Log in

Check out my spiffy G+ profile under this long-established handle, en_ki. (Sorry, you can't, it's blocked. But rumor has it that this post will lead to it being unblocked.)

a problem with LinkedIn

I did my fortnightly drop-in to LinkedIn, and had a connection request from an obvious spammer. Their profile information was generic, job descriptions copy/pasted from random places, the job title they claimed to have was not one used at the employer we supposedly had in common, their career trajectory did not make much sense, and their photo was a stock photo of a pretty girl. So I reported them.

Something I noticed before I reported them was that at least 10 of my LI connections had fallen for it.

Fitocracy bug report

They do not give you points for Sitting On A Fire-Ant Hill After Your Run. I'm pretty sure that burned some calories.

"Christ, what an asshole!"

Is this:

a rare example of a New Yorker cartoon where the caption should not be replaced with "Christ, what an asshole!"? If not,

Poll #1849220 "Christ, what an asshole!"

...should be said by

the woman
the man
the author
the reader
the publisher
the critic
the critic's reader


the woman.
the man.
the author.
the reader.
the publisher.
the critic.
the critic's reader.

Oh, for fuck's sake

You. Yes, you.

Update Flash. Again.

Yes, any random web site can completely take over your computer, steal your lunch and piss on your rug unless you update.

Yes, even if you have a Mac.

Yes, even if you have Linux.

Yes, even your phone. Yes your tablet. Yes your smart watch. Yes your goddamn car, your insulin pump, or whatever other thing some idiot decided needs to work with the post-Mosaic pre-HTML5 Web.

No, this is not the same security hole from last month or whatever: this is another one.

Yes, there will be another one after that, and another one, and another one, because Adobe is circling the drain [it's a veeeeeeeeeeeeery slow drain].

Yes, you should just uninstall Flash, even if it breaks YouTube and shit. But you're not going to, are you? So go update that shit again and set it to auto-update.

Ways in which viral marketing is defective

1. I have heard approximately 200,000 things about The Hunger Games, some random SF thriller, by people in my social network. (The things I hear are the same things over and over again: apparently it is about a girl who is admirable because things happen to her, and some people in the movie are not white, and there are a lot of racist people on Twitter.)

There remains about a 10% chance I will see it before it leaves theaters, because it is the only movie I have heard is playing but I don't actually think completely passive characters are fun to watch.

2. I had, until today, heard exactly zero things approximately one thing about The Cabin In The Woods. This is by Joss Whedon, which means the chance that I will go and see it given that I have heard about it is 100%. It has been out for almost two weeks.

Dear Hollywood marketing machine: the whole damn point of marketing is that that you identify the kind of people who will buy your shit and make them aware that your shit is there and stinks so good. When you have shit I want and, instead of telling me about it, you push some completely different shit as hard as you can in the hopes of making me want it, you have completely failed at your job. I hate you.

For the record, the reason I know about tCitW is that digitalsidhe mentioned DNA Pizza, and I realized I hadn't checked DNA Lounge's schedule in a while (in case there was a show this weekend that would motivate me to finally go there after all these years of reading the proprietor's web site/LJ on and off), so I went to check it out, and I took a look at the proprietor's blog in case there was anything interesting that BoingBoing hadn't reblogged, and lo! he said that movie was good. And also he thinks hipsters are better than regular people.

And now I know that. This is what social networking is for.

So, you're welcome

Yet Enki risked the anger of Enlil and the other gods in order to save humanity from the Deluge designed by the gods to kill them. In the Legend of Atrahasis—later adapted into a section of the Epic of Gilgamesh—Enlil sets out to eliminate humanity, whose overpopulation and resultant mating noise is offensive to his ears. He successively sends drought, famine, and plague to do away with humankind. However, Enki thwarts his half-brother's plans by teaching Atrahasis the secrets of irrigation, granaries, and medicine. The enraged Enlil convenes a council of the gods and convinces them to promise not to tell humankind that he plans their total annihilation. Enki does not tell Atrahasis directly, but speaks of Enlil's plan to the walls of Atrahasis' reed hut, which, of course, the man overhears. He thus covertly rescues Atrahasis (Utnapishtim in the Epic of Gilgamesh) by either instructing him to build a boat for his family and animals, or by bringing him into the heavens in a magic ship.

Enlil is angry that his will has been thwarted yet again, and Enki is named as the culprit. Enki argues that Enlil is unfair to punish the guiltless Atrahasis for the sins of his fellows and secures a promise that the gods will not eliminate humankind if they practice birth control and live in harmony with the natural world.
—New World Encyclopedia > Enki > Savior of humankind
siderea asked a few months back how to keep track of separate bookmark collections for work and personal web browsing.

I now have this problem solved to my complete satisfaction with Chrome sync + multiple users.

On both my work and personal computers, I have two users in Chrome: Work (synced with my work account) and Personal (synced with my personal account), with a different icon in the upper right so I can tell which one I'm in. If I encounter something in one browser that I'd prefer to access in the other, I dump it into the bookmark bar---usually actually a specific queue folder.

Caveats: this is for people whose employers are more or less reasonable. Only sync your personal Chrome data to your work computer if you trust your boss (because if someone else can snoop in your computer account, they can snoop through your synced Chrome data), and only sync your work Chrome data to your personal computer if your employer is cool with it.

women on self-hatred

"You'd never tolerate somebody talking about me--or any of your friends--the way you talk about yourself."

via http://nancylebov.livejournal.com/541075.html:
It also helped to realize that it wasn't reasonable for the cat to get "Oh, what a great cat! Look at those ears and whiskers! And you haven't caused an international monetary crisis! What a great cat!" while I'm getting "You stupid piece of shit!"


For those who are the type to read it, but haven't read it yet: if you liked Cryptonomicon, you'll like REAMDE. Stephenson is back to writing what I used to think of as The Stephenson Novel (version n), but he's matured a bit, as you'd figure after like 10 years. I liked it, but would be happy to give my hardcover to the next person who wants it.

Some diffs/notes:

No historical subplot. Still somewhat military-fetish: lots of guns, and we damn well better know their model numbers. Guns are, however, not magic wands: several times it's a plot point that guns need to be handled correctly, and characters who practice a lot and know their limitations do better than characters who don't. I was reminded specifically of Clarice Starling in Silence of The Lambs (the book; I don't recall the movie emphasizing as strongly that she had her shit together gun-wise).

Neal tried hard not to come off as writing a Guy Patriarchy Book:

* passes Bechdel Test a bunch of times
* female heroines: three viewpoint characters, one principal
* no punishment for sex
* depiction of complex emotions: viewpoint characters have different personalities and histories and behave differently in difficult situations, though they all Man Up/Woman Up promptly as required

though he still pairs characters off heterosexually, and it still rather works as a Guy Book.

If you're never heard of Neal Stephenson: characters are exaggerated to a somewhat comic-booky degree; heroes Mary Sue-y; Chekov keeps leaving his guns all over the place; the occasional absurd coincidence is supplied where needed to advance the plot. Fun nevertheless if you like thrillers, are reasonably in touch with modern society, and laugh at many of the same sort of jokes I do.
Poll #1822753 Herzog von Graf; or, why I like Trent Reznor a lot better when he's Allie Brosh

Which duke?

Candied Apples

Why can't anything stop you now?

Because I don't care anymore.
Because at last, I have the device!
Because I'm the Duke of Earl.



So the Ms found a tiny funny-shaped gold-colored metallic object today, and we wanted to see if it was gold or uranium or something, so we went to measure the density and got all Archimedean up in that shit.

Step 1. Weigh it. Kitchen scale says: .15 oz! No wait! .20 oz! No wait! .15oz ... So we record .175 oz. (Kitchen scale's "units" button is broken, so it gives oz and 20ths of an oz instead of grams.)

Step 2. Sink it. How can you measure volume precisely for a small object using only kitchen stuff? Measuring cup? Pah! Big wide surface, huge gradations. Is useless! Measuring spoon? Even worse! Wine bottle. Fill until there's water in the neck, Sharpie the meniscus, sink the thing, Sharpie the meniscus again.

Step 3. Measure. Tailor's tape, millimeters, 2.5mm between the tops of the Sharpie marks. Bottle inner diameter is maybe almost 19mm but it's hard to align both edges while maximizing... hm, what's the standard ID of a wine bottle? 18.5mm. OK, we'll go with that.

Step 4. Calculate. Google says: .175 oz / (2.5mm * pi * (18.5mm/2)^2) in g/cm^3 (typical units for specific gravity) ~= 7.4. Just right for bronze, a little light for brass or copper.

Step 5. Speculate. I'd say we have two significant figures, so we can consider heavy things like silver, lead, and gold ruled out, and light things like aluminium; but it's only a little bit high for tin or zinc, and very plausible for adding a bit of copper to those. Since there's a distinct coppery red where the surface is damaged, I'd lean toward calling it brass.

Further tests: stick it in lemon juice and see what it oxidizes and what it reduces?

Jan. 26th, 2012

I am starting to converge on a policy of refusing to watch movies that do not have Gary Oldman in them.
OK, I think you've had long enough. Voting on the Keynesian Malapropism Contest is now closed.

countrycousin and scirocco take the trifecta with "[not the] sharpest brick [in the] teapot" with 28 points in total; their prize is an all-expenses paid trip to wherever they currently are.

At the level of phrases, we had a tie for three points between "not the sanest brick in the teapot" (en_ki, merle_, nightspore) and "not the sharpest tool in the shed" (idonotlikepeas, mrw42, wolfy). Consequently, there will be a runoff:

This poll is closed.

Pick a number. The winner is the person who guesses the closest to 2/3 of the average of the other guesses.

(The poll is private to prevent cheating, but results will be revealed after the poll is closed.)

moar caffeinated literature

You may recall that The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo has a thing about coffee. It really does. (This is the book, mind: I haven't seen either movie yet, though I'd like to.)

Apparently Larsson noticed that it seemed a little affected, so in The Girl Who Played With Fire (which I'm borrowing from the bigger little sister-in-law), coffee is never mentioned: instead, it's always a caffé latte.

I'm looking forward to discovering the beverage theme in ...Hornet's Nest. Turkish? Turkish is nice.
Has anybody ever received any tracking information for any USPS package ever other than "Package? What package?" and "delivered"?

It drives me a little mad. They don't have to be like UPS or FedEx and tell me where it is at any given time, but I'd like there to be at least one intermediate stage, like maybe "yes, we have it, you'll probably get it eventually".

fun fact

You would think that Germany would have a Weierstraßstrasse somewhere, but no, apparently not. There are, however, three Weierstraßwegs.

It is possible I have had too much caffeine tonight.

There is waiting time involved, so start this before the rest of your morning routine.

  1. roast garlic
    1. start the oven preheating at 375
    2. take a whole head of garlic (or a few) and chop the tip(s) off; you should be able to see inside every clove
    3. stick it in an oven-safe dish or bowl (smaller is better)
    4. cover the exposed top with olive oil
    5. let the oil soak in and put some more on
    6. cover the dish (I used foil) and stick it in the oven
    7. go shower, dress, do the dishes, whatever
  2. 45 minutes or so later, your house smells like garlic and you're maybe feeling the hunger a little; take the dish out and uncover it so it can cool off while you do the rest
  3. cut up an onion and fry that shit up
  4. when the onion is about done (translucent to brown, depending on taste),
    1. put some cheddar on and don't be stingy
    2. squeeze all the squishy garlic innards out into the pan. All of them. DO IT.
    3. apply 3 or 4 eggs or equivalent and do the omelet thing

I cannot overemphasize the importance of there being a fuckton of garlic. If you feel a little hazy afterward, like maybe you're not sure if you accidentally used whiskey instead of garlic, and you want to lie down for a while and try to remember if that's what you did, that is about where you want to be.

I'm doing it again for dinner, but with kale.

I noticed nobody had sucked Actually Useful Horoscopes into LJ, so I went ahead and did it.

What I dream of hearing is that the story that he was "shot while resisting arrest" was actually true.

I would like to hear that we are a strong, free country again; that the nation of cowards who, in the face of this man and a tiny gang of thugs like him, threw out the rule of law and begged our secret police to save us, to snoop and grope and torture and murder with impunity, was some other people in some other time.

he's a cut-up, that guy

April rain.
Winter tubers.
Summer hour.
Bin deutsch.

What rubbish?
Son water.
Only dust.
Frisch zu.
Mein du?

Apr. 11th, 2011



What Would Jesus Do?

In hopes of getting us all closer to God, I am going to start posting daily homilies that illustrate how Jesus would handle an everyday situation.

For example, let's say you go by a restaurant at lunchtime, because you're hungry, but they're not open for lunch. What would Jesus do?

Jesus would torch the fucking place.

Know anyone who needs a paid account?

As you've surely heard, LiveJournal has been suffering from a DDoS attack, generally believed to be an attempt by the Russian government to silence its critics.

Some people are switching to other services. Those other services may be lovely places to go or they may be stinking hellholes that exist to serve the enemies of mankind; but either way, fuck that. LJ deserves our support.

I was among those who was unhappy when LJ was sold (and, as a permanent member, unhappy that I didn't have a good way to speak up about that), and I hate the attempts to facebookize this thing, but this is a good and valuable service, and if the forces of evil are spending resources to attack it, it must be making a difference over there. If it were a nonprofit, I'd be donating, but it's not, so:

4 years of paid account time are up for bid, to be distributed midnight Sunday night. In the comments, link to stuff that you or someone else has posted on LJ that serves one of the following purposes:

  • translating a significant volume of the Russian political traffic on LJ into English
  • explaining (with sources) the Russian political situation for American readers: who wants to silence critics, what the critics are saying, and where the truth of the situation lies
  • documenting work with actual effect in the real world to defend LJ from attack
  • documenting work with actual effect in the real world to defend Russian political freedom in general and/or the current set of dissidents in particular

or just recommend to me the best Russian-language bloggers or communities who don't already have paid accounts.

Jews, fix it! Lots of [citations needed] and sloppy conversational style everywhere. How am I supposed to learn about ancient tribes' wacky ideas about the Cosmic Menu with all this clutter in the way?

Though apparently giraffes are all good, which is nice in case I convert and need to live on the...

Hey, South Africans! fix it!

derka derka Dawkins jihad

"I have two grandchildren... . I am convinced that if we do not decisively win the struggle over the nature of America, by the time they're my age they will be in a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists and with no understanding of what it once meant to be an American."
—Newt Gingrich, March 28th
Pizza has historically been my favorite food; I am secretly a ninja turtle and/or fat nerd.

Currently I am avoiding bread, and have discovered something I like better than pizza but in the same way:

1. make eggs over medium

- preferably all together as one big egg-sheet
- alternately, egg white omelet

2. sprinkle sharp cheddar over the whole egg surface

3. broil for 1-3 minutes (until melted or brown)

4. apply El Pato
Oh, this is just delicious: the Buffalo Beast, pretending to be David Koch, called the governor of Wisconsin and gave him lots and lots of rope, with which he proceeded to hang himself.

CSM link in case the Beast is down again

Feb. 17th, 2011

Every once in a while, it's worth remembering that former United States Senator Richard John "Rick" Santorum is the frothy mix of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex.

Clean up America: Santorum for President in 2012!

gastronomy and verbosity

Damn good coffee.Collapse )

In which veggie burgers are found that are worse, nutritionally, than white flour.Collapse ) Trader Joe's, seriously: veggie burgers that are worse than white flour? (Fox Broadcasting Company hates it when people show other people clips of the Simpsons, so I can't link to a Youtube video of Homer eating flour out of a bag in despair at the worthlessness of his life; you'll have to imagine it.)

3. Last week, for the first time, I watched a video of myself giving a talk. It was extremely valuable in that I learned:

- My delivery is basically pretty good: I stand up straight, look at people, and speak more or less intelligibly.
- Slow down a bit.
- Oh god, I am, like, the worst um-er in the world. Um, why did nobody ever, ah, tell me this? Uh, what the, uh, fuck?

so that's something to work on. We have a videographer at work who always gives indications that he would rather be busier, so I'm going to ask him to keep recording my talks so I can monitor progress. Eventually, with luck, I will overcome my shame and post the videos on our internal web site so they're actually, ah, useful to somebody.

cars and guns

According to the firearm and automobile death rates and total ownership in the US I was able to find tonight, there's one death per ~3000 car ownership years, and one death per ~11000 gun ownership years---i.e., if I trade in my car for 3 guns, the US will be slightly safer on the net.
Today begins a week of ugly anniversaries in the space program. I somehow manage to forget every year how close together these things happened.

44 years ago today, the Apollo 1 capsule caught fire during a test on the ground and killed Gus Grissom, Edward White, Roger Chaffee.

On Grissom's first spaceflight, the escape hatch blew unexpectedly and caused trouble with his rescue; on his second, similar worries kept the astronauts in their capsule for quite a while waiting for pickup. The redesigned hatch in the Apollo capsule avoided this problem, but took 5 minutes to open while the fire seems to have disabled the astronauts within 17 seconds. That wasn't the only problem, but the history of it struck me.

25 years ago tomorrow, Challenger disintegrated on takeoff, killing Ellison Onizuka, Christa McAuliffe, Gregory Jarvis, Judith Resnik, Michael J. Smith, Francis Scobee, and Ronald McNair, after an O-ring failure allowed gases to escape from the booster rocket. Engineers were all over the problem; NASA management didn't listen. There was great wrath in the media and promises from NASA to do better.

8 years ago Tuesday, Columbia disintegrated on reentry, killing David Brown, Laurel Clark, Michael Anderson, Ilan Ramon, Rick Husband, Kalpana Chawla, and William McCool, after a chunk of foam knocked loose on takeoff broke off some of the insulating tiles used to keep heat out on reentry. Engineers were all over the problem; NASA management didn't listen. There was great wrath in the media and promises from NASA to do better.

Jan. 27th, 2011

As a miser, if I make a bucket of soapy water with which to mop up a spill and I don't use most of the water, I'll often leave the rest out for a while in case I might need it. (I have a two-sided mop bucket with one side for clean water and one side for dirty. Hey, free soapy water.)

Three days ago, I lost my house keys.

Guess which side of the bucket I found them in tonight.

(Hint: they are now soaking in the remains of my solvent-grade vodka so that whatever got on them will die and the light on my bike lock key stands a chance of recovering.)

Jan. 17th, 2011

First attempt at which_chick's Hollandaise sauce failed (being lumpy) due to insufficient whisking and/or poorly improvised double boiler. Failed hollandaise sauce is delicious on asparagus and is a very serviceable cheese substitute.
I... uh. I read this article. I got it from wtf.reddit.com. It's a little McSweeney's-y if they weren't always so self-consciously tryingtobefunny. I don't know. Somebody said it was like a Tom Waits song.

If you liked "how is babby formed" and you think it's about time for another thing just like that, this thing 42itous found will satisfy:

Meanwhile, the country that used to look like it could make this happen:

(via elfs), descending into third-world poverty, is the recipient of other nations' charity.

Pulp Coffee

        A normal Denny's, Spires-like coffee shop in Los Angeles.
        It's about 9:00 in the morning.  While the place isn't jammed,
        there's a healthy number of people drinking coffee, munching
        on bacon and eating eggs.

        A WAITRESS comes by with a pot of coffee.

                       Can I get anybody anymore coffee?

        The Waitress pours the Young Woman's coffee.  The Young Man
        lights up another cigarette.

        The Waitress leaves.  The Young Man takes a drag off of his
        smoke.  The Young Woman pours a ton of cream and sugar into
        her coffee.

        English Dave puts Vince's coffee in front of him.

        While Butch waits for his smokes, Vincent just sips his
        coffee, staring at him.  Butch looks over at him.

        Inside the taxi, behind the wheel, is a female cabbie named
        ESMARELDA VILLALOBOS.  A young woman, with Spanish looks, sits
        parked, drinking a steaming hot cup of coffee out of a white
        styrofoam cup.

        She takes a sip of coffee, then hears a NOISE behind her in
        the alley.  She sticks her head out of the car door to see:

                            (referring to his
                       Oh yes, that looks nice.  To drink,
                       a tall glass or orange juice and a
                       black cup of coffee.  After that,
                       I'm going to have a slice of pie.

        the big man himself, Marsellus Wallace, exit Teriyaki Donut,
        carrying a box of a dozen donuts and two large styrofoam cups
        of coffee.  He steps off the curb, crossing the street in
        front of Butch's car.  This is the first time we see Marsellus

        The little Honda SLAMS into Marsellus, sending him, the donuts
        and the coffee HITTING the pavement at thirty miles an hour.

        Three men are standing in Jimmie's kitchen, each with a mug of
        coffee.  Jules, Vincent and JIMMIE DIMMICK, a young man in his
        late-20s dressed in a bathrobe.

                       I'm not a cobb or corn, so you can
                       stop butterin' me up.  I don't need
                       you to tell me how good my coffee
                       is.  I'm the one who buys it, I
                       know how fuckin' good it is.  When
                       Bonnie goes shoppin;, she buys
                       shit.  I buy the gourmet expensive
                       stuff 'cause when I drink it, I
                       wanna taste it.  But what's on my
                       mind at this moment isn't the
                       coffee in my kitchen, it's the dead
                       nigger in my garage.

                                  THE WOLF
                       Do me a favor, will ya?  Thought I
                       smelled some coffee in there.
                       Would you make me a cup?

        Jimmie hands The Wolf a cup of coffee.

        Jules and Vincent sit at a booth.  In front of Vincent is a
        big stack of pancakes and sausages, which he eats with gusto.
        Jules, on the other hand, just has a cup of coffee and a
        muffin.  He seems far away in thought.  The Waitress pours a
        refill for both men,

                       Thanks a bunch.
                            (to Jules, who's
                              nursing his coffee)
                       Want a sausage?

        Vincent takes a bite of food.  Jules takes a sip of coffee
        In the b.g., we see a PATRON call the Waitress.

                       Yeah.  I was just sitting here
                       drinking my coffee, eating my
                       muffin, playin' the incident in my
                       head, when I had what alcoholics
                       refer to as a "moment of clarity."

        Jules, who was never risen from his seat the whole time, takes
        a sip of coffee.

The Pulp Fiction script reduced to paragraphs that mention coffee. I blame nightspore and the sensual delight which is finely-ground Dunkin' Donuts coffee run through an Aeropress. Trimmed to include only coffee per se, not "coffee table", "coffee shop", and "coffee can", with which it would be much longer. Can be reproduced with

curl http://www.godamongdirectors.com/scripts/pulp.shtml | sed -e '1,/^<PRE>/d;/^<\/PRE>/,$d' | perl -00ne 'print if /coffee(?!\s*(shop|table|can))/'

except for one paragraph mistakenly included due to stray whitespace.
As you've surely heard by now, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) and several others (reports are still somewhat confused) have been shot. The murderer has been arrested; may his name be forgotten. At least five are dead; Ms. Giffords, as of this writing, is alive but in dire straits.

The Republican Party is shocked, shocked. Who could have imagined that accusing Democrats of "socialism" and betraying the country, declaring that the Democrats were out to take everyone's guns and civil liberties away, holding rallies to which people march armed, putting crosshairs on their districts while listing them by name:

...and having shooting parties in support of their opponents could in any way be construed as an incitement to murder?

Our fine friends in the liberal media, of course, were concerned:

...concerned, of course, that Democrats might try to make political hay from this, falsely claiming that Republicans are a party of violence. (Skip to 3:28 for the money quote.)

(Credit to one Tamerlane for the image and video and to nightspore for pointing me to the story.)

Ms. Giffords, a Blue Dog Democrat of strong enough anti-immigration feelings to be elected in southern Arizona, is extremely civil and conciliatory toward the opposition throughout the video. She exemplified the sort of political moderation and civility that the Stewart/Colbert rally called for.

Now more than ever, I find that notion of moderation difficult to swallow.

  1. you need me
    like the wind needs the trees
    to blow in
    like the moon needs poetry

  2. Thou great star! What would be thy happiness if thou hadst not those for whom thou shinest!


Dec. 30th, 2010

The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences often contain papers worth referring to, but it's a nuisance to carry around a paper copy of everything, and one generally has to be on a work or library network to get subscriber-level access online. It would be nice to have a mobile version where you could use your employer's or university's access to download papers and read them anywhere. They could call it Detachable PNAS.

Dec. 26th, 2010

oh miznerde

Note: this is a link to IMDB. IMDB doesn't like it when you link to their site for some reason; they replace the page with an image that has instructions for reloading so that your visit is untainted by my filthy Referer (HTTP term of art: means "referrer") header. Follow the instructions and observe:

1. Asterix movie
2. scheduled for 2012
3. Gérard Depardieu as Obélix
4. (rumored)
This entry was originally posted at http://adb.dreamwidth.org/2803.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

books that use the word "had" too much

So I picked up a 50-page sample of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo as the first trial of Google books on my phone last night. As a UI test, the reading experience went surprisingly well—surprisingly given that there's about one sentence per page.

[I shouldn't have Googled Stieg Larsson before posting this, because I now know that (1) he's dead and (2) he was a good guy who put a lot on the line for what's important, so I'm reluctant to speak ill of his prose, which is what I came here to do. Nevertheless:]

I would rate his prose-shittiness at about 5 milliBrowns, just short of my "toss aside lightly" threshold—Brown himself, of course, being hurled with great force within a page or two, lest his prose lead to projectile vomiting and severe dehydration. At least in these first 50 pages, the characters spend most of their time speaking in the narrator's voice, either as-you-know-Bobbing or as-you-don't-know-Bobbing, and when the characters aren't talking, there's regular exposition. By 50 pages into a book, if I'm not so in love with your prose that I'm reading just to hear the sound of your voice, there really needs to be something I care about actually actively happening in front of me.

1. Is this just what normal novels are like these days? Have I spoiled myself with Banksian SF and respectable fantasy magical realism and Quentin Tarantino?

2. Can someone who likes good books and dislikes bad books reassure me that this is just setup, and the other 400 pages will be bitchin'? Because if not, I've got some Garcia Marquez to get into.

the reason for the season

Apologies in advance: this is a little rambling. It's a bit of emotion and coincidence, not really refined into anything.

First, a post in a local LJ metacommunity draws my attention to Somerville's local right-wing paper doing the usual "call it Christmas, not the holidays!" thing.

The way they explained this to us in the '80s in school and elsewhere was something like this: "It's polite to refer to the holidays, because not everyone is a Christian. For example, some people are Jewish, and they celebrate Hanukkah instead."

They kept it simple back then and didn't usually discuss the other religions, or the possibility of being nonreligious, or go into the fact that it wasn't really an important holiday for Jews per se; but making this specific point, that the holiday season was meant to include Jews as well as Christians, was clearly important and part of the mainstream culture, not some liberal quirk1. Looking back, it's entirely clear that this was a conscious measure against antisemitism, one that nobody would have spent energy on if antisemitism weren't a serious problem in recent memory or current experience.

The current generation of the American right is so thoroughly blind to this I can't take it as anything but willful. The sheer anger at not having absolute dominance of the holiday, despite having (as cos mentions in a comment on the article) the special privilege of a national holiday dedicated to their religious observance, can't come from anywhere other than a bigoted sense of entitlement. The degree to which the mainstream Republican party welcomes this behavior is one of perhaps three factors, each of which in itself would make me doubt the honor of any person who could support that party. But I digress; this is about things connecting, so:

Seeing antisemitism in public always reminds me of Greenspun's essay. I haven't read it in a few years and don't currently state any positions on anything mentioned therein, but that's where I was introduced to the term "Judenhass", or Jew-hatred, as the historical and less mealy-mouthed ancestor of the term "antisemitism". The Somerville News article prompted me to Google for it again, and it turns out that the first hit is what Dave Sim has been doing post-Cerebus, which I hadn't heard of. So now that's in my queue, and maybe in yours too.

Anyway, if you know someone who goes off about "the reason for the season", not in a Charlie-Brownish sort of way but in a Bill-O'Reillyish one, I'm a little curious what they have to say for themselves if they're questioned gently along these lines.

1The liberal quirk, of course, was and still is the open and welcoming acknowledgement of other religions, including those that don't celebrate at all; nonreligious people, and their right to share in our common secular cultural celebration of the season; and the pagan history of the holiday.


Tuco Benedicto Pacífico Juan María Ramírez

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