Winston

Jun. 23rd, 2017 09:22 pm
essentialsaltes: (yellowstone Falls)
I'm desolated to share the news that today was the right time to say goodbye to Winston. Of our cats, he was far and away the best-dressed, most gregarious, and least intelligent.



essentialsaltes: (beokay)
Why Violence Has Declined takes a long, long, too-long look at rates of violence over the past umpty-thousand years from our hunter-gatherer forebears to today. Pinker has marshalled a shitload of facts and statistics, and though there may be some niggling details here and there, on the whole, he's pretty convincing that rates of murder, war, and violence have declined per capita. This does require an explanation, and I think Pinker certainly outlines many ideas that contribute, but he doesn't seem to present a very strong thesis for an explanation. Rather he takes us on a plodding journey through the museum of ideas that every political philosopher has considered. The book plods so much that I found much of it a chore to get through. Reading through the outline in Wikipedia is good enough -- just feel certain that each point is held up by a few hundred footnotes each.

One of the ideas that did stick with me was that many violent acts are considered acts of justice by their perpetrators. They are not doing wrong, they are taking justice into their own hands. That bitch stole my man -- smack. That driver cut me off -- blam. Obviously, these solutions are not terribly rational, and generally frowned upon by Leviathan. I think it could extend to larger actions -- riots in Watts and LA. It doesn't make any fucking sense, but there was some ache for a justice that was not going to come from traditional channels.

Now, I have plodded so slowly through the book that that idea lodged some time ago. And then as I mulled it over in my mind, I considered the Trump voters in the lead-up to the election. Can a vote be an act of violence? A stupid plea for justice when you're aching for a justice that was not going to come from traditional channels? Mmmmm... no, I can't quite bring myself to consider a vote for Trump to be an act of violence. And then the vote actually happened, and Trump won. I still can't quite elevate it to an act of violence. But I think a lot of my friends may consider it to have been an act of violence. And certainly we have seen (even given some level of pernicious fakes) that some Trump supporters have been emboldened to enact actual violence. And we've also seen protests of Trump that have also risen to the level of violence.

Now I have to tread carefully here, because I think there are significant differences between the two sides. It is not just that I am trapped in my bubble and not their bubble (and I'll get to the bubble later, especially since almost everyone who will read this is in my liberal bubble). At the same time, the people (considered as people) in the two camps. Are not all that different.

Now apparently the worst thing I could possibly do is to suggest that we should reach out and hug the other side and unite. Which is fine, because I'm not suggesting that. When Trump has rotten plans, they should be fought. And many of his plans are rotten.

But possibly I'm saying something even worse. That people are people. And people on both sides are not all that different. And to realize that, it definitely helps to spend time outside your bubble.

Many of you know of the long years I've spent in the mission fields of Christian websites, spreading the good news of rationality and fact-based argument. It is not easy work, because they are beset by demons that deceive them. And again, it's not about compromise -- I think the earth is 4.5 billion years old, and they think it's 6,000 years old. I'm not looking to compromise at 2,250,003,000 years old. Wait, I'm rambling a little too much, but maybe we'll come back to this.

Another bit of bubble escape was listening to the infuriating drive-time talk show on a Christian radio station, though I haven't in many years. Until election night. As I drove home, feeling pretty confident that it was going to be close (my prediction: Hillary 278 EV) but would go blue, I turned that station on hoping for election news and... delicious Christian tears. Because that's a thing now. Enjoying people's tears. And because I'm a bad person.



And I got those tears. But I did not find them enjoyable. pout

A young Latina called in to the show. Her voice shook with raw emotion, clearly crying. Hillary was going to win, and as everyone in the conservative Christian bubble knew (as did I since I'd been visiting), Hillary believed that "deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs have to be changed". And as it was being spun in the bubble, this young woman knew that President Hillary was going to forcibly change religious beliefs in America. She was genuinely, fearfully afraid that hers was the last generation that was going to hear the saving gospel of Jesus Christ.

All bullshit, of course. But the tears and pain in that bubble were real. Just like they were real when Obama was elected in 2008 and was going to take everyone's guns.

Anyway, fast-forward a few hours, and suddenly the tears were on the other foot. (Shut up.) There were organized cry-ins. And, and... the other side mocked it. They were enjoying those tears! How could they be so cruel?



Not all that different.

But they're all racists!

Yes, half of Trump voters hold implicit bias against POC. And only a third of Hillary voters do.

Not all that different.

But Trump's spouting ugly racism!

Well, yeah. Again, I don't want to rest on any false equivalencies. But if you want to characterize the GOP as full of racists, then you should step inside the other bubble and look at yourself.

You support murdering babies. You literally want doctors to crush the skulls of infants with forceps.
You want perverts to molest our delicate American girlhood in the bathroom at Target.
You want religious expression to be locked inside the walls of churches.
You let the biased(*) lame-stream media do your thinking for you.

[* I'm too tired, but to its credit, the media finally decided that he said/she said journalistic equivalency was no longer valid. Trump was lying. They called him on it. They endorsed Hillary. But... it does feed the narrative that the media is biased against Trump.]

You want them to stop being racist and join the correct party? Well, maybe you should stop killing babies, and join the correct party.

You scoff when people say they aren't racist, but voted for Trump? Well, what do you think of Tim Kaine, who personally opposes abortion, but stood for VP of the Democrat Party? And he's by no means alone. There are Democrats who think abortion is murder. If you can be against baby-murdering, and vote for a baby-murdering candidate, then surely you can be a non-racist and vote for a racist candidate. Sure, it must be a terrible internal conflict. Sucks to be them. But they got their racism/baby-killing just like the people-of-yesteryear got Skinemax with the package.

Not all that different.

But they are so very fact-challenged!

Well yes. That's what I combat the most. You give them a snopes link, and they don't believe snopes. You provide the links on the snopes page to the NYT, and they don't believe the NYT. There are some people there whose solitary (it appears) information source is infowars(*). They were primed and ready to believe crap like a Kenyan born Obama, or a Jade Helm takeover of Texas. Because it fits their narrative.

(* I'm too tired, but if you're getting info from occupydemocrats or Huffpo... Not all that different.)

In our bubble, the narrative is that Trump is a sexual predator. And I'm morally certain that Trump has grabbed more unwilling pussies than trans people have assaulted anybody in a bathroom. So the woman who accused Trump of raping her when she was a teenager fits the narrative. But when the press conference was announced, my baloney detector started beeping. Because (for better or worse) before I am a Democrat or a liberal, I am a skeptic. A court of law is where these things are decided, not at press conferences or FBI memos. And when the press conference was cancelled due to 'threats', my suspicion grew. It was not impossible that threats had deterred some poor woman, but I was not buying it at this point. But a lot of other people were. They railed against the Trumpeters who had cowed this woman. Maybe Trump had bought her off. How many millions did it take him? And then two days later, she dropped the suit. No cause given. Bought off? Full of shit? We may never know. But a retracted anonymous accusation is not much to hang something on, unless the narrative is more important than evidence.

And if you point to snopes articles showing that some cases of 'postelection Trump supporter racism' are imaginary... some people don't want to hear that shit. It doesn't fit the narrative.

I've showed dozens of snopes articles to conservatives, and know what it feels like to be ignored. So when it comes from the other side, it just shows that...

Not all that different.

We all laughed (I did, I'm a bad person) at that stupid bint who cut a backwards B on her face.



But we were also mad. She perpetrated a pernicious lie to denigrate a particular political candidate.

We were furious. She lied to say a black man did this. I hate her.

And now Trump supporters tore the hijab off a woman. Stole her wallet. That feeds the narrative.
But it's bullshit. All a lie.

C'mon now, everyone. Let's laugh at her. And hate her. C'mon. She made a pernicious lie to denigrate a particular political candidate. She lied to say white men did this to her. I hate her. I really do. But more importantly...

Not all that different.

As promised, this book review has devolved. Let me pull it back, at least briefly.

"According to Hofstede's data, countries differ along six dimensions. One of them is Long-Term versus Short-Term Orientation: 'Long-term oriented societies foster pragmatic virtues oriented towards future rewards, in particular saving, persistence, and adapting to changing circumstances. Short-term oriented societies foster virtues related to the past and present such as national pride, respect for tradition, preservation of 'face' and fulfilling social obligations.'"

Those are not bad descriptors of the two societies living in their bubbles that exist within America. The liberal and the conservative.

One of my regrets about the election is that so much was about the personalities and less about the issues. I have read that the Clinton campaign gamely released insightful policy statements to the media, but they never reached me. Since the Donald sucked all the oxygen in the primary fight, one would have thought that the Clinton team would strive harder in the general to make sure its message got out, but it didn't. Honestly, perhaps I'm giving them credit for having a message, because from my standpoint, most of what I heard from the Hillary campaign was...

It's her fucking turn. She cashed in her chips to keep the competition away. Only that asshole Sanders and McWhatever didn't get the memo. "Trump is awful. I'm not Trump."

Though true, this is not compelling. She could've done better with "I will be the third Obama term."

Anyway, one of the few policy things that did come out (because I watch closely) is for the coal miners of America.

HuffPo:

"Hillary Clinton has a $30 billion, 4,300-word plan to retrain coal workers that covers everything from education and infrastructure to tax credits and school funding.

Donald Trump’s coal plan is a duckface thumbs-up in a miner’s hard hat and a rant about hair spray, President Barack Obama and China."

Retrain coal workers? That's "adapting to changing circumstances". That's a Long-Term society strategy. And it's right.

A duckface thumbs-up? Well, if you can see through the HuffPo bias, that's a strategy oriented on today. Short-term. For the white working class families that are struggling.

And now, for you in my liberal well-informed bubble. Surely you are cognizant of the current spot price for coal.

No? Well, there are lots of reasons for it, but coal prices have tripled recently. And although US miners have not (yet) seen much of a boon, due to the horrible EPA, and Obama rules about coal-fueled power plants, a Trump presidency is clearly going to change that. Yes, there are certainly problems with burning coal like there is no tomorrow, but... if you are a part of an unemployed coal-mining family in Pennsylvania or Ohio focused on today... then you are part of the Short-Term Society, and I can see reasons other than racism to vote for Trump. And they did. And they are legitimately mad when we say their votes were racist.

In conclusion:

WE'RE ALL A BUNCH OF APES WHO ONLY RELATIVELY RECENTLY LEARNED TO WEAR CLOTHES AND NOT KILL EACH OTHER SO MUCH.
essentialsaltes: (poo-bush)
While I don't want to minimize how awful this is, it reminds me a lot of 2000 when we also elected an incompetent moron. All that cost us was our budget surplus, one or two hundred thousand dead brown civilians, and a few thousand dead American soldiers. We got through that, right? Right?

essentialsaltes: (jasmine)
Not entirely realistic, but this 1957 novel is a depressing peek into those days of yesteryear when we all lived under threat of nuclear annihilation (and hey maybe those days are coming back, better than ever!). A nuclear war has killed the Northern Hemisphere, and as the airborne radiation slowly crosses the equatorial barrier, spreading further south, the various inhabitants of Melbourne slowly come to terms with the inevitable and do what seems best with their remaining months, weeks, days, and hours, as they lose contact with other cities in the southern hemisphere one by one. If you need a book that will grind down your your sense of hope, this will fit the bill nicely.
essentialsaltes: (devilbones)
An estate sale find; I couldn't resist the title, which derives from a quote from Disraeli:

What is the question now placed before society with the glib assurance which to me is most astonishing? That question is this: Is man an ape or an angel? I, my lord, I am on the side of the angels. I repudiate with indignation and abhorrence those new fangled theories.

The book is primarily a joint biography of both Charles Darwin & Thomas Henry Huxley. It focuses somewhat less on the actual science, and more on the collegial (sometimes less than collegial) network of thinkers in science, letters, and politics that existed as a community at the time.

It maybe wore out its welcome before I slogged my way to the end, but there were definitely interesting details scattered throughout. Samuel Butler apparently got into what is invariably called a "one-sided feud" with Darwin. He developed a sort of neo-Lamarckian theory of his own, and promoted it, taking potshots at Darwin here and there. Darwin rightly ignored the theory (which vanished into the dustbin of history, apart from leaving a vermiform appendix of sorts in Erewhon), and forbore to get in a literary battle with Butler.

In 1865, there was a political brouhaha precipitated by a riot in Jamaica. The local black population had been free for decades, but living in rather terrible conditions. A protest, led by a black Baptist minister, escalated into a bit of a riot, and then the hammer came down. Martial law was declared, and the governor sent out the troops. Hundreds of people were killed, the minister was hanged, as was a politician who was frogmarched from Kingston to the location where martial law was in place. The legal irregularities caused a bit of furore back in Blighty, and political lines were drawn between those who thought the governor acted swiftly and decisively, and those who though he acted illegally and murderously. Anyway... Jamaica committees were formed on both sides. Darwin, Huxley, Spencer, & Mill were for trying the governor for murder, while the supporters of the governor included assholes like Tennyson and Dickens.


Huxley writing to Darwin on the publication of On the Origin of Species: "I trust you will not allow yourself to be in any way disgusted or annoyed by the considerable abuse and misrepresentation which, unless I greatly mistaken, is in store for you. ... I am sharpening up my claws and beak in readiness."

#1: I thought it was particularly apt, since Darwin is still be misrepresented and abused by modern-day creationists.
#2: Huxley was clearly spoiling for a fight. And of course, he finally got his most famous licks in at the Oxford Debate against Soapy Sam Wilberforce.

In a later debate on more theological topics, between the agnostic Huxley and Catholic WG Ward, the organizers "suggested that moral disapprobation should be avoided in debate."

Ward: "While acquiescing in this condition as a general rule, I think it cannot be expected that Christian thinkers shall give no sign of the horror with which they would view the spread of such extreme opinions as those advocated by Mr. Huxley."

Huxley: "As Dr. Ward has spoken, I must in fairness say that it will be very difficult for me to conceal my feeling as to the intellectual degradation which would come of the general acceptance of such views as Dr. Ward holds."

BOOM!



I was interested to hear of Mary Augusta Ward's novel Robert Elsmere, in which an Oxford cleric gets led astray by a sinister squire, reads Hume, loses his faith, and devotes himself to a new life of agnostic philanthropy. It sold a million copies and, to quote Wiki: "Robert Elsmere generated enormous interest from intellectuals and agnostics who saw it as a liberating tool for liberating times and from those of faith who saw it as another step in the advancement of apostasy or heathenism."



Huxley's grave bears a few lines of a poem written by his wife Etty (originally to eulogize Browning). Though she seems to have been conventionally religious, it's clear that spending a life with Huxley had its effect.

And if there be no meeting past the grave,
If all is darkness, silence, yet 'tis rest.
Be not afraid, ye waiting hearts that weep,
For God still giveth his belovèd sleep,
And if an endless sleep he wills, - so best.
essentialsaltes: (shoot)
A True Crime Story and the Birth of Forensic Science

The book interleaves the career of serial killer/mutilator/rapist Joseph Vacher with the development of modern (or at least modern-like (or at least not too pseudoscientific)) forensic techniques through Lombroso, Bertillon, and most relevant to these cases, Lacassagne (Lombroso's rival).

Vacher's early career is the most interesting part. After being spurned by a woman, he bought a gun. Unbeknownst to him, it had been loaded with half powder charges. So he managed to shoot the woman four times, and himself twice in the head, and both survived. He was placed in a mental institution, but released 'fully cured' a year later. Of course that's when he went on to murder, disembowel and rape a dozen or more teenage girls and boys over the next few years. This part of the story gets rather tedious, as he settles on a successful MO, and the murders are depressingly alike, so it's good to have it interleaved with the developments of forensics, and then the trail of evidence (and hard work) that leads to his capture and trial, his failed insanity defense, and ultimate execution.
essentialsaltes: (essentialsaltes)
So it looks like the Rams are coming back to LA (and thence to Inglewood).

A neuron popped, and before it dies forever, I'm spilling out its contents.

Former Ram running back Tommy Mason lived in the same development I did in Brea back in the early 1980s. He had two sons that were younger than me, but they had a sweet videogame setup, so I spent a few lazy hours there every once in a while. Mr. Mason was a nice guy, but kinda sad... no doubt partially due to the recent break-up of his marriage to Cathy Rigby, who I met a couple times as the kids were shuttled back and forth. Yes, all the kids in the neighborhood made maxipad jokes (not in their hearing).

Looks like Mason passed away about a year ago.
essentialsaltes: (danger)
I met Jim in Portland at the HPLFF. I was intrigued by a horror-tinged mystery novel with the action set at a girls' school. Dr. Pookie and I both love a couple such, written by female authors -- Gaudy Night, by Dorothy Sayers & Miss Pym Disposes, by Josephine Tey. It was too much to hope that Smiley's first novel would live up to those. And it doesn't, though it's really of a different genre -- more hard-boiled pulp detective. He has some good, snappy dialogue and character interaction, but there's a lot to be desired. Ostensibly set in Prohibition-era Los Angeles, there are very few details that set the scene in either time or place. Of course, as an Angeleno, one of my favorite things is reading a story set in my town that feels like my town. And it's a consequent bugaboo if it's not done well. As a feminist, another one of my favorite things is female characters that have more than one dimension. And it's a consequent bugaboo if it's not done well. Most of the students at the school may actually have zero dimensions; they are shuttled from a dorm to another place to keep them safe, but I'll be damned if anyone actually ever talks to them, or asks them questions about the murder in their midst.
essentialsaltes: (cartouche)
This is the first trip that, instead of a paper journal, I took my iPad mini along, so my travelogue will be that much more timely in boring you. Simultaneously, I'm working on the photos, so this is a work in progress, as I add links, photos, and links to photos.

Quick review of the bluetooth keyboard for the iPad, from Anker: The tiny keys are sort of a must since it fits the mini, but the lack of a ' key really cramps my style. To get a ' you have to do a weird function button-o. Mainly I'd reach out for the ' and get a return instead. Made a lot of typoes, and it requires a firm surface to type on to press the keys down firmly enough. As a tiny keyboard of necessity, it's not bad, but not something I'd ever use by choice.

Read more... )
essentialsaltes: (dead)
Swann Galleries sent me the catalog for their upcoming autograph auction. One of the items really caught my eye.

Two Autograph Letters Signed, to President Garfield's private secretary J. Stanley Brown.

July 15: "Experiments made last night with Induction Balance very promising. Please send two bullets same size as that in President's body. Keep newspaper correspondents away from my laboratory if possible."

After the assassination attempt on President Garfield on July 2, Bell offered to help extract the bullet that was lodged in the President's back by means of an electro-magnetic device. By the time the device was ready for use, the President's physicians refused to allow it to be employed because of their patient's weakness.
essentialsaltes: (islam)
Some weeks back, I think [livejournal.com profile] therrin started a thread about SF/noir detective fiction, and I recalled George Alec Effinger's When Gravity Fails and its sequels. The Wiki page mentioned a detail of which I was unaware: "Effinger started work on a fourth Audran novel, Word of Night, but died before that work was completed. The existing chapters of Word of Night are now available in the posthumously published Budayeen Nights, along with some other Budayeen and non-Budayeen short stories."

And so, a little ebaying, and here I am with an ex-library copy of the Golden Gryphon edition of Budayeen Nights. The foreword and story introductions are provided by Barbara Hambly, and they are (in addition to being useful and insightful) occasionally uncomfortably frank about his problems with alcohol and drugs, which he used to combat the physical and mental pain in his life. In volume 2 of things I didn't know, Hambly and Effinger were briefly married near the end of his life.

Despite that depressing lead-in, it's still delightful to hang out with Marîd again in his usual haunts, in and around the events of the existing novels, and also in one story set long after those events. Other stories don't feature Marîd, but are clearly in the same world, including the Nebula and Hugo winning "Schrödinger's Kitten" (which struck me as being merely great, rather than award-sweeping) and "King of the Cyber Rifles," which has more to offer than just the cleverness of the title.

"The City on the Sand" from 1973 is less interesting as a story than as a look into the proto-Budayeen, inhabited by proto-Budayeen characters and Effinger's stand-in, Sandor Courane. It helps to draw the line from what Effinger was up to in the 70s to When Gravity Fails. And the other bookend is a peek into the unfinished fourth novel, with what counts as a short story to set things in motion.

I had the great fortune to meet Effinger briefly, and express my admiration for his work, when I was a lowly gofer, helping out at the 1996 Nebula Awards, which were held at the Queen Mary. And while we're name dropping, Barbara Hambly was kind enough to come to the very first EnigmaCon back in 1987.
essentialsaltes: (atheist teacher)
I got the NDA annual report. And it's even addressed to the new house. Papal spies are everywhere.

But it's always good to get a reminder of the importance of education, inspiring me to give some money to public schools through DonorsChoose...

I was sorry to see that Danny Loporto had passed away.
essentialsaltes: (Devilbones)
I got word that Professor Gerald Larue passed away recently at the enviable age of 98. There's a certain irony, I think, in the first president of the Hemlock Society living so long. I can't claim to have really met him, but I did bump into him at a debate on evolution/creationism between libertarian creep Mike Shermer and liar for Christ Duane Gish, 25 years ago at UCLA.

Larue was an interesting fellow. An early life of faith led him to study the bible and to profess biblical history and archaeology at USC for many years. But by that point, he had become decidedly skeptical.

One particular stunt stands out, and it's hard to untangle, since so many stories tell it out of order.

In 1985, a certain George Jammal wrote a letter to creationist Duane Gish, announcing that (after many travails) he had obtained a piece of Noah's Ark. Many, even in the creationist camp, had doubts, but...

In the early 90s, when Sun International Pictures wanted to make a documentary about the ark, Henry Morris of the Institute of Creation Research, gave them Jammal's name.

Sun's documentary, "The Incredible Discovery of Noah's Ark," which included Jammal's claims, aired on CBS.

Larue declared the whole thing to be a hoax.

Sun International Pictures doubled down. Quoting Talk Origins:

The secondary defense consisted of four parts: (1) That Sun had examined Morris' interview with Jammal. (2) That Sun had conducted their own two-hour audio taped interview looking for inconsistencies in Jammal's story. (3) That Sun compared the two interviews and found them to be consistent with each other. (4) That Sun gave Jammal's interview tapes to psychiatrist Paul Meier, who pronounced Jammal credible. By late September, Sun added a fifth defense: (5) That Sun had Jammal's hand-drawn map of Ararat and his expedition routes examined by Ararat expeditioneers who "assured us that it could not have been drawn by anyone who did not have experience with the mountain."


Reaction from CBS and the ICR was similar: "CBS, Sun, and the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) set out to control the damage to their credibility by defending the program against the criticisms of Larue. Since Jammal was continuing to defend his story, at first the three organizations went on the offensive against Larue. CBS Entertainment President Jeff Sagansky stated that "There was clearly a hoax perpetrated ... we're not sure whether it was on Sun International and CBS or whether it was on Time magazine." A press release from Sun called it "sad and unfortunate that Dr. LaRue [sic], a distinguished USC professor, would victimize Mr. Jammal and his family to execute a third party hoax in which he was the primary benefactor." John Morris, the Administrative Vice President of the ICR, made much of Larue's "long association with humanistic and anti-Christian organizations" and concluded that "This is hardly the resume of an objective critic." All defended the overall quality of Sun's research."

In 1993, "the Long Beach Press-Telegram--Jammal's hometown newspaper--ran a story about the hoax. In the story, Jammal did not admit to a hoax, but stated in response to a question about his religious background that "If I told you that, you'd know the secret." The reporter noted in the article that a poem framed in glass on Jammal's piano begins, "Humanism is a philosophy for people who think for themselves ....""

And so, eventually, Jammal revealed the deliberate hoax, and that Larue had been in on it with him from the beginning. They offered up a chunk of railroad tie marinated in teriyaki sauce, and creationists either bought it, or were happy to let other 'liars for Christ' perpetrate a fake on the public.
essentialsaltes: (sad)
Very sad to hear the news that Victor Stenger passed away. I came to know Vic from Taner Edis' Skeptic email list way back when, so though not a close friend, he was certainly an e-friend, and with his background in physics and skepticism, we had a lot in common.
essentialsaltes: (essentialsaltes)
Grandma's celebration of life was last weekend. With all of the craziness of the house selling and buying, I couldn't make it there, but at least I could play another small part in the overall process. Although her urn was interred alongside Grandpa at the veterans' cemetery, a bit of her had a different fate. She had asked to have ashes spread at Laguna Beach.

Now, knowing the risks of the release of ashes on the Pacific Coast, we added our own wrinkle to the plans.
Do you want to know more? )
essentialsaltes: (essentialsaltes)
My grandmother passed away a couple days ago, some six months or so after grandpa, her husband of 70+ years, preceded her.

She was a warm, kind person, who nevertheless got her way most of the time.

I've got a lifetime of memories, and it would take forever to go through it all. Two that stand out from when I was much younger are

#1) her teaching me the song "Billy Boy" during a road trip somewhere.
#2) me pestering her with facts about the moon (because surely everyone is as interested in astronomy as six-year-old Mike is) and her pestering me back with facts about contract bridge.

Grandparents
essentialsaltes: (Dead)
[livejournal.com profile] aaronjv ran Endgame last night at Wyvern Manor (a perfect setting and many thanks to Pam and Lianna for hosting).

The game is a 1920s murder mystery, so... I don't want to spoil things. But I did have a very good time, and it's a very solid game that is complicated enough to be interesting, but simple enough to be pretty easy to run and play. (So if you have an ambition to run a larp, here's one you can download and get cracking. That's what these things are for.)

The player mix was good, and I only knew a couple of them well, and a few more somewhat more vaguely. So at least half the people are now people that I'll know only by their character names...

I don't have any criticisms, but I'll mention one detail, just because my mind would not let it go. The setting is left vague, but the reference to Prohibition places it in America, but the character names all read to me as quite English (Harringdon, Stirling, Fairfax, Smyth-Montague...) more so than even the WASPiest of enclaves on the east coast (at least I imagine so -- I'm not invited to those parties). This is somewhat reinforced by the inspiration that the larp lifts from Dame Agatha.

OK, two more details from the run:

I wore great-great-grandfather's watch.

Favorite dialogue:

Rattled Suspect: It makes no sense to accuse me. I had the opportunity to kill him numerous times on other nights.
Me: So how many times did you kill him tonight?
essentialsaltes: (essentialsaltes)
My grandfather passed away, quietly, earlier today. I find myself with too much and too little to say.

He lived a full life, a long life, and one filled with family and friends and experiences all over the world.

Somehow I feel certain this is how he would like to be remembered (even if the California Raisin costume showed off his legs better).

essentialsaltes: (essentialsaltes)
Although the FDA existed in 1937, it did not have the authority to require companies to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of drugs. Then SE Massengill marketed a liquid form of the early antibiotic sulfanilamide, using diethylene glycol as a solvent. Unfortunately, DEG is poisonous to humans. At least 100 deaths across the country resulted.
A woman wrote to U.S. President Roosevelt and described the death of her daughter: "The first time I ever had occasion to call in a doctor for [Joan] and she was given Elixir of Sulfanilamide. All that is left to us is the caring for her little grave. Even the memory of her is mixed with sorrow for we can see her little body tossing to and fro and hear that little voice screaming with pain and it seems as though it would drive me insane. ... It is my plea that you will take steps to prevent such sales of drugs that will take little lives and leave such suffering behind and such a bleak outlook on the future as I have tonight."


I ran across this in an article in The Scientist, which also includes the detail that due to a legal technicality [an "elixir" legally denotes a medicine containing ethanol, which Elixir Sulfanilamide didn't] FDA agents did have the authority to track down and seize remaining bottles, "an operation that saved as many as 4,000 lives."

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