Pixel Scroll 7/20/17 Be Vewy Quiet – I’m Hunting Pixels

(1) CORE DYSTOPIAS. James Davis Nicoll tempts fate every two weeks with a list of core sf. Today’s entry is “Twenty Core Dystopias Every True SF Fan Should Have On Their Shelves”. The first four items are:

  • The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  • Swastika Night by Katharine Burdekin
  • Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler

(2) SCA JOINS THE 21ST CENTURY. The Society for Creative Anachronism has promulgated “The SCA Harassment and Bullying Policy”.

The SCA prohibits harassment and bullying of all individuals and groups.

Harassment and bullying includes, but is not limited to the following: offensive or lewd verbal comments directed to an individual; the display of explicit images (drawn or photographic) depicting an individual in an inappropriate manner; photographing or recording individuals inappropriately to abuse or harass the individual; inappropriate physical contact; unwelcome sexual attention; or retaliation for reporting harassment and/or bullying. Participants violating these rules are subject to appropriate sanctions. If an individual feels subjected to harassment, bullying or retaliation, they should contact a seneschal, President of the SCA, or the Kingdom’s Board Ombudsman. If a participant of the SCA becomes aware that someone is being harassed or bullied, they have a responsibility pursuant to the SCA Code of Conduct to come forward and report this behavior to a seneschal, President of the SCA or Kingdom’s Board Ombudsman.

The following statement must be posted at gate/troll at every SCA event in a size large enough for people to see it as they enter our events. This language must likewise be quoted in ALL site handouts at every event a site were a handout is made available.

THE SCA PROHIBITS HARASSMENT AND BULLYING OF ALL INDIVIDUALS AND GROUPS.

Participants engaging in this behavior are subject to appropriate sanctions. If you are subjected to harassment, bullying or retaliation, or if you become aware of anyone being harassed or bullied, contact a seneschal, President of the SCA, or your Kingdom’s Board Ombudsman.

(3) POTTER SPIRITUALITY. Michelle Boorstein and Julie Zauzmer of the Washington Post discuss the “Harry Potter and the Sacred Text” event at the Sixth and I Synagogue in “Hundreds pack DC hall to discuss podcast exploring Harry Potter as a sacred text”. The podcast is now #2 on iTunes and “has inspired face-to-face ‘Potter’ text reading groups–akin to Bible study rather than book club–in cities across the country.”

Touring the country this summer, the podcasters have been met night after night by adoring, mostly millennial crowds who want to soak up their secular meaning-making. For the growing slice of Americans who label themselves “spiritual but not religious,” Casper ter Kuile and Vanessa Zoltan are kind of pop stars.

The irony is, the pair are skeptical about secularism.

“It doesn’t speak to people’s hearts and souls,” Zoltan said during a recent interview. “I get that people get connection and meaning from Soul Cycle, but will [those people] visit you when your mom is dying?”

Zoltan and ter Kuile are complicated evangelists for their own cause. Even as their following grows, they are still pondering some big questions: Can non-traditional types of meaning-making build community? Can texts that are deeply moving to readers truly hold them to account in the way Scripture has among the God-fearing?

(4) JOB INSECURITY. The Washington Post has a piece by Travis M. Andrews and Samantha Schmidt on the firing of Kermit’s voice, Steve Whitmire.  Reportedly, Whitmire was publicly grumpy, as in a 2011 interview on “Ellen” where he said he “was often mistaken for a green fire hydrant.”  Also, Howard Stern (!!) has weighed in, saying that “the odds of you making a money-generating career” as a puppeteer are “next to nothing” and “do not lose that job under any circumstances.”

(5) MINDS FOR MISCHIEF. Nicole Hill has picked out “6 Robots Too Smart for Their Own Good” at the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog.

Robots, man. You can’t live without them (unless you vacuum the old-fashioned way), and quite often, you can’t live with them—at least, not without massive, horrifying, oft-accidental repercussions.

That’s not to say all robots are bad. Quite the opposite. Sometimes, though, their massive brains work in ways that aren’t quite healthy—for them or for us.

Clever 4-1 (Prey of the Gods, by Nicky Drayden)

In a novel chock full of dueling goddesses, genetic engineering, and general mayhem, Clever 4-1 manages to stand above the fray while contributing directly to it. You see, Clever 4-1 awakens both at a troubling time and in the nick of time: the personal assistant robot gains sentience just as his master has awakened his own inner divinity. Just as an ancient demigoddess unleashes a plan to regain her former glory by bathing South Africa in blood. Just as all hell is breaking loose, Clever 4-1 starts out to find others of his kind who have gained sentience, to marshal their forces, to assist and do good. As with any nascent movement, you’ll have your leadership coups, and Clever 4-1 has to balance politicking with near-constant danger on his shoulders. Well, not shoulders.

(6) THE OLD SWITCHEROO. Nerd & Tie’s Trae Dorn found there was a completely obvious reason for Louisville Fandom Fest to announce a last-minute change of venue.

You see, this announcement came in the wake of the Kentucky Expo Center telling the world the con wouldn’t be held there first. After attendees were concerned that the con wasn’t listed on the Kentucky Expo Center’s event calendar, they reached out to the venue asking what was up. The venue’s management responded on Twitter that not only was the convention not being held there this year, but that the con never had a contract for the space.

Although, as JJ points out:

What the Kentucky Expo Center actually said was:

We do not have a contract for FandomFest at our facility.

This leaves open the possibility that there was a contract at some point, but that it was cancelled, due to contractual breaches such as, I dunno, maybe something like non-payment of advance reservation fees.

(7) STREET VIEW. Google Maps adds the International Space Station.

The International Space Station has become the first “off planet” addition to Google Maps’ Street View facility.

Astronauts helped capture 360-degree panoramas of the insides of the ISS modules, as well as views down to the Earth below.

Some of the photography features pop-up text descriptions, marking the first time such annotations have appeared on the Maps platform.

(8) HENDERSON OBIT. LASFS member Lee Henderson, who sometimes handled the gaming room at Loscon, died July 17. He was working on an auto when the car jack became dislodged and the car collapsed on top of him.

He is survived by his wife and two children. His mother, Rita, has started a GoFundMe hoping to raise $10,000 for funeral expenses.

(9) TODAY’S DAY

Space Exploration Day

The origins of Space Exploration Day date back to man first walking on the moon, with the day itself first observed to commemorate this historic event during events held in the early 1970s. It is about more than just the moon landings though and is intended to pay homage to the incredible achievements of the past and fire up enthusiasm for the benefits of space exploration efforts to come in the future.

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • July 20, 1969 — Neil Armstrong became the first person to step foot on the Moon. He also placed the U.S. flag there.
  • July 20, 2017 – John King Tarpinian munched his commemorative Moon Pie, as he does each year on this date.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born July 20, 1949 — Guy H. Lillian III

(12) LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARILY EXPENSIVE TOYS. Nerdist doesn’t want you to miss its exclusive news story – about Mattel’s Justice League Barbies.

For almost sixty years now, Barbie has been a Jane of all trades, having had careers as a school teacher, a pop star, a super model, and even an astronaut that one time. Name an occupation, and Barbie has probably had her turn at the wheel at some point. And now, Barbie is getting her chance to be one of the iconic superheroes of the Justice League!

(13) FORMERLY THE FUTURE. Yesterland is a site about retired Disneyland attractions, like the Flying Saucer ride.

If you’ve never looked at this ride closely, you might think it’s just a colossal air hockey table with a fleet of ride vehicles that can scoot above it. But it’s much more complicated—and much more ingenious—than that.

The Flying Saucers ride uses a big, blue oval, bisected into two halves, each with thousands of round air valves, Each half has a movable arm. There are four fleets of 16 saucers. Unlike other “batch load’ attractions, this one loads efficiently.

As the ride cycle begins, a giant arm slowly swings away from the loading area, releasing your group of saucers. Air valves directly below your saucer lift it up.

Tilt your body to make your saucer scoot across ride surface. Wherever you go, your saucer actuates air valves as you pass over them. All the lift comes from below. Your saucer has no moving parts—or, more accurately, you’re the only moving part of your vehicle. You can go remarkably fast. ….

(14) GAME OF THRONES ALUMS FIND THE LOST CAUSE. The New York Times sums up reaction to David Benioff’s and D. B. Weiss’ next project, Confederate.

It was supposed to be HBO’s next big thing: a high-concept drama from the creators of “Game of Thrones,” set in an alternate America where the Southern states seceded from the Union and slavery continued into the present day.

Instead, the new series, called “Confederate,” has provoked a passionate outcry from potential viewers who are calling out HBO and the creators over how they will handle this volatile mixture of race, politics and history. Several historians and cultural critics are also skeptical about whether the “Game of Thrones” team, David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, are the right people to address the subject and if it should be attempted at all.

“Confederate” arrives at a time when many minorities feel their civil rights are under siege, and when issues surrounding the Civil War and its legacy — the propriety of displaying Confederate flags; the relocations and razings of Confederate monuments — continue to confront Americans on an almost daily basis.

To its critics, the show’s promise to depict slavery as it might be practiced in modern times is perhaps the most worrisome element of “Confederate.” They say that slavery, a grave and longstanding scar on the national psyche, especially for black Americans, should not be trivialized for the sake of a fantasy TV series.

(15) FOZ MEADOWS ON ‘CONFEDERATE’. Here are the first few tweets in Foz Meadows’ commentary.

(16) JEMISIN ON HISTORY. N.K. Jemisin tweeted her skepticism about the supposed gradual withering away of slavery that’s postulated in both real and alternate history. Well-placed skepticism, I’d say – this is a country that needed almost a full century after the Civil War to pass the Voting Rights Act. The same attitudes would have conserved slavery. Follow this tweet to find her complete statement.

(17) DEL ARROZ ON JEMISIN. Jemisin says at her Twitter account “I use robust autoblockers due to harassment.” No wonder. Jon Del Arroz spent a day this week rounding up people to harass Jemisin after supposedly discovering he was one of those blocked.

(18) THANK YOU VOTERS OF THE INTERNET. The heir of Boaty McBoatface is a Swedish train says The Guardian“Trainy McTrainface: Swedish railway keeps Boaty’s legacy alive”.

It’s happened again. A public vote to name four trains running between the Swedish cities of Stockholm and Gothenburg has resulted in one of the four being called Trainy McTrainface in an echo of the name chosen by the British public for the new polar research vessel.

Trainy McTrainface received 49% of the votes in a poll, jointly run by Swedish rail company MTR Express and Swedish newspaper Metro.

That placed it well ahead the other three options: Hakan, Miriam and Poseidon.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Hampus Eckerman, lurkertype, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, John DeChancie and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Xtifr.]

Pixel Scroll 8/25 Polldark

(1) David Gerrold has posted the text of his Guest of Honor speech publicly on Facebook. He says later he will have an audio link so people can hear where he went off-script.

Great science fiction is innovative. It defies expectations.

The innovative story breaks rules, demolishes definitions, redefines what’s possible, and reinvents excellence.

The innovative story is unexpected and unpredictable, not only new — but shocking as well. Innovation demands that we rethink what’s possible. Innovation expands the event horizon of the imagination. It transforms our thinking.

And I think that on some level, even though I can’t speak for any other writer but myself, I still think that this is what most of us, maybe even all of us, aspire to — writing that story that startles and amazes and finally goes off like a time-bomb shoved down the reader’s throat. Doing it once establishes that you’re capable of greatness. Doing it consistently explodes the genre. So yes, that’s the real ambition — to be innovative — to transform thinking — to make a profound difference in who we are and what we’re up to. To be a part of the redesign of who we are and what we’re up to.

(2) Nobody had to wake up Thomas Olde Heuvelt to tell him he won a Hugo.

(3) Cixin Liu’s short stories are also getting translated into English.

(4) Here’s the bandwagon for a Best Poetry Hugo category – jump on it.

(5) One of James H. Burns’ U.N.C.L.E. pieces has been posted on Comics Bulletin. This one is about Ian Fleming, and more significantly, Sam Rolfe!

Fleming named the lead “Napoleon Solo.” He wanted Solo to live in New York City, wear bow-ties, and have as his two main research associates a local, elderly, lady librarian, and a newspaper editor. Fleming also wanted Solo to flirt with the secretary of the boss of whatever organization he worked for (a la Bond and Miss Moneypenny). Fleming named her “April Dancer” (which the producers later adopted for THE GIRL FROM U.N.C.L.E.)!

(6) Loren, son of the late Frank Deitz, has scheduled the sale of his father’s book collection on Saturday, October 3 in Tucker, GA. Pass the word. Here is the Facebook event page.

He also has a massive amount of historical SF/Con materials and would like to find people that might be interested in them for archival purposes. Drop me a line if you want to get in contact.

(7) The Hynes Convention Center mentioned in this story is where the 1989 and 2004 Worldcons were held – “Boston Police Arrest Two Pokémon Players After Apparent Gun Threat Against World Championships”.

Two men who drove from Iowa to Boston for the Pokémon World Championships were arrested Friday after seemingly threatening violence over social media against attendees of the event, according to the Boston Police Department.

Kevin Norton, 18, and James Stumbo, 27, were arrested on several firearm-related charges. The official Pokémon site lists Kevin Norton and a James Stumbo, both from the U.S., as invitees in the “masters division” of the world championships of the Pokémon Trading Card Game.

Private security at the Hynes Convention Center, where the Championships were taking place, were also aware of the threats and stopped the two men when they attempted to enter on Thursday. Police detectives seized their car and upon delivery of a search warrant on Friday found within a 12 gauge shotgun, an AR-15 rifle and hundreds of rounds of ammunition. They then arrested Norton and Stumbo that afternoon in Saugus, Massachusetts. The pair will be arraigned in Boston on Monday. The police released the above photo of the weapons confiscated from the car.

(8) Wendy N. Wagner writes to her younger self, “Dear Me at Age 12”

Just one more thing, little Me. I want to thank you for dreaming big. I don’t think there are a lot of kids out there who know what an editor is or want to write gaming tie-in fiction or would sit down and write “I want to win a Hugo award.” You’re kind of big weirdo, and I love that about you. I’m so glad I got to make your dreams come true.

Now I have to get back to work, because I didn’t stop dreaming when I was 12, and dreams don’t keep coming true if you don’t keep fighting for them. And don’t forget: you’re destroying science fiction, and that’s pretty great.

(9) Pay attention probies!

(10) On Facebook, a 1974 photo of A Change of Hobbit, Speculative Fiction Bookstore in Los Angeles.

(11) When I guessed John Scalzi would have no trouble finding an interesting lunch companion in LA, I was right…

(12) This is the Society for Creative Anachronism’s 50th anniversary, and as part of their observances they are developing The Shield Wall.

A project to memorialize people, households, groups and events that are not around any longer but of whom we all have fond memories

As we celebrate our Society completing its 50th year, we look around and see gaps. Dust to dust it is said, but “no one dies who lives within a heart” (Michael Longcor) and we want to share those who are lost to time but living in our hearts at this time. So, whether it is a person or some kind of entity (households, groups and events) that is no longer part of the fabric of our lives, the Shield Wall will be a highlight at the 50th Anniversary Celebration Event to share with the attendees.

Anyone who wishes to may create a standard size paper shield blank in any design that reminds THEM of the person, event, etc. It does not have to just be heraldry. It can be photos, toys, dolls, etc. We will take electronic submissions or you can mail your submission to our minions or you can get them to Indiana for the June 2016 event physically. We would appreciate you fill out the submission form so we can be sure to have room for your submission.

The shields would have a place of honor at 50 Year and be displayed for all to see.

[Thanks to Janice Gelb, John King Tarpinian and Loren Dietz for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.]

Joe Bethancourt III (1946-2014)

Joe Bethancourt performing in 2004.

Joe Bethancourt performing in 2004.

W.J. (Joe) Bethancourt, a professional bluegrass singer with roots in filk and the SCA, died August 29 after a long illness.

Bethancourt joined the Society of Creative Anachronism, probably at the 1969 Westercon — the only date that fits with the rest of the official history — and was instrumental (pun intended) in founding Arizona’s Kingdom of Atenveldt where he was known as Master Ioseph of Locksely. He was one of the first to receive the kingdom’s “Order of the Laurel,” in April 1970. And he later held the office of Imperial Herald.

Bethancourt ran his own production company, White Tree Productions, and recorded solo, with noted filker Leslie Fish, and with the neo-Celtic band The Bringers. He taught acoustic instruments of all kinds out of Boogie Music in Phoenix.

He played 65 different instruments – banjo and 12-string guitar and the rest of a long list including 6-course Cittern, Celtic Harp, Lute, and Ozark Mouthbow.

His professional musical career included a stint as a studio musician in LA before returning to Phoenix where he worked 17 years performing at the Funny Fellows restaurant, hosted a radio show on KDKB “Folk Music Occasional,” appeared regularly on local TV on the “Wallace and Ladmo Show,” and worked with children in the Arizona Commission for the Arts’ “Artists in Education” program.

In March of 2013 he was inducted into the Arizona Music and Entertainment Hall Of Fame.

UnderTheDoubleChicken_Card

Game of Throngs

Lynn Kitzman has tricked out her mobility scooter to look like she’s riding a horse,

Lynn Kitzman has tricked out her mobility scooter to look like she’s riding a horse.

Over 10,000 people participate in the annual Pennsic War held by the Society for Creative Anachronism in Slippery Rock, PA. Emily Guendelsberger’s brilliant article for the Philadelphia Citypaper ”Reports from a medieval war” may not sum it up – because that’s impossible – but clearly explains why the event is cherished in fannish hearts.

“Many, many, many moons ago, a gentleman won crown in the Midrealm. His name was Cariadoc.”

I’ll hear several versions of this story over the next few days; everyone seems to have heard it a thousand times but doesn’t mind hearing it once more. The essentials that remain the same: In the very earliest days of the SCA, Cariadoc of the Bow, the first King of the Middle Kingdom, challenged the East Kingdom to meet up and have a war. The loser would take Pittsburgh. The East ignored the challenge.

“But in the real world, Cariadoc is a professor. He has a normal job like everyone else. His job changed, and he found himself in the East Kingdom, where he proceeded to fight crown tourney (which is how we choose our kings), and he won. Upon winning crown, he gets a pile of paperwork and backlogged scrolls that needed to be taken care of. Sitting on top of the pile is a scroll from the king of the Midrealm, saying that they need to go to war … signed Cariadoc.” People have gathered to listen, and though the story is obviously very familiar, they laugh.

“’How dare they?’” Douglas exclaims in mock outrage, to the general amusement of all. “Cariadoc accepts the challenge from the Midrealm, and so becomes the only king in history to declare war on himself…” he pauses to let others chime in on the punch line. “…and lose.” A big laugh from the group.

Since then the Pennsic War has been held each summer for over 40 years.

Once people hear that it’s my first time at an SCA event, I’m delightedly warned about a dozen things in quick succession: Drink lots of water; stop at camp to get more layers after dinner because it gets cold fast; don’t go down to the Swamp or Bog at night without a buddy; don’t go to the Tuchux’s camp ever because they’re a weird barbarian cult that keeps women on leashes and aren’t even part of the SCA anyway (wait, what?); never drink Strawberry Surprise, because the surprise is that it’s all liquor, no strawberries.

This is by far the best article I have ever seen about a fannish event in a mass media publication. Go read and enjoy it, too.

[Thanks to Michael J. Walsh for the link.]

SCA Will Pay $1.3M
To Settle Abuse Case

The Society For Creative Anachronism reached settlement last October with victims abused by a local leader in Pennsylvania a decade ago. The settlement calls for a $1.3 million payment to the plaintiffs, and the Society plans to cover a large portion itself while fighting to get its insurers to pay the full amount.

Ben Schragger, then 43, was convicted in 2005 of charges including rape of a child, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, indecent assault and corruption of minors, all crimes committed against 11 children participating in SCA programs to make medieval-style armor and weapons for mock combat.

Known in the Society as “Lord Ben the Steward,” he led a chapter for more than 10 years and directed the youth program for the society’s East Kingdom, which stretches from Canada to Delaware. Schragger was accused of sexually assaulting nine boys and two girls between the ages of 6 and 16 from June 1999 to August 2003.

After an initial civil lawsuit was filed in 2007 against the SCA on behalf of six victims and dismissed, a second civil lawsuit was filed in 2009 claiming $7 million in damages on grounds that the SCA should be held liable for Schragger’s actions, and for allegedly not having effective policies in place at that time to protect the children. Three individuals serving as local officers of the SCA during this time were also named as defendants in the lawsuit.

When the SCA’s insurers resisted paying the settlement the organization sued them. As a result, one insurance company agreed to pay $450,000 of the indemnity. The SCA is still pursuing a suit against another insurer for the remaining $850,000; the case was due to go to trial in May 2012.

In the meantime, the SCA’s parent organization asked all its local and regional units in the U.S. to help fund the rest of the settlement payment by contributing 18% of their cash balance, which it said represented an equitable distribution of the burden.

Kingdoms and affiliates outside of North America were not required to contribute as they were not named in the suit and are separately incorporated in non-U.S. jurisdictions. Affiliates include SCA-Finland, SCA-Sweden, SCA-Australia and SCA-New Zealand.

SCA leadership told members it has changed how youth workers are vetted and expects to make more changes after seeking legal advice:

The SCA has worked to improve its policies and institute new policies where needed.  Some of the new policies include the two-deep rule and criminal background checks on anyone wishing to administer youth activities.  The Board will be addressing long-range plans for improving its governance structure and risk assessment protocols during 2012, after consultation with internal and outside counsel, as well as the SCA’s financial advisors.

More details about the original charges are available here and here.

[Thanks to Andrew Trembley for the story.]