Pixel Scroll 11/19 The Endochronic Pixils of Resublimated Scrollotimoline

(1) Randall Munroe has a piece on The New Yorker blog called “The Space Doctor’s Big Idea”.  He’s explaining Einstein and relativity, but doing it with his cartoons and quirky humor.

The first idea is called the special idea, because it covers only a few special parts of space and time. The other one—the big idea—covers all the stuff that is left out by the special idea. The big idea is a lot harder to understand than the special one. People who are good at numbers can use the special idea to answer questions pretty easily, but you have to know a lot about numbers to do anything with the big idea. To understand the big idea—the hard one—it helps to understand the special idea first.

(2) Steven Barnes’ new book Star Wars Saved My Life: Be the Hero in the Adventure of Your Own Lifetime has been released. Amazon Prime members can borrow it free, all others pay cash!

SW Saved My Life COMP

It’s finally here! The book I’ve been hinting about for months, STAR WARS SAVED MY LIFE is the first self-help book ever written for science fiction fans, the LIFEWRITING system applied to healing finances, career, health, and the wounded heart. A pure work of love, available FREE to anyone with an Amazon Prime membership, it is my way of saying “thank you” to all of you who helped me find my way, gave me friendship, support, and love.

(3) Downthe tubes.net reports that Star Trek comic strips published in various UK comics and annuals back in the 1970s (and never in the US) will be republished in a collection next year.

In all, the British Star Trek ran for 257 weekly magazines spanning five years and 37 storylines and in addition to its weekly appearances, more original material drawn by Ron Turner, Jack Sutter, Jim Baikie and John Canning appeared in the 1969 Joe 90 Top Secret annual, the Valiant 1972 Summer Special, the 1971-1973 TV21 hardcover annuals and the 1978-1979 TV Comic annuals.

An original Frank Bellamy Star Trek strip also appeared in the June 27, 1970 issue of Radio Times to promote the show’s return to BBC1.

These strips have never been published in the United States and were not written with strict adherence to Star Trek‘s core concepts. The U.S.S. Enterprise frequently traveled outside our galaxy, and the crew committed many violations of the never-mentioned Prime Directive along the way. Spock shouted most of his lines and often urged Kirk (or “Kurt,” as his name was misspelled in early issues) to shoot first and ask questions later.

(4) Nancy Hightower’s picks for the “Best science fiction and fantasy books of 2015” at the Washington Post include one that hasn’t been heavily discussed here.


By Carola Dibbell (Two Dollar Radio)

This fascinating first novel details the emotional journey of Inez Fardo, a 19-year-old who has survived terrible trauma and yet still manages to find life sometimes wondrous. In a time when most of the population has been wiped out by a series of superviruses, she makes a meager living cleaning up contaminated sites. But when it’s discovered that she is resistant to the viruses that continue to threaten the world, an amateur scientist and his team offer to harvest her DNA to make healthy babies for others. Inez goes along with the plan, but soon a series of events forces her to raise the one child produced by the experiment. What follows is a heart-piercing tale of love, desire and acceptance as Inez tries to give her daughter a different life from the one she’s experienced.

(5) Larry Correia turns off the game long enough to offer “Fallout 4, Initial Thoughts”.

The atmosphere is great. Unlike many post apocalyptic things, Fallout doesn’t take itself too seriously. So everything has that retro cool, 50s but blown up vibe.

It gets really buggy at times, but better than the last one. This engine is dated, and it shows. Sometimes you kill stuff and it flies up into the air and spins around for a while. Other times a body will get stuck in the wall and vibrate forever. I’ve had a few crashes, freezes, and once I had to unplug and replug in the Xbox to get it to launch. But still better than the last one, and less buggy than Skyrim.

I had to turn on subtitles, because the music has a tendency to get annoyingly loud when people are trying to tell you important things. Then I learned that the subtitles only show up about half the time. So I turned the music way down and the voice volume way up, and even then I miss lots of things my companions are telling me. Damn it, Piper. Speak up. My character has been in like 400 gun fights without hearing protection, so maybe this is just added realism.

(6) John DeNardo has a fun discussion of “Why I Love Retro Science Fiction” at Kirkus Reviews.

Simply put, retro-futurism is what people of the past thought their future might look like. It’s our great-grandparents’ depiction of today. Or, the future that could-have-been.

Retro futures can be observed in many mediums: books, television, film, even sculpture. When you see an “old school” ray gun, you’re looking at a retro future. When you see the people wearing shiny white uniforms on Moonbase Alpha in Space: 1999, that’s the show’s creators’ view of how people in their future might dress. When you see Captain Kirk pull out his cellphone—er, personal communicator—you’re seeing someone from the past predict what cool gadgets the future might bring.

(7) Jason Sanford calls for writers to “Stop Duotrope’s attempt to own authors’ personal submission data”. The service authors use to track submissions and research markets is now trying to restrict users’ rights to their data.

According to Duotrope’s terms of service, “Any data downloaded from this website, including but not limited to submission histories, is strictly for personal use and may not be shared with any third parties or used for commercial purposes.”

What does this mean? It means that if you upload your submission information to Duotrope, you no longer have the right to use your own data as you see fit. You can’t use the data to write an article about submissions for a magazine or upload your data to another online submission system such as the site run by Writer’s Market. Basically, once you use Duotrope you can’t leave and take your data elsewhere.

Duotrope also attempts to make a blatant copyright grab, with their terms stating “The website and its database are also protected as a collective work or compilation under U.S. copyright and other laws and treaties. All individual articles, pages and other elements making up the website are also copyrighted works. Use of any of these original works without written permission of Duotrope LLC is expressly forbidden.”

Duotrope is skating on thin ice here because you can’t copyright data. But combine this copyright statement with their terms of use for the data and Duotrope is essentially saying they own any submission data uploaded to their system by authors.

(8) Annie Bellet asks people not to nominate her for awards in 2016.

I don’t wish to have my work considered for awards this year. I’d like to just have 2016 to get stuff done, worry about my readers and my career, and (hopefully!) not be involved in any award business. I’m not attending Worldcon 2016 either (I’ll be there for 2017 though, yay excuse to go to Finland!).

So please… if you read and enjoyed something of mine that was published this year (and there were a few things I think are some of my best work),  thank you. But don’t vote for my stories.   I’ve got cool work coming out next year, and maybe by 2017 I’ll have healed the stress of this last award season, but for now… please, I want a year of not having to even worry about it, slim as my chances might be.

(9) Fantasy Literature has launched its “Second annual Speculative Fiction Haiku Contest”. Leave your entries in the comments. Can you improve on this entry from last year? I knew you could…

a meddlesome god
sows nightmares in childhood dreams
meesa jar jar binks

(10) Sarah Avery writes the kind of immersive conreport I like. Now at Black Gate — “World Fantasy 2015: It’s the Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead of Convention Reports”.

Lots of interesting stuff about trying to line up an agent is woven around accounts of WFC’s panels and conversations in the bar. I’m picking this passage for the excerpt, because Avery was actually on one of Mari Ness’ panels that made news here:

After reminding myself a couple of times that panels were not, overall, my mission, I prepared for the one panel I was on.

That panel turned out to be newsworthy not for its content, but because of accessibility issues. Author Mari Ness, who uses a wheelchair, was unable to get onto the stage because there was no ramp. This issue has been covered elsewhere, with all its ramifications for policy, conrunning logistics, and ethics. All I can add to the accessibility discussion is that the other panelists (David Hartwell, Darrell Schweitzer, Stephen R. Donaldson) and I were nearly as uncomfortable with the situation as Ness was. The hotel staff said they’d have to take the stage entirely apart to put their ramp on it, and we were late already, so Ness decided to do the fastest thing. She positioned her wheelchair close enough that we could pass her a microphone. Donaldson was an excellent moderator, and Hartwell and Schweitzer (who on occasion have been known to hold forth) kept themselves uncharacteristically concise to make space in the discussion for Mari. The physical space might not have been inclusive, but we were all determined that the discussion would be.

As it turned out, Mari was the only one whose remarks drew spontaneous applause. We were talking about the ancient epics, contemporary fantasy epics, and what kinds of lineages do or don’t connect them. What, Donaldson asked, were our personal favorites among the modern epics? And though the rest of us got more and more obscure with our picks, Mari’s was Star Wars. And that felt more personally foundational than any other epic we’d discussed.

(11) And as often as I’ve been invoking her name lately, I should also publicize Sarah Avery’s Kickstarter appeal to fund publication of her fantasy novel The Imlen Bastard, which has raised $6,695 to date, achieving its initial $4,500 goal, then a stretch goal that will pay for the audiobook, and finally aspires to raise $9,600 which will allow Avery to commission more Kate Baylay art.

(12) Movie footage was shot at the first Worldcon. We may see it someday, if it hasn’t been tossed, and if anyone can ever find it. Doug Ellis has been searching for years, as he explains in “The Elusive Film Footage of the Very First Worldcon” at Black Gate.

I have a carbon copy of a letter dated August 16, 1939 that Darrow wrote to his friend, Walt Dennis, concerning the first Worldcon. In part, it reads as follows.

The following day was the big day of the convention. [NOTE – DARROW IS REFERRING TO SUNDAY, JULY 2, 1939, THE FIRST DAY OF THE CON.] Otto [BINDER] picked up Bill, Jack [JACK WILLIAMSON], Ed Hamilton and myself and we took a bus to the convention hall. Bill and I had had no breakfast and it was almost noon, so we deserted the gang long enuf to invade an Automat. Arriving back at the hall we found a mob gathered at the door. Somebody shoved an autograph book in my face. [PERHAPS THIS IS WHAT’S CAPTURED IN THIS PHOTO] They way they worked this was to ask every stranger they saw for their autograph and then look to see who they got. I took several snaps (enclosed) and Bill took snaps and movies. There seemed to be a lot of excitement when Forrest J. Ackerman and I met for the first time. Bill took movies of the handshake. Forrie was quite a surprise to me. Tall, handsome and quiet. A very pleasant fellow. He was dressed in an outfit out of Wells’ pic Things to Come.

(13) Gregory N. Hullender has posted Rocket Stack Rank’s evaluation of “Future Visions: Original Science Fiction Inspired by Microsoft”, and adds this incentive to click the link – “The fact that I not only worked at Microsoft for a long time but actually worked on some of these technologies might make this a bit more interesting.”

(14) Yes, I can imagine.

(15) This just in from 2009! “Moon landing tapes got erased, NASA admits”. We now join our conspiracy theories already in progress.

The original recordings of the first humans landing on the moon 40 years ago were erased and re-used, but newly restored copies of the original broadcast look even better, NASA officials said on Thursday.

NASA released the first glimpses of a complete digital make-over of the original landing footage that clarifies the blurry and grainy images of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walking on the surface of the moon.

The full set of recordings, being cleaned up by Burbank, California-based Lowry Digital, will be released in September. The preview is available at www.nasa.gov.

NASA admitted in 2006 that no one could find the original video recordings of the July 20, 1969, landing.

Since then, Richard Nafzger, an engineer at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, who oversaw television processing at the ground-tracking sites during the Apollo 11 mission, has been looking for them.

The good news is he found where they went. The bad news is they were part of a batch of 200,000 tapes that were degaussed — magnetically erased — and re-used to save money.

(16) Jeremiah Moss at Vanishing New York asks friends to help Jerry Ohlinger

A couple of years ago, I visited Jerry Ohlinger’s amazing movie material store in the Garment District. In business since 1976, it was the last store in New York City dedicated to movie photos.

Struggling with the rent, Jerry closed his shop and moved most of his “one million and one hundred thousand” photos to a warehouse in New Jersey as he downsized to a much smaller shop on West 30th, with limited hours.

Now Jerry needs help. The items in the warehouse need to be moved again, and there’s no money to do it. Visit <https://www.gofundme.com/996j7zvc> and consider giving him a hand.

Jeremiah wrote about the old store for The New Yorker a few years ago in “The Last Picture Shop”.

Jerry Ohlinger’s Movie Material Store has been in business since 1978. It started on West Third Street, moved to West Fourteenth, and eventually ended up on West Thirty-fifth, in the Garment District. With the Internet stealing customers, business isn’t what it used to be, and the nine-thousand-dollar-a-month rent is more than movie photos can pay. Jerry will be closing his shop and selling just online in the next three to six months.

This is unfortunate, because a computer screen will never provide the physical, sensory experience you get when you step into Ohlinger’s. An obsessively organized clutter of movie posters and postcards, stacks of DVDs, and boxes full of eight-by-seventeen poster reproductions, the small front of the store is walled by towering shelves packed with shopworn three-ring binders, all strapped with duct tape and hand-labelled in Magic Marker with the names of the movie stars contained within. The space smells of Jerry’s cigar and the musty vanilla aroma of old paper slowly decaying.

“We’ve got about two hundred and fifty thousand to three hundred thousand photos in all these books,” Jerry says, waving his gummy, unlit cigar in the air.

(17) NPR is impressed —  “Amazon’s ‘High Castle’ Offers A Chilling Alternate History Of Nazi Triumph”.

Many of the goose-bump-inducing moments in this new drama are visual and are startling. Picture this: In Times Square, a giant neon swastika emblazons a building. Or an American flag with the familiar colors — but instead of stars and stripes, there’s a swastika where the stars used to be. Even the map of the former United States of America is disturbing to witness — much more so than those wind-up maps of opposing territories opening each episode of HBO’s Game of Thrones.

The alternate-history American map in The Man in the High Castle is made even more jarring, and creepy, by the sound, and the song, that accompanies it in the opening of each episode. It’s the sound of a film projector whirring into action — underscoring the importance of those illicit films — followed by the old familiar song “Edelweiss” being sung in a much more haunting performance than you’re used to from The Sound of Music.

(18) Rachel Swirsky collected writing advice from novelists about how to start your second book – quotes from Steven Gould, N. K. Jemisin, Ken Liu, and Helene Wecker.

Helene Wecker, author of The Golem and the Jinni:

First, celebrate. Turning in your novel is a huge hairy deal. Go out for a fancy dinner with a significant other or something. Give yourself permission to relax for a few days. You’ve probably been holed up for a while, so go talk to some humans. Send a few emails to friends, accept an invitation to coffee. Go for a walk outside.

Ok, now back to work. It’s a good idea to focus on marketing during the pre-pub months, and to that end you’ll want to prep a master Q&A about the book. My publisher sent me one with about a dozen questions (“How did the idea come to you?” “Who were your favorite characters to write?” “Describe your research process,” etc). It took forever to fill out, but it meant I didn’t have to think on the fly during interviews or readings. If your publisher doesn’t do it for you, make one yourself, with what you’d guess are the most likely questions that a reader or interviewer would ask. It might feel tedious, but you won’t regret it.

(19) Songwriter P. F. Sloan died November 13 at the age of 70. Though best known for his hit “Eve of Destruction”, Sloan also wrote the theme song for Secret Agent Man, which became a hit for Johnny Rivers. The Wikipedia entry for “Secret Agent Man” sets the song in context of genre history:

The lyric “They’ve given you a number and taken away your name” referred to the numerical code names given to secret agents, as in “007” for James Bond, although it also acts as the setup to the “continuation” of Danger Man, the cult classic The Prisoner.”

(20) Wonder if the rest of the book lives up to this line?

 [Thanks to Janice Gelb, Michael J. Walsh, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, Mark-kitteh, Tasha Turner, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day ULTRAGOTHA.]

256 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 11/19 The Endochronic Pixils of Resublimated Scrollotimoline

  1. Matthew David Surridge’s Black Gate articles and reviews this year (without links, because too many):
    • “Plasticity of Vision: Ben Okri’s Famished Road Cycle”
    • “Time Flies: Reflections on Reading Fantasy”
    • The “Fantasia Diary 2015” series
    • “The Deep Structures of Dreams: Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84
    • “Every Kind of Story, All At Once: Salman Rushdie’s The Enchantress of Florence
    • “Drew Hayden Taylor’s Tales of Otter Lake: The Night Wanderer and Motorcycles & Sweetgrass
    • “Narrative Dance: Darcy Tamayose’s Odori
    • “Gothic Urban Fantasy: Yangsze Choo’s The Ghost Bride
    • “The Vorrh, Redux”
    • “Through the Woods and Other Stories by Emily Carroll”
    • “A Detailed Explanation”
    • “Miss Fury: Sensational Sundays 1941-1944
    • “High Space Opera: Jim Starlin’s Metamorphosis Odyssey and Dreadstar
    • “Second-hand Magic”, Parts I and II
    • “Peter Watts’ Rifters Trilogy”
    • “Redwing in Flight”

  2. That’s a worthy nomination on quality, but I’ve been pondering whether it’s a good idea for one or nominees in the 2016 Hugos to be about the controversy in the 2015 Hugos. That’s a little more inward-looking than I’d like the awards to be, in the ideal.

    While there are certainly other works and topics that are relatable, I don’t think it’s possible to – or even that it should be – scoped out something that was at least a plurality of the discussion and the tone for fandom in 2015.

  3. @junego

    I’m glad you only had to do it the once. That all sounds like it was a dreadful hassle.

    You probably mentioned it, but how often do you have to do this?

    It depends – I had a one year award the first time, and a two year award the second time (which meant I had slightly over half of that spent waiting for appeal). I don’t know how long this award will be until they tell me the result. Those were both for Disability Living Allowance, which is being converted over to Personal Independence Payment* at the moment (so the criteria has changed a little). People used to get longer duration awards but the government decided that was leaving people “languishing” on disability benefits and decided to reassess people much more often (even for this one, which isn’t actually the work-related disability benefit? So it doesn’t make sense? Unless the goal is to harass disabled people into deciding the benefits aren’t worth the hassle…).

    I also have another disability benefit (the work-related one – Employment and Support Allowance, previously known as Incapacity Benefit*) which was on one-year assessments until I got into the Support Group (as in, not expected to be able to work, although I can still volunteer for work-related-activity support if they offer something interesting) and since then I haven’t been pulled in for another one yet, and that was nearly two years ago (convenient timing, actually, since I got the support group paperwork for the appeal for the other one). Long may that wait continue – these assessments aren’t what I’d call fun.

    I did make my feelings known about being tested to see if I had limited range of movement – which is the only thing the physical tests for. The assessor agreed that it was very silly (especially since I’d demonstrated a couple of tiny extensions – fingers and hands, small joints – earlier on and it had grossed her out) but said she had to do it anyway.

    *Suspicious minds may note that both of the new names for those benefits are less clearly linked to being awarded to sick and disabled people.

  4. @ Vasha

    How did you find those and were they all at Black Gate? Go ahead and expose my lack of Google-foo!

  5. If you look at the top left corner of the Black Gate blog page, there’s a search box. This finds every article where Surridge is mentioned, whether as author or otherwise, in reverse chronological order; so not too hard to pull out the ones he wrote.

  6. Meredith on November 20, 2015 at 3:48 pm said:

    Pah! Some work on your outline? Do you think that’s good enough?* Not until it turns into words that COUNT, so get back into that document and keep going until that story is in the NOVEL! I’m expecting results, so no excuses!

    *But seriously, work on your outline is useful and good work.

    It feels like a cop out, ‘oh you know I was outlining, that’s just as good.’

    Except I really did spend hours filling blank spots, and embellishing thin spots and making notes for eventual back-fill and the minor changes like don’t leave that on the table she needs it, and change what jewelry she’s wearing to this.

    35182 words, 1100-ish more needed today along with searching for a way out of a seemingly unending infodumpy conversation.

  7. @Iphinome: “35182 words, 1100-ish more needed today along with searching for a way out of a seemingly unending infodumpy conversation.”

    Dumb question time: Is the infodump conversation actually important to the story you’re telling?

    I ask because the author I’ve been working with told me about what sounds like a similar situation that started to develop in a short piece. There was a place where idle chatter spawned a big infodump explanation of an unfamiliar concept, which then threatened to develop a whole new chunk of backstory as a faceless cardboard character came to life… but it all came from that one stray comment. J.B. changed the comment, excised the infodump and backstory for later use, and losing it didn’t hurt that story at all. Meanwhile, that info might become the seed of its own story.

  8. Meredith on November 20, 2015 at 11:44 pm said:

    … it doesn’t make sense? Unless the goal is to harass disabled people into deciding the benefits aren’t worth the hassle…

    I suspect that that is exactly the goal.

  9. RedWombat on November 20, 2015 at 6:06 pm said:
    Joshi still doesn’t understand the difference between “face on award” and “never read anything by author again,” does he?

    Three days ago, I was thrilled to find a Lovecraft co-authored novella I’d never heard of before–“The Mound”–and I enjoyed it despite some of the worst dialect H.P. ever hammered out. I still don’t want his bust on the award. Why is this so hard for a presumably intelligent man to grasp? Does he really think the World Fantasy award is the only place the public will ever hear of Lovecraft or something?

    I’ve been a part of fandom for a long time. I’ve known about Lovecraft even longer.

    The first I heard that the World Fantasy Award was a bust of Lovecraft was some time this year.

    It’s not really a big deal to Lovecraft’s legacy, so far as I can tell.

  10. @Rev. Bob Part is it are, I’m not cutting words during the month of November and even if I think something might be worth cutting later, that doesn’t get me out of it _now_. They’re going to keep talking and laying out info until they hit on something to make them move or I send in the ninjas to force the issue.

  11. Thank you, Vasha. I’m now appropriately humiliated by my lack of search skills. :-9

    But in my defense, when you put someone’s name in the search field you don’t get a reverse date order of everything with that name in it, you get a reverse date order of 1) that name in the title, 2) that name when not in the title.

    The first page of results were articles with Surridge in the title going back to 2011. I thought I’d checked the next page, apparently I didn’t and have thus earned my embarassed face. :$

  12. @ Meredith

    I’m with Peace in thinking the name changes and increased assessments probably are to discourage people. They certainly use similar roadblocks in the States. We all know that a certain small percentage of the population is scamming the system, which is true of every system ever created, but the gov uses those few cases to restrict access for the 90+% who don’t cheat.

  13. (Brief explanation: Since the shenanigans in 2008, and more so since the Tories got Powah (Overwhelming!) in 2010, the UK has been undergoing austerity measure to a greater or lesser extent regionally – devolution, you know – the relevant part of which is in this case that many benefits are frozen at 1% increases instead of rising with inflation. In theory this is supposed to exclude disability benefits. Okay? Okay.)

    @junego & Peace

    I would be less suspicious (probably not much less, but certainly a bit less) of their intentions except Employment and Support Allowance which as I said is a sick and disabled benefit, is not exempt from the freeze. A very small portion of it is (the Support Group component) but since that’s only granted to a very small number of applicants (the rest are in the Work-Related Activity Group, which is a different rant about targets-that-aren’t-targets-but-statistical-norms-with-punishments-for-staff-that-don’t-tailor-assessments-to-meet-them), and even for those applicants who do get it its a tiny part of the award (I should know – I’m one of them), I don’t really consider that to be “disability benefits are exempt”.

    Sadly, due to the misleading name and the general difficulty in people being able to understand the system without several months of study time and a map, the media-at-large has yet to notice the problem with claim 1 (disability benefits WILL rise with inflation) and claim 2 (Employment and Support Allowance WON’T rise with inflation) co-existing in the same statement. I can’t help but feel that being able to obscure the truth like that is the whole point of a name which doesn’t clearly indicate sickness and disability. As for discouraging applicants… Yeah, pretty sure that’s what they’re going for.

    (Incidentally, fraud rate for DLA was estimated at 0.6%, which is really, really good. Department of Work and Pensions likes to keep that quiet because it leads to less excuses to make life shitty for everyone else. DWP also likes to give a spending figure for “Welfare” – which people assume is the spending figure for working-age benefits, when actually the lions share of it is Pensions. DWP is very, very sneaky. DWP also only bought a few bars of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons for their hold music, which I’m pretty sure was just them being cheap but certainly feels a lot like psychological warfare every time I’m on hold for an hour+.)

  14. It’s much more than 90% of people who aren’t cheaters.
    It’s more that if you are a sensationalist news outlet, sure, you can find some egregious example, but the overwhelming majority of cases are people in genuinely bad circumstances – look at the homeless, look at the overwhelmed food banks, there are a lot of people relying on a fraying and stressed system which is, if anything, focussing too much on efficiency and too little on the underlying purpose of a safety net.
    In the U.S. the Medicare fraud rate is estimated at 3-10% (a bit of a range there), but medicare cheaters are overwhelmingly fatcat health care providers bilking the system, not, you know, elderly sick people. Food stamp fraud percentage figures range between 3-5%, much of the fraud being retailers who take a cut for bending rules, rather than recipients being ineligible. SSI (disability) fraud is estimated at 1%, with a 60% rate of denials, with the agency itself admitting that benefits are much more commonly underpaid than overpaid.
    It is just terrible that the focus has become a case of straining at the gnat of someone possibly, conceivably, getting undeserved money while swallowing the elephant of widespread pain and poverty
    File under letting lunatic politicians playing divide and conquer set the terms of the discussion.

  15. I can’t decide whether I’m enjoying the episodic nature of Reflections or not. I purchased Indexing as a collection, after it was all out, and hadn’t been aware that it was a serial. I really enjoyed it (fighting against fairy tale narratives trying to overwrite chunks of our reality? Characters who were queer and trans and not white and not nice girls? Yes please!), even though I expected it to be a novel and it wasn’t.

    I think with the right GM and players, it would be a fabulous role playing setting.

  16. Meredith, it took my brother 4 years, 3 different tries (with all the paperwork), and paying a specialty lawyer to get his pittance of Social Security Disability. Most people end up having to hire a lawyer here, or else give up. So, um, you’re spared that?

  17. @lurkertype

    Since, at least in my area, we’re no longer allowed to have representation at appeals* – just as well! None of these systems are fit for purpose, are they? At least not if the purpose is “helping disabled people” rather than “easy career track for sadists (and not the type who keep it consensual)” … and I gotta admit I have my suspicions.

    *Appeals with representation were usually successful, you see. Couldn’t be having that.**

    **Appeals are still usually successful because of above statistical norms silliness and the impact that has on the assessor decisions, but not quite as overwhelmingly successful as they were before.***

    ***But even though they’ve been (ha!) crippled in what they can do, what with not being allowed to send someone along and all the budget cuts they’ve suffered, the free(!) Citizens Advice Bureau is still doing damn good work preparing people for representing themselves. CAB = awesome.

  18. LunarG, Indexing is probably my favorite book by McGuire of the ones I’ve read. If Reflections comes out as a complete hardcopy collection I’ll probably pick it up.

  19. @ Laouwolf
    re: Safety net

    Yeah, what you said. If I get started on a rant about “swatting at knats” and ignoring humane treatment of other people, my blood pressure will not be happy with me. Also what you said about who’s really doing the cheating. I threw in the 90+ number to be, uhm, conservative. :-/

  20. Yeah, what you said. If I get started on a rant about “swatting at knats” and ignoring humane treatment of other people, my blood pressure will not be happy with me. Also what you said about who’s really doing the cheating.

    This. This so much.

  21. @Lauwolf: One of the things that makes me crazy about the so-called safety net is that very rarely does anyone bother to factor in the cost of means-testing. The more draconian the means-testing, the more expensive it is. At one point, I read an article that estimated that the cost of means-testing and fraud prevention for Welfare was more than the amount of fraud prevented by same.

    There have been a couple of really good studies, lately, about dealing with the poor and homeless. The conclusions are a) what poor people really need, more than anything else, is money and b) what homeless people need, more than anything else, is a home. All the fancy ways of providing services that aren’t simple cash grants, or free housing, end up being vastly less useful and vastly less efficient than just giving people what they need.

  22. Lydy Nickerson on November 22, 2015 at 4:51 pm said:

    One of the things that makes me crazy about the so-called safety net is that very rarely does anyone bother to factor in the cost of means-testing. The more draconian the means-testing, the more expensive it is. At one point, I read an article that estimated that the cost of means-testing and fraud prevention for Welfare was more than the amount of fraud prevented by same.

    Quite, and to bring it back to fandom, I cite actions taken by various Worldcon committees to discourage counterfeiting of their badges, on the grounds that memberships are expensive and that the con loses money when people fake badges. Except that I’ve seen conventions try to throw far more resources at such anti-counterfeiting measures than could ever be realistically justified on sheer cost. What it really comes down to is people hating anyone “cheating” to the point that they tend to want to spend infinite resources to bring the fraud rate to zero. It’s not the cost of the services fraudulently obtained; its that having anyone cheat makes people unhappy. It’s difficult to argue emotional issues.

  23. @Lydy: (social program costs)

    I forget where you are, but here in the States, there’s been something of a flap over the idea of drug-testing welfare recipients. In the places where it’s been done long enough to have numbers, the result is always the same: the cost of the testing monstrously outweighs the savings from any denied benefits.

    As to your points on people simply needing cash and homes, I fully agree. I am inclined to sweep the entire bureaucratic nightmare out and replace it with a much simpler minimum income system. No AFDC, WIC, or other little programs that you have to seek out and qualify for individually – nope, just cut a check and there you go. I think the amount we save in admin costs would be better spent feeding people than a nightmarish labyrinth of qualifications and denials.

  24. Rev. Bob on November 22, 2015 at 5:30 pm said:
    … As to your points on people simply needing cash and homes, I fully agree. I am inclined to sweep the entire bureaucratic nightmare out and replace it with a much simpler minimum income system. No AFDC, WIC, or other little programs that you have to seek out and qualify for individually – nope, just cut a check and there you go. I think the amount we save in admin costs would be better spent feeding people than a nightmarish labyrinth of qualifications and denials.

    A couple of years ago a kid died in the town I grew up in.
    He had a toothache, but dentistry wasn’t part of the welfare package his mom had, and you can’t pay a dentist in food stamps.
    His mother spent weeks trying to patch together something to help him, trying to barter food stamps for cash among her extended family (for shame!) and bopping all over the county sitting in offices trying to find some way to get him treated.
    It was only a matter of maybe a couple of hundred dollars, but it might as well have been thousands as far as that goes since she didn’t have it and could not get it.
    By the time he ended up in the emergency room (at the hospital where my dad used to work) it had become a medical matter, and they could treat him.
    Which they did, to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of expensive and futile care.
    Because, you know, you can’t trust poor people to manage their funds for themselves.
    And poor people, apparently, don’t need dentists, unless they do.
    Still angry as hell about this one.

  25. Lauowolf: Perhaps the health risks of certain kinds of dental problems are better known now, but it was a revelation to me when I was college-age to read author Jack Chalker’s article about how his teeth problems could have killed him.

  26. The current disturbing bureaucratic horribleness that keeps being worked into (and then veto’d by people with functioning moral codes, usually in the House of Lords) Bills over here is mandatory acceptance of medical treatment as a condition of benefits. I don’t know about anyone else, but I just don’t trust all doctors everywhere with that kind of power of my body. Especially considering the widespread ignorance about my wotsits, but also just in general.

  27. @Mike Glyer

    One frequent cause of death listed on Victorian death certificates was ‘teeth’. I think it was well-known as a potentially serious issue up until semi-reasonable dental care was widely available, and after that it was treatable enough to fade in the memory. Even so, there were some places in Great Britain up until the mid-twentieth century that often removed women’s teeth as a wedding gift to her husband – he wouldn’t have to pay for any dental care, you see.

  28. @ Rev. Bob: I live in Minnesota. When I ended up on food stamps in the early 80s, I was in Iowa. The testing was much less draconian, then, I believe, and the allotment ($70 a month) was generous for single, healthy person without food issues or allergies. And, it literally saved my life. It has been pointed out that there are actually two different population pools that the welfare program supports: the recipients and the bureaucrats. One of the reasons the administration is such an amazing patchwork is because various agencies and industries want to make sure that they get their piece of the pie.

    As for whether or not poor people can adequately manage their money, there was an exchange, possibly reported on Twitter, I very much liked. “Hey, don’t give that panhandler money! He’ll just spend it on booze.” Reply, “Like I wasn’t?”

    @ Meredith: your first comment — oh, good lord and little fishes. Doctors… have fetishes and issues and make mistakes, and an educated, involved patient can often come across them. A friend of mine, now sadly deceased, had huge huge huge problems with heart and lungs which resulted in So Many Steroids, which had as a follow-on weight gain. One of her doctors was extremely exercised about her weight, and felt that my friend should get a gastric by-pass. After many crazy-making discussions, she finally scheduled with the bariatric surgeon, who said, “You doctor is foolish. You wouldn’t survive the surgery. I would never, ever do this.” Which finally put an end to the ridiculousness (but not the endless nagging).

    As for your second comment, I am not thinking about that, I am never thinking about that, I am going to pretend I never read that. Ever. Wiped. Gone from my mind.

  29. I am inclined to sweep the entire bureaucratic nightmare out and replace it with a much simpler minimum income system. No AFDC, WIC, or other little programs that you have to seek out and qualify for individually – nope, just cut a check and there you go. I think the amount we save in admin costs would be better spent feeding people than a nightmarish labyrinth of qualifications and denials.

    But just think of all the people who would be out of work if we eliminate all those wasteful programs. /sarcasm

    I’m all for the above as well as eliminating many tax loops for the rich and big businesses even if it means I pay higher taxes and more for some goods.

    I’d also prefer if we spent more money per kid on education than we do per inmate in jail. It pays off in the long-term.

    A fed, roof over their head, educated, and healthy population are the things third world countries tackle as first goals when trying to compete and become a 2nd or 1st world countries.


    Lord of The Rings – Series (2001 – 2003)
    The Princess Bride (1987)



    The Princess Bride (1987)


  32. re: social safety net

    The ‘net’ was still reasonably in place when I was forced to use it in the 70s, although there were still big holes and problems. All the subsequent measures that have been imposed all come down to punishing the poor and the sick for being poor and/or sick instead of fixing anything.

    The seemingly inherent emotional dislike of cheaters has been played by certain political factions to justify denying what should be basic human rights to way too many people. I was forced to sell my food stamps to buy toilet paper and pay the heating bill because the cash award wasn’t enough to live on. So I cheated, but only to survive. It’s not the same as the cheating at the top of the social ladder that is usually ignored or even admired as being clever and that, more often than not, contributes to the poverty at the bottom.

    I like the idea of a guaranteed income as a right of citizenship. That doesn’t solve the poverty problem in poorer nations, but it’s a step in the direction of insisting that everyone deserves a minimum level of security as a human right.



    Yeah, I saw this nailbiter coming. :-/ It’s really a coin toss. PB has fewer warts and has become a cultural touchstone. OTOH, LotR finally got Tolkein on the Silver Screen as a generally good homage to the themes that it was based on, plus an amazing realization of Gollum and other fantastical characters. There was no way to make it, reasonably, without some warts, imo. BUT…[mumble, mumble, grumble] I’m going with the epic that set the bar for future film making.

    Lord of The Rings – Series (2001 – 2003)
    The Princess Bride (1987)


    Oh, I already said the last time, The Wizard of Oz.

    Lord of The Rings – Series (2001 – 2003)
    The Princess Bride (1987)

    They’re both great, but LotR was a game changer.


    LotR. But Spirited Away is a closer second than Princess Bride.

    Also, @Tintinaus – lolwut?



    The Princess Bride (1987)


    Porco Rosso

    Lord of The Rings – Series (2001 – 2003)
    The Princess Bride (1987)

    Neither of these are on my current “Desert Island Movies” list, although TPB comes and goes. But Jackson’s achievement is like Welles; he didn’t just raise the bar, he changed the rules.

    The Wizard of Oz

    When this was rereleased in UK cinemas a few years ago, I had the pleasure of seeing it in a crowded house with people of all ages. It was clear from the start that some of the kids hadn’t ever seen a “black-and-white” movie before, and there was a little agitation, at least up to the moment when she sings Over The Rainbow. At that point, the film won. And then, not long afterwards, Dorothy opens the door into Oz, and we all gasped as one. That’s what great movies are about.


    Lord of The Rings – Series (2001 – 2003)

    No strong preference. TPB is more perfect, but I’m voting for the culture-changer.


    Anything but “all of them.” It was cute the first time, people.

    Actually, I’ll vote for the otherwise ineligible The Rapture.

    Actually I forgot about Wizard of Oz! It is greatest.

    The Princess Bride (1987)

    I don’t think I’d call it the greatest fantasy movie of all time, but I’d still be reasonably content with a Princess Bride win, if only because of, all other considerations aside, “I want my father back, you son of a bitch.” At least it’s probably in my top 10, and I really don’t think its competitor would make that cut.

    I’ll go with Spirited Away.

    Lord of The Rings – Series (2001 – 2003)

    Golden Voyage of Sinbad.

    The Princess Bride (1987)

    I’d be very disappointed if LOTR won. I love the books, their impact on culture and literature but I think it would say something else entirely if a film adaption of it was to win an the expense of everything else in the medium simply because it is LOTR. Yes I am aware William Goldman wrote TPB, so my point may be entirely contradictory!

    Throw my hat in with the Wizard of Oz crowd but also hard to say these others weren’t worthy too:
    Princess Mononoke
    Monty Python & Holy Grail

    But it’s a very hard genre to vote for because you’re comparing a very eclectic mix of movies!

    Lord of The Rings – Series (2001 – 2003)
    The Princess Bride (1987)


    I’m quite happy with the results. Okay, I would have liked to see Three Hazelnuts for Cinderella (Czech/East German fairytale film from the 1970s and Christmas classic in much of continental Europe) in there, but it’s little known in the English speaking world.


    Lord of The Rings – Series (2001 – 2003)
    The Princess Bride (1987)


    Labyrinth; or failing that, David Bowie’s pants 😉

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