[Lounge #459]

Suffragette on a Scooter

Suffragette on a Scooter

This is the lounge. You can discuss anything you want, but you will do it kindly.

Status: Heavily Moderated; Previous thread


  1. cag says

    I propose a new punctuation mark for anyone studying the bible. It is called an excremention mark. It would look somewhat like a prime example of coprolite.

  2. Menyambal says

    PZ, thanks for the suffragette on a scooter photo. My dad used to make front-wheel-drive two-wheelers, and he will be interested.

  3. blf says

    But chigau, That was an extremely lucid and well-thought-out comment. Just rather too long…

    (Or else you’ve been trying to use yer mouse (computer) as a waa-waa pedal again. Look, it’s the furry squeaky mice which make the noise when you step on them. The hard non-squishy type with a USB cable don’t make a sound unless you absolutely stomp on them, when they go SPRONG! and tend to stop working.)

  4. ajb47 says


    Did you accidentally post in Lounge 458? I just got 6 emails saying you put your “Testing” posts there followed by your Duck Tales-Atari cartridges one.

  5. brett says

    I’m trying out the “interleaving” method of studying: study for a while, then stop and do something else mental, then start again. I read somewhere recently (can’t find the link) that it tends to work better at creating memories of the stuff than simply “crunching” and doing hours of studying in a bloc.

  6. carlie says

    I an having fun with a political poll. It is obviously from the Republican attorney general candidate’s office, so I’m getting questions like “does it make you more or less likely to vote for the incumbent Democrat knowing that he supports using taxpayer money to provide free education to undocumented immigrants in jail” and answering VERY MUCH MORE LIKELY I LIKE HIM SO MUCH BETTER NOW THAT I KNOW.

  7. Rich Woods says

    @brett #16:

    I’m trying out the “interleaving” method of studying: study for a while, then stop and do something else mental, then start again.

    This doesn’t come across well in British English. Can I suggest investigating that as a subject for your next ‘something else mental’ period?

    More seriously, my personal anecdata is that such an approach can be helpful. A ten-minute break spent actively listening to music can do the trick (but it might be better if the music is Mozart or Bach rather than Motorhead or Black Sabbath).

  8. David Chapman says

    chigau (違う)

    27 April 2014 at 11:39 am (UTC -5)

    Well, that goes without saying.

  9. Rich Woods says


    Oops, I didn’t ask what you were studying. If it’s Music Composition you might want to forget my suggestion and go solve a Schrodinger equation or two…

  10. carlie says

    A ten-minute break spent actively listening to music can do the trick (but it might be better if the music is Mozart or Bach rather than Motorhead or Black Sabbath).

    Untrue – the “Mozart effect” only lasts a few minutes at most, and many studies show it to not have an effect at all.

  11. Rich Woods says

    @Carlie #21:

    I don’t think of a music break in terms of an IQ booster or anything like that, just as a short break away from working. The only reason I specifically mentioned Mozart and Bach is because they wrote several somewhat more relaxing pieces than Motorhead and Sabbath!

    From your link:

    In the same year, Florida’s state government passed a law, requiring state-funded day-care centers to play at least one hour of classical music a day.

    Yeah, quite a different thing. I wonder why they didn’t also pass a law requiring the state government to listen to at least one hour of classical music a day…

    @azhael #22:

    Plus Black Sabbath is way cooler…

    I couldn’t agree more

    /old rocker

  12. rq says

    Oh good Tony I see you’re back!!
    Maybe try the links one at a time in case one of them has something unpleasant within?

  13. says

    File this under “Novel ways to show poor and lower-middle-class people that they do not deserve respect, and that they do not have the same rights as other citizen”:

    Since 1997, San Diego County has required all families applying for welfare (“CalWORKs”) to submit to warrantless, suspicionless, unannounced home searches and interrogations by District Attorney Investigators. As of June 2013 about 150,000 families, or about 9,300 families each year, have been subject to these searches. This policy, called Project 100% (“P100”), is cost-ineffective, duplicates existing staff work, and has not been shown to achieve its stated purposes of verifying eligibility, detecting fraud, or deterring fraud.

    “They looked under the beds, under everything. For the first time, my daughters saw me as someone who could not protect them. My daughter asked, ‘Mom, are they going to kill you?’”
    –S.G., a working mother of three girls

    San Diego County remains the sole locality in the nation that has imposed a blanket home search policy on families applying for CalWORKs. All other localities use targeted investigations, initiating investigations only after a discrepancy is detected in an application. […]

    County officials cannot demonstrate that the home searches actually detect or deter fraud. […]


  14. carlie says

    The only reason I specifically mentioned Mozart and Bach is because they wrote several somewhat more relaxing pieces than Motorhead and Sabbath!

    Ah, sorry, the Mozart-studying connection seemed too strong to be coincidence. And relaxing is in the eye of the beholder – sometimes the only thing I want to do after studying is rock out for a few minutes. :)

  15. rq says

    Musical interlude
    Niks Matvejevs in Quasimodo’s Song from the Latvian Notre Dame de Paris – Esmeralda, this world is ruled by pain.

    Niks Matvejevs and Marija Naumova and others, Touch Me.

    With his band, The Onions. Basically a song about life.

    The Night, with Kristīne Zadovska, one of my favourite current opera singers.

    And not by Niks Matvejevs, but kind of on topic “No, I am not. I am imagined.
    (…) Maybe one day, maybe sometime, we will meet, we will meet somewhere at the pyramids, and we will let the heart’s heaviness to slip into the sand like silk, into the sand like silk. No, I am not, there is only a strange story… (…) No, I am not, I have been spoken, from mouth to mouth – it is true, the word was in the beginning, but in the end, a deep silence.”

  16. says

    Further calculus woes, involving the slope of the tangent line. I’m supposed to compute f'(x) and then find the equation of the tangent line when x=a.
    f(x) is x^4 and a=2. Now, I’ve worked out that f'(x) is 4x^3, which is also going to be f'(a), since a=x, but I don’t know how to get from this information to y=32x-48, which is apparently the equation of the tangent line. I’m increasingly feeling that a fair number of my problems are actually stemming from a really poor memory of some elements of algebra, it having been many years since I’ve had a class in that. I’m assuming that 4x^3 somehow expands to 32x-48, but damn if I know how. Thank you all again for your help as well.

  17. says

    To clarify the above, it appears to me that the slope equation would be y=4x^3, and I’m not seeing why it isn’t.

    First night of work went well at least. I impressed the person who turns out not to be my new boss but in fact the person I’m replacing, and he’s giving me a glowing report to the owner, so that’s cool.

  18. says

    Arrgh! Sorry to spam the thread like this… I’ve got the form: dr/dt, where t=4, r=t-e^t, where I’m supposed to find ‘the derivative indicated’. The answer is apparently 1-e^4, but I can’t work out what that’s actually the derivative of, let alone how to arrive at it.

  19. Rob Grigjanis says

    Dalillama @ 32: The tangent is a straight line, so has the generic form y=cx +d. ‘c’ is the slope, which is given by f′(2) = 4(2)³ = 32. So

    y = 32x +d

    But it also touches f(x) at x=2, so

    y(2) = 64 + d = f(2) = 2^4 = 16

    So d = 16 – 64 = -48

    So y = 32x – 48

  20. Rob Grigjanis says

    @34: The function is

    r(t) = t – e^t

    e^t is basically defined as the function satisfying

    df(t)/dt = f(t), f(0)=1

    (is that how it’s been defined in your class?)


    dr(t)/dt = dt/dt – d(e^t)/dt = 1 – e^t

    Now you can specialize to the case t=4;

    (dr/dt)(t=4) = 1 – e^4

  21. Rich Woods says

    @Dalillama #33:

    To clarify the above, it appears to me that the slope equation would be y=4x^3, and I’m not seeing why it isn’t.

    A better way of putting that would be m=4x^3. Plug in x=a=2 and you get a slope of 32. Use that in y=mx+c for the point (2, 16) and you get c = -48.

  22. Rich Woods says

    Heh. I see Rob and I had different maths teachers. You’d think the equation for a straight line would have a standard representation, wouldn’t you?

  23. Rob Grigjanis says


    To clarify the above, it appears to me that the slope equation would be y=4x^3

    That is the slope of the tangent at arbitrary point x, but you want the particular tangent at x=2. So, the slope of the tangent at x=2 would be 4(2)^3. But you still need the y-intercept, which is ‘d’ in my #35.

  24. Rob Grigjanis says

    Rich @38: I think ‘m’ is the convention for the slope in intro classes (mx + b, innit?). It’s been so long, I forgot that.

  25. Rich Woods says

    @carlie #30:

    Ah, sorry, the Mozart-studying connection seemed too strong to be coincidence.

    Fair point. And thanks for reminding me that there had been that claim made for classical music. I had come across it before but hadn’t made the connection with what I was saying. At least not consciously — it’s entirely possible there was a subconscious prompt.

    And relaxing is in the eye of the beholder – sometimes the only thing I want to do after studying is rock out for a few minutes. :)

    Too true. Having had two days to relax in total peace and quiet I have just spent the last two hours in a Hawkwind-themed blast-from-the-past to prepare me for the next five days at work. I find it works that way round too. There will be periods in each of the coming days when I will just switch off in a meeting or whatever and play Elric the Enchanter or Master of the Universe back in my head, when I most need it.

    I hope my boss isn’t reading this. He’ll realise why I sometimes smile during the Monday morning team meeting.

  26. Rich Woods says

    @Rob #40:

    I think ‘m’ is the convention for the slope in intro classes (mx + b, innit?). It’s been so long, I forgot that.

    Don’t ask me — I’d forgotten that the second parameter was called the intercept! I was struggling to remember it for Dalillama but too damn lazy to look it up.

  27. says

    Rob Grigjanis#35
    I’m not fully understanding where this is coming from

    But it also touches f(x) at x=2, so

    y(2) = 64 + d = f(2) = 2^4 = 16

    So d = 16 – 64 = -48

    So y = 32x – 48

    I’m getting the initial part there, with the slope intercept form, but I’m missing why d is 16-64 rather than being 16. I apologize for being dense.

  28. says

    I wish I could help with the calculus. I took Calc 1 a few years ago, and have forgotten nearly all of it.

    I hated my grade. It was a C. That would suck but be acceptable if I was a C level calc student across the board, but I wasn’t.

    In terms of properly applying the procedures of calculus, I was easily at an A+ level. But you tend to lose a lot of points if you have a bad habit of copying down x^3 as x^2.

    If not for partial credit, I’d have utterly failed that course.

  29. Rich Woods says

    @Dalillama #45:

    I’m also completely failing to understand #37 more generally. Sorry.

    No apology necessary. It always takes a few exchanges before we each understand the level the other has reached, and learn to phrase those exchanges appropriately.

    You want to find the equation for the slope of f(x)=x^4 at x=2. You’ve already worked out the derivative, f'(x)=4x^3, which tells you the slope itself (the gradient of the line), but the equation also consists of an intercept (how far up or down the y-axis the line has to be moved vertically to intercept the point at which you’re mesuring the gradient). That equation is given by y=mx+c, where m is the gradient and c is the intercept. Put x=2 into f'(x) and you get m=32. Put x=2 into f(x) and you get y=16 — this is the Cartesian coordinate I mentioned, (2, 16). Put all three into y=mx+c and you get c=-48. Therefore the equation of slope is y=32x-48.

    Does that help? If in doubt, draw a graph. It’s the first thing I did when I read your #32, just to remind myself how to do these problems (it’s been a long time) and to get a feel for an approximate answer (steep gradient, low intercept).

  30. Rich Woods says

    Shit, I’ve just re-read my #47 and I’ve realised just how much I’m mangling the terminology. Sorry. It really has been a long time and I can’t remember it all. I first did this stuff when I was 11 (well, the calculus bit had to wait until I was 14) — I can deal with the numbers easily enough but not the correct terminology!

  31. Rich Woods says

    Let me write that paragraph again:

    You want to find the equation of the tangent line for f(x)=x^4 at x=2. You’ve already worked out the derivative, f’(x)=4x^3, which tells you the the gradient (or slope) of the tangent line at a given point, but the equation for a line also consists of an intercept (how far up or down the y-axis the line has to be moved vertically to intercept the point at which you’re measuring the gradient). That line is described by y=mx+c, where m is the gradient and c is the intercept. Put x=2 into f’(x) and you get m=32. Put x=2 into f(x) and you get y=16 — this is the Cartesian coordinate I mentioned, (2, 16), where you’re measuring the tangent of your function. Put all three into y=mx+c and you get c=-48. Therefore the equation of the tangent line is y=32x-48.

  32. says

    Rich Woods #47
    That does, in fact, make sense to me. Thank you. I’m pretty sure I understand why the numbers are what they are and how to get them for the other problems of that form.

  33. Rob Grigjanis says

    Dalillama You’re not being dense. My splainin powers are not that great if I can’t look you in the eye and draw some pictures. I tend toward the terse.

    Let’s try this. You have a function f(x) = x^4. The derivative is 4x^3. That’s the slope of f(x) at the point x. Let’s not choose a specific value, just an unspecified constant we’ll call ‘a’. At x=a, the value of f is f(a)=a^4, and the slope of f at that point is f′(a)=4a^3.

    The tangent to f at x=a is the line which has slope f′(a), but it also makes contact to f at the point x=a. Because the tangent is a straight line, it must have the form y=mx+c, where m and c are constants specific to the tangent at x=a. For different values of a, m and c will be different (imagine ‘sliding’ the tangent around the curve of f, like a ruler laid flat against a curved surface,and sliding around it). The slope of the tangent changes, as does the location that the ruler would cross a hypothetical y-axis.

    So at a, we have the equation for the tangent

    y(x) = mx + b

    The slope is, by definition, the slope of f at x=a, which is f′(a). So m=f&prime(a).

    y(x) = f′(a)·x + b

    We still don’t know b, the y-intercept. But we know from earlier, that because y is the tangent to f at the point x=a, it must touch the curve defined by f at that point. That point is defined by both y(a), and f(a), so they must be equal;

    y(a) = f′(a)·a + b = f(a)

    Therefore, b is determined;

    b = f(a) – f′(a)·a

    Now, specializing to the case f(a) = a^4, we have f′(a)=4a^3, and

    b = a^4 – 4a^3·a = a^4 – 4a^4 = -3a^4


    y(x) = f′(a)·x + b = 4a^3·x – 3a^4

    And further specializing to a=2 gives the coefficients 32, -48. Generally, I find it best to not put in the actual numbers until the end. MMV.

  34. says

    Rob Grigjanis #51
    I think I’ve got that bit. I realized that I incorrectly identified the bit that I didn’t understand at all, which is this part here from your #36, not 37.

    r(t) = t – e^t

    e^t is basically defined as the function satisfying

    df(t)/dt = f(t), f(0)=1

    (is that how it’s been defined in your class?)


    dr(t)/dt = dt/dt – d(e^t)/dt = 1 – e^t

    Now you can specialize to the case t=4;

    (dr/dt)(t=4) = 1 – e^4

  35. Deft hand says

    So this guy says to me “a 6 inch tall rectangular tube with a perimeter of 10 inches will hold less water than a 6 inch tall cylinder with a circumference of 10 inches.

    So I shot him. Was that wrong?

  36. plainenglish says

    I truly believe this is a ‘stand your ground’ issue and so no, not exactly wrong, no…. perhaps maybe incorrectly executed but not wrong! This is America! The land of the free AND home of the slave. BTW, would you share a bit about your weapons? Size and feel, bullet details, shit like that? How does it feel in your hands when you hold it…? You know, a bit of personal stuff.

  37. says

    FFS, the more I work at this the more I don’t fucking get. I’ve run into another segment where I’m having some difficulty…:(. I’m to find the derivative of f(x)=x^3(2x^x+1). Using the product rule,which states that (fg)’ = fg’+gf’, f'(x) would appear to be x^3(4x)+(2x^2+1)(3x). AFAICT, this works out to 4x^4+6x^3+3x, but I’m told by the book that it comes to 10x^4+3x^2, which I’m not seeing where that came from. This class is not doing me any favors.

    1 1/4 cup flour
    1 stick butter
    3/4 cup powdered sugar
    2 egg yolks,
    zest of 1-2 good sized lemons (this can be replaced with another citrus zest if preferred ~1-2 tsp of grand marnier or other citrus liqueur)

    Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl. Cut or mix in softened butter and add egg yolks, and combine until the dough is a firm mass. Roll it into long cylinders and refrigerate for 1-3 hours. Slice and bake in a 350F oven for ~10 minutes.

  38. Portia says

    I bookmarked your recipe

    I’m sitting here reeking of smoke and I can’t raise up the energy to shower it off of me. I just realized there’s a film of smokey crap on my face, too, I bet. That was the biggest wildfire I’ve seen, I think. I wonder if smoke inhalation gave me this headache. Blarg. At least the rain came eventually.

  39. Rob Grigjanis says

    Dalillama @56:

    Using the product rule,which states that (fg)’ = fg’+gf’, f’(x) would appear to be x^3(4x)+(2x^2+1)(3x)

    The problem is in the second term. The derivative of x^3 is 3x^2, not 3x. So the answer is

    x^3(4x) + (2x^2+1)(3x^2) = 4x^4 + 6x^4 + 3x^2 = 10x^4 + 3x^2

    As far as the e^t, if they haven’t discussed it in class, I’m not sure what to say.

  40. chigau (違う) says

    How did you get my mother’s recipe?
    (except for that weird yankee ‘stick’ of butter business)

  41. carlie says

    Could someone post a cookie recipe?


    (from Better Home and Gardens 1992 Christmas Cookies special interest pub., also on their BH&G website)

    1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
    1/3 cup sugar
    1 egg yolk
    1 1/3 cups flour
    1/4 tsp extract of your choosing (I use vanilla, the recipe calls for almond) (can be omitted)

    Shape into 1 inch balls, place on cookie sheet, use something flat (like the bottom of a glass) to flatten, either with the glass dipped in sugar or the balls rolled in sugar before putting on cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes until edges are just barely browned.

    I have never had this recipe fail to work, and it has the fewest ingredients of anything. It’s basically just a drop sugar cookie, but I like the simplicity of this one. You can do it the traditional route and get specialty tin molds for them, but I just smush them with a glass.

  42. says

    Rob Grigjanis 58
    Ah, so it was a simple error that time, thank you.

    As far as the e^t, if they haven’t discussed it in class, I’m not sure what to say.

    It was covered, but only briefly and I didn’t understand it fully then either.
    I think I’ve found some further explanations, though.

  43. says

    chigau 59
    I got it from my 8th grade French cooking teacher (it was part of the French immersion portion of the curriculum). I adapted to Yankee measurements, though, because I haven’t had a decent kitchen scale in a while.

  44. says

    And they’re even called the same thing; my recipe is labeled Sablés (roughly Sandies), vs ‘sand tarts’. The reason, apparently, is that ‘sand’ was/is in many areas used to refer to the crumblike consistency of the dough when the butter is cut in.

  45. carlie says

    That’s pretty great, that of all the cookies in all the world we both chose the same one from different provenances (but probably the same origin!) It’s like a tangled bank of food evolution. :)

  46. carlie says

    Holy shit, the weather’s bad. Cicely, if you’re reading soon, let us know if you’re ok, ok? I know there are a few other people in tornado alley too but I can’t remember right now.

  47. chigau (違う) says

    sticks and cups
    In Canada, one of the formats for selling butter and margarine and shortening and lard is
    454gm (AKA 1 pound) bricks.
    Printed somewhere on the packaging is a handy ruler showing 1 cup, 1/2 cup, 1/4 cup measures. (some now also have milliliters)
    I was in my 30s before I learned what a ‘stick’ of butter is.

  48. Rob Grigjanis says

    a loaf of bread, a container of milk, and a stick of butter.

    Isn’t that one of Omar Khayyám’s?

  49. says

    Now I’m being asked to look at a graph and draw the derivative of it, and then explain what the hell I just drew. I have no fucking clue how to do either of these things, since I’ve only ever been taught to take derivatives by math, with various slope lines drawn on a chart on the board to ‘explain’ what we’re doing when we take the derivative, but it doesn’t, because I still have no fucking clue what a derivative is actually for, let alone how I’m supposed to be able to graph it without having an equation of some kind to work with. The Khan Academy has something on derivative intuituion, but I can’t figure out what the relationship between the location of the orange dots and the slope of the lines is, which is to say how the tangent lines relate to actually graphing the derivative.

  50. mikeyb says

    Conservatives are remarkably consistent. The government is the one and only evil. Watch this youtube of Calvin Coolidge in 1924.

  51. Rob Grigjanis says

    Dalillama @70:

    I can’t figure out what the relationship between the location of the orange dots and the slope of the lines is, which is to say how the tangent lines relate to actually graphing the derivative.

    The y (vertical) value of the orange dot is the slope of the tangent, and the slope of the tangent is the derivative of the function at that value of x. Look at the point at furthest right. When you’ve moved the dot up to make the line tangent to the curve, its y value is about 55. The slope of the tangent at that point is given by the change in y (height) divided by the change in x. The tangent goes from (roughly) (x,y) = (1.45, 0) to (x,y) = (2.5, 58), so the slope is (58-0)/(2.5-1.45) = 55 (about).

    I still have no fucking clue what a derivative is actually for

    Imagine this same function as the position (y) along a track, of a train, as a function of time (the horizontal axis x, which we’ll call t now). Far in the past (large negative t), it’s well into the negative y; a long distance behind. At time 0, it has reached position zero (y=0), then it pulls out and continues in the forward direction (positive y).

    The slope of the curve corresponds to the instantaneous speed of the train; dy/dt. In the far past, it is going at high speed, but the slope is decreasing; i.e. it is decelerating. By the time it reaches y=0 at t=0, the slope is 0; it’s come to a stop. Then the speed slowly increases, then picks up until the slope is large and positive in the distant future; back to a high forward speed.

    So, plotting the derivative amounts to plotting the speed of the train as a function of time.

  52. Rob Grigjanis says

    …so, at t=2, the position is about 32 (blue dot), and the speed is 55 per unit time (orange dot).

  53. says

    Rob Grigjanis

    The y (vertical) value of the orange dot is the slope of the tangent, and the slope of the tangent is the derivative of the function at that value of x. Look at the point at furthest right. When you’ve moved the dot up to make the line tangent to the curve, its y value is about 55. The slope of the tangent at that point is given by the change in y (height) divided by the change in x. The tangent goes from (roughly) (x,y) = (1.45, 0) to (x,y) = (2.5, 58), so the slope is (58-0)/(2.5-1.45) = 55 (about).

    OK, I think I’ve got that, but the assignment I’m trying to do for class just gives me a graph, and I have to, I guess, estimate the slope at various points and then make the derivative based on that? The graph they’ve given me is allegedly related to Hubbert’s figures for peak oil, and is the blue line in this image. Which I suppose tells me what the derivative is and what it represents, but I still don’t know how I was supposed to get the pink line out of the blue one in that image.

  54. says

    Actually, having looked at that graph, which actually fucking tells me what all the numbers mean in a way that I have actual context for, I think I have now figured out what all this crap actually means, although a few more similar concrete examples would probably help. Why the fucking book can’t do this is beyond me.

  55. consciousness razor says

    OK, I think I’ve got that, but the assignment I’m trying to do for class just gives me a graph, and I have to, I guess, estimate the slope at various points and then make the derivative based on that? The graph they’ve given me is allegedly related to Hubbert’s figures for peak oil, and is the blue line in this image. Which I suppose tells me what the derivative is and what it represents, but I still don’t know how I was supposed to get the pink line out of the blue one in that image.

    Right. So the blue line stays fairly horizontal for a while. The slope is basically flat, meaning the derivative is basically zero. Then the blue function starts moving up, so the slope/derivative is positive. As we keep moving along (with years, the x or t axis), the slope keeps increasing. It’s been positive this whole time, but now it’s a larger positive number, further from zero.

    Then the function starts looking pretty much like a flat line at some almost-constant slope. It’s not becoming bigger and bigger anymore: the slope levels off to some large (positive) value and doesn’t go any higher. Instead, after about year 50, the blue line starts gradually tilting back toward the horizontal, meaning the slope goes back down toward zero again. It gets increasingly flat at each point, until it’s just about zero again. Although of course the value of the function itself isn’t low like it started out, the slope of it (the derivative function) is relatively flat on both ends, compared to what’s happening the middle of the graph where it’s much steeper — “flat” and “steep” are just a way of saying that the angle it makes relative to the y=0 line is small or big. That’s what the pink line is showing: it sweeps up, reaches a maximum somewhere around the middle (I called it year 50), then gradually sweeps back down.

  56. rq says

    I liked thinking of deriving and integrating in terms of changing dimensions, but I think that only works for a certain kind of function, and only a certain number of dimensions :P (what opened my eyes to this was a series of graphs in physics, with acceleration, speed, etc. for the same moving object – it was neat to see it go from parabola to line to flatline, and suddenly it made sense).

    Good luck, Dalillama. :)

  57. says

    Have: Nasty headache
    Need: Rice
    Anybody wanna swap?


    In Canada, one of the formats for selling butter and margarine and shortening and lard is
    454gm (AKA 1 pound) bricks.

    The Irish version of 227g always amused me. German pounds are half a kg.

  58. says

    Picking up a Java course through iTunes U that I was working on a couple years ago. Want to start working on Android applications. I’ve written a couple dead simple ones, want to get good enough to write a few that I could at least put a 99 cent price on. For that I need to know more Java than I’d pick up through Android specific tutorials- plus knowing Java more generally might let me pick up some projects on freelancer.com for a bit more extra money.

    I’ll need to take some sort of user interface course, self training or a MOOC or traditional classroom or something. Getting code to do complicated things isn’t that bad. But making a useable product isn’t my strong suit, and that makes it harder to stick with it and actually get good. Anyone have tips on UI training? Preferably free, though I might be willing to pay for something cheap. More focused on how the UI should look than on implementing it. Implementation is the easy part once I figure out how it needs to look- that’s just a matter of learning the relevant API.

  59. Portia says

    I was able to dispose of my nasty headache overnight, but I have rice to share. Open yer ports.

  60. birgerjohansson says

    Star is discovered to be a close neighbor of the Sun and the coldest of its kind http://phys.org/news/2014-04-star-neighbor-sun-coldest-kind.html …and we really need a more colourful way of naming stars. This one should be named Nifelheim, or Utgård.
    Metabolism may have started in our early oceans before the origin of life http://phys.org/news/2014-04-metabolism-early-oceans-life.html
    Narnia receives scathing TripAdvisor review http://www.newsbiscuit.com/2014/04/15/narnia-receives-scathing-tripadvisor-review/

  61. ajb47 says

    gworroll @80

    When I was in school, 20 years ago (crap, has it been that long?) I took an elective in my CIS major on UID. We used a book called Human Computer Interaction, which I still have, and is still thick, even for a textbook. I don’t remember much about the course except that some colors matter (like red for “emergency” situations and yellow for warnings, so using those colors for other things could make the interface not intuitive) and there shouldn’t be too much on any one screen (I want to say 7 plus or minus 2 was the guide for how many items people can process at one time?)

    I started playing around with my old programming texts recently just because my tabletop role-playing group doesn’t seem to be going anywhere right now and I haven’t had to work on that for awhile. I haven’t worked up to UI design yet, though, so I haven’t looked for how the kids are doing it now.

    Dalillama, Schmott Guy

    Yeah the others have already answered this, but the derivative is useful in physics. The curve is the equation for the acceleration of an object and the derivative is the velocity at some point along the acceleration curve. I have no idea what the 2nd derivative is for, and a very poor understanding of what the area between two curves (integrals, usually done in Calc 2 IIRC) is supposed to represent.

  62. bassmike says

    Sorry I missed your birthday rq . And sorry about your headache Giliell

    Tony I’m very sorry to hear about your situation at the restaurant. I feel for the pedestrian’s family and for the owners of the restaurant. I hope it all works out as well as it can.

    Damn! I miss so much by not being able to check in at weekends.

    I had the most ‘normal’ weekend that I’ve had this year. Had an orchestra rehearsal and we have a concert next week. The concert is called ‘Close Encounters’ and is space themed. There’s some good music there.

  63. birgerjohansson says

    Re. 82, sorry the cold brown dwarf star should be named Nifelheim, not Jotumheim.

  64. rq says

    What’s on your program for the concert? If you don’t mind sharing? The title sounds intriguing – The Planets come to mind, as does Star Wars, but I’m pretty sure there’s more out there… :)


    Another way to say Schrodinger’s Rapist. TW for predatory behaviour, general unpleasantness.

    I got nothin’. Going to go back outside, probably.

  65. birgerjohansson says

  66. bassmike says


    What’s on your program for the concert? If you don’t mind sharing? The title sounds intriguing – The Planets come to mind, as does Star Wars, but I’m pretty sure there’s more out there… :)

    Oddly enough we’re not doing anything from The Planets! We’ve got arrangements of the Dr Who theme and War of the Worlds. Also, bits from Star Wars, as you rightly suggest; music from the Start Trek reboot; a piece called The Music of the Spheres by Philip Sparke; Close Encounters;ET and the Thunderbirds theme. A mixture of some lovely music and cheesy stuff (Don’t tell the MDP!)

  67. ajb47 says

    So here is a CNN opinion piece on Bundy and Sterling.

    Politicians of all stripes will publicly denounce the offensive things that Bundy says but continue to construct policies that cater to his sensibilities. Today, racism isn’t a crazy old white man with a dead calf on his shoulders proclaiming he’s “unracist.” No, it’s elected officials such as U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin saying inner-city men are “not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work” and then feigning shock that people saw a racist element to his statements.

  68. rowanvt says

    Hey Lounge…. could you guys identify this plant for me? I pulled it out of a friend’s garden yesterday, crushing some of the berries in my hands in the process. When I got home, without thinking, I grabbed some finger food before washing my hands.

    I spent the entire night and morning nauseous/vomiting/intestinal cramping and I’ve got a pretty bad headache. I’m worried it might be from this plant and hoping I haven’t done myself some potentially serious harm.

    It’s a small climbing vine that was trying to overtake some roses.


  69. azhael says

    Seems to be a member of the smilacaceae, possibly genus Smilax,but i couldn´t help you with the actual species.

  70. Rob Grigjanis says

    ajb47 @85:

    The curve is the equation for the acceleration of an object and the derivative is the velocity at some point along the acceleration curve.

    That’s kinda backwards. If the curve plots the acceleration, then the integral over a certain range (i.e. the area under the curve between the start and end point) would give the change in velocity over that range.

    If the curve plots position, the derivative gives the instantaneous velocity. The second derivative gives the instantaneous acceleration, etc.

  71. opposablethumbs says

    Good to see you, CaitieCat!

    rowanvt, I looked up pictures of nightshade (’cause of the berries) but I’m happy to say the leaves seem to my untutored eye to look different.
    I’d definitely get hold of a sample (maybe using a plastic bag or something so as not to touch the stuff again, and also to keep it in, in the meantime) in case you want to/get a chance to show it to someone knowledgeable. I wish I were someone knowledgeable :-(

  72. rowanvt says

    Thanks Lounge. The nausea has mostly vanished in the last hour, so I assume I haven’t killed myself. But I may indeed ask my friend to bag up some of that stupid plant.

  73. ajb47 says

    Rob Grigjanis @95

    If the curve plots the acceleration, then the integral over a certain range (i.e. the area under the curve between the start and end point) would give the change in velocity over that range.

    I must be misunderstanding your point here. Acceleration is the change in velocity, isn’t it? Is this is “rate of change” versus “actual change” situation? Or is this why I did poorly in my Elementary Classical Physics courses, because I misunderstood one of the first definitions in the course itself? (Caveat: I haven’t had any physics or calculus since probably ’94.)

  74. ajb47 says

    Also, nice to see CatieCat back.


    Glad your nausea seems to have gone away. Sorry I can’t help identify the plant. My categories of plants tend to go trees, flowers, vegetables, dandelions, clover, and grass, and everything goes in the “possibly poison ivy” section.

    And now, I am going to take a walk because it looks nice out and I need the exercise.

    I didn’t realize until I looked at the date this morning that it is my anniversary. My wife and I have just finished 13 years of marriage.

  75. Rob Grigjanis says

    ajb47 @105:

    Is this is “rate of change” versus “actual change” situation?

    Yes. Acceleration is the rate of change of velocity, dv/dt. The change in velocity Δv is just the difference in velocity between two times; it still has units of velocity.

    More importantly; happy anniversary!

  76. rq says

    HAllooooo, CaitieCat!!
    Film at 11? What’s on the program?

    That actually sounds like a really fun program to play! I hope the concert goes well and is enjoyed by all who attend.

    I looked at the picture before reading the rest of your post, and was going to comment “looks poisonous”, but I’m glad I wasn’t thaat redundant. :/ Glad you’re okay now. I don’t think it’s nightshade as such, though it’s a large family – and I found this, which looks awfully similar (though with coloured berries). I don’t know if any of this list looks familiar, but nothing struck me as similar enough.

  77. rowanvt says

    rq, there were two ‘riper’ berries that were a very bright red on the plant that made me go, even as I was pulling it up, “Yup. That looks pretty damn poisonous.”…. and then I forgot about getting it on my hands. *facepalm*

  78. rq says

    Congratulations!! That is not an insignificant number of years to bear with someone. :) Yay!

  79. says

    Thanks for the re-his, Loungers, it is good to exist again. I have existed in the fringes of Internet for a few weeks now, but have had some scares with blood pressure* in my Very Stressful Time that have led me to re-think my reading habits some, and so I’m probably not going to show up anywhere contentious anytime soon. I’m physically exhausted, honestly, from the constant hibberty-jibberty OMUU-can’t-sleep-stress-will-eat-me time.

    It’s funny, I feel almost like one of those people in old-timey novels, who suffered from ‘nervous exhaustion’, and couldn’t be around anything stressful or contentious. The ones that Bugs Bunny always seems to end up moving next to when he’s having a Very Noisy Day. “QUIIEEEEEEEEEEEEET!”

    Could I scare up the resources to manage it, I think I’d take off to spend about a month camping somewhere far from civilization, with as many books as can be transported by whomever drives me there. And a small stack of notebooks and sketchbooks, too. Somewhere with a lake or a river, like Elora Gorge (nearby, about a half-hour drive for people with cars) or Killarney (not at all nearby, up in Central Ontario where the wolves ‘n bears’re at, about an eight-hour drive).

    Odd coincidence: Frodo failed utterly managed to destroy the Ring on March 25, the same day we managed to get together a Sufficiently Large Cheque to end the Very Stressful Time.

    Thanks for being Eagles.

    * An Event, some years ago, had led to a wonderful drop in blood pressure for me; where before I’d regularly run in the high 125/85 range, after The Event in question I found my BP regularly in the 115/80 range, along with a return to my athletic 55 bpm. The recent Very Stressful Time saw my bp regularly averaging in the 150/105 range, with bpm in the 80+. Being potentially homeless is a very scary thing for a quite physically disabled woman in her late 40s. I will say so more directly later, but Thank You, so much, to everyone who helped make that move into my past (or if into the future, the more distant future for now, which suits me fine). Oh, and my bp is now back, per a careful measurement by the doc last week, to 118/82, and 55bpm. Stress is Bad For You.

  80. rq says

    I have my Canadian dates, if you would like to know them.
    I’m ever so glad to see you again, contentious or not, it’s just a nicer world knowing you’re still kicking at it. Calmly. ;)

  81. says

    Ex-mormons are discussing the effect(s) the mormon church has on the Boy Scout troops they sponsor.


    As a scout leader for 30+ years (Eagle Scout, Silver Beaver, OA Vigil Honor), I never met a Mormon Eagle Scout that I felt earned his Eagle. I was on many Board of Reviews for them and they couldn’t answer the simplest scouting question or explain how they got the nights camping to earn their camping MB. The powers that be wouldn’t let us reject candidates, so I finally quit being on the boards. I’ve never seen a morg troop that was worth their charter. My Tenderfoots knew more scouting than their Eagles.

    The worst thing that ever happened to the Boy Scouts is the Mormon Church.
    Mormonism is more about giving you an award to make you look good rather than making you learn anything and making you a better person.
    You can get Eagle Scout for putting away a few chairs at stake conference.

  82. says

    *is pounced upon*

    Also, film at 11: sadly, it was just a rather nasty scum left behind when I’d drained the sink in failure last night after not completing the dishes.

    Yay for hot water and soap.

    Also, possible I may have green hair soon, in which case photos may find a way of being distributed. rq and Portahave links to my purple-haired pictures, and there’s one over at Shakesville a year back with my hair bright blue. I’m working my way down through the visible spectrum. I’m not going to try and do some infraredhead thing, though, as I feel setting my hair on fire would be at best a short-lived artistic statement.

  83. blf says

    Also, possible I may have green hair soon…

    I have no idea what you wash(presumably) yer hair with, but I doubt the idea is to smear it in/on, let it rot/reproduce, and develop a thriving civilisation. I fink yer supposed to rinse it out shortly after the smearing. But, well, as long as it doesn’t walk/slime off on its own, well, Ok

    (Just to clarify: Above comments apply not only to the obvious hair, that on the face and under the arms, inside the nose and ears, and so on, but also to the mop on top of the head.)

  84. rq says

    Film in sink…?
    Also, yay green!

    I’m pretty sure Eurovision was already a hotbed of sodomy. Makes it worth watching, because the music sure ain’t.
    Also, last year’s Romanian entry wore a dress, too.
    Besides, Conchita’s look did some weird things to my perceptions of what counts as attractive. Best of all, Husband enjoyed it, too.

  85. says

    Okay, but wearing dresses is one thing, part of a long history of messing with gender performance for art (that said, there’s something vaguely unhealthy and frightening, as a trans person, about someone doing so in such a resonates-with-transphobic-patterns way).

    Nothing Eurovision will ever be the same again for me after Estonia’s Vinnie Puh.

    Warning, you cannot unsee or unhear this video/song. May be NSFW if your workmates have the time to not just be baffled and dismayed by your taste in music.

  86. cicely says

    carlie, I’m fine! But I’m flattered you remember where I live.
    About the time you posted your #66, I was looking at the looping radar picture, heaving a sigh of relief that the Bad Stuff was almost-certainly going to miss Springfield, so I dared risk going to bed.
    Unfortunately, other places weren’t as fortunate.

    How go The Plans?

    *very gentle, unstressful pouncehugs in chocolate sauce*
    Huzzah for the End of the Very Stressful Time! May Its absence continue!

    Glad to hear that the nausea, etc., went away, rowanvt.
    I’m fairly sure that the subject plant is neither pea nor Horse.
    All I can suggest is that you give your friend in whose garden you were mugged by this plant, a heads-up. It may strike again.

  87. blf says

    Oh, no, nothing so sinister!

    The film isn’t about an invasion of robots climbing out of sinks?

  88. blf says

    The suspect plant which may have made rowanvt@93 ill has small green round things. Need I state the obvious? Geesh… peas.

  89. azhael says

    At first i thought the beard was obviously painted on…then i checked…and nope, it´s real and it puts mine to shame.

    Is this Austrian drag queen making Eurovision a ‘hotbed of sodomy’?

    Is this the first year those people are watching it?

    By the way, Conchita is a terrible drag name, but to each their own…

  90. says

    Conservative political action groups continue to scam their base:

    […] as Matea Gold reported over the weekend, Tea Party PACs are still raising plenty of money, though most of it doesn’t reach the candidates themselves.

    The Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund, which blew through nearly $2 million on expenses such as fundraising, polling and consultants in the first three months of this year, is not alone in its meager spending on candidates.

    A Washington Post analysis found that some of the top national tea party groups engaged in this year’s midterm elections have put just a tiny fraction of their money directly into boosting the candidates they’ve endorsed.

    [..] Tea Party PACs have spent a combined $37.5 million this cycle, but less than $7 million has gone towards direct support for candidates.

    In other words, for every dollar a conservative donor sends to one of the major Tea Party PACs, about 18 cents ends up backing like-minded candidates. For some of the groups, it’s closer to just 5 cents. […]

    “The lavish spending underscores how the protest movement has gone professional, with national groups transforming themselves into multimillion-dollar organizations run by activists collecting six-figure salaries.”

    There’s a reason I love this Chris Hayes comment from a while back: “Much of movement conservatism is a con and the base are the marks.”

    Doug Mataconis had a good piece over the weekend, noting that this phenomenon on the right “isn’t entirely new.”

    Last year, Buzzfeed published a story about Freedomworks that received a lot of attention at the time. Among other things revealed by that reported were such expenditures as $8,000 for a hotel bill for Matt Kibbe, the organization’s President and CEO, staff dining at fancy D.C. restaurants, at least $1,000,000 invested in the organization’s partnership with Glenn Beck’s The Blaze, and a microbrew bar at the organization’s headquarters. All of this was paid out of funds donated by the public, but what it had to do with advancing the organization’s agenda or supporting the candidates it was backing is entirely unclear.

    Additionally, Tom Dougherty wrote a detailed post regarding the spending habits of the Senate Conservatives Fund, the PAC founded by Jim DeMint which last year played a prominent role in bringing about the politically disastrous government shutdown. The only conclusion one can reach from Doughterty’s analysis of SCF’s spending patterns is that the group’s mission has nothing to do with advancing Republican candidates. […]

    most conservative contributors probably won’t hear about this. For another, many of those who do hear about this may conclude it’s a trick of the “liberal media” to discourage support for Republicans. […]

    The long con in the tradition of Newt Gingrich. Sheesh.

  91. says

    Fucking hell. I don’t even know what the fuck to do. Every other fucking problem I try is something else that I don’t fucking understand and the instructor either didn’t cover or only barely did, or did in a way that was formatted so differently from the book that I can’t connect them, and I wind up taking a few hours to try to work it out, leaving me no time or energy for any of my other coursework. I’m still only 2/3 done with homework that was due Thursday, FFS, I’ve barely started on the stuff that’s due tomorrow, and I spend all weekend on it. I’m at the end of my fucking tether here, I don’t know what the fuck to do about this.

  92. says

    *gentle pouncehugs*
    So good to see you.

    Headache was battled and defeated with painkiller. Seriously, body, I don’t need the baby-making stuff anymore. Just stop it!


    that said, there’s something vaguely unhealthy and frightening, as a trans person, about someone doing so in such a resonates-with-transphobic-patterns way

    So far she seems to be annoying the right people.
    But I get what you mean. Since I ignore the contest to teh best of my abilities, i heard about her for the first time yesterday. When i remarked on the name (believe me, if anybody thought a full beard and a dress were a clash, they are nothing compared to Conchita and Wurst) my gay brother in law explained to me that it was a “T-slur name”. Because bearded guy inna dress. So I simply asked back “oh, you mean she’s a drag queen?” and he didn’t understand why apparently didn’t appreciate him using that word. Maybe I should ask him how he would feel if I referred to him as my F-slur brother in law in the future…

  93. carlie says

    rowanvt – what part of the country are you in again? I thought northeast, but I can’t find it in my Weeds of the Northeast book (it’s at least none of the nightshades there). If you’re really interested I have a couple of books that span midwest, but nothing that goes to southwest/northwest or the southeast. If you’re feeling better, though, it might be enough to know DO NOT TOUCH for that one, except to pull it up (wearing gloves) everywhere it pops up.

  94. says


    We’ve decided on a venue (here), decided on a date and a time, and are preparing to meet with caterers and bakers (though we’re not going to have a wedding cake, we’re going to have wedding cakes – single tier, small round cakes.)

    Gotta find a photographer and get the invitations chosen and paid for and sent.

  95. Pteryxx says

    caitiecat welcome back to (lounge corner of) internet!

    Dalillama – for what it’s worth, do you have an option to hardship-withdraw from some of the load? Calculus is one of those courses that can break an entire semester, and the academic advisors should know that and have ways to help students salvage it. Maybe if you get a chance to step back a bit, get a grip on the concepts, and start calculus again (maybe with a different instructor, one can hope) it won’t be such a, er, steep learning curve?

    (I had to take the first calculus course three times to pass the thing, and helped other students salvage statistics and organic chem, another couple of semester-breaker subjects…)

  96. says

    Donald Sterling is a Republican. Donald Sterling is a Republican. Donald Sterling is a registered Republican.

    I’m trying to slow down the latests rightwing meme, namely that the racist remarks of Donald Sterling should be laid at the doorstep of Democrats.

    […] the Donald-Sterling-Is-a-Democrat meme already took hold within right-wing media:

    “Report: Clippers Owner Caught In Racist Rant Is A Democratic Donor” — Fox Nation.

    “NBA Sterling is a Democrat…” — Matt Drudge.

    “Race Hate Spewing Clippers Owner Is Democratic Donor” — the Daily Caller.

    “Media Ignoring Dem Donations of LA Clippers’ Owner, Allegedly Caught on Tape in Race-Based Rant” — NewsBusters.

    “LA Clippers Owner Donald Sterling is a Racist Democrat” — the Tea Party News Network.

    Politico piggy-backed on this flood of Sterling-triggered liberal-shaming with a softer headline: “Donald Sterling made donations to Dems.”

    Not that Sterling’s broader political views or party affiliation have much to do with the controversy over his insanely racist comments, but here’s a news flash for those conservatives eager to bring up the topic: He’s a Republican. […]

    On Sunday, Michael Hiltzik, a Los Angeles Times columnist, tweeted that local voter records show Sterling to be a registered Republican “since 1998.” We followed up on that, and a search of the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder’s website for Sterling’s name, date of birth, and address confirmed that he’s registered as a Republican:[…]


  97. Pteryxx says

    and I should have mentioned, there are internet whiteboards out there, free to use, that might speed up y’all working through the problems. You can draw graphs in real time, all that.

    I’ve used Scriblink and Twiddla before, and there are others. Some have math formula toolbars.

  98. cicely says

    blf, spherical (or nearly spherical) vegetative greenness does not a pea make! Sometimes, it’s a tomato…or a watermelon! Or a gooseberry! Or even, returning to the category of Things That Are Not Food, a brussels sprout! No, the culprit is probably a perfectly innocent Venomous Somethingberry.
    Why, you might as well allege that all evil quadrupeds are Horses!

  99. Rob Grigjanis says

    Dalillama @128: If it’s any help, and you’re so inclined, you can keep posting any problems/questions you have. I’ve got time (sort-of retired, recovering from major burnout from my last job, and glad to help if I can).

  100. says

    Adding a new twist to climate change denial:

    In the new film from Truth In Action, formerly known as Coral Ridge Ministries, Southern Baptist Convention official Richard Land describes environmentalists as “watermelons” who are “green on the outside and pink on the inside.”

    “Environmentalism has become a religion,” Land says. “These are recycled communists, recycled socialists, recycled collectivists who are trying to use a flawed theory of environmentalism to bring about the collectivist society they were unable to bring about politically through socialism and through communism.”

    Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe, also interviewed for the film, accuses environmentalists of “worshiping the environment” instead of God.
    Truth In Action Ministries host John Rabe, meanwhile, warns that policies targeting climate change could lead to the return of communist dictatorships that left “over 100 million people killed.”

    He also accuses scientists who are working on climate issues of having a “pretention to omniscience” and committing idolatry: “One of the ways we can commit idolatry is by substituting ourselves as the creature for God, that’s what many of these scientists and bureaucrats are trying to do.”

    Right Wing Watch link.

  101. azhael says

    rowanvt i’m fairly confident it’s a sarsaparille, some species of Smilax (or at least a member of the family).

  102. says

    More Biblical justice for Iowa:

    The Iowa-based Religious Right group The Family Leader held a forum for Republican US Senate candidates on Friday, at which the group’s view that “God instituted government” figured heavily. In fact, nearly every candidate at the debate vowed that if they were to be elected to the Senate they would block federal judicial nominees who do not follow what they perceive as “natural law” or a “biblical view of justice.” […]

    Right Wing Watch link.

  103. says

    Phyllis Schafly should write a column for the NorthStar rag at PZ’s place of employment. Phyllis has that whole anti-university thing figured out.

    Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly has never been a fan of the country’s institutes of higher education, which she sees as running rampant with the evils of feminism, Marxism and multiculturalism.

    So it makes sense that this month’s edition of the Phyllis Schlafly Report is devoted entirely to “confronting campus radicals” including “feminist propaganda,” “multiculturalism” and “diversity.” […]

    Schlafly, citing sexual assault prevention policies, concludes that “college is a dangerous place for men.”

    Right Wing Watch link.

  104. morgan ?! epitheting a metaphor says

    Dear Horde,

    I’m not caught up yet but I just have to say how much I love you Loungelings. A lot – we get calculus, cookies, Omar Khayyam, botany and CaitieCat!

    Yay CaitieCat! *pouncehug*

  105. rq says

    I wish I could help you out besides hungrily reading your math posts and enjoying the explanations for my own edification. :/ For what it’s worth, Calc can be like that (and was like that) – every problem seems different and completely unapproachable, especially if your lecturer is crappy. :/ Good luck with it!

    I’m going to defer to your opinion on the Eurovision discussion, since obviously I’ve been missing a lot of the undertext within. Yeah, educational hole right here. :/ :)

  106. says

    Pteryxx 133

    for what it’s worth, do you have an option to hardship-withdraw from some of the load? Calculus is one of those courses that can break an entire semester, and the academic advisors should know that and have ways to help students salvage it.

    AFAIK the deadline to withdraw was weeks ago, and I honestly don’t know who I would talk to about something like that. I can try to look into it I suppose.

    and I should have mentioned, there are internet whiteboards out there, free to use, that might speed up y’all working through the problems. You can draw graphs in real time, all that.

    I can’t make the one load, and I’m not certain how much help they would be; I’m often expected/required to find things mathematically, and a big part of my problem is fully grokking the relationship between the two.
    Rob Grigjanis137
    I appreciate the help, I really do, but it’s just not practical for me to do that for every other problem in a 40-60 problem assignment, and I just don’t understand fast enough

  107. Pteryxx says


    …40-60 problems per assignment? O_o holy crap. Combined with a prof that lectures impenetrably… are they TRYING to cull out everyone that didn’t get calculus or calc prep in high school?

    – the whiteboards run on Java or plugins, for Twiddla I just enabled scripting (and images) for twiddla.com and it worked right away. Might be worth it even just to point arrows at the part of the equation you’re talking about… just a thought.

    – and try to ask if there’s a late withdrawal with penalty, an ‘incomplete’ grade, a provisional F that can be removed with a later passing grade in the same course, or something like that. This happens all the time; someone in student or math advising should know the tricks. Without knowing your situation at all, I’d start with undergrad advising, the math lab if this math department has one, or call the math department’s front office person and ask *them* who to contact. (The instructors probably won’t know, particularly that one. Yeesh.)

  108. opposablethumbs says

    Dalillama, I only wish I had useful knowledge. I’m sorry this subject is currently giving you such a horrendously hard time. I hope that it is possible for you to postpone or even fail-and-retake somehow without messing up your course. All my sympathies (SonSpawn is currently having a total meltdown in Physics, with his last ever final exams only a very few weeks away … not the same situation, I know, but maybe it makes me a tiny bit more alive to how bloody hard this is).

  109. Rob Grigjanis says

    Dalillama You’ve been stuck with a lousy instructor. That really really sucks, because in the right hands, this can be lovely stuff to learn. Actually, in the right hands, almost anything can be lovely to learn. Except biology :)

    Part of my brain wants to tell you to stick it out, because it might start to make sense at any time, but advice from the cheap seats is dead easy to give, and worth less than the price of admission.

  110. rowanvt says

    @ Carlie-

    I’m in California, in the SF bay area so it could as easily be a non-native plant.

  111. A. Noyd says

    azhael (#139)

    rowanvt i’m fairly confident it’s a sarsaparille, some species of Smilax (or at least a member of the family).

    I’m no expert, but from my search, it looks a hell of a lot like Smilax glyciphylla.

  112. Rich Woods says

    @Dalillama #128:

    I’m at the end of my fucking tether here, I don’t know what the fuck to do about this.

    I understand your frustration. I had a shit maths teacher for two years as a teenager, and the only way I recovered was through the sheer luck of having one of the best teachers I’ve ever known for the subsequent two years (consequently the five years of maths after that went remarkably well). It gets you down, because the teaching isn’t good enough to make the connections you need to understand the subject –and it is the teaching at fault.

    I’ll do what I can to help. I’m only around for an hour or two at the end of each evening (I’m on UTC+1), but ask me a question or throw me a problem and I’ll see if I can shed any light on it. I’m way out of practice but after talking with you yesterday I picked up a book off my shelf today (which I bought last month but hadn’t got round to starting) and at lunchtime read about the formalism of calculus from first principles. It describes a different method to what I remember being taught in the UK 35 years ago, but learning — for the first time! — about that difference earlier this year is one of the reasons why I bought the book. So maybe it could help.

  113. Menyambal says

    Oy. The day I have had.

    So I got home hungry and emotional and broke. I ate some leftovers, then wanted dessert. I made this:

    Into one large glass of cold milk, stir one very large spoonful of Nutella, or an off-brand imitation thereof.

    It won’t dissolve very well, but the dregs are delightful.

  114. Rich Woods says

    It won’t dissolve very well, but the dregs are delightful.

    Pass the sick bucket…


    Each to their own. But personally, I’d invest in extra sick buckets.

  115. Pteryxx says

    Dalillama, seconding Rich Woods here – you’ve got a crappy teacher, crappy text, and a crappy situation, and having been there I’d bet the farm it isn’t you at all. Overloading students with inadequately explained homework creates frustration that actively interferes with the very comprehension that could make the work do-able. This boot-camp garbage, at any level, can cause learning disabilities and math avoidance in perfectly capable students through sheer mishandling. You’re definitely learning to beat yourself up for not being able to do it yet. It’s not your fault the material’s being served up badly prepared.

  116. Rich Woods says

    This boot-camp garbage, at any level, can cause learning disabilities and math avoidance in perfectly capable students through sheer mishandling.

    And sadly that’s far too common across the educational systems of so many countries (standardised testing will be the death of education). Which is a great shame, because mathematics is so fucking beautiful. It gives us insight into so much of the world, but it’s an uphill struggle to achieve because so much crap is taught and so much teaching is crap. That’s why I bought the book I mentioned earlier — I wanted a reminder of the uncluttered basics and a chance to appreciate them for what they are.

    Here’s a thing (I don’t know if this will render properly):

    eiπ + 1 = 0

    That’s known as Euler’s Identity. I’ll just link to the Wiki article rather than repeat what it says, but to me it’s a wonder that so many ideas can fit together so simply.

    Then again, it’s a wonder to me that I can tie my shoelaces in the morning, so what do I know?

  117. Rob Grigjanis says

    Rich @164:

    I don’t know if this will render properly

    An unambiguous way to render it in comments would be

    exp(iπ) + 1 = 0

    or maybe

    e^iπ + 1 = 0

  118. ajb47 says

    Dalillama, Schmott Guy

    I agree with the others — as someone whose instructors were not that great, it’s a shame you are having such a tough time. I am convinced there must be a better way to teach these higher maths, but there seems to be a block in college about it. I think I mentioned before that I did alright in Calc 1 – the guy was perhaps a little boring, but good at explaining the exercises if someone asked, and I still needed the curve – but Calc 2 kicked my butt and the curve was the only thing that saved me. And this was after doing very well in all my high school math classes.

    I had the same problems in my “Mathematical Concepts in Computing” classes (had to take 2 for my major). It took until I was almost finished the second class before I realized that a big part of those courses was really the explanation for how math works. Set theory, Statics and Probability, algorithm proofs… I did so much better in Linear Algebra, and enjoyed the class to boot.

    I’d really like to say stick with it, but at this point in the semester, it doesn’t sound like it will get any better. I don’t suppose the curves have helped you at all, assuming the prof grades on them?

  119. carlie says

    Well, I’m no help to anybody. But I just realized that what I’ve been doing is interpreting “rowanvt” as being in Vermont, when I bet it really means vet tech. *headdesk*

  120. rowanvt says

    Carlie, if it makes you feel better, everyone seems to do that. It goes to all lowercase here, but I usually spell it at RowanVT. The R for registered, and my girl cat’s name is Rowan. So yes, I am a registered vet tech. At least you worked it out!

  121. says

    Despite having been told on numerous occasions, my brain keeps going back to Vermont as well. rowanvt, I don’t think the caps would help me, as that’s how I’m used to seeing state abbreviations.

    and try to ask if there’s a late withdrawal with penalty, an ‘incomplete’ grade, a provisional F that can be removed with a later passing grade in the same course, or something like that. This happens all the time; someone in student or math advising should know the tricks.

    I arrived on campus too late to talk to anyone before class, but a poster near the registrar indicated that I can withdraw and get a ‘W’ before May 18th. Unfortunately, yesterday was the last day to get even a partial refund.


    I don’t suppose the curves have helped you at all, assuming the prof grades on them?

    He doesn’t usually, but performance on the first exam was so bad he’s grading out of 75 instead of out of 100. How much that helps me I don’t know, I won’t get my exam back until tomorrow.

    I keep meaning to comment on the silence thread, but it’s moving fast and I can’t carve out the time and spoons. If it’s still going later on I might be able to get something together.

  122. chigau (違う) says

    If you click your nym (just above the comment box) you will get to your profile.
    There you can enter a First Name, Last Name and Nickname.
    Then you can display any combination of those.
    Don’t forget to scroll down and Save Changes.
    You’re stuck with rowanvt for your login.

  123. says

    Yeah, I have another 41 problems due tomorrow at 10, of which I’ve managed to kind of do 4 because I spent all weekend trying to do the last homework, and I haven’t even touched the programming homework that’s also due tomorrow, although I have until midnight. A part of me wants to just chuck it and work on coding, instead of trying to get that done tomorrow after class, and that might actually be the better bet.

    The problem I’m currently on:
    Use the Product Rule to take the derivative of f(x)=(3x-5)(2x^2-3). I’m pretty sure that I can work it out, and it becomes (3x-5)(4x)+3(2x^2-3), and then 12x^2-20x+6x^2-9, or 18x^2-20x-9. Does that look right?

  124. Rowan vet-tech says

    Chigau has led me to a mystical, wondrous land! Plus I stared at my username so long that Rowan looks like a very odd and foreign word without meaning to my brain now. O_<

  125. Rowan vet-tech says

    Oh my goodness, it’s magic! :D Clearly I must convert to the religion of Chigau, for you are a worker of miracles.

  126. says

    I may have to chuck it anyway. My brain is so clogged with fatigue and stress at this point that I can barely keep my eyes open. All the further I’ve gotten is 2 problems, and I’m hung up again. I could probably work it out if I was more alert, but I’m not and I can’t, and at a rate of 1 problem per 7.5 minutes I’m looking at another 5 hours of this, which I don’t have left in me tonight.

  127. says

    Dalillama, sometimes a tactical withdrawal is the best short-term choice anyway. Get sleep, recharge brain, sometimes just letting the sleeping brain work on concepts you’ve been hammering at allows new insight bonuses to your skill checks the next day.

    Or it does when I’m DM, anyway. Worth a try. Have fun storming the castle!

  128. says

    The thing is, there’s a policy of no late homework, and it’s due tomorrow. I only got an extension on the other one because I was sick the day it was due. So If I don’t do it tonight, I get no credit. OTOH I’m seriously considering dropping the class anyway, so there’s that.

  129. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says


    If you decide to stick with calc, I can offer my help on weekends. Since it’s holiday here the day after tomorrow, I’ll hang around then too.
    Other days, I’m not around enough or at right times.

  130. rq says


    Actually, in the right hands, almost anything can be lovely to learn. Except biology :)

    You did not just say that! :O *erects Rob-proof fence through which math can be heard*

    What’s really crap is that, if I was where you are, I’m 100% sure I could help you out a lot more, because that’s what I did in first-year calculus – tutored people who weren’t getting it. I feel bad that I can’t help you more (which is kind of silly, I know).
    I hope you figure something out, either way for completion or for extension or whatever you do with the course… But seriously? 40 problems? That’s a lot, and makes me think that your lecturer realizes xe is a bad lecturer, and is hoping y’all will learn on your own by repeating problems that you don’t understand.

    chigau not only works miracles, chigau can predict Page 2 on any Lounge post. It’s true! Prophet and miracle-worker?
    I just forget what the religious rules were. Something about frolicking naked in the fields, I think… :/

  131. says

    All i can offer is hugs


    Well, I’m no help to anybody. But I just realized that what I’ve been doing is interpreting “rowanvt” as being in Vermont, when I bet it really means vet tech. *headdesk*

    Funny thing: Because I don’t know the US abreviations of the individual states (I also don’t know the state flowers, sue me), and because Rowan often talks about her job, I made that connection easily. Sometimes ignorance can be helpful :)

    Going to see grandma. my sister called me to inform me that this last cold is hitting her hard and that, well, we don’t know. Could be that she bounces back again, could be that she doesn’t make it.
    And I’m so conflicted, because, well, shit is complicated.
    Her body is frail and her mind is mostly off. It’s hard if somebody has to learn that their husband died every other day. I don’t know what would be best for her and let’s face it: death is hard, especially if you don’t believe in any kind of afterlife, no happy reunion with your loved ones.

  132. opposablethumbs says

    ::More hugs:: for Giliell.

    Huge pile of hugs for Dalillama.

    Like Giliell, it would never occur to me to think of abbreviations for states. rowanvt was always “rowan-the-vet” in my mind.

  133. azhael says

    @157 Rowan

    You are definitely right. Apparently A.asparagoides also goes by the coloquial name smilax, so i wasn´t the first to be fooled xD

  134. says

    tThank you all for the hugs
    Seems like gran is getting better again, now that my sister makes sure she gets and takes her antibiotics. Apparently my mother either forgot or thought that with somebodywho’s 87 neds to take care so she doesn’t get too many antibiotics…

  135. rq says

    For the linguists, a discussion of Arabic. Isn’t Chinese kind of in the same boat – many different ‘dialects’ (that are actually separate languages) under the one banner?


    I hope she continues to improve!!

  136. azhael says

    Look out, it’s the nitpicker!

    @195 Kevin


    That´s the actual spelling in euskera. It´s an actual, real name, so no reason why it should be wrong to use it xD

    *throws smoke bomb and disappears*

  137. says


    I did, but aside from her snarks about Vox’s naming conventions it didn’t address what I was wondering about.

    I would imagine it would be okay to have a character with a Germanic or Norwegian name hail from the city of Neresheim (meaning “Neres’ Home”, Neres being the major river in the northern plains.) But a person with a Germanic or Norwegian name from Tavsere would be weird.

  138. says

    I think the point is that the names need to make sense, not in the literal, but the cultural context.
    Languages and cultures have naming patterns and conventions. Neresheim next to Santiago next to Beijing next to Ougadugu like Day did just is just bullshit.

    Do I look like “conservative sexist”?
    There’s this guy in college with whom I have some classes. We me by the incredible cosmic coincidence of sitting next to each other and since he’s my age and most people are 10+ years younger (and yes, there’s a really big difference between 22 and 35) we would happily chatter and often sit next to each other in lectures.
    Today we were talking about spelling and that teachers really can’t ignore things like spelling reforms even if you’re not teaching German and he proudly told me that he will ignore the gender neutral writig conventions, even in his papers! And he obviously expected me to agree with him and praise his courage! What for? For vanishing women the same way they have been vanished for centuries? What’s the great act of bravery in that?

  139. says


    Neresheim next to Santiago next to Beijing next to Ougadugu like Day did just is just bullshit.

    Unless there’s a reason for it; e.g. the story takes place in a pocket dimension populated by groups of people snatched from all over the world and dumped near each other. But that’s going to be a significant part of the backstory and need to be made clear, and it’s going to have a massive effect on what the world looks like. For that matter, except for the two moons, nearly everything in that story would have fit into the world of Yrth, a published fantasy setting for GURPS. The elves and orcs (and I think dwarves) are native to the world, and had conflicts, leading to an elvish faction casting a huge spell that ended up creating a magic storm that pulled in humans from Earth, goblins from someplace else, and a few other species from other places. So there are totally Catholic monasteries near places with Turkish sounding names, and city elves, and all that. I’m pretty sure that the Church has declared that elves, goblins et al do in fact have souls, so that bit wouldn’t fit, but if it was set early on while the Church was still deciding, that would work. None of that makes it any better written, though, because there’s no indication that Day actually thought about any of this.

    I would imagine it would be okay to have a character with a Germanic or Norwegian name hail from the city of Neresheim (meaning “Neres’ Home”, Neres being the major river in the northern plains.) But a person with a Germanic or Norwegian name from Tavsere would be weird.

    Pretty much. No one usually complains about using real-world naming conventions as long as there’s some consistency to it, like having all the people and places of a particular culture having the same naming conventions.

  140. chigau (違う) says

    All this mixed-ethnic naming sounds like Canada.
    No Orcs here though.
    Except in The Harper Government™, maybe.

  141. says

    New gun law may make Florida even worse when it comes to gun violence:

    The Florida House on Monday approved a bill that would let teachers pack heat at school.

    The 71-44 vote was largely symbolic. The proposal is a long shot in the more moderate Senate, where it has stalled in committee.

    Still, the vote made one thing clear: The National Rifle Association is a powerful force in the Florida Capitol. […]

    Tampa Bay News link.

  142. says

    So what do you do next if you are a Republican politician who has been indicted and booted out of office? You land a job at Liberty University of course.

    Former Virginia governor Robert F. McDonnell has landed a job as a part-time visiting professor of government at Liberty University’s Helms School of Government, the school announced Monday. […]

    McDonnell began the job this semester by giving a few lectures at the fundamentalist Baptist college founded by the Rev. Jerry Falwell Sr. […]

    Washington Post link.

  143. Bicarbonate is back says

    Hi Lounge,

    Y’all remember Karen Stollznow I’m sure. Her legal defense fund that PZ publicized last March is just $237 short of the $60,000 mark.

    Remember the amazing response to PZ’s call to help her, how she got more than the first $30,000 she was asking for in something like 24 hours? It was wonderful to see people coming forward so quickly and so generously to help a woman defend herself against an abuser. It was wonderful to see that the social justice contingent of the atheist movement was willing to put its money where its mouth is.

    And it would be really wonderful to see her get twice what she initially asked for, a full $60,000. I’ve been watching the fund. Donations have really slowed down. They have slowed from three or four per day to three or four per week. There were no donations at all yesterday. There are 12 days left.

    It’s the end of the month and a lot of us are just scraping by. But for those of you who have any extra, you might want to go and help her round out the donation figures. Two dollars could get the fund up to $59,765 and 37 could round it up to $59,800. And of course anyone who could donate a spare $237 would have the delight of seeing that figure go up over the top to $60,000!!

    Let’s make some more good news. As Carlie said @174 on the comment thread following PZ’s call to action

    I just want to say that I am bookmarking this page, and will be returning to it whenever I feel my faith in humanity diminishing. You are all amazing, and everyone else who has donated but not commented is amazing, and everyone who can’t donate monetarily but is spreading the word and providing emotional support is amazing.

  144. azhael says

    @199 rq

    I can count with one hand the number of words i know.
    My province is right next to the Vasque Country and it’s not uncommon for people here to have vasque names or surnames. I happen to have personally known a couple of guys named Jon.

  145. blf says

    I can count with one hand the number of words i know.

    There are, ignoring spelling variants, eleven words in that sentence. You have eleven (or more) digits on each hand?

    (Yes, yes, pedants, I know you can use the digits of one hand to count up to values greater than the customary five. E.g., count in binary, then you can go up to 31-ish.)

  146. says

    More rightwing pundits claim that Cliven Bundy is not racist:

    From the very beginning of the standoff, Alan Keyes has been a vocal supporter of Cliven Bundy and his anti-government allies and he has not backed away one bit even after revelations that Bundy is an unmitigated racist.

    In fact, Keyes is actually defending Bundy, saying that he is not at all racist because it is an undisputed fact that black people are worse off now than they ever were during slavery.

    While speaking with radio host Peter Boyles, Keyes said that Bundy’s remarks were not racist because Bundy “simply spoke about what he observed” happening to black families in America and that “in statistical terms … black folks are worse off than they have been in this history of the United States.”

    “Hear that?” Keyes thundered. “Worse off than they have ever been! And since that includes slavery, it’s not racist to point it out”[…]

    Right Wing Watch link.

  147. azhael says

    @210 blf

    You have eleven (or more) digits on each hand?

    I’m very sensitive about it…ok?

  148. says

    Larry Klaymen, a rightwing pundit who writes a column called “RenewAmerica” also thinks Cliven Bundy is not a racist.

    Larry Klayman, who fears that the “black-Muslim” President Obama is triggering a race war, said in a column yesterday that anti-government rancher Cliven Bundy can’t possibly be a racist because Bundy didn’t come across as a racist during a conversation he had with Klayman last week.

    “From my interaction with Cliven, it became clear to me that he is a person who speaks what is in his mind and is not a racist, and that, being a rancher in a remote area of Nevada, never was exposed to the political correctness of the city slickers in Las Vegas for instance,” Klayman recalled in a RenewAmerica column.

    Klayman also repeated his call to overthrow Obama over the Bundy standoff, which he described as “a turning point in modern U.S. history” and “the first major physical manifestation of the peaceful second American revolution.” […]

    Right Wing Watch link.

  149. says

    More rightwing pundits defending Cliven Bundy:

    Responding to right-wing reports that the Bureau of Land Management had killed several cattle and buried them in a mass grave during the standoff with Cliven Bundy, “Dr. Chaps” Gordon Klingenschmitt suggested on his “Pray In Jesus Name” show that the government was going to return to the Bundy ranch in the coming months, kill all the protesters, and dump their bodies in a similar mass grave.

    “Mass graves dug by the government, this time for the cattle,” Klingenschmitt said, “but next time, maybe for the cowboys, right?”

    Klingenschmitt praised the armed, anti-government protesters and urged his viewers to go out to Nevada and join “the freedom movement” because “I suspect that in some months to come, there’s going to be some secret mission by the feds to go in there and punish the people who are standing for freedom.” […]

    There are a few right-wingers (in addition to Donald Trump) defending the racist remarks of Don Sterling by saying that the Sterling remarks are being used to distract us from Benghazi.

  150. Portia says

    ‘rupt. Sorry. I have a question about math. I have concocted a formula, and I need help making sure it measures what I want it to measure. In terms of calculating whether it’s worth it to take a small claims case to court. Amount of Claim = x, is the prospective recovery for the client. 1/3 is what the attorney takes. $171 is what the court costs are. y = client’s ultimate takehome recovery.

    So, my formula is: 2x/3 – 171 = y.

    Or, would 2(x – 171)/3 = y be more appropriate? The 171 is paid upfront. I don’t know why my brain can’t get around this.

    (And now, my teenage “When will I ever use this algebra crap?!” is answered)

  151. Bicarbonate is back says

    Yay ! Somebody just pledged the last $237 to get Stollznow’s defense fund up to 60,000!!!

  152. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Portia, if the 171 is paid upfront, then x-171 is the money to be distributed. So it looks like your 2(x-171)/3=y should be the payout to your client, with you getting half that.

  153. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    I would imagine it would be okay to have a character with a Germanic or Norwegian name hail from the city of Neresheim (meaning “Neres’ Home”, Neres being the major river in the northern plains.) But a person with a Germanic or Norwegian name from Tavsere would be weird.

    How much long distance trade is there?

  154. Portia says

    Thanks for that. It makes me realize I think I was confused. We take a third of the recovery, a third of x. 171 is a cost to the client, and we don’t base our percentage on the post-cost (ha, those words should rhyme, English is funny) takeaway of the client. So then, would the first formula be accurate?

  155. Rob Grigjanis says

    Portia @216: If the client is solely responsible for court costs, the first formula would apply.

  156. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    So then, would the first formula be accurate?

    If the client bore the total court costs.

    Take your two examples:
    1) X=600, then you get 200 (one-third the award), your client gets the remainder 400-171 or 239.
    2) X=600, then the award-court costs, 439, is divided, and you get your one-third of 146 and your client gets 293 (rounded to nearest dollar).

    So the real question is, what does the contract say?

  157. Portia says

    Oh, that’s so helpful. My brain just doesn’t math much anymore. The first example is what the arrangement will be.

  158. says

    Ah, thanks for such good news!

    “Effective immediately, I am banning Mr. Sterling for life from any association with the Clippers association or the NBA,” Silver said. “Mr. Sterling may not attend any NBA games or practices. He may not be present at any Clippers facility.”

    Silver also announced that Sterling had also been fined $2.5 million. Additionally, Silver said, he planned to “urge” the league’s board of governors to “exercise its authority to force a sale of the team.” Silver said he would everything that he could to “ensure that that happens.”

  159. says


    There are a few right-wingers (in addition to Donald Trump) defending the racist remarks of Don Sterling by saying that the Sterling remarks are being used to distract us from Benghazi

    Ok, there’s a lot of right wing nuttiness I don’t understand. This is one of them. Why are they so obsessed with Benghazi? They connect those attacks to everything! I wouldn’t be surprised if they connected Benghazi with the missing Malaysian plane.

  160. says

    Ok, I’m going to repost this comment from the last Lounge, as it was caught in the spam trap (PZ released it thankfully):
    Like cicely, I wish there were some way to help you, little one, and your mother get out of there. My deepest sympathies.


    gworroll @663:
    It is great to see the community come together to honor Maren Sanchez.
    Reading about her murder makes me wonder about Chris Plaskon. Why did he choose to kill Maren? The article you linked to indicates he brought a kitchen knife to the school with him. That sounds like he was planning on using it. Why? What events shaped him into the type of person who would commit murder? Why would he murder the girl he wanted to go to prom with? So many questions, and I wonder if there will ever be answers.


    Anyone remember the 90s cartoon Duck Tales?
    Anyone heard of a group called Postmodern Jukebox?
    Creator Scott Bradlee says

    I have long had a love/hate relationship with pop music.

    Growing up as an aspiring jazz pianist, I wasn’t interested in listening to anything that might appeal to those that I deemed to possess a less than refined palette of musical taste. This willful ignorance continued for some time; it was not until I began making YouTube videos (and subsequently receiving requests for modern pop songs) that I decided to drop my preconceived notions and examine contemporary pop with an open mind.

    What I found is that, despite my initial aversion to the stuff I was hearing, I was unable to truly categorize this as “bad music” without first defining a set of arbitrary, culturally-defined criteria. Furthermore, the fact that such a rigorous vetting process exists for the output of major labels indicated that these songs and artists certainly RESONATED with the culture of our times–no easy feat, in and of itself. As a relentless devil’s advocate, I then found that by simply altering the context of such songs, I could find quite a bit of artistic merit inside of them.
    My goal with Postmodern Jukebox is to get my audience to think of songs not as rigid, ephemeral objects, but like malleable globs of silly putty. Songs can be twisted, shaped, and altered without losing their identities–just as we grow, age, and expire without losing ours–and it is through this exploration that the gap between “high” and “low” art can be bridged most readily.

    One of the songs they remixed was the Duck Tales theme song. It is quite nice.


    Lost cities revealed by cold war spy satellites:

    CORONA was the codename for the United States’ first photographic spy satellite mission. For 12 years, it brought back intel on the USSR, China and the Middle East. But that wasn’t all its grainy, black and white images captured — it turns out it also caught an incredible number of undiscovered ancient settlements.

    In a fantastic story on National Geographic, Dan Vergano reports on the Society for American Archaeology’s annual meeting, where a team from the University of Arkansas presented a study showing how the declassified CORONA images from the Middle East actually reveal an incredible wealth of previously-unknown ruins, from Bronze Age cities to ruined canals and roads across Syria and Turkey.

    “We have a real way with all these sites to look across the whole Middle East and see how it was connected,” one researcher tells Vergano. Another major upside to using outdated footage? It was taken before most modern development in these areas, which may have obscured the sites since:


    It turns out that the urban legend about buried video games is not an urban legend:

    Atari 2600 copies of E.T. The Extra Terrestrial have been discovered in the Almagordo, New Mexico desert. IGN is on site and snapping photos of the excavation.

    A brief history: In 1983, the New York Times and other papers reported 14 trucks of unsold Atari products were driven from a factory in El Paso to a landfill.

    This represented the end of an era. With Atari’s business in ruin (thanks to a number of flops, including E.T. and a shoddy port of Pac-Man) and the general public losing almost all interest in home console games, 1983 was a bleak year for the video game industry. What’s become known as the “video game crash” was due in large part to Atari’s collapse, and E.T. was Atari’s final, and costliest, blunder of that era.

    Although the burial was widely reported at the time, Atari employees, including Howard Scott Warshaw, the rushed programmer in charge of getting E.T. shipped in just 6 weeks (games took 6 months or more to make in the early 80s), have disputed the claim. Additionally, if anything was buried, it was crushed and paved over — even before the elements took their toll. Whatever the case, E.T.’s journey from shovelware to shovel is an important historical story that finally has an ending

  161. says

    The Family Leader group is best known for making political candidates sign anti-gay pledges before presidential caucuses. The head of Family Leader, Danny Carroll, is now the co-chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa. The other co-chair is Gopal Krishna of the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition.

    So, yeah, Iowa, look out. You are in for a rough road ahead, one in which Republicans are trying to fundraise with Danny Carroll at the helm. This change of leadership comes after Republicans kicked some Rand Paulites out of the leadership, mostly for failing to raise enough moola.

  162. Rich Woods says

    @Dalillama #171:

    He doesn’t usually, but performance on the first exam was so bad he’s grading out of 75 instead of out of 100. How much that helps me I don’t know, I won’t get my exam back until tomorrow.

    That’s an admission of guilt that he isn’t any good at teaching, or has badly misjudged the difficulty of his exam in testing the material he covered.

    In my final year I took a particular statistics exam, and finished it in plenty of time. The reason was that I couldn’t answer half of the questions. I was near panicking; I’d never had so hard an exam. I went back through it and checked everything. I tried to come up with new ideas about questions I hadn’t been able to get a grip on. No good. So I counted up all the points I knew I’d scored (some I knew were wrong, but it did no harm to leave them there), and those which might be right. It came to a range of 27-40, out of a possible score of 100. The pass mark for the exam was 40%, so I thought I was fucked. But fortunately everyone else found the exam just as difficult, and when they came to allocate the number of Passes and number of Credits (the tenth of the class with the highest scores, usually expected to be above 70%) for our class of 32, I was awarded a Credit. But it was not a happy experience, and we had a good go at the lecturer afterwards.

    I hope your exam results work out for you today.

  163. Portia says


    I live on the border of Iowa. People in Illinois keep whining about the taxes here and declaring their intent to move to Iowa like it’s some utopia of freedom. There’s so much about Illinois that I’m very pleased with, thankyouverymuch, is my response to them. Iowa is bad enough at present. : /

  164. Rich Woods says

    @Tony #229:

    I wouldn’t be surprised if they connected Benghazi with the missing Malaysian plane.


  165. says

    Tony, @229, yeah, the Benghazi obsession makes no sense. Or, that is, it only makes sense if you depend on House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, rightwing bloggers, and Fox News as your only source of information. Senator Mark Rubio recently connected Behghazi to the issue of immigration in the USA.

    Sen. Marco Rubio, a major player on immigration policy, said Wednesday that there was no chance now of passing a broad overhaul because Republicans have lost trust in President Barack Obama. […]

    Rubio said the Obama administration has lost credibility as a result of how it handled the 2012 attack against a U.S. outpost in Libya and accusations that the Internal Revenue Service targeted conservative groups.

    There’s no IRS scandal, and the Benghazi obsession is based on conspiracy theories unrelated to reality. Issa’s credibility collapsed in November of 2013. Rightwingers don’t care and/or don’t know this. Link.

    House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has a favorite trick: his staff puts together a partial transcript of closed-door testimony, they edit it in a misleading way to advance a far-right narrative, and then they look for a news organization who’ll fall for the scam.

    So glad to see Don Sterling banned for life.

    During an internal investigation, the NBA confirmed that Sterling was, in fact, the voice on the audio recording made public over the weekend, in which the owner was heard making racist remarks.

    The league fined Sterling $2.5 million, the maximum penalty under NBA rules. Sterling is worth $1.9 billion, and the team is valued at more than $500 million.

  166. blf says

    I just finished a dinner of spicy sausage, rice with harissa, plus added harissa for flavour, and horses. Well, Three Horses Beer from Madagascar.

    Unfortunately, no peas were harmed in the preparation and consumption of this fire-breathing dragon magic potion.

  167. says

    Steve Benson’s cartoon connecting Don Sterling and Cliven Bundy.

    Portia, both Illinois and Iowa have too many anti-gay politicians, etc. No one would find big improvement by moving from Illinois to Iowa. I have a hard time figuring out how they could even think that.

  168. rq says

    azhael back @… honestly, I forget, but it had something to do with your fingers. Anyway, I just had a question about the word ‘izanda’, which you may or may not know, so I’ll throw it out there. :)

    Yay more math! Portia, you’re really getting into this lawyering business. ;)

  169. Portia says


    It’s all the OMGTAXES and the librul-Chicago-corrupt-damnocrats! that are Ruining This State. Derp. You would be shocked* at the number of people who don’t seem to be joking when they say Chicago should secede or be pushed off into Lake Michigan.

    *and by shocked, I of course mean, not shocked at all, just facepalmed.

  170. says

    OK, life sucks: I was grading until 1am last night, with more to do today; my right ankle is messed up and it’s agony to walk; I have developed a nasty cyst on my back that’s constantly aching, and the local doctors are reluctant to do anything because I’m on blood thinners, and they’re talking about maybe getting around to it in July; and I had to take one of my remaining vicodins to deal with the pain, so my brain is bleared out to somewhere around the orbit of Mars. And in this condition I have to go host our Cafe Scientifique tonight.

    I might die. Or at least pass out.

    But grading…

    Fucking grading.

  171. says

    Rick Perry, Governor of Texas, apparently can be “born again” often enough.

    [..] With only close friends and family looking on, the born-again Christian governor was baptized outdoors, in the spring waters once used to wash the sins off Sam Houston, the first elected president of the Republic of Texas and one of the most colorful political figures in American history.

    When Houston emerged from Little Rocky Creek near Independence, Texas, in 1854, he was reported to have proclaimed, “I pity the fish downstream.”

    There’s no word yet on what Perry said after he was dunked, but his office confirmed that the ceremony took place last month. And the pastor whose congregation still uses the creek for baptisms recounted the governor’s subsequent visit to the nearby church, where he said Perry played a soulful hymn on the organ and soaked up the rich local history. […]

    The creek has suffered from the lingering Texas drought and these days is often covered with algae and lily pads. So before Perry went to be baptized, Hassell said he asked the local volunteer fire department to spray off the gunk to clear a good spot for the Texas governor.

    Slime into slime.

  172. Portia says

    Any PC knowledgeable people; can you tell me if this is a safe program to install? Doesn’t look fishy to me. I need to play an MP4 video file and this is what the internets told me to download.

  173. says

    Joshua Dubois has written a good article that explores the consequences of killing Net Neutrality.

    […] Last week, the FCC announced that they would propose new rules to allow major companies like Netflix and Google to pay cable companies like Comcast and Verizon more for faster lanes of service to send video and other products to customers. By definition, that means that if you’re a company that can’t afford these “fast lanes,” your service will be slower, less appealing to customers, and more likely to fail. […]

  174. blf says

    [The local doctor is] talking about maybe getting around to it in July…

    Would you like to borrow a TARDIS ?

  175. says

    Sorry to hear about the diverse experiences of pain to which are being subjected PZ. That sucks.

    My son recently dealt with bad ankle problems. He said that using a knee scooter got him through some of the worst episodes, plus it made him plenty mobile.

    Take care. Wish you could pass the Café hosting job off to someone else.

  176. says

    Uh-oh, Concern over preparations for 2016 Olympics:

    John Coates, the vice-president of the International Olympic Committee, has called Brazil’s preparations for the 2016 Rio Games “the worst” in his experience and critically behind schedule, but warned there was no “plan B” to find another host.

    Attending an Olympic forum in Sydney, Coates told delegates that construction had not commenced on some venues, infrastructure was significantly delayed and water quality was also a major concern two years out from the Games.

    “The IOC has formed a special task force to try to speed up preparations but the situation is critical on the ground,” Coates said on Tuesday in a statement released by the Australian Olympic Commission, which transcribed some of his comments at the forum.


    Erasing unhappy memories:

    We all have things we’d like to forget — being the victim of a crime, a bad relationship, an embarrassing faux pas. What if we could erase those bad memories? Or at least take the edge off them?
    Over the last 10 or 15 years, researchers have learned more about how memories are formed and recalled.
    Dr. Susannah Tye, an assistant professor in the departments of psychiatry and psychology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., says that bad memories affect people on two levels. There’s the recollection of the traumatic event, as well as a physical aspect — a person’s heart may race or they may get depressed or withdrawn — that can be debilitating.
    “These memories, when they’re traumatic, they’ve been stored effectively because they’re very important,” she says.
    Science hasn’t found a delete button you can hit to eliminate certain memories, though researchers are looking. In the meantime, Tye suggests, “a psychologist or psychiatrist with expertise in trauma can help facilitate what the individual can do.”

    I don’t think I’d want to erase any of my memories, despite the pain they may bring. Take for instance the memories of my best friend, Micah. His death was one of the (if not *the* most) tragic, painful experiences of my life. If I were to erase the memory of his death, how does that affect my other memories? Will I remember that he is dead, but not the details? Will I forget he’s dead? What about the depression I went through following his death? Would I remember that he died and I went through a long bout of depression?


    Banning a Dr. Seuss book?

    Dr. Seuss’s beloved 1963 picture book Hop on Pop encourages children to take a pop at dad, according to an irate reader who demanded that the Toronto Public Library ban it from its collection.
    It’s one of seven items included on the library’s annual list of patron requests to reconsider material on its shelves.
    The complainant not only wanted the book trashed for allegedly pushing children to use violence against their fathers, he or she insisted the library apologize to dads and “pay for damages resulting from the book.”
    Whether the offended party was actually sincere doesn’t matter, said the library’s director of collections management, Vickery Bowles, adding librarians take all complaints seriously.
    “It’s a very respectful process,” she said. “We don’t pass judgment just because it’s something like a Dr. Seuss book.”
    The library’s materials review committee kept the book, saying it remains a staple of children’s literature and because it actually tells kids “not to hop on pop” (emphasis theirs).

    This is the segment from the book that “pushes children to use violence against fathers”:

    HOP POP We like to hop.
    We like to hop on top of Pop.
    STOP You must not hop on Pop

    It’s apparent to me that the book does *NOT* suggest to kids that they “hop on pop”. Whoever complained needs to re-read for comprehension.

  177. blf says

    Wish you could pass the Café hosting job off to someone else.

    He is passing it on, to somebody named “Out”…

  178. blf says

    Whoever complained needs to re-read for comprehension.

    Probably beyond their grade level.

  179. says

    Ouch, that sucks
    Good luck with the grading

    Hey, today the local youth radio had a segment “which animals are fucking here?”
    You heard a record of them making noise while fucking and then you could call in and guess.

    Naming conventions again
    Another version would be of course a settler/immigrant/indigenous scenario like in Las Américas. Still, that would have some friggin huge effects on the world. Unless it’s so long gone nobody really remembers in which case you probably can’t tell anyway, or can you easily tell which Irish towns are of Viking origin?
    It is also compeltely possible to have people with names from A in G or T or W. Still, the question is: Why? Some mass immigration? Or a single person/family who ended up there? It would affect the world and the people.

  180. says

    Here’s a Moment of Mormon Madness from the not-too-distant past. Credit for posting this goes to ex-mormons on exmormon.org.

    “And young women, please understand that if you dress immodestly, you are magnifying this problem by becoming pornography to some of the men who see you.”
    (Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Pornography, Ensign May 2005)

  181. says

    Raises are nice. Without the raise that comes along wiht my promotion, this weeks paycheck would be down about $30-40 compared to last weeks. Just had fewer hours for this one.

    With said raise, I’m up about 20.

    Found out that my raise from performance review does not combine with the raise from promotion. Oh well. Would have been nice if it did but it would have been small enough that it would have been hard to even notice.

  182. Portia says

    I haven’t finished watching this but a friend sent this to me – first person to make an appearance might be recognizable. :) (He reappears at about 3:00…I can’t keep watching). But, boy, they’ve got me there, with the point of the video.

    :( :( :( Feel better.

  183. cicely says

    *respectful hugs* and sympathy for Our Tentacled Overlord.

    Raises are good, gworroll; I’m glad you got one.

  184. Rob Grigjanis says

    Tony @247:

    I don’t think I’d want to erase any of my memories, despite the pain they may bring.

    I agree. I liked Robert Kennedy’s Aeschylus quote in his speech announcing MLK’s death, even with the god reference.

    Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget
    falls drop by drop upon the heart
    until, in our own despair, against our will,
    comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.

  185. rq says

    Children will hop on pop regardless. Husband gets attacked fairly regularly; it’s quite difficult to ward off the ankle-biters once they’re determined.

  186. azhael says

    @239 rq

    No idea. The closest thing i can find is “izan da” where “izan” would apparently be “to be”…

  187. says

    So I saw a link on Facebook, about domestic violence against men and that men should be allowed to fight back. Fair enough, you have a right to defend yourself even if you are a man and the aggressor is a woman. There aren’t many people who would disagree with this.

    Persons commentary “this is real feminism, not some madeup words”. Ok, getting iffy here, I recently had to shut down a flame ware on one of my statuses where this guy was going on about rape culture being a made up term.

    Site linked to? “A Voice For Men”.

    That’s only marginally better than linking to Stormfront as an example of real racial equality.

    To be fair to the guy posting this, if he actually understood what feminists are saying, he’d find himself in very close agreement to them on just about all major points and most of the minor ones. Without having to actually change his mind on any of this.

  188. opposablethumbs says

    Ow, PZ, that’s horrible. I hope you survive (and feel a hell of a lot better soon).

  189. says

    birgerjohanssen @82:
    Thanks for the Newsbiscuit link about Narnia.
    I liked the closing line:

    ‘If we wanted talking animals with a tedious moral message we would have gone to Disneyland. Needless to say, we won’t be returning.’


    bassmike @86:
    Thank you my friend.


    CaitieCat @96:
    It is wonderful to see you again. You have been missed. Seeing your nym brought a smile to my face.


    ajb47 @106:

    Congratulations on the anniversary of your marriage!


    HAllooooo, Caitie[Robo]Cat!!
    Film at 11? What’s on the program?


    24 hours a day
    7 days a week
    365 days a year

    of I…Robot


    Giliell @187:

    Funny thing: Because I don’t know the US abreviations of the individual states (I also don’t know the state flowers, sue me)

    Clearly you did not receive the memo that the United States is the center of the world and that everyone else should know all about our country (while we don’t need to know a darned thing about anywhere else).
    Now I wonder how many USanians know any of the state flowers. I know I don’t know a single one. Nor do I know why states even *have* state flowers. Seems rather silly.


    In the wake of my last bout of “FtB hates me and throws my comments into the spam trap”, I decided to compose my comments, links and all, on my laptop’s notepad and I think I like it better this way. Now If my comments get eaten, I don’t have to go back and find all those links. I also don’t have to scroll up and down from comments to the message box.

  190. Portia says

    I’m watching a surveillance video that is silent and largely stationary. I paused it. I forgot I paused it. I thought “Wow, they are very still.” For like five minutes.

    *facepalm* Is it time to go home yet?

  191. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    So, I finally have a patio that gets sunlight, and I have 3x 14″ ID and 5?x 12″ ID terra cotta pots, a couple shallow/long plants and a couple of smaller/shallow-bowl-type pots mom gave me. I’m planning to grow 2-3 tomato plants in the large pots, along with some herbs including basil and perhaps some flowers well-suited to companion planting. The main focus is gonna be on edibles, though. However, I want to take advantage of companion planting, and while I can find an endless plethora of guides that explain which plants go well together, and have lists of “good companion plants for this plant,” not one single guide explains whether companion plants have to share *soil* (IE, be planted in the same container, as opposed to merely being in pots near each other) in order for a given benefit.

    Anyone have any advice to give on this?

  192. says

    Europe bans US apples:


    Former Supreme Court justice proposes changes to the Constitution.

    To start, he proposes changing the First Amendment, the protection of free speech, so that it allows “reasonable limits” on the amount of money candidates for public office or their supporters can spend on election campaigns.

    Stevens would add words to the Second Amendment to read, “the right of the people to keep and bear arms when serving in the militia shall not be infringed.” He would also end the death penalty, adding it to the prohibitions on “excessive bail and cruel and unusual punishment.”

    I like both of these ideas.

    He also said:

    On whether term limits should be imposed on Supreme Court justices

    No, I really don’t think so. I think that the Supreme Court justices over the years have demonstrated an ability to recognize when it’s time for them to retire.

    I need to know what the pros and cons of term limits would be before I can offer an informed opinion (my kneejerk reaction was “yes, they need term limits”, immediately followed by “Self: what are your reasons for believing this?”)

    It just struck me as puzzling why so many officials in the US are elected officials, but the SCOTUS members are appointed.

    Perhaps any of the lawyers in The Lounge have an opinion they would care to share? Or any helpful links..?

  193. Desert Son, OM says

    Commiserations to Dalillama re: calculus woes. Hope at least the new part-time job is going well and that, whatever you decide about the calculus course, you feel like it’s the right move. Hugs if you want them.


    Tony!, hope things are a little better this week for you and your fellow workers after the events of last week. Hugs available for distribution if desired.

    So awful about the FedEx shooting in Georgia, just days after the state broadened gun-carrying laws. No doubt will spark even more misguided and dangerous calls for still further arming.


    Good news re: cicely and safety post-tornadoes. Forecasters are saying risks for additional bad weather remain in the south for next couple of days. To those in such areas, and to the extent it is within your power to do so: stay safe!


    Giliell at #187:

    Heartfelt support for you, your grandmother, and family at this time.


    PZ, hope you feel better soon. Emapthy on the grading front: Students turn in their final papers here this week. Thanks for your work.

    Still learning,


  194. says

    Rich Woods 232

    That’s an admission of guilt that he isn’t any good at teaching, or has badly misjudged the difficulty of his exam in testing the material he covered.

    I ended up with a 32% after the curve, and a quarter of the class didn’t do as well as I did.

    So glad to see Don Sterling banned for life.

    I overheard someone in class mention this, and the guy he was talking to replied ‘Way to choose a girlfriend.’ I wanted to give him a peice of my mind, but it would have just added to the disruption of class, and I was trying to pay attention to the instructor. I had a hell of a mental facepalm, though.
    that sucks. *hugs* if desired.


    Another version would be of course a settler/immigrant/indigenous scenario like in Las Américas. Still, that would have some friggin huge effects on the world.

    Yeah, it doesn’t matter much how it came to pass, but the fact that it did is invariably going to have a significant effect on the milieu.

    It just struck me as puzzling why so many officials in the US are elected officials, but the SCOTUS members are appointed.

    Not a lawyer, but the idea of elected judges at any level gives me hives. There’s way the fuck too much of that in the States already.

  195. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    Appointed judges who serve for life:

    -In theory: rule impartially based on the law rather than having to worry about losing the next election if they choose what’s legally correct rather than what’s popular.
    -In practice: “white elephants” that are actively knocking down palace walls and shitting on the carpet, IE the four Injustices on the Supreme Court.

    Elected judges:

    -In theory: responsive to popular sentiment and changing, evolving social understandings more than the prejudices of their class and generation.
    In practice: pander to the prejudices of their class and generation, and occasionally do things like cite their conviction rates in electoral campaigns.

  196. Nutmeg says


    Hey, today the local youth radio had a segment “which animals are fucking here?”
    You heard a record of them making noise while fucking and then you could call in and guess.

    I needed some cheerful absurdity today. Thanks! :)

  197. says

    Tony, always the perfect words:

    Seeing your nym brought a smile to my face.

    To someone who really enjoys, late in this Life of Many Facets, being a person who makes other people happy*, you could not have picked a nicer way to say you’re glad I’m back. Thank you. Consider the favour returned.

    * As opposed to previous incarnations, whose alignments were somewhat less…other-people-friendly. It is probable that had many of you met me as a teenager, you would have found me a much less sanguine companion. Well,less sanguine in the “calm in my presence” sense, anyway. Less sanguine in the “wow there’s a lot of blood around here isn’t there” sense, maybe not so much. I have, at times, been a Not Very Nice Person in my life. Since there is no fifth amendment to apply here in Soviet Canuckistan, further deponent saith not.

  198. says

    Learning about the closer to even than you’d think rates of sexual assault against men and women is a good reason to doubt the existence of rape culture.

    Unless I’ve seriously misunderstood the various explanations of rape culture I’ve read and heard, rape culture is pretty much exactly why male victims tend to be disappeared in discussions of sexual assault. Learning how much closer to parity rates are than you previously thought isn’t reason to doubt rape culture, it’s more confirmation that it’s an actual thing actually affecting society.

  199. says

    In other words, I have some ignorant FB friends. If this one guys views on women were anywhere near as horrible as his views on the feminist movement, he’d have been nuked long, long ago. As it is, I’m just going to nuke the stupid comments he makes.

  200. samihawkins says

    I have two question about offensive language that I’ve been pondering lately and I was wondering if the Pharyngulites could help me with them:

    1. Is it ableist and offensive to use terms like ‘crazy’ and ‘mentally ill’ as insults? I’ve seen the commenters here rightly chew people out for trying to seriously argue that bigots, rapists, and other awful human beings must be mentally ill, but is it okay if you’re just making a joke and you don’t seriously believe that the subject is mentally ill? For example PZ had a recent post where he calls Palin a madwoman and no one seemed to take offense.

    I ask because I’m writing a story and there’s a part where my lead character, who I’ve written as a total jackass, makes a bunch of snide comments about another characters mental state. For example calling her crazy, mentally ill, and asking if she hears voices in her head. She’s totally sane, just has a slightly odd hobby, and the humor of the scene is supposed to come from him acting like a jackass and getting smacked for it, but I’m worried I might have crossed a line.

    2. Do ethnic slurs have an expiration date? I’m planning another story where one of the main characters is from Texas and I considered having another character joke about her being a yellow rose. I’d always assumed that song was about a blonde, but then I looked it up on Wikipedia and apparently in the 1800s ‘yellow’ referred to someone half-black and half-white. I assume it was a slur since the 1800s didn’t really have any non-slur ways of referring to non-white people, but I wonder if it’s still offensive nowadays. The only time I’ve ever heard ‘yellow’ used as a racial term was by Asian bashing bigots, but maybe I’m just ignorant and there are still people using it against biracial people.

  201. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    1. Is it ableist and offensive to use terms like ‘crazy’ and ‘mentally ill’ as insults?

    I would say that it’s definitely so with “Mentally ill” and for that matter actual diagnostic terms. “Crazy” is a little more complicated: I’ve observed that it has a usage which has become substantially decoupled from directly referring to mental illness, and is generally understood to convey some combination of a radical disconnection from reality and uncontrolled, alarming or dangerous behavior – which may in some cases result from mental illness, but generally stems from what might be called “memeopathy” – and my sense is that, given that having a convenient shorthand for that kind of behavior has some value to it, the more productive route is to complete the separation and circle the whole thing: “crazy” and “mentally ill” are distinct concepts, and the vast majority of mentally ill people are not crazy. I think this is a minority view here, though…

    That said, writing a character who behaves in a bigoted fashion is not an intrinsically bigoted act, especially if the behavior is presented negatively.

  202. says


    I ask because I’m writing a story and there’s a part where my lead character, who I’ve written as a total jackass, makes a bunch of snide comments about another characters mental state. For example calling her crazy, mentally ill, and asking if she hears voices in her head. She’s totally sane, just has a slightly odd hobby, and the humor of the scene is supposed to come from him acting like a jackass and getting smacked for it, but I’m worried I might have crossed a line.

    I think you’re safe because you’ve shown that your character has to face the consequences of their bigotry.

  203. The Mellow Monkey: Non-Hypothetical says


    So, it’s like “What does the fucks say?”


    CaitieCat! So good to see you. *non-invasive expressions of delight here* (I always feel a little bit weird about throwing digital hugs around, just in case someone isn’t cool with them.)

    samihawkins, I’ll second what Azkyroth and Tony! said.

  204. cicely says

    Be safe, Tony!.

    I’m with ajb47; tornadoes scare me far worse than, for instance, earthquakes, or floods.

  205. Dhorvath, OM says

    So, I applied to go back to university today. We will see if seventeen year old math courses mean anything today…

  206. says

    cicely @282

    I couldn’t explain it, though. Earthquakes and floods do some horrendous stuff, but there is just something about what a tornado does that scares me. And worse now that I have a wife and kids.

    Dhorvath, OM @ 284

    I don’t know where you are, but most places have time limits on transferring credits from old courses. 17 seems a long time, so you may not receive much credit. I wish you luck.

  207. Dhorvath, OM says

    Sadly, the institution I applied at doesn’t seem to agree. Everything is relevant. I mean, quite apart from my personal identification with some barely out of high school ass who took those courses, clearly any skills that were learned have been lost in the ensuing years. But I cannot apply as a mature student, it’s transfer or nothing. Arghh, so bent about this.

  208. says

    Hope your weather improves there.

    But I cannot apply as a mature student, it’s transfer or nothing.

    Why not? If You don’t mind my asking. Best of luck as well.
    On the second question, I don’t think that the descriptor ‘yellow’ (sometimes ‘High yellow’) was ever any more derogatory than, say ‘mulatto’ or ‘Negro’. That is to say, there’s going to be some intrinsic racist connotations in almost any common term coined by whites to refer to nonwhites in the States, but that particular one isn’t any more racist that what might be termed the default (AFAIK, anyway).

  209. says

    Dhorvath, OM

    I only had about 8 years between college stints and most of my first trip credits did not transfer. I can’t be sure, but I think colleges are trying to get the most money they can out of their students.

  210. Dhorvath, OM says

    University says so. As near as I can figure. Their rules state that if a prospective student has studied at any post secondary institution, they apply as a transfer student. Who here thinks I remember any second year statistics beyond knowing that Poisson is a distribution? I think I could fake linear Diophantine equations…but I took those in first year. I dunno.

  211. Dhorvath, OM says


    most of my first trip credits did not transfer

    I am okay with that. Hell, I don’t think my former courses have any value, nor would I trust me to use those skills without a serious brush up, (like, say, retaking the courses.) It’s more that who I am now, right now, is why I am thinking about going back. Nothing in my application says a whit about who I am, it’s old news about someone else who didn’t want to be in university and that’s why they didn’t stay.

  212. chigau (違う) says

    Azkyroth #266
    pots, patios, companion planting
    Congrats on growing-space.

    12 inch and 14 inch pots full of dirt are heavy!
    Make sure they are where you really want them.
    or they are in trays that you can drag or rotate.
    It is a certainty that you will need to re-arrange things at some point.

    My companion planting experiments have all been done in a garden where dirt is shared.
    I have not had noticeable results.
    Except for marigolds, which are pretty, have edible flowers and no insect in the known universe will go near.

    Radishes do well in pots but you need to keep the bugs away (netting works).

    If you are in a climate with frost, have some old bed-sheets handy.
    Almost everything will survive a light over-night frost if you just throw a cover over them.
    Not basil. Basil is a wimp. Bring it indoors.


  213. mikeyb says

    Depressing. The last independent bookstore in my city went Kaput. Drove by and there were borders on the doors. The only place you can buy used books now is Goodwill. When I was a kid I remember there being tons of used book stores to browse. Yet another sign of the corporatization of America. Fucking sad!!!!

  214. FossilFishy (NOBODY, and proud of it!) says

    chigau! Are you okay? Do you need to sit down, or perhaps a drink? Wordwise, #298 looks to be a weeks worth of posts for you. ;)

    So I went to another open stage last Sunday. It went really well. I was the only one doing original material and unlike the other performers people were paying attention rather than talking over me. I sucked*, but it was better than the first time and I enjoyed it even more. I might just be working my way back to being an actual musician. Well, not a professional one, but at least one with some degree of competence.

    This place has really affected me though. I woke up last night worried about the tune I’m working on. I’d used “man” in one of the lines and I realised that gendering that phrase wasn’t necessary. I couldn’t remember if that was a rhymed word and I couldn’t be assed to get up and check so I lay their and fretted until I fell back asleep. Fortunately it wasn’t and substituting “now” made the whole thing gender neutral.

    *This is not false modesty, all three pieces I played were gong-shows of mistakes. During one I dropped my e-bow and had to half crawl under the drumkit to get it back. Hooray for the looper! At least there wasn’t silence as I scrabbled around. And of course the nice thing about original material is that folks have nothing to compare it to.

  215. rq says

    Poisson is a distribution

    NO! It’s French for… Oh, stats. Never mind. (I always wanted the graph to look at least a little like a fish. Or a sharkfin.)
    Good luck going back to school, Dhorvath!!

    Best wishes for less pain for PZ, I hope the grading stops soon!

    Anyone in tornado country, stay safe and I hope anything that passes you by, passes you by with a very wide margin, by passing through all the uninhabited zones in your area.

    … Is that you?

    Hooray for another show! I’m glad the jitters were reduced this time, comic interludes and all. :)

    I’ve never tried the companion planting, except in the sense that tomatoes were next to cucumbers with a row of dill and then some radishes the next row over, and things seemed to grow well. Then again, that was in less limited space.
    Good luck with the green thumbs!

  216. chigau (違う) says

    fine then
    back to one-liners
    err two-liners
    I’ll come in again.

  217. Rowan vet-tech says

    So…. is macrophthalmia even a thing? Because Jicama has giant right eyeball of DOOM. The left eye is perfectly proportional for a kitten of his age/size… but that right one… O_o

    I’m thinking of nicknaming him Igor, after the guy in Young Frankenstein.


  218. rq says

    Haha, chigau! While those one- and two- and three-liners will do, now we know what you’re truly capable of. ;) (I’ll just ask more gardening questions to draw you out.)

  219. FossilFishy (NOBODY, and proud of it!) says

    Thanks rq. It really felt good to look up at the end of a tune and realise that despite the nigh-on slapstick fumblings people were paying attention. It also is something of a milestone. Back in “the day” I only did one gig playing my own material. It went well enough, but the time demands of the bands I was in coupled with an almost lethal amount of self-doubt I never did another.

  220. FossilFishy (NOBODY, and proud of it!) says

    Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow
    creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
    ‘Til the last syllable of chigau time.
    And all our yesterdays have lighted basil the way to dusty death…

    Apologies, I’ll see myself out…

  221. says

    This college term might just kill me. Looking at Dalillama’s woes and Pz’s as well I’m wondering why we’re apparently trying to break everybody involved into little pieces?

    Also, it’s fuckin’ loud outside and I’m trying to work.

    With tomatoes less is more. I usually plant 3 tomatoes in a pot with a 20″ diametre and it’s always too many. I should also mention that it’s on something with wheels underneath. And tomatoes HATE rain. Certain forms of pepperweed have nice flowers, are edible AND are supposed to keep nasty insects away.

  222. opposablethumbs says

    FossilFishy, it’s great to know you’re easing in to playing gigs again! (e-bow? um, you’re an electric violinist? I thought you were a guitarist ….. oooh, I looked it up, I see now. ).
    Can antibiotics give you acid reflux? Ugh.

  223. birgerjohansson says

    It is cool to have eleven digits…just like Hannibal Lecter!

    — — — — —
    Snow is falling outside my office window.
    This evening it is aSwedish tradition to light bonfires, some kind of springtime ritual. Irony.

    — — —
    Bible and government: I think the bible endorses government by kings with the power to execute anyone they dislike, unless they are part of the priesthood.
    The Icelandic Edda is silent on the subject. But if you are a king named Hrotalf Braineater or Stygvar Bloodaxe, I think the “kill anyone you want” stuff has the approval of the Aesir.

  224. opposablethumbs says

    Thank you, rq and Giliell! Am eating peppermint antacid tablets. Ginger sweets sounds like a very good idea to me; may go out and see if I can find any to buy.

  225. The Mellow Monkey: Non-Hypothetical says


    Why is final editting always about as much work as writing the shit in the first place?

    Urgh. I don’t know, but I find it mentally exhausting in a way that writing isn’t for me.

  226. says

    Re: Editing (since it’s what I do, after all).

    I think the problem is that we tend to approach writing as a creative pursuit and editing as drudgework, like the relationship between cooking and cleaning up after a meal, or the artisan putting polish and detailing on a beautiful piece of ironmongery.

    For me, the relationship is more like that between cooking and presenting a meal: the cooks make the meal, the chef presents it. Takes the appetizing stuff already prepared, and puts it together in a way which is pleasing to the eye and nose as well as the palate. I approach editing as “the second part of the creative process” – as “re-writing” rather than “hacking at my beautiful writing” – and find that this helps it seems a lot less like drudgery, and more like “hey, I get to keep writing!”

    Dunno if that helps at all, but it’s been useful to me. :)

  227. says

    I am discovering that chronic pain, even at a very low level, is incredibly distracting. Esoecially when you have to focus to grind through some tedious work.

    Even worse for getting through that work? Painkillers.

  228. The Mellow Monkey: Non-Hypothetical says

    CaitieCat: Do you have experience editing fiction, by any chance? I’m far too poor to hire someone right now, but I’d really like to (when I can afford it) hire someone to be my editor for the indie fantasy I will (when I can afford it) eventually finish. My romance novels are already taken care of, but a world and characters I really care about and want to present to the world polished is entirely different. Finding someone whose opinion I’d know was worth my trust and value has been difficult, but you are one of the people I’d put into that category.

    PZ, yes, it is. It’s actually remarkable just how much of an impact the chronic pain from my car accident has had on my focus and energy. You have my sympathy.

  229. says

    You have mine, too, PZed, it’s something I know all too well. It’s been 26 years and 2 months since my car accident*, and concentrating through the pain isn’t something I’ve learnt yet. If anything, I find it’s the other way around: if I can find something enjoyable and mindless to concentrate fully on, like a nicely immersive book or game, I can make the pain recede somewhat. But something drudging and mindful is the worst for that, because it offers no escape – you have to focus on the work, and the work is no fantasy.

    MellowMonkey, I’d say tentatively yes, pending your ability to pester me if I’m in a bad place depressively. The good news there is, the times when it’s really bad are reasonably predictable with access to long-term weather forecasts (as in, “we’re in for another FUCKWINTER like this last one, that’s not good!”), so it’s manageable for someone with a bit of patience to be water to my stone.

    * T-boned by a drunk driver running a red light, I was left aphasic and sporadically amnesiac for several months, as well as the back injury whose long-term development has led to my current disability.

  230. says

    So scrapping my new story idea again and starting over. I just couldn’t get started with the narrative. It’s painful trying to come up with a decent one.

    I’m thinking of revisiting my last one – the detective novel in the fantasy world – but perhaps drill down into what made it good, what worked, and what didn’t. Maybe instead of focusing on the whole of the Guard Unit, focus on one main character. Make her (cause my strongest character was Mara) a detective working for the guards trying to expose some big thing threatening the peace of Tavsere.

    It could work, but I’m worried I’ll fall into the same trap as before and make a decent, but way-to-short novel.

  231. bassmike says

    I’ve been fortunate enough to not have suffered long term chronic pain. But what little I have experienced fills me with huge sympathy for those who do suffer with it. PZ I hope yours reduces soon and CatieCat as always you have my sympathy and it’s great to have you back in the lounge! Use one of the pillow forts if you wish.

  232. bassmike says


    Has anyone seen Portia recently?

    She asked a maths related question yesterday @216.

  233. Dhorvath, OM says


    Why is final editting always about as much work as writing the shit in the first place?

    I don’t know how this goes for you, but final editing for me is where I actually make sense out of the words I have scattered. In general I find it more satisfying than my first draft, which is invariably frustrating in it’s inadequacies.

  234. rq says

    Good news! THE AMAZING CARLIE ROSE IS ALIVE!!! I saw a tiny little fresh leaf bud on the main stem today, which I first mistook for one of those little red spider-mites, but it wasn’t bright enough, and yes, it’s a real live leaf bud! I will be watching closely to make sure it develops and provides the rest of the plant with enough energy to make it through the summer. But yay! (And the Yellow Portia Rose that I thought was dead has actually begun developing rather healthy-looking leaf buds and shoots, too.

    Also, I get 4 out of a 5-day weekend all to myself. YAY! Anyone still up for hanging out on May 3? Online pictionary-charades? Movie?

  235. FossilFishy (NOBODY, and proud of it!) says

    Thanks OT. I love my e-bow because it allows me to hold and swell notes, which takes the guitar from being a percussion instrument, albeit one capable of pitch and harmony, to something more akin to the human voice. Well, that and it appeals to my not-so-inner geek. :)

    PZ, Mellow Monkey, and CaitieCat

    I’m sorry to hear about your pain. The last six months of recovery and rehab from my severed patela tendon has given me an unwelcome insight into the difficulties faced by those with cronic pain. I’m just a tourist in that world, once the wire is pulled from my knee I’m expected to make a full recovery.(Scheduled for my birthday, oh yippee, just what I wanted: fucking surgery.)

    You, and everyone who suffers, have not only my sympathy, but also a much greater willingness to be patient on my part. I found that being in constant pain didn’t change who I am or how I felt about things. But it did change how quickly I responded. Anger and frustration seemed to leap out, fully formed and at Götterdämmerung levels regardless of the severity of the cause. While apology and reconciliation took so much more time and effort than before my injury. I won’t forget it, and it will inform my dealings with folks suffering through cronic pain. That’s the hardscrabble silver lining to what’s otherwise been a perfectly miserable experience.

  236. dianne says

    So…I’m in a situation where I think I may have a case to make for discrimination at work, but, as usual, the gas lights may or may not actually be flickering and I’m wondering if I am, perhaps, actually being overly sensitive about something that’s just normal bad management. Also wondering if a case can be made in the absence of provable financial loss (it’s about promotion and future opportunities, not necessarily current salary) and if any lawyer would bother with it…If I had a union I’d just go to my union rep, but I don’t so I’m stuck and not sure how to resolve or whether to escalate…

  237. consciousness razor says

    I approach editing as “the second part of the creative process” – as “re-writing” rather than “hacking at my beautiful writing” – and find that this helps it seems a lot less like drudgery, and more like “hey, I get to keep writing!”

    For me, writing music, the “editing” part always seems to be the vast majority of the work. Coming up with new material is a little too easy. Most of it needs to go in the end, which is fine. Chiseling it all down to only what it ought to be, finishing off all of the bits and pieces, putting them all in the right place — that’s when most of the real work happens. Fortunately, that’s something I really enjoy, but maybe I’m just weird. Of course, I often spend a lot of time on the pre-compositional part of things too, which can help with pretty much everything that comes after.

    Maybe some of that has to do with how abstract (for lack of a better word) the material is, compared to something like a story. It’s like math (in some sense, it is math) in the way that there’s nothing too objectionable about starting out with just about anything whatsoever, then developing that into something interesting, something that ties the whole room together. With stories, you need to be writing about people and places and events and concepts that are at least somewhat realistic representations of some kind of a world. It wouldn’t really be a recognizable story if you could just arbitrarily pick what those initial pieces are at random. So when you have to start off with something that already has a reasonable potential to be a story, I could see how it’s more of a struggle to avoid becoming too attached to it, or to not know how to look at it from a different (but still “realistic”) perspective so you can decide what you might want to change about the original ideas.

  238. pHred says

    Ugh – grading itself causes low level pain, having actual pain on top of that makes the situation just vile. I got rear ended by a construction truck while stopped in traffic (I thought I was going to die) but fortunately I got off pretty lightly considering what could have happened. Dislocated both thumbs – which makes handwriting even now painful sometimes and some back and neck damage – so now I occasionally get migraines now when I didn’t used to. But like I side – I consider myself really luck – I will also never by a small car (my truck got compressed around me, but I didn’t). Not unless everyone else does too!

    Anyhow – now I have to be very careful when I grade papers (anything subject) because the more pain I am in, the more hypercritical I get. During finals I have to stay hyperaware of my background pain level or I will start wanting to flunk everyone (well not that bad usually but it feels like it sometimes).

    Right – two weeks left of the semester and on Monday – I was supposed to be finishing up a lecture on nonrenewable energy resources and ended up fielding questions about hydraulic fracturing the entire time instead. It was good for the students, but now I am freaking out about what I have to cover for the end of the semester and stripping slides for today’s class.

    So it totally makes sense for me to come hide in the Lounge and write a long comment instead of prepping my lecture – plus it is raining and yucky out there (no tornadoes though). Sigh.

    Random virtual hugs and chocolate to those in need.

  239. says

    My genetics grades (before the final) are all calculated, and I sent off the details of their grades to each student, so there would be no surprises. The final is optional and replaces their lowest exam score, so the students need the information to decide whether they want to invest the time in studying for it.

    I’m already getting a flood of email complaints coming back at me, including from a student who hasn’t gotten better than 30% right on any of the exams who is shocked, shocked to be told that they are failing the course, and that there is no possible way that even getting 100% on the final can boost their grade enough to pass.

    I am beginning to think that incoming students ought to take a course in elementary reality, with emphasis on numeracy.

    I might need to take it, too. I do this all the time: I send the news about their grade to all the students on the very day they fill out evaluations in my course. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Gotta remind myself: pop their bubbles after they’ve submitted the form that tells the administration what a great teacher you are.

  240. pHred says

    PZ said

    I am beginning to think that incoming students ought to take a course in elementary reality, with emphasis on numeracy.


    No kidding – I constantly have students who apparently can’t sort out that skipping the homework and getting 50s or less on the exams means that there is no way they can pass the class. How can they be surprised by this ?

    Rarer but just as annoying are the obsessive students who will argue with you over a handful of homework points when they also will make no real difference in their final grade. At least I have gotten some people to listen to me when I tell them that they are way better off spending the time studying than repeating an assignment in order to get an extra 4 points.

  241. says

    Update on the Cliven Bundy situation: some militia groups are still there and they have set up checkpoints as if they were in Ukraine.

    A Democratic congressman from Nevada said in a letter this week that his constituents have reported the armed militia supporting rancher Cliven Bundy have set up checkpoints to verify the residency of anybody passing through.

    Rep. Steven Horsford (D-NV), who represents the area, sent the letter Sunday to Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie, asking him to investigate.

    “I am writing to bring your attention to the ongoing situation in northeastern Clark County which has caused many of my constituents to fear for their safety,” Horsford wrote. Residents in the area “have expressed concern over the continual presence of multiple out-of-state, armed militia groups that have remained in the community” since Bundy’s dispute with the Bureau of Land Management came to a boil.


    Yeah, road checkpoints in Nevada. Doesn’t sound patriotic or freedom-loving to me.

  242. says

    Fox Newsx treated a Scientific American editor with enough disrespect that he says he does not plan to appear on Fox again. That’s unfortunate, because Michael Moyer had planned to talk about climate change among other things.

    Talking Points Memo link.

    […] Michael Moyer appeared Wednesday morning on “Fox & Friends” to talk about the tech trends for the future, and wanted to discuss about the impact of climate change. He said he suggested it even though he knew there was little chance the show’s producers would let him run with it.

    “About the only interesting thing that the scientific community is sure will happen in the next 50 years is that climate change is going to get worse, and that we’re going to have to deal with the impacts,” Moyer told TPM in an email. “So I put that as one of my talking points. I understood that there was little chance the topic would make it into the show, but I’m not going to self-censor myself from the get-go.”

    “The Fox producer came back and very politely and matter-of-factly said that we would have to replace the climate change item,” he added.

    Instead of climate change, Moyer discussed finding distant planets with the “Fox & Friends” hosts.

    Moyer expressed surprise that his account of an uncomfortable experience behind-the-scenes of the show’s set generated interest, writing that “we all know that Fox doesn’t talk about climate change unless it’s to belittle the science (or scientists).” Cordial as the experience was, Moyer doesn’t expect to be invited back.

    “I only tweeted out the experience once I had made the decision not to go on again,” he wrote. […]

    Beyond the silence on climate change, Moyer said he found the show’s segments on Benghazi and on whether Secretary of State John Kerry should resign as examples of coverage he thought “seemed to be inventing controversy where none existed.”

    “I found the tone and topics of coverage while I was sitting in the green room this morning to be not something that I wanted to be a part of in the future,” he said. “I didn’t realize that the drumbeat of conservative propaganda was so ubiquitous on the show.”

    Moyer also published an account of his experience with Fox News and climate change on his Scientific American blog here.[…]

  243. blf says

    Also, I get 4 out of a 5-day weekend all to myself.

    Um, not, no quite. The roses are coming to get you. Probably with the chainsaw.

    Your only chance is if you had the foresight to securely store the chainsaw. Encased in concrete and chucked into an active volcano would do.

    That does not work for peas, by the way, unless you take the mostly missing mildly deranged penguin’s approach and substitute “black hole” for “volcano” and “another Universe” for “concrete”.

  244. blf says

    The freakout — and the fruitcakes who are freaking out — over that Austrian contestent in Eurovision is hilarious, Russian politician condemns Eurovision as ‘Europe-wide gay parade’:

    St Petersburg legislator Vitaly Milonov proposes boycott before demanding exclusion of Austrian drag-queen contestant

    St Petersburg legislator Vitaly Milonov — who sponsored a local law against homosexual propaganda in 2011 that helped pave the way for a similar federal law last year — has written a letter to Russia’s Eurovision selection committee asking it not to send Russian musicians to the 2014 competition in Copenhagen in May.

    Calling the event a “Europe-wide gay parade,” Milonov argued that Russian performers’ participation would “contradict the path of cultural and moral renewal that Russia stands on today”. In a tweet, the lawmaker called for a full boycott of the “Sodom show”.

    “The participation of the obvious transvestite and hermaphrodite Conchita Wurst on the same stage as Russian singers on live television is blatant propaganda of homosexuality and spiritual decay.”

    Milonov criticised Russia’s state-owned Channel One last May for broadcasting the 2013 Eurovision contest, which he called “degradation in the style of Hollande”, in reference to the French president, François Hollande, who had just signed a law legalising gay marriage.

    The MP has also frequently attacked international performers, most recently seeking to ban Ukraine’s most popular band, Okean Elzy, from Russia for supporting the Euromaidan protests that ousted its president, Viktor Yanukovych.

    In 2012, he filed a complaint that Lady Gaga had violated the St Petersburg law … when she called for respect for gay rights during her concert in the city. He also filed a complaint arguing that Lady Gaga and Madonna — who had called for gay people to be treated with dignity at a St Petersburg concert — had violated visa rules during their Russian tours.

  245. says

    To add to the discussion upthread about editing and writing: for editing I put on my “Ruthless” hat and pretend that it is someone else’s work, not my own. That way you don’t give yourself a pass when it comes to those phrases you thought were lovely when you wrote them, but which either don’t make sense to anyone else, or they do not contribute to the piece.

    For writing I put on my “Wild Woman” hat. Anything goes. Full access is granted to all brain parts. It’s in the looseness that occasional insights are born.

    Things that really irritate me when it comes to editing the work of other writers:
    – But that’s the way I felt! (If the way you felt isn’t coming across, then editing is needed.)
    – If you edit it, you take all the life out of it. (Possible, but not likely.)
    – I write from the heart. (Oh fuck.)
    – I write for the pleasure of writing. (Then why did you submit this to a workshop?)
    – It makes sense to me and that’s good enough. (Amateur.)
    – My mother (sister, friend, husband, church lady, etc.) liked it! (Yeah, that’s depressing.)
    – This poem won an award from [christian poetry rag]. (Fuck me.)
    – You can’t edit my Bible [Koran, Chopra, etc.] quotes! (Watch me.)

  246. blf says

    Atheists: The Origin of the Species — review:

    Have atheists got religion wrong — have they been tilting at theological windmills? This impressive history by a Christian, Nick Spencer, has a polemical edge

    … Nick Spencer, research director of the Christian thinktank Theos, is the kind of intelligent, thoughtful, sympathetic critic that atheists need, if only to remind them that belief in God does not necessarily require a loss of all reason.

    Spencer wants his history to support three contentions, two of which should not be contentious at all. That we should talk about “atheisms rather than atheism” is self-evident. …

    Nor is there much to disagree with in the claim that atheism was from the start “a constructive and creative phenomenon”, not just concerned to tear down the old order but to erect something more enlightened and rational in its place. …

    What is more debatable is the contention that “the history of atheism is best seen as a series of disagreements about authority” rather than one primarily about the existence of God. “To deny God was not simply to deny God,” writes Spencer. “It was to deny the emperor or the king who ruled you, the social structures that ordered your life, the ethical ties that regulated it, the hopes it inspired and the judgment that reassured it.”

    This is certainly true. [Eh? —blf] But it does not follow that the tussle between religion and atheism is political rather than philosophical. Take his discussion of the early reformation in the 16th century. “Hundreds of Christians wrote thousands of pages demolishing the theological presuppositions of their opponents,” he rightly says, before adding, “the fact that those theological differences might be a cipher for political or social threats is a nuance easily lost amid the aroma of cooking flesh.”

    Of course, there were political and social factors involved in the various disputes and schisms. But to conclude that therefore their theological contents were irrelevant “ciphers” is a jump too far. It is a false choice to say that the battles must “really” be either political or metaphysical: the messy reality is that they are jumble of both.

  247. Desert Son, OM says

    For the instructors (actually, for anyone who might be interested, as almost all of us instruct in a variety of capacities at some point in our lives, professional or informal), here are a few references of interesting reading about academic entitlement (citations are in APA format, which is the style to which I am most accustomed. Apologies to those accustomed to other styles):

    Boswell, S. (2012). ‘I deserve success’: Academic entitlement attitudes and their relationships with course self-efficacy, social networking, and demographic variables. Social Psychology Of Education, 15(3), 353-365.

    Chowning, K. & Campbell, N. J. (2009). Development and validation of a measure of academic entitlement: Individual differences in students’ externalized responsibility and entitlement expectations. Journal of Educational Psychology, 101, 982-997.

    Singleton-Jackson, J. A., Jackson, D. L., & Reinhardt, J. (2011). Academic Entitlement: Exploring Definitions and Dimensions of Entitled Students. International Journal Of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, 5(9), 229-236.

    One of the things Singleton-Jackson (2011) explores is not just individual variables among students, but also environmental variables such as the corporatization of academic institutions in which students may see themselves as “customers.” Singleton-Jackson suggests this self-image may cause confusion for students who feel they have paid for an education and may expect it delivered as one might receive a package or meal, instead of recognizing that there remains work to be done by the “buyer.” Singleton-Jackson also cautions that there are multiple variables that affect academic entitlement, and much educational research remains to do about on this topic.

    Boswell (2012) reports that entitlement occurs more often in those who identify as men than those who identify as women, and this is seen in both academic and workplace settings, citing the connection with workplace wage inequality that establishes an environment reinforcing gender privilege. Boswell also touches on change in academic entitlement over time, and cites the possibility that some students may use entitlement as a coping mechanism, externalizing their performance to others. Boswell’s study (N=313, 68% women, 62% Latino/a, 60% first-year students) did not find significance differences between upper-level and first-year students, however, nor did results indicate first-generation students had lower academic entitlement than continuing generation students.

    Well wishes for everyone who is working on grading and the end of the semester, as well as students in all walks of life, and, of course, to all suffering chronic pain: PZ, CaitieCat, pHred, The Mellow Monkey, and anyone else I’ve missed.


    cicely at #283:

    Hello! *waves cheerily in return*

    Still learning,


  248. cicely says

    ajb47, it doesn’t help that the ones in my nightmares are on fire, hunt in packs, and move at an estimated speed of 300 mph.

    A *pouncehug* for Dhorvath.

    *high five* for FossilFishy on the successful gig.

    *pouncehug* for dianne.

  249. says

    Moment of Mormon Madness, cluelessness about homosexuality category.

    Earlier, I posted about the LDS church doing a survey of young adults in which it tried to determine how many of them were gay, but the “gay” option was left out. Now the mormon leaders have revised the text of the survey, and in doing so they have confirmed that they are completely clueless.

    The LDS Church has changed a question about same-sex attraction in a survey it is conducting among college-age Mormons.

    The survey is being sent via email to members of Young Single Adult congregations, called wards, of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. […]

    “The survey is part of the church’s broader research to understand the attitudes and opinions of Millennials,” church spokeswoman Jessica Moody said.

    The survey initially included the question “What is your sexual orientation?” and gave three options for answers:

    I am heterosexual, but I struggle with same-sex attraction

    I am heterosexual and do not struggle with same-sex attraction

    Other, please specify

    […] The church changed the question Monday. The revised question says, “Do you experience same-sex attraction?” Possible answers are yes, no or other, with room for written responses. […]

    Deseret News link.

    I am struggling with the wording and purpose of this survey.

  250. Desert Son, OM says

    blf at #343:

    I’m not very good at spotting this sort of thing, I don’t think, but it seems to me from the excerpt you quoted that author Nick Spencer is going after a strawman.

    From the quoted passage:

    intelligent, thoughtful, sympathetic critic that atheists need, if only to remind them that belief in God does not necessarily require a loss of all reason.

    While some atheists may have categorized belief in god as indicative of total reason loss, it seems many also recognize compartmentalization as a more contemporary (and accurate) model of human behavior with regard to information, resulting in people who are perfectly “reasonable” about everything from not touching hot stoves to recognizing and understanding aspects of science and the technologies that result from it, while apportioning some components of cognition, meta-cognition, and attentional resources to insisting on gods, or insisting on providing an explanation for circumstances where “I don’t know” is a perfectly legitimate (and honest) answer.

    Or am I misreading?

    Still learning,


  251. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    It could work, but I’m worried I’ll fall into the same trap as before and make a decent, but way-to-short novel.

    Perhaps a collection of novellas? (I wonder what it would be like to write about one of your detectives cases, as three or more novellas, each designed to stand alone but depicting the same basic event structure from different characters’ perspectives).

    (I should write something besides that one little piece I got published.. :3)

  252. carlie says

    On the bio practical I gave today, the extra credit question was : “Why didn’t the dissected cow eye find any jokes to be funny?” The correct answer was “Because it had no humor”.

    Other answers I got (all received credit):
    Because it couldn’t see the punchline
    Because it read them with a critical lens
    Because they were too cornea
    Because it was dead

  253. Desert Son, OM says

    carlie at #349:

    too cornea

    That’s fantastic. May I share that with my father? He loves that kind of pun.

    Still learning,


  254. says

    Ahhh, you’re all talking about the editing where you do something with the writing. Now, that I can understand. I’m talking about the editing where you make sure the footnotes are allright and you have all your references and that the appendix is where it’s supposed to be and all those 500.000 things that will only be noticed if you don’t do it.
    That’s less like arranging food in an appetizing manner and more like making sure your kitchen and cooking fullfill the rules and guidelines for restaurants.

  255. says

    A proposal to raise the minimum wage in the USA to $10.10 died before it even got an up or down vote.

    First, Democrats had to muster 60 votes to end a Republican filibuster. That failed. The vote was 54 to 42 with only one Republican voting to end the filibuster so that the Senate could move on to actually voting on the bill.

    This is disgusting. Republicans are actually filibustering against voting on raising the minimum wage!? I really hope this hurts their 2014 chances.

    Meanwhile some states, like Hawaii, have working to raise the minimum wage on their own.

  256. says

    While Republicans were refusing to raise the minimum wage, the Republican-controlled House Ways and Means Committee voted to make six tax breaks permanent. The cost will be $310 billion over the next ten years, but Republicans are not worried. They are sure that these tax breaks will increase job growth.

    They keep doing this over and over. It never works.

    As Steve Benen noted:

    The committee chairman’s spokesperson soon added, “[Chairman Camp] has the position that extensions of current policy and tax cuts don’t have to be paid for. Pay-fors are for spending. New spending. That’s his position.”

    Ah, I see. If Republicans want to add $310 billion to the deficit over the next 10 years for tax cuts, they don’t have to pay for it because it might create some jobs. If Democrats want to add $310 billion to the deficit over the next 10 years for public investment in areas like infrastructure, they do have to pay for it, regardless of whether it would create jobs or not.


  257. jrfdeux, mode d'emploi says

    Lynna, OM:
    I’m Canadian, and like many Canadians I watch U.S. politics with a mixture of awe and disbelief. (Canadian politics, while certainly gobsmacking on occasion, pale in comparison to how wild things get south of the 49th.) The element that continues to blow my mind in U.S. politics is how so many of voters actually vote against their own interests.

    That’s not to say Canadians aren’t known to do this too. Perhaps it’s just more obvious in the U.S., or perhaps my own biases have crept in.

  258. says

    Justice Scalia fucks up:

    “This is not the first time EPA has sought to convert the Clean Air Act into a mandate for cost-effective regulation. Whitman v. American Trucking Assns., Inc., 531 U. S. 457 (2001), confronted EPA’s contention that it could consider costs in setting [National Ambient Air Quality Standards],” Scalia writes in his dissent. But as Talking Points Memo’s Sahil Kapur notes, Scalia’s gotten the earlier case almost completely backward.

    “The EPA’s position in 2001,” writes Kapur, “was exactly the opposite.” In that case, the EPA was defending its right to not use cost concerns as a counter to health effects when writing certain air quality standards. The EPA won that case unanimously, with all nine justices taking its side. And the author of the opinion for the court on that case was none other than Scalia himself.

    “Scalia’s dissent … contains a hugely embarrassing mistake,” wrote University of California-Berkeley law professor Dan Farber. “He refers to the Court’s earlier decision in American Trucking as involving an effort by EPA to smuggle cost considerations into the statute. But that’s exactly backwards: it was industry that argued for cost considerations and EPA that resisted.”

    Farber continued, writing, “Either some law clerk made the mistake and Scalia failed to read his own dissent carefully enough, or he simply forgot the basics of the earlier case and his clerks failed to correct him. Either way, it’s a cringeworthy blunder.” […]


  259. Rich Woods says

    @Dalillama #269:

    I ended up with a 32% after the curve, and a quarter of the class didn’t do as well as I did.

    That’s a right bugger. Or, as some people have been known to put it, a badly skewed distribution.

    I don’t know anything about your circumstances but I hope that this isn’t too much of a blow to your plans, and that there’s a way to recover from it.

  260. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says


    And then of course, just after you hit send, you’ll discover that you put the wrong year on the front page, there are at least two glaringly obvious typos in the introduction and your appendix has a sum of 30 and 20 minutes as 40 minutes.

    (true story… except the year wasn’t in the same document)

  261. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    Not that it mattered, since clients had no appreciation whatsoever for the beauty of my document and lesson plans.
    They didn’t actually know what they were asking for, and when they got what they were asking for and realized what they were asking for, they panicked.

    Which gives me a sad, since I really made outstanding plans for something I have zero experience in. It would have been great. *sigh*

    (I actually like teaching people stuff, who’d have thought)

  262. Rich Woods says

    Just dropped the vinegar bottle on the kitchen floor. Down side: glass shards everywhere; my ‘barefoot in the kitchen’ policy may have to change. Up side: much less grease on the floor now.

    I’d had that vinegar bottle for 25 years. :-(

    I’ll have to buy a new one. It’ll cost me pennies, but it still seems like a horrible waste. I’m going to slap myself for my own clumsiness (but not too hard).

  263. David Marjanović says

    I actually like teaching people stuff

    Yay! :-) :-) :-)

    Top House Republican utters the ‘R’ word about Obamacare, and it’s not ‘repeal’ nor is it ‘replace’” – it’s reform. *spooky music*

    In German: The European Court confirms that it’s legal to introduce the Tobin Tax even if not all EU members do that at the same time. The UK immediately announced it would sue again, fearing that business might flee London because of unclear indirect effects. Eleven members are planning to introduce it and expecting 30 to 35 billion € in revenue… presumably per year, but the journalist forgot to mention.

    Also in German: The lovely state of Oklahoma botched the execution of a scary-looking black man. (Well, light brown.) One of the injections burst a vein; for 43 minutes, the man threw various convulsions, tried to breathe, and eventually died from a heart attack even though the execution had, according to the autoplay video at the bottom of the article (halfway down the page), been officially aborted by then. The next convict, scheduled to be executed the same day, will now live 14 days longer. – BTW, the video translates “appeared to be in distress” (0:43) as “was obviously in agony”. *facepalm*

  264. David Marjanović says

    The element that continues to blow my mind in U.S. politics is how so many of voters actually vote against their own interests.

    1) Ignorance: they’re voting against their own interests without knowing it. When Captain Unelected introduced his tax cuts and it quickly became known that they were only going to benefit the richest 1 %, a poll was conducted. 19 % of estadounidenses believed they belonged do the richest 1 %.

    2) Faith of religious proportions: they’re voting against their present interests by voting for their hypothetical future ones. If you’re convinced you’ll be a millionaire in a few years (because you’re a dishwasher – it’s only logical!), chances increase that you’re against higher taxes for millionaires…

  265. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    TW, the video translates “appeared to be in distress” (0:43) as “was obviously in agony”.

    Someone was translating bullshitspeak into honest description of someone dying slowly in agony?
    I don’t understand why the *facepalm*

  266. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    Someone was translating bullshitspeak into honest description of someone dying slowly in agony?
    I don’t understand why the *facepalm*

    Me neither; I wouldn’t have figured right-wingers were any more appreciative of cheesy dialogue in their porn. >.>

  267. says

    Avoiding full context for reasons, but I wish it came up under a situation more conducive to me calling the person out on it. “The only fast food place in California that only had white people working for it”.

    Now, that phrase might come up in contexts that are reasonable- perhaps blasting the place for being assholes, maybe trying to see why it’s the case(I’m pretty sure it’s not, unless a lot has changed in the 13 years since I’ve been there)? But no, it was presented as a reason the place was so good.

    Oh, of the four people present, there were 3 white people, one half white/half Japanese.

    I won’t say that racism in Connecticut is gone, but I’m shocked sometimes at how blatant it is sometimes in Missouri. It’s hard to say for sure if Connecticut is actually less racist or if they just hide it better. I’d probably need to talk to a POC whose lived in both places to see what they think. I have heard enough from PoC to know that there was a fair amount of the more subtle racism in Connecticut.

    I’ve grown attached to this area, but seriously, it pisses me off sometimes.

  268. Rich Woods says

    @david #360:

    The UK immediately announced it would sue again, fearing that business might flee London because of unclear indirect effects.

    That’s because we fear that the 1% might be slightly less likely to fill the Conservative Party coffers (when there’s a general election only a year away) if the carpetbaggers don’t get to take quite so much of a slice off the top for doing fuck all* with our pension funds.

    *A slight exaggeration. Some pension fund managers have been known to sometimes sell stock in a company if it drops out of the FTSE100 or the FTSE250. This is an example of a strategic investment decision which has always been beyond the ken of the mere mortals outside the City.

  269. says

    So it took me about 45 minutes to get through a 7 page childrens book. Well, 7 text pages. With pop up illustrations, it’s 14. And if formatted like typical books for adults, we’d be looking at half a page. Maybe 3/4. Very short, very simply, with marginally more plot and characterization than the typical Doctor Seuss book.

    I’m actually sort of proud of myself, considering my Irish skills are… rather weak. Worked out a few new words by context, a few phrases by just looking up the individual words. Only put full phrases into Google Translate for confirmation- while I wasn’t dead on all the time, I was close enough for useful understanding.

  270. rq says

    Birds compose.

    Beh. I think I do communication wrong.


    Portia’s email (yes, I’m allowed to provide it!) is bravo portia at the google mail domain dot com. In case you have a specific question, she’ll be expecting your email!!

  271. carlie says

    Yay rose! Just a late bloomer. Ahem.

    On grades – I’ve gotten to the point that I give them a spreadsheet. They put in each grade
    as they get it, and it calculates a running total towards their goal grade. That way they can put in scenarios of “if I get a 75 on the last test what will I get for the class?” ad infintum. Plus there’s a bar graph that goes up and up as they put grades in, and after the first test on every subsequent assignment I give them their point total for the class thus far. It’s a bit of work at the beginning, but it has cut down on the “I can’t believe I’m failing!” kinds of comments to almost zero.

    Desert Son – take away! My response to the cornea comment was basically this. :)

  272. Portia says

    And the Yellow Portia Rose that I thought was dead has actually begun developing rather healthy-looking leaf buds and shoots, too.

    Let it be a metaphor :)

    the cornea pun really got me, too. I’m gonna have to tell that to my dad.

    I swear to all the gods, if one more person tells me some variation of “you’ll get past it” or worse, “there are lots of fish in the sea” …….well, I’ll be slightly more cranky about it than I already am.

    This sucks.

    rq was nice enough to post for me earlier (whew what a day) but really, shoot me an email if you’d like.

  273. Desert Son, OM says

    Thanks, carlie!


    Portia at #369:

    I swear to all the gods, if one more person tells me some variation of “you’ll get past it” or worse, “there are lots of fish in the sea”

    *merely stands quietly in respectful solidarity*

    *also, proffers klaxon device for use as surprise audio counter-stimulus to the terminally helpful invested in pairing humans with fish*

    Still learning,


  274. Portia says


    *merely stands quietly in respectful solidarity*

    Among the many kind words, your quiet standing has brought me quite a bit of comfort. Thank you. I might be predisposed to teariness lately, but you have made me teary.

    Everybody: thank you for being here, for caring, and for understanding me when I am participating to the extent of my ability. You are such a secular-synonym-for-blessing in my life. I can’t thank you enough. I’m so glad the Horde is here.

  275. Portia says

    I starred so many emails in my Lounge email subscription thread, and I want you all to know how much I appreciate all the solidarity. *hugs* all around

  276. Portia says

    *hugs* back. I think I saw the curve gave you the short end of the straw. I’m sorry :(

    Oh, I googled klaxon. And yes please I’ll take two!

  277. Akira MacKenzie says

    I was cleaning out my pig sty of a room today, when one of my bookshelves collapsed. In the shuffle to find new shelves for my books, DVDs, and boxed games I came upon a few well-known titles written by Professor Muslima and Dr. Byclcle Shorts. I’m in a bit of quandary as to what to do with them. Should I…

    1. Keep them on the grounds that their written work has no bearing on the terrible people they seem to be?

    2. Donate them to the local library?

    3. Perform a PZ-style book burial and return their atoms to the earth?

    I also have some the Amazing Skeptic’s books as well, and since he doesn’t seem to want to ride herd over the assholes who run the organization that bears his name, I’m wondering if I should ditch those too.

    Any thoughts?

  278. chigau (違う) says

    Akira MacKenzie #375
    Keep the books, you’ve already spent the money.
    I own several bibles, only one Koran, lots of C.S. Lewis and I think I have a copy of Mein Kampf.
    They are valuable reference material.

  279. says

    Some good news!

    The Montana Supreme Court overturned on Wednesday a one-month prison sentence given to a former teacher for the rape of a 14-year-old student, a penalty that sparked outrage and drew criticism from women’s groups as too lenient.

    Montana district Judge G. Todd Baugh drew fierce public criticism last year when he sentenced the teacher, Stacey Rambold, to just a month in prison for the 2007 sexual assault of his student, Cherice Moralez, who later killed herself.

    Baugh fueled the public outrage by saying during Rambold’s sentencing hearing that the teenager seemed older than her years and was “probably as much in control of the situation” as the Billings high school teacher.

    On Wednesday, the high court ordered the case assigned to a different judge for re-sentencing as it ruled the sentence – technically 15 years in prison with all but 31 days suspended and credit for one day served – was too lenient.

    The court noted that state law requires at least a four-year sentence for a defendant guilty of raping a victim under age 16, and no more than two years of that can be suspended.


  280. says


    I was originally going to link to this as another example of religious silliness. That is, until I scrolled down the page. The images of destruction are from here in Pensacola. I didn’t know so much devastation occurred. Fuck.

    And the hits keep coming. A police officer friend updated her FB status with a message that a possible gas line blew at the jail. She said that there are people trapped and the building is in danger of collapsing. Fuuuuck.

  281. says

    Good morning
    *hugs* for Portia

    Well, with my last BIG term paper (50+ pages with the appendix) I printed everything and then I notices that the tutor who had proof read the whole thing had changed the margins and now they were outside of the specifications. And I had to prit it all A-fucking-GAIN.

    I took an entire year of Irish and all I can remember is “Giliell is anum dom” and I probably even fucked up the spelling with that. Funny enough, I can remember much more about the language (grammar, pronounciation, what happens to words…) than I can remember the language.

  282. blf says

    Just checking in for sanity’s sake.

    HERE???! Yer coming here for “sanity”…?

    Have you fallen off a horse lately? Or had too much (like: one or more) pea? Or maybe, just maybe, stood in the way between the mostly missing mildly deranged penguin and some cheese?

  283. says

    Nah, blf, it’s more… it’s keeping me sane because I have a group of people here who WILL hold me accountable for doing (or wanting to do) stupid shit due to my mental illnesses. I don’t lack internal motivation to keep on an even keel — at least not at the moment — but it helps so much to have people “on the outside” to act as an external reality check.

    I know my head is all kinds of fucked up, I know I can’t always trust my own judgment, and I’m never quite sure if I’m experiencing the same reality everyone else is*, so… yeah.
    *Could that be a lasting effect of gaslighting?

  284. rq says


    Oh my gosh, Tony, that’s some awesomely (in the ‘awe’ sense of the word) horrible weather, I hope you are safe and those around you, too! :/ Just wow.

    *hugs* Portia, and use the klaxon wisely – that is, as often as you feel necessary or desirable!

    pairing humans with fish

    But we are fish – aren’t we? ;)

  285. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    Well. I support unions, which is why it’s so sad to see them digging their own graves. Hundreds of people used to walk with them on 1 May, now it’s only a handful. And I’m not surprised. Today, they talk about government taking away workers’ rights, but yesterday (as they will tomorrow) they were accepting every bullshit the government serves them.

    Both of my parents are losing 10% with their next paycheck.

    There are talks about how 8-hour workdays aren’t what society needs in these modern times. Today, unions are talking about how hard their predecessors fought for that, but I remember them admitting there was some merit to the idea just a couple of weeks ago.

    Gah, this makes me despair for society.

  286. rq says

    Wait, if there’s no 8-hour workday, what do they propose? Pick your own work time? Work all the time? Work two days straight and take 5 days off? What does society need?

  287. rq says

    I hate voluntary segregation. (Yeah, it happens, because that’s the way it has always been and it’s natural! You try explaining that the ‘it’s natural’ bit comes from the fact that things just never have been different for this particular voluntarily segregating group of people, and that there are, in fact, perfectly natural other socializing options, like mixing. That was a horrible sentence, I apologize.)
    And I hate trying to explain why I don’t want to participate in voluntarily segregated events because I don’t feel comfortable with them, and it’s not my job to try to change everyone else’s opinion if they’re perfectly fine with the system and it works for them.

  288. carlie says

    It’s May Day!
    Have a lovely little song by Jonathan Coulton celebrating the season, as performed by some adorable sign language interpreters. It is very much not safe for work, as it gets right at the direct reason for having an early spring holiday.

  289. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says


    I think the idea presented was that business sometimes need people to work more than 8 hours, but sometimes when the business is low, they would need them less. (simplified)

    But that would probably eliminate overtime (nothing is overtime if there are no fixed work hours), and make for very unsteady income. Let’s call it the American model, shall we? (correct me if I’m wrong, Americans, but as I was typing this struck me as horrifyingly similar to the conditions in US that I have been reading about often here)

  290. opposablethumbs says

    Extra hugs for Portia. I’m so sorry. Someone close to me is going through this at the moment, and I only wish I could do more than send virtual hugs.
    The klaxons sound good. Well, they sound deafening, but using them definitely sounds good.
    Wow, Tony, that’s frightening. Stay safe, please!!!!

  291. rq says

    The ASL interpreter is perfect in that song.
    The song’s pretty awesome, too. :) Thanks!

  292. opposablethumbs says

    TW: another sports star rapist

    Football star rapes teenager “too drunk to consent”. Found guilty in April 2012, sentenced to 5 years, due to be released later this year (funny, I thought 2014 – 2012 was quite a lot less than 5 …).

    Sheffield U. seems to want to welcome him back with open arms. The petition (currently at over 20k signatories) is addressed to Kevin McCabe – Chairman Of Sheffield Utd Football Club – and to the owner, Prince Abdullah Bin Musa’ad Bin Abdul Aziz.

    Oh, and surprise surprise – “Following the case the victim had to be relocated after her name was circulated on social networking sites.”
    But at least the cybervictimisation wasn’t left completely unpunished: “Following a number of arrests, 10 people admitted naming the victim on social media and were given fines.”
    And another lovely surprise; there’s a counter-petition from fans of Sheffield U who want to give Ched Evans “a second chance”. I wonder how many of them would like his victim to have a second chance at living a life in which she wasn’t raped and then hounded out of her home.

    I was reading here: http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/thousands-call-sheffield-united-not-7037149
    but googling Ched Evans Sheffield United brings up a lot of references to the rape conviction and some to the petition I linked above.

  293. bassmike says

    Portia *hugs* and solidarity from me. I was single for *mumble* years after my divorce and it infuriated me when people said that kind of stuff to me. I wanted constructive support, not platitudes.

    Tony That’s some nasty weather. Stay safe.

  294. opposablethumbs says

    rq 386 “voluntary segregation”??? Don’t like the sound of that . Why get together in the first place, then, if it’s not something everyone can do together?

  295. rq says

    But they do get together! It’s just that the boys all hang out in one location (e.g. outside) and the girls hang out in another location (e.g. inside), and it all just happens that way, so it’s all voluntary, because everyone arrived together to the same location, and just happens not to speak to each other through the course of the evening! Totally voluntary!

  296. says


    Take your time and heal. The heck with everyone else.


    Stay safe. And as dry as possible.

  297. says

    Fiancee had an emergency root canal yesterday that sets us back 3000 dollars. 3000 dollars which, pretty much, completely consumes a good portion of our wedding budget.

    I have no idea what to do now… and it’s frustrating I can’t solve all the problems. I can’t get her on my insurance to make everything less expensive. I also can’t make it stop hurting. Yesterday I completely fucked up dinner and that was frustrating. On top of that I’ve got work stuff going on that’s frustrating.

    Oh and I’m also frustrated cause my cats refuse to like each other. The big fat one and the little girl cat were having a massive brawl because fat one cornered little girl cat. I think we’ve got to find her a new home where she’s the only cat, but that’s heart-breaking cause we really like little girl cat (and getting rid of fat cat and annoying cat isn’t going to work because we’d have to get rid of them both…)

    Oh AND I had a dream this morning where I was playing one of those weird fashion games designed for little girls and after the tutorial they were going to present me with my new special outfit (based off an algorithm about how I solved the tutorial puzzles and how I communicated with the other fashion peoples and whatnot.) So right as they were about to present the outfit, my alarm went off.

    It’s not frustrating that I was playing a silly game in my head, it’s frustrating cause I really wanted to see what outfit I got!

  298. says

    What happened to This Week in Christian Nationalism? Did Chris withdraw it in a huff over atheist disagreement with Mikey’s lawsuit, or were they asked to leave?

  299. opposablethumbs says

    Totally voluntary, I bet. And I bet that if someone were to happen to try and hang out in the “wrong” area, they wouldn’t be subtly cold-shouldered or made to feel out of place at all, no, not even a little bit.

    That just sounds like a social situation a person might feel very uncomfortable with. Not to put too fine a point on it, that sounds horrible.

  300. says

    I’m sure she was not asked to leave — I found the assumption that being called an atheist was defamatory to be annoying, but certainly not so awful to reject her contributions. Also, she and Ed are good buddies, so I can’t imagine him getting sufficiently upset over that to kick her out. It really takes sustained provocation and declarations that you detest every goal of this network to get yourself booted.

    I’ve asked on the backchannel about it. Ed’s a night owl, so it might not be until much later that he says anything.

  301. says



    The idea that you’ve got to be very flexible and say goodbye to the idea of a family life or social life, because your company neeeeeeeds you, but heaven forbid that the company should be flexible because you have a sick kid or something like that…

    Oh yeah, that segregation. It’s not like adults always find such amazing innovative ways of forming teams like “boys vs. girls”

  302. rq says

    It’s not so much cold-shouldered as that they wouldn’t really understand what’s going on in the conversation. :P All unintentional, of course.
    What mystifies me is the mindset behind this. Like… some of these wives and girlfriends have been around for YEARS, and yet they’re never fully included in the manly conversations. Because… apparently it takes years to get into the in-circle, but like, what the hell.
    But yes, my attempts to explain that both of us would be all-round happier if I stayed out of such events were met with a great deal of indignation and why-so-martyr. I’ll have to try logic again some other time.

  303. carlie says

    rq – He’s performing in Poland in a couple of weeks – you could go! It’s only half a day or so travel, right? ;)

  304. rq says

    Heck yeah, just straight down through Lithuania – they have great highways! :D Would be cool to go, though.

  305. opposablethumbs says

    Good luck with the logic, rq! It’s remarkable how difficult it seems to be for someone to “get” a point like this if they’ve never experienced it themselves.

  306. azhael says

    Fuck…why can´t i have anything pretty…
    So the second season of Masterchef has started here in Spain. I happen to enjoy such programs even though they occasionally contain so much fake i want to kick something. It turns out in this edition, they have included a vegan among the contestans. My initial response : yay!
    But oh….no…..no, no, no…
    First off the image that is presented on the show was basically that she was chosen for being a vegan because that is interesting and creates polemic. Wether she can cook or not didn´t seem to be a factor. But hey, it´s program, i don´t know the whole story, that´s alright…
    The problem was that this lovely, corky vegan which was representing an entire demographic and an ethical possition with which i sympathize a great deal, opened her mouth….and what came out wasn´t pretty….it was woo. And not just any woo, but “i need to say a prayer to give thanks to this pig’s spirit before i can touch its carcass” kind of woo. It turns out she is fucking batshit…she even has an spiritual advisor (i.e. money leech). No indication that her veganism stems from anything even remotely rational.
    I was watching it with my brother and he was having a grand old time watching me become incrementally furious as she spewed more and more ridiculous non-sense. It peeves me….it peeves me very, very much, because it is the same shit that i´ve always encountered with most vegans/vegetarians. I meet one and i get excited that this is someone who has considered the ethics involved, who cares about animal welfare and has reached a possition that i can respect….but most of the time…nope…they turn out to be vegans/vegetarians for all the wrong reasons…some of them are eye deep in woo, others are doing it because rabbits are adorable, others because they think it´s healthier and will make them look better and others have some glimmer of rationality behind their position but then turn out to be terribly inconsistent. Some of the reasons are worst than others, but what they all have in common is that they are not rational reasons.
    I hate it…i really do. These idiots discredit the whole idea. They make it almost impossible for the general public to regard these as ethical choices instead of “shit hippies do”. I do think there is rational legitimacy behind veganism/vegatarianism even if i myself am not one, so it pisses me off that most of the people i’ve ever met, and i’ve met a few in person and many others through the internet, tv, etc, couldn’t even begin to defend their possitions in any kind of rational context.

  307. birgerjohansson says

    (found this at Ed Brayton’s blog) -Some religious Americans think UFOs, bigfoot, ghosts, psychic powers, etc., are all really demons trying to delude people. Here is another example: http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/end-times-show-blames-ufo-and-alien-sightings-satan
    See Genesis 6:4 – “The Nephilim were on the earth in those days–and also afterward–when the sons of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them.” Angels love them some human ladies. Also, Mars apparently needs women.

    — — — —
    Chutzpah: Saudi Arabia criticises Norway over human rights record http://www.independent.co.uk/news/saudi-arabia-criticises-norway-over-human-rights-record-9301796.html

  308. birgerjohansson says

    Speaking of nephilim, the protagonist in Richard Kadrey’s books about “Sandman Slim” is one*. And he has a gift for snappy dialogue that would make Philip Marlowe proud. And kills monsters like Vin Diesel. Why do they make cr*p movies like Noah when they could use this stuff instead?

    *and a professional zombie killer. And demon killer. And angel killer. He has not yet killed Yehowah, but there are more books in the pipeline.

  309. says

    You had to know this was coming:

    A group of Charlotte-area ministers helped launch the country’s first faith-based challenge to same-sex marriage bans, claiming in a lawsuit filed Monday that North Carolina’s laws block them from practicing their religion.

    The local religious leaders, who include a rabbi, are joined by colleagues from Asheville and Raleigh along with a national denomination, the United Church of Christ. All support the rights of same-sex couples to marry.

    They say state prohibitions, including a constitutional amendment passed by voters in 2012, violate their First Amendment right of freedom of religion. And they are asking the federal courts in the Western District of North Carolina to overturn the ban as quickly as possible. […]


  310. says

    This is a follow up to my post #338:

    The hosts of the Fox News morning show Fox & Friends called Scientific American editor Michael Moyer a “coward” on Thursday after he revealed on Twitter that the network had barred him from talking about climate change a day earlier.

    In a tweet after his visit with Fox News on Wednesday morning, Moyer explained that he wanted to talk about climate change during the “future trends” segment but the producers told him to “pick something else.”

    Moyer’s tweet obviously hit a nerve because Fox & Friends lashed out at him in a second segment on Thursday that was about 20 percent longer than the original interview.

    Thursday’s segment titled “Scientific Coward” began with a photo of Moyer and Cyndi Lauper’s song “True Colors.”

    But the Fox News hosts seemed to miss the message about climate change because they spent most of the time talking about co-host Brian Kilmeade’s theory that there might be football on other planets. […]

    “Clearly he has a problem with Fox,” Doocy opined. “So why did he come on? Clearly, it was just to promote himself, and maybe his magazine as well. But, you know, hashtag classy. We put him on, we have a nice conversation, and then he stabs us in the back.” […]

    Bunch of immature yokels. Sheesh. Raw Story link.

  311. blf says

    Bunch of immature yokels.

    I would say they seem to be considerably mature, over-mature, in fact. Putrid.

  312. says

    I should have added a smiley there, sorry. :)

    So, yesterday, in a bid to save money, I bought a new CAD500- phone (USD is 1.10 CAD; UKP is 1.81 CAD; AUD is basically at par).

    No, wait, hear me out. It cost me nothing out the door, and the monthly bill is actually smaller than the landline it’s replacing. I haven’t had a mobile since…well, my last one looked like this, should give some concept. At least seven years, somewhere up to nine (my memories of that time are hazy, for Reasons). And because of the good laws we have here, that’s no big-fee-to-leave-early contract, and no hidden fees, unlocked phone, yatta et c..

    So now instead I have this, for less money/month, and with a kajillion zillion features. If you have my e-mail, you’re welcome to my phone number; if you don’t have my e-mail, rq, Portia, and Giliell all have it. I’m kinda cagey about committing it to places where it can be easily linked with my online presence. It’s not impossible now, but let’s not optimize the results any more than needs to be. :)

    I’m liking the kanji-flashcard app i found; it has a daily reminder to practice, which is helpful to me.

    So yay me! I’m in the 21st century, finally, and accelerating toward modernity! Why, next thing you know I’ll be texting people, and taking still photographs with my cameraphone, and all kinds of shit you thought was old ten years ago!

  313. dianne says

    Portia, sorry to be asking things of you when you’re having problems (I did a threadrupt bounce in and didn’t realize…but should have!) Thanks for your offer. I’ll email you sometime soon. Internet hugs to you if wanted!

    New little life crisis for me…

    We recently got a couple of dogs. No, that’s not the crisis. But having dogs, we also needed a dog walker. The dog walker called in the middle of the day and we had the following conversation:

    “Has L been hurt?”


    “She’s limping and acting scared.”

    “Uh-oh. Can you get close enough to examine the paw?”

    (Brief pause for examination of paws.)

    “No damage. And she’s a bit happier with me now. She was probably just freaked out by the explosion.”


    Apparently there was an explosion a couple of blocks from my house at 3 am. I failed to notice.

  314. sueinnm says

    Sorry, I just signed up via Yahoo for the first time. I wasn’t sure it was working. Technology is not my friend.

  315. blf says

    [T]here was an explosion a couple of blocks from my house at 3 am. I failed to notice.

    Ah, yer accustomed to the mildly deranged penguin then…

  316. opposablethumbs says

    CaitieCat, I hope you enjoy your new technology! You sound like you have better laws than in Blighty (not difficult) because here a 1 or 2-year minimum lock-in to a service is the norm for nice new phones. Unless I misunderstood you … I guess you have to stay for some minimum time to pay off the handset?

  317. says

    Yeah, it’s a nominal 24-month contract, and the end-early law says you can end early by paying out the remaining pro-rated part of the cost of the phone, no other cancellation fees. which seems pretty fair to me, especially as this one comes unlocked, and in fact the seller pointed out that if I go to the US, I can simply put in a SIM card from the US and use it as a native phone. Very handy. :)

  318. says

    Empty bottle of vodka in the trash compactor at work.

    Compactor is only normally accessible from inside the store, I think only our maintenance guy and the trash pickup people can get at it from outside. And the bottle wouldn’t be on top of a bunch of trash if it got in when it was open from the outside, it would be at the bottom of an empty compactor.

    Housekeeping thinks it got there overnight. Which could be bad.

  319. says


    There are talks about how 8-hour workdays aren’t what society needs in these modern times.

    I couldn’t agree more. It’s well past time for the 6-hour workday, or even the 4-hour workday.

  320. maddog1129 says

    Don’t know the right place/way to ask. Did something happen to Chris Rodda’s blog?

  321. cicely says

    *extra hugs* for Portia, however belatedly.

    *scritches* for WMDKitty.

    *hugs* for Tony!, and I’m sorry you’re having such abysmal weather. Continue to be safe, please. We can’t spare you! You’re slated to run the bar at the Commune!

    *hugs* for Kevin, and sympathy for Fiancee (about the root canal). Sympathy for you both about the frustrating expense. Wish I could help. :(

  322. dianne says

    blf: I lived in lower Manhattan in 2001. This is only a minor trip to disasterland and/or run in with the MDP.

    Portia: I sent you an email. If you didn’t get it, it’s probably because I screwed up your address.

  323. blf says

    I couldn’t agree more. It’s well past time for the 6-hour workday, or even the 4-hour workday.

    There is the nominal 7,5h workday (35h workweek) here in France, with provisions for extra time-off when you work more (Réduction du temps de travail).

  324. bassmike says

    azhael @408: I have a vegan friend and he is the person that introduced me to Pharyngula, so no woo there! I also have a number of vegetarian friend who are atheists, so such people do exist.

    CatieCat conga rats on the phone acquisition. Welcome to the 21st century.

  325. azhael says

    @430 bassmike
    I know they do! Which is why i find it so frustrating that i never seem to find any. I was excited to see a vegan in this program, i thought it was a great opportunity for possitive visibility and education of the public…but instead of getting one of those rational people you speak of, i get yet another idiot babbling about pig spirits.
    By the way i too have vegetarian atheist friends, but unfortunately that doesn’t mean they are rational about it…

  326. bassmike says

    azhael I echo your frustration.There are many people who are vegetarian/vegan on ethical grounds, but all the media is interested in is perpetuating the stereotype of what they consider such people to be. The same thing happens with other groups: LGBT people, ethnic minorities, feminists etc. They like people to fit into neat pigeon holes.

  327. birgerjohansson says

    Hitler was a vegetarian, so all vegetarians are Hitler.

    — — — — — —
    Fw: ‘What It’s Like To Be A Woman At Night’ Is Chilling And True http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/01/what-its-like-to-be-a-woman-at-night_n_5248387.html
    — — —
    The answer to Fermi’s paradox? “Modern eukaryote cells could be the product of geologically rare conditions”. See “Why did evolution stall during the ‘boring billion’?” http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22229672.900-why-did-evolution-stall-during-the-boring-billion.html

    — — —
    Scientists develop feedback technique to manage uncertainties in solar geoengineering http://phys.org/news/2014-05-scientists-feedback-technique-uncertainties-solar.html

  328. bluentx says

    Well, I’ve gone and done done it now, by cracky! Figure I’ll be de-friended any second now by a FB friend (whom I’ve known IRL since pre-school). [Or she’ll just ignore me which is fairly normal when I don’t agree with her jingoistic/ god-lovin’/ flag-wavin’/ anti- Obama hatin’ posts.]

    My crime? Maybe it started with my caution in signing on to her endorsement of Cliven Bundy’s cause (her FB post was the first I had even heard of Cliven the Bigot). I said then (2 weeks ago) that I would have to know more about ‘The Cause’ before agreeing with it — especially when a 30 second internet search showed that Alex Jones was a supporter!!!

    Just a few minutes ago I commented on another of her posts probably sealing my fate [get the fainting couch ready!]. She posted a pro-National Day of Prayer comment (via Mike Huckabee (!) ). I commented that Dobson was “scum” and “You do know he advocates BEATING children, right?”

    Good grief! I just checked FB again and no she hasn’t responded to my comment but…. she has (newly) posted a quote from…. Thomas Paine… Oh, the irony! I guess she’s never actually read The Age of Reason and his views on Christianity! *facepalm*

  329. says


    Thanks. I think we’re just going to worry about the costs of some things later on – we really don’t want to put anything for the wedding on our credit card that we’re not going to pay off in a short time, but there’s no other solution short of not having the wedding.

  330. rq says

    *waves to everyone*
    I’d forgotten the meaning of the words “free time”. Two more full days to go! Woo!

  331. blf says

    Hitler was a vegetarian, so all vegetarians are Hitler.

    Still doesn’t explain peas. Nothing explains peas. Even psychotic great sky faeries do not explain peas.

  332. rq says

    Interesting, if you put “explain peas” in google-search, there’s a lot of talk about some guy named Gregor Mendel. Maybe you should ask him?

  333. blf says

    I’d forgotten the meaning of the words “free time”.

    Being able to sleep in because the mostly missing mildly deranged penguin has not turned yer bed upside-down — with you still in it — and is now jumping up and down on the (former) underside shouting “Wakey! Wakey!” whilst playing a large taiko drum.

  334. blf says

    I asked Generalissimo Google™ to "explain peas", and only got c.70 results. None mentioned this Mendel chap.

    The hits all seemed to be accidental conjunctions of those two words, such as “…how to explain? Peas that hug grass playing rabbit…”.

  335. bassmike says

    rq I look forward to the possibility of free time. None is forthcoming at the moment. Enjoy yours while you have it.

  336. says

    Horrifying story of animal abuse-

    First, refund because DUH. Then, all gross revenues from the transfusions. Then, whatever it typically costs to hire a dog for 6 months. Then, as much money as possible without causing the bankruptcy courts to discharge the debt. I suppose they could reduce this last portion further if other victims are found- they deserve a share of this assholes money.

    Then jail and literally burning his credentials and licenses in front of him.

    That’s what I’d like to see.

  337. FossilFishy (NOBODY, and proud of it!) says

    “Explain peas.”

    Welp, Wolfram Alpha at least has the benefit of brevity. Not that that helps much.

  338. rq says

    Dunno, blf, I got this and some link to pdf that my work browser won’t open because it doesn’t recognize pdf documents that has things like

    Explain PEAS in agent design and provide the PEAS (three for each category) of an agent that drives the Marsrover.

    in it. I still don’t know what it all means, but at least people are trying to explain peas somehow.

  339. rq says

    … And if peas are driving the Marsrover, we should all be very, very worried about any results of the Mars missions (little green pea-ple?).

  340. birgerjohansson says

    Peas started as bio-engineered modules made by aliens to form swarm creatures of arbitrary size (up to and beyond the size of Godzilla).

    After the aliens left, mutational drift lead to peas losing their ability to form larger, aggressive agglomerations, making it possible for other organisms to become top predators.

    The appearence of peas coincide with a mass extinction. The event is analogous to the plot in Stanislaw Lem’s “The Invincible” (small dumb nasties out-competing advanced organisms).

  341. rq says

    I hope you get some free time in the nearest future possible, I got lucky this weekend. Hope you and the family are well!

  342. blf says

    And if peas are driving the Marsrover, we should all be very, very worried about any results of the Mars missions…

    Or are planning on a rendezvous with the Ancient Mayan Astronauts, returning on the Starship Siding Spring, due to land on Mars before reoccupying the Earth (now helpless due to that carefully-planned Great Mayan Calendar Collapse back in 2012). When the invasion happens, bassmike will get a vacation, but, unfortunately, probably not before then.

    One hint of good news, the Ancient Mayan Astronauts are not familiar with horses.

  343. bassmike says

    Thanks rq . Yes, blf you’re probably right. I for one welcome our green overlords! At least I get a break.

    Have a great weekend everyone.

    BTW has anyone heard from Tony ? Only his last posts concerned terrible weather and I’m a little concerned that he’s absent.

  344. says

    Here’s an update on the Cliven Bundy situation. Seems a whole bunch of militia men are still in the area. They have nothing to do. They have guns, bullet proof vests and other gear.

    This leads naturally to setting up checkpoints on local roads and (this is new) to occupying the high ground above Interstate-15 so they can watch the traffic, patrol the ridges, etc.

    Great coverage: http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/watch/idle-militia-remnants-a-community-nuisance-243576899668

  345. says

    An execution this week that went terribly wrong has catapulted Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, a Republican, to the national stage. But there’s more to Fallin than her zeal for capital punishment. The first female governor of Oklahoma has also quashed broader criminal justice reform, refused Medicaid expansion that would cover 150,000 Oklahoma residents, signed 10 new restrictions on abortion and contraception, blocked local minimum wage increases, and slashed education funding.


    Chris Hayes hosted a segment titled “Mary Fallin: Country’s worst governor?” last night. Well done.

  346. blf says

    Speaking of the recent torture-to-death in one part of fundiegrad, The Grauniad is reporting Oklahoma inmate Tasered by prison staff on day of botched execution. And that “The document [a timeline released by the state’s corrections chief] is notable as much for what it leaves out as for what it reveals: there is no mention of the three minutes in which witnesses saw Lockett thrashing violently on the gurney and attempting to speak, despite having been declared unconscious. Neither does it say anything about what happened in the ten minutes between the procedure being called off and the moment Lockett died.”

  347. says

    A Benghazi conspiracy theory update for those who need one.

    […] Rep. Darrell Issa’s (R-Calif.) House Oversight Committee called retired Brig. Gen. Robert Lovell to testify on Benghazi, insisting Lovell had key insights into the developments. But the retired general refuted key elements of the GOP line, and soon after, Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, insisted Lovell does not have key insights into the developments.

    At the same time, the Republican Armed Services Committee chairman directly contradicted claims from the Republican Oversight Committee chairman about accusations related to Hillary Clinton. […]

    The conservative outrage machine apparently went to 11 this week when Republicans learned that a White House official repeated the CIA’s line on Benghazi soon after the attacks. Why is that scandalous? I haven’t the foggiest idea – the “revelation” simply reinforces what we already knew – but GOP officials and their media allies were certain this is a “smoking gun.” […]

    Nothing, absolutely nothing is going to turn off the rightwing Benghazi conspiracy faucet. It’s all they’ve got, especially with Obamacare working increasingly well, so it’s full-on for Benghazi, and damn the facts.

  348. rq says

    I think Tony recently posted on my FB, but I’ll have to double-check when I get home. Yeah, the weather he was describing sounded pretty intense, I hope he’s okay!

  349. says

    AlterNet link.

    Exclusive: Elizabeth Warren Discusses Her New Book, Thomas Piketty and the Disappearing Middle Class


    Thomas Piketty assembles the facts to prove a central point about trickle-down economics: Doesn’t work. Never did. He has cold, hard data showing how the rich keep getting richer and how the playing field is rigged against working families. But he also shows that government policies to invest in the middle class and help everyone have opportunities can make a real difference. My research has led me to the same conclusions, and I agree strongly with him. […]

  350. blf says

    That was weird: I was sure I felt some water dripping down from the floorboards above my head, and I definitely heard some water dripping down from the floorboards above the kitchen, and it did rain a bit earlier today, so I assumed it was raining again and I needed to (again) close the skylights.

    Uh, no. There was some water dripping down from one skylight, but none from any of the others. And whilst there are a few clouds about, it isn’t really rainy-type-cloudy (technical term there!).

    I fink some psychotic magic sky faerie just peaed on the lair.

  351. Sarahface, who is trying to break the lurking habit says

    ‘Sup [Lounge]
    Revision (and also the avoidance thereof) has been eating away at my time and energy. My brains are, I think, mush right about now.

    On vegetarian/vegan people:
    my personal definitions of ‘reasonable/rational’ reasons for being a vegetarian/vegan do actually include ‘I like animals and don’t want to eat them/cause them suffering’. I guess it is a sort of argument from emotion, but as long as they’re just talking about their own reasons for vegetarian/veganism, I don’t really care.
    (I’m sorry, I can’t tell whether you’re arguing that this is or isn’t a good reason. See first paragraph.)

    Thanks to the person/people who recommended Spirit of the West to me, I’m enjoying my youtube-walk through their songs :)

  352. says

    Oh, Spirit of the West are brilliant! I saw them in concert a couple of times in Toronto and thereabouts, and they’re about ten times as good live as they are in studio, and they’re really good in studio.

    Something also Canadian, similar but in its own way brilliant, that you may like, then: Lowest of the Low. For a nice socially conscious starter course, look for “Henry Needs a New Pair of Shoes”, for something a little more Hemingway-romantic (it’s better than it sounds – this is my personal favourite of theirs), try “Magdalena”, or for a bit more wistfully romantic, “Rosy and Grey” (which is what is linked above, as part of the Youtube mix of their music/videos).

    Sadly, they only ever released one studio album (with a lot of songs on it!), but there’s a lot of good live recordings of them doing great covers too.

    Now, to walk to the bank. About 1.5km each way.

    Of course, I now have a compass, in case I get lost, because there’s an app for that. LOL. :)

  353. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says


    I’ve never heard of Lowest of the Low before. I love them!

  354. blf says

    Of course, I now have a compass, in case I get lost, because there’s an app for that

    As long as the batteries last…

  355. Rowan vet-tech says

    Argh… Dear universe, I would like to complain about the ‘features’ that were installed along with my uterus, namely the cramps of DOOM that leave me nauseated and unable to accomplish anything. This is the only time I ‘hate’ being female.

    At least I have kittens to snuggle. I was ‘trapped’ in the bathroom for a couple hours last night after bathing them, because they all fell asleep on me. Being en-catted is a very serious affliction.


  356. rq says

    Rowan vet-tech
    This is how I picture my uterus at those times. I would also like a refund, please.

  357. rq says

    *soothing [items of your choice], incl. (but not limited to) massages, hugs, warm compresses, etc.*

  358. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    Something also Canadian, similar but in its own way brilliant, that you may like, then: Lowest of the Low.

    I had tickets to see them play in Buffalo back in the mid-90s, but they broke up just before the show. They were a heavy influence on my (not-so-great) songwriting.

  359. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    I haz a happy, for no reason.
    Which made for a really good french class, some optimism regarding my tentative plans of doing the scary thing of asking a guy I like out (yeah, still no progress on that front), and a desire to say that I really care about you folks here.

  360. says

    Faux News shows their true colors, once again.

    Fox News cut away from President Obama’s press conference with German chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday because people weren’t asking Obama questions about Benghazi.

    Obama’s conference came just as House Republicans announced that they were forming a select committee to further investigate the 2012 attacks, but Fox News apparently grew frustrated that he was getting questions on the situation in Ukraine and the botched execution in Oklahoma.

    When a German journalist started asking a question, Fox News’ Harris Faulkner told viewers, “We are not anticipating that that [question] would be about the situation with Benghazi, which is breaking news since the president has been talking, really. So if in fact somebody throws him a question on this topic, we’ll go back to that joint news conference … we’re going to move on here with what is breaking.” […]

    On May 1, Fox News host Martha MacCallum argued that the network deserved an award for its coverage of Benghazi, while contributor Monica Crowley claimed Fox was the only network “reporting the truth on Benghazi”


  361. blf says

    At least I have kittens to snuggle. I was ‘trapped’ in the bathroom for a couple hours last night after bathing them, because they all fell asleep on me.

    I first read that as “I have kittens to strangle“…

    Anyways, there is always the mostly missing mildly deranged penguin solution: A pocket trebuchet. Handy for emergencies like a sleeping kitten, non-sleeping kitten, and kitten not yet en flight.

    However, avoid the trebuchet which is a tool on some Swiss Army Knives. They are really only useful for launching adult Apatosaurus.

  362. says

    After seeing the public’s reaction to racist comments from Cliven Bundy and Don Sterling, you would think that rightwing racists would pause before uttering more racist comments. Nope.

    […] In Utah, for example, state Rep. David Lifferth (R) this week argued that the NAACP is a “racist” organization because it “tries to advance specific people based of their race.” He’s since apologized, suggesting his criticism was a “joke.”[…]

    The Utah lawmaker said he deleted the tweets and hopes they will not hurt anyone else’s feelings.
    Calling his comments a “joke” seems odd – was it supposed to be funny when a state lawmaker calls the NAACP “racist”? – though his apology appears to have resolved the matter.

    But as it turns out, Lifferth wasn’t the only one whose attempts at racially charged “humor” caused a stir this week. The chairman of a county Republican Party in Illinois also tried to tell a joke – and ended up in an even more provocative offensive place. […]

    Winnebago County Republican Central Committee chairman Jim Thompson said if the media focused on the offspring of a zebra and a donkey there would be two “living creatures” getting plenty of attention for being partially white and partially black. […]


    This comment counts as a Moment of Mormon Madness since Rep. David Lifferth is a mormon.

  363. says

    The Guardian has posted an article that documents the Koch brothers’ plan to block regulation of power plant emissions.

    […] Documents obtained by the Guardian offer a rare glimpse into the inner workings of Alec as the organisation tried to drum up opposition from coal, oil and electricity industry groups and state officials.

    The documents showed Alec adopting a new tactic of encouraging state attorney generals to bring lawsuits against the new EPA regulations – and so sink the emissions controls before they come into effect. Alec also encouraged legislators to lobby attorney generals and governors in other states on the EPA rules, the documents showed.

    Meanwhile, Alec legislators introduced about a dozen anti-EPA bills in states including Arizona, Florida, Ohio and Virginia.

    Alec is expected to reassess its strategy against the EPA rules on 2 May during a meeting of its energy and environment taskforce in Kansas city. Alec also organised a field trip to a coal-fired power plant during the meeting, according to the agenda posted on the Alec website. […]

    ALEC is the American Legislative Exchange Council which is largely funded by Koch Industries.

    “Alec has become quite well known and notorious for promoting model legislation. This is different,” said Nick Surgey, director of research for CMD which investigates corporate influence on public policy. “Alec is engaging much more broadly in the campaign against the EPA regulations, and they are doing so by asking their members to advocate for the coal industry with attorney generals. That is very unusual for them.”

    Surgey went on: “They are organising conference calls. They are asking their members to activate more attorney generals and other friendly attorney generals who will litigate this issue.”


    Alec members suggested state legislatures should budget “for their attorney generals to litigate if needed” against the EPA rules. […]

  364. says

    Bloody fucking hell. Paypal just yanked $250 from L’s account because someone want ed a refund. This was listed as not being due until the 21st, or requiring any further action until then, but suddenly the money’s gone, and the payments that just came in that was going to go towards rent is gone down that hole, which now puts us even further behind, because someone else who was supposed to pay hasn’t yet. Paypal vis insisting that they only ever issue refunds immediately, and won’t give the fucking money back.

    To add to my joy, some shithead gabbing on his phone while driving nearly killed me on my way home. And, on top of that, I’m missing what little game time I would have had between class and work this week to deal with this bullshit.

  365. says

    Well, at least it’s not another racist comment. Now we have an anti-gay comment from a Republican in South Dakota:

    Steve Hickey knew what he was getting into this week when he sounded the alarm on the dangers of anal sex.

    Hickey, a Republican state House representative in South Dakota who serves as a pastor, reacted to a likely challenge to the state’s same-sex marriage ban with a graphic letter that he posted on his Facebook page and submitted to the Argus Leader.

    “Certainly there are board-certified doctors in our state who will attest to what seems self-evident to so many: gay sex is not good for the body or mind,” Hickey wrote. “Pardon a crude comparison but regarding men with men, we are talking about a one-way alley meant only for the garbage truck to go down. Frankly, I’d question the judgment of doctor who says it’s all fine.” […]


  366. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says


    That sucks. Yell if you need assistance.

  367. says

    More details from the Cliven Bundy festering mess in Nevada. Some of the militia men have been giving speeches of their own.

    In a speech to the militia members still gathered at Cliven Bundy’s ranch in Nevada this week, Mike Vanderboegh, leader of the militia group Three Percenters, warned that the country is “staring a civil war in its bloody face.” […]

    Vanderboegh then told the legend of an Alabama woman named Jenny Brooks whose husband and son, in Vanderboegh’s telling, were killed by state law enforcement collecting taxes for the Confederate government. According to the tale, Brooks went after the men who had killed her family, killed two of them in return, and turned one of their skulls into a soap dish.

    Vanderboegh then pulled out a skull and declared that he would present it to Reid as the “2014 Award for Incitement to Civil War.”

    He added: “Don’t poke the wolverine with a sharp stick, Harry, unless you want your balls ripped off.”

    More text and video at the link. Right Wing Watch link.

  368. says

    Other players in the Cliven Bundy festering fiasco include Senator Dean Heller of Nevada who is also a mormon.

    Also mormon, Richard Mack, the former sheriff who has been backing Bundy. Mack is also an Oath Keeper militia leader and a Posse Comitatus devotee.

    Richard Mack embraced the extremely racist philosophy of John Birch Society champion, and fellow Mormon, Willard Cleon Skousen. […]
    The Koch certainly knew of Bundy and Mack’s racist views because Mack, and possibly even Bundy, learned them from Charles and David Koch’s father’s fascist and racist startup, the John Birch Society. The Kochs’ fascist-libertarian belief tank, Americans for Prosperity, were active supporters of racists Bundy and Mack

    It’s as if racist mormon theology decided to take a public stand … with guns for enforcement.


  369. dianne says

    “Pardon a crude comparison but regarding men with men, we are talking about a one-way alley meant only for the garbage truck to go down.”

    Dude, I have some very, very bad news for you regarding the sexual practices of the average heterosexual.

  370. says

    DL, I have $15 in my PayPal that you can have if you need. Thanks to people’s help, I’m still currently covered for my rent through August (well, adding it to my welfare money, I mean), so I can spare the PayPal balance if it’d help.

    Also, *hugs*.

    And thanks to rq (to whom I owe an e-mail, sorry, hon!) for hugs and massage and stuff. Deffo appreciativity here, I’m really disappointed by how sore it made me to do that walking. To be fair, I did also walk 5 kilometres on Wednesday when I went to the mall to buy my phone. But I did almost nothing yesterday, and did at most 4km today, and am really completely done in by it. In fact, Ima go lie down some more, cause OW.

    Not five years ago, I’d have counted 9km as a reasonably good effort as a football referee (a pro referee in a lower division – more likely to run more as the football is of poorer quality, more kick-and-run, thus more running for the ref – maxes out at about 12-13km for a game, usually; a top recreational ref can expect to do 8-10km in an adult game, maybe 6-8km in a kids’ game), and doing tournament weekends, would frequently do the equivalent of five or six of those in a weekend (10-12 shorter games), maybe 50km for a tourney. Now, a tourney weekend pretty much left me shattered even five years ago, but that was running 50km in the height of summer over two days, not walking gently 9km over three days in no particular heat.

    The only thing crappier than getting old is the alternative. :(

  371. says

    My folks can probably help me a little more, much as I hate to ask them with everything else they’re doing for us. I feel badly begging you folks too, so whichever way. Thank you for offering.

  372. rq says

    Seriously, if you need the help, let me (us) know. Standing by.

    Eh. Exercise is overrated anyway. ;)
    Speedy recovery!

  373. rq says


    a desire to say that I really care about you folks here

    Me, too!

  374. says

    If anybody feels like throwing something at my Paypal, I wouldn’t say no (blaine delancey (no spaces)at google’s mail service, I wouldn’t say no, particularly as I can’t get in touch w/ my folks just now. (Mom’s not answering her phone, Dad’s in India), and tomorrow is my deadline for paying rent. Equally, should anyone like to follow my sig and purchase candies or articles of clothing, we always welcome your custom, and do have a standing discount for FRIENDSOFRICKS (which is the coupon code). Non paypal payments won’t arrive in time for the rent, but we’ll be in a hole after that anyway, belike. Paypal transactions through the Etsy link are a questionable thing right now, but if you contact us, arrangements can be made to use mine. *hugs * to everyone and thank you all for your kindnesses.

  375. rq says

    This is me when inspectors call with questions, because they don’t understand real replies anyway.

    Because we always have really great reasons for our choices. :P

    Honestly, it looks fun, but quite a little bit useless. I mean, what would I do with all my created figures afterward?? Not even paperweights (although, to be serious, who uses paper these days anyway, besides some weirdos like me who like to write on processed cellulose?).

  376. rq says

    I’ll see what I can do, via the usual tried-and-true slowpoke methods. :)

  377. says

    Saw something utterly shocking on Twitter.

    Guy says that what Sterling said wasn’t racist. After @YesYoureRacist retweeted him, and he got jumped on by a bunch of people, he went back, looked up what Sterling had actually said rather than rely on what his friend told him about it, and ADMITTED HE SCREWED UP and that what Sterling said was actually racist.

    This shouldn’t be shocking, but the way the Twitterverse is, it is. Good sort of shocking though. Someone actually adjusting their views based on new information is something there isn’t enough of. I am curious as to what the guy originally heard from his friend, though. It would have to be mangled pretty badly to not come off as racist.

    Also, finally got a domain name for my blog. This will ease the transition if I ever need or want to move from wordpress.com to self hosting. WordPress.com is working fine now, but if I eventually get enough traffic, I may want self hosting to give more options for monetization. Or some amazing plugin might come out that I want to use but wordpress.com doesn’t offer.

  378. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    ….so my daughter and I just got home from a father-daughter dance. As we were crossing the parking lot from our space to our building, some of our neighbors, two fairly conventionally-attractive African-American men who appear to be 25 or so, were walking out to their car and chatting. Gloria called out “hi boys! :D” in a slightly flirty kind of tone.

    ….I hope they realized my pulling her aside for an explanation was a “honey, that was accidentally rude” explanation and not a “we don’t talk to Those People” explanation x.x

  379. Crudely Wrott says

    This is a really fast drive by to recall a Hordeling From The Past. Someone, nameless save for their short exclamations of good natured approval and appreciation, who brought us a bit of wry happiness in days gone by.

    Wherever you are, missing friend, just this:

    wOOt! and the required image.
    I stole the image from New Scientist, here.
    *flings handfuls of tasty delights, top shelf grog, exotic cheeses, sides of bacon all about while singing a song of solidarity and friendship (’cause tomorrow’s Pete Seeger’s birthday) and leaves hug-bearing kitties and puppies spinning dizzily on the floor in the backwash of my passage ;^>*

  380. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    …aww, fuck. Would one of the monitors kindly ask PZ to redact that? x.x

  381. rq says

    There was a small overnight frost and now I’m terrified that the Amazing Carlie Rose will have given up after all. I think I’ll be moving it inside for next winter. :/

    In more exciting news, I’m cutting my hair off today. In solidarity with the roses. With a chainsaw. (One of the three previous statements is true.)

  382. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    I’d suggest taking the chainsaw away from the roses. O.o

  383. says

    This whole gravatar thing is getting annoying. I’d be less annoyed if it didn’t have my Facebook photo instead.

  384. says

    I rode my bike ~18 mi today. I got sent home from work early because it’s a slow night, but my legs are thankful. *hugs* for everyone. I am going to bed earlier than I expected. Good night wonderful folks.

  385. blf says

    I think I’ll be moving [a rosebeastie] inside for next winter.

    Chainsaws should not be used inside the house. (Except in Texas.)

    In more exciting news, I’m cutting my hair off today. In solidarity with the roses. With a chainsaw. (One of the three previous statements is true.)

    I know! I know! Me, me, miss! It’s “In more exciting news”, miss!