counties of England are pretty well stocked with computers and servers.)

My browser, on the other hand, thinks I am in Milton Keynes - I am moved to ask, rhetorically: why in God's name should I, or anyone, be in Milton Keynes?

#546 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2017, 08:49 PM:

Xopher, CHip, et al: Bish is retired and living in Charleston SC, doing as well as might be expected. He lost his husband, Sandy, about a month after they co-chaired Costume Con in 2015. I ran into him at an SCA event about a year ago, and we're FB friends.

SCA title trivia: Gaelic for Count/Earl/Jarl is Iarla. Gaelic for Countess is Ban-Iarla (woman Iarla). Iarla is masculine, not feminine in Gaelic. Gaelic doesn't work like Spanish.

#547 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2017, 09:04 PM:

Zack @529: I did mine, and judging from the lines on the map, I'm probably somewhere in North America, maybe in the west. Looks like an internet connection as bad as mine is an effective defense against this technique.

Rail @536: Nope, not Kohl's.

#548 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2017, 12:28 AM:

Zach #529

In Auckland NZ (browser and are correct). The circle is consistent with that, but doesn't rule out anywhere in NZ or parts of eastern Australia.

J Homes #537: NZ location accuracy should presumably improve a bit when the Hawaiki cable gets here and our data aren't all routed through Oz.

#549 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2017, 02:19 AM:

Zack @ 529,
The "Let us know" link on the webpage (for if it doesn't work correctly) goes to a page requiring a Github sign-in. That is going to screen out a lot of people who might have given you feedback on problems, including me.

FWIW, I got no circles displayed as far as I could see, other than a couple sinusoidal not-quite-half-the-earth sections. (I'm located in Honolulu which should have been very easy to pinpoint given trans-oceanic cable delays.)

#550 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2017, 07:48 AM:

By the way, those of you who are doing Zack's research experiment -- are you doing the bit at the end where you input your GPS coordinates?

#551 ::: Cassy B ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2017, 07:51 AM:

This may be old news, but is it true that Peter S. Beagle was cheated and currently is destitute?

If so, I'm sending him some birthday cash.

#552 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2017, 01:01 PM:

Cassy B @551 -- it's a lot more complex than that. There's a New Yorker-sized article that could be written about the interactions of Peter and Connor, if not an entire book. And parts of it are based in Peter's long-term handling of money, which has been terrible for over 50 years; parts are based in Connor's over-promoting and not delivering on various items; and parts are based in the oddnesses of the legal system.

#553 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2017, 02:07 PM:

Zack @ 529:
I reran the test in Chrome rather than Firefox and got the same results, so I submitted them. (Only 2 circles displayed, each covering nearly half the earth.) Perhaps the geolocation algorithm doesn't deal well with locations such as Hawaii, where reaching any continent involves undersea cable delays.

#554 ::: Arwel Parry ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2017, 05:39 PM:

Zack @529. thinks I'm in London, about 160 miles away, on the other hand, the browser thinks I'm about two houses away on the other side of my street - scarily accurate!

#555 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2017, 06:00 PM:

I used Chrome to test the owlfolio geolocator, because Firefox has been acting up for a month (seems to be's Javascriptness at fault?) I got one of the three common incorrect results that geolocators give me, which is the city my ISP is based in. (The other common incorrect results are "whichever work firewall my work VPN is using", if I'm logged in there, and "halfway between home and my ISP" which I don't understand.)
FreeGeoIP thinks I'm pretty close to where I actually live.

#556 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2017, 06:07 PM:

Re cities / small towns / villages / etc.: we got back a few days ago from a 10-day trip to Seattle (3 days on the road each way, 4 days there) in which we drove thru a lot of extremely rural America, a good chunk of it on Federal highways for lack of an interstate route. There are towns in which 2/3 or more of the businesses along the highway are boarded up. Some of those towns are covered with religious signage, which made me think of Obama's statement about "desperate people clinging to guns and religion because that's all they have left". Some of them made me think of the fictitious town in Charlaine Harris' "Midnight, Texas" series.

Which leads into the discussion of what makes a city vs. a small town. I don't think of this as a binary category the way a lot of Americans seem to. I live in a large city (Houston); I used to live in a medium-size city (Nashville); there are places I think of as small cities (Beaumont, TX); and that's before you even get to the level of "town".

duckbunny, #460: It's increasingly cheaper to fly between cities than get the train and that aligns with my perception of how the system is being run - that trains are an inferior form of air travel, not a long-distance equivalent of the bus.)

That's pretty much my take on train travel in the US, what we have of it. You pay as much money as you would for airfare, but you don't get there any faster than you would by driving. For someone like me, whose purpose is to get to where I'm going rather than to have the "train experience", it's very much the worst of both worlds. Which is not meant as a slight against those for whom the "train experience" is one of the things they want, but I don't care one way or the other about it.

#557 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2017, 08:15 PM:

Mumble mumble not saying anything about the "train experience", but could go on at length about how much it's worth to avoid the "airplane experience".

#558 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2017, 08:15 PM:

Mumble mumble not saying anything about the "train experience", but could go on at length about how much it's worth to avoid the "airplane experience".

#559 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2017, 08:18 PM:

Whoops. Doublety.

There was a clear browser feedback failure there -- when I hit the "post" button, the URL bar did not start to progressbar as it should have. Tnat's why I pressed it again.

This is not a Javascript issue because I have JS turned off. (And that is fine for posting here.) It must be something weird about the way the HTTP request progresses? I dunno.

#560 ::: Zack ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2017, 08:37 PM:

Thanks to everyone who's been helping me run my experiment.

There seems to have been some confusion about exactly what you have to do once you get to the page. Especially, the pushpins aren't the experiment—they're just for you to compare to the circles that get drawn once you run the experiment. You need to push the "start" button on top of the map, wait for the progress bar to go all the way to the end, then push the button which used to say "tell me more" and now reads "yes I want to help", read all of the cautionary notices that the CMU ethics committee insisted I make you read, and then fill in the form at the very bottom of the page and submit it. I've made some adjustments to the page which will hopefully make this clearer.

@543 Yes, delays in your local network are one of the biggest problems with this technique. There are ways to correct for it, but they require "traceroute" information, which I can't collect from inside a web browser.

@545 I don't know why your browser would think you are in Milton Keynes, but if had done that, I would guess that your ISP had its offices there. That is a common mistake for IP-to-location services to make.

@549 Good point about Github, I have changed the text to offer a choice of that or sending me email about the problem.

I'm not especially surprised to hear that it can't pin you down in Honolulu. There are several possible explanations, of which the most probable is that all of your traffic is taking a detour through California, adding enough delay that most of it exceeds the "too big to be helpful" limit. This is called "boomerang routing" in the literature, and it happens quite often. For bulk traffic, it can even be the Right Thing, when the long way around is less congested than the direct cable.

#561 ::: Zack ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2017, 08:54 PM:

I should add: I still get useful data out of a run that doesn't pin down your location very precisely, because a key research question is how precisely it can pin down your location, as a function of where your location really is.

So, please do go through the whole process of sending in the data, regardless of the result, unless you get an actual error message (in which case it won't let you send in the data).

#562 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2017, 09:33 PM:

Zack @561/2: I'll be traveling and taking my computer with me to San Diego in a bit over a week. Does it help to have that location info as well?

And I sometimes connect through a hot-spot on my phone; does it help to run both versions? I could run connected to the hotel wi-fi and the hot-spot, for example.

#563 ::: Race Traitor Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2017, 09:44 PM:

Tracie 546: Good to know Bish is hanging in there, but of course sad about his husband. I'm sure he doesn't remember me, but if you find it appropriate, could you let him know he was remembered fondly here?

Zack 529: My browser puts me across the yard from where I actually am in Hoboken, NJ. The algorithm puts me some miles away in Long Island, partway out to Sands Point. I think it's in Port Washington, but I can't tell from the map. Puts me in the middle of Roger Drive near the intersection with Glen Lane.

I certainly hope my server isn't actually in the middle of the street!

#564 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2017, 01:00 AM:

The plane experience is part of why I drive the elevenish hours to Alpha each year*. Elevenish hours in the car, listening to music, drinking lattes like they're keeping me alive, feeling tough and drivery, vs... well, five or six, at least, including being on a plane? It's just not enough of a difference to be worth it to me. But then, I find time easier to spend than money.

*Other reasons: it's good to have more staff cars on campus; I want to visit my grandfather as long as I'm eleven hours closer; I can pack all the things.

#565 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2017, 05:26 AM:


I used to get told I was in Milton Keynes, but the ISP brand I had then has been taken over with another company, and they don't say very much about where their server-site is.

My current ISP has a head office in a northern city, but the servers seem to be somewhere near London. The Telehouse operation is west of the London Worldcon site, on the other side of the River Lea, and has been a key hub for the UK Internet for as long as I can remember.

It does look odd that so many circles of about the same size are centred in Europe, suggesting that England is at least as far from any European measurement points as is Timbuktoo. I suppose, with Brexit, we are going to have to get used to that.

#566 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2017, 06:15 AM:

Dave Bell @ #565:

A lot of the transit providers (basically "provides connectivity to outside UK") used by UK ISPs tend to have some amount of linkage to Europe (usually to Amsterdam, maybe some to Frankfurt) and the rest of the connectivity is heading straight across the Atlantic. There's a few that have cables to the Nordics and I suppose there must be cables across the Irish Sea, as well.

It's certainly been the case that there's been times when you get better bandwidth (although much worse round-trip) going from Europe to Europe via the US Eastern Seaboard (through a building owned by teh New Your Port Authority, most likely).

#567 ::: Zack ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2017, 07:49 AM:

Tom Whitmore @562: I haven't got anything from San Diego yet, so why not. Yes, doing the test once each via two different ISPs in the same region is useful.

#568 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2017, 09:55 AM:

Speaking of 2017 Hugo Awards, I got my "here's the voting!" link by electronic communication only a scant short while ago. I think this means I need to sit down and rank entries in the not-too-distant future. And also probably do some targeted catch-up on my reading.

#569 ::: Quill ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2017, 11:01 AM:

I haven't taken a train in the U.S. in some years, but I remember it as a pleasant experience on the whole, if no faster or cheaper than a plane.

Much as I love the sensation of flight, as a fat person of medium height, plane seats are becoming less and less comfortable for me. And trains may be no better than planes in terms of time/money, but for those of us without cars, they're at least an alternative to the discomfort of air travel.

#570 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2017, 11:03 AM:

Zack @567:

I'll do it again, this time at work. Physically, I'm less than a mile away from home. Network-wise, I'm going from a residential ISP to a university which is home to a supercomputing center with gobs of connectivity.

This time, my browser thinks I'm about 50 feet south of where I actually am. How does it know?!?

A suggestion for an enhancement: On the "type in your GPS coordinates" page, how about linking into the same map server as you do on the front page, allowing people to select their location by finding it on the map and clicking to fill in the fields?

This time, the smallest circle covered half the state rather than half the country, and my actual location wa just on the edge of that circle.

#571 ::: Zack ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2017, 11:40 AM:

@570 about linking into the same map server as you do on the front page...

That's a good idea, but unfortunately it'd be more coding than I have time for in the foreseeable future.

#572 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2017, 12:37 PM:

Bruce H. @525: it was jarringly noticeable that the italics were rendered in a sans-serif face.

I tried several times over the years to read Drawing Down the Moon, and simply couldn't.

The line corrections for the revisions were pasted in by hand, in a slightly different font. Blew me out of the water Every. Single. Time. "Is that a font change? Does that font change mean something? No? Ignore it?"

Like, several times a page.

Several times I tried, and every time, I'd get maybe ten pages in before giving up, in a cold sweat, with my shoulders up under my ears.

I notice there's a Kindle version out; maybe I'll give it another try. They'd have to re-key it (or OCR it, or something), right?

#573 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2017, 01:08 PM:

Bruce H. @525, Jacque @572:

I have found that it is hard for me to read books set in Helvetica, or some other clearly-display sans-serif for the body text.

Arbitrary font changes like you describe would drive me batty.

#574 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2017, 01:11 PM:

Is Wal-Mart actually doing something that's going to help their poorer customers in the long run?

It's tempting to think so, but given their track record, I can't help but suspect that at some point along the line these cards are going to quietly turn into "company store" instruments, unusable anywhere except at Wal-Mart.

OTOH, people who get started building up savings by means of a Money Card may eventually get to the point of being able to jump ship to a credit union, and that would be an undiluted Good Thing.

Buried in a parenthetical throwaway deep in the article is this: Last year, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced new rules that later this year will require card issuers to package their products with a standardized fee-disclosure form; some congressional Republicans are now pushing legislation that might block this change.

This is something progressives should keep an eye on and badger their Congresscritters about. A standardized form would help people who want a credit card to do comparison shopping, allowing the vaunted Free Market to shake out the ripoffs and junk cards offered by many banks. I'm not surprised at all that Republicans hate the idea. After all, they want to eliminate the CFPB (and any other sort of watchdog agency) altogether.

#575 ::: SunflowerP ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2017, 01:20 PM:

Xopher @ 512: "And, all kidding aside, I bet the Norman French did have some trouble pronouncing 'Hlæfdige'."

Yep. As you've likely triangulated from subsequent posts, they (eventually) pronounced it 'lady' :-).

Zack @ 529/561: I found the instructions as you currently have them clear and easy to follow - my biggest issue was with getting the error message, but reloading the page and starting over worked (third time lucky; I wouldn't have given it a fourth go if the third had failed, but I was willing to do three because I might be a NAmerican data point you don't have yet).

#576 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2017, 03:01 PM:

I know that Sumana Harihareswara is a GoH at Penguicon this weekend (as is Ada Palmer!) -- with there be enough other Fluorospherians present for some size Gathering of Light? It's my Very Local SF con, so I'm definitely going.

#577 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2017, 04:19 PM:

Thanks for the suggestion, estelendur! Here's my schedule of official events for the weekend. I am currently planning to have dinner with a Michigan pal on Sunday night and meet up with MetaFilter folks perhaps Sunday afternoon, and Ada is pretty busy too during the mornings and afternoons of the con. Maybe you could recommend a particular evening party we could try to piggyback on?

#578 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2017, 04:53 PM:

I don't actually know if information has been released yet about evening parties. Hmm, I will ponder this.

#579 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2017, 05:19 PM:

Spotted in the Portland March for Science:

Any care to guess which Sci-Fi writer is representing?

#580 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2017, 05:29 PM:

Crooked Timber is holding a book seminar on Cory Doctorow's new novel, Walkaway, which is out today. I enjoyed Walkaway a lot -- along with Rebecca Solnit's Hope in the Dark I found it inspiring and urgent when I was feeling a lot of political despair. I bet the CT seminar will be worth reading and I'm looking forward to it.

#581 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2017, 06:20 PM:

Lee @ 556: IME, train travel is faster than driving over longer distances, unless you have drivers who can spell each other all through the night. My parents used to do that when we drove DC-Jacksonville to see my grandfather, but that was long enough ago that it was almost entirely on federal highways; I wouldn't recommend it on interstates except for the very young and durable. (Note that this applies mostly if you're going between places serviced by trains and don't care that service is about once a day.) It's also typically faster for Northeast distances over ~200 miles, as NYC (either digging through or evading) eats driving time. (For someone my age, being able to walk around unkinking while the carrier keeps moving also reduces travel time -- although sometimes not enough to make up for having to meet the train's schedule.)

#582 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2017, 08:46 PM:

CHip, #581: For people who live in the Northeast or other areas well-serviced by passenger trains, that may be true. But here are my two experiences with seriously researching train travel as an option:

1) Going to Conadian in 1994. I have a lot of friends in the Chicago area who are train enthusiasts, and we considered the idea of getting enough people together to have our own "Worldcon party car"... until we discovered that the only way to get from Chicago to Winnipeg by train was to go thru TORONTO. Yeah, right.

2) A couple of years ago, looking at the train as an option for going from Houston to LA and finding that it would take 3 days each way, and neither the departure nor the arrival times on either end were remotely convenient. I can drive from Houston to LA in 3 days, and that includes 2 nights in a motel somewhere as well as food stops. But in that particular case, I chose to fly. And yes, the cost of train fare and airfare were comparable.

There have been other "check out the train" occasions over the years, but IIRC they all fell apart over the issue of "the train doesn't go there at all".

#583 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2017, 10:07 PM:

They found models in a Chinese tomb of looms that are capable of doing color weaving of geometric patterns - there were still threads attached to the models. The models are about 2100 years old.

#584 ::: Jim Parish ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2017, 10:22 PM:

Back when I was going to the University of Chicago, I took the train to go to San Diego for the holidays a few times. About 29 hours from Chicago to LA, then hop the local to San Diego.

The only real irritant was the one time a nearby kid played with his Speak-n-Spell *all night*. I think I was hallucinating by about midnight....

#585 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2017, 02:30 AM:

Things I've learned from following some fanfic writers' blogs:

* It is possible for somebody to post an anguished paragraph about their mental state every--single--time they get unfollowed, or get fewer than eleventy billion comments. It's exhausting to read.

* Somebody who replies to a person's question about whether an apparent case of memory loss could be the family history of dementia or fairies with "fairies," and furthermore bless-your-hearts somebody who suggests that a doctor might be of more immediate priority than a bowl of milk or a horseshoe...can nevertheless write good fic.

* Some people respond to a person saying "That media makes direct reference to a bad thing that gave me PTSD so please tag it" by sneaking it into her feed whenever possible, because...funny, I guess?

#586 ::: Race Traitor Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2017, 08:23 PM:

Jenny 585:
* Some people respond to a person saying "That media makes direct reference to a bad thing that gave me PTSD so please tag it" by sneaking it into her feed whenever possible, because...funny, I guess?

Because they're flaming asshole trolls who should be banned at the first opportunity. Obviously not a moderated community, huh?

#587 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2017, 11:05 PM:

Hey, my oldest child wants a pseudonymous email address. Anybody out there have a favorite site for minors?

#588 ::: Seth ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2017, 06:58 AM:

It is my experience that saying "hey, don't do the thing" will usually result in people doing the thing MORE because LOL.

I knew perfectly well that there were going to be fireworks at the New Year's parade. I like fireworks. Unfortunately my startle reflex is not always under my control, and apparently hilarious to onlookers. Eventually fireworks went off when I wasn't expecting them and I flinched, causing the man standing next to me to crow "I saw you flinch!"

Yes, you did, sir. Very good, sir. Well done.

I didn't say anything, because what can you say? And I had a parade to watch.

#589 ::: Brenda Kalt ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2017, 09:13 AM:

Raleigh, NC to Washington, DC by car is six hours, with traffic. Raleigh to DC by train is seven hours, and the schedule is convenient. Go train!

#590 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2017, 10:10 AM:

Irvine, CA to Los Angeles, CA by car can be anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours depending on the time of day (3 if it rains or there's a nasty accident). By train it's a touch over 1 hour (+ extra if there's a freight train, because they have right of way), and the schedule is pretty reasonable for commuting to and from work.

Los Angeles, CA to Irvine, CA by car can be anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours depending on the time of day (3 if it rains or there's a nasty accident). By train it's a touch over 1 hour (+ extra if there's a freight train, because they have right of way), the schedule is abominable, it doesn't run at any time you'd ever want to go, and then you can't get anywhere useful from Irvine station without having a car.

Guess which way I had to commute, and why I went back to driving.

To add insult to injury, the cost of the monthly train pass, when adjusted by my company's $50/month contribution, was equal to the amount I'd have to spend on gas for the month were I to drive instead. I had a fuel-efficient car, but, even so, that's ridiculous.

I want to like trains, and I don't really like driving. I want to get people in built-up areas off the roads for many reasons, including safety and air quality. The US just doesn't have a good train system, except maybe on the East Coast.

#591 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2017, 10:28 AM:

It's supposed to get people into downtown L.A. - like the bus system, good luck if you're going the other way. (It was usually just barely possible to get a train to OC at Union, if you got into Union by 7:15am.) Consider taking the Surfliner.
It is, however, better traveling in the parts not owned by the freight carriers.

#592 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2017, 12:03 PM:

Cassini survived its first trip inside the rings.
Unprocessed photos here:

#593 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2017, 12:51 PM:

I wonder about Amazon's algorithms.

There was the time when Amazon declared that because I'd bought Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys, I'd like Steve Erie's Beyond Chinatown. Now, I know Steve Erie. I've drunk beer with Steve Erie. I've attended conferences with Steve Erie. Steve Erie is a friend of mine. But what Afro-Caribbean-based fantasy and southern California urban politics have to do with each other is beyond me.

Now this: Gail gets a recommendation for John Hearne's Short Fiction, which is staring me in the face as I have to review it for an academic journal. Does Amazon think she is me?

#594 ::: Seth ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2017, 03:04 PM:

Amazon suggested that a friend of mine might be interested in some uterine dialators (I don't know what those are and I don't want to know). We eventually decided that it was the combination of buying things for his new office and also for his new nephew that convinced Amazon that he was some sort of doctor.

As for me, it mostly tries to sell me hardware and manga. Which is pretty accurate, to be honest.

#595 ::: Race Traitor Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2017, 04:49 PM:

Seth 588: Eventually fireworks went off when I wasn't expecting them and I flinched, causing the man standing next to me to crow "I saw you flinch!"

Don't you understand? He gets Manliness Points (MP) for catching you in a flinch, with a bonus for jeering at you. You, of course, lose MP for flinching (but his jeering bonus doesn't come out of your bank unless you blush or cry or something).

Eventually he can cash in his MP for the full value of such behavior: Absolutely nothing.

#596 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2017, 09:35 PM:

Xopher: Well, unless he's competing against other Manliness players, in which case he can use them to purchase Manliness Status. Or he can hold them up to admire in the mirror. Or use them to prop himself up against the sucking gravity of the Gaping Hole of Insecurity and Self-Loathing that is trying to drag him down.

#597 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2017, 03:06 AM:

Fragano #593:

There was a time when buyers of Fleming & Harrington's Counting Processes and Survival Analysis, an important postgraduate text in a rather mathematical area of biostatistics, were given a recommendation for One Fish, Two Fish,...

In that particular example we conjectured that we knew the person whose purchasing history was responsible for the link.

#598 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2017, 09:10 AM:

thomas @597:

My rather prosaic guess would be a postgraduate biostatistician with a young child.

#599 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2017, 11:55 AM:

I've long thought that shared library computers must confuse Amazon no end. We search a lot of different random books at the reference desk, as people ask us about them, or we identify gaps in the collection that we might want to fill. And then there are the public computers...

Google is probably worse.

#600 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2017, 01:23 PM:

Thomas #597: That would be a very small universe of people.

#601 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2017, 01:23 PM:

Thomas #597: That would be a very small universe of people.

#602 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2017, 01:50 PM:

An interesting discussion of the value of the theater to Athenian democracy. Telling line: one of the [1967] junta’s first acts was to ban classical tragedies and comedies.

Lee @582: I'm not surprised that service across the border isn't good; that's an artifact of both countries' population distributions, and of national borders being more of a thing in North America than in Europe (where you can't go very far without crossing a border). I \am/ surprised that LA-Houston service is quite that bad -- although I suppose I shouldn't be, again due to population distribution. (I drove from DFW to San Antonio for the LSC3 all-hands meeting; I haven't seen so much flat empty land in one span since an around-the-US trip 49 years ago.)

#603 ::: Angiportus Librarysaver ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2017, 10:04 PM:

HLN: Area person faces unprecedented scary situation.
The dramatis personae are Mom, in early 90's but not looking or acting a day over 70; close neighbors C and F, my friends also; and yours truly. Mom and I had discussed the possibility of my moving in with her [semi-rural, less populated county] as rents here continue to outrageous-ize. We were going to have a talk about this on my next visit, which was going to be this week.
I called before leaving but got the dreaded Machine. Figured she was at brunch with friends as usual for this day. But when I arrived at the depot, her car was nowhere in sight. Called her home and got a busy signal. Again and again. Finally called the neighbors and said would you please check on Mom, I feel like something is awry. C said okay. In a few minutes F called and said C had found Mom lying on the floor and the heat not turned on as it usually is, and F would come get me. We arrived and no one had called 911. I knew I should but I made the mistake of asking Mom--she was conscious but sounded rough and weak--and she said no way. I said we should take you to the ER and she didn't want that either. She was so grumpy. She wanted to make an appt. with her GP online but the computer was in the next room. Why didn't I go ahead and do what I knew I should? Because I was afraid she might take some revenge when she was better, because I have big taboos about physical sovereignty after how my own was once traduced, and also it was her house. And I was myself tired and stressed, and hadn't thought out all the reasons/ways I could override/nuance these things. C and F hadn't either. Mom described what must have been hallucinations--she must have lain there for many hours--and I was just wringing my hands. Her temp was about 94. Usually it's 97 point something. We got some water and soup down her, and she got real sleepy so we just put her to bed. I checked in on her a few times during the night but she just slept. For about 12 hours straight. In the morning I had a rush of brains to the head. After updating C and F, as soon as the office opened I called Mom's GP--who happened to be off for the week--and talked to a nurse who said get her to the ER. Thus fortified, I and C and F woke her up, found her temp was 101.5, got some more water into her and off to the ER we went. Luckily there was no waiting, she was whisked back into a room and many things were done, after I told the nurse everything I had noticed. A couple hours later, the doctor said no stroke, but pneumonia on the right side. She has had pneumonia several times. But I didn't know that that could really mess up a person's brain. Someone else took care of her before and I haven't had pneumonia myself [knock on apotropaic substance of choice.] I am a non-driver [that might change] and if C and F hadn't been home, well, I don't like to think of it. Hindsight is 20-20--hypothermia and dehydration can make a person unrecognizable. Nurse said don't beat yourself up over mistakes but learn from them; many have fallen short the same way. That helped a little.
So anyway, she is stable the last I heard, will be there a few days at least, and I have learned some lessons. 1, if someone close to you has a recurrent issue, educate yourself about it; 2, be ready to override someone and call 911 if your instincts say so, I've done it for other people; 3, be ready to compensate for being tired and stressed...and 4, when checking a suspicious looking package of meat found in her fridge, you don't just stick your nose in and take a big drag; for a moment it was me that was on the verge of collapse. [This suggests that she had been having problems and not fully realizing/showing it for some days. I will see about getting her one of those things you wear all the time and push a button if you can't get up.
Have not yet checked the archives for posts specific to pneumonia. Still grateful for what Jim and co. have taught me.

#604 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2017, 10:32 PM:

It's scary even when you're there and can do something about it.

My mother was home recovering from having her gallbladder out, and a week after the surgery (laparoscopic, so minor holes on the outside), she came down with something gastrointestinal. It wouldn't stop, so she had me take her to the ER at the hospital in town (20 miles). I didn't relax until they said her blood pressure was normal.
They kept her overnight for rehydration; I stayed in town with friends, as it decided to snow (fortunately only lightly). But I was really afraid it was something major.
(Her surgeon came through on his rounds and wanted to know why she was there. She said it was quite a sight, as he was wearing jeans and cowboy boots along with his white coat.)

#605 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2017, 12:33 AM:

I had to convince Karen's mother to go to the emergency room the first time I met her. It was more to prevent infection in a recent wound that she hadn't treated well than any immediately life-threatening event, but it was still interesting. Fortunately, I was able to convince her, and the wound healed well ever several weeks with proper treatment. She's still going strong 9 years later, at 99.

It's harder to do with one's own parent than with a friend's parent. That nurse's advice is very sound. I'm glad you got to a good resolution.

#606 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2017, 12:46 AM:

@Angiportus: I hope the prognosis is something trivial and your mom's recovery short.

* * *

I just watched the first episode of the new season of Fargo.

For those who watched . . . was that a Hugo award being used as an improvised weapon? Could anyone catch the author's name on the two hidden books?

#607 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2017, 02:34 PM:

There's been a discussion about that, over at File770, most recently here.

#608 ::: Seth ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2017, 05:20 PM:

I have such trouble understanding human interactions. It's intensely frustrating. I think I might just start calling myself a space alien -- as in, "Being a space alien, I don't know how to elicit reaction x from human beings given situation y, please help."

#609 ::: Cassy B ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2017, 06:16 PM:

Seth, I don't know if it's helpful or hlepy*, but the Disfunctional Families threads are often useful for coping strategies and for tips for the non-neurotypical.

*hlepy is faux-helpful, like the way my cat "helps" me wrap packages by sitting on the wrapping paper

#610 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2017, 07:51 PM:

Thanks P J!

I usually erase recorded shows after watching them, but I'm going to have to look carefully at the toy Grandpa carved.

Fargo is . . . ponderous. In the sense that it makes one ponder. Also hair-raising and dreadful, in a "how can I not watch?" way.

Baskets, also on FX, is like that. Terribly hurt and foolish people who act out that hurt on each other, but occasionally show astonishing decency and wisdom.

#611 ::: Helen ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2017, 08:08 PM:

Theresa you missed "Hit 'em up style" covered by the Carolina Chocolate Drops

#612 ::: Seth ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2017, 08:34 PM:

Helen, that song is one of my favorite things ever! It was my introduction to the Carolina Chocolate Drops and... um... it may have taken me a bit to find out that it was a cover. XD

@Casey I'm... not-non-neurotypical? I'm just a bit dim. I appreciate the thought, though. Thank you.

#613 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2017, 08:44 PM:

People who are non-neurotypical sometimes don't realize it, Seth, particularly when they're bright and capable of adapting. It's not a simple binary distinction, too. There may be strategies there that you will find useful.

#614 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2017, 08:50 PM:

I am rather fond of saying that normal is a spectrum too. I am at the weird end of normal.

#615 ::: Seth ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2017, 08:58 PM:

@Tom I appreciate your concern, but I have had a professional assessment done and it came back negative. I also want to avoid appropriating ... things. Anything. However if there is a particular post or strategy that you think I should consider, I'd be happy to take a look. :) Thank you.

#616 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2017, 09:23 PM:

Seth @608: I think I might just start calling myself a space alien

I'm right there with you. No help, I'm sure, but there are a lot of us out there.

A gross oversimplification, but one week I happened to see PBS specials in close succession on wolf society, dolphin society, and primate society, and suddenly it all snapped into focus for me: It's all about status.

Suddenly human behavior started to make a lot more sense. (HHo½K)

#617 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2017, 09:29 PM:

Fun new fact I learned today: "Rice Bubbles" is New Zealander for Rice Krispies.

Which makes total sense, when you think about it.

#618 ::: Cassy B ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2017, 10:00 AM:

Seth, the Disfunctional Families threads aren't only for people who are non-neurotypical. I'm sorry if I gave that impression; it was not intended, although I see how you could read my post that way.

They are for people who are having, or have had and are working through, interpersonal relationship problems, including but not limited to verbal and physical abuse, bullying, difficult family, workplace, or social dynamics -- it's for working out strategies to help with social problems, or to cope with the things one can't fix. And sometimes it's just to put down what you're feeling when you've reached the end of your rope. They're called "Disfunctional Families" because that's often the first and strongest place that abuse, and/or neglect, and/or simple non-fitting-in happens, but it's not limited to family dynamics.

People will sometimes suggest strategies that might help, and when they have no idea what to advise, they will at least tell you that they're there, understand, and have empathy. Sometimes the most powerful thing a person can do in those threads is just post a one-word reply: "Witnessing."

I hope this explains better what those threads are for. Abi, what did I miss? What did I get wrong?

#619 ::: Angiportus Librarysaver ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2017, 01:10 PM:

HLN Update: Mom is a little better. I understand she will be in a care home for a while upon release. Not sure how long all this will take, nor how full the recovery, although C described her as "a tough old bird". Now, one of my older, richer and bossier cousins--who can drive, and I currently can't--is expected to help out in various ways, and I am not looking forward to dealing with said cousin.
Who so far at least hasn't tried to lump me in with the autistics. That was Mom's mistake, and I sense myself to be somewhere else on the non-neurotypical color-hypersolid. I hear all this stuff about the rights of autistic and Aspergers people and that's great, but stretching that category/spectrum too wide, and stretching it over all manner of contrasting qualities [e.g. someone who is a loner because uncomfortable with people, and someone who is just more interested in things/ideas/places.] Anyone understand what I'm saying here? Mom and a particularly strident job-developer pushed this stuff on me, and I ditched the latter and have made the former a little more quiet at least in this regard. [A real doctor said I don't seem to be on "the spectrum".] But the next time anyone finds her on the floor, I'm calling 911, for sure.

#620 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2017, 05:10 PM:

Angiportus #619 - I also think that Autistic Spectrum Disorder is spread too widely and isn't a useful enough series of definitions. This is based partly on people suggesting I belong on the spectrum, compared to what I think/ feel about things, and also various other people I know, including my sister and her children, not to mention a lot of my friends too.

#621 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2017, 09:08 PM:

On autism - my (introductory) reading on the subject suggests that many people have one or two traits that are common among people on the spectrum, but that it's the number or intensity of the traits that an individual has that makes them autistic. I suspect this can be confusing to people who know just enough about autism to recognize those individual traits as possible signs.

(I hope I haven't misunderstood what I've read, but I'd be happy to be corrected if so.)

#622 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2017, 10:05 PM:

Autism isn't a spectrum so much as a board against which darts are randomly thrown. For example, I have very high verbal intelligence, can't parse facial expressions or vocal cues well enough to manage most unscripted interactions with strangers, have usually had only one or no close friends, have severe sensory aversion to a random list of foods, learned to drive well into adulthood, earned a college degree, and have rarely been unemployed. In some circumstances I am "low functioning," in some "high functioning," and some people probably have no idea that I'm autistic.

#623 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2017, 10:17 PM:

Thomas at 597: Well, isn't One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish a book about biostatistics? It does concern itself with counting fish populations, after all.

#624 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2017, 10:23 PM:

Angiportus Librarysaver @619: the non-neurotypical color-hypersolid.

Thank you so much for this image! I am totally stealing it.

In other news: watched For the Love of Spock the other evening with a friend. (2nd time for me, 1st for him.) I am now earwormed with The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins. :-\

#625 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2017, 10:47 PM:

One issue with diagnosing autism (among many, many issues with who gets the diagnosis and when) is that most checklists of autistic behaviors focus on what other people think is going on (this person is annoying, this person is repetitive, this person is loud, this person overreacts, this person likes weird things) instead of what we actually experience whether anybody is around to have an opinion about it or not.

Example: I have a compulsion--not a liking, not a strong desire, a compulsion--to pursue carefully organized pointless little projects that make no sense to anyone else, enrich nothing, and typically peter out before I finish. Think, oh, creating an index for a series of cookbooks I'm never going to use, or picking random lists of foods and attempting to create as many dishes as possible out of them.
My PC is full of folders that each contain a dozen or so copies of an unfinished project of this kind. I began feeling this compulsion immediately after I gained fluency in writing. I found out last year that it's part of autism. Now that I know, I can try other coping strategies when I feel tense, redirect my energies, and still recognize that sometimes I simply need to do this and that no, nope, it's never going to amount to anything. It's a ritual--specifically, IIRC, a fruitless ritual.

But nobody else sees me do it, I never talk about it, and therefore it's not what people think of when they think of autism.

A much worse example: There's a stereotype that we don't feel for other people. That's because people see us failing to interpret other people's emotional expressions. Go to an autistic person and flat-out tell them you're upset and you may discover that they feel for you very deeply indeed. But the chart says, "Autistic people have low empathy" because we are observed not reacting to somebody being upset nearby, and people don't ask us if we know whether So-and-so is upset or not!

#626 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2017, 02:06 AM:

Angiportus, #619: While I am emphatically not on the spectrum myself, it is not at all unusual for me to be reminded of something I used to do when I was younger (meaning anywhere from 15 to 50 years younger), which I no longer do, and which looks kinda spectrum-like from my present perspective. This suggests that there's a lot of overlap, at least, between people who are genuinely on the spectrum and those who merely exhibit some similar behaviors. This, in turn, guarantees that the topic will remain confusing for many people.

#627 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2017, 07:02 AM:

Seconding Jenny Islander's #622. My younger daughter, now 23, has developmental issues. When she was younger, reasonably knowledgeable people (not just random strangers or family members) would ask me if she had been evaluated for autism. And I would see the point; she had several of the common characteristics (nonverbal, gets hyperfocused, etc.). But when we saw genuine autism experts, they said she was not autistic, and I agree. She is, for example, incredibly socially tuned in, much more so than her father, who is a stereotypical engineer but clearly not on the spectrum.

We never did get an overall diagnosis for her, which has its good and bad points. The really excellent geneticist we saw when she was an infant said that the advantage of a diagnosis is that it gives you some ideas for treatment and some warnings about things to watch out for, but it gives no absolute predictions for an individual because the range of outcomes for the same condition can be so broad.

In reading up on issues for my younger daughter, I realized that my older daughter had some sensory defensiveness characteristics. She is typical or, as a parent list I'm on sometimes calls it, NDA - not diagnosed with anything. But she benefitted from some of the management tricks for that issue anyway.

tldr; there's some benefit to an overall diagnosis, but it can be just as good to manage the specific symptoms in front of you

#628 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2017, 10:48 AM:

Penguicon was lovely! I and several others got treated to three hours of Ada Palmer talking about weird things in European history - the panel was originally scheduled for a half hour, and wasn't originally on the schedule at all. :) Also met Sumana Harihareswara, which was very nice (we had the tiniest unscheduled GoL). Excellent con. A good mix, IMO, of old and young fandom.

#629 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2017, 11:45 AM:

Seth and others, re the "autistic spectrum" discussion:

As a neurotypical but nerdy and socially awkward person myself, I find it helpful to consider the "spectrum" as continuing, once the threshold of being neurotypical is crossed. This doesn't mean the boundary isn't real or important; coming from an astronomy background, I like to think of the electromagnetic spectrum. There's a distinct point when light is visible, rather than ultraviolet, but some visible light is bluer, closer to the UV. Similarly, some neurotypical people will find it easier to deal with some aspects of social interaction via consciously learned rules rather than intuitively. (If you've ever done one of those self-tests, it's not an all-or-nothing thing; there's a range of 'neurotypical' scores, and a range of 'on the spectrum' scores, not a single score for each.)

#630 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2017, 12:49 PM:

Angiportus @ 603: 1, if someone close to you has a recurrent issue, educate yourself about it. Yes. I learned on the fly about my mother's slow-moving kidney failure (not in shape for transplant and dialysis at that time was ... non-trivial), and could have used more book-larnin'.

@619: I second Jacque's like for the hypersolid. And I find myself wondering whether I would have been put somewhere on the spectrum if it had been recognized when I was in grade school (over 50 years ago) instead of mostly being left alone. (I was a bookworm(*) who did extremely well at all classwork other than handwriting; that was enough when I wasn't being disruptive for reasons that now escape me.) Having just had several weeks with an ASD guest just far enough along the ]spectrum[ that the persistent repetitions got very grating, I can understand administrators' impulses to label sets of issues and move them to somebody else's inbox; I have some idea how insufficient that is and where I wouldn't be now if I hadn't been left in the mainstream. (Lee @ 626 addresses this more specifically.)
  *  Gaiman said a while ago that he was the child his parents had to search for books before going anywhere, to make sure he'd be doing something sociable instead of tucking himself into a corner and reading. I so understand that; I was no older than 7 the first time I missed a ride because I was deep in a book, which may be a little beyond the average even for this group.)

#631 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2017, 02:06 PM:

CHip: Re Gaiman. I think "pat down" was the phrase he used. And, further, it was useless, because he could always find a book at the destination, if he needed to.

I've come close to missing busses. Had a case not too long ago where it had to honk at me. A couple of times. And the book wasn't even that great.

#632 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2017, 02:29 PM:

estelendur: I am so glad I got to meet you! Thanks for reaching out. I think I did not get to say a proper goodbye Sunday; apologies. And I recommend to any Making Light folks the experience of listening to Ada Palmer tell history stories.

#633 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2017, 02:46 PM:

Apologies, I was away for the weekend. And there's Stuff.

Cassy B @618:

The Dysfunctional Families threads were originally specifically for people from dysfunctional or abusive families. But the core population that needed them specifically for that has drifted and dispersed over time.
They're much more as you now describe them: a protected space to work through issues that stem from not having quite the right toolkit for the social and emotional jobs at hand.

Seth, you're certainly welcome there if you want to talk about things.

#634 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2017, 05:06 PM:
Jacque #617: Fun new fact I learned today: "Rice Bubbles" is New Zealander for Rice Krispies.

Which makes total sense, when you think about it.

Today, I learned that "Rice Krispies" is American for Rice Bubbles. Heh.

HLN: Cold weather arrives from the Antarctic. Suddenly it feels like, "Winter is coming".

In other news, my current favourite poem is by "Differences of opinion" by Wendy Cope:

He tells her that the earth is flat —
He knows the facts, and that is that.
In altercations fierce and long
She tries her best to prove him wrong.
But he has learned to argue well.
He calls her arguments unsound
And often asks her not to yell.
She cannot win. He stands his ground.
The planet goes on being round.

#635 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2017, 05:14 PM:

This comment is for to linking new details (email & site) to old.

#636 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2017, 05:33 PM:

Soon Lee @634, thanks for that poem.

#637 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2017, 05:45 PM:

CHip #630 - I too got searched quite a few times before leaving home. For quite a while I left the house with a book stuffed in my belt at my back. Once I was older and jackets were bigger I could put it in their pockets, or indeed my school blazer pockets got big enough to take a paperback.

#638 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2017, 08:01 PM:

I once missed my school bus stop when going home from elementary school because I was engrossed by a book. My bus driver was very sensible. He confirmed that nobody would be waiting for me (I was a "latchkey" kid). He might have radioed the school? I don't recall. Then he thought about it, said he had to go pick up the high schoolers, and could drop me off near my house while dropping off the high schoolers.

He put me in the seat right behind him, and made sure I got off at the right place. I liked that bus driver in general; he was kind and managed to make the bus a pleasant place to be.

(As I recall, I fell back into the book until Mark got my attention. Why not?)

#639 ::: Race Traitor Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2017, 08:38 PM:

Saying that autistic people lack empathy is like saying that you don't want what's in the treasure chest because you can't open it. It's grossly unfair, and grotesquely wrong.

I remember a teenage boy I knew who was on the spectrum; he wouldn't eat sun-dried tomatoes and picked them out of a dish I'd made. He went out of his way to make sure that my feelings were not hurt by this (they weren't, and I said so). He cared deeply but couldn't tell.

I also remember a time when he was assured that yes, in this circumstance and with permission, it IS OK to hug people. The look of bliss on his face as he hugged a friend brings tears to my eyes even now, as I remember it.

I must confess to some resentment of the term 'neurotypical', when it's used to mean "not on the ASD spectrum." I am far, far from the ASD spectrum, but my ADHD and a few other things that I suspect (but have not been diagnosed with) put me quite far from neurotypical as well.

Being called neurotypical isn't quite as bad as being told "ADHD doesn't exist," but it's in the same range. I feel erased by it. So the "non-neurotypical color hypersolid" gets a fistpump and a cry of "YES!" from me.

#640 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2017, 09:04 PM:

Autism can be worked around, but it takes years of repetition. I don't mean passing, but stuff like which expression means what, how to tell that one is boring people, etc. So people who were obviously Not Like Folks as kids may be less obviously so as adults, simply because they've learned how to navigate life more adeptly. I suspect that that may be going on for some people who think that they may have been diagnosable as children but wouldn't be now.

#641 ::: Seth ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2017, 12:17 AM:

My favorite coat (which I still have, although I'm sure it doesn't fit anymore) had an interior pocket that was precisely the right size for a mass market paperback. It struggled a bit with the largest Wheel of Time novels, but anything smaller than that fit perfectly.

These days, I have a phone, headphones, and audiobooks from the library!

#642 ::: duckbunny ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2017, 04:42 AM:

As I said to a friend on Saturday, how do you unpick the neuro-atypicality from the complex-PTSD? My brain isn't wired in the usual way - how much of that is the not-quite-usual wiring I started with, and how much is childhood training? The human brain is very good at learning to survive and childhood plasticity is one of the tools it has access to. Mine had an unusual set of conditions to adapt to and consequently isn't the brain of a perfectly spherical person of uniform density.
I'm pretty sure the eye contact avoidance is native. Same with the fidgeting. But the low affect that means most of my expressions are conscious - is that innate, or did I learn that to keep myself safe? How could anyone tell?

#643 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2017, 06:32 AM:

lorax #629: As a neurotypical but nerdy and socially awkward person myself, I find it helpful to consider the "spectrum" as continuing, once the threshold of being neurotypical is crossed.

That's what I call "subclinical" -- someone who shows the characteristic quirks and preferences of the spectrum, but they have no actual disabilities... therefore no diagnosis. A drawback to the fact that the scientific study of the human mind was formalized largely by medical folks.

Of course, there are drawbacks to the prior approaches as well; Where a doctor tends to see variations as deviations from "health", moralists tend to class them as deviations from virtue. And philosophers have historically had some trouble distinguishing their own preferences and habits, from features of the world around them. Then there's the unsavory people who consider human variation in terms of vulnerabilities to be exploited.... :-(

Race Traitor Xopher #639: I must confess to some resentment of the term 'neurotypical', when it's used to mean "not on the ASD spectrum."

This makes me think of the awkward political relations among blacks, and Hispanics, or various Asians. The latter groups may not have all the specific issues of American blacks, but they aren't "white" either, and they have their own histories of pain.

In any case, "neurotypical" began as a direct commentary from the ASD community. But as I recall, right from the word's coinage, using it simply for "non-ASD" was promptly called out; even back then we were talking to other "neurodiverse" folks.

#644 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2017, 10:02 AM:

#584 ::: Jim Parish @584, re:Speak-n-Spell:

My mom got me one when I was a kid by some chain of hippie barter. I worked through the first "chip" reasonably quickly and she then acquired a quite advanced word-set one. I loved it -- and I STILL have trouble remembering just how rhythm is spelt, despite it assiduously drilling me on it. Probably the fact that I spell it correctly (after checking and fixing) is due to my tiny orange tutor/quizmaster.

But HOLY EFFING DUCK those things are way too loud. Even playing in my own room at home I would stuff a pillow onto it really hard.

I don't know if more recent models have a volume control, but they OUGHT to.

#645 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2017, 10:28 AM:

Elliott Mason @ #644:

If they do, they're probably adjustable from LOUD to -+*WHEN WE SAID LOUD WE REALLY MEANT IT*+- because that seems to be the general thing with loud things made for kids.

On a completely different note, is it weird that I am weirded out that the current RPG campaign I'm playing in has been running essentially-monthly sessions for about 9.5 years (with, I guess, about 5 years of in-game time having passed).

#646 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2017, 10:42 AM:

My Speak-N-Spell was the first place I encountered a really ANNOYING feature: on bootup it makes a cheerful bleep sequence AT MAX VOLUME, no matter what you set it to.

My just-previous cellphone used to do it not only upon bootup (AND when it was fully charged, after a time plugged in), but also when you told it to go to silent mode GEE THANKS FIRMWARE.

#647 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2017, 10:59 AM:

Ingvar M, does it make you feel better or worse to know that I've been in a continuous D&D campaign since 1983....? (Some of the early characters' kids are now characters...)

#648 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2017, 11:12 AM:

Cassy B. @ #647:


I'm somewhat looking forward to the campaign ending, so the GM can tell us how the campaign world's reality (for want of a better word) actually works (so far, we've identified at least two alternate pasts, maybe three, and have documented evidence of a new Princess in the British Royal House not existing one day and having a 20+ year history of existing the following day).

#649 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2017, 12:00 PM:

Sumana: indeed there was not a proper goodbye Sunday, but I did spend most of Sunday in the hotel room sorting things out. :) So my apologies for that as well. (I think I only escaped for the scheduled, as opposed to actual, duration of Ada's historical books show and tell.)

#650 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2017, 12:59 PM:

Re: Penguicon: Nobody trying to hand out "Yes" and "No" buttons, this time? :-)

#651 ::: Seth ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2017, 02:00 PM:

@Joel Ah yes, the reason why I intended to never attend Penguicon...

#652 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2017, 02:07 PM:

I'm thinking of writing a D&D module called "Rock Falls, Everyone Dies", wherein messengers arrive from a distant land warning of a dire calamity from the sky in 6 months time (dinosaur-killer asteroid impact).

The characters cannot do anything to stop it, cannot do anything to escape, and probably cannot do anything to survive. But they've got 6 months before it happens to do whatever they need or want to do, be it search out the distant court astrologers who discovered the falling rock, seek underground shelter, pillage farmlands, fight the dragons they never thought they'd be able to handle, slit their own throats, quaff copious alcohols, join religious orders, etc.

#653 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2017, 04:10 PM:

Duckbunny writes in #642:

Mine had an unusual set of conditions to adapt to and consequently isn't the brain of a perfectly spherical person of uniform density.

I found an example similar to this conceit, hanging in the hallway.

All year, Fermilab is celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of its founding in 1967. (Come to our big Open House on 23 September!) Among other preparations, the Linac Gallery has gotten a fresh coat of paint and an updated set of large pictures illustrating our linear accelerator.

The Linac's main job was, and is, to feed protons into the rest of the accelerator complex. For many years, it had a second job: providing protons to make neutron beams to treat cancer. That facility no longer treats patients, but Fermilab also had a role in developing a related technique, proton therapy, which is growing in importance. In fact, it was our founding director, Robert Rathbun Wilson (1914-2000), who outlined the usefulness of protons for this purpose.

So hanging on the wall, helping to explain neutron therapy and proton therapy, is a new poster with a picture of Bob Wilson, and a reproduction of the first page of his 1946 paper in the journal Radiology, Radiological Use of Fast Protons. Wilson needed to estimate the effect of the human body on a high-energy proton passing through it. He writes:

For purposes of calculation, tissue has been assumed to have the molecular formula: C0.5 H8 O3.8 N0.14, and to be of unit density, i .e., 15 percent protein and 85 percent water. The calculations can be easily extended to other materials and densities.(2) The accuracy is perhaps 5 percent.
I was reading this on my way back from getting coffee, coffee I was drinking a few minutes later when I read Duckbunny's posting. So you can see why the latter reminded me of the former.

My job entails, to the greatest extent feasible, keeping radiation away from human bodies. So it is novel to think of my fellow humans instead as targets, 85 percent water, 15 percent Bob Wilson's Formula.

#654 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2017, 04:45 PM:

Okay, which genius decided that the MY LIBRARY'S IN-HOUSE SEARCH SOFTWARE should now AUTO-CUCUMBER proper names to common nouns?!

When they originally went from the card catalog to PCs with keyboards, I adapted.

When they went from PCs with keyboards to tablets that had itsy-squitsy default fonts that could only be changed from the main desk, I adapted.


OK, rant over.

#655 ::: Seth ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2017, 04:56 PM:

Auto-cucumber is my new favorite thing.

#656 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2017, 04:59 PM:

Jenny Islander (654): Oh, how annoying! My library's catalog now gives Google-style suggestions of "did you mean [this more common word instead of the name I typed]?" but at least it doesn't auto-carrot. I can only imagine how awful it would be if it actually changed the search.

"It's a controlled vocabulary! If the search got a result, it was probably typed correctly!" /my repeated rant

#657 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2017, 05:25 PM:

Joel Polowin @650, Seth @651: No, there were no creepy attempts at social experimentation as far as I am aware. There is, in fact, a robust and prominently posted anti-harassment policy. I think that Penguicon's attendees and con-com deserve a lot of credit for working to make a safer space, pretty successfully as far as I can tell with my very limited viewpoint.

There were con-provided social-cue buttons, but not creepy ones. They served as social engagement/comfort indicators - "I'm happy to converse with whomever," "please only approach me if you know me," and "please don't approach me." They could have used a little more bright color and visibility, but they were cute and well-intentioned.

There was a brief period of time where I regretted making friendly waiting-in-line conversation with someone whom I eventually realized was very drunk, but I just started chatting with someone who seemed safer instead and he went away without saying anything. So that actually went as well as I might have asked.

#658 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2017, 06:49 PM:

One of my peeves is 'catalogs' that index "A", "An" and "The" when one of them is the first word of the title.
Um. No, please? Because those are exceedingly common first words, and fzck up searches and lists. (Ancestry not only does that, they index singular and plural forms as if they were completely different. So "Podunk birth records" and "Podunk births" will show up in a single search ONLY if you're searching on "Podunk". Thanks, non-library-literate programmers!)

#659 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2017, 08:28 PM:

P J Evans (658): One of my peeves is 'catalogs' that index "A", "An" and "The" when one of them is the first word of the title.

AAAAIIIEEEEEE! ::shudder::
Don't remind me. I have enough nightmares.

(In other words, that's one of my pet peeves, too. A great, big, hulking peeve that likes to bite people's faces off.

#660 ::: Angiportus Librarysaver ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2017, 09:33 PM:

I recall something about an electrical banana from my younger days, all right maybe it was just a particular shade of yellow, but this auto-carrot and auto-cucumber thing is new to me. If there was something that'd automatically refill my supply of kimchi...
Update: Mom is much better and will be staying with bossy cousin for a while. She will be in good hands; they are quite close.
But one of my good friends has had his Hodgkins lymphoma come back, and is uncertain over whether to seek treatment or palliation. He talks of going out in the woods later on to let the cold finish him off. I support the right of someone to end their days and so on but I am not sure he has it all planned out well enough. It's not like I have friends to spare.
An even better friend seems to have mislaid his phone.
Not ready to go into all the ways my mind is not typical, but will point out what I read somewhere [perhaps even here]--diagnosing a sane, stable, sober, clean and smart adult against their will is at worst deadly, at best damn rude.
Unless it's pneumonia.

#661 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2017, 09:46 PM:

Angiportus Librarysaver (660): 'Auto-carrot' and 'auto-cucumber' are derisive ways of referring to autocorrect, which is too often automiscorrect.

Sympathies on your friend.

#662 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2017, 11:06 PM:

Today's the first time I've seen those terms; the one I'm familiar with is 'autocorrupt'.

#663 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2017, 04:33 AM:

P J Evans @ #658, Mary Aileen @ #659:

In the library where I formed my "catalog card browsing" habits, the (language equivalent) of filing 'A Book With A Name' would be to file it as 'Book With A Name, A' (that being the card that has shelving information, etc) and have a "forwarding" card shelved as 'A Book With A Name' saying "Look for 'Book With A Name, A'". I don't know if this is The Way or something that makes non-Swedish librarians shudder.

Also, said library did not use Dewey Decimal, instead using (hierarchical) letter codes to signify topic areas (fiction is filed as H, as the major code, translated fiction is Hc, if the original language was English, it's Hce; Mathematics is T, translated maths books are Tc (etc) and sub-areas of maths would be things like Tce(statistik) (a book about statistical maths, translated from English)). Mostly, books get shelved by "primary category", alphabetical by author surname, then first name, then title (ignoring definite or indefinite articles in the title).

Some specialist-subject libraries use other classification systems.

#664 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2017, 06:41 AM:

Ingvar M #663: Extracting articles and particles from the beginning is indeed The Way; it is programmers who can't be bothered to learn these basics of the usage domain, that are making the librarians here wail and gnash their teeth. Given that I was seeing search programs that got it right 20 years ago, I don't blame them.

Your catalog system is probably local to some degree or another, but I don't know if that's "Sweden" or "Europe"; here in America, we have not only the Dewey Decimal system, but the competing Library of Congress system; the latter uses letters rather than Dewey's numbers and is perhaps more granular, but is similarly hierarchical.

#665 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2017, 06:54 AM:

Continuing the library discussion: The electronic catalogs for most proper libraries in the US these days will show "A Book With a Name" with that title (rather than as "Book With a Name, A") but still alphabetize it under "Book...". The MARC standard for library catalog records lets catalogers say "Ignore the first n characters for filing purposes" where the cataloger specifies the n. That's a useful approach in a multilingual library-- it allows systems to ignore the "Die" in "Die Fledermaus" but use it in "Die Hard".

For online collections that don't use standard library software or data formats, though, all bets are off. (Apparently is one such collection. I also have to admit that my own non-MARC online book catalog doesn't have that level of detail, so it ignores the standard English leading articles but doesn't ignore the leading articles in other languages.)

Mind you, in many online library catalogs, alphabetized displays are less prominent that relevance-ranked search results. But the alphabetized listings can be useful in some cases, so it's good to support them right.

There are lots of different shelf classification systems around the world. Dewey is probably the most common (at least for nonfiction); as Dave Harmon notes, the Library of Congress (LC) system (which also uses letters in its high-level classification) is pretty common in US academic and research libraries.

A few US public libraries have switched over to using BISAC, the filing system used in many bookstores, with the idea that it's more intuitive for browsers than Dewey or LC, but it doesn't appear to have caught on in a large way as far as I can tell. With BISAC, there are no visible numeric or alphabetic codes, just categories like "History / Medieval", "Gardening", and the like. It can work well for a small collection, but I'd find it really annoying in a larger, research-oriented one.

#666 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2017, 07:34 AM:

What I recall locally is that Dewey Decimal was used for non-fiction but, apart from "Science Fiction", "Romance", and "Westerns" there was hardly any subdivision of the fiction side. Author first, then title.

And you found "Worlds in Collision" under 523 which makes some sort of odd sense if Librarians shouldn't exhibit any judgement. I thought there needed to be general markers for "obsolete" and "loony".

#667 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2017, 08:42 AM:

Chris (662): 'Autocorrupt' is probably the most common. I just couldn't think of when I was responding to 'auto-cucumber'; in reaching for something that looked more familiar, I came up with 'auto-carrot'. But hey, dueling wrong words is entirely in the tradition of autocorrupt!

#668 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2017, 08:44 AM:

Me, 667: ::sigh:: I obviously needed to preview that one more time. "I couldn't think of it when responding..."

#669 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2017, 08:52 AM:

661, 662: I call mine the Spill Chicken. It is a bird of very little brain, and extremely enthusiastic about !!HELPING!!

In other news, I say shut, ducking, and dim far less often than it thinks I do, and also a lot of really long and complex words it assumes nobody knows, like kyriarchy and deracialized. At least it's trainable about those. Gradually.

I think the growth of intrusive autocorrect is directly related to the universality on touchscreens of really effed up keyboards that are impossible to be quite accurate on. I do know it saves me from a lot of fatfingerings.

#670 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2017, 08:58 AM:

I dislike my library's rule of putting poetry and anthologies in the nonfiction under Dewey rules rather than fiction or its own section, in the case of poetry. I didn't know they had some of those books, and it didn't occur to me to hunt for all of them until there was an anthology I could remember the name of.

I have an electronic singing cucumber, if that helps the computer-spelling discussion. My sister gives good weird presents.

#671 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2017, 09:02 AM:

When I worked in a bookstore I alphabetized often-messed-up authors in both locations.

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's surname is "Mies", but lots of people look under "R", or "v" for that matter ...

#672 ::: Pfusand ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2017, 09:06 AM:

Dave @ 664: " is programmers who can't be bothered to learn these basics of the usage domain, that are..."

Hmppf. When I did the programming for the NESFA Index, I put the title, as written, in Here, then capitalized the whole thing, stripped off the leading articles and quotation marks, and stored the result over There. I sorted on the thing in There, and displayed the thing in Here.

It made fixing the sorting of "A Capella" a snap.

Programmers today, mutter, mutter.

#673 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2017, 09:41 AM:

And then there's otherwise perfectly reasonable free home theater software that does the same stupid sorting to your movies. Oh, sure, it has an option to ignore "The" and "A" in movie titles, but it's not on by default! I used one related piece of software that was smart enough to ignore "The" but not "A" (again, when you turned the option on). And we won't even talk about how wrong things go when alphabetizing titles with numbers in them.

Sorting is a lot harder than most programmers even know, even without domain-specific sorting rules.


The Merry Wives of Windsor have a lovely song called Damn You Otto. It's ostensibly about a rather dim carrier pigeon named Otto, but, well...

#674 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2017, 09:54 AM:

Dave Harmon @ #664:

Aha, it is called the SAB system, although it seems that a possible transition to Dewey Decimal was initiated in 2008 (mainly to allow trivial re-use of already-made classifications).

#675 ::: Tony Zbaraschuk ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2017, 10:35 AM:

As a librarian who's done some cataloging here... it's more difficult than just stripping "A", "An ", or "The " -- you have to consider articles in other languages as well. And then you have to consider things like "A B C : A Book Collector's Dictionary", in which you do NOT want to de-index the initial "A". (This is just the beginning of the nightmare... it doesn't matter what rule you come up with, some author or publisher somewhere will have a title for which your rule does not work.)

What library software (usually, if it's written properly) does is to have a filing indicator -- you put down the full title as it appears in the title page, but then you have to manually insert a code that tells the computer "for indexing purposes, skip the first characters."

Fun fact: library catalog records include, and have included for decades, details that as far as I know _no library cataloging system yet uses_, on the grounds that we believe that some users will someday want to know this, and eventually the programmers will figure out how to do it.

#676 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2017, 10:56 AM:

It's pretty clear that Ancestry doesn't have any librarians (and probably no genealogists) on their staff. They keep failing their sanity check. (I ran into naturalization records where the (probably minimally trained) indexers were indexing on the first noticeably name in the document...which was the clerk's name. READ THE EFFING DOC, PEOPLE.)

I figure every rule comes with some kind of exception, even if it hasn't (yet) been seen.

#677 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2017, 11:51 AM:

PJ Evans: Yeah, crowdsourcing sometimes sucks. I contribute to Find-A-Grave, and headstones not in English are pretty reliably mangled. I have a cheat sheet of what the month names are in a bunch of languages, and I regularly go through my favorite few Bohemian cemetaries looking for people whose first names are listed by a well-meaning monolingual volunteer as "Otec" or "Matka".

#678 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2017, 01:10 PM:

Elliott Mason #671: I've put up a couple of "looksee" shelf labels myself ("for Vargas Llosa, see V"), but I'm afraid that's only for a couple of Latin American authors where someone pointed out the correct parsing to me. For "von", "de" and such we basically guess at where the reader will be looking for them, with slight bias against the prefix. So Don Quixote stays under C for "[de] Cervantes", but up in the poetry room, Mona Van Duyn is with the V's.

Then there's issues like Mary [Wollstonecraft] Shelley, where even the publishers sometimes disagree. And poets with a couple of fiction books, or vice versa -- again, we try to figure where people will be looking for them, but we also try to keep each author in one place, and also look at the titles we have from them. So Walter Mosley's couple of SF novels are lumped in with his many mysteries, but Charlaine Harris's mysteries are with her fantasies because we have most of the Sookie series but only a few of her mysteries. (Vagaries of a used-book store.)

#679 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2017, 01:50 PM:

Apple gets it half-right -- iTunes ignores "A" and "The" in alphabetizing artists (but still displays them properly, so that The Beatles come under B), but then it sorts by First, Last rather than Last, First. It took me a while to get used to that, but I can understand why they do it; last names are a programmer's nightmare all by themselves.

#680 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2017, 01:53 PM:

And, apropos of nothing: 23 words, 15,000 years?

#681 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2017, 02:18 PM:

Elliott Mason (669): For me, the spillchicken is the thing on my computer that underlines the words it thinks are wrong*. The autocarrot††/autocorrupt is on my phone. I figured out how to turn that off after the daisies=hydrogen** fiasco, except it Will Not leave my last name alone if there's another character--any character--after it.

*I think it would change them, too, if I'd turned that misfeature on, but in fact I disabled the spillchicken altogether, at least on my home computer.
**Reacting to a medical misfortune, I tried to tweet Dilaudid=hydrocodone†, but the autocarrot†† got hold of it.
†I was misinformed; it's actually hydromorphone. Turns out I should avoid the whole morphine family.
††I'm liking 'autocarrot' more and more. I think I'll keep using it.

#682 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2017, 02:36 PM:

I don't get why Google Contacts sorts by first-name-first (and so do some phones), when I GAVE it the fields I want indexed as personal name and family name. Argh.

#683 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2017, 03:06 PM:

The library I used in west Texas shelved all the fiction together, alphabetically by author, with a genre tag on the spine. That actually made sense. (They computerized their catalog sometime before 1992.)

#684 ::: Seth ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2017, 03:20 PM:

I will admit to being excessively annoyed when my local library decided that it needed separate "fantasy" and "science fiction" sections. But then, when I reflected on it, do people really find books in the library by browsing shelves, or do they use the computers to find specific titles/authors? In the second case, it wouldn't especially matter what section the book was in, and it's not as though they'd been consistent before. Back when I worked at that library, I realized that we'd split William Gibson's work across four different sections: General fiction hardback, general fiction paperback, science fiction hardback, and science fiction paperback. God help anyone who wanted to read a complete series.

#685 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2017, 03:34 PM:

Diatryma (670): Poetry--and plays--are almost always in nonfiction, but I was very surprised when I learned a few years ago that some libraries put short stories there. (And then they wonder why the short stories never go out!) We had considered making a separate short story collection, but ended up stickering them and leaving them with fiction.

(My temporarily be-gnomed comment is now at #681, if anyone missed it.)

#686 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2017, 03:55 PM:

The nice* thing with "autocarrot" is that, at least on iOS, a slight mistyping can now easily get you a carrot emoji ("auto🥕", if anyone is viewing this on a suitable device).

At the moment I'm not being offered a car emoji for "auto", preventing the term from fully reducing to "🚗🥕".

* For values of "nice" that don't necessarily include "facilitating communication".

#687 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2017, 05:01 PM:

Princess Leia's stolen Death Star plans (youtube link) is Star Wars filk to the tune of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band". It's wonderful.

#688 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2017, 06:05 PM:

The failure of any sorting and filing system is inconsistency, and I think that any system with more than one person involved is going to have that. It's a matter of putting things where people will look (and training the people to think like the sorter does), and figuring out the failure modes. One library in my community has series lists in the fiction section so you don't have to pull books down and see which was published first. I'd like to add shelf notes with author names and where else they are-- "Roberts, Nora/Robb, JD, In Death, shelved Fiction R" in the science fiction section, for example. Or vice versa, depending on who sorts it.

It's kind of fun figuring out other people's sorting systems. Like Abi described the sugar problem in grocery stores.

#689 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2017, 08:58 PM:

Of course, there are systems, and then there are systems:

"The legal works, which are nothing but the fantasies of men's minds, by which we erroneously pretend to control the world around us, have quite logically been placed under Fiction. History, our half perception of the order of the past, wholly tainted by our own prejudices, lies in the Political category, while adventures of men and women who never existed, such as The Volsunga Saga and The Wise Woman, which attempt to explain our experiences and our existence, lie in the History section."¹ -- The False House, James Stoddard

¹ <gasp> dammit, where's a semicolon when you need one! :-)

#690 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2017, 11:28 PM:

Strangely enough, I'm reminded of Albert Brooks and his boon to the ventriloquism-impaired, the electronic dummy:

Can't put that up without including his other great dummy bit from 1972 (the same bit he performed in his first appearance on the Ed Sullivan show):

"Way down upon a Swanee River…"

#691 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2017, 12:15 AM:

Bill Higgins @ 653: kudos to Fermilab for their proton-beam work; the son of a friend recently went through it. All we can do now is watch and hope, but at least he's not missing the fingers whose removal was the treatment alternative.

Genre sorting sounds like a good idea -- until you see the ... variations ... in classification. Recent examples from Boston:
 * Mick Herron's latest Slough House book is a Mystery, but the immediately preceding work in the series is just Fiction. (It turns out this is marked in the e-catalog, but very inconspicuously.)
 * Emma Newman's Clarke nominee, After Atlas, is subtitled "A Planetfall Book" but is classified as a Mystery rather than SF. How far in the future does it have to be to be SF? This provoked me into searching for The Caves of Steel; 3 versions list only a filing code, and the 4th just says "Fiction".
    I've grumbled about this to no response; I suspect consistency is not possible in a finite system.

Meanwhile, for the type fanatics among us: Dubai gets its own Microsoft font.

And for the classicists, rosemary really is for remembrance.

#692 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2017, 12:35 AM:

Those two links are both to the story on rosemary.

#693 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2017, 05:23 AM:

In media-SF-related hyper-local news, I've started re-watching Babylon 5 (just into the second season) and a few things are fascinating to me. One is how many of the things that I associate deeply with the series were already there in season And that it's exactly the wrong tome to re-watch it, because it's not feeling relaxed at all in the current political climate.

#694 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2017, 06:42 AM:

CHip #691: Yup, "what section does this book fit into?" is a regular discussion at our bookstore; As I said we try to keep authors in one place, specifically to avoid problems like you note.

But it's not just fiction and poetry: I regularly have to arbitrate between Psychology/Self-help versus New Age, Mythology (hi Velikovsky!) and sometimes Gender Studies, let alone the trash can. I managed to convince my boss to exile Deepak Chopra from Medical; alas, homeopathy is still in there, but that's where customers will be looking.

Some edge cases can be handled with physical adjacency; Weaponry and Martial Arts have their place underneath the Hunting/Fishing/Outdoor section. But even that's tricky, partly due to shelving issues: Massage, Pilates/Alexander, running and bodybuilding all wound up with Medical, but Tai Chi is with Martial Arts, while Yoga is down in Eastern Religion/New Age.

#695 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2017, 08:18 AM:

The British Museum's contribution to International Tabletop Day is a video in which Dr Irving Finkel, the museum's curator of cuneiform artifacts, demonstrates one of the oldest board games in recorded history, the rules for which he reconstructed from one of the tablets in his collection. His opponent is Youtube-based science communicator Tom Scott.

#696 ::: Cassy B ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2017, 08:40 AM:

I spent some time in the library trying to find Aaronovitch's "Rivers of London" books. (Can you tell I'm doing my Hugo Homework....?) I knew they were in paperback, so I looked in SF and in Fantasy. Then I went back and looked at the card catalog again... and realized that they were shelved in Mystery.

#697 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2017, 09:29 AM:

My library has a separate, fairly small SF section, but different from other places I've lived, that seems to be only fairly-strictly-construed science fiction. Fantasy is interfiled with the general fiction. I can see that the dividing line is fuzzy (fantasy to magical realism to realistic fiction) but there's also a separate romance section. Which includes paranormal romance. The J.D. Robb In Death books are in the mystery section.

#698 ::: Quill ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2017, 09:33 AM:

I went to CHip's rosemary link in #691 and saw another interesting article, if a bit harrowing.

US photographer captured moment of her death in Afghanistan

It's not graphic in terms of blood or violence (it's an accidental explosion).

#699 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2017, 09:51 AM:

"what section does this book fit into?" is a regular discussion at our bookstore

I helped with the FoL annual book sale in Texas. It was a regular discussion there, also. (Non-fiction was sorted into Dewey decimal hundreds. "Do political biographies go in biography or in fiction?" was my question.)

#700 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2017, 09:58 AM:

Seth @ 684:

Vroman's Bookstore used to have a single Fantasy and Science Fiction section, but within the last couple years they've separated them. I'm still not sure if that's a good idea or not, but it seems to work for them.

As to whether people search on the computer or browse, I browse. I mean, I'll search on the computer for a specific book I'm interested in, but I'll also wander through the stacks and see if anything catches my eye.

No matter how hard online retailers try, they still haven't managed to replicate the experience that is browsing and picking up a couple things that you didn't know you wanted. At least, they haven't for me.

#701 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2017, 10:09 AM:

In these fine days of auto-carrotcorrect, the old spelling checker poem seems apropos. You know, the one that starts with variants on "I have a spelling checker / It came with my PC" and gets more interesting from there.

I went looking for it again and found a brief history of the spell checker poem. It turns out the poem is properly titled "Candidate for a Pullet Surprise", and is by Mark Eckman and Jerrold H. Zar.

#702 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2017, 10:45 AM:

Had an interesting go-round with a coworker this morning: Discussing Star Wars Day innevitably worked around to Star Trek, and she said her mother had fond memories of watching ST:TOS in the original airing when she was in college. Upon further discussion, she says her mother turns 62 this year. "Uh," says I* "I turn 60 this year, and I was in grade school when it originally aired. So unless she was a prodigy, the timing doesn't work out."

She was, understandably, miffed. I probably should have just kept my mouth shut.

* Yes, I know, I probably could have let it go, but, you know.

#703 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2017, 11:02 AM:

The third season was 68-69 - I was a freshman in college, and I watched it on Friday nights (the nights it wasn't preempted for something else.)

#704 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2017, 11:21 AM:

Quill @698:

I saw those photos yesterday, which is apparently when they were released.

What I was amazed at was the timing: both photos (two different photographers killed) were taken in the instant between when the explosion happened and when the victims that were standing next to the mortar were hit by the blast. You can see Clayton's camera in the one taken by her student.

How did both photographers have such amazing split-second accuracy? Or were the cameras in "burst" mode, and the Army released only the best photos?

#705 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2017, 11:36 AM:

I'm sorry, I'll read that again. Dubai gets its own Microsoft font.
And while we're at it,
; that was ruder than reasonable even at that hour.

I also blame the hour for losing one weird library decision I was thinking of: Forbes Library in Northampton MA -- the only library I've seen which looks like it should have Dracula crawling out of an upper story, and the place that kept me sane through 2.5 years of boarding school (at the rate of >1 book/day) -- filed Sturgeon's books under Waldo (from which his name was legally changed long before he started publishing). If the person responsible for that were still around, I wonder whether they'd file Joan Vinge under Dennison -- or maybe they thought they were making a political statement due to Ted's difficult relationship with his stepfather.

#706 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2017, 12:51 PM:

Cassy B (696): Similarly, my library had all of the Sookie Stackhouse books in Mystery, although the classification got increasingly unlikely as the series went on. Harris's previous books (at least two series) were all straight Mystery, and the first few Sookie books had Mystery plots. After the third one came out, I realized that we had all three of them in different places: the first in Mystery (because plot and author history), the second in regular Fiction (because vampires made it Horror and we don't have a separate section for that), and the third in Fantasy (because it was clearly becoming an alternate-world setting). I wanted them shelved together, for obvious reasons, so I decided to put them all in Mystery, because of the plots and because I didn't want to split the author. As the series progressed, I probably should have reconsidered that, but the more books there are, the more work it is to change them all to a different section. So I left them in Mystery.

OtterB (697): My library files J. D. Robb in Fiction. I read the first one (when the series was paperback only) and realized that it could genuinely get stickered Science Fiction, Mystery, or Romance, but that any genre label we put on it would limit the audience. So we left it, and subsequent books, unclassified.

#707 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2017, 01:49 PM:

Buddha Buck @ 704: "How did both photographers have such amazing split-second accuracy? Or were the cameras in "burst" mode, and the Army released only the best photos?"

As someone who has worked in photography, my reading is that they were focusing in on whatever they were photographing and the explosion caused their fingers to clench. (You focus by half-depressing the shutter button; it's best to pre-focus and then you can click instantly.) It's how I got this picture, though obviously I was planning for it rather than being surprised.

#708 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2017, 02:47 PM:

CHip@705 -- and don't get me started on libraries that file E. Nesbit under "Bland".

#709 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2017, 03:03 PM:

It is only relatively recently--within the last 30 years*--that the Library of Congress stopped filing all authors under their legal names, rather than pseudonym(s). So Mark Twain was under Samuel Clemens, for example. And, if they hadn't changed the policy, "Mira Grant" would be filed under Seanan McGuire, instead of two different entries with cross-references.

(Note: I'm not defending the old practice, merely stating that it was the standard practice for many years.)

*That is, I'm not sure exactly when it changed, but it was still that way when I was in library school 30 years ago. I think the change began not long after that, but I couldn't swear to it.

#710 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2017, 03:23 PM:

For several years I had an ongoing battle with my local library branch over Anne McCaffrey.

They wanted to put the Pern books in fantasy. It was only by showing them the prologues of the books that I could convince them that, yes, these indeed were Science Fiction.

The next go-around was over Adler's "Drawing Down the Moon" which kept being shelved in Fiction, when it quite clearly belongs in the 100s...sigh.

#711 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2017, 03:47 PM:

So... The House of Reps managed to get the votes to repeal Obamacare. Next step is the Senate, which will hopefully show some decency. ("That will be the day!" - John Wayne)

#712 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2017, 04:21 PM:

I worked briefly in the children's section of the local public library some 25 years ago. At that time (and I have no reason to believe this has changed since) all the Dr. Seuss books were shelved under Theodor Geisel. This caused endless confusion among the kids... and parents!... who were trying to find them.

#713 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2017, 06:20 PM:

Concerning kids and books, we never discouraged our kids from carrying books anywhere ever (although it was still standard parenting practice when I was young, back in the Eocene). We were absolutely delighted when one of our adopted Ethiopian kids said "I know how you can never be bored!"

"Oh yes?" we said, "How's that?"

And he replied, "You just have a book in your backpack, and when it looks boring, you can read the book!"

And we said to each other, "He's one of us!"

#714 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2017, 06:55 PM:

Jacque, #702: One wonders whether your co-worker's mother missed the original airing and picked it up in reruns a decade later, or whether she saw the original airing and then reruns later and is conflating the two.

Lori, #710: I consider the Pern books to be squarely fantasy until the discoveries in The White Dragon, but I don't object to filing them all under science fiction to keep the series together. IMO the best solution for this sort of problem is to have a "Speculative Fiction" or SF/F section and just let them all jostle against each other.

I still remember finding Victor Hugo's "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" filed under Fantasy in a bookstore in Chattanooga. To be fair, it had a cover that looked straight out of the Disney movie...

#715 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2017, 08:09 PM:

Hmm, I'll need to take another look at the "In Death" series; right now IIRC we've got it in general fiction (probably because of her other novels). We do generally respect pseudonyms, though I do have a looksee label for King/Bachman and could probably put up a few more. But that does keep, e.g. Orde in Mystery while Tepper remains in SF/F. It becomes a little more awkward when publishers themselves start monkeying with the names, such as a biography of Samuel Clemens (our biographies are alphabetical by subject, I gather that's as usual). And IIRC "Saki"'s novels are under "Munro" -- again, the dominant rule is "where will the customer probably look first?".

Side note: My boss has a serious bias against dual-authored books, probably instilled by the likes of "Tom Clancy and ...". (Those really do not sell as well as the real Tom Clancy books.) I've had to be forceful in telling him that this does not apply to SF/F. (Niven & Pournelle being the most spectacular example, but I've had to defend Weis & Hickman and a few husband-and-wife teams as well.)

Also, today's adventure in categorization: Necronomicon, "edited by 'Simon'". Stuffed firmly into SF/F. Putting it in Mythology¹ would have been well beyond the pale (... squamous and rugose).

¹ Much less New Age. ;-) Which is where LaVey's Satanic Bible would land, if we ever got one.

#716 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2017, 02:02 AM:

Zack @various, passim: I did two passes in San Diego. The first was with the hotel wi-fi (very close in location); the second was with the portable hotspot on my cellphone. I give you this information in case it is useful in your analysis.

#717 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2017, 04:03 AM:

The In Death books are in Mystery at my library, which doesn't hurt my heart very much. As SF they are not richly imagined, but I don't read them as SF. And I do enjoy reading them. I'm just finishing up a binge re-reading of the whole series, only two left. I skipped the one about demonic possession.

#718 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2017, 06:05 AM:

In my experience of local libraries (in Western Australia), fiction books are not divided by genre: instead, as someone has already mentioned about their library, the genres are indicated with spine labels.

What they are divided by is target age: there's a collection for children, a collection for young adults, and then the general collection.

(And occasionally one will be in the children's section and find a book that one knows from experience has sex scenes and things in, which has been shelved as a children's book because it has "Doctor Who" on the cover. But that's another story.)

#719 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2017, 09:25 AM:

All fiction shelved together, with genre labels on the spines, works well in a smallish library. In bigger collections, it generally works better to separate out the genres, for ease of browsing. When I was at the public library in Casper, Wyoming, in the late '80s, we did a huge shifting project to integrate all of the fiction. It had the benefit of putting all of an author's books together even if they wrote in multiple genres. (Authors already mentioned include Walter Mosley, Anne McCaffrey, and Nora Roberts.) There was such an outcry from the reading public that a couple of weeks later we had to shift it all back to re-separate the genres.

#720 ::: Quill ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2017, 10:23 AM:

What annoys me is seeing the SF/F sections in bookstores disappearing, when the other genres are still intact. It makes it almost impossible to browse; I don't want to poke through shelves of straight fiction when I'm looking for speculative.

It may just be random, but I fear it's more a lack of respect for the genre. Somebody thinks SF/F doesn't count, so they make it almost impossible to find...and then the sales drop and justify the assumption.

#721 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2017, 10:40 AM:

The library I mentioned has at least 40K books - it's smallish, as city libraries go, but it has more books than there are people in the entire county. I don't know how it's doing since they got a new librarian a year or so back. (The previous one retired, after 32 years.)

#722 ::: Angiportus Librarysaver ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2017, 10:45 AM:

Quill, #720--I had the same problem with the classical section in my local CD stores. It shrank like a snowbank under a hot wind. Haven't been rich enough to go back and check if things have changed; there are fewer CD stores nowadays...

#723 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2017, 10:48 AM:

Quill @720, I see it as more of an issue with a bookstore than with a library and agree that it would lose sales from me. But I'm seldom browsing the fiction stacks at a library these days; usually I know what I want. For nonfiction I'm more inclined to use a single book or the Dewey Decimal in general to get me in the right neighborhood and then browse.

Note about Information Availability These Days. I like the amount of information online about books about to be published. I'm much less likely to miss something I know I want to read. But I do miss the thrill of walking into a bookstore and being surprised that there is a new book by a favorite author.

#724 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2017, 10:50 AM:

AKICIML: Is there, somewhere on Earth, a conifer that can survive a sudden change in local topography such that salt water regularly washes around its roots? Search results turn up lots of plants that can handle salt spray or road salt, but the lack of mention of one that can survive at the tideline suggests that the answer is no. Still, the biosphere being what it is, I thought I'd better ask.

#725 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2017, 11:04 AM:

Jenny @724:

Does tidewater red-cypress Taxodium distichum fit your bill? Unfortunately, I get the impression that it is not really a tidewater tree, and doesn't do well with heavy inundations of salt water.

#726 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2017, 11:23 AM:

In ancient days when people were discussing the differentce between science fiction and fantasy in rasfw, Pern was one of the test cases.

I came to the conclusion that the real emotional dividing line is between hard sf and the rest of the field. What I mean by emotional dividing line is that there were people who would read one but not the other. There were people who only wanted hard sf.

I've heard to was a non-obvious decision for the publisher to chose whether You've Got Murder should be marketed as science fiction or mystery.

#727 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2017, 11:28 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz (726): I've heard to was a non-obvious decision for the publisher to chose whether You've Got Murder should be marketed as science fiction or mystery.

I can see that. I do think they made the right decision, to put it in Mystery.

#728 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2017, 12:00 PM:

@Buddha Buck no. 725: So it looks like the tree can't handle tidewater salinity, but on the other hand it drops drift seeds. The seeds won't germinate unless somehow driven upstream into less saline waters (very high tide, storm, etc.), but considering the volume of seeds dropped by an average mature conifer, I think that this is a viable exception! Thank you!

#729 ::: Quill ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2017, 12:07 PM:

OtterB @723: Oh, at my favorite local library they mixed the hardcover SF/F into fiction and culled the paperbacks so deeply that the remainder was put onto a couple of carts and left to one side. Grrrr. But they've drastically reduced their book levels anyway, except for the kids' and YA sections.

Nancy Lebovitz @726: Well, to quote your own marvelous site, "The difference between fantasy and science fiction is that in fantasy, dragons can hover; in science fiction, they cannot." *grin*

#730 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2017, 02:32 PM:

Quill @729, quoting Nancy L: ""The difference between fantasy and science fiction is that in fantasy, dragons can hover; in science fiction, they cannot." Except ... In Peter Dickinson's The Flight of Dragons. which I would classify as fictional science if I had to come up with a genre for it, he comes up with a mechanism which allows dragons to fly and breathe fire that would allow for limited hovering (as well as explaining why we don't find fossilized dragon skeletons -- the hydrogen-generation mechanism which allows for flying and fire also dissolves the bones after the dragon dies). It's a complex and wonderful book which I highly recommend.

#731 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2017, 03:15 PM:

Jenny Islander @724:

A bit of google-fu suggests that Japanese Black Pine thrives in coastal areas and is quite salt tolerant, though I haven't found whether it can handle direct saltwater inundation.

#732 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2017, 03:23 PM:

Seconding Tom Whitmore's recommendation of The Flight of Dragons. It is an excellent book, lavishly illustrated, and plausible enough to make you believe, just for a moment, that dragons were real.

#733 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2017, 03:59 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz #726: Indeed Pern is one of the test cases... and while I can't really quantify it, even without the intro I always felt it read like science fiction.

Even allowing for hovering (and teleporting!) dragons¹, there was never that sense that some new magical thing might wander onto the scene -- the rules were laid out early on, and McCaffrey stuck hard to those rules. The psionic abilities never acted like an invocation of magic, but like a natural ability that the dragonriders took for granted, while the dragons themselves may have been familiar to the characters, but until the fire lizards were introduced, they didn't seem to belong with the rest of the ecology. Notably, IIRC (it's been a while) psionic powers were limited to humans and the three species of dragonkind -- no predators luring prey into a trap, nor potential prey broadcasting a "keepaway". And even without the backstory, just the business of feeding the dragons firestone would have raised questions about their provenance.

¹ Arguably, having anything that big fly on an Earthlike world implies some form of telekinesis, so why not hover? But again, nothing else we saw had anything of the sort.

#734 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2017, 04:01 PM:

Internal Server, oy!

#735 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2017, 04:15 PM:

KeithS@732: Seconding Tom Whitmore's recommendation of The Flight of Dragons.

Thirding, and thanks to Tom for reminding me that I should pull that off the shelf again soon. I love the "hovering" distinction, but that book is also the first thing I thought of when I read it.

On libraries: the oddest cataloging schemes I've actually tried to use are those on special collections in sufficiently old libraries. I've encountered (and, in one case, helped reshelve) a few where it clearly hadn't been worth the effort to integrate the collections into the main numbering systems. Always exciting to search.

On general distraction: our tickets for Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 came up just when we were really ready to turn off our brains for a few hours. Definitely fun, and a good sequel to the first. As with some other Marvel films, it made one of the sillier bits of the comics universe watchable on screen. (V pna'g fnl V rire rkcrpgrq fbzrbar gb fcraq $200Z gb oevat Rtb gur Yvivat Cynarg gb n yvir-npgvba svyz.) And, in the words of Amazing Spouse, the raccoon was still the most human character.

#736 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2017, 04:18 PM:

I've never been able to formalize the difference between psi and magic, though I know it when I see it.

Does anyone have a description of the difference? Or fiction which has both?

#737 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2017, 05:03 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @ 736:

Like you, I know it when I see it. My first guess is that there's usually a biological explanation, no matter how thin, for psi — something about the power of the mind, or being extraordinarily sensitive to brain waves. Magic is oftentimes an external force that can be called upon or guided, sometimes quite mechanically, whether that's by the will of the mage, manipulation by spells, or something else.

Then again, I'm not sure my example of fiction that has both, namely the Taltos books by Brust, exactly follows my own rules. Witchcraft is psionic and depends on the mind of the witch, but often seems like manipulating the energies of the world.

#738 ::: Race Traitor Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2017, 05:13 PM:

As the sages of this parish have pointed out, trying to make a firm distinction between fantasy and science fiction leads to discussing the edge cases and away from the core.

To me, science fiction focuses on "could happen, but hasn't [yet]," while fantasy focuses on "couldn't happen, but what if it could?" There's plenty of overlap and my favorites mix both. There are tropes that pop up more in one than the other (he macguffin you have to find or get rid of to Save The World/Universe is more a fantasy trope), but there isn't a clear borderline, set of criteria, or heuristic that will reliably let you judge any work as one or the other.

And you know what? I like that just fine.

#739 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2017, 06:38 PM:

So, after help provided, I've been able to focus my search parameters and have concluded that the survival of conifers after the local terrane decides to tilt thisaway instead of thataway is possible, but extremely unlikely. Even the most salt-tolerant of wetlands conifers, bald cypress, would die. The seeds it dropped might germinate if they were swept far upstream by local conditions and the soil in the new upstream was not too salty or thin.

The actual explanation for the original question: A long story.

Comparable real-world conditions: Tilting first this way, then that way is actually how my home island is rising over time. The last time it happened one side of town went UP and the other went DOWN. Local conifers can't handle the DOWN part; they died.

#740 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2017, 07:15 PM:

Jenny Islander:
Your question is reminding me about things I've read of the "ghost forests" along part of the Pacific Northwest coast, where there are lots of old dead trees believed to have died due to salt poisoning from a massive tsunami hundreds of years ago, the last time that fault zone cut loose.

#741 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2017, 07:51 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz #736, KeithS #737: My intuitive line is that psionic/psychic powers are specifically capacities of the individual's mind -- sometimes they can include cooperation of multiple individuals, but even then, they're always limited to the participants' abilities and resources. In literature, they're frequently subject to "scientific" treatment, or at least engineering; in the real world, science has long since given up on them¹, but they're still prone to being flourished by pseudoscience.

Magic includes tapping of external sources and powers -- thus, being able to see and even talk to spirits could be a psychic power, but being able to command, and especially summon them, is distinctly magical. Psychic powers can border on magic (as in that example), but where they combine, magic takes precedence as a category. Similarly, magical powers in turn can border on religious/priestly powers, as with calling upon angels or demons; what distinguishes priestly capacity is that a priest is representing the Powers to their public.

One rather large oeuvre that includes all three of these categories is the world of Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar. The more recent books have tended to bring in all three of them, highlighting their different natures and capacities.

¹ Newton was quite interested in psychic powers and alchemy, but in his day, those were still open questions. In modern times, I'm afraid that psychic powers in general fall under what I call the Zero'th Law of Magic: Deniability. That is, it can never be provable to the world at large that natural law has been violated. If the use of any such power would allow such a proof, the power will fail.

#742 ::: Seth ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2017, 09:10 PM:

Discussions of what is science fiction vs fantasy make me twitchy, because all too often it's code for "which of these works have girl cooties and can safely be ignored."

Having said that, instead of starting with a definition of scifi and fantasy, and then trying to work out which works fit in each category, wouldn't make more sense to start with works that are obviously scifi and obviously fantasy, then build definitions based on them?

So, for example, Dune is obviously science fiction, and The Last Unicorn is obviously fantasy. Any definition of scifi that excludes Dune, or includes both books (and vice versa for The Last Unicorn) is therefore obviously wrong. Does that make sense? It's like... pick a work to be a holotype and work from there.

#743 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2017, 09:15 PM:

I feel like psi powers are individual, internal, and require personal attention, while magic is more of an outside force being manipulated and can be separated from the user in some way. You can't make a telekinesis potion to move things around, after all.

#744 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2017, 09:55 PM:

I would say that the distinguishing feature of psychic power is that it comes specifically and exclusively from the mind and/or brain of the individual. Magic is a more flexible term, usually referring to an external or universal force that the individual may command or draw upon; when it does flow from the individual, it is more likely to be linked to the soul or self than the mind.

#745 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2017, 10:06 PM:

Tom Whitmore et al on The Flight of Dragons: I loved that book when I first read it. Then the Science Suck Fairy got to it. Calcium carbonate + acid gives CO2, not hydrogen.

You could have hovering dragons that synthesised hydrogen directly, or (even better) that had gut bacteria to do it for them. They'd fit well on Bujold's Sergyar. The Flight of Dragons kinda still works if you just assume Peter Dickinson, as an early researcher in the field, guessed wrong about the the biochemistry of his dragons.

On the SF vs F question: I don't see why there should be an essence that neatly divides them. The closest to such a criterion would be where booksellers shelve them or publishers list them, but online sales mean even that doesn't have to be unique.

Some more boundary cases of various sorts: Yoon Ha Lee's Ninefox Gambit, which is space opera that works by effectively magic with rules. Melissa Scott's Roads of Heaven trilogy has space opera explicitly working by medieval alchemical magic. Bone Dance is both post-apocalyptic SF and urban fantasy. Charlie Stross's Family Trade series is SF, but the reader and characters don't know that for the first couple of books. His Laundry series has magic as sufficiently advanced technology.

#746 ::: Race Traitor Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2017, 10:45 PM:

Seth 742: So, for example, Dune is obviously science fiction, and The Last Unicorn is obviously fantasy.

I don't think I agree wrt Dune. It's a science-fictional setting, but it's loaded with fantasy tropes (the rebel leader who turns out to be the lost prince, fulfillment of prophecies, etc) and definitely some magic (the Water of Death gives Alia access to the memories of all her ancestors...not very sciencey). The fact that it's set in the far future on a far-off planet doesn't make it pure science fiction.

It's actually pretty common to tell fantasy stories with science-fictional elements, and vice versa. Cherryh's Rider books are essentially fantasy stories in a science-fiction setting, and I've personally enjoyed systems where once mana (magical energy) is posited, the rules for how it works are subject to strict laws and mathematical formulae.

#747 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2017, 11:01 PM:

Seth #742:

As I understand it, the divide between science fiction and fantasy came from shelving and marketing issues, where both publishers and booksellers were trying to target subgroups of readers. But that's actually a fairly modern development; both genres emerged from the old "adventure stories": Wells, Verne, Burroughs, Carter, and so on. And the division is still just a line scrawled on a map, and as always, "the map is not the territory".

For example, Dune would not be my own pick for "most obviously science fiction", what with the whole Destiny thing, not to mention the various powers pushing the limits of my "psychic" category above. For an extreme pole of science fiction as opposed to fantasy, I'd personally reach for Niven's Known Space. But the problem is, it's really hard to point to one or even a few works as definitional: Even sticking with the Old Masters, consider Asimov versus Clarke versus Heinlein -- all take very different approaches. And when you do bring in the women, things get even tougher: Nobody's going to convince me that Ursula LeGuin, Octavia Butler, and Andre Norton (still sticking with Old Masters) haven't shaped science fiction (and for at least two of them, fantasy as well)¹ indeed, they've added whole territories for those who came after to explore.

The "girl cooties" thing isn't really about SF/F; it's an artifact of the reality that both publishing and fandom exist within a larger society, which has often been deeply sexist. But you know, we are starting to learn better, as is the larger society we live in. The arc of history really does bend toward justice.

¹ Did Butler ever do fantasy? I'd kinda like to see what she'd do with such settings, even though I suspect it would be rather disturbing.

#748 ::: Seth ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2017, 01:13 AM:

@Dave You're looking at this backwards. I look at Dune and say "what traits does this have?" not "I will imagine a list of traits and then test Dune against it." If a given definition of scifi disqualifies Dune, then I will discard that definition.

Dune is also probably the most widely-read science fiction novel; I can assume that anyone with an interest in scifi will at least have heard of it. Star Trek would be another solid choice for a scifi holotype, but I'd rather not provoke the "media isn't scifi" folks.

I don't have a polite response to the idea that "the women" are a separate category to be "brought in."

#749 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2017, 01:38 AM:

Jenny Islander @724

Terra Nova Park, in Newfoundland, is notable for* having boreal-forest conifers growing right down to its saltwater shores. Mostly black spruce with a smattering of fir, if memory serves me right. I'm not sure what the salinity of the soil is like, but I'm sure they'd be happy to tell you (here's their contact info.

*among other things -- it's a fantastic place.

#750 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2017, 01:44 AM:

Seth, #748: If you're trying to say that because Dune has magical elements then any definition of science fiction you're willing to accept must contain magical elements, you're going to have more people than David disagreeing with you -- and it's not going to be him that's perceived as looking at it backwards. I'm also seriously side-eyeing your selection of Dune as the ur-Science-Fiction book, but I'm not sure what I'd put up in its place. Rendezvous with Rama, perhaps.

#751 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2017, 01:52 AM:

There are several good potential ur-SF texts: Brunner's STAND ON ZANZIBAR, Pohl and Kornbluth's THE SPACE MERCHANTS... I could go on for a long time. DUNE is a bit problematic.

The edge cases of SF vs fantasy are a fractal problem, in that any time somebody comes up with a clear dividing line, somebody writes something that falls on both sides. Sometimes deliberately.

#752 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2017, 07:46 AM:

I am much more interested in definitional/taxonomic efforts in sf/f if they focus on what readers are getting out of the works, or if they are silly. Towards the latter, "a scrap of paper on which you'd written in pencil 'MAN HAVE SPACEGUN. explode!! NOW IS SAVE'" is my scifi holotype.

#753 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2017, 10:28 AM:

I'm rambliing around the subject. I don't think I have a unified point.

I'm not convinced about the fantasy=girl cooties thing, but I realize rasfw is hardly the whole of fandom.

One of the things I got out of the rasfw discussions was that there are people who have definite preferences for science fiction or fantasy. This may seem obvious, but I like them about equally. I forget what it's called, but I mostly want the sense of "not like the real world".

Which reminds me.... What counts as establishing the nature of the story? Does Byatt's Possession count as somewhat fantasy? It's got real world contemporary people researching Victorian fantasy which has strong fantasy elements, and I felt as though there was enough fantasy in it to have fantasy satisfactions even though there was no reason to think it was true in the story.

On the other hand, Busman's Honeymoon is a mystery novel. There's a ghost which is definitely real in the story, but it's there briefly for background and character, not part of the plot.

Ghost stories are an interesting thing because many people believe in ghosts, but ghost stories are classed in fantasy/horror. Would ghost stories for people who believe in ghosts be different from what we usually get?

#754 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2017, 10:43 AM:

I'm pretty sure the word I was looking for is estrangement.

#755 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2017, 10:53 AM:

I would say that a work is science fiction if its distinctive elements are ones that, within the story, can be explained by a scientific method. We can imagine a world where science reveals things that aren't true in the actual world, and a work set in such a world is still science fiction (modulo questions about importance to the plot, and so on).

Another way of explaining the difference I've seen, which may or may not be equivalent to that, is that magic is symbolic all the way down; an act has meaning, and has consequences because of its meaning, and that's all there is to it. So psi powers count as scientific if we're invited to suppose that at some level they can be explained in physical terms, through electromagnetic interactions or the movement of quarks, or something; not if there is nothing to be said beyond 'mind has the power to do this'.

If you insist that it's only science fiction if it's consistent with real world science, then time travel (of the sort normally imagined, at least), and faster-than-light travel or communication, turn out not to be SF, and large parts of the field vanish.

That said, there are certainly overlaps between science fiction and fantasy. This can be so either because it's unknown, or perhaps undecidable, whether the basis of the story is fantastic or scientific, or because it includes both distinctive features of a fantastic kind and distinctive features of a scientific kind. This last variety seems to be having a big surge right now, with works by Jo Walton, Nnedi Okoroafor, Charlie Jane Anders and (from what I can tell so far) Ada Palmer.

#756 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2017, 10:56 AM:

I would say that a work is science fiction if its distinctive elements are ones that, within the story, can be explained by a scientific method. We can imagine a world where science reveals things that aren't true in the actual world, and a work set in such a world is still science fiction (modulo questions about importance to the plot, and so on).

Another way of explaining the difference I've seen, which may or may not be equivalent to that, is that magic is symbolic all the way down; an act has meaning, and has consequences because of its meaning, and that's all there is to it. So psi powers count as scientific if we're invited to suppose that at some level they can be explained in physical terms, through electromagnetic interactions or the movement of quarks, or something; not if there is nothing to be said beyond 'mind has the power to do this'.

If you insist that it's only science fiction if it's consistent with real world science, then time travel (of the sort normally imagined, at least), and faster-than-light travel or communication, turn out not to be SF, and large parts of the field vanish.

That said, there are certainly overlaps between science fiction and fantasy. This can be so either because it's unknown, or perhaps undecidable, whether the basis of the story is fantastic or scientific, or because it includes both distinctive features of a fantastic kind and distinctive features of a scientific kind. This last variety seems to be having a big surge right now, with works by Jo Walton, Nnedi Okoroafor, Charlie Jane Anders and (from what I can tell so far) Ada Palmer.

#757 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2017, 10:57 AM:

Er - sorry about that, don't know how it happened.

#758 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2017, 11:27 AM:

Van Vogt is generally counted as a science fiction writer even though the science in his stories is utter nonsense.

There may be such a thing as a sciency feeling which is more important than the actual science or lack of it.

#759 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2017, 12:35 PM:

WRT the fantasy/sf difference, I remember that Damon Knight caused a minor stir in the old GEnie days when he remarked that the main difference is that fantasy has no non-arbitrary limitations. A lot of the SF Roundtable members disputed that. I do see the point that Knight wanted to make, but there some limitations to fantasy, if only so that the story makes sense.

#760 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2017, 01:55 PM:

Actually, there have been attempts at fantasy that really don't even make sense (but feel like they should). Perhaps the most extreme is the Codex Seraphinianus -- a book worth looking into.

#761 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2017, 01:55 PM:

Seth #748: I don't have a polite response to the idea that "the women" are a separate category to be "brought in."

That setup was my own response to your "girl cooties" comment. Basically I was saying "girl cooties == fantasy? Not so much". (Not to mention all the male fantasy writers; Charles De Lint, Robert Silverberg, and Gene Wolfe come to mind offhand.

Nancy Lebovitz #753: re ghosts: Of Tangible Ghosts comes to mind. Also noting that before the "modern scientific mindset" took hold, the existence of ghosts was not controversial and required little or no justification in even a "mainstream" story. (E.g., Wuthering Heights.)

Andre M #756: I would say that a work is science fiction if its distinctive elements are ones that, within the story, can be explained by a scientific method. That kinda works for me, but there are some problems, notably Clarke's Third Law. Valdemar, again, features fairly scientific discussion of the underpinnings of magic; it also has gods who occasionally appear in proxy or in person, but who seem unlikely to stand still for scientific analysis.

#762 ::: Seth ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2017, 02:59 PM:

This space alien apologizes, and respectfully bows out of the conversation.

#763 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2017, 03:55 PM:

Dave Harmon @761: Valdemar has EVERYTHING -- post-Vanyel Heralds are strictly doing "mind" magic, telepathy, telekinesis, and a VERY limited form of teleportation.

Herald-mages, Sun Priests, and mages of the Empire are using 'real' magic, which is based on some form of mana/magic power usually drawn from the world around them. And then there are the Tayledras and their Heartstones...

Both Companions and Fire-Cats are recycled Heralds or Sun Priests or spirits of a higher power, Gryphons and Kyree are sentient and magic-using, and I swear every monster from the earliest D&D manuals is lurking in the Pelagirs!

Add to that the Artificers of the Kingdom of Valdemar -- who are scientists and are working out the parameters of using steam, among other sources of non-magic power.

Velgarth, indeed, can be said to have something for everyone. Pity one can only visit through books.

#764 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2017, 04:23 PM:

Seth @748: "Dune is also probably the most widely-read science fiction novel."

I'd disagree with that. Maybe once, but I'd be willing to bet that The Hunger Games (along with a bunch of other YA stuff) would beat it easily. Even thirty years ago, I'd bet on A Wrinkle in Time, or possibly the Star Wars novelization. Kids' and teens' classics get assigned at school and given as presents, which increases their widely-read-ness immensely, especially given the tendency I've noticed among my friends-with-kids to read the same books their kids read.

#765 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2017, 04:23 PM:

Seth @748: "Dune is also probably the most widely-read science fiction novel."

I'd disagree with that. Maybe once, but I'd be willing to bet that The Hunger Games (along with a bunch of other YA stuff) would beat it easily. Even thirty years ago, I'd bet on A Wrinkle in Time, or possibly the Star Wars novelization. Kids' and teens' classics get assigned at school and given as presents, which increases their widely-read-ness immensely, especially given the tendency I've noticed among my friends-with-kids to read the same books their kids read.

#766 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2017, 04:28 PM:

(On a related note, in terms of things you wouldn't expect, if I asked you to name the Canadian author whose novels sell the best, you'd probably name Atwood, or Munro, and not even think of David Annandale, whose Warhammer books sell like hotcakes. If the most widely-read SF book isn't YA, it's probably a tie-in.)

#767 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2017, 04:34 PM:

Em (766): Non-SF nitpick: isn't Munro a short-story writer, not a novelist? :)

(Oh, wait, a cursory Google shows that she's written at least one novel. Nevermind. :) )

#768 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2017, 04:41 PM:

Mary Aileen: That's what I get for trying to be fancy and saying "novels" instead of "books". Whoops!

#769 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2017, 05:40 PM:

Let me throw in a difficult question to which, of course, I don't know the answer: Is LOTR fantasy or science fiction? All that occurs in the novel depends on a power the author believes to be real, the Will of God. Now, I don't happen to believe in said power, but others do.

Is fiction postulating particular uses of that power -- uses which it is claimed have actually occurred in the veritable world -- like LOTR purely fantastic, or is is science fiction in the sense that it is based on actual knowledge of the world as a world encompassed by and including an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent Ilúvatar?

#770 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2017, 05:57 PM:

There are two main categories of speculative fiction: Hard fantasy uses imagination to transcend the ordinary and ask fundamental questions about what it means to be alive. For example: Frankenstein, Lord of the Rings and The Left Hand of Darkness. Soft fantasy uses imagination for wish fulfillment and to retell ordinary stories in different settings. For example: the Conan series, the Shannara series, the Harry Potter series, the Lensman series, the Foundation series, and the Honor Harrington series. As with all categories, boundaries overlap. For example, Dune is full of soft fantasy tropes yet it transcends its category.

#771 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2017, 07:45 PM:

Fragano, that's an interesting question.

Most of its readers, of course, regard LOTR as fantasy. Hard fantasy, for the reason TomB gives.

But as far as I can see, its author had other intentions. Tolkien began by making up languages, and to be complete they had to have speakers with cultures and histories, and their stories had to be told. So was he in effect writing alternate history?

Alternate history is a genre which is usually included with SF/F, and it seems like a natural fit to me until I try to explain why. I thought of this question when reading The Goblin Emperor. It appealed to me in the way that really good fantasy and science fiction does. And yet when I stopped to think about it, there was nothing either scientifictional or fantastical in it. Yes, the ethnic groups are called elves and goblins, but they are not fantasy creatures. You could call them Sicels and Numidians and it would be just as good. I believe it is mentioned briefly that someone somewhere can work magic, but it doesn't figure into the plot or the character development.

So why do we consider The Goblin Emperor as part of our genres, but not another tale of a reluctant emperor, I, Claudius? It's because of the world-building.

So that suggests another axis to consider the question on--how much world-building did the author do and how original was it? Tolkien, McCaffrey, Herbert, Okorafor--all great world-builders.

#772 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2017, 08:34 PM:

Allan Beatty @771

I'm a bit perplexed by your understanding of the Goblin Emperor. One of each of the pairs of bodyguards for the emperor is a mage (by a different name - aha, "athmaza") and there are spells cast by at least one of those mages. Also, the priests (the witnesses for the dead) have a form of magic that lets them know what the dead knew before their deaths.

At least, I've read the book multiple times, and that's my understanding of what it says.

Here's a partial quote about the spell cast by the athmaza: "...that the smell of ozone had come from a death-spell ('revethmaz' was the word, and it jangled unstoppably in his head)". That's from Chapter 30 (I have an ebook, so I can't really quote page numbers.)

I don't think any of that is too spoilery.

#773 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2017, 08:36 PM:

Oops, "maza", not "athmaza", which appears to be a title or similar.

#774 ::: Jim Parish ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2017, 08:57 PM:

How about Cherryh's The Paladin? It has a fantasy-like feel to it, but there is no magic, nor anything supernatural or preternatural. (There is talk of a dragon, but the reader knows - or should know - what really happened.)

#775 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2017, 09:10 PM:

Fragano, #769: Your claim must be based in material external to the books, because it is nowhere in the story. There are gods, yes, and the Elves at least believe in them, but they are not seen as driving the story. Unless you're talking about material in The Silmarillion, which I have not read and am not likely to. But just on the basis of what is in LOTR, "the Will of God" doesn't hold up.

But to answer your underlying question, I consider any work which is based on a supernatural-origin theory of the universe to be fantasy, no matter how wholeheartedly the author believes in their supernatural origin story.

Allan, #771: I believe it is mentioned briefly that someone somewhere can work magic, but it doesn't figure into the plot or the character development.

Where are you getting this? The mazei are far more than "mentioned briefly". One of the Emperor's paired bodyguards is always a maza; one of those mazei betrays Maia as part of Idra's mother's plot to put her son on the throne, and Maia has to participate in a ritual interview with him and witness his death by ritual suicide. Later in the book, the other maza bodyguard kills a would-be assassin by using magic. I wouldn't describe that as "doesn't figure into the plot or the character development"!

More generally, I consider alternate history to be a sub-category of fantasy because it deals with a world in which significant underpinnings of the story are literally impossible. The Goblin Emperor, however, is straightforward fantasy because it is set in a world which is not Earth and in which magic is a functional tool. There are some parallels to a particular segment of Earth history, but that doesn't make it not-fantasy.

#776 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2017, 09:50 PM:

Naomi Parkhurst (772)/Lee (775): The magic in The Goblin Emperor is subtle and easy to overlook. Allan is not the only one to miss it. In the discussions here after it was nominated for a Hugo, I remarked that TGE was one of those rare fantasies without any magic, and was promptly corrected by several people, including Lee. I had read TGE several times at that point, and remembered all of the examples when they were listed, but somehow it had never quite registered.

A book that I would call fantasy that really doesn't have any magic is Swordspoint, by Ellen Kushner.

#777 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2017, 10:44 PM:

I've described that one as "sword and sorcery, minus the sorcery". I also recommend it - it's very well done.

#778 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2017, 10:57 PM:

Tom Whitmore@730: "In Peter Dickinson's The Flight of Dragons. which I would classify as fictional science if I had to come up with a genre for it..."

I have a fair number of books in this genre, which I only now realize I can characterize as "sf/fantasy minus narrative". That is, worldbuilding without plot.

- The Flight of Dragons (Dickinson)
- Codex Seraphinianus
- Expedition (Wayne Barlowe) (has a superficial narrative, but nobody thinks of this as a novel or even a graphic novel!)
- Fungus the Bogeyman (again, it has narrative bits, but it's much more a field guide than it is a story)
- After Man (Dougal Dixon)
- The Snouters (Harald Stumpke)
- Legal Daisy Spacing

Shaun Tan's _Arrival_ is adjacent -- I think of it as set in Serafini-land -- but it *is* a narrative story after all.

Brian Froud's _Field Guide to Goblins_ and _World of the Dark Crystal_ would absolutely count if you weren't aware of the _Labyrinth_ and _Dark Crystal_ movies. As it is, they're iffy. (If tie-ins count, then thousands of _The Science of ..._ books show up and I don't want to let them in.)

I'm sure I could think of more if I had my bookshelves in front of me. (I'm in New York right now.) (Hi Sumana)

#779 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2017, 11:17 PM:

Let me throw in a difficult question to which, of course, I don't know the answer: Is LOTR fantasy or science fiction?

I consider LOTR to be the holotype of Epic Fantasy. I don't think I'm alone.

#780 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2017, 11:42 PM:

Mary Aileen: Boston filed the latest Powers under Fiction; I guess they thought The Purple Rose of Cairo was mimetic. And Sturgeon was a legal renaming, not a pseudonym, so Forbes didn't have even the LoC practice to excuse it.

Nancy Lebovitz @ 753: I do not remember a ghost in Busman's Honeymoon; where is it mentioned (as a literal ghost, not just a metaphor for a past)?

Lee @ 775: More generally, I consider alternate history to be a sub-category of fantasy because it deals with a world in which significant underpinnings of the story are literally impossible. How impossible? Some SF looks forward to ask "What happens as a consequence of this plausible tech development?"; AH looks backward/sideways to ask "What might have happened if this event were plausibly different?" (Consider how strange an event was required for the Union to win at Antietam.) I would distinguish this from fantasy, which I see as based on things that were frequently believed in but have minimal basis in possibility. (Yes, I'm stretching all over the place here.)

#781 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2017, 11:47 PM:

Andrew Plotkin @778: agreed on all of those. A couple of others to add:

The Recently Deflowered Girl (actually, much of Edward Gorey falls here, with The Object-Lesson being almost a type-book for this genre)
Jesus Christs (A. J. Langguth) (has some narratives, but they're not the point)
Glen Baxter is another one like Gorey.

I could come up with a few more as well. I have a soft spot for Legal Daisy Spacing. It's wonderfully silly.

#782 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2017, 12:02 AM:

I haven't seen it, but I've read that there was actually an animated TV-movie adaptation of The Flight of Dragons. In order to have a plot, they mashed it up with Gordon Dickson's The Dragon and the George.

#783 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2017, 12:42 AM:

We're continuing our rewatch of ST:TOS at my house. Stuff I'd forgotten:

* That time that a blonde asked Kirk about his erection and nobody with the power to cut or reshoot that scene caught it or if they did they didn't care

* Nichelle Nichols can SING

* The guy who got blotto and murdered "I'll Take You Home Again, Kathleen" on shipwide audio got murdered in a later episode

* And boy howdy he can NOT sing

* Uhura and Kirk have a professional relationship involving mutual respect

* Kirk has a bad back and thought Spock was doing some compassionate laying on of hands, but it turned out to be a yeoman fixing his apparently well-known spinal problem and Kirk was disappointed

* Apparently the position of yeoman involves constantly bird dogging the Captain because he has this thing about not taking care of himself

* Once Kirk was going to officiate a wedding between two crewpeople and ended up telling the bride that her husband to be had just died in the line of duty

* Spock is sassy as all get-out, like, permanently

* Whoever did the matte paintings for the planetary fly-by scenes was really really good

#784 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2017, 12:50 AM:

Fragano @769: “Is LOTR fantasy or science fiction?” — By standard categories, all that magic (and magical creatures such as dragons and elves) makes it fantasy. But to address your underlying question: Tolkien feigned this was not a future (that either will or might someday come to pass), nor yet an alternative history (what might have been), but a novelized retelling of an older actual history source the Red Book of Hergest Westmarch... making this an example of "popularized history", i.e. intentionally formatted and footnoted as non-fiction.

Michael Crichton's The 13th Warrior did likewise, jumping off from the actual encounter of the real-life 10th century Arab traveler Ahmad ibn Fadlan who met real-life "Viking" settlers called the Rus', and blending in the Beowulf legend with Neanderthal survival.

BTW, the Syfy series The Expanse (and the novels by "James S. A. Corey"), up to the point Detective Miller and Julie Mao meet their destiny together, can be described not just as science fiction (and even partly as "Robert Heinlein's The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress relocated to the asteroid belt") but as partly an old-fashioned detective film noir, making it the sort of Genre Blender that Isaac Asimov also indulged in (recall Elijah Baley from The Caves of Steel etc.)... yeah, Golden Age SF.

#785 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2017, 01:18 AM:

CHip, #780: "Literally impossible" as in "we've already lived thru that timeline and that's not how it happened". What-ifs about the future can be science fiction; what-ifs about the past are fantasy by definition. (I have a long, bitter fantasy that starts with Carter not allowing himself to be talked out of supplying enough air support for the hostage rescue to succeed.)

#786 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2017, 01:34 AM:

Tom Whitmore @ 778:
Jesus Christs (A. J. Langguth) ...

So somebody other than me read that book? (I have never seen it referred to anywhere in the last 40 years, and I couldn't remember the author's name.) It is quite an odd and interesting book, and I'd probably appreciate it even more were I a Christian.

#787 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2017, 01:49 AM:

Clifton@786: I not only read it in the Ballantine pb edition, but I hunted down a first edition hb. Which, pre-internet, wasn't easy. And yes, I expect some Christians appreciated it more than I did; but possibly not.

#788 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2017, 06:59 AM:

As hinted by Andrew Plotkin #778, I've now met Andrew in the meat world! He gave a talk at !!Con yesterday about his infrastructural programming for interactive fiction. !!Con is a conference of short lightning talks focusing on "the joy, excitement, and surprise of computing" that's happening this weekend in New York City. There's a livestream (including open captioning) and the individual 2017 talk videos will be up soon, too -- links are or will be on the !!Con site. My article "Toward a !!Con Aesthetic" in The Recompiler discusses some ways !!Con is particularly interesting, with section headers including "Nothing that is human is alien to me", "Depth, breadth, and clarity over status play", "A counterculture of curiosity", and "Spectacle and play".

I liked many of yesterday's talks, including Andrew's, but this crowd might especially be interested in Mark Dominus's on anagrams, which is based on this blog post "I found the best anagram in English".

#789 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2017, 07:30 AM:

I suppose part of the thing about the Goblin Emperor is that the characters don't make a really big deal out of the magic because it's part of their lives. It's not really a background thing, but it's also not turned into spectacular fireworks.

And I think the thing about the Witness for the Dead almost passed me by, as all the other Witnesses in there were like a mixture of detectives and representatives working with apparently non-magical skills: examining crime scenes, for instance, or representing the interests of a piece of land. So it did take me a while to say, "hey, wait a minute, this is different."

Swordspoint did come to mind as a non-magical fantasy, but I think I assumed someone had mentioned it already, as it's been an example of that in discussions of definitions I've been in for a long time.

#790 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2017, 09:24 AM:

Andrew Plotkin @ #778:

From memory, Gnomes by Rien Poortvliet and Wil Huygen is another field guide with minimal narrative.

(I do recall definitely that none of the specific characters from the TV series it inspired are in the book.)

There is, however, a sequel with a definite framing narrative, involving the authors being contacted by gnomes directly and given a guided tour of the things they missed or got wrong in the first volume.

#791 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2017, 09:55 AM:

#780 ::: CHip

From memory: There's a brief appearance of a benign ghost at the Wimsey home. Harriet can see the ghost. Peter's horrible sister can't.


As I recall, Borders shelved fiction by live authors in Fiction, and fiction by dead authose in Literature.

#792 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2017, 10:01 AM:

CHip @#780: Harriet unknowingly encounters a ghost in the library at Duke's Denver, and when she mentions this person to Peter he tells her something along the lines of "Oh, that's old Uncle So-and-so, he's been dead about a hundred years, perfectly harmless."

#793 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2017, 10:52 AM:

More fictional science: How to Keep Dinosaurs by Richard Mash.

#794 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2017, 11:51 AM:

Paul A. @790: and Gnomes, of course, begat Faeries, with the outgrowth from that of such wonderful Froud books as Lady Cottington's Pressed Fairy Book, which definitely belongs in the category.

#795 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2017, 12:30 PM:

I got email this morning from a Al-Qeada hitman who had been paid by someone in my family to bump me off but he's kindly offered to spare my life and give me a tape of the conversation he had with my disloyal family member for a mere $58,000.

Sometimes it is worth peeking in your spam folder for the entertainment value!

#796 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2017, 01:08 PM:

The Lady Trent books about the Natural History of Dragons contain, so far as I can discern, nothing that cannot be ferreted out and categorized by diligent scientific inquiry.

They are also amazing and completely made of unicorn sparkles for me, because they contain several of my squids (female protagonist who learns and grows over the series; older woman reflecting on past mistakes; LEARNING TO BE A SCIENTIST; engaging actively with colonialism and racism, with the protagonist not being a Magically Tolerant Special outlier; anatomy; really cool illustrations; transgressing social boundaries; an in-world dominant religion that is NOT Christianity-with-serial-numbers-removed, and there are MULTIPLE viable religionsin the world)

But once you posit whatever it is that makes dragons fly and dragonbone the way it is, there appears to be no magic per se.

#797 ::: Sarah E ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2017, 02:15 PM:

Lee @ #714:
I don't recall the name, but years ago I came across an author begging fantasy fans not to link to his(?) blog, because he already had a hard enough time convincing bookstore owners that his historical novels set in 8th-century Ireland were *not* fantasy.

#798 ::: Sarah E ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2017, 02:18 PM:

The "?" was because I'm pretty sure I remember the author was a man, but without the name I can't be absolutely 100%. Probably should have used singular they just in case.

#799 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2017, 02:23 PM:

A while ago, I realized that my then-working definition of 'science fiction' included 'what people who like science fiction read'. I realized this by mentally categorizing Patrick O'Brian's work as SF. Yes, there's a bit of time-travel shenanigans going on, but it's not in the text directly, only in an author's note explaining his reasoning.

I think edge cases are most useful for convincing other people that they will actually like whatever it is you want them to like. My mother will read anything by Stephen King, though she loves the earlier stuff best. She refuses to read anything with talking animals and... something else, maybe aliens? So if Stephen King wrote a talking-animal book, it would be a gateway drug slash milk-with-a-spoonful-of-coffee-in, thus leading to... well, Redwall, if I were young enough still. As the past actually happened, we arranged a couple book trades where she read something I liked and I read something she liked. Maybe I should start one of those again, now that I have my current tastes rather than the immature and ill-considered tastes of the past.

#800 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2017, 04:51 PM:

"Science fiction is a pretty flower that smells… bad."

Jenny Islander @783: I think the fourth item would be more correct with the word "almost" in it.

#801 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2017, 04:58 PM:

Also, re the title of the thread: It works both ways.

Not sure who's infiltrating whom, here, but with PDQ Bach's "Blaues Gras" cantata, someone has clearly got Bluegrass all over his Baroque, and hay seeds in is peruke. This is the entire sixteen-minute work, but you'll know what's up by a minute and a half in. I remember talking about this with Bud Webster, and we agreed that Schickele had created a wonderful sound here.

#802 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2017, 05:16 PM:

TomB, Allan Beatty, Lee, Diatryma:

I find all of your comments helpful. As someone who has occasionally inflicted philosophy of science on graduate students (Praisegod Barebones may raise his head here), I define science as "formalized and categorized knowledge" and science fiction as fiction that relies upon such knowledge for its creation. That's why I include alternative history as part of the genre (it relies on changes to specific formal knowledge -- e.g., Franklin Roosevelt was defeated for re-election in 1940 by Charles Lindbergh, and history took a very different turn). The question for me, then, becomes what do we call "science".

Naomi Mitchison called LOTR "super science fiction" when it came out, and, if you accept that encomium/categorization, you can do so only on the basis of the author believing in a veritable truth underlying his "sub creation". That truth is that history is the working out of the divine will in the universe. Now, evidence of this is to be found both in LOTR (e.g., Gandalf's saying that Bilbo was meant to find the Ring, and Frodo was meant to inherit it; who was the one intending? The reference in an appendix to the Ainur surrendering their powers to The One.) and in The Silmarillion where matters are made much more explicit: "There was Eru, The One, who in Arda is called Ilúvatar". This is not even mentioning the puzzling reference to the Tolkien mythos in C.S. Lewis's Perelandra.

The distinction between hard and soft fantasy helps. Yet, to Tolkien, LOTR, however fantastical (who the hell is Tom Bombadil, anyway?) is based on an underlying truth about the world.

I'm not trying to claim that Catholic fantasy is science fiction. I'd be the last person to do that. I'm saying that what we call science is so called because it is real and it works. Science fiction involves speculation about it. If the author believes it to be real and possible, what then do we classify it as?

All the answers, including Diatryma's, are helpful. Edge cases are hard. Hard cases, unlike in law, make good science.

#803 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2017, 05:16 PM:

TomB, Allan Beatty, Lee, Diatryma:

I find all of your comments helpful. As someone who has occasionally inflicted philosophy of science on graduate students (Praisegod Barebones may raise his head here), I define science as "formalized and categorized knowledge" and science fiction as fiction that relies upon such knowledge for its creation. That's why I include alternative history as part of the genre (it relies on changes to specific formal knowledge -- e.g., Franklin Roosevelt was defeated for re-election in 1940 by Charles Lindbergh, and history took a very different turn). The question for me, then, becomes what do we call "science".

Naomi Mitchison called LOTR "super science fiction" when it came out, and, if you accept that encomium/categorization, you can do so only on the basis of the author believing in a veritable truth underlying his "sub creation". That truth is that history is the working out of the divine will in the universe. Now, evidence of this is to be found both in LOTR (e.g., Gandalf's saying that Bilbo was meant to find the Ring, and Frodo was meant to inherit it; who was the one intending? The reference in an appendix to the Ainur surrendering their powers to The One.) and in The Silmarillion where matters are made much more explicit: "There was Eru, The One, who in Arda is called Ilúvatar". This is not even mentioning the puzzling reference to the Tolkien mythos in C.S. Lewis's Perelandra.

The distinction between hard and soft fantasy helps. Yet, to Tolkien, LOTR, however fantastical (who the hell is Tom Bombadil, anyway?) is based on an underlying truth about the world.

I'm not trying to claim that Catholic fantasy is science fiction. I'd be the last person to do that. I'm saying that what we call science is so called because it is real and it works. Science fiction involves speculation about it. If the author believes it to be real and possible, what then do we classify it as?

All the answers, including Diatryma's, are helpful. Edge cases are hard. Hard cases, unlike in law, make good science.

#804 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2017, 05:17 PM:

Apologies for the double post.

#805 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2017, 05:17 PM:

Apologies for the double post.

#806 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2017, 05:35 PM:

Sarah, #797: Historical novels set against a real-history background are not fantasy any more than contemporary novels set against real-here-and-now are, so I'd agree with him unless he had fantasy elements (such as working magic) in his stories. Georgette Heyer doesn't write fantasy either. However, the "Sarah Tolerance" novels by Madeleine Robins are not just Regency, but alternate-history Regency (the Regency described in them is not the one we lived thru) and therefore fall into the AH sub-category of fantasy. Or at least that's how I see it.

#807 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2017, 06:33 PM:

Andrew Plotkin 778 and Tom Whitmore 730:

Would you also include the books "Gnomes" and "Dinotopia" in that category?

#808 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2017, 06:40 PM:

Lee #806 "The Regency described in them is not the one we lived thru."

Lee, you and I were born in the same year. As I recall, it didn't have a "17" at the start. While, after having had to repeat my birthdate numerous times at my clinic, I have on occasion claimed to have been born in the 12th century, I really didn't live through the Regency, the Triangular Trade, the capture of Constantinople, the American Revolution, the Chinese Civil War, or any other major modern events prior to the Hungarian Crisis of the year of our birth.

#809 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2017, 06:52 PM:

Erik Nelson @807: we'd both mentioned Gnomes and its spinoffs. Dinotopia had more of a narrative about it than most of the books I'd put in this category (and the later Dinotopia books, even more so). Barlowe's Guide to Extraterrestrials falls outside it because it's a catalogue of other people's aliens rather than something really new -- it's an edge case that I think falls outside.

#810 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2017, 07:33 PM:

Sumana @ 778: Oh goodness, I haven't talked to Dominus in ages! We both used to be in talk.bizarre and would meet occasionally at the RL get-togethers. I really should get back in touch.

#811 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2017, 08:02 PM:

Fragano #769: No, the author's belief in the Will of God doesn't make LOTR science-fictional, any more than attention to real-world chemistry would. (q.v. Sanderson's metallic retcons to the Mistborn sequence.) Having the plot subject to any given principle or pattern, ultimately boils down to the Will Of The Author. For that matter, Gandalf's pronouncements aren't terribly convincing in-text, unless you already know he's effectively an angel. A far better target for your argument would be C.S. Lewis' Space Trilogy.

Nor does the author claiming it as a history of a distant past make it science fiction -- AIUI, that's been a trope since the days when it was all "adventure stories" (and including mythology would backdate it even further).

A bit aside: A much better-done example of "God's will" being worked into a plot, is The Wheel of Time. There, the Creator never steps onto the stage, but events are subtly arranged to foil the Enemy at critical junctures. You have to read between the lines to see the Creator's influence... which is perfectly consistent with the in-universe discussion of the world's theology. (And note that WoT also claims in-text to be a prior instance of our world.)

#812 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2017, 08:27 PM:

Victoria Strauss has also done some interesting fantasy around the Will of God concept: a very theologically-interesting reluctant prophet in THE BURNING LAND, for example. Somewhat more direct SF with the question of the Will of God as a major plot element: Mary Doria Russell's THE SPARROW, and Blish's AFTER SUCH KNOWLEDGE trilogy.

#813 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2017, 09:02 PM:

Lee @ #806: (the Regency described in them is not the one we lived thru)

Judging by the snarky comments occasionally let fall by a friend of mine who reads more romances than I do, this criterion would gather up a large swathe of modern Regency romance, not because the authors set out to write an alternate history but because they did not set out to do much research.

#814 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2017, 10:22 PM:

Science fiction is fiction where the star of the show is an idea.

#815 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2017, 12:09 AM:

Fragano, #808: Oh FFS. Obviously no one now alive lived thru the Regency era -- but humanity, collectively, did. It's part of our history.

Dave H., #811: In the Valdemar books, the gods are very real and occasionally proactive. In this they are very like the God portrayed in the Bible, but entirely unlike our experience of God today.

Paul A., #813: *snerk* Too true! I've read a few of those howlers, and it's made me very picky about my Regency selection.

#816 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2017, 01:21 AM:

Among Jenny Islander's interesting comments on Star Trek in #783 is this one:

* Whoever did the matte paintings for the planetary fly-by scenes was really really good

Be aware that a version of Star Trek (The Original Series) exists in which Mike Okuda led a team to replace many of the 1960s special effects with updated digital 21st-century versions. This version turns up syndicated on broadcast TV, at my house.

Jenny, I don't know which version you're watching, but this is something to keep in mind when critiquing the matte paintings and such.

Personally, I love special effects in SF films. Whether I'm watching the Sixties or the modern version, I try to appreciate the artistry that went into them. In particular, the old Trek often had very nice matte paintings in establishing shots of a mining colony, or alien fortress, or what-not.

#817 ::: Jen Birren ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2017, 06:36 AM:

Kip @801:
Thanks! I love PDQ but hadn't heard that one. (Laughed out loud first at 3:10- "Ach, ja!")

#818 ::: Tony Zbaraschuk ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2017, 09:23 AM:

Catholic fantasy as science fiction? Certainly Dante qualifies, and not just on the ground of Thomistic morality (e.g., the moment where Dante and Virgil climb down Lucifer's body and find themselves going up without changing direction as they pass the midpoint of the Earth -- great Aristotelian physics, even if Newton will prove a few centuries later that the gravitational attraction inside a hollow sphere is zero).

In LOTR the "hard science" is linguistics, but most of us don't know enough to appreciate the details.

I tend to look at edge cases in terms of "how does the book approach its subject matter?" -- e.g., Pern is SF because it approaches things in a problem-solving style (mostly).

#819 ::: Quill ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2017, 10:21 AM:

Andrew Plotkin @778: Good heavens, I've never met anyone else who's read "Legal Daisy Spacing".

How would one classify Diane Duane's "Tale of the Five" series? It has magic with rules--two kinds, in fact--an active deity that definitely takes a hand in ongoing events, and very large dragons for which she lays out scientific background and history.

#820 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2017, 11:26 AM:

LOTR is an interesting case, precisely because of who Tolkien was and what he was trying to do.

As I recall, he had two goals in mind in his writing:

1. To provide a space for his conlangs to live, as the languages came first, then the worldbuilding.

2. To create a native mythology for England, like the Norse sagas, or the Greek and Roman myths he was familiar with.

In both of these areas, he was a genuine subject-matter expert (linguistics and mythology), and he could approach the subject with academic rigor -- and he did. But I would also consider the subject (mythology, magic) to be the realm of fantasy.

I can see how, if your distinction between SF and Fantasy, is how the author approaches the subject, that you might consider LOTR as SF, but it would be hard for me to classify it as such.

The father of a friend of mine was a linguist (and he may still be, with what Alzheimer's has left him), and a favored quote from him is "Conceptual boundaries are arbitrary and capricious".

I feel that fits the boundaries between SF and Fantasy quite well, and is one of the reasons why Diatryma's definition above is essentially mine. It is also why I am happy with the working definition of what qualifies for the Hugo as "whatever the fans nominate, regardless of content", rather than trying to pin down a definition of SF for award purposes.

#821 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2017, 11:36 AM:

Quill @ #819

This moose has a copy but has never been called upon to use it.

#822 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2017, 12:34 PM:




::puff:: ::puff:: ::wheeze:: ::wheeze::


::puff:: ::puff:: ::puff::


::deep breath::

That is all.

#823 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2017, 12:38 PM:

Quill @819: We actually sold a lot of copies of Legal Daisy Spacing at The Other Change of Hobbit -- it was a hand-sell item, but not a hard sell at all. It fit our customers' sensibilities very well.

#824 ::: Angiportus Librarysaver ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2017, 02:05 PM:

Andrew Plotkin, #778: I read and enjoyed most of the items you listed, including "Legal Daisy Spacing". Technophobic flavor I didn't like, but distrust of others' arbitrary-sounding rules I understood. This year, my region could definitely have used some cloud latrines.
Dougal Dixon did several future-ecology books, including one that got spun into a tv series, "The Future is Wild".
Someone else can go into what's been pseduofactually written about the Lovecraft mythos.

#825 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2017, 02:34 PM:

Dave Harmon #811 and Erik Nelson #814: I think you need to fight this one out.

Lee 815: Indeed not.

Buddha Buck #820: The philosopher Lewis Gordon calls the idea of imposing strict boundaries between academic disciplines "disciplinary decadence" for similar reasons. The issue for me is that sf, being based on formal, factual knowledge (science) and fantasy, based on a world suffused with magic that human beings can control and that can produce effects contrary to known fact, do seem to run into each other (what is the difference between a Palantir and a telephone? Did Pippin's curiosity lead him to have a FaceTime session with Sauron?).

This raises the obvious question: What are the boundaries of science? As a matter of normal practice (and of belief), I exclude theology from consideration as a science. What, however, if an author does not? If sf is a literature of ideas, who is to set the bounds on the ideas?

#826 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2017, 02:49 PM:

While the author's intent is indeed part of the picture in evaluating a book, it certainly isn't the sole determinant. The text is out there. The readers' perceptions have to matter.

#827 ::: SKapusniak ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2017, 03:16 PM:

On the genre boundary thing, I think this is the method that works for me...

To get from here and now to the there and then described in any SF/F work, I have to consider whether I feel the shortest and most expeditious journey would be by EITHER:

Hopping into my time machine and/or engaging my FTL drive. (Its SF!)


Calling upon the aid of appropriate gods, and/or casting the requisite spells? (Its Fantasy!)

I bear in mind that I might need to make a small twist on the reality focus knob after use of either of these two methods, and that a method of travel appropriate to get to a place, may not be appropriate (or possible) to use there once I arrive.

(Alt-History thus is generally SF these days, because you can usually get there with two hops in your time-machine. One to into the past, and the other into a different future of that past than the one you came from).

#828 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2017, 03:54 PM:

Jacque, erm... I hope things are better now....?

#829 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2017, 05:29 PM:

Please excuse the giggling moose in the corner, who has just been sandbagged by the 1712 overture and this.

#830 ::: Race Traitor Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2017, 05:29 PM:

Just really itching to write stories with classic space-opera travel and battles and so on, but all powered by magic.

Probably will go as far as my other writing urges, which is to say nowhere.

#831 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2017, 05:59 PM:

Jacque @822


#832 ::: Angiportus Librarysaver ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2017, 06:43 PM:

Cadbury Moose, #829: I needed to [re]watch that. Longtime PDQ Bach fan--the original LP's came into a parent's hands and I enjoyed them even before I was old enough to get all the jokes. I only wish Schickele had done the same thing for the *last* mvt. of the 5th--the one with the climax that sneaks up on you. But I have a special soft spot for "The Seasonings".

#833 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2017, 08:25 PM:

Guh. Home now.

We're a week and a day into our Month From Hell.

This year is shaping up to be, as anticipated, Hellier than usual.

The callers today all seemed to want to argue. Not that I dispute their thesis, it's just not—in line with what we can do for them.

"Yes, I know, it sucks." "Yes, I understand, but I, personally, can't change anything." "Yes, you have a good point, but you have to fill out the form." "Really, we can't do anything without the form."

Call after call. After call.


As I say, not unanticipated. But no less tedious for all of that.

I was tickled by one caller who used the International Alphabet to spell out his email address, because it was quick, and I could parse it! He was likewise tickled when I related that my favorite acronym therein is "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot."

So, yeah. Monday down.


#834 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2017, 08:32 PM:

Cadbury Moose @829: My eye snagged on 1712, so I went over to check, and as the conductor was setting up to start, I was struck by a truly frightening thought:

PDQ Bach <=> Somtow Sucharitkul.

Ow. I think my brain just melted.

#835 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2017, 09:23 PM:

Xopher @ 830:

I'm pretty sure I started reading that today. So far, The Ninefox Gambit appears to set in the future, in space, but powered by magic. We'll see how it goes.

#836 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2017, 09:45 PM:

Fragano Ledgister Dave Harmon #811 and Erik Nelson #814: I think you need to fight this one out.

Why? ;-) If you look back at my #747, my basic position is that it's all lines on a map, largely drawn by people trying to get books to their best markets. "So, SF always extended to that river in the west, and recently conquered the northern mountains..." etc. Erik is just planting a flag and saying "this land is SF!". I will note that the "central conceit" of some fantasies qualifies as "an idea", with "magic works like this!" being one of the more common conceits.

#837 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2017, 09:48 PM:

re 829: I regard the 1712 Overture as possibly the most perfect musical parody ever.

#838 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2017, 10:19 PM:

C. Wingate @837:

I found the 1712 overture somewhat painful to listen to, and not because of the loud popping balloons at the end (the CD warned me about not listening at full volume in headphones), but just because it sounded so wrong.

You don't buy a PDQ Bach CD without knowing its supposed to be a parody, but wincing and laughing at the same time is...weird.

I wish there was a source for his Schickele Mix radio program.

#839 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2017, 10:25 PM:

Xopher @ 830: ... classic space-opera travel and battles and so on, but all powered by magic.

It's been a long long time since I read it, but I think Melissa Scott's "Silence" trilogy beginning with Five-Twelfths of Heaven might qualify in this category.

Come to think of it, Andrew Plotkin's Hadean Lands interactive fiction falls into that niche, even if it doesn't have the scope of space opera - the setting is an alchemy-driven spacecraft.

#840 ::: J Homes ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2017, 12:10 AM:

Regarding the difference between SF and Fantasy, I have long subscribed to the idea somewhere above that the difference relates to the value of the scientific method. Recently I have begun to think that this is just a symptom of a deeper difference.

In SF, the fundamental laws of the universe are what they are, and they don't care, for good or ill, what effects they might have.

In fantasy, however deep you go, there are entities with intentions (often malicious ones). The scientific method doesn't work reliably, because the very entities you are applying it to may be trying to deceive you.

Putting this out for whatever it's worth.

J Homes.

#841 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2017, 09:45 AM:

I find it fascinating that none of the definitions offered here - scientific method, internal vs external, symbolic vs literal - have any real relevance to the big modern edge-cases, especially when you look at media beyond books.

In a lot of modern fantasy, magic has rules testable by the scientific method - they're just measuring forces that don't exist in our reality. It's pretty common to conflate wizards and scientists. Heck, my current WIP involves magical QA, and the balance of science and art that go into technological innovation. There is an undercurrent of the idea that there are a huge number of things in magic that just work and we don't really understand how, but that is also true in science.

Or look at Steven Universe: a lot of the science there is more symbolic than practical. The merging of two beings of light into a single being embodying their relationship is I suppose scientifically plausible, but its purpose and feel in the show is symbolic and emotional.

I got sick of the genre argument when I was 13, so I came up with a ridiculous, useless workaround. I'd just finished my first attempted reading of a Brief History of Time, so I created a model that would allow literally any fantasy story to be secretly science fiction. It was based on the premise that no matter how weird magic is, there's a dimension where it makes sense. If you projected random images onto a screen from a 3D space, 2D beings living on the screen would not be able to determine why the images were changing. The force that is changing them is not perceptible from their orientation.

The idea was that most humans are three dimensional, but some occupy more dimensions. There are 4th or 5th dimensional forces that some can see and manipulate from the portion of themselves that exists in that dimension. All magical effects can make perfect sense when viewed via 5th dimensional causality (especially when additional senses are assumed), and are often as simple as rotating some fire through a mirror universe so it enters this specific 3D space at the appropriate velocity and angle. It's also perfectly fine if the mages don't know that this is what they are doing or how they are doing it. Humans remembered to breathe before they knew anything about their nervous systems. Gods and spirits are explicable too, as personalities that have a similar multi-dimensional existence but different 3D manifestations.

Note that I didn't actually believe that all magic could or should work this way. I was fully aware that I was using extra-dimensional interactions in the same way that writers in the 40s used radiation - a poorly understood thing that was mentioned frequently enough in BIG SCIENCE stuff that we can project pretty much any qualities onto it and they wouldn't read as untrue.

That said, I find multidimensional force manipulation much more plausible than anything that directly violates causality, like time travel that fails to create either alternate universes OR stable time loops. Despite this, I enjoyed the movie Looper, where the science makes no causal sense but has thematic and symbolic resonance. At one point there is dialogue that boils down to "look we'd be here all day if we talk about science and causality, so let's discuss feelings and themes instead, 'cause they're more relevant to this film."

I think a lot of this muddying of genre is amplified by games - both video games and tabletop roleplaying games. What is the difference between a gun that charges via ambient radiation at a rate of 3 ticks per second and a wand that charges via energy from the mana dimension at a rate of 3 ticks per second? And does the wand's nature change if it's not mana from the mana dimension but dark energy from the 4th dimension? What if those are just different names for the same damn thing?

For my generation, genres are pretty much exclusively about trappings, especially because media fandom and literary fandom are now inextricable. I don't know a single person my age who is only a fan of SciFi/Fantasy books and not similarly fannish about video games, TV, movies, or comics. So our genres are really about how something feels. Alchemy in Full Metal Alchemist is understandable and has very specific, concrete, testable limitations. Force Powers in Star Wars vary widely and are explicitly about pulling from a force that is not exclusively internal. But in Full Metal Alchemist you draw a circle with symbols to do well-understood, limited things. In Star Wars you push a button or close your eyes to do poorly-understood-but-interestingly-symbolic things. Most people of my generation would still put FMA in Fantasy and Star Wars in Science Fiction.

The distinction is really "what am I reminded of when I first encounter this?" Is it Asimov or Tolkien? Verne or Dunsany? Blade Runner or Labyrinth? Watchmen or Sandman?

This is further complicated by the existence of the superhero genre. The X-men technically have a flimsy scientific explanation, but some of their powers are things like "physically manifest a fear you pluck from someone's mind." Nightcrawler's teleportation comes from an innate ability to briefly leave this dimension, travel through another one, and re-enter this dimension at a different point. There's that blurring again.

It's sort of like how a song can sound like folk if played on an acoustic guitar and rock if played on an electric. It's not a hard and fast rule, but certain soundscapes draw you towards one genre or another, even if the melody and words are identical. There are rock songs played on acoustic and folk on electric of course, but it takes a more experienced ear to make that distinction and a lot of people don't bother to think farther than "Yep, electric guitars mean rock n roll." Earlier this year, I was having a party with some friends - we each brought a mixtape and listened to them together. Mine was full of Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan. At the end of my tape, someone said "It was ok, but I'm not really a fan of country music."

There was an explosion of disbelief in the room of course, but I immediately understood their genre confusion. Folk isn't as prominent these days, so when they evaluated a soundscape composed of acoustic guitars, the answer to "what does this sound like?" was "country." What kind of voice, what kind of instrument, what kind of words? Meh, close enough.

In many ways, Star Wars is the watershed moment, after which separation of the genres based on anything other than set dressing became utterly impossible. These days everyone agrees that the Jedi are basically space wizards, but nobody would dream of excising it from the sci-fi canon.

Instead, the genre fight has retreated back to the realms of "high fantasy" (or epic fantasy) and "hard science fiction" both of which are signified more by the absence of the other's trappings than anything else. Things that are definitely High Fantasy can't contain any advanced technology (with black powder or steam often used as the cutoff point), and Hard Science Fiction can't contain any forces that cannot be studied using existing technology, or at least understood by current theory. The arguments there are a matter of degree: black powder is becoming more popular in the high fantasy and epic fantasy genres, but it sort of implies functional science and growing technology. On the sci-fi front, backwards time travel is not a thing we think is likely possible - there's no good theory to explain how it would work - so there are arguments about whether time travel stories can be Hard SF.

Many popular works effortlessly and deliberately combine traditional science fiction and fantasy now, anyway. I worked on a game that had spaceships and ray guns and necromancy and magical trees that grant access to the mystic energy that connects all living things. "Oh right. Sci-Fi Fantasy" people would say when they saw what we had going on.

Even when someone IS trying to emphasize a genre division, it's almost all style and semantics these days. "Magic" is crossed out and "genetic" written in its place. Psychic powers are basically magic spells - pyrokinesis and a fireball might look different but they accomplish the same result.

There's still plenty of media that is obviously pure sci-fi or pure fantasy, but the territory where they overlap is expanding faster than ever.

#842 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2017, 10:20 AM:

#830 ::: Race Traitor Xopher

"Just really itching to write stories with classic space-opera travel and battles and so on, but all powered by magic."

Go for it. Possibly extra points for psi being a silly thing that no one sensible believes in. I don't think I've ever seen that in a fantasy.

#840 ::: J Homes

In her introduction to The Spirit Ring, Bujold says that she wanted to use authentic Renaissance magic, but that's just recipes. Modern readers want something with conservation laws.

#841 ::: Leah Miller

Tnahk you for the big and very reasonable overview.

As I recall, Doc Smith's Subspace Explorers had the idea that most people have "flat" brains (3D), but a fwe people had brains with more dimensions, so they had psychic abilities.

I can usually enjoy Smith's superiorty fantasies, but that seemed like a little much.

#843 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2017, 10:23 AM:

Unsong, a serial novel about what happens when the sky cracks and kabbalah collides with IP law, will be completed this Sunday.

I'm only up to chapter 11, but there are lots of puns, theodicy, and a rather unexpected underground.

#844 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2017, 10:53 AM:

Leah Miller @ #841:

Personally, I've, as far as I can recall, always put Star Wars in the "space opera" bucket. I think that bucket exists more in the "SF" than "Fantasy" part of the "fantastic" spectrum, but I would definitely not go "you're wrong" if someone stood up and said "Star Wars is FANTASY!" in a loud voice.

I also don't know (as in I genuinely don't know) if I really find superheroes as SF or fantasy, I've always mentally stuffed them in the "superheroes" bucket and not worried massively where they belong (but that bucket clearly lives in the "fantastic" spectrum). I mean, Iron Man is (clearly?) SF, but Doc Strange is (clearly?) fantasy. Yet, they share the same world, so bucket it as "superheroes".

As further labels go, I've always understood "high fantasy" to mean "you have an entirely constructed and developed world, not all of which may necessarily show in the final work, in which the story happens" and "low fantasy" as "you're writing in an at-most-mildly modified alternate past, with extra bits grafted on" , it would not necessarily be obvious from the work itself if it was "high" or "low" and edge cases would require asking the creator(s). Not at all sure if the definition I've heard is a useful distinction, thinking about it.

#845 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2017, 11:10 AM:

HLN: Local woman discovers that it's actually possible to find oneself saying the Eight Deadly Words about somebody's highly dramatic blog.

#846 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2017, 12:08 PM:

Leah Miller (841): Picking up a side-issue in your well-thought-out comment: Folk isn't as prominent these days, so when they evaluated a soundscape composed of acoustic guitars, the answer to "what does this sound like?" was "country."

Back when I was buying CDs in physical stores (remember those?), very few* had a separate section for folk. Most of them put it with country. A few did put it in rock/pop, but that was rare.

*Tower Records split it out, and had a lot of it. ::sigh:: I miss Tower Records.

#847 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2017, 12:09 PM:

me (846): And I think the conversation has now come full circle to "bluegrass musicians will cover anything." Because it's all about what instruments it's played on.

#848 ::: Race Traitor Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2017, 05:56 PM:

Leah 841: Brava. Just brava.

Also, I had a friend who wouldn't listen to anything with a violin in it. He couldn't stand Reich's "Violin Phase," but listened to and enjoyed "Electric Guitar Phase" (the same piece played on an electric guitar). He claimed the tone of a violin annoyed him, but I suspect genre phobia played a role.

Nancy 842: Go for it. Possibly extra points for psi being a silly thing that no one sensible believes in. I don't think I've ever seen that in a fantasy.

One of the player-characters in my GURPS campaign didn't believe in technology. He said "any sufficiently advanced magic is indistinguishable from technology," and maintained that any "technological" device had spells in it somewhere—obviously, or it wouldn't work, would it?

#849 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2017, 06:35 PM:

Xopher @ 848:

Electronics work based on magic smoke. Integrated circuits and other components have little bits of magic smoke sealed inside, and if you mistreat them to the point that they release the magic smoke, they no longer work.

#850 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2017, 09:15 PM:

Xopher @848:

A mentor of mine back in the 1980s described to me a D&D game where the party convinced the DM to allow them to cast "magic mouth" (say something based on an audible trigger) permanently on an object, multiple times. Thus allowing them to magically create a Turing-complete device. At which point, they set up shop making large, elaborate, expensive installations of these computing devices (which really only had a small stone inside with hundreds/thousands of magic mouth spells).

So in that case, your player-character would be right ;-).

KeithS @849: I once told a friend of mine about the magic smoke theory of IC operation, and he burst out laughing, explaining that he has seen the machine in the fab where he works that puts in the magic smoke.

#851 ::: Singing Wren ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2017, 10:05 PM:

Buddha Buck @ 850:

But was it genuine Lucas Electronics smoke?

(Asks she who has been known to describe failing software as "The smoke escaped. All of it." As recently as last month.)

(We were able to put the smoke back.)

#852 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2017, 02:01 AM:

Politics today, here in the UK and in the USA, seems to be centred on covering up fraud by the ruling party.

#853 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2017, 04:05 AM:

Elliott Mason @796: Parallel to your comment about the Natural History of Dragons... Barbara Ninde Byfield's encyclopedic The Book of Weird (originally published as The Glass Harmonica: A Lexicon of the Fantastical) “contains, so far as I can discern, nothing that cannot be ferreted out and categorized by diligent scientific fantasy-literature inquiry.” But it is “also amazing and completely made of unicorn sparkles for me”, notably bon mots and illos.

Diatryma @799: By that [quondam] definition of ‘science fiction’ including ‘what people who like science fiction read’, Diane Duane’s Young Wizards / Cats Wizards series, starting with So You Want to Be a Wizard and then branching to the second series in The Book of Night with Moon, must be science fiction, despite all the magical and theological elements making it distinctly fantasy. After all, the young wizards do at times use high-tech, travel to other worlds or space stations, and interact with intelligent nonhuman and/or nonterrestrial species — classic SF tropes — and Duane herself is also known for some excellent SF writing, particularly Star Trek novels concentrating on Vulcans and Romulans, including their cultures and languages. (Her wizards, like Ursula K. LeGuin’s, use the True Speech to affect reality; and the Wizard’s Oath is carefully worded for each individual wizard.)

RTX @830, see above for SF/fantasy crossover. Also the large-scale action in Larry Niven’s novella The Magic Goes Away, and Terry Pratchett’s Sourceror (heck, in #1 The Colour of Magic the Discworlders even make a brass diving pod that goes off the edge into space; a quick launch system...).

J Homes @840: That distinction between SF and fantasy (SF presumes the indifference of the universe) meets an interesting case when trying to categorize H.P Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos stories: he himself “embraced a philosophy of cosmic indifferentism.” [italics in original]

KeithS @849: It was certainly my impression, back in the 1960s, 70s, and even since then, that a lot of the people who did electronics work (hard and soft) were based on magic smoke.

#854 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2017, 06:17 AM:

Raven @ #853:

I particularly like the detail of the partisan on the bartizan.

(I've read and loved one of Barbara Ninde Byfield's novels, but never managed to get hold of a copy of The Book of Weird in either edition.)

#855 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2017, 07:56 AM:

re 838: ...Schickele Mix...

...source of the house catch-phrase (reverb +11)"High Art With Furrowed Brow"(/reverb).

re 848: For a long time I had an antipathy for solo violin, though I no longer hear it as having a whiny, cutting edge, which I suppose I can attribute to progressing hearing loss or masking by tinnitus.

re genre: I've always taken SF of all sorts as a particular form of fantasy emphasizing fantastic science as its basis (with being able to get to outer space being one of those fantastic elements). I then tend to split SF further between "hard" SF, in which the fantastic science is itself the focus of the story, and space opera, in which it's the setting for more conventional plotting. It's not a sharp division, as both elements are often present, but more a question of dominance; and then you get a work like The Lathe of Heaven in which the plot-driving contrivance stands with one leg each in and out of science-- but then, Lathe fits best in the category of myth than fiction.

What I think has changed is that the same sort of division has developed within fantasy proper, in the form of various stories and series where the mechanics of magic itself are the focus, or at least drive the story more that the rules of magic ordinarily would do. All the books of magical schooling for instance, fit here to some greater or lesser extent.

#856 ::: duckbunny ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2017, 08:55 AM:

I am very fond of Neal Stephenson's Anathem, which is three genres of science fiction interlaced. It starts off as social scifi, exploring the society of the Maths Monks in lavish detail, and I adore that part; wanders off for a while to be a Man Having An Adventure story, which bores me, but it's worth it for the return to Maths Monks: Now With Rival Branches and a lovely combination of a conference developing complicated multidimensional scientific theory, and minimally equipped monks.
Then it goes off into space for the last hundred pages and spends all of that lavish detail on how to achieve minimally equipped space flight instead of the social complexities of the maths monks, and I am bored again and only finish because it's unsatisfying not to have an ending. The exploration of a new society grabs me hard; the hard scifi adventure and space mechanics slide right off.

On violins: unaccompanied violins and their larger cousins bore me, as do pianos and the combination of the two. They sound the same (to me) whatever mood they're meant to be in, and they are very uninteresting synaesthetically. Violins don't even have a colour.
(Electric violins are blue, and I love them.)

#857 ::: Quill ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2017, 10:01 AM:

duckbunny @856: (Electric violins are blue, and I love them.)

Sometimes literally. *grin*

#858 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2017, 11:50 AM:

Mary Aileen, #846: iTunes does that too. They have a category called "Country & Folk", when to me these are two entirely separate entities. Amazon doesn't do that, but sometimes I really side-eye their genre selections. This is one of the (many) reasons that I prefer to rip my own CDs.

Xopher, #848: Oh, ugh. That reminds me of a real-life argument I had with a former friend. She insisted that because I couldn't describe the generation process step by step from power plant to wall switch (because I had never had occasion to study that!), electricity was magic. This was in the days before Google, so I couldn't look it up on the spur of the moment, and we ended up having a nasty fight about it.

#859 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2017, 12:01 PM:

Another complication with the SF/Fantasy divide is all those SF stories where technology and/or science leads to Apotheosis, or at least evolution to a Higher Level Of Being™. The Cyber-Singularity is commonest these days, but Greg Egan inter alia has come up with several alternatives.

#860 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2017, 12:50 PM:

The Folk discussion -- and other places mix folk and international. A lot of what Americans think of as folk would be better termed "singer-songwriter" -- generally with acoustic instruments, but not always. And there's subdivisions within that. There's country that is very close to what got classified as folk in the 40s-80s (and I like some of that a great deal).

Later this month in Seattle there's the Folklife Festival, which I volunteer for: Karen and I will be emceeing two stages on Memorial Day, one for African music and one for "folk" -- the latter including Irish music, singer-songwriters, and more. Probably very few traditional songs among the batch there. It's a great festival -- if you're in Seattle, you should come.

And various others here do a fair amount of volunteering at festivals, I know. Thank you, those who do -- it's a small community-building exercise, and I think we need more community in the world right now.

#861 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2017, 12:57 PM:

Lee @858 : Dara O'Briain explaining how electricity works is one of my favourite things in the world. (Does contain some NSFW language, but also time travel!)

#862 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2017, 01:13 PM:

I've always heard that "country" split from "folk" when some people in the music business didn't want to be associated with communists.

Of course, they've also gone in different musical directions, since, but they sprang from the same roots.

#863 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2017, 01:16 PM:

Tom Whitmore @860:

I used to volunteer for the radio program Bound For Glory (North America's longest-running live folk concert broadcast), and the variety of acts shoehorned into "folk" was amazing.

There were groups who sang nothing but songs recorded by ethnomusicologists roaming the hills of Appalachia with portable record cutting machines in the early 1900's, and groups who asked the audience "I wrote that song last night; how did you sing along to the chorus?".

There were groups who played with nothing but fiddles, banjos, and a board for stomping on (which got it's own mike stand), and groups which filled the stage with a drum kit, electric piano, and a blue 6-string fretted electric violin.

My personal least-liked category was "solo singer-songwriter with guitar", but apparently there are a lot of them.

But they were all, somehow, folk.

Although when I asked the host about the group with the drum-kit and fretted violin, he did admit that he had owed their agent a favor when he booked them.

#864 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2017, 01:55 PM:

Dave Harmon #836:

Those are entirely reasonable points.

#865 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2017, 02:54 PM:

Paul A. @854: Amazon has a few 3rd-party-seller copies of The Book of Weird at very very low prices.

Lee @858, Naomi Parkhurst @862: Cue the obligatory Blues Brothers reference: “Oh, honey, we’ve got both kinds of music, Country and Western!” (The rightward predilections of both being well-enough-known, I won’t even go into a prolonged rant about that particular meretricious yet popular piece titled “Have You Forgotten?” by Darryl Worley, nominated for song of the year and single of the year by the CMA.)

#866 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2017, 04:28 PM:

Tom Whitmore @860 The Folklore Society of Greater Washington is running the 37th annual Washington Folk Festival (that's Washington DC) June 3 and 4. "Folk" for this purpose is a very large tent (actually, multiple tents - 7 stages including one of storytelling and a dance area). Singer-songwriters, bluegrass, gospel, Celtic, and at least one women's barbershop chorus (mine).

#867 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2017, 04:29 PM:

Em, #861: Hee! I think I could do a little better than that; at least I know you have to start with the basics, so I'd start with how electricity is generated. Actually, no, I think I'd start with penicillin and cowpox vaccination. That would be something they could quickly see results from.

OTOH, one time I had someone at a show ask me to explain paganism, and my brain just flat locked up -- I couldn't figure out where to start! (My partner rescued me from that one; he had a 3-sentence 101-level explanation on tap.)

Naomi, #862: There's some overlap between the themes covered by folk and those covered by C&W, but the musical tropes are very different. But also, it's undeniable that "folk" is niche and C&W is mainstream and highly profitable; when I was living in Nashville, I heard more than one song on a country station (generally while eating -- ALL the restaurants there play C&W soundtracks) which I mentally classified as "that's a good folk artist who's gone the C&W route to pay the bills".

Buddha Buck, #863: "I wrote that song last night; how did you sing along to the chorus?"

Heh. Either the chorus was very predictable, or the audience was a quick study, or maybe a little of both. I wound up playing accompaniment for someone at a filk circle once because he just happened to start singing in a key I could play, and he was singing a piece written in traditional style, which meant it had a basic and predictable 1/4/5 accompaniment that I could pick up quickly.

#868 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2017, 04:46 PM:

Lee @867:

The audience at BfG is a very quick study, in part because the performers are encouraged to get audience participation, and many people in the audience have been there week-in, week-out, for years, singing along to many, many songs.

So it gets to the point where anything written in a vaguely traditional style becomes, as you found, basic and predictable and easy to pick up quickly. Especially for an audience which sang along to the chorus for the previous 5 songs, and so know the style of the singer-songwriter.

#869 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2017, 04:46 PM:

Lee @867:

The audience at BfG is a very quick study, in part because the performers are encouraged to get audience participation, and many people in the audience have been there week-in, week-out, for years, singing along to many, many songs.

So it gets to the point where anything written in a vaguely traditional style becomes, as you found, basic and predictable and easy to pick up quickly. Especially for an audience which sang along to the chorus for the previous 5 songs, and so know the style of the singer-songwriter.

#870 ::: Sarah E ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2017, 06:25 PM:

Xopher @ 848:

A detail I always liked in Gemma Files' subculture of Toronto magic-users is the monthly "Magic Slam" in which the magicians use actual supernatural powers to simulate sleight-of-hand tricks, taking particular pleasure in (a) the dangerous, pointless nature of doing this and (b) the idea that any tourists who wander into the nightclub where the event is held will just think they're seeing some particularly punk-rock stage magicians.

#871 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2017, 07:57 PM:

You know, for someone with actual degrees in "it comes out of the wall" I'd have a hard time replicating anything physical. I could, like, maybe make a Van De Graaf generator. But, rotating a magnetic field to make an electrical current and using that to... do things, from scratch, is hard.

(I had the thought of trying to explain elements, compounds, and the periodic table... and prove it. NOWHERE NEAR can I do that. Steam engines? Boilers blew up and killed people, often and in public. So I could do it, maybe, once.)

#872 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2017, 08:08 PM:

Also, "MAN HAVE SPACEGUN. explode!! NOW IS SAVE" is one word too long for Hemingway's challenge. Alas, for it tugs at my heartstrings.

#873 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2017, 08:12 PM:

Folk music is one of the roots of country & western music, and the other is gospel.

#874 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2017, 08:42 PM:

I describe folk music as music which shows the cultural influence of only one planet, but that's just to be annoying.

#875 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2017, 08:56 PM:

Jenny Islander@724, do some of the Pacific island pines (Norfolk, Cook, etc.) tolerate salt water, or maybe some of the things that live in South Jersey Pine Barrens swamps (the pines, not the Jersey Devil or Donald Trump's ex-henchpersons or ...)

#876 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2017, 09:02 PM:

Psi - if the editor was John W. Campbell, or rocket ships are involved, it's science fiction, otherwise it's probably fantasy.

Blue electric violins - one of the violinists at my church has one, shaped sort of like a V-shaped electric guitar, though she normally plays a normal violin. (She's definitely a violinist; I think one of the other musicians plays fiddle.)

Favorite country band? Probably The Grateful Dead. (Obviously some of the related bands like Old And In The Way or Garcia&Grisman are a bit more country.)

#877 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2017, 09:54 PM:

849: I'll mention my theory that since we bang on electronics when they misbehave to make them work correctly, it must also be true that pounding on them when they're working right will make them work super-DUPER right, and perhaps even exhibit amazing new functions.

#878 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2017, 10:14 PM:

@Bill Stewart no. 875: I looked, but nope. The closest extant conifer species get is dropping salt-tolerant drift seeds, but even then they have to be driven well upriver in order to establish themselves.

It is odd, what with conifers having been around for so long. I wonder if there ever was a tidewater conifer. Did mangroves outcompete them? Or did they simply never exist?

#879 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2017, 10:34 PM:

Lee @ 785: but what about current theories concerning parallel universes? No requirement to be able to travel to them ala Piper, just for them to exist. And where would you place a story in which something (typically a time traveler) redirects an alternate history onto our track (e.g. Bring the Jubilee)?

Nancy / Carrie S.: How could I have forgotten that? I remember that discussion, which made clear that \everybody/ had stories about that ghost, but I got stuck on trying to find something relevant rather than local color.

and I watch as the discussion spins madly around F&SF edge cases (I'll have to remember Fragano's "hard cases make good science.") and musical definitions; it seems especially strange to treat folk and country as a single genre given modern commercial country, but there's a local classic-country radio show (95.3, Saturday mornings if you're around Boston) that reminds me it was not always thus.

today's observation: cucumbers' embryonic leaves get !#$%^&*!! huge before the first real leaf starts to make an appearance. My wife's the gardener (you should see her training the peas -- whip and chair could be no more effective); I just look on in bemusement.

#880 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2017, 11:26 PM:

CHip, #879: I consider parallel universes to be fantasy worlds, for much the same reasons that I consider alternate history universes to be. YMMV. Sliders was fun, but it was fantasy from one end to the other, and you could tell the writers knew it.

How far back are you considering "classic country" to be? Because there's a fairly wide gulf between C&W and folk music at least as far back as the 80s; again, this is while I was living in Nashville and aware of such things.

#881 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2017, 12:19 AM:

Zucchini plants are like that, too. (We did bush zucchini, as the plants don't get quite so out of hand. You only need to allow about a six-foot circle for them.)

#882 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2017, 01:14 AM:

Kip W #877: Give a device a whack and it starts working again, it must have been out of whack.

#883 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2017, 03:41 AM:

Sandy B. @872: A simple solution inspired by my first language (Russian): just delete the word “IS”.

If you consider the resulting sentence too unclear, try adding a “D” to the end of “SAVE”, gaining back just one letter.

#884 ::: Quill ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2017, 08:52 AM:

Doris Egan's Gate of Ivory trilogy deliberately combines the genres. It has a protagonist from a multi-planet technological culture who lands on a planet where people practice magic--and whose mental gears immediately lock up as she tries to parse how it works. It's an excellent series.

#885 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2017, 08:57 AM:

Singing Wren @851, Buddha Buck @ 850:

You can get replacement smoke.

#886 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2017, 09:02 AM:

Raven @853, that's why I brought up the Aubreyad: it's definitely not SF in any way except very, very, very technically if you both read the relevant author's note and pay a lot of attention to the years things happened and how long it takes to get places by sail.

I have found, driving through largish swathes of the US*, that the radio stations I like best are the ones that call themselves 'mix'.

*Largish for Midwest. Single-day driving, not two-day, and heading east. These are not Plains-level largish.

#887 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2017, 10:15 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz @ #874:

Similarly, there's the saying, variously attributed, that "All music is folk music; I never heard no horse sing."

Taking a different approach, I recall a radio interview I once heard with Peggy Seeger, one of those singer-songwriters commonly described as "folk singer". She said that what people like her write are mostly songs in a folk idiom, but occasionally with luck one of them would graduate and become a folk song. (She herself, she said, could claim only one or two folk songs out of all the songs she'd written.) What she meant by a folk song in that context was one that had escaped into the oral tradition and was being passed down or around by people who had no idea when or by whom it had been written.

#888 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2017, 05:17 PM:

Quill @884: Your summary immediately summons up Christopher Stasheff’s The Warlock in Spite of Himself (+series), David Gerrold and Larry Niven’s The Flying Sorcerers (with its as-a-mauve-ian astronaut), and Suzette Haden Elgin’s Yonder Comes the Other End of Time (conjoining at their tail ends her “Ozark” and ”Coyote Jones” series).

[The third novel was never wikified, which is why I link the author directly instead.]

#889 ::: J Homes ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2017, 05:50 PM:


As I understand it, Lovecraft's horrors were indifferent to us, but they did have intentions of one kind or another.

However, on following your link, I read Lovecraft as viewing the universe as a whole as generally indifferent to everyone and everything, which is a very SFnal underpinning to works that come across as Fantasy/horror. One of those notorious edge cases?

J Homes.

#890 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2017, 07:30 PM:

J Homes #889: Not an edge case, but a common root. Lovecraft was contemporaneous with the "adventure" genre; along with Burroughs, Wells, Verne, and so forth I'd consider his work among the precursors to the eventual differentiation of genres such as science fiction, fantasy, and horror.

I will also note that "something shows up that doesn't care what we think or want, and they're too powerful for us to make them care" is, in itself, likely to place any given work into "horror".

#891 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2017, 08:37 PM:

Further to Quill @884: I would also have mentioned James H. Schmitz’s The Witches of Karres, save that the first encounter doesn’t take place on Karres but out among the technophilic spacefarers. (Some of Andre Norton’s stuff, and Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Darkover series, could apply too, depending on whether the label “psionics” is considered a sufficient mask to cover “magic”.)

J Homes @889: The idea that the universe is indifferent to our existence and well-being — rather than in any aspect watching over us benevolently — in no way guarantees that there will not be other motivated beings within the universe (likewise as indifferent to our existence and well-being, as we are to that of the tiny insects on our sidewalks where we tread) whose actions may have quite incidental side-effects as calamitous to us as hurricanes or colliding asteroids... which also bear us no personal malice.

#892 ::: Race Traitor Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2017, 09:58 PM:

In one of my game worlds, there was a distinction made between magery and sorcery, the former being regulated and the latter outlawed. Mages used magic directly to cause effects; sorcerors used it only to summon "demons" and force them to their will.

The outlawing was because the demons were understandably annoyed by being coerced, and if the sorceror failed a control roll, they would demonstrate their annoyance on the sorceror, his relatives, and anyone who happened to be nearby.

Well, there was one student of sorcery who had discovered that not all the supernatural beings were necessarily of ill will, and that some would deal in good faith if not coerced by involuntary summonings. He was assembling a set of ethical standards for sorcery that he believed would make it safe enough to be allowed by law.

He told everyone he was compiling the Sorcerors' Code.

KeithS 849: Works for me! And I bet Radnar would have believed exactly that.

Buddha 850: In the high-powered D&D campaign I ran in in college, there was a limit of two permanents that could be attached to any one person or object, to avoid exactly that problem.

On the other hand, there was a lucrative business in wish-wordings. Nearly everyone who ran in that campaign was a programmer, so purchasing complex wish-wordings didn't seem like a stretch.

Lee 858: I'm sorry it led to a nasty fight. If the definition of 'magic' is 'things you use without knowing exactly how they work', almost anything we do in the modern world is magic!

Sarah 870: That sounds hilarious! And I've read other things that, while not quite that direct, had magic users coming up with "rational" explanations for what they did to avoid discovery as mages.

#893 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2017, 12:40 AM:

Lee @ 880: I started listening to bits of C&W in 1971, and a lot of the records that show played (and still plays) were old then. Try livestreaming from 0900-1300 ET on Saturdays for a sample.

I never watched Sliders (I don't watch much of anything -- got forced off ~50 years ago and never reacquired the habit), but I wouldn't consider one show's attitude as defining the form -- especially with that name, considering that I distinguished the existence of parallel universes from accessing them.

#894 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2017, 01:59 AM:

Raven @883: The problem is that "NOW SAVED" is too correct, grammatically speaking. I think that if you had to come down to six words, the "NOW" is most disposable. But honestly I think it's too perfect as it is, and should not be changed.

#895 ::: duckbunny ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2017, 08:09 AM:

Are we coming at this distinction from the wrong angle? Most genres are distinguished less by their settings than their plot structure and focus - if I write a book set in modern-day London it might be a mystery, or a romance, or a thriller. If I throw in elves it's probably urban fantasy, but if I put in genetically modified humans who are called elves, it's scifi - but is that me getting hung up on the wallpaper and not seeing the shape of the room? The book I'm currently writing wherein humans have six reproductive sexes loosely grouped into two social genders is speculative fiction, but the rest of the setting, the plot and the narrative voice are very clearly a Regency romance, so the genre line is one I'm trying to straddle right now.

(Is there a border between Regency and Science Fiction? We could put the alternate evolutionary outcome into Alternate History and thus bridge into Historical, if we need the genres to be geographically adjacent...)

#896 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2017, 08:42 AM:

duckbunny @ #895:

I suspect it's a strong case of "I know it when I see it" and people having different views on things. Which, I cannot stress enough, is perfectly fine, until they try to impose that view on others.

FWIW, I would totally be willing to beta-read "regency six-sexes two genders".

For one thing I started scribbling on, I ended yo with about 4000 words on the legal frameworks around poly marriages (because it was actually plot-relevant, and I needed something solid to hang things on, as it were).

#897 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2017, 09:51 AM:

duckbunny @ #895:

This reminds me that I once saw it proposed that science fiction is not actually a genre, but a modifier that can be applied to other genres, producing science fiction adventure stories, science fiction murder mysteries, science fiction Regency romances, and so on.

(I don't recall where or by whom, and wish I did.)

#898 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2017, 10:22 AM:

In much the same way that the various MCU films are not superhero movies so much as they are sci-fi with superheroes, political thriller with superheroes, war movie with superheroes, etc.

#899 ::: Quill ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2017, 10:43 AM:

Raven @888, 891: I've read Elgin but only the Native Tongue series; I think I had some Stasheff kicking around for a while but never cracked it open (hazards of library book sales). I'll have to take another look. The Witches of Karres short is interesting, but kind of gross on a modern reread, IIRC.

When did it become a distinction related to the classification of books? The Stasheff and The Witches of Karres are older stories. Did anyone care, then? Was there a division between SF and fantasy in bookstores at the time?

#900 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2017, 11:54 AM:

Paul A. @897: I don't know about the general case, but I believe I saw someone, in an earlier open thread here, claim that one of the features of the Vorkosigan saga is that a lot of the books are "XYZ genre... IN SPACE!" E.g.*: A Civil Campaign is a Regency romance... IN SPACE. Personally I enjoy "xyz genre... IN SPACE" a lot, because one thing I look for in my reading is "not set in something sufficiently close to Real Life," where Seanan McGuire's Toby Daye series is sufficiently far from Real Life.

* When beginning a sentence with e.g. or i.e., what is a reasonable capitalization convention?

#901 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2017, 12:16 PM:

cajunfj40 @ 885:

Replacement smoke! I must buy some.

Diatryma @ 886:

When driving through the middle of nowhere in Southern California and the Southwest, the three types of radio station I usually find are Country music, Evangelical Christian, and Mexican music. Before I had the option of listening to my own music, I'd usually wind up putting it on the Mexican station.

estelendur @ 900:

I've usually seen exactly what you've done: capitalize the "E" at the beginning of the sentence. I haven't seen "i.e." starting a sentence because it really doesn't make too much sense to start a sentence that way.

Sooooooooooooo... I finished Ninefox Gambit. That was interesting. Definitely fantasy in space opera trappings, not that that's bad. The writing was accomplished, the imagery interesting, the worldbuilding very thought out, and the society interestingly different. But, in terms of morality of the story, not, I think, for me.

#902 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2017, 05:54 PM:

Back in the 1970s I was dealing with growth spurts, acne, figuring out girls, figuring out sexuality, trying to find out what the world was actually about, and all the other stuff consequent upon the transition from infancy to adulthood. Impinging upon me at the time was the tale of one Richard Milhous Nixon, a man who could not tell the difference between himself and Caligula. Why is it that one of the worst aspects of those days appears to have come again? And no, it isn't the acne.

#903 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2017, 06:04 PM:

Fragano @902: It seems to be the time for Karl Marx's bon mot: "History repeats itself - but the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce." (I'm probably misquoting; it's been 40+ years since I read 'The Eighteenth Brumaire...'.)

#904 ::: Race Traitor Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2017, 06:07 PM:

Nobody saw what I did there, huh? Drat.

(If you don't call it, it doesn't count.)

#905 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2017, 06:47 PM:

We can invite people over for dinner again, because we have overcome our spoon shortage. Literally. My better half went to Target and bought a new set of flatware.

#906 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2017, 07:07 PM:

The guy compiling that code? I saw it.
(Figuring out how to top it, that's a whole 'nother problem.

Now I'm wondering who got the small artwork my father once had in his offices, called something like "Soul of a Sighing Flaucer".)

#907 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2017, 08:08 PM:

Quill @899: Well, there’s been an awareness of the division in publishing since at least 1916, when Hugo Gernsback coined the term “scientifiction”, if the genre of H.G. Wells and Jules Verne hadn’t already been distinguishable from that of Arthur Machen and Lord Dunsany. (But then again, the magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction printed stories in both genres.)

Bookstores, on the other hand, observed that readers devoured both, and accordingly often had one section where both might be found — not their business to do taxonomic distinctions, especially for edge/crossover cases like L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt’s The Mathematics of Magic (Harold Shea/Enchanter stories) or Piers Anthony’s “Apprentice Adept” series (Split Infinity, etc.)

Do fans care? Well, fans still love both, but fans have to vote in categories for “Best of”, at which point categories matter — and I think this has been a major impetus for taxonomic distinction. (Not altogether fairly, e.g. there’s no reason on the face of it that Neil Gaiman’s Sandman story “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” should be the last graphic tale ever allowed to compete for World Fantasy Award.)

Clifton @903: Another notable character of that century, one Samuel L. Clemens aka Mark Twain, is apocryphally credited with a variant of that statement: “History doesn't repeat itself, but it often rhymes.”

#908 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2017, 08:27 PM:

Raven @907: That's a lovely, concise comment and I wanted to tell you I like it.

#909 ::: Race Traitor Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2017, 10:58 PM:

P J 906: Thank you. What do you do with a pun that's too long for a one-liner but too short for a Feghoot? Post it on Making Light, of course.

I really did have my characters run into an order of chivalry who wore shiny white surcoats. Took them a ridiculously long time to realize they'd just met the Knights in White Satin.

#910 ::: Patrick Connors ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2017, 11:17 PM:

Xopher: I saw what you did with the compiler about a minute ago. I wouldn't want to be around during the debugging.

Re Knights in White Satin: A song! A song!

#911 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2017, 11:30 PM:

Fragano @ 902: Why? Because the Republicans' bankers have been working since 1964 (defeat of Goldwater) to rephrase the debate in ways that would leave Screwtape gaping in admiration; like many other djinn, this one couldn't be kept in its bottle.

Raven @ 907: (Not altogether fairly, e.g. there’s no reason on the face of it that Neil Gaiman’s Sandman story “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” should be the last graphic tale ever allowed to compete for World Fantasy Award.) Not that canard again. A graphic tale got an award that almost everybody understood was for text fiction (just like some of the Hugo categories). Graphics are eligible for the two Special Achievement awards; they just haven't made the shortlist. And as for "fans having to vote in categories", that's been untrue of the Hugos by practice always ("That Hell-Bound Train" was one of the first winners) and by rule for some decades. (Locus, OTOH, keeps four separate lists for novels but single lists for shorter works; whether their semi-split or the Hugo union is preferable is a separate argument.)

#912 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2017, 04:09 AM:

CHip @911: “A graphic tale got an award that almost everybody understood was for text fiction (just like some of the Hugo categories). ... And as for ‘fans having to vote in categories’, that’s been untrue of the Hugos by practice always... and by rule for some decades.”

Settle this point amongst yourself a bit.

I suggest that arguing over award categories (including whether WFA or Hugo is the right award) is a major motive for settling story categories — not dissimilar to how an organization running dog shows and handing out "Best of Show" awards is also in charge of registering dog breeds, i.e. taxonomic distinction.

#913 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2017, 05:38 AM:

Race Traitor Xopher @909: shiny white surcoats

The nick at my high school is the Knights. School colors are red & white. So of course the prom theme, the year I graduated, was ....

#914 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2017, 11:13 AM:

CHip @911, Raven@907/12: The Awards Jury (or whatever the WFA wants to call them) made a particular call that year. It went against what Some People (e.g. David Hartwell) thought was appropriate. And he pushed through a rules change that made it impossible, rather than accepting that the Jury had a somewhat broader view of what "fiction" is than he did. Since he was a major factor in selecting the Jury, this caused some people to wonder why they needed to make it a Rule rather than accepting it as a deserved accolade for what Gaiman was doing in advancing the cause of literate fiction. And a probably rare occurrence.

The WFA being a juried award, it's different from the Hugos. And one of the things juries do is do the unexpected. That's part of why they're used, in practice. The makeup of the jury being under fairly tight control, there were Other Ways to handle that situation that might have left a better taste in various people's mouths.

#915 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2017, 02:50 PM:

Raven @912:

To me, the distinction that CHip was making is perfectly clear.

The Hugo Awards delineate categories based on form. A graphic tale like Gaiman's A Midsummer Night's Dream wouldn't qualify for the Best Novel, Best Short Story, Best Dramatic Presentation (long form), Best Related Work, etc not because it isn't Science Fiction (which, nominally, the Hugo is about), but because it isn't a novel, short story, dramatic presentation, etc.

However, the Hugo awards do not have rules or categories related to genre. If enough people wanted to nominate a short-for-shot remake of "A Fist Full of Dollars" for Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form), it would get on the Hugo ballot, and would have theoretical chance of winning, despite it not being remotely what we would normally consider SF or fantasy.

The categories you were bringing up, that CHip was responding to, were taxonomic categories in relation to genre -- the distinction between what Lord Dunesy and Wells were doing, to use your examples.

#916 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2017, 03:50 PM:

Buddha Buck @ 915: Hmmmmmm... A Fistful of SPAAACE.

(Dashiell Hammett, Akira Kurosawa, and Sergio Leone collectively got up to 200 rpm.)

#917 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2017, 07:39 PM:

But Seven Samurai was remade both as a spaghetti western (well, not really: John Sturges' The Magnificent Seven) and a space opera (Battle Beyond the Stars, which has a cast member overlap with The Magnificent Seven), and an anime series as well (Samurai 7). It's not that much of a leap, apparently.

#918 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2017, 07:55 PM:

I'm sure there have been treatments of A Fistful of SPAAACE before. After all, Outland has been called High Noon in SPAAACE.

But I doubt a shot-for-shot remake would SPAAACE.

#919 ::: Race Traitor Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2017, 12:58 AM:

I've been unable to come up with a way of wording a law that would outright ban shot-for-shot remakes, and I know that such a law would be a Bad Thing in almost every way, but my heart wishes the shot-for-shot remake would go the way of the trilobite.

#920 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2017, 01:06 AM:

Was there a train somewhere in Fistful of Dollars? (It's been long enough I don't remember.) That would make it Retroactively Steampunk, and you wouldn't have to argue that being set in the wild wild west was enough to justify the genre label, or that gunshots that you couldn't possibly make successfully on purpose mean that it's obviously Fantasy.

#921 ::: Devin ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2017, 04:33 AM:

Um. No train in Fistful, I don't think (though IIRC there's one in the trilogy somewhere, maybe GB&U) but isn't there a Gatling gun?

#922 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2017, 06:24 AM:

estelendur @900 "* When beginning a sentence with e.g. or i.e., what is a reasonable capitalization convention?"

"For example" and "That is."

#923 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2017, 10:24 AM:

I think the Outlaw Josey Wales starts with a Gatling Gun. I don't remember one from the Dollars trilogy, but that's a very weak proof.

#924 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2017, 01:04 PM:

re 920: I think for steampunk trains you have to go with the on at the end of BttF 3.

#925 ::: Tony Zbaraschuk ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2017, 02:24 PM:

What's the artistic difference between two different directors' interpretations of the same play and two different directors' shot-for-shot remakes of the same script? (I know there's a big cost differential.)

#926 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2017, 02:49 PM:

Shot-by-shot remakes vs. different director of the same play, the main difference I can think of is that there's a recording of the film, but live theatre by definition is done new each time (though there are recordings on occasion, they're definitely not as widely-available as films, generally speaking).

I often don't understand the reason for doing a shot-by-shot remake, but 19-2 is a big exception to that. For those of you not familiar with it, it's a Montreal-set cop drama. Rather than dubbing it over into English or relying on subtitles, they just filmed it twice. IIRC there were some different actors, and they kept the French for some situations, but it was well-done and IMO preferable to dubbing, which always irks me as soon as I notice it.

#927 ::: Race Traitor Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2017, 02:55 PM:

Doug 922: estelendur @900 "* When beginning a sentence with e.g. or i.e., what is a reasonable capitalization convention?"

"For example" and "That is."

I'd like to elaborate on Doug's statement here (with which I agree). So many people have e.g. and i.e. mixed up that even if you use them correctly, half your readership will think you got them wrong. Even if you don't care about their opinion of your knowledge, there are situations where mistaking e.g. for i.e. changes the meaning and can actually cause confusion. For example, the two directives below have different meanings:

Specify the precise time, e.g. 3:00 AM Eastern (Standard or Daylight) Time each Wednesday.
Specify the precise time, i.e. 3:00 AM Eastern (Standard or Daylight) Time each Wednesday.
The first gives an example of how the time for the operation must be specified; the second instructs the reader to always specify 3:00 AM Wednesday! If you write one and your reader thinks you meant the other...well, the consequences could be dire.

When I'm editing text for someone (in business writing), I change all the e.g.s and i.e.s to for examples and that is-es. Sometimes I have to ask the original writer which meaning they intended.

Tony 925: Those are not analogous cases. The shot-for-shot remake would be parallel to a theatre director watching video of another director's production, and telling the actors to stand in all the same places, make all the same gestures, and speak their lines exactly like the actors on the tape.

I think that alone should clarify why I hate the very idea of shot-for-shot remakes.

#928 ::: Tony Zbaraschuk ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2017, 06:26 PM:

Ok, thanks for the answers. That's a bit closer than I was imagining.

#929 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2017, 07:22 PM:

For my part, I start sentences with "e.g." or "i.e." quite frequently. I capitalize the first letter and lowercase the second. I.e., "I.e." and "E.g."

#930 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2017, 08:22 PM:

The description of 19-2 reminds me that back in the early days of sound film in Hollywood, it was not uncommon for a studio to film multiple versions of a big picture simultaneously, with a production in Spanish (and sometimes other languages) shadowing the main production in English and using the same script, sets and costumes but usually a different director and a different cast, unless there were any really big stars involved, in which case they would be in both versions and learn their parts in both languages (by rote if necessary).

For instance, Tod Browning's 1931 Dracula starring Bela Lugosi shared its script, sets and costumes with a Spanish-language production directed by George Melford starring Carlos Villarías. When Tod Browning's crew knocked off for the night, Melford's crew would move in and set up to film the same scenes in Spanish.

And the thing is, even though you might expect it in the circumstances, it wasn't a shot-for-shot remake. Melford watched Browning's dailies to see what they were aiming for, but whenever he saw a camera angle or lighting choice that he thought could be improved, he did it. Apart from Villarías, who was also shown the rushes and was encouraged to model his performance on Lugosi's, none of the actors were required to mimic the performances of their English-speaking counterparts. There are people who've seen both and are of the opinion that the Spanish-language version is actually a better film than the English-language version.

#931 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2017, 09:11 PM:

Speaking of things re-done in a different language, here's James Bay's "Hold Back the River" covered in Irish by Seo Linn. Gosh.

#932 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2017, 09:11 PM:

Speaking of things re-done in a different language, here's James Bay's "Hold Back the River" covered in Irish by Seo Linn. Gosh.

#933 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2017, 08:04 AM:

Doing things 'as gaeilge' is a thing here, as Gaelic is a required language in the schools (in the Rep of Ireland), and the kids for the most part really don't care for it.

So, this came home with my 7 yr old.

(oddly enough, it's (apparently) from Lurgan, which is in the North. Politics. )

#934 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2017, 09:42 AM:

Max Headroom!
20 minutes into the Future!

Since Saturday, George RR Martin's Cocteau Theater in Santa Fe has been showing the 13 episodes of "Max Headroom" (including the original story), two episodes every night. On Saturday, George and Matt Frewer (yes, that Matt Frewer) will be reading the script that George had written before the series's cancellation.

#935 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2017, 03:52 PM:

As a fundraiser for public television, Twitch is showing hundreds of episodes of "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" in a row, including very episodes that haven't been publicly shown for decades. The streaming started about an hour ago.

#936 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2017, 07:38 PM:

Buddha Buck @915: Hard to argue that Gaiman’s tale was not a “short story” for the purpose of competition entry; it was a story, and short. There are “graphic novels”, so why not “graphic short stories”?

Tom Whitmore @917: And though perhaps not “shot-for-shot” from any prior film, certainly Westerns as a genre have been shamelessly looted for SF many times, e.g. Westworld with Yul Brynner; Priest with Paul Bettany, Karl Urban, and armies of vampires; Joss Whedon’s Firefly series and its Serenity film sequel; plus the examples already mentioned above.

#937 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2017, 11:11 PM:

Tom Whitmore @ 914: what rules change did you see? Were the original rules less clear than the fiction Hugos, for which AFAICT no graphics have ever been nominated (despite the fact that the rules are still not clear about this)? Note that this is different from the incorrect claim that a graphic cannot win a WFA, which is what I was addressing. It's not clear to me that juries are chosen on the chance that they'll do the unexpected, but sometimes they do it anyway; how else to explain Thraxas?

Raven @ 936: "short story" is a unitary term, not simply two adjacent words; otherwise, 50 Shades of Gray would be a graphic novel.

#938 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2017, 12:20 AM:

@CHip: My recollections from the '80s are that The Dark Knight Returns got enough nominations to be nominated somewhere, perhaps even in Best Novel, but that the admins didn't want it in the fiction categories and so moved it into Best Non-Fiction on the grounds that it was an art book. And then there was that one "Other Forms" that really felt to me like "let's have a special category that Watchmen can win".

#939 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2017, 09:59 AM:

"The Right Stuff" should have won 1983's Hugo for long-form dramatic presentation, but it lost to "Return of the Jedi".

#940 ::: Angiportus Librarysaver ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2017, 12:18 PM:

AKICIML: I'm lately having a problem with blogs inexplicably losing/eating my comments. Despite that I try to keep these civil and cogent. The Tor blog and another I follow regularly have done it in the last couple of weeks. They didn't used to. Has anyone else had this happen? I seem to be able to appear far.
My software [Windows 10] is updated, that I know of, and I have the Dell Tech Concierge and also Iolo for an antiviral.
I plan to try it again at the library, but would like to be able to express myself from the comfort of home. Any ideas?

#941 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2017, 12:32 PM:

Angiportus Librarysaver @ 940:

The comments section is occasionally very fickle. As much as I hate to be that tech support guy who tells you to clear your cookies and cache (because 99.999999999% of the time, that's not the problem), judging from comments about the comments there, clearing cookies might help. I also see people saying "I had trouble posting in browser X, but my posts in browser Y worked fine." It doesn't really matter what X and Y are, because I've seen various permutations of that, which also suggests possible cookie and/or cache issues.

And, of course, sometimes the commenting system there just stinks on ice.

Comment issues here are mostly from the server gnomes becoming tired, cranky, and hungry. They have nothing to do with anything on your end.

#942 ::: Angiportus Librarysaver ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2017, 10:40 PM:

Thanks, KeithS #941; I'll try that. I did succeed in posting on a blog when I went to the library I helped save, so there is that.

#943 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2017, 11:34 PM:

CHip @937: Harlan Ellison received a special Hugo for editing the anthology Again, Dangerous Visions. One of the stories therein was by artist Gahan Wilson, titled not with words but with the black blob that recurs (graphically) throughout the tale.

#944 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2017, 03:48 AM:

bouncebouncebounce. Just got an email notifying me that I have Hugo Voters' Packet waiting for me to download. Timing, unfortunately, worked out such that I am unlikely to be able to fetch it today (unless I do so with my laptop tethered to my phone), but I am looking forward to most (if perhaps not all) of what's likely to be in there.

#945 ::: Cassy B ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2017, 08:33 AM:

Very excited about the Hugo Voter's Packet. I understand that it's almost entirely complete works (unlike previous years' excerpts)... including the series!. We haven't seen so many novels hit the Hugo packet since Tor included all of Wheel of Time....

(I have a lot of homework to do, now. "Sorry, dear; I can't do the dishes, I'm working on my Hugo reading....")

#946 ::: Steven desJardins ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2017, 11:22 AM:

In the series category, The Expanse and The Rivers of London are only represented by excerpts; The Vorkorsigan Saga and Temeraire are each represented by one novel. Only The Craft Sequence and the October Daye series are represented by more than one novel (five and ten, respectively).

I do believe that's still more novels than The Wheel of Time, though.

#947 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2017, 11:42 AM:

OT: The Oysterband have a new song My Country Too, written about Brexit but quite apropos for the US as well. Almost anthemic. Give a listen.

#948 ::: alisea ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2017, 02:23 PM:

Yup, just made my Ereader a perceived ton of Hugo reading heavier. And if I'm not completely off in my assessment of names, I'm happy to see loads of female voices in there (is there a single man in the Novelette Category? If there is, he's hiding well).

And yeah, until I started to write this comment, I hadn't even looked at the series download - squee! Lots of reading!

#949 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2017, 03:13 PM:

Eric, #933:

Hey, my grandfather was born in Lurgan! But I never hear of the town in any other context. Nice to know it's full of talented people.

#950 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2017, 07:27 PM:

Dumb Hugo Award Question, since a Hugo Reader's Packet email did not materialize in my inbox today :-) - I was an attending member of MidAmericCon, the 2016 Worldcon, which let me nominate this year for the 2017 Hugos. Does it also let me vote? If not, do I need to be a supporting-or-better member of this year's Helsinki con (which I won't be attending), or will being a supporting member of next year's San Jose Worldcon also work?

#951 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2017, 07:42 PM:

Bill Stewart@950

According to the Hugo Award FAQ only members of the current year's Worldcon are eligible to vote.

#952 ::: Cassy B ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2017, 10:48 PM:

Bill Stewart, as I understand it, you have to be a supporting (or attending) member of Helsinki to vote (and get the Hugo packet). Since there's considerably more than $50 worth of books in the packet, it's a good deal if you can afford it.

#953 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2017, 11:20 PM:

Raven @ 943: as you say -- that was a special Hugo, not one of the ones for [written] fiction.

David GOldfarb @ 938: I see it in the non-fiction book nominees; do you have any documentation that it got enough nominations in a fiction category?

#954 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2017, 01:21 AM:

I admit I have no documentation. I'm going off memories of gossip I heard hanging around The Other Change of Hobbit.

#955 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2017, 03:22 AM:

CHip @953: So are you now contending that Gahan Wilson’s “⚫” was also not a “short story” in, as you put it, the “unitary term, not simply two adjacent words” sense? And therefore Harlan Ellison erred including it in Again, Dangerous Visions? And it was this specific breach of category that required a special Hugo for editing that anthology?

I don’t subscribe to this point of view.

#956 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2017, 07:18 AM:

Will there be a gathering of light at the Helsinki Worldcon?

#957 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2017, 07:50 AM:

Doug @ #956:

It would be delightful if that happened. Probably a bit early to appoint people responsible and all, but worst case, I can pick a suitably random time and place and post it here.

#958 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2017, 09:47 AM:

Roger Ailes

Died on the mountaintop
Looking out over the land he led
His people to, a mountaintop
He built himself of bile and lies,
Just enough truth to keep the pile
From collapsing inward till he was dead.
Now his children lick their lips
................................................At a land to loot.
They shall not
Build their future on that land
Unless it holds my mortal form
In earth's embrace, and even then,
If I were them, I would not plan
To walk across my grave without
A goddam fight.
..........................The truth will out.

#959 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2017, 09:50 AM:

Dammit. I put the first tabbage a line too soon. But you get the idea.

#960 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2017, 09:51 AM:

#958: +1

A cynical, hateful, lecherous old creep.

#961 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2017, 10:47 AM:

Raven @955: I think you're being unfair to CHip there. The reason ADV got a special award is that there is no anthology Hugo (the Locus Awards have awards for both anthology and collection, so it's not impossible to have one), and the committee decided the volume as a whole deserved acclaim. No comment on any particular story was intended, AFAICT.

CHip has asserted nothing at all like what you claim.

I agree with you on the World Fantasy Award controversy, as I disagree with him, so please don't take this as piling on! Respectful, fair disagreement is possible, even today.

#962 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2017, 10:56 AM:

John at 958

Wow. That's astonishing.

I've come back to re-read it twice.

#963 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2017, 01:03 PM:

Found what I was mis-remembering about the Hugos - if I had paid for site selection for Helsinki that would have turned into a supporting membership. But I hadn't, so now I've got the supporting membership and my voter packet should catch up real soon now.

#964 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2017, 03:52 PM:

Any thoughts on the Star Trek: Discovery

I'm quite curious. I don't know if I'll spring for yet another Internet TV channel, but the first episode is supposed to be a network broadcast, so we'll see.

#965 ::: Quill ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2017, 04:02 PM:

Steve C. @964: It looked pretty interesting, and might be enough to get me back into the fandom. I'm particularly intrigued by the "Starfleet doesn't shoot first" line, and a (holographic?) Vulcan.

I've recoiled from the recent films in part because I see no point in retelling a story when the ST universe offers so many other options for new stories. Looks like they've got a new story.

#966 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2017, 04:07 PM:

Bill Stewart (973): That's the reverse of my situation: I had forgotten that I had a supporting membership to Helsinki (because I voted in Site Selection), so I was surprised when I got the voting link a few weeks ago. I attended MidAmericon, so I had known I was eligible to nominate (and did), but didn't expect to be voting this time. Now I have to keep track of my reading this year so that I know what to nominate next year.

#967 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2017, 07:25 PM:

Mary Aileen, #966: My first entry on that list in the Novella category is the just-released All Systems Red by Martha Wells. She writes the most amazingly compelling characters! I expect her final Raksura book, The Harbors of the Sun, to make my Novels list when it comes out next month.

#968 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2017, 07:28 PM:

Lee (967): I didn't realize that Harbors of the Sun was definitely the final Raksura book. (I read it in galley; it doesn't disappoint.)

#969 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2017, 08:06 PM:

I'm certain that I am NOT a member of Worldcon 75 but Worldcon 75 seems to think I am.

Received a voting link email. Seems to actually work although I'm not going to vote or download unless I do purchase a supporting membership.

#970 ::: Kevin J. Maroney ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2017, 09:22 PM:

David Goldfarb @954: I remember hearing similar gossip on the opposite coast, but that doesn't mean it was correct. It might have been!

And while I do remember feeling at the time that "Other Forms" was the "We can't give Best Novel to a comic book" category, I mellowed on the decision fairly quickly. It was a year dense with things that were going to get Hugo attention that were not well-served by the existing categories and "Other Forms" ended up as an interesting experiment.

#971 ::: Race Traitor Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2017, 11:21 PM:

John 958: Bravo. Well put.

I just found out a while ago that Ailes was even more of a scumbag than I knew. What a candidate for a micturable headstone.

#972 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2017, 11:59 PM:

Mary Aileen, #968: Yes, it's definitely the last novel, but Wells has said that she's going to continue writing vignettes and short stories about the Raksura on her Patreon. With luck, those will sooner or later be collected into a third Tales of the Raksura volume...

#973 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2017, 01:50 AM:

The Muppets, of course, will cover anything.

#974 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2017, 10:15 AM:

Mary Aileen @ 968 and Lee @ 972:

I'm sad that Harbors of the Sun will be the last Raksura book, but I'm glad that the series has a definite ending. And it's not like there won't be more Martha Wells stories to come, so there's that.

Speaking of Hugos, I am exceedingly impressed with the voting webpage this year. It's very clear and easy to use. I still have reading to catch up on, but I can tell this is going to be an interesting year. Plenty of things on the ballot that I like, plenty of things that I'm not sure I will or I know I don't, but (almost) all of high quality again.

Is anyone interested in discussing a couple things about Ninefox Gambit? I don't necessarily mean a full-on spoiler thread. There were some things about it that really rubbed me the wrong way. The lack of any character with an agreeable morality, for one.

#975 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2017, 10:31 AM:

Someone pointed out this morning that Bugs Bunny would, if he were allowed, utterly destroy Donald Trump.

I wish this would be allowed to happen.

#976 ::: Steven desJardins ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2017, 02:52 PM:

Michael I, @969: Could you have voted in Site Selection at the Spokane Worldcon? If so, then you automatically become a supporting member in the winning Worldcon bid, whether you realize it or not.

#977 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2017, 06:08 PM:

Steven DesJardins@976


Didn't think of that. Looking back, 2015 would have been the year that the DC 2017 bid was one of the candidates. So I probably did vote in site selection.

(Which means that I may have some additional reading to do.)

#978 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2017, 06:52 PM:

I have a question if some of you don't mind answering -
This week in the Christian Aid book sale I purchased some more books with interesting connections. Namely two that belonged to a famous Government chemist pre- WW2. He's so famous he's in wikipedia.
I have also aquired this year two books from ICI which are marked as commercially secret and not to be taken out of ICI, as well as last year some that used to belong to a famous Scottish history professor.

I am struck by the course of these books and how they came into my hands, routes which can only be guessed at, what adventures have they had? Other books I own have ephemera in them, postcards, bus tickets, and sometimes relevant newspaper clippings. Which make me feel like I have an insight into the wider world and history of that book and perhaps its owner.

So I was wondering if there are any websites or blogs or suchlike out there covering this sort of thing?

#979 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2017, 09:51 PM:

guthrie #976: Other books I own have ephemera in them, postcards, bus tickets, and sometimes relevant newspaper clippings.

Yeah, we see a lot of such ephemera at my used-book store. Photos mostly go up on the wall. My boss has in the past (43 years in business) found a $100 bill (once), nude pictures of the prior owner (more than once), and pictures of the respectable middle-aged prior owner outfitted as a dominatrix. (That last didn't go on the wall. ;-) )

And then there's the inscriptions. I think my favorite was in a poetry book, to the effect of "For memories of a wonderful summer" ... with a date in 1899.

#980 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2017, 10:19 PM:

I have a copy of a book of Robert Burns poetry, songs, and sheet music that was given out as a thank-you to my great-great aunt, who'd knitted copious quantities of socks for soldiers in WW2. It's addressed to her then-apartment on Rue-St-Mathieu, in Montreal. At the time, that branch of the family lived strictly in Aberdeen, with the exception of my black-sheep great-great-aunt who'd gone haring off for The Colonies all by herself. She started a bit of a trend, and my grandmother (her niece) wound up also travelling far from home, to Hong Kong and India, and then my father in 1984 wound up, entirely coincidentally, also in Montreal... and I got this book from my grandmother two years ago, and went to see if I could find the apartment. It's still there! I didn't knock, though.

I wrote up the book's travels subsequent to the note inside addressing it to and thanking my g-g-a, along with the names and dates of the family since, and stuck that letter into the book as well.

#981 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2017, 06:10 AM:

Ingvar M @957: Great! I'll seed the idea in the next Open Thread and keep watering it until we can see what grows or not.

My first Worldcon! I am very excited.

#982 ::: alisea ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2017, 07:43 AM:

Doug @981: It's going to be my first Worldcon as well! I'm sure we can make something or other happen.

I've volunteered for the Craft Corner, so that will most likely be one of the places I'll hang out at a lot.

#983 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2017, 02:12 PM:

KeithS #974: Sure, please go ahead. I thought that the main character was doing the best she could in her circumstances. But, to your point, moral persons would be fighting against the Hexarchate, not for it.

#984 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2017, 02:24 PM:

Since becoming Catholic I have fallen into collecting vintage prayer-books and breviaries. The most delightful aspect of this is the prayer cards that have turned up in the same.

My favorite was a 1946 deluxe edition of the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which was bound and slip-cased in glove(!) leather and yielded several gorgeously illustrated prayer cards. The best find was when I opened it to the Office of the Dead, and at a page full of various prayers, was a single rose petal.

#985 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2017, 03:13 PM:

I just bought a crate I found in a used bookstore, which was used to store drafting and duplicating equipment by the Army Corps of Engineers.

The supplies and the compartments for organizing them are now missing from this crate, but there is an amazingly detailed "Loading Plan" with a long list of what you are supposed to pack in it, and which compartment.

I understand what everything is, except for hectograph film, ink and ribbons and a can of Pounce. What is Pounce?

#986 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2017, 03:16 PM:

pounce was a powder, usually chalk but sometimes charcoal, that could be used with perforated stencils to make guidelines for a drawing (or for sewing or quilting).
Think of connect-the-dots drawing - that's the kind of thing.

#987 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2017, 03:43 PM:

Erik Nelson @ 985:

A hectograph is a drawing/document duplication device using gelatin and appropriate inks. It's a low-tech way of making quick, limited-quantity copies, and would certainly be useful in the field.

#988 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2017, 03:44 PM:

And in the ohnosecond after pressing post, I realized I forgot to mention that it's also known as a gelatin printer or jellygraph.

#989 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2017, 04:49 PM:

And you probably met it in school - it usually used purple ink. (It makes up to about 30 copies.)

#990 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2017, 04:50 PM:

TomB @ 983:

So, hmm, Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee.

I'll preface this by saying that I tend to like stories that involve mysteries and political scheming. I'm usually fine with protagonists who have a flexible approach to morality: rogues and scoundrels, gentleman thieves, and sometimes even asshole protagonists along the lines of Johannes Cabal or the Bastard Operator from Hell.

In many ways, Ninefox Gambit reminded me of the Ancillary series by Ann Leckie. I thought that series did a wonderful job of political maneuvering within a well-realized future society, and intelligently dealt with issues of gender, imperialism, and free will. Cheris's position in the hexarchate's Kel military brings up some of the same issues: she's female in a profession that's traditionally (for a contemporary audience) male, and there are plenty of other women in all sorts of positions of power. There are artificial intelligences that Cheris treats with respect, even as other characters seem to think that's nothing other than an oddity about her. The formation discipline that all Kel soldiers are indoctrinated with makes her struggle with her own free will. Jedao is a schemer, working to his own agenda. There are mysteries, and political plans, and plans within plans.

And yet, for all the mysteries, for all the scheming, for all the questions of empire, for all the interestingly lyrical descriptions of the hexarchate's magical technology, all the named characters are bastards. For as much as Cheris and Jedao occasionally seem to be uncomfortable with killing, and as much as Cheris is angry with Jedao for killing, neither of them actually are. Cheris sacrifices her troops for a larger goal without even seeming to angst much over the decision, as do the opposing forces. Neither side cares overmuch about killing civilians. For both sides, scheming and murder are part and parcel of their society.

And, for both sides, the systems that makes their magic work are based on torture. There's a brief discussion that the renegade heptarchate forces could have chosen a different system that didn't depend on that, which I suppose is supposed to let us know that they're evil, but we've already been told the hexarchate draws from that well too, so I don't know how that's supposed to make them worse.

Jedao decided that the hexarchate was evil, so his entire plot was to work within the system and commit its atrocities, and then commit enough atrocities of his own, that he could maneuver himself into a better position to take them down. Cheris commits atrocities as a matter of course in her career as a soldier, then joins with Jedao to take down the system.

Mass murderers don't make for sympathetic characters.

The stories that I like that have morally dubious protagonists in them tend to work because even if they're bad, they're still better than the antagonists. The characters also still maintain their humanity, and have lines they won't cross.

Ninefox Gambit asked me to spend time with protagonists whose mission initially appeared to be an unquestioned mission of an imperialist power crushing dissidents. That could have led to all sorts of interesting places about questioning their place in the grand scheme of things and in the existing structures of power. Instead, it gave us protagonists who, if not happy to commit war crimes, at least seemed to accept them as necessary, and who then, without any moral standing at all, moved on to take down their own society.

Is the book well written? Indeed! It's full of wonderful prose and imagery, and the society is interestingly different. Is there anyone even remotely sympathetic in it at all? Only the civilians, who don't even get a look in before they're horribly slaughtered. The book seems to be written to make Cheris sympathetic, but for every time she's almost built up to that, another one of her actions or the scope of her society knocks her down again.

If the author's intention was to give me an uncomfortable read, then well done, it accomplished that. I'm not sure what the point of it was, though. Not that I think that fiction has to have a point, but if there's no point, then why make the reader feel that way in the first place?

At best, I think I can look at it with a sense of repulsed admiration.

#991 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2017, 04:54 PM:

985, 986
And a tool that looks somewhat like a pizza cutter but with a toothed wheel for piercing the pattern paper is a pounce wheel.

#992 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2017, 05:05 PM:

guthrie @978: I found a book (on the prints of Arnold Roth) that my father's mother (a print dealer) wrote the introduction to, that was inscribed by her to the secretary of the Chicago Society of Etchers, in Archer City TX. And I've found over 10X the cost of a book that I bought in postage stamps in the book.

I've got a lot of books that were inscribed to interesting people, including the dedicatee's (inscribed) copy of SECOND STAGE LENSMEN from Fantasy Press.

#993 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2017, 09:06 PM:

Extending answers to @985: I think relatively few people would have encountered true hectographs, which AFAICT were always manual (hence easy to pack, but very slow); the spirit duplicator (Ditto (tm?) machine) was a device of similar principle, commonly used in schools before copiers became cheap. They were beloved of fans because the "ink" was dissolved bit by bit off the master, which meant that if you could find the "ink"-surfaced backing sheets in multiple colors you could create a multi-color zine in a single pass -- no alignment issues, no color-change kits (as for mimeographs), etc. (The solvent is the reason the output usually had an ... interesting ... smell.) Interestingly, Wikipedia says that hectographing has been revived in the "art world".
      And I'm surprised "Pounce" was capitalized, as it's an old technique; the powder for it shouldn't be trademarkable.

#994 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2017, 10:55 PM:

I wonder if the capitalized Pounce might have been an artifact of the Army style guide rather than a brand name.

I also remembered that the powdered chalk or charcoal was applied to the stencil in a little cloth bag called a pounce bag.

#995 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2017, 12:38 AM:

Me @992: brainfart, the artist was Ernest D. Roth, not Arnold Roth. The former was an engraver, the latter a cartoonist for Punch. I apologize to them both for the confusion, though I doubt anyone here noticed!

#996 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2017, 12:40 AM:

(More the New Yorker than Punch -- another error. I should quit while I'm behind.)

#997 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2017, 01:14 AM:

I'm listening to an audiobook just now. I took a chance on it because it's one of my favorite series, but it's being read by Benedict Cumberbatch, so my expectations weren't high.

Well! The man may be irritating to watch--nearly always the same character, and that character an ass--but he's awesome at voices. So far he's been about 15 people of 4 different nationalities, half a dozen English regions, 40 years' range in age, and both major genders and I'm only half an hour in. I believe in all of them.

#998 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2017, 04:00 AM:

Tom Whitmore @961: Look again at CHip's reply @953: “as you say -- that was a special Hugo, not one of the ones for [written] fiction.” (brackets in original)

That comment by CHip does suggest the “specialness” of the Hugo was due to the content of the winner, as in type=non-“written”, i.e. graphic (though that one story by Wilson was in fact mostly written, with the black blob’s visual appearances being dramatic interruptions).

TW> “... the committee decided the volume as a whole deserved acclaim. No comment on any particular story was intended, AFAICT.” — I agree with you. As I said before, I don’t subscribe to CHip’s point of view. That said, please note the committee clearly did not consider that story (or any other therein) disqualifying.

#999 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2017, 05:37 AM:

Still doing my due diligence reading, started on the fourth of six novel finalists this morning.

Not really started on any of the other categories (although I've seen most of the "long form" things, more or less by accident).

#1000 ::: cleek ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2017, 09:11 AM:

i just want to be #1000

#1001 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2017, 10:09 AM:

20 minutes into the Future!!!

Saturday night's reading in Santa Fe's Cocteau Theater of George RR Martin's script for "Max Headroom" - written just before its cancelation - was a hoot. Especially when Matt Frewer would read Max's lines. It was a heartwarming story about Blank Reg's sweetheart Dominique visiting her dead & frozen mom at the Morpheus Corporation, where things of course go wrong and her mom and the 5999 other human corpsicles begin to thaw out. Along with a frozen cat. Whenever Blank Reg would try to air "Christmas on Gilligan's Island" on his pirate TV station, the cast would launch into singing the first lines of the show's tune.

#1002 ::: Quill ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2017, 10:15 AM:

When cleaning out the office of a former boss, I discovered (among many other things, some of them older than me) a copy of Francis Crick's Life Itself autographed to said boss. It looked like he'd used it as a coaster more than once, but that was probably more his own habit than a comment on Crick's science and/or ethics.

I'm reminded of the joke about the man who tells his bibliophile friend that he'd thrown out the massive old Bible he'd found while cleaning out his attic. The friend goes nuts at the description, because it was clearly a Gutenberg Bible and therefore priceless. "Oh, no, it was ruined," the man replies; "someone named Martin Luther had scribbled all over it."

#1003 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2017, 10:47 AM:

Quill @ 1002: That joke pains me. As it is meant to, no doubt.

Yesterday I wandered over to the local annual antiquarian book fair and discovered that:
a) only one person was selling really old stuff
b) really old stuff is really expensive
c) I want it anyway...

#1004 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2017, 02:05 PM:

estelendur @1003: How are you defining "really old" and "really expensive"? 18th and some 17th century religious books are often incredibly cheap. As in, "hard to give away."

#1005 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2017, 03:43 PM:

Jenny Islander @997: Benedict Cumberbatch ... he's awesome at voices

Also wookies.

cleek @1000: i just want to be #1000


#1006 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2017, 03:44 PM:

Tom Whitmore @1004: By "really old" I mean "pre-17th century" and by "really expensive" I mean "over (sometimes quite a bit over) a couple hundred dollars" [I have a relatively small budget for things like this, since I would just be an amateur collector]. Also, unfortunately, as far as printed books go I'm mostly interested in classics or the odd Hebrew text, which mostly do not fall under "religious books". Manuscripts I'll take whatever :q but those are proportionally more expensive, it appears.

#1007 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2017, 08:26 PM:

My grandfather commanded Jackson Barracks in New Orleans during WWII. I inherited a number of his books and manuals, including one Army manual on alcohol and drug abuse. Dried between two pages on marijuana was (indeed, still is) an example.

Oh, you young fans! Hectographs were extremely cheap and took up very little space. There was a tray with stiff gelatin in it, and the masters and pens. The masters were a lot like spirit duplicator masters, but used in reverse. Folks used to print fanzines on these (cheap, small).

I had heard of hecto'd fanzines, so when I found a dusty old hectograph kit in college, I decided to print a retro zine. It was very slow, because I had to wait for the transferred ink to sink before transferring the next master to the gelatin, and for the pages to dry before printing on the other side. (I only had enough gelatin for one tray.) And while it really would have printed about 100 copies, I didn't print that many because i didn't have enough space in my dorm room to spread out that many pieces of paper to dry. Also, there weren't that many people in APA-45.

#1008 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2017, 08:28 PM:

My grandfather commanded Jackson Barracks in New Orleans during WWII. I inherited a number of his books and manuals, including one Army manual on alcohol and drug abuse. Dried between two pages on marijuana was (indeed, still is) an example.

Oh, you young fans! Hectographs were extremely cheap and took up very little space. There was a tray with stiff gelatin in it, and the masters and pens. The masters were a lot like spirit duplicator masters, but used in reverse. Folks used to print fanzines on these (cheap, small).

I had heard of hecto'd fanzines, so when I found a dusty old hectograph kit in college, I decided to print a retro zine. It was very slow, because I had to wait for the transferred ink to sink before transferring the next master to the gelatin, and for the pages to dry before printing on the other side. (I only had enough gelatin for one tray.) And while it really would have printed about 100 copies, I didn't print that many because i didn't have enough space in my dorm room to spread out that many pieces of paper to dry. Also, there weren't that many people in APA-45.

#1009 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2017, 08:29 PM:


Sorry about that.

#1010 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2017, 09:36 PM:

Raven @ 998: Yes, please do look at my comment again, as you've misread it. I put "written" in brackets because the exact nature of the awards commonly given for text-only fiction was in dispute. My comment suggests nothing about the contents of A,DV; it states only that it did not receive one of the awards whose domain we were disputing, so whether a tiny piece could disqualify the whole is therefore not at issue. Finally, you appear to be mistaken about the award itself; the official list shows one winner and one shortlisted from A,DV but no award for the anthology itself. I suspect you (like Wikipedia) have confused a special committee award with a Hugo.
      Special committee awards can be very random; I'm pretty sure I recall an award for Star Wars in the year it came out (1977), and an award for SF-Lovers in 1989. I don't recall what the awards looked like; I don't think the 1989 award would have had a rocket, because one of the 1989 committee was a professional stickler, but 1977 was such a goat-roping that anything could have happened. But neither of those were Hugos and I don't think 1973 was either; the link above is to a rigorously-checked site rather than one that anybody can edit.

#1011 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2017, 09:53 PM:

Those are both reasonable definitions in my book, estelendur @1006 -- I can remember, though, when I thought 19th C was old and $100 was outrageously expensive....

There's a leaf from a 16th C Chaucer volume on ABE at only $250 for one two-sided page -- maybe that will serve as a place-holder.

CHip @1010: I expect that amateur sticklers were actually a majority of the high-level staff of N3. Only one professional? I'm surprised.

#1012 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2017, 02:21 PM:

How far is Israel from the Middle East?

#1013 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2017, 02:28 PM:

Tom Whitmore @1011: I have friends who collect pages from Medieval and Renaissance books of hours. They would love to buy a whole book, but the prices are astronomical even for their budgets.

#1014 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2017, 04:30 PM:

Our most valuable book is a Jonathan Swift tract I got for a quarter (because it was a paperback) at a book sale.

At the same sale, there was a book of Hogarth prints. By that, I mean there was a book of Hogarth print margins from which the Hogarth prints had been cut out. I think they wanted something like $100 for it, and that it probably would have been worth it if so much as one print (all made from the original plates) had remained intact in the book. It was nice to see and touch original Hogarth plate marks, but I didn't go for it.

At the same sale (at Rice), I brought home part of a bound volume of songs from the Civil War era that someone had had done. There was a larger chunk there, and I somehow forgot to pick it up. Oh well, I thought. I'll get it at next year's sale. You can guess the rest.

#1015 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2017, 04:57 PM:

My father would buy old books just because they were old. Which is how I ended up with a much-used copy of the Kansas Home Cook Book (4th edition), along with some other odd ones. Somewhere there's a Spaniah/English dictionary from about 1840, pirated from an English edition (the preface references the "late Peninsular Wars"); that's one I'd donate to the Library of Congress, as it doesn't seem to be one they have.

#1016 ::: Cassy B ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2017, 11:42 PM:

Open Threadiness: just saw "Hidden Figures".


That is all.

#1017 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2017, 01:50 AM:

CHip @1010: (1) You linked to the wrong year, 1973 instead of 1972. (2) Click the “Further detail” link at the bottom of that page to get to a page including the three special Hugos given that year, including to Harlan Ellison.

Lest the difference confuse you, the second link is “The Long List of Hugo Awards, 1972”... as distinct from a short or incomplete list, which is what you linked to (along with the wrong year) and then implied the absence of the item from that list was evidential.

#1018 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2017, 08:25 AM:

I have a scrapbook someone made of war poems; I believe they are Great War. It's newspaper clippings, mostly, pasted into a hardcover, ring-bound menswear catalogue--you can't see any of the original text, or even the insides of the covers. Picked it up at a neighborhood sale for $15, which is maybe more than I should have paid but it's fantastic.

#1019 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2017, 02:09 PM:

Estelendur #1003 - I used to feel your pain. I remember going into an antiquarian book shop in Bath (England) when on a wee walking holiday as a student. I felt very out of place, and also couldn't really understand all these books with leather bindings, what were they about, would I want to read them, and so on.

Naturally, a decade later with a job and a much better understanding of books, my own pet topics to research, and so on, I started buying older books. Sometimes. Often I find modern academic books on specialist topics are far more expensive than an 1820 book on geology for instance.

#1020 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2017, 01:41 AM:

Soon Lee @687:
I would really like to know how it came to be that the crawl text at the beginning of Episode 4 scans so perfectly. And in the same meter as Sgt. Pepper's.

TomB @770:
Now you've made me want to read Frankenstein, Lord of the Rings.

#1021 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2017, 04:10 AM:

Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) @ #1020:

Frankenstein, Lord of the Ring Cycle, with the re-animated Fellowship needing to take the Nine-dropping ring to the smithy of the Alfar, in order to destroy it so that, something something, something?

#1022 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2017, 08:37 AM:

Got to hammer the ring thing?

#1023 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2017, 09:18 AM:

Cadbury Moose @ #1022:

If you're Thor, every problem looks like a nail.

#1024 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2017, 09:37 AM:

Ingvar M@1021:

Anna Russell, at the Council of Elrond: "Do you remember the ring?"

#1025 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2017, 05:56 PM:

Me@416: More on trains, from SMBC. (Note that there's also a hovertext (and an aftercomic under the red button).)

#1026 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2017, 09:47 PM:

The Thor movie I'd like them to make would be based on a sequence that came out when I was maybe thirteen, drawn by Jack Kirby (his last ish) and then by Neal Adams. In it, Loki is able to steal Thor's body and put Thor's mind in Loki's frame.

I don't know about following the ins and outs of the plot, but wouldn't Tom Hiddleston be great as Thor trapped in Loki's body? And contrariwise?

#1027 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2017, 01:34 AM:

estelendur @1003: I have sometimes been lucky enough to find really old books for reasonable prices in, of all places, used-books stores (that will sell books bought from walk-ins or estates, not just publishers’-remainders), which were not in the mindset of treating their wares as “antiques”. There’s a positive rabbit-warren of such shops across from Harvard Yard in Cambridge MA, for instance, and I’d expect some in university towns everywhere.

#1028 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2017, 08:11 AM:

Raven #1027: My bookstore is that place for Charlottesville. Daedalus Used Books in Charlottesville, no Internet presence, and no relation to the Baltimore outfit you'll see on the web.

#1029 ::: Quill ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2017, 10:37 AM:

Kip W @1026: There's a couple of movie extras that riff on that idea. They both start the same but change midway.

#1030 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2017, 10:45 AM:

Hm, did anyone else have a curiously-formatted e-copy of Too Like The Lightning? By "curiously-formatted", it seems as if I had the last ~90 pages replicated from earlier bits of the book (can't say if I recall if the chapter numbering was repeated or continued).

#1031 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2017, 11:36 AM:

Ingvar, was this from the Hugo packet? I haven't gotten to Too Like the Lightning yet but I expect to this weekend; if I see any oddness about the formatting I'll report back.

#1032 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2017, 11:45 AM:

Cassy B. @ #1031:

It was indeed from the Hugo packet. It didn't feel as if nything was missing, but having what seemed like ~90 pages of repeated content after the "author notes", and other classic end matter just felt... weird.

#1033 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2017, 09:38 PM:

At YouTube (to look at Quill's links [thanks Quill]), I was reminded of something Michael Kupperberg said on Twitter to the effect that: "The great thing about XXX Marvel parodies is that Stan Lee makes a cameo in all of those, too!"

(Thinking Stan should take a whole month to just shoot cameos in every conceivable situation, and he could be in all Marvel movies for the next decade or two.)

#1034 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2017, 01:25 AM:

Kip W @1033: Um, possibly spoilers for Guardians vol. 2 if you haven’t seen that yet, but Stan already seems to be taking your advice. At least he’s hanging out with Watchers, which practically is a lead-in to any XXX Marvel parody you could imagine — and was a scenario suitably distant from any other events taking place to be pluggable into any film....

#1035 ::: Angiportus Librarysaver ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2017, 07:04 PM:

HLN: Area metagender is pleased to report that Mom is home and doing very well though still not 100% up to par in endurance. She might get one of those alerting pendants--my own fate in the way of possible address change remains uncertain. Much has been learned by all involved about pneumonia and when to call for help, but more remains to be found out.
Friend with lymphoma says that he is better off than he had feared. Large relief in this quarter.
Large thanks to all for the good wishes.

#1036 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2017, 07:46 PM:

Angiportus (1035): Good to hear!

#1037 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2017, 09:45 AM:

Ingvar M@1032

Read the mobi format version of "Too Like The Lightning" yesterday (the one from the Best Novel download, the book is also in the Campbell award download) and I didn't see anything that looked like a repeated section.

#1038 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2017, 10:05 AM:

Michael I @ #1037:

Was the length estimated to roughly 450 or roughly 350 pages?

#1039 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2017, 11:09 AM:

The timing was wrong for me to see GUARDIANS at the theater with my daughter last night because of my busy day. I got up, mowed part of the front lawn, borrowed a pole saw and trimmed the low branches off the sawdust tree out front, mowed the rest of the front, and mowed all the back. I got a haircut and had a shower, and in the afternoon I went down to the Erie Canal at 3:00 to set up, and then played (keyboard) with the Monday Irish session at the "Paddle and Pour" event. Ran out of timing.

It went great, for the most part. I was designated vocalist on all the songs, deciding along the way that there are at least three out of them all that I really shouldn't have been singing. Practice could clear that up, except at least one is in an awkward range. I at least spared myself from "The Girl I Left Behind." Nice song, but I think it needs three lungs to pull off, at least at the pace we always take it.

It was a lovely day. We were in a gazebo right on the water, which sheltered us from the half-hearted sprinklemist that went away when we stopped paying any attention to it. By the end of the time, it had become entirely wonderful out. Every few minutes, another pair of racing crews would "Stroke! Stroke! Stroke! Stroke!" past us. A small white dog on a leash waited till we finished a piece before barking.

At the end, I did something I should have done at intervals through the playing: Since I had the microphone and was emceeing by default, I pointed out the woman playing accordion next to Tony: "That's Jane S_____, and she is our guru."

So, instead of seeing the movie, I was eating sunflower seeds and goofed off, and I still have it to look forward to. (Also ROGUE ONE, which Cathy got out of the library.)

#1040 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2017, 07:12 PM:

Ingvar M@1038

My Kindle used locations to measure the length rather than pages. I read it on my Ipad Kindle, and IF one screen roughly corresponds to one page then it appears that the 8281 locations probably correspond to somewhat more than 450 pages.

(The kindle version on Amazon estimates the page length as 433 pages.)

#1041 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2017, 10:10 PM:

Tom @ : how many conrunning fans would you call professional sticklers? I was thinking of George Flynn, whose only income came from copy editing; I skipped the lawyer-who-was-really-a-collection-agent, and all the software engineers (IMPO not primarily sticklers -- I don't think there were any QA people) -- and Davey, who was in the middle of a career in regulatory compliance but not in MCFI at the time. (MCFI were the people who actually decided on the special award for SFL; "committee" was me not being precise.)

Raven @ 1017: I'm digging into peoples' memories trying to find what the Special Awards were called at the time and what trophy went with them -- and trying to sort out claims about who is the official Hugo site, because the one you point to is three years out of date and ~managed by a local club rather than being part of the complex of WSFS-related pages and claiming to be the Official Hugo page.
      However, I will note that the A,DV award was given in the year the work was published, and that there are no nominees listed; this means it was almost certainly an award-by-fiat by the committee (for some unknown value of "committee", cf above) rather than being voted on by the membership as a best-of-the-year, so it is extremely unlikely to represent the collective will of the-fandom-that-cares-about-Hugos. (My uncertainty is only because I was not yet a Hugo voter in 1972; I \know/ that the 1977 and 1989 awards weren't on the ballots.) I'm still digging fitfully to find whether the 1972 award was called a Hugo and/or recognized with a rocket; I think either would have been improper, but some things were looser back then. I've discussed (with the only person to be willing to talk about the NESFA page) the fact that the Campbell award on the 1977 and 1989 pages is marked "not a Hugo" in VERY LOUD TYPE where the Special Awards are not, and been ... referred; I'll post if anything further comes of my scxrabblings.

#1042 :::