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MP3 dreams

So, as often happens these days, I woke up after four hours of sleep.  I was tired but not easily falling asleep, so I had my phone play the Madoka soundtrack on shuffle very softly as a relaxation/external focus, this sometimes works.  And it did work this time, I slept a lot more today! (finally!)  But...

The dreams weren't stunningly pleasant, but that's okay, I don't remember them now anyway.  Except: in them, I had an MP3 player, and at some point it was getting annoying, so I'd pause it.  But after while it would start up again, on a new track.  This kept repeating in the dream.  (This also seems familiar, not that I trust deja vu senses when it comes to dreams.)

Then I woke up, and noticed the phone was still playing, of course.  So I'm guessing a weird cycle of "pausing the player" in my dream, and then the real phone starting a new track and my brain noticing the change in sensory input and incorporating that into the dream.

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Speaking of Star Trek novels... I had a thought. Fanfic's reputation is of heavy dominance by women, as both writers and readers. F&SF published authors in general tend to be male, especially in SF. James Nicoll has a f/m tag bean-counting this for various publications.

But what about tie-in stuff? It's basically officially approved (not necessarily canonical) fanfic that's been contracted by a publisher. It's also lower status, which could mean "we let women do it because it's low status" or "it's low status because women do it". So, if I count lots of authors, will I find demographics more like fanfic, original fic, or something in between? I see no point to making a prediction, since I'm about to go count.

Methodology: so there's two variables of interest: number of unique authors of either sex, and books by either sex. I'll give both. For the record, it's easier to count books. If co-authorship was split between a man and a woman I counted it as half for each.

Star Trek novels


Bantam original 1970-1981:
Authors: 3 f, 8 m. Doesn't include the New Voyages collections. f/t 0.375
Books: 4 f, m 9, f/t 0.31. (0.40 if we counted the mostly-female story collections:)
New Voyages: stories authors 8 f, 0 m, f/t 1.0
New Voyages 2: stories authors 8 f, 2 m, f/t 0.8

Wanderer + Archway 1982-1984:
Authors: 1 f, 3 m. f/t 0.25
Books: 0.5 f, 5.5 m. f/t 0.0833

Pocket Books 1979-present:
Authors: 34 f, 45 m. Not counting ST:TMP by Roddenberry. f/t 0.43

So majority male. But what I noticed going down the list is that there's been a huge surge of men in recent books. The most recent 26 books are all by men, and the last one by a woman is Unspoken Truth in 2010. That period contributes ten new male names; before it, the ratio is 34 f, 35 m. f/t 0.49

I picked the 20 year period from 1981 to 2001 as a likely breakpoint. There was apparently some editorial change: most of the books before 2001 are numbered, only the first one after it is.

Authors -2001: 33 f, 25 m, f/t 0.57
So there's been only one new female author since 2001, and 20 male ones.
Authors 2002-: 1 f, 20 m, f/t 0.04
Books -2001: 67.5 f, 42.5 m, f/t 0.61
Books 2002-: 11.5 f, 44.5 m, f/t 0.20

Yeaaahhh, that's a pretty big change.

E-books: Mere Anarchy (2006–07)
Authors: f 1, m 6. f/t 0.14
Books: 1 f, 5 m; f/t 0.17

The Next Generation 1987-present:
Authors -2001: 21 f, 31 m, f/t 0.40
Authors 2002-: 3 f, 11 m, f/t 0.21
Books -2001: 26 f, 59 m, f/t 0.31
Books: 2002-: 4 f, 35 m, f/t 0.10

Deep Space Nine (1993-present)

Authors -2001: 11 f, 22 m, f/t 0.333
Authors 2002-: 5 f, 8 m, f/t 0.38
Books -2001: 15.5 f, 23.5 m, f/t 0.40
Books: 2002-: 11.5 f, 19.5 m, f/t 0.37

Not much change here, and better than the other lines in the 2002- period.

Voyager 1995-present:

Authors -2001: 11 f, 12 m, f/t 0.49
Authors 2002-: 2 f, 2 m, f/t 0.50
Books -2001: 19.5 f, 12.5 m, f/t 0.61
Books 2002-: 14 f, 2 m, f/t 0.88
Worth noting that 12 of the later books are "post relaunch" and by two authors.  But, not surprising that the series with a female captain gets -- or is allowed -- more female attention.


Enterprise starts in 2001 so I'll just count it as one.

Authors: 3 f, 6 m, f/t 0.33
Books: 3.5 f, 14.5 m, f/t 0.19

There's also New Frontier, 21 books by Peter David, and the Titan (2005-) series following Riker, which is 14 books entirely by male authors, and Vanguard (2005-), 9 books by male authors, and Seekers (2014-), 4 books by male authors.

I refuse to do the work to find the set of all the unique authors, but it's easy to combine books for the whole franchise:
Books -2001: 133 f, 152 m, f/t 0.47
Books 2002-: 45.5 f, 169.5 m, f/t 0.21

from here

Authors 4 f, 7 m, f/t 0.36
Books 6 f, 12 m, f/t 0.333

Doctor Who: Virgin New Adventures Source

The featuring the Doctor list:
Books: 5.5 f, 55.5 m, f/t 0.09

Welp.  And it's just one woman, Kate Orman.  "Featuring Bernice Summerfield" isn't much better, one other woman gets in as a co-author, out of 23 books.

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"boys don't read girls' books"

That's a common saying by writers and publishers, that boys won't read books with girl leads, but girls will read boy or girl leads.  This always struck me as weird, personally -- I'm not doubting the claim, it just has no resonance to me.  These days I might read more female lead fiction than not.  But hey, I'm an adult, what was my boyhood like?

The most correct answer is "I can barely date exactly when I read anything".  But I have no memory of rejecting anything because it had a girl.  As to stuff I did read before college:

The Secret Garden
the Alice books
A Wrinkle in Time (and both sequels, though Charles Wallace shares the spotlight in the third.)
Dragonsong and Dragonsinger, also Moreta's Story and Nerilka's Song.
The Narnia books, two of which have Lucy prominently and one has Jillian.
The Blue Sword, though I forgot reading it, twice.  (In college I had deja vu about having deja vu about reading it.)

And then there's Star Trek:
My Enemy, My Ally, which I've re-read a lot, and splits POV between Ael and Kirk.
Uhura's Song
Tears of the Singers -- I don't remember these all that well, but Wikipedia says both are Uhura-centric[1].
Dwellers in the Crucible.
Dreadnought! and Battlestations! aka the Piper (a woman) books.  They're also first-person perspective.

I think there was also a bit of dabbling in Ramona and Beverly Clearly or Nancy Drew, but by the time I found those I'd pretty much outgrown them.

All that (21 books, not counting the real kiddie ones0 doesn't seem like a lot for 10 years of reading (age 7-17), but then I doubt I could make a list that would feel plausibly complete for the time period.

[1] At some point -- I no longer think second grade, because none of the books were published yet -- I was given a box set of four Star Trek novels: the three mentioned before the footnote, and The Wounded Sky, which was mostly Kirk POV though did have a lot of extra and non-sexualized female characters.  All four were by women authors, too, two of them by Diane Duane.  Not that I paid much attention to authors before college.  In retrospect, this is an interesting box set for Pocket Books to put out.  Not like the books are consecutive or directly related.

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fun links, minimally political

Some articles on democracy (pluralist and feminist) among Syrian Kurds: NYTimes, FT, scribd copy of FT.

If we kept DST all year, or got rid of it.

A Madoka fanfic I'm reading. It's like Starship Troopers or Old Man's War crossed with Madoka crossed with transhumanism and Culture ship Minds. Kyubey said we'd go to the stars, and we did. Many fans think magical girls are potentially immortal, and here they are. I've been enjoying it a lot. Could have used some more editing passes, but generally fun to read, often funny, I'm engaged with the show characters and the original one. Downside: it's longer than Lord of the Rings and still ongoing, last update Oct 6.  I've read 34 chapters out of 44 and am thinking I should pace myself, maybe go read Ancillary Mercy while I still sort of remember what happened in Ancillary Sword.

Funny panel from the Fate/zero manga.

Japan is actually doing quite well per capita: low unemployment, very high employment to working-age-population ratio, inflation is back.  Abenomics, and Keynesianism, works.  GDP is shriking... because the population is, especially the working-age population.

James notes that Heinlein's first story is closer to Dickens' last novel than it is to us.  This will be more interesting when his *last* book is closer to Dickens than to us, but still.

Polio is judged to be even closer to eradication.

Portugal's Left Bloc, a party run by women.

Secret gardens and numinous fantasy

SF written in 1666 by Margaret Cavendish

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Fate/Unlimited Verbiage

So, I finally finished the Lets Play of the Fate/stay night visual novel. That sentence probably made no sense to most of my readers, so let me expand:

Visual novel (VN): a Japanese thing I'm not that knowledgeable about. It could be as simple as a novel with graphics, simple animations, and sound (music and dialog). In practice, they usually have you make choices, so it's like a multimedia Choose Your Own Adventure (CYOA) novel. They're also thought of as a game -- and usually H (for hentai) or ero games, with some sexual content -- albeit ones with far more reading than playing. They also make use of running on a computer: as they're usually about relationships (as it were), you can accumulate relationship points with different characters, which affects branches later on, so it's a bit more complex than a CYOA book.

Fate/stay night: one particular VN by Kinoko Nasu. No one knows what the title means, if anything. The English translation has been described as 800,000 to a million words, twice as long as the Lord of the Rings. It has spawned an anime of the same name, which I'm told is not that good (though popular); a manga, about which I've heard nothing; a prequel light novel series called Fate/zero by Gen Urobuchi (basically canonized fanfic) which spawned an anime of its own; and most recently an anime Fate/Unlimited Blade Works based on the second 'route' of the VN, which I'll explain later. I've seen Fate/UBW (strong start, pacing lags later) and Fate/zero (just plain strong, though dark.)

I imagine that there might be some way to run the VN/game in a Windows environment on my Linux box, with the fan-made English translation files. But, that's a lot of work, and after playing the American-made Black Closet, I'm not sure "playing" this sort of game is really my thing. Happily, some heroic servant of the people made a walkthrough, aka a Lets Play, of the (fan-English) game, including all the bad endings and extras, but excluding the (allegedly bad) sex scenes. I started reading it over a month ago, on October 11th. Last night, I finished.

In addition to being long, the player had snarky comments about Nasu's "words word words", long (not that long) philosophical ramblings at times that didn't make tons of sense. So my ideas for snarky titles were Unlimited Verbiage (as above) or Unlimited Nasu Words, for a closer play on titles.


In addition to being longer than LotR, Fate/stay night could also be thought of as a trilogy, but in a different way. It's basically three different stories (also called 'routes') about the same characters and general events. Not three different perspectives on the same sequence of events (which could be interesting, and there is a bit of that in the prologue), but three different main sequences, branching based on early choices by the player. (I guess? I'm actually not sure if it branches solely on that; there seem to be aspects of three different related worlds, with differences that wouldn't depend on your choices. But, not sure, don't care enough to hunt it down.) Two of the routes also have two different good-ish endings each, and across all three routes there are 40 Dead Ends (you die) or Bad Ends (you otherwise fail). It's actually pretty channeled: you have to play the Fate route first, then the UBW route, then the Heaven's Feel route. Another reason I figured I might as well just read it.

So, was it good? It was engaging, at the very least: I didn't take a month to finish because I was slacking off in boredom. It does have flaws and confusing bits; never know what to attribute to the original author vs. the translator, I'd guess some of both. By the end of the UBW anime I was joking that the Holy Grail could punch holes in the plot, not just space.

It has more female roles than LotR, and strong ones. You play as Emiya Shirou (Japanese name order), a teenage boy, but interact heavily -- and not just sexually -- with various girls or women. Tohsaka Rin has been called the deuteragonist, as she plays a major role in all three routes, is the heroine (or love interest) of the second, and even gets to be the narrator in the prologue and one of the endings. (She's also an iconic character of tsundere, twintails, and zettai ryouki fashion... one of my early reactions to the UBW anime was "she's obviously tsundere, but I don't mind, because she's tsundere to *everything* and life in general, not just as a love interest.") And there's various other women, strong in combat, magic, and/or surviving a lot of crap. (And some of them do get a lot of crap to survive.)

It does pass the Bechdel test. I'm not sure it passes it often -- if two women are talking there's a good chance it'll be about Shirou, though "what an idiot" is more likely than "what a hunK" -- but it does.

Shirou's infamously sexist in some ways, like "girls shouldn't fight" despite the girls being able to fight on a completely different level than him, though someone on TV Tropes argues it's deeper than that: that he didn't want Saber fighting because she was *injured*, but (a) couldn't say that well (see: idiot) and (b) thought his life wasn't worth protecting. After barreling through the whole thing, I'm agnostic on the question, aka "I don't want to go back and re-read the first route to have an informed opinion."

The nature of the story allows it to plunder myth and legend at will. Sometimes brutally ("X was never like that!" people say, though I'm "eh, I can see it") but sometimes with research ("Y actually was described as a pretty boy").

It's inspirational: I imagine a lot of fanfic from it (though checking, not as much as I thought; it does rank higher in crossovers than on its own, which makes some sense), and have had some RPG inspirations of my own already. And I can see plundering some of the characters for future PCs. It definitely has memorable characters, of both sexes.

One cool thing for me is that at least three characters are basically Lawful Good (Saber is *officially* LG, she has a stat sheet in-universe!), with very different personalities, and none Lawful Stupid. (Shirou can be dumb but it's more your standard Shounen Stupid). I have an interest these days in how characters can be morally straight-and-narrow yet different people. (Nanoha is also good for that, and to a lesser degree Order of the Stick. Possibly superhero media in general, but that's less my thing.)

Basically, I had fun, and am glad I read it. Should you read it? I don't know if it's *that* good, objectively speaking. Would it be of interest if you hadn't seen related anime, as I had? I can't say.

I know I haven't described what it's *about*; there's a zillion other sources for that, though, so I was going for some underexploited angles, as well as "this was to my taste, if you like my taste you might too."

(Edit: one thing it's about is heroism and the sacrifices made for it. I'm not sure if it says anything deep or useful about it - -I've been more reading than thinking -- but that's definitely A Theme. Maybe even The Theme.)

The new icon is, of course, Rin, apparently giving one of her "now listen up, idiot" lectures.

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Minimum wage shocker

The median wage today is lower than the minimum wage would be if it had kept up with productivity.

"The figure shows the real (i.e., inflation-adjusted) value of the minimum wage, plus what the minimum wage would be if it had kept pace with productivity growth since 1968, as it did for the two decades prior. If the minimum wage had kept up with productivity growth over this period, it would now be $18.67 per hour. That sounds shockingly high—it is two-and-a-half times as high as the current minimum wage and is actually higher than the median wage, which is $16.30 per hour. But it’s important to keep in mind that the primary reason a minimum wage of $18.67 sounds so high today is because the wages of most workers are so low."

"If the median wage had kept pace with productivity growth over the last 40 years, it would now be $28.42 instead of $16.30. "


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"They dried off the sweat on their tunics / standing to face the breeze from the seashore"

Reading the Iliad is almost like watching a movie. Hyperdetailed a lot of the time. If he described them taking a dump it wouldn't be out of place. "Then did wily Odysseus take a long-handled shovel and -- like a rabbit, which digs a ditch, then covers it, so that its excrement does not attract predators -- create a hole, in which he relieved himself of that which remained after his god-formed clay was done with his food, then fill it again, so that an ill-judged step would not sully his leather sandals."

Recent reading: Epic of Gilgamesh, Penguin edition; Ancillary Sword.
Current reading: The Iliad, Peter Green trans; Fate/stay night visual novel. I'm not sure which is longer.

(Answer: Fate. About 800,000 words to 155,000. Lord of the Rings is under 500,000.
Between Fate and Iliad, not sure which is gorier. Iliad probably has more rape but Fate makes it realer. Relatedly it also has more female role and agency. And more moral characters. Rin is the Grumpiest Paladin.)

Also re-reading the Wizard of Earthsea, inspired by this paean. Though I'm finding that a rich diet of female-centric anime and modern SF/F can leave older stuff (Earthsea and Iliad included) feeling... off. And the Iliad is supposed to be full of sexist assholes; "as wicked as women's magic" is another matter.

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Wednesday adventure

Dim sum!
Then Orange Line to the new Assembly Square station. It still looks underdeveloped, big empty lot by the station, though some transit-oriented development a block away, and work on a 12 story high rise. Nice river walk. Lots of swans on the river, and some I'd guess mated pairs of ducks. https://www.flickr.com/photos/mindstalk/albums/72157660118092399

Then, Orange Line to Ruggles, walk through Northeastern to the MFA. New special exhibit is "Class Distinctions in Dutch Paintings", which I found fairly interesting. Some photos, followed by a Native American gallery. https://www.flickr.com/photos/mindstalk/sets/72157660869739711/with/22185384753/
The exhibit story had a lot of books on American class issues, plus some Dutch books: Nickel and Dimed, and
dead end gene pool
class matters
the other America, Harrington
the American way of poverty, abramsky
low life, luc sante
oh the glory of it all
how the other half lives, Jacob riis
gospel of wealth, Carnegie
multatuli, Max havelaar
the nobleman, Isabelle de Charriere
in the city of bikes

Weirdness: today I posted a crappy kitchen photo of a friend, just for my own visual memory since she's gone away, and got a "Great capture!" comment from some stranger on flickr.

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So, when whole wheat bread goes moldy faster than other bread, I assume it's because such bread is more nutritious, having the germ and not being all starch.

TJ's NZ grass-fed cheddar cheese seems to go moldy faster than other cheddar cheese, and I'm not sure what to make of that. It should be healthier for *me*, because of the fat profile, but I don't expect yeast to care. Maybe it's moister? But I don't know why it would be.

To be fair, I don't know for sure that it does, it just seems that way. I guess I could buy two different cheddars at the same time and check.

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Reflex Bow of Odysseus?

A deleted paragraph from the Wikipedia article on bow shape:

"There is a section in Homer's Odyssey when the suitors attempt to string Odysseus' bow and are unable to do so, whereas Odysseus is able to string it without standing up. A reflex bow is almost impossible to string unless one knows the technique and is easiest to string from a sitting position. This passage has been suggested as evidence that reflex bows were just beginning to spread into the Aegean area at the time of writing."

I think I'd always found it odd that "wily Odysseus" was suddenly supposed to be superstrong at the end of his story. Seems more fitting if it were more a matter of his knowing the right trick.

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Mussels 3, and other stuff

Frozen mussel meats, thawed:

straight out of the bag: meh

sauteed in olive oil, garlic, black pepper and butter, over pasta, with Romano cheese: very tasty. Granted that's a tasty combination without them, but they didn't let the team down.

microwaved lightly to warm them up and release some volatiles: tastier than straight from the bag, not great. OTOH they don't make the whole apartment smell fishy for a week or more, as cooking the live batch did.

In other food developments, I've started using Worcestershire sauce as an alternate salad vinegar, e.g. olive and Worc instead of olive and balsamic. It's a nice change of pace.

Also, why'd it take me so long to try toasted sesame oil on spinach? Big improvement. Makes the regular salad interestingly different too.

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Longitude lines

So, I've long looked at maps or globes to trace latitude lines and see what's east-west of each other, like France and Newfoundland, or Florida and northern Africa. I've done longitude much more rarely, which is how I get surprised late in life by things like South American being east of North America. Having recently moved my hand globe to the bathroom for casual perusal, I started following those lines more.

La Serena is almost exactly due south of Boston. I knew it was close, but dang. A direct flight would have been sweet. Take that, jet lag! The cheap flight I never took, stopping in Panama and Lima, would have been somewhat out of the way, though maybe no more so than Toronto. Dallas would have been quite out of the way.

The only Latin American country due south of Texas is Mexico, unless we count Easter Island for Chile. The next westernmost country is Guatemala, whose western edge is south of Louisiana.

Relatedly, Central American is very NW-SE in inclination. Arguably even WNW-ESE. Not N-S. (Also relatedly, as my father showed me, the Panama Canal is NW-SE. You go east, or SE, into the Pacific.)

Tokyo is due north of Adelaide. Beijing of Perth.

Miami is a bit west of Quito and Lima, and misses the rest of South America by a lot.

California is more or less north of Pitcairn to the west and Easter island to the east.

Hawaii is north of the Cook Islands, which feels vaguely appropriate.

New Zealand is south of Kamchatka. They even have similar inclinations.

I don't find anything surprising this way about Europe and Africa.

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From the last post, the Chicken Council's table has Americans eating about 15 pounds of seafood a year. How do I compare to that? At first I thought I'd blow it away, but on further thought, I don't think so. It's hard to really tell, since I usually buy it intermittently, but let's see: 15 pounds is 60 4 oz servings, enough for one every six days. Or an 8 oz serving every 12 days. Does that match my life?

Not as a regular thing, no; that is, if you picked a random week, I think it would likely to have had no seafood. OTOH, when I do, it's often in bigger chunks: eating 8-12 oz of home cooked salmon, pigging out dim sum (I'll guess 50% shrimp), or going on a sushi binge. I suspect if you picked a random two week period it would still more likely than not have seafood, but the ones that do might make up for that. So 15 pounds might be about right. Probably not more.

Mind you, the table number is the mean consumption. I suspect many Americans eat almost no seafood, while others have it more regularly; I might well beat the median seafood consumption.

Some source I didn't keep had shrimp as the biggest US component; I wondered if a lot of that was "surf and turf" shrimp and steak, which always seemed weird to me.

Of course, habits change. For a while I was eating canned tuna somewhat regularly, as a cheap seafood/protein source. Then canned salmon, for more fats and flavor. (Mostly straight from the can, almost as a nutritional supplement; I've never had good ideas for combining them with other foods. Yes, I know tuna salad is a thing, I grew up with it occasionally.) But more recently I'd buy salmon fillets rarely, and most often have dim sum or sushi.

And then, a few weeks ago, I decided to tackle Mediterranean/Japanese diet by brute force, and almost all the meat I've bought since then has been seafood. Mussels, frozen salmon and tuna, canned salmon and small ocean fish and clams, frozen cooked mussels (it's okay, I doubt I'll repeat that one), plus going out for sushi a lot, or having spicy seafood udon at D&D last night. If I keep it up, I'd probably eating 135 lbs of seafood a year. Pbbt!

I hope that this annoying cold/sore throat that cropped up at the same time is entirely coincidental. I mean, has to be, right?

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Fermi estimate: US meat consumption

This will be more about crappy data than detailed modeling, but:

How much meat do Americans eat? How much do I eat? Good question, and I don't know! But a lot of the time, especially in my adolescence, I'd guess an average of 4 ounces for each of lunch and dinner. If lunch was lighter, like cold cuts, dinner was probably heavier, like steak or lamb chops or four drumsticks. Of course, sometimes I had PB&J for lunch, and often now I have falafel or hummus. OTOH, I'd doubt *more* than half a pound a day. So, half a pound is 180 lbs a year, 1/4 a day would be 90 lbs, I'd guess 135-180 lbs/year.

As for Americans, am I high, low, or average? I don't know. I know lots of vegetarians here, but statistically they're not that common; I've seen 5%, so take 10 lbs off the 180. Children often eat meat, but eat less, say 10% eat half as much, so another 5%, and we're down to 160 lbs peak. But honestly, a factor of two range is pretty good for a Fermi, I'm unlikely to improve it by pulling numbers out of my ass.

So, data?

Chicken council has a nice breakdown table; 2012 is 200 lbs of red meat + poultry, 14 lbs fish+shellfish, so 214 lbs. A lot higher than my estimate. A footnote says it's mostly retail weight, though fish is edible weight (so, not counting mussel shells?) and a few minor entries (turkey) are carcass weight.

NPR says 271 lbs. A lot higher! Except, then it has a breakdown chart, which shows about 55 lbs beef, 58 lbs chicken, 45 lbs pork, 15 lbs turkey, about 170 lbs total. That's a huge difference, and shows how much internal consistency checking the journalist did. The latter numbers also match up well to the Chicken Council, except for chicken where they had 80 lbs.

The Meat Institute claims 6.9 oz/day for men and 4.4 oz for women, for an average of 5.7 oz/day, or 129 pounds/year. Or less if we should exclude children. They also say the US produced about 95 billion pounds of the usual land animals, which is 317 pounds per person. They also say that the US exported 7 billion metric tonnes of beef+pork+chicken + "variety meats", which is 15,432 billion pounds. And that exports were 10-20% of US meat production. Ummm... to cap that off, pork and chicken shipments are said to be valued at about $5 billion, but beef exports at $800 billion.

So that's a whole lot of garbage.

The USDA has saner looking numbers... that's just a beef link, but it says 24 billion lbs/year beef, or 77 lbs/person-year of beef. So already that doesn't agree with the first two, though it's close to what the Meat Institute says.

The WSJ says the USDA says 71 pounds of red meat (including pork), 54 pounds of poultry, for 125 pounds/year per person. Which is close to the first Meat Institute number I cited. Their graph says 132 pounds, but that might include fish -- though 7 pounds fish is only half of the Chicken Council number.

It has the interesting lines " These numbers factor in food loss at each level—carcass to retail weight, loss at retail such as spoilage and loss at the consumer level, such as plate waste. About half of the weight of meat is lost from the carcass to the consumption." I suddenly wonder if the "retail weight" includes bones.

Perhaps the 270 is carcass, the 170 is retail, and the 130 is plate. But, I'm having to guess and handwave, in fandom we call that fanwanking. In practice, the uncertainty of the reported numbers is as big as the uncertainty of my wild guesses, though the range is somewhat higher, 130-270.

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Hello, DW/LJ!

Facebook has putting ads ("Sponsored pages") in the feed itself. I don't know if Adblock Plus is even technically capable of blocking those, as it does other FB ads; it certainly isn't at the moment.

Man, I wish more friends still used Dreamwidth (ad-free, AFAIK) or LJ (ad-free if you give them money.)

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Mussels, the followup

So, I hadn't cooked all of the mussels last night. I went for the remainder tonight, but at first I thought they'd all died in the fridge -- the first half dozen were all gaping and unresponsive. Eventually, though, over half of the remained were tight, even with my paranoia throwing out anything gaping a little bit, or even tight but sort of wobbly side to side if I pushed with my fingers.

I cooked them, in water and mead, and most of them fell wide open quickly. The ones that were partial I tossed, though at least one of them had like the biggest mussel meat -- maybe they were holding out longer? I dunno. Tasted fine, and this time I had more surviving broth to dip bread in. Though the broth actually tasted worse after adding olive oil and pepper.

This whole "avoid corpses" thing is kind of stressful. Guess I'll be a bit more confident if I don't get sick in the next 48 hours.

Also my whole apartment smells fishy now. Drawback.

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First mussels

Not the first ones I've eaten, but the first ones I've cooked. I finally decided to try them, and was pleasantly surprised that my secondary local supermarket carries them. Yay density! $2.49/lb discount, $2.99 list, vs. the $1 that Roche was offering at least earlier this summer. But I can walk to this one.

They're only sold in a net bag here; the counter guy offered to pick out open ones, which I refused out of impatience. Shouldn't have: quite a few were open, and I ended up paying for literal dead weight.

Carefully throwing out everything that was even a little bit open, I steamed a selection of the rest in like 1/3 cup of water and some scallions and garlic powder. Website suggested 5 minutes for a pound. I think my gas stove's high mode may be HIGH, because after 2-3 minutes they were almost all wide open and the water had mostly gone.

Decently tasty and nothing tasted rotten. Here's hoping!

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Melting points 2

Followup to my last post:

Here's a table of fat and oil melting points.

Selecting and sorting by temperature, in Celsius:
Lard 41
Palm oil 35
Cocoa butter 34
Gallium [do not eat] 30
Coconut oil 25

Peanut oil 3
Water 0
Olive oil -6
Rapeseed (canola) oil -10
Soybean -16
Sunflower -17
Linseed -24

As you can see, at the extremes there are gaps of 6-7 K. Sometimes less. But there's a 22 K gap between peanut and coconut oils. Take out coconut and gallium, and it's a 31 K gap.

As I said last time, in a way it makes sense: coconut oil was surprising because I hadn't encountered anything before that melts at practically room temperature. But still, wow. Wonder if there's a selective pressure: animals wanting fats that stay solid even under heat, plants wanting oils that stay liquid even freezing cold, no one wants a transition at 20 C. As for non-biological substances... I guess one rarely needs a household substance that would change phases at such temperatures, too.

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Melting point thermometer?

So, earlier this summer I bought a jar of coconut oil from Trade Joe's. It was nice and solid.

A while after bringing it home, I noticed it had gone completely liquid. "Huh."

Turns out the melting point is a shade under 25 C. And yeah, in recent months my kitchen was typically warmer than that. Not anymore though, and it's gone solid again.

But that got me wondering about a crude thermometer, or calibration set for normal ones, made out of various substances with different melting points. Especially if household substances. "That's solid, that's liquid, must be between 25 and 30."

Doesn't seem likely though, at least not without bugging a chemist for obscure compounds. I found a table of oil and fat melting points. Butter is around 35, ghee a bit higher, tallow high 30s or 40s. Vegetable oils are mostly negative, with peanut oil sneaking in at 3 C. Chocolate is said to be about 30, though that seems low for outright melting IME. The highly non edible gallium is also 30.

But stuff between 3 and 30? Well, there's coconut oil... otherwise, something of a desert, which makes sense: the coconut oil was so surprising precisely because one doesn't encounter things melting at room temperature.

Honey is said to liquefy more rapidly under 10 C, but I'm not sure how long that takes, and it's not spontaneously reversible.

Woo hoo, extra-appropriate icon for this post!

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The essence of good and evil (organizations)

Yeah, pompous title. But over on RPG.net, someone said that the core of every organization in the World of Darkness was
(1) the ends justify the means and
(2) anyone not with us, is against us.
That struck me as a pretty succinct summary of how conflicts arise and things go wrong, even if people mean well (which, to be sure, much of the WoD doesn't in the first place.)

Which leads to the thought, what if we reverse them?
(1) Rightful means matter
(2) Neutrality is allowed

Or even (1a) Operate via the Golden Rule for everyone, even powerless outsiders.

Which led to wondering about organizations that fit that mold, especially ones which explicitly make the Golden Rule part of their charter. I don't know of any that do the latter, frankly. In the real world, Switzerland and the Nordics might come close to acting on it, even to immigrants. (Yeah, Swiss *citizenship* is hard to get, but I think they're okay to refugees.) Fiction... Star Trek? Their abuse of the Prime Directive (especially in the Picard era) and distrust of AIs undermines that. I probably can't honestly put myself in the position of choosing between my culture and medical care, but I'm pretty sure I'd risk cultural disruption over an asteroid killing my whole planet.

Nanoha's Time-Space Administration Bureau comes pretty close, though, if only by accident of writing style. It seems chock full of nice people, they've got Earth under unexplained Masquerade (I'm willing to buy "not shattering your primitive cultures" as headcanon) but will intervene to stop major threats we can't[1], they try to rehabilitate prisoners.

The USA, OTOH, behaves much more like a World of Darkness organization. Treat people at the border like criminals, lots of underhanded skullduggery (much of which doesn't even work well!)... Believing we should behave more like the second set of rules seems like a pretty useful left/right split, though much of the extreme left runs on WoD rules. These thoughts are even prompted by an RPG.net leftist sneering at liberals "disarming" ourselves by not playing dirty. "Only results matter."

[1] Granted they're willing to puree Japan in the process, because that's still better than letting the Earth be scoured clean of life. Sometimes the ends *do* justify the means.

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Damien Sullivan

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