Pixel Scroll 7/30 Gonna Scroll the Bones

A lot of material out there because of the Hugo voting deadline tomorrow but if you want more than the three items I included in today’s Scroll then Google is your friend.

(1) Today in History!

1932: Walt Disney released his first color cartoon, “Flowers and Trees,” made in three-color Technicolor.

1976: NASA released the famous “Face on Mars” photo, taken by Viking 1

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter image by its HiRISE camera of the "Face on Mars". Viking Orbiter image inset in bottom right corner.

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter image by its HiRISE camera of the “Face on Mars”. Viking Orbiter image inset in bottom right corner.

(2) And Today’s Birthday Boy and Girl – what a coincidence!

Born 1965: J. K. Rowling

Born: Harry Potter (main character of Harry Potter series)

(3) “The Tom-cademy Awards: The Only Awards Show Exclusively for Tom Cruise Movies” is part of a weeklong Cruise-themed series on Grantland. The author anoints Emily Blunt as the Best Supporting Actress of any Cruise movie.

The wonderful thing about EoT is that it’s really funny. It achieves that by not pretending the audience has never seen a time-travel movie. Instead, Edge of Tomorrow claps the audience firmly on the shoulder and, smiling, asks (rhetorically), “Hey, wanna see Tom Cruise get iced?” And, as it turns out, watching The Character Named Tom Cruise getting killed in fun and interesting ways, ways that show just enough exposed cranium to make the exercise mean something, is pretty invigorating.

But! Do we not, paradoxically, also want to see The Character Named Tom Cruise succeed? To save the world and get the girl? Yeah, of course we do. This is Tom Cruise we’re talking about. And it’s Blunt, playing it straight the whole time while kicking a Ripley-in-Aliens level of xenomorph butt, who has to downshift from hero-on-a-recruiting-poster to woman-who-we-kind-of-want-to-see-kiss-Tom-Cruise in order to make Cage’s journey from charming coward to soldier/love interest believable. He’s the hero we deserve, that we also need to see die.

Genre films Minority Report (Best Visual Effects) and Interview With The Vampire (Best Costume Design) also take home the hardware.

(4) Janis Ian, who now writes in the sf field, has her own Bill Cosby story from when she was a teenager preparing to sing her hit song on The Smothers Brothers show in 1967.

“No, I was not sexually bothered by Bill Cosby,” said Ian in a Facebook post Tuesday, reacting to a New York magazine report featuring 35 women who accuse Cosby of sexual impropriety.

In her post, Ian accused Cosby of publicly outing her as a lesbian, based on a chance meeting backstage at a television show.

“Cosby was right in one thing. I am gay. Or bi, if you prefer, since I dearly loved the two men I lived with over the years. My tilt is toward women, though, and he was right about that.”

(5) On to tamer subjects – the Worldcon business meeting. Kevin Standlee hopes to discourage complaints while rewarding the reader’s attention with a good discussion of why meetings adopt Roberts Rules or the equivalent:

The reason that parliamentary procedure is complex is that it’s trying to balance a bunch of contradictory rights. If you’re someone who is convinced that your personal, individual right to speak for as long as you want and as many times at you want trumps the rights of the group to be able to finish the discussion and reach a decision in a reasonable time, well, it’s unlikely that you’ll ever be happy with any rules that allow for limits on debate. If you’re someone who has no patience with debate and just wants the Strong Man to Make Decisions, you’ll never be pleased with rules that allow for people to debate and reach a group decision through voting….

And he invites your help to improve how WSFS meetings are run.

WSFS rules are complicated because the people who attend the meetings have effectively voted for complexity, but also because some of the complexity is required to protect the rights of members, both individually and in groups, and including the members who aren’t even at the meeting. If you have a better way for deciding how we should run things, the onus is on you to propose something. As long as you just complain that “it’s too complicated,” without proposing something both easier and workable, don’t expect to be taken seriously.

(6 ) Russell Blackford on Metamagician and the Hellfire Club delivers “The Hugo Awards – 2015 – Summation”.

Even if there is a legitimate grain of truth somewhere amongst the complaints of the Sad Puppies group, their actions have led to an exceptionally weak Hugo field this year and to some specific perverse outcomes. If the Sad Puppies campaigners merely thought that there is a “usual suspects” tendency in recent Hugo nomination lists, and that politically conservative authors are often overlooked in recent times, they could have simply argued their case based on evidence. Likewise, they could have taken far wiser, far more moderate – far less destructive – actions to identify some genuinely outstanding works that might otherwise have been missed. What we saw this year, with politicised voting on an unprecedented scale, approached the level of sabotaging the awards. I repeat my hope that the Sad Puppies campaign will not take place next year, at least in anything like the same form. If it does, my attitude will definitely harden. I’ve been rather mild about the Sad Puppies affair compared to many others in SF fandom, and I think I can justify that, but enough is enough.

I really can’t understand how Blackford processes the ethics of the 2015 situation, this being the third go-round for Sad Puppies, that “enough” had not happened already to warrant a stronger expression of his disapproval, but a fourth iteration will.

(7) The shortest “fisking” in history — Larry Correia strikes back at Sad Puppies references in The New Yorker’s Delany interview The boldfaced sentences below are literally 66% of what he had to say.

The ensuing controversy has been described, by Jeet Heer in the New Republic, as “a cultural war over diversity,” since the Sad Puppies, in their pushback against perceived liberals and experimental writers, seem to favor the work of white men.

Diversity my ass. Last years winners were like a dozen white liberals and one Asian liberal and they hailed that as a huge win for diversity. 

Delany said he was dismayed by all this, but not surprised. “The context changes,” he told me, “but the rhetoric remains the same.”

Well, that’s a stupid conclusion. 

Alert the bugler to blow “Taps” over the fallen standards of Correia fisks….

(8) Cheryl Morgan tells fans don’t give up.

Look, there will be some weird stuff in the results this year. There may well be a few No Awards given out, and possibly some really bad works winning awards. It is not as if that hasn’t happened before, though perhaps not in the same quantities. On the other hand, people are talking about the Hugos much more this year than they ever have before, and in many more high profile places. In addition vastly more people have bought supporting memberships, and we are looking at a record number of people participating in the final ballot. All of those people will be eligible to nominate next year. This isn’t the way I would have liked to get that result, but it is a result all the same.

(9) John Scalzi realized he would have a more restful day if instead of discussing the Hugos he spent his time doing computer maintenance.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, David K.M. Klaus and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit to File 770 contributing editor Soon Lee.]

NASA Astronaut Named Sasquan Special Guest

Lindgren is the Jedi on the front left.

Lindgren is the Jedi on the front left.

Sasquan has announced NASA Astronaut Dr. Kjell Lindgren will participate as a Special Guest of the 2015 Worldcon while aboard the International Space Station serving as a Flight Engineer for ISS Expedition 44 and 45.

“My path to space has been paved with books,” says Lindgren, who has a long list of favorite sf and fantasy authors — Orson Scott Card, Tom Clancy, Arthur C. Clarke, Ernest Cline, Joe Haldeman, Robert Heinlein, Stephen King, George R. R. Martin, C. S. Lewis, Patrick Rothfuss, Brandon Sanderson, Neal Stephenson, Kim Stanley Robinson, J. R. R. Tolkien, Vernor Vinge, Bill Watterson, and Connie Willis.

Lindgren is a board-certified practitioner of emergency medicine and aerospace medicine and holds a Doctorate of Medicine from the University of Colorado.

His work on board the International Space Station will include conducting a variety of experiments involving crystal growth, zero-g combustion and robotics.

The full press release follows the jump.

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Frederick Ordway III (1927-2014)

Ordway_Slayton_Clarke_YY_Kubrick_&_NASAGeorge_Mueller_tour_Shepperton_Studios

Ordway with NASA officials touring MGM Borehamwood during pre-production of 2001: A Space Odyssey. (L-R), Fred Ordway, astronaut Deke Slayton, author Arthur C. Clarke, NASA assistant, director Stanley Kubrick, and George C. Mueller, NASA’s Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight (essentially, boss of Project Apollo).

Frederick I. Ordway III, a NASA scientist who was a special assistant to the first director of the Department of Energy and worked as technical adviser on 2001: A Space Odyssey, died July 1. He was 87.

His obituary in the Huntsville Times outlined his professional accomplishments:

Ordway developed his in depth knowledge of rockets and space travel with a career that started in the 1950s working with guided missiles. From 1960-64 he was Chief of Space Information Systems at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center. He would later hold various positions, including special assistant to the first director for the Department of Energy. He taught at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, which would award him an honoring doctorate degree. He also authored other books including “Visions of Spaceflight: Images from the Ordway Collection,” “The Rocket Team: From the V-2 to the Saturn Moon Rocket,” and (with Wernher von Braun) “History of Rocketry and Space Travel.”

“Maybe he was a good historian of spaceflight because he lived through so much of its history,” suggests Bill “Beamjockey” Higgins.

Ordway joined the American Rocket Society in 1939, which later became the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, so this was the 75th year of his membership. He was a major collector of books on rocketry, astronomy, spaceflight, and science fiction. (Bill has a roundup of links to videos featuring Ordway plus other material on his LiveJournal.)

Fans are most likely to recognize Ordway’s name for his service as technical adviser on the classic film 2001: A Space Odyssey.  He wrangled a huge amount of information to help extrapolate technology thirty-five years into the future, then helped MGM’s army of filmmakers turn his ideas into designs for sets, props, and costumes.

Space Odyssey’s enduring popularity amazed Ordway… and though he had other significant professional accomplishments, he spent most of his free time the past 20 years giving talks about the film to fans.

In fact, Ordway recently participated in a discussion of the movie at the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination, on June 12, where he spoke about his life-long friendship with Sir Arthur Clarke. The video can be viewed here:

[Thanks to Bill Higgins for the story.]

On This Day In History 6/18

Sally Ride on the deck of Challenger during mission STS-7 in 1983.

Sally Ride on the deck of Challenger during mission STS-7 in 1983.

In 1983, Sally Ride became the first American woman in space, launched from Cape Canaveral aboard the shuttle Challenger as part of the crew of STS-7.

The five-person crew deployed two communications satellites and conducted pharmaceutical experiments. Ride was the first woman to use the robot arm in space and the first to use the arm to retrieve a satellite.

NASA’s Kinzler Passes Away

Jack A. Kinzler, the man who saved Skylab and gave us golf on the moon, died March 4 at the age of 94.

For 16 years Kinzler was chief of the Technical Services Center at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.

When Skylab lost its heat shield after launch in 1973, he devised a shade tree to ward off the rays of the Sun that could be deployed without a hazardous spacewalk. His legendary prototype was made from a set of collapsible fishing rods — the finished parasol was built from telescoping aluminum tubes and silver-and-orange fabric of nylon, Mylar and aluminum. Kinzler received NASA’s Distinguished Service Medal for his work.

He oversaw the design of the American flags astronauts planted on several Moon missions and of the commemorative plaques attached to lunar landing vehicles which stayed on the Moon.

Kinzler’s department also made astronaut Alan Shepard’s golf club, used to tee off two balls on the lunar surface — attaching a 6-iron head to the handle of a lunar-sample scoop.

[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock for the story.]

NASA at LoneStarCon 3

Catherine "Cady" Coleman.

Catherine “Cady” Coleman.

NASA astronaut Cady Coleman and scientist Heather Paul will in in San Antonio to participate in the Worldcon next weekend.

Cady Coleman has logged more than 4,330 hours in space aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia and the International Space Station. She’ll be there both Saturday and Sunday.

Heather Paul

Heather Paul

Heather Paul has worked in the areas of life sciences, propulsion, mission operations, and space suit and tool design and development. Ms. Paul has focused her engineering career on developing life support designs for next generation space suits that astronauts will wear as they explore places such as the Moon, Mars, or an asteroid. She’ll be there on Saturday.

[Thanks to James Bacon for the story.]

Taral’s Martian Ice

By Taral Wayne: Here’s something odd for you. While downloading photos from NASA’s Curiosity site (some 200 from Sol 137), my eye was caught by a strange white patch deep in the shadow of one overhang. I’ve seen some other whitish rock or glaze in other photos, but this looked completely different. It looked, in fact, like snow or ice. There’s even a dark area beneath it as though it was slowly melting. I suppose it could be ice — why not? So far we’ve discovered ice in a number of places. This particular overhang might just be cool enough to sustain a patch, at least temporarily.

I immediatey emailed the website and identified the photo. One other also shows the patch, though it’s much harder to see it — so it doesn’t appear to be a glitch in the first photo. No word from NASA, naturally…

Do you think it possible nobody had spotted it? If they have, they’ve been rather close mouthed … or could they deem it something of no interest, I wonder?

I’ve dubbed it “Saara’s Icebox,” somewhat whimsically. I’d love it to stick, but I don’t imagine there’s much chance of it.

Although, oddly some names I suggested to NASA by e-mail for highlands on Titan have appeared on one NASA map. Nobody mentioned adopting my suggestion … so it might be a coincidence.

Brittanum, Gaul and Hispania

Great Britain

Great Britain and Gaul

Postscript: Another photo of the overhanging rock formation has turned up in Sol 170’s photo cache. The white stuff, whatever it was, doesn’t seem visible. The view is distant, though, so it’s hard to see if there might be just a little left. Perhaps significantly, the dark stain that had been below the white stuff is also gone or going. Seems that it’s too late to investigate anything now. Good one, NASA!

Going, going… gone! (Sol 170)

Saturn Burps

These red, orange and green clouds (false color) in Saturn’s northern hemisphere indicate the tail end of the massive 2010-2011 storm. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

This is an especially gassy week in the solar system: today NASA released a report about the Cassini mission titled “NASA Spacecraft Sees Huge Burp at Saturn After Large Storm”:

Data from Cassini’s composite infrared spectrometer (CIRS) instrument revealed the storm’s powerful discharge sent the temperature in Saturn’s stratosphere soaring 150 degrees Fahrenheit (83 kelvins) above normal. At the same time, researchers at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., detected a huge increase in the amount of ethylene gas, the origin of which is a mystery. Ethylene, an odorless, colorless gas, isn’t typically observed on Saturn. On Earth, it is created by natural and man-made sources.

Cows are not to blame this time. Plants naturally produce ethylene. It can be used to hasten the ripening of fruit. And a great deal of ethylene is manufactured — it is one of the most commonly used organic compounds.

Cooking With Leftovers

NASA wants to build an orbital outpost at Earth-Moon Lagrange Point 2 with parts left over from the $100-billion International Space Station according to documents obtained by the Orlando Sentinel.

At L-2, where the combined gravities of the Earth and moon reach equilibrium, an outpost can be kept in place with minimal power.

Called the gateway spacecraft, it would support a small crew and serve as a staging area for future missions to the moon or Mars.

To get there, NASA would use the massive rocket and space capsule that it is developing as a successor to the retired space shuttle. A first flight of that rocket is planned for 2017, and construction of the outpost would begin two years later, according to NASA documents….

From NASA’s perspective, the outpost would solve several problems.

It would give purpose to the Orion space capsule and the Space Launch System rocket, which are being developed at a cost of about $3 billion annually. It would involve NASA’s international partners, as blueprints for the outpost suggest using a Russian-built module and components from Italy.

So by keeping everybody’s rice bowl full NASA might grease the way through White House and Congress.

And that’s the best we can hope for from government-run space research? Sounds like we’d better keep watching the skies for entrepreneurial space development.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for the story]