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)”.
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 Sea, Journey 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 Hornet, Mission Impossible, I-Spy (ok I consider even if you don’t), Galactica 1980, Man from Atlantis, The Six Million Dollar Man, Planet of The Apes, Kolchak: 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 Shelf, The 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 Algol, Banana Wings, Broken Toys, Chunga, Flag, The Frozen Frog, Lofgeornost, SF Commentary, Trumpet. 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 Poe, The 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.
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.]