Pixel Scroll 3/2/20 Overhead, Without Any Fuss, The Pixels Were Scrolling Out

(1) WAKANDA WILL NEED A NEW WRITER. The Hollywood Reporter relayed word that “Ta-Nehisi Coates Leaving Marvel’s ‘Black Panther'”. (But he’ll still be working on Captain America.)

The writer’s final issue of the acclaimed series will be released in June.

Ta-Nehisi Coates will be leaving Marvel’s Black Panther this summer with the 25th issue of the title’s current run. The news, announced Saturday at Chicago’s C2E2 comic book convention, will leave the titular character — and his position inside Marvel in both fictional and real-world incarnations — significantly different.

Black Panther No. 25, to be released in June and illustrated by Daniel Acuna, will wrap up the storylines Coates has been telling since he started writing the character with the first issue of a series that ran from 2016-2018.

(2) WHO RAH. Buried deep in this interview with a retiring Maryland Public Television host is an amusing anecdote about Tom Baker-era Doctor Who: “Exit interview: After more than four decades at MPT, Rhea Feikin signs off for the last time” in the Baltimore Sun.

SUN: Before we go, I have to ask about your adventures in fund raising, the live pledge drives like the four hours you will be doing Sunday on your final night on MPT.

FEIKIN: Let me tell you one story. A long time ago, we used to work late into the night until 1 o’clock sometimes. And on Saturday nights, they had this program that I never watched, “Dr. Who.” I disliked the program, never watched it, so they never asked me to pledge it, and I never worked on Saturday nights.

But one time they had an emergency, and they asked me to please work on a Saturday night, and I did. And, of course. we had to pledge “Dr. Who.” So, I go out for the first break and do whatever I do and say whatever I say with whomever I was working with that night, and the phones are really dead. And there is nothing more miserable than to have no phones ringing.

So, you go back to the green room and wait for the second break. And I go out, it’s the same thing. It’s painful. So then, the third break comes and I’m tired now and annoyed that I have to be there, and again the phones aren’t ringing. And, finally, I just say, “You know what? I have to tell you, I’m going to really level with you, I don’t like this show. In fact, I never watch this show. And I don’t care if they take this show off the air. I really don’t. But if you like it, then you have to do something to keep it on the air. And you know what that is. You have to call in, you have to make a pledge.

Well, the phones went crazy. We got so much money in one break, it was just wonderful. Now, I never did do it again, I will say. Of course, when you get the book on how you’re supposed to do pledge, you’re never ever supposed to that.

(3) TWO COMPANIONS TO CHECK OUT OF TARDIS. Actors Bradley Walsh and Tosin Cole will be moving on: “Bradley Walsh to quit Doctor Who after this year’s Christmas special”.

…Policewoman Yaz, played by Mandip Gill, 32, will remain and Whittaker, 37, is confirmed for a third season.

The festive special has been filmed but the exit storyline for Bradley and Tosin’s characters, Graham and step-grandson Ryan, remains a closely guarded secret.

A show source said: “Two years is a long time in the world of Doctor Who. Yaz will be back but Christmas will be the last outing for Ryan and Graham.”

What will the actors do next?

Walsh fronts an ITV travel show with son Barney called Breaking Dad and will continue to host popular quiz The Chase.

And he is already working on a new entertainment series for the BBC with Holly Willoughby . Co-star Tosin has landed a leading role in courtroom drama 61st Street for US channel AMC.

(4) NYRSF READINGS. The New York Review of Science Fiction Reading Series on March 3 will feature writers from Serial Box, which “delivers premium audio and reading entertainment for an on-the-go audience that loves immersive original storytelling.” Readers will be Jay Edidin, Steve Marcarelli, E.C. Myers and K Arsenault Rivera.

Designed to fit today’s fast-paced lifestyle, Serial Box is available on all mobile devices. Users can read or listen to each weekly installment, switching between ebook and audio in just one click, without losing their place in the narrative. There will be SB-related gifts to all who come.

Jay Edidin is a reasonably professional writer, editor, and podcaster; an occasional performer; and a fledgling New Yorker. He co-wrote Thor: Metal Gods for Serial Box. Elsewhere in the Marvel multiverse, he’s the writer of the upcoming X-Men: Marvels Snapshot, a minor villain on Earth-92131, and marginally Internet famous as half of the podcast Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men.

Steve Marcarelli is a screenwriter and television producer living in Brooklyn with his wife, two rescue cats and record collection. He enjoys horror movies and romantic comedies. You can find him on Twitter @stevemarcarelli. He is the co-writer of Serial Box’s upcoming series LOW LIFE, together with Billy Lalor.

E. C. Myers is the author of six YA novels, including the Andre Norton Award-winning Fair Coin. He was assembled in the U.S. from Korean and German parts and raised by a single mother and a public library in Yonkers, New York. His work for Serial Box includes episodes of ReMade, Alternis, and Orphan Black: The Next Chapter. He lives with his wife, son, and three doofy pets in Pennsylvania.

K Arsenault Rivera is the author of The Tiger’s Daughter, a novel the Washington Post calls “thoughtfully rendered and palpably felt.” She immigrated to New York City from Puerto Rico as a toddler and has been complaining about the cold ever since. When not working with a non-profit organization, K spends her time at home in Brooklyn with her partners playing tabletop games. She is the lead writer on Serial Box’s supernatural noir series, KNOX.

The event takes place Tuesday, March 3 at The Brooklyn Commons Café, 388 Atlantic Avenue  (between Hoyt & Bond St.). Doors open at 6:30 — event begins at 7.

(5) AHH, ROMANCE. The Romantic Novelists’ Association revealed the winners for the 2020 Romantic Novel Awards on March 2. [Via Locus Online.]

The Fantasy Romantic Novel Award

  • Ruth Hogan, Queenie Malone’s Paradise Hotel, Two Roads

(6) YOLEN GRANT. The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators announced the winners of the 2019 Jane Yolen Mid-List Author Grant:

  • Alethea Kontis
  • Tanuja Desai Hidier

The grant awards $3,000 to mid-list authors and aims to help raise awareness about their current works-in-progress. [Via Locus Online.]

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • March 2, 1984 Repo Man premiered. It was written and directed by Alex Cox. It was produced by Jonathan Wacks and Peter McCarthy with the executive producer being Michael Nesmith. It starred Harry Dean Stanton and Emilio Estevez. It is widely considered to be one of the best films of 1984, genre or otherwise. Ebert in his review said that “Repo Man comes out of left field, has no big stars, didn’t cost much, takes chances, dares to be unconventional, is funny, and works. There is a lesson here.” It currently holds a 98% rating among the Rotten Tomatoes audience. You can watch it here .
  • March 2, 1988 Gandahar (aka Light Years) premiered. It is a French animated science fantasy film. It was directed by René Laloux as  based on Jean-Pierre Andrevon’s novel Les Hommes-machines contre Gandahar (The Machine-Men versus Gandahar).  Notable English language voice actors include Glenn Close, John Shea, Penn Jillette and Teller. (Both speak.) Asimov made the revision for the translation. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes like it giving it a 73% rating. See it here on YouTube.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 2, 1904 Theodor “Dr. Seuss” Geisel. My favorite books by him are Horton Hears a Who!, Green Eggs and Ham, and The Cat in The Hat. I adored the original How the Grinch Stole Christmas, can’t stand the Jim Carrey one and haven’t seen the most recent version. Oh, and let’s not forget the splendid The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T. For which he wrote the story, screenplay and lyrics. (Died 1991.)
  • Born March 2, 1939 Hugh Walters. He showed up three times on Who, first in a First Doctor story, “The Chase” playing Shakespeare, next as Runcible in “ The Deadly Assassin”, a Fourth Doctor story and finally as Vogel in “ Revelation of the Daleks”, a Sixth Doctor story. He’s also Carruthers on Jules Verne’s Rocket to the Moon, and has one-offs in New AvengersThe Ghosts of Motley Hall and She-Wolf of London. (Died 2015.)
  • Born March 2, 1943 Peter Straub, 77. Horror writer who won the World Fantasy Award for Koko and the August Derleth Award for Floating Dragon. He’s co-authored several novels with Stephen King, The Talisman, which itself won a World Fantasy Award, and Black House. Both The Throat and In the Night Room won Bram Stoker Awards as did 5 Stories, a short collection by him. Ok, you know I’m impressed by awards, but this is reallyimpressed! 
  • Born March 2, 1960 Peter F. Hamilton, 60. I read and quite enjoyed his Night’s Dawn trilogy when it first came out and I’m fairly sure that I’ve read Pandora’s Star and Judas Unchained as they sound really familiar. (Too much genre fiction read over the years to remember everything…) What else have y’all read by him?
  • Born March 2, 1966 Ann Leckie,  54. Ancillary Justice won the Hugo Award for Best Novel and the Nebula Award, Kitschies Award Golden Tentacle, Locus Award for Best First Novel, the Arthur C. Clarke Award, and the BSFA Award. The Ancillary Sword and Ancillary Mercy did not win awards but are no less impressive. 
  • Born March 2, 1968 Daniel Craig, 52. Obviously Bond in the present-day series of films which I like a lot, but also in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider as Alex West, Lord Asriel In the film adaptation of Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass, in SF horror film The Invasion as Ben Driscoll, in the very weird Cowboys & Aliens as Jake Lonergan,voicing Ivan Ivanovitch Sakharine / Red Rackham  in The Adventures of Tintin and an uncredited appearance as Stormtrooper FN-1824 In Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
  • Born March 2, 1992 Maisie Richardson-Sellers, 28. A most believable Vixen on Legends of Tomorrow for the first three seasons in my opinion as I’ve always liked that DC character.  (Season four onward, she’s been Clotho.) Prior to that role, she was recurring role as Rebekah Mikaelson / Eva Sinclair on The Originals, andshe had a cameo as Korr Sella in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) NYC BOOK FAIR. On March 6 and 7, the New York City Book and Ephemera Fair will take place in Wallace Hall at St. Ignatius Church, 980 Park Ave at 83rd. There will be 60 dealers from 20 states, Canada, and Italy.

(11) UNDER THE HAMMER. “Marvel Announces Auction for ‘The Punisher,’ ‘The Defenders’ Props”, coming up in May.

Marvel Entertainment’s Netflix television partnership, which produced shows such as “Daredevil” and “Jessica Jones,” might be dead, but fans can acquire a piece of the superhero franchise’s history at an upcoming auction.

On Friday, Marvel and Prop Store announced a June auction that will feature a variety of items from “The Punisher” and “The Defenders.” Bidding opens in May though the event, which does not have a specific date, will take place in Los Angeles, fans will be able to bid via telephone or online.

Props expected to be auctioned off include the Punisher’s (Jon Bernthal) vest and skull-clad armor, and a handful of masks from the series’ second season. Several other superhero costumes, including the red Daredevil mask and Colleen Wing’s (Jessica Henwick) katana will also be auctioned off.

Marvel held its first auction for its Netflix television shows last March, which featured over 750 lots (the iconic Daredevil suit went for $55,000). Additional “Jessica Jones” props were auctioned off last December.

(12) FAN CHARITY. From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution we learn “Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Atlanta will be the charity beneficiary of Dragon Con 2020”.

“Inspired by the Big Brothers Big Sisters’ mission of creating and supporting one-to-one mentoring relationships that ignite the power and promise of youth, Dragon Con challenges its fans to support the charity and get involved,” the release reads.

But the partnership goes well beyond encouraging support. In the past five years, Dragon Con says it has raised more than $566,000 for its charity beneficiaries. Last year’s charity, the American Heart Association, was given more than $142,000, according to Dragon Con.

(13) THEORY OF ROCKETRY. Those science films may have been useful; in “From YouTube to your school” the Harvard Gazette reports that research shows online STEM demonstrations can be as effective as classroom teaching.

YouTube has become the go-to for quick tutorials on almost any topic, from how to replace a zipper to how to install a water heater. But could some of the most memorable parts of a STEM course — live demonstrations — be brought to the screen effectively? In a new paper, Harvard researchers show for the first time that research-based online STEM demonstrations not only can teach students more, but can be just as enjoyable.

Researchers hope these findings will help spur the creation of a catalogue of free online STEM video demonstrations to supplement lectures at institutions that cannot conduct their own. “We have an incredible group of scientists who present live demos for our students, but very few schools have these dedicated resources,” said co-author Logan McCarty, director of science education in the Department of Physics, who oversees Harvard’s Lecture Demonstration team. “With YouTube and other online channels, we can share Harvard’s technical and pedagogical expertise with the world.”

The research was based on previous literature by Kelly Miller, a lecturer in applied physics and co-author with McCarty. The previous article, published in 2013 by Miller and Eric Mazur, Balkanski Professor of Physics and Applied Physics, showed that students often misunderstand lecture demonstrations. They turned to science demos after hearing time and again that they are students’ favorite part of the lecture. After all, who could forget a ball levitating on a sound wave or a laser bending into a tank of water?

“Our research suggests that when live demos are unavailable, videos can provide students with an equally effective — or possibly even more effective — learning experience,” said co-author Louis Deslauriers, director of science teaching and learning in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. “Even when live demonstrations are available, it may be helpful to supplement them with high-quality videos.”

Their paper in the February issue of Physical Review, Physics Education Research was spun into motion by first author Greg Kestin, a preceptor in physics who produces a series with NOVA called “What the Physics?!”

(14) SETBACK FOR SPACEX. A SpaceX Starship test article failed during a pressure test. CNET reports “SpaceX Starship prototype explodes during test in Texas”.

Getting to space is hard, and SpaceX is working through some kinks early in the process of developing its next-generation Starship that it hopes will eventually take legions of humans to Mars.

Video from sources with a view of the company’s Boca Chica, Texas development facility showed Starship prototype “SN1” apparently exploding during a pressure test Friday.

NASASpaceflight reports that the partial rocket failed during a cryogenic pressure test after one of its tanks filled with liquid nitrogen.

An earlier, more basic prototype dubbed “Mk1” popped its top during a pressurization test at Boca Chica last year.

This latest anomaly — as explosions tend to be called in the space business — appears to be doing little to set back Starship’s development. Elon Musk showed off the company’s stockpile of nose cones at Boca Chica last month, and prototype SN2 continued to come together on one side of the site this weekend, even as the remains of SN1 were being cleaned up nearby.

(15) NOT A SPACE WALRUS. BBC says “Huge ‘space snowman’ is two merging stars”.

Researchers have discovered a huge snowman-shaped star with an atmospheric composition never seen before.

It is more massive than our Sun but only two-thirds the Earth’s diameter.

The object is thought to have resulted from the merger of two so-called white dwarf stars that often explode as powerful supernovas.

Dr Mark Hollands, of Warwick University, said the team’s discovery could help scientists better understand how this process occurs.

“The most exciting aspect of this star is that it must have just about failed to explode as a supernova. There aren’t that many white dwarfs this massive.

“There remains much uncertainty about what kind of stellar systems make it to the supernova stage. Strange as it may sound, measuring the properties of this ‘failed’ supernova, and future look-alikes, is telling us a lot about the pathways to thermonuclear self-annihilation.”

(16) SOUND FAMILIAR? In the Washington Post, Max Brooks says in a Perspectives piece that his 2006 novel World War Z was banned in China because he predicted that the zombie pandemic began in China and how he refused to change the name of China to an imaginary country in order for his novel to have a Chinese edition. “China barred my dystopian novel about how its system enables epidemics”.

I refused. Having an open society, where the government operates transparently and information circulates freely, is the bedrock of public health. Censoring those chapters would play into the very dynamics that endanger citizens. Even with the best of intentions, a government that operates secretively and without accountability is ill-equipped to contain an epidemic. Lacking trust in the authorities, or dependable sources of knowledge about how to protect themselves — whether from infection or from abuses of power — citizens are left more vulnerable to both.

As much as I’d like to take creative credit for coming up with this scenario in my book, the one that inadvertently foreshadowed today’s crisis, I didn’t: I based the spread of my virus on the real-life spread of SARS. Cases emerged in China in late 2002, but for months, the Chinese government did not warn the public about the new and deadly pathogen.

(17) DON’T GET YOUR HOPES UP. “Star Trek Vet William Shatner Offers Update For Fans Hoping To See Captain Kirk TV Show “CinemaBlend has the story.

Following the announcement that Captain Picard’s adventures would continue in CBS All Access’ Picard, fans wondered whether Patrick Stewart’s return to the franchise meant that other Star Trek alum could also get their own series. Last year, William Shatner said he “would not be interested” in doing a Kirk TV series, citing how “debilitating” it was to shoot a series due, in large part, to the long working hours. Fast forward a year later and Shatner provides an update when a fan posed the question on Twitter. The answer is, unsurprisingly, still a big nope. In his words:

No. I think Kirk’s story is pretty well played out at this point.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, Chip Hitchcock, Andrew Porter, Lise Andreasen, Jeffrey Smith, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bill.]

29 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 3/2/20 Overhead, Without Any Fuss, The Pixels Were Scrolling Out

  1. (2) In 1989, MPT still showed Doctor Who late on Saturday, and during pledge time the had Tom Baker himself as a guest. When he asked for my pledge, he got it! I still have the mug.

  2. (17) No. I think Kirk’s story is pretty well played out at this point.

    Uh….due to the fact that he’s dead?

    I guess they could do a Discovery-like prequel, but that’d take a heckuva lot of CGI de-aging.

  3. (2) WHO RAH. Heh, funny story and (but?) I’m glad it worked! BTW with a title like “WHO RAH,” I thought this would have a Doctor Who-Robert A. Heinlein connection. 😉

    (8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS. Peter F. Hamilton’s Pandora’s Star: Ah yes, the book I wanted to throw violently across a room because it ended in a literal (and oh so over-the-top) cliffhanger. Well, technically the person was going over the “cliff,” so maybe not exactly hanging. Gah, I couldn’t get into the second one (which didn’t even have the grace to pick up where PS left off, IIRC!).

  4. (1) As a long time follower and fan of Ta-Nehisi Coates and as somebody who never quite got the hang of reading comic books as an adult, I was initially rather irritated that TNC would dedicate his writing talents to what I considered an inferior and largely irrelevant art form.
    I still haven’t warmed up to to his comic books, but watching the Black Panther movie, I started to understand why he thought this work was relevant and how it fit into his overall vision.

  5. (4) Bounced out of The Tiger’s Daughter yesterday, plan to give it another try when I’m in a better state of mind. This isn’t uncommon. I bounced out of Space Opera part way through because I wasn’t in the mood to be hit over and over with a glittery pink boxing glove, went back later an enjoyed it. Bounced out of Assassin’s Apprentice because of the slow burn and Fitz’s penchant for passive phrasing, now I love the Elderlings books.

    (7) Saw Light Years one rainy day at summer camp. It’s a cartoon, we can show it to kids! Ah, the 80’s. I mostly remember the boys losing their minds over animated boobies.

  6. @7: Interesting — I never knew that Penn or Teller had done voice work.

    @8 (Hamilton): I thought Night’s Dawn failed its landing; I’ve read some other Hamilton but have gone off him recently due to what I felt was really appalling sexism, such that I wasn’t willing to spend the time needed for his stout SF (to match the alliteration of “fat fantasy”). (I’m particularly remembering a book involving massive rejuvenation, but not its title.) I’ll be interested to see what other Filers say.

    @8 (Leckie): I thought Provenance was also excellent, and maybe a little more digestible than a three-volume space opera; I remember Filers grumbling about the lead’s bad decisions, but ISTM that the portrait of somebody not always making the best decisions because they’re scrabbling for a foothold was both realistic and presently relevant. (I wonder whether Leckie was thinking of the parallel.)

    @16: chickens, roost.

    The Smithsonian channel has a documentary Black In Space about the person who should have been the first black astronaut.

    @Bonnie McDaniel: how old was Kirk when he fell into the space rift? If the entire series can be rebooted, I don’t see why they couldn’t do something in the years between movie #6 and his disappearance — at least not in Hollywood terms; whether it would be any good is a separate question.

    @John A. Arkansawyer: the summary suggests that China’s tyranny enabled it to recover from its own bad effects; does the essay run on different lines. This does not strike me as a good long-term strategy; what if they’d tried to hush it up a little longer? (For sufficiently broad values of “they” — an article from the London Review of Books suggests that the problem wasn’t simply the top management but the way that would-be bureaucrats were filtered for adherence to Party doctrine — as demonstrated by the local response to a doctor’s report of trouble.)

  7. 8) Hamilton – I reviewed the Reality Dysfunction and didn’t much care for it. And then strangely went out and bought its sequel as soon as it came out in hardback. More money than sense, I guess.

  8. @ Chip Hitchcock:

    Are you thinking of MIsspent Youth? Where the whole longevity thing that then is used extensively throughout the rest of the Commonwealth books sees its start?

    If so, yeah, that was really rather over the top.

  9. @Chip HItchcock

    @7: Interesting — I never knew that Penn or Teller had done voice work.

    They did an episode of The Simpsons

  10. Thanks for the title credit. And in that spirit,
    “The scroll above the pixel was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.”

  11. @Chip Hitchcock: Here’s what the Science summary of the report says in part:

    But the report is unequivocal. “China’s bold approach to contain the rapid spread of this new respiratory pathogen has changed the course of a rapidly escalating and deadly epidemic,” it says. “This decline in COVID-19 cases across China is real.”

    The question now is whether the world can take lessons from China’s apparent success—and whether the massive lockdowns and electronic surveillance measures imposed by an authoritarian government would work in other countries. “When you spend 20, 30 years in this business it’s like, ‘Seriously, you’re going to try and change that with those tactics?’” says Bruce Aylward, a Canadian WHO epidemiologist who led the international team and briefed journalists about its findings in Beijing and Geneva last week. “Hundreds of thousands of people in China did not get COVID-19 because of this aggressive response.”

    Cory Doctorow regretfully (it seemed to me) reached a similar fictional conclusion in “When Sysadmins Ruled The Earth”.

    It’s certainly not a conclusion that pleases me, though the cited low Chinese death count along the way is a Good Thing.

  12. I think my favorite Dr. Seuss is Fox in Socks. A book designed to be read out loud to children which consists almost entirely of tongue-twisters was a spectacularly evil amusing idea!

    I remember that I was distinctly underwhelmed with Peter F. Hamilton, but I don’t remember the details. Several of my friends were big fans, though.

    Straub and Leckie are both more to my tastes, as far as today’s birthday celebrants go.

    I also wore out more than one copy of Repo Man, back when movies were commonly stored on fragile, stretchable tape. Harry Dean Stanton was just so good in that!

  13. @John A. Arkansawyer: that reads just like the summary I read — and it doesn’t answer the question of whether a less-tyrannical system wouldn’t have dug itself such a hole in the first place.

  14. @John A. Arkansawyer–

    @Chip Hitchcock: I don’t believe it’s been shown that China put itself into the hole. Possibly I’m wrong.

    Because it’s not like we have any previous incidents offering a comparison between freedom to report openly what’s going on, and repressive control of information and people, right?

    For God’s sake. They were punishing people for reporting the fact that there was an apparent epidemic developing. Punishing people for reporting “we might have a problem here,” even up the line to their bosses. And you think they didn’t create any of their own trouble.

    Being able to get a quarantine in place relatively quickly may well help, but punishing people for reporting developing problems obstructs even that.

  15. @Lis Carey: I have not followed this closely. I could be wrong. I do have a knee-jerk reaction to claims that openness and transparency make the world go round. It’s an idea so appealing and sensible that it’s used to cover up a multitude of sins or fling poo, depending on the situation, so I push back when I hear it offered.

  16. 7) Gandahar is categorized as content for kids and thus cannot be saved to a “watch later” list…or any other list. Kind of regrettable as I’d like to watch it at some point in the future.

    @John A Arkansawyer

    The number of instances where a lack of openness/transparency is productive for a larger society is, IMHO, small. Vanishingly so. This leaves me a bit conflicted over things like the Snowden episode that places competing interests in conflict.

    Regards,
    Dann
    I am the American Dream. I am the epitome of what the American Dream basically said. It said you could come from anywhere and be anything you want in this country. That’s exactly what I’ve done. – Whoopi Goldberg

  17. @John A. Arkansawyer–

    @Lis Carey: I have not followed this closely. I could be wrong. I do have a knee-jerk reaction to claims that openness and transparency make the world go round. It’s an idea so appealing and sensible that it’s used to cover up a multitude of sins or fling poo, depending on the situation, so I push back when I hear it offered.

    So, you admit you haven’t bothered to follow the situation in China, but you’re sure your lack of information is more sensible than judgments and opinions formed based on paying attention–so much so that it justifies you in flinging poo.

    Yes, that’s what claiming that enabling people to report potential problems is a way of “covering up” is. Flinging poo.

    Suppressing information relating to public health doesn’t help. It hasn’t stopped COVID-19 from spreading out of Wuhan, or out of China. It did delay other countries being aware they should be screening people arriving from China, especially those who had been in or near Wuhan, for possible infection.

    Early missteps and state secrecy in China probably allowed the coronavirus to spread farther and faster

    You can’t take sensible steps regarding things you don’t know are happening. Consider the long delay in reporting the nuclear accident at Chernobyl, including the delay in evacuating residents of Pripyat, the failure to inform the government of Ukraine, the initial denial to Sweden, where a nuclear power plant detected the increased radiation, that any nuclear accident had happened.

    That all delayed sensible public health action, but even before that, the “don’t make trouble by reporting trouble” approach led to known safety issues at Chernobyl not getting publicly reported and nobody putting on pressure to get them fixed. The Chernobyl disaster didn’t have to happen.

    I’d be fascinated to see any examples of reporting actual problems creating more trouble than suppressing the reporting would have done.

  18. You really think this had no impact on the ability to slow the spread of disease? Seriously?

    Official communications stressed that there was no reason to believe the disease could be spread among humans, and the authorities cracked down hard on any medical warnings that appeared on social media. In one notable case, a WeChat post by Dr. Li Wenliang to colleagues that patients at his hospital had been quarantined with SARS-like symptoms, was dismissed as “illegal acts of fabricating, spreading rumors, and disrupting social order.” (Dr. Li later contracted the disease and died.)

    Daalder: China’s secrecy has made the coronavirus crisis much worse

    Tell me how calling doctors’ reports of what they’re actually seeing in patients “illegal acts of fabricating, spreading rumors, and disrupting social order” helps to contain the spread of disease.

    Remember, “It’s my [intentionally uninformed] opinion” isn’t a compelling argument against people who actually are informed on the subject, as part of their professional lives.

  19. @Lis Carey: I’m sure that had an impact. How much? I doubt it was great compared to the difficulties involved in containing a virus that presents much like a bad cold or an influenza and has asymptomatic carriers. That doesn’t mean it was right to suppress the information–it was wrong to suppress it whether it had a bad effect to do so or not.

    I poke at this stuff because I believe that freedom of information is, or should be, the default approach to social issues, because it’s more just and generally morally superior. I’d rather not advocate for it because I think it’s effective in controlling diseases unless I’m sure that it is effective. You’re from Boston, right? So you know Jonathan Kozol’s stuff. One thing he said that still sticks with me was about literacy advocacy. He expressed a very strong reluctance to advocate for literacy because it was good for the economy or made a person more employable. Literacy is a human right, he said, and it should be supported whether it’s good for business or not.

    Because what if it turns out not to be good for business?

    So if I’m going to keep supporting freedom of information in a world increasingly hostile to it, I want to know I’m supporting it on solid grounds.

  20. Not punishing people who report things that upset the powers that be is pretty basic to having freedom of information at all. And you’ve been pushing the idea that suppressing information might be better. That China may have been more effective in preventing spread of the disease, rather th than simply no worse. This despite the fact that it hasn’t done that effectively at all, and could have gotten started on the effort sooner if they had listened to the doctors rather than trying to silence them.

    You even said enabling free exchange of information enables cover-ups and “flinging poo.”

    And now you’re backtracking and pretending you said it is bad to suppress information but not as important as I and unnamed other people say.

    No you haven’t been. And I’m fed up with the gaslighting.

  21. @Lis Carey: I think it’s important to know whether the things I believe in work as promised.

    And while you aren’t giving the most faithful account of what I’ve said here:

    You even said enabling free exchange of information enables cover-ups and “flinging poo.”

    It’s still true. Many things I value also have downsides, and I prefer to acknowledge them. Have you never watched someone build a tendentious bullshit case out of Freedom of Information Act requests and a vigorous imagination? You ought to try it sometime. As Lenny Bruce said of Chicago, “It’s so corrupt, it’s thrilling!”

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