Pixel Scroll 5/9/18 They Had Many Books For Their Kindles And Nooks And Hardcovers Kept In A Pile

(1) AWARD REVOKED. While I haven’t located any related protests in social media that would explain the decision, evidently the Romance Writers of America received enough complaints after making their award to the Washington Romance Writers to change their minds: “Update on 2018 Chapter Excellence Award”.

On May 1, 2018, RWA’s board voted to rescind the 2018 Chapter Excellence Award granted to Washington Romance Writers. This decision was made after extensive review and deliberation, because the board found it impossible to hold Washington Romance Writers up as an example of excellence due to a number of complaints received after the board voted to grant the award.

Incidents reported to RWA were submitted by WRW members as well as meeting and retreat attendees who were made to feel unwelcome, disrespected, and embarrassed by members of Washington Romance Writers. Such incidents potentially violate RWA’s Code of Ethics for Members, RWA’s By-Laws, Chapter By-Laws, and are clearly in violation of the Chapter Code of Conduct recently adopted by RWA and required to be included in all chapters’ governing documents by March 2019.

RWA’s board is dedicated to ensuring that all members feel respected, and we will no longer tolerate insensitive or biased behavior. We hope and expect that WRW is willing to take steps to ensure its future success as an RWA chapter. Only by working together can we make RWA stronger.

(2) COCKY OR NOT TO COCKY, THAT IS THE QUESTION. You may have already read news stories about Faleena Hopkins’ effort to trademark the word “cocky” for a series of romance books (her works include Cocky Romantic and Cocky Cowboy) and reports that she warned off some other writers who use the adjective in the titles of their books (see “Romantic novelist’s trademarking of word ‘cocky’ sparks outcry” in The Guardian.)

(3) THE CASE OF THE MISSING COCKY. Now there have been claims that Amazon, a primary sales channel, has been culling other authors’ titles based upon her claim.

What’s more, there have been claims that Amazon has removed some customer reviews using the word “cocky,” and delayed the posting of others (which their makers tried to post either in protest or to test Amazon’s policy.)

You can see this one’s gone:

Original URL: https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R3A3NXV2FH4Q4A

Google cache copy of page with review: https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:zxJaTw9kaAcJ:https://www.amazon.com/Falling-Hard-New-Adult-Anthology/dp/098614150X

However, there are both titles and reviews still on Amazon with “cocky” in them which are not by the author claiming the trademark. There’s no way to tell whether any of those were zapped, then restored, by Amazon.

JJ ran a search of customer reviews containing the word “cocky” and got only 3 hits, which seemed rather low:

https://www.google.com/search?safe=off&biw=1234&bih=656&q=%22cocky%22+romance+site%3Aamazon.com%2Freview

I don’t know. It does seem like a very small search return; they’re almost all “trending” results rather than individual review results, which would indicate that they are quite recent reviews.

Heidi Cullinan did a thread on the topic:

If Amazon is deleting things — what’s with their legal staff? Do they really think they have exposure from this?

The Romance Writers of America have gotten involved:

(4) GILLIAM STROKE. And it was just the other day we were reporting his luck had finally changed for the better: “Terry Gilliam Suffers Minor Stroke Days Before Verdict on Cannes Closer ‘Don Quixote'”.

Terry Gilliam suffered a minor stroke over the weekend, days before a final verdict on whether his long-gestating passion project The Man Who Killed Don Quixote will be screened as the closing film at the 71st Cannes Film Festival.

The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed that Gilliam, 77, had a minor stroke but is fine now and recuperating at his home in England, awaiting the outcome of a court ruling regarding the screening of Don Quixote on the last night of the festival May 19. French newspaper Nice-Matin first reported the news.

(5) FIRST LOOK. The Daily Beast tells about “The Secret Photographs of Stanley Kubrick”.

According to Michael Benson’s authoritative Space Odyssey, Kubrick shot setups with the Polaroid then, based on the results, he and cameraman John Alcott adjusted lighting and the placement of his Super Panavision 70mm cameras.

“I think he saw things differently that way than he did looking through a camera,” Alcott told Benson. “When Kubrick looked at this Polaroid still, he would see a two-dimensional image — it was all one surface and closer to what he was going to see on the screen.”

It’s estimated Kubrick shot some 10,000 insta-images on 2001, and if you only know Kubrick as a reclusive eccentric that reliance on the Polaroid might seem a characteristic quirk.

But in fact it was an extension of the creative sensibility he developed as a teenager working for Look. From 1945 to 1950, Kubrick was a photographer for the picture magazine, evocatively and empathically documenting ordinary New Yorkers, celebrities, athletes, and post-war playgrounds like the amusement park.

He shot more than 135 assignments for Look while honing the skills, relationships, and chutzpah that led him to filmmaking.

Yet this vital strand of Kubrick’s artistic DNA has been criminally underexplored. The Museum of the City of New York’s new exhibition Through a Different Lens: Stanley Kubrick Photographs, on view through October 28, aims to change that….

(6) HIRED HELP. BuzzFeed takes you “Inside Amazon’s Fake Review Economy”. Given the ongoing debate on deleted reviews on Amazon, it may be interesting that a ReviewMeta algorithmic analysis (per CEO Tommy Noonan) of 58.5 million reviews on Amazon found 9.1% of them (5.3 million) to be “unnatural” and possibly fake. Unsurprisingly, Amazon disagrees claiming that <1% are “inauthentic.” Note that this article is concerned with paid reviews (both positive and negative), not tit-for-tat reviews as have been discussed in File 770.

The systems that create fraudulent reviews are a complicated web of subreddits, invite-only Slack channels, private Discord servers, and closed Facebook groups, but the incentives are simple: Being a five-star product is crucial to selling inventory at scale in Amazon’s intensely competitive marketplace — so crucial that merchants are willing to pay thousands of people to review their products positively.

…In October 2016, Amazon banned free items or steep discounts in exchange for reviews facilitated by third parties. But Tommy Noonan, CEO of ReviewMeta, a site that analyzes Amazon listings, said what he calls “unnatural reviews” — that is, reviews, that his algorithm indicates might be fake — have returned to the platform. In June 2017, Noonan noticed an uptick in unnatural reviews along with an increase in the average rating of products, and the rate of growth hasn’t slowed since.

Amazon’s ban didn’t stop sellers from recruiting reviewers. It only drove the practice underground. Reviewers are no longer simply incentivized with free stuff — they’re commissioned specifically for a five-star rating in exchange for cash. The bad reviews are harder to spot, too: They don’t contain any disclosures (because incentivized reviews are banned, and a disclosure would indicate that the review violates Amazon’s terms). Paid reviewers also typically pay for products with their own credit cards on their own Amazon accounts, with which they have spent at least $50, all to meet the criteria for a “verified purchase,” so their reviews are marked as such.

(7) CYBER TAKEDOWN. Equifax has been in no hurry for the complete damages to be made public. The Register has the latest totals: “Equifax reveals full horror of that monstrous cyber-heist of its servers”.

Late last week, the company gave the numbers in letters to the various US congressional committees investigating the network infiltration, and on Monday, it submitted a letter to the SEC, corporate America’s financial watchdog.

As well as the – take a breath – 146.6 million names, 146.6 million dates of birth, 145.5 million social security numbers, 99 million address information and 209,000 payment cards (number and expiry date) exposed, the company said there were also 38,000 American drivers’ licenses and 3,200 passport details lifted, too.

(8) LOOKING FOR CIVILIZATION THAT PREDATES HUMANITY. Gavin Schmidt, a climate scientist at NASA, published a recent paper about what could be left in the geological record that could identify a pre-human technologically advanced civilization.

The drier scientific discussion is here: “The Silurian hypothesis: would it be possible to detect an industrial civilization in the geological record?”

Abstract

If an industrial civilization had existed on Earth many millions of years prior to our own era, what traces would it have left and would they be detectable today? We summarize the likely geological fingerprint of the Anthropocene, and demonstrate that while clear, it will not differ greatly in many respects from other known events in the geological record. We then propose tests that could plausibly distinguish an industrial cause from an otherwise naturally occurring climate event.

Impressively, he has also written a short story about the impact of making such a discovery: “Under the Sun” at Motherboard.

(9) CRAIG OBIT. Noble Craig, U.S. actor, died April 26, 2018. Severely injured during wartime service in Vietnam, he used his disabilities to forge an acting career, taking roles those with four limbs were unable to fill, beginning with Sssssss (1973). Also appeared in Poltergeist II: The Other Side and Big Trouble in Little China (both 1986), The Blob (1988), A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child and Bride of Re-Animator (both 1989).

(10) STAR TOY. Have you fiddled with this yet? — ESASky is an application that allows you to visualize and download public astronomical data from space-based missions. Mlex sent this sample:

(11) 1984. Fanac.org has posted another Hugo ceremony video: “L.A.con II (1984) Worldcon – Hugos and Special Tributes – Robert Bloch, MC.”

Hey, there’s R. A. MacAvoy at 13:00. And guess who at 22:16 and 23:45.

L.A.con II, the 42nd World Science Fiction Convention, was held in Anaheim, CA in 1984. Toastmaster Robert Bloch’s introductory remarks are tantamount to standup comedy, and the video also includes several special and moving tributes along with the Hugos. The first tribute is presented by Robert Silverberg and Harlan Ellison to fan and editor Larry Shaw (who died within the next year) and the second to Robert Bloch himself. There’s also some fun with Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle on stage having to do with a rocket shaped object. Thanks to the Southern California Institute for Fan Interests (SCIFI) for this recording.

 

(12) PLANETARY AWARDS. The 2017 winners of the Puppy-influenced Planetary Awards have been announced.

  • Best Shorter Story: “The First American” by Schuyler Hernstrom (Cirsova).
  • Best Novel: Legionnaire (Galaxy’s Edge) by Jason Anspach and Nick Cole.

(13) FREE CELL. A better model? “Artificial Intelligence Takes Scientists Inside Living Human Cells”

A new application of artificial intelligence could help researchers solve medical mysteries ranging from cancer to Alzheimer’s.

It’s a 3D model of a living human cell that lets scientists study the interior structures of a cell even when they can only see the exterior and the nucleus — the largest structure in a cell. The model was unveiled to the public Wednesday by the Allen Institute for Cell Science in Seattle.

The technology is freely available, and Roger Brent, an investigator at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle who was not involved in the tool’s development, has been using it for several months. He’s a big fan.

“This lets you see things with a simple microscope that are going to be helpful to researchers all over the world — including in less affluent places,” Brent says.

(14) VACUUM POWER. BBC video: “The amazing power of the world’s largest vacuum” — is used for testing spaceworthiness; also tests noise resistance, and was used in first Avengers movie.

(15) DOUBLE STAR. Michael B. Jordan was on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to talk about his recent and his upcoming star turns in sff epics.

‘Fahrenheit 451’ star Michael B. Jordan approaches every role by journaling the character’s backstory, including his portrayal of Erik Killmonger in the blockbuster film ‘Black Panther.’

 

[Thanks to JJ, Steve Green, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Rob Day, Cat Eldridge, Carl Slaughter, Andrew Porter, and David K.M. Klaus for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributingh editor of the day Joe H.]

76 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 5/9/18 They Had Many Books For Their Kindles And Nooks And Hardcovers Kept In A Pile

  1. So they’ve named a worm after Jabba the Hutt. Of course, we all know that it should have been named after Ursula Vernon.

  2. The Anthropocene will be identified by its layer of plastic. Plastic garbage is going to last a very, very long time.

  3. @Bruce Arthurs, I think uncertainty is one of the hardest things to deal with. I’m so sorry.

  4. I think it’s Noble Craig rather than Nobel Craig.

    @Bruce Arthurs

    I’m very sorry to hear that. I hope you and Hilde get all the support, adaptive tech and care you need to make life as comfortable and fulfilling as possible.

  5. @Bruce: My sympathies. The last couple of years, I’ve had to deal with all sorts of spinal issues with my parents and in-laws, and though they have not been nearly as severe as you describe, I feel I got a tiny glimpse into what you must be going through.

  6. James Berardinelli reviews ANON, a new Netflix movie from the director of GATTACA:

    In this future, every human’s visual cortex is plugged into a massive computer network – a next-gen Internet called the “Ether” – and every image glimpsed by the eyes is recorded and stored, immediately available for replay by the owner or, in some cases, others. This capability has become a boon in many areas of society from the frivolous to the grave. It disallows duplicity and has made solving murders a mundane job. After all, the cops have access to last thing the deceased saw and how his or her last moments went down. When Detective Sal Frieland (Clive Owen) is handed a genuine whodunnit? by his boss, Charles Gattis (Colm Feore), he’s not entirely sure how to go about solving the case.

  7. Meredith: Your thinking is right — Noble Craig. Appertain yourself your favorite beverage!

  8. Hey y’all, it’s been a minute!

    Couple of thoughts on the romance brouhahas….

    1) no idea what the drama is about the Washington romance writers group but one person (Lis I think?) said that there should have been mores awareness about it.

    First thing I thought of was that the issues may have been around people from a minority group feeling disrespected. Simply because the last few years seem to have shown a pattern of most people thinking everything is fine until some level of disrespect or unhappiness is reached where a person (or group) receiving an award or some special recognition as being awesome in some way prompts the dyke to break with people going “aw hell no” and starting to talk and then it turns out that there is a whole group of people with the same stuff going on.

    2) first I heard about the “cocky” thing. Don’t know anything about that author but oh baby did she pick the wrong people to piss off. Romance writers can be super supportive of each other but bite that hand and people will be mad at you who you never even knew knew you existed. And fans take treatment of “their” authors very seriously too. Seems like every few years some “cocky” newish person has to find this out the way by showing out online in a way that the other authors and fans all see.

    I used to be pretty involved with the All About Romance site and saw that dynamic go down there several times. Was talking with my wife about this copyright thing today and it occurred to me that I don’t clearly remember what some of the blowups were about back then (late 90s to early 2000s for my time there) but I still to this day have an “Oh, HER” reaction when I see some authors’ names on a new release or some sort of publicity. The specifics of what they did doesn’t stick but the distaste for how they acted sure does, and has affected my likelihood of purchasing their work for going on 2 decades. Especially since I bop in and out of following particular genres closely and those authors may have grown over time and wouldn’t act the same way now but the impression was made.

    I know nothing about this author in this current blowout but she is being dumbs she probably isn’t going to be able to even copyright “cocky” at all, and hurting other authors and pissing off fans by acting like she already has a Sole claim to the word, and roping Amazon into an overreactive enforcement—ugh not a good look. Haven’t read her, know nothing about her, but I already know I’m gonna have an “oh, HER” reaction in the future when I see her name. And I’m probably not the only one.

    Speaking of All About Romance, I saw a name here I recognize from back in the day over there…how you doing, Anne Marble?

  9. Mike G—do you still take title suggestions? Has “send pixels, scrolls and money” been done?

  10. Cmm: I do take title suggestions. I predict your idea will make its debut a few hours from now….!

  11. Lol cool!

    Also possibly of interest since it’s sort of FSF adjacent — interesting look at Kubrick’s “Eyes Wide Shut” in the age of #metoo (and makes several references to “The Shining” :

    Eyes Wide Shut Meets a New Age of Hetero Anxiety – Signature Reads http://bit.ly/2H6m8Y6

  12. Bruce, that sucks rocks thru a bendy straw. Sympathies and GoodThoughts going out to both of you.

  13. @Bruce Arthurs

    I’m so sorry. My thoughts and best wishes to you and your wife.

    Reading: Took a break from Hugo reading to devour Artificial Condition. Guffawed out loud several times. I hope Murderbot encounters ART and the sexbot again somewhere down the line.

  14. Reading: Also taking a break from Hugo reading; in my case, it’s because of a couple of Goodreads book club picks. Currently reading Janny Wurts’ To Ride Hell’s Chasm, which is a fine piece of blessedly standalone epic fantasy; after that, it’ll be Tanith Lee’s Night’s Master (and, inevitably, the remainder of her Flat Earth series).

  15. Bruce, I’m so sorry to hear this. My best wishes to Hilde and to you. If there’s anything Filers can do to make things less difficult for you, please let us know. <3

  16. Hey, if anybody ever wants to name a bone-eating worm after me, I will be so honored I’ll get it tattooed! Or at least the Latin name. (Hmm, that would be quite a conversation with my artist…”I need an nematode tramp stamp. No, bear with me here…”)

    Sympathy. Bruce!

  17. Re: 2-3 – Geez, what a cock-up. That author is truly pulling a dick move, but I don’t expect it to stand up to scrutiny. She really must’ve been hard up for attention, and I expect now she’s regretting the tension she’s gained.

    @RedWombat: I would ask how one goes about tattooing a worm, but I fear you’d have an answer. Possibly even an illustrated guide.

  18. Rev. Bob on May 11, 2018 at 2:42 am said:

    @RedWombat: I would ask how one goes about tattooing a worm, but I fear you’d have an answer. Possibly even an illustrated guide.

    Shhhh. That’s her NEXT Hugo acceptance speech.

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