Pixel Scroll 1/20/16 Splendiferous Bastion of Finely-Tuned Nuance

(1) BIG PLANET. New evidence suggests a ninth planet is lurking at the edge of the solar system.

Astronomers at the California Institute of Technology announced Wednesday that they have found new evidence of a giant icy planet lurking in the darkness of our solar system far beyond the orbit of Pluto. They are calling it “Planet Nine.”

Their paper, published in the Astronomical Journal, describes the planet as about five to 10 times as massive as the Earth. But the authors, astronomers Michael Brown and Konstantin Batygin, have not observed the planet directly.

Instead, they have inferred its existence from the motion of recently discovered dwarf planets and other small objects in the outer solar system. Those smaller bodies have orbits that appear to be influenced by the gravity of a hidden planet – a “massive perturber.” The astronomers suggest it might have been flung into deep space long ago by the gravitational force of Jupiter or Saturn.

Accompanying the Post article is a short video with the delightfully hideous title “Planet Nine from outer space.”

(2) IN WORDS OF MORE THAN ONE SYLLABLE. Read the paper here.

3. ANALYTICAL THEORY

Generally speaking, coherent dynamical structures in particle disks can either be sustained by self-gravity (Tremaine 1998; Touma et al. 2009) or by gravitational shepherding facilitated by an extrinsic perturber (Goldreich & Tremaine 1982; Chiang et al. 2009). As already argued above, the current mass of the Kuiper Belt is likely insufficient for self-gravity to play an appreciable role in its dynamical evolution. This leaves the latter option as the more feasible alternative. Consequently, here we hypothesize that the observed structure of the Kuiper Belt is maintained by a gravitationally bound perturber in the solar system.

(3) WORLDCON LODGING. MidAmeriCon II hotel reservations open January 25.

(4) FAKING IT. According to The Digital Reader, the “Number One Book Brits Pretend to Have Read is 1984, But for Americans, It’s Pride and Prejudice”.

A recent survey of 2,000 Brits has revealed that 62% of respondents had pretended to have read  one book or another in order to appear smart. The top ten books that people pretend to have read are an impressive list of books, with Orwell’s 1984 and War and Peace taking the top 2 spots.

Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien is sixth.

(5) HARLAN SAVES. Elon Musk described the influence of Harlan Ellison on his thinking during this interview. The reference comes at about 13:20 into the video.

It’s possible that Harlan will save the human race. Elon has funded research on A. I.’s with the idea that when they emerge that they will be friendly to us humans. “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream” frightened Elon enough to get him to fund the research therefore, if that research helps avoid an unfriendly A. I., then Harlan saved all of us

In the second part of this interview, Elon Musk talks about Artificial Intelligence and the deep concerns its causing him. But first he talks about Tesla building an affordable car, Apple’ rumoured electric vehicle and the future of autonomous driving.

 

(6) REMEMBERING HARTWELL. Dozens of deeply moving and historically fascinating tributes to David G. Hartwell are appearing at this hour. Representative is Michael Swanwick’s memorial:

I was in Chicago a couple of years ago for Gene Wolfe’s induction into the literary hall of fame there when the phone rang and David Hartwell said, “I’m sitting in Fred Pohl’s kitchen with him, going through J. K. Klein’s photos, looking for pictures of old time writers. Do you want to join us?” You bet I did. I think back to that brief call and I can hear him grinning. The joy in his voice was infectious. That was the key to David G. Hartwell: he loved science fiction, he loved work, he loved making worthwhile things happen….

(7) SARTORIAL SPLENDOR. Here’s the David G. Hartwell Necktie Exhibit that celebrates his garish neckties.

(8) VIEW TIPTREE SYMPOSIUM. The first in a series of videos from December’s James Tiptree, Jr. Symposium at the University of Oregon is now online.

It shows Professor, Carol Stabile convening the symposium, welcome remarks by UO Dean of Libraries, Adriene Lim and Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, Doug Blandy, and the keynote talk by Tiptree biographer Julie Phillips, followed by Q&A.

(9) LIVED EXPERIENCE. Sarah A. Hoyt pays it forward in a column of mentoring for indie and other fledgling writers. In a few places I was nodding my head, especially section 3.

However, with the proliferation of indie, I’m seeing a lot more kid writers running around the net (and conferences) with their metaphorical pants around their metaphorical ankles and fingerpainting the walls in shades of brown.

I would hate for that to happen to one of mine, even if just one who follows my lessons here or over at PJM and as such, I’d like to at least ward off some of the worst behavior….

3- Speaking of marking you as a newbie:

Just a few years ago, I realized either a lot of people were naming their kids Author, Writer or Novelist, or the newbies in my field had got off their collective rocker.

This used to be advice given to us before social media: don’t put writer on your card.  If you’re doing it right, they’ll remember that.

I guess it’s more needful than ever for people’s egos to affirm their real writerness (totally a word) now that there are no gatekeepers.

Look, the way to affirm you’re a writer is to write, and to take it seriously.  Putting “writer” or novelist, or author on your card, your facebook page or your blog isn’t going to make you any more “real” than you are.

But Sarah, you’ll say, how will people know it’s me, and not another Jane Smith?

Well, if they’re looking for you, they’ll know.They’ll know because of your friends, your place of origin, the stuff you post.  Fans are amazing that way.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • January 20, 1920 – DeForest Kelley.
  • January 20, 1930 — Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, the second man to set foot on the moon.

(11) SHOW HIM THE MONEY. Stephen Harper Piziks on Book View Café doesn’t work for free anymore.

“We just don’t have the money to pay you,” say the moochers.  “We’re barely making our other expenses as it is.  Even our president is a volunteer!”

Then maybe you should charge more for admission.  Or get some sponsors.  Or just realize that you can’t have speakers at such a low-budget event.

“But you’ll get exposure,” goes more whining.

Tell you what.  You talk to the grocery store, the electric company, and the mortgage people and get them to accept exposure instead of cash, and I’ll speak for exposure.

I once showed up at a local convention where I’d been scheduled to speak on five panels (that’s five hours of public speaking) and was informed that I owed =them= $30 to cover my admission.  It was only when I turned to walk out that they grudgingly allowed me free entry.  Later, the con chair denigrated me by name on Twitter.  I thanked him for the exposure.

And that brings me to final reason I charge.  No one, including event organizers, values something they get for free.  You get what you pay for, and an author who speaks for nothing is worth nothing.  Certainly they’re treated that way.  At festivals and conventions where I spoke for free, I’ve been ignored, pushed around, insulted, and denigrated.  This has never happened at places that paid me.

(12) THE SECRET OF TIMING. Vox Day, while reporting this morning that David G. Hartwell was not expected to recover, identified him as part of this history:

Hartwell was John C. Wright’s editor at Tor Books; he was also friendlier to the Puppies than any of the SF-SJWs are likely to believe. I had the privilege of speaking with him when he called me last year after the Rabid Puppies overturned the SF applecart; he was the previously unnamed individual who explained the unusual structure of Tor Books to me, using the analogy of a medieval realm with separate and independent duchies. He wanted to avoid cultural war in science fiction even though he clearly understood that it appeared to be unavoidable; it was out of respect for him that I initially tried to make a distinction between Tor Books and the Making Light SJWs before Irene Gallo and Tom Doherty rendered that moot.

(13) IT’S A THEORY. Scholars told the BBC why they believe some fairy tales originated thousands of years ago.

Using techniques normally employed by biologists, academics studied links between stories from around the world and found some had prehistoric roots.

They found some tales were older than the earliest literary records, with one dating back to the Bronze Age.

The stories had been thought to date back to the 16th and 17th Centuries.

Durham University anthropologist Dr Jamie Tehrani, said Jack and the Beanstalk was rooted in a group of stories classified as The Boy Who Stole Ogre’s Treasure, and could be traced back to when Eastern and Western Indo-European languages split more than 5,000 years ago.

Analysis showed Beauty And The Beast and Rumpelstiltskin to be about 4,000 years old.

[Thanks to Gary Farber, Will R., and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day JJ.]

233 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 1/20/16 Splendiferous Bastion of Finely-Tuned Nuance

  1. Oooh! There was no way I could make the Belter meetup, but maybe the next one?

    The point of not subtitling for the Earth cop is so we’re as confused as him. All the really important dialogue is spoken in English by people with Belter accents (mostly Jared Harris) so the rest is just flavor. Also, if you listen carefully, you can make it out.

    Now, if they subtitled it in Belter, it would be awesome! We could learn it!

    Subtitles aren’t always literal anyway… I noticed in the US version of “The Bridge”, the English translations were much more polite than the actual Spanish was. We could learn really rude things in Belter!

  2. @Jack Lint: The fact John Green loves Cather in The Rye is about the only thing that tarnishes his rep with me.

    One of the pieces if advice I liked in designing business cards is to print on only one side. This gives the person you gave the card to somewhere to write a note about you and your contact with them as a aide in remembering you. We all think we will remember people but often without the help we(or I at least), don’t.

  3. Darren,

    “Jenny Greenteeth” and the kappa both being invented to try to keep children the hell away from water.

    Wouldn’t that fit the “fears” part of fears and desires. The problem with the idea of cross-cultural pollination esp in the above example is aboriginal cultures have similar stories (One Aust Aboriginal tribe has the Yawk Yawks, fish tailed maids who drag the unwary to their doom).

  4. If I were going for a ship from Hitchhikers, I would go with the Starship Bistromath. What can beat sitting down in a nice Italian restaurant for dinner with the guarantee you will be at your destination when you are done. And while, like on the Heart of Gold, it may be hard to get a nice cup of tea, I bet the coffee is supurb.

  5. re: men writing romantic relationships.

    Beatrice. Benedick.

    I know, it’s one data point, and it’s Willie S., but there it is. It can be done.

  6. @Lexica: Apologies, you’re right; that’s entirely my opinion of it, based on how little I resonate with the themes of the book (even after several attempts to get through the bloody thing).

  7. If liking Austen is enough for you to categorize someone as such, then I know who I’d be inspired to apply those adjectives to.

    I never used those words–they were put into my mouth by someone else. I repeated them in a generic fashion, because I do believe that a distressingly large percentage of humanity consists of freaking nitwits (and any comment thread on the internet, especially one that touches on politics or religion, goes a very long way towards confirming that.)

    As for Austen not being about the rich, I may be wrong. My impression of Pride and Prejudice (from watching Lost in Austen, which I mentioned that I liked) Is that a group of sisters (who are very well dressed and live in a very nice house and are obviously vastly better off financially than the vast majority of English at the time) are struggling to pick the right man (who they call “Mr.” whatever) to marry so that they may keep their inheritance in case their father dies. Stilted, unrealistic dialogue is involved, along with parties. Am I not right on this? There is nothing about that that seems even remotely interesting to me.

    I realize that Austen was a product of her time, but should she not done something more positive with her characters than simply have them searching for the right man to marry and save them? Couldn’t she have had the characters lobbying their peers, their neighbors, their parliament, their royalty, to change the stupid, unfair inheritance laws instead? That would have made characters that I could have liked and respected. As it stands, the book (from my impression of it) is about uninteresting people with shallow, vain, (and yes, privileged) lives doing uninteresting things while speaking in unrealistic ways. It is a celebration of a class-based, inhibited culture that I find completely distasteful (which is also why I don’t like Downton Abbey, even though I did like it when it was called Upstairs Downstairs.)

    I looked down on the women I knew in college who were going only to get their Mrs. degree, I don’t know why I should look down any less on the women who did it 200 years ago.

  8. Couldn’t she have had the characters lobbying their peers, their neighbors, their parliament, their royalty, to change the stupid, unfair inheritance laws instead?

    Reminds me of Bujold’s line about SF being fantasy of political agency.
    Austen’s novels are kind of grim, from one angle. But nobody wants to read a book about a bunch of penniless spinsters and the letter-writing campaign they carry on all the way to the poorhouse.

  9. I bounced off Austen but hard the first time. I was fairly young, the prose seemed stiff and stilted and I was bored. The next time I tried her, I realized that I had completely failed to notice how sly she was. I hadn’t realized, the first time, that she was funny.

    Darren, you don’t have to read Austen, that’s fine. But what you don’t seem to see is how incredibly high the stakes are for the women. “Lost in Austen” absolutely fails to communicate that. These are women who, because of birth, position, and education, are completely unable to do anything but be attached to a household. In Pride and Prejudice their family is utterly unable to provide for them once their father dies. It is true that they live better than a huge percentage of the country, but they are powerless on on the razor’s edge. Nor are the Bennets rich, they are very anxious middle class, with the very real possibility of abject poverty. Wealth is, in that era in that country, distributed rather lumpily, and things that look like intense luxuries from our vantage point were very cheap in that day and age (labor being horrifically cheap, for instance, which is why so many people have servants) and other things which, for us, are very cheap were incredibly dear. Private transportation was a huge deal, for instance, while even quite poor people in this country tend to have at least a beater car. Since Austen takes for granted the world in which she lives, some of this isn’t immediately obvious, and the various television and movie renditions wash out a lot of the detail even more so.

    The fact that Jane and Elizabeth insist on a partner who is not merely wealthy but simpatico is in strong contrast to their mother’s horrible, grasping, and shallow attitudes. In fact, most of Austen is in dialog with the oppressive structure. The fact that her heroines don’t go out and start revolutions, but instead work to maintain their integrity against huge societal pressure to abandon it is not as exciting, but speaks to me more strongly. In fact, throughout Austen, you find that the people who really do act the way you accuse all Austen characters of acting are deprecated. What’s his face is Sense and Sensiblity, for instance, who trifles with Marianne and goes off to marry money.

    I like Austen for some of the same reasons I like science fiction. It is an interesting world which I do not live in, with evocations of complex structures that are not fully explicated in the text. If it were an sf book, I’d say her world-building is excellent.

    None of which means that you would or should like Austen. But you characterizations of her work are not very accurate.

  10. Bujold also has a thought about people reading the book they want instead of the book they have in front of them.

    This isn’t always problematic. But when you’ve got a satirical book on the contemporary behavior of Gentry sitting in front of you, and instead you want a polemic on how characters written 200 years ago should act like suffragettes from 100 years in the future, it may, indeed, be a problematical failure of reading.

  11. Darren Garrison on January 22, 2016 at 7:50 am said:

    As for Austen not being about the rich, I may be wrong. My impression of Pride and Prejudice (from watching Lost in Austen, which I mentioned that I liked) Is that a group of sisters (who are very well dressed and live in a very nice house and are obviously vastly better off financially than the vast majority of English at the time) are struggling to pick the right man (who they call “Mr.” whatever) to marry so that they may keep their inheritance in case their father dies. Stilted, unrealistic dialogue is involved, along with parties. Am I not right on this?

    Not particularly.

    The family in Pride and Prejudice is that of a “gentleman”, which while more comfortable than many is hardly rich. The looks of the pretty houses and clothing and dances in a cinematic production are nothing to judge the story on. They are pretty because cinema viewers would find the real appearances dreary and dull and cramped.

    As for the sisters, there is no inheritance for them to lose. Thanks to fierce laws of the time every last bit of everything goes to their cousin once their father dies. If those girls don’t find husbands they and their mother are all going to be thrown out onto the streets with nothing. As girls with nothing but their looks and personality — no dowries, no expectations, no money, no fancy family connections, no chance for education or jobs — they had darned better use every possible way they can to find someone to marry and not become destitute or worse.

    The dialogue is the way people spoke then, as evidenced by letters and journals. People called men “Mr.” and eldest daughters “Miss” because to use their Christian names implies either the deepest of intimate connections or that they are a social inferior of no account. Austen uses this as a plot device to show certain people’s shocking rudeness and impertinence.

  12. Lydy Nickerson on January 22, 2016 at 8:22 am said:

    I bounced off Austen but hard the first time. I was fairly young, the prose seemed stiff and stilted and I was bored. The next time I tried her, I realized that I had completely failed to notice how sly she was. I hadn’t realized, the first time, that she was funny.

    Oh yes, Austen is hilarious.

  13. The dialogue is the way people spoke then, as evidenced by letters and journals.

    I seriously doubt that. When people are writing, they have time to refine and rework their phrasing to fit exactly what they want to say. Nobody, no matter how well spoken, speaks off-the-cuff with the same level of wit and fluency that they can manage with considered writing. Sharp, witticisms and long eloquent spontaneous speeches are all well and good for fiction, but they aren’t a realistic representation of the way people actually speak, now or in the past. In the modern world, verbal comebacks come to you 5 minutes after your opponent has left and most spontaneous speeches come off sounding a heck of a lot more like Sarah Palin than William Shakespeare, and I don’t buy people from the past being, in general quicker on their feet. Clever writing is not the same as believable dialogue that actually would be spontaneously produced out of someone’s mouth. (And no, I don’t fault this only to Austen–a vast number of fiction writers and script writers produce cool dialogue for characters that do not sound remotely like what a real person would actually say on the fly in a given situation.)

  14. Darren, I don’t enjoy Austen very much myself, but this is silly criticism. I think you’ve missed that a huge part of Austen is a critique of the class-based inhibited culture that made women’s welfare incredibly vulnerable to things out of anyone’s control, like the health and good will of the men in their families, and how damaging it was to have such a limited number of things actually within their control. Austen books are full of people destroyed by that society or facing unrecoverable financial or personal ruin, because of that culture. It’s very, very far from a “celebration”, and Austen books are far more about poverty than about wealth. (They frequently depict wealth. They’re about the inadequate social handling of poverty and the deep anxiety of poverty.)

    As for “speaking in an unrealistic way”, go read some other things written in 1800-1810, novels like Waverly or Castle Rackrent, or essayists writing in natural speech, like John Foster or the later writings of Thomas Jefferson, which, as correspondence, are a pretty good insight into realistic speech of the time. That’s not the modern era. In comparison to her contemporaries, Austen is, if anything, more readable to the modern eye than the average writer of her era.

    Could she have written a book about people taking 20th century actions with the goal of achieving a 20th century society based on 20th century legal precedent and values that no one could envision in 1790-1810? Maybe, if she were a better and more accurate SF writer than Jules Verne and Mary Shelley put together. Given that she wasn’t writing SF, it seems pretty unlikely, and it’s a weird thing to criticize “Pride & Prejudice” for, especially when the entire book is about the social injustices that surrounded poverty and small, private crusades against them. It reads like criticizing Hester in “The Scarlet Letter” for not leading a campaign in 1642 to reform the country’s laws and win equal treatment for single mothers because that would make her a more likable character, especially when the whole point of the book is about the hypocrisy of society’s treatment of single mothers and one woman’s small, private crusades against it.

  15. On Austen as social criticism. Disclaimer: I am no expert. I’ve read less of her work than a lot of people here. I do love Pride & Prejudice.

    There’s a passage in one of Gene Wolfe’s Short Sun books where Silk is talking to a young woman who is not considered attractive in her society, and is worried about whether it’s right for her to do this or that to attract a mate in a culture where, as in Austen’s milieu, attracting a mate is essential. Silk tells her it’s moral for her to use all her assets to that end; indeed that it’s incumbent upon her to do so. IOW, you gotta play the game by the rules of the league that drafted you.

    That certainly seems to be the position the Bennett sisters are in: they don’t have the option to quit the game.

    Austen is hilarious about the foibles of shabby-genteel society and its meniscus with the genuinely well-off. For instance, Mister Bennett was a useful cautionary tale for me personally: it may be entertaining to experience your children’s adventures primarily for their entertainment value, but it doesn’t really make you a good parent. And because great novels have their own truths, we can see great value in Lizzie’s character with our modern eyes.

    I’m not sure we’re seeing exactly the same value in her that Austen saw, though. That is, just because Austen was a keen satirist of her society, she wasn’t necessarily a secret revolutionary hoping for the overthrow of her order. She seems, for instance, to endorse Lizzie’s horror that a young woman would ever run off with a common soldier for the sake of passion; it’s not a matter of, “Alas, if only…but it’s not practical,” but rather, “Ew! Infantry cooties!”

    When I read P&P, I was on the cusp of my sorta crypto-right-wing phase, and while I certainly saw the satire, I was also very comfortable with the way Austen seemed to endorse accepting one’s place in the social order and playing the hand one is dealt as not just a “Well, I guess we gotta” thing but as an “Of course this is what we do. Don’t be a dope.” one. Now we look at Lizzie and see a woman who pushed social conventions as far as she dared. But I think you can also view her as someone who simply thought she could get a better deal for herself than others believed. (That is, she had her own Pride to go with her Prejudice.) That’s a subtle distinction, but IMHO a real one, and at a guess the latter is closer to Austen’s own perspective than the former.

  16. I wonder if Darren could get it if he read some of Georgette Heyer’s novels, where the situations are similar but the language is more modern. Possibly A Civil Contract, or An Infamous Army?

  17. @Amoxtli:

    As for “speaking in an unrealistic way”, go read some other things written in 1800-1810, novels like Waverly or Castle Rackrent, or essayists writing in natural speech, like John Foster or the later writings of Thomas Jefferson, which, as correspondence, are a pretty good insight into realistic speech of the time.

    I’m not sure this counts as proof. After all, we had various naturalist revolutions in fiction and theater later in the 19th Century whose aims explicitly included (finally) rendering speech closer to the way people really talk.

    My own prejudice is always to look to plays rather than prose, and especially comedies, to get a truer sense of how people really spoke in a historical era. For instance, it seems overwhelmingly likely that the dialog in Aristophanes is truer to everyday speech in classical Greece than that in Sophocles tragedies.

  18. @Jim: I’m not sure this counts as proof. After all, we had various naturalist revolutions in fiction and theater later in the 19th Century whose aims explicitly included (finally) rendering speech closer to the way people really talk.

    Not proof in the sense of “direct evidence of daily speech”, because written speech is stylized, but you need multiple data points of what it’s stylized as, to get some sense of the thing being stylized. If you see how one novelist writes dialog in a dialect you don’t speak, you don’t know a lot about their skill. If you see how ten novelists write dialog in that dialect, you’re getting a better picture of speech conventions through the common elements.

    In any case, my point was less that she was a modern prose stylist – she’s not – and more that comparing her to modern writers writing modern dialect and deciding she’s unskilled is comparing apples to oranges. I’m not sure the naturalist revolutions in 19th century literature are a reason to single out Austen as a writer of poor dialog. A reason to prefer the experience of late 19th century literature, sure, but the proper comparison for Austen’s skill is her contemporaries. She’s not writing a modern dialect, and compared to her contemporaries, she’s extremely readable even to the modern eye.

    My own prejudice is always to look to plays rather than prose, and especially comedies, to get a truer sense of how people really spoke in a historical era. For instance, it seems overwhelmingly likely that the dialog in Aristophanes is truer to everyday speech in classical Greece than that in Sophocles tragedies.

    That comedies are interestingly revealing of linguistic usage, yes, no question. The wordplay is revealing, and the way wit is designed is revealing. But I consider plays the least naturalistic of any written form. Plays live or die based on dialog alone, so they’re the format most likely to be stylized away from ordinary speech. Most plays, even modern plays, are stylized to such a high degree that they’re barely prose anymore. (That’s explicit in plays that have meters, but even modern plays without meter skirt have an imposed rhythm and timing that skirts poetry or lyric more closely than it does prose, IMO.)

  19. Part of the problem is that it is extremely difficult to ascertain how people really talk; England is a small country but there are very considerable differences in dialect and accent. Vocabulary differs not only in locality but also in artificial circumstances; I have never heard anyone say, for example,

    I am breaking my silence

    but journalists use

    X has broken his silence

    because they are trying to make something sound important, though it comes across as trite and pompous.

    However, there are people who are witty in an apparently effortless way; I enjoy their company. I suspect that Darren really dislikes his inability to be one, and thus proclaims that nowadays they don’t exist…

  20. @Amoxtl:

    In any case, my point was less that she was a modern prose stylist – she’s not – and more that comparing her to modern writers and deciding she’s unskilled is comparing apples to oranges. I’m not sure the naturalist revolutions in 19th century literature are a reason to single out Austen as a writer of poor dialog.

    Oh, if the argument is that Austen wrote “poor dialog,” I reject that completely. I thought the argument was simply whether Austen’s dialog was an accurate reflection of the normal speech of the day. There I think we just don’t know.

    If the question is, “Does the dialog in Jane Austen give me as good an idea of how people really spoke in her time as the dialog of Frank Norris (e.g.) gives me about how people really spoke in his,” my strong suspicion is no, it does not. Because a major aim of naturalism was to do more of that. But the question, “Was Austen’s dialog good?” can only be answered in reference to an agreed-upon standard. A lot of people do implicitly adopt the standards of naturalism for dialog from other literary eras, but I personally don’t support doing so.

  21. Stevie: …but journalists use

  22. X has broken his silence
  23. because they are trying to make something sound important, though it comes across as trite and pompous.

    You may well be right about the result. I think the motive is a little different, though — the phrasing is an editorialization, the reporter implying the person ought to have spoken up earlier (although such a phrase carries with it the danger of saying more about the reporter than the subject, the unspoken implication usually being that earlier would have suited the reporter following the story).

  24. Plays live or die on dialog alone

    Well, no. There is a reason why

    Waiting For Godot

    was admired but not emulated; it emerged at a time when literary criticism was dominated by people who felt that plays were a poor substitute for great literature, and were thus thrilled by a play which wasn’t really a play at all.

    Beckett was so beguiled by his elevation to Great Author that he went to court to prevent women appearing in Waiting for Godot, on the basis that women do not have prostates and the roles must therefore be played by men.

    As a playwright he must surely have been aware that Shakespeare’s female characters were played by boys, just as he must have been aware that Sarah Bernhardt had been exceedingly popular in the role of Hamlet, but the zeitgeist was that popular=bad. It had to be, because the audience was voting with its feet during the first production in London, and just walking out. Many years later I sympathised with them, having sat through it; had I not been reading Combined Honours in Drama and Theatre Arts and Sociology I too would have walked…

  25. @BethZ re: Hartwell at Anticipation
    Good lord, I remember that tie rack now. I spent half the con sitting not all that far from it at the fan table nearest the entrance.

    (The Furry Fandom table, by the way, which I was helping a friend of mine run so that he could see at least some of the rest of the convention. One of the best moments of the con was watching a small family walking past, and the elder daughter spotting one of the books sitting on the table and coming over. “Oooh, Digger!” Our favourite wombat strikes again.)

  26. @Stevie:

    However, there are people who are witty in an apparently effortless way; I enjoy their company. I suspect that Darren really dislikes his inability to be one, and thus proclaims that nowadays they don’t exist…

    Ha!

    I had an OKC date once who, after a forty-five-minute soliloquy on a show he knew I didn’t watch, asked what I liked and greeted the answers with: “Oh, I hate that. Everyone’s so bright and witty–it’s just not realistic.”

    Being nicer back then, I coughed and said well, you know, no, it’s not Gritty Realism, so it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but that’s not what they’re aiming for.

    “I just don’t think anyone really talks like that,” he huffed.

    And suddenly I remembered that I had an early meeting the next day. Funny how these things come up.

  27. @lurkertype:

    Subtitles aren’t always literal anyway…

    Sometimes played with a bit deliberately. There’s a Canadian movie called Bon Cop, Bad Cop, a twist on the ‘buddy cop’ movie where detectives from Ontario and Quebec must work together to solve the murder of a man who was literally found hanging over the demarcation sign on the border. The film is pretty heavily bilingual, and if you know both languages the subtitles add a further level of humour. Like the string of Quebecois French cursing that ends up being subtitled as a single four-letter English scatological reference.

  28. Jenora Feuer: There’s a Canadian movie called Bon Cop, Bad Cop, a twist on the ‘buddy cop’ movie where detectives from Ontario and Quebec must work together to solve the murder of a man who was literally found hanging over the demarcation sign on the border. The film is pretty heavily bilingual, and if you know both languages the subtitles add a further level of humour.

    Ooo, now I’m going to have to go hunt that movie down.

  29. Bon Cop Bad Cop already sounded appealing, and then… Colm Feore? Yes please! (Loved hating him in Slings and Arrows.)

  30. (9) LIVED EXPERIENCE. “…now that there are no gatekeepers.”

    Well, except for Neil Gaiman, amiright? 😉

    In other news, “Alex + Ada” was an interesting comic book with nice, clean art (not perfect, but I liked it) and an interesting futuristic story about androids, AI, sentience, consciousness, etc. (ETA: …which I finished reading Thursday!) I’m thinking of nominating it for a Hugo. Unlike most series, this one was very clearly one story told over 15 or so issues, which I read in three collections, so I’m thinking of the whole series. On the other paw, I haven’t gone through the list of webcomics I read, so this may get knocked off my list by other things. Plus I picked up Busiek’s furry creation and plan to read that soon.

    I’m kinda baffled about how to nominate an ongoing webcomic. I guess “ABC’s 2015 set of comics” since there frequently aren’t actual chapters or issues, just regular pages??? “Oh Human Star” definitely deserves a nom, for example. Hmm, another one about androids and consciousness (very different from “Alex + Ada” though).

  31. Steve Wright:

    To quote W.H. Auden – as seen on countless plastic bags from Waterstone’s, at least by me – “Some books are undeservedly forgotten; none are undeservedly remembered.”

    Clearly, Auden never read “Atlas Shrugged”.

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