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Sunday Open Thread

by afew Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 11:39:27 AM EST

Variety is the spice of life


Display:
I've just found out that William Cowper said that, in the second book of The Task. Well, I don't remember getting as far as Book II.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 11:41:33 AM EST
no worries, I didn't even get to book 1

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 11:48:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If you're ever in need of a sleeping pill, I recommend it.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 12:14:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not unexpected, but chilling nevertheless.

"Beware of the man who does not talk, and the dog that does not bark." Cheyenne
by maracatu on Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 11:48:16 AM EST
Reads very similarly to the UK laws on controlled areas

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 11:49:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm so excited.

USA.  Home of the land of the free.

(Not)

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 12:45:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Under the ancien regime in France, steps were taken to ensure that the “unwashed masses" were kept out of sight whenever a carriage containing an important aristocrat or church official was passing through. Similarly, H.R. 347 creates for the US president and other top officials a protest-free bubble or "no-free-speech zone" that follows them wherever they go, making sure the discontented multitude is kept out of the picture.
This is the culmination of a trend that started with the Seattle WTO protest in 1999. Ever since, there had been no 'summit' of importance at which the 'rulers' have not acted as if they were afraid of 'the people'. I considered the hight point to be the 2002 G8 summit in Alberta, Canada which I saw reported as being in the middle of nowhere though apparently it was a mere 80km from Calgary.

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 01:45:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Standard operating procedure in France, especially under Sarkozy the 1st: since the early incidents of "casses toi pov' con!" of the early days of the presidential reign, an appropriate containment area, filled with UMP members, and emptied of every possible non-believer, is always set up upon each presidential sortie (with much police forces and at great costs to the taxpayer).

And woe to the unfortunate souls who get on the way of the royal carriage or those of the family or government:

  • Back in 2006, a motorist was hit by Jean Sarkozy (of EPAD fame) who was riding a scooter; the motorist filed a claim; to no avail.
  • Another motorist had a fender bender with Prime Minister François Fillon's son in Rennes a few years back: tried to file a complaint to the police...
  • Speaking of François Fillon, a person I knew who was flying a light aircraft near Toussus-le-Noble, SW of Paris, went too close to the Prime Minister jet who was returning from a week-end in Le Mans (he - the non-professional pilot - was off course, but so were the experienced military pilots flying the PM). Incidents like this generally get no more an administrative inquiry and possible license suspension. In that case, the pilot was arrested at dawn at his house, spend one night in prison and was sentenced to a hefty fine in addition to a six-month license suspension.  
  • Oh, and did you know the one about the guy who shouted: "Sarkozy je te vois!" 'Sarkozy, I'm seeing you!) during His Majesty's visit in Marseille a few years back? Well he got arrested and charged for lèse-majesté or something equivalent...
  • Last month, one of Sarko's favorite attack dog, Minister Nadine Morano ordered her chauffeur to put on the blinking lights and sirens and rush through a one-way Paris thoroughfare - opposite the traffic: a pedestrian was hit and severely injured.

And so on and so on... Ancien régime, you say? Sounds pretty much like Europe circa 2012 to me...

Of course, now that our presidential monarch is campaigning for re-election, and claims to be "one of the people", he's trying again to mingle with the great unwashed; not always a good idea:

Sarkozy booed, chased into cafe by angry mob - The Associated Press

Thu Mar 01, BAYONNE, France -- French President Nicolas Sarkozy took refuge from a crowd of several hundred angry protesters in a cafe, as riot police swarmed in to protect him while he campaigned in the country's southwest Basque country.

Riot police surrounded the Bar du Palais in central Bayonne where Sarkozy stayed for about an hour Thursday to get away from the protesters -- some of them Basque nationalists, others carrying posters of rival Socialist candidate Francois Hollande.

Even for the unpopular leader, it was a bizarre turn of events. The French president's security is scaled down when he is on the campaign trail, and some observers have noted it has been particularly spare at some recent events, perhaps as part of Sarkozy's effort to connect with voters.

by Bernard on Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 03:53:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sounds like some voters almost succeeded in connecting with Sarkozy. Sarko had better be careful of what he seeks.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 10:03:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm thinking it was also shocking to see NATO basically shut down the airspace over Prague for the NATO summit in 2002.

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 5th, 2012 at 11:24:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News - Star Wars artist Ralph McQuarrie dies aged 82

Ralph McQuarrie, the artist who helped George Lucas bring Stars Wars to the big screen, has died aged 82.

The conceptual designer created the look of characters including Darth Vader, Chewbacca and R2-D2 and C-3PO.

He also worked on the original Battlestar Galactica TV series and Steven Spielberg films E.T. and Cocoon, for which he won an Oscar.



Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 12:15:21 PM EST
Romney "won" the non-binding Washington State caucuses yesterday:

Mitt Romney    19,111    37.6%   
Ron Paul    12,594    24.8%   
Rick Santorum    12,089    23.8%   
Newt Gingrich    5,221    10.3%

Participation was way up from the 12,000 (and change) who participated in 2008.  

Delegates will be assigned at the state convention Wednesday 30 May - Saturday 2 June 2012.  

Current delegate standings are (NYT):

Romney - 180
Santorum - 90
Gingrich - 29
Paul - 23

1144 delegates needed to win the nomination
1962 delegates remaining

One thing to note: not all delegates awarded in the above tally are pledged and must always, by law and rule, vote for a specific candidate.  Some are unpledged, the rest have a limitation on the number of times they must vote for "their" candidate.  Rumors are floating around that the Ron Paul people know this and have been working to become delegates.  Thus, in the long haul Romney's count is softer than the numbers indicate and Paul's support firmer.


Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 12:44:07 PM EST
As far as I can understand, if romney wins Ohio on tuesday, this primary is as good as over.

zat right ?

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 01:09:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Some Context:  This GOP nominating cycle - going back to Jan. 2011 - is atypical.  Never seen a "Front Runner" whose national support is this weak.  Never seen a large majority of the party consistently searching for an alternative to the Party Insider's candidate.  Never seen so many candidate rise to the national lead and then collapse to a As-Been.

What this tells me is the GOP primary voters do NOT want Romney to head the ticket but they don't want anybody else in the race to head the ticket either.  As an example, Santorum was freaking nowhere until Iowa, he got the support of 150 Evangelical/Con organizations, and Gingrich's flame-out in Florida.  

The recent past also tells me I don't know What Is Going On down in the precincts.  Blew last Tuesday's primary Big Time, for example.

So, take the following with a lot of reservation.

IMO, it's not a particular state, such as Ohio, that is important but how well Romney across the board.  Super Tuesday won't 'pick' the GOP nominee but it's hard to see how Romney won't get it if he is seen to have won March 6th.  

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 01:49:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe. It really comes down to delegates at the convention, and Romney is a long way from having as many as he needs. Plenty of other not-Romneys are out there with varying degrees of popularity and funding, and there is still a chance of a brokered convention. That's not until the end of August, which is--believe it or not--six months from now.

There's still two whole seasons of soap opera time still left before a decision is needed.

by asdf on Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 07:27:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Chris Christie called it "the dumbest idea anybody ever had."

Mitch Daniels has criticized it.

And according to the chairman of the Vermont Republican Party, it's "water torture."

The slow-burning Republican presidential nominating process is facing scrutiny and sharp criticism as the increasingly bitter GOP primary fight threatens to drag on into the spring and perhaps the summer.

The anxiety is coming from Republicans, many of them supporters of front-runner Mitt Romney, who worry that the drawn-out fight for delegates has forced the GOP candidates into costly intra-party warfare, while President Barack Obama is free to raise vast sums of money and strategize for the general election.

http://www.cnn.com/2012/03/04/politics/gop-nominating-calendar/?hpt=hp_c1

by asdf on Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 08:06:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You especially don't want bruising primaries when the other side is not having any. Seems like what Barry Goldwater once said has finally happened: "(They) ran out of horses."

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 10:06:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nice diary up on dKos: Philosopher Christopher Robichaud on Truth and Knowledge in the American Political Context.  While the title, and interview, is focused on the US the general thrust of the analysis is also applicable to the EU.

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot
by ATinNM on Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 01:16:59 PM EST
talking of nice dKos diaries, this one about the expanding voter suppression fraud investigation in Canada looks like it could get mighty embarrassing for the ruling conservatives

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 01:32:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Getting the beef in the corning brew in happy anticipation for St. Pat's Day.  Himself is not nearly as enthused and would probably rather have wienerschnitzel.
by ElaineinNM on Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 01:31:58 PM EST
Pastrami, my life!

There was a time when Helsinki was full of little grillibaari (grill bars) which did a working man's traditional lunch. A major item was the Weinerleike, as we call it, where the anchovy with capers on a slice of boiled egg was rather crucial.

Sadly, most of these grill bars have disappeared. In Porvoo, during the summer, there's an old converted bus cafe parked in the market square, which serves a mean Finnish meat pie or lihapiirakka. If you fancy mince and rice in a doughnut cover - deep fried - you'll love it. Their coffee too would wake the dead. However there is a choice now: a trendy little caravan serves coffee any way you like it, with some more fashionable nibbles.

For greater sophistication there's Cafe Cabriole.

But I have digressed...

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 02:27:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I love pastrami. More than corned beef, even!    
by ElaineinNM on Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 04:00:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's okay if I just eat cabbage and carrots and potatoes, yes?

By the by, at a St.Patrick's parade in the New Orleans area many years ago, I discovered that the "throws" (the free things tossed from the parade floats... a "must" in any Louisiana parade) were cabbages and potatoes.

I took my daughter to Macy's Thanksgiving parade in NYC when she was 9 years old and she looked at me like WTF? and asked "when are they going to start throwing things?"

'tis strange I should be old and neither wise nor valiant. From "The Maid's Tragedy" by Beaumont & Fletcher

by Wife of Bath (kareninaustin at g mail dot com) on Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 03:34:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sure.  You can have mine.  I usually skip the vegies and eat the corned beef on rye bread with lots of spicy mustard.  
by ElaineinNM on Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 03:59:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh I do love St. Paddy's Day celebrations ... with lots of boiled cabbage, carrots, potatoes and a generous helping of Colman's mustard.
by sgr2 on Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 05:11:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I worked for a while at Hannon Engineering, one of the original electronics contracting firms in Los Angeles, run by the Hannon brothers, Orange County farm boys of Irish extraction and Catholic persuasion. They celebrated St. Paddy's day with whisky just before quitting time. The company for which I worked the longest was formed by former Hannon employees, not particularly Irish or Catholic, but they kept up the tradition, though it was a risk for the insurance policy.

One of the first engineering jokes I learned was that St. Patrick was the patron saint of engineers as he had driven the snakes out of Ireland, thereby inventing the worm drive.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 10:13:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Was on holiday this week and took the time to re-read some of the later books in the Dune series (Heretics of Dune and Chapter House, i.e. books 5 & 6 of the series).

Wind power
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 01:49:28 PM EST
Crikey, I picked up the first book cheaply last week just to re-read, but I fear I'm too familiar with it.

But I don't think I could re-read the latter books again.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 01:55:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm waiting for the next installment: "The God Emperor's Second Cousin Once Removed Versus the Certified Public Accountants of Dune."

Bored I am.  Care not, I do.

Ditto for that interminable "Fire and Ice" series by George R. R. Martin.

 

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 02:00:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah. So you've discovered the sequels by Brian Herbert and - er - someone else.

Based on spice-stained notes by the Great Man himself!

Actually they're not bad. But they're also not good: lots of interesting ideas, average writing.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 03:03:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I tuned-out the series after Herbert wrote the third one ... whatever that was and only noticed Yet Another when tripping the aisle bookstoreish.  

I understand why he continued to slog on.  None of his books before or after Dune & Other Dunes sold as many copies so Why Not?  He made a niche, filled it, and gave a good deal of pleasure to millions of readers.

Good on You, Frank!

 

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 03:24:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sadly, yes. I found one of the later ones last summer on the abandoned-book shelf of a genteelly shabby hotel (I think it was the one with Duncan Idaho golem). After about 40 pages I felt myself compelled to return it to its fellow orphans.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 03:26:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:
Actually they're not bad. But they're also not good: lots of interesting ideas, average writing.

Which is why I gave up reading science fiction.  About the time I read the third Dune book, I think. Cute ideas abound, the writing was average, and there were holes in the plot you could fly an ornithopter through.

I worked out that cute ideas are a dime a dozen, and that I preferred good writing, whatever the genre.

Actually, even with the very best writers, I tend to get bored after a couple of books. Once you've worked out what makes them tick, I guess.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Mon Mar 5th, 2012 at 04:38:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I lost track after book 3.... I know Martin has been publishing again since, but I could never bother to pick up a new volume. Talking about interminable - I feel similar about Jordan's Wheel of Time series.
by Nomad on Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 03:56:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Skimmed through the most recent one: "Crows and Carnage" or "Dragons and Dungeons" or something like that.  As usual, he didn't resolve anything though he did kill-off another of the Stark brats.  (Hallelujah)  Although that's no guarantee the little shit won't rise from the dead!

Martin's problem is his conception outweighs his Talent and Ability.  Compare to Bujold and the Admiral Naismith series which is much less ambitious but well within her skills.  

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 04:17:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's worse than that - I really struggle to understand how Martin's stuff became so popular now, when the evidence of the later books is all available...

<cue oft-written rant>

I got the feeling that GRRM is actually another Neal Stephenson, he doesn't know how to write resolution, so for now he's delaying and at best he'll jerry-rig something together at the end of the series, but odds are by then it'll feel so foreshadowed and so pocked with lazy plot twists (like obvious deaths that are not deaths of the few characters that people care about) that it becomes tedious ... so at the very least I'm not coming back until the whole thing is finished - and probably not even then.

</rant>

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 04:30:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Not finishing a series is a tradition in the SF genre, going back to the Tom Swift and Tom Swift, Jr. days.  "Fire and Ice" has become such a franchise and Martin will keep pumping the out, pocketing the money, as long as people keep shelling-out to buy the things.

I gave Herbert a pass somewhere above for doing the same because he was a darn good writer and wrote a damn good piece of Science Fiction first and then went on to "mine his readership."   Martin wrote a piece of standard schlock that had potential - War of the Roses set in a Fantasy universe is a nice idea - and then promptly failed to make anything out of it ... in book after book after book.

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 04:43:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I quite liked Stephenson's  Baroque Trilogy and  Anathem. In the trilogy he seems to me to write quite good historical fiction, weaving together the history of finance, pirates, Turks, early days Harvard and MIT as well as Cambridge and Newton, etc. etc., even apologizes for borrowing the title The System of the World from Bernal. I did not find any of the historical setting implausible - quite the contrary. Sort of an update of Candide with a lower class hero - no mean feat.


As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 10:28:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think I'll give him another halve a decade, which is about when I expect the next entry.

I still suspect his problem is not a general inability to write endings but just the high failure rate of multi volume series catching up.

Von überall könnte das Volk, Urbrut alles Undemokratischen, Zelle des Terrors, über die gewählten Hüter von Wachstum und Wohlstand® kommen. - flatter

by generic on Mon Mar 5th, 2012 at 06:45:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think I stopped reading the Jordans that a housemate was buying after I read a volume (around number five) and realised that the story hadnt advanced a single inch  in the full thickness of it. was amazed the other day to find that volumes are still being pumped out.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 05:45:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This term I assigned my kids a bunch of Napoleonic historicals, and I've read along with them, and then some.  In the past couple of months, I've read two of Forester's Hornblower novels (much more sophisticated than their reputation had led me to believe, and quite enjoyable), two of Cornwall's Sharpe books (about as stupid as their reputation had led me to believe, but I've read worse), and the first four of Patrick O'Brian's Aubry/Maturin novels.  They are by far the most complicated of the books in this list, and I'm most conflicted about them.  On the one hand, O'Brian tried to do this all this fancy modernist BS in the first two novels, having scenes merge together in-paragraph, avoiding narrative transitions, etc., and it was just unnecessary.  Also, Maturin is just the most precious little darling Enlightenment philosophe wannabe, and I want to strange him half the time.  On the other hand, O'Brian's mastery of the setting is unparalleled, and gripping in its own right.  Once he drops the stylistic pretensions and gets around to writing ripping sea adventure yarns, he's quite good.

Commenting on the companion thread, I've never been attracted to epic, intrigue filled series like Martin's Song of Fire and Ice.  I do, however, quite like the genre.  Two recent standouts are Abercrombie's First Law Trilogy, and Patrick Rothfuss' Name of the Wind.  

For sheer crazy inventiveness, I want to plug The Court of the Air, by Stephen Hunt.  For his setting, the author put the English Civil War, French Revolution, Russian Revolution, the Aztecs, and Cthulhu into a blender, gave it a steampunk sprinkling, and spread the mixture on a nice firm slab of The Roast Beef of Olde England.  

In my illness of last week, I sat down and watched Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, and quite enjoyed it.  I then decided to read the book, having never read anything by LeCarre, or anything spy-related in general.  I'm quite liking the book, and oddly enough, I don't find it problematic at all that I generally know where things are going.

by Zwackus on Mon Mar 5th, 2012 at 05:07:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
and I haven't read much other historical fiction that I can compare it to... probably it set the standard so high that I couldn't get my teeth into lesser works.

I haven't read O'Brian, but I enjoyed the film, in fact I've watched it several times. It makes me wish ah, I see there has been a series of Hornblower films-for-TV made around the turn of the century. I must check them out.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Mon Mar 5th, 2012 at 05:50:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Zwackus:
For his setting, the author put the English Civil War, French Revolution, Russian Revolution, the Aztecs, and Cthulhu into a blender, gave it a steampunk sprinkling, and spread the mixture on a nice firm slab of The Roast Beef of Olde England.  

that was ace...

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Mar 5th, 2012 at 06:58:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Looks like Putin is having his comeback:

BBC News - Russia election: Vladimir Putin declares victory

Vladimir Putin has declared victory in Russia's presidential elections, returning for a third term after spending the last four years as the country's PM.

Exit polls and preliminary results gave him about 60% of the vote.

Mr Putin told supporters at a rally in central Moscow they had won in an open and honest battle.

But opposition groups have reported widespread fraud, with many people said to have voted more than once.

They have called for mass protests in central Moscow on Monday.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 02:25:44 PM EST
Judge throws out organic farmers case against Monsanto - latimes.com

U.S. Federal Dist. Judge Naomi Buchwald ruled Friday to dismiss the case brought by organic farmers to stop patent infringement lawsuits brought by seed giant Monsanto. The suit, called OSGATA et al. vs. Monsanto, was brought by the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Assn. (OSGATA), as well as 82 other plaintiffs representing as many as 300,000 farmers.

"We're Americans. We believe in the system. But we're disappointed in the judge," said Jim Gerritsen, an organic seed farmer in Maine and OSGATA president.

The farmers had sought a declaratory judgment against Monsanto to stop the agribusiness giant from suing farmers who ended up with patented genes in their seed crops through cross-contamination via wind or other accidental methods. Monsanto has said for years that it would not sue farmers who inadvertently acquired their patented genes, yet there have been over a hundred such lawsuits, including several against farmers who proved they had no intention of using Monsanto genes, and an unknown number of settlements that have not been disclosed. The farmers contend that this amounts to harassment, and that many of them have stopped growing profitable crops such as corn because of fear of contamination by Monsanto crops.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 02:43:13 PM EST
Jim Gerritson:
We're Americans. We believe in the system.

So does Monsanto, on somewhat stronger grounds.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 02:50:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It helps if you own a good part of said system, and farmer's coops, let alone individual farmers, certainly do not. Yet so many still vote Republican. Also of note, in related cases, Beyer suffered significant judgements against it for the damage caused to delta rice growers and to the Riceland co-op on account of GM traits getting into the rice they grew. It seriously cut into their profits as they were denied access to the European export market. So their might be a different outcome if this is further litigated. Looks like Monsanto did a good job of judge shopping.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 03:48:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Speaking of seminal science fiction, the book that probably had the most impact on my impressionable young minds was Earth Abides.

I presume I'm not the only denizen around here who's read it?

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 03:43:15 PM EST
The three Science Fiction/Fantasy books that made the most impression on my impressible young mind were:

  1.  Stranger in a Strange Land -- color me a Child of the Sixties

  2.  Lord of the Rings -- ditto

  3.  Dangerous Visions -- first and outstanding example of the "New Wave" that petered-out 'bout 10 years later.


Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot
by ATinNM on Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 04:25:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
For me, the most impressive in my young days was Ubik.

I also have a soft spot for Ursula K. Le Guin: The Lathe of Heaven is my favorite.

by Bernard on Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 04:35:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I know I have read lathe of heaven as I've made a point of reading everything she's ever written, but i have no memory of it at all

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 04:46:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, Dangerous Visions! A mish-mash, but there was good writing in there.

Ursula used the genre to explore Big Ideas. Politics, sex, lots of good stuff.

Lathe of Heaven was the nightmarish one, if I recall correctly...

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Mon Mar 5th, 2012 at 04:43:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
OMG Dangerous Visions! I still hold a grudge against my brother for losing my (hardbound 1st ed bookclub) copy during a move.

I'm kind of ambivalent about Heinlein these days. He was an awful libertarian sometimes, and Starship Troopers is plain cryptofascist.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 04:39:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I sentence your brother to flogging and ten days in the stocks.  Sentence to be carried out at your leisure.  

Star Ship Troopers is thought-provoking IF one bothers to carefully read the thing giving equal weight to what is said on every page AND probing beneath the surface story.  Heinlein is attempting to demonstrate the best electorate is one where all of the members have demonstrated the ability to sacrifice for the common good¹.  

Whether he succeeds in said demonstration is up to the reader; I think he failed both artistically - if you will - and dialectically.  

Similar with Farnham's Freehold.  It's a book about racism so ... duh ... there are racists in the thing.  Farnham is himself a racist, albeit of the 'Country Club' variety; they don't go out an lynch Blacks but neither do they accept in as human beings, equal to themselves and they DAMN sure don't want them admitted to the Country Club.  FF, IMO, succeeds more-better since the semi-libertarian goofballs ignore it when getting all fluffy-eyed o'er Heinlein.  

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- -----

¹  To prove that contention one must delve deep into the Heinlein Correspondence, now being held semi-hostage at UC Santa Cruz.

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 04:56:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think Heinlen's politics evolved, at least the wiki shows this.

However, I was very impressed with the sympathy and understanding he showed of trans issues in the book The number of the beast and always wondered if this came from a personal insight. That might explain some of the other politics a bit.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 04:56:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The premier Heinlein scholar in the world is a personal friend.  If you would care to put your thoughts in writing I'd be willing to pass it along to him.

I know he would be VERY interested.

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 05:11:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I read that book at least 25 years ago if not more. I'm left with the faded shadow of an impression of it rather than any particular memory. In order to make  more coherent view I'd have to re-read the damned thing, but it was difficult enough to finish the first time. It's really not a good enough book to inflict upon me twice.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Mar 5th, 2012 at 05:59:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I had a similar impression from Stranger in a Strange land. Years since I read it though.

Speaking about politics, one thing I like about Heinlein is that he is not afraid of slaughtering his utopia. In Coventry he paints a picture of a world with liberty for all, and for those that hurt others the choice of mind-altering treatment to stop hurting others or banishment to Coventry - an area rich with natural resources, but also filled with other psychos like you. Sounds like libertarian utopia right?

So then in Methuselah's Children when a group that are extremely long-lived outs themselves, the protections break down as the need to get the secret of eternal youth outweighs everything. The social advances are just tossed out the window.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!

by A swedish kind of death on Mon Mar 5th, 2012 at 04:55:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think  I couldn't get past the first 3rd of Stranger in a Strange Land, possibly because the book is so long and I got sidetracked.

Another political utopia I like is the description of the octospider society in Garden of Rama by Arthur C Clarke. This is sort of like the reverse of Coventry: a highly regimented, rational society which banishes "deviants" to an outside colony where they make a living as a tourist attraction (doing arts and crafts) for the members of the mainstream colony. The description of the human society is that book is distinctly dystopian, too. Humans are incapable of organizing a good society for themselves.

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 5th, 2012 at 04:59:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I remember Dangerous Visions. I was reading a lot of other things then - RA Lafferty, Alfred Bester, Philip K Dick - so the visions didn't really seem all that dangerous at the time.

My top three would probably be:

The Gameplayers of Zan, by MA Foster. Which is pretty much unknown except for the few people who have read it. It does an excellent line in aliens who happen to be almost - but not quite - human.

Dune.

And I have no idea about number three. There are too many good books to choose from, and I don't think I can pick one above the others.

If I did it would probably be something by Philip K Dick - likely one of the short story collections.

And then it was the 80s and Hollywood turned SF into a cliched round of marines in drop ships, giant dripping dystopias, and navies in space.

It became harder to find clever and original new things after that. (Greg Bear and David Brin were good in the next generation. Then William Gibson. After that, not so much - except maybe Charlie Stross now.)

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 05:37:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Vaguely recall "Gameplayers" but cannot remember anything about it, which means I didn't read it.  Next time I see a copy I'll grab it.  

RA Laferty is an "acquired" taste, methinks.  He is a brilliantly flawed storyteller, with both adjectives of equal weight.  I've never been less than enthralled and less than massively irked when reading one of his tales.  He was 1/2 Cherokee and 1/2 Irish taking equally from both storytelling traditions.  Which explains ... something ... and I've been waiting 30 years for someone to tell me what it is!  ;-)

If you are into Space Opera - unlikely given your author list - or are looking for time-wasting mind diverting fluff check out the Vatta War series by Elizabeth Moon.  Not E. E. 'Doc' Smith with "meter-thick busbars clearing their grisly shorts" and planets smashing into planets AND the casual misogyny but well into the sub-genre.  And she can tell a straightforward story, straightforwardly.

In this day and age, a relief.

I've only read a couple of works by Bear and nothing by Brin or Gibson.  Gone off SF due to the load of tripe being committed under the rubric.  It is said the Golden Age of Science Fiction is thirteen ... and I'm well past my Due Date.

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 06:06:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Checking the synopsis on wiki I remembered the ending with the passing of the hammer, so I know I read it, but I don't think it had the impact on me it did you.

For me, that book was Ursula Le guin's The Dispossessed. I read it when I was 13/14 or so and was quite amazed to find out how much of Shevek's philosophy I'd assimilated into my own when I re-read it 10 years later.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 04:32:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ever since I read it I've had the tendency to look at landscapes and wonder what they would look like if there were suddenly no humans around. I have to say it influenced my impressionable self more than Dune.

I can't recall The Dispossessed offhand right now, but Lathe of Heaven is a brilliant book.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 04:43:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Now that's a blast from the past, although I was in college by the time I read it...

Asimov and Bradbury were my earliest SF influences I think...

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 04:34:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In terms of craft, I find myself more impressed these days by Bradbury. Some of his short stories are quite lyrical.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 04:46:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Completely vegged-out Bradbury.  

Loved Something Wicked This Way Comes and Martian Chronicles, Dandelion Wine, not so much.

(Darned if I remember why.)

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 05:00:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My father had a collection of Buck Rogers comic books from the 1940s, which I studied at great length. Wilma was particularly inspiring...

by asdf on Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 07:44:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
When I was a little boy, 7-12 or so, I absolutely devoured boy's SF from the 50's and 60's.  Now, mind you, this was in the 80's, when that stuff was not exactly cutting edge.

The Heinlein juveniles, like Space Ship Galileo, and Space Cadet, were my particular favorites, although I do not think I was really up to actually identifying a particular author at that point - I was really young.  Their combination of optimistic can-do heorism and simply presented yet quite deep SF concepts was compelling.  Oh, how I longed for my own rocket ship!  Other, more dubious, favorites included the Tom Swift books, the Doc Savage stories, and Star Trek novelizations.  

Recently, I've gone back to some of these Heinlein stories, from a new perspective as an English teacher.  Space Cadet, Have Space Suit will Travel, Citizen of the Galaxy, etc., these stories hold up.  They're anachronistic in some ways, but in others the science is barely softer than it was at the time (orbital mechanics still being much the same).  It's not the imagination of today, by any means, but it's not totally laughable, either.  Further, Heinlein also dealt with larger social issues in each of his books, and his ideas are just as relevant and worth engaging today.  Space Cadet proposes a space based UN with total control of humanity's nuclear weapons, and a mandate to use them if necessary to preserve the peace.  Citizen of the Galaxy deals with issues of development, lawlessness in a sparsely populated galaxy, and the issues of slavery and freedom in a variety of social settings.  Have Space Suit strongly argues for everyone to take a pro-active approach to their education, and uses an odd and rather silly situation to show how such an approach paid off for one unfortunate young man.

by Zwackus on Mon Mar 5th, 2012 at 05:48:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Heinlein juveniles... yes I was at primary school when I read them, so under ten. Became ashamed of them when I started "adult" sf, but retrospectively, they are pretty solid.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Mon Mar 5th, 2012 at 06:01:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Had a Franzikaner Hefe weisse yesterday.  It was on draft so I decided to give it a try.  

Mistake.

It wasn't upchuckingly bad, mind you, but I found I had no interest in finishing the last couple of ounces either.

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 04:31:09 PM EST
a hefe-weisse ..on draught ?? Hmm, not sure how that works as it's usually in bottles where you get the right amount of yeast. On draught surely you'd usually end up with too little or too much yeast. But I'd be willing to be convinced otherwise.

But, whilst I personally have gone right off weisse beers in the last few years so wouldn't drink any, I don't remember Franzikaner being terrible

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 04:37:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I've have weiss beer before but never on tap.  That's why I ordered it.  

Too sweet for my taste.  And it had enough orange-citrus in the basic beer so the orange slice they added to rim, and I stupidly put in the glass, jumped the shark.  It went OK with our very mediocre Fish-n-Chips but nothing I wanted to drink post-food.

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 05:03:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Was it weisse or hefe weisse ? There's a big difference in flavour. We get weisse beers on draught, but the only sort-of hefe we get is Hoegaarden (which, being belgian, isn't a hefe anyway) and that's cloudy but is a very inferior product compared to the bottled stuff as it has to be treated to be cask ready and that spoils quite a bit of the character.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Mar 5th, 2012 at 02:55:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hefe weiss.

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot
by ATinNM on Mon Mar 5th, 2012 at 12:03:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Apparently there is a beer bubble in progress. No Peak Beer in sight yet, though...

Of course the Republicans are doing what they can to try to ruin it.

Beer industry experts point to Colorado's alcohol laws -- some of which are vestiges of the Prohibition era -- as crucial to the success of breweries here.

Colorado is one of a small number of states that allow convenience stores to sell only low-alcohol beer (maximum 3.2 percent by weight). Supermarket chains like Safeway and King Soopers are permitted to sell full strength beer at a single branch statewide.

This allows independent liquor stores -- who happily sell full-strength craft beer from local breweries -- to thrive. Denver brewers can also haul kegs of their latest pale ales, coffee stouts and other creations to a seemingly endless selection of city bars to serve on tap.

Past efforts by the supermarket and convenience store industries to change the laws have been defeated in the Colorado legislature.

"If you have a quality product and you have another means of marketing and distributing it, why wouldn't you want to tap into that?" said State Representative Larry Liston, a Republican from Colorado Springs, who has tried unsuccessfully to pass legislation allowing supermarkets and convenience stores to sell full-strength beer.

But the Colorado craft brewing industry says it would be impossible for chain stores to sufficiently feature the ever-growing array of craft products. And it has a powerful ally in Gov. John W. Hickenlooper, an old brewer himself, who helped found Denver's Wynkoop Brewing Company in 1988.

"The bottom line is that this is one of the fastest growing industries in the state, and we don't want to see it change," said Steve Kurowski, a spokesman for the Colorado Brewers Guild.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/03/us/craft-brewing-finds-a-welcoming-atmosphere.html?_r=1

by asdf on Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 07:52:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Adolph would be proud.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 10:31:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Bullshit, supermarkets aren't interested in growing local brewers, they're interested in snuffing out competition, ie the liquor stories.

Then they'll flood the market with cheap product from the big brewers and ignore the locals.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Mar 5th, 2012 at 02:51:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think most of the craft beer is sold in restaurants and brew pubs. Some restaurants only sell draft beer from one brewery.
by asdf on Mon Mar 5th, 2012 at 04:42:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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