The Very-Many-Questions-Not-Worth-Their-Own-Thread Thread XLI

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by cardgame, Oct 31, 2020.

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  1. Ajidica

    Ajidica High Quality Person

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    I found the House books (House Atreides, Harkonnen, Corrino) to be average space-opera page turners. The Butlerian Jihad books (Butlerian Jihad, Machine Crusade, Battle of Corrin) were above average space-opera page turners. Kevin J Anderson is unfortunately a "quantity" writer, who never explains in one page what he could take ten to do. This was particularly apparent in his Seven Suns books. Nothing makes me stop reading than an author that wastes the readers time, has badly placed cliffhangers*, and spends tens of pages just to introduce the idea that maybe this group that is obviously not telling us the whole story might just be hiding something.

    *Hey, something interesting is about to happen and finally move the plot along! Let's pause this characters story and spend the next hundred pages telling an entirely different story!
     
  2. tjs282

    tjs282 Stone(cold)fish

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    Can you not buy these things in the UK/ Canada?



    Basically long narrow teabags that you fill yourself. Before we got a teapot with a built-in infuser, we used them for loose-leaf black tea. Still occasionally use them when we rent a holiday apartment for a weekend or whatever (German holiday apartments are almost always equipped with a coffee percolator, but rarely with a teapot!).

    Better than a tea-egg in that all the leaves and dust stay inside the bag, worse in that the bags are not re-usable. But they are biodegradable -- as are the commercial teabags that we get here in Germany, and in the UK as well -- so also get composted.

    (I've certainly seen teabags made of a plastic-like substance here, but only in restaurants, and I've never asked what they're actually made of)
     
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  3. Samson

    Samson Deity

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    I have never seen anything like that, and googling it all the packs have German writing, so I guess not.
     
  4. Samson

    Samson Deity

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    Why does posh salt come in big bits, so you have to use more to salt a dish? Is not everyone, especially posh people, trying to reduce their salt intake these days?
     
  5. haroon

    haroon Deity

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    I hate this on movie also, sometime I refuse to be dictate, I will just skip until I reach the story that I wanted to hear or follow currently, and I can rewind back later to see other story.
     
  6. Sofista

    Sofista Deity

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    It's an awkward moment when one realizes that their status symbols only matter as such when they're ostentatiously paraded.
     
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  7. Valka D'Ur

    Valka D'Ur Hosting Iron Pen in A&E Retired Moderator

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    I think the word you're looking for here is "hack."

    If KJA had been writing in the age of the pulps, he would have had to use pseudonyms so his own name wouldn't be saturated on the bookstands, as there wasn't remotely the variety of publishers or options then as there is now. One thing Isaac Asimov said in his autobiography is that back then (in the 1930s) it was possible to own a copy of every professionally published North American science fiction story (presumably in whatever magazine they were in).

    That's impossible now. And I know what he meant, since it was, once upon a time, possible to realistically own every professionally published Star Trek novel.

    Well, there got to be too many of those 20 years ago. I finally gave up, although I'll make an exception for any new TOS novel by Greg Cox. He writes well, the stories are entertaining to re-read several times, and he's a member over at TrekBBS. It's nice to be able to have a conversation with an author either about their books, their opinions of other books (I wouldn't ask him to dish the dirt on his colleagues, though, not that he would - since some of them hang out there, too), or even just favorite pizza toppings.

    Too much market saturation by a specific writer is something that happens, as one author explained to me at one of the Calgary SF conventions. I'd been shopping at the dealer's room table that belonged to an SCA friend who had opened her own bookstore, specializing in history and historical fiction. I spotted a historical fiction novel about the Trojan War, and noted that it was by a female author I hadn't heard of.

    My friend said, "Psst! That book is really by Dave Duncan, and he's just over there" - pointing to a man I'd seen as a panelist a few times during the weekend - "and if you ask him nicely, he'll be glad to sign it for you."

    So I did, he did, and he explained the reason for the pseudonym. This book was scheduled to come out at the same time as a couple of other books under his own name. His agent recommended a pseudonym because when people collect particular authors' books, it's not unusual for them to limit themselves to one a month. This way, there would be more likelihood of the book selling because people wouldn't know that they were by the same person.

    And now that I've looked him up, I see that he died almost three years ago. :(

    The conversation we had about his books happened back in the late '90s. That would have been my last, or maybe second-last convention, as I was really starting to have problems with the chronic illnesses that I've been dealing with for such a long time. I'd finally decided to hell with pride and started using the canes in public.
     
  8. Ajidica

    Ajidica High Quality Person

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    I wouldn't call him a "hack". That I reserve for authors who churn out sub-literate potboilers without any meaningful reflection of the author's own interest outside of pieces of green folding paper.
     
  9. Birdjaguar

    Birdjaguar Hanafubuki Super Moderator Supporter

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    It is more expensive and bigger bits are showier and likely require a grinder. It is just regular salt without the iodine and with small amounts of other mineral that make it look fancier. Grinding one's salt is like grinding one's pepper.
     
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  10. Samson

    Samson Deity

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    It is not really like grinding pepper. The flavours of pepper are volatile, so pre-ground pepper will lose taste compared to pepper corns. Salt is not volatile, so pre-ground should be the same taste.
     
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  11. Valka D'Ur

    Valka D'Ur Hosting Iron Pen in A&E Retired Moderator

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    This is exactly why KJA deserved the appellation of "hack."

    Any time you tell him why you think that (whatever nuDune book you're talking about) isn't good - repetitious chapters, explicit and gory torture scenes, egregious departure from FH-established canon - he smugly points to all the books of his that have been on the New York Times Bestsellers list and says that if people are buying them, they must be good.

    Contrast this to Robert Silverberg, who started writing professionally in the late '50s. He wrote some SF in the '50s and '60s, and then didn't really like how the genre and SF publishing industry was going. The '60s brought in the "New Wave" of SF where publishers were allowing bigger books, less formulaic, sex and swearing was allowed (not that it wasn't before, but it couldn't be common or explicit), and science fiction became less science and more fiction.

    So Silverberg dropped out of the SF community for awhile. So long, that some people figured he'd quit writing altogether.

    Except... he hadn't. This is something he told us in his online discussion group some time ago, earlier this year if memory serves. He was writing all that time, just in different genres, under a variety of pseudonyms.

    Much of what he wrote were detective stories, potboilers with murder, sex, other violence, and they were the kinds of stories that he could churn out in days. Writing like this didn't pay a lot, so the authors who did it had to write a lot, to put food on the table and make the rent. They didn't have the luxury of time to make them into more literary kinds of stories.

    They were, I suppose, the detective genre equivalent of Harlequins, most of which have the same basic plot and it's just the location and names of the characters that change. The woman is always some prize for the male protagonist, and the author churns out a LOT of them.

    Of course some do turn out to be "house names" used by any author contracted to write those books - even children's authors did it. Nancy Drew was not written by Carolyn Keene, as there's no such person. Ditto Franklin W. Dixon, for The Hardy Boys.

    There are "house names" for reviewers and critics too, btw. Any time you see a book with a comment attributed to "Harriet Klausner", for instance, be aware that this is a house name. There is no way in hell that can be a real person, due to the sheer volume of reviews attributed to that name. A reviewer is supposed to have actually read the book they review (or at least skimmed it). Klausner could not possibly have done all those reviews even if "she" was just churning out reviews without even reading anything.

    Which meant I was amused when one of the more pompous Trek authors who hangs out on TrekBBS started pontificating about something, I mentioned I hadn't particularly cared for that book, and he promptly bragged that "Harriet Klausner gave me an excellent review!"

    He had no idea that he'd gotten a rubber-stamped review from someone whose job it is to churn those out under the name of "Harriet Klausner."


    Now, back to Robert Silverberg. Yes, I suppose you could say that in those years when he was churning out erotic detective potboilers, that was hackwork. He admitted himself that he wasn't really proud of them and hadn't made any effort to take advantage of his fame later in life to say, "I wrote those, too" and watch as completist collectors bought them just to say they had them.

    Silverberg returned to science fiction with what is widely considered his masterwork: Lord Valentine's Castle. That book is a joy to read, and takes you on a breathless adventure as Valentine wakes up on a hillside overlooking the city of Pidruid, not have a clue about anything other than he thinks his name is Valentine, and he can't remember anything else.

    He's taken in by a troupe of wandering jugglers, who are happy to have him, since there's been a recent edict that in any mixed-species group of entertainers, at least three of them must be human. So Valentine makes three, even though he doesn't know how to juggle. No matter; the other two teach him and he becomes reasonably competent (as in not dropping stuff).

    Anyway, that book took years for Silverberg to write, and he did extensive research on juggling (even consulting the Flying Karamazov Brothers about what is and isn't possible for human jugglers, and how things might work when you have alien jugglers with six arms each).

    Silverberg has gone on to write more books about the planet of Majipoor (where Lord Valentine's Castle takes place). I haven't read all of them, but I did read the first three books that constitute a trilogy (though the 2nd book is a story loosely connected with various short stories interspersed).

    Silverberg has a lot to be proud of in his career. He's written some fantastic stuff - alien worlds, time travel, adventure fiction set in Africa during the Age of Sail, speculating on what the world would be like if Rome and Greece never fell (when Rome decided to sail across the Atlantic to loot the Aztecs of their treasure... oops, seems the Vikings got there first...). He's been an incredibly prolific author, in numerous genres of fiction and nonfiction. My SCA persona is partly based on inspiration from his time travel novel Up the Line, and I used one of his nonfiction books in an anthropology paper.

    But so not a hack, when you're counting his non-potboiler stuff under another name.

    KJA merits the title of 'hack' no matter what.

    Besides, "Back to the pepper mines!" doesn't have quite the same ring to it...
     
  12. Takhisis

    Takhisis Rum and coke.

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    But pepper can be properly sealed in bags or pots.
     
  13. Birdjaguar

    Birdjaguar Hanafubuki Super Moderator Supporter

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    Grinding salt to taste is another way to interact with one's meal experience that is more engaging and thoughtful than shaking a shaker. The pink color adds to the experience too.
     
  14. haroon

    haroon Deity

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    There are lots of contention between right wing and left wing in the West in general, or in specific between democrat and republic. I just wonder, have you ever date peoples who held opposite side? because even in this forum the banter can be severe, I wonder if the relationship is level up to like living together in the same house and raise kids, I wonder how it goes.

    Do you guys have any experience?
     
  15. The_J

    The_J Say No 2 Net Validations Super Moderator Supporter

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    I don't think you'd get to a serious relationship level if you'd disagree on your fundamental principles.
    No personal XP though.
     
  16. Valka D'Ur

    Valka D'Ur Hosting Iron Pen in A&E Retired Moderator

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    I never discussed politics with my SO. I realized it would be a bad idea, the first time I met his parents and their friends at a mess dinner (my SO was in the reserves at the time). It's not that I disliked his parents - they were very nice people, and he told me that they liked me as well, and approved of my choice of college program (I was in the B.Ed. program at the time, pursuing a teaching degree).

    But one of the first things they asked was whether or not I'd consider joining the reserves. That's not something I ever considered, and given that this was during the Cold War and who knew what was going to happen... I felt it was best to just say no, and change the subject.


    I did have a female friend who practically worshiped the ground Brian Mulroney walked on, though (Conservative Prime Minister from 1984-1993, or whenever it was that he scuttled off like a coward, leaving his replacement to take the fall during the 1993 federal election). Mulroney is also known as "Lyin' Brian" as he was thoroughly corrupt.

    My grandparents were supporters of Pierre Trudeau (father of our current PM, Justin Trudeau). Just for the heck of it, I found a candid photo of Pierre at his desk, playing around with an elastic band, so I took it home (it was from an old magazine in the school library, where I worked during my last two years of high school).

    Later on, that friend came over to stay overnight. The picture happened to be on the wall of the spare bedroom. She took one look at it and said, "Take that down!"

    I told her it was my room, my picture, the family (at that time) were Liberal supporters, and if she didn't like the picture, she was welcome not to look at it.

    A bit snarky/rude? Yeah, I'll admit to that. But you just don't go into someone else's home and dictate what pictures they can have up.

    I don't support the federal Liberals anymore, and haven't for the last 20 years. But this incident happened around 1979 or so, not long after Trudeau won the election that happened that year.
     
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  17. haroon

    haroon Deity

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    That's the only way I able to imagine for a relationship between opposite political view to work, I think it needs a serious commitment and tolerant between the two to be discipline enough to maintain it.

    Being open about that only resulting in an endless banter that after awhile will be drag down to bitter argumentation. There is meeting point in that differences, unless one able to convince the other.

    Wow, she order you to remove your belonging because she's not agree with it? That's a form of verbal aggression to me, rude is an understatement.
     
  18. Farm Boy

    Farm Boy The long wait

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    Two types of people. Ones that love people more than their politics, and ones that love their politics more than people. It's work either way.
     
  19. Birdjaguar

    Birdjaguar Hanafubuki Super Moderator Supporter

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    I'm pretty sure my wife would be most unhappy if I supported Trump and the Republicans.
     
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  20. really

    really Deity

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    I imagine the vast bulk of people just aren't that engaged in or divided in politics.

    Having said that I would mostly have socialised and dated people very similar to me.

    Case in point: I always fancied Rachel Riley off the TV - blonde, good looking, smart girl on UK panel shows I watch.
    She came out as a Tory and I went totally off her. Even my wife noticed and approved when I explained it.

    More personally an old flame has turned into /was always a Conservative Catholic. I didn't know what was wrong at the time but it is clear we weren't compatible. Very different to Liberal (as far I think I am) me.

    Here at home in a progressive city and country I don't think it is a problem.
    I think when I was younger and mixing more especially living in London I was meeting more different people but I wasn't necessarily looking to settle down so it didn't matter.
     
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