Pixel Scroll 9/13/17 Is That A Pixel On Your Screen, Or Are You Just Scrolled To See Me?

(1) YOU CAN ORBIT BUT YOU CAN’T HIDE. Alex Parker likes to think Cassini’s dive into Saturn is payback for the dinosaur extinction event. A thread explaining his complicated theory starts here:

(2) SFWA GALAKTIKA SETTLEMENT NAMES AFFECTED AUTHORS. There are further developments in a story reported here in July. Full information at the SFWA Blog: “Agreement Reached with Galaktika on Past Infringements”.

The Authors Guild and Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) announced today that they collaboratively reached an agreement with a Hungarian science fiction magazine, Galaktika, which for years had been reprinting stories of American and British science fiction writers without their permission….

Part of the settlement between the magazine Galaktika and SFWA and the Authors Guild was that Galaktika would provide a complete list of authors whose work had been published without authorization by Galaktika. The list below was created from the spreadsheet that they provided, and, as far as SFWA can discover, it is accurate. This list includes authors or their representatives who have already come to agreements with Galaktika or are still in the process of negotiation. It is being made public to aid authors who may not know their work was published without authorization. Note that some of the works affected may be out of copyright in Hungary.

(3) BOOK SMUGGLERS KICKSTARTER. Thea James and Ana Grilo have launched The Book Smugglers: Level Up Kickstarter.

Ana and Thea

We celebrate our tenth anniversary next year and we would like to level up, so we finally decided to take the leap and create a Kickstarter of our own. We are trying to raise $16,500 which will go towards a new season of short stories (under the theme “Awakenings”) at a higher pay rate and ensuring we can hire freelancers to do production work for the ebooks. We would also love to get paid contributors to the blog on a weekly basis. If we raise more than the initial amount? The sky is the limit. All with a view to continue to publish and highlight diverse voices.

We donate our time to the Book Smugglers because we love the work that we do, which we hope to continue doing for another ten years.

To date their Kickstarter has raised 5,842 of its $16,500 goal.

(4) KEEP ON TICKING. Jim C. Hines reviews “The Tick, Season One”. BEWARE SPOILERS. In case that sort of thing worries you….

I didn’t need this to be a repeat of the animated show I loved. But it felt like it tried way too hard to be dark and gritty and edgy, at the cost of the heart and joy I was hoping for.

With all that said, I might still watch the next batch of six episodes when they come out. (I’m told that technically, this won’t be season two, but the second half of season one.) If they continue to improve the way they did in those last couple of episodes…

But for now, I’m rating this a solid disappointment.

(5) GUILTY CONSCIENCE. Anybody who’s watched the right episodes of the TV series Suits on the USA Network knows that lawyer Louis Litt is a Game of Thrones fan … at one point, he said, referring to himself, “A Lannister always pays his debts.” This clip from the most recent episode shows that watching aGoT may not always be good for your mental health:

(6) ACROSS THE ATLANTIC BY HOT AIR. Black Gate’s Sean McLachlan blows the whistle on a pre-internet author of bogosity: “Edgar Allan Poe Wrote Fake News”.

In 1844 he was working for the New York Sun, and penned a front-page story for the April 13 issue trumpeting a new scientific wonder — the crossing of the Atlantic in three days by balloon. The story breathlessly related how a crew of eight men, including William Henson and Monck Mason, both well-known aeronauts, and famous British novelist Harrison Ainsworth, traveled in a powered balloon from England to Charleston, South Carolina, in 75 hours. The article went on to give various technical details.

(7) GETTING PAID, BUT NOT MUCH. Catherine Baab-Migura, in “Edgar Allan Poe Was A Broke-Ass Freelancer” on The Millions looks at how little money Poe made for his great works and how much time he had to hassle publishers to pay him. But now that you know his history with fake news, how broken up can you really feel?

A lot of fans know Edgar Allan Poe earned just $9 for “The Raven,” now one of the most popular poems of all time, read out loud by schoolteachers the world over. What most people don’t know is that, for his entire oeuvre—all his fiction, poetry, criticism, lectures—Poe earned only about $6,200 in his lifetime, or approximately $191,087 adjusted for inflation.

Maybe $191,087 seems like a lot of money. And sure, as book advances go, that’d be a generous one, the kind that fellow writers would whisper about. But what if $191,087 was all you got for 20 years of work and the stuff you wrote happened to be among the most enduring literature ever produced by anyone anywhere?

(8) AFTER THE EVE OF DESTRUCTION. Jennifer Brozek’s new project returns her to the BattleTech universe: “Award-winning author Jennifer Brozek slated to pen the first Young Adult BattleTech trilogy”.

Catalyst, licensors of the BattleTech tabletop game and Shadowrun roleplaying game, is taking the next step in creating a diverse BattleTech universe with a new young adult trilogy. Jennifer Brozek, award-winning author of BattleTech: The Nellus Academy Incident and Shadowrun: DocWagon 19, is developing a character-driven, action-filled story set after the Jihad, and exploring the tumultuous aftermath of the Age of Destruction. Currently scheduled for a Fall 2018 release date, it can’t come soon enough for BattleTech fans looking for brand new fiction set in the military science fictional universe.

(9) SADCOMS. The Guardian should warn readers they might need a tissue here: “In the golden age of TV, the existential-animation is king”

Why is a talking cartoon horse making me cry? It’s a question many of us might have asked ourselves as the new season of BoJack Horseman – an improbably moving Netflix cartoon about a version of Hollywood populated by talking animals – surfaced over the weekend.

The characters, led by BoJack (voiced by Will Arnett), make terrible decisions about sex and dating, sell themselves short, and generally end up miserable in the funniest possible ways. It’s a show at the forefront of a recent crop of animated TV series for adults that surpass most live-action shows this side of Twin Peaks in terms of sheer emotional ambition.

There’s BoJack, Adult Swim’s critically lauded sci-fi series Rick and Morty, the Duplass brothers’ Animals on HBO, and Archer, a workplace comedy about a spy agency that has gone crazily off the rails. In broad terms, TV is still embracing what critic Jenny Jaffe dubbed the “sadcom” – a show with an ostensibly comic outlook that trades in for pathos – but something special is happening in animation. With animated shows TV is able to flex different muscles.

(10) FROZEBUD. Citizen Lucas might go for this — “Star Wars Wampa Cave Snow Globe” from ThinkGeek.

We’re going to be honest here: we squeed when we first unboxed this product. Our excitement might have drawn other employees over to look. There are SO many little details. “Oh look! Luke’s lightsaber is in the snow!” “I love how the ice of the cave starts on the inside of the globe and continues outside it.” “OMG. THERE’S A DEAD TAUNTAUN ON THE SIDE.” A Hoth snow globe just makes sense. And this Star Wars Wampa Cave Snow Globe created by our GeekLabs team is magnificent. It perfectly captures the tense atmosphere of the cave scene while still being a flippin’ snow globe. Watch the snow gently settle around Luke in what looks like a hopeless situation. And the Tauntaun isn’t gory so it’s appropriate for all ages. Stick it behind your little holiday village diorama as a reminder to the elves and reindeer not to wander out alone.

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • September 13, 1965 Ghidorah, The Three-Headed Monster battled their way into theaters
  • September 13, 1974 Planet of the Apes TV version premiered.
  • September 13, 1977 — Jay Anson’s The Amityville Horror is published.

(12) TODAY’S CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANGER

  • Born September 13, 1916 – Roald Dahl

(13) YOUR FAVORITE ICONOCLASTS. Timothy the Talking Cat and Straw Puppy declare “Chapters are cultural convention that we need not adhere to” at Camestros Felapton’s blog as they unleash (get it?) a new installment of their classic work.

“Well, well, well,” said McEdifice, “if it isn’t Commander Clench, my old nemesis. I thought I told you never to set foot again on the Grassland Planet of Steppe.”

“Well yes, you did but as I explained at the time, I’m free to go anywhere I like and also I outrank you and also I have an orbiting space-dreadnought directly above us that could wipe you off the face of the planet before you could even grimace at me in a way I didn’t like.” explained Commander Clench.

I don’t know, I thought this was quite readable…. Send help….

(14) EMPTY THE MAGAZINE. Bullets with the Monster Hunters International logo on sale for charity. Ten percent goes to the Houston Food Bank. They’ve already sold 60,000. Living in interesting times.

These are just bullets for handloading. This is not loaded ammunition. Also, be aware that this design is on the front of a 9mm bullet. It is VERY small and serves no purpose other than being really cool. Please do not expect anything magical or supernatural from them. They are just bullets with an awesome stamped logo. Though the lead we sourced does contain trace amounts of silver, it isn’t enough for serious hunting. They are to be used on nothing larger than a gnome.

(15) NZ CONREPORT. At Concatenation, Lee Murray, Dan Rabarts and Darian Smith discuss LexiCon 2017, New Zealand’s 38th National Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention – with a shout out to DUFF delegate Paul Weimer.

LM:  First up for me panel-wise was moderating a session on the language of science fiction and fantasy, with Swedish writer Emma Lindhagen, Cloud Ink Press’ Mark Johnson and local personality Jack Newhouse sharing the front table. One of the first panels of the con, it was too soon for convention goers to have succumbed to con crud, so the room was packed and it was a lively discussion covering topics such as conlanging, conlinging, inclusiveness, and Klingon. I also moderated a panel on Introducing new readers to SFF, but because the session was scheduled against Paul Mannering in conversation with Guest of Honour Seanan McGuire, there were only seventeen of the con’s attendees present. So we decided to pull the chairs into a circle and invite everyone to join in, which turned out to be a great idea as the input from the audience was terrific. I think that’s one of the advantages of our New Zealand conventions: because we are small and most of us know each other, we can be flexible and no one throws a hissy fit. The DUFF delegate, Paul Weimer from Minneapolis, made a comment to that effect in the ‘Australia and Us’ panel, saying he hadn’t realised before he came, just how close-knit our SF/F/H community is here, an aspect he felt might be unique to New Zealand.

DR:  In the way of all good cons, a good portion of the Con should have seen the bar buzzing with people rubbing shoulders and chinking glasses, and from time to time it was. Surprisingly, there was less of this than expected, mainly because so many of the attendees were going to panels, which in some cases came as a surprise even to them. So while there was less action in the bar than we are used to, the panels were humming and people were networking and fan fund delegates were hanging out and talking community-building while peddling raffle tickets and auction lots. I am not quite sure the Suncourt knew what they were letting themselves in for when they agreed to our booking the place out for a convention, but they were amazing hosts as well, and everything went off about as smoothly as we could have hoped.

(16) SCHRODINGER’S 7-11. Fast Company says “Two Ex-Googlers Want To Make Bodegas And Mom-And-Pop Corner Stores Obsolete”.

While it sometimes feels like we do all of our shopping on the internet, government data shows that actually less than 10% of all retail transactions happen online. In a world where we get our groceries delivered in just two hours through Instacart or Amazon Fresh, the humble corner store–or bodega, as they are known in New York and Los Angeles–still performs a valuable function. No matter how organized you are, you’re bound to run out of milk or diapers in the middle of the night and need to make a quick visit to your neighborhood retailer.

Paul McDonald, who spent 13 years as a product manager at Google, wants to make this corner store a thing of the past. Today, he is launching a new concept called Bodega with his cofounder Ashwath Rajan, another Google veteran. Bodega sets up five-foot-wide pantry boxes filled with non-perishable items you might pick up at a convenience store. An app will allow you to unlock the box and cameras powered with computer vision will register what you’ve picked up, automatically charging your credit card. The entire process happens without a person actually manning the “store.”

Cat Eldridge sent the link with a comment, “Interesting idea but expecting it to be viable in ethic communities where a bodega or the cultural equivalent is as much community centre as store is incredible culturally naive.”

Where Cat lives, “We have, other than gas stations that carry a range of stuff this plans on carrying, exactly one English language as first tongue convenience shop for the twenty thousand inhabitants of the peninsula. But there’s dozens of ethically based shops including Central American, Middle Eastern, African, Russian and at least one Armenian one.”

And to see the Bodega Cats, er, SJW Credentials mentioned in the above article, click here, Instagram has photos.

@whiskeygems

A post shared by Bodega Cats (@bodegacatsofinstagram) on

(17) BRIGHT. Will Smith in Bright available on Netflix starting December 22.

In an alternate present-day where magical creatures live among us, two L.A. cops become embroiled in a prophesied turf battle. Stars Will Smith.

Starring: Will Smith, Joel Edgerton, Noomi Rapace

 

(18) LEAGUE OF GODS. Out on DVD.

Based on the 16th-century Chinese novel Feng Shen Yan Yi (The Investiture of the Gods), the story tells of how King Zhou of Shang becomes a tyrant due to the wiles of Daji, a vixen spirit who is disguised as one of his concubines.

 

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Mark-kitteh, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, Daniel Dern, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Ingvar.]

76 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 9/13/17 Is That A Pixel On Your Screen, Or Are You Just Scrolled To See Me?

  1. London has an ongoing problem with people moving to trendy, newly-gentrified areas and promptly doing their very best to have all of the cultural venues shut down over noise complaints.

  2. I liked the first six episodes of The Tick, and didn’t think the beginning parts were dark or gritty just in the early portions establishing that the show is really centered on Arthur.

  3. And larger dairies in NZ morph (very vague boundary) into superettes i.e. small supermarkets. Wikipedia tells me it is also used in a few areas in North America.

  4. @Soon Lee saw plenty of places labeled as Dairys in New Zealand. Did not see places listed as Milk Bars in Australia, though

  5. What is now a bodega in some significant part of the US used to be either a Mom & Pop or a corner store.

    A “convenience store” is in my experience, which is mostly in New England, a chain convenience store, not something owned and run by people who live in the neighborhood.

  6. Watching The Black Hole, as I feel myself compelled to do every couple of years, at least.

    It occurs to me that a lot of the interior design aesthetic of the Cygnus is not unlike what I saw standing in line for Space Mountain at Disneyland back in the 1970s. This is not a complaint or criticism.

  7. Notwithstanding the fact that we’re only a couple rent increases from having to move out of the Bay Area…this makes me want to reread “The Machjne Stops”.

    I mean it’s a horrible thing to daydream about the next earthquake, just to see all those sheltered techbros scream and flee the area. Especially when the odds are we’d find a lot of them in their apartments dead of starvation: too scared to venture outside, and without wireless, unable to know where to go.

  8. I don’t know of a map for predominance of different *words* for convenience stores, but there of a few maps out there mapping predominance of *chains* of convenience stores In Pennsylvania, for instance, Wawa and Sheetz dominate much of the landscape, but have definite territories and patterns of allegiance. The main dividing line is around US 222, separating Philly’s Wawa country from central PA’s Sheetz country, as can be seen on this map:

    http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/news/index.ssf/2016/05/where_does_wawa_country_end_an.html

    (That was also roughly the dividing line between Clinton country and Trump country in the last election, though that’s largely coincidental– neither chain took a political stance that I’m aware of.)

  9. “Corner Store” is what I’ve always heard here in the SF Bay Area. But then, we’re not all that far from Bodega Bay up in Sonoma County. (Which was named for Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra, rather than for any shopping places.) Some definite potential for confusion there… 🙂

  10. Today’s Meredith Moment:

    Tor.com has released their annual story sampler, with excerpts from their novella line — divided by subgenre this year.

  11. Tor.com’s Summer of Space Opera Sampler

    contains excerpts of:
    All Systems Red by Martha Wells
    Killing Gravity by Corey J. White
    The Ghost Line by Andrew Neil Gray and J. S. Herbison
    Starfire: A Red Peace by Spencer Ellsworth
    Acadie by Dave Hutchinson

    (Available on Amazon US, Amazon UK, Nook, Kobo, Google Play, and iTunes)

  12. Gentrification is not a problem created by the tech industry or unique to them. It’s been around as long as we have cities. And at least the these people are living in the places they are buying in SF, it’s not foreigners buying vacation homes which will be occupied two weeks a year like London.

  13. @bookworm– And at least the these people are living in the places they are buying in SF, it’s not foreigners buying vacation homes which will be occupied two weeks a year like London.

    We get some of that–at least we’re not getting the influx of Hong Kong money like we did just before it was handed over. Our gentrification problem here is made worse by the ‘don’t build in my neighborhood’ faction that constantly blocks any new housing. I’ve tried arguing with ‘housing activists’ that there is a correlation but it doesn’t fit in their world-view. I’ve come to the conclusion that the housing problem here is mainly that everyone knows what the real problem is (rent control; greedy landlords; NIMBYs; gentrification; techies; take your pick) so they don’t have to actually think about the fact that it’s not just one reason and then don’t have to work on making it better.

    @Rose Embolism–my friend Dennis, who has lived here in SF since ’78 is rooting for another tech bubble implosion in the hopes they’ll all leave and he can get his neighborhood back from Google buses and high-end cafes.

    If those bodega boys really wanted to create a service that would be useful, they could come up with something to replace the laundromats that are starting to disappear around the city.

  14. @bookworm1398

    And at least the these people are living in the places they are buying in SF, it’s not foreigners buying vacation homes which will be occupied two weeks a year like London.

    Oh, no, actually – there’s an app for that – AirBnB.

  15. The Voyage of the Filer
    On the Origin of Pixels
    The Descent of Scroll and Selection in Relation to Fifth

  16. Gentrification is not a problem created by the tech industry or unique to them. It’s been around as long as we have cities. And at least the these people are living in the places they are buying in SF, it’s not foreigners buying vacation homes which will be occupied two weeks a year like London.

    This is true! It’s just a problem they’ve aggressively and even deliberately exacerbated. Toronto is experiencing the worst long-term housing shortage it’s ever seen right now, with less than 1% *available stock* (the exact percentage varies, though I’ve seen it reported as being as low as a tenth of percent), while the actual *vacant stock* is being reported at something like 8%. Estimates place AirBnB rentals being 10% of *vacant stock* in February of this year, and then 15% of vacancies in May of this year. Meaning there are now more AirBnB rentals in the city than their are available homes for long-term renters. Among the reasons for this is that if you are savvy and own the right rental property, you can make up to $20,000 in a month via AirBnB (although that’s not typical; iirc typical is a little over $5k). The rest of the vacant stock that isn’t available for use is “investment” stock, and it’s not just by “foreigners”. (I work with at least three people who own vacant investment stock.)

    There are a combination of factors that led to this. The closest thing to an SFnal concern is that we allowed companies like AirBnB to run rampant, and then encouraged the explicit goal of gentrification through the implementation of Floridian policy (which is heavily tech-oriented). But a deeper cause that goes further back is why we made the concept of the “investment property” necessary at all. Stable employment with benefits (especially pensions) are increasingly harder to find, except at the very top. The remaining stable parts of the shrinking middle are turning to other means to support their retirement, and housing has traditionally been seen as reliable in that regard (whether or not it actually is has been in doubt for a couple decades, though)–indeed, that is literally the origin of the phrase “safe as houses”. So what winds up happening is people are using housing to replace the financial stability that used to come from employment, but they want it to be passive and to not require expenditures beyond the initial capitalization, so they sit empty while the population grows, exacerbating a housing shortage and increasing rents. (Rent in Toronto has more than doubled in the last 10 years; a basement apartment that floods ankle-deep every time it rains hard that I rented for $800/m ten years ago now goes for $2,500/m, and they still haven’t fixed the flooding issue.) Many tech companies, especially “sharing economy” companies, have not only embraced the models of employment that require these “alternate” investment avenues, they’ve actively sought to make them more extreme, though mostly for their low-tier employees/contractors.

    Rent control both helps and hurts; on the one hand, long-term tenants are protected from dramatic shifts in the market; on the other hand, landlords are increasingly attempting to evict long term tenants or create untenable living situations so they’ll leave “voluntarily”. Meanwhile, wages haven’t even kept up with inflation, meaning they’ve actually decreased… We also have “highest use” tax policies here, which means that a property is taxed based on the “highest and best” use of that property, rather than on what’s actually there. So if it would be more profitable for high-rise of 400 sq-ft condos to be located on that spot, then you get taxed as if you owned a high-rise condo building instead of, say, the artist’s co-op you actually own (policies like this are also Floridian, as they are intended to create the kind of high-churn favoured by tech incubators).

    Voila! The intersection of tech-focused urban policy, tech industry “innovation”, and Reaganomic views on how employment should work create a perfects storm of intolerable conditions for housing.

  17. @Soon Lee: that’s an interesting migration; the entry says that “milk bar” was an alternative to pubs, where convenience stores (and their US-at-least aliases) were originally small grocery stores, but the two seem to have drifted toward each other (groceries at milk bars, ready-to-eat — or even made-to-order — at convenience stores (both chain and individual, ~contra @Lis)). (also cf @JJ’s cite, which says “bodega” comes from a word for storeroom.)

    @August: as you sort-of-acknowledge, the idea of housing as an investment is hardly new; my partner bought a space to live in 3 decades ago, from a rich doctor carving up a former rental-apartment building as a way to multiply his money. (It was a pity she couldn’t wait; when the Reagan bubble kept on bursting, foreclosures dropped the prices of other units by >60%.) ISTR that the US suburb bulges of the 1930’s and 1950’s were also pushed (albeit not as urgently) by the idea of investment: “They’re not making any more land.” But I take your point that employment instability is likely to make this more urgent.

    bookworm1398: It’s not clear to me that gentrification has been a problem “as long as we’ve had cities” (although I don’t know nearly enough old-city history: e.g., what was there before Pall Mall?). Even if elements of it existed earlier, ISTM that it has become far more of a problem in the US due to the push to suburbs (which for whites goes back before WWII), giving the “fairy ring” effect, followed by a backlash led by empty-nesters and DINKs (some of whom remain childless, or whose would-have-been progenitors don’t even pair up (as in the tech boom?)).

    Amusing side note on the tech boom: of the 4 major employers (1 chemistry, 3 software) of my career, 2 moved from city to suburbs (at least partly to merge scattered spaces), 1 moved sideways in-town (then out of town after I was gone), and 1 moved sideways around the periphery. (They may have started in-town and moved out — by the time I joined they were 10 years old and grossing half a billion USD/year). The last announced this week that it was moving back into ~town — the Seaport District, a former shipfreight-handling area that’s now the site of a huge convention center, a hotel big enough to handle a 4000-person SF convention without using the center, and a general building boom; the reason was that more of the young people they wanted to hire wanted to live in-town and have short commutes. (Boston does have some city-to-suburb minibus services, but AFAICT nothing anywhere the scale of Google-et-al buses.) Seaport is also where plans were announced for a block of microapartments, which are touted as suiting PTC’s intended hires — and it abuts one of the most stable and reactionary parts of Boston, so we’ll see how well they rub along together.

  18. @Chip Hitchcock: Yeah, true, investment properties have been around for quite some time, but what I probably wasn’t clear about was that I was referring primarily to properties purchased as investments *that you don’t intend to live in* and in fact may not intend for *anyone* to live in until after you sell it. (Which is a big problem here in Toronto, and is why there is such a difference between *vacant* stock and *available* stock. People are buying these properties, mostly condos, and deliberately letting them sit empty for years upon years.)

  19. @August, why would someone do that when they could be earning high rents? I don’t get it. Unless they do use it occasionally?

    My late husband and I once rented (not bought) a small flat across the street from his mother’s assisted living residence in London, Ontario, after we finally sold her house there. We used it whenever we visited, about every six weeks, and at least once provided it to her sisters when they visited from the UK. It saved us not much over hotel prices, but meant we didn’t have to deal with lodging arrangements, and had a place to store the stuff of hers which we weren’t yet ready to let go. It was a comfort. But I don’t think London’s housing situation is as dire, and we were renting anyway.

  20. @Lenore Jones: Landlords have legal responsibilities, need to work to find tenants (or hire someone who will), etc. It’s a surprising amount of work and outlay to be a landlord. These units are “set it and forget it” passive investment instruments. I talked to one guy here who doubled his money in three years without having to deal with a single tenant.

  21. In Texas suburbs they were 7-11s, and you had to ride your bike past a couple of miles worth of residential corners before you got to one.

  22. In Chicago suburbs there were three chains: 7-11, Convenience, and White Hen. I’ve not seen a White Hen for a long time now; I expect they’ve gone out of business.

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