Pixel Scroll 6/25/17 One Click, My Bonny Pixel, I’m After A Scroll Tonight

(1) MORE, PLEASE. Here’s a provocative (in a good way) question:

(2) NOMINEE REVIEWING. Marco Zennaro is making progress in his Hugo reading, adding reviews as he goes along. Here’s the latest addition to “The Hugo Awards 2017 Finalists: Best Novels”.

Death’s End by Cixin Liu Death’s End is the conclusion of the Remembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy by world acclaimed author Liu Cixin. The first installment of the series won the prestigious Hugo Award for best novel.

I finished reading the story a couple of days ago, but it is still stuck in my head. More I think about it, more I come to realize how adroitly woven it is. All the elements, themes, concepts from the three books fit together perfectly at the end, giving birth to a logically self-consistent, scientifically sound (and deeply terrifying) cosmology.

I also like how this third book manages to color what would have been an otherwise plot-driven hard sci-fi book, with very human, emotional, moments. Cheng Xin ethical struggles, and Yun Tianming love are some of the best elements of the story.

The story begins during the fall of Constantinople, and then moves backs to the event of the previous novels: after the Doomsday Battle, the uneasy balance of Dark Forest Deterrence keeps the Trisolaran invaders at bay. Earth enjoys unprecedented prosperity due to the infusion of Trisolaran knowledge. With human science advancing daily and the Trisolarans adopting Earth culture, it seems that the two civilizations will soon be able to coexist peacefully as equals without the terrible threat of mutually assured annihilation. But the peace has also made humanity complacent…

Hugo worthy? Yes! It was one of the books I nominated.

Was it part of a slate? No

Zennaro has also written about the nominated Novellas, Novelettes, and Short Stories.

(3) COMPELLED. In a review for Strange Horizons, Alexandra Pierce works hard to explain the complex world of Jo Walton’s novel Necessity.

On the philosophical side, the interactions of Apollo and Hermes demonstrate how gods are themselves constrained by higher powers: both by Zeus, father of all the gods, and Necessity. As the title suggests, the compulsion of Necessity is an important aspect of the novel. It’s a force that not even gods can avoid, and it can even be used to avoid the potentially damaging aspects of time travel, of getting stuck in difficult situations: if Necessity says you must do something later in your timeline, you can’t be stuck somewhere else. Complementing this is a strong focus on the free choices of humans to undertake either stupid or worthy actions, in politics and personal relationships and everything else—and the contention that this is a noble part of the human condition.

(4) BRONZE PLATE SPECIAL. The other day I Scrolled about the “Dendra panoply, the oldest body Armour from the Mycenaean era” – never suspecting my friend, archeologist Louise Hitchcock, has personally worn a replica.

After you’ve looked at the picture, check out Minoan Architecture and Urbanism: New Perspectives on an Ancient Built Environment edited by Quentin Letesson and Carl Knappett, which includes the co-authored article “Lost in Translation: Settlement Organization in Postpalatial Crete – A View from the East” by Louise A. Hitchcock and Aren M. Maier. The book is available for pre-order, with a release date of September 23.

(5) IMMORTAL CATS. No one can forget them once she’s told their story — “Mog author Judith Kerr, 94, to publish new book Katinka’s Tail”.

Almost 50 years after the appearance of one of the most famous felines in children’s books, Mog creator Judith Kerr is to publish a book inspired by her latest pet cat, Katinka. The much-loved author and illustrator, who celebrated her 94th birthday last week, is to publish Katinka’s Tail in the autumn.

The story of a “perfectly ordinary cat with a not-so-ordinary tail” was inspired by Kerr’s observations of her cat, the ninth in an inspirational line. “She is a ridiculous-looking white cat with a tabby tail that looks as though it belonged to somebody else,” she said. It was watching the “bizarre” behaviour of her first family pet, Mog – which included licking her sleeping daughter’s hair – that inspired the eponymous stories beloved by generations of children.

(6) BIGGER ON THE OUTSIDE. The Last Knight, an unimpressive number one at U.S. box offices this weekend, did better overseas — “No. 1 ‘Transformers’ hits new low with $69-million domestic debut, but is saved by global box office “.

“Transformers: The Last Knight,” the fifth installment in the blockbuster franchise from Michael Bay, may have topped the weekend, but all the robot-smashing has gotten a bit rusty at the box office.

The Paramount film, which opened Wednesday, took in $45 million in the U.S. and Canada over the weekend, placing it in the No. 1 spot ahead of returning titles “Cars 3” and “Wonder Woman.” When factored into its five-day debut, “The Last Knight” grossed a franchise low of $69 million.

….The latest installment, which stars Mark Wahlberg and Anthony Hopkins and features a new mythology involving King Arthur and Stonehenge, cost $217 million to make. And however squeaky “The Last Knight’s” debut may have been domestically, the film took in an Optimus Prime-sized number overseas. It earned $196 million from its first 40 markets — with $123 million of that haul coming from China.

(7) TRIVIAL TRIVIA

“I’m Batman.”

Anyway, he was – Olan Soule (1909-1994).

Soule’s voice work on television included his 15-year role (1968-1983) as Batman on several animated series that were either devoted to or involved the fictional “Dark Knight” superhero

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • June 25, 1953 Robot Monster began stalking movie theatres.
  • June 25, 1982 The Omen arrives to terrify movie audiences.
  • June 25, 1982 Blade Runner was shown on some theater screens.
  • June 25, 1982 – Meanwhile, other screens played John Carpenter’s remake of The Thing.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY DYSTOPIAN

(10) LINE DIRECTOR. While being interviewed about his new assignment directing the Han Solo movie, Ron Howard reminisced that right after he and his wife saw Star Wars they loved it so much they got right back in line and waited to see it again.

As news of the 1977 film Star Wars began to unfold, Howard said he became “so curious.” He and his wife went to see it on the first day of release and were “so moved by the movie. It was all the things you dream you’re going to experience in the movies.”

Although they had stood in line for two hours to see it, when Howard and Cheryl came out, they threw each other a look and decided to see it again immediately — standing in line for another 90 minutes.

Which made me wonder — how did Ron Howard not see this movie at a free pre-release screening? After all, I did — along with many other LASFSians.

(11) WHY IT HAPPENED. Carl Slaughter recommends, “For those in shock or scratching their heads over the Han Solo project shakeup, Mr. Sunday Movie offers an explanation that seems to make sense.”

(12) EQUIVALENCIES. Jesse Hudson makes clear there are some usages of alternate history that have worn on him, in his “Review of Bring the Jubilee by Ward Moore” at Speculiction.

Its Jonbar point the American Civil War, Bring the Jubilee looks into the idea ‘what if the South won’?  The story of Hodge Backmaker, son of a poor farmer in what’s left of the United States of America (essentially the Union), the young man breaks free of his rural home at an early age and heads to New York City—an impoverished metro compared to the grand, lavish cities of the Confederate States of America.  Getting lucky and finding work with a book printer, Hodge spends the next few years of his life learning the trade.  And he learns much more.  The book printer’s essentially a front, namely that of printing propaganda and counterfeiting money, Hodge learns of ongoing secret operations to build a Grand Army and restore the United States to its former glory.

While many readers might expect such an early effort of alternate history to go the black and white route of vilifying the South by portraying them as tyrannical victors while glorifying the North as honorable victims, instead, the South is not portrayed as a slave-loving region which stamps the poor further into the ground, rather simply an economically and politically aggressive government bent on empire.  In other words, Moore spins the tables… to look something like the North.  This is all a convoluted manner of saying Bring the Jubilee is more interested in finding common ground between reality and the alternate reality, than it is putting the 8 millionth nail in the coffin of ‘slavery is bad’.

(13) EUROCON REPORT. Alqua shares the many highlights of “Eurocon 2017 (U-con) in Dortmund” at Fandom Rover.

The evening concert on Friday was called A night to remember. I was a little bit sceptical if it would be really a night I will remember for long, but I was wrong. There were few artists presenting their pieces. We were able to hear people playing guitar and theremin, reciting poetry or “interpreting alien poetry”. But the best pieces of this evening were songs played by Dimitra Fleissner on her harp and the ATS show by Gata. Music and dance were quite different but they both left me astonished and I will be looking forward for another possibility to see one of these artists performing.

(14) DISSENTING VOICE. Brad R. Torgersen deems “cultural appropriation” of no concern in his Mad Genius Club post titled: “If you’re not appropriating culture, you’re not paying attention”.

Clearly, nobody owns culture. So why do we worry about appropriating it?

(Cough, when I say “we,” I mean American progressives and Social Justice Zealots who clearly have too much time on their hands, cough.)

My take: If you’re a science fiction or fantasy writer, you have more to say on this topic than anyone. Because you’re extrapolating futures, presents, and pasts. Alternative histories. Possible horizons. The “What if?” that makes SF/F so much fun in the first place. There are no rules which you aren’t automatically authorized to break. The entire cosmos is your paint box. Nobody can tell you you’re doing it wrong.

Are we really going to be dumb enough to pretend that SF/F authors of demographics X, Y, or Z, cannot postulate “What if?” for demographics A, B, and C?

We’re not even talking about homework — which is a good idea, simply because some of your best syntheses will occur when you take Chocolate Culture and Peanut Butter Culture — kitbash them together — and come up with the inhabitants of a frontier planet for your thousand-year-future interstellar empire.

We’re talking about authors voluntarily yoking their creative spirits to somebody else’s pet political and cultural hobbyhorses. A game of rhetorical, “Mother, may I?”

(15) WEIRD TECH. Labeling produce with lasers instead of paper: “M&S says labelling avocados with lasers is more sustainable”.

M&S will sell avocados bearing what look like pale tattoos, showing a best-before date and origin.

Peeling away the traditional labelling will save 10 tonnes of paper and five tonnes of glue a year, says M&S.

More of its fruit and vegetables may be laser-branded in future, the retailer says.

“The laser just takes off one layer of skin and instead of inking it or burning it, the skin retracts and leaves a mark,” says Charlie Curtis, senior produce agronomist at Marks and Spencer.

“What we’re putting onto the fruit is country of origin, best before date and there’s a short code so you can put it through quickly at the [checkout] till.”

(16) JUST WEIRD. The new Canadian Toonie glows in the dark.

Canadians may now have a slight advantage when it comes to digging for lost change in sofa cushions and car seats; the Royal Canadian Mint has unveiled what it described as the world’s first glow-in-the-dark coin in circulation.

The specially designed two-dollar coin, or toonie, as it’s known in Canada, features two people paddling in a canoe as the northern lights – vivid in green and blue – dance high above them. When the coin is put in the dark, the aurora borealis glows softly, thanks to a new ink formulation that contains luminescent material.

The coin, part of a collection created to mark the 150th anniversary of Canada’s confederation, also ranks as the world’s first coloured bimetallic coin, said a mint spokesperson. “Only the core of the $2 coin is coloured and the glow effect makes the aurora borealis part of the design look lifelike,” said Alex Reeves.

(17) UNABOMBER INVESTIGATION. Polygon’s article “The FBI kept a list of D&D players as part of its hunt for the Unabomber”.

It appears that in 1995 the FBI made a sincere effort to investigate a group of D&D players. It suspected them of having a connection with the Unabomber, a terrorist named Theodore Kaczynski who spent the better part of two decades mailing people explosives.

Step one was to dig back into the past of TSR and the role-playing hobby as a whole. In so doing, the FBI put together a pretty decent three-page history, if I do say so myself. It also came up with a list of armed and dangerous individuals who were “known members of the Dungeons & Dragons” that it pulled from TSR’s own computer system.

David Klaus sent the link along with his comments:

The fishing expedition into TSR as a cocaine front would appear to be sparked by cultural bigotry.  Unable to find real crime, to justify his existence, local FBI agent investigates legitimate business run by “weirdos” playing a game Pat Robertson says is Satanic.  (This would be in keeping with the Secret Service act of stupidity against Steve Jackson Games at about the same time.) Again, having no evidence of crime, just prejudiced opinion, the personal histories of all corporate officers are gathered, civil rights being violated, the company computers are invaded and lists of game purchasers are kept on file. And that Gary Gygax!  He answers his mail!  He ‘s a Libertarian Party member!  He had a difficult divorce!  He’s eccentric!  Somebody whose credibility can’t be judged says he’s “frightening”! His business makes money!  He spends his own money as he pleases!  The file included allegations he breaks drug and gun laws.  (If there were evidence, why didn’t they make an arrest?  Perhaps because there wasn’t?) We’re incompetent to find the Unabomber, and this guy uses a computer.  It might be him, yeah, that’s the ticket! Let’s drop some hints among his friends and watch them get paranoid about each other!  Since we couldn’t find evidence, let’s see if one of them will manufacture some out of fear!  Scare ’em enough, and they’ll say anything. These Flatfeet Keystone Cops are supposed to protect us from foreign terrorism.  Right.

(19) THE WAKING LAND. Strange Horizons reviewer Mark Granger finds much to like in The Waking Land by Callie Bates.

Callie Bates’s strength lies in how quickly and succinctly she lays down the plot without making it complicated, a great feat when you consider the story is told in the first person; Elanna’s view point restricts us to what she is seeing and hearing, but never distracts from the bigger picture—and Bates manages to cleverly insert plot points along the way without them appearing to be shoe-horned in. I was immediately sympathetic to Elanna’s plight, her confused and conflicted state: the fact that everything she has been taught—from history to basic morals—is falling down around her makes her someone you want to side with. In a lesser writer’s hands Elanna’s character could have easily become whiny, but Bates makes her a strong, opinionated woman, yet one who is forced to have her mind opened to something beyond herself.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, David K.M. Klaus, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Paul Weimer, Chip Hitchcock, and Louise Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Stoic Cynic.]

144 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 6/25/17 One Click, My Bonny Pixel, I’m After A Scroll Tonight

  1. @Mike Charming fellow.

    In a bad bout of insomnia and illness while on my trip to the antipodes, I profusely apologized to him on twitter for all the wrongs he thinks I inflicted on him back to defending Natalie Luhrs.
    …it’s gotten him to stop pestering me on twitter since, but your experience makes me wonder if I made the right choice.

  2. Paul,
    You are sometimes too nice for your own good.

    (If there were more people like you, the world would be a better place)

  3. @Soon Lee. Funny, you are not the first person to think so. I’m getting to the middle of wondering if people like you might not have a point…

  4. Paul Weimer: I think you needed to protect your health and stop the harassment.

    Anyway, isn’t this another example of the Xanatos gambit — JDA is in a position to make publicity out of literally everything people say about him, the only difference being what audience he’s playing to at a particular moment. But I’m not inviting him in to resume harassing people here.

  5. Joke’s on Jonny-boy. He hasn’t realized it doesn’t take 4chan to take down File 770 — we’ve had outages before thanks to Mike’s website host/internet provider!

    Nevertheless, attempts to sic 4chan on anyone for any reason should be a banning offense everywhere. Okay, if 4chan wants to take on ISIS/L, I’m good with that. Go to it, boys.

    Jonny should be proud! He’s now in some illustrious company of his people/market. It’s a badge of honor amongst Puppy affiliates. I think he got banned faster than Teddy! Now he can go be all martyred in his self-promotion. It might get him another 4 sales.

    @Paul: You gotta do what you gotta do. Even if you are too nice.

  6. 1) Maybe not a sequel exactly, but I’d love to see S.M. Stirling write another book set in the universe of The Peshawar Lancers. It just seems a shame to have all that lovely worldbuilding not being used. And then of course, there’s always the long-awaited The Door Into Starlight. Also, I’d enjoy seeing more Lord Darcy pastiches from Michael Kurland — he did a really good job getting the tone of the stories right.

    5) That description sounds like our Spot. We’ve always joked that “her tail iz pastede on yey!”

    14) when you take Chocolate Culture and Peanut Butter Culture — kitbash them together

    Am I the only one to notice the irony of his choice of metaphor, when one of the common microaggressions encountered by PoC is to have their skin tone described in terms of food? OTOH, it’s BT, so there’s a significant chance he did it on purpose…

    17) They investigated the SCA too, at about the same time. Apparently a bureaucratic structure that borrowed its jargon from the feudal era, combined with all those Sharp Pointy Things, made them nervous.

    @ Steve W: I think The Goblin Emperor is another one that would need another book set in the same universe rather than a direct sequel. OTOH, there’s a really good fanfic dealing with an established Maia considering a trade agreement which would stop the trafficking of lion-girls, and that would be fascinating to explore further. (Also, my head-canon is now based on a throwaway bit from that story in which the name derives from their African-style hair having a fanciful resemblance to a lion’s mane.)

  7. @Ghostbird: interesting link, and I think I largely agree with the points he makes, but I’ve only had time to skim it this morning.

  8. @Hampus / @kathodus: what do you see as needing addition to Fevre Dream? I remember it as a complete story with no sequel hooks, even if the epilogue was decades later.

  9. Ryan Jones: I was worried that the same thing was about to happen here- regardless of Larry’s poor conduct, and the unfortunate continuation of ill feeling, it’s still bad news to hear of his fathers’ death, and if such news were getting blocked… that would influence my feelings quite a lot. (They were not getting blocked, I’m just explaining why I got impatient, which was foolish of me)

    I don’t know why you would post on a blog for the first time and expect it to be automatically approved; most WordPress blogs are set to moderate the first comment(s) by a new poster until they have been reviewed and approved. Surely this isn’t the first time you’ve encountered that?

    Since you’re new here (at least at commenting), unlike Correia’s, Torgersen’s, Hoyt’s, Mad Genius Club’s, and other Puppy blogs, dissenting opinions are not deleted here. Nor are most links, except those to the most egregious of material.

    Highly-offensive posts will get moderated. And when I say “highly offensive”, I mean that posts have to be really, really offensive for Mike to delete them. In fact, I think that Mike is far too tolerant of trolls here, and way too slow and sparing about block them. But it’s his blog, and he’s a much kinder and more forgiving person than I am.

    I hope you’ll stick around and join the conversations. But start saving your money; the book recommendations here are likely to kill your budget. 🙂

  10. (14) Isn’t one of the major complaints about cultural appropriation not so much that a (white dude) is doing it, as when it’s usually done, the (white dude) doesn’t understand the culture in the first place, and gets it wrong? Kind of like someone who has never studied physics in their life, much less quantum mechanics, reading an article in Scientific American on string theory, misunderstanding key concepts, and then writing a hard SF story where major plot points rely on physics that’s wrong at all levels, so anyone who actually knows any physics just wants to through the book across the room.

  11. I understand moderation, but I’d just spent a week trying to comment on a Puppy blog, and was predisposed to see similar things elsewhere. I’m relieved that that was not the case here, though. I’m kind of disgusted that they were limiting their commenters to ‘yes men’.

    I’ve been following the Puppy debate as a lurker for some time now, and have found the coverage here invaluable (though it does appear that some of the folks involved in the debate do take exception to having their actual words repeated)

  12. …it’s gotten him to stop pestering me on twitter since, but your experience makes me wonder if I made the right choice.

    You’re always too nice to do this, but the block button is your friend. It is not a moral failing on your part to block someone who is being a harassing ass. For that matter, it is not a moral failing on your part to block anyone on social media for any reason.

    I blocked del Arroz almost as soon as he came onto my radar. I figured out right from the start that he offered nothing of value to any conversation, and was only going to be an annoyance.

  13. @Jonathan Edelstein: “The final book in the Alvin Maker series.”

    Ooh, you’ve put me in a quandry. For one thing, I feel like this is one series where Card didn’t quite go on too long, so I’m nervous a concluding volume would be the inevitable disappointment. For another, Alvin’s an idiot 😉 and yes, we can see what will happen; so I feel like it won’t really be possible to do it well. On the third paw, Card is an evil S.O.B., so I’m not sure I want to buy another book of his (okay, I could buy it used). But yeah, part of me thinks “yes please one more volume to finish things off!” 😉

    @Cat Rambo: Gah, how did I forget The Architect of Sleep?! My impression over the years was just that it wasn’t in him or he just wasn’t into it. I’m bummed to consider that it could possibly be a reaction (jerk or frustrated or whatever) to fans who were jerks, so I’ll stick with my impression that he simply got stuck and couldn’t get back into it or something.

    @P J Evans: “She is, actually, working on it.” Interesting. I’m sure it’s tough to go back to something after so long (though I seem to recall she said at one point she already had it plotted out in her head), so I won’t hold my breath, but I will cross my fingers. 😉 And I’ll still list it when discussions like this come up.

    @Kaboobie: My other half is or was a fan of J.V. Jones’s work; thanks for the heads up that she’s writing again. Yay!

    @Nancy Sauer: Thanks for linking to that Justice League artwork; pretty cool.

    @Various: I’d snap up another book in world of The Goblin Emperor.

  14. I saw the clip from Mr. Sunday Movie at the end of the work day and I thought it was a fun piece of light entertainment that reminds me of how much fun Australians can be when they’re enthusiastic about things. I’d like to know if his comment that Tony Gilroy was paid $5 million to reshoot a lot of ROGUE ONE is true, informed speculation, or not true.

  15. Ryan Jones: I’m relieved that that was not the case here, though. I’m kind of disgusted that they were limiting their commenters to ‘yes men’.

    Many of the commenters here share various ethical, cultural, and political values, in various permutations — but a day where there are no disagreements here is a rare day indeed.

    If Mike blocked dissenting comments here, the threads would be empty. 😉

  16. Lee on June 26, 2017 at 7:57 pm said:

    Also, I’d enjoy seeing more Lord Darcy pastiches from Michael Kurland — he did a really good job getting the tone of the stories right.

    If you like those, you might want to check out his Prof. Moriarty novels (which, by a coincidence, I happen to be in the middle of right now). They have a similar flavor, and, while they’re a little darker, it’s not over-the-top.

    As for my choice: I’ve mostly been looking at standalones, since it seems a bit like cheating to say “I want book seven of this six-part series”. I think I’ve got it narrowed down to Goblin Emperor, Scalzi’s The Android’s Dream, and…something by Walter Jon Williams. Probably Angel Station, which reminds me a lot of early Delany–and I love early Delany.

  17. I’m another who would like to see more of the world of The Goblin Emperor, whether or not it’s a sequel.

    Of the Rice doesn’t seem to get it that we know already that he’s a lying jerk; smiling at us while he lies some more isn’t going to help.

  18. Clip Hitchcock:

    “@Hampus / @kathodus: what do you see as needing addition to Fevre Dream? I remember it as a complete story with no sequel hooks, even if the epilogue was decades later.”

    What I do know is that GRRM has hinted at a sequel before. I want to read that sequel.

  19. Re. Achilles heel – there is a possible link – Mycenaeans wore metal greaves guarding the shins, but the backs of the legs were unprotected… so the fatal arrow is plausible (not that there’s any actual proof the Siege of Troy ever happened, as such – although conflict between the Achaeans and the Trojan state over trading rights through the Dardanelles to the Black Sea and/or expansion of the Hittite empire to take over / control the region of Troy seems not at all unlikely…). Truth in jest.

  20. @lurkertype

    The answer was, barely. They had to remove the highest communications mast and sneak it out at low tide, which happened to be about midnight which didn’t do much for taking pictures. Amazing the number of people that went down to North Queensferry for it though. It’s a fairly small village and not built for the number of cars trying to find somewhere to park near the pier. And it was quite a sight even in the dark.

    This is the biggest warship to have been built in the UK, even though she’s about 2/3 the size of a USN carrier.

    I took a number of shots handheld and will look at them tonight when I get home see if any are worth putting up on Flickr.

    ETA: BBC has pics: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-edinburgh-east-fife-40402153

  21. @Ryan Jones:

    I’ve been following the Puppy debate as a lurker for some time now, and have found the coverage here invaluable (though it does appear that some of the folks involved in the debate do take exception to having their actual words repeated)

    AFAICT, that’s true only of Puppies and their fellow-travelers — at least, when the words are unedited and not out of context.

    @Hampus: interesting quote from GRRM; I wonder whether that was an idle remark or he has some plot in mind. It could be interesting, or it could be a dud; maybe we’ll see.

  22. This shot isn’t bad. Could have done with a bit more depth of field but I kind of like the slightly impressionistic look it gives the Forth Bridge.

    Too many people around me to get the tripod set up alas, need to get a monopod sometime.

  23. @Ianp For no tripod, its a fine shot.

    I’ve tried monopods but found they aren’t for me. I did like my gorillapod on my antipodean trip to get some longer exposures for waterfalls. (pictures available soon for sale with the DUFF report!)

  24. Too many people around me to get the tripod set up alas, need to get a monopod sometime.
    I’ve heard of people putting a large washer on one end of a cable or piece of string, and fastening the other to an eyebolt that will fit the tripod-mount socket in the camera. It’s supposed to work pretty well: you step on the washer, and hold the camera so the cable/string is taut.

  25. @P J Evans

    I’ve seen that idea somewhere too, have to give it a try sometime.

  26. @IanP: that’s an impressive shot — I can even see the comms mast that had to be leaned out of the way. Are the blue bands low on the hull some sort of running lights, or a reflection, or how tugboats are lit these days?

  27. @Ian P
    That’s a good shot.

    The Meyer shipyard has similar problems, when the giant cruise liners they builds leave dock and travel along the river Ems to the North Sea. There are no bridges to worry about here, but the river Ems is fairly narrow and shallow and the shipyard is 36 kilometers inland. They have to wait until high tide before transferring a cruise liner, plus the Ems barrier (which is another bottlebeck) has to be closed to raise the water level even higher. Cruise liner transshipments are a really impressive sight, though.

    Here are a few photos (not mine, I haven’t managed to catch a transshipment on camera yet):
    Cruise liner towering over farmhouses.
    Cruise liner with tug boat on the river Ems
    The highway tunnel at Leer with a cruise liner passing overhead.

  28. @Owen Whiteoak: If you read the Iliad, it’s quite clear there that Achilles doesn’t have any sort of special invulnerability, with only the heel a weak point. He loses his armor, and has to stay out of the battle until he gets a new set.

    Now, the new set is forged by a god, and several times the narrative calls out that it has blocked blows that would have penetrated ordinary armor.

    Now, legend tells also of a giant made of bronze, with blood of molten copper or some sort of ichor, who guarded the island of Crete. And who had just one vein, with a stopper in the heel; and when that stopper was dislodged, the copper ran out and the giant ceased movement.

    I have no proof, but I am convinced that someone at some point conflated Achilles’ god-forged armor with the immunity to normal attacks enjoyed by the giant Talos.

  29. @Chip Hitchcock

    I think the blue is internal lighting, you can see reflections on the water from it. I suspect it should be more white and the white balance is a little off. Though with the orange sodium lighting on the red bridge I don’t blame the camera for that. I’ll maybe try tweaking it in lightroom but I quite like the effect.

    @Cora

    The middle one looks like like it should be captioned “Last time I use TomTom”

  30. @David
    I’m not so sure. The first time I heard the myth, there was a whole “dip in the river Styx to get invulnerability, and the heel, the place where baby A was held, being the weak spot” I understand there was also a “burn the mortality away” version. So I think this is the classic “multiple greek mythological versions” situation, and the invulnerable skin versions are the ones that became dominant.

  31. Always felt like Achilles’ invulnerability was unfair. Sure, he’s brave! You’d be brave too if some god had given you a “get through any combat alive” card. Of course, we see that he didn’t read the warranty card carefully, and paid the price, but still, the “cowardly prince” who brought him down was taking a lot more of a chance than the guy he defeated.

  32. @KIP
    Since Warranty is my dayjob, your characterization of a non warrantable failure amuses me muchly 🙂

    And I’ve always had more sympathy for the Trojans than the Greeks.

  33. Paul Weimer
    The Trojan thing was a Pyrrhic victory for the Greeks. Word of Achilles’ vulnerability got out, and sales of their line of “Achilles” condoms went flat practically overnight. This had never happened to them before!

  34. A Meredith moment: Ward Moore’s Bring the Jubilee ebook from Open Road Media is on sale today for $2.99.

  35. Kip W: So is that why they called it the Trojan Horse, instead of the Greek Horse, because nobody was interested in what was inside?

  36. @IanP — a question: since tides happen twice a day, why did they choose the additional difficulty of going out at night? Are tides around Forth asymmetric, or were the authorities concerned about the sight stopping traffic (e.g. on the bridge)? cf the Boeing jumbo-jet assembly plant, which has to taxi ~finished planes across a highway to get to the runway — we were told in a tour that this is always done at ~3am to minimize the chance of gawkers causing traffic problems.

    @Cora: OTOH, from your last link I guess German drivers are more phlegmatic. The first two are indeed incredible; I’ve never seen something that size surrounded by land but so exposed (no tall buildings, no hills).

    @KipW, @OGH: aauugghh!

  37. Tide heights tend to vary and I guess they chose the highest predicted tide, which just happened to be the one at night. For the cruise liner transfers, they always wait for the tide to reach a certain level and then close the Ems barrier to dam it up even further. Gawkers aren’t much of a factor, since you always get gawkers, even if you do it in the middle of the night.

    Regarding the photos, East Friesia is extremely flat and also not very densely populated. The 36 kilometers to the sea mainly run through agricultural land and past two small towns. The Meyer shipyard is the biggest employer in the region (along with the Bünting tea company), which is why they get to dam up the river on their say so at all.

    Regarding the highway, half of those drivers are probably Dutch, since Leer is about twenty kilometres from the Dutch German borders. And locals, both Dutch and German, are probably used to seeing ships pass by overhead when driving through the tunnel, though ones that big are rare.

    One of the taxiways of Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport crosses a highway BTW. It’s a cool sight, whether you’re in a car and see a plane taxiing past overhead or whether you’re in a plane and see the cars passing by below. Here’s a video.

    Though it’s annoying, when you’re on a tight schedule and have a connecting flight and get the runway with the fifteen minute taxiing time.

  38. Actually they took her under the bridges at low tide (though not quite the lowest according to the tide chart) and even then there was only a couple of feet of clearance at the lowest point. They’d spent most of the afternoon getting her out of the dock, apparently at the narrowest point of the access into the river there was only a foot either side and only about two under her keel.

    They closed the foot paths on the road bridge while she made the transit so I guess the lighter traffic on the bridge at that time of day may have been an influence too. It’s a suspension bridge and does sag a bit when there’s a lot of traffic on it.

    ETA: They only sailed out to a bay further up the Fife coast at Kirkcaldy then anchored up for the night and spent most of yesterday doing final checks before going out for sea trials.

  39. IanP on June 28, 2017 at 2:06 pm said:
    I understand that some of the larger ships have to go under the Golden Gate Bridge at low tide, in order to have enough clearance from the bridge. (The water’s plenty deep enough there.)

  40. These boat bridge clearances remind me of the story of the B-25 which managed the to fly underneath the Golden Gate Bridge back in the 40’s.

    …and of course Kirk’s Bird of Prey managing it in Star Trek IV 🙂

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