[syndicated profile] loweringthebar_feed

Posted by Kevin

“Pretty sure stank is patented,” my friend Amy (who is also a lawyer) wrote in an email the other day, probably not realizing I would take that statement as a challenge (but possibly realizing I would).

As is so often the case, first we have to define our terms, and as usual that means I am off to the OED instead of whatever I’m supposed to be reading—more specifically, the stuff I actually get paid to read.

“Stank,” of course, as a noun, is Scottish for “pond or pool,” also “a ditch … of slowly moving water, a moat.” See, e.g. J. Fastolf, Paston Lett. & Papers (1450) (“Ser John Buk physshed my stankys at Dedham and holp brake my damme,” which sounds dirty but isn’t); Chaucer, Parson’s Tale 841 (1386) (describing Hell as “a stank brennynge of fyr and of Brymston”). The word can also mean a dam or floodgate; that is, the structure that creates a stank.

Reading on, I see there are other meanings of “stank,” which seem to have arisen much more recently.

For example, beginning in the 1970s, according to the OED, some U.S. persons began to use the adjective “stanky” to describe things with an unpleasant smell, the usage probably deriving from a “colloquial pronunciation of ‘stinky.'” See, e.g.Jrnl. Amer. Folklore 85:139 (1972) (“The mummy was so long and lanky, and so motherf*cken stanky.”) This was, for whatever reason, later co-opted by the world of popular music to mean something that was “passionate, forceful and uncompromising in style or performance; having a driving beat or rhythm; extremely funky.” See, e.g.Option (Mar. 1993) (stating that James Brown and George Clinton “plumbed the stankiest depths of funk”); URB (Dec. 1996) (opining that “[a] stanky bass groove levels your body with supreme boombasticness”).

During roughly the same time period, “stanky” evolved into the noun form, “stank,” used to mean the unpleasant smell itself, or, in the second sense described above, the thing one might add to something else in order to create the desired stanky quality. See, e.g.New York Times (Sept. 2000) (“Mr. Porter … asks if he might funk it up a bit. ‘Put a stank on it'”); Mixmag (Oct. 2011) (“Osiris boasted two bass players for extra stank.”).1

Now that we know what stank is, we can try to determine whether it has been patented. We should start by asking whether “stank” could be patented. Well, under U.S. law, only a “new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof,” can be patented. It has to be something tangible, not an abstract idea, suggestion or theory. A musical stank, therefore, could not be patented, no matter how boombastic.

But what about the other kind of stank? What if you’ve developed an especially notable stank and would like to patent that? Can you patent an odor? Well . . . yes. An odor may seem intangible (or not, depending on who you’re trapped in the elevator with), but it is a property of matter. There is a specific patent classification for “perfume compositions,” and as the New York Times reported in 2008, inventors can and have patented previously unknown scent molecules. “There are no new colors to see and very few new sounds,” the Times quoted an expert as saying, “but we are actually creating new, unique smells no one has ever smelled before.” Or so he believes, never having been on a camping trip with my uncle.

Actually, the smells mentioned by the Times were said to be pleasant, but as I was informed by Clint Newton, a partner in our firm’s intellectual-property group, there is no reason a patentable smell would have to be pleasant. (He then informed me he would no longer be taking my calls.) Could an unpleasant smell be useful? Yep. That’s why you can smell natural gas if a line breaks—the gas doesn’t have a smell, so they add mercaptan, which stinks. I guess I can’t really think of another situation in which that’d be useful, or a reason to come up with another bad odor. But legally, such a thing could be patented.

But has one been? Well, really comprehensive patent searches cost money, and like I said, Clint is no longer taking my calls. If you run “stank” through the US PTO search engine, you get 220 hits, but as far as I could tell, these all resulted from some misreading of the word “tank” or because the patent cited an inventor with the unfortunate name of “Stank.” Stank itself I could not find. So unless and until Amy comes up with evidence to the contrary, I’m going to say her guess that “stank is patented” was wrong.

There is yet a further twist, though. As it happens, Amy was referring not just to some random stank, but to “pork stank,” which according to the internet is a mixture of spices used as a rub when barbecuing pork:

Why was she referring to pork stank? Long story. Could this stank be patented? Well, I think the answer is yes. It’s a “composition of matter,” and I found lots of patents related to some form of seasoning or another, like No. 9,622,501, a replacement for “salted rice malt.” It would have to be sufficiently novel, and there is certainly more than one supplier of “pork stank” out there already, but assuming a pork-stank inventor could get over that hurdle, fine.

But with the term “pork stank,” at least when capitalized as above, more likely we’re talking about trademark protection, not a patent. You could, of course, trademark the term “Pork Stank”—but that’s not what you care about, is it? You want to know whether you could trademark a smell, pork-related or otherwise. Well, again, the answer is yes. It’s not easy, but (as Clint confirmed, when pestered) a smell can be trademarked, and there are in fact about a dozen “scent marks.” The one you are most likely to have smelled, without knowing it, is the “flowery musk” scent Verizon successfully registered in 2014. (If you think its stores have a distinctive smell, you’re not wrong.) The difficulty, though, is that not just any stank would do—to be trademarked, it’d have to be not just distinctive, but so distinctive that it has come to be associated with your particular product.

If you’ve got one like that, Clint could probably help you get it trademarked. (You probably shouldn’t mention my name, though.)

1There is, it appears, yet another meaning of “stank” that is not relevant here and that I choose not to address.

Apologies like the birds in the sky

Oct. 18th, 2017 05:29 am
sovay: (Haruspex: Autumn War)
[personal profile] sovay
I have been having an absolutely miserable night, but after venting at length to [personal profile] spatch about Brian Jacques' Outcast of Redwall (1995) I spent at least an hour reading about various mustelids online, including several species (tayra, hog badger, ferret-badger, grison) I hadn't known existed, and I think that was good for me.

(I liked ferrets. I found them clever, beautiful, charming creatures. I had had a stuffed animal black-footed ferret since late elementary school. By the time Outcast came out, I even knew several domestic ferrets in person; they were playful and I did not object to their smell. That was the novel where I realized that Jacques' species essentialism was immutable, and I felt painfully betrayed. I understood the long shadow of The Wind in the Willows, but I couldn't understand how Jacques could miss that his readers would at some point identify with Veil, the orphaned ferret kit adopted into a society of mice and voles and moles—the outsider, the one who feels there's something wrong with them for just being what they are—and then fail to see how it would hurt them to have Veil confirmed as irredeemable, genetically evil after all. He went so far as to give a morally ambiguous character a selfless death scene and then retract it a few chapters later. That ending accomplished what endless recipes for damson and chestnut and Mummerset dialect could not: I burnt out on the series on some deep level and have never even now gone back, despite positive memories of the first four books and their unique combination of cozy talking animals and total batshit weirdness. If you can't appreciate ferrets, I'm out of time for you.)

What I'm watching in October

Oct. 17th, 2017 10:45 pm
meganbmoore: (covert affairs: gimme tv)
[personal profile] meganbmoore
kdramas:

Avengers Social Club
Bad Thief, Good Thief 
Because This is My First Life 
Empress Chunchu
The Package 
While You Were Sleeping 

cdrama:

Nirvana in Fire 

anime: 

Code Realize: Guardian of Rebirth 
Kino’s Journey: The Beautiful World (2017)
Mahou Tsukai no Yome 

US/British/Canadian TV:

Brooklyn 99 
Ghost Wars
Ghosted 
The Gifted
The Good Place 
Madam Secretary
The Mayor
Midsomer Murders 
Riverdale 
The Shannara Chronicles
Tangled: The Series 
Victoria 
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
[personal profile] mme_hardy
 This looks like another "young outcast discovers his powers" book.  Wow, is it not.   Trust me. In the very first scene, Kellen needs to fight a magecaster's duel.  

There are three requirements to earning a mage's name among the JanTep.  The first is the strength to defend your family.  The second is the ability to wield the high magics that protect our people.  The third is simply to reach the age of sixteen.  I was a few weeks shy of my birthday when I learned that I wouldn't be doing any of those things.

And we're off, into the duel.  Kellen's problem is that he doesn't have magic.   This is not a survivable problem.   But Kellep does have a very, very clever mind.  In a lesser book, Kellep would discover his magic and wipe the floor with his opponent, winning the acclaim of the crowd. 

This is not a lesser book.  Spellslinger is actually about a young outcast discovering and creating his own moral fiber.  Kellep's struggle, although he doesn't realize it early in the book, is to become a decent human being in an indecent society.  This is a far more interesting coming-of-age story than you usually get.   When the Mysterious Stranger shows up, she's not a kindly wizard mentor.  She's (possibly) not a wizard at all. She doesn't teach Kellep: she gives him opportunities to teach himself.  Kellep acquires some new resources, but they are challenges as much as gifts.

Oh, the Mysterious Stranger kicks ass.  I can't say more, because it would be a spoiler.  She is compelling and ambiguous and funny and tough.

The characters are engrossing.  The worldbuilding is unusual and clever. It's partly based around an original variant of a Tarot deck, but is in no way woo-woo; the cards do not predict your future, but (sometimes) illuminate your choices. The cards are playing cards, but are also a weapon.   The cards have nothing to do -- as far as we know -- with the magic of the JanTep.

The book itself is gorgeous, in a way that made me extremely nostalgic.  The red-and-black cover has two line drawings of the main characters, presented as a face card. (Don't look too closely at Kellep; it's a spoiler.)  Red is used as a spot color, very effectively.  There are interior illustrations of relevant Tarot cards at the beginning of each section.  And the page edges (forget the technical term) are red!  Taken as a whole, the book looks a bit like a deck of cards, which is, I'm sure intentional.

Here's the catch.  There (as of time of writing) no U.S. or Canadian distributor of Spellslinger or its sequel, Shadowblack.  If you're in North America and want to read them, you'll have to order from the, in my experience, reliable, fast, and cheap www.bookdepository.com or an equivalent.

Note: de Castell's Greatcoat books are also awesome.  If you like the Musketeers books, you should love them.  The nice thing is that they preserve the essential "three duelists against the world" spirit without either copying the plots or being pastiche-y.  The second nice thing is that the author is a stage fight choreographer and is able to communicate fights clearly to the non-fighter (me).

Back-to-the-office mishmash post

Oct. 17th, 2017 11:01 am
umadoshi: (read fast (bisty_icons))
[personal profile] umadoshi
I rewrote SO MUCH MANGA this weekend (counting yesterday as part of "the weekend"). Other than a) the amount of time I spent waiting for my GP appointment yesterday morning and b) going out for ramen and having some social time afterwards on Sunday evening, I feel like rewriting is all I did over the past three days.

I also think that can't be as true as it feels, because I also finally finished reading K.B. Spangler's Stoneskin (which was wonderful, and I'm really excited for the [as-yet-unwritten, AFAIK] trilogy it's a prequel to), and [dreamwidth.org profile] scruloose and I finally saw the first two episodes of Star Trek: Disco last night.

OTOH, I read most of what I had left of Stoneskin yesterday morning while doing the aforementioned waiting for an appointment, most of which was my own fault. Last month's appointment used up the last of the injectable B12, so I got a new prescription from Dr. Awesome and dropped it off at the pharmacy to be put on file, but then I forgot about it until I was on my way out the door to yesterday's appointment. Fortunately the pharmacy is right next door to Dr. Awesome's office, and I called in to get the new B12 as I started walking, and they got it ready as fast as they could, but it still meant I was late to my appointment (although at least I was able to pop in and say "I'm here! Sort of...").

--I've got a small heap of ST:D reaction posts from all of you tucked away in Memories and was finally able to start sifting through the early ones late last night. I doubt I'm going to do much (if any) commenting on weeks-old posts, but reading them is fun. ^_^


--I'm blanking on another detail about Yuletide logistics. I feel like in previous year's there's been a page (on AO3?) showing all the names of who requested what fandoms (but I think not connected at all to people's optional Dear Yulegoat letters?). Is that right? Am I simply missing it?


--My third year of "only read books (novels, anyway) from my bookcase of purchased TBR or things I've purchased in ebook" is almost up, and the status of the physical bookcase is...dire. I'm not literally out of room to put any more books on it (especially since the bottom shelf has binders of CDs and stuff on it, so the TBR only ["only"] takes up four shelves), but it's not good.

Between that and my wallet, I truly need to buy fewer books. (And relearn the habit of making purchase suggestions for novels with the library, not just anthologies and graphic novels, without getting back into putting tons of things on hold there. No going back to the days of juggling a 300 or 400-item holds list, self. *stern*) Emphasis on the "and my wallet" part, which means not simply switching to buying a higher percentage of things in ebook. (Even if ebooks are usually enough cheaper that doing that also technically means spending less money.)

As is usually the way, I feel like there were other things I meant to mention, but I now have about an hour before I have to throw on proper clothes and head off to Casual Job, and I need to use that hour to proofread some prose. Yes.
sovay: (PJ Harvey: crow)
[personal profile] sovay
I am not really catching up on anything. The night we got home from New York, there was an exciting cat-related incident at five in the morning that kept everyone from sleeping until after the sun came up (everyone is fine, cats included), and this morning we were awoken shortly after eight by the sounds of construction thinly separated from our bedroom by some tarpaper and shingles. It is the roofers finally come to prevent further ice dams, but they were supposed to come this weekend while we were out of town and instead they are forecast for the rest of the week. I assume I will sleep sometime on Saturday.

1. There is a meme going around Facebook about the five films you would tell someone to watch in order to understand you. I've been saying Powell and Pressburger's A Canterbury Tale (1944), Ron Howard's Splash (1984), Derek Jarman's Wittgenstein (1993), John Ford's The Long Voyage Home (1940), and The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T (1953). Which is hardly complete, but adding postscripts feels like cheating, so I haven't. The internet being what it is, of course, I first saw this meme in the mutated form of the five weird meats you would tell someone to eat in order to understand you, to which I had no difficulty replying: venison, blood sausage, snails, goat, and raw salmon.

2. In other memetic news, I tried the Midwest National Parks' automatic costume generator:

National Park Costume Ideas


and while I don't think "Paranoid Hellbender" is a good costume, it'd be a great hardcore band.

3. I haven't done an autumnal mix in a while, so here is a selection of things that have been seasonally rotating. This one definitely tips more toward Halloween.

The sound of a thousand souls slipping under )

I would really like to be writing about anything.

P.S. I just want to point out that if you have recently seen The Robots of Death (1977) and you open a copy of the official tie-in anthology Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View (2017) and see a pair of characters named Poul and Toos, it is extremely confusing that the former is female, the latter is male, they are respectively a senior and a junior officer aboard the Death Star, and neither of them has a problem with robots.
umadoshi: text: "Aw Rachel, don't be scared of ghosts! They're only dead people." + "I know people. That's not helping." (AGAHF - ghosts)
[personal profile] umadoshi
[dreamwidth.org profile] mini_wrimo is open for signups until October 30!


Fannish/Geeky Things/SFF

"Hero-Princess-General Carrie Fisher Once Delivered a Cow Tongue to a Predatory Hollywood Exec". [The Mary Sue]

"Carrie Fisher Insisted That Leia’s Last Jedi Arc Honor All The “Girls Who Grew up Watching Star Wars”". [The Mary Sue]

"Who are Tessa Thompson’s LADY LIBERATORS?" "The Marvel Cinematic Universe has realigned how Hollywood thinks of blockbusters, franchises, and comic book movies. Though the films have been groundbreaking at the box office, it’s been nine years since Marvel Studios began the MCU and they’re still two years away from having a solo female led movie on our screens.

But if Thor: Ragnarok’s Tessa Thompson has anything to do with it, that’s not going to stand. During a recent press conference for Taika Waititi’s much anticipated Thor film, Thompson regaled us with a rad story about confronting Kevin Feige with the possibility of an all-female Marvel movie."


A discussion on N.K. Jemisin's Facebook about the "magic system" (scare quotes hers) in the Broken Earth books. Spoilers!

Abigail Nussbaum on N.K. Jemisin's The Stone Sky.


Cute Stuff

"If You Ever Feel Sad, These 10+ Highland Cattle Calves Will Make You Smile".

September LaPerm pics from [dreamwidth.org profile] naye. These posts are always great, but I think this one is even better than usual.


Miscellaneous

"We Don't Do That Here". "I have a handful of “magic” phrases that have made my professional career easier. Things like “you are not your code” and my preferred way to say no: “that doesn’t work for me.” These are tools in my interpersonal skills toolbox. I find myself uttering phrases like, “right or effective, choose one” at least once a week. This week I realized I had another magic phrase, “we don’t do that here.”"

Brian Fies' "A Fire Story" is a short comic about him and his wife being burned out of their home in the wildfires.

"Art Inspired by Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities". (I haven't read the book, but the art is really neat.)

"Photographer Gets Bitten By A Deadly Black Mamba, Still Manages To Finish The Photoshoot". (Many beautiful snake photos!)

"Native-Land.ca: Our home on native land". Searchable map of North America's First Nations territories and pre-colonial histories. "There are over 630 different First Nations in Canada (and many more in the USA) and I am not sure of the right process to map territories, languages, and treaties respectfully - and I'm not even sure if it is possible to do respectfully. I am not at all sure about the right way to go about this project, so I would very much appreciate your input."

"Creating Gender Liberatory Singing Spaces: A Transgender Voice Teacher’s Recommendations for Working with Transgender Singers".

Via [dreamwidth.org profile] dine, "Pumpkin Spice and Needles: Bookish Autumn Cross Stitch Patterns".

"Video game developers confess their hidden tricks at last".

Via [dreamwidth.org profile] alisanne, "Why Do We Cook So Many Foods at 350 Degrees?" [Mental Floss]

Assorted Stupidity #106

Oct. 16th, 2017 12:30 pm
[syndicated profile] loweringthebar_feed

Posted by Kevin

LTB logo

 

  • UPDATE: According to the National Post, it will probably remain illegal to canoe under the influence in Canada for the foreseeable future. A pending bill would have provided that vessels “propelled exclusively by means of muscular power” would no longer be covered by the relevant Criminal Code provision. See Canada May Legalize Drunken Canoeing,” Lowering the Bar (Sept. 29, 2017). But MPs said they were persuaded by the Canadian Safe Boating Council that this would “send the wrong message,” and the bill was amended to remove the “muscular power” provision. The bill is still in committee, though, for now.
  • The Orlando Sentinel reports that the city has paid $37,500 to settle a lawsuit filed by a man who was arrested for what officers thought was meth but was actually flakes of sugar from a Krispy Kreme glazed donut. An officer’s “roadside drug test” came back positive for an illegal substance, but a slightly more expert test came back positive for sugar.
  • I get a fair amount of press releases from PR people, though it’s not clear to me how I get on these mailing lists. Case in point: I recently got a press release from a PR firm announcing that former congressman Michael Grimm was demanding that FEMA extend the final deadline for people to make claims for Hurricane Sandy relief. I don’t have a problem with the extension, I just wonder why they expect pro-Grimm messages from me given that my prior mentions of him have not been especially flattering. See Good Reason to Kill #48: Asked Wrong Question After State of the Union” (Jan. 29, 2014) and “Can a Convicted Felon Serve in Congress?” (Dec. 24, 2014) (answer: yes, although Grimm resigned after his conviction).

+1 Goth level

Oct. 16th, 2017 12:10 am
dhampyresa: (that's high profile)
[personal profile] dhampyresa
I'd been feeling like I wasn't goth enough for a while, but this feeling is gone since this morning.

I had a really weird dream last night in which I was, for some obscure reason, taking part in a baking show presided over/judged by the Raven Queen, the Goddess of Death in Critical Role (and DnD -- but this was definitely a Critical Role thing). Then I blew my fuse because we were supposed to cook with unsalted butter and WHAT KIND OF HERETIC etc. I'm pretty sure I was overdoing it to gum up the works for some reason? But in any case, shouting at the Raven Queen made me level up, so obviously I took that level in Goth, which she thought was hilarious, appropriate and well-deserved.

Clearly I am goth enough. The dream argument I had with a death goddess over baking ingredient says so.


Also, I finally wrote prompts for my yuletide letter. Sorry for the delay to anyone waiting on it.

I'll do the linking in appropriate places tomorrow.

Looking Forward

Oct. 15th, 2017 12:02 pm
otw_staff: 'Comms' and 'Claudia' written beneath the OTW Logo (Claudia)
[personal profile] otw_staff posting in [community profile] otw_news
Donors in the last 10 years have allowed the OTW to offer what it does today. Will you help us achieve more over the next 10? http://goo.gl/uF2LiA

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A time to pull away the football

Oct. 15th, 2017 09:52 am
rydra_wong: Peanuts. Lucy has just pulled away the football and Charlie Brown has crashed onto his back. "And a time to pull away the football," she says. (football -- time)
[personal profile] rydra_wong
So [personal profile] rachelmanija is trying to start a campaign to pull the nuclear football away from Trump's grip.

I Google, and found Charlie Brown's Greatest Misses: Every 'Peanuts' Football Gag Comic. Some of the panels seemed ... strangely apposite.

Free to take, use, modify, do what you will. Pull the football, save the world.

sovay: (Lord Peter Wimsey: passion)
[personal profile] sovay
We are returned from our whirlwind trip to New York. Notes, because I need to fall over—

It is probably just as well that the Great Northern Food Hall is two states away, because otherwise I can see myself eating there until I go broke or burn out on the taste of rye flour, neither of which I want to happen. Not only do they make a superlative cold-smoked salmon, which if you order it as smørrebrød comes on a dense, chewy rye with thin slices of pickled cucumber and radish and generous dots of stiff savory sour cream and if you order it off the regular menu changes up the radish for celery pickle (which it seems I like much better than any other format of celery) and offers you slices of a lighter, crusty sourdough to plate it on for yourself, they serve a pink peppercorn and raspberry shrub which reminded me strongly of Fire Cider, only in a different key of flavors. Their beef tartare had too much red onion for [personal profile] spatch to eat safely, but we both liked the cubes of smoked beet and the startling green dollops of chive mayonnaise. The roast beef mini smørrebrød had a kind of remoulade on top and then little reddish-purple shells of endive. The avocado mini smørrebrød may or may not have needed green tomato pickle, but the chili oil was a nice touch. The server advised about two small plates per person; in fact three small plates at the Great Northern Food Hall was about half a plate more than either of us could handle, but it was all so delicious that we left only bread. I even got to try the sorrel sorbet because they were giving sorbet away for free, saying quite honestly that they had too much left at the end of the week and didn't want it to go to waste. It was a juicy green, vegetal-sweet, and I licked at it as we ran for the trains to Lincoln Center.

I want some kind of credit for changing all of my clothes except for socks and shoes in a stall in the orchestra-level ladies' room of the Met, especially since I had a laptop-containing backpack and my corduroy coat to manage at the same time. I had brought nice clothes for the opera and I was going to wear them, dammit. I dropped nothing in the toilet and got complimented on my hair afterward.

The opera was wonderful. The thing about Les contes d'Hoffmann is that Offenbach died while working on it—he had a complete piano score but only partial orchestration and a lot of dramaturgical questions unresolved—and as a result there has been an ongoing argument about authenticity and convention and dramatic coherence and musical feasibility for the last hundred and thirty-six years. A non-exhaustive list of variations would include: the order in which the second two acts are staged; how one of them ends; whether there is recitative or spoken dialogue in the tradition of the opéra comique; whether the four soprano roles are performed by the same singer; the degree to which the mezzo role is present in the story; which arias are performed by the bass-baritone; how the opera itself ends. Counting Powell and Pressburger's The Tales of Hoffmann (1951), I have literally never seen or heard the same version twice. Not all of this one worked for me as either an interpretation or an edition, but as a production it was oustanding. I liked Vittorio Grigolo's Hoffmann, self-destructive and feverishly hopeful and not one minute sober; I loved Laurent Naouri's Lindorf and other villains, the same dry dark amusement in his voice each act like his changes of coat, different styles, all black; Tara Erraught made the most complex Muse I have seen, a conspirator in each of Hoffmann's romantic disillusions until she begins to wonder if the eventual art is going to pay off the cost or if she's just going to break her poet instead. The mise-en-scène was generally 1920's Mitteleuropa, with excursions to a Parisian fairground for the Olympia act, a remote and wintry forest for the Antonia act, and a smoky Venetian bordello for the Giulietta act, cheerfully and non-naturalistically peppered with waiters in the whiteface of the Kit Kat Klub, carnival callbacks to Tod Browning, and Venetian courtesans in green glitter star-shaped pasties. (Rob said afterward, "That was more skin than I expected from grand opera." Then he got Tom Waits' "Pasties and a G-string" stuck in my head for the rest of the night.) And here the notes started to run away into an actual review which I had to break off abruptly because it hurt too much to type; I'll try to say more tomorrow. At the beginning of the Giulietta act, the Muse in her guise of Nicklausse the student woke up in a pile of pasties-and-G-string ladies with her vest unbuttoned and her cravat untied and I hope each and every one of those ladies went home and wrote an epic poem, or painted, or sculpted, or composed a song. I don't see what else waking up in a pile with the Muse is supposed to do.

We stayed the night with friends who live in Morristown, who had not managed to catch dinner before the opera, so at one-thirty in the morning we were at a diner somewhere in New Jersey, variously ordering things like Greek salad, Tex-Mex rolls, disco fries, and hot chocolate. This is the most collegiate thing that has happened to me in years.

Unfortunately I woke on their semi-fold-out couch the next afternoon with my shoulder frozen and screaming at me, which meant that a lot of getting around Manhattan today was accomplished by Rob carrying my backpack and me making noises whenever I tried to pick anything up, but we made it to the Strand and now I have copies of Derek Jarman's Kicking the Pricks (The Last of England, 1987) and Smiling in Slow Motion (2000) and we had dinner at Veselka, as is now our tradition. They make a borscht better than anything I can get in Boston. I always remember the Baczynski is huge, but forget quite how huge that is, although at least it means I can eat the second half some hours later on the train when I'm hungry again. Much less elevatedly, I can't remember ever eating a Twix bar before, but Rob brought one back from the café car and a lot of candy bars confuse me, but I can say nothing against a biscuit layered in caramel and chocolate.

(It is a small reason among many, but I do resent the resurgence of actual Nazism for making it more difficult to describe the shoutily officious gateman who ordered the woman next to me to drop out of line so that the business class passengers could have their own line to board first from—he kept yelling at her to move over and I along with two or three other people yelled back, "There's nowhere to move!"—as a tin Hitler.)

My shoulder is now hurting in the way it has been all week where the pain runs down my arm and into my fingers, which I suspect means I should call a doctor about it on Monday and definitely stop typing now. But it was worth it. It was a good birthday present.

A small mishmash update

Oct. 15th, 2017 12:47 am
umadoshi: (ocean 01)
[personal profile] umadoshi
I took a stab at catching up on replying to comments, but I suspect I'm not gonna get completely caught up. *stares grimly at browser* I did at least manage to get back under 100 open tabs. That's something, I guess.
Oh-so-mercifully, I don't have Casual Job work on Monday, which means I'm merely very stressed about my freelance deadlines for the coming week, where before yesterday (when we found out about Monday) I was closer to "I'm only managing to not panic because I know it won't help".

Our odds of getting bulbs in or getting any other garden work done this weekend (basically everything else falls under "fall cleanup", I guess?) still seem low, though. Dear ground: please, please do not freeze solid this month.

I keep finding myself trying to think of how long it's been since I wrote any words at all. It may be just as well I haven't figured it out yet. Even trying to piece it together is disheartening.

In "Kas is tremendously awesome" news, a week or so ago Ginny brought a piece of a recent Kas-made lemon loaf to the office for me, and it was wonderful, and in my happiness I mentioned that it'd been a while since I'd had his lemon loaf and so it was delightful to have a piece. (He used to make it quite a bit, but has been tending to bake other [also excellent!] things for the last while.) Ginny relayed that to him, and next thing I knew, Kas had made me a lemon loaf. *melts*
sovay: (Sovay: David Owen)
[personal profile] sovay
Stanislas Petrov died this year. When I saw the news, I wrote, "I feel this is a bad year to lose a man who knew how not to blow up the world."

The nuclear football is the briefcase containing the launch codes for the nuclear weapons in the arsenal of the United States. Currently, in order to open the football and take advantage of its contents, a President of the United States need do nothing more than positively identify himself. The two-man rule requiring the assent of the Secretary of Defense before proceeding to the use of nuclear weapons is something of a fig leaf since, while the Secretary of Defense must verify that the order really came from the President, he cannot legally countermand it. Currently the President of the United States is a man who shows every sign of wanting quite seriously to use nuclear weapons and he can do it without warning and without authorization; he can do it on a whim and I feel that trusting in on-the-spot interference to prevent him—his generals actually tackling him, taking the football out of his hands—is an only marginally less wishful fantasy than the actual ghost of Stanislas Petrov appearing to arrest the turning of launch keys at the last minute, although I'm not saying he shouldn't do that if he feels like it. I would just prefer not to reach that stage if we can help it.

We can help it. There is right now a bill in the Senate and the House—S.200, H.R.669, the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017—that would remove the power to launch a preemptive nuclear strike from the President and return it to Congress, which would need to declare war before the authorization of a nuclear strike could even be considered, and [personal profile] rachelmanija has started a campaign to get this bill passed. It is called Pull the Football – Save the World. Its principle is simple. Call your Congresspeople. Write them letters, e-mails, postcards, faxes. Tweet at them. Message them on Facebook. If they are already co-sponsors of the bill, thank them. If they are not, tell them to co-sponsor the bill and then keep telling them. Call again. Write again. Tweet to break the monotony and then call some more. Even if there's not a hope in the domain of much-maligned Hades that they'll act like reasonable human beings, keep reminding them that you expect them to. See Rachel's post for sample scripts, phone numbers, and other helpful information. And if you haven't got Congresspeople at all, please share this information on your social media so that it can reach even more people who do. The idea is the same kind of wave of public outcry as the protests against the repeal of the ACA, only this time in favor of taking action—and in defense of more than just American lives.

I belong to the only country in the world that has employed nuclear weapons in war. For many, many reasons, let's not do it again. And let's start with the football.

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