Pixel Scroll 2/13/16 He Feels The Pixels Scraping, Scrolls Breaking On His Brow

(1) TIME IN A BOTTLE. Ars Technica tries to figure out how time travel works in Star Trek.

Time travel, while perhaps one of the most interesting devices in the series, is also confusing, befuddling, and inconsistent. In the words of Captain Janeway, “the future is the past, the past is the future; it all gives me a headache.”

While we can’t get too deep into the purported mechanisms behind Trek time travel—they rely on things like “chronotons” whose nature real-world science has sadly yet to discover—it’s still interesting to ponder time travel’s effects. How does it affect the present? Is interference with the past a predestined part of history? Do alterations in the past get mixed into the current timeline?

(2) BIT PLAYER. “Finding Boshek” is the latest in The Numerous Solutions of Billy Jensen.

He was the man who could have been Solo.

I have always been intrigued by BoShek. When Ben Kenobi enters the cantina on Mos Eisley looking for a pilot to take himself, the boy and two droids to Alderaan, his first choice is a smuggler sporting arched eyebrows, killer muttonchops, and a black and white space suit more akin to an astronaut than a fighter pilot. While we cannot hear their dialogue, it is obvious that Kenobi asks him for a ride to Alderaan–and for whatever reason, the space pilot says no.

Was his ship out of commission? Did he have another charter later that day?

Whatever the reason, BoShek turns down the offer, but smoothly motions over his shoulder to the furry beast behind him, in my mind saying something to the effect of “Sorry, I can’t help you. But why don’t you give him a try?”

That furry beast, Chewbacca, then brings Kenobi and Skywalker to the table, Han Solo sits down, the rest is history…and BoShek faded forever into the darkness of the Mos Eisley bar.

Incredibly enough, he solved the mystery.

Commenter Jeremy Miller was so impressed he wrote:

This was a spectacular discovery, but there remains yet another, even more elusive uncredited extra hailing from the Star Wars cinematic universe begging to be found. His character has been named…Willrow Hood…the infamous Cloud City tech who absconded with an ice cream maker during the evacuation of Cloud City in The Empire Strikes Back. Help us, Billy Jensen. You’re our only hope.

(3) SLATE FIGHTER. Steve Davidson’s thoughtful Amazing Stories post “Whether tis Nobler” follows this introduction with an analysis of anti-Hugo-slate tactics.

GRRM’s laying the blame for the success of No Award at my feet – problematic.  For reasons both personal and voting-related.

I like Mr. Martin.  I particularly admire and am grateful for his unstinting support of fandom over the years.  (By way of example:  he has consistently attended Worldcon even when other, higher-profile conventions have been scheduled for the same weekend.  His stated reason for doing so is “He is a fan”.)  I find him to be, in  many respects, a fine example of the kind of fan-turned-pro that I grew up with, people like Asimov, Bradbury, Clement, Buchanan, Gerrold, others.  They KNOW where they came from, they recognize and acknowledge the support the community has provided to them, they embrace the culture and they pay things forward.

I’m uncomfortable being at odds with him.

On the voting front though, we’re at odds.  We are not at odds when it comes to the general concept of “do not mess with the Hugo Awards”.  Our conflict is based on tactics, not strategy.  Mr. Martin believes that the only consideration ought to be whether or not a work is worthy of a Hugo Award, and further, he believes that this position should trump any anti-slate considerations. Anything less can potentially negatively affect deserving nominees who happen to be on slates.

I on the other hand believe that slates are the primary issue and taking an effective and long-lasting stand against their use and acceptance ought to be the main focus.

(4) VENERA. At Galactic Journey, The Traveler has just read about the Soviet Union’s 1961 Venus probe.

Look out, Venus!  The Russians are coming to open your shell.

Venus, forever shrouded in a protective layer of clouds, may soon be compelled to give up her secrets to a 1400 pound probe.  Launched by the Soviet Union on the 11th, it is the first mission from Earth specifically designed to investigate “Earth’s Twin.”

(5) EXCITABLE BRIN. And in 2016, David Brin got a little revved up by what he heard at two events in California: “Space: so many milestones ahead!”

Space is looking up. In that more eyes appear to be turning skyward in tentative optimism. A few days ago I participated in a pair of events in Los Angeles, hosted by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and NASA and Fox Studios. The morning event featured Ridley Scott, Adam Savage, Bill Nye, Andy Weir and scientists and screenwriters discussing how the film The Martian may be a harbinger of much more about bold exploration.  The smaller afternoon event, at UCLA put scientists and Hollywood myth-makers together in workshops.  Maybe we’ll get more hopeful tales!

(6) INKLINGS. Glenn Hough has reviewed Diana Pavlac Glyer’s Bandersnatch at Worlds Without End.

In terms of the 20th century, the Inklings, this select group of men, who met, talked, and critiqued each others work, has now become The Example for how a fellowship is supposed to work. Even Paris of Hemingway’s lost generation, with their salons, and creative minds from far more disciples, seems now a pale second place.

Bandersnatch takes us into this crucible, trying to reconstruct from a fly-on-the-wall perspective this extraordinary time and place. Glyer is concerned with two fundamental questions: What did they talk about when they discussed the various works in progress? and What difference did it make within the books they were writing?

(7) CRASHY BOOM. Neatorama remembers “The Sound Effects Genius Behind The Looney Tunes And Merrie Melodies”.

Treg Brown started his career as a sound editor for the Warner Brothers in 1936, and under his guidance the iconic Looney Tunes cartoon sound took shape.

From the subtle inclusion of sound effects in orchestral scores to the hiring of iconic voice actors like Mel Blanc, Treg is the guy responsible for it all.

(8) EO BBC. The BBC aired the first science fiction television program 78 years ago.

Doctor Who may be the world’s longest-running science fiction television series, but it’s not the oldest sci-fi program to have been broadcast on television. That honor goes to another BBC production, which first aired 78 years ago today: a live recording of Karel ?apek’s seminal play, R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots). You probably remember that the program was nominated for a Retro-Hugo in 2014.


  • February 13, 1931 — Bela Lugosi is undead in Tod Browning’s Dracula, seen for the first time on this day in 1931.

(10) HOYT DESERVES BETTER. Sarah A. Hoyt has been unjustly attacked, she explains in “The Games People Play”.

The unnamed site, having read the first paragraph and seeing that a post followed, immediately went on to say that research was hard and that, without doing it, I’d done a whole post about the case.  When it was pointed out to them I hadn’t, but the case was a mere jumping off point, they claimed stupidity on my part since the post was an obvious sham or something.

That’s terrible! I wonder what site that was? At first I suspected it was this one. After all, File 770 ran an item about that column the other day which was, indeed, based on the assumption that the introduction signaled what the rest of the column would be about.

Now, I haven’t read the complaint, so perhaps there is more to it, and the complaint is more substantial. …

We’ll stop here and wait til she reads the complaint…

But when J. C. Salomon informed me about the true state of affairs, I responded in a comment:

J.C. Salomon: That’s hilarious — the rest of the column had nothing to do with the lede? I would never have known! Thanks for telling me.

Nothing like Hoyt’s description. So if some blogger “claimed stupidity” on Hoyt’s part, and claimed “the post was an obvious sham,” I’m glad Hoyt is taking him to account, whoever he is.

(11) FANCAST REVIEWS. Geeking Out About… discusses “Road to the Hugo Awards: Selected Fancasts, part 1”.

Finding the time to listen to hour-long episodes of podcasts which are eligible for the 2016 Hugo Awards wasn’t easy for me, but that’s what today’s article is about. The eligibility requirements state that the podcast must be a “non-professional” production—that is, no other company paid the podcaster(s) to make it—and at least one episode has to have been produced during the calendar year in question.

As such, then, I decided to pick one episode from a currently eligible podcast whose description interested me the most and I’ll be basing my recommendations on just the one episode. Unlike the “three episode rule” which I’m borrowing from former GOA contributor Kara Dennison, I think that I’d be able to tell what’s going to be on my nomination and/or platform lists before March 31 from just one episode.

(12) SETTING AN EXAMPLE. Here is Brian Niemeier’s tweet, inviting people to read his post criticizing Matthew Foster for using ad hominem attacks.

See Niemeier’s post “Sad Puppies: Cognitive Dissonance Makes Our Enemies Oblivious” at Kairos.

There are two possible explanations for why Matthew responded to my evidence-based arguments with nothing but ad hominem attacks.

  1. False positives: all of his “tells” are in fact rational responses to unknown stimuli.
  2. Cognitive dissonance: lacking contrary evidence against arguments that shook his worldview, Matthew responded with a slew of irrational accusations.

(13) FORCE AWAKENS DESPOILED. As CinemaBlend notes, in How Star Wars the Force Awakens Should Have Ended much of the video is actually dedicated to fixing holes in the movie rather than specifically dealing with how it ended.

[Thanks to JJ, James H. Burns, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson.]

353 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 2/13/16 He Feels The Pixels Scraping, Scrolls Breaking On His Brow

  1. @Oneiros: It’s my Compose key. It lets me type in accented characters using a typewriter-like style. Pressing Compose, a, ‘ gives me á; Compose, C, = gives €, and so on.

  2. @snowcrash:

    You almost have me of a mind to write a bit of filk based on an REM tune.


  3. Rev. Bob on February 16, 2016 at 1:46 am said:


    You almost have me of a mind to write a bit of filk based on an REM tune.

    Pix in the Scroll with apologies to REM

    The Force Awakens and some Doctor Who
    Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
    Theodore Beale fighting Scooby-Doo
    yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
    Blackgate and Apex are having a feast
    Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
    Mister John Scalzi and a scamperbeast
    Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
    Let’s play brackets, lets sing filks
    Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
    See you on the ballots if you make the list
    Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

    Now Mike did you hear about this one?
    Tell me did you read my last blog?
    Mike are you watching the Puppies? (hey Larry)
    Are they out of touch?

    If you believe Mike put a Pix in the Scroll
    (Pix in the scroll)
    If you believe there’s even more on the file,
    And more left to roll

  4. @Xtifr: ohhh, fancy! I might have to do that myself, since I basically never use Caps Lock anyway.

  5. @Camestros:

    Nice, but not the tune I had in mind.

    Hint: Standlee’s the Hugo expert (he knows best)…

    No, it’s over…shuffles away…inane grin….cries…

  7. Rev. Bob on February 16, 2016 at 2:27 am said:


    Nice, but not the tune I had in mind.

    It was the push I needed though. I had “Theodore Beale fighting Scooby Doo” running through my head for days now*.

    I can’t make the actual lyrics to ‘Stand’ scan never mind made up ones.

    *{it is true, as they say, that VD lives rent free in my head but he shares a room with Scooby Doo and they fight all the time because Scooby leave scooby-snack crumbs in his bed. I hope they move out soon.}

  8. IanP on February 14, 2016 at 3:33 pm said:
    While I remember can anyone recommend for or against the Quantum Gravity series by Justina Robson? I kept seeing them in the Waterstons on Princes St before it turned in to a Disney Store. Sounded interesting in a Shadowrun kind of way. But I’ve never gotten round to them.

    I read the first one when it came out in paperback (also because of the Shadowrun likeness) and didn’t enjoy it. I don’t remember a huge amount of specifics about it now, though.

    Do you know there’s new Shadowrun novels though? Catalyst Game labs have finally cut through the red tape surrounding Shadowrun and BattleTech print fiction and are relaunching both novel lines. I think there’s already 4 Shadowrun novels out, and the first BattleTech one is forthcoming.

  9. Nigel on February 16, 2016 at 2:30 am said:

    Ninja’d. So:


  10. @Cat – Tunnel is a fave of mine – to which things are you referring?

    The “gun lessons” I took away from RAH are mostly found in Methuselah’s Children. Lazarus says nothing to anyone (except the reader) and he’s all about not giving vital information to people who might wish to do him harm, and he’s all about doing what he thinks is right, regardless of whatever the rules are.

    I mean, what I took away from it is this:

    Don’t let the “bad” guys know there’s a boobytrap, it kind of defeats the purpose.

    Keep your own counsel and do what you think is right for the safety, health and well-being of yourself and those you care about.

    No one, no thing and no institution can keep you “safe”. You have to do (your best) for yourself.

    If the “bad guys” know you are armed, they’ll just bring more bad guys and more guns.

    Surprise is a very effective tool.

    (It’s also the novel where he offered the quip about any society that requires more than two forms of ID is a society that it is time to leave, a sentiment I entirely agree with – except there’s no place to go.)


  12. Peter J on February 16, 2016 at 6:24 am said:

    Nigel on February 16, 2016 at 2:30 am said:

    Ninja’d. So:


    Y’all muttering about time zones. I’m in goddamn Thailand! Sometimes I’m halfway through the next day before the previous day’s scroll is posted!

  13. @Lorcan Nagle

    Between you and Rev Bob it’s not sounding like they were particularly memorable. Might wait until an Amazon sale then.

    Also the latest running gag is reminding me of Person of Interest’s if_then_else or TRANSPARENT ATTEMPT TO WEDGE PERSONAL FAVOURITE INTO THREAD

  14. re: time zones

    I’m on Arizona time, which right now is Mountain Standard; we don’t do Daylight Savings.

  15. So, what proportion of USAians can express their timezone as GMT/UT –n?
    And how do we convince the others that doing so isn’t part of an evil French plot?

    I wonder which timezone has the fewest people in it? Chatham Islands (UT+12.75) must be a contender.

  16. @ErrolC:

    “And how do we convince the others that doing so isn’t part of an evil French plot?”

    We could always persuade them that it’s an evil plot concocted by some other evil group (Marxists, Muslims, atheists, lesbians, Christ-hating crusaders for Sodom … it;s a long list). But I don’t think that greatly improves the situation, unless we specifically want to get the French off the hook.



    Sounds delicious! Can’t wait to try it. (Should that be capitalised?)

  17. Peace Is My Middle Name,


  18. I’m in GMT -8, which is already covered by Our Host.

    I don’t know how unusual it is that I can express it that way. In my case, not only is it what the computer used to want (I can’t convince this machine that we’re not in New York), and my mother lives in London, so the offset from GMT is relevant to me.


    ETA: I’m GMT-7, but I had to look at my watch to be sure (I keep the second time feature set to GMT. Nostalgic for WWV, maybe.)

  20. @Vicki: “(I can’t convince this machine that we’re not in New York)”

    What operating system are you running? I may be able to help.

  21. IanP on February 16, 2016 at 9:50 am said:
    @Lorcan Nagle

    Between you and Rev Bob it’s not sounding like they were particularly memorable. Might wait until an Amazon sale then.

    I disliked the first one enough to not even by the rest second hand when I’ve seen them, so yeah.

  22. Another GMT-8, I think there’ll be a lot of us.
    In other news:

  23. @ Steve Davidson

    The UK does not legally require any form of ID in principle, and in practice I’m struggling to think of circumstances where you would require more than two.

  24. OS/X, but the underlying OS clock/location is okay, it’s just the built-in time-and-weather thing that keeps showing me info for New York City, no matter where I take the machine. The file creation/editing and email timestamps are fine, and f.lux can figure out where I am and computers sunrise/sunset appropriately.

    That was mostly just me grumbling, as I have three a bunch of more detailed and specific weather sites bookmarked (including wunderground.com, even if the name still strikes me as a bit off).

  25. @Vicki: “the underlying OS clock/location is okay, it’s just the built-in time-and-weather thing that keeps showing me info for New York City, no matter where I take the machine.”

    You might want to try the Privacy/Location Services tip on this page, then.

  26. Thanks, Rev. Bob. Now I get to see if it survives a reboot. (It turns out that the dashboard hadn’t exactly thought I was in New York City. The weather widget thought that, but the clock thought it was in Anchorage. I’ve never even been to Alaska.)

  27. GMT -5 here (aka EST). And I might not know it except the mobile devices seem to think that way.

  28. Lenore Jones
    Oh, duh. I was coming up with a seven-hour time difference between me (in EST as well) and GMT because I wibbled when I should have wabbled, like the Greenwich Mean is thataway, instead of thisaway.

    Say, it’s a good thing I’m not in charge of anything where that matters, like airliners or satellites.

  29. Soon Lee on February 16, 2016 at 9:47 am said:
    Thailand? Try New Zealand.

    Oh, I’m so sorry.

    Currently GMT+7. Last month I was GMT+9. I have also been in GMT+8 while reading this blog.

  30. Soon Lee on February 16, 2016 at 9:47 am said:
    Thailand? Try New Zealand.

    Oh, I’m so sorry.

    Currently GMT+7. Last month I was GMT+9. I have also been in GMT+8 while reading this blog.

    ETA: I managed to forget that I was in England during the summer too, so I’ve also been reading this blog in GMT+1 (BST [British Summer Time])

  31. GMT+2 for me.

    ErrolC on February 16, 2016 at 12:22 pm said:
    So, what proportion of USAians can express their timezone as GMT/UT –n?
    And how do we convince the others that doing so isn’t part of an evil French plot?

    Evil French plot? The dastardly English have a hand in this, because of course time should be calculated with reference to a borough of East London.

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