Pixel Scroll 11/18/16 R.U.R. Or R.U.Ain’t (My Baby)

(1) PETALS TO THE METAL. At Young People Read Old SFF, curator James Davis Nicoll is a little worried:

My hit rate for this series so far has been… somewhat lower than I hoped. It’s not that I am going out of my way to find older SF stories that do not consistently appeal to younger people; it is just that I turn out to have a remarkable talent for finding older SF stories that do not consistently appeal to younger people.

So this time he pulled out one of the greatest short stories in the genre,  Daniel Keyes’ “Flowers for Algernon”. Turns out his young audience wasn’t all that fired-up about it, either. Which reminds me of a favorite joke:

A dog food company once held a convention for its sales force. The president got up and said, “We have the greatest product in the world!” Everybody applauded. “We have the best sales people in the industry!” The cheered wildly. “So,” asked the president, “why aren’t we selling any dog food?” A little man in the back got up and shouted, “It’s the damn dogs, sir! They don’t like it!”

(2) DON’T STAND UNDERNEATH WHEN THEY FLY BY. The odds say that these things are supposed to crash in the ocean. Except when they don’t. “The Space Debris Problem: Dual Impact In Myanmar Shows What’s To Come”.

A mining facility in northern Myanmar became the crash site of a huge piece of space debris last Thursday. As the impact occurred, a smaller piece of debris with Chinese markings on it simultaneously destroyed the roof of a house in a nearby village. Fortunately, no one was injured in either incident.

The larger object is barrel-shaped and measures about 4.5 meters (15 ft) long, with a diameter barely over a meter. “The metal objects are assumed to be part of a satellite or the engine parts of a plane or missile,” a local news report said. The Chinese government is neither confirming nor denying whether both pieces of space junk came from the same object.

(3) FIGHT INTERNMENT. George Takei’s op-ed in the Washington Post reacts against talk about rounding up Muslims and reminds people of what happened when we interned the Japanese — “They interned my family. Don’t let them do it to Muslims”.

There is dangerous talk these days by those who have the ear of some at the highest levels of government. Earlier this week, Carl Higbie, an outspoken Trump surrogate and co-chair of Great America PAC, gave an interview with Megyn Kelly of Fox News. They were discussing the notion of a national Muslim registry, a controversial part of the Trump administration’s national security plans, when Higbie dropped a bombshell: “We did it during World War II with Japanese, which, you know, call it what you will,” he said. Was he really citing the Japanese American internment, Kelly wanted to know, as grounds for treating Muslims the same way today? Higbie responded that he wasn’t saying we should return to putting people in camps. But then he added, “There is precedent for it.”

Stop and consider these words. The internment was a dark chapter of American history, in which 120,000 people, including me and my family, lost our homes, our livelihoods, and our freedoms because we happened to look like the people who bombed Pearl Harbor. Higbie speaks of the internment in the abstract, as a “precedent” or a policy, ignoring the true human tragedy that occurred….

(4) THE FRANCHISE THAT LIVED. The BBC renders a verdict — “Film review: Is Fantastic Beasts a Rowling triumph?” Chip Hitchcock says, “tl;dr version: way too many characters for one movie. Rowling says it’s the first of five; sounds a bit like the opening episode ST:TNG, which spent most of its time setting up the main players.”

As exhilarating as all the new sights and sounds are, though, it’s soon apparent that Rowling et al are enjoying their relocation a little too much. A major flaw of the later Harry Potter films was that they crammed in so many characters and incidents from the ever-longer novels that they were baffling to anyone who didn’t know the books by heart. What’s slightly disappointing about Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is that, even though it isn’t adapted from a novel, it has a similar problem. Rowling’s superabundant imagination won’t let the story build up momentum: she keeps shoving minor characters and irrelevant details in its path.

(5) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • November 18, 1928— Mickey Mouse appeared for the first time, with Walt Disney doing the voice of his soon-to-be-famous creation, in “Steamboat Willie,” the first fully synchronized sound cartoon produced.
  • November 18, 1963 — Push-button telephones made their debut. John King Tarpinian was one of the early button-pushers:

I remember being at the County Fair and there was a display with kiosks.  You used a rotary phone to dial your number then using a push-button phone you dialed a random phone number.  The elapsed time was displayed and you saw how much faster the push-button phone was compared to the rotary.

  • November 18, 1990 — Stephen King’s It premieres on TV.

(6) TRIVIAL TRIVIA. Actor Charles Bronson appeared in the 1953 horror classic House of Wax as Vincent Price’s assistant, Igor. Bronson is credited under his real name, Charles Buchinsky.

(7) ABOLISHING A EUPHEMISM. NPR’s Glen Weldon says “The Term ‘Graphic Novel’ Has Had A Good Run. We Don’t Need It Anymore”.

…And all the other, sillier, less meaningful stuff. Science fiction, or whatever.

Oy. OK. Lots to unpack here, and, to be fair, at lot of it’s our fault. Comics readers and creators, that is.

By the time the great cartoonist Will Eisner slapped the term “graphic novel” on his 1978 book, A Contract With God and Other Tenement Stories, the term had been percolating around comics fandom for years. Eisner, however, was a tireless advocate, and wanted people to appreciated that comics are a medium, not a genre. A medium dominated, then as now, by superheroes, but nevertheless a storytelling medium that could be used to tell an infinite number of stories in vastly different ways.

Which is why—

Um, OK. It looks like you’re ramping up. I’m gonna … I’m just gonna grab a seat then.

Fine, go ahead.

The reason Eisner latched onto the term “graphic novel” and ran with it is because … well, it was 1978. He needed to. Comics were considered, if they were considered at all, junk culture. Kid stuff that was beneath serious notice, if not beneath contempt….

Chip Hitchcock comments: “They use Gaiman’s less-colorful metaphor; when he spoke in NYC a decade or so back, he said someone who insisted he did ‘graphic novels’ made him feel like a streetwalker being told she was a lady of the night.”

(8) CHESTNUTS ROASTING. Annalee Newitz lists “All the science fiction and fantasy novels you need to make it through the winter” at Ars Technica.

Everfair, by Nisi Shawl

2016 was a good year for alternate histories, and Shawl’s thought experiment about 19th century colonialism in Everfair is no exception. In this alternate reality, Fabian socialists in Britain manage to team up with African-American missionaries to buy part of the Belgian Congo from King Leopold II, establishing the free African nation of Everfair. Based on an actual historical plan that never came to fruition, the novel imagines how Everfair would develop, changing the history of other colonized African nations as its population swells with American former slaves and liberated peoples of the Congo. Though there is a strong Utopian core to the novel, Shawl does not shy away from depicting thorny, internecine battles between different groups who have opposing definitions of freedom. Plus, we get to see how Everfair develops breathtaking new technologies. Shawl has done incredible research on the history of the Congo, and it shows. This is steampunk done right, with all the tarnish, sweat, and blood visible on the gears of the world’s great industrial technologies.

(9) AH, THAT EXPLAINS IT. I wondered why Vox Day kept using this as a figure for Trump. James McConnaughy makes the connection in “#NotMyGodEmperor: Why Are There So Many Actual Fascists in the Warhammer 40K Fandom?” at The Mary Sue.

That’s ridiculous, I told myself. There’s absolutely no way they could be genuinely identifying with the Imperium of Man or its fascist power structure. After all, the Imperium of Man is a parody of fascism, and not a particularly subtle one at that, since the game constantly talks about how much life sucks and how the authoritarianism causes more problems than it solves. They’d have to be blind to not see that Warhammer 40k is… kid…ding.

Oh. Oh no.

Let’s stop for a moment and talk about satire, because I like hard shifts like that. The problem with satire (or, more directly, the problem with writing satire) is that it has a goal, beyond simply being funny. Satire is pointed, it has a purpose, it is, to use a phrase I often dislike, saying something. More specifically, satire is saying something by taking something it wishes to criticize and blowing it up to absurd proportions.

And therein lies the problem: Satire is always walking the razor’s edge. By using the words and concepts of the thing you are satirizing, you are often giving voice to those words and concepts, and someone out there is going to agree with those words, not the actual point of your satire. That’s the basis of Poe’s Law: Without a blatant display of comedy, it is impossible to create a parody of extremism or fundamentalism that someone won’t mistake for the real thing.

(10) PLONK YOUR MAGIC TWANGER. The Financial Times has a regular feature about the one thing people take with them when they travel.  Chris Hadfield explained in the November 12 issue why he always carries his guitar with him.

He explains that on his first trip to the Mir space station in 1995 he had a special guitar made by Wright Guitars where owner Rossco Wright “adapted one for me, cutting the neck in half and putting a locking piano hinge on it so it would fold and fit in the shuttle.  I had to get approval from Nasa:  from the highest level, the director of the space shuttle programme.”

“Just before the flight while I was in quarantine, I got  a call from the payloads people saying that although Nasa had approved it, the Russians weren’t gonna let me take the guitar on to Mir because it hadn’t passed all the electromagnetic and flammability tests.  So some people from Nasa came to my house, found my spare SoloEtte, did all the testing and passed the results to Russia.  We launched–still without permission from the Russians–and I assembled the guitar on Mir, but we weren’t allowed to plug it in.  Then,. as we were doing a press conference with Russian prime minister Victor Cheromydin, he said, ‘I understand you have a new guitar–play me a song.’  That sounded like permission, so we played a concert on Mir, and nothing caught fire or blew up.”

Hadfield says that the Larivee Parlour guitar Hadfield used to cover “Space Odyssey” in 2013 “was put there” in the International Space Station “for psychological support (along with books, movies, a harmonica and a couple of footballs” and has been in space since 2001.

(11) SPIGOT, RHYMES WITH… In October, Alexandra Erin created a satirical news feed on Medium called The Daily Spigot. She tells her Patreon supporters that she intended it to be daily, but that illness and the election interrupted her momentum; however, she has started writing new posts again. The latest is: “Trump Asking Every Business In Phone Book About Mexico Plans”

This reporter was allowed into Donald Trump’s private office to witness the real estate developer turned job saver in action.

“Hello, Triple A All-American Locksmiths?” he asked during a typical such call. “This is the President of the United States. That’s right,” he said, while an aide frantically mouthed the words “no, no, no” and another scrawled, “You have to stop saying that” on a piece of paper, which was then pushed across the desk to Trump, who frowned at it, signed it, then pushed it away.

“I’m just calling to see if you had any plans on moving your plant or any jobs to Mexico in, say, the next two months to four years? No? Great! Tremendous. Thanks a bunch. Make America great again!”

He then hung up the phone and said, “That’s another one for the Twitter.”

(12) GROWING UP GROOT. CinemaBlend poses some knotty questions in “How Groot Will Be Different In Guardians Of The Galaxy 2, According To Vin Diesel”.

While plugging his new movie Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk to Collider, Vin Diesel detoured into Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 territory, and noted how in the sequel, Groot will have a significantly more naive mindset compared to how he was as an adult. While it was generally assumed that Baby Groot would behave like a juvenile, Diesel statement confirms that the alien basically be a child, albeit one with extraordinary abilities. However, that mentality doesn’t necessarily mean he won’t remember what he was like before he was destroyed and regrown. At San Diego Comic-Con, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige said Baby Groot will retain his memories, although director James Gunn later told a fan that as far as Baby Groot being the original Groot or a “son,” that situation is “complicated.”.

(13) NOT YOUR AVERAGE OBLATE SPHEROID. Astronomers claim to have discovered the roundest object ever measured in nature. Write this on your hand.

Kepler 11145123 is a distant, slowly rotating star that’s more than twice the size of the Sun.

Researchers were able to show that the difference between its radius as measured to the equator and the radius measured to the poles was just 3km.

“This makes Kepler 11145123 the roundest natural object ever measured,” said lead author Prof Laurent Gizon.

He added that it was “even more round than the Sun”.

(14) INFORMATION SUPERHIGHWAY IN THE SKY. Elon Musk’s latest: satellite internet: “SpaceX aims to launch internet from space”.

Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX, announced last year that the service would be “larger than anything that has been talked about to date” adding that it would take about $10bn (£8bn) to get it off the ground.

The latest documents did not include costs.

It suggested that the first 800 satellites would be used to expand internet access in the US, including Puerto Rico and the US Virgin islands.

Each satellite, about the size of an average car, not including solar panels, would weigh 850 pounds (386kg), the firm said.

[Thanks to JJ, Todd, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

155 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 11/18/16 R.U.R. Or R.U.Ain’t (My Baby)

  1. Sorry, Mike, I do not mean to disqualify your opinion at all (though I disagree with it), but I still think that it’s a suboptimal use of that particular bit of Hamlet. I hope it’s not dickish to say that the non-Hamlet formulations of your take on the event are more forceful and to the point. (I still don’t agree, but it’s easier to discuss with the underbrush cleared away. That way we don’t mistake having an argument with abuse or being-hit-on-the-head.)

    I wonder–is this (indicating the whole kerfuffle) a discussion about decorum or practical-political tactics, about good manners or rhetorical effectiveness?

  2. @Mike Glyer

    Would the musical’s message have swayed him? Maybe, but not likely. The statement by the cast (though probably equally unlikely to sway Mr. Pence) at least serves two purposes:

    It is a reminder from outside the campaign bubble that – he was elected to serve all the people; that the campaign’s rhetoric has alienated and caused fear for a lot of folks; and, the opposition are not wild eyed bomb throwers nor paid operatives but Americans.

    It also sets an example for those in opposition of measured, respectful response.

    That a president-elect who opined for the ‘good old days when protesters would be removed on stretchers’ considers it harassment should come as no surprise. That narrative needs to be rejected.

  3. The phrasing may have been respectful to Pence, but the time/place was disrespectful to the rest of the audience. They were captive to a moment that they didn’t come (and pay!) for. While some of the audience may have cheered, others were certainly put into an awkward moment.

    The complaint in the Dr. Suess/Star Trek lawsuit goes into some specific details I hadn’t seen before. There is some overt copying of artwork that may take parody into a grey area. Or may not — depends on the judge and other things.

  4. Bill: The phrasing may have been respectful to Pence, but the time/place was disrespectful to the rest of the audience. They were captive to a moment that they didn’t come (and pay!) for.

    Nope, actually, when you pay for a theater ticket, you pay for the performance that the cast gives you. You don’t get to tell the cast what that performance will be.

  5. Well. _Arrival_ arrived. Or, we managed to arrive (had to fly out last weekend to Florida for my Dad’s 90th birthday, a very lovely and completely family oriented occasion with one great meal out–my first time for eating stone crab!). My present to him (I checked with his wife, and just as I thought, they had to get rid of lots of stuff when they moved from the house in Idaho to the smaller place in the community in Florida, but books of course never count as clutter) was a copy of the anthology on Heinlein I had an essay in (I did an intersectional analysis of The Moon is a Harsh Mistress). He read it the first night, and so we sat around the next morning discussing the essay (along with my younger brother who is also an sf geek and a physicist). It was great fun.

    But, the MOVIE!

    I am in love. This movie is now Officially Declared My #1 Favorite/Bestest (for me) SF (meaning sf that is based on extrapolation of a scientific problem or theory, and since I know linguistics is officially a science since the linguists I know can apply to NSF for grants, the Sapir-Whorf theory counts) film in the entire history of time. (And I always want to call it Sapir-Worf because of Star Trek: TNG).

    I’m a huge fan of the S-W theory while knowing that the ‘strong’ version which is what this film is based upon is not accepted (heck, is pretty much considered NOT possible–too deterministic), but dang, it can make for a wonderful metaphor to drive SF (Suzette Haden Elgin’s _Native Tongue_ trilogy is a great example of a “what IF the strong Sapir-Whorf theory could work” speculation)

    Fantastic acting. BRILLIANT imagery/cinematography. Sneaky superb structure to emphasize one of the important themes. AND female protagonist (and heck, even the poster outside the movie theatre put Dr. Louise Banks at the top, much bigger and more centered than Dr. Ian Donnelly, or the alien ship, or Colonel Weber).

    THIS film plus Ghostbusters? About the best thing in 2016 (which has in many ways been a really sucky year).

    So much to say about this! I will go read Ted Chiang’s story, and maybe some more of his sf–esp. if linguistic in nature–BUT this may be the rare time that the film is my primary love–I’m not at all sure a short story (I’m generally not a short fiction fan, LOVE long novels, and yes, series, trilogies, please) can have the impact that this film did.

    Among other things, I woke up this morning NOT depressed which is a very good thing to be.

    And I wanta teach a linguistic sf course……maybe write an article….maybe…..

  6. 1) That was the most positive set of reactions we’ve seen to any of these stories. Only one of the young readers seriously disliked it, and her reason was that she found it severely depressing — which it’s supposed to be! The other readers found it significantly better than any of the other stories to which they’ve been subjected. I don’t know what Nicoll is looking for, but honestly, that’s about the same spread of reactions I’d expect from any contemporary audience. It’s intended to be a disturbing read.

    7) Not buying this, but I think it’s because my conception of “graphic novel” is more physical than his. Individual issues are comics; the collection in TPB or hardcover format is a graphic novel. In effect, “graphic novel” means I can file it on my library shelves instead of in a comics box. And I see I’m not the only one who uses it that way.

    8) Everfair sounds amazing. So do the two “underground railroad” books, but I’m not sure I have the internal resources to tackle them right now. Not to mention that I still have a Benjamin January book to finish, having for some reason stalled out in the middle of it — I may have to go back and start over from the beginning at this point.

    9) This is tangential, just sparked by the item, but… I don’t care for the hashtag #notmypresident. We mocked the RWAs for using it after Obama was elected, and it seems hypocritical for us to do it now. I’d like to suggest, for people who want to make that point, the alternative #notinmyname.

    @ Steve W: You’re right, “trade paperback” refers to the format, not the contents.

    @ Rose: Well, Digger was a set of compilations of an ongoing series before it was finished.

    @ snowcrash: was that a call for safe spaces?

    Yes, it was. Rather like the “Puppy Safe Space” at MAC II, except insisting that the entire theatrical world be part of it.

  7. Bill on November 19, 2016 at 5:49 pm said:

    The phrasing may have been respectful to Pence, but the time/place was disrespectful to the rest of the audience. They were captive to a moment that they didn’t come (and pay!) for. While some of the audience may have cheered, others were certainly put into an awkward moment.

    I’m imagining an indignant Hamilton audience member with arms crossed thinking “I didn’t come here to hear people talk about controversial US vice-presidents! Harrumph!”

  8. The play was over. The audience had got its money’s worth. Everything that happened after the curtain call was value added.

  9. Russell Letson: I wonder–is this (indicating the whole kerfuffle) a discussion about decorum or practical-political tactics, about good manners or rhetorical effectiveness?

    Possibly all of those, varying according to the person responding.

    Polite as it was, this expression of protest obviously shook a lot of people out of their comfort zone — which is often the explicit purpose or protest. A disapproving response “That wasn’t nice!” probably is an outcome the cast expected from some quarters. Reading about it threw me out of my comfort zone. It’s just that I’ve had that experience often enough to know my next inquiry needs to be whether that was something I needed. Sometimes it is. I already didn’t support these guys for President/VP, but I’m not starting from a place where just because one of them is in a public building we all need to act out.

    Then, stepping into the shoes of the Hamilton cast for a moment, I wondered if they evaluated “Is this an effective thing to do?” (if they’re trying to persuade Pence to change), and “Does it represent our values as artists?” (in not letting the work speak for itself).

  10. Jayn: The play was over. The audience had got its money’s worth. Everything that happened after the curtain call was value added.

    That’s probably true, the way it played out. Who’s going to be unhappy that they get to say they were in the audience when the things happened that blew up on social media?

  11. @Hampus Eckerman

    Pence wants to torture gay children until they crawl back into the closet and pretend they are straight. The corect place for him would be in prison for hate speech.

    Yes. Pence is basically calling for the “genocide” of homosexuality. It is not possible to be rude to him. He is not going to change his mind. It’s important to register dissent before Trump takes over.

  12. @ Mike: I’m seeing a disturbing collection of Puppy tropes in your discussion of the Hamilton address. While I’m sure you don’t mean them in the same way, it’s really odd to hear the politer equivalents of “message fiction” and “sit down and shut up” and “bunch of whiny children” coming from you on this topic.

  13. I go to 5 to 25 plays in a given year. After the applause fades and the actors are standing, no longer acting, I have seen them make any number of statements, ranging from excessive self promotion to promotion of other works, picking out individual audience members (usually to thank for some reason, for fellow actors or local figures, celebrity or political — or of course, family members), asking the audience to sign political petitions, giving out the numbers of help lines and volunteer orgs relevant to the subject…

    … a polite message to the vice president of their country only seems out of line in frequency of opportunity. Nor does it seem to me at all out of line with, or undermining of, a performance whose main character exemplifies “grabbing the opportunity set before one to act”.

  14. Like Kip W, I too am not receiving notifications of new posts (which I had been receiving previously).

    So I ticky in hope.

    Re: graphic novels.
    Dylan Horrocks, who incidentally has just been made New Zealand Arts Foundation Laureate, talks about comics including the usage of graphic novels, mentioning Art Spiegelman’s take that graphic novels are comics long enough that you need a bookmark to read.

    Went to see “Arrival”. Best science fiction movie I’ve seen in a long time. Two thumbs up & everyone should go see it!

    @robinareid
    Ted Chiang’s stories cover a lot of ground and are always worth reading though none of his others AFAIK are on linguistics. His most recent I think is The Great Silence which was on my nominating ballot, is sort of about language & communication. Stories don’t need to be long to pack a punch, like this one in Nature, and I do think that short stories (up to novella length) are easier to adapt into movies than full length novels.

    Having said that, I didn’t think “Story of your life” was a story that could be adapted to the big screen, let alone as well as the makers of “Arrival” have done, so I’m happily eating my words here.

    I had a couple of quibbles about the movie, like gur “shyy” raivebazrag fhvgf jvgu gebhfre obggbzf, fb nal pbagnzvanag pbhyq whfg, ln’xabj znxr gurve jnl hc gebhfre yrtf (naq lrg gurl unir gb tb guebhtu shyy qrpbagnzvangvba rirel fvatyr gvzr), naq gurer’f nyfb gur ynhtunoyr yriry bs frphevgl ba gur zvyvgnel fngryyvgr cubarf…

    But really, they are nitpicks.

  15. @kathodus (re your quote in response to Hampus): The head of the ADL says he’ll register as a Muslim if Trump creates a Muslim database. I’m imagining Danes applauding this pay-forward. (And this time I caught the dastardly software doubling up on the “http://”; the link should work.)

    @Mike: You are taking the quote grossly out of context; the play Hamlet is speaking of was chosen, and then reworked, specifically to point the finger at the murderer. Hamilton begins as a story; some people need to be fishslapped to see the layers in it.

  16. Lee: I tried to answer your comment, got real deep and thoughtful, then hit the wrong key and the window closed. I’ll circle back later and work on another response. But this isn’t the first time I’ve lost a comment and some of the previous occasions seem, in retrospect, like having been saved by divine intervention….

    In the meantime, though, my first thought is that if I was a Puppy I wouldn’t have pursued a course in the last year that alienated me from a bunch of people I got along with just fine before.

  17. @Kip W:

    Y’know what, having read further the claim seems to be based on the accuracy of the synchronization. Wikipedia gave me different facts with citations from different sources, though, so I can’t tell if “Steamboat Willie” used the first click track, or if they used a visual of a bouncing ball (!!), or if said “click track” was the bouncing ball, or what.

    (I have a Fleischer buff friend who has done much grumbling about Disney. Oh my yes.)

  18. Trade paperback is just the hardcover pages with a paper cover. If I have the hardback and you have the trade paperback and I say go to page twenty, line six, word five, we should find the same word.

    Mass market paperback has different pagination. It’s also printed cheaply, as it is expected that the reader will throw it away after reading.

    This is stuff I learned at Amazon.

  19. Hmm. Am still getting notifications – just got one from the 11/17 thread. Any specific posts giving people issues, or is it a general thing?

    Am getting incredibly peeved with all the praise for Arrival. We’re not getting it till frickin’ January! Hate all you all. /jealousy

    Then, stepping into the shoes of the Hamilton cast for a moment, I wondered if they evaluated “Is this an effective thing to do?” (if they’re trying to persuade Pence to change), and “Does it represent our values as artists?” (in not letting the work speak for itself).

    I think one question that they did ask was “Do we need to do something? If so, What?” Effectiveness may not have been as instrumental a metric as assuaging their conscience was.

  20. airboy on November 19, 2016 at 2:54 pm said:

    You are speaking of Senator Sessions. As US Attorney he convicted the head of the KKK of murder and the additional $7 million cash penalty bankrupted the Klan. The head Klansman was executed.

    Not on federal charges: the US government did not execute ANYONE between 1963 and 2001. If he WAS executed, it wasn’t directly as a result of Sessions’ federal prosecution.

  21. If people are huffy over a polite appeal to the VP’s admittedly non-existent better nature, I wonder how they would react if the audience did to Pence what the people at the opening game of the 1985 American League championship playoffs in Toronto did to Mulroney during Tunagate.

  22. I mean, there’s not actually an effective way to convince the vice president that conversion therapy is child abuse (and then later just abuse) and that his hatred for QUILTBAG folks is morally despicable. But to the extent that persuasion is a thing that happens, it’s not a result of people sitting down, exchanging logical arguments, and reevaluating their positions on the merits (really, this has been studied. People are not rational actors, worldviews do not change based on data). It’s an emotional process, not a logical one. And so sure, making an emotional appeal to someone who is (hopefully) emotionally invested in your work is not a bad way to go. And also, yeah, protest is valuable, period. Even polite protest.

    On a SFF note: someone needs to tell the people who made Arrival that first contact movies are not supposed to make me cry. They are especially not supposed to make me cry repeatedly. Easily the best first contact movie around (although there’s not a lot of strong competition), and also one of the best SFF movies, period.

  23. @AsYouKnowBob

    As I understand it: while U.S. Attorney for southern Alabama, Sessions backed his office’s investigation into the lynching of Michael Donald. The actual prosecution and execution were undertaken by the state of Alabama. The civil suit was pursued by the SPLC. So not to Sessions discredit in the least but also not quite what Airboy is presenting either.

  24. Oh, and the Klansman was tried and convicted and executed at the state and COUNTY levels: US Attorney Sessions had nothing to do with THAT, either.

    Wiki:

    Hays was tried six months later in the Mobile County Circuit Court. Mobile County District Attorney Chris Galanos prosecuted the case. A jury recommended a life sentence, but Galanos, calling the offense a “crime of racial hatred,” asked Judge Braxton Kittrell to override the jury and impose the death penalty.

    (composed while Stoic Cynic was posting – thanks for that.)

    So: we’ve been treated to wingnut lies, attempting to rewrite Sessions’ history.

  25. So, “‘As You Know’ Bob”, you baldly admit that, at some point while Sessions was doing law-related stuff, a racist murderer was tried, convicted, and punished?

    Check _and_ mate, sir. Sessions is obviously the heir to Martin Luther King Jr..

  26. (2) I am so glad my parents were Lehrer fans, which enabled me to immediately recognize “Don’t stand underneath when they fly by” (the last line of “A Christmas Carol”). They saw him on his 1959 tour that produced the live album An Evening Wasted with… Actually I grew up with all three albums, including the original pressing of the 10-inch first LP.

  27. Not to mention that Pence wants to divert money from AIDS programs to conversion therapy. The current star of Hamilton, Javier Muñoz, is an HIV-positive gay man.

  28. I’ve seen a lot of plays over the years and many of them have included speeches from the cast during curtain calls. I’ve heard everything from Broadway Cares fundraising appeals to exhortations to vote to promotions for other plays. Some have even been explicitly political (like during the 80s, when talking about HIV/AIDS as anything other than God’s revenge on homosexuality was frowned upon in some quarters).

    That the cast of a play would briefly interrupt applause for their own work and politely say a few words to a public figure about their alarm and their hopes for the future seems… normal. Not controversial, not something that should have been suppressed, not rude, and decidedly not singular.

  29. Trade paperback is just the hardcover pages with a paper cover.

    Not really. It’s a format. It’s any size paperback other than mass-market.

    If I have the hardback and you have the trade paperback and I say go to page twenty, line six, word five, we should find the same word.

    If you and I have the hardback and TPB printed from the same files, sure. But if you have, say, a set of hardcovers of LORD OF THE RINGS, and I have an all-in-one trade paperback of the whole trilogy, the page numbers probably don’t match up.

    Trade paperbacks come in different editions, just like hardcovers, and the pagination will vary, depending on the usual stuff — margins, font-size, page design and so on.

    Mass market paperback has different pagination. It’s also printed cheaply, as it is expected that the reader will throw it away after reading.

    Mass-market paperback is a specific format designed originally to fit into racks at drugstores, grocery stores and other “mass-market” outlets, as opposed to dedicated bookstores, which were considered “trade” outlets.

    Trade paperbacks are paperbacks designed for the trade outlets, that don’t fit into mass-market racks.

    Since those designations were set, books distribution has changed (and so has mass-market racking) so that trade paperbacks are often sold in what used to be considered mass-market outlets. Mass-market paperbacks were sold in trade outlets for virtually the whole time, though; the trade books didn’t go into the mass market, but the mass market books were available to the trade.

    Mass-market books were cheaper, but they don’t usually get thrown away — most genre fiction fans have loads of them (I sure do). The classic paperback format that looks like this:

    http://i.ebayimg.com/images/g/ehwAAOSw9N1VqbcA/s-l300.jpg

    …that’s mass-market paperback.

    All other sizes (with minor exceptions) are trade paperback. This includes TPBs that are the same size as hardcovers and just bound in paper rather than boards, but it’s not limited to them.

  30. @Kurt Busiek

    In the jargon, it’s a “binding” not a “format.” Another thing you learn pretty fast at Amazon is that most rules have exceptions. That doesn’t mean the rules are wrong; it just means you have to have a way to cope with exceptions to them. As a general rule (and an awfully good one), every trade paperback is associated with a hardcover book from which it differs only in binding. (Exception: some books are never sold with a hardcover binding.)

    If you and I have the hardback and TPB printed from the same files, sure. But if you have, say, a set of hardcovers of LORD OF THE RINGS, and I have an all-in-one trade paperback of the whole trilogy, the page numbers probably don’t match up.

    I should have added that they have to be the same edition. For books with multiple editions, that likely won’t work if the editions don’t match.

    Trade paperbacks will shelve well with hardcover books, since they have the same dimensions. In fact, early printings of hard-cover books (e.g. ones produced so critics can get early copies) are often given a trade binding.

    Mass-market paperbacks generally will not. And, yes, there’s no requirement to discard mass-market paperbacks. (I never did.) But that was the plan.

  31. Im just surprised that the Hamilton “Incident” is discussed so much at length, while the president is settling a lawsuit for fraud?
    I know “Whataboutism” is something to be avaioded, but this focus is just surprising to me…

  32. Peer Sylvester on November 20, 2016 at 4:34 am said:

    Im just surprised that the Hamilton “Incident” is discussed so much at length, while the president is settling a lawsuit for fraud?
    I know “Whataboutism” is something to be avaioded, but this focus is just surprising to me…

    There are suspicions in some quarters that this is a feature, not a bug; that Pence was dispatched to the play in hopes that some incident would occur that would take the spotlight off the fraud settlement, and the diplomats booking rooms in Trump Hotels to curry favor, and his daughter sitting in the meeting with the Japanese Prime Minister …

    I weep for our Republic. It’s only been ten days, and the media is already normalizing behavior that should never be normal.

  33. Some yahoo disrupted Hamilton in Chicago last night at the line “Immigrants; we get the job done.”

    Will Trump demand an apology for this man’s boorish behavior during the play (as opposed to after the bows?) I’m guessing not….

    (I understand that the cast carried on like the professionals they are, never breaking character.)

  34. I seriously doubt that Pence went to the play, hoping for something. But it shouldnt matter anyway. A statement by actors vs. Designated president is a Fraud? Should be clear what should have been the focus. This is baffling, frankly.

  35. @Peer – I seriously doubt that Pence went to the play, hoping for something. But it shouldnt matter anyway. A statement by actors vs. Designated president is a Fraud? Should be clear what should have been the focus. This is baffling, frankly.

    I read a Reuters report that Pence did not think the Hamilton cast action was rude and characterized the audience booing to his children as the sound of democracy. So, he demonstrates some awareness of history and of democracy.

    In fairness (no, I don’t know why I bother), the President-elect settled without admitting wrongdoing. In other words, the man who campaigned on the premise of fighting and winning lawsuits and never settling (in spite of a public record of doing so), once again settled a suit.

  36. @Mike Glyer: Thanks for the link fixing! Appertain yourself a drink. 😉

    @Lis Carey: ::sending sleep:: Hah, what am I thinking! Like I’ve had extra or something. It may not be great sleep I’m sending, sorry. 😉

    @Eli & @Kurt Busiek: Great posts, thanks. “Words are disobedient things,” heh, yup.

  37. @JJ: Thanks for posting your novel mini-reviews! Yay, another rec for Behind the Throne, a book I liked a lot. 😀 I’ve read some mixed reviews for Ghost Talkers, so your review’s helpful – I’m tilting back towards “get it.” Finally, I need to try “The Laundry Files” series; my brother (not specifically an SF reader) highly rec’d it to me, and I’ve seen at least a few recs for it here, IIRC, in addition to yours.

    @Doctor Science: I may have made a minor positive comment about Betweek Two Thorns – the excerpt was very good and convinced me to buy it, but I haven’t gotten around to actually reading it yet. ::blush:: But I believe one or two others rec’d it. Anyway, I’m glad you liked it, but I’m sorry you’re not getting into Fluency, which I liked a lot.

    @robinareid: I haven’t read any Ted Chiang except “Story of Your Life” (very good) and “The Lifecycle of Software Objects” (which I liked even better), but based on those two, I should read more of his work.

  38. SF Watching: We saw “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” last night and enjoyed it a lot. And we have tickets for “Arrival” later today, yay! Two SFF movies in one weekend is surely a personal record here. Heck, two movies in one weekend.

    SF Reading: I just finished The Void by Timothy S. Johnston. It was very good, and a good finish to the trilogy. The epilogue makes it clear Johnston would like to write more in this universe, but his next books are unrelated. Anyway, he completed his thriller-mystery-SF series in usual fashion – things start to ramp up slowly, then BOOM, hell breaks loose, then when you think things are bad, BOOM!!! all hell breaks loose. He likes to keep readers guessing, but a couple of reveals weren’t surprising, based on similar things in past books. But that’s Not A Problem, IMHO. He puts the main character through hell, but not as much as book 2, where Tanner got the most physical abuse of the series (I expected worse in this book, from a comment Johnston made in e-mail). Anyway, I recommend this series, but as I mentioned recently, they’re probably not for everyone, and some dialog and actions seem a bit “off” at times. Based on what little I run across about this book on the ‘net, I wonder if I’m the only one who read the series (or the only one who liked it a lot).

  39. In the jargon, it’s a “binding” not a “format.”

    Trade paperback is a format. Smith-sewn is a binding. Perfect-bound is a binding.

    Another thing you learn pretty fast at Amazon is that most rules have exceptions. That doesn’t mean the rules are wrong; it just means you have to have a way to cope with exceptions to them.

    What it sounds like is that Amazon has jargon useful within the confines of its operations, but this does not mean that jargon is useful outside them.

    As a general rule (and an awfully good one), every trade paperback is associated with a hardcover book from which it differs only in binding.

    This is not true. Many, yes. Every, not even close.

    (Exception: some books are never sold with a hardcover binding.)

    Many, many, many books, yes.

    Including so many that Amazon sells that even in their internal jargon, I’m astonished they’d say that every tpb has an associated hc, with some exceptions. That’d be a huge list of exceptions.

    Ultimately, even if these are Amazon’s rules, I wouldn’t use them to describe the difference between mmpb and tpb, because of all those exceptions you’d then have to add as caveats.

  40. Trade paperbacks will shelve well with hardcover books, since they have the same dimensions.

    Mass-market paperbacks generally will not.

    Other way round really. Mmpbs will fit on any shelf that can hold hcs and trades, because they’re smaller than most hcs and trades. Many bookstores shelve them all together with no difficulty whatsoever.

    Hcs and trades won’t fit on shelves designed purely for mmpbs, though, which is why many longtime SF fans complain bitterly about the collapse of the mmpb market — they assumed the business patterns that produced mmpbs would last forever and installed shelving that didn’t fit larger formats.

    In fact, early printings of hard-cover books (e.g. ones produced so critics can get early copies) are often given a trade binding.

    Those are ARCs, and yes, they’re almost always paperbound. And are usually but not always a printing of the hardcover guts with a cheap binding. But that by no means supports the argument that all tpbs are; think of how common it is for tpbs to have additional back matter, like those “P.S.” books, or books with sample chapters of the next book in the series. That used to be a mmpb specialty, but digital prepress makes things more flexible.

    That’s in addition to the many exceptions already discussed, of course.

  41. On the Pence/Hamilton front, I’ve always liked this bit, from Connecticut Governor Lowell Weicker:

    I’ve always been a big supporter of the Constitutional right of the people to peaceably assemble and petition government for redress of grievances. It’s just that I never envisioned it taking the form of thousands of people screaming ‘you asshole!’ at me.

  42. Would anyone use ‘graphic novel’ of a floppy thing that appears weekly, just to affirm how serious it is?

    It seems to me that the term can either mean ‘book-sized work in graphic form’, or ‘book-sized work in graphic form which is serious, and not just mass entertainment’. But ‘novel’, as applied to prose, has a similar ambiguity: so I’m not sure it is avoidable (and certainly not a reason for dropping the term).

  43. I’ve seen people use “graphic novel” to refer to a 10-page story. Or less.

    These people were idiots, but yes, people do exist — largely in the film industry, as far as I can tell — who use the term for any comics story that’s long enough not to be called a comic strip.

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