Monday, 18 February 2013

10:01 – I told Barbara yesterday morning that the change in her demeanor was profound following her and her sister’s decision that they would no longer attempt to parent-sit nights. She’s shed a very heavy burden, and it’s obvious just looking at her. She’s smiling and laughing again. She and Frances will continue to see their parents frequently to take them to doctors’ appointments and so on, but they’ve laid down the law to their parents, telling them that they, their parents, are now responsible for watching over each other at night. If something happens to Sankie, Dutch will be there to summon assistance, and vice-versa. There’s no need for Barbara and Frances to put their lives on hold just so one of them will be there every night on the off chance that something bad will happen.

Costco run and dinner with Mary and Paul yesterday. We decided that once the weather improved a bit we’d head out to shoot some clays. It’s been a long time for all of us. As I said to Paul, we shouldn’t put this off much longer. We need to Become One with Obama. Before we do that, I’m going to buy a 12-gauge 870 pump shotgun in open cylinder choke for myself and maybe a 20-gauge 870 pump for Barbara, assuming I can find any for sale. Walmart is out of stock at every store within a 50 mile radius. Paul suggested that Barbara might want to try Mary’s 20-gauge 870 pump before we decided between 12 and 20 gauge for Barbara. My concern isn’t with light clay loads, which Barbara could easily handle in 12 gauge. My concern is that a 12-gauge with magnum buckshot or slug loads is more weapon than just about any woman can handle comfortably. For that matter, it’s too much gun for many men. Free recoil is roughly twice that of a .30-06 rifle, which very few women can use comfortably for more than a couple rounds at a time. What I may do is take along a few magnum buckshot loads to the clays range and let Barbara try shooting them. My guess is that she’ll decide a 20-gauge would be plenty.

Lab day today. I need to make up a bunch of different solutions for the biology kits. All of those on my current to-do list are completely stable, so I planned to make up a bunch of each. For solutions that are used only in the biology kits, I’d intended to make up enough of each for about 125 kits, which is to say two liters for solutions we supply in 15 mL bottles and four liters for ones we supply in 30 mL bottles. Unfortunately, I’m low-stock on some of the required chemicals. For example, I’m down to about 15 g of eosin Y sodium, which is only 1.5 liters worth. I have 100 g on order, so I may just wait until it arrives. For solutions that are used in both the biology kits and the life science kits, of which eosin Y is one, I’d intended to make up about 250 kits worth, four L of those that we supply in 15 mL bottles and eight liters of those that are in 30 mL bottles.


96 thoughts on “Monday, 18 February 2013”

  1. I am SO glad to hear that Barbara and her sister have a chance for a break and get a bit of their own lives back.

    I have to admit that when Anne died, there was a little euphoria of release. The first two years were almost 24/7/365 care, except when I was at work. The final year WAS 24/7 and I didn’t sleep much, or eat much. I very nearly wore myself out. When Anne finally did pass away, I felt a bit like a cork that had been held under the water and then released. I imagine Barbara must feel somewhat the same.

  2. I’m sure she does. Everyone who has had to deal with something like this ends up being pushed to the breaking point and beyond. But everyone I know who’s gone through it implicitly thinks something like, “he/she is ill/dying and I’m perfectly healthy, so I should be able to deal with it easily”. Of course the reality is that no one can deal easily with that situation. It takes a toll, even on disinterested people like doctors and nurses. And it takes a huge toll on family members.

    I told Barbara that it’s perfectly normal to have occasional thoughts like, “I wish he/she would just die so that I could have my life back”. I’ve known people who were crippled by guilt after the loss of a loved one because they’d had those thoughts or felt relief when the worst happened.

    And I really hope that Barbara and Frances never have to make the decision to discontinue life support for either of their parents. That’s why I was hoping that Dutch and Sankie would both sign DNRs, which they haven’t.

  3. The 870 is an excellent all around shotgun. Can handle just about any kind of abuse and is easy to clean.

  4. Yeah, I’ve had a couple 870’s over the years but I don’t have one now. I figured it’d be a good idea to pick up a couple for Barbara and me. Even the Tac version 870 looks so much more innocent than the HS10B and Atchison.

  5. “My guess is that she’ll decide a 20-gauge would be plenty.”

    Most of the shotgun talk went over my head, and I’m not asking for an explanation, but why wouldn’t a 20-gauge be suitable for a guy too?

  6. Any recommendations from the folks here for US income tax filing software for 2012? Thanks.

  7. Most of the shotgun talk went over my head, and I’m not asking for an explanation, but why wouldn’t a 20-gauge be suitable for a guy too?

    It is suitable for a guy, particularly a lightly-built guy. Implicitly, I was talking about suitability as a defensive weapon, for which you want something that throws as much lead as possible at as high a velocity as possible. In practical terms, for most guys, that means a 12-gauge magnum buck or slug shell. But a 3″ 12-gauge magnum buck/slug shell, or even a standard 2.75″ 12-gauge buck/slug shell, is simply too much for most women to handle because of the heavy recoil.

    Barbara’s a big girl, so I may end up buying her the 12-gauge 870 simply for ammunition commonality, but in a mix of standard and magnum shells. Or perhaps from now on I’ll simply buy standard rather than magnum 12-gauge buck/slug shells.

  8. Good for Barbara and her sister. I hope it goes well.

    When Texas secedes from the Union:
    http://www.daybydaycartoon.com/2013/02/18/
    Yes, I live in The Great State of Texas.

    Are you going to buy the regular shotgun or the scary looking version?
    http://www.remington.com/product-families/firearms/shotgun-families/pump-action-model-870.aspx
    Do you have a Gander Mountain store near you? Twice the price but they have inventory.

    My local Wal*Mart is totally out of ammo except shotgun training shells. And they do not sell guns, just ammo. Just a month ago, they had so much ammo they could barely close the cabinets.

  9. Any recommendations from the folks here for US income tax filing software for 2012? Thanks.

    I have been using TurboTax for the last decade. I see no reason to change now. And my tax return last year was 30 pages with a Sub S corp and a commercial property that has multiple tenants. And I still e-filed. I just bought the 2012 Deluxe version at Wal*Mart for $42.

  10. I like my 870 a lot and am doing some mod work on it as time allows. Nothing major. Also rebuilding a Winchester 1200 as time and inclination allow. I normally load my defense shotguns with Number Four Buck alternating with slugs. My wife is also larger than average at 5’10” and around 180 now and can easily handle them. Daughter is 6’0″ and 210 and ditto on the handling. Son is 6’5″ and 275 and can probably fire two at once, like OFD. If we run outta ammo we can always swing them like bats pretty good.

    Our tax situation is on the mend but other than doing an estimate this past year, it does not bear talking about. Let’s just say it has really sucked.

    Chill factuh this morning was ten below; OFD got ‘permanent frostbite’ in his fingers and tops of ears back in the day when he was guarding Uncle’s nukes in north-central Maine in the dead of wintuh at 50 and 60 below chill factuh. So my fingertips this morning were a bit frosty.

    The weather liars tell us that tomorrow it will hit the fotties with a nice mix of rain and snow and sleet.

  11. Oh, and Happy Presidents Day, yet another bogus Hallmark holiday. Last decent one we had was probably Grover Cleveland or Rutherford B. Hayes or Chester A. Arthur, someone who didn’t do much, in other words.

  12. I have used H&R Block’s software (which changes name from time to time—it was “Tax Cut” when I first switched to it). It handled all the complex stuff necessary when we were ex-pats, and I have been completely satisfied. It handled my fairly complex Schedule C and then the nightmarish Schedule D when my folks passed on.

    My experiences with both Quicken and Turbo-Tax have been reported here in the archives. Even my dad had bad experiences using Turbo-Tax when it was professional-only software for Unix, before it was bought by Quicken and ported to Windows. But don’t take my assessment, use Lynn’s, because I’m the kind of guy who will never again try Turbo Tax, Quicken, or buy another Ford, due to super-bad experiences with them all. It may be perfectly fine these days—I’ll never know.

  13. I join in the happiness of hearing the relief Barbara and Frances are experiencing. Jeri went very quickly—4 months after diagnosis, and doctors thought she could not possibly last 1 month—so I did not come close to experiencing what Bill went through. But it was intense for the last month. I, too, was sorely saddened by the death, but at the moment I heard the news, a great sense of relief flooded through me.

    It is not clear to me what close family think they receive from spouse/children when they need help with serious challenges to living. There is no question I was not trained, nor could I give as good care to Jeri as professionals would have. She fell once in the final weeks, while I was looking after her, and to this day I have a guilty conscience about that, as it was a nasty fall. That would not have happened if she were being cared for by trained professionals in a facility built for cases like hers. But the burden it placed on me was nearly unbearable.

    Hopefully, professionals can continue to relieve Barbara and Frances from any further stress.

  14. OFD wrote: “Oh, and Happy Presidents Day, yet another bogus Hallmark holiday. Last decent one we had was probably Grover Cleveland or Rutherford B. Hayes or Chester A. Arthur, someone who didn’t do much, in other words.”

    Ah, we share a similar view of leadership. Politics is a wheel that should grind very slowly indeed.

  15. Oh, and Happy Presidents Day, yet another bogus Hallmark government holiday for those public-sector employees who need more time off because they work so hard.

    FIFY

  16. Last decent one we had was probably Grover Cleveland or Rutherford B. Hayes or Chester A. Arthur, someone who didn’t do much, in other words.

    I think the last decent President was Reagan. Before that maybe Calvin Coolidge.

  17. I think the last decent President was Reagan. Before that maybe Calvin Coolidge.

    Before Reagan, the last decent President was Nixon. He was trying to downsize the federal government when he backed his idiot campaign snoops.

  18. Reagan? Nixon? Geez. Reagan was a big-time spender, not to mention responsible for the religious right nutcases gaining ascendancy. Nixon, along with all his other major failings, not least officially putting us exclusively on a fiat currency, CREATED THE EPA BY EXECUTIVE ORDER. Geez.

    I still say the last really good president we had was Tom Jefferson.

  19. Speaking of Tom Jefferson. Do we have any of his DNA?

    Seems to me that cloning TJ would be a much better idea than a Neanderthal!

  20. I’ll go after Carter for one thing only (others may have more items). A circle of burning helicopters in the desert meant to rescue the hostages in Iran. No backup plan and no further moves. Pitiful.

  21. I normally load my defense shotguns with Number Four Buck alternating with slugs.

    Interesting choice. I’ve always loaded mine something like five rounds of #4 buck followed by three slugs. I guess on the theory that after five rounds of buck, the bad guy(s) are either down or behind something, and I prefer a slug for penetration.

  22. Reagan was a big-time spender, not to mention responsible for the religious right nutcases gaining ascendancy.

    You would have preferred an additional four years of Jimmy Carter instead?

  23. If I had a 12 ga., which I don’t, because it’s at the bottom of a river or something, it’d be loaded with something light to begin with, then alternating slug and #4. It’s ok to start with the light load because it holds nine shells, or would, if I had one, which I don’t.

  24. You would have preferred an additional four years of Jimmy Carter instead?

    No, I’d have preferred Ed Clark and David Koch, which is why I worked for the Libertarian National Committee during the 1980 presidential campaign.

  25. To be honest, I’m pretty sure I hung up on Reagan during the 1980 campaign.

    At Libertarian headquarters (listed on the letterhead as 2300 Wisconsin Avenue NW, but actually at 2262 Hall Place) there were paid staff and volunteers around 24 hours a day. We had a boatload of phones and phone lines, and whenever the phone rang whoever happened to be free answered it. So I answered the phone one day and the conversation went something like this:

    Me: Libertarian National Committee. How can I direct your call?
    Caller: Ed Clark, please.
    Me: May I say who’s calling?
    Caller: Ron Reagan.
    Me:

    I only got to thinking after I’d already hung up that the guy really did sound like Reagan, and I suppose it wouldn’t have been out of the question for him to be calling Clark about something.

  26. “Me: Libertarian National Committee. How can I direct your call?
    Caller: Ed Clark, please.
    Me: May I say who’s calling?
    Caller: Ron Reagan.
    Me:

    I only got to thinking after I’d already hung up that the guy really did sound like Reagan, and I suppose it wouldn’t have been out of the question for him to be calling Clark about something.”

    Reagan wanted a copy of the Libertarian Party manifesto to see if he could join, or at least pilfer it for ideas.

    Ya missed your big chance.

  27. Good riddance to Nixon, Carter, Reagan, the whole lineup of banksmen, crooks, thieves, warmongers, and bullshit carny barkers. A pox on them all. As for Jefferson, he was a better revolutionary and writer than President and as he got older he went downhill in a number of ways. Tarnished brilliance, to put it in a nutshell. Probably our smartest President by far but his light dimmed quite a bit as he aged.

    Our lineup seems to get worse with each new banksman, too. The next one should be a real doozy, and just in time for the Great Default.

  28. I really kinda hope that is IS Lady MacBeth of Little Rock, the Heroine of Tripoli, or that Barry Soetero takes a third term like his supposed hero, Pharaoh Roosevelt II. It’d be nice to have one of these criminal scumbags in there when it all goes to shit. I will volunteer to kick the chair out from under whichever one it is when the time comes, but imagine I’ll have to take a number for the chance.

  29. Miles_Teg said on 18 February 2013 at 20:26
    Hillary will be next, and she’ll fix everything… 🙂

    Which reminds me, Greg, when you get your Corgi or English Bulldog or Bordeaux Collier or whatever, are you going to have the vet fix it?

  30. Just have Hillary bite the poor mutt’s dangly bits off. Look at that face. You know she has experience.

  31. The poor mutt might be a she so that could be difficult. As to Hillary’s biting experience I suppose Bill is in a good position to talk about that. I read that at the time Bill, um, came clean about Monica that Mrs C gave him a good hit to remind him that he shouldn’t wander. Drew blood too.

  32. Ike is my favorite Prez from my lifetime. He spent sooo much time on the golf course. Next in line would be Coolidge, who did the same thing. If we could just get Congress to take up golfing…

  33. I like Ron, but some of his sidekicks were scary, and he did help the nutcases take over the Republican Party.

    My favourite, at least since FDR, was Truman. He was derided at first by the establishment but turned out far better than anyone could have expected.

  34. There’s some discussion about fluoride going on at Jerry Pournelle’s site. Should we be putting it in water and drinking it just to prevent cavities? Should it just be a voluntary mouth wash? I know it’s pretty reactive, and someone there was saying some studies have shown that it does/might adversely effect IQ. I’d always thought the anti-fluoride brigade were loons, now I’m not so sure.

  35. I’d always thought the anti-fluoride brigade were loons, now I’m not so sure.

    Have you been watching Dr. Strangelove too many times?

  36. The anti-fluoride brigade are loons in the same class as the anti-vaxers.

  37. I adore that movie. I’ve assigned various people on this board to different characters in it. Ironically, in light of his comment above, I’ve always thought our host was a good fit for General Jack D. Ripper, and I’m Group Captain Lionel Mandrake, the Brit who tries to talk sense into Ripper.

  38. Interesting. I’d have said you were Major King Kong. No wait, that’d be OFD. No wait, that’d be SteveF.

  39. Interesting. I’d have said you were Major King Kong. No wait, that’d be OFD. No wait, that’d be SteveF.

    Here I was thinking of Cowboy Slim as Major Kong.

  40. OFD isn’t in any movies. He writes them.

    I’ll treat your snarky comment as a serious one instead. You’re an English major, someone who should be off in rural Nova Anglia writing the next great American novel. Why aren’t you? You no longer need an agent or publisher. You can sell it for Kindle and Nook.

  41. The anti-fluoride brigade are loons in the same class as the anti-vaxers.

    Opposition to DEC would be a bit dated, wouldn’t it?

  42. “…someone who should be off in rural Nova Anglia writing the next great American novel. Why aren’t you?”

    Not only a former English major but a grad stud (ent) in Medieval Stud (ies). Novels are dead. No one reads. Our generation of readers is passing. People watch videos and sporting events on their computers, tablets and smartypants phones. Bookstores are dropping like flies. Borders is dead and B&N is not fah behind. Amazon remains, but is no longer just a bookseller if it ever was, and their warehouse workers are little better than medieval serfs, a status to which we will all soon be relegated.

    My probable best use of whatever skillz I still have in our language is gonna be divided between scripts and tutoring lesser mortals, i.e., usually chilluns, the latter for whatever possible small hope might remain in passing it on to future generations.

    In my fossilized literary historical view, the last great American novel was the trilogy produced with an Elizabethan/Jacobean England setting, by the late George Garrett. Prior to that it would have been Huckleberry Finn. The English, Irish and Russians have done a better job with this.

  43. The anti-fluoride brigade are loons in the same class as the anti-vaxers.

    Opposition to DEC would be a bit dated, wouldn’t it?

    Good one, took me a few seconds to figure it out though.

  44. Dave B has hit on the most obvious role: Stu for Major Kong.

    OFD for the Russian ambassador. I think Bill has already claimed Colonel “Bat” Guano.

  45. Not only a former English major but a grad stud (ent) in Medieval Stud (ies). Novels are dead. No one reads. Our generation of readers is passing. People watch videos and sporting events on their computers, tablets and smartypants phones. Bookstores are dropping like flies. Borders is dead and B&N is not fah behind.

    While the book business will never be the same, the Kindle and the Nook are both going gangbusters. People are still reading fiction, it’s the print business that’s suffering. John Locke and Amanda Hocking have achieved great success in self publishing. So much so that they both have landed contracts with dead tree publishers. I have never bought one of Miss Hocking’s books, and have only purchased one of Mr. Locke’s, but they seem to be quite popular.

  46. OFD wrote: “Novels are dead. No one reads.”

    BS. I read, my kids read. Everyone I know reads. What’s dead is the big blockbuster that makes people into overnight millionaires and turn into massive movie contracts, and JK Rowling even put the lie to that!

    The recent miniseries of Ken Follet’s World Without End shows that people are quite happy reading about medieval times, too.

    You’re just caught up in the fact that most people squander their art degrees. Why be one of them? Use your skills. I promise to buy your book.

  47. What’s dead is the big blockbuster that makes people into overnight millionaires and turn into massive movie contracts, and JK Rowling even put the lie to that!

    James Patterson releases a mini blockbuster book every month (14 total in 2011) and made $94 million in 2011. I think that he slowed down to 10 in 2012.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/aug/10/forbes-richest-authors-list-2012

    “The world’s highest-paid authors, according to Forbes
    James Patterson: $94 million
    Stephen King: $39 million
    Janet Evanovich: $33 million
    John Grisham: $26 million
    Jeff Kinney, $25 million
    Bill O’Reilly: $24 million
    Nora Roberts: $23 million
    Danielle Steel: $23 million
    Suzanne Collins: $20 million
    Dean Koontz: $19 million
    JK Rowling: $17 million
    George RR Martin: $15 million
    Stephenie Meyer: $14 million
    Ken Follett: $14 million
    Rick Riordan: $13 million”

  48. I hadn’t reckoned John Locke’s books to still be so popular; I may have to give him a look again; I did a nice paper on him as compared with Hobbes a long time ago.

  49. I was an early fan of the Kindle but found myself curled up in bed last night with an old and smelly copy of _Look Homeward Angel_.

    Will anyone disagree with my notion that that’s the greatest American novel?

  50. I haven’t read it, Jim, and am a bit weak on 20th-C American writers other than guys like Pound and Eliot and Frost. I will give it a shot, though, on your say-so.

    How does he compare with Faulkner?

  51. Um, this John Locke has sold millions of ebooks:
    http://www.amazon.com/John-Locke/e/B003ATT1YO

    I was an early fan of the Kindle but found myself curled up in bed last night with an old and smelly copy of _Look Homeward Angel_.

    Will anyone disagree with my notion that that’s the greatest American novel?

    Yes.

  52. Lynn, did you miss the “overnight” part? I appreciate that established authors make lots of money and sell lots of movie rights. AFAIK Rowling is the first in a long while to go from who? to household name that quickly.

  53. Literary fiction. Yuck.

    So what is the difference between literary fiction and video fiction? You love video fiction. Or are you putting down “Look Homeward, Angel”?

  54. BTW, I believe that America’s greatest author to date was Robert Heinlein. His juvenile speculative fiction works such as “The Star Beast” and “Citizen of the Galaxy” have literally no comparison in my view. “Stranger in a Strange Land” was an eye opener for me also. Following are Samuel Clemens, Michael Crichton, Larry Niven, John Grisham, Tom Clancy, David Weber, Louisa May Alcott, and many, many others. I will admit a high bias towards the speculative fiction genre, specifically in the space opera slant.

  55. So what is the difference between literary fiction and video fiction? You love video fiction. Or are you putting down “Look Homeward, Angel”?

    Literary fiction basically has no plot. It’s not storytelling, which is the only kind of fiction I’m interested in. Like poetry, literary fiction seems mainly concerned with the use of language.

  56. Oh, yeah. To answer your question, yes I’m putting down Look Homeward, Angel, along with everything ever written by most of the so-called great authors. To my mind, the likes of Faulkner, Hemingway, Fitzgerald and so on can’t hold a candle to superb storytellers like Doyle and Christie.

  57. I will agree that Heinlein is probably America’s greatest author to date, although he has a great deal of serious competition and not just in SF. Bujold would probably be my first pick in SF if only she’d write more.

  58. Of the Americans, Frank Herbert would be my all time favourite SF author. Unfortunately he died in 1986 so he won’t be writing any more. Also unfortunately, his un-gifted son, Brian, is trading on his father’s name. If only abortion had been freely available in 1946/47 we might have been spared his execrable writing.

  59. I’ve never seen Dr Strangelove. I don’t care for, uh, Whosis’s, the grossly overrated director of crap films, uh, him. I don’t care at all for his movies. Point being, I have no idea if I was being insulted up there, but in case I was, consider yourself challenged, whoever you were. I will meet you at dawn. Bring your knives.

    I don’t know if the novel is dead. Dead compared to what? Sales a decade ago, when there were no alternatives to paper except a full-fledged computer? Sales six decades ago, before TV was common? I do know that I’ve always preferred short stories if the point of the story is some cool idea; no need to stretch it out to 200k words. Maybe shorts are becoming more generally popular as attention span dwindles. bgrigg says he and his kids and everyone he knows reads, but I don’t know how much that signifies. I suspect that every regular commenter on this site is brighter than hell and associates mainly with the same. Does the average slob (aka, Homo dumbassicus) read? Kindle and Nook sales seem to say Yes, but the ebook market is a tiny fraction of the US television advertising market. No answers here, just questions. (On account of I worked 12 hours today after sleeping an hour and a half last night.)

  60. “(On account of I worked 12 hours today after sleeping an hour and a half last night.)”

    You say that as though it may have been some sort of ordeal or something that affected your judgement. Just joshing. Actually I could do that. Once. More than once in a month would kill my ass.

    I can count American novelists that I like on one hand and don’t read short stories or science fiction anymore. I will admit to being an odd duck; I read a lot of history, some biography, Roman Catholic theology, and poetry written over the last 5,000 years. So don’t go by me on what to like of literary matters.

  61. bgrigg: Uh, ok. Maybe you have to have seen the rest of the movie for that scene not to be stupid. But I think that almost every scene of every one of Whassis’s movies that I’ve seen is stupid, so I’m not holding out much hope.

    Here’s a sign of how bad Stupid Krotchface’s movies are: I used to joke that such-and-such movie was so bad that only gratuitous sex and nudity could have saved it. Then I saw Eyes Wide Shut, and that joke is now useless.

    OFD, I can do operations type stuff (in the IT sense — database stuff, deploying apps, poking server configurations) but prefer development. And, in fact, I thought I was being brought on as a programmer in this contract. Wellll… the boss operations guy is overwhelmed by the amount of work that has to be done (only in the evening and weekend, to avoid interrupting the users’ work) and the two guys who are in the office during the day are unable or unwilling to help off-shift, so I’ve been drafted. -shrug- Paid by the hour, so I’ll work on what’s given to me, but it gets to be a drag. It’s also a drag in the non-technical sense because the contract manager is now spending a couple hours a week bitching at me for billing too much. Well, tell that to any of the three managers and one technical guy I work for. I’m also constantly getting bitched at by one side for not putting enough detail into the weekly status reports to justify the hours I bill and by the other side for putting in enough detail that higher managers might use it as justification for cracking down on this office. Two months into a 21-month contract and I’m already thinking I made a mistake. “Paid by the hour” is the mantra that gets me through the day.

  62. No, the scene is supposed to be stupid all on it’s own. The whole movie is about how stupid the Cold War was.

  63. I liked the scene where Kong was rummaging through his survival kit, describing the various goodies, and said something like “a fella could have a good weekend in Vegas with all this.”

    I also loved Strangelove himself but don’t think there’s a good fit for him on this board.

  64. SteveF wrote:

    “Here’s a sign of how bad Stupid Krotchface’s movies are: I used to joke that such-and-such movie was so bad that only gratuitous sex and nudity could have saved it. Then I saw Eyes Wide Shut, and that joke is now useless.”

    His movies are weird, but I like some of them. Dr S, 2001 and EWS. Boy, that was weird, but the “scenery” was nice. I can’t explain why I liked it, but I did.

  65. His movies are weird, but I like some of them. Dr S, 2001 and EWS. Boy, that was weird, but the “scenery” was nice. I can’t explain why I liked it, but I did.

    I liked Dr. Strangelove and 2001, but the only other one I can think of, A Clockwork Orange was weird. So weird I stopped watching it after 5 or 10 minutes.

  66. Try “Barry Lyndon,” if you can dig 18th-C period pieces, but this one is based on the novel, which is a real hoot. In fact, read the novel either before, during or after; it ain’t that long. Barry is a card. The movie is a bit long and could have used some judicious editing, but the scenery and cinematography is very nice, and there are some great characters.

    @SteveF; you’ve fallen into the old IT scenario where you’re the guy with the skillz so therefore must be able to handle everything in the shop, and since it needs to get done and they haven’t hired someone specifically to do that stuff, you’re their guy. They’ll use you for both what you were hired for and any other shit they can throw your way. Yeah, you’re getting paid by the hour, but it *does* get to be a drag real fast.

    I’m in sort of a similar boat here; there’s the gig I was hired for, i.e., configuring and running RHEL clusters, and then they have me covering for other people when they go out on their apparently unlimited vay-cay time, and their shit is all this legacy hw and older versions of RHEL and AIX and baby-sitting lusers. I also do a lot of hands-and-feet hw stuff; why? Because my team lead likes to go skiing in the winters and is hardly ever here, and there is no one else. (but they just hired two new drones to help with the mountain of cluster work coming our way, so I can assume that they’ll now expect me to train them, do my own gig, and also cover for everyone else.) Three jobs for the price of one, you see.

    I am hacking the mission for a while longer but am also gonna be looking around as the IT job market heats up again; one of my colleagues here who’s been on-site for twelve years now is leaving; last day today. And he wouldn’t go unless he felt pretty confident about his prospects.

    I also need to jack up my income by at least 50%, in my estimation, ASAP. Although I realize that the more we make, the more they take, both the gummint and the hen conclaves.

  67. I will agree that Heinlein is probably America’s greatest author to date, although he has a great deal of serious competition and not just in SF. Bujold would probably be my first pick in SF if only she’d write more.

    Bujold is a excellent author but she is a one trick pony for me. All of her good XXXX great stuff is a many volume series about the Vorkosigan clan (modeled on the 1800? Prussians). I won’t even try the pure fantasy stuff that she has as I abhor that type of story.

    Heinlein is great because all of his stories are different. Always different settings and usually different characters. He uses the Lazarus Long character in several but less than ten percent. I could also go on and on about “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” but this is neither the time nor the place. And, Heinlein never quit writing, even in his 80s when his stories got weird, real weird. “I will Fear No Evil” weird.

    Heinlein did loosely write to his Future History ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Future_History , http://templetongate.tripod.com/rahchart.htm ) series in which we are currently living in the time he called the “Crazy Years”. He foretold that this time would end in the USA with a religious dictator. I doubt that I will live long enough to see this happen if it does.

  68. What do y’all SF fans think of the late Philip K. Dick and his posthumous popularity, what with flicks and a handsome Library of America multi-volume set? And how about the late Thomas M. Disch? I’ve read several of the latter’s books and also his poetry criticism.

    And does anyone have a theory as to why most SF writers and modernist poets, roughly from the same chronological time span in the 20th-C, were/are right-wingers?

  69. That’s where all the mothers and wives and daughters get together and lay eggs and discuss secret stuff. None of us roosters allowed.

  70. I’ve never been a fan of Philip K. Dick because he writes short stories and novellas, I like novels, the longer the better. But the movies from his works are fairly good, “Bladerunner”, “A.I.” and the “Minority Report” are some of those.

    One of the more popular SF authors of today, John Scalzi ( http://whatever.scalzi.com/ ) is a total liberal living in Ohio. But he was born and raised in California where he apparently swam in the koolaid. He claims that 40,000 people follow his blog daily. You can see some of his thoughts here: http://whatever.scalzi.com/2012/05/15/straight-white-male-the-lowest-difficulty-setting-there-is/ .

    I do not know why most SF authors are conservative. It could be that many of them are ex-military and have first hand experience with dictatorships and oppressive societies. It could be that many of them are visionary and realize what happens when half of society gets a check from the government. I just know that I cannot give you a concrete answer.

  71. In my experience over half a century with the hen conclaves it is as our host has described, with the added proviso that not only are we roosters, or in the old-fashioned word, cocks, not allowed, but we are required to empty our wallets and checkbooks and credit cards regularly and cheerfully for said hens.

  72. I’d guess that science fiction authors tend toward conservative political views because good scifi requires thinking things through — logical consequences of some fact or decision. Fantasy authors tend to rely on magical thinking, pun intended — just thinking something is a good idea is good enough and they often just splatter ideas about without examining whether fact B or cultural structure C logically follows from fact A. Painting in broad strokes, those two attitudes correspond with conservatives and libertarians on the one hand and liberals on the other. (All terms used in the modern American sense.)

    Mystery and modern-world action writers don’t have any particular group leaning that I’ve noticed, probably because they’re not creating worlds but instead are starting from the existing world. And who knows what literary authors have going on; no one reads them, so it doesn’t matter.

  73. BTW, somewhere in the last twenty years or so, SF changed from being “science fiction” to “Speculative Fiction” so that it could be more inclusive of the Fantasy and Horror branches. Just being P.C. of various writers feelings.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speculative_fiction

    “Speculative fiction is an umbrella term encompassing the more fantastical fiction genres, specifically science fiction, fantasy, horror, weird fiction, supernatural fiction, superhero fiction, utopian and dystopian fiction, apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction, and alternate history in literature as well as related static, motion, and virtual arts.”

    Try saying that in one breath!

  74. “And who knows what literary authors have going on; no one reads them, so it doesn’t matter.”

    Except other pseudo-literary egghead lefty asswipes. And the agents, publishers, academic nabobs and media rumpswabs who push their garbage for them. One can almost guarantee that they are imbecilic lefty types who make a decent enough living but loathe and despise the system and country where they live.

    Same thing in the college and university humanities and social “science” departments; they all write for each other, period.

    And to think I nearly spent ten years learning multiple medieval languages and cultures and writing a book-length dissertation to defend against these people, and at best, work as a gypsy adjunct professor in some podunk region of the country, commuting hundreds of miles to, if fortunate, teach one crummy community college course per semester. And be loathed and despised by my colleagues. Why is that, you ask? Because I am a straight married Caucasian Roman Catholic war veteran male. That used to get us some mileage back in the day; soon it will get us boxcars to the camps or a firing squad wall.

    Or the attempt thereof.

  75. I x-posted with Lynn just then; yes, they change the names of things to push their super PC agenda, all the time. So Science Fiction became “Speculative Fiction,” and they managed to keep the initial “S,” so it can keep being SF.

    And the Renaissance became the “Early Modern Period.”

    Fuck them all.

  76. I never have understood why Dr. S. was so adored. It was a terrible movie, IMO, following on from Lolita, which was brilliant. So, SteveF, don’t bother if you have never watched Dr. S. There is no need to see it.

    Kubrick’s forte was the visual. He told stories within stories with just his pictures. He succeeded to do what Ingmar Bergman only attempted and pretty much failed at, IMO. In fact, one of Kubrick’s prime tools in his visual story-telling was Steadicam,—a spring counterbalancing system that allowed a cameraman to hold a 35mm camera and move with it as steadily as if it were on a dolly,—was invented for Kubrick. Steadicam is based on the fact that you can hold your hand out and keep it steady (with effort) even while you are running. It does take someone with an already steady hand, though, and also a very fit, stronger than average person. All the best Steadicam operators of the past, lifted weights and worked out daily to stay in shape for camera operation.

    These days, Steadicam is pretty much passé, as movies switch to video for shooting. Video cameras now have anti-shake and anti-roll capabilities, which steady a shot even better than Steadicam did—for those who actually want a steady picture. Shaky-cam pictures and adding vinyl surface scratches to digital audio is not art, IMO.

    The problem with EWS is that Kubrick obviously did not watch enough porn movies before setting out to shoot it. He also died before he finished that project to his satisfaction. Before the final release, which happened after his death, he expressed his opinion privately to some others, that he felt it was not up to his standards. EWS was not better than Last Tango in Paris, IMO. It also failed to do what Kubrick said the mission with EWS was: to make a mainstream popular movie where full nudity would be accepted as not pornographic. The recent James Bond movies have done a better job at that.

  77. Okay Chuck, why was Dr S so bad?

    I’ll admit I’m not a critic, I like particular movies just because I like them. Same with portraits, landscapes, music, even the occasional sculpture. I like some and hate others and can’t usually explain why.

  78. The reason I did not care for it, was because of the story line. The subject matter was disjointed, connections were vague (for me), and people’s reactions in the story were—while somewhat plausible—not consistent with reality, IMO. At the same time, I can tell you that my friends who had any sort of life in the military—and they were many in that era,—absolutely loved the movie. Actually, I have never much cared for any of the stories Kubrick used in his movies, except 2001. The subject matter was usually distasteful, if not outright revolting. Neither of my wives would watch Kubrick movies again after they saw their first. I had to watch EWS alone.

    I think Kubrick was brilliant; but, like Moriarty, he applied himself to things that would never benefit mankind and had no noble motive—especially considering the fact that in Kubrick’s line of work, he would touch millions of people worldwide.

  79. Well, I liked the black humor in Dr S. Those were such dangerous times you just had to have at least one movie that satirized the whole nuclear war scenario. Unlike Failsafe, The War Game and The Day After – all good movies, but serious.

    I haven’t seen many of the Kubrick films, such as CW Orange. I can only remember seeing 2001 when I was about 10 – I liked it but thought it a bit weird, Dr S and EWS. EWS was strange, I didn’t really understand it, but I liked it for reasons I can’t explain – which doesn’t include the nudity or Nicole K.

  80. As far as why one likes things that they do, I think that is a combination of factors, including one’s environment when growing up. However, I am absolutely with our host that any successful book or movie has got to tell a satisfactory story. So many authors—and I include Rowling and Tolkien in this—are only impressed with their ability to string lots and lots of words together that please themselves. They might as well write technical dissertations, because there is no story in 5 pages of detailed description of a magic wand or a Hobbit’s left foot.

    In the case of a movie, the spoken word and the visual both need to tell a story to be entertaining. Anything that stands in the way of that, needs to be removed. In fact, that is the process of making television and movies. You interpret some idea by putting it on the screen, then you remove objectionable things from it, usually one-by-one. Easy to see why there are often multiple takes—the reason to do something over again could come for a variety of reasons beyond a flub by the actor: lighting did not enhance the scene; a bobble in the camera movement that was distracting; audio in the take that was not clearly heard or had an extraneous, distracting noise.

    A visual progression that tells a story is essential. One of the reasons I really do not like watching TV news anymore, is that today’s photographers have no imagination and do not tell stories with their pictures. Fifteen shots of a burned out building from every conceivable angle that are essentially still pictures, just is not a story. A story is a progression of pictures that continuously reveal something interesting. And no television show tells a picture with the visual, anymore. It is a camera change every 2 seconds. Watch something like these stupid talent shows, and it is a shot change every 2 seconds. They get somebody with gymnastic talent, and the person starts doing something very difficult, requiring strength and coordination, and what happens? They cut to shots of the audience going ‘ooh, ahh’, and we never see the gymnastic feat at all!

    Visual stories can be enhanced in different ways. Near the end of the black and white era, lighting people in both television and film did beautiful work enhancing the story. The shadows they created—which were often not realistic—not only gave the illusion of depth to visual images, but enhanced the mood of the story tremendously. Unfortunately, that was not carried over as television moved to color, which forced all movies into color, too.

    One of my favorite movies, which knocked me out as a kid when I first saw it, was “Dark Passage” with Bogart and Bacall. The first half of the movie dealt with Bogart escaping from prison, and was shot POV Bogart’s character. Later in the movie, the character had face surgery to change his appearance, and only after the bandages were removed did we see Bogart’s face and lose the POV shooting. Steadicam did not even exist in those days, nor did lightweight 35mm cameras. It must have been hell actually accomplishing all the movements necessary to do a realistic POV of all those scenes with dollies and cranes.

    You may not be able to put your finger on the things that draw you to a particular movie,—and that is not unusual,—but there ARE underlying reasons why you like it. If you start thinking about what is in the movies you like and do not like,—especially the visual end and how it relates to, and supports, the aural story,—I think you will start learning what it is that attracts you to some movies and not others.

  81. I agree with Chuck.

    And it doesn’t have to be a 1000-page novel or a 12-hour miniseries to make story-telling essential. I commented on that here:

    http://www.ttgnet.com/daynotes/2011/2011-11.html#Thu

    in reference to the original TAB commercial (the one with Lisa Parker). Seriously, watch that clip with the sound off and see how the director told the story in 30 seconds. I don’t know who directed this commercial, but he or she was brilliant.

  82. Well, Rowling’s stuff puts me to sleep, literally, but Tolkien is just wonderful. And sometimes the interest is in the detail. I like Tom Clancy’s work for just that reason. I like concise writing too, but a lot of the detail in Clancy’s work is what makes it interesting.

    And yes, I love the Tab commercial too.

  83. Well, Rowling’s stuff puts me to sleep, literally, but Tolkien is just wonderful. And sometimes the interest is in the detail. I like Tom Clancy’s work for just that reason. I like concise writing too, but a lot of the detail in Clancy’s work is what makes it interesting.

    I think something has to hook you into a book or movie. For me, I think that’s usually the story, but sometimes it’s the characters, and sometimes it’s the detail. Like Greg, I love Tolkien and don’t really care for Rowling. I’m not sure what the difference is. I don’t know why I like one but not the other. It could be that in between reading Tolkien and Rowling I grew up. Or maybe Tolkien’s world is so obviously unreal that I’m more willing to accept it’s just a story.

    I agree that getting hooked into a story is the most important part. I bought my first Tom Clancy novel, and finished reading it at 3AM the next day. I think at some level I have to like the main character. I don’t care for John Locke’s work because I hate Donovan Creed. I might well buy another of Locke’s novels since they’re cheap and he seems to be a good storyteller and they’re cheap, but I won’t be buying any more of the Donovan Creed novels.

  84. Next time you are reading something you think is good, watch your consciousness and see if the mental pictures the text conjures isn’t what makes the story attractive to you. A picture may be worth a thousand words but it does not take a thousand words to draw a good picture. That is the problem for me with both Tolkein and Rowling. I don’t want to wade through a thousand words to get the picture.

    Listen to Orson Wells’ Mercury Theater radio productions sometime (many are in public domain and available on the Net). Wells’ scripts were tight, and even the timing and timbre of his voice influences the image one draws from his words.

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