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January 22, 2018

Open thread 220
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 01:58 PM * 419 comments

Overheard: “You think he’s cool because he’s a dwarf? Or because you read about him online?”


Comments on Open thread 220:
#1 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2018, 02:01 PM:

Forgive my continued absence. Still keeping my head above water, but not by much.

#2 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2018, 02:53 PM:

You've been regularly in my thoughts, abi. Sending you good wishes.

#3 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2018, 03:10 PM:

Backtrack to Open Thread 219.

abi: Would that we could help with the bilge pumps.

As to why he's cool: can't it be both?

#4 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2018, 05:01 PM:

Wittgenstein on causes of and reasons for beliefs: that he is a dwarf is a reason for thinking he's cool (um, maybe?); that you read about him online is a cause of the belief.

#5 ::: Devin ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2018, 06:08 PM:

Thomas @4

As a Dwarven patriot, there's no maybe about it. Dwarves are cool, should be pretty obvious.

#6 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2018, 07:12 PM:

I've generally found that folks who've had to live as "different" are at least more interesting than most. Not always nicer, but certainly more interesting. :-/

#7 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2018, 12:42 AM:

Hi Abi, Odin asked the dwarves to make this internet for you.

#8 ::: Cassy B ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2018, 08:17 AM:

<sending virtual flotation devices to Abi> I recommend the one with the duck head. Because who doesn't like floaties with duck heads...?

(Hope things improve.)

#9 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2018, 10:20 AM:

HLN: area woman is completing fourth of six cycles in chemotherapy round, with fifth starting next week. (They do not get easier over time.)

#10 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2018, 10:49 AM:

P J Evans (9): No, they don't get easier. On the contrary, they often get harder. Best of luck with the last two cycles.

#11 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2018, 11:37 AM:

I get about two days after a session before I hit "hell week", when I'm feeling miserable and food is difficult. (The last "hell week" was 10 days long.)
Someday they may be able to predict which side-effects you'll get but that time isn't now.

#12 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2018, 11:54 AM:

P J Evans (11): That sounds all too distressingly familiar. I hope you're managing to stave off dehydration; that was my biggest problem during the hell weeks.

My sympathies.

#13 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2018, 12:48 PM:

From the TV adaptation of The Magicians, Season 3, Episode 1, "The Tales of the Seven Keys", a two-minute video of a conversation where nerds, attempting to evade surveillance, speak in code -- entirely in references to shared cultural artifacts. With subtitles.

#14 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2018, 01:41 PM:

What I have to watch out for, coming off "hell week", is overeating (because of body demanding calories).

#15 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2018, 01:46 PM:

@PJ Evans: I hope hell week passes swiftly and hope you have a nice feast planned post-chemo.

@Abi: We appreciate all you do. May the flood recede.

#16 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2018, 02:32 PM:

And the latest version of Firefox breaks even more add-ons and plugins, with NO replacements apparently available. (Or, as I said in feedback, if I wanted to use Chrome, I'd install Chrome.)
(latest version breaks Leetkey, among others.)

#17 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2018, 03:10 PM:

New Linux Kernel out too, and other stuff. At least it installed.

Then there are fake graphics cards coming out of China, while the blockchain gang are buying up all the graphics cards they can.

Back in December, at the peak, Bitcoin miners were gloating about how much money they had earned, but you don't earn anything until you sell the product, and the value has plummeted since then. And Kodak, a vestige of what used to be, made big money when they announced their own blockchain thing.

Yesterday I heard the term "Dunning-Krugerands".

And on Sunday somebody said there was something wrong with my graphics card. It was running too cold.

Soothly we live in mighty years!

#18 ::: B. Holder ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2018, 03:46 PM:

Greetings to you all. I am posting at the request of my brother, B. Holder, to inform you that he passed away 6 January, 2018. He asked me to let folks know so that you all would not be wondering and missing him. He is the older brother of a very large family and we miss him dearly! Thank you, Kerstin

#19 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2018, 03:54 PM:

P J Evans @16 -- even worse, the new version of Firefox has gotten rid of the "refresh" button in the upper left corner. It's not in the nav bar, where it used to be before they moved it out. And that really bugs me, because I go away sometimes for a few hours and really want to refresh (e.g.) ML, or some other ever-changing site.

#20 ::: cleek ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2018, 04:18 PM:

#19. it's on my FF (v58.0).

if you don't see it, you should be able to put it back by clicking the menu button (top-right three horizontal lines), then choose Customize. that will open a window with all the different buttons you can put on your toolbar. you should see the refresh circular-arrow button in there.

or, you can just press F5 (if you're on windows) to refresh.

#21 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2018, 04:19 PM:

Kerstin, I'm very sorry to hear this. My condolences to you and to your family. Thank you very much for letting us know.

#22 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2018, 04:33 PM:

Abi: Sending virtual flotation devices your way. Wondering about how I keep my own head above the waves.

#23 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2018, 04:33 PM:

P J Evans: May the force be with you.

#24 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2018, 04:35 PM:

Kerstin: My condolences also.

#25 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2018, 04:38 PM:

Today is the birthday of both of St Lucia's Nobelists -- Derek Walcott and Sir Arthur Lewis. Intriguing coincidence.

#26 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2018, 05:01 PM:

cleek@20: have tried that, will see if it works (and I'm not on Windows, but a Mac).

#27 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2018, 05:13 PM:

P J Evans @ #16:

Cryptext got a 2.0 update this week, and while it still doesn't do everything that Leetkey did, the update added enough functionality that I consider it a reasonable replacement for Leetkey (at least for the things I used Leetkey for, which was mainly reading and writing rot13).

#28 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2018, 05:30 PM:

The New York Times has reported that Ursula K. Le Guin has died.

#29 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2018, 06:00 PM:

I'm very sad to hear about Ursula. She had a good innings, and really changed the world for the better through her writings, both fiction and non-fiction -- and she was a wonderful person.

#30 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2018, 07:05 PM:

Oh damn.

Also sorry to hear about B Holder.

#31 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2018, 08:06 PM:

@Kerstin: Thank you for letting us know. Condolences, and please take care.

* * *
I selfishly wish Le Guin had hung on long enough to write what would have been an amazing obituary for the Trump administration.

#32 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2018, 12:41 AM:

It seems like this article about a Tunis bookbinder, brief as it is, might be of interest to several here.

#33 ::: Tony Zbaraschuk ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2018, 09:04 AM:

Farewell, Ursula. Long may your books and memory be for a blessing.

#34 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2018, 10:54 AM:

I spent a sleepless hour last night wondering how I could have better handled an minor electrical fire in a restaurant I managed. In a dream I'd just woken up from.

At least anxiety dreams about missing a final exam means you just have to dream about taking a class again.

#35 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2018, 01:11 PM:

The Dispossessed, The Left Hand of Darkness, The Word for World is Forest, the Orsinian books, the Earthsea books. All of them were important to how I grew to understand the world, and what the world meant to me.

It is one thing to study, as I did, modern European history and the period between the great revolutions, as I did for A-Levels, and another to read Malafrena and dive deep into what that was like through her marvellous imagination bringing it all into view.

Shevek was my first real model of what an engaged scholar should be. I have always wanted to live up to him. Never succeeded.

And The Left Hand of Darkness was more than a little bit of light to me at some crucial times.

Some people leave holes in the world when they depart. She is one of them.

#36 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2018, 08:26 PM:

Dave Bell @ 219::1218: I'd never heard of degree-days used for agriculture -- but I didn't grow up in an agricultural area. (The ~100-hectare dairy pasture across from my first home was almost certainly a tax dodge; other neighbors housed riding horses.) AFAIK, the most practical use around Boston is letting home-heating-oil suppliers know when their customers are likely to need refills.

Mary Aileen @ 219::1221: my partner runs something that appears as "NOAA Weather Unofficial" on the apps list on her Android, and finds it acceptable. This is a free version; she thinks there's a more featureful pay version.

Sumana Harihareswara @ 13: cute. I'm glad for the subtitles; I got ~1 of the references (reasonable for someone my age?)

Dave Bell @ 17: "Dunning-Krugerands"?!? <snortle>

#37 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2018, 08:35 PM:

And some randomly interesting links:
* The Hawaii mis-alert took most of an hour to quash because the governor forgot his Twitter password. Seems like the alert facility wasn't the only thing needing redundancy....
* A huge murmuration of starlings is too mobile for a hungry falcon.

#38 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2018, 10:15 PM:

CHip (36): Thanks for the pointer. I wonder how that differs from the National Weather Service* app, which is free.

*The National Weather Service is part of the NOAA.

#39 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2018, 11:18 PM:

AKIML: I'm writing an essay to go in the back of a book that I and some other people are editing, and I'm on the hunt for white animals in folklore, particularly British Isles folklore. White harts and white hares I know of, and there are the chalk carvings*, but a larger list would be edifying. I'm headed to a library next week to seek the aid of a Librarian, but it seemed like the sort of thing people here would be likely to be interested in and possibly know about.

*Which have entered into folklore, regardless of when they were originally made!

#40 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2018, 01:20 AM:

Em @39 -- most unicorns are white, in British Isles folklore. White mares also show up a lot. I'd be surprised if there weren't stories of white goats, as well.

#41 ::: Tony Zbaraschuk ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2018, 09:57 AM:

Swans are generally white.

There are, IIRC, white buffalo in Sioux (and maybe other Plains tribes') folklore

#42 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2018, 10:07 AM:


I don't know how deep its folkloric roots are, but in E Nesbit's brilliant children's book, "The House of Arden", there is a white mole (always referred to as a "mouldiwarp" in the book) that has strong magical powers.

In particular, all white things obey the Mouldiwarp--daisies, swans, pigeon-feathers, etc.

It's a time-travel fantasy, written in 1908, and one of the crowning achievements of children's literature, in my opinion:

#43 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2018, 12:02 PM:

oldster @42 -- when I was young, I preferred the sequel to The House of Arden, Wet Magic. It had more scope. I'll certainly agree that Nesbit was one of the great children's book writers, and should be better known these days.

#44 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2018, 12:08 PM:

Tony Zbaraschuck #41:

Not in Oz.

#45 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2018, 12:25 PM:

Question for the technically/electrically knowledgeable:

My TV and stereo are plugged into a surge protector which is plugged into an outlet controlled by a wall switch, which I have been leaving on all the time. I would like to plug a lamp into that outlet and control that with the switch. Would constantly losing and regaining power cause problems for the TV/stereo? On the rare occasions when I want to watch/listen with the light off, I could turn the lamp off directly.

The only other option (besides status quo) would be to rearrange the entire living room (ugh). And the next easiest place to fit the TV stand is next to an ungrounded (two-prong) outlet, which means no surge protector.

#46 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2018, 12:43 PM:

Mary Aileen @ #45

It might depend on how your TV and stereo work. Some TVs are constantly using a small amount of power while off to maintain settings, etc. My guess is that it's possible that there might be some harm from power going off and on, but not likely.

#47 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2018, 01:01 PM:

Steve C. (46): Thanks. Is there an easy way to tell if my TV is one of those? I must have the manual around here somewhere....

#48 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2018, 01:23 PM:

Tom Whitmore@43--

There's a more direct sequel of "The House of Arden"--featuring the same characters--called "Harding's Luck."

Not as full of rollicking good fun as "House of Arden," but deeper in a way. And Mary Norton stole a trick from it for her own time-travel ending of "Bed-knob and Broomstick."

Which raises the question: which *is* the first time-travel book to have a character from the present choose, in a clear-eyed way, to renounce their present-day life and remain in the past?

#49 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2018, 01:23 PM:

Mary Aileen, I'd check to see how long it takes to come on with it plugged in, then unplug it for a bit, plug it back in and see how it takes then to get fully on. Most TVs do use a bit of power in standby mode.

#50 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2018, 01:45 PM:

#39 Em

I'm not sure if the animals have to be entirely white, but Welsh folklore includes supernatural white dogs with red ears.

#51 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2018, 01:55 PM:

Mary Aileen @ 45:

It shouldn't do any great harm to your TV and stereo to turn the power off and on, unless you're flipping the switch quickly multiple times in a minute. The only downsides I can think of are that your TV or stereo might forget some settings (e.g. volume, presets, channel tuning, time) if the power is turned off for long enough, or that you might at some point want to have the lamp off when the TV or stereo is on.

Just to check, is the entire outlet controlled by the wall switch, or only half of it? It's possible, and sometimes common, for one of the sockets to be wired to a wall switch, while the other is constantly powered. It's also possible (sometimes easily, sometimes not, depending on what the house wiring at the outlet is like) to convert the outlet over to the behavior of one socket switched, one always on.

As far as I'm aware, pretty much all TVs and stereos made since some time in the '90s go into a low-power standby mode rather than a 100% off mode. The power consumption is minuscule. Standby is the reason you can use the remote to turn the TV on again, rather than having to push a button on the TV itself.

#52 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2018, 01:58 PM:

oldster @48 -- my memory is not what it once was, and you're absolutely right about Harding's Luck. Though Wet Magic includes both the mouldiwarp and the mouldiestwarp, IIRC.

#53 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2018, 02:03 PM:

KeithS (51): The entire outlet is controlled by the wall switch. And this is a rental apartment, so tinkering with the wiring is out.

The TV manual is silent on the question of whether losing power messes with the presets, although one of the troubleshooting tips is to unplug it, wait thirty seconds, and plug it back in. I'm not worried about it losing channel presets (since I only use it for watching DVDs), and I always turn it on from the power button anyway, but I'd hate to have to continually reset the language and such.

I'll have to test it.

#54 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2018, 02:04 PM:

And thank you! to both Steve C. and KeithS.

#55 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2018, 02:17 PM:

Okay, so cutting power briefly doesn't mess up the settings on either the TV or the stereo, so this might work.

Friends on FB suggested getting a remote control for the lamp instead. If I can figure out how to rig that by the front door, that might be a better option. For one thing, it would save me figuring out what to do about the answering machine, which is also plugged into that outlet currently. There are three possible solutions for that one; none are ideal.

#56 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2018, 02:23 PM:

Tom W@ 52--
I had forgotten Mouldiwarp in "Wet Magic"--must re-read!!

#57 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2018, 02:30 PM:

Best wishes to abi in keeping her head above water--from someone who's irritatedly glad that life keeps pushing him, because else he'd stop completely.

I have an observation and a guess at the cause, but am hoping someone can check it: I get no results on Google when I do a site-specific search on Making Light. This makes locating past threads much less easy: is it possible that the robots.txt was unintentionally set to non-indexed?

#58 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2018, 02:40 PM:

SamChevre @ 57:

I'm not sure what's wrong on your end. I just tried a couple of site-specific searches and they worked just fine.


black hole brownies of death
cuisine of nouvelle zion

(Why, yes, it's lunchtime, how can you tell?)

#59 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2018, 02:53 PM:

So, having problems with one of my favorite sites, NotAlwaysRight. AKICIML....

1. It started throwing up intrusive popups to the effect of "You've got ads blocked, this is post #1 you have viewed without ads". No explicit threat of a limit, but I'd say that's implied. They offered to let me buy a "Pass" from Google to view it ad-free.
2. After trying for a while to block the popups with NoScript and/or AdBlockPlus (I've gotta admit uOrigin would probably have been better at this), I gave up on that, and decided to actually buy the pass.
3. Having done so (with some difficulty, as the signup page itself involved some scripts that NoScript didn't like), I found that indeed the popups are gone. Unfortunately, so is the comment section -- not even the comment-count widget is visible! This remains so even with both NS and ABP disabled. It's possibly relevant that NAR uses Disqus (which is whitelisted) for comments -- the other social-media icons do show.

Of course, the comments for NAR are most of the fun. As far as I'm concerned, this is a major-league fuckup, and has ensured that it will be a cold day in hell before I pay another dollar to Google's "revenue enforcement" systems.

Looking at my Google account, it offers no way to delete the pass. Or stop automatic payments, or even remove my card from their files. The only thing I can apparently do is delete my Google account entirely.

I have left a message on the AdBlockPlus site.

NAR itself claims to offer a feedback page, but even with ABP and NS turned off, the CAPTCHA is a non-functional text link, so it won't let me file my complaint.

Does anyone know any way to recover from this pass? I'm using Firefox on Ubuntu.

#60 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2018, 03:02 PM:

Poking around on Twitter, I found an interesting thread: Anatomy of Nazi Twitter Mobs. From Noah Smith via Hope Jahren.

TL;DR: It starts with a retweet by a "screamer", followed by direct attacks by many "soldiers".

The "screamer" typically has few Nazi memes or quotes (so they may not be obvious in your mentions list) and (these days) 2000-3000 followers. They are usually a "chronic offender", doing this regularly for long periods of time. The "solders" are throwaway accounts with 200 or fewer followers, but more likely to have Nazi memes etc in their profile. They generally won't "mention" the screamer, making it harder to track down the key account.

#61 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2018, 03:10 PM:

And catching up, sympathies to Abi, P J Evans, and anyone I've missed.

Sad about Le Guin, but she had a long, full, and fruitful life, in which she brought much wisdom into the world.

#62 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2018, 03:10 PM:

I am feeling very put-out. I've reached that age where I'm seeing a lot of retirements around me. This is particularly annoying in one's medical providers. When I had my semi-annual with my optometrist (who's a couple of years older than me) last fall, I scowled at her suspiciously and said, "You're not planning on retiring anytime soon, right? Right??"

"I'm too young and beautiful to retire!" she declared, with some indignation.

Well, checking my voicemail this morning, turns out I have to reschedule my spring semi-annual because—because my optometrist is retiring.


#63 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2018, 03:48 PM:

Apropos the cuisine of nouvelle zion link in KeithS's comment @58, the temple at which I did the actual dunking part of my conversion to Judaism provides gift bags for new converts. It included two(!) cookbooks, one compiled by the women of that (Reform) temple and one compiled by the women of a nearby Conservative congregation at various points past. I was flipping through the former and recognized with some amusement and delight the classic American recombinant cuisine with which I am only passingly acquainted despite my Midwest upbringing (being as how the parent who cooked dinner was an East-coast food snob).

#64 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2018, 04:02 PM:

Mary Aileen, there are certainly remote control switch units that have a socket outlet, go between the outlet and the plug you want to control. The other option is a remote control lightbulb in the lamp.

Google throws plenty of examples of remote-control bulbs at me, all at the 240v European standards, all LED based, and all using your mobile phone as the controller. The options are numerous. You could end up with dimmable lighting for the room that has a particular setup for TV watching, and a different one for reading.

I am not sure I would bother with that myself.

#65 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2018, 04:31 PM:

Dave Bell (64): Thanks. I've pretty well decided on this one; I like the fact that it mimics a traditional light switch and can be mounted directly on the wall.

#66 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2018, 06:39 PM:

At least my dentist sent a letter when he decided to retire, some months before he actually did.
(I don't know when my primary-care guy will decide to retire.)

#67 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2018, 06:48 PM:

Em@39 And of course there are white sheep, but they're the boring ones. And swans, usually white, but usually special for being swans rather than white ones.

On Firefox extensions: I hadn't realized Leetkey was back; mine had broken several releases ago, and I've mostly been using Vivaldi and Chrome.

#68 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2018, 07:12 PM:

Jacque #62: The other half of that situation is that you then wind up with someone who is supposed to be a professional all-wise authority figure, but who actually looks like a young pipsqueak.

At least the president is older than me again; the only aspect where Trump is an improvement over Obama.

#69 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2018, 11:01 AM:

Mary Eileen @65

That's a neat design. I don't see anything similar in the UK. The battery it uses seemed odd at first glance: I can get them in the UK, but I don't recall seeing them in shops.

There are various options for the bit that switches the power to the device, but I've not found a controller in that style. It looks a bit limited in how it handles multiple systems, and might not be that good an idea in an apartment block.

#70 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2018, 12:27 PM:

Thank you all very much for the white animals! There are a few I hadn't thought of (and at least one I wouldn't have thought to look for), so I've got some good avenues of investigation. Merci!

#71 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2018, 12:36 PM:

Em @39: Ceridwen is apparently symbolized by a white sow, though it’s not clear to me how much historical provenance there is for it. There’s probably a whole slew of white critters mentioned in Robert Graves _The White Goddess_.

#72 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2018, 12:48 PM:

Dave Bell (69): That is an odd battery type, isn't it? I hadn't noticed that before. I also see that it's not an actual rocker switch, it just looks like one. Still probably my favorite, though.

Good point about using it in an apartment block, but this is just a two-family house, so probably not an issue.

#73 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2018, 01:34 PM:

Shouldn't be a big problem with the battery, it's available in the usual brands from Amazon, such as Duracell, but it's not something I've noticed in shops.

I'd likely go the remote-control bulb course myself. I need to check some old remote-control socket adaptors I have. The dedicated controller likely needs a battery. I'm finding all sorts of little things left over from before my father died.

The socket units with dedicated controllers are pretty cheap. Android/iPhone compatible costs more, but might be better in the long term.

#74 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2018, 02:27 PM:

KeithS @ 58

Thank you! It seems to be the "www" that causes the problem.

I was looking for hymns: "Composing the Rejected Canon" may be may favorite Making Light thread of all time.

#75 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2018, 02:55 PM:

Dave Bell (73): Multi-socket lamp. Actually a ceiling fan with lights, if the landlord will let me have one put up. And I want a switch I can hang on the wall, right inside the front door, so smartphone capability is not a plus.

#76 ::: Eric ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2018, 03:38 PM:

I think that's a CR-12 battery which is pretty common in cheap radio control triggers. I've never had trouble finding them in any place (like supermarkets) that stocks more than AA batteries, in the States or Ireland.

#77 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2018, 01:17 AM:

Allan Beatty @68: Encountered the pipsqueak problem when my first dentist retired. His replacement's style was fast and loose, and her personal hygiene was, shall we say, "casual." Went to her one (1) time. (Fortunately, above-mentioned optometrist recommended the practice she goes to, and I've been very satisfied with them ever since.) My current pcp is pretty young (from my vantage), but seems competent enough. (The advantage of young-uns is, of course, that their training is more recent.)

Had a colonoscopy today and the experience was, contrary to all expectation, entirely delightful.

Prep was only slightly narsty, only had to parch for three hours before the proceedure, and concluded I can totally work with these people (massive improvement over previous experiences). (Well, and the nurse kind of munched my right hand with the IV.) (And why the hell are my thighs sore? Like, from exercise, sore.)

But the best part was the anesthesia. If memory serves (hah!), they used cebcbsby</rot13>. Dunno if it was reading Bujold on the way in, or this thing, but vivid, very geeky dreams. (Like, coming up to consciousness, thinking, "Wow was that ever geeky!") Great music (the details of which entirely elude me. But I checked; they didn't play any music during the proceedure, so it was all apparently entirely endogenous.), and bright blue LED (bwah?) lighting. Sleep was so deep that I completely forgot where I was until I woke up, which never happens.

Much less logy than last time, was actually compos mentis pretty quickly (that stuff is apparently fast-metabolizing), but I was trying to tell jokes, and discovered an interesting cognitive failure-mode: I kept conflating the set-up and the punchline. Like, "How many Boulderites does it take to screw in a hot-tub—no, wait—" Did that a couple of times before I noticed it.

All in all, don't generally do pharmeceuticals recreationally, but I can totally recommend this one.

#78 ::: johnofjack ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2018, 09:54 AM:

Best wishes to abi and to P J Evans.

I do love the community here, though I rarely feel I have anything to add to the conversation. For years I've been lurking much more than participating, and hope it's not too forward to post a poem. It's in memory of a friend who committed suicide some time ago.

I feel certain the line "Things always change; the trick is not to mind" comes from a comment someone made here, but I failed to find it to credit it properly. If that was yours, I'm sorry, and please let me know.

Sestina for Travis

Not all wounds heal--that's the lie we tell about time
To make grief more bearable. Some wounds, of course,
Do heal, but still we reach an age where ache
Portends yet worse to come. Ill cells may force
Out healthy ones, firm flesh abscess, knees break
And mend arthritically. The sharpest mind

May dull, unmoor, Moms fail to bring to mind
The names of first-born sons. The truth of time
Is that while rough-played strings may tend to break,
If strung unplayed they still detune. Each course
We leave unchecked will meet destructive force,
And every loss compounds till chronic ache

Sets in--this galling and relentless ache.
Come walk this labyrinth to soothe your mind.
Make your way with persistent calm, not force,
Past fragrant yew in autumn sun. Do not time
Yourself--impatience makes the winding course
Feel long. Some habits we should keep, some break.

Here now, arriving at the goal, let's break
For lunch: for hunger twists our thoughts. This ache
Will fade away, perspective clear in due course.
Things always change; the trick is not to mind.
Both lions and hyenas have their time;
On ziggurats, young vines take hold. Some force

Dictates what thrives and what decays; some force
Determines if a trunk must bend or break.
We have just now--no guarantee of time.
Can you accept what you can't control? Stop ache
From overwhelming hope? Please bear in mind:
We may help or harm with every chosen course.

Ships crash on rocks, so hopelessly off-course
Survivors know they won't be found. They force
The land to acquiesce, put out of mind
The many ways to fail. With care, they break
Free planks, knap stone, cut vines. They push through ache
To launch their raft, then sweep their strokes in time.

Resolved, they set their course. Gulls cry; waves break,
Salt sprays; they force themselves to rest. They ache
But do not mind--they know they'll arrive, in time.

#79 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2018, 10:06 AM:

johnofjack (78): Very powerful!

#80 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2018, 10:50 AM:

Kerstin, thanks for the sad news. It's better to know than not to know, and I appreciate your consideration. Your brother will be missed here as well. I'm sorry for your loss.

#81 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2018, 10:55 AM:

Johnofjack@78: Sestinas are hard to do in a natural, subtle way -- I doff my metaphorical cap to your skill, and in memory of your friend.

#82 ::: johnofjack ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2018, 05:33 PM:

Thanks for the kind words, Mary Aileen, Em.

#83 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2018, 06:51 PM:

johnofjack, I have done at least some justice to your verse now, reading slowly and repeating as needed. I like the voice, and the very natural, unstrained word choices and cadences. I like it very much. I agree about it being powerful.

#84 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2018, 07:10 PM:

@Jaques: Whatever the colonoscopist used on me knocked me right out. No memories from when I drifted off to when I woke up. I was drowsy but fairly functional right afterwards. I was disappointed that the assistant didn't get a joke I made. No aches or pains. But glad I don't have to repeat the experience for another 5 years or so!

#85 ::: Kjersti ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2018, 08:15 PM:

@johnofjack, I'm not sure why this would resonate so strongly but today it did. Thank you.

#86 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2018, 01:59 AM:

Memories are dim, but I'm pretty sure that when I was learning to read, well before I started kindergarten, newspaper comic strips played a big role in the process. All the letters were uppercase, which simplified things, and if I figured out the words, I would be rewarded by understanding of that day's joke.

So from the beginning of my experience with literacy, Beetle Bailey and Sergeant Snorkel have always been around.

Today I learned that Mort Walker has died at the age of 94. From his pen came Beetle and Sarge and Hi and Lois and a lot more.

As I grew older, there were other strips I found funnier and more sophisticated. But I when I was very young, loved Beetle best. And when I open a newspaper, I still read his strip.

In the Seventies, I got a great deal of enjoyment from Walker's book Backstage at the Strips, which offered funny observations about the comics business and the people in it.

Goodbye, Mr. Walker. You taught me to read. And maybe something about drawing. Thanks for the laughs.

#87 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2018, 06:18 PM:

The first time I had a lot of -oscopy work, it was two things in two days. The first one was maybe the colonoscopy (sigmoidoscopy? It's been so long now.) and when I asked for a look, they let me have a few moments at the eyepiece. The next day I came back for the one that went down my throat, and they had an extra eyepiece all set up for me, and I got to watch the whole thing.

Ever since then, I've looked forward eagerly to the procedure, and every time since then, they've just knocked me out with something, and not even made a DVD of the camera feed.

#88 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2018, 06:20 PM:

(ps: "Eagerly" seems like some sort of overstatement. Oh well.)

Re the 'overheard' item at the top of the post, I once overheard this near the student center at Colorado State University.

HE: It was just laying there.
SHE: Was it dead?
HE: No, it winked at me.

#89 ::: johnofjack ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2018, 07:38 AM:

Kip W, Kjersti, thank you. I'm long out of practice so I'm quite happy that the poem works.

Re: colonscopies, I had one early due to my father dying in his 40s from colon cancer. But he was an alcoholic drug abuser and lifelong smoker who loved red meat and who had been exposed several times to Agent Orange (he described one of his tasks in Vietnam as standing in a pit spraying down the vehicles when they came back), so he had several risk factors I don't.

After the colonoscopy I spent nine months trying to get the provider to change the claim code so that insurance would cover it (as it was supposed to) accompanied by increasingly threatening letters about six or seven thousand dollars I supposedly owed them. I think that was worse than the preparation for the procedure (and it's something that must be unique to countries without single-payer healthcare).

#90 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2018, 08:29 AM:

Em @ 39 ...
AKIML: I'm writing an essay to go in the back of a book that I and some other people are editing, and I'm on the hunt for white animals in folklore, particularly British Isles folklore. White harts and white hares I know of, and there are the chalk carvings*, but a larger list would be edifying. I'm headed to a library next week to seek the aid of a Librarian, but it seemed like the sort of thing people here would be likely to be interested in and possibly know about.

I suspect that you're already aware of Aarne-Thompson-Uther Classification of Folk Tales which is here in the Multilingual Folk Tale Database, but having run into it this morning, via an article in the ever distracting Atlas Obscura, it seemed worth pointing out to the assembled.

While I don't know that it will help with finding white animals directly, it seems a reasonably likely to way to find story variants, which are likely to lead off in other interesting directions.

#91 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2018, 01:32 PM:

Folks who program computers, professionally or as amateurs:

You may have heard from me or others about the Recurse Center. They're a worldwide community of sharp, nice, thoughtful programmers, associated with an experimental sort of writer's retreat in New York City. The retreat is free to attend, and they run several batches per year (I participated in the fall of 2013 and then again in 2014, and blogged about it). Recursers work on whatever they'd like during their batch, and often stay involved after their time at RC ends; I participate in the online RC community every day and get a lot of technical and career help from it. RC will also help you get a job after your batch, if you're interested. And they've just announced that they'll be holding one-week minibatches, as well as their usual six-week and twelve-week stints, through the rest of 2018.

RC's not a place to learn to code from scratch, but if you already have at least a little amateur or professional programming experience, it's an incredibly nurturing learning environment, one of the most nurturing communities I've ever been in. I became not just a better programmer during my time at RC; I got better at learning in general and at being less afraid of making mistakes. I gave a speech about that, about what I learned from RC about hospitality. And it's a place to flex and stretch and try new stuff if you've been programming for decades.

RC is committed to keeping the community diverse in thought and background. They came up with the Social Rules to build an inclusive environment that tries to reduce behaviors that make it harder to learn. And they also offer living expense grants for folks who are underindexed in tech. You might have seen my post "Hacker School Gets an A on the Bechdel Test" from when it was called Hacker School.

(And if you applied in the past, feel free to apply again; they like to see reapplications!)

I figure this community has folks who might be interested.

#92 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2018, 01:50 PM:

I have spent the past 20 months with a maggot at the back of my skull. Trumpism is fascism, and Trump is a fascist. We've seen it before But where? In the Pink House.

We cannot, in any reasonable or intelligible sense, compare Trump to either Hitler or Mussolini. There is no central party, no militia, no huge parades of ex-soldiers. Not even castor oil. Nor is there anything resembling a coherent fascist organization. There are no central texts. There are no house ideologues (no Alfredo Rocco, no Alfred Rosenberg), or philosophers.

Nor can we compare this to Romanian fascism (although there was a certain farcical character to that). Again, no militia. But also, Codreanu, the Conducator, never made it to power. The absence of a coherent link between nationalism and religion in the Trump movement is noteworthy (what's the national church that's being exalted?).

Steve Bannon is a lively link to Spanish fascism. Takes me back to my primary school Spanish-language primer, he does. All the way down to the way he caricatures his opponents. Bannon, however, is not Trump. Trump is a horse of a different colour.

Trump exemplifies neither Portuguese nor Brazilian fascism. There's no technocratic element whatsoever. He may be The Man, but that's not because anyone believes he knows what he's doing. And Salazar and Vargas were both competent. Not nice. Competent.

That leaves one fascist regime unmentioned. The last, and, in some ways, least fascist of them all. Argentina. Peronism was a fascism of factions, from extreme right to extreme left. A political movement that can contain Francoists like Bannon, the nutcase left in the form of Jill Stein and Dennis Kucinich, closet nasties like Stephen Miller, and the congeries of chancers, loonies, racists, Nazis, Klowns, and other pond scum currently forming the Trumpist movement, is not an ideologically coherent movement. Yet it is a movement. Peronism, in its classic form from the mid-1940s to the mid-1950s, was precisely that. Incoherent, confused, incompetent, and all held together by loyalty to el jefe.

One almost hesitates to point out that Ivanka and Evita scan the same.

#93 ::: Sumana Harihareswara asks gnomes for help ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2018, 04:42 PM:

I left a comment in this thread that has been gnomed for its many hyperlinks. I could offer some sparkling water?

#94 ::: Don Simpson ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2018, 06:55 PM:

johnofjack@78: I admire this, finding it, as others have said, powerful.

#95 ::: The Girl From Ankyra ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2018, 12:00 PM:

*waves vaguely*
Um, hi, sort-of lurker here.
oldster @48, your comment about people choosing to stay in the past in time travel stories got me thinking. I couldn't think of any off the top of my head, but the whole idea of it feels weird to me - I mean, I don't feel like the past would be a particularly pleasant place, and I'm still on the rather privileged end of the spectrum (cis, white...).
Even in times when we could argue that things were better than now, there's the inevitability that it's going to stop, probably getting worse along the way. So what's the reasoning behind the stories? Is it a "I have a true love here" or some blah, or is it written by people who don't know better, or is it not a trope at all? I mean, the closest I could find was the tv tropes page I choose to stay...
This is going to bug me all day now.
*retreats back behind the lurker curtains*

#96 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2018, 01:10 PM:

The Girl from Ankyra @94:


Now I have an idea for a story where a time-traveller goes into the past to live in a "golden era" (when America was Great, perhaps?), only to find that the past isn't a particularly pleasant place.

#97 ::: Sten ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2018, 01:37 PM:

Buddha Buck @ 95:
That is one of the messages from the movie Midnight in Paris. Well, more "the golden era was fun but not that golden" than "unpleasant", perhaps.

#98 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2018, 01:55 PM:

(from memory) There was a Bester story about people (criminals?) given the choice of being sent into the past or the future, without resources. The past is known to be bad, the future is who knows what.

In any case, it's suggested that if you see a street beggar who doesn't know the local language, it might well be one of those unfortunates.

#99 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2018, 02:33 PM:

The Girl from Ankyra @94: thanks for delurking! Please continue to do so -- I like seeing new voices here, as a synesthetic experience.

#100 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2018, 03:28 PM:

johnofjack @ 78:
Adding my voice of appreciation. (And BTW you've been around long enough and often enough, that I for one remember you.)

Regarding that one line you commented on:
"Things always change; the trick is not to mind"

Its pacing and tone reminds me of this line from Mike Ford's beloved sonnet 'Against Entropy':
"The universe winds down. That's how it's made."

and also to a lesser degree the line before it:
"Perhaps you will not miss them. That's the joke."

Perhaps one of these helped spark the line and the association?

#101 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2018, 03:52 PM:

FYI: Until the gnomes get around to releasing Sumana's #92 from durance gnomish, it's readable by clicking on her view-all-by link.

#102 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2018, 04:02 PM:

oldster @ 48: just how confirmed a choice must it be?
* the starlet in The Technicolor(R) Time Machine chooses to continue living with the Norse "discoverer" of North America -- but she's portrayed as very dim, so may not count.
* Brendan Doyle in The Anubis Gates (1983) -- but memory is unclear whether he could get back.
* I don't remember enough of Poul Anderson's The Corridors of Time (1965) to be sure the lead makes a free choice (would he be able to hide from future self-righteous if he went home?).
* In Julian May's The Many-Colored Land (1981) people leave the present in many groups -- but they have no idea what they're in for, they just want out of the present.

Jacque @ 62: sometimes provider retirement can be a win; I found a new primary within walking distance when my previous (who was even closer to the more-concentrated area I was living in 42 years ago) retired. Unfortunately, that doesn't happen often.
@ 77: and sorry to hear your dental substitute failed; the one who bought the practice I'd been going to is a lot more up to date. Pity it's such a crapshoot....

Allan Beatty @ 68: considering my state of energy these years, I'd rather have a "young pipsqueak" in charge of both my health and my country.

Kip W @ 87: kewl! I got to watch my vocal cords not-meeting some time ago; not much to be done other than work around, but a neat experience for a geek.

@johnofjack: I sympathize with your billing troubles, having just been through the advance version of this (previous results mean I should get exams more frequently, so I went through enough bureaucracy to ensure that a new insurer covered). However, your experience may not happen in other non-singlepayer countries; I have read that France still has private insurance, but much more regulated than in the US.

Nancy Lebovitz @ 97: maybe the same Bester, maybe different; I'm recalling not criminals but people who made a bad choice and can't get up the funds to get sent back (e.g., to Hiroshima 1945 from later -- that's how out-of-place the traveled feel).

I'm amazed there haven't been more answers in the time since oldster asked.

#103 ::: The Girl From Ankyra ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2018, 04:38 PM:

Buddha Buck @95 and Tom Whitmore @98: Thanks!

Buddha Buck @95: I'm curious - would you say that people get nostalgic for eras they haven't lived in? IME it was always more like the golden age was when the person was a child "when I were a lad" and that stuff, but my experience is not all that extensive.
Then again, a time traveller who wanted to go back to "when America was great" may not have that many qualms about going back to their own childhood and possible time paradoxes anyway... So the story would probably still work.

#104 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2018, 05:45 PM:

Otto Bettmann, of the Bettmann Archive, wrote a wonderful book that's full of facts and archive pictures to demonstrate the thesis (and title) of the volume: The Good Old Days: They Were Terrible!

There were plenty of things I knew about, but also a stunning array of awful things about those days some people (*cough*GOP*cough*) want to return us to. I learned that horses in cities were vectors for disease, because they lived in livery stables, where urine-soaked straw found its way out into the street where it was pounded (along with manure) into a fine powder that the wind took everywhere. No window could keep the blinding, choking stuff out. Our forebears were so damn happy to see the internal combustion engine come along and put those horses out of business. And there was no downside! Instead of horrid, polluting dust, they just let some trivial vapors out into the air, where it vanished forever, like a cigarette butt when a smoker lets go of it.

#105 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2018, 05:49 PM:

There was a story in Analog where editor [based on Campbell] gets curious about a writer and tracks them down. It's a young woman from the future, writing about the past she experienced while it's still the future.
(I don't, unfortunately, remember who wrote it. Or the title. Or what year it's from.)

#106 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2018, 06:33 PM:

The Girl from Ankyra @102:

While the "when I were a lad" nostalgia is probably most common, it is definitely possible to be nostalgic about past times you never experiences.

One way this can happen is to get caught up in other people's nostalgia. It is common for pop culture to present nostalgia from a period about 25 years ago -- two examples are Happy Days (show in 1970's about the 1950's) and That 70s Show (show in the 1990's about the 1970s). As a kid, watching Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, American Graffiti, Grease, and other late-70's homages to the best of the 1950's, I could easily have become nostalgic for the 50's, despite being born in the early 70's. (It doesn't help that I was reading Asimov, Clarke, Heinlein, Sheckley, and other pre-New Wave SF at the time).

It's also fairly common to look back at past "golden ages" and want to emulate them. A common term for it is "Classical Revivalism", and comes and goes. Sometimes it gets somewhat recursive: Steampunk idealizes Victoriana, including the Greco-Roman revivalism of the Victorians. I'm sure there are other examples.

#107 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2018, 06:38 PM:

I recall a book whose title escapes me in which the teenage protagonist gets three trips to the Victorian era on her apartment building's elevator. She meets and befriends a girl close to her own age in the past, and the end of the book implies that she's taken her (widowed?) father back with her and he has married the other girl's widowed mother.

#108 ::: Cassy B ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2018, 07:11 PM:

I think a lot of the "good old days" thing is, as mentioned above, because people just don't know how terrible they were. I recall spending a considerable time explaining to a (Jewish) coworker who had just been to Medieval Times Dinner Theater that he *didn't* want to go back to the Middle Ages. (He'd never heard of pogroms!!)

#109 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2018, 07:12 PM:

The Girl From Ankyra: Hi! ::wavewavewave:: You know me from Twitter.

#110 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2018, 07:27 PM:

My father's mother wrote about her childhood in southeastern Kansas in the late 1880s and the 1890s. While she didn't write a lot about the bad stuff, it's not exactly hidden. (It does explain why she drank tea as an adult: when she was a kid, coffee (strong and bitter) was used for delivering medicine.)

#111 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2018, 07:27 PM:

My father's mother wrote about her childhood in southeastern Kansas in the late 1880s and the 1890s. While she didn't write a lot about the bad stuff, it's not exactly hidden. (It does explain why she drank tea as an adult: when she was a kid, coffee (strong and bitter) was used for delivering medicine.)

#112 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2018, 07:28 PM:

the Dreaded Internal Server Error strikes again!

#113 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2018, 07:32 PM:

CarrieS@106: I think that's Time at the Top, by Edward Ormondroyd. Sequel All in Good Time. The two have been reprinted in one volume by Purple House Press.

#114 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2018, 09:14 PM:

#104 ::: P J Evans

I'm not crazed on the subject, but I'm fond of the Italian renaissance. I like the clothes, I like the food, and I like the city patriotism.

I've fantasized about letting John Campbell read A Fire Upon the Deep and asking how much of it he thought was science fiction.

I've also fantasized about showing H. P. Lovecraft a pair of Cthulhu bedroom slippers, but that would really be unkind unless I also gave him a good bit of money.

Perhaps he should also be handed a copy of Winter Tide.

#115 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2018, 09:33 PM:

P J Evans @104: That's "Hindsight" by Harry Turtledove (who if memory serves was still at the time writing as "Eric G. Iverson").

#116 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2018, 03:25 AM:

The Girl From Ankyra @ #94:

Hi again. Welcome to our virtual space, which is more ever-present than Gatherings of Lights, who are all over the place, but very coarsely distributed in time.

#117 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2018, 08:57 AM:

Thanks - I really didn't want to try finding it in ISFDB. (I know I kept that issue, because of it - It's In A Box - that box, I can get to.)

#118 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2018, 09:45 AM:

Re nostalgia for times we haven't experienced. There's a quote I can't remember or locate, something to the effect of people being willing to live in a feudal society as long as they are one of the nobility.

More generally, I think it's easy to look at one's current problems and think, if I lived in a different time I wouldn't have this particular problem. It's not immediately obvious that you would acquire six other problems because the solutions you take for granted would be gone.

The problems and their distress are real, but the solutions generally require moving forward, not turning back the clock. If the question is "how do we get from here to there?" the answer of "don't be here" is not useful.

#119 ::: Quill ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2018, 10:52 AM:

OtterB @117: You may be thinking of the Bujold quote "Egalitarians adjust to aristocracies just fine, as long as they get to be the aristocrats," which Miles attributes to Cordelia.

Regarding books where people stay in the past: R.A. MacAvoy's The Book of Kells has a swap, one person from the present staying in the past, one person from the past staying in the present (if memory serves). The person remaining in the past is not inclined to romanticize it, however.

#120 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2018, 11:35 AM:

Kip W @103: Our forebears were so damn happy to see the internal combustion engine come along and put those horses out of business.

I'm wondering how long it will be until our culture learns to build consequence assessment into its tech development path. We're already seeing impacts on bird and bat populations (as well as noise) from wind turbines.

Quill: I've also heard a related comment wrt SCA: you see people cosplaying nobles, but rarely the peasantry.

#121 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2018, 11:43 AM:

Quill @118, I bet the Bujold quote was what I was thinking of. Thanks!

Jacque @119 I think of that sometimes, building consequence assessment into tech development. Clearly you want to do that. But I'm not sure how you balance the cost-benefit. Nearly everything has mixed effects, and often you need to go through suboptimal versions 1, 2, and 3 before you get to the pretty darned workable version 4. It's hard.

#122 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2018, 12:16 PM:

The Girl from Ankyra @102: the late Jack Finney built most of his writing career around variations on the things-were-better-before-we-were-born motif. (Although Finney also wrote about how dreadful life was for his contemporaries.) Possibly there are cycles -- living nostalgia leaving enough record to be revived by a generation without direct knowledge. ISTM that sometimes things come back just because they look cool: the first Steampunk book was a rather dry tome -- ISTM that it has spread due to art and wearables, not that those don't overlap.

Which reminds me that JF's "The Third Level" involves somebody deliberately abandoning 1950 for the (late?) 1800's. Can anyone cite an older example?

OtterB @ 117: More generally, I think it's easy to look at one's current problems and think, if I lived in a different time I wouldn't have this particular problem. Oh yes -- that's so common I'm surprised Bester didn't use it in "5,271,009".

Just because it's gorgeous: The Star Wars posters of Soviet Europe.

#123 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2018, 01:02 PM:

CHip @101--
Thanks for all of these further thoughts! Your knowledge of the sci-fi literature is much more extensive than mine.

Girl from Ankyra @94--I'm so glad that my offhand comment prompted your reflections, and prompted you to de-lurk.
Your 'nym sounds like it should be the title of a lost comedy by Menander.

I don't know why anyone would want to return to the past.
I can actually speak to this question from personal experience, since I grew up in the past. For those of you who didn't, let me tell you: it sucked.

My question about "Harding's Luck" still stands, though: are there any earlier instances of a time-traveler deciding to stay in the past?

#124 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2018, 02:05 PM:

oldster @122 -- thinking about it, what you need is an expert in 19th C SF. They're mostly curmudgeonly old guys at this point -- the best one I know that's still alive is Bob Brown, who loves the 19th C SF in the way I follow 20th C stuff. There's an email link on the front page of his website: if you write and ask him the question, couching it in terms of his expertise on 19th C SF, he'll probably answer. You can tell him I sent you (I was in a bookselling partnership with him and Clint Bigglestone over 40 years ago, and we still are friends).

#125 ::: The Girl From Ankyra ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2018, 03:09 PM:

Thanks for all your nicenesses! It makes my decision to de-lurk feel like a good one.
Kip W @103: That disease vector thing sounds terrifying. Out of curiosity, would we be more susceptible to diseases that have since been eradicated because we haven't been exposed to them?
Jacque and Ingvar M: Hi! *waves back*

#126 ::: Sarah E. ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2018, 03:18 PM:

Carrie S. @ #106: I think I remember reading Time at the Top, now that you mention it. IIRC, it was a case of the time travelers having become attached to individuals in the past; and I guess the historical record prevented them from bringing them forward instead. Other examples would be Time and Again and Timeline.

The time-travelers in Bradbury’s “The Fox in the Forest,” on the other hand, come from a future nasty enough that they think fleeing to 1938 is a good idea. Possibly they’re just historically uninformed, although since their repressive government bothers to send an elaborate conspiracy of agents after them, maybe their own century really is that cruel.

#127 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2018, 03:28 PM:

oldster@122: In Nesbit's The Story of the Amulet, Imogen, a Cockney orphan, is taken back to 55 BC and stays there with a woman whom she thinks is her mother (the 55 BC mother in turn thinks her daughter was not eaten by wolves after all). But that's the same author, and not much before.

#128 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2018, 03:57 PM:

The movie Get Out is back in theaters for Oscar season. I went to see it yesterday.

Whoooooaaaahhh nelly. That has to be one the most effective, plot-twisty thrillers of the century so far, and in the running for the greats of the genre. Right away it establishes a tense vibe that at first seems to be veiled middle class racism. Then it gets strange and uncomfortable and then goes full out gonzo.

I believe the title comes from what half the audience wants to scream at the lead character starting a half an hour in.

#129 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2018, 04:48 PM:

Fragano #91: what's the national church that's being exalted?)

If modern America has a national church, it's the worship of Mammon.

Time Travel: I also recall a short story "The Snowbirds", about time travelers coming from the future, in large numbers. There was some indication that the flood of indigent refugees was in fact helping to create the crapsack future that they were fleeing from.

#130 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2018, 06:30 PM:

HelenS @126--

Eeek! Suddenly I'm afraid that perhaps my mental Nesbit file has gotten badly jumbled, and I am actually remembering the end of the Amulet and confusing it with Harding's Luck. Must re-read whole corpus now!

#131 ::: Tim May ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2018, 06:34 PM:

A while back, I meant to post a link here to this blog post about baking cuneiform cookies, but never got around to it. The author has recently done another one. (That blog is mostly translations of short texts from the ancient near east, and may also be of interest to some here.)

If I recall correctly, I was at that time also intending to link this high-res timelapse animation of the Earth on one day in August 2015 as captured by the Japanese Himawari-8 weather satellite.

#132 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2018, 07:48 PM:

oldster@129: No, Harding's Luck also has a character who stays in the past.

#133 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2018, 08:17 PM:

@Tim May: AWESOME! Eat the epic!

#134 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2018, 11:24 PM:

The Girl From Ankyra @124: It sounds possible, but I couldn't say more than that with the amount of biology knowledge I have. I would expect (he went on) that a germ from the past would have as much chance of being really bad for us as something completely new, though maybe we have some genetic advantage over things that we 'beat' in the past.

Gah. I'm not expressing this very well. I think I'm going to shut everything off and go sleep.

#135 ::: Sarah E. ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2018, 09:31 AM:

Story of the Amulet also has someone from the past staying permanently in the present, but who can only do so by way of merging with a present-day human (which does raise the question of what happened, in the long run, to poor Imogen in 55 BC. Perhaps being subbed in for the little girl eaten by wolves was enough to allow her to stay without harm.)

A recent run of the Jonah Hex comic book had a storyline that brought Hex forward to the present day for a while, but the woman who fell for him and insisted on accompanying him back to the past died almost immediately upon arrival, of some 19th-century virus; much to my spouse’s annoyance as he’d liked the character and felt she deserved a better fate.

#136 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2018, 10:33 AM:

HelenS@131--thanks for confirming this. My files are still quite corrupted, but at least that part was correct.

And I'm so happy to encounter other Nisbet fans!

#137 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2018, 12:43 PM:

Noting the typo for "Nesbit" as "Nisbet" in 35, allow me to mention that there's a contemporary children/YA writer Anne Nesbet, whose first couple of books have some of the feel of Nesbit without feeling as much like pure hommages as Edward Eager's books did. She's worth checking out.

#138 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2018, 02:44 PM:

I have lived in the past, both literally and metaphorically. Imagine me, if you will, thrust back 80 years, back into the late nineteenth century. Able to journey to the twentieth century every day, but living in the nineteenth.

I found myself preferring the world of the television, stereo, and refrigerator to that of having to smoke and salt my meat, ice being a luxury, and constantly having to trim the wicks of lamps. But that's me.

#139 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2018, 09:55 PM:

Fragano at # 91: Thank you for thinking this out so clearly and putting it into words.

You have set out the same conclusion that I arrived at by a murky path when I posted in 2016 that I was forced to vote for Nixon over Peron. I wasn't as knowledgeable as you and I debated writing Berlusconi instead of Peron.

#140 ::: johnofjack ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2018, 06:22 AM:

Don Simpson, Clifton: thanks!

The Girl From Ankyra: welcome!

Stefan Jones @ 127: It's great, isn't it?... Peele says the title's a reference to Eddie Murphy's bit about white people in horror movies.

#141 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2018, 11:10 AM:

johnofjack @139:

That probably explains that whenever I heard the title of the movie I thought of that Eddie Murphy bit.

#142 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2018, 01:51 AM:

As long as we're talking about SF firsts, I've been wondering recently whether Firesign Theatre's I Think We're All Bozos on This Bus, from 1971, is the first fictional depiction of an intruder hacking into a computer system, which would make it arguably the origin point for cyberpunk.

I'd think there should be some much earlier SF depictions but I can't think of one. Does anybody know of an earlier SF work on or including that subject?

#143 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2018, 06:03 AM:

The original 1969 version of The Italian Job gets close, with the Professor Peach character (Benny Hill) messing up the traffic lights in Turin by using a replacement computer program and substituting the tapes. So I doubt you can call it hacking. But networking computers was around, with the NPL in Britain doing it since 1965. ARPANET came second.

It wouldn't surprise me if something involved a computer in The Avengers but actual hacking, I am not sure about.

#144 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2018, 10:59 AM:

The science-thriller movie GOG (1954) has computer hacking-into. Moles from an alien power plant transceivers in the computer which controls operations in a secret underground lab, allowing agents in a stratospheric jet/spacecraft to use test equipment (and non-anthropomorphic robots) as murder weapons.

#145 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2018, 11:02 AM:

The 1954 movie GOG has computer hacking. Enemy agents plant transceivers in a computer which controls an underground science lab, allowing agents in a high-altitude plane to use test equipment as murder instruments.

#146 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2018, 11:59 AM:

Stefan Jones @ 143/144: In some respects I prefer the "alien mole-people hack the underground lab" version.

#147 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2018, 03:46 PM:

Thanks for ungnoming #91!

#148 ::: SunflowerP ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2018, 04:29 PM:

Open-thready signal boost for the 2018 Gender Census (formerly known as the Nonbinary/Genderqueer Stats Survey). Cassian Lodge (whom some folks here might know as the creator of the 'Poly in Pictures' webcomic) has been doing this survey annually for five years now - it's quite short and easy, so I encourage any folks who ID as nonbinary, genderqueer, gender-variant or gender-nonconforming, or otherwise feel that their gender isn’t fully expressed or described by the gender binary, to consider taking part, and for anyone who has NB/GQ friends, family, followers, etc to please boost the signal in turn.

Fragano Ledgister @92: 'The absence of a coherent link between nationalism and religion in the Trump movement is noteworthy (what's the national church that's being exalted?)'
Dave Harmon @129: 'If modern America has a national church, it's the worship of Mammon.'

My initial thought regarding Fragano's point was that there is certainly an incoherent, but nonetheless extant, link, to a cluster of strands of conservative Protestantism that many Trumpists want to think of as the USian national church. Dave's response, though, gave me something at which I could point more precisely - it's those strands that have bought in, to greater or lesser extent, to Prosperity Gospel theology.

#149 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2018, 06:34 PM:

@Joel: HAH! I meant mole as in double agent, but mole people *would* have been cool.

(I got a 500 error and didn't see 144 when I returned to the thread, so I started over . . . delayed action posting!)

I did not realize that GOG was originally a 3D film! I've heard it was a staple of Saturday afternoon TV, but I never knew about it until a few years back. The body count in the film is astonishing! People get cryogenically frozen and shattered, smooshed in a centrifuge, solar-flared, and rended by a robot.

#150 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2018, 07:40 PM:

Surely Spock hacks into one or two alien computer systems? and aliens into the Enterprise's system?

#151 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2018, 01:53 AM:

Does The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress (1966) count? There's definitely unauthorized activity in a computer network controlling the lunar colony, though most of it is conducted by the newly-sentient computer itself.

#152 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2018, 05:12 PM:

If Jack the Ripper had ever attacked a Victorian practical mathematician, that would have counted as an early example of hacking a computer.

#153 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2018, 05:29 PM:

Hot Millions (1968: Peter Ustinov, Maggie Smith) was my first thought of early computer hacking. Embezzlement using unauthorized access to a mainframe; the mode of access is rather amusing.

#154 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2018, 08:30 PM:

#153 ::: Theophylact

I'm reminded of Rosalie Goes Shopping, a thoroughly charming movie if you're in the mood for a Nietzschian heroine, but it's more recent.

#155 ::: Cassy B ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2018, 10:29 PM:

I vaguely remember reading a book... I'd guess in the early or mid-1970s... where the Olympic Games were held and the girlfriend(?) of one of the competitors puts a lucky green frog(?) statue on top of a computer, which then declares the competitor an Olympic world record holder... I think perhaps in swimming, but it might have been track and field. Because the frog was magnetic, you see, and messed up the computer.

I remember virtually nothing else about it. And as you can tell by the question marks, what I do remember is not definite.

And there was an old Disney movie called The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes, but that would be the case of a computer hacking a person, I think... <grin>

#156 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2018, 11:10 PM:

I wonder if Danny Dunn and the Homework Machine fits?

#157 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2018, 05:58 AM:

I think the earliest depiction of hacking thing might be a conflict between the different uses of the label. I can think of three broad classes.

1: The skilled programmer who is allowed access.

2: Illicit manipulation of an isolated computer.

3: Illicit manipulation of a networked computer.

I think what we see in media today is essentially Type 3, though the access isn't always over the network. My earlier example of Professor Peach in "The Italian Job" would be Type 2.

The Type 1 maybe comes out of the WW2 idea of the Boffin, the hacking label is much later. The computer-related senses go back to the 1960s, but it may have earlier roots in Amateur Radio.

I could point to the events of Apollo XIII as a trigger, not really a computer thing, but an example of the mindset. They were "space scientists" but there was a feel in some of the improvisations that "I could have done that."

#158 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2018, 08:44 AM:

I usually go to WisCon (Memorial Day weekend (late May) in Madison, Wisconsin), and indeed will attend again this year. WisCon has a member assistance fund and you can nominate yourself or someone else for financial help by Feb. 28th, if some money (up to USD$500) would enable you/them to attend.

#159 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2018, 12:19 PM:

He who takes credit for the ladders should take credit, methinks, for the snakes.

#160 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2018, 04:02 PM:

oldster @ 123: the suckitude of the past varies widely with personal experience (and probably race, gender, ...), and with one's assessment of current messes. e.g., I'm young enough (b.1953) not to remember panics over polio outbreaks; I do remember everyone cheering when the injectable Salk vaccine was replaced with the Sabin oral, and not understanding what was so special. Despite a generally supported childhood, I have no desire to go back. However, what I've read recently suggests that people do paper over unpleasant experiences (when they can -- PTSD happens when the experience is too disturbing for this), making the past seem rosier. This is hardly new; "Miniver Cheevy" came out a year after Harding's Luck, but snickers at such dreamers go back at least to Don Quixote. I also wonder how many people insufficiently well-read in SF (which has many counter-examples) believe they could do well taking their current knowledge to the past; "5,271,009" snickers at a short-term version of this, but despite the others who have dissected it we still get people suffering from Connecticut Yankee Syndrome -- see, e.g., Leo Frankowski.

Kip W @ 134 maybe we have some genetic advantage over things that we 'beat' in the past. Most of the things we "beat" were conquered by vaccines (which sometimes wear off), rather than stronger genes; with more vectors around, ISTM that someone traveling to the past would at least need to be sure vaccines are current.

Allan Beatty @ 139: I was forced to vote for Nixon over Peron. That's ... extreme. Nixon appears to have been a fundamentally dishonest pathological personality from way back (i.e., Watergate was not a devolution). I'm aware that some of the Left makes no distinction.

Jeremy Leader @ 151: I'd call tMiaHM a variant of the Colossus theme, where the computer chooses ~disobey but is not re-controlled as in all of Dave Bell @ 157's classes. And I'm sure Colossus was not the first example given how old the science-gets-out-of-control theme is.

#161 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2018, 04:29 PM:

SpaceX has successfully launched the Falcon Heavy! (With its showboating payload of Elon Musk's Tesla Roadster.) :D We're going back to spaaaaaaace!

I feel an optimism that has been lacking all my life. Once again we are building rockets that can carry humans past Low Earth Orbit. Once again we have the resources to look up towards the stars and not only dream, but build.

#162 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2018, 05:58 PM:

We watched the launch just after school today, and the one or two people who knew what was going on in full explained it. I thought one of them was making it up about the Tesla. The young-oriented-news program we watch also featured space, this time as Mars.

My sister would colonize Mars if she could. When asked, I explained that we played a lot of Oregon Trail as kids.

#163 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2018, 07:37 PM:

CHip at #160: I meant the policy aspects of Nixon's presidency, not the vindictiveness and other personality failings.

#164 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2018, 08:24 PM:

The Tesla - and its dummy "driver" - are real. So is the screen in front of him which reads, in large letters, "Don't Panic". (I've heard it's an iPad. Wonder how long it will hold up.) There's even a live feed, or was earlier, from the on-board cameras. (The views of Earth are, as usual, glorious.)

#165 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2018, 12:21 AM:

Chip #160:

It seems like there are both plusses and minuses to being in the past. For me, the minuses outweigh the plusses, but I can kind-of imagine how someone else might have a different answer.

One big obvious reason to want to stay in the past as a time traveler is that you have knowledge nobody else has. If you have a head full of 21st century knowledge in the 18th century or the 14th century, you can invent the steam engine and the railroad and the telegraph, whereas your knowledge is worth a lot less in the 21st century. If you dream of conquering a big chunk of the world, or having vast wealth, or armies of servants, that's all probably easier to do back then than now.

The bad news is, even if you start the industrial revolution centuries early and become the wealthiest and most powerful person on Earth, you're still going to be wishing you could come back to the 21st century when you've got a bad tooth or an infected cut, or when you're living in a hot climate but air conditioning won't be invented for another couple centuries, or....

#166 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2018, 08:50 AM:

albatross #165, Dara O Briain (my apologies for the lack of diacritics) has a very funny bit about just that thing.

(Does contain some swearing, if you're in a location where listening to a youtube video with swearing might not be appropriate.)

#167 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2018, 09:43 AM:

P J Evans @ 164:

My experience with industrial electronic devices is that the electronics are rated down to -40°F/-40°C, but that the LCD screens will freeze at around 20°F/-7°C. This isn't to say that they won't work when it's colder, but it's not guaranteed. That said, that's at standard atmospheric pressure. I'd expect the liquid part of an LCD to boil off before full vacuum.

I'd guess that an iPad, being consumer electronics, would stop working before that.

#168 ::: Sarah E. ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2018, 12:55 PM:

Cassy B @ #155: IIRC correctly, that was The Electronic Olympics by Hal Higdon; and the toy frog affecting the computer was the thing that finally pushed the Olympics committee into recognizing that the computer scores weren’t perfect, because inaccuracy was so glaringly obvious they couldn’t ignore it (I think someone slipped and fell awkwardly into the pool and the scoreboard went nuts and flashed a score of one million+).

Dave Bell @ #157: I used to have an old book by Allan Pinkerton that contained a chapter, “The Lightning Stealers,” about criminals sending false telegraph messages in order to manipulate the stock market, though I think that was more a matter of bribing the telegraph operators.

albatross @ #165: The Conrad Stargard books were a nice 50/50 take on this theme – Stargard’s engineering skills are useful as a starting point, but early on he realizes that most of what he’s been taught to do rests on the Industrial Revolution already having happened, and thus the easy availability of mass-produced, standardized parts; whereas in medieval Poland, he has to rely on describing the theory of what he wants to the local craftspeople, and then work with them to figure out a version that can be made with the technology already available.

#169 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2018, 01:39 PM:

I already wrote to the Hugo Award administrators to ask this, but figured I'd also share the question here.

I would like to nominate, for a Hugo Award, a multimedia science fiction work called 17776 (description).

17776 is told partially in prose (approximately 25,000 words based on my cut-and-pasting count), partially in short video clips (totalling 28 minutes and 30 seconds in running time), and partially in comics. It was published on as a serial starting in early July 2017, and was available to read in its entirety by July 15, 2017.

On the basis of its length in prose I could nominate it as a novella; I could also imagine it fitting into Best Graphic Story, Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form), or Best Related Work.


#170 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2018, 01:52 PM:

Sarah E:

Yeah, the 1632 series does a lot of this, where the uptimers are trying to make motors or precision firearms or whatever, and they're having to get the components made by hand, with all the variability that implies.

In that series, several of the uptimers[1] express frustration with the event that brought them back at time, but others think it was the best thing that ever happened to them--particularly two characters who met their wives in the past and who are now major players on the world stage, whereas they were nobodies in our world.

Basically all the uptimers in this book become more influential and important in the world than they were in ours. However, there was really only one guy who was actually important in our world in Grantsville when it went back in time--everyone else was just some random person in a coal-mining town--an ex-boxer turned coal miner, a high school principal, a manager for the mining company, a high school history teacher, a big-city emergency room doctor, etc. The important-in-our-world guy does pretty well in the new world, too.

[1] The series starts when a gigantic plot device throws a small West Virginia town into the middle of the thirty years' war in Germany in 1632. In the series, "uptimers" means people from the 20th century, and "downtimers" means everyone else.

#171 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2018, 02:18 PM:

Sumana @169: I loved that too, and would like to see it nominated!

My own looking at it puts it in Graphic Story as the best fit, with DP and Novella being just not right for it. Other people's mileage will vary -- you asked for thoughts, not answers!

#172 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2018, 06:11 PM:

KeithS @167:

Things cool down slowly in space, especially if it generates heat like electronics would. Even if the liquid crystals would freeze at 20F, it would still take a long time to get there. Since an iPad generates heat when in use, it's possible that overheating is more of a concern than freezing, until the battery dies.

The liquid crystals are in a sealed package, and aren't exposed to the vacuum. It's doubtful that they would boil away.

#173 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2018, 07:47 PM:

From today's Twitters, RIP John Perry Barlow, and good luck to Patrick and Teresa on their move to a new apartment in Brooklyn.

#174 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2018, 08:17 PM:

Sumana Harihareswara: #169: Indeed 17776 was great, and it was linked from here, so many of us have seen it.

Time Travel: The thing is, in (say) the 15th century, a head full of 19th-century would be more useful than a head full of 21st century knowledge.

As Albatross alludes to, most of our modern wonders are closely bound to our technosphere. Forget about computers -- even the simplest modern chip is the result of cooperation by many thousands of people scattered across multiple fields of knowledge. Mechanical computers? Even before you get to materials and crafting, just how well do you know how any of the Babbage engines really worked? Could you sketch the parts from memory?

Same deal for engines, even. For most devices, you'd need to do all the development yourself, presumably with local resources. But how many ores and minerals could you recognize in situ, let alone how to refine them, or form the alloys? How will you feed yourself and your workers while you're playing with ores and experimenting with odd, initially-useless, devices?

Now, social and "practical" knowledge might be more useful -- but a lot of that is likewise bound to our own culture, and to the easy availability and transportation of resources. And if some odd trick is practical in the local environment, there's decent odds that the locals already know about it.

I'll grant, say, knowing that alfalfa or pulse crops are best for fallow fields, and that volcanic ash can help with mineral depletion -- but that's incremental knowledge, which basically lets you be a better farmer.

Sanitation looks like a gimme, until you consider that you need a lot of fuel for boiling all that water, and somebody's got to chop that wood and haul that water. Alcohol and vinegar will cost money and be in limited supply regardless of money.

Psychological knowledge might seem useful, until people notice how you're "always" getting your way, and start resorting to argumentum ad baculum -- if they don't denounce you as a heretic or witch. Not to mention you still have to deal with the existing power structures; most places and times, you simply will not be able to join the nobility (that is, the people who are allowed to give orders) unless you're related to the right people, and as a new arrival, you're not related to anybody -- in fact, you have all the usual problems of an immigrant from foreign parts. (Let alone if your features resemble those of a locally-denigrated race.)

In general, acquiring a labor force would be easier said than done in most milieus, as most people around you are busy making their own living, commonly by labor-intensive farming. Often they'll also be obligated to someone who will object to you swiping their serfs. (And how will you feed them?) Even the nobility have their own obligations, and will be unlikely to endanger their own positions for your project.

#175 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2018, 09:00 PM:

Sumana @169: Thank you for the reminder. 17776 is a wonderfully creative work, and it's definitely science fiction. I think it is a Graphic Story.

#176 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2018, 10:02 PM:

As I recall, Martin Padway in Lest Darkness fall taught double entry bookkeeping.

#177 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2018, 07:50 AM:

I've always wondered if I could parlay the one-time pad and running key into something useful in Elizabethan England--otherwise known as "East Berlin with lace ruffs".

#178 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2018, 10:55 AM:

KeithS #167, Buddha Buck #172: The change in pressure might still make a lot of things unhappy -- contacts pulled out of line, etc. Exposure to vacuum also does weird things to many materials -- evaporation of volatiles, and, IIRC, even evaporation (and re-deposition) of metals. And then there's the effects of radiation!

#179 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2018, 11:15 AM:

Buddha Buck @ 172 and Dave Harmon @ 178:

I was initially thinking about the cold at altitude, but a spacebound rocket isn't really going to spend much time in the upper atmosphere before leaving altogether. Correct, in space the problem is heat dissipation, since there's no air to take the heat away by convection.

But vacuum still isn't good for a lot of things, as Dave Harmon points out, and I'd forgotten about the radiation. I'm not foreseeing much of a happy future for that iPad.

#180 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2018, 11:51 AM:

The strike-anywhere match would be useful at almost any time in the past, and could be made using technology available to the Alexandrian Greeks. First, though, you'd have to "discover" phosphorus, which wasn't known until the late 17th century in our time. But unlike Hennig Brand, you wouldn't have to boil down enormous amounts of urine; bone, guano, or rock would be much richer in the element.

Zinc has been known since at least the ninth cntury, and a copper-zinc cell would be trivial to make and use for a variety of things.

#181 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2018, 12:26 PM:

I'm rusty on my basic physics, but if I had access to copper and iron, and the means to get a blacksmith to do the work, I think I could manage to build a basic electric generator and a carbon-arc light. (I've just re-read A Canticle For Leibowitz. It's remarkably depressing in a time when the threat of nuclear war is relatively high.)

Making float glass in its simplest form doesn't require anything more than glass and tin. It might be necessary to do in batches rather than the more modern continuous process. Melt some tin, put the glass on top, raise the temperature high enough to melt the glass, let the temperature drop enough to solidify the glass sheet, remove the glass.

Depending on when I landed, I could probably significantly boost the efficiency of the smelting process, to get a lot more iron out of a given amount of ore. And I know the "secret" of Damascus steel, though it would take a fair bit of time and work to make it work.

Just getting physicians to wash their hands between patients, to get rid of the invisible demons that cause illness, would be a big thing. If necessary, make the hand-washing part of a small religious ritual.

For a number of these things, I know the "secret" but have no practical experience. The problem would be to persuade people to let me work with them, while supporting myself. I would never have made a good apprentice blacksmith, and now, without the meds that manage my chronic pain, I'd be doing really badly.

#182 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2018, 12:51 PM:

Dave Harmon @174: Time Travel: The thing is, in (say) the 15th century, a head full of 19th-century would be more useful than a head full of 21st century knowledge.

The limitation I always slap up against in my thought experiments is plastic. I think we vastly underestimate how much we depend on a light flexible, waterproof material. Just think about how much being able to stay dry in bad weather impacts your overall well-being.

Sanitation looks like a gimme, until you consider that you need a lot of fuel for boiling all that water,

Well, there's the trick of putting soda-bottles of water up on your roof to be purified by UV—oh wait, no soda bottles. Sure, you could use glass bottles, but you thought the wood was labor-intensive....

Joel Polowin @181: Making float glass in its simplest form doesn't require anything more than glass and tin.

...and lots of heat. I also wonder how much you'd wind up struggling with the chemistry of your glass.

Just getting physicians to wash their hands between patients actually clean water. Makes me wonder: low-tech chlorine production...?

#183 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2018, 01:07 PM:

Things that would be surprisingly easy to make even in the 15th century:

Hot air balloon
Steam engine
Slide rule

They'd be crude, but they're possible.

#184 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2018, 02:33 PM:

Jacque @182 - If you can work glass at all, you've got the means to melt it in at least moderate quantity. And I'm fairly sure that thin and really-flat glass would be a pretty valuable commodity to have a lock on, if you're in a situation that permits trade with a sufficiently-upscale market.

Chlorine production... well, if you can build an electrical generator, that would be one of the potential products. But boiled water would probably be good enough, distilled alcohol even better, fresh stream water might do depending on the source, and any kind of hand-washing better than none at all. If you're near an ocean, roasting kelp in an oven can give you iodine as a sublimate wherever the output gases cool. I don't recall if there are particular varieties of kelp that are preferred for this.

One problem with any of this stuff is that for much of history, crafts/trades tended to be fairly insular. I would expect to have a lot of trouble getting a blacksmith to take me seriously and listen to my suggestions, since I am so obviously not a blacksmith myself. "I have some brilliant ideas, you do the work, and we'll split the profits" is an approach that has never been popular among the people who have to do the work.

#185 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2018, 06:23 PM:

If you can build an electrical generator, all sorts of simple things can be made -- like hydrogen gas, good for all sorts of things including lighter-than-air craft and certain kinds of bomb. Electrolysis of water is dead simple.

#186 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2018, 06:50 PM:

As I recall, slide rules are a 17th-century invention, with earlier roots, so it shouldn't physically difficult. Accuracy might be harder.
Gliders would follow from Leonardo, and maybe hot-air balloons - the biggest problem with balloons might be getting the amount of fabric needed.

#187 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2018, 09:22 PM:

There's a fellow on YT doing experiments in "primitive technology", which in practice means starting with no outside materials or tools. He's in northern Australia, and working with a piece of land which does have clay deposits and wood, so it turns out that fire is easy and ceramics aren't difficult. Edged tools of various sorts are straightforward too, though he apparently lacks a supply of anything knappable, so he has to grind edges.

It's that lack of supply that looks to be the next major limit: really, you have to at least have metal ores, or the metals themselves. And you need fuel beyond wood. Charcoal isn't too hard to make (though it requires a high level of supervision), but it presupposes a steady supply of wood, and the latter was becoming a limiting factor in late medieval times. Coppicing can get you only so far.

Water power was known, of course, and that's where you can get the biggest leverage: making cloth. Spinning jennies, water frames, and power looms are easily within the scope of late medieval technology.

#188 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2018, 12:26 AM:

I think I'd do better leveraging my school skills than figuring out which steps to start with to get space travel going. I can write, I can do math, I can explain experimental design-- someone else can do the smelting after I spread the knowledge around. Or, for that matter, I could commission circular knitting needles and start the magic loop off earlier.

Can you tell that I am descended from teachers?

#189 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2018, 07:36 AM:

Steve C. #183: At least three items on your list would tend to regularly "eat" experimenters. Especially with dubious metals and other materials.

Diatryma #188: For that matter, Arabic numbers and positional notation would be major, anyplace that doesn't have them already.

And in non-material stuff, what about morality as social technology? I know too little of the actual history of such things... but surely since the Golden Rule, we've figured out something beyond local versions of "obey these power structures and taboos".

#190 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2018, 11:06 AM:

Dave Harmon @189--

I'm glad you brought this up. Few people now realize how many early experimenters lost their lives to carnivorous slide-rules.

Your modern, safety slide-rule is a relatively tame-looking affair. But that took generations of domestication.
And the slow process of making slide-rules safe for human usage costs the lives of some brave men and women.

Of course there are always the bravados who say that we should bring back the early brutes. They call the new slide-rules effete, complain that they were weakened by refinement, or make rude jokes about OSHA regulations.

Well, I say: let them try. Put them in a lab with one of those original slide-rules, and they wouldn't last a round. It would be nothing but smashed test-tubes and a pile of bones.

No thank you! I'm grateful for today's safe, convenient, well-regulated slide rule. It has been decades since the last rogue slide-rules attacked and devoured a human being, and I for one do not want to go back.

#191 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2018, 11:17 AM:

oldster #190: LOL!

#192 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2018, 11:31 AM:

Dave Harmon@191--

Oh dear. Now I'm worried that I misunderstood you. Not slide-rules?

Ah! You meant phonographs!

Well, yes. I mean: of course. In the Eocene era, when megafauna still roamed the steppe, the saber-toothed phonograph was more or less the apex predator.

When we see the tiny, almost microscopic stylus on today's phonograph, it's easy to forget that its prehistoric ancestors sported a stylus over 20cm long, with horrible serrations near the tip. But then again, the discs of that era were much larger as well--what geologists refer to as "tectonic platters".

Dangerous indeed!

#193 ::: Sarah E. ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2018, 11:47 AM:

Diatryma @ #188, Dave Harmon @ #189:

I suppose another problem, at least in some countries, would be language change (Stargard, once he figures out he’s gone back in time, is incredibly grateful he’s a Pole in Poland (or the territory that is currently Poland) and not an Englishman facing the prospect of making himself intelligible to Middle-English speakers.) Even being able to read and write would be of limited value if the standard form of handwriting is different, or the rule is that anything worth writing down is worth translating into Latin.

#194 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2018, 12:07 PM:

Also, Frankowski (via his Gary Stu Conrad Stargard) knows somewhat less than he thinks he does. Several of his retro-innovations wouldn't work. At one point, he sets up a counter-current system to process fleeces efficiently, cleaning them in preparation for carding and weaving the wool. Okay in principle, and counter-current systems are one of those things that require no novel tech, just someone with the bright idea. But his logic goes: soap is a mixture of fat and ashes/lye, and the fleeces are already full of fat/oil, so all I need to do is to cook the fleeces with a boiling lye solution. Lots of time and labor saved, ha! My own innovation!

Unfortunately, soap is the product of a chemical reaction between lye and fat/oil. Cooking hair in a boiling lye solution will tend to dissolve it.

#195 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2018, 01:02 PM:

Dave Harmon @189: And in non-material stuff, what about morality as social technology? I know too little of the actual history of such things... but surely since the Golden Rule, we've figured out something beyond local versions of "obey these power structures and taboos".

Sounds like a good way to get yourself burned as a heretic if you're not really careful about what you say and how you say it.

#196 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2018, 01:36 PM:

Even being able to read and write would be of limited value if the standard form of handwriting is different

It's remarkable difficult to read even 16th-century English handwriting. (I have images of a number of documents from that century. Genealogy....) reading your own wouldn't be difficult, and others might find yours easier, but odd in style, but even the official style used by clerks and secretaries can be a pain.

#197 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2018, 04:56 PM:

I haven't been here in a while. Too busy with political Twitter, political Facebook, and lying in bed wondering why I should even try to get up.

Not going to get into the thing about "cool because he's a dwarf." If you say "Dwarves are cool," you're risking species fetishization; if you say "dwarfs are cool," you're risking disability fetishization. Neither is a good look for non-disabled humans.

abi 1: If you can't feel love and support beaming at you from over here, let me know and I'll beam harder.

I really need to chant the Green Tara chant more, for myself and others.

P J Evans 9ff: Love and support for you as well, if welcome.

B. Holder (actually Kerstin) 18: So sorry for your loss, and ours.

KeithS 58: Your posting of the link to the BHBoD reminded me that, while I've long since calculated the weights for European-style baking for that recipe (and GODS is it quicker!), I've never posted them here. Here's the whole recipe in one piece (I've made some changes).

Black Hole Brownies
2 Sticks Butter 230g
3 Cups Sugar 635g
2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract ~10 mL
4 Eggs (better get Large or Jumbo)
1.5 Cups unsweetened cocoa (not Dutch process or “special dark”) 200g
3/4 Cup Rice Flour (finest grind you can find) 150g
1/4 Cup Cornstarch 45g
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder 2.5 mL
1/4 Teaspoon Salt 1.2 mL
1 Bag Ghirardelli's 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Chips 283g

  1. Heat oven to 350.
  2. Grease 13X9X2 baking pan. (I use butter for this.)
  3. Put the Butter in a large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on HIGH until melted (about 2 min).
  4. Stir in the Sugar and Vanilla.*
  5. Add Eggs, one at a time, beating well with a spoon after each addition.
  6. Add Cocoa, and stir slowly until it's all wet, then beat until it's well blended. (Warning: this is a LOT of cocoa. It will take some time to mix, but don't go fast, at least at first: it will puff all over your kitchen and you, putting you at risk for inhalation theobromosis. Cocoa belongs in the mouth, not the lungs.)
  7. In another bowl, mix together the Rice Flour, Cornstarch, Baking Powder, and Salt. Add them to the chockiechockiegoodnessyum, and beat well.
  8. Mix in the Chocolate Chips.
  9. Pour it into the pan, and smooth the top as much as you can.
  10. Bake 25 minutes. If the brownies are even just beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan, take 'em out. If they aren't, give 'em another 5 min. If you overbake them, they won't be ooeygooey enough.
  11. Cool thoroughly at room temperature. These brownies don't hold together well--at all, actually, but especially if you try to cut them while the chocolate is still melted. I don't need to tell YOU not to put them in the refrigerator, do I? I thought not.
  12. Just before cutting them, dust the top with cocoa powder. I use one of those little teaspoon tea spoons (you know, the kind you use for making a single cup from loose tea); it makes it easy to get just the right amount.

The rest goes without saying. Scarf 'em.

* At this point I usually taste it to make sure it's OK. Vanillasugarbutter, yum! Just don't get caught.

The Girl From Ankyra 95: So glad to see you delurk! We met, I believe, in Helsinki. Good to see you here!

Jacque 120: I've also heard a related comment wrt SCA: you see people cosplaying nobles, but rarely the peasantry.

To be fair, the SCA is self-consciously a "good parts" recreation: no plague, no lice, no pogroms, no blood feud, no Spanish Inquisition (bet you weren't expecting that); and on the other hand regular baths, indoor plumbing, and modern food-protection standards.

The nobility got all the "good parts" of the Middle Ages. The peasants got grinding poverty, oppressive overlords, and early death.

All that said, though, I have seen a person or two play a peasant character. One of them was juggling "plague rats."

oldster 190: You are precious to me, above rubies.

All the time-travel posts: My fantasies have been simpler. Wander through 15th-Century America giving everyone cowpox, and possibly even start a cult where "receiving" cowpox is a rite of passage. Give the Aztecs the wheel a couple of centuries before the Spaniards arrive.

Higher tech: give muskets to the people who had to live near the Puritans. Warn them not to help them, and to keep wampum strictly out of their hands.

At the highest tech level, arm the Pequot with AK-47s, and tell them they're to train on them, but keep them for use when the white devils come to kill them.

#198 ::: Incoherent ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2018, 05:01 PM:

193, 196

Also having to deal with the different writing technologies, depending on how far back. How many people can write legibly with a quill pen, let alone season and cut one? The differences in writing instruments, surfaces (hand-made paper, parchment, birch bark, if any even available), and inks might be a major obstacle.

#199 ::: Incoherent ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2018, 05:14 PM:

Xopher at 197:

Wander through 15th-Century America giving everyone cowpox

That would help, but would it be enough in the long run? My understanding is that while smallpox was the worst scourge in terms of epidemics, there were plenty of others. Measles, mumps, diphtheria, et al. are also killers and hit the native population pretty hard.

OTOH, part of the problem was the synergy of epidemic after epidemic sapping resources until the structure of their societies collapsed, so taking out one of the biggest killers might make just enough difference.

Tisquantum (the Pilgrims' "Squanto") knew about muskets and the danger of Europeans -- he'd been to England as a kidnapped slave. His problem was that by the time he got back home almost everyone he knew was dead of serial epidemics...

#200 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2018, 05:49 PM:

I am handwaving language the same way we are handwaving 'landing in oldtimey Europe where there are people and not wolves, also not in the middle of the ocean'.

#201 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2018, 07:28 PM:

Plague wasn't typical of the whole middle ages. It was bad enough to shock people

#202 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2018, 07:40 PM:

Xopher on the black hole brownies @197: do you really preheat the oven to 350C, or have you slipped back into English (Fahrenheit) measurement for a moment?

#203 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2018, 07:50 PM:

Good wishes accepted with many thanks!

(The next three weeks may be the worst part of this - it's the last cycle, and the side-effects haven't improved with time. muttermuttermutter)

#204 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2018, 10:08 PM:

Giants still roam the earth. I have an eight-foot slide rule in the living room.

#205 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2018, 11:34 PM:

Tom 202: Damn, cross-linked with my recipe for Death Brownies with Cadmium Chips!

No, I meant 350F (325 if using dark or non-stick pans). That's 177/163C.

These days I use a nonstick pan AND grease it with butter AND put parchment paper over that AND grease the parchment paper. I can get the whole batch out in a solid chunk if I need to...unless I underbake them.

#206 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2018, 01:35 AM:

When I make the Black Hole Brownies of Death, I borrow a trick from a Maida Heatter recipe, the BHBoD's predecessor as my go-to brownie: I mold some aluminum foil to the outside of the pan, and then turn the pan over and mold the foil further to its inside. Then I put a pat of butter in it, and put the pan in the oven when it's starting to preheat. When the butter is melted, I then spread it around on the foil with paper towels. (Heatter says a pastry brush, but I don't own one of those.) That makes it pretty easy to get the brownies out of the pan.

When I give people the recipe, I make a note at the end that the batter will be very thick, almost more a dough than a batter, and will need to be scraped out of the bowl with a spatula and then spread out by hand. ("This is normal.")

#207 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2018, 01:50 AM:

Xopher Halftongue @ 197:

Food science question. What's the reason you use rice flour and corn starch in your Black Hole Brownies of Death, rather than wheat flour? I have a basic idea of how wheat flour and corn starch work, but rice flour not so much.

#208 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2018, 02:11 AM:

KeithS 207: Originally, because friends of mine were wheat allergic or had celiac disease. Then I discovered that the texture of the brownies was much improved by using that substitution (they are more melt-in-your-mouthy now).

The lack of gluten does make them fall apart more easily, but I think it's worth it.

Now I have even more friends with a wheat or gluten intolerance of one kind or another, so I'm not tempted to switch back.

#209 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2018, 02:15 AM:

Xopher Halftongue @ 208:

Thanks! The texture and flavor of the brownies was great, so I'm not tempted to switch back either.

#210 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2018, 03:26 AM:

Xopher Halftongue @ #197: Give the Aztecs the wheel a couple of centuries before the Spaniards arrive.

I remember seeing it suggested once that the wheel may have failed to take off among the Aztecs because the conditions weren't right for wheeled vehicles to be useful, though I forget the details. A lack of suitable draft animals, I think, later compounded by roads that wheeled vehicles would have struggled on because they weren't a factor considered in the design.

#211 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2018, 09:45 AM:


In the same chambers where you sleep? Well, I admire your sangfroid, at any rate.

I hope you have it suitably restrained. If it should get loose, it might do incalculable damage.

#212 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2018, 12:10 PM:

P J Evans @ 203 - Best wishes with that, and try to hold to the knowledge that it is the last round.

#213 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2018, 02:14 PM:

Along with a sample wheeled chariot, you give the Aztecs fifty feet of sample road . . .

#214 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2018, 02:40 PM:

Xopher Halftongue @197 - If you want people to make themselves ill in order to provide magical protection in the future from people who look like, well, yourself, I think you'd need first to get a reputation as a wise shaman / celebrity.

I think that you, personally, would have an edge in central America. "Here, let me show you what else you can do with that xocolatl stuff..." Though I don't know how well it would work with the sweeteners available, in a warm climate.

#215 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2018, 03:49 PM:

Joel Polowin @214: Agave syrup should work quite well as a sweetener for xocolatl, and was definitely available. And it's also a major source for making tequila -- don't know how early that was developed!

#216 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2018, 12:54 AM:

Xopher - Would the BHBoD work ok with wheat flour instead? (And wow, that IS a lot of cocoa!)

#217 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2018, 12:58 AM:

(Oh, sorry - when I posted that a bunch of other posts appeared that had apparently been lurking in the background just waiting, like slide rules or other devious instruments, so mine's redundant.)

#218 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2018, 01:18 AM:

Once or twice I have made them with a cup of regular wheat flour instead of the rice flour + corn starch, and yes, it works fine. I actually don't think there's much to choose from in terms of taste and texture.

#219 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2018, 02:58 PM:

Hmm. There are varying opinions about texture between the glutenous and gluten-free versions, but the one I haven't heard is that the wheat flour one is better. I never make these just for myself, and most of the places I take them have at least one or two people who are avoiding gluten for one reason or another...and in my experience such people are often quite starved for yummy baked goods.

But let's talk about what we mean by 'wheat flour'. We certainly don't mean whole wheat flour (if you decide to try this recipe with whole wheat flour, change your mind and don't). All-purpose flour is fine. Bread flour will be tough and chewy. Pastry flour will probably give you a texture closer to the gluten-free version (if, like me, you believe there's a difference).

I must say that I had no idea so many Fluorospherians (SOOOO tempting to misspell that in this context) were making this recipe! It's gratifying.

#220 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2018, 04:22 PM:

My mom's brownies, which of course means they are the best, are chocolatey and chewy. To get just the right level of chewiness you need gluten. I have a mind to try Xopher's recipe anyway. I'm pretty sure they will be the best ever brownies that are not like my mom's.

#221 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2018, 08:53 PM:

Yes, mine are gooey rather than chewy. Can't think of a way to keep them GF while making them chewy. I'm not experienced with additives like Xanthan gum (not that I want to support that pig Piers Anthony's private fief anyway).

#222 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2018, 12:20 AM:

We all knew this was true, but it's different when it's stated under oath, in a deposition:

Aetna's medical director admits he never reviewed medical records when denying claims. I'm told that this was in a case where he was trying to get out of a claim of medical malpractice around a denial; he is an MD, so he's getting a lot of flak from other MDs. There will be interesting fallout from this.

#223 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2018, 12:30 AM:

I suppose him dying of a curable but expensive disease after his insurer denies his claim is too much to hope for.

#224 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2018, 03:54 AM:

Xopher Halftounge @ #221:

Might be worth giving tapioca flour a go, should you feel like experimenting. While I am far from proficient in its use, things I've had with tapioca flour has a chew that is similar to that of well-kneaded, well-stretched, high-gluten wheat dough.

#225 ::: Tim May ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2018, 09:37 AM:

Xopher Halftongue @ #197, Paul A. @ #210: Some Mesoamerican cultures famously did have the wheel, insofar as they produced wheeled ceramic animal figurines (toys, or perhaps ritual items), but never used it for practical purposes (that we know of).
Tula, and wheeled animal effigies in Mesoamerica

There are no draught animals in precolumbian Mesoamerica, so that rules out carts and chariots unless you're also planning to import livestock to pull them. The wheelbarrow seems possible, though; in Eurasia it wasn't invented for centuries after animal-drawn wheeled vehicles, so the idea is not obvious, and something like the Chinese wheelbarrow could in principle be very useful for overland transport. However, the rugged topography of the region would tend to limit its usefulness.

Another problem is the manufacture of the wheels themselves. I don't know of anyone in precolumbian Mesoamerica having metal carpentry tools, and precise joinery is very difficult with only stone tools. Producing a wheel and axle to an adequate level of precision might not be impossible, but it would be a lot of work. (There was metallurgy going on in Mesoamerica at the time we're talking about, though it was a relatively recent technology and focussed more on the decorative properties of metals. Possibly one could seek out copper smelters and teach them to make bronzes suitable for better chisels &c.)

#226 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2018, 12:48 PM:

oldster @190:Few people now realize how many early experimenters lost their lives to carnivorous slide-rules.


I'm given to understand that a metal slide rule can actually do double duty as a projectile weapon. And, in the right circumstances, makes a dandy truncheon (over the back of the neck, after the briefcause-full of math books to the belly has doubled your  bully  victim over for you.)

& @211: ::headdesk::

#227 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2018, 02:08 PM:

Jacque, Xopher, others--

Thank you! I am moved. And alarmed at how much your appreciative responses mean to me. You should be, too.

I am alarmed because it tells me what a lonely old shut-in I have become.

You should be alarmed because of what is likely to happen if you encourage that sort of behavior.

#228 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2018, 04:03 PM:

I tweeted this last night but didn't see much response, so I'm reposting it here. Because you people appreciate Art.


Euclid alone has looked on Beauty's butt;
he liked it, and he cannot tell a lie
nor Plato tell the truth. They can't deny
that you could pose a question asking what

the one would answer if you asked the other
(or maybe it's the other way around).
You pick the door through which the Truth is found;
or slam and bolt it to prevent another

from finding Her, and thereby getting sprung
from Darkness. For Euclid alone -- say what?
okay, and Newton too -- have seen that butt
to which the Voice of Truth hath given tongue.

Oh, my God beckons us to look and see
what Beauty is if Beauty could but be.


#229 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2018, 05:04 PM:

Has anyone else seen that The Atlantic website has eliminated comments on their posts?

They're replacing it with The Atlantic Letters section.

I think this might start becoming more common, and I'm sort of on the fence about it. I can certainly see that taking care of comments can be troublesome. But I've also liked seeing some of what was out there, in order to gauge public reaction.

Thoughts? I'm still reading The Atlantic site, but it feels incomplete now. Is doing a letters section a forlorn attempt to graft something from old school journalism into a realm where it doesn't quite fit?

#230 ::: Tom Whitmore sees possible spam ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2018, 06:48 PM:

If that's not spam (nothing in VAB, no similar name around here that I remember, name goes to a .pt website), then I apologize -- but I thought it was worth marking.

#231 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2018, 07:23 PM:

It's one of the newer spambot types - it copies a legit comment so as to look innocent.
(That's abi's comment at 1.)

#232 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2018, 08:26 PM:

Andrew 228: Nicely done!

P J 232: Yep. Fairly idiotic, to copy the first comment (that is, the one most likely to have been read by everyone). But I have no doubt that your assessment is correct.

#233 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2018, 09:30 PM:

I've seen a lot of it on sites that use Disqus, where the comments tend to be most-recent-first, and after a couple of hundred have shown up, it's harder to spot the 'bots. (But comment history is a clue: they don't have many, and if they've been to several sites, one is usually a gamer's site.)

And that was indeed a nice bit of poetry.

#234 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee, Gardener of Threads ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2018, 08:21 AM:

It was spam; the IP address matched some other recent comments (all flagged, thanks). They have all been sausaged.

#235 ::: Sarah E. ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2018, 09:24 AM:

Brilliant sonnet!

#236 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2018, 10:19 AM:

Andrew @228--

Thanks for Art! We needed more sonnets around these parts.

#237 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2018, 12:54 PM:

Thank you all. Rough week, needed some appreciation.

#238 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2018, 02:41 PM:

Hey all –

I haven’t posted much recently, but I have an issue that I wonder if Fluorospherians with more emotional intelligence than I can help me with.

Last May my roommate (this is an inadequate term – we are more like BFFs/sisters/hetero-lifemates) was laid off from her job of 15 years due to short-sighted corporate budget cuts. Due to her highly specific profession, the subsequent job search has been… fraught. She has interviewed and turned down two positions that were very much not right for her, and has a few prospects that are much closer to what she’s looking for, and are the types of “dream job” opportunities that she would have applied for even if she were still working. She is also dealing with figuring out Medi-Cal, if only to continue her maintenance meds, looking to start a grant writing/non-profit management course paid for by unemployment, and eagerly awaiting her tax refund. It seems like every week is up or down – a recruiter headhunted her for a fantastic job that may just be a little out of her reach (what a compliment!) YAY! The response to the follow-up on the Dream Job sounds alarmingly tepid – BOO! She was given a decent severance package she has yet to dip into, but would understandably not like to touch that unless she has to. But what if she has to? She is very Type-A and I am… whatever the opposite is, except -

The issue at hand is not above, it’s the fact that I’ve always absorbed people’s moods and emotions. I can’t help it. And I feel terrible for complaining about it; after all, I’m the one with the job (against all odds), the continued regular paycheck, etc. I’m trying to be supportive but it’s becoming harder to separate my own self-concern (if she moves out of state, how am I going to afford 1st/last/deposit on a new place? And I don’t have any living room furniture of my own! Plus my industry’s slowly dying and what if I get laid off?) with the freaking out I feel has somehow been outsourced by a third party from her to me. I know my being upset is not going to leach off any of her worries, but how do I stop it? How can I protect myself while being a supportive friend to her? Advice very much welcome!

#239 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2018, 03:49 PM:

And here are some of the things that complicate this further –

Looking back I’ve had a pretty exciting year. I’m singing with a fantastic women’s chorus, I even got a solo, we got a super-secret recording gig I still can’t divulge due to an iron-clad NDA, I may be joining a few others singing backup at the concert of a huge artist in a couple of weeks, we’ll be going to Vancouver in May (YAY!)… also, I was diagnosed with diabetes (BOO) and lost about 40 lbs (meh)… but I don’t feel like I can get excited about all this stuff because the roommate always has a “… must be nice to have money to travel” or “… well I guess if I get [medical condition] I’ll probably die because I don’t have insurance” kind of rejoinder. I can’t fault her for being an Eeyore (lord knows in her place I’d be the most Eeyore-est of them all) but then I feel like I should be able to celebrate, and also, that I’m a jerk for being resentful.

I still work at the same company that laid her off – albeit a completely different division. So every time I bring home an issue from work, it’s always “well, at least you still have a job”, followed by “you know they’re just going to fire you soon anyway”. Which, maybe.

And the last… and this is petty… that when she talks about prospective pay-scales in the non-profit sector (which she recognizes is going to require adjustment on her part) the constant comparison – “they want someone with a Master’s degree, and they’re paying less than you, a high school graduate, make.”

And yes, all of this stuff immediately irritates me, quickly followed by a whole bunch of guilt that I’m irritated in the first place.

#240 ::: Sarah E. ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2018, 04:17 PM:

I don't have any advice, but wow, you are in no way petty for being unhappy with any of those things she's saying.

#241 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2018, 05:49 PM:

If she were willing to dip into her severance, I'd advise her to get help, because that sure sounds like depression talking. (Antidepressants can hep - but finding the one that works is hit-and-miss.)

(And sympathy on the diabetes: I found out a year ago, and have lost 25 to 30 pounds - depending on which week it is.)

#242 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2018, 06:21 PM:

As someone who has been depressed (had a bipolar dx back in 8th grade which I am assuming I no longer have) I agree. However - she has general medical anxiety and the last trip she took to a therapist for that did not end well (type A - can’t tell her anything). With the expenses associated with the meds she’s already on and the amount of hoops you have to jump through in this country for mental health care, I can’t imagine such a suggestion would go over well.

I don’t know what to tell her because she’s doing everything right, but at a certain level it’s harder to find a job. At the same time, I get frustrated with her inability to see how damn lucky she’s been up until last year. Into every life a little suck must fall – most of us get used to a moderate amount throughout, but she had nothing but an upward trajectory and now is not used to dealing with disappointment.

As far as the DIABEETUS, my doc had to modify her instructions for the stabbing and glucose monitoring when I came to a follow-up appointment with a handwritten spreadsheet and two graphs in a moleskine. I guess I get a little OCD. It is for that reason I don't own a scale, so I have no idea what my weight is from day to day. I have an appointment roughly every four months; they'll let me know then. Otherwise, I go by what percentage of my paycheck I'm spending on clothes that fit me. As a fat person from a long line of fat people, may I just say that this "weight loss" crap is overrated. And also, I'd love to just inhale three pounds of garlic mashed potatoes right now.

#243 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2018, 06:42 PM:

I may have been unusually lucky, as my primary-care guy prescribed for me, and didn't require therapy. (Clinical depression, pretty bad then, and it's been much better since, especially since I retired. I didn't know how much stress that job produced until it wasn't there any more. *g* The antidepressant also fixed the dermatitis I had at the time - and that's going to be my marker for "need meds".)

The housing anxiety I understand, also, as at some point I'm going to have to find a bigger place with a roommate, and I'm not able to afford more than I'm already paying (and would like to pay less).

#244 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2018, 06:37 AM:

nerdycellist, sympathies.

Since this is a long time BFF, it seems to me you might be able to address it directly. Some time when you're not stressed, can you tell her that you're seeing a pattern. That you don't want to rub it in her face that some things are going well for you when she's unhappy about her job situation, but you're becoming reluctant to talk to her about anything in your life because she has a negative jab for everything? See how it looks to her. Maybe she hasn't noticed, maybe there's some particular thing that you're doing/saying that grates and you don't know it. But this doesn't sound like a way to go on.

In terms of your own worries about housing, your job, etc., I'd probably follow the "Comfort in, dump out" principle. Vent about that to us but not to her.

But this one "they want someone with a Master’s degree, and they’re paying less than you, a high school graduate, make." seems like it warrants a Carolyn Hax "Wow" response.

#245 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2018, 09:28 AM:

oldster @ 227 ...
Thank you! I am moved. And alarmed at how much your appreciative responses mean to me. You should be, too.

I am alarmed because it tells me what a lonely old shut-in I have become.

I think you just said:

"I'm alarmed at how much broader my community seems to have become -- it's reaching around the world!"

... but perhaps I'm odd in considering interactive online communities to be just as real and vital as those offline.

#246 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2018, 11:39 AM:

xeger @245--

Thanks. It is nice to think that ML functions as extended community, and I think it does for many people. For some, it is an extension of IRL friendships.

I have always felt amply, generously welcomed here, both under this 'nym and under a previous, and I have no complaints to bring against the site.

I suspect that for people like me, community that involves face-to-face interaction is necessary for full emotional health, and this sort of online interaction is not sufficient on its own.

But I'm not going to tell other people what works for them. And I certainly am grateful for the kindness and friendship that I have found here.

(As well as the outbreaks of poetry, recipe-sharing, hymn-composition, and general silliness.)

#247 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2018, 12:17 PM:

Em @39: As noted in the Olympic ceremonies, the white tiger is an important figure in Korean folklore.

#248 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2018, 12:34 PM:

albatross @ 165: One big obvious reason to want to stay in the past as a time traveler is that you have knowledge nobody else has is what I meant by the Connecticut Yankee syndrome; people don't realize how entangled most tech is, such that reproducing it early is unlikely to be easy. (ISTM that authors may be especially subject to this syndrome; even the well-read ones may not get out enough to see the limits of book learning.) de Camp was moderately convincing in Lest Darkness Fall, but a lot of his examples were more subtle and/or less hardware-dependent (as Nancy@178 notes).
@170 -- I haven't looked in detail at 1632, partly because I don't think much of either author or publisher and partly because it struck me as implausible. I note that your description makes it a counterexample to @165, i.e. the makers are stuck but the former big frog also dominates the new pond. I wonder whether that is any more realistic, or whether the cues that say "Trust me!" are also too time/culture-variant to be transplantable.(Dave Harmon @ 174 is a further step; I'm thinking about whether basic persuasion would work at all.)

Jacque @ 182: oh yes -- I hadn't thought about plastic at all. That line from The Graduate was truer than Nichols intended it to be.

Tom W @ 185: how well does electrolysis work without a dash of strong acid? My chemistry work is too far back to be sure, but I doubt vinegar would answer.

Xopher @ 197: Wander through 15th-Century America giving everyone cowpox A late friend argued similarly in a uchronia involving Japanese refugees (from one of the our-world--failed Mongol invasions) settling San Francisco Bay -- although more brutally (the survivors of the 1200CE pandemic are no pushovers for 1500CE Europeans). incoherent@199 is correct that more would be needed -- e.g., it was some other disease that let Pizarro's 23(?) conquer the Inca.

Andrew Plotkin @ 228: Great!

It's only a few hours from when my Boskone work kicks into high gear; I'd ask about a Gathering of Light, but I'm unlikely to be able to follow up as I tend to be less-than-coherent by Friday evening. I really need to keep up better here; somehow I've let trivialities fill up almost all of the time I gained by retiring.

#249 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2018, 12:39 PM:

oldster @246
For me, online community has some benefits in bringing me into contact with people I would never meet IRL for logistical reasons. In that category I count ML as well as a private Catholic mom's group that's been operating for almost 20 years now, where I've met two of the other members in person one time each and never met the other three, but I know more about their joys and sorrows than I do many people I see daily or weekly.

But I also find face-to-face community important and not the same. It's more rewarding in some ways (open to more in-depth involvement in each others' lives, e.g. taking meals when someone is sick) and more frustrating in others (it's not asynchronous, so it's harder to step away or mute someone if I'm tired of hearing their take on a particular issue).

FWIW, I also enjoyed the post the others commented on, and like seeing your nym pop up on ML even when your posts don't involve the domestication of the slide-rule.

#250 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2018, 02:17 PM:

nerdycellist @238: I see two separate (but related) questions here:

  1. How do I maintain my emotional equilibrium while roommate fences with Life Challenges?
  2. How do I manage my own options/resources to prepare for possible futures?

Fortunately, I think the first item can be dealt with by dealing with the second.

I just ran across a neat technique that sounds like it might apply: Tim Ferriss's Fear Setting. (The meat is about a third of the way down the page, in the "Q&A: Questions & Actions" section.) The focus is a little different than what you're facing, being pitched more toward making choices about possible paths. But I think it could be easily tuned to: "What do I do if roommate does X? Y? Z?"

The TL;DR of the technique is basically: write down all of your worries in as much specific detail as you can, and then systematically go through and work out the "what if—if then" contingency plans for each one. This basically,

  1. Drains the worries out of your brain onto paper, and
  2. Gives your brain an "Oh, right, then we'll..." response when worries pop up.

(Obvy, if your brain comes up with any new ones, you just add them to the list and then game them out.)

& @239: I’m a jerk for being resentful.

Well, to be fair, your roommate is being kind of a jerk for raining on your parade. Understandably so, perhaps, but nevertheless. (I mean, seriously, how would you not having these resources/successes help her? Really? It wouldn't, because the household would then be in much more straightened circumstances. Maybe best not to actually point this out to her, but maybe keep it in reserve in your own mind, and respond to her 'plaints with a sympathetic (sounding), "Yes, dear. I'm sorry you're struggling. I know it's hard."

Or maybe drag it out into the open: "I understand your pain, but you know being a jerk to me is not helping anyone, and is just making me resentful of you, right? So maybe stop doing that?"

& @242: my doc had to modify her instructions for the stabbing and glucose monitoring when I came to a follow-up appointment with a handwritten spreadsheet and two graphs in a moleskine.


No, you're not OCD, you're just getting your geek on. XD

(This from sombody whose optometrist admired my daily tracking of digestive behavior, meds, & optical pressures in five minute increments for several years back when I was having Dueling Health Issues, about twenty years ago.)

oldster @246: It is nice to think that ML functions as extended community, and I think it does for many people.

It for damn sure does for me, and I'm not bashful about saying so. For me, online generally, ML specifically, and RL fandom communities all kind of blend together into a background of community for me. (Which makes the whole #MeToo tidal wave all the more grating, because I'm realizing how much of my disinterest in doing conventions anymore stems from the bad behavior of many many of my male "friends." But that's another conversation.)

#251 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2018, 02:22 PM:

One reason for wanting to live in the past is that you could place yourself well before the big disasters.

This might assume an almost stable timeline.

#252 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2018, 02:46 PM:

Nancy #251:

Or you could memorize the locations of important still-undiscovered resources and then "find" them and exploit them.

I've heard the term "catch-up growth" used in economics discussions--the idea is that if you're China in 1980 and you've decided to try to modernize your economy, you can go a lot faster doing that than, say, Japan. In 1980, Japan was pretty close to the cutting edge of technology and economic development, so improving their factories and power infrastructure and stuff was really hard--they have to have done new stuff. China in 1980 could mostly copy what'd been done by other countries, and they could hire experts from those countries, or send students to study in those countries, to make sure they knew how. That meant that China could improve a lot faster in 1980 than Japan or the US could.

That's the advantage you have as a time traveler. You may not know every detail of how railroads, telegraphs, steam engines, airships, gaslights, etc., work, but you know all those things are possible. With even a little bit of expertise in the details of making them, you can probably speed your economic development up a lot, because you don't have to blunder down a bunch of blind alleys.

The first obstacle to doing this is that you arrive without any wealth or power. It would be easy to find yourself as a slave or a beggar or a bandit, where all your uptime knowledge is useless. Or you're seen as a madman and ignored, or as a witch and shunned or burned. You have to survive, and then accumulate serious resources and power. (And in most places, doing that as an obvious funny-looking foreigner with a weird accent and strange habits won't be so easy, and may very well attract the attention of local top predators you will have to buy off.)

Assuming you overcome that obstacle, the second obstacle is that each technological step is made easier by having previous steps' products available. China could buy machine tools from wealthier nations to do its catch-up growth, but you have to figure out how to have a blacksmith make them from materials you can find in 1600s Germany or 3500 BC Nantucket or the late Roman Empire or whatever.

I guess a time traveler should spend a lot of time studying up on technology with relatively short chains of products needed between his target time's products and later ones. Inventing the stirrup or better ploughs or better harnesses that don't choke horses, those all can happen without inventing a machine-tools industry and a steel industry. The germ theory of disease will pay off long before you get around to producing antibiotics. (Start accumulating wealth by making good stills and selling very strong alcohol; now you've got both a revenue source and a disinfectant. Unfortunately, you're also the foreigner who's visibly responsible for the 500 AD version of the opiod crisis, so you may not be super popular.)

I suppose the third obstacle, if you're really determined to change history, is how you prevent all your changes evaporating after you die. Thousands of years later, archaeologists marvel at your clever steam engine toy or mechanical astronomy computer that they found rusting in some ruins somewhere.

#253 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2018, 03:09 PM:

albatross @252: you arrive without any wealth or power.

Well, that depends to some extent on your time travel conceit.

In Door into Summer, Heinlein had Davis, going from a future time when cheap transmutted gold was available in bulk, back to the '70s. All he took back was himself and a bunch of gold in the form of wire wrapped around his middle.

In the The Time Machine, Wells took his second trip forward, and carried some books with him.

Postulating the ability to carry cargo expands your options quite a bit.

Thousands of years later, archaeologists marvel at your clever steam engine toy or mechanical astronomy computer that they found rusting in some ruins somewhere.

I think more than one author has played around with the idea that Leonardo da Vinci was clearly a time traveler.

#254 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2018, 06:25 PM:

albatross @252: how you prevent all your changes evaporating after you die

I remember at Ada Palmer's history panel at Penguicon last year she talked about a side effect of the fall of Rome I'd never even thought about: the roads were no longer safe, so the flow of trade goods was greatly reduced, so technology regressed in many places. For example, what good is being a Welsh tinsmith if you can't get what you need to make tin?

#255 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2018, 06:20 AM:

Okay, that's weird. Go to ML's front page, and it's showing a post (about recovery from a crash) from 2008...?

That seems...either deliberate, or synchronistic?

#256 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2018, 11:49 AM:

I'm into a new phase. Where I had been reading at the gym during the hour I'm on the Futile Cycle and the Trudgemaster, I am now listening at the gym. The new storage card on my audio player is so darn big, I loaded hundreds of hours of radio shows (Gunsmoke, Marlowe, Johnny Dollar, Shep, ISIRTA, Hitchhiker, Lux, Lampoon, and anything by Welles seem to make up a lot of it).

I've enjoyed my recent reading of screenplays, Doc Savage books, and whatever else I could find, but I haven't enjoyed the days when the scale showed me gaining weight back that I'd been keeping off since they sawed out my gallbladder, and I noticed after a couple of days of audio narrative that I seem to be able to keep the heart rate higher and cover more phony miles when I'm not taking info in through my eyeballs.

It took a couple of days to get used to not reading. It helps to not turn my tablet on at all, obviously, but then I start looking at the screens at the front of the gym. Closing my eyes works for that, at least often enough to break the spell. Even with that, I ended up comprehending the last half of some drama about agents (FBI, I guess) getting the last laugh on a mad bomber who killed six redshirts under our hero's command in the backstory. I almost looked at the guide to see what series it was when I got home, but then realized I didn't really care.

#257 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2018, 11:50 AM:

I'm into a new phase. Where I had been reading at the gym during the hour I'm on the Futile Cycle and the Trudgemaster, I am now listening at the gym. The new storage card on my audio player is so darn big, I loaded hundreds of hours of radio shows (Gunsmoke, Marlowe, Johnny Dollar, Shep, ISIRTA, Hitchhiker, Lux, Lampoon, and anything by Welles seem to make up a lot of it).

I've enjoyed my recent reading of screenplays, Doc Savage books, and whatever else I could find, but I haven't enjoyed the days when the scale showed me gaining weight back that I'd been keeping off since they sawed out my gallbladder, and I noticed after a couple of days of audio narrative that I seem to be able to keep the heart rate higher and cover more phony miles when I'm not taking info in through my eyeballs.

It took a couple of days to get used to not reading. It helps to not turn my tablet on at all, obviously, but then I start looking at the screens at the front of the gym. Closing my eyes works for that, at least often enough to break the spell. Even with that, I ended up comprehending the last half of some drama about agents (FBI, I guess) getting the last laugh on a mad bomber who killed six redshirts under our hero's command in the backstory. I almost looked at the guide to see what series it was when I got home, but then realized I didn't really care.

#258 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2018, 12:34 PM:

After some trouble getting in yesterday, I see there are more troubles. Commenting here to see if this helps open up the front page to something more current than the Restoration Drama thread -- I can't help but believe that there's actually a software reason for that being where things went to!

#259 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2018, 03:08 PM:

I'm into a new phase. Where I had been reading at the gym during the hour I'm on the Futile Cycle and the Trudgemaster, I am now listening at the gym. The new storage card on my audio player is so darn big, I loaded hundreds of hours of radio shows (Gunsmoke, Marlowe, Johnny Dollar, Shep, ISIRTA, Hitchhiker, Lux, Lampoon, and anything by Welles seem to make up a lot of it).

I've enjoyed my recent reading of screenplays, Doc Savage books, and whatever else I could find, but I haven't enjoyed the days when the scale showed me gaining weight back that I'd been keeping off since they sawed out my gallbladder, and I noticed after a couple of days of audio narrative that I seem to be able to keep the heart rate higher and cover more phony miles when I'm not taking info in through my eyeballs.

It took a couple of days to get used to not reading. It helps to not turn my tablet on at all, obviously, but then I start looking at the screens at the front of the gym. Closing my eyes works for that, at least often enough to break the spell. Even with that, I ended up comprehending the last half of some drama about agents (FBI, I guess) getting the last laugh on a mad bomber who killed six redshirts under our hero's command in the backstory. I almost looked at the guide to see what series it was when I got home, but then realized I didn't really care.

#260 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2018, 10:30 PM:

What's happened to the front page? Anyone know?

#261 ::: Cassy B ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2018, 08:37 AM:

Um, did a shoggoth get into the Making Light server?

Because I don't show any posts since February 14, and the top-level post on the home page is "May 04, 2008 - Restoration drama"

Is anyone there, or is this a ghost tab?

#262 ::: Cassy B ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2018, 08:39 AM:

Ahah. After (and only after) I posted a message, I saw three or four messages on the same subject. Oddly, they didn't show up when I refreshed the tab; they only showed up after I posted. In case that helps someone with the de-bugging process.

#263 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2018, 04:17 PM:

Looks like that one posted after all, despite hours going by with no sign of it and an error message every time I hit Post. Live and learn.

New phase, yo.

#264 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2018, 05:08 PM:

I think Cassie B's explanation that it's "shoggoths" is the most plausible. (I've also been getting proxy errors from the $DAYJOB firewalls, but they like doing that at random anyway, and your browser caches them so they don't want to go away once they've been invited in.)

#265 ::: Emma in Sydney ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2018, 06:01 PM:

Driven out of lurking by the carnage on the front page, I'm sending best wishes for the recovering of the past 11 years of Making Light awesomeness.

#266 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2018, 07:18 PM:

Fortunately, it looks like it's just the front page that's broken. The inter-post links and View All By are still working just fine, meaning all the content is still right where it should be.

#267 ::: Tim May ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2018, 09:14 AM:

I believe this thread has lost a few of the most recent comments from before the crash.

Tweet from PNH about the server problem here.

#268 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2018, 10:05 PM:

Well -- if nothing else, it's certainly roused folks that haven't been seen in ages...

That said, I'm left wondering what the best way to report such mischance might be in the future, and how best to find out about what's happening, sans here.

#269 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2018, 04:27 AM:

xeger @ #268:

Apparently, the server outage has been reported at least on Twitter (by pnh) and on File770 (by reference to pnh's tweet).

#270 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2018, 06:22 AM:

Ingvar M @ 269 ...
Apparently, the server outage has been reported at least on Twitter (by pnh) and on File770 (by reference to pnh's tweet).

Indeed. I ask in part because I'd noticed the outage about 6h before pnh tweeted about it (presuming I have my time zone conversions right), but had no idea who to tell/how to tell.

#271 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2018, 10:01 AM:

Outage: As they say, history doesn't repeat itself... but it rhymes. It is quite amusing that the broken front page is flashing back to a previous occasion of "server fall down go BOOM".

#272 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2018, 11:38 AM:

My adventure last week was Frisbie bringing me a UPS he didn't need (had belonged to someone he knew who died - in 2004 - and the UPS was never used. After connecting it up, and leaving it beeping - because the battery pack (two small batteries connected) was dead - we went to lunch at a local southeast Asian place that he likes. Yellow curry soup, both with chicken and optional onions; he got egg noodles and I got rice noodles. Good soup, would get again (but the bowl was two servings for me; it reheated well).
And sometime before 8pm the battery pack stopped beeping, having charged up. We were both surprised, given the age of the battery pack. (I figured that even if it was completely dead and had to be replace, I wouldn't be worse off than before.)

#273 ::: Devin ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2018, 08:44 PM:

Somewhat to my surprise, my (mostly secondhand) knowledge suggests that UPSs are, across the board, Pretty Good Kit. (You know: the difference between real heavy-duty laser printers and home inkjets, or using a good wrench versus trying to do the job with a multitool.)

I'd kind of assumed that the sort you were likely to end up with if you just went out and bought a cheap one was going to be the same kind of garbage you get when you do that with a printer, but it seems not.

You may want to stress-test this one (unplug it or throw the breaker, see how long it actually runs whatever you're powering for) because it's possible the batteries are still kinda-sorta functional but top out at 10% capacity or something.

The legendary Dan Rutter offers advice on replacing or upgrading UPS batteries, too:

#274 ::: Devin ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2018, 08:47 PM:

(Though Dan's advice to put whatever bodged-together batteries you end up with on a tray full of baking soda is, in typical Dan fashion, both very practical and rather alarming.)

#275 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2018, 11:19 PM:

I was told the "lamp test" - plug two or three lamps in and see how long the battery pack lasts.

It's holding up pretty well so far - I mostly needed enough time to shut down, or to cover the second-or-so power glitches that are the Usual Problem and otherwise cause reboots (and sometimes resetting the clock on the microwave - all the others are battery-only except the computer).

#276 ::: tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2018, 08:17 AM:

@255 et seq.: Re the Out(r)age: in the battle between the Gnomes and the Shoggoth(s), who is winning?
Come on you gno-omes!

#277 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2018, 11:17 AM:

tykewriter: I imagine the Gnomes are battling the Shoggoths in between all the other Life Challenges. As long as ML is still up, I count that as a win....

#278 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2018, 01:46 PM:

Speaking of life challenges, I just had a rather unpleasant night courtesy of a stomach virus. Just about 24 hours from calling in sick yesterday, I think I've made it to the stage where I can start convincing my stomach that food is a Thing again.

#279 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2018, 07:17 PM:

My partner suffers from recurring bouts of extreme nausea, and doesn't tolerate most of the modern antinauseants. She finds my ginger snaps helpful.

Ginger Snaps

Cream together:
· 1 c soft butter/margarine
· ½ c sugar
· ½ c brown sugar

Combine with above:
· ⅓ c molasses
· ⅔ c corn syrup

Combine with above:
· 4½ c flour
· 1 tsp ea baking soda, salt, cinnamon
· ½ tsp ground cloves
· 1-2 tbsp ground ginger, to taste

Knead until smooth. If needed, add more flour to get a moderately stiff dough. Chill until firm.

Roll out to less than ⅛ inch (2 mm) thick on greased cookie sheet (don't need to grease a silicone sheet). Bake about 8 minutes in preheated 350° oven until lightly browned. Watch carefully; the baking time depends strongly on dough thickness.

Some of you may have tried the paprika snaps that I brought to a couple of Minneapolis cons, some years back. Basically they're the same as above but use paprika instead of ginger. Optionally use hot paprika; optionally add a dash of cayenne. They're bright orange and don't seem all that hot at first.

#280 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2018, 11:12 PM:

My current issue seems to be pain after swallowing, or when hiccuping. This is a little below my sternum, which I'm parsing as "the top of my stomach".

#282 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2018, 12:03 PM:

Xopher, the other day I got a viral-looking E-mail from an account that looks like it might be yours: your real_name, at . It consisted of a general greeting and a presumably-dangerous link.

#283 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2018, 12:56 PM:

I recommended this to Teresa and Patrick, so I realized that I should also mention it here: if you enjoyed Firesign Theater you should check out John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme, a BBC Radio 4 sketch comedy show. A bunch of it is currently available to stream and listen to for free and I find it very funny and fannish.

#284 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2018, 04:06 PM:

OK, swallowing pain has gone away (along with associated catastrophizing ;-) ). Still adjusting to full meals, but I am so done with that virus!

#286 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2018, 04:58 PM:

Joel, Xopher, everyone...

I have seen several instances of spam having a familiar user-part on the source, and a totally wrong domain-name.

The contents have been obviously wrong.

#287 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2018, 05:09 PM:

Is there some way of extracting someone's E-mail address from ML's data? I don't know of any connection between Xopher's real name and my E-mail address. I don't think he and I have ever corresponded privately.

#288 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2018, 06:59 PM:

Interesting about UPSs; I've never had one actually work in the least. But I've had... maybe two? maybe one? and then just gave up on the entire idea because clearly I had misunderstood something about it.

I have enjoyed playing Pokemon Go today, as many people are out and visibly being my people.

#289 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2018, 07:17 PM:

Joel Polowin @287:
At one point in the deep, dark past, it was available through the View All By link. I'm pretty sure that's how the first batch of spammers got my address.

#290 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2018, 03:43 PM:

Joel 282: Thanks for alerting me. Definitely not me. Not sure what to do about it.

Ibid., 287: Not that I recall either, but Chris@289 is right. And my old Yahoo email had my real name.

#291 ::: Clarentine ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2018, 07:42 PM:

David Goldfarb @115 - you have resolved a longstanding minor mystery for me. The two-volume series on my shelf by Eric Iverson has survived multiple moves and library downsizings because the writing is good...which was frustrating, because I could never find anything else he'd written. It seems I can now go make further acquaintance of Mr. Iverson/Turtledove. Thanks!

#292 ::: Clarentine ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2018, 07:42 PM:

David Goldfarb @115 - you have resolved a longstanding minor mystery for me. The two-volume series on my shelf by Eric Iverson has survived multiple moves and library downsizings because the writing is good...which was frustrating, because I could never find anything else he'd written. It seems I can now go make further acquaintance of Mr. Iverson/Turtledove. Thanks!

#293 ::: Clarentine ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2018, 07:44 PM:

(Sorry, didn't even get an error on that double post!)

#294 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2018, 11:52 PM:

Clarentine: In all honesty, I had forgotten (if I ever knew) that Harry Turtledove had published any books under the name Eric G. Iverson. You will find that he's been rather prolific under his own name! He has also published about half a dozen historical novels using the somewhat transparent pseudonym "H. N. Turteltaub".

#295 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2018, 12:47 PM:

@Kip W: I seem to be able to keep the heart rate higher and cover more phony miles when I'm not taking info in through my eyeballs. Fascinating. I started gymming 27 years ago, when a good job moved too far suburbward for bicycling to be useful; before this I'd laughed at other people who went somewhere special just to sweat, but I had weight I wanted to keep off (after mending a post-adolescent bulge) and the new site included a nearly-free membership. I've never had trouble getting up to the maximum rate while reading newspapers and magazines (fiction was too hard to follow) on either stair machine or (sloping) treadmill; maybe different forms of geekery?

@Joel Polowin (re snaps for nausea): back in 1981, researchers determined that the folk remedy not only passed objective testing against motion sickness but worked better than Dramamine. Published in Lancet 1 (8273). 1982., p. 655-657. (Why do I have this? Residue from 4 jobs back, when I was working on a search-system-of-search-systems and used this as a test after hearing about it.)

#296 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2018, 06:42 AM:

CHip @295--
Thanks for the link on ginger and motion-sickness. I had not known about that.

This survey article lists another half-dozen studies confirming ginger's anti-nausea effects, not only for motion sickness but also for pregnancy and chemo.

Also, in a non-randomized trial, ginger-snaps were preferred to dramamine-snaps by all subjects.

#297 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2018, 12:04 PM:

CHip @ 295 and oldster @ 296:

One day when I was particularly ill, the only thing that was keeping me from praying to the porcelain god that it would all be over was a steady diet of ginger snaps.

Mythbusters also did a segment on various non-pharmaceutical seasickness remedies, and ginger was the only one that worked. I'm not terribly prone to motion sickness, and I don't think I'd enjoy being strapped into their nausea-inducing chair, ginger or no.

#298 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2018, 01:30 PM:

When I was little ginger snaps were always bog-standard drive-in movie fare. It was only years later that I figured out why.

#299 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2018, 05:25 PM:

olders #296: The thing is, on authority of both my doctor and my pharmacist, Dramamine only works if you take it before you get nauseous, if you're already nauseous you're SOL. Ditto for the newer version, sometimes called "Dramamine II".

Ginger, in contrast, can be taken as a remedy, and it doesn't seem to care what caused the nausea. I keep a little baggie of crystallized ginger in my pack, for use at need.

#300 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2018, 06:03 PM:

me #299: Sorry for mangling oldster's handle.

And, just saw something really cool:

Obstacle Run In Armor

Compares a re-enactor in historically-accurate plate mail, with a firefighter and a modern soldier, each in full gear (turns out, each set of kit weighs about the same).

#301 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2018, 11:54 PM:

OTOH, while Inge was in hospital for all those months, the meal service kept providing her with a can of ginger ale with every meal even though she kept telling them to stop. She now has a strong conditioned aversion to the stuff.

#302 ::: Quill ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2018, 09:08 AM:

KeithS @297:

Did they do Coke syrup? When I was small our local pharmacy (a true pharmacy, before the giants swallowed up the locals) sold the stuff as a nausea remedy.

#303 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2018, 03:35 PM:

Quill @ 302:

The Mythbusters tested cinnamon, ginger, a magnetic anti-seasickness armband, an electroshock anti-seasickness wristband, and a placebo. Of those, only the ginger worked reliably.

I've never heard of using Coke syrup as a nausea remedy. Interesting.

Unrelated to any medical benefits, I'm going to have to try Joel Polowin's ginger snaps and the related paprika snaps just on the general principle of tastiness.

#304 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2018, 05:01 PM:

KeithS (303): When I was a kid, my mother would give us warm, flat Coke* when we were throwing up. It seemed to help a little bit.

*That was the only thing she kept it around for.

#305 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2018, 05:37 PM:

With my mother, it was warm, flat lemonade -- the store-bought kind of "lemonade" that's just carbonated water with sugar in, and no actual lemon.

Years later, I learned that the scientifically-tested recommendation for people who have been throwing up is water with sugar (and a bit of salt, but not enough to taste) dissolved in it, to replace the water and electrolytes being lost, and I figured that water with sugar and a bit of carbonic acid was parental folklore converging on the same solution.

#306 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2018, 06:21 PM:

My mom always bought ginger ale when we were sick. We rarely had it in the house any other time. I don't know if it's efficacious or not, but it's set up the association in my head of "this is the thing to drink when you're not feeling well...." so I buy it myself when I feel ill.

#307 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2018, 12:25 AM:

My parents, too, gave me warm flat cola when I was nauseated when I was little.

There are several different "home" versions of the WHO's recipe for rehydration fluid. One calls for 12 or 13 g of sugar and 3/8 tsp salt in 500 mL of water. Inge's variant is ½ cup of juice containing 24 to 24 g of fruit sugars per cup, plus the salt, diluted to 500 mL. Yes, the units are a mishmash.

#308 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2018, 01:11 AM:

KeithS #303: I've never heard of using Coke syrup as a nausea remedy. Interesting.

I have, but the one time I tried to lay hands on it in a drugstore, the price was insane -- something like $9 for a 2-ounce bottle of generic cola syrup, and that was 20-30 years ago. Nowadays you could probably get at least the generic cheaper, courtesy of those at-home soda machines.

Joel Polowin #307: Yes, the units are a mishmash.

Units, who needs units? Back in high school, I heard the "field recipe" for Africa quoted as "a fistful of molasses, a pinch of salt, and three bottles(*) of water".

* That is, empty soda bottle -- at the time, I estimated from looks that it was what I'd call the 12-ounce bottle.

#309 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2018, 07:04 AM:

"A Fistful of Molasses" sounds like a buddy-flick starring Clint Eastwood and Paddington the Bear.

#310 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2018, 07:40 AM:

In the third act, El Halcón, the arch-villain's brutal enforcer, has Paddington and the Stranger trapped at gunpoint in the storeroom of a bordello.

Things look bleak for our intrepid pair, when in a shocking twist, El Halcón strips off his garish luchador masque to reveal Mrs. Bird.
Everyone breathes a sigh of relief.

The climactic shootout will be tipped in their favour by Mrs. Bird's praeternatural accuracy with a feather-duster.

#311 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2018, 09:37 AM:

oldster @309 "A Fistful of Molasses" sounds like a buddy-flick starring Clint Eastwood and Paddington the Bear.

+1 would go see

#312 ::: Quill ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2018, 10:08 AM:

KeithS @303:

Thanks! I am one of the fortunate ones who rarely gets motion-sick, so I've never had to try any of 'em, but I can't think that eating cookies while nauseous would go well for me.

#313 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2018, 11:19 AM:

@294 - "Turteltaub" was his family's surname back in The Old Country.

#314 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2018, 07:01 PM:

On several occasions. Dad mentioned an old recipe of some sort (don't know how old, but he was born in 1925) that called for "eight glurgs of molasses."

Seemed like a lot of molasses to me. Always wondered if he had exaggerated. (Yes, he might have.)

CHip @295: Dunno. It's just how it's gone so far. If I'm into what I'm reading, my legs slow down. Narrative listening doesn't seem to do the same. I'm hoping it will continue to work.

#315 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2018, 08:53 PM:

oldster #309: "A Fistful of Molasses" sounds like a buddy-flick starring Clint Eastwood and Paddington the Bear.

It it wrong that I'd pay money to see that? ;-)

#316 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2018, 12:12 AM:

During the winter, most of my exercise happens on our exercise bike. It goes a *lot* better when I'm reading a book, just about anything absorbing, than when I'm watching or listening to TV. Reading is a much better distraction, or something like that; I don't notice the effort I'm putting in.

#317 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2018, 02:36 AM:

Just submitted proposals for two different papers on Spider Robinson for the San José Worldcon's academic track*. The puns in the titles are of varying quality, but it seemed wrong to not have a pun at all.

Nailbite time. I've never submitted a paper proposal before!

*Partly because I really wanted to, and partly because if I'm giving a paper I can maybe convince the university to give me some cash towards airfare.

#318 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2018, 08:36 AM:

I saw a study summary once about rehydration fluid and a group of people who were working to demystify it-- do you give families in threatened areas special measuring cups, do you explain it, things like that. They ended up finding that 'good enough' was good enough, and measurements based on a person's (usually a woman's) hands were within the margin of error for the fluid. I like things like that, adjusting directions and explanations so you can meet people where they are rather than where you think they should be.

At the State Fair, I advise people to get two honey lemonades in the ag barn, one to drink right then and one to drink more slowly (but still, realistically, finish before you go outside.) It's mostly because it's tasty and the long line goes past the demo hives so you can stare at them and try to spot the queen (I have succeeded one single time) but also because it's a good way to start the day and ward off dehydration headaches.

In completely unrelated news, if you know young writers, please point them toward Alpha. It's a good workshop, I really like being staff there each year, and this year's instructor lineup is intimidating and awesome.

#319 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2018, 07:31 PM:

oldster @ 309-310: [snortle] And I'd probably pay to see that too....

#320 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2018, 11:43 PM:

I've been using a pinch of salt on the back my throat followed by a glass of water ever since seeing the guest post about dehydration, heat stroke, and treatments thereof some years back. It really did help with the dehydration headaches—and when my electrolytes get out of balance, they apparently do so in the direction of "not enough salt," since that also fixes the puffy hands that I sometimes get on hikes. (Coconut water is also something I use for when I've been working outside—I get cans from Grocery Improv when they're in stock, something like 1/3 of the usual price.)

#321 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2018, 09:22 AM:

*catches up*

@225: Chinese wheelbarrows are awesome!

@123 et al: This time travel cheat sheet is not as good as I remember it being.

@227: 3-D interaction is important, but online communities are a different type of excellent.

@39: Probably far too late, but Moby Dick has a whole flinchworthy chapter, "The Whiteness Of The Whale", which might have a couple of nuggets of usefulness in there. In other news, I recently read Moby Dick because I haven't read almost any of the classics, and I'm trying them out and seeing what still works (IMO). The things that make Moby Dick amazing wouldn't work without the things that make it terrible. (It takes a hundred pages before we even see the Pequod.)

#322 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2018, 10:27 PM:

Fun twitter thread on speaking "online-ish."

#323 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2018, 02:11 PM:

How small is this planet?

Everybody's familiar with the principle of six degrees of separation. Less familiar with the fact that it works across distances of time as well (I have two degrees of separation from Lenin, for example). There are also degrees of kinship. Every single human being is related, as A.J. Jacobs, my cousin, and George Bush's, famously pointed out. Some, of course, more closely than others. A post upthread reminded me that, in one novel of alternative history, a moderately distant relative of mine killed off another moderately distant relative of mine. This led me to wonder if the two of them were more closely related. (I.E., as far as I'm aware, they're related to me on the different sides of my family.)

Today, lots of people want to pull us apart. I'd like to keep remembering the things that tie us together.

#324 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2018, 03:43 PM:

I've made an irregular practice of reading some of the NTSB's accident reports ever since Abi posted How to Drop a Gulfstream IV into a Ravine: Habitual Noncompliance in her Parhelia. Accidents make the headlines, but the eventual, meticulously-researched findings not so much. I know there are people here for whom the train accidents in New Jersey in 2016 and New York in 2017 were local news. The NTSB recently published a report for the End-of-Track Collisions at Terminal Stations Hoboken, New Jersey, September 29, 2016 and Atlantic Terminal, Brooklyn, New York, January 4, 2017 (pdf). It's fascinating reading (if you're me).

Probable cause for the New Jersey accident:

The National Transportation Safety Board determined that the probable cause of the Hoboken, New Jersey, accident was the failure of New Jersey Transit train 1614’s engineer to stop the train after entering Hoboken Terminal due to the engineer’s fatigue resulting from his undiagnosed severe obstructive sleep apnea. Contributing to the accident was New Jersey Transit’s failure to follow its internal obstructive sleep apnea screening guidance and refer at-risk safety-sensitive personnel for definitive obstructive sleep apnea testing and treatment. Further contributing to the accident was the Federal Railroad Administration’s failure to require railroads to medically screen employees in safety-sensitive positions for obstructive sleep apnea and other sleep disorders. Also contributing to the accident was the lack of either a device or safety system that could have intervened to stop the train before the collision.

Probable cause for the New York accident:

The National Transportation Safety Board determined the probable cause of the Brooklyn, New York, accident was that the engineer of Long Island Rail Road train 2817 fell asleep due to his chronic fatigue. Contributing to his chronic fatigue was the engineer’s undiagnosed severe obstructive sleep apnea, and Long Island Rail Road’s failure to initiate obstructive sleep apnea screening for safety-sensitive personnel and refer at-risk safety-sensitive personnel for definitive obstructive sleep apnea testing and treatment before the accident. Further contributing to the accident was the Federal Railroad Administration’s failure to require railroads to medically screen employees in safety-sensitive positions for obstructive sleep apnea and other sleep disorders. Also contributing to the accident was the lack of either a device or a safety system that could have intervened to stop the train before the collision.
#325 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2018, 04:58 PM:

They're trying to get railroad to install systems that can stop or slow trains when the engineers fail to do so - it's called "positive train control", and a big part of the push was the train crash in Chatsworth several years back, which I am told was audible from my building, more than a mile away - I was actually at LA Union Station at the time, waiting for my train, which was the next one. (I'm not sure if the NTSB ever found out that there wasn't always much warning when that signal went red, at least when there was only a southbound train - we could see the headlight coming around that bend right after the signal changed, and the bend was maybe a couple of hundred years up the track from the signal.)

#326 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2018, 05:33 PM:

P J Evans @ 325:

In reading several reports (including this one), positive train control is something the NTSB has been pushing for for decades. This report mentions that the deadline for PTC had been extended by Congress a couple of times, it was subject to waiver in certain scenarios, and that the Federal Railway Administration granted the stations waivers for positive train control. So, yeah.

I'm familiar with that bend around to Union Station in LA. That whole stretch of tracks is a complete mess, and I've been stuck waiting for signals to clear there more than once. Hooray for freight trains having right of way.

#327 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2018, 09:42 PM:

The bend I was talking about was the one coming from the tunnel to Simi - the one by Union Station doesn't get the freights, but you still get hung up waiting for the signals to change to get in and out of the station. There's talk of extending some of the middle tracks across the freeway and around to have a route through, especially for Amtrak, to speed up some traffic, but as far as I know it's no more than in planning.

#328 ::: John M. Burt ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2018, 03:30 AM:

I'm writing an article for the Corvallis Advocate, a weekly newspaper, about the colorful downtown alleys, which I would like to refer to as "the mean streets of Corvallis", but my editor is challenging me to prove that alleys really are referred to in some parts of the English-speaking world as "mean streets", and I am not having any success in searching out the term.

Search engines are clotted with rhetorical uses of the phrase, burying any technical uses of it.

Can anyone help me with this?

#329 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2018, 07:43 AM:

John M. Burt #328: I'd consider the "straight" usage of "mean streets" to be at least archaic. I'm not sure that alleys are actually the proper referent, but if so I'd expect it to be by way of a use of "mean" as associated with poverty.

#330 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2018, 09:54 AM:

They're called "mean" streets because they are half-way between the regular streets.

#331 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2018, 10:51 AM:

Were Homer's sirens sexy? Or offering knowledge?

Compares a bunch of translations, not to mention Scrooge McDuck. That last has them presumably optimizing the temptation for the target like the Ring or thionite.

#332 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2018, 12:42 PM:

AFAIK the primary usage of "mean streets" is Raymond Chandler, and it was not used to mean "alleys" there. In fact, I've never heard it used in that way myself. It may be very regional (in which case, the Dictionary of American Regional English is probably your best bet for finding that usage officially cited).

#333 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2018, 01:20 PM:

"Mean" mean "inadequate, poor in quality", so using the phrase to refer to alleys is sensible. That said, I've never heard it that way and as Tom Whitmore says they only time I've ever encountered the phrase was in reference to the Chandler quote, and Chandler clearly meant all the streets of a city, not just the alleys.

Down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid. The detective in this kind of story must be such a man. He is the hero, he is everything. He must be a complete man and a common man and yet an unusual man. He must be, to use a rather weathered phrase, a man of honor, by instinct, by inevitability, without thought of it, and certainly without saying it. He must be the best man in his world and a good enough man for any world.

#334 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2018, 04:00 PM:

John M. Burt, #328:

Using Google Ngram Viewer for "mean streets" may be instructive. Note especially the search links below the graph. (I used a case-insensitive search.)

Arthur Morrison's 1895 book Tales of Mean Streets, set in the slums of London, seems to presage a sharp rise in use of the phrase. But I can find several examples in books and magazines of the 1817-1869 period.

1848: Heaven Upon Earth by L. D. H. Zabranhi:

But the misery goes further, there is tenfold the number of other low and mean streets and lanes—not perhaps so bad, yet very little better, in respect of comfort and respectability—with an average of ten to one hundred of such streets.

1852: Forests, Woods and Trees in Relation by Hygiene by Augustine Henry:

Trees are on the whole more suited for suburbs than for the central or business quarters of a town. They add greatly to the happiness of the inhabitants of mean streets. They have in this way a hygienic effect.

1858: A Gazetteer of the Territories under the Government of the East-India Company compiled by the East India Company, Edward Thornton, and Arthur Naylor Wollaston:

The few principal streets, which are within the fort, are wide and airy. There are, however, several mean streets, with mud-built houses. The number of inhabitants within the fort is about 5,000, principally dependent on the zemindar.

1852: The Rookeries of London: Past, Present, and Prospectiveby Thomas Beames:

The district we would now describe was evidently covered with small buildings towards the beginning of the last century, though a large space of open ground was still left unoccupied to the north. A square piece of stone is let into one of the houses in New Street, on which is inscribed the date 1704. Thirty years before this Sir Christopher Wren could complain of the small streets which were building, and the poverty of their inhabitants; and Fielding, in 1740, describes the mob, whom he calls the fourth estate of the realm, as encroaching upon people of fashion, and driving them from their seats in Leicester, Soho, and Golden Squares, to Cavendish Square and the streets in its vicinity. The site of The Rookery we are about to describe was then in its infancy, covered with mean streets and houses, and appears, even a hundred years since, to have formed part of a district which had rapidly degenerated.

There are further examples. In general, "mean streets" appears to refer either to less-than-principal streets, or to streets in a poor part of town, but not to alleys. Hope this is helpful.

#335 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2018, 04:21 PM:

The NY/NJ train crashes were pseudo-local for me - I used to take the train from NJ to DC a lot in the 80s (even randomly met Dave Farber on the train!), and former coworkers of mine have ended up teaching in NYC and Philly and frequently take the train to DC to do policy stuff, so they really cared about crashes of trains they could have taken. I don't know if "untreated sleep apnea" is the new "human error" to distract from the "oh, and we still don't have Positive Train Control deployed."

Apparently some of the California trains use a different flavor of PTC, and have delayed installing it in some places (like SF-SanJose Caltrain) because of arguments about which standards to use and the high cost of custom solutions and the possibility of needing multiple flavors of PTC on the same routes for different kinds of trains. Arrgh.

#336 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2018, 04:24 PM:

John M Burt@328 Re: "mean streets"
I'd think a weekly newspaper about a colorful part of your local area would be a highly appropriate place to use colorful language, even if the way you're using it hadn't turned out to be more historically accurate than the common use of the phrase today.

#337 ::: Angiportus Librarysaver ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2018, 05:29 PM:

TomB,#330, that is a nice one, but I don't think it is what people usually, um, mean, when they talk about "mean streets"--the connotation here being lowly, unappealing, impoverished, etc.
Alleys have in the English-speaking world been referred to as ginnels, entries, jiggers, snickets, closes, drifts, droves, gullies, wynds and twitchels. I may have left out a few. Anyway I look forward to reading the Corvallis article. It's time for alleys to not be so despised [but then I'm biased].
Best wishes to Abi and others in need.

#338 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2018, 07:27 PM:

Book recommendation: Tressie McMillan Cottom's Lower Ed, on the huge increase in the number of for-profit colleges in the US in the past several years. It's sociology, it's part memoir, it's incisive and funny and sad.

#339 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2018, 09:48 PM:

Somewhat of an update on the white-animals update, I've found the most lovely sentence in an 1865 article in "Notes and Queries."

"A celebrated white hart, which was called Albert, and which was a noble-looking animal, was selected for the day's sport."


#340 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2018, 10:16 AM:

Em @339, coincidentally this morning I read Tolkien's Lay of Aoutrou and Itroun, which is based on? partly sourced from? a Breton song and features a white doe leading the unlucky (or unwise) protagonist to the fae lady who becomes his doom.

Also, omg, Albert!

#341 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2018, 11:43 AM:


It gets better. The story of the hunting of Albert was recorded by one Sir Halliday Wagstaffe.

#342 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2018, 12:51 PM:

Em @341: Amazing! Wagstaffe! Fine English name, that :)

#343 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2018, 12:37 AM:

I'm a trifle skeptical, given that I can't find anything about Halliday Wagstaffe except this anecdote.

#344 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2018, 03:26 AM:

Keith S @324

There's a pretty complete description of the first PTC here. It's not a new idea, over a hundred years of use on railways in Britain, and American railway companies have been trying to get out of using it for almost that long.

The Great Western Railway was able to do this with steam locomotives, when aeroplanes were still rare and wondrous and it didn't have to be forced on them by regulators.

It's no wonder that the GWR has a certain reputation in Britain, even though the name is used by a modern train operating company that is but a pale shadow of the original.

#345 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2018, 11:28 AM:

HelenS @343

Me too, and there's a followup article in which someone else derides the previous article as absolute nonsense, but I'm more interested in what people thought was true at the time the magazine was being published, from a research perspective. I'm just terribly amused by the names!

#346 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2018, 02:36 PM:

I checked at there are 22 people with the initial "H" and the surname Wagstaff in the 1861 census. No hits for "Halliday Wagstaffe". "Halliday" is a pretty uncommon forename, a couple of dozen examples in both 1861 and 1871, and none with a plausible occupation to fit the story. I didn't bother checking for people with the same name in both years, but a couple of 1871 names (one a Chelsea Pensioner) could easily have been out of the country in 1861.

There is at least one 8yo working in a factory amongst the 1871 names. It was still lawful then.

I'd go with the idea that it'a a fake article.

Incidentally, Prince Albert died in December 1861. Would that make the attachment of the name more likely, or less?

#347 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2018, 03:56 PM:

So, I just walked outside, and it was snowing. Admittedly not much, and the sun came out a moment later... oy vey.

#348 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2018, 08:04 PM:

For what it's worth, the possibly-apocryphal Sir Halliday Wagstaffe allegedly lived during the reign of Henry VII. here's one of the followups!

(I am having such a good time with this magazine. It's a delight.)

#349 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2018, 08:40 PM:

Bill @335,
That's why I think forensic psychology / forensic group psychology is the most important forensics field. Yes, we should know what went wrong in each individual incident. But understanding the groupthink or group-thoughtlessness or SEP field that made it all possible? That's key.

What type of arguments keep well-meaning people from installing critical safety features? Is it related to why doesn't California have an earthquake early warning system, given that Japan has had it for over 10 years, and Mexico City for over 30?

#350 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2018, 01:15 AM:

Oh, yeah, Notes & Queries always reminds me of Wikipedia arguments, complete with usernames.

#351 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2018, 06:41 PM:

Via Twitter:

Patrick & Teresa are looking for a charity to take their culled books.

Also, they had a bit of a flooding disaster last night. Fortunately in their old place. Lost a bed and some basement shelving.

#352 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2018, 07:34 PM:

Leaving them with their second-best bed? How Shakespearean!

#353 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2018, 07:40 PM:

Apologies for posting a plug, but I think this one is worthwhile.

In a couple of weeks, I will be going to my family's annual gathering, where all the descendants of my mother's family will be gathered under one roof. In the 40-odd years that these gatherings have been happening, they've always peaceful and loving, and I have every expectation of this continuing. Among the relations gathered there will be my cousin, Veera Hiranandani. She is a writer. This year, her new novel is coming out, and and this one is something special. I have just read The Night Diary, and both from pride in my cousin, and the impact of the book, I couldn't resist posting something about it here.

Her first novel, The Whole Story Of Half A Girl, drew on her own experiences as a biracial child, and it was a moving story and an excellent debut. For this book, she's reached farther back; to her father's generation and the Partition of India. From that, she's come up with something far deeper and more powerful. She shows us the Partition through the diary of a young girl, written as letters to the mother she never knew. Rather than just trying to summarize or shower praise, I will just excerpt from an entry somewhat before the middle:

Dear Mama,
It's happening now. [...]
So as of today, the ground I'm standing on is not India anymore. And Kazi is supposed to live in one place and we're supposed to leave and find a new home. Is there a Muslim girl sitting in her house right now who has to leave her home and go to a new country that's not even called India? Does she feel confused and scared too? [...]
If you were alive, would we have to leave you because you are Muslim? Would they have drawn a line right through us, Mama?
#354 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2018, 03:35 PM:

Angiportus @ 337: my first thought for a missed synonym was "mews"; Wikipedia tells me this can mean either an enclosed stable area or the back lane/alley which accesses such areas (e.g., behind a row of grand houses). So sometimes.

Kathryn @ 349: What type of arguments keep well-meaning people from installing critical safety features? What "well-meaning people"? From the description, it's not clear to me how much this is private corporations saying "The public be damned!" and how much is Congress demanding that states spend money on amenities for a federal system (Amtrak) and/or failing to knock heads together until a single system is picked and applied nationwide. I suspect that Japan and Mexico have much more integrated funding and rulemaking.

#355 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2018, 03:43 PM:

Teen Antarctic skier snaps sexist commenters (Start ~1:05 in for this bit -- but the rest is amazing.)

#356 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2018, 04:47 PM:

CHip @ 355:

When I watched it, the automatic advertisement server decided that the best accompaniment would be an ad for feminine beauty products (the ad itself was very definite that feminine was what they were).


#357 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2018, 07:03 PM:

I met a farer from a far-off strand
Who said, “Two giant feet of bronze, gone green,
In water sit, bedecked with broken chains
That show their maker well did understand
That marks of former slavery yet seen
Thus serve to show dead servitude’s remains.

Near by, a broken torch lies, dead and dark
In grimy water’s tide that, fitful, passes,
And on the base, these words my eyes did mark:
‘Give me your poor, your tired, your huddled masses
Yearning to breathe free.’ Here ends the poem,
The rest is eaten by the restless water.
Along the shore, starved, feral humans roam
Whose brandished weapons offered nought but slaughter.”

KW 20180310

#358 ::: Jim Parish ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2018, 08:15 PM:

Kip W @ 357: Wow. Excellent.

#359 ::: Susie ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2018, 10:43 AM:

Dave Harmon @ 353: Thanks for plugging your cousin Veera Hiranandani's new book! I enjoyed hearing her talk about it on NPR yesterday morning and look forward to reading it.

#360 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2018, 09:34 PM:

Kip 357: Holy SHIT that's good.

#361 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2018, 01:45 PM:

HLN: Local woman wakes up with a painful rash on her face. Sees doctor; is diagnosed with shingles. However, despite the closeness of the rash to the eye, the optic nerve is not involved (per second doctor visit to ophthamologist). So there's that.

#362 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2018, 02:35 PM:

Kip W #357: Whether taken as despair or warning, that's exquisitely done.

#363 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2018, 05:39 PM:

You want an antiviral to knock it down - trust me, it's much better when it involves a cranial nerve. (The first time I had shingles, it was from the bridge of my nose diagonally up and into my hair.)

#364 ::: Cassy B ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2018, 06:30 PM:

I'm on an antiviral prescription from my doctor, and the ophthamologist that my doctor referred me to prescribed an anti-bacterial ointment to use to prevent secondary infections.

It's itchy and annoying, but I'm REALLY glad it doesn't involve the eye. Apparently that was a 50/50 coin toss, given the location of the shingles outbreak

#365 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2018, 11:50 PM:

Stephen Hawking, R.I.P.

#366 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2018, 05:34 AM:

Jacque #365: Stephen Hawking, R.I.P.

Too bad... but the dude managed a pretty solid life on borrowed time!

#367 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2018, 10:27 AM:

that brings up a "This Month in History" from the Sept 2004 Locus:
Sept 12, 2024
Hawking retires.
In his televised farewell speech the famed physicist reveals that he has actually been dead for six years but wasn't done with his research projects.

#368 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2018, 10:55 AM:

PJ Evans, that's a little spooky. Only six months off....

#369 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2018, 11:21 AM:

Yes - I hadn't remembered the dates, but I'd written it down back then.

#370 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2018, 05:02 PM:

Oh goody. A wildfire has started at the base of the First Flatiron, west of Boulder.

#371 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2018, 05:50 PM:

Jacque #370 - isn't it still winter there?

#372 ::: Robert Glaub ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2018, 07:40 PM:

Official retirement date: April 3. 39 years federal service.

#373 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2018, 08:02 AM:

One of the better Hawking obits I came across was on what is primarily a parody site:

Stephen Hawking

#374 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2018, 10:23 AM:

guthrie: Well, for fairly broad definitions of "winter" which include "fall," "spring," and occassionally even "summer." Also the driest time of year.

#375 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2018, 11:16 AM:

Thank you, Rob, for 373. Sharing it elseweb.

#376 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2018, 05:09 PM:

Making Light

The last few months have kept me busy with medical issues: MRIs, CAT scans, ordinary(because this is the future!) X-rays, doctors’ consultations, etc. The diagnosis is stenosis of the cervical spine and scoliosis of the lumbar spine. So tomorrow I’m going in to the hospital for an operation to alleviate the cervical problems. It’s a relatively long procedure, but the recovery time should be short: 3 days in the hospital and a few weeks for complete healing of the incision. I’ll be walking the day after the procedure.

In about 3 months the surgeon will evaluate the results of this surgery and plan a surgery to fix the lumbar problems. That will be a longer procedure (may be broken up into 2 operations to make it easier on both me and the surgeons) and will probably require a stay in a rehab therapy facility for a week or 2 and then 4 to 6 months recovery time.

So I’ll be radio-silent for a few days and then I hope to have some free time to start posting here again.

#377 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2018, 06:39 PM:

May all go well, Bruce!

#378 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2018, 07:10 PM:

My household has asked for a new name for Teresa's recipe Chicken with Brown Things. They love the dish but can't stand the name.

#379 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2018, 07:51 PM:

Mmmm. Chicken with fungus.

#380 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2018, 11:26 PM:

Oh, one thing I forgot to mention. For the cervical work they have to go in the back of the neck, so I had to cut off my ponytail. I’ve had that more than 20 years. Oh, well, we gave the hair to the birds in the yard for their nests, so there’s a bright side to it

#381 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2018, 11:28 PM:

Oh, one thing I forgot to mention. For the cervical work they have to go in the back of the neck, so I had to cut off my ponytail. I’ve had that more than 20 years. Oh, well, we gave the hair to the birds in the yard for their nests, so there’s a bright side to it

#382 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2018, 11:34 PM:

Oops. Sorry for the extra post, gnomes. Got the “too many posts” error.

#383 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2018, 12:04 AM:

Well, hair grows. (I'm getting mine back, but it takes a while.)

#384 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2018, 10:05 AM:

Bruce Cohen, best wishes on the surgery; condolences on the ponytail. But it went to a good cause...

#385 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2018, 10:52 AM:

Just sent in my final Hugo nomination ballot. Don't forget to nominate the works you loved last year!

Nominations close at midnight US Pacific Time. But the servers may be overloaded as we get close to that time, so earlier is better...

#386 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2018, 02:57 PM:

Wishing you smooth going with all things medical, Bruce Cohen

#387 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2018, 05:09 PM:

Likewise wishing Bruce a successful result and a speedy recovery.

#388 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2018, 10:46 PM:

Bruce: Good surgery, speedy recovery, and I hope the pillow doesn't feel too weird when you lie back.

#389 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2018, 04:02 AM:

Bruce Cohen @376: Wow, that sounds—intense. Hope all goes well!

Allan Beatty @378: Chicken with Brown Things

Google Translate doesn't offer up any North African languages, which is where the couscous and paprika take my mind. Or possibly Hebrew, but there's no "listen" function for that, so I don't know how it sounds. However:

French: poulet avec des choses brunes
Italian: pollo con cose marroni

Both of which seem suitably euphonious.

#390 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2018, 12:59 PM:

Thanks, everyone, for your good wishes. The surgery went very well, and I’m recovering right on schedule. Plan is to go home on Monday, and it looks like even the weather will cooperate: forecast is sunny with a high in the mid 50sF.

#391 ::: Pfusand ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2018, 01:37 PM:


#392 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2018, 06:10 PM:

A bird's nest made from a pony-tail is...a mare's nest?

(better than a sofa stuffed with horse-hair, which is a real couchamare).

#393 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2018, 08:46 PM:

Paul A. @ 355: [Sigh]^2.

Kip W @ 357: Grimmer than Benét ("The Place of the Gods") or even Nelson Bond -- but more believable given these times.

@Cassy B: yay for staying away from the optical nerve. As someone who had chicken pox as a child, I'm just hoping heredity holds out for me (I have all the annoyances from both sides of the family, but so far nothing they didn't have). What I hear of shingles is Not Fun; best wishes for its quick and permanent suppression.

Robert Glaub @ 372: Congratulations!

Rob Hansen @ 375: Wow. Short and sweet.

Jacque @ 389: I'm guessing the chicken is filleted; if not, would that make the recipe pollo con Boney Maroney?

oldster @ 392: we'll both show ourselves out....

#394 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2018, 08:59 PM:

AKICIML: I'm reading (in small chunks) My Father, the Pornographer (expansion of the magazine article -- one or the other was discussed here when it came out) and am finding it intermittently fascinating in a sort of poke-it-with-a-long-stick way (not helped by his let's-all-poke-it-with-a-long-stick approach to SF fandom, even allowing for the time/place he most remembers). I'm curious about the statement that "the science fiction market had dried up as pornography ignited" (no date given, but from context he means before the early 1970's); I know Offutt wasn't the only SF writer to do hardcore (I've heard that Silverberg did until his SF caught on), but I had the impression that SF sales did not particularly flag in opposition to anything else; can anyone comment on that period?

#395 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2018, 09:13 PM:

Happy Healing Bruce!

#396 ::: Rainflame ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2018, 11:18 PM:

Kate Wilhelm has died. I don't do links, but you can find the story at

#397 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2018, 11:20 PM:

CHip @394: the big SF magazine implosion of the late 50s/early 60s was a serious failure of the distribution system: the number of magazines dropped precipitously. Some SF people (Bill Hamling most notably) grabbed onto publishing porn of various sorts, from skin mags like ROBUe (Frank Robinson and Harlan Ellison were big parts of that) and Nightstand Books. There was a legit paperback house as part of that empire (Regency Books) where Budrys and Ellison were editors -- they published the first collection of Cordwainer Smith, and a small batch of SF in their 42-book catalog between 1961 and 1963. So it was a combination of one market being reduced, and friends running another market. Silverberg was selling just fine in SF at the time: but porn paid fast, and better, than SF for the same amount of effort. And the market was much bigger. They'd basically take anything. MZB wrote a few; Dean Koontz, Donald E. Westlake, and lots of others as well. It's a fascinating part of our history.

#398 ::: SunflowerP ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2018, 02:21 AM:

A friend pointed me at this tweet riffing on that much-riffed WCW poem, and I immediately thought, 'That sounds like something Fluorospherians would appreciate!'

#399 ::: Angiportus Librarysaver ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2018, 10:06 AM:

I read of Wilhelm's death the other day and recalled that she along with Thomas Scortia wrote "The Clone", about not what we'd consider a clone nowadays but more of a spontaneous protean lifeform in city sewers; it along with Joseph Payne Brennan's "Slime" made quite an impression on me when I was 12. As in I was a bit nervous for a while when I had to use any of the household plumbing.

#400 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2018, 11:56 AM:

Angiportus Librarysaver @399: Ted Thomas, not Tom Scortia. (I checked to be sure, and that's not a pseudonym of Scortia's.)

#401 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2018, 12:29 AM:

Karen K. Anderson, author, fan, widow of Poul and mother of Astrid, has died. It's a loss to the field of SF that will be little noticed, I expect, but it's profound enough that I want to mention it here.

#402 ::: Angiportus Librarysaver ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2018, 10:11 AM:

Oops. Sorry. It's been a while. Thanks for setting the record straight.

#403 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2018, 10:36 AM:

I know (The) Karen Anderson was a gracious host to the fan community in the Bay Area for many years. She was extraordinarily intelligent, energetic, and had many interests. She was wholeheartedly a fan, with many friends in fandom. She will be missed.

#404 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2018, 01:43 PM:

@Tom Whitmore, may her memory be a blessing to her friends, family, and fans.

#405 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2018, 09:15 PM:

AKICIML: A bakery near me used to do soft, wide, flat hamantaschen that were perhaps an inch thick at most, about palm-sized, and had filling all the way out to the edge of the fold. They were wonderfully chewy and nice, with a little crispy browning at the corners. The bakery has since changed their recipe to make a much smaller, taller, shortbready, almost crunchy hamantaschen and I miss the old ones dearly. Does anyone have a notion of how I might recreate them, whether this is a normal variation, or anything like that?

#406 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2018, 12:31 PM:

Felicitous natal anniversary to TNH, who thereby ceases to be the same age as me until August.

#407 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2018, 01:15 PM:

Tom Paine had it exactly right: these are the times that try men's souls. Women's also, I'd imagine.

We are seeing the emergence of uniformed thug armies, with their own élan and viciousness. Their own names too, and derivations from different cesspits of the fascist sewer. What we're not seeing is a charismatic leader who can rally a majority of the country to his (her) side. Such a leader requires something approaching a coherent ideology (e.g., Steve Bannon's Francoism). Dolt45 is about as coherent as flatulence.

The fact that we don't have an SA or a single organised Fascio di Combattimento does not mean that the Volksturm-lite that have been emerging are not a threat. Thus far, the heirs of Durruti have been doing a bang-up job (pun intended) of explaining civility to the bastards.

What we are seeing, be it noted, is that this outburst of fascism is being pushed by some unsavoury characters from Villain Central Casting. So, this time there is a vast right-wing conspiracy, and it's foisted fascists like Bannon and Dolt45 on us. Colour me completely unsurprised.

Now, there is a reality that must be considered -- of white working class fear, on the part of both men and women -- and that we run the risk of sweeping under the carpet. There are manipulators, but there is something that they are manipulating. Democracy is best preserved and strengthened if that something can be eliminated.

The something is a two-fold monster: fear of equality and fear of equity.

The first is the fear that the truth will be heard from Ayanna, Sally, and Jerome when they are sitting at the table with you. The truth is a bit different from the story you've been telling yourself. How are the two to be reconciled?

The second is the fear that, after A, S, and J have been carrying the load the whole way, they may either dole out a portion to you or demand that you chip in from your large bank account to pay for taxi fare. Not pay the whole cost, chip in. What's a reasonable share?

Now, those are reasonable and straightforward questions. I get the feeling that some people not a million miles from the suspect character in the large white mansion on Pennsylvania Avenue, might not want them asked.

#408 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2018, 06:11 PM:

Happy Birthday, TNH! I've been telling people about the Brave Underdogs team at the Trivia Bowl at whatever Denver con that was—Penulticon, or MileHiCon. With the Zelazny questions.

#409 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2018, 07:31 AM:

Happy (increasingly belated) birthday, TNH!

#412 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2018, 03:53 PM:

Jacque, thanks for the link. It was excellent.

I think of Luke's and Leia's themes as wistful. Anyone else?

#413 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2018, 06:58 PM:

estelendur @405: I don’t have a recipe to offer per se, but perhaps this post about selecting ingredients to get certain cookie textures might be useful? Soft/chewy seems to involve brown sugar (vs white) and butter (vs shortening)— I spose if the brown sugar note is undesirable, the extra moisture could be subbed in with some corn syrup or honey.

#414 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2018, 06:59 PM:

Ack, my link got eaten:

#415 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2018, 07:00 PM:

Tom Whitmore @ 397: fascinating; I got the impression young Offutt was talking about paperback novels in both markets rather than magazines, but it's possible I misread -- or he just didn't know.

Angiportus @ 399: I agree that "clone", even in the formal sense, isn't a precise name for the story's driver; but that got me digging. I still don't know when somebody first used "clone" for one of a set of copies (properly "cloning", says Wikipedia) instead of the whole set -- it ought to be in the OED SF supplement, but I don't have that, and the online SF Encyclopedia drifts casually from one usage to the other -- but looking this up found me an error in the W entry (which gave a title wrongly marked for both formats, credited to just Thomas (who wrote the short) but dated for the novel (done by both)), which I have now fixed. One less crumb in the butter on the gears....

This has not been a good week for the genre -- although it's not fairest to chide fate, considering how long we enjoyed their company.

And HBBH to TNH!

#416 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2018, 07:16 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @ #412:

You're not the only one.

#417 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2018, 12:13 AM:

Locus has reported the death of Karen Anderson.

And NY-area filker Rennie Levine was reportedly found dead in her apartment yesterday.


#418 ::: Tony Zbaraschuk ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2018, 11:03 AM:

For some reason, the front page still seems stuck on

Adventures in being me
Posted by Patrick at 06:21 PM * 50 comments

when that thread was at 55+ last time I checked.

#419 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2018, 11:43 AM:

Tony Zbaraschuk (418): That thread only has 50 comments right now. I just checked.

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