(1) YOUTUBER PAYOLA? ScienceFiction.com headlined that “The FTC Has Proven That Warner Brothers Has Paid YouTubers For Positive Reviews”.
In some not so awesome news, Warner Brothers was caught buying off YouTubers to give them positive reviews of their video games. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has released details that the company was working with some of the most influential YouTubers out there to provide positive reviews of their games, film gameplay footage that worked around bugs and hype sales numbers that all ignored criticism of the titles they were being paid to look at. Oh, and they of course never disclosed that they were being paid to do this which is against the law. **
While this is currently limited to video games, one has to wonder if it may extend to films as well.
Most damning though is that Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg, or PewDiePew as he is known to millions of ‘Let’s Play’viewers was involved as well. PewDiePew is the highest watched YouTube celebrity in gaming circles and had an undisclosed agreement to provide positive press for ‘Middle Earth: Shadows of Mordor’ when it was released….
** According to Washington Post reporter Andrea Peterson, the notices that they were paid endorsers of the game appeared in fine print no one read. The FTC settlement says that paid endorsers have to reveal in non-fine print that that they have been paid by game manufacturers.
(2) PAUL AND STORM CONCERT AT MACII. The comedic musical duo Paul and Storm will perform in concert at MidAmeriCon II on Thursday.
MidAmeriCon II is delighted to announce that comedic musical duo Paul and Storm will be appearing at the convention. They will be live in concert at 12 Noon on Thursday, August 18, and interacting with members throughout the convention in the MidAmeriCon II Dealers’ Room.
Paul and Storm (Paul Sabourin and Greg “Storm” DiCostanzo) are known internationally and across the Internet for their original comedy music and vaudeville style shows (mostly with a nerdish bent). They also co-founded the geek variety show “w00tstock” (along with Wil Wheaton and Adam Savage) which has toured across America since 2009, and co-produce the annual JoCo Cruise (www.jococruise.com).
The duo’s original webseries musical, LearningTown, debuted on YouTube’s Geek & Sundry channel in January 2013. In the same year, their song “Another Irish Drinking Song” was featured in the movie Despicable Me 2, while their guitar was memorably smashed on stage by George R.R. Martin. Their fifth full-length CD, Ball Pit, came out in 2014, and was the central item of the duo’s successful Kickstarter campaign.
Paul and Storm have a long history of bringing well known personalities on stage during their shows – and with this being their first Worldcon appearance, they will have an exceptionally broad range of writers, editors, artists and other genre names to choose from. Members can look forward to a memorable and entertaining concert, full of “mature immaturity” (NPR).
More information on Paul and Storm can be found on their website at www.paulandstorm.com.
(3) CHARITY AT SDCC. NBC Los Angeles covers Comic-Con charitable events including the Heinlein Blood Drive:
The annual Robert A. Heinlein Blood Drive returns to the mega pop culture convention for its 40th go-around. Billed as “the San Diego Blood Bank’s longest-running event,” the Comic-Con blood drive has collected “16,652 pints of blood” over its four-decade history.
Talk about superheroes. Want to give? Head for Grand Hall D at the Manchester Grand Hyatt.
Once you’ve given your pint, and you want to look for more ways to lend a hand, consider two off-site traditions that, while not affiliated officially with the convention, still keep ties to its cape-wearing themes and charitable heart.
The Heroes Brew Fest raises money each year for Warrior Foundation — Freedom Station. Yep, you can wear your costume, yep, you’ll drink nice beer, and yep, you’ll need to zoom through the clouds from the convention center, or at least catch a ride, to San Diego’s Waterfront Park on Saturday, July 23.
Earlier in the day the Helen Woodward Animal Center’s Pawmicon returns, though don’t head for Rancho Santa Fe, the home of the center. The “Cosplay for a Cause” — think furry pumpkins in their “Star Wars” and superhero best — is happening at the Hazard Center in the late morning.
(4) BLOOD OF PATRIOTS. There was also a Blood Drive at LibertyCon – Lou Antonelli says that’s where he met Jason Cordova, one of many first encounters mentioned in his con report.
(5) AUTO CRASH. I found Brad Templeton’s “Understanding the huge gulf between the Tesla Autopilot and a real robocar, in light of the crash” to be very helpful.
It’s not surprising there is huge debate about the fatal Tesla autopilot crash revealed to us last week. The big surprise to me is actually that Tesla and MobilEye stock seem entirely unaffected. For many years, one of the most common refrains I would hear in discussions about robocars was, “This is all great, but the first fatality and it’s all over.” I never believed it would all be over, but I didn’t think there would barely be a blip.
There’s been lots of blips in the press and online, of course, but most of it has had some pretty wrong assumptions. Tesla’s autopilot is a distant cousin of a real robocar, and that would explain why the fatality is no big deal for the field, but the press shows that people don’t know that.
Tesla’s autopilot is really a fancy cruise control. It combines several key features from the ADAS (Advance Driver Assist) world, such as adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping and forward collision avoidance, among others. All these features have been in cars for years, and they are also combined in similar products in other cars, both commercial offerings and demonstrated prototypes….
(6) JOE HILL’S DAD. Boston.com reports, “Library of Congress to recognize Stephen King for his lifelong work”.
Stephen King—Maine native, horror author, and hater of Fenway’s “protective netting”—will get a new title this fall: Library of Congress honoree.
King is set to open the main stage of the 2016 Library of Congress National Book Festival in Washington, D.C., where the Library will recognize the author for his lifelong work promoting literacy, according to a release.
Since his first published novel, Carrie, in 1974, King has written more than 50 novels and hundreds of short stories, according to his website.
The festival takes place Saturday, September 24. Authors Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shonda Rhimes, Bob Woodward, Raina Telgemeier, and Salman Rushdie will also appear on the main stage.
(7) JUNO SHOOTS THE MOONS. IFLScience has the story behind Juno’s first image of Jupiter and its moons from orbit.
This image, taken on July 10, proves that the camera has survived the pass through Jupiter’s intense radiation, meaning it can start taking stunning high-resolution shots in the next few weeks. The camera (called JunoCam) itself has no scientific purpose, but will be used to engage the public with images of the gas giant. You can even vote online for what it takes pictures of.
(8) FUNNY PAGES. A popular fantasy work is referenced in the July 13 Wizard of Id comic strip.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS
- Born July 13, 1940 — Patrick Stewart (age 76)
- Born July 13, 1942 — Harrison Ford (age 74)
(10) LIVING UNOFFENDED. Maggie Hogarth, SFWA VP, was moved by Cat Rambo’s post yesterday (“SFWA Is Not a Gelatinous Cube”) to make a point about personal growth. The comments are very good, too.
I wanted to call out specifically her comment about having been pleased to recruit me specifically because I’m a conservative writer. When she suggests that we work well together because of our sometimes opposing perspectives, I think she’s entirely correct. It’s not that we talk politics specifically (though unfortunately, sometimes our jobs as officers require us to)… it’s that our beliefs give us oblique approaches to things, and consulting each other helps us find our own weaknesses and blind spots.
This is not a new thing for me. I have always worked in arenas that are overwhelmingly colonized by people of opposing political viewpoints (hello, Art, Academia). The knowledge that I would have to find a way to work with people who believed stuff I found strange, wrong-headed, or toxic is so old by now that I don’t even think about it. But it’s interesting to me that the people who are in the majority in any arena often seem to be offended at the thought that they should have to deal with people who disagree with them. At the university, I have brought up lots of professors short who were upset that I didn’t think they were right. One of them even asked me what I was doing there, which was… frankly bizarre. (Broadening my mind, maybe? By grappling with ideas I don’t necessarily agree with?)
Here then is my takeaway from living as a political minority in the workplace all my life: unless you’re in a group devoted specifically to a political cause you agree with, you cannot expect to be protected from people who don’t share your beliefs. Inevitably someone will tell me that this is an invitation to abuse and cruelty, as if there can be no disagreement without extremism. Reject this false dichotomy. People who don’t share your beliefs aren’t all heartless criminals who long to see you hurt. They just… don’t agree with you.
(11) TAKING THE TEST. Rambo and Hogarth have also publicized their vocabulary quiz results.
(12) SCALZI BREAKS THE SPELL. Don’t expect John Scalzi to be posting a quiz score.
Friends posting results of an online test to show they have a huge vocabulary. But it's not how many words you know. It's how you use them.
— John Scalzi (@scalzi) July 13, 2016
Also, I suspect posting the results of an online test to show how smart/learned/nerdy you are is a test in itself, isn't it.
— John Scalzi (@scalzi) July 13, 2016
I mean, don't get me wrong, have fun with online tests. Just maybe don't use them to re-litigate your performance on the SAT.
— John Scalzi (@scalzi) July 13, 2016
No risk of my relitigating my SAT results. I can personally assure John you’ll never see me embarrassing myself by reporting results from an internet math quiz. I did just enough on the math side of the SAT to keep that from sandbagging what I did on the verbal side and get a California State Scholarship. (However, if someone knows a link to an online math quiz the rest of you might enjoy it….)
(13) TIMOTHY BREAKS THE QUIZ. Camestros Felapton published Timothy the Talking Cat’s score plus Timothy’s interpretation of all his test answers.
(14) MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE THESAURUS. If there’s anyone who should score high on a vocabulary test it’s John C. Wright – and he did.
My score was 30500, also in the top 0.01% Albeit there was one word I did not know, and guessed.
I am going to the dictionary to look it up, and then I am going to use it three times correctly within the next 24 hours.
I was once told that is the way to accumulate a large and handsome vocabulary.
(15) COMICS HUGO. Nicholas Whyte has posted “My Hugo and #RetroHugos1941 votes: Best Graphic Story”.
It’s really striking that two years ago, it was impossible to find enough comics from 1938 to populate the Retro Hugo category – we gave a Special Committee Award to Superman instead – but this year there is a wealth of 1940 material to choose from. Having said that, there’s not in fact a lot of variety; with one exception, the 1941 Retro Hugo finalists are origin stories of costumed crime-fighters
(16) TASTE TEST. Joe Sherry continues his series at Nerds of a Feather, “Reading the Hugos: Novella”.
Today we continue with our Hugo Award coverage with a look at the Novella category. There are not many categories on this year’s ballot which lines up so well with my nomination ballot, but this is one of them. Of the five nominees, I nominated three of them: Binti, The Builders, and Slow Bullets. Naturally, I am happy that the three of them made the cut. If I had the power to add just one more story to this category, I would have loved to have seen Matt Wallace’s wonderful Envy of Angels make the list. That was a fantastic story and everyone should read it. Since people tend not to fully agree with my taste in fiction, let’s take a look at what is actually on the final ballot.
(17) FROM THERE WILL BE WAR. Lisa Goldstein reviews “Novelette: ‘What Price Humanity?’”, a Hugo-nominee, at inferior4+1.
And here we are at the third story from There Will Be War, “What Price Humanity?” by David VanDyke. It’s the best of the three, though unfortunately that’s pretty faint praise. An infodump at the beginning tells us that aliens called Meme (Meme? Really?) are attacking from the outer Solar System, and that when the Meme’s reinforcements come, every decade or so, EarthFleet suffers catastrophic losses. Captain Vango Markis wakes up in Virtual Reality, having suffered what he thinks is a bad hit, and meets other officers he’s served with, some of whom he remembers as having died. They find flight simulators, and go on practice runs.
(18) LEVINE HIP-HOPS FOR ARABELLA OF MARS. Science fiction writer David D. Levine performs a hip-hop theme song, based on the opening number of “Hamilton,” for his Regency Interplanetary Airship Adventure novel “Arabella of Mars.”
…Every day she was learning posture and Latin
But every night she and her brother would batten
Down the hatches, hit the desert, going trackin’ and whackin’
Her brother backtrackin’, their Martian nanny was clackin’…
The rest of the lyrics are under “Show More” here. Arabella of Mars was released by Tor on July 12.
Arabella Ashby is a Patrick O’Brian girl in a Jane Austen world — born and raised on Mars, she was hauled back home by her mother, where she’s stifled by England’s gravity, climate, and attitudes toward women. When she learns that her evil cousin plans to kill her brother and inherit the family fortune, she joins the crew of an interplanetary clipper ship in order to beat him to Mars. But privateers, mutiny, and insurrection stand in her way. Will she arrive in time?
(19) FUTURE PLAY. On her Dive into Worldbuilding hangout, “Games”, Juliette Wade discussed games as a feature of worldbuilding.
Power struggle is one of the big things that games can symbolize. Chess has sometimes been used in science fiction as a form of communication between races. It can reflect or change a power dynamic.
Games are also powerful in folk tales, such as when you play a game with the devil, the fae, or Death.
Games can be critical as a symbolic representation of a larger conflict. If you can engage in single combat instead having whole armies clash, why not do it? If you can play a game and agree on the stakes, might you save many lives?
Games and the ways in which they are played reflect the world around them. If you are playing a game with plastic dice, it’s not the same as playing a game with pig knucklebones. Where do the knucklebones come from? Knucklebones, the word itself, makes the game of dice sound exotic and like it comes from a particular period. There are many games of chance or rune-reading. We noted that people have found real twenty-sided stone dice from the Roman period.
(20) TODAY’S UN-FACT-CHECKED TRIVIA
Four Pokémon have palindromic names: Girafarig, Eevee, Ho-oh and Alomomola.
(21) ROUNDUP. In a Washington Post article, Hayley Tsukuyama and Ben Guarino do a Pokemon Go roundup, including that Nintendo’s shares have risen by 38 percent in two days and how police in Riverton, Wyoming say that four men lured victims to a remote spot in the Wind River by promising an elusive Pokemon avatar.
On their screens, players of the viral mobile game “Pokémon Go” are seeing these creatures pop into existence alongside real-world physical objects. The mole-like Diglett peeks out of a toilet. A flaming demon Shetland called Ponyta gallops across the National Mall. A ostrich-like Doduo appears on top of the hold button of an office phone.
Capturing these little monsters isn’t just good for players. In just a few days since its July 6 launch, the game has become a national sensation, nearly overtaking Twitter in daily active users. It currently ranks as the most profitable game on Google and Apple’s app stores. On Monday, Nintendo’s stock jumped 25 percent. On Tuesday, it rose another 13 percent…..
Its makers also have made the game highly shareable. The delight of seeing a little monster pop up on the sidewalk in front of your home, or, in one case, on the bed of your wife while she’s in labor — has been social media gold for players.
The game is perhaps the first real success story of the use of augmented reality technology, which blends the digital and real world together. The combined effect is part bird-watching, part geocaching, part trophy-hunting, with a heavy dose of mid-1990s nostalgia.
(21) POKEMON SNARK. In a humor piece another Washington Post writer, Caitlin Dewey, says she told her fiance to stop playing Pokemon while he is wandering in the supermarket and driving.
This is all well and good, of course, but the hype glosses over something that gives me pause: With an app such as Pokémon Go, we’ve essentially gamified such basic pursuits as going outside, talking to strangers and visiting national monuments. These are activities we’ve long undertaken on their own merits. But everything must be digitally augmented now; no value is inherent.
The same could be said of the sorts of “engagement” trumpeted by the makers of Pokémon Go. If you’ve ventured to a local PokéStop, you know that — counter the pitch — most players aren’t making friends or appreciating the vista anew: They’re squinting into their screens, ignoring each other, hoping to sight that rare Pikachu.
(22) VIP BREW. Time to tap those kegs (or whatever they make it in) — “Drew Curtis/Wil Wheaton/Greg Koch Stone Farking Wheaton w00tstout 2016 Release”.
Drew Curtis, Fark.com Creator & Patent Troll Killer
Wil Wheaton, Actor & Web Celeb
Greg Koch, CEO & Co-founder, Stone Brewing
This barrel-aged palate-saver has been a favorite among our fans—and us—since its inception in 2013. Pecans, wheat, flaked rye and bourbon-soaked wood provide this whopping, complex superhero version of an imperial stout with a profound complexity that makes it ideal for cellaring—if you can wait that long. Now, we can’t say this beer bestows jedi powers, exactly, but your taste buds may just be fooled into believing as much….
A famed illustrator celebrated for her characters Vampirella, Power Girl, Silk Spectre and Harley Quinn and comics “Gatecrasher” and “Gargoyles,” Amanda Conner embraced the term “Stone’s bearded leader” for this year’s bottle art design. She transformed the three collaborators into unique renditions of “Star Wars” characters, with Koch playing the woolly role of everyone’s favorite wookiee.
At 13 percent alcohol by volume and with the highest concentration of midi-chlorians seen in a beer, the Stone Farking Wheaton w00tstout may be enjoyed fresh, or cellared for several months or years to give way for the deliciously rich flavors to mature and develop more prevalent dark cocoa, coffee and nut notes.
The brew will be a centerpiece of the celebration at Hopcon 4.0 on July 20 in San Diego, where Paul and Storm will be among the many guests.
Our annual celebration of nth-degree beer geekery is back for a fourth round, and this time all 66,000 square feet are dedicated to the convergence of geek culture and beer culture. More retro arcade games, more casks and more bars add up to a release party large enough to match the formidable Stone Farking Wheaton w00tstout.
[Thanks to Cat Rambo, Lisa Goldstein, Martin Morse Wooster, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Red Wombat.]