(1) MOOMIN FAN. She remembers the Moomin scape her father made for her: “My family and other Moomins: Rhianna Pratchett on her father’s love for Tove Jansson” in The Guardian.
I don’t remember the precise moment I was introduced to the Moomins. They were always just there; a cosy, comforting and slightly weird presence in my childhood that has stayed with me. My father called Tove Jansson “one of the greatest children’s writers there has ever been”, and credited her writing as one of the reasons he became an author.
My father’s family were the kind of postwar, no-nonsense British people who didn’t really do hugs or talk about their feelings. Instead, they showed their love by building things: toys, puzzles, go-carts, treehouses. It was a tradition that my father, still very much the awkward hugger himself, would continue during my childhood. He built me a market stall, a beehive (complete with toy bees), a stove and, most memorably, Moominvalley.
It was crafted out of wood and papier-mache – a staple of all art projects in the 70s and 80s. It had a forest and a river and even a dark cave. He also made the Moominhouse and crafted all the Moomin characters out of clay; then painted and varnished them. Many years later we would turn over an entire attic full of junk trying to find a box that I thought might contain a solitary hand-made Moomin. He’s still out there somewhere.
(2) GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN. Declan Finn says something’s missing from Amazon. It’s the reviews he’s written about people’s books, and some of the reviews others have written about his books. Why? He calls it “Amazon’s War on Users”.
Has Amazon declared war on authors?
It would seem so at first pass. Last week, I had 315 reviews spread out over my various and sundry projects. Honor at Stake, for example, had 63, 68 reviews.
Today, I only have 238 reviews over all of them. Honor at Stake in particular having only 45 now. When I ask Amazon via email, they know nothing. Could I be more specific? It’s literally EVERY BOOK. They need a road map?
The mystery depends when I looked at reviews that I myself have written. They’re all gone. Poof. Vanished.
What the Hell?
And I’m not the only one. In fact, one writer’s group I’m a part of has had a lot of the same problem.
The Conservative Libertarian Fiction Alliance.
Funny that. And the one person outside of CLFA who had also had problems is friends with three of us.
However, I’m not about to declare enemy action just yet. For that, I need your help, that of the average reader. Because there is a problem. We can’t ask people outside the group, that we don’t know, if they have the same problem. Why? Because if we don’t know them, it’s hard to ask. And if we know them, it can be construed as guilt by association.
Camestros Felapton joined the investigation. The conspiracy-minded won’t find his thoughts nearly as pleasing as Finn’s: “Amazon Purging Reviews Again”.
(4) THE MONEY KEEPS ROLLING IN. BBC reports — “Black Panther film: ‘Game-changing’ movie takes $1bn”.
Marvel’s superhero film Black Panther has taken more than a billion US dollars (£794m) at cinemas worldwide.
It is the fifth movie based in Disney’s Marvel Universe to hit the milestone.
(5) WAKANDA. A group hopes to run Wakanda Con in Chicago, IL this summer. Right now they’re building a list of interested fans.
WAKANDA CON is a fan-driven, one-day celebration of Afro-Futurism, Tech, and Black superheroes in film, television, and comic books, and of course, Black Panther. Our event will be held in Chicago, IL in Summer 2018. Join fellow citizens of Wakanda for discussion, education, networking, and festivities.
Marvel’s Black Panther has ushered in a new wave of thought about issues surrounding the African Diaspora and a new future for Black people around the world. The image of an African country with advanced technology and equality has inspired some of the world’s greatest thinkers and all of Black Twitter to create, think, and respond. WAKANDA CON is chance to take the conversation about Black Panther offline and into the real world.
(6) BRING KLEENEX. John Scalzi gives people lots of reasons to want to see A Wrinkle in Time.
(And, you may ask, what do I think about the film’s multicultural and feminine viewpoint and aesthetic? I think it works very well, and it’s a reminder that things that are not designed specifically for one in mind may still speak significantly and specifically to one, if one is open to it. I would not have imagined A Wrinkle in Time the way DuVernay has — I seriously doubt I could have imagined it this way — and yet there I was crying my eyes out all the same. I do not need the world to be imagined as I would have imagined it. I want the world and the things in it to exceed my imagination, to show me things I cannot make for myself but can take into myself, hold precious, and make my imagination that much wider from that point forward. As I noted before, this movie was not, I think, made for me, and still here I am, loving it as much as I do.)
(7) HEARTFELT STORY. Charles Payseur is just as persuasive in getting people to read his short fiction reviews: “Quick Sips – GigaNotoSaurus March 2018”
GigaNotoSaurus offers up a beautiful short story for March that might have been a bit more appropriate for February and Valentine’s Day because it is adorable and wonderful and sweet and just good! I’m a sucker for romance, and so the focus of this story for me is refreshing, especially because it refuses to tread the same tired paths of angst and powerlessness that seem to dominate so many romantic story lines. It’s not without darkness or sadness, but it’s a story to me about the triumph of love and humans over despair, loss, and death. To the review!
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY
- March 12, 1971 — Andromeda Strain was first released theatrically.
(9) COMICS SECTION.
- Chip Hitchcock studied the canine cosmology in Pooch Cafe.
(10) COMEDIAN SECTION. Today’s relevant joke, from the just-late Ken Dodd: “Ken Dodd: 17 of his funniest one-liners”.
So it turns out that if you bang two halves of a horse together, it doesn’t make the sound of a coconut.
(Other 16 are NSF just about everything….)
(11) BEYOND THE FAIL FRONTIER. ScreenRant delights in finding these contradictions: “Star Trek: 17 Memes That Prove The Show Makes No Sense”. They begin with an infographic —
(12) INCLUSIVE OR NOT? Dave Huber, in The College Fix story, “MIT Librarian: Tech Posters Plastered With Star Trek Posters, Other Geeky Stuff Is Non-Inclusive to Women,” says that MIT head librarian Chris Bourg has said that students should “replace Star Trek posters with travel posters…and generally just avoid geek references and inside nerd jokes” if they want to be inclusive for women.
Since the many incarnations of “Star Trek” are considered some of the most diverse shows in the history of television, not to mention that about half those attending Star Trek conventions are female, The College Fix contacted Bourg about this particular reference.
She responded by pointing out her advice “comes directly from the research,” and provided a link to the study: “Ambient Belonging: How Stereotypical Cues Impact Gender Participation in Computer Science.”
The 2009 study examined whether “stereotypical objects” like Star Trek posters “signal a masculinity that precludes women from ever developing an interest in computer science.” Or, as the authors dub it, how the “ambient belonging” of women is affected by tech-geek ware.
While conceding that the tech-geek “masculinity” in question may not refer to a “traditional definition” (think “strength, assertiveness, and sexual prowess”) the authors argue the “stereotypicality” of the group still has a “profound” effect on the ability to recruit people who do not see themselves as fitting that stereotype.
(13) PROPHET OF DOOM? “Tim Berners-Lee says net has ‘heaps of problems'”. [[Voice only]]
The inventor of the World Wide Web says the internet as we know it is “under threat” and faces “heaps” of problems.
Monday 12 March marks 29 years since Sir Tim Berners-Lee created the World Wide Web. This year is expected to be the first time that more than half of the world’s population will have internet access.
Sir Tim spoke to the BBC’s technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones about the challenges faced.
(14) ELON MUSK. More blue-skying? “Elon Musk: Mars ship test flights ‘next year'”.
A Mars colony, he said, would reduce the chance of an extended new Dark Ages if a nuclear conflict was to wipe out life on Earth.
But, aware of his reputation, he added: “Sometimes my timelines are a little… y’know.”
But enough about reality.
Elon Musk is unquestionably the most interesting businessman in Silicon Valley – arguably the world – thanks to his almost single-handed reignition of the space race.
(15) MONITORING TV. Rich Lynch says tonight’s “Literary L.A.” Category on Jeopardy! had a Bradbury clue. It even showed a photo of him.
The contestant got it right.
(16) TENT TECH. It’s not your grandfather’s yurt — “To Fight Pollution, He’s Reinventing The Mongolian Tent”.
In Gamsukh’s office those possibilities seem endless. Books, papers and sketches cover a desk and table. Dressed in jeans and a t-shirt, Gamsukh, whose dark hair has a slight orange tint, comes off as artistic. But the sketches he produces are not dreamy musings. They are technical drawings supported by mathematical calculations. They are solid, like the sturdily built Gamsukh. Many are already being implemented, including a partially completed passive solar heated immobile ger that adds windows, insulation and solar collectors to the traditional model. Passive solar heating design uses windows, walls and floors to collect, store and distribute heat in the winter and reject it in the summer. Designs vary depending on the climate in which they are built, but shade can be used to block the sun in summer without taking away from warmth in winter because the sun is higher in summer.
When it is finished, Gamsukh plans to call it home. He is also testing another modified ger that uses solar power and those underground pipes he tried to dig in winter for heat.
(17) SHORT ORDER ROBOT. “Burger-flipping robot begins first shift” at Cali-Burger in Pasadena, CA. See a video of the robot in action, at the link.
Flippy, a burger-flipping robot, has begun work at a restaurant in Pasadena, Los Angeles.
It is the first of dozens of locations for the system, which is destined to replace human fast-food workers.
The BBC’s North America technology reporter Dave Lee saw it in action.
(18) BUSTED. To go with the recent Pixel on Iceland running out of energy due to Bitcoin generation: “Iceland police arrest suspected Bitcoin server thieves”.
Police in Iceland have arrested 11 people suspected of stealing more than 600 computers that were being used to mine crypto-currencies, reports AP.
The computers were stolen during four raids on data centres around Iceland.
The country is a popular location for data centres because almost 100% of the power generated there comes from renewable sources.
(19) THE OTHER JJ. ScreenRant says this JJ Abrams sketch was cut from Saturday Night Live for time.
[Thanks to JJ, Cat Eldridge, Mike Allen, John King Tarpinian, Mark Hepworth, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Rich Lynch, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor Niall McAuley.]