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A Quick Infomercial

It's 2021! And I have publications coming.

First up, due out in the USA/Canada only on July 13th (no UK sale— see below) is a short Laundry novella, Escape from Puroland. As the cover copy says:

Regular readers of Charles Stross's Laundry Files might have noticed Bob Howard's absence from the events of The Nightmare Stacks, and his subsequent return from Tokyo at the start of The Delirium Brief.

Escape from Puroland explains what he was doing there.

This is going to be available as a hardcover and ebook. I emphasize that it's not a full novel, but a rather short novella—about 90 pages. (Incoming 1-star reviews on Amazon and Goodreads ahoy: "Too short: this is a rip-off!")

It's one of two planned novellas I need to write before the final full-length Laundry novel about Bob et al; I found myself blocked by current events from roughly 2018, hence the switch of direction in Dead Lies Dreaming, which is the start of a separate ongoing series.

(British readers: you have not been forgotten! Over the years I've published a number of Laundry short stories and novellas in the USA via Tor.com. None of them have been released in the UK so far. However, once I write the last planned novella, there'll be enough for a full sized Laundry short story collection, which of course will show up in the UK in due course.)

Second up, due out on September 28th in both the US and UK, is Invisible Sun, the last book in the Empire Games trilogy (and the last novel in the Merchant Princes setting).

Invisible Sun was previously due out in January, and a lot of folks are asking me why their pre-order has been cancelled and bookstores are saying it's out of stock. This is mostly due to Amazon and/or other wholesaler databases: if a book is delayed by more than 6 months they cancel advance orders with no explanation, or show it as out of stock.

What happened was a perfect storm, for a book originally due for publication in 2017. First, my editor David Hartwell died suddenly and unexpectedly. David was the main impetus behind the entire Merchant Princes series, and he commissioned the new trilogy: his death not only deprived me of a friend but disrupted the project and threw Tor's entire editorial workflow into chaos for a while. Then, in 2017 my father became unwell and died (a week after his 93rd birthday). Work staggered on, and then in 2018 my mother had a series of strokes and ended up in a nursing facility: her health declined and she died in mid-2019 (a week after her 90th birthday). Losing your editor and both parents in the space of 3 years is not a productivity-enhancing experience, to put it mildly, and my mid-crisis attempts to get the capstone of a million-word saga to gel were not good. But I finally completed work on a fifth re-write of Invisible Sun and sent it to my agent for delivery ... in February 2020, just as COVID19 came along. COVID didn't actually kill anyone I was directly working with, but it disrupted my publishers—editorial are all working from home these days—and shut down their printers for a few months. Hence the delay.

But despite all the deaths, despair, and pandemic, Invisible Sun is now with the production department at Tor and it will arrive on September 28th, unless a dinosaur-killer asteroid gets us first. (And it's the longest book in the series by quite a margin: I had a lot of plot threads to wrap up, and only a limited stockpile of nuclear weapons this time round!)

Third up—you weren't expecting this, were you?—I just delivered another novel! I don't normally talk about books before the publishing contract's signed, but as the paperwork is in the pipeline and the book is actually with an editor already, I think it's now safe to mention that In His House is the sequel to Dead Lies Dreaming. Barely a week has passed since the end of the previous story before Eve learns that her plan to sideline Rupert might not have worked as intended: meanwhile, on the other side of London, the nefarious Thieftaker-General is preparing to bid for a government contract, the Banks children are about to meet their new nanny, and Wendy Deere has been asked to investigate why human DNA traces are showing up in the butcher counter produce of a supermarket. All these plot strands converge in the dungeons under a castle in the Channel Islands, where Rupert's plan to summon a blood drenched horror is about to bear strange fruit ...

Due to COVID-related disruption and the need to coordinate both my British and American publishers, I can't give you a publication date for In His House. It might show up very late this year, or it might be delayed until some time in 2022: I don't know, but I'll update you when I have something concrete to report.

In the meantime I'm pushing on with Bones and Nightmares, the third book in the sequence, although I might get diverted onto other projects by editorial request (possibilities: that last Laundry novella, the long-overdue space opera, or even the last Bob novel). Watch this space.

654 Comments

1:

Ha, thanks for reminding me to pre-order Escape from Puroland.

2:

"[...] a castle in the Channel Islands [...]"

I'm from Guernsey, and I can think of quite a few castles which would fit the bill. However I don't know the Jersey castles. So herewith some speculation:

Top of the bill is Castle Cornet, which was originally built on a lump of rock just outside St. Peter Port Harbour. Since then the harbour has been extended with a pier out past the castle, so you can walk to it. Bits of it go back to Norman times, much of it is Napoleonic, and one bit was still in use by the MOD when I was a child (at a guess, one of their fallout monitoring centres for nuclear war). Its got to have dungeons somewhere, and their existence might still be a military secret.

There is also Vale Castle, but that is a ruin.

Next up are various German installations left behind when the islands were occupied during WWII. Most of these were straight military installations with watchtowers or big guns, but they were built with slave labour, so the slaves had to be kept somewhere. They also built tunnels for HQ, storage and a hospital, and its not 100% certain that they are all known today; one with a big fuel tank in it was accidentally rediscovered a couple of decades ago. Guernsey granite is one of the hardest rocks in the world, so tunnels in it don't require shoring up and are pretty durable.

There was also a big slave labour camp in Alderney, which also has a bunch of Napoleonic fortifications. But probably no dungeons.

Then there is the castle built by the Barclay Brothers on Breqhou, which is a private island just off Sark. Its a completely modern faux-medieval mansion, but who knows what they or their fictional successors put in the cellars ...


3:

Wendy Deere has been asked to investigate why human DNA traces are showing up in the butcher counter produce of a supermarket.
Oh dear, NOT Sweeny Todd .... (?)
A dungeon in the Channel Islands Sark, or Mt Orgueil Castle in Jersey?

4:

> Empire Games trilogy

Might it be practical to publish all three under a single cover in two or three years?

5:

Wow! It sounds like 2021 is going to be a productive year in terms of publications coming out. Which of course means that 2019 and 2020 were productive writing years. Congratulations on getting past the Years of Deaths.

6:

Escape from Puroland and Invisible Sun pre-ordered.

7:

I get very pissed-off when publishers charge (and sometimes advertise) as for a novel, and deliver a novella. I will accept that a novella (or even novellette) padded to novel length is even worse! But a fairly-priced one is another matter.

8:

At a (guessed) 1,200 pages? In hardback, with modern print sizes, for reading from a lectern? :-)

9:

Once my imminent move to the middle of Georgia (*shudder*) and find a locally-owned bookstore, I'll get the novella pre-ordered. Hooray!

Unless you say otherwise, I'll assume that the Laundry short story collection also come out in the US. Woo.

10:

I'm from Guernsey, and I can think of quite a few castles which would fit the bill. However I don't know the Jersey castles. So herewith some speculation:

And with that, I know for sure that you haven't read Dead Lies Dreaming yet. (Clue: fiction. Second clue: a fictional Channel Island, yes, with a hat-tip to Breqhou and also to those German wartime bunkers, but very much it's own thing ...)

11:

It's the one the other end of the tunnel from St Helier ...

12:

Might it be practical to publish all three under a single cover in two or three years?

I'd like to think so: I wrote them with that idea in mind as an eventual swan-song! But the Empire Games trilogy ultimately ran to 450,000 words (original target: 300,000) which would make such an omnibus a "Lord of the Rings" sized blockbuster. And I didn't write "Dark State" with a "cut along the dotted line" mid-point climax to make the trilogy work as two omnibuses, because when I wrote "Dark State" I didn't know how "Invisible Sun" was going to come out (David hacked around with the first two manuscripts a lot before he died.)

13:

I'm almost surprised there aren't more such edifices in the Channel Islands. Tax havens, big fish/small pool, what's not to like?

14:

Which of course means that 2019 and 2020 were productive writing years.

No they weren't, they were terrible. But you might have noticed me publishing no books in 2019. What's happening is a blocked pipe is finally discharging, and I'm gradually trying to work my way up to my pre-2017 output level (despite COVID-lockdown-induced blues, which really don't help much).

15:

Unless you say otherwise, I'll assume that the Laundry short story collection also come out in the US. Woo.

That's probably the case but (a) it doesn't exist yet (needs another novella first!), (b) for contractual reasons the only publisher who can publish it is Tor.com (as in: they hold North American rights to all the stories in it: I have non-exclusive anthology rights, but I'd damage my working relationship with them -- my primary publisher right now -- if I took it elsewhere), and (c) the existence of Amazon and ebook channels have churned up the picture for short story collections as a viable medium. On the other hand (d) all those stories are or will be available separately from Tor.com, so you won't miss out (one way or the other).

16:

On the other hand (d) all those stories are or will be available separately from Tor.com, so you won't miss out (one way or the other).

For those who like physical books, collections work better.

And I confess I prefer collections in ebooks, too. Partly because my reader (iBooks) makes no visual distinction about the length of a work and I like knowing that before starting (ie. when scanning the virtual shelves), and partly because a short story collection takes a lot more virtual shelf space when each story has its own cover.

17:

And with that, I know for sure that you haven't read Dead Lies Dreaming yet.

This is true. I have a confession: I don't like horror. I read Equoid, and yes, as SF its great, but I just don't enjoy a genre where lots of people die horribly, including some that I've grown to care about. So I've made a deliberate decision not to read any more of the Laundryverse. Sorry about that.

Really looking forwards to Invisible Sun though. If my vote counts for anything, I'd ask for more hard SF. The Singularity Sky series was cool (though I understand why its not going further), and more stuff in the Merchant Princes multiverse would also be welcome. But whatever; when I pick up a new book from you I know its going to be good.

18:
This is mostly due to Amazon and/or other wholesaler databases: if a book is delayed by more than 6 months they cancel advance orders
In my case, they simply sent me a notification "we don't know when it ships, you can cancel if you want to", but my order is still pending "shipping".

As long as it is before 31/12/21, it's okay (after that, my CC rotates, and it's impossible on Amazon to change the CC to which your order should be billed until they attempt to bill it and fail... suspending the order until that is fixed three days later when they finally contact you with "your card was denied after multiple attempts" - no kidding, did you check the expiration date I entered on it???)

19:

(c) the existence of Amazon and ebook channels have churned up the picture for short story collections as a viable medium

That's terribly disappointing. Short stories anthologies are one of my favorite parts of science fiction.

(d) all those stories are or will be available separately from Tor.com

Of course, online short story publication would be a reason said print anthologies aren't as viable. Ah well.

Thanks for the details!

20:

Second up, due out on September 28th in both the US and UK, is Invisible Sun, the last book in the Empire Games trilogy (and the last novel in the Merchant Princes setting).

That little tidbit brought a smile to my face and a nice warm feeling inside.

21:

At a (guessed) 1,200 pages?

Cf. The Great Book of Amber. Hefty, yes, but manageable in paperback.

22:

To my great pleasure, I found that I have already preordered "Escape from Puroland".

For some reason, I also feel I should mention that I once worked for a company located in the Pureland Industrial Park, near Swedesboro, NJ, USA.

23:

@16: If you have patience, it's fairly easy to assemble your own collection ebook out of stories on Tor.com (or other online outlets). Distributing such an ebook is evil, of course.

24:

For all their faults, the Channel Islands governments do not allow alien plutocrats to treat the bailiwick as their personal fiefdom - in general, that is, though a few people have found ways round that.

25:

For Non-UK residents ....
EC is referring to the Barclay Brothers - one of whom has just dropped dead - & some of us are hoping the other one won't be too far behind.
Bought the island of Brecqhou & have also exploited & controlled the island of Sark. - to the annoyance & dismay of most of the inhabitants of the latter.
Massively in favour of Brexit.
Almost cartoon-villain "capitalists"

26:

"Churned up the market for short story collections". Not sure what you mean by "churned" - has it made them viable (he asks, with about 80k words of short stories in my future universe to publish....)

27:

What's happened is that the self-pub ebook market on Amazon has made it relatively easy to commercially self-publish short stories for 99 cents or so a pop, or shift them via Kindle Unlimited (the all-you-can-eat-for-$10-a-month commercial library system Amazon runs for specifically KU-published ebooks). If you can get 99 cents for a 10,000 word novelette and have ten of them, that's 100K words and $9.99 in revenue. But you probably can't ask $9.99 for a short story collection in ebook form unless you're a Big Name. So unbundling is the name of the game currently, much as musicians release most new stuff as singles and EPs rather than expecting album sales to amount to anything.

28:

> unless a dinosaur-killer asteroid gets us first

Oh *why* did you have to say that?!

> asked to investigate why human DNA traces are showing up in the butcher counter produce of a supermarket

This is fairly routine, because meat is handled by humans and manipulated in spaces that contain humans and we shed DNA like anything, and DNA isn't degraded with ferocious speed like RNA is. (But... presumably this is talking about larger quantities than just traces!)

29:

meander112 @ 9: Once my imminent move to the middle of Georgia (*shudder*) and find a locally-owned bookstore, I'll get the novella pre-ordered. Hooray!

Unless you say otherwise, I'll assume that the Laundry short story collection also come out in the US. Woo.

So? You gonna' be near Tbilisi ... or Atlanta?

30:

Robert Prior @ 16:

On the other hand (d) all those stories are or will be available separately from Tor.com, so you won't miss out (one way or the other).

For those who like physical books, collections work better.

I can't remember which one it was, but one of Charlie's Laundry File books was not available in the U.S. ... or maybe was not available in paperback, which is my preferred media format for it ... but I was able to order on-line and get a physical copy from the U.K. It just took a little longer to get here.

I think all of my Merchant Princes (and follow on) books are hardcover because that's what the first one I found was, but the first Laundry Files novel I bought was paperback and I prefer to have series books all in the same media format when possible.

Anyway, my point is if you want a physical copy of the book when it comes out in the future, there's a way to get it if it's not available from the U.S. publisher.

31:

JBS @ 29: So? You gonna' be near Tbilisi ... or Atlanta?

Atlanta. I've lived in the same town in northern Florida for the past, um, 26 years. It's a big change for me.

32:

one of Charlie's Laundry File books was not available in the U.S. ... or maybe was not available in paperback, which is my preferred media format for it

I'm guessing it was "The Nightmare Stacks", right?

The mass market paperback distribution chain in the USA has been circling the drain for years, with sales declining steeply after 2008-ish, as ebook sales shot up from less than 2% of the market to as much as 50% in some genres (SF/F especially). I was selling up to 50,000 copies in mass market back in 2004 with "Singularity Sky"; by the time we got to "The Annihilation Score" in 2015-ish sales had dropped to under 9000 copies and I'd dropped out of mass market release -- even though I was launching in the USA Today charts. (The bulk of profits by then were in trade -- hardcover -- and ebook.) So there never was a US paperback of "The Nightmare Stacks".

After "The Nightmare Stacks" Ace were digested by the Random House side of the Penguin Random House merger: multiple executives and editors were let go, the list of titles was savagely cut, and due to some spectacularly boneheaded analysis they decided that the Laundry Files "wasn't commercially viable" and ditched me. Which came as a nice surprise for Tor.com, who were only too happy to pick up the series and keep it going (something which is rather uncommon -- for a publisher to pick up a series where a rival publisher has the rights to the first few books, that is).

However, Tor.com is not the same as Tor. It's essentially a different business model for publishing SF/F within Macmillan, and they're primarily an ebook house (who also publish in trade editions, distributed via old-Tor). There is no mass market release at all: they focus on ebooks instead. (If a book sells really well in hardcover it may eventually get a trade paperback reprint, but that's not mass market.)

Anyway.

That's why there are no US paperback editions of the Laundry Files books after "The Annihilation Score". Although if you insist on paperback you can privately buy and import the very nice and consistently-designed Orbit editions from the UK (which contain exactly the same words, because Orbit just buys in the US publishers' typeset files and reflows them between UK-targeted covers).

33:

> Almost cartoon-villain "capitalists"

... right up to hilarious fights between the still-living Barclay twin and the heirs of his dead brother (while his brother was still alive), including secret spying in the Ritz (when they owned that), flying lawsuits in both directions, accusations of theft and manipulation of the poor innocent plutocrats by their offspring, etc etc etc ad nauseam.

They are also the sort of "capitalist" who gets horrifically offended if anyone doesn't treat them as if they were an aristocrat and who resorts *instantly* to defamation and libel law whenever anyone so much as mentions their existence, so it's quite possible this comment might have to be disappeared (even though I'm just repeating what I read in the Eye).

Mind you, with one Barclay dead and the other reportedly, ah... not exactly 100% any more, it's possible they don't have the time or interest to pick pointless legal fights any more. With anyone but each other, that is.

34:

Sorry, a bit off topic, but given the financial/economic aspects of some of your work, I'd love your thoughts on the recent GameStop craziness with a (sort of) new class of grass-roots activist investors, very much contrary to a "rational/efficient markets" theory of things, bet against the financial positions of large institutions that are betting against (shorting) specific companies.

My range of thoughts go from "Market manipulation!" on one side all the way to "Good for them beating the large institutions at their own game" on the other hand. It's all very weird.

35:

Nothing to say about it at this time. You're triangulating on my interests 10-20 years ago, frankly: these days I'm more "capitalism is killing the planet, we need to get rid of it ASAP and find a better organizational principle before it kills us, too."

36:

FWIW, This is the best thing I've read in the last few days about the GameStop imbroglio. (The headline is pure clickbait, but the discussion that follows is pretty good.)

37:

That makes sense.. if anything this incident somewhat debunks the theory of efficient markets, meaning not only is capitalism resulting in harm, its underlying philosophy is fundamentally lawed: free markets and efficient markets are not the same thing.

38:

Nothing to say about it at this time. You're triangulating on my interests 10-20 years ago, frankly: these days I'm more "capitalism is killing the planet, we need to get rid of it ASAP and find a better organizational principle before it kills us, too."

Couple of things you may enjoy playing with over the weekend:

https://www.yesmagazine.org/democracy/2021/01/22/united-states-resolve-division-reconciliation/ The tl;dr version is to ignore the title and read the problem with trying to use liberal ideas to cure conservatives of teh crazies. One problem elided to in this is that mainlining apocalyptic memes and prepping for decades is deeply damaging, especially if you're white, male, middle-aged, and even more if you score high on the authoritarian follower scale. That, in itself, is worth processing. Even though I agree we're in trouble, we need to see if we can work towards solutions, instead of prepping for the inevitable failure.

You also might enjoy Tyson Yunkaporta's Sand Talk. He's an aboriginal Australian turned academic with some serious attitude. While I don't agree with his proposed solution--everyone going back to aboriginal lifestyles involves a 99.9% decrease in population--I think his essays are worth reading. Of course, he's basically saying what I said in Hot Earth Dreams from a totally different angle, but I am not biased...

Anyway, I guess we're trying to make postcapitalist solarpunk support billions of people. I'm not sure it's going to work, but it's better than necropetrocapitalism.

39:

I'm not sure it's going to work, but it's better than necropetrocapitalism.
That word could grow legs, nice. A search for it (negative) found this, which
Blackout: The Necropolitics of Extraction (ANGELA MELITOPOULOS, Crossings, 2017)
This essay addresses extraction, its visual cultures, as well as the politics and aesthetics of emergent forms of resistance today.

40:

I'd love your thoughts on the recent GameStop craziness ...

The best quick synopsis for the TL;DR folks isn't mine: This is The Producers. GameStop stock is Springtime for Hitler, the hedge fund managers are the crooked producers, and the Reddit denizens are people frantically buying Springtime for Hitler tickets.

Like much of the last year, it would have been less preposterous if it were actually run by Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder.

41:

Thanks, I can see all sorts of ways that can be used... Hmmm.

42:

Speaking of the producers, there's this book promo in the Grauniad that promises to flesh out Trump's relationship with Russia: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/jan/29/trump-russia-asset-claims-former-kgb-spy-new-book

Hopefully we've already bought up Putin's successor, on the fair play principle. Doubt it, somehow.

43:

is Springtime for Hitler

Recently I saw someone in an older movie playing a German in WWII. I kept thinking he looked familiar. Suddenly it clicked and I checked. He had the lead in the play inside the movie.

44:

Hopefully we've already bought up Putin's successor, on the fair play principle. Doubt it, somehow.

The historical record of the USA's ability to pick future winners in non-client states is one of gross ineptitude and short-sightedness -- even more so than the UK. If you have a giant-ass globe-spanning empire you don't tend to get promoted for applying soft power rather than just sending a gunboat carrier battle group. And the USA is particularly bad at institutional knowledge retention across transitions of executive power, as we saw 2016-2020.

See also Afghanistan, 1989-94; when the USSR pulled out the CIA cut off all support for the Mujahedin at the knees, paving the way for the Taliban take-over.

There was also a tendency to back crazy authoritarians, culminating in Operation Condor (oh look, why don't we overthrow every democracy in South America and install Fascist juntas, what could possibly go wrong). They've learned somewhat, but since the mid-1980s switched to promoting neoliberal grifters rather than fascist generals. This does not result in significantly better outcomes (I'm pretty sure sleepingroutine could give us chapter and verse on that).

(The British Empire initially applied direct imperial rule via partition -- create unnatural boundaries then arm a 20% minority of the resulting population to hold down and collect tax from the other 79% ethnic/national group, with a 1% scum of imperial administrators on top. Then when that wasn't sustainable it switched emphasis to promoting British trained rulers -- either LSE graduates in civilian drag, or Sandhurst-trained soldiers. The result: a totally fucked-up series of civil wars in post-colonial Africa.)

45:

I am sorry, but that last paragraph is so distorted as to be effectively false. Yes, we fucked up the creation of the African states over which we ruled, but that was NOT the reason. Are you SERIOUSLY saying that Britain promoted Nkrumah, Kenyatta, Nyerere and Sobhuza into their positions, for example? Nigeria, I will give you.

Our main faults in that respect were in not taking account of tribal antipathies, and not preparing the countries socially or politically (or, to a great extent, economically) for independence; arguably, the French did somewhat better in that respect. In that respect, it is important to remember that much of sub-Saharan Africa c. 1900 was at an equivalent level to Britain round about the year dot, but with a LOT more tribes. Whether such conflicts could have been avoided, or what boundaries would have worked better, is moot.

It's a complete delusion that the person at the top controls the social structure; even absolute dictators can't do it unless they already have a suitable cadre of bully-boys.

46:

Please accept my delayed condolences for your losses. Being able to function at all, much less creatively, in the wake of repeated tragedy shows great strength.

Your writing has given me great enjoyment for many years. Thank you.

47:

My apologies for going off subject, but things just got very interesting.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZMGWLLDSA3c

You see, natural viruses tend to become milder when they mutate (they really don't want to kill their hosts because like ever other life form viruses want to live).

The newest UK and South African mutations of Covid-19 are more deadly.

That should not be happening to a natural virus.

But probably not weaponized. The term he uses is "gain of function research" where a virus is made nastier in a lab on purpose to learn ways to counter its more deadly form Those opposing this research worry about such a modified virus getting loose.

Which may be what happened.

(Good thing Trump listened to his science and medical advisors last February and acted with decisive leadership, otherwise this could have been a problem.... Yeah that was sarcasm)

The worrisome thing is that the virus mutations are getting nastier.

So these vaccines better damn well work

Or the world will be looking at Covid-21, Covid-22, Covid-23....

The more I think about it, the less likely it seems that the facility would be a bio-weapons lab.

You don't site a secret military bio-warfare facility in the middle of downtown Wuhan - especially one developing weapons of mass destruction.

There is a reason why American nuclear ICBM silos are placed in empty stretches' of Montana.

48:
You see, natural viruses tend to become milder when they mutate (they really don't want to kill their hosts because like ever other life form viruses want to live).

This is a common belief that has little basis in evidence. It is true that it is not to a virus's advantage to kill its host before the host has passed on the virus to new hosts. (Killing the host after the host has stopped passing the virus on, however, doesn't disadvantage the virus.) That can create selection pressure in the direction of milder disease. However, a virus does face selection pressure to

1. Become more contagious.

2. Evade the immune response, both in naive hosts and previously infected hosts.

3. Superinfect people who already have an active infection.

All these pressures are in the direction of higher severity, especially 2 and 3.

You will notice that 2 and 3 only apply after the virus infection has become widespread, which may (and very likely does) explain why some of these newly mutated versions are cropping up now.

Or the world will be looking at Covid-21, Covid-22, Covid-23....

I have thought since the beginning of the pandemic that it was likely that we would end up requiring annual Covid shots, just like we now get annual flu shots.

49:

Should we call the UK and SA mutations Covid-20A and Covid-20B?

50:

So that's where my order for Invisible Sun got to!

Will it be available from TransReal Fiction?

51:

Kind of semi-OT, but I hope the moderators will indulge me.

A recent podcast The Ezra Klein Show at the NY Times had an interview with Paul Krugman about the economy & Covid and a bunch of other things. Near the end Klein asks Krugman about his favorite Science Fiction published within the last 10 years ... and guess who Krugman recommends!

It's about 1 hr & 5 minutes in, very near the end.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/29/opinion/ezra-klein-podcast-paul-krugman.html?action=click&module=RelatedLinks&pgtype=Article

"I'll recommend an author because I like just about every thing he writes - Charlie Stross."

He goes on to mention the Laundry files & Merchant Princes favorably.

52:

In fact, I remember Krugman posting a picture of himself with Charlie on his blog some years ago, and remarking that he had important things to do on a trip, such as drink beer with Science Fiction writers.

He also once posted a quote from The Jennifer Morgue (I think) on his blog, the one where Mo is introduced as a combat epistemologist. I think that might have been what got me started reading The Laundry Files.

53:

Charlie Stross @ 32:

one of Charlie's Laundry File books was not available in the U.S. ... or maybe was not available in paperback, which is my preferred media format for it

I'm guessing it was "The Nightmare Stacks", right?

Yeah, that might have been the one. I expect you'd know more about which of your books are available in which format in which country than I remember. 8^)

[ ... ]

That's why there are no US paperback editions of the Laundry Files books after "The Annihilation Score". Although if you insist on paperback you can privately buy and import the very nice and consistently-designed Orbit editions from the UK (which contain exactly the same words, because Orbit just buys in the US publishers' typeset files and reflows them between UK-targeted covers).

Well, that means I've done it more than once then, because I have The Delirium Brief and The Labyrinth Index in paperback as well. I will say that the physical size of the U.K. paperbacks makes them much more enjoyable to hold while reading.

54:

Our main faults in that respect were in not taking account of tribal antipathies, and not preparing the countries socially or politically

The UK created the national boundaries that gave rise to artificial states containing antipathic groups who had formerly been separate nations ("tribes" in European settler parlance). It was a standard tool for running the empire: arm 20% to tax the unwilling 80%, and use a handful of colonial administrators to dominate the 20% (by giving the 20% rifles and hoarding the Maxim guns). This was ... well, partition was a horribly bad idea in India, botched by Mountbatten's chumocratic cronies, and thereafter they didn't partition or remap states that really needed it. Hence the setup for a whole bunch of civil wars.

55:

Will it be available from TransReal Fiction?

Assuming Mike is still in business by then, yes it will be. (Last time I dropped in to sign stock, in mid-November, he was swinging over to about 80% mail order business. I should also note that he's older than I am, so he's both at higher risk of COVID and at higher risk of retirement. If he does retire or go out of business I'll work something out with Blackwells, who are a chain bookshop but not an evil monopolist chain bookshop.)

56:

"I have a confession: I don't like horror."

Same here. But I really liked Dead Lies Dreaming. It has some of Charlie's best characters ever. Granted, it is obviously meant to be horrific; dark forces are gaining power. But compared to the last four years of news, Dead Lies Dreaming seems oddly cheerful.

57:

Yes, that was part of my point. I should have said explicitly that I was talking about Africa; it was and is very unlike India. Most of the tribes were NOT nations, and it is unclear that ANY boundaries would have been much better.

58:

I keep meaning to watch the video that's somewhere online, from Worldcon 2009, where a program item was a conversation between Krugman and some sff author name of... Stross.

59:

Charlie
I'm going to echo EC & say: "No"
"India" was to be one SECULAR state, but Jinnah & the muslim-centrists refused, point-blank to have anything to do with it & insisted on partition.
Mountbatten, with his Destroyer-Commander background was NOT the right choice for the post at that time & fucked up.
But the real blame lies with the spiritual ancestors of todays religious nutters, I'm afraid.

60:

Re: ' ... bet against the financial positions of large institutions'

I see two lessons in the GameStop headlines:

1- The AIs have been gamed - AIs do 90%+ of all stock trades* and are not sufficiently supervised/vetted or audited. Basically, AIs are left alone to do anything as long as their activity is profitable for the traders.

2- Lack of upper 'caps' on stocks - it's now normal for stocks to be overvalued (1,000+ times earnings) thus creating instant IPO billionaires. Problem is that this 'magic wealth' then gets quickly transferred into the rest of the economy where it increases wealth disparity because that economy treats 'magic money' the same as 'grunt money'.

More importantly, any machine/tech - AI included - should have built-in safeguards. We insist on safe machines re: autos, hospital tech, planes, etc. - so why not financial AIs esp. since the financial sector is probably the single strongest (growing) sector in many economies.

Also - while stock exchanges automatically shut down/stop trading when they hit a set percent loss, this emergency shut-down isn't applied in the opposite (inflationary) direction because 'bigger' is assumed to always be better. Nor is there any 'cap' applied at the micro (individual stock) level. I'm not aware of any reason given for ignoring such an obvious unselfregulated positive feedback loop.

Basically - this was inevitable. Probably a bunch of math/finance geeks who got bored.


* I'm guessing that not all stock brokerage firms use AI and it'd be interesting to find out what they did while this was going on.

61:

Re: 'Probably a bunch of math/finance geeks who got bored.'

Wouldn't be the first time.

https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/02/how-mit-students-gamed-the-lottery/470349/

62:

Dunno. My take on it is that modern finance is terribly unproductive and that regulatory structures enabling its existence should be modified.

An awfully large fraction of potentially productive individuals spend their time and efforts gaming money out of a rigged casino. And really, considering the relative rewards for productive labor, they are making rational choices.

I'd argue that the rewards 'earned' by the financial industry appear to be grossly disproportionate to the real value generated by its existence.

Increases in transaction costs and a maintenance (wealth) tax would maybe be beneficial for social stability.

63:

I'm really excited to read Invisible Sun! Thank you to you and your editors!

Looking forward to reading about how the socialists try to bring democracy to the USA and I've always enjoyed the developmental economics aspect of the series.

64:

Re: '... the rewards 'earned' by the financial industry appear to be grossly disproportionate to the real value generated by its existence.'

Agree - the trick is in (re-)defining 'real value'. Currently the only definition/metric is $$$.

65:

And the conditions of the country, or... is it GINI? is all "externalities".

66:

Something interesting - if you click on the google play store link on the tor pre-order page it takes you to to a page on the UK Play store which appears to allow pre-orders. No guarantees it won’t get corrected I guess but might be worth a shot for those who don’t want to mess about changing their kindle region on BigRiver..

67:

If you're talking about "Invisible Sun", it's going to be published by Tor in the UK at the same time as the USA.

(In fact the primary editor working on it since David Hartwell's death has been Bella Pagan, my UK editor -- she edited a few of my books at Orbit before she switched house, so we've worked together for over a decade now. Since David's death my US editor of record is Patrick Nielsen Hayden, who's sufficiently senior that he had to delegate the day-to-day editing of the Empire Games books to Bella, who'd worked on them with David. Patrick is editorial director at Tor and Tor.com, so probably spends more time in meetings than he's happy about. He's rather more closely involved with the Laundry/New Management stuff, which in the UK goes to Bella's successor at Orbit, Jenni Hill.)

(It occurs to me that trying to explain my editor relationships to someone with no experience of how the Big Publishing industry works is liable to lead to bafflement, confusion, and disbelieving laughter: these are divisions of multinationals that frequently seem to operate like family-run multigenerational grocery stores, because the trade fiction publishing industry wasn't designed, it just sort of happened by accident.)

68:

My two cents on the financial industry.

One is that the AI part of it is at least somewhat regulated, in the sense that there are algorithms in place to keep the whole system from doing another flash crash. That said, I think most of the electronic trading is arbitraging, rather than profitably connecting up funders with companies seeking funds, which was (once upon a time) one of the functions of the stock market.

As for the value of stocks, I agree they're disconnected from reality, but it's not clear to me what they're connected to. The previous administration dumped several trillion dollars into the economy and almost certainly (and deliberately) did a really bad job of tracking where it went. My suspicion is that a good chunk of that money, first from screwing with the tax system, then from pandemic stimulus money, ended up in brokerages. Effectively, they're now gambling with each other using this money, using the most recondite electronic gambling systems ever invented, because they're bored and/or they derive their identity and existential meaning from such games. Some (much? most?) of the value is obviously virtual money, systems using the value of future trades as collateral against present activity. If those futures don't happen, the ripples will be enormous, which is where we were in 2008.

As for solutions...putting on my crazy wig for a second, the basis for the US economy, and I think most western and probably world economies, is that nature (planet, biosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere) is fundamentally without value and outside the economic system. It has to be extracted, or use rights have to be associated with it, in order for it to have any additional value. In other words, our economy is fundamentally extractive. We're now at a place where we're going to stop extracting from nature one way or another, either by civilization crashing, humans going extinct, or a truly radical transformation of our system to where our "economy" involves primarily taking care of the natural systems which keep us alive. This isn't airy-fairy stuff, it's what humans did worldwide until relatively recently (take care or starve), when it became more interesting to extract, enslave, binge, purge, and call it economics.

Some of the problems we face are that we don't know how to be a caretaker species with billions of us on the planet, we've got a huge amount of ideology parasitizing our cultural DNA to say that making any such changes are wrong*, and there's a tremendous amount of power keeping things as they are.

But it's worth thinking about what the opposite of economics as usual would look like, and how we could run our current system in reverse in a way that still met at least the basic needs of most of the humans and other species on this planet.

*Now we sit back and watch the memetic parasites in everyone's heads get triggered, so that they move their fingers in wrath without paying attention to what they write. I expect cavalier dismissals, pointless comments about communism, Cambodia, China, and possibly some communists thinking I'm talking about communism when I'm actually not. Oh well. No one reads carefully on this blog anyway. Have fun.

69:

Nope I was talking about the Tor-US only,Escape from Puroland.

70:

It is within living memory that farmland was valued for its steady state food output and forest for its steady state pulp wood output. In this same era mortgages were valued for their expected payments and perceived risk of default rather than for what you could get the next sucker to pay for them, and Boeing designed the 707 rather than the 737 Max. The current version of capitalism has an “apres moi, le deluge” attitude that wasn’t always there.

71:

Charlie
I'm a editor in chief for two mid-level academic journals, with about 15y editing experience at various levels.
As it is in your world, in mine. Academic publishing houses are fast more baroque, fief ridden, siloed, then your might imagine

72:

It is within living memory that farmland was valued for its steady state food output and forest for its steady state pulp wood output. In this same era mortgages were valued for their expected payments and perceived risk of default rather than for what you could get the next sucker to pay for them, and Boeing designed the 707 rather than the 737 Max. The current version of capitalism has an “apres moi, le deluge” attitude that wasn’t always there.

Agreed, somewhat. A century of farming practices in the prairies, for example, eroded three meters of soil, so the metric of "steady state food production" didn't include keeping the soil as white settlers first found it. Similarly, farming forests for wood or pulp has a 400-odd year history of problems, mostly that monocropping trees tends to lead toward monocropping tree pests within one or two planting rotations.

The part I agree on (because I kind of watched it happen) is that it became dangerous for companies to build up assets, because (as with Pacific Lumber Company) they could be bought out by corporate raiders, then forcibly stripped of assets to pay the cost of their conquest. This last sentence is intentional, because this is the standard modus operandi for any invading army: make the conquered pay the cost of their conquest.

Unfortunately, we live in a system where increasingly, certain (white, monied) minorities think that their survival depends on looting resources from everyone else, because we're facing doomsday and stuff. This is pernicious, in that playing a negative sum game makes it harder for others to attempt to engineer positive-sum solutions that might get us out of the hole we're in. This isn't limited to white supremacists, of course, but they're the group right now that is arguably causing the most trouble.

73:

Not sure if I this is OK to discuss, since we haven't reached Post 300. But the GameStop incident has some partial precedents.

In 2012 the Knight Capital collapsed in a pile of financial rubble due to a buggy trade algorithm. This algorithm wasn't doing anything fancy, it was just market-making. It tracked the going rate of a bunch of stocks, and offered to both buy and sell with a spread that made a modest profit. Unfortunately the program also had other test functionality that could be enabled by a config file. Due to a devops error this functionality was enabled, and the program built up a ridiculous position before anyone noticed. Basically the CEO went to bed as the boss of a well-respected finance company with a healthy bank balance, and woke up to be told the company was bust.

Looking at this with my safety engineer hat on, there were a bunch of obvious red flags here. First, having dead code that could be easily reactivated by a config error is an absolute no-no. Second, the program should have had monitoring and circuit breakers to stop it going rogue. Knight Capital was subsequently dinged by the regulators for failing to have proper controls, but it was a bit late.

The other is the time that Porsche arranged for an infinite squeeze on VW shares by using a combination of buying up short-sold shares and lending them back out to other short sellers, and also buying call options on yet more shares. They wound up being owed more than 100% of the existing shares, which briefly made the troubled VW the most valuable company in the world. Porsche netted £10B, and various hedge funds lost around £30B.

Apart from the role of social media, I don't see anything particularly revolutionary in this. A bunch of people swung something, and made out like bandits. Good for them, but as far as the finance industry is concerned this is just a blip.

Looking at the social media aspect, the posts of "u/DeepFuckingValue" on Reddit seem to have been critical in getting this to happen. However if you don't have the benefit of hindsight much of his behaviour was indistinguishable from a scam. Buying a thinly traded stock and then hyping it to the rooftops is a classic scam. The only difference here is that the hype happened to be true. You can bet there will be a bunch of copycats along posting very similar screenshots but without the reality to back it up. Some people will lose their savings, and everything goes back to normal.

74:

Out of curiosity, how does Puroland (which is a real theme park in Japan), play with book sales?

As a hypothetical, could an analogous setting be used for (for examples' sake only): escape from Legoland (branches in the US and UK), escape from Disneyland/world, and so forth? Or would attempts to do so result in a cryogenic-level response from an editor seeing the proposal, due to concerns over trademark infringement and the ease with which trademarks can be looked up, at least in the US?

75:

Sign me up! I take it the other novella is the oft-mentioned "Derek the DM" tale?

(My feelings are more ambivalent about the upcoming end to the Laundry-centric arc, but I can understand the need. I vaguely recall you mentioning a title, possibly on Twitter, but now I can't remember it. :P )

76:

Found it: "The Valkyrie Confession"

But you also said you might not write that one...

77:

"Puroland (which is a real theme park in Japan)"

It sounds to me like it ought to be a theme park for some kind of nightmare ultra-"moralistic" theocracy sort of regime. Like what you get if you put a bunch of Puritans (modern sense) on an island somewhere and leave them to go Lord of the Flies competing to out-puritane each other for a few generations.

"But it's worth thinking about what the opposite of economics as usual would look like, and how we could run our current system in reverse..."

Scimonoce.

(Irresistible, sorry.)

78:

Scimonoce. (Irresistible, sorry.)

Works for me. How do you pronounce that?

As for the other, this isn't quite what you were thinking of, but check out Mangyongdae Funfair in North Korea, or the Eram Amusement Park in Iran.

To me, Puroland sounds a bit like Busch Gardens, Knotts Berry Farm, Hersheyland, Legoland, or similar industry-adjacent amusement parks. Puro could, I suppose, be a brand of cleanser, or possibly a pet food giant. I have no idea which. Still, if capitalism is the central belief system of our civilization, then this is the equivalent of the religious festivals and shrine adjacent activities that every civilization puts on. Could be worse, except for the brain bleach I now need...

79:

Simon-oss (oss: cf. gross), like "science" but with the channel showing signs of deficient EDC or dodgy sync.

80:

At that time I was working on the idea of two last Laundry novels.

The planned story arc was: continuity ops vs. the new management (continuity ops fail), then: Bob et al fight the New Management to a stalemate (fade to black).

"Continuity Ops v. the New Management" was going to be the Senior Auditor's story, very much in the mode of Koestler's "Darkness at Noon", i.e. his death-cell confessional after failure. (Hint: go look up Operation Valkyrie.)

I had second thoughts over such a non-happy-fun story in the current climate.

Then COVID19 wrecked my original plan for how continuity ops would stop CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN progressing to its logical end state.

And now I'm taking time out for a re-think.

82:

That's what I expected from the hints in your stories and the blog, though I hadn't realised the Senior Auditor's story was going to be quite so downbeat. Macmillan (and I don't mean the publisher) would sympathise with you about events. Please keep at least SOME upbeat aspects in the stories, because real life is seriously gloomy :-( I have my theory about what you are going to do with the gun on the mantlepiece, and shall be fascinated to see if I am correct.

Out of curiosity, have you actually visited Puroland?

83:

Now we sit back and watch the memetic parasites in everyone's heads get triggered

thass unnecessarily cynical in all but a few cases i think

trouble is the changes required seem likely to present as a reduction in standard of living for most of the privileged sections of society, which could be a hard sell

if it could be arranged as something with parallels to a religion (but aimed at avoiding an apocalypse rather than embracing one) there might be, er, marketing possibilities


84:

Yes, I have visited Puroland! (My wife insisted on it, for her 40th birthday. She was learning Japanese at the time and made sure to get the full Japanese schoolkid birthday treatment, including the mandatory photo op with Princess Kitty ...)

Downbeat: the Laundry Files proper can't help but be somewhat downbeat (the end-state is that the New Management reigns supreme -- the Laundry just manages to fend off the end of the world). However, the New Management books (starting with "Dead Lies Dreaming" are somewhat less depressing: they're set in a crapsack world, admittedly, but it's one with no COVID19, no President Trump, where government may be evil and merciless but at least it's a competent merciless evil, and there's still room for ordinary-ish people to exist.

85:

Re: 'They wound up being owed more than 100% of the existing shares, which briefly made the troubled VW the most valuable company in the world. Porsche netted £10B, and various hedge funds lost around £30B.'

Yeah - when the various stock info sites all show that 120% of company X's stocks have been 'sold' while at the same time it's also showing you that the primary investor/founder/CoB is still holding 20% of all issued common stock (tradable) shares, it's really interesting.


My biggest concern is who's ultimately going to get stuck losing money. Hedge funds are money makers for mutuals and many if not most mutuals are directly tied to private and public pension plans. Moving money between accounts without permission happens fairly often even though it's considered a no-no if it's done for the trader's personal gain. The potential out/lame excuse here though is that the 'losses were moved to help equalize the pain across accounts, thus maintain the overall health of your complex stock/investment portfolio' because many trading outfits make their money on number/value of trades so their only risk is losing customers/trade volumes. IMO, this is not right/ethical even though it seems to be a commonly accepted excuse/practice.


BTW - I think Nortel was also 'oversold' shortly before its collapse.

86:

My biggest concern is who's ultimately going to get stuck losing money.

The hedge funds have already lost billions $ of real money. Some have lost over 30% of their asset values over the last month or so.

But the small guys who got in late as buyers are also going to get hit hard. And already are.

BTW - I think Nortel was also 'oversold' shortly before its collapse.

Per most of the ex-Nortel folks around here (over 10K of them at one time) Nortel was on life support waiting for someone to pull the plug as the EKG was mostly a flat line. In other words the shorting didn't drive them out of business, it just made it a bit faster.

87:

that's unnecessarily cynical in all but a few cases i think. trouble is the changes required seem likely to present as a reduction in standard of living for most of the privileged sections of society, which could be a hard sell, if it could be arranged as something with parallels to a religion (but aimed at avoiding an apocalypse rather than embracing one) there might be, er, marketing possibilities

Well, I'm unfortunately well-known for my cynicism here, that's true. However, the gambit so far has worked, in that the usual suspects so far haven't launched the usual diversions, and we've got a chance to actually talk about it.

That said, you raise an important point: "reduction of standard of living." The simple question would be: if you could work 40 hours per week on tasks that didn't threaten your health or sanity, raise and feed a family, certainly suffer occasionally, but also get time off to spend with friends, family, outside fairly regularly, and doing stuff that made you feel better, would you do it? According to the researchers who study longevity, something like that seems to be the reason why certain parts of the world have a lot of centenarians in them. They're not rich though, and their standard of living is, in dollar terms, relatively low.

A lot of people, if given the opportunity to live this way, would probably go for it.

Many people wouldn't. The classic example is the competitive type at the head of their field--writing, say, or finance, or military contracting--who brag about the 60 hour weeks they spend at their desk, their hard drinking lifestyle, ignore their romantic partners who have bailed out, and so forth. They, conventionally, have won the rat race, but at enormous cost to their lives. Many have argued, since Lao Tzu in fact, that the sacrifices needed to do well in any one of history's rat races are so great that it's better not to be a rat at all, but to "lower one's standard of living," until you're living within your physical, mental, and emotional means and enjoying more of your life.

The biggest problem, I think, isn't that people wouldn't go for a sane, healthy life if given a chance. Many would, but equally many are have so many parasitic and over-protective memes on board that they're repelled by this possible road to utopia even if they had a guide ready to take them there.

Unfortunately, the bigger problem is how vulnerable such lifestyles are to the more predaceous and parasitic memes that have cropped up in civilization: those carried by the slavers, exploiters, hierarchy and system builders, coercive types, and crooks. In order to guard against them, people have to struggle and fight back, violently or non-violently. And a lot of civilization comes from dealing with the resulting problems in various ways.

There's no simple, clear answer to this, but one way forward is to look at what standard of living and quality of life truly mean, and to see how much resource consumption actually correlates with these. Many people are doing it, and it might help. We'll see.

88:

I read Puroland, and all I could think of was Purolator
https://www.purolator.com/en

But... it's a Hello, Kitty theme park? Is it aimed at anyone over, uh, the age of 9?

Not anywhere I'd want to go, much less spend money to go.

89:

H
Well, I'm in the live long & stagger along group - I suppose I always have been.
but, I could do with a modest improvement in my personal standard of living -say to up to just over half the National Average Wage would do me nicely, all other things being equal.

[ For furriners: It says that the UK Nat Av Wage is or was about £32k a year - if I could get to £16 - 18k I would be doing very well. By my standards. ]

90:

The questions I have include just how powerful *are* these gods?

Consider this: if everyone flipped... there are more humans alive now than have ever lived. That's a LOT of power.... So, how much to do the gods have... and how much can they handle at once?

The other point... barely making it, sooner or later, ends one way or another, and for deities, a thousand years or so it an eyeblink. Do we who manage to survive slowly or fastly croak... or is there a response, and Cthulhu and friends do have enemies.

91:

I just looked, and Ellen and I are rich! Why, we're at about 225% of the poverty rate. [g] But *owning* the house makes a huge difference.

92:

And how many of those folks working much more than 40 hour weeks are doing it because of their own psychological preferences... and how much because upper management came up with yet another "brilliant" idea, and handed down from their level (above) absolutely insane and unreachable deadlines?

The latter is certainly the way it was when I worked at Ameritech, when my late wife was only semi-joking about suing them for alienation of affection.

Yet other places I've worked, we got stuff done in a timely manner... and did *not* go over 40 yours, except perhaps once or twice a year for a week or less.

So, how much of that are demands from the ultrawealthy... remembering that, as I have read, humans evolved spending well under 8 hours a day hunting and gathering?

93:
And how many of those folks working much more than 40 hour weeks are doing it because of their own psychological preferences

Can't answer the "how many" question, except to assert that such people exist. When I was a working research scientist, I happily worked >80h weeks, for many years. Not because of any external pressure, but because it was the thing I wanted most to do. My work was my play.

94:

whitroth / LAvery
Second part: and how much because upper management came up with yet another "brilliant" idea, and handed down from their level (above) absolutely insane and unreachable deadlines?
A lot less than previously, after C-19.
Remote working - from home, mostly ... Has broken the everybody-into-the-office model, with overseers looming over you.
I think.

95:

@ Everyone: What's a "bookstore"?

96:

It's a place where people used to discover both reality and unreality, and where interesting cats could be petted if they desired.

97:

whitroth @ 58: I keep meaning to watch the video that's somewhere online, from Worldcon 2009, where a program item was a conversation between Krugman and some sff author name of... Stross.

If you find it, drop a link here please. If I find it, I'll drop a link.

98:

I think "for now" needs to get added in there.

LAvery's right, that some people (and I know a few too) are happy as workaholics. That's fine. Forcing anyone into this mold or a more indolent mold will cause problems.

The bigger point is to question whether "standard of living" as measured by possessions is the same as quality of life. At the bottom end of the scale, it certainly is, since people do need, food, shelter, clothing, companionship if not love, and meaning for their lives. In the middle and upper ends, not so much. At the top end, managing wealth, especially inherited wealth, is a tedious and dreaded task for many, not a joy, and the problems the ultra-wealthy have with being able to trust anyone, especially family, are well-known and chronic.

100:

Nortel was on life support

Nortel was set up for failure by upper management, who made out like bandits in the collapse. Decisions like "let's sell this strategically vital manufacturing arm to our competition" followed by "oh noes, they will no longer sell us the vital components we need to meet our contracts" and then "upper management performance bonuses will be paid".

Its corpse was looted by its (former) competitors, who bought IP for pennies on the dollar, while its pensioners were left with close to nothing.

101:

While I agree completely, it's also really important to emphasise that the scale is bottom heavy, with overwhelmingly more people at the bottom than at the top. While the difference between the top and middle is still striking, the breakdown by percentile is alarmingly, or illuminatingly, counter-intuitive.

102:

Remote working - from home, mostly ... Has broken the everybody-into-the-office model, with overseers looming over you.
I think.

Dented, maybe, but probably not broken.

Maybe I'm too cynical, but I suspect that once offices are able to reopen people will either be forced back, or will choose to go back because working remotely means being out of the loop and losing out in the political games necessary to get promotion/bonuses/good projects/etc.

103:

@ Heteromeles: Re: Bookstores: (It's a place where people used to discover both reality and unreality, and where interesting cats could be petted if they desired.)
Petstores sold books?!

@Everybody: re: work(aholimm), etc.
Ir's my impression that in the USA d from ~1945-1973, there were significant sections of the population/portions of the country where ona single 40 hr/week income, a family could by a home, could take a bit of a vacation, could expect to pay for medical bills without much fear, and if the kids could go to college (at least public ones) wouldn't have to go into massive debt. I think there are very few places/people today in the US can say that.

Re: working remotely: My experience on my last job (post Covid-19, I have a new one now), was that the work week expanded into other hours. It would be interesting to have a directive which said: "You can work form home,
but do NOT put in more than 8 hr/day or 40/hr week."

104:

"a westerner's review"

Er... The author's profile says "100% Japanese local", and the article content is basically "literal translation from Japanese" - I don't mean language-wise (although that was the factor that prompted me to check the author's profile), but culturally. Without the background of having grown up there and having the built-in understanding of how people there relate to this shit, it's largely incomprehensible.

As well as that, there's the more universal weirdness that necessarily comes from taking some animated TV show for tiny kids and instantiating the characters as humans in costume. I mean, WTF is this? http://jw-webmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/スクリーンショット-2019-08-30-14.03.17-min.png A bleached skull, with empty eyesockets opening onto a black pit of nothingness, which you dare not gaze into lest it sucks out your soul and intracts it through those dread black holes to whatever awful fate inescapably awaits it.

It was like getting out of a spin dryer to reach the end of the article and see the final photograph, which is of... the perfectly ordinary inside of a railway station. Ah, thank fuck for that, we're back to normality again.

So... yeah. As a source of inspiration and background for a novel in a universe which definitely has -L/usr/lib/horror in its build flags, it appears to be an excellent and natural choice.

105:

Were I still working, I'd look forward to going in.
a) would get me out of the house
b) have OTHER PEOPLE to talk to
c) a *lot* less annoyance than, for me, to work remotely.
d) when I was not at work, I was not working, period.

106:

The biggest problem, I think, isn't that people wouldn't go for a sane, healthy life if given a chance. Many would, but equally many have so many parasitic and over-protective memes on board that they're repelled by this possible road to utopia even if they had a guide ready to take them there.

This. I use different language to describe "destructive memes", which I usually just refer to as "ideology". I also like to emphasise that you can't honestly finger genetics as a sole precursor for this, various cultures handle this sort of thing differently and competitiveness is not universally recognised as an admirable trait. Hence "ideology", but you can also call it culture... "memes" works, and maybe fits better too.

But that's why I see separating material standard of living from "the game" as a priority. Players see non-players as resources to be exploited as part of the game (the extraction ideology is also inward, a sort of mechanised ouroboros) and putting them "out of bounds" is part of the social contract and something we have to do anyway.

107:

"Many have argued, since Lao Tzu in fact, that the sacrifices needed to do well in any one of history's rat races are so great that it's better not to be a rat at all, but to "lower one's standard of living," until you're living within your physical, mental, and emotional means and enjoying more of your life."

Works for me. Much better to be a pigeon - find a nice sheltered cave somewhere near a decent source of food, and then you no longer have to give a toss about anything.

The only trouble is when humans come along and put up obstacles in the way of the food, or of the shelter, because they think that any lifestyle by which you obtain anything good without being compelled to first experience a more-than-corresponding quantity of bad is evil and should be wiped out.

108:

"a *lot* less annoyance than, for me, to work remotely."

But you were doing sysadmin kind of stuff. Surely that's inherently remote anyway. As an example, I've just been sorting out the same problem (bootloader/initrd up the creek, machine won't boot) on two machines at once. One is 100 miles away and the other less than 100 centimetres, but I'm looking at the same screen and typing on the same keyboard to use the same software tools, and if I didn't know there's nothing to tell about which one is close and which is distant.

109:
Ir's my impression that in the USA d from ~1945-1973, there were significant sections of the population/portions of the country where ona single 40 hr/week income, a family could by a home, could take a bit of a vacation, could expect to pay for medical bills without much fear, and if the kids could go to college (at least public ones) wouldn't have to go into massive debt. I think there are very few places/people today in the US can say that.

See The Two-Income Trap

110:

"The simple question would be: if you could work 40 hours per week on tasks that didn't threaten your health or sanity, raise and feed a family, certainly suffer occasionally, but also get time off to spend with friends, family, outside fairly regularly, and doing stuff that made you feel better, would you do it?"

I did it. For decades I worked in a hospital lab. The wages were not good and those of us who had (or were about to have) young families could only afford this by doing "on call" work. This involved, 1n the 1970's when I started doing on call working full time and one night a week plus one weekend in four being on call to cover emergencies. In between calls we went home (there was no on site accommodation). So I would get the train home and often find a taxi waiting at my flat to take me back to work. Then a taxi home again and repeat maybe five or six times a night. I would wake up in the early hours, pull on my clothes over my pyjamas and rush off to work. Not much sleep. And occasionally I would find it was 09:00 and I was still wearing my pyjamas under my clothes. Then I would be starting my next day's work and have to work a normal day. This went on for years. Eventually the workload increased and it became virtually a night shift. Conditions also improved with half a day off for working after midnight. I once worked for 36 hours without more than a couple of half hour breaks. With the advent of the working time directive things had to improve but I remember one July working out that I hadn't had a full weekend off that year. So at the age of 51, when my children had both finished university I took a sideways move to a job where the chief was forbidden to work shifts. I had weekends again and although I still occasionally had to drive in to work in the early hours of the morning to sort out problems my evenings were free. I had a nominally higher wage but a 40% loss in take-home pay. It was worth it. I enjoyed the job and job satisfaction is a big bonus in life.

111:
The simple question would be: if you could work 40 hours per week on tasks that didn't threaten your health or sanity, raise and feed a family, certainly suffer occasionally, but also get time off to spend with friends, family, outside fairly regularly, and doing stuff that made you feel better, would you do it?

Probably not. I would be bored with only 40h of work a week. I wouldn't work more because I wanted more stuff, but because I wanted more work. If there was nothing on offer that I could get paid for, I would find something useful (FCVO useful) to do with my time and do it for free.

112:

whitroth @ 88: I read Puroland, and all I could think of was Purolator
https://www.purolator.com/en

I read your Purolator and thought of this
https://www.pureoil.com/

113:

whitroth @ 91: I just looked, and Ellen and I are rich! Why, we're at about 225% of the poverty rate. [g] But *owning* the house makes a huge difference.

If you think about it, the proposed $15.00/hour minimum wage works out to $31,200 per year (gross pay - before taxes & deductions). 40hrs/week * 52 weeks * $15/hr.

114:

So, basically: "Handmaid's Tale: The Amusement Park"

Which I can only assume would be followed by "Handmaid's Tale: The Flamethrower"

115:

Random trivia that it may be too late to incorporate:

"Kitty White" (Hello Kitty's "real name") is supposed to be British...

116:

In Japan, the draw is about as big as an amusement park dedicated to a mouse in Florida...

Seriously... Sanrio is HUGE over there.

117:

Except when I had to deal with the network printers, or removing old/installing new servers in racks and cabling them, and escorting the quarterly HVAC and other folks into the machine rooms (required security)...and other times requiring the laying on of hands.

118:

Well, I do admit that Ellen and I comment occasionally that the heated waterbed and quilt is a bit nicer than when we used to live in the cave, lying on the rocks on a mammoth pelt, though that did have the pleasure of a fire on the cave floor, and that, along with the rocks blocking part of the cave opening, kept out the saberteeth....

119:

To return to the infomercial topic... I just got an email earlier this evening, that after the editor reviews the current version of my novel - which I think he's already read, since that's what I sent him not two weeks ago... he's going to be sending me a contract.

They're going to buy my novel! First novel of mine to be published!

120:

Heteromeles @ 87 That said, you raise an important point: "reduction of standard of living." The simple question would be: if you could work 40 hours per week on tasks that didn't threaten your health or sanity, raise and feed a family, certainly suffer occasionally, but also get time off to spend with friends, family, outside fairly regularly, and doing stuff that made you feel better, would you do it? According to the researchers who study longevity, something like that seems to be the reason why certain parts of the world have a lot of centenarians in them. They're not rich though, and their standard of living is, in dollar terms, relatively low.

It's a little late for me since I'm retired & due to health reasons am going to stay retired. But for me the question would have been where does a guy with a high school diploma find a job that doesn't require an obscene work week, but still pays enough to keep body & soul together.

121:

@ LAvery: Re:
"It's my impression that in the USA from ~1945-1973, there were significant sections of the population/portions of the country where on a single 40 hr/week income, a family could buy a home, take a bit of a vacation most years, expect to pay for medical bills without much fear, and if the kids could go to college (at least public ones) wouldn't have to go into massive debt. I think there are very few places/people today in the US where/who can say that."

Thanks for the Elizabeth Warren link.

Assuming we get through the "Slowpocalypse", I think that going forward, I think that could be a good goal, particularly with increased unemployment due to automation. Under "business as usual," we (in the Anglosphere) are likely to get a "Marching Morons" Scenario- 10-20% of the people get well-paid, well-benefited jobs in which they work 60 hour weeks, 30-50% are part of the "precariat" scrambling to get by with multiple gigs, and the rest grey-market, black-market, or not getting by at all.


122:

That's great news! Well done!

123:

Thank you. Though I'll admit my head hurts - you know, when you float in the air in a room, you hit your head on the ceiling. [g]

And it's *straight* adult sf, not military (ok, yeah, there's a few space battles, but that's not what it's about), and it's seriously Big Picture.

The title is 11,000 Years.

124:

whitroth @119:

Well done! Dancing rodents, etcetera!!!

125:

Rocks an' fire? We would've killed for a cave wi' rocks and a fire! We 'ad a sea cave. Puddles on t' floor all't time and every time tide came in, we 'ad to go out, even in't middle o' night.

126:

I think there is quite a bit of discussion about what the result might be with people mostly doing the sort of work they are willing to do for free. That's where separating material standard of living from economic activity comes into it really. I don't suggest I have any answers about how to achieve that, but my view is that this separation is an outcome to be pursued.

127:

I think that the interesting premise in that book is an example of the reason why wages and prices are not linked by productivity or the cost of production, but rather on the demand side. Prices don't go up because paying workers more means that it costs more to produce the same goods: typically prices are not linked to production costs, unless competition is really fierce, and that's much more rare than our mythology tells us. Rather, when people are paid more, the prices of things they *have* to buy go up, simply because they have more to spend. The pattern is different for discretionary expenditure on luxury items, and there can be a reasonable equilibrium where there is "enough" competition, so long as there are no external limits on supply (I'm thinking smartphones here, which have grudgingly become affordable as they passed from being luxuries to being essentials). But housing falls squarely into this pattern, not least where real estate investment is encouraged through the tax system.

128:

Right, well, you should have followed us. We got the good caves.

Though that mammoth they found a year or two ago may well be the one that got away from me as a teen, and I got real grief from my parents for letting it get away.

I should sue, because it belonged to my family....

129:

whitroth @119: They're going to buy my novel!

Congratulations.

So, from Charlie's descriptions of the publishing industry, we should be able to read it some time in ... late 2022?

130:

Nortel was set up for failure by upper management, who made out like bandits in the collapse.

May be. I just know engineers and mid level folks around here who all say it was an absolute mess internally before the external world noticed it was dying. And had been for years.

The RTP operation had something like 10K people in it at one point.

131:

Remote working - from home, mostly ... Has broken the everybody-into-the-office model, with overseers looming over you.

Yes. And no.

Some of those overseers are really really pissed about this just now.

132:

If you find it, drop a link here please. If I find it, I'll drop a link.

Ah,
https://lmgtfy.app/?q=Paul+Krugman+and+Charlie+Stross

133:

Ir's my impression that in the USA d from ~1945-1973, there were significant sections of the population/portions of the country where ona single 40 hr/week income, a family could by a home, could take a bit of a vacation, could expect to pay for medical bills without much fear, and if the kids could go to college (at least public ones) wouldn't have to go into massive debt. I think there are very few places/people today in the US can say that.

This gets back to my thesis and that of others (we're not popular in many circles) that much of this was tied to the rest of the plant's industry being ground into rubble. (Some exaggeration but not a lot.)

So we, USA, set up an economy where we were the industry for the planet. And as that went away we (collectively) refused to deal with the new situation.

[[ html fix - mod ]]

134:

Rocks an' fire? We would've killed for a cave wi' rocks and a fire! We 'ad a sea cave. Puddles on t' floor all't time and every time tide came in, we 'ad to go out, even in't middle o' night.

Looxury, sheer looxury. WE would 'ave died for a cave. Tribe 'ad to 'uddle in t'lee of an over'ang…

135:

Over'ang? All we 'ad was a small mound of earth. When it rained, we'd try to stand directly to the rain so we'd get 'it only on the top of our 'eads.

136:

It would be interesting to have a directive which said: "You can work form home, but do NOT put in more than 8 hr/day or 40/hr week."

Look to France: on top of strict working hours law, they passed legislation to mandate that employees not be required to answer work email or phone calls out of office hours (except in very limited pre-arranged circumstances, e.g. staff being paid to provide on-call coverage).

137:

The RTP operation had something like 10K people in it at one point.

I joined the tricorporate before Atlanta became the centre of Nortel's universe. Left in 1989, stayed in touch with colleagues still working there. Management began making poor decisions while I was there, and it got worse after I left. Still bitter that the bastards who destroyed the company got golden handshakes and performance bonuses, while workers lost their pensions.

138:

I just got an email earlier this evening, that after the editor reviews the current version of my novel ... he's going to be sending me a contract.

DO NOT SIGN IT.

I know you're over the moon, but: contracts are negotiable. Once it arrives, you will be in a very good position for getting yourself a literary agent. The agent's job is to vet the contract for buried land grabs and shake down your editor for better terms and conditions and more money. They will take a 15% cut, but if they're any good at all they will net you an extra 20-50% on top of the first offer.

Approaching an agent with an unsigned contract in hand is guaranteed to get their undivided attention. It's proof that you are commercial quality, and they can earn their 15% straight off the first base without having to circulate and solicit offers for your novel from other publishers. Less work, more reward, in other words. (It's how I got started.)

Also: no reputable publisher will pressurize you into signing immediately. They expect you to take your time and/or go agent-hunting: it's a sign they're dealing with a professional who hopes to have a long career ahead of them. (If they say "offer expires after 72 hours" or somthing, it's a scam.)

Anyway, congratulations! You should take a day off to celebrate. Then the real work begins, because publishers (and agents!) don't aim to buy single books -- they're looking for a career.

139:

Yeah, but France is a civilized country…

140:

Rbt Prior
UNTIL you have to deal with .... "L'administration" ....

141:

Re: ' ... but France is a civilized country…'

Yeah - definitely want to visit again.

Folks here might find the below book interesting - covers many of the topics we regularly discuss on Charlie's Blog with the added bonus of real data! France does okay overall on these measures. (I've only just started reading this - can hardly wait to see how/whether they correlate various classic econ metrics vs. real life outcomes.)

'How's Life? 2020
Measuring Well-being

How’s Life? charts whether life is getting better for people in 37 OECD countries and 4 partner countries. This fifth edition presents the latest evidence from an updated set of over 80 indicators, covering current well-being outcomes, inequalities, and resources for future well-being.'

https://read.oecd-ilibrary.org/economics/how-s-life/volume-/issue-_9870c393-en#page5


And here's France's GDP, etc. (Really like their graphics/charts.)

https://oec.world/en/profile/country/fra

142:

In the snow. Uphill. Both ways.

143:

So did you get to see any of the Germany Hitler documentary dubbed as a Nortel last days farce?

Before it got DCMA'd.

Some of it was hysterical. Lots of the ex folks around here liked it.

144:

"One problem elided to in this is that mainlining apocalyptic memes and prepping for decades is deeply damaging, especially if you're white, male, middle-aged, and even more if you score high on the authoritarian follower scale."

The problem here is that nothing is said in the article about the decades-long stream of right-wing, racist, fascist propaganda that's clearly at the root of the problem. The whole "Boo-hoo, we can't know why White People are crazy" thing is just bullshit!

145:

Pigeon @ 125: Rocks an' fire? We would've killed for a cave wi' rocks and a fire! We 'ad a sea cave. Puddles on t' floor all't time and every time tide came in, we 'ad to go out, even in't middle o' night.

... and it was five miles slogging through knee-deep snow and we didn't have any shoes. Hell, shoes - WE DIDN'T EVEN HAVE ANY FEET!

And it was up hill both ways.

146:

Totally off-topic, bur...
re-posting from 2 threads back, which seems to have gone morbid, if not quite dead, yet.

"What Happens Now?" - indeed.
Especially in two cases:
1. W. T. F. is happening inside the SNP? Faction fights over everything & dividing apparently over Sturgeon / Salmond followers, with other subsidiary issues ....
2. Similar in the US "R" group, with one set running away screaming, & the headbangers supporting the mad female fascist from Georgia ( Greene )
Many appear to be hoping that Greene "wins", thus causing the "R's" to lose - maybe.

Oh yes - subsidiary to (1) People urging the Wee Fishwife to activate a "UWO" against IQ45, but she appears to be dragging her feet, which strikes me as odd, to say the least.
[ Note for furriners: "UWO" = Unexplained Wealth Order. A serious criminal & almost always tax-related investigation into people with apparently Unexplained ( Hence the title ) amounts of money being used oddly ... DJT's golf courses/hotels in this case. ]

147:

You jammy buggers! Where we were, the rain didn't just come down, but from all sides and even upwards.

148:

When I was a child we were lucky just to have the lava stop!

149:

Many appear to be hoping that Greene "wins", thus causing the "R's" to lose - maybe.

Heightening the contradictions(TM) often doesn't work out the way the heighteners had in mind.

150:

People urging the Wee Fishwife to activate a "UWO" against IQ45, but she appears to be dragging her feet, which strikes me as odd

UWO's were designed for dodgy drugs moguls and proceeds of crime, not a sitting foreign head of state with sovereign immunity. That's why the Scottish government kicked the last 2-3 attempts into the long grass (and why the Scottish Greens keep nagging them about it: it's a useful goad).

Now Trump isn't POTUS any more the immunity issue goes away. Plausibly, Sturgeon could refer the matter to Police Scotland or the Attorney General or equivalent. Then it'll happen eventually ... but we're 90 days out from an election so it's Some Other Government's hot potato (even if the SOG is her, with a renewed mandate). So it might actually happen this time round.

The internal SNP squabble is about what you'd expect of a party with >55% of the vote: their majority is so secure that internal groups start to militate for their own peripheral interests. To this we can add the bad blood between the Sturgeon faction (pragmatic centre-left, party of government first, pro-independence but not obsessive) and the Salmond faction (headbanging over independence, angry because those who hitched their wagons to Salmond's star feel burned over the way Sturgeon dumped him when the sexual abuse allegations showed up).

To complicate matters we now get to Joanna Cherry MP, who picked a fight with the SNP's LGBT group because, although she's a lesbian and a feminist, she drank the imported American TERF kool-aid (which is largely pushed by the Family Research Council and amplified via Mumsnet, Tory newspapers, and canny social media amplification). Cherry filed a formal complaint against the LGBT group, they filed a formal complaint against her ... and oh look, guess who got fired from the front bench team in Westminster?

Two key insights to bear in mind, though:

a) All the English news media, BBC and newspapers included, and most of the Scottish newspapers, are opposed to Scottish independence and, consequently, tow an anti-SNP line. Nicola Sturgeon is the SNP leader, she is effective (highest approval rating of any party leader in England!), hence a big fat target for any mud that can be slung and made to stick. Upshot: you cannot trust the accuracy of reporting on the SNP in the media. The sound of axes being ground by the unionist newspapers is almost deafening.

b) The Alex Salmond mess (of his own making, I will note) is usefully smelly mud and is therefore being slung. Allegations of party-level transphobia are also useful mud for slinging at the SNP. The truthiness of these allegations is, however, debatable.

When all is said and done, this is about Labour (and to a lesser extent, the Conservatives) grasping at straws in the run-up to the May 6th election. What happens afterwards is anybody's guess, but nobody's betting on a Labour or Conservative win ...

151:

So did you get to see any of the Germany Hitler documentary dubbed as a Nortel last days farce?

Yup. Funny, in a rather black way…

152:

Book contracts.

I'm very well award that contracts are negotiable, and of course I'll read it.

However, from Eirc and Walt talking about the contract, IIRC - and I did sell them a story for the Gazette - they take the rights (I'll have to see the contract to see what that includes, but IIRC, it's *English* only rights, not foreign language, or media). They buy them for one year... and then rights revert to the author. There's no advance, but you get a large percentage of the net (I think it was net, I don't think it was gross.)

My plan, *if* the above is the case, is go with it, and then, when rights revert, with hopefully offers from, say, Baen, is that ESPECIALLY if there's an offer on the table, to instantly contact Joshua Bilmas of Jabberwocky (who I expect you've heard of), who I got to know at a couple of Balticons, and he was very agreeable to the idea of representing me if I had an offer (we were talking about the first novel, co-written with my late wife), but....

Yeah, I sat through his presentation of "so you want to be an agent", and paid real attention to him saying that for the usual contract, they *might* only have 50 or so items changed... but 75-80 was normal.

But... hmmm, I should contact an old friend, who is an IP lawyer, and see if she'd be willing to review the contract.

Please note that reasons like this are why I DO NOT want to self-publish.

153:

Charlie
OK
That ( maybe) makes sense - I looked at "The Scotsman" but was no wiser, hence the question.
As you know I partially disagree about the "Trans" question, though I wouldn't want to go anywhere on the same tectonic plate as the US TERF's.

155:

Greg, the "Trans question" is only a question in the minds of those people who want to deny them basic human rights. We've heard this song before, in the 1980s, about the gay community in general, and it's a song the religious right play on any instrument that comes to hand.

In case you'd forgotten "bathroom panic" was a hot-button topic in the 1980s. Guess what? It almost never happens (teh gayz perving at straights in public toilets). But re-target it on transgender folk and exactly the same nonsense can be dusted off and brought out for a second time.

So what happened, and why?

To cut a long story short: the American religious right gave up attacking gay marriage in 2017 because they lost the fight. But they're still homophobes, and decided that the trans community (smaller, politically weaker) was an easier target -- a soft underbelly of LGBT that they could go after. So they're recycling the 1980s anti-gay attacks against them, using false flag campaigns (LGB Alliance) and self-proclaimed feminists.

What they learned since the 1980s was that social media is a hell of a noise amplifier, journalists and politicians mistake it for the voice of the people, and if you pretend to be the opposite of what you actually are, outsiders will get confused and assume you're the victim not the aggressor. (Hence the adoption of the term "gender critical" by the TERFs, which is almost exactly the opposite of what it sounds like.)

Remember, the standard right wing tactic is DARVO: Deny, Attack, Reverse Victim and Offender. The anti-trans/"gender critical" campaign shows all the symptoms and is largely orchestrated by the Family Research Council —a fundamentalist protestant anti-gay group).

To complicate matters: many British second-wave feminists (1970s vintage) were homophobes, and there's always been an anti-trans undercurrent there -- you can see it in the writings of the likes of Germaine Greer for example. The FRC and religious right groomed the paleo-feminists and targeted them with radicalization overtures via social media using the same tactics we've seen other religious groups use to recruit/radicalize outsiders. Joanna Cherry seemingly fell for it: see also J. K. Rowling.

It's a toxic stew of bigotry backed by some rather unpleasant people (Pat Robertson is dead but his spiritual heirs' fingerprints are all over the anti-trans campaign), and it seems a number of prominent feminists are willing to ignore their fellow-travellers' religious agenda in return for their support.

PS: assaulting strangers in a public bathroom is already illegal -- it's called assault, the location and sexual orientation or gender of the attacker is irrelevant. Oddly, the gay bathroom panic of the 1980s is a particular type of assault that almost never happens. Ditto trans women assaulting cis women in womens' toilets (and the converse, transmen assaulting cis men in the gents -- to the TERFs, trans-men are an existential problem, so either they don't exist or they're "gender traitors"). Calls to ban trans people from using public toilets are therefore best seen as an attempt to exclude them from civil society.

156:

@ Whitroth. Congratulation to you. I'll tell Andy Anda.

@ OGH: re: France's Employment law. I've read that it's performed neither as well as hoped not=r as badly as feared.

157:

If only, but Pat Robertson is still (unfortunately) alive. Billy Graham is dead.

158:

Charlie
Still disagree, probably/possibly.
I think that Trans people should OF COURSE be given full Human Rights ...
But, at the same time, do I want to be seen to be restricting Human Rights to some women?
Now, as a male, I'm not sure I'm qualified to talk about it - at all - rather like the problems over abortion, raised by the xtian fundies.
The "bathroom panic" passed me by completely, I'm afraid ... probably because I have never really been bothered by people's personal sexual orientation, once I was past about 19. [ A very long time ago, in other words. ]
To complicate matters: many British second-wave feminists (1970s vintage) were homophobes Interesting assertion.
Yet the ultra-religious right were prepared to *ahem* get into bed with teh feminists, to attack the Trans - really?
I would agree, that it's very likely that Cherry & Rowling may have been conned - & have paid for it, as being caught in the crossfire - nasty.

Oh yes: to the TERFs, trans-men are an existential problem Are you talking about people who started off, ahem "male" here & who are/have transitioned towards female? Or the other way round?
I'm assuming the former, of whom I've met a very few, & to whom I have the deepest sympathy - it must be really horrible, being trapped like that.

Remember, I have had a personal experience of very violent homophobic behaviour, even though I'm probably about 85 - 90% heteronormal.
[ I am now of the opinion that 100% hetero-anything is not the normal state of affairs ... something I would not have said even 20 years ago. ]

159:

[ I am now of the opinion that 100% hetero-anything is not the normal state of affairs ... something I would not have said even 20 years ago. ]

I suppose that applies to me too?

160:

to the TERFs, trans-men are an existential problem, so either they don't exist or they're "gender traitors"

I like to bring up the big burly trans-man biker boys using the women's toilets as a mental image to make people think about exactly what they're asking for. And sometimes even the sexism inherent in regarding men as the default and assuming that only the weaker gender need a safe space (or whatever it is they think a women's toilet provides other just a place to go to the toilet).

161:

Sudden thought: I really need to chop off some of my secondary sexual characteristics.

Facial hair, I mean facial hair. Sheesh, you people.

162:

Suddenly, all of this talk about gender makes me think of a song by The Pipettes, "I Like a Boy in Uniform".

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u0LjsnPzG_4

163:

To cut a long story short: the American religious right gave up attacking gay marriage in 2017 because they lost the fight.

Ah, nope. And they don't think it is over.

Which is why they went hard for the orange one.

Pence is totally pissed at Orange. Not only did Orange's nonsense blow away any gains made in the anti-gay movements due to the election of Biden, it also took him (Pence) out of likely any future role in national politics.

AND Orange made Pence into an enemy of over half of the Rs.

164:

Remote working - from home, mostly ... Has broken the everybody-into-the-office model, with overseers looming over you. I think.

can't find the link but i've seen stuff about a bit of a boom in remote employee monitoring software recently

165:

Maybe I'm too cynical, but I suspect that once offices are able to reopen people will either be forced back, or will choose to go back because working remotely means being out of the loop and losing out in the political games necessary to get promotion/bonuses/good projects/etc.

Some places seem to be salivating over the savings to be made tho:
https://wolfstreet.com/2021/01/13/citing-permanent-shift-to-work-from-home-dropbox-cuts-11-of-its-workforce/

166:

"H" @ 159
😍
"Heteromelia?"

Moz
And sometimes even the sexism inherent in regarding men as the default Which is, erm, "Not even wrong" because, IIRC the default body-plan for all Mammals is Female, yes?
A little scientific/biological fact that the religious really don't want to know about.

{ Nah. let it grow - much less effort! }

Adrian Smith
AIUI, you can now get "apps" ( For want of a better word ) that can tell whather you are being monitored.
And, yes - "the Boss's" employers were just about to bite the bullet, for considerably more very expensive office space in very central central London ... ( *note )
Not any more. Official diktat is now that: "Except in special circumstances, we do not expect to see anybody at all, in the office for more than 3 days a week."

(*note: Cheapside. EC2V)

167:

Oops ...
Meanwhile.
Bad news for the SNP whatever happens.
I am, of course, hoping that Brexit crashes & burns before it's gone too far.

168:

Some places seem to be salivating over the savings to be made tho:

One of my clients is seriously considering working it out with staff that the new "office" might have 2 AV equipped conferences rooms to use with face to face client meetings and a few seats for when someone needing to spread out. But most of the time work from home. Of course that gets into the distractions of many home offices. Especially for those with kids.

169:

Of course that gets into the distractions of many home offices. Especially for those with kids.

i read there's a huge boom in building zoom offices in the garden for all the finance people and such who've been moving out of places like ny lately

not practical further down the food chain of course

170:

Adrian Smith
Yes
Report in yesterday's paper that the principal supplier of "Garden Sheds" has had a 300%+ uptake in sales .....

171:

Are you talking about people who started off, ahem "male" here and who are/have transitioned towards female? Or the other way round?

Female-to-male transgender = trans-man, trans-masc (various terms used). TERFs seem to be in denial about them existing. The old-school feminist take on transgender issues is that it's all about men trying to usurp female identity/space, so women who start taking testosterone supplements, have breast reduction surgery, and phaloplasty, fundamentally break their cognitive model.

(Sources: if you want a particularly smelly one, read "The Female Eunuch" by Germaine Greer and look for the sections about transvestism and transgender. She really didn't get it. I'm willing to cut that generation a bit of slack for not having the terminology and toolkit to distinguish between sex and gender, but you'd think they might have learned something new in the past 50 years.)

172:

Bad news for the SNP whatever happens.

It's fairly clear that some economic damage will result from Scexit, but the scale of it is open to question. As for this report -- or any other -- I won't be willing to give it even conditional credence until I know exactly who paid for it.

You can't trust general news coverage of Scottish politics or Scottish Independence in England, period. There's an agenda behind the spin, and that report didn't come out of nowhere.

173:

i read there's a huge boom in building zoom offices in the garden

I was ahead of the curve for once in my life! I built my garden office (an extension to the sleepout) a few months *before* the pandemic. Woohoo!

Now, all I need is the sort of income those finance people get and I'll be able to pay off my Sydney mortgage before I die.

174:

It was LSE, and they have an academic reputation to maintain, and I can find no reference to a sponsor in the paper (see below); it will be as reliable as any such prediction, subject to its assumptions. The SNP would be well advised to study it, not least to see how many of those assumptions they can cause to be false (I can see a couple). Now, if it were one of the usual 'think tanks', I would agree with you.

https://cep.lse.ac.uk/pubs/download/brexit17.pdf

The LSE is not institutionally either pro- or anti-independence (for the same reason), though it has to tread carefully to avoid increasing government hostility, and here is a neutral blog:

https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/europpblog/2020/02/05/what-would-it-take-for-scotland-to-rejoin-the-eu-as-an-independent-state/

175:

Even if I had my very own garden, a garden office would be no use to me for at least a third of the year: current daytime temperatures peak at 3 degrees celsius and are going sub-zero at night half the time, and the forecast is "continuous sleet for 3 days, then a blizzard dumping a minimum of 2-5cm of snow on you (at very low level) and possibly as much as 10-20cm; higher levels will be socked in with the worst snowdrifts since 2011".

I think I'm going to hole up in my flat with the shutters closed, the radiators opened wide, and a new pair of woolly slipper-boots.

176:

Here? Daytime temperatures are on the order of -7 degrees celcius, lower at night, and going to be lower in a few days. It has snowed quite a lot in the last couple of weeks, and will snow more soon. I'd need to build a shed (or two) which would have to have some means of warming it.

Add to this the fact that I don't really have the means to have a garden. We now have a flat in a nice place, but anything with a garden we could afford would be "too far" to my liking, and necessitate owning a car.

177:

Charlie
Source for that info on Scotland - an "Indie" short article, with the original coming from the LSE.
See also EC

@ 175 - And a warm, purring CAT?

178:

Yes, I know it's getting traction in the Independent (and the Guardian, and the Scotsman, I think); the question isn't whether it came from LSE, the question is who paid for the LSE staff to research and prepare the report?

These reports don't come out of nowhere, and the work doesn't pay for itself: there's often a money trail leading back to some outfit like the Adam Smith Institute or other more shadowy lobbying groups who like to use the appearance of supposedly-impartial academic research to disguise a partisan agenda. Which they apply by paying for the work and defining the terms of reference for it.

Put it another way: if I was a Tory election manager I'd love a superficially-impartial report that discredits the SNP's main election policy plank, and I'd aim to get it by dropping a couple of hundred thousand quid on research carried out wearing carefully-adjusted blinkers. (This one focuses on losses to the Scottish economy from loss of trade with the UK and EU in event of Scexit, neglecting that rejoining the EU is a key goal of Scexit, and applying the normative assumption that the Scottish government post-exit will attempt to continue economic business-as-usual ... despite that not actually being the plan. There's also the pre-2014 assumption that independent Scotland will continue to run on GBP as a currency, which looks a whole lot more questionable post-Brexit than it did back then. And so on.)

Oh, as someone on Reddit helpfully pointed out, The Scotsman has this to add:

The study is also clear that it takes no account of any changes in migration policy, inward investment or any economic levers the Scottish Government would have control of in an independent Scotland to do things better and boost the economy.

So ... what was I saying about rigged studies in the run-up to an election?

179:

Charlie Stross @ 171

I think that, thanks to you, I finally "get it". Trans persons are basically gay persons who have decided to resort to hormones and/or surgery to correct what mother nature got wrong in their particular cases.

In other words, the Wikipedia articles on trans men and trans women are relatively correct and useful.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trans_man

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trans_woman

180:

i read there's a huge boom in building zoom offices in the garden for all the finance people and such who've been moving out of places like ny lately

not practical further down the food chain of course

Also not practical for much of the year in Toronto or further north, unless you are willing to spend a lot on climate conditioning, both heating and cooling. And from an environmental perspective I'm no certain heating/cooling lots of small buildings (plus the cost of building those buildings) outweighs the cost of commuting.

Woke up to -8° right now, which is normal for this time of year in Toronto. In Saskatoon daytime highs of -15° were considered warm, -20° normal, -30° cold but not unexpected.

Summer the reverse problem of cooling, especially if you want to keep the windows closed because of the distractions and noise outside. (Eg. kids running and screaming, lawnmowers, the neighbour blasting his car stereo while he washes it…)

181:

Trans persons are basically gay persons who have decided to resort to hormones and/or surgery to correct what mother nature got wrong in their particular cases.

* Facepalm *

NO. Otherwise there would be no gay post-transition trans people. (They're quite common, if by no means a majority.)

Who you are attracted to is orthogonal to who you identify yourself as being.

Gay men are not defective straight women. Lesbians are not defective straight men.

Mic drop.

182:

Back to square one.

183:

You misunderstood either my post, or academic procedures. If LSE were commissioned to produce a report, they did not put that in the paper, and it was discovered (as it would be), their academic credibility would be severely damaged. And that's putting it mildly - it's a career-destroying move for the authors. There are plenty of organisations that WILL do that, but LSE is not one of them, unless it has gone BADLY downhill since I last heard. I have a close friend who would know, if you really want me to check. It would have come out of their general research funds.

The Scotsman, Fiona Hyslop, Anthony Salamone and I all have said the same thing - that is what would happen if there were a simple Scexit but, if the SNP has any collective brains whatsoever, it will be planning what to do to counter that damage.

184:

For folk who are not getting trans-ness; kids are assigned one of two genders at birth based on their genitals (and intersex infants are surgically "corrected" without consent, a different but related set of abuses). This assigned gender is usually but not always who they really are but all the same they are raised to behave according to their assigned gender norms.

One of those norms is, yes, who you are"supposed" to be attracted to, and many trans kids can mistake themselves for gay for a long time. But gay people are perfectly happy in their assigned gender, attracted to people of the same gender. Not so for trans people.

The defining trait in medical terms is "dysphoria", the cognitive dissonance between the assigned gender and the person's actual gender identity, which can range from uncomfortable and upsetting, to suicidally crippling. The attempted suicide rate among young trans people is nearly 50%; the rate of social ideation is around 85%. This is drastically reduced purely by accepting the person as they are; a trans kid who is accepted is no more needed up than any other teenager.

Getting to exist in your proper identity, on the other hand, is a quite euphoric experience, even just being addressed properly as "sir" or "ma'am", or in the case of non-binary people, not shoved into either box. I usually liken it to handedness when I'm explaining myself to people - trans people are like those left-handed kids who were forced to use their wrong hand when learning to write, because of social stigma and intolerance. When they get to use their correct hand their writing may be terrible and unpractised, but they are a lot more comfortable.

On the issue of toilets, while there is that emotional comfort in using the correct gendered toilet just as there is in being addressed correctly, trans people need to pee same as everyone else. It's really uncomfortable, not to mention actually unsafe, to have to go into a gents' wearing female-coded clothes, hairstyle and makeup. Violent homophobia is a thing. Likewise I have many cisgender masculine female friends who are continually asked by women to leave toilets because they look like men.

185:

It's an idiotic report.

It assumes no change to immigration policy, tax and fiscal policy, and business strategy.

The SNP has been screaming for relaxation of immigration restrictions for years -- Scotland needs more workers! -- but it's a reserved issue (ie. immigration policy is set by the Tories in Westminster). Similarly, there is very limited tax and fiscal autonomy in Scotland, but no overall control over revenue. An autonomous Scottish government would almost certainly diverge from the taxation and spending priorities of the hardline pro-austerity right wingers down south. (Universal Basic Income is on their want list, along with a higher band for income tax on top earners.)

Other reserved issues include drugs policy: the SNP has been pro-legalization of cannabis, and decriminalization/medicalization of overall drugs strategy, for the past decade, but they're not allowed to do that because Home Office Says Nope.

Upshot: the report analyses the case of Scotland becoming independent and then being run in alignment with Conservative policies. In other news: the sky is yellow, the sun rises in the south, and the pope just converted to Buddhism.

186:

There are plenty of such buildings in Scandinavia and the Alps. As you say, garden sheds they are not! In the UK, they need the same planning and building permissions as new houses, cost nearly as much as a small one, are nearly as much hassle to erect, and need a fair amount of space. Other than those minor issues, what's the problem?

187:

Surely you remember the days of Margaret Thatcher? If the LSE produced a report analysing what would happen if Scotland handled those differently, without the SNP first publishing a plan of action, what would happen?

It would be accused of everything from anti-unionist bias up to constitutional treachery, and the government would Take Steps. LSE cannot afford to take that risk.

Look on that report as a call to action for the SNP to pull its collective finger out, and publish an actual plan for independence. At present, its published plans are nearly as inchoate as the ones for Brexit were in 2016. When it has done so, I am sure that LSE will seize the opportunity to estimate their effects.

188:

Oops, autocorrect; that's "_suicidal_ ideation..." and "no more _messed_ up..."

189:

Elderly Cynic @ 186

I have had such a "shed" built for the overflow of my personal library. It's insulated and heated, for Canadian winters. It wasn't a hassle to build because it was a pre-assembled building. The team from the manufacturer came around in two large trucks, early in the morning. When I came back from work the shell was all built. All it needed was the insulation and the wiring.

It's a place to get away from my home office.

190:

This is the UK. Firstly, there is the problem of finding a supplier of such things (not TOO hard, though Brexit hasn't helped), secondly, there is the problem of getting building permission for it if dcoes not already have it and, thirdly, there is the problem of getting services to it (at the very least, electricity).

191:

Thanks Elaine! I'm only going to disagree with one of your characterizations, and that's comparing it to left-handedness.

I usually liken it to handedness when I'm explaining myself to people - trans people are like those left-handed kids who were forced to use their wrong hand when learning to write, because of social stigma and intolerance. When they get to use their correct hand their writing may be terrible and unpractised, but they are a lot more comfortable.

This comparison isn't fair to trans people. Lefties like me have been allowed to write with our correct hands for decades at least in the US, so I suspect most people younger than middle age won't quite get the analogy. Even more so now, when kids are taught to use keyboards rather than handwriting.

Rather worse, the experience of being left-handed is not the inverse of being right-handed. Right-handers grow up in a world that's made for them, because all sorts of things are biased towards right handed use simply because that's what 90% of the population does. As a result, left-handers learn how to do many more things right-handed than right-handers do with their left hands. While I'm not as good as a student I had who could write in both directions with both hands, I'm far more adept with my right hand than most right-handers are with their left hands. That's a learned and constantly practiced skill set, not an innate bias. I'm not learning to pass for right, I'm just getting on with life.

My concern isn't that lefties should be coddled more--we don't need it, thanks--but that clueless cisgender bigots will think that trans-sexuality is no more of an issue than left-handedness. It is a more profound issue, given how complex genders are.

That said, I'm not sure there is a better everyday metaphor, but I'd simply suggest stressing than transgender dysphoria is rather more complicated and problematic than being left-handed in a right-handed world. After all, eight of 46 US presidents have been left-handed (about the same proportion as lefties in the US population), so handedness is far less a barrier than gender is.

192:

Elaine
Thanks - this sentence of yours explains it for those who don't understand:
But gay people are perfectly happy in their assigned gender, attracted to people of the same gender. Not so for trans people
And, what appears to be happening that there is vast confusion in this are, of the sort that Nial has just expressed. I suspect "certain persons" - especially those with a religious agenda are deliberately sowing confusion, too.
And:
Violent homophobia is a thing Yeah.
OTOH, I note even your recognition of the "toilets" problem, for want of a better description.

Charlie
Hadn't realised the SNP were sane on "Drugs"
Though, given publicly-sated "Dem" policies in the US, that may not matter any more, soon.

193:

There are also couples (I presume I don't know the only one) where both partners transition, in opposite directions. There may be a point, depending on timing, where you could point to a gay relationship, but it's straight both before and after.

194:

Heteromeles, all your caveats accepted. I use it as a quick explainer in the pub in answer to the question "but WHY?" and then move on to it being more complicated, leading to the suicide thing, which kind of underscores that.

195:

Surely you remember the days of Margaret Thatcher? If the LSE produced a report analysing

That was 30-40 years ago.

Compare today's Conservative Party with Thatcher's. Or today's Labour with Michael Foot's. Institutional change happens over a period of generations but it happens nonetheless, and today's LSE isn't the LSE of the 1970s and 1980s. It's part of the modern British higher education system which, for better or worse, has been privatized and financialized along American lines.

196:

Not entirely correct, as I had one built for my wife's studio, complete with some insulation and lots of windows - although I agree about the services aspect.

"Do I need to get building regulations approval before I build a garden shed?

Whether you need to get garden shed building regulations approval or not depends on the kind of structure it is. You don’t need to get building regulations approval if the shed:

Takes up less than 15 square metres and
Doesn’t have any sleeping accommodation

You also won’t usually need to get building regulations approval if the shed:

Covers between 15 and 30 square metres;
Doesn’t have any sleeping accommodation and
Is either at least 1 metre from a boundary or is made of mostly non-combustible material"

197:

Off-topic but the original more-relevant thread is old now. Re-reading Labyrinth Index (a delight again). Bumping against the explicit statements that Cthulhu et al are explicitly previous rulers of this plane/planet. So: who put Cthulhu to sleep, and how? If I missed this or there's an explicit disclaimer regarding backstory some place, someone please point me? Thanks :).

198:

Greg - toilets are not the "problem", they are the attack surface being used by US right-wing fundies against LGBT rights, via useful idiots in the UK. In France where unsegregated toilets exist, it's not an issue because everyone minds their own business and assault is, as OGH says, already a criminal offence.

The TERFs have a demand, for "women's sex-based rights", which is another confusion tactic - sex discrimination is already legislated against, the Equality act already has text which has been used for the last decade to cover instances such as medical treatment and shelters, gender-appropriate medical treatment, maternity provisions, abortion rights, bodily autonomy, they are oddly quiet on.

The only "sex-based" right they are looking for is the privilege of excluding trans women from being regarded as women. This is usually justified by saying that men assault women. 1 - trans women aren't men. 2 - trans women are more often assaulted by men than cis women. 3 - Posy Parker just went on record on YouTube asking for men to carry guns into women's toilets, posing a direct threat to all women.

TERFs are more of a threat to women's rights than trans women will ever be, and their mobilisation of assault victims' fears and uncertainties in support of their bigotry is atrocious.

199:

let me clarify #2 before someone objects - the percentage of trans women who are assaulted by men is higher than that of cis women. The absolute number of attacks on cis women by men is of course higher and women's fear of assault - all women, I don't exclude myself - is justified.

200:

If you think that sort of government bullying and censorship of academia no longer goes on, what will you give me for Brooklyn bridge?

Yes, I retired a few years now, and hadn't been close to the most-targetted areas for some time before that, but I did and do have friends in them. Remember that it's not just the politicians but the mandarins and what might be called the wider government (i.e. the oligarchs and multinationals that manipulate it). Furthermore, LSE is very heavily dependent on government-controlled income, and very little comes from private research grants, unlike (to take the most extreme example) Cambridge. No, it dare not antagonise the government too badly.

https://info.lse.ac.uk/staff/divisions/Finance-Division/Annual-Accounts
https://www.cam.ac.uk/about-the-university/annual-reports

If you are saying that LSE has degenerated so badly that it no longer adheres to the procedures of a respectable academic organisation, I would hope that you have solid grounds for doing so. If I were connected to LSE, I would find that offensive. As I said, I could check up, but am pretty sure that it is not the case.

As far as the SNP goes, one reason that I was grateful for you for a reference to the National was for trying to find out what on earth the SNP were actually proposing for what to do to resolve the economic conundrum after Indyref2 succeeds. Other than to do something almost, but not quite, entirely unlike Westminster and Whitehall, I am at a loss. No, relaxing immigration and the various other statements of intent are NOT answers, though they would be (small) components of one.

201:

Elderly Cynic @ 200

That was always a problem with the Parti Québécoia and the Bloc Québécois. What do we do after we've won the referendum? Yes, we rush to New York, New York to get a seat at the United Nations. But apart from that?

202:

Thanks. It seems that the direct requirement was burnt during Cameron's bonfire of regulations, so it would only be the 'approved person' and similar bureaucracy.

203:

Imagine that sex was computerized. Everyone would come equipped with male ports and female ports. Dysphoria is what happens when you have male ports, but the installed software and firmware is built to support female ports. Or if you're female, with software and firmware built to support male ports.

So you know something is wrong. Your brain is telling you that you should have port-type X, but you look between your legs (or use other senses) and see that you have port type Y. You also notice that your social roles are wrongly cast; you should be caucusing with women, but you're forced to caucus with men, or vice versa. And so forth. There's some pretty good science about all this, but studies have been very sparse. The wikipedia article gives a good summary of the various suspected causes:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Causes_of_transsexuality

Unfortunately, being biological entities, we can't change our software/firmware easily, as it's buried pretty deep in biological brain structures, and possibly multiple structures. The technology to do this simply does not exist. Our best current answer is to adjust the body/social lives of people who have this problem in order to avoid such issues as suicide, depression, etc.

The problem with both TERFs and whackjob religionists is that they are both in complete denial of the science that's been done, and they refuse to accept its consequences.

204:

Let me speak from personal knowledge: I directly know, or knew, about four trans people. One, when I was young, was a gay guy who was one of the early trans becoming female. I hadn't seen him in years when another friend showed up at a party (late seventies) with the now-her as his date.

Two friends, close to my age (one a few years younger, one a year or two older), both are in-process male-to-female. The one that's maybe older is still interested IN WOMEN, not guys. Haven't spoken with the other about her interests.

Finally, I know a late-teen who's been working to trans, male-to-female, for a few years. Now that she's 18, she can start the actual medical transition. We're not quite sure which interests her.

205:

What you're describing is what I always thought that the Gay persons had.

Now it turns out that Gay persons have no problems?

That doesn't make sense, because Gay persons are persecuted and they have lots of problems related to sex.

206:

Heh, heh, heh. Troutwaxer, being a beta reader for me, has seen some of my yet-to-be-published shorts where, a thousand years from now, there are geneengineered lines of humans, not a lot of them, but they're sexually dimorphic. That is, over the course of a few hours, they can at will transition between sexes, or stop in the middle.

Unpleasant surprise for an attacker if they've partly transitioned, and look more-or-less female... with male upper body strength.

207:

I didn't say that Gay people had no problems, or that their same-sex attractions are not rooted in biology.

All forms of romance/sexuality are super-complex subjects. Genetics are involved. Biology is involved. Brain-structure, brain-chemistry and psychology are involved. Our social structures are involved, which means that homosexuality and tran-sexuality get tied up in how any given society interprets masculinity or femininity. You can't think about any of this intelligently using any kind of simple paradigm.

208:

Gendered toilets and their restrictions have been used as an attack surface by bigots of all sides as far back as I can remember. I have been at work meetings where the one thing the male chauvinists and similar feminists had in common was that they used offensive 'reasons' (*) that the other gender shouldn't be allowed to use 'their' toilets, even when the correct gender ones were out of order.

(*) Many of those would now be dismissal offences, but the laws were different then.

209:

Elaine
Posy Parker just went on record on YouTube asking for men to carry guns into women's toilets, posing a direct threat to all women.
From that, I assume you are in the USA & that y'all fucking bonkers ...
"Carrying guns" ??? Shudder, no thanks.
OOPS!
WORNG ... I just looked up "Posy Parker" - truly insane & dangerous with it & ... here.
Sorry.

Niala
And ... in the case you mentioned, the "Native Amerind" peoples inside Quebec ( "First Nations", yes? )
Publicly stated, that if the PQ/BQ won, they would, themselves, immediately secede from it. Which caused immediate, predictable & disgraceful racist ourbursts from PQ/BQ.
AIUI, if the SNP get away with their trick, Orkney & Shetland intend to "take off" as well, claiming that it's THEIR OIL anyway!
Much fun for all the watchers, no popcorn required.

Troutwaxer
TERFs and whackjob religionists
You mean there is NOT a 100% overlap?

Niala
Religious fuckwits will persecute ANYONE AT ALL who does not fit their very narrow models for what people should be like, according to what their BigSkyFairy appears to say.

whitroth
As fast as that?
In "The Culture" TM switching/transitioning took some months, but was regarded as normal - if only as education, AIUI.

210:

Now it turns out that Gay persons have no problems?

I think it's fair to say that being gay is not, in itself, a problem, either for the gay person themselves, or for those who accept it.

211:

Greg Tingey @ 209: "And ... in the case you mentioned, the "Native Amerind" peoples inside Quebec ( "First Nations", yes? )"

Yes, the First Nations of Canada also exist in Québec. However, the term First Nations (of Canada) excludes the Inuit, so we tend to use the term "Indigenous Peoples" when we want to be inclusive.

Some of the First Nations (not all) went to the United Nations to complain about Québec. Most of the First Nations never talked about seceding from Québec since they are already nations (First Nations, get it?) and a Québec referendum would mean Québec seceded from them.

But First Nations stopped going to the United Nations when they realized that their arguments (about ecology, development etc.) also worked against their allies in Ottawa and elsewhere.

And after that the "allies" in Ottawa turned against them by refusing to sign UNDRIP, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The show goes on, and there is no popcorn required, as you have noted.

212:

The most *reasonable* toilet facilities I've seen (other than at events that are clothing optional, and anyone uses any bathroom) were at a kink club. As you walk into the bathroom, there was a sign, urinals to the right, stalls to the left.

213:

Remember that it's not just the politicians but the mandarins and what might be called the wider government (i.e. the oligarchs and multinationals that manipulate it).

Ontario, not the UK, but an example:

https://www.thestar.com/opinion/star-columnists/2021/02/02/doug-ford-vs-the-outspoken-critical-care-doctor-which-side-is-believable.html

TLDR: Critical care doctor who has been critical of the Ontario government's COVID response has been let go. Government claims they did not ask for his sacking. He claims he was told he was let go because his comments could negatively impact hospital funding.

My take: I would wager a lot that he was told what he says he was told: "Fallis [the doctor] was specifically told by Osler vice-president Dr. Rardi Van Heest, who was there with chief of staff Dr. Frank Martino, that 'some of your remarks have been misconstrued as being harmful to the government so our funding can be put at risk.'"

Did someone in the government actually tell the hospital to get rid of him? Maybe — Ford has form for being a bully and personally calling people out when they disagree with him. More likely, quiet hints were dropped in personal conversations — and the current government has a record of using funding to reward support and punish dissent.


So would (some of) those who run the LSE be aware that publishing research supporting a particular viewpoint would likely have an effect on future finding, and would they bow to such unspoken pressure?

214:

About my dimorphs: I have *not* dealt with reproduction in my stories, and not really interested in doing so. They tend to look androgynous, and as female, relatively small breasts. In addition, I understand that dolphins, for example, have conscious control of the sex organs (at least for the males, so I assume females as well), and for my dimorphs, it's a muscular contraction to pull in, or push out. Also, related control engougres the blood vessels in the upper body, strengthening either the arm muscles or the chest front muscles.

And that's as far as I've thought about them, even though I have one as a co-protagonist in several stories.

215:

That was always a problem with the Parti Québécoia and the Bloc Québécois. What do we do after we've won the referendum?

Start justifying why the population of Northern Quebec have no right to separate by a referendum of their own, for starters. Unless things have changed a lot since the last go-round, the Inuit and Indigenous want to be part of Canada, not part of a sovereign Quebec.

216:

Oh, absolutely, but the SOP is to stay away from the topic entirely. There are certain topics that effectively aren't published because the government has made it clear it will take revenge. One is that the main cause of crime in the UK is the policies causing deprivation - that's been known for MANY decades.

217:
Start justifying why the population of Northern Quebec have no right to separate by a referendum of their own, for starters. Unless things have changed a lot since the last go-round, the Inuit and Indigenous want to be part of Canada, not part of a sovereign Quebec.

This is a problem that separatist movements always face, if successful. There are always people in the new country who are not happy with the new state. (See, for example, West Virginia.)

If you drive from Quebec to Ontario, you'll go through a town where everyone speaks French, then one where everyone speaks English, then another where everyone speaks French, then another where everyone speaks English, and so on through multiple iterations. There is no place you can put a border that will make everyone happy.

218:

Robert Prior @ 215

Hey, I think that the Parti Québécois and the Bloc Québécois (and Québec Solidaire, which I forgot because it is so small) are all waiting for Scotland to leave the UK so that they can use it as another precedent for leaving in one solid block, without any carving out of parts of Québec by miscontents.

Since the PQ started they've always used legal precedents in the formation of new nations (mostly in Africa) since 1945, to justify the creation of a single undivisible Québec. In most of these cases the new country was created by following the former colonial boundaries.

Of course, there would be some room to negotiate so that Québec could eventually acquire Labrador, which was unjustly seized by Ottawa.

219:

Greg,
No, I'm in the UK and yes, PP is a local nutjob, embarrassingly violent even for the US sponsors she courts.

Also, in theory TERFs and right-wing religionists don't have a lot of principles in common - the F stands for 'feminist' after all. However, several 60s - 70s TERF founders were strongly religious - the author of The Transsexual Empire was an ex-Catholic nun for example - and the authoritarian is strong in them, along with perhaps a streak of body horror and fear of anything that smacks of physicality.

Niala,
Gay people are persecuted for who they are attracted to, which doesn't fit into bigots' socially-accepted norms. Trans people are persecuted for not accepting who they are told to be, which likewise doesn't fit with people who enforce rules. Both groups can be harassed for how they dress, breaking with gender stereotypes, and trans people can also be gay.

re. orientation - I became a little bit bi with hormone treatment and transition or it uncovered suppressed bisexuality. But I remain mostly attracted to women so if you were fixated on labels you might want to call me lesbian. TERF lesbians would fight you on that, though. For me, I think once you start messing with labels as fundamental as male and female, the rest don't really matter so I describe myself as queer.

220:

the LSE be aware that publishing research supporting a particular viewpoint would likely have an effect on future finding

It's generally less about the academic side and more about the political. The assumptions LSE used are public, and as noted they are designed to get a particular outcome. That's common in economics, as with any religion - most papers by Catholic academics assume that their god exists (as one example).

Where it gets tricky is the political distance between LSE and whoever uses their paper as a bludgeon. Since the LSE is London based and likely doesn't get much funding from pro-Scotland sources, the risk to them from being seen as English bigots doing the will of the Conservative Party is low.

Were it the other way round I would be much more inclined to take the study seriously - the LSE publishing something showing that Scotland would be much better off without the UK would be surprisingly, and could easily put their funding at risk.

221:
BTW - I think Nortel was also 'oversold' shortly before its collapse.

Per most of the ex-Nortel folks around here (over 10K of them at one time) Nortel was on life support waiting for someone to pull the plug . . .

I had the unpleasant experience with working at the R&D arm of Nortel. At my going-away lunch, I freely said I was the first rat off the sinking ship, which most there thought was too pessimistic.

When things finally collapsed locally, one of the last long-term employees calculated that if he took all the money he'd put into the ESOP and bought beer instead, the deposit on the cans was worth more than the stock.

222:

Also not practical for much of the year in Toronto or further north, unless you are willing to spend a lot on climate conditioning, both heating and cooling.

Ditto central North Carolina. Jan/Feb temps are around or below freezing many nights. And many of those times it isn't much above during the day. And at times below. And the months on either side are not exactly shirtsleeve weather. Then we head to June through August (and some years more) when working in an unconditioned space would resemble more of a sweat lodge environment.

I suspect this is more a way get around building codes. At least in the US. If you put up a shed here you can build up to 10'x10' without code approval. And if you run power to it and don't tell anyone there are no electrical cops out looking for you. Now per the code it is NOT to be inhabited but unless you neighbor complains no one will notice till you burn it down with your bad wiring job.

Neighbors calling the code enforcement department on each other is a really bad idea as it can escalate quickly as you can almost always fine SOME violation of property / building codes.

223:

Rather worse, the experience of being left-handed is not the inverse of being right-handed. Right-handers grow up in a world that's made for them, because all sorts of things are biased towards right handed use simply because that's what 90% of the population does.

My way to point this out is to ask someone who is right handed to pick up a pair of scissors in their left hand and try and use them. Very few are designed to allow your fingers to fit from the "wrong" hand.

224:

Cheap scissors are often fine, it's the nicer ones that can be hard to find. Sewing scissors especially, $40 got me a nice pair of right handed ones but the left handed equivalent from the same brand was over $100 and special order. Fortunately for me, unfortunately for the strongly left handed, I'm mostly right handed and insofar as I can cut along the lines at all I'm not noticeably worse with my right hand.

225:

There is no place you can put a border that will make everyone happy.

Sounds like Europe between Kiev and Paris. Especially from 1850 to 1950.

See also Yugoslavia, Greece, etc...

226:

Anything left-handed tends to be more expensive. I just got a left-handed ergonomic mouse that was 20% more than the RH model. This is yet another reason why lefties tend to be more ambisinistrous.*

With regards to scissors, I use them with both hands. Regardless of the handle shape. And I have big hands.

The thing that annoys me (just to fly my nerd flag) are weapons. Guns will throw empty casings into your face if your fire them left-handed, or gouge your hand with a bit of the bolt that would miss a rightie. And don't get me into the guards on European swords. It's annoyingly hard to find ones that are symmetrical, let alone left-handed. And I've only met one tai chi teacher who was cool with doing the set left-handed as well as right-handed.

*If you think about it, this is the proper word. Ambidextrous means you have two right hands. However, left-handed people tend to be more ambidextrous than right-handers. Therefore, they should use the term "ambisinistrous," having two left hands, because we're not doubly off-handed, except in talking about it. But ambisinistrous is not a word in English. Just another bit of the discrimination stew that is the joy of civilization, and far from the worst of it at that.

227:

Speaking of flying one's nerd flag, check out https://www.vice.com/en/article/4adpv9/us-navy-has-patents-on-tech-it-says-will-engineer-the-fabric-of-reality, which references these patents.

Anyway, herein is your next dose of pocket fusion, an emdrive, high temperature superconductors, and more. All invented by some mad genius employed by the US government.

My first guess is that Mr. Pais might work for a strategic deception element within the Department of Defense. My second guess is that these are pre-emptive patents in case someone actually invents one in the next few years. But won't it be interesting if these turn out to be true?

The sad part is, with QAnon-like reality free thinking rampant long enough to be calling their physicians about how long their rampantness is lasting, it's trickier to introduce these into science fiction stories where they belong. Some special snowflake will think you're being truthy and that will cause problems. Back in the 1950s, stuff like this spawned generations of classic SF stories.

Still, have fun with this.

228:
The thing that annoys me (just to fly my nerd flag) are weapons. Guns will throw empty casings into your face if your fire them left-handed, or gouge your hand with a bit of the bolt that would miss a rightie. And don't get me into the guards on European swords.

May I point out that it is possible to be a hard-core nerd, and yet not be obsessed with firearms and edged weapons.

229:

Of the three authors only one is faculty at LSE. The others are a doctoral candidate at same and an assistant professor in HK, all three are research associates at an LSE research center.

230:

May I point out that it is possible to be a hard-core nerd, and yet not be obsessed with firearms and edged weapons.

Completely agreed. I didn't mean to imply otherwise.

231:

I'm right handed. But ever since I first had repetitive strain injury I've alternated between right and left hands for using a mouse. It took about half an hour for it to seem natural. So I want a mouse to be symmetrical.

232:

one of the last long-term employees calculated that if he took all the money he'd put into the ESOP and bought beer instead, the deposit on the cans was worth more than the stock

One of my friends was lucky enough to be downsized before then end, so he was forced to cash out his stock plan* before the end. So he sold his Nortel shares at, not peak, but a long way from the bottom.

*The Nortel plan gave you 50% of what you invested, with a vesting period of two years.

233:

My way to point this out is to ask someone who is right handed to pick up a pair of scissors in their left hand and try and use them.

To do that properly you need left-handed scissors, so that the normal action of closing your hand presses the blades into each other rather than separating them.

When I was in primary school (grade 1 or 2, I think) my classroom had a box of scissors — all left-handed. It was easier to use them with the left hand than to try to move your right hand so the blades cut the paper rather than just gripping/tearing it.

234:

And don't get me into the guards on European swords.

Fencing foils come with either left- or right-handed handles. Not certain about epees or sabres, as I never sold those.

235:

I had a left-handed epee and I still have my left-handed saber. What I'm talking about are things like rapiers and broadswords, the weapons of a more civilized age, if you believe the hype.

236:

It is also possible to know something about guns and shoot, without having the slightest interest in military gizmos or using them to kill people.

237:

H
I am just about right-handed for most things, though I could write LH once upon a day.
However, as a result of doing Archery at Uni & a little bit since, I'm left handed with a sword & the only times I've used a (target) pistol, I got better results LH.
Rifle - also a very long time ago, I'm RH
Se also ...
Rbt Prior ...
Sabres have a central guard ( or mind=e does ) & are therefore ambidextrous - as stated mine is anyway, which is just as well, as I fence much better LH than RH. And, yes, I have done the "Princess Bride" bit & swapped hands in mid-bout, though this was RH-to-LH. ( Yes, were were showing off, why did you ask? )
Computer mouse, well .... I use my mouse LH, but with the buttons still set for RH use - work that one out for yourself!

238:

My daughter's got a left handed longsword, and there are historical examples. Also, we have ambidextrous basket hilt broadswords. And earlier hilts are not handed.

Admittedly the mass produced cheaper swords are all right handed, but any decent swordsmith should be happy to make a left handed one.

239:

Elderly Cynic @ 236

Yes, I must have spent about 40 years reading about firearms in military history books without ever touching one. Then, one day, I joined a shooting club (they provided the automatic pistols) and learned how to shoot, out of curiosity.

After a few months I left the club because shooting was too noisy for my ears.

240:

About gay people are persecuted... there's also the "oh, I wouldn't ever want to do that" (which falls under the heading that I see frequently on fark.com "how dare you like something I don't".

And then there's the percentage that it terrifies... because they repress, extremely, the fear that they might be.

[rolls eyes[. Every mammal, at least, is bi. (I just never met the right guy at the right time.)

241:

RE: Charlie's comments on Independent article.
I gave the article a quick once over and it has that smell of the smug bullshit that the Economist would do about any country that elected a vaguely leftwing government. (Their predictions were almost never right.) It takes one very narrow aspect of independence that has a downside and assumes that's the entirety of the situation.

My prediction is that if Scotland becomes independent and adopts sane economic and smart immigration policies its main problems will be caused by growth.

Two main reasons:
i) Scotland will employ a stimulus to counteract the bumpy bits of separation, and
ii) Once Scotland joins the EU, a large number of English firms will at least establish a presence north of the border if not move there, so as to have their toe in the EU. They will be able to export from Scotland to EU without going through customs, and their presence in Scotland will allow them to qualify for EU programs. This will be particularly true if Scotland has an easy immigration program for English. A company will be able to bring up its valuable employees with it, and they will be comfortable moving to a country with a similar culture that speaks English--well sort of.

I took an interest in Scottish history as Scotland is unique in that it voluntarily joined the British Empire. Most countries had to be dragged into it kicking and screaming. Why was this? Well after the Darien expedition debacle (1699) Scotland realized it wasn't going to make it on its own as a colonial empire. But if Scotland became part of Britain, Scottish business would have access to the entire British empire. Scotland was a poor country, and Scotts figured the trade-off was worth it.

If Scotland leaves Britain and joins the EU, it will be for very similar reasons to the ones it joined Britain in the first place.

242:

Re small buildings in cold areas.

https://pacificdomes.com/dome-uses/winter-resorts/

Or

https://icewall.com.au/

They're possible.

Also Google vacuum insulated panels. An R value over 7 for a 50mm thick panel is typical. A cube 3 m on a side has an area of 54 square metres. If my maths is correct, (which it's probably not, I find R value confusing) body heat alone would hold the temp 7 or 8 degrees above ambient. A 1000W fan heater would hold about 200 degrees above ambient. So unless you're wading through nitrogen snow to get there, it shouldn't be that hard to heat.

Obviously some extra for ventilation, but there's always heat exchangers.

243:

In many places those would get bylaw enforcement after you, even unheated.

And for the original purpose of having an office with fewer distractions, the garden is the wrong place for one in my neighbourhood in the summer. Unless you consider screaming children*, bandsaws**, and the neighbour two doors down conducting business calls on speakerphone** as being 'not distracting' for you or the rest of your telemeeting…


*Literally. One girl just stands and screams, or runs in circles screaming. Her daycare minder just ignores her.

**Chap across the street uses his garage as a woodshop. Power machinery running all day and into the night when he's on a project — and the door is always open when he works.

**Seriously. He sits on his deck and makes calls much of the day, holding his cell phone in front of his face like a Star Trek communicator. AND HE HAS TO TALK REALLY LOUD THIS WAY SO THE OTHER PERSON DOESN'T INTERRUPT HIM SO HE DOES.

244:

Well, as others have said, if you're going to have a garden shed, that's predicated on having a garden and being allowed to put a shed in it. (or in the case of the pacific domes, a tent.

In some places asking the local authority for permission to put up a tent will get you a puzzled look, which may be "why would you need to ask" (see also half a bee licences) or "why would you think you'd ever get our permission?"

245:

I've got a shed. If I put up something that looked more habitable (windows etc) I'd need a variance.

And I'd definitely need to be legal, because one of my neighbours has no hesitation in calling bylaw enforcement if he thinks you've broken a bylaw.

246:

Domes are a PITA to occupy, they're more of a last ditch "nothing else will work" solution.

My shedroom is 75mm EPS/steel "coolstore panels" from the cheapest supplier I could fine. I just rocked up, tried to set fire to a sample, failed, went "those will do" and took a pile home. A carefully planned pile. The windows were what cost money, because building windows that open is hard, so I bought cheap ones... $1500 for a 600x600 top hinged one and a 1200x600 slider. About $5000 all up including the big circular saw to cut 75mm panels in one go (you could use any saw, that just made it easier rather than flipping the panel every time). There was a couple of hundred dollars for the timber ring beam and some plywood flooring, and a couple of weeks of "holiday" while I built it. It's almost airtight (I have added a fan with filter sucking air in).

That is not quite "anyone can do it", but I went from making a chicken hutch to a Moz hutch in one step. Getting some local handyperson to do it would probably not be too expensive, should be less than two weeks full time wages, especially if it's not 45 degrees during the day while you're building (this may not be difficult to do in the UK).

But yep, it's all about having the garden and being able to do it without death by paperwork. Lots of people don't have enough space for the chicken coop, let alone the artist's gazebo...

247:

Around here, in warmer weather, it would be the *constant*, at least every morning, lawn care companies mowing peoples' grass....

I might also have issues, because my county is *really* hot on permits.... I'm wondering if someone's going to call me in if I extend my patio about 4' out so I can cover and screen in a small hot tub.

248:

My rapier is right-handed, though when I was training we'd drill both hands (you do a sequence of the drill moves, then swap hands and do them again). You can *hold* many basket-hilted swords in the wrong hand, you just might not choose to fight that way. ISTR we did some basic sparring that way, but stylised with restricted tempo and techniques.

My longsword, which is a light two-hander, is ambidextrous, it just has a plain cross guard. The same was true for most of the sideswords. That's a literal translation because there isn't a generally satisfactory English translation for 'spado di lato', the more-or-less standard personal sidearm sword carried in Europe by those who resisted the rapier craze. The English *had* them, but they just called them 'swords', which doesn't help much for disambiguation today. N.B. the English sword schools thought of rapiers as ineffective and/or effeminate, and also too deadly and/or dangerous to be allowed to be carried by workaday sword users, both at the same time. Which has a really familiar ring to it in some ways.

249:

"Domes are a PITA to occupy"

I'm not wedded to domes (though a friend did ask me a few years ago how I'd design a house for two in the bush, coming to an episode of Grand Designs probably 2022). I picked those in particular to preempt the usual "you antipodean convicts don't understand cold and bad weather". Given that one of them was designed specifically for Antarctica I thought I'd be safe. Like it has a door in the roof, and an optional tunnel for when the snow is more than 3m deep and it's rated for 300 km/h winds.

250:

My obsession right now is concrete/aircrete sandwich panels. Which are not a thing you can buy, but I am likely to be working with hempcrete later in the year and I am quite keen to see if it's possible to make a structural MgO wall panel with 30% of the thickness being reinforced concrete for the inner wall and structure, 60% foamed concrete, then 10 outskin of solid concrete, possibly reinforced with rockwool. The goal is something a little more resilient than aerated concrete that will shrug of small fires and at least survive big ones in some form.

I'm slowly grinding my way back into understanding the mechanical/civil engineering stuff enough to guess whether the idea is plausible and whether there's any possibility of it meeting building codes. I suspect that CaO concrete will be required to get structural sign-off, but the rest could be possum fur for all the council cares..

251:

I've got no idea. Let us all know how you get on with it!

252:

Re left handed.

The thing that I find most mysterious, is the lack of left handed cameras. No single camera model seems to capture anything like 10% of the market, or for many makers, even 10% of their sales, but whoever makes a left handed camera will just about do that.

253:

Status report on my novel: I just got the contract this evening. That was followed by me sending an email to a well-known agent I know, to ask him if he or an associate would represent me.

YEE-HA!

254:

No single camera model seems to capture anything like 10% of the market, or for many makers, even 10% of their sales, but whoever makes a left handed camera will just about do that.

I do not own a camera better than my phone but my friends who have semi-pro cameras picked a brand a long time ago. And now have a collection of lenses. To switch brands means starting over with that investment in lenses and most are very reluctant to do that. Especially now that so many just did that in the switch from mirrored to mirrorless units.

Anyway the appeal of a left handed back would have to outweigh the inertia of the existing collection of lenses.

255:

You'll note that there are approximately infinity billion different camera models, and people who care about that stuff are pretty picky about exactly what features they want. So it's not a matter of slapping a left hand button layout on Generic Camera #5 and now you have 10% of the market, it's more like working out which of the more popular models you make might sell enough extra units to justify the tooling cost, let alone the extra assembly cost and stocking hassles and all the rest.

Stuff like scissors are much more affordable, even the high quality ones are 10c of steel, $2 of forming, $2 of sharpening and $50 of markup... a bit different from the 18 plastic molds that make up a $1000 camera that sells 10,000 units at $5000 a throw.

The good news is that Hasselblad used to make a lot of their bits in left handed models, so you could go a vintage Hass body with a modern digital back and get the best of all possible worlds.

256:

Dave Moore
Maybe
But the arguments against Scottish full independence are exactly the same ones as against Britain leaving the EU.
Oh & import/export through Scotland to the EU for English firms?
Given the utter fuck-up in Ireland at the moment, do we think that's going to work well?
Get a 1:50 000 map & look at where the border actually goes - & you are going to police every metre of that - really - without almost-instant armed rebellion?
[ See also the classic G Mac Fraser book: "The Steel Bonnets" ]

No
Tonga voluntarily joined the Empire - if only to keep the USA away!

257:

Heteromeles @ 226:

Therefore, they should use the term "ambisinistrous," having two left hands, because we're not doubly off-handed, except in talking about it. But ambisinistrous is not a word in English. Just another bit of the discrimination stew that is the joy of civilization, and far from the worst of it at that.

Actually "ambisinistrous" and "ambisinister" are both English words going back over 100 years. Unfortunately they both mean "two left hands", or in other words just as clumsy with the right hand as most people are with the left.

I first encountered "ambisinister" in one of PTerry Pratchett's books (can't recall exactly which one now), where it was used to describe a particularly clumsy young man.

258:

Still, if someone brought out a left-handed body that natively accepted, say, micro-four-thirds, there's an existing market (especially since Olympus is cutting its camera business loose) albeit a tight one. Same goes for the various canikon formats really, and there are full electronic lens adaptors around... a canny manufacturer could really make the mount itself a last-to-fit part and hedge their bets a lot (allowing for sensor size constraints of course).

The old medium and larger format worlds got there first, I guess. You used the word "back" to describe a body, but there used to be, sort of universally, and still are in the medium format world, interchangeable backs for given bodies. By which you could use different sized films, originally, but you could get digital backs for originally film bodies. Of course in-body stabilisation works by moving the sensor, which means a lot of the cleverness is in the bit that houses it and it's hard to see that being an interchangeable part, at least at the moment, since it's the major value-add of a particular technology. Still, given time... fully modular systems that cross sensor and lens format boundaries are possible, the question is whether they'd make a profit.

259:

Found it. .

'Ah,' said Didactylos. 'Ambi-sinister?' 'What?' 'He means incompetent with both hands,' said Om.

260:

Yeah it was Hasselblad I had in mind talking about backs.

261:

I'm left-handed with a mouse (I broke my right collarbone). The mouse stays in the right-handed config.

262:

I'm going with the strategic deception, personally. The idea that USN built working prototypes, the existence of which is proved *only* by an email chain, doesn't discourage that belief at all.

263:

Scissors and cameras and guns and shit...

A lot of people go on about some problem with using scissors. I don't get it. I just pick them up and use them, and they work. (I also don't really want to get it, in case someone did explain it to me well enough for me to actually experience it and then I found I couldn't use scissors any more.)

When I was tiny and learning how to use any kind of scissors, they basically came in two types:

1) Kiddy scissors, the kind they give you when you first go to school. The pivot in the middle is so badly made that you'd do just as well with a rubber band to hold them together instead, and the blades are deliberately made blunt so you don't cut yourself. Which of course also means they won't cut anything else either, and it's basically a waste of metal manufacturing them in the first place.
2) Adult scissors, which are fucking huge giant clumsy things; all four of my tiny fingers go through the small finger loop, and goodness knows what to do about the large one, except that it's not "other hand" because that's no good at all. But they are properly made and properly sharpened and once I can manage to make them work at all they cut things cleanly and effectively in a most revelatory manner.

I suspect that what happened as I grew larger was that I simply kept making incremental evolutionary adjustments to the source of adult_scissors.ko until, as things which evolve tend to do, it ended up operating in a conceptual space all of its very own into which things like "scissors being hard for left-handed people" just aren't able to make sense, even if from outside that space it looks as if they would have to.

That canonical example disposed of, I mostly don't find much problem with things not being designed for left-handed use. Calipers (the measuring-stick things) are a nuisance because when you use them left-handed the numbers are upside down. Mice are fine, because they are symmetrical, and I have never understood the point of wanting to swap the buttons round; I mostly use them left handed, but sometimes right, without changing the buttons, and using the same button arrangement I learned before you got the option to change it. I prefer trackballs, though, and they are uncool because they are all, these days, some weird-arsed shape that only fits the right hand; so what I have ended up with is the body and buttons of the symmetrical but mechanical one I got hold of yonks ago, with the ball and pickup out of a more recent one that happened to use the same diameter ball hacked into it. (This means the buttons come over the PS/2 interface and the ball comes over USB; X doesn't seem to care.)

What is a real pain in the arse is things that are only made to be used with the right eye. Mine doesn't work. (I am told that when I was small enough that visual coordination hadn't really started to come into things yet, I acted right-handed, but then switched to left as the eyes began to come properly on line.)

So I find guns do indeed behave as Heteromeles describes, but I don't even have the option of trying to use them on the other side. But that was only ever a consideration for about 1 hour 40 years ago, and I can't see it ever becoming one again. In any case I believe the standard British army rifle these days can be swapped over; they've finally cottoned on.

Where it does really piss me off is with my camera, because it has several buttons on the back for doing useful things like freezing the reading of the exposure or focus measuring devices on one part of the frame and then shooting the whole scene with those settings. I basically can't use them because my face is in the way. If I put my right eye to the viewfinder then they would stick out the side and be accessible, but using my left eye I need tentacles on my nose.

Heteromeles/words: the trouble with those words is that it is not a coincidence that "sinister" means spooky and threatening and stuff. It's the same word. People used to think there was a real association.

264:

Yeah, that's exactly what I meant about cameras.

I also don't see why you couldn't fit the existing glass. Operating a lens with your right hand should be the same as far as I can tell. The numbers are on top and the controls go all the way around except for the manual focus/auto focus switch and the IS mode switch. But they're not things you switch on the fly anyway.

265:

"vacuum insulated panels"

Better than that would be to get this flexible sheet aerogel stuff you can get these days, because you can cut it and bend it and knock nails in it and so on without breaking it. I looked it up in the context of lining a hot air balloon to keep the heat in (since it has about the density of air, it is quite usable for this). I don't know what the fuck an "R value" is but I had been told that in proper units some variety a few millimetres thick had a thermal conductivity of 0.044W/(m2.K), and I found that you could get better than that now.

266:

I think the lens problem people are bringing up is to do with trying to solve the difficulty by choosing a different camera from what is available now, so you are limited to what you can find with a compatible mount. Certainly I agree that if you could simply buy model X in both left and right handed versions to begin with, then it shouldn't be any problem to use the same lenses with either. It's not the lens that causes difficulty with mine, it's the buttons on the back. I can do the necessary with the lens just fine.

267:

Scissors and cameras and brains...

The most fascinating question about handedness, I think, is how it interacts with brain lateralization, i.e., the specialization of the left and right cerebral hemispheres for different functions. There is so much woo about this in the popular press, you could be forgiven for thinking it's all pseudoscience. However, it is a real phenomenon. The clearest case is for language production and processing, Broca's and Wernicke's areas, which are on the left side of the brain.

Note, they are on the left side of the brain BY DEFINITION -- I do not mean to imply that the equivalent language processing functions are always on the left (although they usually are). There is a correlation with handedness, but it is not strict. I heard a lecture by a neurologist some years ago in which she stated that in right-handed people, the functions we associate with left-brain (including language) are on the left nearly 100% of the time, whereas in left-handed people, they are on the left about 50% of the time. (The way she described this was revealing. She was talking about a patient she had had who had a right-brain stroke. She described him as "goofy", and said this at first surprised her, because usually that kind of goofiness comes with left-brain strokes. But then she found out that he was left-handed, so the mystery of the misplaced goofiness was solved.)

I don't believe her numbers, but the difference in symmetry is real: in most right-handed humans, language lives on the side of the brain opposite the dominant hand, while in many left-handers, language lives on the same side as the dominant hand. (Here's a study confirming that in a smallish sample and giving numbers.)

I wonder two things about this. First, does this differing correlation of lateralization have functional consequences? Second, is it a fundamental of human brain development, or is it a consequence of the way that, as pointed out above, left-handed people have been and still are forced into functional right-handedness?

268:

"Religious fuckwits will persecute ANYONE AT ALL who does not fit their very narrow models for what people should be like, according to what their BigSkyFairy appears to say."

More useful to state the general case:

"Fuckwits will persecute ANYONE AT ALL who does not fit their very narrow models for what people should be like, according to what their personal prejudice.conf appears to say."

It is true that some of them will use religion as their excuse, but it's not at all necessary; those who aren't into religion are quite happy to make up some other excuse or just not bother needing an excuse at all.

The way I see the whole trans thing is: I really don't get it; I don't understand at all how people even can feel like that. Nevertheless it is obvious that some people do, and it is a big enough deal for them that they think it's worth going through years of outrageously heavy hassle trying to do something about it. It is also obvious that it is a personal matter, and no skin off anyone else's nose. And I think it is very important that people should not be discriminated against for anything they do with themselves personally that is nothing to do with anyone else. Whether they want to not wear a tie because it is uncomfortable or to reshape their body because it is uncomfortable, it's the same thing; none of the obvious differences between those examples count, because the overriding factor is that it's none of anyone else's business to have a go at them about it. And people who feel inclined to have a go need to recognise that they are being just as unreasonable as it would be for some random stranger to come up and try and force them to reshape their own body because the stranger didn't like the one they had.

The toilets thing is just really fucking stupid. Their position boils down to that if trans people can be straightforwardly accepted as what they say they are without the law fucking them about, then men will be able to dress up as women and go into women's toilets to rape people, and when caught, say "I am a woman" and so get away with it. Mostly they avoid stating it that bluntly because in that form it is too obvious that it makes no sense.

269:

All you need really is a bush. You can stand behind it or you can squat behind it, it's up to you.

270:

That's just building regs; the other half of it is planning permission. Which I have no idea about, and never have, because it's never been personally relevant.

In practice, people just seem to go ahead anyway. There seems to have been a minor outbreak of people thinking "it's nice weather and I'm stuck at home because of the plague and I've got nothing to do, I think I'll build a big shed". Some of them have been quite palatial, and none of them have had long enough between the impulse and the action to have done all the regulatory dance and shit. One chap has basically filled his entire back garden with wood, half in the form of a shed and half as a wooden platform in front of it. He cocked up the measurements so the eaves of the shed are overhanging the fence into his neighbour's garden. Nobody seems to care.

I don't really, either; I don't see the attraction, but if they do then go for it. Planning regulations are so much arse in any case; the ordinary person can't even put up a bird box because it would be "ahead of the building line", but the big outfits just bribe the council and get allowed to do whatever they want. Where I do find a point of objection is that the usual method of addressing the problem of making it usable in the winter is to put a sodding big heater in it, with rarely even a nod to the matter of stopping the heat getting out.

271:

"Posy Parker just went on record on YouTube asking for men to carry guns into women's toilets, posing a direct threat to all women."

1) What the absolute fuck for? What is doing this even supposed to achieve? I mean I can see some potential good in getting all the men who are enough of a stupid shit to actually do it banged up, but I doubt that is the intention.

2) Why should anyone take such a looney suggestion seriously in any case, instead of just writing it off as an idiot talking arse again?

3) Putting it on youtube is certainly grounds for Posy Parker to be prosecuted, regardless of the answer to (2).

272:

He had a little drink about an hour ago, and it's gone right to his head.

273:

Yes, I sometimes wonder where I am in relation to all that. As I mentioned, I am told that when I was really small I started off right handed, then switched to left once I got to the stage where not having a right eye started to become relevant. I might be a useful data point one day if anyone ever decided to do the right sort of study.

274:

Once upon a time I worked at a company with two other technical people. I'm normally right handed but used the mouse left handed at work having stuck with it after I damaged my right wrist, although I'd gone back to using mice right handed at home to balance the wear. The other two were both left handed, one used the mouse right handed with normal buttons but the other used the mouse left handed with reversed buttons. The mouse was never in the right place on the shared machines...

275:

Hello, I'm ambidextrous!

Today, I'll be working on three computers. My left hand will be controling the mouse on the left, for input to the 30 inch screen at the back of my desk. My right hand will be controlling the mouse on the right, for input to the portable PC immediately in front of me. My right hand will also be sliding on the mouse pad on the Tablet PC to the right of me, and sometimes taking up its mouse.

I can throw, control scissors or anything else except write with my left hand. The elementary school I went to had desks that made a single block with the seat, uniting the two with a large slab under our right arm. It was open on the other side. It was impossible to write with your left hand on that piece of furniture.

276:

One very small advantage to being left handed in the US.

You are slightly more likely to make a few million or more $$$$.

Baseball teams want to have around a 50/50 mix of pitchers on staff. Since the lefties in the general population are around 10% or maybe a bit more, lefties have a slightly better chance of making the "show" as a pitcher.

Left handed hitters also are desired but not as much.

But we're talking about a small slice of 0.00001% of the population.

277:

Sounds even worse than whoever inspired Michael Nesmith's "Neighborhood Nuclear Supremacy" from"Elephant Parts". Anyone who works the "Anne Rice shift" can relate.

278:

Actually, an interesting consequence of this is that some of the best studies of handedness are done on baseball players. Baseball combines two useful features for such studies: (1) It has a long history (centuries, at this point) of keeping track of statistics, including player personal characteristics. (2) It keeps track of players' handedness, which most personal statistics collections completely ignore.

279:

Might it be possible that narrow minded fuckwits push folk who would otherwise attempt to live with what biology stuck them with into transition? And in so doing, did an unwitting kindness.

280:

While we're discussing the legalities of huts in the back garden, I thought you might find this old question from the Law Stack Exchange interesting.

https://law.stackexchange.com/questions/33409/who-owns-an-un-documented-cellar-bunker-uk-law

Its about a guy who found a bricked-up entrance in his house which led down to a big underground bunker that seemed to date from WWII, and was probably for one of the secret "Auxiliary Units" to wage war against an invading German army.

So now he has this huge undocumented basement that extends under neighbouring properties and probably has another bricked-up secret entrance from next-door-but-one. The question is, who owns it?

281:

I THINK that in general in the US in the absence of any records, his property ownership extends down vertically from the surface borders.

But if he starts using it and doesn't brick up his boundaries and his neighbors don't object (how would they know???) then they have granted him an easement to use their property to the extend it is a part of the bunker.

When the bunker starts to collapse it can get interesting.

A couple of decades back a neighbor wanted to build a fence between our yards. But there was a tree that was 95% on his property. He asked me if he could build the fence 6 inches onto my yard. So I checked it out. If I agreed I would be granting him a permanent easement and likely really piss off the people who held the title insurance on my mortgage. And also make it hard for me to sell in the future. So I let him know it was OK by me but as soon as it was built I'd send him a letter thanking him for the gift of the fence. He took down the tree and build the fence on his property.

And if you want to see some interesting low level fights between neighbors, deal with a fence ON the property line. You are both owners of it and jointly responsible for it. Then there's the case where 20 years after I moved in I discovered that the fence next on part of my side yard started on their side and ended up on mine. They got real snippy when I tried to explain the situation.

282:

"Left handed hitters also are desired but not as much."

But are the left handed hitters all natural lefties? In cricket, with which I'm much more familiar, a fairly significant number of those who bat left handed will throw or bowl the ball right handed. When asked, they almost invariably reply that they find it easier to have their dominant hand at the top of the handle. It's also something that's a lot easier to teach; I'm a dominant right hander, but I can bat either way (equally badly in both).

283:

One very small advantage to being left handed in the US.

I recall seeing some research somewhere about this kind of thing. AIUI, if you are doing manual work in cooperation with someone else then its useful for both people to have the same handedness, so if cooperation were everything then everyone would evolve to have the same handedness. Humans have settled on "right", but it could just have easily been "left".

However when you are fighting there is a big advantage in being the only person who is left handed in a right handed world, because you know exactly how to fight a right-handed person, but nobody else knows how to fight a left-handed person, never having met one before.

So this nets out as an evolutionarily stable situation with a certain proportion of lefties to righties. If the proportion of lefties drops then the advantages for lefties increase, leading to left-handed genes (there is a genetic component) being passed on and left handedness increasing. On the other hand (sorry) if the proportion of lefties grows then the advantages decrease to the point where being a leftie is a net disadvantage, so the proportion drops back.

This would also explain the generally negative view of left-handedness ("sinister" etc). A right-hander getting into a fight with a leftie will find themselves dealing with a mirror image of the moves they were expecting, and hence do much worse than they expected. Assuming they live, their response will be more along the lines of "sneaky underhanded trick" than "OK, I lost fair and square".

284:
So this nets out as an evolutionarily stable situation with a certain proportion of lefties to righties. If the proportion of lefties drops then the advantages for lefties increase, leading to left-handed genes (there is a genetic component) being passed on and left handedness increasing. On the other hand (sorry) if the proportion of lefties grows then the advantages decrease to the point where being a leftie is a net disadvantage, so the proportion drops back.

Maintenance of handedness polymorphism in humans: a frequency-dependent selection model

This would also explain the generally negative view of left-handedness ("sinister" etc). A right-hander getting into a fight with a leftie will find themselves dealing with a mirror image of the moves they were expecting, and hence do much worse than they expected. Assuming they live, their response will be more along the lines of "sneaky underhanded trick" than "OK, I lost fair and square".

I read a much less savory (and to my mind, more plausible) explanation for this. (May have been from Steven Pinker.) It is that, in the days before toilet paper, the less dominant hand was generally the one used for what I shall delicately refer to as "personal grooming". I'm sure you can fill in the blanks from there.

285:

There is a reason why one of the less polite terms for left handedness in British English is "cack handed"...

286:

trying to find out what on earth the SNP were actually proposing for what to do to resolve the economic conundrum after Indyref2 succeeds.

They won't tell you. They can't tell you. If they told you, they'd be telling the unionist (opposition) parties who'd then focus all their propaganda efforts on the helpful provided target.

They learned their lesson from 2014 and 2016: in 2014 they gave the public a detailed 200 page policy document and got crucified for any identifiable weakness in it (notably "we'll stay on sterling" -- remember that?), while in 2016 the Leave/Brexit campaigns issued about an eight page advertorial selling it on the mouth feel of FREEEDUMB!!! and coasted to a narrow win because they didn't give the Remain campaign anything concrete to criticise.

287:

in the days before toilet paper, the less dominant hand was generally the one used for what I shall delicately refer to as "personal grooming". I'm sure you can fill in the blanks from there.

Still is in much of the world. And in many area where there is NOW TP, using your left hand is repulsive.

288:

But are the left handed hitters all natural lefties? In cricket, with which I'm much more familiar, a fairly significant number of those who bat left handed will throw or bowl the ball right handed.

My understanding of cricket is weak to say the least.

But hitting a baseball at the top level is just flat out hard. The pitcher releases the ball at 80-100mph and you have to decide if you're going to swing before the ball is 1/3 of the way to the plate. Which involves deciding if the ball is thrown as a straight, curve, slider, or a variation in between. Plus where in the strike zone you expect it to be. A ball thrown at that speed gets to the batter 66' almost before muscle reaction time can be used. Good hitters tend to have excellent to way better than normal vision.

In general you want to bat left against a right handed pitcher and bat right against a left handed pitcher. Which is why left handed pitchers and batter are valuable. They are only 10% of the pool. Which leads to some complicated rules about when you can substitute batters and pitchers.

To an uninformed outsider watching a cricket match that just doesn't make sense, a cricket batter seems to have it easier.

289:

Yes. I've heard it described as: never ever offer anyone your left hand because they'll view it as equivalent to giving them a handful of shit and take it as a mortal insult. But on the other hand I don't think that kind of view was ever universal, even when the underlying difficulty was.

I wonder if it is significant that the concept of "intelligent design" (of the human species by a creator) arose among people who were used to having proper bogs and bog paper. Maybe the way to convince them they're wrong is to wait until they've got the runs before opening the argument.

290:

never ever offer anyone your left hand

When I was in Scouts, the Scout Handshake was with the left hand. Dunno if it still is…

291:

When I was in Scouts, the Scout Handshake was with the left hand. Dunno if it still is…

Still is.

292:
I wonder if it is significant that the concept of "intelligent design" (of the human species by a creator) arose among people who were used to having proper bogs and bog paper. Maybe the way to convince them they're wrong is to wait until they've got the runs before opening the argument.

"Intelligent Design" (AKA the Argument from Design) is a very old old idea, going back to Aquinas and further, much older than toilet paper and modern toilets. It actually made some sense before the idea of evolution by natural selection came along.

293:

I know bugger all about either game but I do know that a baseball and a cricket ball are pretty much the same size and mass, so for the cricket bowler there is at least the potential to throw the ball as fast as the baseball one, and since "fast bowlers" are a category that people talk about, some of them probably do. But I'd have thought it would be easier for the batter to hit the ball in cricket because the bat is a lot wider so you don't have to be so accurate with it, and although it is also more massive, cricket batters seem to be more inclined to placing the bat in the way of the ball so the ball bounces off it, whereas baseball batters are more concerned with increasing the magnitude of the ball's momentum rather than just changing the sign.

I'm not sure how useful it is to relate these sporting interception things to reaction time in the same terms as the kind of measurement of reaction time you get by timing the lapse between a kid running into the road and the driver standing on the brakes. I'd have thought it more or less has to be a continuous process where the system compensates for its own lag by doing as much anticipation as possible, so the response to what it observes of the ball in flight is more by way of minor correction to what it had already started to do than of coming up with the whole movement from scratch. Much of what there is to learn about driving that they don't teach you for passing the test is about quite explicitly teaching yourself to perform that anticipatory lag-compensation in a situation which is far enough outside the limits of relative motion that your brain has evolved to cope with for you to just pick it up naturally, and I would expect learning to be proficient at bat and ball games is of a very similar nature.

294:

I guess there is always the excuse that a divine being presumably doesn't have to bother about that sort of thing personally, so when they're designing a being that does maybe you can expect them to not be very good at that part of it.

295:
I guess there is always the excuse that a divine being presumably doesn't have to bother about that sort of thing personally, so when they're designing a being that does maybe you can expect them to not be very good at that part of it.

Despite my weak sort-of-defense of it above (i.e., "made some sense"), the argument from Design is badly flawed. I think there are thee main flaws:

1. Biological systems are, in fact, in many cases badly designed, often in ways that reflect evolutionary history. For instance, many flaws of human function derive from the fact that we evolved from ancestors who did not walk erect. And also that, in recent evolutionary history, our brains became much bigger.

2. Philsopher's Syndrome: Mistaking a failure of the imagination for an insight into necessity. Any argument that relies on the ability of the person making it to think of an alternative is weak by its nature.

3. "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence". If you're going to argue for the existence of a Big Sky Fairy who made the universe and everything in it, you need much better evidence than this.

296:

Re: 'That's just building regs; the other half of it is planning permission.'

There's also the local custom. The area I lived in previously had 2-car garages and very few and very small backyard sheds. Where I am now - hardly any house has an attached garage but everyone has a large backyard shed - often turned into a man-cave. Considering that about half of my garage was filled with gardening equipment and I often parked in the driveway, the current arrangement works fine for me.

About the man-cave - once the electrical and plumbing are officially OK'd, you can do just about anything you want within that space*. There is a potential hiccough - the fee for the build/improvement, e.g., whether your jurisdiction's building/improvement fees/licenses are a flat-fee regardless of project or a minimum-plus-%-of-market-value basis. Some jurisdictions seem to want to discourage any additional builds by requiring anywhere north of $500 for the license even if it's a small deck.

Some friends bought a prefab small 'barn' for their cottage to use as an office/art studio. Not sure who their supplier was but I heard that all things considered a prefab was less hassle, less likely to be screwed up therefore more economical overall. (My in-laws also went prefab when they redid their cottage although sourcing the right trades at the right assembly time was something of a headache.)

https://barnpros.com/structures/denali-barn-apartment/


* Always check with the home/property insurance companies before you start because if you screw up anything, they'll drop you and you may have trouble getting another insurer. (Varies by area - where I am now, there are fewer insurers, so they have a lot more say.)

297:

There is an obvious answer: let the Scots rebuild Hadrian's Wall. With the extra goodness of good-paying jobs working to build and maintain it, and keep the Sassenach out, right?

298:

I'm semi-ambidextrous. When I was working, due to the configuration of my cube, I used the mouse with my right hand. Here at home, due to the configuration of the room, I use it with my left. Been doing this for so many years I don't even notice.

Other, of course, than the fact I have to use a mouse for anything other than solitaire....

299:

Hadrian's Wall is well inside Englandshire these days.

300:

Fences: and then there's the problem of his fence...and mine. And the damn weeds that want to be trees that are *between* then, and trying to cut them down (when he has a wood fence, and my chain-link that was here when I bought the house).

301:

What, why should that be a problem for the hardy (and growing) independent Scotland? [g]

Did I ever mention my late ex and I joked about emigrating to Scotland? But then, to be a Real Scottish Engineer, she'd have had to take remedial accents, since her version of Scotty (from Trek) sounded like someone from India with a very hard Indian accent trying to do a Scottish accent.

*Argh* Still waiting to hear from the agent....

302:

You know, you don't have to honor Agent Orange's Scottish heritage by building a wall on your southern border. 'Sides, those damn southerners will just take their sawzalls to it and sell it for scrap. As the Mexicans did with parts of Agent Orange's Wall.

What I recommend is some good old Scottish Ingenuity. Design something like a modified Ha-Ha to use the Venturi effect to channel wind to a line of wind turbines along the border. That will impede wetbacks a bit, and also boost power production. Sell the power south to England for foreign exchange, with the threat that costs will go up if there are too many trespassers on the generation site, due to rising costs of keeping it safe. Then aid the Bobbies in keeping the English from coming north, except through approved checkpoints.

303:

There's nothing like a good war to stimulate an economy - advancing the border as far as Hadrian's wall would certainly be that :-)

More seriously, in response to #286, yes, I know that. But I have spent much of my life reading between the lines, and making deductions more from what is NOT there than from what IS; my experience is that those are far more often right than extrapolating from direct hints. In particular, what concerns me is that I am afraid that they may have learned the wrong lession. I.e. they may well be leaving any detailed planning until after they have got the result, just like Brexit :-(

Incidentally, I took a look at several of those documents at the time, and was unimpressed; in particular, they were long on verbiage, long on hostages to abuse and short on the sort of information I was looking for (and hoping for). Just like most political manifestos - yes, they were good of their kind, but .... In particular, the sterling proposal struck me as dumb beyond belief, because it relied on London cooperating, and not being the vindictive bunch of sods they had made it clear they were (not least in the AV referendum). And so it proved.

I know how I would have proceeded (both then and now) - while I have no idea whether it would work (politically), it would at least follow the ancient military strategic principle of hitting their opponents in a way that they are completely unprepared for.

304:

whitroth
As Charlie has pointed out ... "Not even wrong"
I suggest, JUST FOR FUN You call up Bing Maps & then, you can start at the W end, where Hadrian's Wall was closest to the current border ...
Here - oh & note the curious bit of the border, NW of Carlisle, where the medieval "Debateable Land" (*note 1 )was finally split between the two countries & then follow it all the way to N of Berwick HERE .... and then scan back down the coast until you get to Tynemouth. THEN go West 8 km ( = map-squares ) to "Wallsend-on-Tyne" - which is/was the E end of said wall.
After which you can follow The Wall, back to Carlisle!
I have deliberately set the maps to render as the Ordnance Survey - & you may need to change the viewing scale a bit, occasionally.

(*note: 1. "Craw's Knowe" to Scotsdike.
2. I think the Dukes of Northumberland would NOT like to be part of Scotland.

I have mentioned this before, but compulsory reading on this subject is George Macdonald Fraser's book
The Steel Bonnets

People might want to look up the kingdoms that exited here, before a "united" (*cough*) Scotland, or even before England, especially the kingdom of Northumbria whilst what is now Scotland was divided between the Picts, the Scots & the Norwegians. ( Or you could try "1066 & All That" which also has words on the subject! )

Addendum: Reading your #301
NO. You REALLY NEED to read Mac Faser on this one!

305:

let the Scots rebuild Hadrian's Wall.

And get the English to pay for it… :-/

306:

"We'll build a wall. And we'll make the English pay for it!"

307:

Great minds think alike!

308:

Charlie Stross @ 155: It's a toxic stew of bigotry backed by some rather unpleasant people (Pat Robertson is dead but his spiritual heirs' fingerprints are all over the anti-trans campaign), and it seems a number of prominent feminists are willing to ignore their fellow-travellers' religious agenda in return for their support.

Pat Robertson is still alive (as of this afternoon). I believe you're thinking of Jerry Falwell.

309:

They all merge into one horrible sleazy self-parody.

310:

Heteromeles @ 159:

[ I am now of the opinion that 100% hetero-anything is not the normal state of affairs ... something I would not have said even 20 years ago. ]"

I suppose that applies to me too?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heteromeles

Of course, I'm still trying to figure out what this normal thingy is all about and whether it applies to me or not.


311:

Wait... you mean, we're having this discussion with... A SHRUBBERY?!

And I get resentful when someone calls me "normal"....

312:

And of course I remember *after* I hit submit that I need to get Nancy, here, to make me a button reading, in large letters, "WEIRD AND PROUD".

313:

Come on, Greg. What happened to your sensahumor.

Seriously, though, it hit me really deeply in '14, when my ex and the stepkid and I came over for LonCon III, and we did uor (FAR too short) tour, and I got to go to, and walk on a bit of what's left of Hadrian's Wall.

Got to write to my kids how my mother told me about their grandfather telling her how immense it was, during the War, that he walked on the Appian Way... and so he walked at the heart of the Empire, and there I was, walking on its uttermost end.

314:

Moz @ 160:

to the TERFs, trans-men are an existential problem, so either they don't exist or they're "gender traitors"

I like to bring up the big burly trans-man biker boys using the women's toilets as a mental image to make people think about exactly what they're asking for. And sometimes even the sexism inherent in regarding men as the default and assuming that only the weaker gender need a safe space (or whatever it is they think a women's toilet provides other just a place to go to the toilet)."

Most places in the U.S. now have a "family restroom" - one toilet with a sink & a baby changing platform and a door that locks while you're in there.

I've got to admit that I don't really understand "trans" ... I get the basic concept that some people's birth anatomy doesn't match who they think they are, but whenever I read about it in the media I frequently have a hard time figuring out the "who they think they are" part (which I think is much more important that the birth anatomy part).

OTOH, it's not as if I actually need to understand people to accept them as they are. Which is a good thing, because the things I don't understand about people far transcends gender.

315:

Well, damn. Here I've been thinking "Okay, is that to do with badgers, or honey, or what..." (mostly when I was half asleep), and there it was on the Wikipedia. Never occurred to me to look.

316:

Heck, I turn over a new leaf every day...

Yes, you're talking with a Hollywood shrubbery. Quite literally.

317:

Charlie Stross @ 171:

Are you talking about people who started off, ahem "male" here and who are/have transitioned towards female? Or the other way round?

Female-to-male transgender = trans-man, trans-masc (various terms used). TERFs seem to be in denial about them existing. The old-school feminist take on transgender issues is that it's all about men trying to usurp female identity/space, so women who start taking testosterone supplements, have breast reduction surgery, and phaloplasty, fundamentally break their cognitive model.

Maybe this is the time I can finally ask - Mack in The Nightmare Stacks. Is Mack male transitioning to female, or female transitioning to male.

It doesn't really matter, because Mack is whoever Mack is, but my curiosity prompts me to ask so I can use the correct pronoun if I ever need to reference him/her in the future. Mack does say it's rude to use the wrong gender pronoun, so I would like to know what's correct and I couldn't figure it out from the text.


318:

I should also point out that, on the internet, know one knows who's a plant and who's genuine...

Badgers...we don't need no stinkin' badgers.

319:
OTOH, it's not as if I actually need to understand people to accept them as they are. Which is a good thing, because the things I don't understand about people far transcends gender.

You're fooling yourself if you think you understand any human. (That includes yourself).

320:

Ok, then, which way is the Grail?

321:

Heteromeles @ 318 : "Badgers...we don't need no stinkin' badgers."

I'm glad you feel that way, because we exterminated them completely, over here. We trapped them for their pelts.

322:

I'm not convinced there is much to understand beyond the obvious.

the things I don't understand about people far transcends gender.

Or it might be more accurate to say that I'm not convinced anyone has more than a superficial understanding or anyone else. This is based, as per several discussions here, on the vigorous reaction to non-stereotypical people from those who claim to understand others. Viz, a lot of the time people close to the norm can just assume everyone they meet is much like themselves, and that works. But doing that doesn't mean you understand other people (or even yourself) it just means your assumption is not obviously wrong.

Trans/TERF stuff is in many ways an example of that assumption being obviously wrong. The whole "I have womanly bits, therefore how I feel and act definitives how all women feel and act" falls on its arse when faced with trans-women. And a lot of the asses in that ass-umption get butt-hurt and start acting out.

323:

Moz @ 224: Cheap scissors are often fine, it's the nicer ones that can be hard to find. Sewing scissors especially, $40 got me a nice pair of right handed ones but the left handed equivalent from the same brand was over $100 and special order. Fortunately for me, unfortunately for the strongly left handed, I'm mostly right handed and insofar as I can cut along the lines at all I'm not noticeably worse with my right hand.

https://www.cutco.com/products/product.jsp?item=super-shears

Best damn scissors I've ever owned and they appear to be ambidextrous.

I just checked, and using them left-handed the limitation is my awkwardness with my left hand rather than any inherent limit of the scissors.

324:

Heteromeles @ 226: The thing that annoys me (just to fly my nerd flag) are weapons. Guns will throw empty casings into your face if your fire them left-handed, or gouge your hand with a bit of the bolt that would miss a rightie. And don't get me into the guards on European swords. It's annoyingly hard to find ones that are symmetrical, let alone left-handed. And I've only met one tai chi teacher who was cool with doing the set left-handed as well as right-handed.

The M-16 had a left hand firing adapter that deflected the ejected cartridges so they flipped over the top & off to the shooter's left. You can buy left-handed AR-15s.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y0JUd2199nA

325:

That's a lot of sporrans!

326:

LAvery @ 228:

The thing that annoys me (just to fly my nerd flag) are weapons. Guns will throw empty casings into your face if your fire them left-handed, or gouge your hand with a bit of the bolt that would miss a rightie. And don't get me into the guards on European swords.

May I point out that it is possible to be a hard-core nerd, and yet not be obsessed with firearms and edged weapons.

Yeah, but I just checked my Nerd Handbook and there's nothing in there that says you must go either way. It's Ok to be obsessed with firearms or not to be obsessed with firearms.

But to maintain nerd status you must be obsessed with something "technological".

327:
Yeah, but I just checked my Nerd Handbook and there's nothing in there that says you must go either way. It's Ok to be obsessed with firearms or not to be obsessed with firearms.

I have the Texas edition, in which obsession with guns is specifically flagged as an antinerd characteristic. I guess reasonable people can have different opinions.

328:


Cutco Australia
Email: hoonlim@cutco.co.kr
Service is temporarily unavailable.


😩 Also, Korean email address?

Actually, not that it matters because I have a pair of decent scissors and they don't really wear out.

329:

David L @ 254:

No single camera model seems to capture anything like 10% of the market, or for many makers, even 10% of their sales, but whoever makes a left handed camera will just about do that.

I do not own a camera better than my phone but my friends who have semi-pro cameras picked a brand a long time ago. And now have a collection of lenses. To switch brands means starting over with that investment in lenses and most are very reluctant to do that. Especially now that so many just did that in the switch from mirrored to mirrorless units.

Anyway the appeal of a left handed back would have to outweigh the inertia of the existing collection of lenses.

To reinforce David's point - a left-handed body would have to come in a brand that photographers already own a bunch of and then it would only appeal to a small minority of their users. I'm NOT left-handed, so I wouldn't be one of them.

OTOH - I have one lens that I waited something like 10 years for one to become available (600/4 in Pentax KAF mount ~ 250 ever made) and when it did become available it cost me more than my Jeep (both purchased second hand). I actually waited longer than that to find one, but I've only been able to "afford" it in the last 10 years or so.

But the point is, I've got a whole lot of money invested in my equipment and there's no way I would be willing to change brands at this point even if I was a lefty & someone other than Pentax were to offer a Left-handed body. There wouldn't be enough utility to justify the cost.

Plus, my medium format & large format cameras are effectively ambidextrous.

330:

JBS @ 324: "The M-16 had a left hand firing adapter that deflected the ejected cartridges so they flipped over the top & off to the shooter's left. You can buy left-handed AR-15s."

You can also get weapons that eject spent cases downwards:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Downward_ejection

331:

whitroth
it's just that you & the other USA-ians really have no idea as to how complicated the Anglo-Scottish border was ....
Family & fued were far more important than nationality, about 99% of the time. See Fraser, as I said.
Also, the Scots invaded England more often than the other way round ( I think ) - but it tended not to end well ( Standard, Solway Moss, Flodden, Worcester )

And the furthest uttermost end of the Roman Empire was actually The Antonine Wall From NW of Dunedin to the suburbs of where Glasgow now is ... so there!

332:

Charlie Stross @ 299: Hadrian's Wall is well inside Englandshire these days.

That just means you send them the bill for reconstructing it. 8^)


333:

LAvery @ 319:

OTOH, it's not as if I actually need to understand people to accept them as they are. Which is a good thing, because the things I don't understand about people far transcends gender.

You're fooling yourself if you think you understand any human. (That includes yourself).

I understand some things, just not a whole lot. But I am aware that "not understanding" makes up the bulk of my knowledge.

334:

I prefer trackballs, though, and they are uncool because they are all, these days, some weird-arsed shape that only fits the right hand...

Aha, I have the answer to this one! I use a Logitech Trackman Marble, which is not the pointing device for everyone but has been my go-to for years. It's got a big golf ball sized trackball, four buttons (I really only use two), and is fully bilaterally symmetrical.

Some people hate trackballs the way pretty much everyone hates touchpads, but there's no accounting for taste. If I had to use a 9mm jelly bean I'd be annoyed too.

335:

Niala @ 330: JBS @ 324:

"The M-16 had a left hand firing adapter that deflected the ejected cartridges so they flipped over the top & off to the shooter's left. You can buy left-handed AR-15s."

You can also get weapons that eject spent cases downwards:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Downward_ejection

I had a look at the AR-57 & it took me a bit to figure out where the ejection port was located (because there's some kind of a sock where the magazine would normally go that's being used to collect the spent brass. I also notice there's no kind of muzzle brake in the photo, so it's probably meant to mount a suppressor. Suppressed weapons are KOOL, but the required licenses are NOT CHEAP.

I should probably point out that although I like guns a lot & I really enjoyed shooting while I was in the Army, I don't actually own any guns or do any shooting nowadays. I think there may be a couple of ranges here in Raleigh where I could go and "rent" a gun for a few hours if I wanted to, but nothing like the record fire ranges I used to fire on down at Ft. Bragg, and certainly no shoot houses, which is where the real fun is.

I occasionally see something on the internet (like that AR-57) or YouTube that looks like it would be fun to shoot, but nothing that would be worth the aggravation of trying to keep a gun secure around the house (which is why I don't own any guns. So I just stick with my video games & shooting virtual bad guys1 & zombies.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C6G8PbsoF9o

Plus, I play guitar & I find I get a whole lot more "bang for the buck" from Sam Ash and Guitar Center.

1 You know they're bad guys because they start shooting at you as soon as they see you. If you see someone & know they can see you and they're not shooting at you, just ignore them ... or in some cases you can "recruit" them

336:

"And get the English to pay for it… :-/"

Make sure that you update your finances; the world has changed a bit since then:

'OK, here's our payment:

1 (I) dungheap, fresh.
1 (I) copper cauldron
5 (V) sheep
7 (VII) goats
3 (III) lepers.'

337:

*scratches head*

Until the 16th century most European swords had left-right symmetrical hilts (more or less: Roland Warzecha has showed that Viking Age sword hilts often have subtle asymmetries which make sense if you assume 90% of them were hilted for righties and 10% for lefties). After that it varies, mainly because you spend much longer wearing a sword than wielding it, and the palm side of a guard tends to dig into your body. But there were lots of left-right symmetrical hilts throughout the period 1600-1900 and competent makers will let you choose a handedness for the asymmetrical hilts. I don't know of any that charge extra for that.

338:

(quoting another?) "The M-16 had a left hand firing adapter that deflected the ejected cartridges so they flipped over the top & off to the shooter's left. You can buy left-handed AR-15s."

Ah, the memories. I'm a lefty, and when firing an M-16 from the prone position, one had best fasten the top shirt button, or the hot brass would occasionally fly down the shirt and caress one's chest.

BTW, the adapter was a very cheap plastic thing which looked like a kid's well chewed toy.

339:

The aerogel panels look great! Thanks for that. Much easier fixing.

R value includes the thickness of the insulator to give the heat flow through an actual panel of a known thickness.

So 50mm of aerogel at 0.044 would be 0.05/0.044. R 1.3

VIP run around 0.008. So a 50mm thick panel is 0.05/0.008. R 6.25. Which means a 6.25 degree differential over a square metre will flow 1 watt of heat. Or a 62 degree differential will flow about 10 watts per square metre. So a 3m cube will need about 600W to stay at 20C in -40C weather.

But one nail, splinter, screw or slight mishandling and there's no insulation at all.

340:

Another lefty reporting in - left side mouse but righty button settings (modulo using proper Smalltalk ordering of left-select-middle-menu-right-metamenu). And ambidextrous with almost every weapon I’ve tried; not with bows for some reason. I’d add ‘thrown things’ but...
Well, I’m sure you have heard snide remarks about ‘throwing like a girl’. Around the world, where little girls gather, they make fun of those amongst them that ‘throw like a tim’. It’s true. I don’t play with Mr Grenade. Any more. Come to that, I actually haven’t carried a weapon since I left the UK to move to California in 91.

341:

I know bugger all about either game but I do know that a baseball and a cricket ball are pretty much the same size and mass, so for the cricket bowler there is at least the potential to throw the ball as fast as the baseball one, and since "fast bowlers" are a category that people talk about, some of them probably do
...

I get the feeling that baseball and cricket are similar to the German and Dutch languages. The seem almost the same to outsiders. Till you bring it up with a native speaker and get told in no uncertain terms that they are NOT similar and at time they claim they are not related.

Oh, well.

Baseball pitching is faster due to the rules in cricket to limit the speeds. Baseball pitching has a much smaller "strike" zone. Bats in baseball are round unlike the almost flat ones in cricket. A batter in baseball has a much tighter zone were he can hit but cricket players take more pride in being able to hit to very specific area.

Anyway, my point is that being left or right handed in baseball is more important than in most sports. It plays an important part of how each thrown ball is played and hit.

Well except for Jai alai.

342:

"being left or right handed in baseball is more important than in most sports..."

(Field) hockey.

The stick is asymmetrical (J-shaped), it has a flat side and a rounded side. All hockey sticks are made so that a right-handed stance faces the flat side forward and a left-handed stance faces the rounded side forward. It is against the rules to hit the ball with the rounded side.

I'm left-handed with one hand and right-handed with two so no problem. In ~25 years as a player, I had one truly left-handed team-mate. He held the stick reversed the whole time, so that the curve at the base pointed into the ground rather than running along it). It gave him an advantage trapping balls hit from right to left, so he was a specialist left winger.

343:

Also in ice hockey!

Ice hockey has sticks which have a blade at the bottom. The blade has a curve which defines the "front" side of the stick, and players do have a preference. You can use both sides to hit the puck, but it's better for control to use the concave side.

I played enough of it in school as a kid that I know my stick preference. I don't skate well and I don't like it, so haven't touched an ice hockey stick in over 25 years, though.

344:

I get the feeling that baseball and cricket are similar to the German and Dutch languages. The seem almost the same to outsiders. Till you bring it up with a native speaker and get told in no uncertain terms that they are NOT similar and at time they claim they are not related.

You want the English game that looks like baseball, go for Rounders. Cricket has much less resemblance, starting with there being two batters on the pitch at a time.

345:

You can pry my RTT from my cold, dead, hands.

(When the work week was reduced to 35 hours it was decided that rather than reducing the length of the working day employees would be given a number of (half) days of "reduction de temps de travail" that they could take each month. This works out great, you basically get to arrange a few 3 day weekends a month with your employer, or take a day of RTT in the week for some special event).

346:

Meanwhile ..
ANOTHER cod-philosopher evading the real problem(s)
Can you see where he's missed a step?

347:

1) What the absolute fuck for?

It positions trans people in toilets as a violent threat that requires a violent response to 'defend' women. TERFs call themselves feminist but if you scratch the surface they have a lot more in common with fascists.

2) Why should anyone take such a looney suggestion seriously

Plenty did on 6th January, perhaps that's where she got the idea.

3) Putting it on youtube is certainly grounds

It's gone now and the TERF lobby have deep pockets and practised lawyers on their side while trans people ... don't.

That's a common practise these days, putting something violent and incendiary up on social media and then taking it down. A certain litigious politician tweeted year before last calling trans people paedophiles; it stayed up a few hours and then disappeared. I have a screen grab of it. I guess the defence in court would be, it's been withdrawn, which in the days of newspapers would have required a specific retraction. But the message is out.

348:
In any case I believe the standard British army rifle these days can be swapped over; they've finally cottoned on.
Nope, the SA80 is and always has been right handed only.

The French FAMAS can be switched to be left handed.

349:

The other problem in using Hadrian's Wall is that it was designed to keep the Picts out of England so it's built on north facing escarpments (in parts) with easy slopes for the Roman defenders and tough climbs for the rampaging Northerners

Not my picture

The reverse of what might be necessary

350:

I tried a Logitech Trackman Marble. It lasted about 48 hours before I had horrible RSI pain in my mousing (left) hand.

I'm okay with Apple trackpads on their laptops, but Apple make the best laptop trackpads. For rodents I use either an Apple Magic Mouse (no buttons! But a multitouch surface covering the entire top) or a Microsoft Arc bluetooth travel mouse (not quite as good, but weighs less and folds flatter than my phone -- in fact, the "press flat to switch off: bend into an arc to switch on" seems like the sort of design affordance Apple would have come up with).

It's really weird how I simultaneously despise Microsoft's software designs but think their hardware is often excellent.

351:

IIRC the bowling speed in cricket is limited these days because back when it wasn't, fast bowling got so fast that people were being injured or killed: the body armour wasn't enough to save them.

A cricket ball is, after all, a roughly 120cm sphere of solid oak wrapped in leather that weighs about as much as a brick. Throwing it downrange after a good run-up can turn it into a skull-smashing projectile.

(I was forced to "play" cricket at school, although nobody ever explained the rules to me: it seemed to consist of hours of boredom, standing around, punctuated by moments of acute terror.)

352:

Yes. It's particularly so if you can't track moving objects with your eyes. I had mild concussion only twice at school, but several people were taken to hospital (at least one unconscious) and there were some fractures, too.

353:

[Cricket is] hours of boredom, standing around, punctuated by moments of acute terror.

Presumably it was to prepare you to join the Army.

354:

In High School Phys Ed, no one ever explained the rules of football (American-style) or basketball, but we were all required to play. If you were a red-blooded American you were supposed to KNOW the rules, as part of your genetic inheritance, I guess.

The basic idea was simple, and shared with a lot of other so-called "games". You're divided into two teams that play in a rectangular space. Each team tries to move an object called a ball (in the case of basketball, it actually IS a ball) to one specific side of the rectangle and put it into a goal thingy there. And you try to keep the "ball" away from the opposite goal thingy.

The allowed ways of moving the "ball" are constrained by rules of barely imaginable complexity. Scoring is also defined by rules of slightly lesser complexity.

I never did figure it out. Eventually I just stopped showing up for PE. This was, of course, against the rules, but the PE teacher apparently decided it wasn't worth his trouble to try to force me to show up and wonder around cluelessly. So I got away with it.

355:

I could never track fast moving objects with my eyes so I could never catch a ball with my hands or hit one with my feet, or a bat or a racket. As a result of this I hated all sports except wrestling and broomball.

Of course, we played a slightly offbeat version of broomball, during recreation periods at my school.

Broomball is supposed to be played with standard brooms cut off slightly at the business end, which is then dipped in a rubber solution and left to dry. We got that part right.

Broomball is supposed to be played in an interior rink, with the ice temperature carefully set so that it is very hard and not too slippery. We always played in exterior rinks where we cleaned off the snow ourselves, using shovels and scrapers. We did our best with the ice temperature Mother Nature could give us on each day.

Broomball is supposed to be played with special shoes with rubber soles to minimize slipping. We played in our regular rubber boots and boy, did we slip and slide.

With all that slipping and sliding going on (some of it caused by your opponents) you could absolutely not run. Also, the ball could not go too fast if you wanted to control it. As a result I could actually connect my broom to the ball, which I would have never been able to do in Hockey, Ringette, or Bandy.

And yes, Broomball is an ambidextrous sport.

356:

Also in ice hockey!

Yes. As a casual IC fan I should have thought of that one. It makes a difference as to which side of the ice you normally play on.

357:

I tried a Logitech Trackman Marble. It lasted about 48 hours before I had horrible RSI pain in my mousing (left) hand.

As someone who has been consulting into CAD using offices for decades, trackballs were almost always in use by at least one person. Something I jointly discovered with a user very early in the CAD doesn't cost $20K per seat days was to NOT tilt your hand/wrist upward. Think of an imaginary straight edge taped to your forearm. Don't operate in a way that would be stopped by this straight edge. Anyone who has done this has never complained about RSI type situations.

Put a thick wallet (that first guy), a small soft ball, whatever under the heel of your palm.

The key is NOT keep tension on those tendons going through those bone holes from your arms down to your fingers.

PS: This works for mice users also.

PPS: Keeping the keyboard and mouse/trackball at a height just above your thighs is also better. So adjustable drawers are worth it.

358:

I could never track fast moving objects with my eyes so I could never catch a ball with my hands or hit one with my feet, or a bat or a racket. As a result of this I hated all sports except wrestling and broomball.

In baseball they way to catch a typical (non hi-light reel) fly ball is to move so it will hit you between the eyes. Then put you glove in the way at the last second. But parents of 9 and 10 year old don't want to hear it being told to their kids. So most good fielders figure it out on their own.

Once you can do that you move on to catching balls that are harder. But in watching kids while mine were growing up this basic skill told you who would keep playing and who would drop out.

359:

IIRC the bowling speed in cricket is limited these days because back when it wasn't, fast bowling got so fast that people were being injured or killed: the body armour wasn't enough to save them.

Baseball and ice hockey (in North America) had a long period where body armor was recommended but the old macho guys resisted.

Now in ice hockey helmets are mandatory.

And most baseball player did the math and got over it.
Gee I'm making $3mil a year. If I get hit in the head, elbow, or other joint this will likely stop. Hmmm. $3mil this year or $10 to $40 mill over a career? I'll wear the gear.

The current debate is over aluminum bats in baseball making the speed of a hit ball too fast (pros are still using wood) and in "ladies" softball the 1/3 smaller field makes getting your face re-arranged by a hit way too common. More and more of the girls/ladies are wearing face shields when they play the infield. (1 of a dozen reasons my daughter played baseball instead of softball as a teen.)

360:

slightly foxed
Are you SURE it was the Picts & not the Scots ( then living in "Ireland" ) or contrariwise the Irish ( then living in Scotland ) ???
Hint, the capital of Southern NW "Scotland" was at Dumbarton ...

361:

Ahem: I don't have RSI problems with the mice I mentioned elsewhere (the Apple magic mouse). I always had RSI with trackballs. Simple solution: give up on trackballs.

362:

With a cricket ball, that would be suicidal for anyone who can't track moving objects with their eyes. And I mean that literally; baseballs are a lot softer but, even with them, that's a recipe for losing an eye.

363:

I wanted to get back to that, mostly because, "Scotland will build the wall, and England will pay for it!" has an interesting vintage--Trump, 2016, with the Mexican border wall fiasco/boondoggle/swindle ("fiondle?"). Granted, Trump's having Scottish (!), but still, I thought the excellent posters here would show better taste. And sense.

Here's what's going to happen. Soon after Scotland declares its independence and rejoins the EU, the Bozoid of #10 Downing Street will declare that there's an looming immigrant crisis, with illegal migrants from Africa being shoved to the Scottish Border by EU officials who have the eeeevul intent of crashing England's now "Free and Roaring Economy" (tm) by dumping unwanted migrants on them.

So the cry goes up to rebuild Hadrian's Wall, and make Scotland pay for it! And don't tell me there aren't Picts in Scotland. Everybody's seen the pictures from the Festival Fringe.

Scotland, wisely, puts their aeronautical engineers to work and figure out how England's New "Free and Roaring" (tm) Wall will channel the wind. They then install a bunch of ginormous wind turbines to maximize the energy capture, and kindly ask the Border Bobbies to help them repatriate any Wall-jumping English lager louts, so they don't get in trouble in the wind farm. Oh, and the turbines are so huge that the top ten meters of the blade intrude into the airspace of the British military radar system that's thoughtlessly aimed north across the border*. But, since the wind farm's selling power to England to keep the maquilas EU-owned factories in Carlisle and Northumberland working, this gets shuffled over to interminable diplomatic negotiations.

In the end, everyone's happy. The EU's using cheap English labor to make sustainable tech, English politicians are making hay about keeping out the eeevul EU and other migrants, the English military is on constant low-level alert due to the constant radar strobe lines from the Scottish wind farm. Meanwhile, Scotland's mostly free of English chavs and making a bit of forex off of selling power to England and using their now cheap labor as a way to circumvent EU labor laws and thereby flood the continent with cheap, sustainable, Scottish technology. All is well, and the Picts have finally beat the Romans. Sad for the English peasants, but they've always been revolting anyway.

364:

No problem. The Scots build parapets. When the invading Sassenach come charging over, they miss the parapets, and fall down to the bottom and go "THUD". See? Brilliant Scots engineering!

365:

Yeah... because so many friends just do *not* read their email in a week, I've been hanging out on faceplant. Now, y'all know just how much I HATE M$$$$, but compared to faceplant's code base, I appreciate M$'s *consistency* and user interface, facepalm is *that* bad.

366:

Gildas writing in 550 talks about the Picts and the Scots. Generally, it's agreed that the Scots from Ireland and the Picts from Scotland attacked the late Roman Enmpire

The attacks against the late Roman Empire "were co-ordinated: Picts (from Scotland), Attacotti and Scots (both probably from Ireland and the Western Isles) Heath 2004. Professor Oosthuizen notes "attacks mostly by Picts ... and Scots" (2019).

However, Hadrian's Wall was built (C122) largely as a boundary and for customs posts and the tribes it cut off probably had different names. So we are both right and maybe both wrong ;¬(}

367:

As an aside the name "the British Isles" could derive from the isle of the Pretani which could be derived from the Welsh name from the Picts.

Pytheas in the C4th BCE referred to these sceptered isles (#sarcasm) as the Pretanic Isles. Pictii is a Latin translation of Cruithin which was the Irish form of Priten - the Welsh form. And of coures Picti means Painted men.

368:

"With a cricket ball, that would be suicidal for anyone who can't track moving objects with their eyes. And I mean that literally; baseballs are a lot softer but, even with them, that's a recipe for losing an eye."

Oh, come, come now!

Providing you are not fielding at Silly Mid On (5-10' in front and to the right of the a right-handed batsman) or similarly for Silly Mid Off, you won't need much protection in the field.

Like Charlie, I had a similar experience at School, but at College we had Rhodes Scholars asking very insistently that the Graduate Common Room needed to put up a team. So I got stuck in.

I acquired the requisite box and jockstrap (look these terms up, though possibly NSFW) and ended up facing another member of the graduate common room who'd been a fast bowler for the Oxford Second XI in the nets (a practice area where the batsman is surrounded by netting). Note for USA-ians: Oxford and Cambridge Cricket teams play in the National Competition, which is unusual here. No helmet needed, although the chance of the ball ricocheting off of the scaffolding poles that were the supports was a distinct possibility.

Martin remains the fastest bowler I ever faced at about 95-100mph, and I found out afterwards that he started putting in his fastest balls only when he saw me advancing down the pitch on the forward defensive.

The bowlers I really struggled with were those who could seam the ball (put a backspin on it, bowl it at 90mph, and in the right conditions) and the ball moves gracefully in towards you whilst in flight. Spinners were easy: put your foot towards the ball and smother it (spinners get the ball to move unpredictably after they bounce).

I do have to admit that I stopped playing for the University Departmental Side after I got to forty five and could no longer track the ball as well as I used to.

369:

You should read my post and the one I was responding to before posting nonsense, and think that you might, just possibly, not have a clue about what things are like for those of us who cannot track balls at all (which was the context).

370:

H
Soon after Scotland declares its independence and rejoins the EU
Stop right there ....
Assuming Scotland votes against it's LONG-TERM interests ( As opposed to trying to escape from BoZo & his fellow-crooks ) & votes "indy" ...
It will be AT LEAST 4-7 years before it can join the EU.

Second, regarding the ACTUAL BORDER - here are some pictures:
HERE
Here, too
here - too.
here - the Carter Bar
A couple of views from the Pennine Way LDP, which follows the border .... Labelled "PW_Number ...
PW_1
PW_2
PW_3
Now some in the lowlands to the NE ...
Here oh yes,
and - here the border runs up the middle of the road!
And lastly a very well-known one:
by this sign - the trains are travelling at about 180kph at this point!

Somehow, it's not going to be worth the effort ....

More seriously, the waste of time effort & money involved, accompanied by incredibly bad feeling & resentment that will follow - as in a "Hard irish Border", yes, simply is not funny at all.
Unfortunately, there are politicians on both sides who want this conflict, so they can whip up support from their brain-fucked followers.

371:

Yes, some of those are beautiful landscapes, but what is the point? That they will all be marred by sensor towers or worse once Scotland is independent?

372:

Economic interests are not the only ones, you know. The UK is heading fast into fascism, even more extreme monetarism, and a complete disregard for the well-being of the populace, not to mention the environment. And, no, Starmer is NOT likely to make any difference, though he might not take it as far in those directions as That Bliar. I am not the only person who is seriously thinking of moving north and hoping for Scottish independence.

I took a careful look over an Ordnance Survey map, and the border would be a pretty simple matter to police, if some intelligence were used and small-scale unauthorised crossings were regarded as unimportant (i.e. as in most of Europe west of the Iron Curtain since WW II). If England wanted to enforce an East German style border, either to stop immigration or to keep you peasants from escaping, that would be its problem.

There are under a dozen crossings relevant to non-local traffic or trade, and a great many of the minor roads could be wholly or partially blocked off without serious inconvenience even to the locals.

373:

Yes, some of those are beautiful landscapes, but what is the point? That they will all be marred by sensor towers or worse once Scotland is independent?

This is my point. Anyway, if either England or Scotland is stupid enough to follow in the footsteps of Donald Trump with regards to border security, you deserve what you get.

You may like the Scottish border region, but here along the California border, we've got all that, and plants that only live in the border area, such as the Baja rose. And thanks to the pendejos in Washington going back two decades, it's perfectly permissible for the US government to bulldoze the area in the name of kickbacks dog-whistling national security, without us locals having any recourse.

374:

Niala
GET A COPY of G Macdonald Fraser's book: "The Steel Bonnets" & read it, OK?
Sensor towers will mysteriously fail in the night & guards will be bribed or blackmailed or seduced into compliance ...

EC
Correction:
"There is a serious threat of parts of the UK ( rural England particularly ) sliding towards fascism, but there are also strong counter-currents now beginning to operate."
The divide is quite sharp, too on the ground.
The more educated & town-dwelling you are, the more likely you are to resent what's happening - sound familiar to USA-ians, does that?
The best hope is, quite frankly, that Brexshit crashes & burns in the next 18 months or sooner.

As I keep saying, 1685-88 is the model, here.

375:

That's an excellent idea.

376:

Anyway, if either England or Scotland is stupid enough to follow in the footsteps of Donald Trump with regards to border security, you deserve what you get.

Surely following in the footsteps of Donald Trump would be one of two things. One could boast about building the biggest most secure wall ever, divert money to the project, and then never build anything. Alternately one could construct something functional and never pay the contractors who did the work.

377:

But for me the question would have been where does a guy with a high school diploma find a job that doesn't require an obscene work week, but still pays enough to keep body & soul together.
My answer in 1972 was to join the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. Skilled craft unions Stateside offer apprenticeship programs today to enter the workplace without the expense (and nonsense) of a degree.

378:

Surely following in the footsteps of Donald Trump would be one of two things. One could boast about building the biggest most secure wall ever, divert money to the project, and then never build anything. Alternately one could construct something functional and never pay the contractors who did the work.

I agree with the sarcasm, but you forgot option C:
Wildly overspend for a wall design a child can climb in seconds, screw up the contracting so that money disappears, use it as an excuse to pointlessly dig up an Indian cemetery, and build such a crappy design that parts of it are already falling over (built along the bank of the Rio Grande) and other parts of it were sawed apart by Mexicans with sawzalls and sold for scrap in Mexico.

Trump's got a reverse Midas touch: the gold he touches tends to produce a lot of shit as it disappears.

379:

Nope. Gender is separate from orientation.

Trans men can be oriented to desire women (not gay) or men (gay).

Trans women can be oriented to desire men (not lesbian) or women (lesbian),

380:

...parts of it were sawed apart by Mexicans with sawzalls and sold for scrap in Mexico.

Unattended scrap metal is a valuable resource - about US$800 a truckload, I read.

A security fence means there's also perfectly good concertina wire just laying around for the first entrepreneur with wire clippers and a shopping cart!

Of course, if you want to steal millions it helps to be a trusted minion who controls the money. The luxury getaway yacht is optional.

381:

The way I understand trans is that I have a sort of physical contentment with my female body. If the contentment were switched to discontent, I'd be miserable.

This explanation wouldn't work for everyone, since I gather there's such a thing as cis-by-default-- someone who doesn't really care, but doesn't mind the body they're in. I suppose there are people who think they don't care, but would actually be upset if their sex were changed. We'll never find out because their sex isn't going to change.

I believe that most if not all transphobia against trans men is actually misandry.

I also believe there are aspects of other people you can't understand by direct empathy, you just have to take their apparent likes and dislikes on faith. I have no idea how people can like beer enough to drink a whole glass of it, and people who like beer presumably can't understand my dislike.

As for handedness and tools, I'm utterly loyal to my Logitech Trackball. It's righthanded. I've tried the symmetrical kind, but for some reason, controlling the cursor with my thumb is intuitive for me, but controlling it with my forefinger feels completely unnatural.

382:

I've tried the symmetrical kind, but for some reason, controlling the cursor with my thumb is intuitive for me, but controlling it with my forefinger feels completely unnatural.

You probably wouldn't like my grip either, which leaves the top of my palm resting on the large trackball. My fingers can support the weight of my hand while moving the ball, or I can just rest my hand on the ball directly. The idea of right-clicking with the ring finger is foreign to everyone, I expect.

I've never liked the tiny trackballs operated by thumbs, but paradoxically loved the little pointer nub in the middle of my ThinkPad keyboard; it was a lot easier to move my index finger to the little eraser sized joystick than to move my whole arm over to a mouse beside the keyboard. Apparently there wasn't a market for them since keyboards like that don't seem to be made any more, whatever it's called.

383:

Apparently there wasn't a market for them since keyboards like that don't seem to be made any more, whatever it's called.
I bought several used("refurbished") Lenovo laptops just to have that trackpoint inside the g/h/b/n keys. Parts are available, and the repair manuals are usuable by end users, and they seem to be durable. (One died after being drenched in a tornado-adjacent downpour; SSD survived and was transplanted to a spare machine, battery was good too.). Thanks for the XKCD link. :-)

384:

To quote the late, great, Willie Rushton, "A true sportsman fears only two things: fear itself, and the sight of a cricketball whizzing towards their head at ninety miles an hour."

385:

kiloseven @ 379

I don't understand what you're saying,for want of clear examples and possibly a language divide too.

Do you find that the Wikipedia articles on the topic are incorrect?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trans_man

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trans_woman

386:

Niala @ 385:

I think you are conflating two things which are actually separate.

1. Sexual orientation; the kind of person that someone is attracted to.

2. Sexual identification: the sex that an individual feels they really are.

Most people identify as the same sex as their body, but trans people feel that they are e.g. a man who was born into a woman's body. The argument over identification is whether a persons "real" sex is dictated by their brain is wired or the way the rest of their body is put together.

Likewise, most people feel attracted to people of the opposite sex. For cis people this is perfectly straightforward: a cis man feels that they are a man in a male body and feels attracted to women. And vice-versa for cis women. Meanwhile a gay man feels themselves to be a man in a male body, but feels attracted to men rather than women.

Once you see that sexual orientation, identity and body are different dimensions it becomes immediately obvious that people can be any combination. So its perfectly possible to have someone born in a female body who feels and acts male and is attracted to men. Such a person would be described as a gay trans man.

People used to think of homosexuality as "inversion"; essentially they saw male-female as being a straight line with individuals being points on that line. At one end was the hyper-masculine James Bond and at the other the hyper-feminine Barbara Cartland. Hence they saw a gay man as "effeminate"; having a male body but the behaviour of a woman. Today we know that this one-dimensional model is way too simplistic. In reality its a complicated bunch of traits, with different people all over the map. There are two big clusters labelled "men" and "women", and but there are lots of other individuals who don't fit either category.

There is a saying "When you've met one autistic person, you've met one autistic person". Its a way of saying that neurodiverse people don't generally fit into simple categories. I strongly suspect that much the same can be said of the sexually diverse.

All of this is a work in progress. We've figured out that the old one-dimensional model doesn't fit reality, and the three-dimensional model I outlined above seems to be a lot better. But there is still a lot we don't understand.

Also, beware the idea that people who aren't in those big "male" and "female" clusters I mentioned are "born wrong" in some sense. That is imposing a value system on a complicated reality. Before you do that you need to stop and think about where that value system is coming from and what its hidden assumptions are. Always beware of the word "normal"; its too easy to slip from "statistically frequent" to "desirable and correct". Einstein's mind was not normal, but that doesn't mean there was anything wrong with it.

387:

Asexuals are people too.

There's a whole bunch of options that used to get hammered into the "traditional woman" "traditional man" boxes (and those boxes varied over time, even white Jesus didn't wear a bowler hat and frock coat!)

I find it helps to think of everything as scales rather than Venn diagrams or little points. Just in general, but specifically when it comes to sex/gender/orientation/sex drive etc. There are very manly men and womanly woman (by whatever scale you want to use), as well as very masculine men and feminine women. Likewise there are very heterosexual people, very homosexual people, and people who aren't really either. And again, there are people who look at that latter question and don't see what all the fuss it about, they'd rather curl up in bed with a good book.

The sexuality one commonly uses the Kinsey Scale: https://kinseyinstitute.org/research/publications/kinsey-scale.php

And there are people who would rather measure attraction to each gender independently (minimum two scales, realistically more) rather than have separate "how sexual" and "with whom" scales.
https://www.pnas.org/content/117/44/27080

There's also gender of presentation vs gender of preference, like all the manly men who follow the sportsball and hang out with the boys because that's culturally expected, when really they'd rather curl up in bed with a good book.

388:

That is your opinion; it is not mine. I have been watching this disaster unfold for half a century now, have repeatedly heard people with rose-tinted classes say similar things to you, and my doubtful pessimistic views have always turned out to be along the right lines.

389:

Paul
We've figured out that the old one-dimensional model doesn't fit reality Unless you are re rleigious believer, of course, or otherwise brain-stuffed.
There was also the confusion that "the majority" was "Normal" & everything else was, in some way "wrong" - the discovery in the period 1945-80 that all mammals & most birds had minorities that were homo-oriented still doesn't seem to have *ahem* penetrated a lot of people yet.

EC
Actually, I agree with you, it's "just" that I don't think we are quite as far down that road as you do - yet.
But there are an awful lot of fascist-ennablers around, equivalents of Weimar industrialists who supported the various ultra-right factions ( NOT "just" the Nazis ) who want a nice little semi-authoritarian right-wing semi-repressive state, that isn't (yet) actually fascist ...
The real fascists are mostly not present in the UK, they are almost all abroad, in tax havens or the USA, pushing the hard Brexshit we are now lumbered with, for all their worth. They are waiting their time & - they hope - their turn.
BoZo, for all his failings & treason is not actually a fascist, but some of his followers are, or damned close to:
Patel, Francois the utterly vile Dan Hannan immediately come to mind. I'm sure you can add to that list.

Speaking of Hannan, he gave the game away about 2 weeks back - showing, like the religious I mentioned above, how utterly out of touch with reality he is.
Which states in Europe have the highest standard of living? Germany & the Scan countries -which are all Social Democracies, with well-enforced labour protection laws. Yet Hannan & the fascists & fascist-ennablers are still spouting that the route to prosperity is to do the exact opposite to that.
Which strikes me as profoundly stupid.

390:

I said that we are heading there, fast, not that we are quite there yet. Unfortunately, your claim that there are stong counter-currents isn't supported by facts on the ground - at best, they are eddies that are slightly slowing the flow.

391:

EC
You are not in London, are you?
BoZo & his crooked cronies are thoroughly detested, here.
There is an amazingly sharp town/country divide on this. What worries me are the semi-rural/semi-urban dwellers who traditionally voted Labour supporting BoZo - though given the history of places like Hartlepool, I suppose it could have been expected.

Talking of which ... I find this a very worrying & disturbing development - & so should all of you.
OTOH - IF this is true it is very good news indeed. -
We will have to await further tests, I suppose.

392:

Not as detested as they are here, I can assure you. But the opinions of even the intelligentia are IRRELEVANT, until and unless someone organises an effective fight-back, and the majority of the peasantry is prepared to support it. There is no indication of either, not even in London.

As I have pointed out before, repeatedly, this is a systematic failure of our political and social system, and throwing out one bunch of crooks isn't going to help unless the root cause is addressed. And I can see NO sign of that being likely in my lifetime - of a certainty, Starmer won't do it.

393:

Barry @ 338:

(quoting another?) "The M-16 had a left hand firing adapter that deflected the ejected cartridges so they flipped over the top & off to the shooter's left. You can buy left-handed AR-15s."

Ah, the memories. I'm a lefty, and when firing an M-16 from the prone position, one had best fasten the top shirt button, or the hot brass would occasionally fly down the shirt and caress one's chest.

BTW, the adapter was a very cheap plastic thing which looked like a kid's well chewed toy.

If it makes you feel any better, I'm a right handed firer and I have also experienced hot brass down the shirt while firing prone ... more than once.

394:

SlightlyFoxed @ 349: The other problem in using Hadrian's Wall is that it was designed to keep the Picts out of England so it's built on north facing escarpments (in parts) with easy slopes for the Roman defenders and tough climbs for the rampaging Northerners

Not my picture

The reverse of what might be necessary

It is a pretty picture though.


395:

@ Greg 389 - "But there are an awful lot of fascist-ennablers around"

Depress yourself with a nasty concrete example - https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/waiting-for-our-salazar/

396:

kiloseven @ 377:

But for me the question would have been where does a guy with a high school diploma find a job that doesn't require an obscene work week, but still pays enough to keep body & soul together.

My answer in 1972 was to join the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. Skilled craft unions Stateside offer apprenticeship programs today to enter the workplace without the expense (and nonsense) of a degree.

That works if you live where there are good, strong unions ... and you can get in the union.

North Carolina is a "right to work" state. Unions are not so strong and sometimes, being a member of one can be an impediment to getting a job (even if that kind of discrimination is against the law, it's damn hard to prove).

398:

the manly men who follow the sportsball and hang out with the boys because that's culturally expected

Reminds me of the song "Manly Drink" by The Ecclestons, which I've been unable to find on the internet. Here's a preview, which misses all the good bits:

http://www.celticradio.net/php/playlist.php?letter=&search=Imbolc%20to%20Beltane&type=album&exact=exact

399:

Uncle Stinky
Thanks for that piece on Salazar ... actually his police beat people up more than than suggested ...
Of course, now, he would be rejected in any (?) European country for his religiosity.

Which reminds me: a stark contrast between the UK & the USA, to be observed in two Newspapers - The Wall Street Journal & The Financial Times
AIUI, the WSJ is reactionary, fiscally conservative, socially reactionary-to-oppressive & was IQ45-supporting.
The "FT", in spite of ignorant & profoundly stupid comments from "momentum" & similar idiots is:
socially very socially progressive, fiscally conservative, but with a large dose of social spending - because it helps the economy, stupid (!), definitely not a fan of oppression ( Their recent comments on the PRC are uncomplimentary to say the least ) loathed IQ45 from day one, if not before & are highly uncomplimentary about BoZo & his pals - because they correctly see Brexshit as a financial disaster.
It's a great shame that the "FT" is paywalled .... though one can get the weekend paper edition for a low rate ( Madam has just subscribed )

400:

https://time.com/5936036/secret-2020-election-campaign/

Is horrifying that the US needed to be saved by a conspiracy? Good news that the conspiracy happened?

I think we were insanely lucky that our would-be dictator was a compulsive troll who did a great job of alienating people.

401:

A couple of comments on the ever-fascinating subject of cricket.

There is no "speed limit" on how fast the bowler throws the ball; however there are rules about how they throw it, e.g. the arm being straight at the point of release, which have a limiting effect (as well as being one reason why bowlers use a run up).

The bowler is not restricted to sending the ball into any specific area, i.e. aiming at the batsman either directly through the air or via the ground is legit. However, umpires take a dim view of a bowler doing this too often, and there is now a limit on how often they can bowl at the head of a non-specialist batsman, e.g. one of the opposition bowlers (of course there is also the risk of that bowler returning the compliment when it is their turn). OTOH, if the bowler sends the ball too far out of reach of the batsman then they may be penalised.

For the batsman, as the ball is usually coming at them after hitting the ground it is important to get their feet in the correct position to help get the bat onto the ball, as well as moving sideways this may also involve taking several steps towards the bowler or moving slightly back to give more time to hit a ball rising to waist height or above (or to duck).

An international cricket match is usually played over 5 days, with 2 innings for each team. Each day is split into 3 sessions of 2+ hours with 30..40 minute intervals. A top-level batsman having a good day may bat for 5+ hours before getting out, so they need a reasonable level of fitness and ability to concentrate for extended periods.

For those who like things to move a little quicker there are faster versions of the game (by limiting the number of balls bowled in an innings & having just one innings each side) which can be completed in 4 hours or less.

The Oxbridge universities have not been part of the national 'county' championship for quite a while, although they may be involved in a few warm up friendlies before the start of the competition proper.

...Told you it was fascinating

402:

Per the Guardian, the white paper on NHS reform is about reversing the 2012 restructuring (under Jeremy Hunt) that set it up for part-privatization, required all new developments to be offered for tender to the private sector, etc. It's about returning control to the public sector and is a clear admission that the outsourcing mania set the NHS up to fail in a pandemic. Shockingly, Hunt himself is applauding the move -- but then, Hunt (who was the longest serving health minister since 1947) has been harshly critical of the government's handling of COVID19.

It remains to be seen whether it'll get turned into legislation, and whether it'll be watered down, but if it's as-advertised then it's the exact opposite of privatization -- they're following the Scottish NHS's lead (for some years NHS Scotland has been backing out of public-private partnerships and going back to the older socialized model of healthcare provision).

403:

As I said up thread. While both sport involve someone throwing a small hard ball at a batter with fielders dealing with what is hit, they are wildly different sports.

404:

"Liberalism failed because... quick, look at Salazar!" Christ, what an asshole.

405:

I'm reading the story now. It's amazing.

406:

And a comment on the equally fascinating sport of tennis…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FL44WaVRkgE

("Tried by the centre court", Flanders and Swann)

407:

Charlie
So: possibly good news, then?

Troutwaxer
The operative word there is "christ" - the US really has got religion badly, hasn't it?

Incidentally, the cover story on this weekend's FT comic is ... green energy & electron-distribution
And how it is changing the planet. faster than anyone could have anticipated 5 years ago. And how, 5 years from now Oil & Coal will really be yesterday's game.
It also says that C-19 has accelerated the process ... renewables were the ONLY energy sector to grow in the past year, for instance.
Unlikely lead figure in the story, too - an AUS mining magnate - going for Copper, Lithium, Cobalt & of the opinion that the AUS guvmint crawling up the PRC's backside to sell them coal might be mistaken ...
Oh & a side-note on the Brit/Norwegian electrical interconnector - we sell them wind electrons & they sell us hydro electrons, or something like that.

408:

Re: ' ... on the internet, know one knows who's a plant and who's genuine...'

Thought you might be interested in these two stories:

1- Materials science showing how to turn wood transparent as glass. Thought you could try this at home sorta an extension to your linen helmets/armaments. Personally would love to see this available for a prefab (Ikea-like) glass garden shed.

https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/7/5/eabd7342

'Abstract

Transparent wood is considered a promising structural and light management material for energy-efficient engineering applications. However, the solution-based delignification process that is used to fabricate transparent wood generally consumes large amounts of chemicals and energy. Here, we report a method to produce optically transparent wood by modifying the wood’s lignin structure using a solar-assisted chemical brushing approach. This method preserves most of the lignin to act as a binder, providing a robust wood scaffold for polymer infiltration while greatly reducing the chemical and energy consumption as well as processing time. The obtained transparent wood (~1 mm in thickness) demonstrates a high transmittance (>90%), high haze (>60%), and excellent light-guiding effect over visible wavelength. Furthermore, we can achieve diverse patterns directly on wood surfaces using this approach, which endows transparent wood with excellent patternability. Combining its efficient, patternable, and scalable production, this transparent wood is a promising candidate for applications in energy-efficient buildings.'


2- Lasso-locomotion in snakes

The article has a short video showing these snakes climbing a smooth metal pole -- just like the poles often used to prop up 'safe' bird feeders to help reduce the decline in bird populations. Learning/evolution never stops. (Hope these snakes never migrate.)

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/invasive-brown-tree-snakes-stun-scientists-amazing-new-climbing-tactic-180976728/

409:

Not all USians are ignorant about the endlessly disputatious alignments and assignments regarding the border(s) between Scotland and England, including Edward I's assertion that Scotland was his, i.e. England's, to the Disputed Lands -- particularly during the Tudor reigns and certainly before as well, as in the reign of Edward III. Then there were the Yorkist claims which fed into various usurpations and failures that were all part and parcel of what became called later, the Wars of the Roses, between whether Lancaster or York would hold the throne of England.

Some of us have even written long essays about Fraser's Steel Bonnets.

U.S. historians need to know these matters because all of it feeds into strong currents of the USian character and personality that have shaped so much of our political life and aspiration. The very high immigration out of these regions got lumped together as the Scotch-Irish (and which, though many had lived in Ireland were not Irish at all, i.e. not the same currents of Irish immigration). The purest distillation of this as an individual and a president was Andrew Jackson, which was by no means limited to undying, virulent hatred of Britain. It is hard to find anyone who could hate like Jackson and keep it up without ever softening a bit. He had a lot of hatreds, did King Andy.

410:

Jackson was strongly pro-slavery, wasn't he?
Responsible for the Trail of Tears, too.

411:

"baseballs are a lot softer"

Oh dear. When I was at school I occasionally found lying around these balls which were exactly the same as a cricket ball except for being white. I always figured they were base balls. Now I don't know what they were any more.

(I was lucky in being able to get through school without once playing either game myself. They did make me do rounders a few times, but that was played with the kind of manky old tennis ball dogs like to eat.)

412:

Post-300, for those interested in literal world-building and maybe time travel plots. The NYT has a neat video showing the Earth's plates and continents drifting around over the past gigayear. Quite dynamic and makes me wonder what was happening in the previous 3.5 Gy.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/06/science/tectonic-plates-continental-drift.html

413:

That piece [1] is quite nicely detailed, and a very enjoyable read. I hunger a bit for an even longer version. Thank you for the link. (People in countries other than the US should consider reading it.)
The discipline/diligence/coordination of many of the actors has been quite impressive.
It and the described actors are [fetchingly naive] about causality (events almost always have multiple causes (at multiple levels) pushing them to and fro), and about the effects caused by other actors not in the described network. (This is sort of addressed towards the end of the piece.)
Very curiously, it essentially ignores the (semi-)direct political effects of both the COVID-19 pandemic and the US economic collapse (in part caused by the DJT admin's response), and it also ignores littler random things like the DJT-centered COVID-19 cluster and the disruption it caused among the White House staff. And etc. (Even random things like election day weather significantly affect elections, and this one was very close in battleground states/the electoral college)
But these are quibbles; the outcome was that Trump and his people lost power (including the Senate), and as a bonus a lot of damage has been done, is being done, and will continue to be done to the Republican Party.

[1] Full formal link: The Secret History of the Shadow Campaign That Saved the 2020 Election (MOLLY BALL, FEBRUARY 4, 2021)

414:

Aargh, I decide not to interpolate yet another aside into my post and look what happens...

Yes, those are pretty much the only readily available exception to the rule of asymmetry... but they come from the Windows culture. They don't have a middle button, which is indispensible in Linux.

They are also exceptional both in having a ball which is 42mm in diameter, and in me having been able to confirm that before buying one, so I knew before spending any money that when I took the thing apart to transplant the ball and pickup into the body of my existing mechanical trackball which did have a middle button, the important bits would fit.

415:

"I should also point out that, on the internet, know one knows who's a plant and who's genuine..."

That is very closely related to the reason I once hoped that the internet would be a major force in teaching people not to hold irrational prejudices. Simply that none of those prejudices can manage to get going when you can't see the other person. When someone is only recognised by an arbitrary tag which might mean they're a plant or might mean they're a different badger, nobody they talk to can even think of writing them off because they have a different level of melanisation or different shaped rude bits, or, for that matter, different clothing preferences and stuff or even just because they're ugly. You can only decide whether or not you like someone based on what they're actually like, and if you do eventually happen to discover that they are in one of those visually distinctive categories, you've already decided you like them by that point, and the more times something like that happens the less tenable the prejudice becomes.

I blame bloody arsebook for turning the whole thing upside down and making it be considered normal for people to positively advertise their potential candidacy as targets of prejudice, so that the first thing other people get to know, before they've even talked to them, is not only their actual bloody photograph, but also some accompanying text which makes clear any bits you can't tell from a photograph, like whether they're gay. Now it's even worse than it was before the internet, with people now being able to conceive a prejudice against someone unknown even on the previously obscure non-visual grounds. And it's also much easier to ensure that you are only surrounded by people who are compatible with your own prejudices, so they can fester even more virulently with nothing to stop it.

416:

No idea :-)

A standard baseball is 10% less dense than a standard cricket ball, which is almost certainly mainly due to the tightness of the windings. That had a disproportionate effect on the hardness, even ignoring the fact that a cricket ball uses as harder leather as a cover.

417:

Night cricket ball perhaps? They used to be white, played in front of black sight boards.

I think they're pink now.

418:

Between the vehement anti-union attacks since Raygun, and outsourced HR no-nothings, it's unbelievably hard.

419:

I didn't like bheer until someone offered it to me around '70 or '71, in DC, at a *large* antiwar march, and I'd been wandering around for 3-4 hours in DC.... it was wet, and I didn't care any more than that.

Now, I like bheer (or, preferably, ale), but not everyone likes bitter. The only folks I criticize are people who claim to like beer... and buy "light beer", or, the new even-more-water "light beer with a spritz of selzer".

420:

Please note that the wSJ was bought by Murdoch in 2007, and so is even worse. (And an old friend who worked for them told me at a Philcon that the staff was REALLY, REALLY pissed when he did.)

421:

Ok, status report: I *finally* spoke with an old friend, who worked with George Scithers, including when George was an agent. After looking at the contract, he advised me to sign.

So, I did this morning, and they've moving on it quickly.

422:

whitroth @ 421: "After looking at the contract, he advised me to sign. So, I did this morning, and they've moving on it quickly."

You signed without asking for changes?

423:

Pigeon @ 411:/p>

"baseballs are a lot softer"

Oh dear. When I was at school I occasionally found lying around these balls which were exactly the same as a cricket ball except for being white. I always figured they were base balls. Now I don't know what they were any more.

(I was lucky in being able to get through school without once playing either game myself. They did make me do rounders a few times, but that was played with the kind of manky old tennis ball dogs like to eat.)

Based on a superficial Google image search, if they were "exactly the same as a cricket ball except for being white", they were probably white cricket balls.

My experience in school is that baseball is probably the easiest game for the non-athletic type. You just "play" deep right field and no one ever hits the ball out where you're standing, and if you ever do get up to bat, it's likely no one is going to be surprised when you strike out, so you're unlikely to catch too much shit.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HXVnb0wveRg

424:

Pigeon @ 415:

"I should also point out that, on the internet, know one knows who's a plant and who's genuine..."

That is very closely related to the reason I once hoped that the internet would be a major force in teaching people not to hold irrational prejudices.

Since there's no such thing as a "rational" prejudice, I never expected anything BUT irrational prejudices (plus my intro to the internet was through Usenet - there really wasn't very much to the WWW when I first got here).

425:

My little buddy had to go to the vet today for teeth cleaning. They do it under anesthesia and there are after effects.

Not gonna' be chasing the squeaky ball tonight.

426:

410:
Jackson was strongly pro-slavery, wasn't he?
Responsible for the Trail of Tears, too.

And the destruction of the national bank and the national economy, among many other recurrent horrors. Fave of *rump in the oval office, etc.

Unlike the *rump though, AJ was totally pro-union, due to hatred of the brits among other things. So destroyed his own VP when the Nullification crisis happened.

Went to his grave, supposedly, lamenting he'd never hung John Calhoun when he had the power.

427:

As my friend put it, "Eric's a writer, and this is a contract he'd want to sign". It's under 3 pages, they get the ->English

I know what I don't know, and my friend does.

Tentative date - it could slip either way, is 27 May.

Straight adult SF (NOT YA, NOT military sf). And, unlike most other things published these days... complete in one book, not the first book of an 18 book trilogy. [g]

428:

"baseballs are a lot softer"

Oh dear. When I was at school I occasionally found lying around these balls which were exactly the same as a cricket ball except for being white. I always figured they were base balls. Now I don't know what they were any more.

Baseballs have a hard rubber like core with a very tightly wound twine covered by a leather or similar covering. With a very specific stitch pattern to allow pitchers to do interesting things.

With either a cricket ball or baseball, once the outer few millimeters compress the result of getting hit is about the same as with solid kiln dried oak. Both have to deal with being hit by a fast moving pole/paddle at well over 60mph for just the ball and stay intact.

In what appear to be an urban legend, baseballs WERE considered softer prior to 1920. But most think the huge increase in batting prowess was mostly from replacing beat up balls during games and outlawing pitchers fouling up the balls to make them harder to hit. I think today's pros average only 8 pitches per ball. They are replaced if scuffed, hit, or dirty.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dead-ball_era#End_of_the_era

US softballs are bigger and a bit softer in the outer layer but still if they hit you once that outer layer compresses they can do serious damage.

429:

and as a bonus a lot of damage has been done, is being done, and will continue to be done to the Republican Party.

Ahem.

To the old Republican Party.

I wonder just what will emerge.

A new crazy R party (with my brother and his descendants first in line to join)

or a R party lost for a while with their only power being same rural states

or with an R1 and R2 fighting internally for a decade or so. (The 2010 Tea Party movement is still a thorn in the R side so ....)

430:

They are also exceptional both in having a ball which is 42mm in diameter,

I prefer the Kensington Expert Mouse trackball with a 55mm ball, a ring around the ball and 4 button, one in each corner.

https://store.kensington.com/products/kensington-expert-wireless-trackball-mouse-k72359ww

A lot of CAD users like it as they discovered their finger tips have much finer control than their "elbow".

But alas, Revit (which is devouring the CAD universe similar to Windows the general OS market a few decades ago) really wants that middle button. So many CAD trackball users are switching to mice.

431:

(the Apple magic mouse). I always had RSI with trackballs. Simple solution: give up on trackballs.

Apple's Magic mouse will always result in a hand position much flatter than any trackball with a ball bigger than a BB[1]. You are confirming my analysis.

But I'm also big in that everyone should use what works and what they like if possible. Which you did.

The Magic Mouse drives me nuts. I tend to switch tracking devices multiple times per day. When visiting an office I may sit at 20 seats in a day and deal with one of most everything. I just don't use the MM enough to get good at sliding around on it's surface.

I carry around a wireless w/dongle $10 Logitech M325 around for when I must do a lot on a system with only a MM or a mouse setup for lefties.

432:

there's no such thing as a "rational" prejudice

I don't think that's right. Prejudice is by definition unfair, but it can be entirely rational.

The current fad for closing borders, for example, is deeply unfair but also very rational in many places. And it is literally pre-judgement based on where people come from, usually against people from more pandemic-hit areas, but in countries like the US and UK it's at best slightly reducing the odds of a new variant arriving. Butsince the borders aren't completely closed, it's not even doing that very well.

433:

I used to love beer. Especially german and czech pils but also the occasional strange belgian brew from time to time or even a guinness.

Then in 2010 I had a myocardial infarction (hospitalised, stent - the works...) and my taste buds kinda flipped. I absolutely cannot abide any bitter tastes anymore so beer is sadly a big nono for me nowadays.

The worst is I can remember that it tasted good and the aroma of a fine beer can still make my mouth water in anticipation, but tasting it? Bleeergh!

(I suppose I have always had supertaster tendencies but the infarction increased it enormously)

434:

JBS
Since there's no such thing as a "rational" prejudice
WRONG
I should not be prejudiced against brain-fucked idiots who believe there is a Big Sky Fairy - giving out absolute instructions as to how people should live, with especial controls on ... oh women ... ?? And / or encouraging "killing the unbelievers" ??
Somehow, I think not!

Moz
Prejudice is not by definition unfair - it means - "pre-judgement"
Which can be unfair, easily.
OTOH, it can mean: "On the basis of much evidence, this attitude is not be be considered fair or equal & must be treated with extreme caution... "

435:

White Cricket Balls ==> before or nowhere near night cricket ==> Hockey Balls.

436:

AT & others re# 412
Is there a slower, or stop-motion version of that very interesting plate tectonics visual?
Pretty please?

There should be several versions, scattered over the intertubes, somewhere, surely.

437:

There are also white Lacrosse balls.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lacrosse_ball

438:

Now that we're well-over three hundred, how's Brexit going?

439:

Now that we're well-over three hundred, how's Brexit going?

One headline says it all: Fury at Gove as exports to EU slashed by 68 percent since Brexit.

440:

Charlie
And that is just the start, I'm afraid.
The Road Haulage Association, according to our misgovernment, don't know their own traffic numbers, which is plainly lying bollocks.
It will go on like this until June/July, when the full new paperwork & restrictions come into farce, oops, "force" ...
Various gullible voters are already actually starting to moan & complain: "This isn't the Brexit I voted for!"
Well, you were clearly warned, were you not?

I think that, come about August the Brexshit backlash is going to be virulent ... but the tories have a solid Parliamentary majority until 2024 ...
It's going to be interesting.
When, this soon, you get tory headbangers saying it's barmy ... but then trying to blame the EU, you know something's going wrong.

441:

Is there a slower, or stop-motion version of that very interesting plate tectonics visual?

The freeware VLC video player has a somewhat crude speed control and also allows frame-by-frame advance by pressing the "e" key. It works for me in Windows 10.

https://www.vlchelp.com/frame-stepping/

443:

AT
Many thanks
I already have VLC installed, so I'll give that a go.
The original paper is also available as a pdf-download, incidentally.

444:

Ah... that could be it. Hockey did exist to at least some extent, though I never made acquaintance with it.

445:

Prejudice is not by definition unfair - it means - "pre-judgement"

Sorry, should have said "five disctionaries agree". I was curious because my inclination was like yours but I decided to check. The current meaning is literally "unfair pre-judgement".

446:

It is most peculiar the way the plate boundaries keep jumping massively between one frame and the next. Look at the difference between 751Ma and 750Ma, for instance.

447:

Must be a Flash issue.

Barump bump.

448:

I can take a guess at what's going on here, but I'm pretty sure the answer's subsumed under "lack of evidence."

To unpack that, most of the Earth's crust erodes away, gets deposited, and makes more sedimentary, or eventually metamorphic or even (if fully melted) igneous rock, and every time this happens, evidence gets lost. Most of the evidence we do have is of the form of layers of rock with physical structure, chemical composition, radiochemical composition, and magnetic data. That allows geologists to figure out what it is, how it got there (as lava, sedimentary deposit, or sediment that got buried deep and partially melted into metamorphic rock), age from radioactive decay, and which way north was relatively, if it contains magnetic structures and was heated and cooled at some point. They can also work out paleolatitude to some degree, by using the magnetic structure.

So you get these samples from all over the globe and throughout history, and your job is to figure out where the seams between the plates are. Do you actually have seam material? Generally not, because it either get eroded away (zone spread, edges eroded into center, especially if the ocean came in) or it collided and got buried (e.g. Himalayas) or the two sides slid along each other and made a mess (San Andreas Fault in California). You might be able to find some of the deep-buried stuff if it came near the surface. The rest? Not so much.

So my bet is that the edges are modeled, not absolute, and they're jumping because that's just a best guess of where a seam would be between two plates to account for the data that are available.

If you really want to [have fun][???] go dig out some papers debating how plate boundaries form. I've read just enough to gather that it's not a settled topic at all. Are they just a line of hot spot volcanoes that make a plate too weak to hold together, and the split propagates along the hot spots (is that what's happening in the Rift Valley right now?)? Did the edges of a plate torque against other edges, causing a rip? Do splits tend to happen along the edges of giant mountain ranges where plates formerly came together (probably in the Atlantic???)? Is the deep structure in the interior of the Earth involved (in some way...)? You get the idea.

You can also see the state of knowledge if you look at predictions for how the continents will move in the future to form the next Pangea in 100-200 million years, give or take. There are at least four separate and incompatible scenarios out there.

This kind of sucks if you're trying to figure out what a deep future Earth will look like, what a past Earth looked like, or if you're trying to model a globe and add in plate tectonics instead of just fractals. But that's where we are at the moment.

449:

So, the same way "justified paranoia" is they really are out to get you, "justified prejudice" is what I have, say, against anyone in the GOP, or any white nationalist. [g]

450:

Charlie @ 439
It would appear that the misgovernment are annoyed at the RHA - however, I suspect that their outburst will come back to bite them when the real figures continue to emerge.
And they are shown up for the deliberate liars that they are.

Oh yes, stepping forward is easy in VLC, but stepping back is just about possible, but difficult ....
Do you realise that, here, we are living on the microcontinent of Avallonia?
Now there's a basis for an SF story!

451:

Nope...


$ wget http://vp.nyt.com/video/hlsfmp4/2021/02/05/91655_1_06tb-tectonicplates-vid_wg/index-f1-v1.m3u8
$ for x in `cat index-f1-v1.m3u8 | grep -E 'mp4|m4s' | sed -e 's/^[^"]*"//; s/"[^"]*$//'`; do wget http://vp.nyt.com/video/hlsfmp4/2021/02/05/91655_1_06tb-tectonicplates-vid_wg/$x; done
$ cat init-f1-v1.mp4 segment-*-f1-v1.m4s > reassembled.mp4
$ ffmpeg -i reassembled.mp4 img%05d.png
$ xview img00250.png
$ xview img00251.png

The continents have moved no more than expected, but plate boundaries, which mostly move as progressively as the continents, have between these two frames disappeared entirely and reappeared half an ocean away.

452:

"Oh yes, stepping forward is easy in VLC, but stepping back is just about possible, but difficult"

I've converted it to a PDF so it is possible to just page back and forth. Can you accept 21 megabyte emails or will things explode?

453:

I prefer the Kensington Expert Mouse trackball with a 55mm ball, a ring around the ball and 4 button, one in each corner. ... But alas, Revit (which is devouring the CAD universe similar to Windows the general OS market a few decades ago) really wants that middle button. So many CAD trackball users are switching to mice.

This, like the Linux objection, mystifies me. Are they using some operating system where it's not straightforward to remap any physical button onto any function? I'm not current on Linux any more but it was straightforward back in the day; a quick googling suggests new more feature laden options let you do more than before.

For those who often hop from one computer to another, that's obviously impractical.

The Logitech trackball I use has custom button software for non-standard attributions, but it's for Windows. There's also a archlinux wiki page demonstrating that not only are people successfully using it on Linux but they're happy to walk others through config options.

454:

go dig out some papers debating how plate boundaries form.

Has anyone done some compare-and-contrast with Venus, Earth and Mars? Earth has robust and perhaps bizarrely active plates. Mars has a huge volcano chain that looks like it might have been trying to become a plate boundary. Venus has -- what?

I keep thinking abundant surface water that gets subducted and lubricates the process might be important, but are there studies about why the three planets are so different wrt plates?

455:

There are at least three things going on.

One is utter ignorance. Apparently, Venus may have active volcanoes (https://www.space.com/venus-may-have-active-volcanoes-new-evidence.html). Actually, Mars may occasionally still have volcanoes, although none are currently active (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/20/science/mars-volcano-eruption.html). The seismometer we managed to place on Mars is certainly picking up vibrations that suggest that there's still magma moving somewhere on the planet. The general comment is that our observational window on most other planets tends to be brief, so if there's not a volcano going off when and where we happen to be looking, we tend to think that the body is dead.

A second issue is, as you pointed out, water. Maybe lubricating, definitely turning into steam and dissolving stuff. Probably this is important, but until we get some other examples of water worlds, it's hard to say how important. Remember that all those ice moons haven't been observed enough to say whether the ice there does plate-tectonic kinds of things, although my impression is that it does not.

A third issue is size and heat. This is mostly in models, but small planets are thought to cool off faster, both because they have more surface area to volume, and also because they have less radioactive material in their cores. This is supposedly the fate of all planets--they start off too hot for plate tectonics (surface isn't rigid, then cool. If they cool slowly enough, they develop a molten interior and a cool exterior, and the heat from the interior drives the formation of plates and plate tectonics. This also aids in recycling carbon into the atmosphere, so there's a carbon cycle that helps maintain life. Eventually the planet cools, the crust gets too thick for plate tectonics, the carbon cycle falls apart and life disappears. This is a model, and since it predicts a dead Venus and Mars, it's unclear how useful it is. But the general prediction is big terrestrial worlds have long periods of plate tectonics and potentially long-term life if they also have liquid water. A super-Earth a bit bigger than our planet, orbiting a cool, non-flaring star, would be the theoretical optimum under this model.

A fourth issue is the presence of other nearby bodies. Tidal forces can dump a lot of energy into a body. This obviously doesn't happen with Venus or Mars. While the Moon does cause tides on Earth, the energy from this is purportedly somewhere less than one percent of current tectonic forces. With a body like Io, though, IIRC tides are what are keeping it molten. I'd guess that an exomoon, or some of those planets around red dwarfs (like TRAPPIST-1) may experience real tidal effects from their neighbors.

456:

Allen Thomson @454 : "Has anyone done some compare-and-contrast with Venus, Earth and Mars?"

If Elon Musk is just slightly successful with his Mars program, that will be enough for Earth's scientific establishments to send special drilling rigs to Mars and end up with torrents of data comparing a planet with no tectonic plates and a planet with the full load.

Right now the Japanese are spending millions of dollars drilling down towards Earth's mantle and I presume they'll be interested in comparative geology in the next 20 years.

https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20190503-the-deepest-hole-we-have-ever-dug

457:

according to wikipedlo, venus underwent a "global resurfacing event" 300-600 million years ago

"Without plate tectonics to dissipate heat from its mantle, Venus instead undergoes a cyclical process in which mantle temperatures rise until they reach a critical level that weakens the crust. Then, over a period of about 100 million years, subduction occurs on an enormous scale, completely recycling the crust."

458:

Pigeon
Thanks, but I think my mail-handling - wouldn't.
Plates & life & water.

Mars once had fairly abundant water. It's generally-reckoned that there are minimal amounts of surface water in a few places - almost all as ice.
IF life emerged in the past, some will still be there - below the surface, as the only-recently-discovered deep microbes are living here.
It won't be Varley's "In the Hall of the Martian Kings" - but I'm betting there will be life, nonetheless ...

459:

Barump bump.

The rim shot sort of sound made by a drummer to tell the audience to laugh way back in the day.

It was a joke.

460:

This, like the Linux objection, mystifies me. Are they using some operating system where it's not straightforward to remap any physical button onto any function?

It is not a re-mapping issue. It has to do with how Revit wants you to use your fingers. I know two people who just gave up and switched to a mouse over this. They knew how to do the re-maps and REALLY liked their trackball but Revit expected operations to happen in a way that it just didn't make sense. Unless you didn't mind a productivity hit. And if you've every watched a CAD jockey with experience their screen seems to blur at times.

The issue had to do with you needed that third button to impact scrolling/zooming in ways where the finger combinations available with the trackball were just too messy. After 15 years on multiple other CAD programs.

462:

There are multiple variations.

But hey, your link made the time I wasted on their sub thread worth it. Going to save that one.

Thanks
[big grin]

463:

Just got the reviews back on a paper I submitted late in 2020. Both reviewers were enthusiastic, but had the standard complaints:

"The pictures are ugly."

"I don't like the way you write."

"You didn't reference my book."

"I want to you to include this additional research project, which should take less than 5 years to complete."

"This isn't bad, but it would be so much better if, instead, you had written this completely different paper."

I am curious whether fiction writers get these same nuggets of feedback when they sent in a story or novel?

464:

The dreaded reviewer number 3?

465:

The dreaded reviewer number 3?

Only two. Both were enthusiastic (which was a surprise -- I didn't expect it to be well-received), so I guess the editor didn't feel the need for a tie-breaker.

However, despite their overall enthusiasm, they couldn't resist the deep human need to complain.

466:

I wonder if I can get Transreal to sort out a shipping method that doesn't involve the global postal service, thank you BRexit.

I really don't want to queue for customs at the regular post office, especially during a pandemic. Some courier service would be more expensive, but they would handle taxes for me.

467:

I am curious whether fiction writers get these same nuggets of feedback when they sent in a story or novel?

Yes, we do. But usually editors are more insightful (and they're not competing for audience visibility/publications).

My reaction if an editor requests a change is: their suggestion is often bad/wrong, but they stubbed their toe on something, better identify what they were complaining about then decide how to fix it. Very occasionally the fix consists of telling the editor they were wrong (and explaining what they missed): occasionally it consists of applying their proposed fix: and usually it consists of coming up with a fix of my own that addresses their concern but does so better. They generally appreciate the latter, so no biggie.

(The most important lesson for anyone writing fiction for publication to learn is to check your ego at the door. Criticism of some aspect of the story is not an attack on your identity! (Except when it's malicious criticism by an unprofessional editor, but that's extremely rare in the industry.))

468:

I'll talk to Mike about it, but if you're anywhere except the EU, shipping should be normal (ie. tedious and annoying but not particularly gruesome).

Shipping to the EU from the UK is totally fubared right now and I have no idea when (or even if) it will be fixed.

Luckily for you I have no books coming out prior to late July, so there's some time for the situation to improve (I hope).

469:

so there's some time for the situation to improve
But, on present form, it won't.
BoZo & his merry crew are deep in an Egyptian river over how they know better than the people actually transporting ( Or NOT transporting ) goods are doing ....
I do not expect it to improve.
When the April & June/July restrictions cut in, I expect massive empty shelves at supermarkets & industrial supply-chains to be totally FUBAR'd - they will try their hardest to blame the evil EU, but apart from the totally committed 10-15% of headbangers, I don't think it will wash.
That's the point at which things get "interesting"

470:

If you are referring to the general public, I doubt that more than 10-15% will take even the slightest notice of evidence, or even try to engage their brains. As far as I understand it, though, the April and July stages are about IMporting (and transit, so all of Ireland will be affected), and things are likely to be clearer about EXporting by the summer. That doesn't mean any better, of course, and it is still on the cards that Brexit will be used by its principals to crash the economy.

471:

And the April restrictions will cut in just in time for the May 6th local elections and Scottish Parliament election.

In the latter, the question is not whether Labour and the Tories are going to get a black eye, it's whether they end up with two black eyes and a fractured skull out back by the dumpsters.

The former, however, especially in England and Wales, could be seen as an early referendum on how the Tories are handling Brexit and COVID19 lockdowns. It's going to be interesting.

472:

So far the comments and complaints on my novel have been pretty intelligent, many of them attached to things I probably still need to learn as a writer. Some of them are obviously matters of personal taste, but nothing so far I've found annoying or clueless. I've only had one issue where I had to decode the problem so far.

473:

Well, peer-reviewed academic publishing is different from fiction publishing in many ways, but the most important is this: it isn't fiction.

The short form of what reviewers look for in submitted publications is "It's new and it's true." The "It's true" part is not mostly about avoiding outright fraud. Rather, it's whether the evidence supports the conclusions. So expert judgement is essential.

BTW, this is what I'm talking about.

474:

Yes, but the "standard complaints" you listed above had nothing to do with the correctness of your observations. (Puts on Vulcan voice) the complaints seemed very... human.

475:

LAvery @ 473 : "So expert judgement is essential." (in selecting scholarly articles)

Expert judgement in selecting non-fiction for publication is essential too.

476:

Expert judgement in selecting non-fiction for publication is essential too.

My understanding is that non-fiction and academic publications are two very different things. For example, Trump's Art of the Deal would be considered non-fiction.

477:
Yes, but the "standard complaints" you listed above had nothing to do with the correctness of your observations. (Puts on Vulcan voice) the complaints seemed very... human.

You're not wrong.

478:

Yes. Esp. from beta readers, and, from what I've read from other writers, #5: readers who are telling you that you should have written their story, not yours, are not uncommon.

479:

Heteromeles @ 476 : "My understanding is that non-fiction and academic publications are two very different things."

Yes, and that's why Douglas Hofstadter had such a hard time persuading his employer that he should get proper academic credit for his "Godel, Escher, Bach..."

480:

What Charlie said. There's a lot of would-be writers who write for years, rewriting and rewriting, then when they try to get it published, "oh, my precious words!" and don't want to change anything.

They don't understand a) it's a business; b) that the editors have read so much, and if they're willing to talk to you and not just send a form rejection, PAY ATTENTION, because what they're saying is "I think this could sell, but you need to make it better to tell the story better, and then it will sell better (and I'll get paid more)".

Personally, I was ecstatic when Walt from RoF Press sent me the email saying "I had a real novel there", and then gave me some things to make it saleable, for exactly the above reasons. A good editor is literally an expert, and I certainly wanted to pay attention, so that I could improve it.

481:

One more thing: I was mind-boggled when they took it after only one revision. That's a major "yeah, you're getting it right"... and most of the revision was reorganizing a few chapters, along with adding some short conversations, that wound up plugging things I set up, but didn't resolve, and those were things I saw, rather then the editor.

482:

EC @ 470
Your utter contempt for the British Public is noted - remember that Brexit was "won" by the narrowest of margins?
And that voices to the tune of: "This is not the Brexit I voted for" have clearly started to emerge?
( Yes, they have started to realise that they were conned - they are going to be very angry indeed/ )
No, at least 30-45% will "Notice" - but that is not enough to overturn this crowd.
Actually, I expect it will get to the point of food riots sometime between end of April & end of July ( Unless we are very lucky ) & then - given this collection of clown's incompetence, collapse of their "government" - THEN it gets interesting.
Will they try for the Civil Contingencies Act & fascism, or will it implode, because they are in charge & will automatically screw even that up?
A gentle drift to fascism they might get away with, as you have noted, but, bing this lot, I expect them to try to seize an "opportunity" - & fail.

Charlie on the same subject ...
Being this lot, they will fuck up.
The attempt to "unlock" but refusal to allow pubs & restaurants to serve booze - even though the supermarkets have been sell it all along is beginning to get up people's noses - the fascist tendency of all "Puritans" is showing.
The one exception is London, where Khan is viewed with very deep suspicion, though I'm afraid he will still win - mainly because Shaun the Sheep is such an obvious prat.

483:

Separate post:
What the fuck? can someone please explain - my brain hurts.
Or is Musk actually off his rocker?

484:
What Charlie said. There's a lot of would-be writers who write for years, rewriting and rewriting, then when they try to get it published, "oh, my precious words!" and don't want to change anything.

You're not given the choice in publishing a paper. You submit your paper and some time later it comes back with the referee's reports. (The referees are the "peers" of "peer review" -- two or three people in your field who read your paper and evaluate it -- unpaid). You must then revise your paper to deal with their criticisms. Along with the revised MS you are required to submit a detailed point-by-point list of your responses to the referees' criticisms. Of course you don't necessarily have to do what they asked. "You identified a problem, but I'm going to fix it in a different way from what you suggested" is perfectly acceptable.

Ultimately it is not the referees, but the editor (also often unpaid) who decides whether your paper is acceptable. So you can argue that the referees are wrong, but editors tend to take a very dim view of authors who try to blow the referees off completely.

485:

My utter contempt for the voting public is, regrettably, supported by both statistics and experience. Even as late as November 2020, only about 10% of the public had decided that, with hindsight, leaving was a bad idea.

https://uk.news.yahoo.com/uk-wrong-leave-eu-yougov-181909982.html

486:

Well, the bigger point about non-fiction is that currently, non-fiction is judged less on content and more on audience. For instance, a currently popular media star could publish a ghost-written "how I survived the pandemic" piece of tripe with less struggle than some genius could do with a magnum opus. The key issue isn't veracity, it's the size of the audience and the number of copies likely to be sold.

That's why I didn't both shopping Hot Earth Dreams and simply self-published it. I knew I didn't have the fixed audience to make any publisher look at it, so its only chance of making money was to find an audience. Which it did, thanks in part to this website.

Academic writing uses a funding model akin to vanity publishing (author pays), so it's not necessarily constrained by audience size.

487:

Greg: The one exception is London, where Khan is viewed with very deep suspicion, though I'm afraid he will still win - mainly because Shaun the Sheep is such an obvious prat.

Welcome to "vote for the lesser evil" territory. I gather it's all the rage in the USA these days (although TBF Biden has vastly outstripped my -- admittedly poor -- expectations for his effectiveness and he's still in his first 30 days).

488:

Biden's doing something that's deceptively simple and sophisticated--he's checking for what a majority of Americans have said they want, and trying to get it done. If you frame stuff like health care costs and climate change in a non-partisan manner, there's broad, bipartisan approval for doing something about them. It's when it's deliberately made into a partisan issue that people (especially republicans) flock to the flag and demonize the other side.

So he's actually trying to be a uniter, and he's also trying to do what people say needs to be done, and he's trying to be non-partisan, and mostly it's by letting the Legislative branch be the focus of Teh Crazy while he goes about trying to fix messes most people want fixed.

At the same time, he knows full well that he's in power thanks to the non-white vote, so he's seriously got their back. And high time for that.

489:

My opinion? a) he's just playing roulette, and planning on making some bucks for himself. b) Tesla's planning on heavily getting into the money laundering game, esp. given the price of their high-end vehicles.

490:

Let me note that someone I was speaking to recently tells me that "author pays" is becoming less common.

491:

H
From this distance, it certainly looks like that re Biden. How long he'll be allowed to carry on before the rabids break loose again is anyone's guess.

Charlie
Khan is an obvious "New Puritan" - which doesn't go down well in London.
A tiny signifier: He demanded an advert be taken down & re-photographed, before it could be shown again. Why? It contained "Unhealthy food" - a jar of Jam. I kid you not.
His refusal to allow present owners of cars inside his limits to keep them - until they sell, when a "new" one must, of course be compliant is causing much suppressed annoyance - the people who can only just afford to run cars that they actually need - will be the most affected, of course. And for all he goes on about his dad being a bus-driver, he's screwed "London Transport" over almost as effectively as his unloved predecessor.

As for "Voting for the lesser evil" - with the exception of my local Parliamentary seat, where we are blessed with one of the very best MP's in the entire House (*note) - I've been doing that for years.
(*note: Will Stella be even a candidate for where I live, next time around? The last time I looked I was really angry about our local boundary redistribution, which is fundamentally unrepresentative & for that matter gerrymandered to ensure 1 safe Labour seat & 1 safe tory seat, with a local community - exactly where I live, split down the middle. )

492:
Let me note that someone I was speaking to recently tells me that "author pays" is becoming less common.

It's never been as simple as "author pays". I remember when I was at the MRC LMB in Cambridge, one of the faculty there told me, "We don't pay page fees." And yet, the LMB got published.

Note: for the journals, all the free labor helps. And the fact that many of them are now electronic only.

493:

As far as most aspects are concerned, I agree with both of you. As far as reducing international tensions goes, I am afraid that he is even worse than I expected. He has already blocked Putin from any chance of compromising, over pretty well anything, and made it very clear that he would pursue Trump's war (as a proxy for Israel and Saudi Arabia) against Iran. Even his remarks on China made it clear that he would follow Trump's policy, albeit with more subtlety, and have caused offence in China.

494:

Well, cozying up to Trump's handlers is scarcely what I'd expect Biden to do, especially considering how much mischief the Russians have recently caused in the US, what with hosting QAnon sites and such.

Still, there's a difference between cozying up to Russia and trying to get the Ukraine into NATO, and I expect Biden to be somewhere in that gap.

With regard to Iran, Trump tossed a grenade in the unlidded septic tank on that one, and that's a lot of shit to deal with. Ditto Israel and Saudi Arabia. Honestly, the nastiest thing the US could legally do to Russia is to wean the world off of oil, and it's the nastiest thing Biden could do to his political enemies in the US too. And I kind of hope he sets us all irrevocably on that course too.

China...sigh. They're seemingly convinced that the US is on the way down, and it's their time to become the #1 world power. Aggressively. Right or wrong, that puts our two countries in conflict. Hopefully we won't get into a situation where US or Chinese internal politics mean that (as with Japan in the 1930s), war between us is preferable to dealing with all the messes that have cropped up.

495:

What the fuck? can someone please explain - my brain hurts.
Or is Musk actually off his rocker?

Yet again, think Mars.

Cryptocurrencies have no border and make it difficult to seize assets - making it easy and safe for Mars colonists to hold bitcoin to both pay for things on Mars and to pay for things from Earth (whether goods or services).

496:

Taking advantage of > 300 and geeking out a bit, this is pretty interesting, IMO. The technique described is utterly straightforward and only depends on the availability of stable pulsars and the technology needed to measure their periods to the needed accuracy. Both of which exist, it seems.

It reminds me of the "radio science" experiments that kind of escape notice on planetary probes but have been yielding very significant results since the 1960s. If there is a stable oscillator out there and a stable receiver here, much can be learned by looking at doppler shifts.

The bit about "dark matter" is slightly unfortunate, although true for some values of true. The technique probes more than that hypothesis.

https://physics.aps.org/articles/v14/18


Galactic Accelerometers Probe Milky Way’s Dark Side
February 4, 2021


Binary pulsars can serve as sensitive accelerometers that probe the gravitational forces in our Galaxy, which could help in building a detailed picture of the dark matter distribution.

[etc]


497:

As far as most aspects are concerned, I agree with both of you. As far as reducing international tensions goes, I am afraid that he is even worse than I expected. He has already blocked Putin from any chance of compromising, over pretty well anything,

Anyone who thinks they can get a compromise out of Putin is dreaming - he has no reason to bend to the wishes of the West and his game playing continues to make Russia more relevant than would be the case if the West returned to a mostly united front of the pre-Trump pre-Brexit era.

and made it very clear that he would pursue Trump's war (as a proxy for Israel and Saudi Arabia) against Iran.

No he hasn't - he has said as soon as Iran starts obeying the deal again the US will return. That is a reasonable position for any administration to take - if Iran wants to return to the pre-Trump deal, then Iran needs to return to living by the terms of such deal.

Even his remarks on China made it clear that he would follow Trump's policy, albeit with more subtlety, and have caused offence in China.

Anything but total capitulation generally causes offence in China, so that doesn't mean much.

But like it or not, the China from the Obama era is not the China of today - in addition to the economic issues there are the issues of Hong Kong and various ethnic minorities in China.

Simply unilaterally abandoning all of the Trump mess and rewarding China can't be an option for Biden - not the least because it would send a message to any authoritarian country that they can move the goalposts in a bad way under the next Trump or Trump-like President and then have the "new reality" accepted as the new default by the following sane President.

498:

Or is Musk actually off his rocker?

Of course. Part of why he has succeeded. Look at Jobs. And to some degree Gates. Who is the guy who made a mint in security software then went off to some Carribian island and is now under arrest or something?

Oh yes, McAfee

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_McAfee

499:

- remember that Brexit was "won" by the narrowest of margins?

What happened 4 years ago is irrelevant today.

A better current measure is that Boris won a significant majority a year ago on the topic of Brexit.

And even if you don't want to accept that, most of the UK simply got tired of the whole Brexit saga and wanted it done with one way or another.

And that voices to the tune of: "This is not the Brexit I voted for" have clearly started to emerge?

Maybe.

A handful of stories about a handful of disgruntled people who claim to have voted Brexit does not make a movement.

( Yes, they have started to realise that they were conned - they are going to be very angry indeed/ )
No, at least 30-45% will "Notice" - but that is not enough to overturn this crowd.

No government worries about numbers that low, unless it is within their core supporters - and as we saw with Trump, the core Conservatives and Brexiters will continue to ignore any reality in front of their eyes.

Actually, I expect it will get to the point of food riots sometime between end of April & end of July ( Unless we are very lucky )

Wasn't that supposed to happen January 2nd? Or on several other occasions in the whole Brexit saga - the pound was going to become worthless, etc.

It's easy to predict doomsday, much harder for it to actually arrive.

Charlie on the same subject ...
Being this lot, they will fuck up.
The attempt to "unlock" but refusal to allow pubs & restaurants to serve booze - even though the supermarkets have been sell it all along is beginning to get up people's noses - the fascist tendency of all "Puritans" is showing.

Nope, not puritanism but rather simple virus reality. A bunch of people drinking a number of pints or other alcohol in an enclosed space is asking for the spread of Covid - no face masks (because drinking), no social distancing, loud talking or even yelling during sporting events is a bad idea.

The fact that supermarkets sell alcohol for home consumption is entirely different than drinking in a pub.

Troutwaxer