Pixel Scroll 2/8/21 By This Pixel I Scroll

A short Scroll today because I was out getting my first COVID-19 vaccination shot.

(1) NASA AND BLACK HISTORY MONTH.  NASA will premiere its “The Power of African American Leadership in NASA” video on Facebook tomorrow at Noon Eastern.

Spanning missions from Apollo to Artemis, “The Power of African American Leadership in NASA” will look at how African Americans in leadership roles have influenced change and helped drive mission success through lessons learned and discussions shared by current and past NASA leaders. The panel discussion, moderated by NASA Associate Administrator for Small Business Programs Glenn Delgado, will feature:

  • Brenda Manuel, retired NASA Associate Administrator for Diversity and Equal Opportunity
  • Clayton Turner, center director, NASA’s Langley Research Center
  • Hildreth (Hal) Walker Jr., NASA “Hidden Figure” who led the manufacturing, testing, and operation of the KORAD K-1500 ruby laser system for the lunar laser ranging experiment as part of the Apollo 11 Moon landing
  • Dr. Woodrow Whitlow, retired NASA associate administrator for mission support
  • Vanessa Wyche, deputy center director, NASA’s Johnson Space Center

(2) OUR UNUSED WELCOME MAT. James Davis Nicoll says these books illustrate “Five Possible Reasons We Haven’t Been Visited By Aliens (Yet)”.

Zoo Hypothesis

The aliens are aware of us but prefer for some reason to actively avoid overt contact. Possible reasons:

  • In Anne McCaffrey’s Decision at Doona, a first contact gone horribly wrong has left an interstellar polity with an extreme reluctance to interact with other civilizations.
  • Scientific detachment. Let’s see how these humans develop. No fair contaminating the experiment.
  • Humans are icky.
  • Nature preserve. There’s something interesting about the Solar System and it isn’t us.

(3) SHIELD CARRIERS. Marvel dropped a trailer for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.

(4) CELEBRITIES LIFT UP AN INDIE BOOKSTORE. On The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Sam Elliott and Tom Hanks help promote an independent bookstore. (A Kim Stanley Robinson book even gets a split-second of airtime!)

This Super Sunday we want to celebrate one of the many American small businesses that have struggled to stay open in the past year amid extremely challenging conditions. Visit http://www.foggypinebooks.com? to meet the fine folks at Foggy Pine Books on King Street in Boone, North Carolina where every book is an adventure waiting to happen! Foggy Pine Books is endorsed by celebrity customers Sam Elliott and Tom Hanks.

(5) CYBERSECURITY AND MORE. “Professionals Speak: US Election Interference in 2020 and Beyond” on the February 13 installment of Essence of Wonder with Gadi Evron.

Professionals in election security and foreign interference will join Gadi, Karen, and Bryson Bort (CEO & Founder, SCYTHE) for a retrospective on the 2020 Presidential election from a cybersecurity and influence campaigns perspective, as well as discuss how these threats are evolving.

This Saturday, 13 February. 3 PM US Eastern Time.

Joining Bryson for the panel will be:

  • David Imbordino – NSA Elections Security Lead and co-lead for the joint NSA/USCC Election Security Group
  • Matt Masterson – Former Election Security Lead for CISA
  • Harri Hursti – Nordic Innovation Labs
  • Maggie MacAlpine – Nordic Innovation Labs
  • … And we’re happy to welcome back on the show, SJ Terp, a strategist with ThreeT Consulting

(6) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • February 8, 1968 Planet Of The Apes had its full U.S. wide release after several smaller city-wide openings. It was directed by Franklin J. Schaffner. It starred Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter, Maurice Evans, James Whitmore, James Daly and Linda Harrison. The screenplay was by Michael Wilson and Rod Serling, and was somewhat based on Pierre Boulle‘s La Planète des Singes. It was not on the final Hugo ballot in 1969 for Best Dramatic Presentation, though it was met with critical acclaim and is widely regarded as a classic film and one of the best films of 1968. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it an 87% rating with over 117,000 having expressed an opinion! 

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born February 8, 1828 Jules Verne. So how many novels by him are you familiar with? Personally I’m on first-hand terms with Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the SeaJourney to the Center of the Earth and Around the World in Eighty Days. That’s it. It appears that he wrote some sixty works and a lot were genre. And of course his fiction has become the source of many other fictions in the last century as well. (Died 1905.) (CE)
  • Born February 8, 1918 Michael Strong. He was Dr. Roger Korby in the most excellent Trek episode of “What Are Little Girls Made Of?” He also showed up in Green HornetMission ImpossibleI-Spy (ok I consider even if you don’t), Galactica 1980Man from AtlantisThe Six Million Dollar ManPlanet of The ApesKolchak: The Night Stalker and The Immortal. (Died 1980.) (CE)
  • Born February 8, 1819 – John Ruskin.  Art critic, draftsman, watercolorist, university professor, complicated and at different times highly influential, for us he wrote one novel and a preface to an edition of the Grimm brothers’ Children’s and Household Tales.  Baskin-Robbins ice cream shops have displayed a statement of what is sometimes called the Common law of business balance attributed to him, but scholars have not found it in his voluminous writings.  To further acknowledge the Cosmic Joker, there’s a Baskin-Robbins in Ruskin, Florida (where there was once a Ruskin College); and I used to dine happily at a Japanese-run French restaurant in Los Angeles named “Sesame and Lilies” after a Ruskin book.  (Died 1900) [JH]
  •  Born February 8, 1938 – Ned Brooks.  Exemplary collector not only of fanzines but also typewriters, known for It Comes in the Mail and then It Goes on the ShelfThe Mae Strelkov Trip Report (with Sam Long), and for a while The New Newport News News. He earned the Kaymar, both the Rebel and the Rubble, and the Moskowitz Archive Award.  Two editions of a Hannes Bok Checklist.  Faithful correspondent of AlgolBanana Wings, Broken ToysChungaFlagThe Frozen FrogLofgeornostSF CommentaryTrumpet.  Fan Guest of Honor at Rivercon IV, DeepSouthCon 39.  Our Gracious Host’s appreciation here.  (Died 2015) [JH]
  • Born February 8, 1941 – Tony Lewis, Ph.D., F.N., age 80.  Nuclear physicist, active Boston fan.  NESFA (New England SF Ass’n) long met at his home.  Chaired Boskone 7 & 14, co-chaired 44; chaired Noreascon I the 29th Worldcon, his reminiscence here.  Celebrated auctioneer, one of our ways to raise funds before, during, after.  Coined the name “NASFiC” (North America SF Convention, since 1975 held when the Worldcon is overseas).  A score of stories; fivescore reviews in Locus and Analog; A’s calendar section since 1974; Best of “Astounding”.  Instrumental in NESFA Index to the SF Magazines.  Speaking of instrumentality, long-time Cordwainer Smith fan; Concordance (2nd ed. 2004).  Annotated Bibliography of Recursive SF.  Long-time Hal Clement fan (there’s a range for you), see his appreciation in The Essential Hal Clement vol. 3.  Writer’s guide Space Travel (with Ben Bova), see the 2012 reprint.  Index to “Perry Rhodan” (American Ed’n).  Fellow of NESFA (service award).  Fan Guest of Honor at Windycon VI (with wife Suford Lewis), Lunacon 42, Arisia ’03.  Czar of NESFA Press.  [JH]
  • Born February 8, 1944 Roger Lloyd-Pack. He was John Lumic in the “Rise of the Cybermen” and “The Age of Steel”, both Tenth Doctor stories. (He was the voice of the Cyber-Controller in these episodes as well.) He was also Barty Crouch, Sr. in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. And he played Quentin Sykes in the Archer’s Goons series. (Died 2014.) (CE) 
  • Born February 8, 1951 – Jim Young.  A Floundering Father of Minn-StF.  Editor of Rune, member of Minneapa, edited the Minneapolis in ’73 Filksong Book.  Two novels, half a dozen shorter stories; poem “The God Within the Stone” and other things in NY Review of SF.  Fan Guest of Honor at Noncon 3, Minicon 40 (he had chaired the first ten or so – certainty is rare in Minneapolis fandom).  OGH’s appreciation here.  (Died 2012) [JH]
  • Born February 8, 1953 Mary Steenburgen, 68. She first acted in a genre way as Amy in Time After Time. She followed that up by being Adrian in A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy which I suppose is sort of genre though I’ll bet some you will dispute that. She shows up next in the much more family friendly One Magic Christmas as Ginny Grainger. And she has a part in Back to the Future Part III as Clara Clayton Brown which she repeated in the animated series. And, and keep in mind this is not a full list, she was also in The Last Man on Earth series as Gail Klosterman. (CE) 
  • Born February 8, 1965 – Maryelizabeth Hart, age 56.  Four books in the Buffyverse.  Appreciation of Octavia Butler in Fantastic Fictioneers vol. 1.  Co-owner awhile of the Mysterious Galaxy bookshop; her perspective from 2011 is here. [JH]
  • Born February 8, 1969 Mary Robinette Kowal, 52. Simply a stellar author and an even more better human being. I’m going to select out Ghost Talkers as the work by her that I like the most. Now her Forest of Memory novella might be more stellar.  She’s also a splendid voice actor doing works of authors such as John Scalzi, Seanan McGuire and Kage Baker. I’m particularly amazed by her work on McGuire’s Indexing series. So let’s have Paul Weimer have the last words on her: ‘I thought it was Shades of Milk and Honey for a good long while, but I think Calculating Stars is my new favorite.’ (CE) 
  • Born February 8, 1979 Josh Keaton, 42. He voiced the Hal Jordan / Green Lantern character in the most excellent Green Lantern: The Animated series which is getting a fresh series of episodes on the DC Universe streaming service. Yea! I’m also very impressed with his Spider-Man that he did for The Spectacular Spider-Man series. (CE)
  • Born February 8, 1982 – Tara Fuller, age 39.  Three novels for us.  “I blame my mother….  Halloween was always a spectacle in our house….  strewn with cobwebs, paper skeletons, and motion sensor vampires that screamed at you when you walked past.”  Has read a Poetry of Robert Frost, a Complete Stories & Poems of PoeThe Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion too.  [JH]

(8) AS ABOVE, SO BELOW. In a Politico newsletter, Ryan Heath leads the analysis with a paragraph about space exploration: “China’s winning. The world’s democrats need a plan”.

MARS POPULATION SET TO EXPLODE: You wait all decade for a space bus, and then three come at once. Of the 20 or so earthly objects that have reached the surface or orbit of Mars since 1971, only a handful are still operating, but all that is set to change over the next week. A United Arab Emirates’ orbiter(think satellite)reaches Mars orbit on Tuesday, China’s combo orbiter-rover is due Wednesday, while NASA’s rover is expected Feb. 18, and will soon after attempt to land, “the first leg in a U.S.-European effort to bring Mars samples to Earth in the next decade.” The Chinese vehicle will attempt a landing in May.

DEMOCRACY DENIED

Haiti, Myanmar, Russia, the United States, Hong Kong and Ethiopia are an unlikely grouping of countries: but they’ve all faced complex challenges to democratic rule in recent weeks. In one it’s an out-and-out coup (Myanmar), in others an insurrection (Haiti and the United States). In Hong Kong an international treaty — the Sino-British Declarationprotecting democracy until 2047 — is violated, in Russia the opposition leader jailed, and in Ethiopia it’s armed conflict over a disputed election. What all six examples show is democracy denied or poisoned, and struggling to breathe.

Increasingly fingers have been pointed at China’s campaign to make the world safe for non-democracy (the International Republican Institute has a new report on Chinese Communist Party tactics here). President Joe Biden isn’t mincing words: on Sunday, he said that after 25 hours of private meetings in recent years with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, he’s confident Xi “doesn’t have a democratic ‘small D’ bone in his body.”

The problem is bigger than China: Freedom House documents in a new report that at least 31 governments are working in 79 countries to physically repress democracy activists: “reaching beyond national borders to silence dissent,” including in the U.S. and U.K….

(9) DO OVER. ScreenRant picks the “10 Best Sci-Fi Movies Under 90 Minutes”. Interesting – they like Westworld better than the movie it lost a Hugo to, Sleeper, also under 90 minutes. 

The busier a person is, the less likely they are to watch long films. Instead, they will most likely stream a TV show – after all, one episode tends to be much shorter than a feature film. However, fans of sci-fi films don’t need to despair. Luckily, there are plenty of brilliant sci-fi films that are fairly short and won’t take more than 90 minutes of time….

3. Westworld (1973): 88 Minutes

Thanks to the mega-successful HBO TV series, this film is mostly forgotten. However, if someone wants to see where the idea originated, Westworld is the perfect chance to do so. Writer Michael Crichton penned the script and even directed the film. It has a fairly simple storyline – people are running from a dangerous robot in a western-themed futuristic amusement park. Despite its straightforward plot, the film still manages to keep the audience intrigued.

(10) MOO AND MOJO. An article about the ancient relationship between magic and cheese at The Conversation: “The spellbinding history of cheese and witchcraft”.

… It’s not entirely clear why cheese is seen to have magical properties. It might be to do with the fact it’s made from milk, a powerful substance in itself, with the ability to give life and strength to the young. It might also be because the process by which cheese is made is a little bit magical. The 12th-century mystic, Hildegard von Bingen, compared cheese making to the miracle of life in the way that it forms curds (or solid matter) from something insubstantial.

In the early modern period (roughly 1450-1750) the creation of the universe was also thought of by some in terms of cheesemaking: “all was chaos, that is, earth, air, water, and fire were mixed together; and out of that bulk a mass formed – just as cheese is made out of milk – and worms appeared in it, and these were the angels.” The connection with life and the mysterious way that cheese is made, therefore, puts it in a good position to claim magical properties….

(11) FUTURE OF SPACE, OR? The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum invites people to Ignite Tomorrow. They’re also looking for help naming a new exhibit that is part of the ongoing transformation of the Museum in Washington, DC. Learn more about the project.

[Thanks to John Hertz, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Martin Morse Wooster, Rob Thornton, Nicholas Whyte, Gadi Evron, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cora Buhlert.]

29 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 2/8/21 By This Pixel I Scroll

  1. (7) So Roger Lloyd-Pack worked with Tennant in both Doctor Who and Harry Potter (Tennant was Barty Crouch, Jr.)

  2. Congratulations on getting your first Covid-19 shot! I’m just young enough that I’ll not be getting mine until May or June say Jenner most likely. Farhia, my personal care assistant, likewise doesn’t qualify for a vaccination yet.

  3. (7) Ruskin had an interesting life, being born 19 years after he died!
    (Actually, he was born in 1819, not 1919.)

  4. Andrew (not Werdna) says So Roger Lloyd-Pack worked with Tennant in both Doctor Who and Harry Potter (Tennant was Barty Crouch, Jr.)

    They also showed up together on The Catherine Tate Show in “Nan’s Christmas Carol” special that was done in 2009. Definitely genre.

  5. (7) The anomaly in the Ruskin bio (perhaps corrected by now) is analogous to a certain peculiarity in the life of P. D. Q. Bach.

    (9) Surprised they didn’t include The Purple Rose of Cairo (82 minutes), at the time thought to be one of Allen’s best (it was only the second of his movies that he didn’t appear in).

    Fifth!

  6. (7) Tony Lewis really ought to be high on any Worldcon bid committee’s list of prospective Fan Guests of Honor. He really, really deserves that career honor for all of the fan activities he’s been doing for many, many decades. I consider him the patriarch of Boston fandom.

  7. Congrats on gettin yer jab, Mike. Another shot of hope in this world.

    Friday, during my Boulder Food Rescue donation pick-up at a local grocery store, one of the staff there said to me, “Your turn to get vaccinated must be coming up pretty soon, huh?” And I honestly don’t know if he assumed I was a good deal older than I am (which would be a first, and rather refreshing actually–thanks, face mask!), or if he just assumed that us volunteer food couriers were getting some sort of essential worker priority. Would be nice, but I haven’t heard anything to that effect. My husband and I, both in our mid-40s, are lucky to be able to continue isolating (aside from my BFR gig, which is honestly very low risk; we do no-contact drop-off, and the grocery store is following good protocol in their staff areas where I am) and doing our work from home until our turn comes, probably end of summer.

    My Dad, at 74, just got his first shot. Mom, slightly younger but a resident at a memory care home, has got both hers. I’m so happy for both of them.

    Speaking of isolation and its innovations, I just experienced my first home beer delivery from Hazel’s. “How’s your morning going?” asks the driver. “Good! Even better now,” says me.

  8. 7) By Jules Verne, I have read Journey to the Center of the Earth, From the Earth to the Moon, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Around the Moon, Around the World in Eighty Days, The Mysterious Island, Michael Strogoff and some short stories. Liked them all.

  9. 7.Verne) That I know of, off the top of my head. “Journey to the Centre of the Earth”, “20,000 Leagues under the Sea”, “The Mysterious Island”, and maybe (just maybe) “Five Weeks in a Balloon”. I am probably missing a whole lot off that list, but I am battling distance in time as well as language.

  10. Paul Weimer says Agreed, MRK’s narration of her own work and others is just spectacular.

    She guarantees that’ll I’ll give an uncertain work a preliminary listen as I know that I like the narrative. Of course her fiction itself is always first rate.

  11. (8) I’ve got some concerns about Heath’s analysis, for example he doesn’t mention Bolivia at all. Any fan of democracy should applaud the peaceful ouster of the people behind their 2019 coup.

  12. Not a Meredith moment but Aliette De Bodard’s Fireheart Tiger is out at the usual digital suspects today according to the pre-order notice I got overnight. It should be up to her most excellent standards.

  13. In my first flush of genre love, back in fifth grade (c. 1985), I bought a volume of Verne’s novels. It contained Journey to the Center of the Earth, From the Earth to the Moon & Around the Moon, Around the World in 80 Days, 20,000 Leagues under the Seas, and its sequel The Mysterious Island. Since then I’ve revisited 20,000 Leagues many times, & I read 80 Days to my daughter.

  14. Paul Weimer says Yup, Fireheart Tiger is one of my preorders dropping today!

    I actually had two works by her drop today as Audible released her Tea and Murder: Stories of the Xuya Universe this morning as well. It’s two novellas, “The Citadel of Weeping Pearls” and “The Tea Master and the Detective” the latter of which I’m reasonably sure have been out before as an audiobook.

  15. @ Cat, oh yeah, I’ve read Tea Master in ebook, and it’s most excellent. Didn’t realize there was an audible release today too from Aliette. Thank you!

  16. Paul Weimer says oh yeah, I’ve read Tea Master in ebook, and it’s most excellent. Didn’t realize there was an audible release today too from Aliette. Thank you!

    Audible notifies me when an author is listen to has a new work is coming. Apple Books does the same thing. Not great for my bank account, but great for my to be experienced lists.

  17. Available for pre-order: “The Apollo Murders” by Chris Hadfield.

    The far side of the Moon, 1973. Three astronauts are trapped in a tiny Apollo module, and one of them has murder on the mind…

    From internationally bestselling astronaut Chris Hadfield comes an exceptional Cold War thriller from the dark heart of the Space Race. As Russian and American crews sprint for a secret bounty hidden away on the Moon’s surface, old rivalries blossom and the political stakes are stretched to breaking point back on Earth. Houston flight controller Kazimieras ‘Kaz’ Zemeckis must do all he can to keep the NASA crew together, while staying one step ahead of his Soviet rivals. But not everyone on board Apollo 18 is quite who they appear to be.

  18. @P J Evans

    Available for pre-order: “The Apollo Murders” by Chris Hadfield.

    I wonder if this is entirely Hadfield’s work, or if there is a ghost writer involved.

  19. @bill–

    I wonder if this is entirely Hadfield’s work, or if there is a ghost writer involved.

    He’s an intelligent, articulate accomplished man, with a few bestselling non-fiction books behind him. I can’t find any evidence of a co-author. What’s your basis for suspecting a ghostwriter?

  20. Title credit! And you can probably guess what I’ve been reading lately.

    Also congrats on getting your first covid-19 shot. The closest thing to a vaccination success I have to report is that I was now able to put my Dad (who’s 82) on a waiting list for the vaccination. At almost 79, my Mom is still one year too young to qualify for vaccination now, even though she’s actually higher risk than my Dad due to pre-existing conditions. My turn will still take a while, though I might get it earlier than the average healthy fortysomething, if I qualify as a caregiver for my parents.

  21. @Lis Carey
    Because so many people who excel in one field take advantage of ghost writers or co-authors when they write novels. Fiction writing is a skill set that is not necessarily implied by Hadfield’s many other accomplishments, nor for any other equally accomplished person.

    An example: What you say about Hadfield (“an intelligent, articulate accomplished man, with a few bestselling non-fiction books behind him”) applies also to Bill Clinton, but his novels are co-written with James Patterson. Likewise Newt Gingrich, and his novels with William Forstchen. Barbara Boxer and astronauts Bill Pogue and Jake Garn all wrote non-fiction books on their own, and novels with someone else.

  22. @bill (and @Lis Carey): And then you have one James Earl Carter, a technical guy from the Navy who, in his retirement, wrote a book with his wife and a couple dozen on his own, including a very good slim volume of poetry–worth buying for “The County Boss Explains How It Is” alone–and a novel I enjoyed till I set it down somewhere.

    If Carter can do it–to say nothing of Laclos!–who’s to say Hadfield can’t? Why make that assumption when we have examples to the contrary?

  23. I didn’t assume it, just wondered out loud about it.

    Other counter-examples include James Webb (former Sec of Navy and Virginia Senator) and astronauts Scott Carpenter and Edward Gibson, all of whom wrote novels on their own.

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