My Lords and Ladies of the Royal Court1,
Now, now, don't flip your wigs just yet; this is not yet the return of the illustrious Mr. G -- this is merely prelude, possibly prophecy (if he doesn't make a liar of me) by I, your humble web goblin.
For far too long we have gone without word here from Mr. G. He tweets, he whosays, he releases triple albums with his lovely wife and puts more girdles 'round the earth than has an elderly burlesque troupe, yet no blog has he posted in two months. But he has not abandoned us! I tell you that he will return! And I tell you this because he told me this, and told me to tell you this. In his words, he will be "doing a proper blog post" in the near future.
At the point when Google presided over the shotgun wedding of Blogger and Google+, apparently all blog posts by Mr. G became attributed to "Unknown". Why did no one tell me this? I have now fixed things.
Since the first of November, and continuing on through the end of the year, a contest has been running among independent U.S. book stores. The prize is a visit from Mr. G, and to win a store has simply to sell the most copies of THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE during the contest period.
Below you may find a list of all participating stores, along with where to find them online. Christmas is a week away, so if you act quickly there may yet be time to get in some holiday shopping and help push your local store into the lead!
1511 South 1500 East
Salt Lake City, UT 84105
1175 Woods Crossing Rd #5
Greenville, SC 29607
82 Central Street
Wellesley, MA 02482
6208 E Speedway
Tucson, AZ 85712
51 Tamal Vista Blvd
Corte Madera, CA 94925
Books Inc Palo Alto
855 El Camino Real #74
Palo Alto, CA 94031
522 Hartz Ave
Danville, CA 94526
Bookshop Santa Cruz
1520 Pacific Ave
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
15 S Dubuque St
Iowa City, IA 52240
Boulder Book Store
1107 Pearl St
Boulder, CO 80302
Books Inc Burlingame
1375 Burlingame Ave.
Burlingame, CA 94085
1295 Bardstown Rd
Louisville, KY 40204
Eagle Eye Bookshop
2076 N Decatur Rd
Decatur, GA 30033
Between the Covers
152 E Main St
Harbor Springs, MI 49740
204 N Main St
Hudson, OH 44236
121 W 5th St
Chico, CA 95928
2238 Carter Ave
St. Paul, MN 55108
Towne Center Books
555 Main St
Pleasanton, CA 94566
U C Davis Bookstore
2828 Cowell Blvd
Davis, CA 95618
118 N 3rd St
Marquette, MI 49855
Magers & Quinn
3038 Hennepin Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55408
Books Inc Alameda
1344 Park St
Alameda, CA 94501
768 Boston Post Rd
Madison. CT 06443
Over the Moon Bookstore & Artisan Gallery
5798 Three Notch'd Rd.
Crozet, VA 22932
- I don't know what possessed me to start this blog post as Lord Buckley -- do the kids even know who he is these days? -- but there you have it2.
- It could have been worse. I could have rapped about Christmas jammies.
- There is no third footnote.
And this brings us to the crux of the matter: are sign language translators for the deaf really meant for those who cannot hear the spoken word? Are they not much more intended for us--it makes us (who can hear) feel good to see the interpreter, giving us a satisfaction that we are doing the right thing, taking care of the underprivileged and hindered. [...W]e can see why Jantjie's gesticulations generated such an uncanny effect once it became clear that they were meaningless: what he confronted us with was the truth about sign language translations for the deaf--it doesn't really matter if there are any deaf people among the public who need the translation; the translator is there to make us, who do not understand sign language, feel good.This is obviously a productive line of inquiry, and just the sort of thing for which Žižek has earned the epithet "the Elvis of cultural theory". In fact, I think we should ask ourselves a whole range of similar questions:
- Are wheelchair ramps really meant for people in wheelchairs? Aren't they really much more intended to make architects and able-bodied building users feel good about themselves? Doesn't this confront us with the truth that it doesn't really matter whether there are any people in wheelchairs?
- Is medicine really meant for sick people? Isn't it really much more intended to make healthy people feel good about themselves? Don't we really know in our hearts that it doesn't really matter whether anyone ever gets sick, because this whole business of having "doctors" and "nurses" and "hospitals" is really just a big charade meant to reassure ourselves that we're doing the right thing?
- Are paved roads really meant for vehicles? Aren't they really much more intended to make pedestrians feel good about themselves? Isn't it clear that, really, our entire system of streets and arterials and superhighways is basically just a gesture we undertake in order to reassure ourselves of our solidarity? Do bicyles, automobiles, and trucks actually exist?
Smaug wasn't just feeling a little blue (he's red, anyway). He was beneath low, past wretched, beyond miserable. He was, in short, desolate.
Here's a place to talk about it.
(Quite obviously, this thread will pile spoiler upon spoiler, heaping them up into a tall, shining mound of spoilers. And somewhere in that hoard will lie the Arkenspoiler, the Heart of the Movie. Be warned, or tempted, depending.)
In the current Open Thread, Kip W has some news about the late, much-missed Marilee Layman:
I just got a call from a realtor in Northern Virginia who is working for Fannie May, in regards to the effects of our late friend, Marilee Layman.
He has just come into the matter, and the apartment was foreclosed after almost a year of idleness. He called me, having found my name and number, to see if I knew what might be done about all her possessions. The place is just as she left it. Her van is parked down below. There was a note from "Rick" saying he'd shut off gas and such, but no number.
The agent, Don, doesn't like the idea of calling a trash firm to come and treat everything as junk to be harvested, and his concern touches me -- particularly as I look around me -- so I would very much like the word to go out to fans, perhaps especially those in the NoVa/DC area, but to anybody with an idea of how to proceed.
My own half-baked thoughts were that we might dispose in the ordinary way of clothing and impersonal items, maybe even books. Her crafts, perhaps, could be sold and the proceeds given to charity. Her van could be donated, unless someone wants to buy it for an equitable-low amount (and the money donated to charity -- medical or fannish or I don't know what).
If anybody knows of a family or friend(s) who should benefit by this sad windfall, I'm open to suggestions. Am I in charge of this? I don't know. Should someone else be? I've never done this before.
I asked Don what sort of deadline we were looking at before the wheels of bureaucracy take over. He said 30 days, 45, maybe even 60 before an edict comes down and automatic procedures kick in, so that's not a lot of time.
I have a contact number for him. Should I run it here? Or would it be best for us to deal with him through a designated spokesperson? I'll hang onto the number for now.
I'm not able to access Usenet at the moment. My system stopped letting me on a few months back, and I didn't care enough to try to figure out what its problem was this time. Can someone reach Keith Lynch? He's fairly local and helped when she was in the hospital. What other DC fan or fans would be good to talk to? Who's Rick?
What next? I'm kind of lost here.
ps: Forgot to say that any mementos or keepsakes we might want to retain out of all this should perhaps be sold for a reasonable price and the money kicked into designated charity. I have this idea of charity in my head because maybe it seems a little ghoulish otherwise. I could be mistaken, of course, and will listen to cooler or less confused heads.
This can't be the first time something like this has happened. Is there a manual yet?
I confess, I have even less notion of what to do than Kip does. I'm sure someone in our community does, though. Can we figure this out together?
Also, now I miss her all over again. I was just thinking about her this morning, entirely by coincidence, wondering if it had been a whole year since she passed away. Now I know.
And thank you, Kip, for taking the call and coming to the community with this. I'm sure I speak for us all when I say that that matters a lot.
One of the constant challenges of living in a foreign country is the way that different cultures slice the epistemic cake of the world in different places. Sometimes it's funny, like how the Dutch routinely put chocolate sprinkles on sandwiches but consider pancakes at breakfast laughably outlandish. Sometimes it's not so funny, when one says or does something quite trivial and the whole room falls silent in shock. At times like that, I always think of Cordlia Vorkosigan, trying to figure out Barryaran social protocls around sex.
One could not mention sex to or in front of unmarried women or children. Young men, it appeared, were exempt from all rules when talking to each other, but not if a woman of any age or degree were present. The rules also changed bewilderingly with variations of the social status of those present. And married women, in groups free of male eavesdroppers, sometimes underwent the most astonishing transformations in apparent databases. Some subjects could be joked about but not discussed seriously. And some variations could not be mentioned at all. She had blighted more than one conversation beyond hope of recovery by what seemed to her a perfectly obvious and casual remark, and been taken aside by Aral for a quick debriefing.
She tried writing out a list of the rules she thought she had deduced, but found them so illogical and conflicting, especially in the area of what certain people were supposed to pretend not to know in front of certain other people, she gave up the effort. She did show the list to Aral, who read it in bed one night and nearly doubled over laughing.
—Barryar, Lois McMaster Bujold
But in my experience at least, the real trials of living abroad are not the great and terrible moments. The really difficult things, like the really wonderful things*, are the little everyday differences that remind one in quiet ways that one is not home (for whatever value of home one uses).
I first noticed this phenomenon when trying to buy sugar in my local supermarket, Albert Heijn, a few months after moving to the Netherlands.
When I was growing up in the US, sugar was always with the baking ingredients. Likewise, in the UK, there it was next to the flour, right where I expected it. But the first time I went looking for sugar here, I was baffled. Flour, baking mixes, raising agents, pancake mixes...no sugar. I searched the entire cooking ingredients quadrant of the store: Herbs, spices, oils, vinegars, long-life milk, pasta, eggs (not refrigerated, because foreign), meat, chicken, exotic ethnic foods like tortillas...no sugar.
By this point, I was convinced that I was just being stupid. I was also in that state that Martin and I call shop-glaze: the condition of being sufficiently overwhelmed by the myriad details of the store that all decision-making (and, indeed, object-perception) fuses have blown. Since it was not the time to ask shop staff for help in a language I didn't speak very well, much less process an answer in that tongue, I left the shop without sugar.
Then I came back later, with more energy, and conducted a search. It turns out that the Dutch put the sugar next to the coffee, which was halfway across the store from the flour. That was very useful information for the next time I had to buy sugar.
But finding the pattern was even more useful, because I hit it again and again: times when something is impossible, or at least impossibly difficult, because I'm making some hidden assumption or category error. I'm slicing the cake of the world in the wrong place. And that's not really a function of living in a foreign country, because we all leave the tiny household cultures where we grew up and move into a wider world, one where people do things differently. They all store some metaphorical sugar in the wrong place.
Thus, the sugar problem.
* I talk a lot about how difficult living abroad is, but it's also really fun. There's always some difference—or some similarity I took for granted when I was in my native culture—to delight me.
An unarmed, emotionally disturbed man shot by the police as he was lurching around traffic near Times Square in September has been charged with assault, on the theory that he was responsible for bullet wounds suffered by two bystanders, according to an indictment unsealed in State Supreme Court in Manhattan on Wednesday.No, really:
Initially Mr. Broadnax was arrested on misdemeanor charges of menacing, drug possession and resisting arrest. But the Manhattan district attorney's office persuaded a grand jury to charge Mr. Broadnax with assault, a felony carrying a maximum sentence of 25 years. Specifically, the nine-count indictment unsealed on Wednesday said Mr. Broadnax "recklessly engaged in conduct which created a grave risk of death."Administrative duty! An internal Police Department inquiry! Well, that's all right, then.
"The defendant is the one that created the situation that injured innocent bystanders," said an assistant district attorney, Shannon Lucey.
The two police officers, who have not been identified, have been placed on administrative duty and their actions are still under investigation by the district attorney's office, law enforcement officials said. They also face an internal Police Department inquiry.
I mean, all the cops did was shoot someone. It's not like they "recklessly engaged in conduct which created a grave risk of death." Definitely, who you want to prosecute is the mentally ill guy who wandered out into traffic. Perish forbid you should prosecute any police.
Really! Hooray for brave prosecutors like ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY SHANNON LUCEY who identify and target the real threat: pathetic losers who make otherwise fine and upstanding police officers lose their shit. Look what you made me do. Excellent moral discernment, ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY SHANNON LUCEY.
Our descendants will marvel at what we put up with.
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
I love this. But it's a tough read in winter. So when an answer started knocking around my head, I scribbled it down.But once the gold is gone,
As daylight follows dawn,
The summer fades to fall,
And autumn's pleasures pall.
Then darkness comes at last,
When all that's bright is past.
But we endure the black,
Because the gold comes back.
Of course, this mostly serves to illustrate Frost's own point: we must inevitably decline from the first blush of perfection. What follows is inferior. Sequelitis comes to us all in the end. But illustration is a form of participation in its own right.
Also, open thread.
Continued from Open thread 190.