Monday Updatery

Hey, I’m back. Catching up on things:

* First, for everyone who complained this hiatus went on too long, your compensatory cat photo:

That’s two cats for the price of one. What a bargain.

* Second, Thanksgiving and the several largely work-free days around it were just lovely. Ate lots of food, watched a lot of movies, slacked off lackadaisically, and generally did a whole bunch of nothing. I recommend it highly.

* My absence last Thursday did, however, mean I didn’t do an in-entry link to last week’s AMC column, which answered some reader mail. So if you missed it, here it is. Go over and make my AMC overlords happy, please.

* Last week I recommended a Scotch Whisky to you all, which resulted in me getting inquiries on where to find that particular type. The answer is: here, on the Master of Malt Web site, which also features many other fine whiskys and spirits. I’ll also note that the Sales Director of Master of Malt popped up in the comment thread about the whisky and is offering Whatever whisky enthusiasts a special deal when they make an order on the Web site. Click here for the details. I will say my own personal experience with the Master of Malt site was quite positive; they packed up my purchase and shipped it quickly, and it arrived pretty much when they promised it would. In the parlance of EBay, Super A++++, would buy again from this dealer.

* Hey, ever wanted your name in a story by famous and/or award-winning SF/F authors? Here’s your chance: a whole bunch are selling “tuckerizations” (the placement of real people’s names in fictional works) in auctions to support the Trans Atlantic Fan Fund, which sends deserving American fans overseas to meet fen of other countries. they’re like exchange students, only slightly geekier. The authors offering tuckerizations are Cory Doctorow, Charlie Stross, Nalo Hopkinson, David Brin, Elizabeth Bear, Julie Czerneda and Mary Robinette Kowal, which is a nice selection of authors for you. Just follow those links to go to the auctions.

* This opinion piece by Ed Rollins on the two people who gate-crashed the White House state dinner for the Prime Minister of India is not too far off from my own opinion on the matter. I would love to see them prosecuted for being pathetic, fame-grubbing jackasses, but as that’s not actually a crime, then charging them with trespassing and other such things would work just as well. Beyond that, I didn’t actually keep up with the news much over the last several days, which was nice, frankly. I’ll catch up later today. Don’t spoil any surprises for me.

How was your Thanksgiving and/or last several days?

49 Comments on “Monday Updatery”

  1. My Thanksgiving was Most Excellent, thanks for asking. Wrote, played board games, convinced fiance-the-first-year-teacher that he really was allowed to take four days off from work to play video games and watch tv with me.

    Also the Making of Clothes, which was good because now I have them to wear to work, and before I did not.

  2. How was your Thanksgiving and/or last several days?

    A company I do some work for has just cancelled the office Christmas party. Apparently decided that it would not only be too expensive in “a recessionary environment,” but in rather poor taste after laying off half the staff and asking most of the rest to take a voluntary pay cut.


  3. Ate a lot of food. Watched a bunch of movies. Watched football. Wrote. Ate more food because inlaws were at Graceland on Thanksgiving.

    Let the mad struggle to lose weight begin.

  4. I don’t think it really counts as trespassing since whoever was was on gate duty let them in, alas. I thought it was pretty pathetic and disrespectful, but I’m not sure actually illegal.

  5. I had a lovely Thanksgiving at a girlfriend’s family. Made two pies, went over early & helped cook dinner with she and her college-aged daughter. (while watching football) We then ate dinner, and played games. All-in-all, a lovely family Thanksgiving.

    I then worked the long weekend. (OT!! WOOT!!) The Bills gotta be paid, and it’s easier to pay them with more money than less.

  6. TAFF actually swaps off each year which direction it goes. In 2009 a Westward TAFF sent Steve Green *from* Europe to the worldcon and other places in North America. In 2010 it will send someone East from North America to Eastercon in London – either myself and my fiance Brian or fan artist Frank Wu. People can find out more about it at

    There are a number of fan funds; I’m actually currently thinking it’s about time to start one to South America as well. I’ll let you know if I get that effort under way.

    Thanks for plugging our auctions!

  7. I had a great Thanksgiving. I even did most of my Christmas shoping on Black Friday!!! That’s a first for me! I’ve gone back to work today and am trying to ease back into it. In Louisiana we have the whole week of Thanksgiving off from school (public schools at least) beacuse of the teacher’s unions state conventions on the Monday, Tuesday, and Wedensday before Thanksgiving. I did not go to the convention even though it was in New Orleans this year. I don’t go to any conventions that don’t have a con suite, costume contest, or Hugo Awards! :) (just kidding). Anyway, I’m back with my students and looking forward to the Christmas Break and watching the Saints beat the Patriots tonight on national t.v. Dare I hope for the Saints to go to the Super Bowl? That would be something!!!

  8. I agreed with Rollin’s opinion on the gatecrashers, but he seems too willing to let the Secret Service off the hook. There is really no excuse for them to let these two schmucks pass through the door.

    What makes it worse is, I actually MET a guy on the SS a couple months ago at a party, and he was quite the disgruntled employee. He clearly disliked the new administration, and claimed that many others on the SS agreed with him. While I take that last claim with a grain of salt, it does make me wonder if this was negligence borne of political bias. We’ve already seen the politicizing of so much of the landscape, I don’t know that the SS is immune.

  9. David Carrington Jr. @ 8:

    I’d take the opinion of the SS guy with significant amounts of salt. For one thing, claiming to be a member of the Secret Service is probably roughly as common as claiming to be a cop. For another thing, whether or not he’s an actual SS, claiming that “may others agree” with him seems to be a common line with the disloyal opposition these days. The vast majority of real Americans always back them up, no matter what the polls — or votes — say.

    While Secret Service agents are human, and thus subject to the same imperfections as the rest of us, I wouldn’t take anything this one guy says very seriously.

    (I actually remember hearing similar rumors of disgruntlement during the Cheney regime, FWIW.)

  10. Tresspassing. Yeah right. I bet someone at the door said “please come in” or something like that. How can it be a crime to show up at a party? If they snuck in through a window or through a caterers entrance, then of course, it’s crime.

    ok. now that I’ve revealed my ignorance, i’ll go read the column…

  11. Burp, John. Still burping. As always, leftovers galore didn’t help.

    Good to see you back! One more day without you would be like a day without a bite of Krispy Kreme and coffee.

    The circus just ain’t the same without the ringmaster.

  12. David Carrington Jr. @ 8:

    Also, I don’t think Ed Rollins seemed willing to let the SS off the hook:

    “[Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan] needs to determine who was responsible for letting the Salahis onto the White House grounds and fire whoever it was, before he thinks about offering his own resignation.

    Public servants have to be held accountable and now is a good time to start.”

    Also: Catherine Shaffer @ 4:

    The fact that whoever screwed up doesn’t mean that it doesn’t count as trespass. If I leave my keys in my car, it’s still theft if someone drives it off without my permission.

    The job of the person at the checkpoint was to check to see if they had permission to enter, not decide whether or not to give them permission. He or she allowed them to enter without permission.

    That said, prosecuting them would be politically iffy. I’m guessing that most folks see it as a harmless stunt, and any prosecution would be seen as petty and mean-spirited. (I think they’re wrong and Ed Rollins is right, but alas that doesn’t always mean anything.)

  13. The Broncos won and the turkey was yummy, so it was all good.

    I wonder how many people at the state dinner met those people and wondered “why the hell are you here?” Heh. Tacky tacky.

  14. betsy dornbusch @ 13:

    If the question occurred to anyone, they were probably too polite to ask. There were no doubt lots of people who were invited who might reasonably get that reaction. See the guest list and make your own surmises.

    (For example: Tom “Suck On This” Friedman? WTF was he doing there?)

  15. I did as little as possible, outside of making rolls for Thanksgiving dinner for the extended family (thank God for bread machines), watching all sorts of “marathons” on TV and rereading “Android’s Dream” by some little-known hack…(and yes, REALLY enjoying it, again).

  16. I had friends in from points north. I did a lot of cooking and eating.

    I should have started the sour cherry/boiled cream pie several hours earlier than I did, and I overcooked the pasta/cheddar casserole (renamed such because the presence of mushrooms and onions and other natural flavors and spices in it disqualified it as “macaroni and cheese” to some of my friends).

    The chocolate brownie cake with Cointreau ganache icing (which also had the zest of five large navel oranges in it) went over very well, with opinions ranging from “don’t change a thing” to “it’s delicious, but yes, now that you mention it, it might be even better if you sprinkled the cake with Cointreau as well as having it in the icing.”

    I was too sick (coughing) to leave the house yesterday. Slept the day away and went to bed early. I always overdo when TG is in New Jersey.

  17. I found out my kitty is dying and brought her home blind from the kitty hospital on Saturday, but we had a great Thanksgiving, otherwise, and kitty is adapting well to not being able to see much more than a little shape and light. Thanks for the link to the news item about the Salahis. I think they should be prosecuted just like Balloon Boy’s parents. Regardless of whether or not they did anything wrong, what they got away with sends a dangerous message that it’s far too easy to get close to the President of the U.S. and his guests.

  18. @Bookfool–I’m sorry about your kitty, too :(. We’ll be thinking about you guys.

    This Thanksgiving I remembered that Stovetop stuffing really is one of the most perfect foods ever, especially when added to a turkey sandwich. Amazing!

  19. Wow – Ed’s pretty hard. Having worked in the Reagan White House, he knows what it’s like for bad things to happen.

    I admit my first thought was the reality show wanna-be’s should be prosecuted. It still is.

  20. BeVibe @ 20:

    I admit my first thought was the reality show wanna-be’s should be prosecuted. It still is.

    I don’t think they should get off so lightly. I think they should be ignored, pointedly. End their 15 minutes right now and shuffle them off to the faux celebrity remainder bin — Do Not Pass Go, do not appear on Dancing With The C-Listers.

    Tragically, that would be impossible to enforce. (And possibly in violation of the Eight Amendment prohibition of cruel and unusual punishments.)

  21. @ Bookfool:

    You have my sympathies as well. As a member of the staff for two cats — and as a former member of the staff for the late Her Highness the Queen Schnapps — I know how difficult that can be.

  22. Isn’t it a felony to lie to a federal officer? That’d take care of a crime to charge them with since they haven’t made the desire to be on a “reality” TV show a crime yet. 8)

  23. Xopher @ 16:

    I had friends in from points north. I did a lot of cooking and eating.

    Sounds lovely.

    As much fun as my partner and I have hosting Thanksgiving for the relatively-nearby members of her side of the family, the menu is unfortunately tradition-bound.

    I mean, okay, I love turkey too, and Thanksgiving makes for a great excuse to go through that whole production. But does it have to be all the same side dishes? The same desserts?

    Feh. Next year, I’m putting my foot down. We’ll host and do the turkey, and whoever wants to bring their traditional side dishes, that’s fine. But as far as the side dishes that I’ve somehow become responsible for, don’t count on it. Imma doin sumfin else.

    And as fond as I am of pumpkin pie, and as aware as I am of the fondness of others for that and for pecan pie, there will be something other than pie for dessert next year.


  24. skipjim @ 23:

    IANALawyer, but I think it’s perjury which is a felony. Perjury has a specific legal meaning which — I think — includes being under oath. Lying to an officer of the law is risky, and might under certain circumstances be against the law — i.e., impeding an investigation or making false charges. But I don’t know that lying by itself is a felony.

    Trespassing, though? As I wrote earlier, that may be a possibility. Again, IANAL, but I think in the absence of a formal and legal invitation by someone empowered to grant same, they were technically engaged in trespass, aka “wrongful entry”. (Plus, the fact that they trespassed at the White House means there are almost certainly a ton of related legal issues that could be dropped on their vapid little heads.)

    Put it this way: if I somehow talked a bank teller into giving me money without actually making a formal and legal withdrawal, that would be theft on my part. (And incompetence on the part of the teller.) The fact that s/he gave it to me would not make it okay.

  25. Cooked some, ate lots, drank surprisingly good inexpensive champagne, spent a day in costume tramping around Dickens Fair ( and the next day staying off my feet as much as possible. Came down with an obnoxious ear infection, otherwise all is groovy, except now I’m back at the office. Sigh…

  26. @bookfool – sorry to hear about the kitty. I brought home a blind kitty who lasted 4 years. She did very well adjusting to the situation. You just can’t rearrange the furniture!

  27. Thanksgiving in Alaska involved getting up and shovelling six inches of snow off the driveway, going to inlaws to eat too much food, watch football, talk about real estate trends and Michael Jackson (subconscious connection there, at least for my mother in law) then returning home to shovel another six inches of snow off the drive then go in play Wii with kids then prep for saturday’s blogtalkradio talkshow.

    It was a long day that ended well. I am grateful for it.

  28. Being Canadian I worked; you Americans celebrate your Thanksgiving about six weeks too late. Still ate too much, but that is unfortunately a frequent occurence these days.

    I agree with Rollins; prosecute. If a jury convicts, send them away for awhile. It might not technically be a trespass (I don’t know what constitutes a trespass in D.C.), but given that they entered the White House under False Pretences during a state dinner, clever prosecutors would be able to find a number of charges that could potentially stick. If the accused take the stand, at some point during cross examination the fact that they lied about having an invitation will likely come up and it will look really bad. Juries tend to not believe folks who lie about anything.


    P.S. Ask on December 26th how boxing day goes. That is another holiday we have that you guys don’t. As far as I can tell, it involves going to Malls really early and checking out the Boxing day sales.

  29. Was invited to dinner at the home of an actual published author, with a contract for more books and a movie deal on the first one. She put the money to good use, buying a small castle in Phoenix. Very enjoyable day. First Thanksgiving I can remember when nobody mentioned football. Was over 500 miles from home, and met a couple who live within 5 miles from me. Ate lots of food, played good games, talked to people. Helped to try to control the grandson, almost 2 years old.

  30. I appear to have spent some of it culling zombies with your daughter. She’s a good shot! I hope you’re proud. (I play as “Bog” on Steam)

  31. “I would love to see them prosecuted for being pathetic, fame-grubbing jackasses, but as that’s not actually a crime, then charging them with trespassing and other such things would work just as well.”

    I agree with Bearpaw. Total ostracism and obscurity would be the most fitting punishment. If I was a TV news editor, all of their footage would appear on my news program with their faces blotted out. They’d be referred to only as “the male and female suspects”.

    “You want $200K for an interview?” ROFQWL.

    Jack Tingle

  32. Noshed, Ate, CONSUMED, and then ate some more. The dessert. Mom and Step-dad are great cooks! Did a load of dishes, and spent a ton of time with my wife and son. Got double fistfuls of leftovers to take home with us, and have been frying up left over turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing for breakfast. Nummy nummy.

    @Bookfool – that is a bummer about your kitty.

  33. PS: If I’ve gotten Athena into trouble, I’m horribly sorry for inadvertantly dobbing her in. I would feel bad about that.

  34. MarkHB:

    You have not gotten her in trouble. I am well aware of with whom she is playing that game, and have talked with her about basic online safety.

  35. Scalzi: She was a superb team-player, and I will play with her anytime. You’ll have to do well to match her, you know.

    Even if she did keep telling us to let Ellis die in his own blood. Bwahhaha!

  36. Oh, PPS: If you’re gonna let her play, lend her your headset for the love o’gh0d. She was going nuts having to type tactical calls – which by the time she’d typed ’em she was being tenderised by a Charger!

  37. That Tuckerization idea is very nifty and it introduced me to two authors whom I had never heard of before. Kudos to the authors for supporting this great idea.

  38. Lying to the police is not a felony, though it may be considered obstruction of justice under some circumstances. Trespassing typically requires some kind of notice that you should not be there, such as a fence or a sign. Based on what I know, I have to agree with the SS spokesman and question that there has been a crime. That being said, I am not familiar with DC law and am only going by what I know about trespassing laws in general.

  39. All these comparisons to stealing a car or robbing a bank are stupid. Trespassing is not an abstract concept that needs to be likened to another crime. We all know what it is. Sheesh. These people presented themselves and were allowed inside (for whatever reason). I don’t see any basis for trespassing unless they were asked to leave and refused. The truth is, they got away with it, and now they are claiming that they believed themselves to be invited. Obviously, something odd happened…maybe there was some bribery or something else that is uncovered. Surely one or more persons will lose jobs. But, hey, not everything that is wrong is illegal. Oh, well.

  40. Steve Sundeen @43:

    This was a state dinner f’ghod’s sake. The guests were guarded by Secret Service (for some smaller-than-expected value of the word _guarded_). Not to mention Marines. I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to infer that this event was not open to the general public. Not even a DC jury would require the presence of a “No Trespassing” sign outside the tent,

  41. Catherine Shaffer @ 44:

    All these comparisons to stealing a car or robbing a bank are stupid. Trespassing is not an abstract concept that needs to be likened to another crime. We all know what it is. Sheesh.

    You’re not a lawyer either, clearly.

  42. Again, it would depend entirely on what the law says in that jurisdiction, so I am relluctant to assume an outcome, no matter how much people think they shouldn’t have done that. There very well could be a specific federal law that addresses these kinds of intrusions. If so, then I am sure if there is enough pressure, some creative prosecutor will find some way to file charges. On the other hand, the crashers can probably afford decent counsel and even they couldn’t, some publicity starved attorney would probably take the case with a substantial discount.

    My initial comment was based on what I know of trespassing laws in general and how they are applied in most situations and it would be difficult to make a case for prosecuting a party crasher, IMO.

  43. Could it be that you posted a photo of cats here, and chang (who is not chang) didn’t comment? I’m missing the harangue about poor composition, never mind the absence of Ghlaghghee. Or is it here, and I just overlooked it. Personally, I like seeing photos of any of your cats, so we’re good.

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