Pixel Scroll 5/25/20 Five Hundred Twenty-Five Thousand Six Hundred Pixels How Do You Measure, Measure A Scroll?

(1) THE SANTA FE. Now he’ll really be George Railroad Martin: “George R. R. Martin Buys Part of Historic Santa Fe Railroad”.

George R. R. Martin, who wrote the book series that was adapted into the HBO series “Game of Thrones,” and two co-investors have bought an abandoned, 18-mile spur railroad line from Santa Fe to Lamy, New Mexico, with the intent of restoring it to its former glory as a tourist attraction, The Business Insider reported on Monday.

No price was mentioned for the purchase, which also includes 10 antique rail cars, two vintage locomotives, and a station house at Lamy currently leased by Amtrak that is part of its twice daily line from Chicago to Los Angeles.

“There are a lot of opportunities for a new tourist attraction,” Martin told the Albuquerque Journal. “COVID has thrown a monkey wrench into our plan. We had hoped to get things up and running in 2021, but now it won’t be until 2022.”

I’ve caught a train at the Lamy station, after visiting my sister in Santa Fe. It’s miles out of town — despite the city’s iconic railroad name, the Amtrak line doesn’t run through the city.

Martin explains his plans in more detail in his blog post “All Aboard for Lamy” which concludes:

…It is going to take a lot of work, more than a few bucks, and a fair amount of time to get the railroad running again.   There are tracks and trestles to inspect and repair, old historic coaches to restore to their former splendor, a dead locomotive to bring back to life.   And the coronavirus has slowed the process way down.   But sooner or later, we do hope to have the old Lamy Line chuffing and puffing once again, and we have all sorts of fun ideas for the future, live music and murder mysteries and train robberies and escape rooms and… well, we shall see.

And best of all, we won’t need to pull up the tracks when Christmas is over.

(2) CON CANCELLATION. Pulpfest, planned for August, has been cancelled, too. They made the announcement today: “There is Nothing Wrong with Your Television Set . . .”

…We regret to announce that PulpFest is being postponed until August 2021.

Although it is likely that businesses and events in the region where PulpFest is staged will be allowed to resume operations in June, they will have to follow guidelines issued by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

…Given the substantial risks involved and our desire to maintain the health and well-being of our many supporters, the PulpFest organizing committee voted unanimously to postpone this year’s convention until early August 2021.

(3) LEAP, BUT NOT QUANTUM. Chancellor Agard, in “Watch Legends of Tomorrow jump from Friends to Downton Abbey in exclusive sneak peek” on Entertainment Weekly discusses tomorrow’s episode, where the Legends jump from the world of a show like Friends to one like Downton Abbey to one like Star Trek.

(4) A HORSE, OF COURSE. Yesterday was the thirtieth anniversary of the debut of the third Back to the Future movie. Yahoo! Entertaiment put together a quiz — “‘Back to the Future Part III’ turns 30: Take this quiz to test your knowledge”. I really blew this one – only 6 out of 14. And one of my right answers was about how special effects manure was made – am I supposed to be proud of that?

… On May 24, 1990, the final film in Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale’s Back to the Future trilogy premiered in theaters. Directly picking up from the cliffhanger of 1989’s Back to the Future Part II, where Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) and the DeLorean time machine accidentally being struck by lightning, sending him back to the Old West. Part III picks up with Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) traveling to 1885 to rescue Doc and return him to the present. 

(5) SPACE FORCE REDUX. Netflix dropped a second trailer for Space Force, which they have cleverly called Space Force Trailer 2.

Steve Carell was also on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on Thursday  promoting Space Force but he doesn’t talk about the show until 5-1/2 minutes into the segment.

(6) STILES REMEMBERED. Balticon 54’s website includes a tribute to the late fanartist: “In Memoriam: Steve Stiles (1943-2020)”. Includes lots of photos and art.

Steve Stiles became a science fiction fan in 1957; he’d been illustrating fanzines from then until his death, earning him the first Rotsler Fan Artist Award in 1998, and a Fan Artist Hugo in 2016. Professionally, he worked in numerous comic book genres since 1973 (horror, super hero, science fiction, humor), including the award-winning Xenozoic Tales and perhaps the first steampunk graphic novel, The Adventures of Professor Thintwhistle, with author Richard Lupoff.

(7) TODAY’S DAY.

May 25Towel Day which is celebrated by fans every year on May 25 as a tribute to the author Douglas Adams. Fans carry a towel with them as described in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The commemoration was first held May 25, 2001 two weeks after Douglas Adams’ death. [Via Rocketmail.]

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • May 25, 1977 Star Wars premiered. Later retitled as Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, it was written and directed by George Lucas. You know who the cast is so we’ll not list all of them here. Lucas envisioned the film as being in the tradition of Buck Rodgers which he originally intended to remake but couldn’t get the rights to.  Reception by critics and fans alike was fantastic with IguanaCon II voting it the Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo over Close Encounters of The Third Kind. It holds a stellar 96% rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 
  • May 25, 1983 Return of the Jedi, the last of the original trilogy, premiered. Later retitled Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi, it came out six years after Star Wars. It is directed not by Lucas this time but by Richard Marquand from a screenplay by Lucas and Lawrence Kasdan who co-wrote Raiders of the Lost Ark.  The principal cast is the same as the first film. Critics were ever so slightly less pleased with this concluding film of the trilogy but the audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it an equally stellar 94% rating as the first film. It would win The Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo at L.A. con II beating Right Stuff and WarGames. Box office wise, it sold more tickets for most of its first eight week American run than any other film.  

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born May 25, 1915 – DeeDee Lavender.  Four decades an active fan with her husband Roy.  Together they were Secretary-Treasurer of the Nat’l Fantasy Fan Fed’n in 1950.  They were at Aussiecon I the 33rd World Science Fiction Convention (I wasn’t), and Noreascon II the 38th (I was).  They’re in Harlan Ellison’s forewords to his collections I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream and Angry Candy; they knew Leigh Brackett & Edmond Hamilton, and were guests at the B&H homes in Ohio and California.  They were part of a Southern California fannish social group called the Petards, named by one of Rick Sneary’s famous misspellings, hoist for host.  Here she is with Roy at a Petards meeting in 1983 (Dik Daniels photo), and thirty years earlier in New York (L to R, Bea Mahaffey, Hannes Bok, DeeDee, Roy, Stan Skirvin; Mike Resnick collection).  (Died 1986) [JH]
  • Born May 25, 1916 – Charles Hornig.  Publishing his fanzine The Fantasy Fan in 1933, thus First Fandom (i.e. active by at least the first Worldcon, 1939), and hired, age 17, by Hugo Gernsback to edit Wonder Stories.  Founded the Science Fiction League with HG, 1934; later edited Fantasy; also Future and Science Fiction (they eventually combined); SF Quarterly.  See his notes on Nycon I, the first Worldcon, here.  (Died 1999) [JH]
  • Born May 25, 1926 – Phyllis Gotlieb.  Prix Aurora for A Judgement of Dragons (note spelling; she was Canadian).  The Sunburst Award is named for her first novel.  Thirteen SF novels, twenty shorter stories, eight poetry collections (the first being Who Knows One?).  Translated into Dutch, French, German, Italian.  Among her husband’s Physics students was Cory Doctorow’s father.  (Died 2009) [JH]
  • Born May 25, 1946 Frank Oz, 74. Actor, director including The Dark Crystal, Little Shop of Horrors and the second version of The Stepford Wives, producer and puppeteer. His career began as a puppeteer, where he performed the Muppet characters of Animal, Fozzie Bear, Miss Piggy, and oh so patriotic Sam Eagle in The Muppet Show, and Cookie Monster, Bert, and Grover in Sesame Street. Genre wise, he’s also known for the role of Yoda in the Star Wars franchise. An interesting Trivia note: he’s in the Blues Brothers as a Corrections Officer, and is the Warden in Blues Brothers 2000. (CE)
  • Born May 25, 1946 Janet Morris, 74. Hey I get to mention Thieves’ World! Yea! In that universe, she created the Sacred Band of Stepsons, a mythical unit of ancient fighters modeled on the Sacred Band of Thebes. She has three series, both listed as SF though I’d call one of them fantasy,  the Silistra quartet, the Kerrion Space trilogy and the Threshold series. And let’s not over overlook her Heroes in Hell series she wrote,most co-authorEd with her husband Chris Morris, some with C J Cherryh and David Drake. (CE)
  • Born May 25, 1950 – Kathryn Daugherty.  Engineer.  Married four decades to James Stanley Daugherty.  Back when FORTRAN wasn’t even Two-tran she fed punch-cards to a Control Data CDC 6400.  For ConFrancisco the 51st Worldcon, Official Editor of the con committee’s APA (Amateur Press Ass’n, a collection of fanzines) The Never-Ending Meeting.  At Bucconeer the 56th Worldcon, headed Contents of Tables; a typo made it “Contests of Tables”: in each newsletter I announced “Today’s winner is the Picnic”, “Today’s winner is the Periodic”.  Chaired Westercon LIII, a hard one: it was at Honolulu, see my report here [PDF; p. 11].  Luckily not exhausted; she and JSD were Fan Guests of Honor at Baycon in 2001, and Loscon XXXI (2004).  Joined me in liking Mission of Gravity.  Obituary by OGH here.  (Died 2012) [JH]
  • Born May 25, 1952 Al Sarrantonio, 68. His horror short stories are brilliant and they‘ve earned him a Stoker for 999: New Tales of Horror and Suspense and a Jackson for Stories: All-New Tales, the latter co-edited with Gaiman. His Masters of Mars series is SF and he’s written a Babylon 5 novel as well, Personal Agendas. (CE)
  • Born May 25, 1953 – Stan Sakai.  Lettered Groo the Wanderer comics; since 1984, author of Usagi Yojimbo comics about samurai rabbit Miyamoto Usagi, who has (wouldn’t you know it) crossed paths with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  The rônin lifeis hard.  During the most recent Year of the Rabbit (2011), the Japanese-American Nat’l Museum in Los Angeles had an Usagi Yojimbo exhibit.  Sakai has won a Parents’ Choice award, an Inkpot, six Eisners, an Inkwell, two Harveys, two Haxturs (Spain), a Plumilla de Plata (Mexico), a Cultural Ambassador award, and a Nat’l Cartoonists Society award.  [JH]
  • Born May 25, 1960 Eric Brown, 60. Well-deserved winner of two BSFA awards for his short stories, “Hunting the Slarqye” and “The Children of The Winter”.  He’s very prolific, averaging a novel a year over the past three decades and countless novellas and short stories. As far as SF goes, I’d start with his Binary System and Bengal Station series, both of which are superb. And I’m going to single out his Sherlock Holmes metaverse novel, The Martian Menace, in which The Great Detective meets and defeats those Invaders. (CE)
  • Born May 25, 1966 Vera Nazarian, 54. To date, she has written ten novels including Dreams of the Compass Rose, what I’d called a mosaic novel structured as a series of interlinked stories similar in to The One Thousand and One Nights that reminds a bit of Valente’s The Orphans Tales. She’s the publisher of Norilana Books which publishes such works as Catherynne M. Valente’s Guide to Folktales in Fragile Dialects, Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Sword and Sorceress anthologies,and Tanith Lee’s Lee’s Sounds and Furies. (CE)
  • Born May 25, 1982 – Bertrand Bonnet.  Six dozen reviews in Bifrost (French-language prozine; European SF Society award for Best Magazine, 2016), of Blish, Le Guin, Pohl (with and without Kornbluth), Resnick, Tolkien (including the Letters, yay).  [JH] 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Non Sequitur’s birds learn about their ancestors.
  • Non Sequitur sells foresight.
  • Non Sequitur has an SJWC intervention.
  • Mikey Heller drew a comic about a cat café. It’s got sjw credentials, sf, everything!

(11) LID OVERFLOW. In The Full Lid 22nd May 2020 Alasdair Stuart takes a look “at how now is very much the time for Strange New Worlds and what the Short Treks set on Pike’s Enterprise can teach us about the show’s tone.”

I also take a look at excellent, furious and overlooked movie Assassination Nation and Bog Bodies, a superb crime graphic novel out this week. Signal Boost is big this week but the YA/MG Author spotlight that follows it is much bigger and full of amazing books.

This week Stuart also launched The Full Lid Plus! A monthly supplement covering Disney Plus.

It’s first issue covers what we learn in the first for episodes of The Mandalorian and looks at award winning free-climbing documentary Free Solo. Oh and Will Smith sings.

The Full Lid Plus is published monthly and run off a paid subscription model, Details at the link.

Stuart’s Hugo Voting Packet for 2020 is also available at his website. “It touches on all my non-fiction work, has links to every piece and a consolidated PDF of everything too.”

(12) NO GO. It barely got out of California:“Virgin Orbit rocket fails on debut flight”

Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit company has tried unsuccessfully to launch a rocket over the Pacific Ocean.

The booster was released from under the wing of one of the UK entrepreneur’s old jumbos which had been specially converted for the task.

The rocket should have ignited its engine seconds later but engineers had to terminate the flight.

Virgin Orbit’s goal is to try to capture a share of the emerging market for the launch of small satellites.

It’s not clear at this stage what went wrong but the firm had warned beforehand that the chances of success might be in the region of 50:50.

The history of rocketry shows that maiden outings very often encounter technical problems.

The firm is sure to be back for another attempt pretty soon – depending on the outcome of the post-mission analysis.

(13) FLOCKING OFF. [Item by John A Arkansawyer.] I just noticed this monologue from the May 18th Late Night with Seth Meyers. There was no genre-related sketch that night. However!

When Seth Meyers first started broadcasting from home, he apparently (to my eyes, at least) ordered several feet of cheap respectable-looking trade paper and hardcover books from a local used book store. One that caught my eye was Shardik, which has a lot of whitespace on the spine and that weird symbol. The two copies of a book about Thessalonica were the big tip-off to me these were surplus and not garage detritus.

And then there was The Thorn Birds. No one seemed to believe Seth Meyers was a Thorn Birds fan.

Soon Meyers moved out of his garage and into his attic, where he has a plain backdrop…and an end table with a small stack of books. I’ve seen two dust-jacketed books claiming to be The Thorn Birds and one unjacketed copy between them. The Janelle Monae clip has a stack of Thorn Birds, Thorn Birds II: More Thorns, and Thorn Birds III: Something written in script too fine for me to read.

But the best one yet you can see in this clip, in the lower left-hand corner:

(14) JUST WHEN THE PREZ LEARNED HOW TO PRONOUNCE IT. BBC reports “WHO halts trials of hydroxychloroquine over safety fears”.

Testing of the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a possible treatment for coronavirus has been halted because of safety fears, the World Health Organization (WHO) says.

Trials in several countries are being “temporarily” suspended as a precaution, the agency said on Monday.

It comes after a recent medical study suggested the drug could increase the risk of patients dying from Covid-19.

(15) DON’T KNOW HOW GOOD YOU’VE GOT IT. And we close with this benediction from The Onion: “Nation’s Politicians, Law Enforcement, Corporate Executives Marvel At Futuristic Utopia They’re Living In”.

“To think that I have all this at my fingertips, whether it’s automated high-volume stock trading or unlimited surveillance footage of my employees, it’s like something out of a science fiction paradise,” said pharmaceutical executive Ron Pollard, who claimed previous generations of police officers, elected officials, and business leaders could never comprehend the world of unlimited possibilities that has been created for them, where they are free to do whatever they want all the time.

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

71 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 5/25/20 Five Hundred Twenty-Five Thousand Six Hundred Pixels How Do You Measure, Measure A Scroll?

  1. (4) I only got one better (7 out of 14).

    Obviously, it’s time to dig out the DVDs of the trilogy and watch them again.

  2. Read more books.

    Mr. & Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become One – Non-genre, Romance. It might appear that I’m on a kick, I’m not–well maybe. I wanted to read Mr. Darcy’s Diary and it came in a three-pack sandwiched between this and Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife.
    This was everything that Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife was not. The situations came about naturally rather than misfortune for the sake of creating conflict. The language of love-making avoided absurd euphemisms. Love rather than lust permeated this story.
    While I’m not commissure of the romance genre, this book was quite tolerable.

    Three Stars.

    The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow – Notes taken while reading.
    5% Bit of a slow start.
    15% A-are things finally picking up?
    25% https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7yVezH4wpMs
    33% This is it, it’s going to pick up now right?
    40% Stuff’s happening, stuff’s happening!
    100% Back half was fine

    I’d give the last 60% of the story three stars, decent didn’t wow me but the first third is so boring that it kills the whole thing dead.

    Two stars, I’m disappointed.

    The Pursuit of Mary Bennet by Pamela Mingle – Non-genre Romance. I guess it is a kick after all.

    Exactly what it says on the tin. A man falls for Mary but will they marry and make merry?

    Three Stars.

  3. Medical update.

    Physical therapy is preceding fine if a bit slow due to the discovery after getting here at New England Rehabilitation Hospital that, in addition to the severe right knee injury, that I tore up the right shoulder ACL. So I can’t use crutches and thus will need to precede straight to some form of walking stick when I finally head home to take some of the weight off the knee.

    Therapy only takes up three or four hours a day leaving lots of time for reading, writing reviews, working on WordPress sites and such. I’ve got my own room as the patient census is low and, well, I asked politely for one. It’s actually bigger than some studio apartments I’ve had.

    I am, I’m delighted to say, free of the the virus as I got tested before I was transferred here from Maine Med.

    However I did pick up an infection in the surgical wound which means I’m taking really serious antibiotics (and meds to counter their side-effects) which will take at least a week to work. Oh well…

  4. (7) Today is also “wear lilac” day in honor of Terry Pratchett.

    “After it was announced in 2007 that Sir Terry had Alzheimer’s, his fans started to honor him each May 25th by wearing lilacs.”

    I don’t have lilacs handy so I just carry a lilac towel every May 25.

  5. @4: well, I only got 6/14 too, although I had to guess the manure (and argued myself out of another couple of correct answers). Unlike @John Lorentz, I’m not planning to rewatch; I tend to remember just a bit too much of the movies I’ve seen (and sometimes reseen) to be interested.

    @Cat Eldredge: sorry the shoulder got dinged as well; will they give you more time to heal since you’ll have less ability to take the load off the knee?

    @Ita: I might have done that if I’d known — the dwarf Korean lilac outside our house is in almost full bloom — but I would have had to save it for the exercise walk as my partner’s allergies have moved to include lilac. Do you have a cite for why lilacs in particular? — I don’t remember reading about a connection between him and them, although wearing a sprig is much more practical than wearing an orangutan suit (or even mask).

  6. Chip: Akin to Corvid 19 which takes away the sense of taste, the inability to identify the smell of lemons, lilac, leather and seven other odors predicts which patients with minimal to mild cognitive impairment will develop Alzheimer’s Disease. Hence the use of lilacs to honour him.

  7. David Goldfarb says Typo alert: Buck Rogers (in the Star Wars blurb) has no “d”.

    Actually it should have been Duck Dodgers as in Duck Dodgers in the Twenty Third Century…

  8. @Iphinome —

    The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow – Notes taken while reading.
    5% Bit of a slow start.
    15% A-are things finally picking up?[….]
    I’d give the last 60% of the story three stars, decent didn’t wow me but the first third is so boring that it kills the whole thing dead.

    Yeah, that book does take forever to get started. I ended up liking it quite a bit, though. For me, the spirit of the thing and the evocative prose helped to make up for the sloooooooow start.

    As for romance novels — I think it’s all the societal stress right now. I just spent a week binging romances myself — I zipped through, lessee, nine of them between 5/14 and 5/21, and I may go back to another couple that have just come off hold on my library account. They can be great for stress relief and giving the brain cells a holiday. 😉

  9. (9) Um, actually the ConFrancisco Program Division Head was Sarah Goodman. The File 770 issue containing her obituary is File 770:161, not 136. There is a post Kathryn Daugherty (1950-2012) here on the site.

    Kathryn was unique. She made her own path. She will be missed. My last memory of her is Kathryn Daugherty resplendent after a job well done, directing the Hugo Awards Ceremony at Aussiecon 4.

  10. (7) TODAY’S DAY.
    Happy Towel Day!

    (8) TODAY IN HISTORY.
    Also: Happy (Orthodox) Star Wars Day!

    A remembrance now of the time before the May the 4th upstarts got into the act…

  11. Meredith Moment
    Joe Abercrombie’s entire First Law trilogy is available as a Kindle UK Daily Deal for 99p today. Really should try them. My OH is very keen.

  12. 9) Vera Nazarian’s press published books by Tanith (not Tabitha) Lee.

    8) I know I didn’t see either Star Wars or Return of the Jedi (or Empire Strikes Back, for that matter) on opening day, just because at that point theaters in small-town outstate Minnesota would’ve had to wait for the films to get shipped from bigger, more lucrative venues. (And by the time I did see both Empire and Jedi, I had already read the novelizations since those came out earlier.)

  13. (9) Kathryn Daugherty was Programming Division Manager for ConJose 2002, not ConFrancisco 1993.

    (1) Lisa and I rode the Santa Fe Southern (the short line that ran the branch from Lamy to Santa Fe until they went out of of business) on one of their excursion trains when they were running “mixed” trains (trains with both passengers and freight), including a stop while they switched a car into the Coors distributorship using a move that I’m pretty sure would have brought the wrath of the Federal Railroad Administration down upon them had the FRA noticed what they were doing: a flying switch.

    Despite its original name (Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe), when the railroad actually reached its originally projected terminus in New Mexico and kept building westward, they realized that the local topography meant that New Mexico’s capitol city would never be more than just a town on the end of a branch line. ATSF (now part of BNSF) sold the branch off to the Santa Fe Southern (via a group of local business owners who were trying to preserve service) in 1992.

  14. John Hertz replies by carrier pigeon:

    @Tom Becker Thanks for catching my error about the Head of Program at ConFrancisco, and the incorrect link to the obituary by OGH (which was correct originally, but I bungled it somehow). I’ve asked that these be corrected in the text.

    But the link at “Chaired Westercon LIII, a hard one: it was at Honolulu, see my report here [PDF; p. 11]” is correct: it says it’s to my con report, and it is (File 770 136).

    That’s a swell photo of Kathryn.

  15. (8) My brother’s birthday is at the end of May so we went to Star Wars the first weekend. Went in a bit blind not know what to expect other than what had been written up in Time magazine. Also came back from college just in time to go see Jedi on the opening weekend. Different theater, but close by, because the first one had already been converted to something else by that point.

    (9) I thought in Night Watch you weren’t supposed to wear lilacs unless you were actually there? I remember some new recruit being dressed down for wearing lilacs because he thought all Watch members were supposed to to mark the day. (Trying to avoid spoiler issues.) So nice gesture by the fans, but not something I’d do.

    (1) Most of my knowledge of rail lines comes from playing Avalon Hill’s Rail Baron. (ATSF is a blue and white checkered line.) I’m picturing GRRM wearing a top hat and spats getting onto a passenger car because a similar image appears on the game box.

    Here she comes, whoo oo oo oo, hey Mike, you better get the rig.
    Whoo oo oo oo, she’s got a scroll of pixels that’s pretty big.

  16. 4) Not even going to try it because TBH I don’t know if I’ve ever seen BttF3. I did buy the trilogy on iTunes recently, but haven’t gotten to the third movie yet.

  17. @Chip Hitchcock Lilac is a reference to Pratchett’s Night Watch where Vimes goes back in time and the people who wore lilac sprigs were the “good guys”. If you haven’t read the book, do! It gets better every time I reread it.

  18. CoNZealand announces the virtual conference platforms.
    https://conzealand.nz/blog/2020/05/25/conzealand-platform-announcement

    The social hub of the CoNZealand platform will be Discord. From here, you will be able to enter, talk with bidders at their bid tables, hang out in our social spaces and attend parties.

    Programme items will be in Zoom, with the type of item determining what type of Zoom meeting we will use. Most events will be streamed to members and will also be available on The Fantasy Network’s app.

    Our schedule will be in Grenadine, where you can read about our Programme Participants, plan your convention schedule, and get to the programme items.

    Finally, we will greatly expand the CoNZealand website to provide information on exhibits, dealers, and the art show, and a wealth of information, including the Convention Newsletter and other convention publications.

    These will all be tied together with a single sign-in point for authentication through the CoNZealand registration system, while meeting standards for maintaining the privacy of our members.

  19. I’ve reread Night Watch (not a bad way to waste a day while my to-do list stagnates) and confirm @Jack Lint’s point that the lilac on Discworld, unlike the poppy in Commonwealth countries, is not for general wear; the scene he refers to is the 2nd in the book, so his reference is hardly a spoiler. Maybe somebody decided there had to be something to remember Pterry by and started pushing.

    @Kevin Standlee: I was wondering about the configuration; I briefly visited Santa Fe (“a strip mall with a theme park at the end”, as one old hand described it) and noticed how elevated it was — the preservationists didn’t have to do anything to make the interstate go around it rather than through — so I’m not surprised the main line passed at such a distance. I remember my father mentioning students arriving at Otowi on the Denver & Rio Grande ( whose initials got recast as the Dirty, Rotten, & Gross — schoolboy humor…), but not whether they were more likely to have changed twice coming off the then-ATSF main line or to have come down from the north.
    The “flying switch” does sound a little hairy — but is there an approved way of dropping cars when the points are toward the locomotive rather than the back end of the train? Is somebody supposed to go to the expense of building a wye, or are pickups and dropoffs limited to opposite directions?

  20. Joe H.: Not even going to try it because TBH I don’t know if I’ve ever seen BttF3.

    I watched Moviclips’ 10 clips from the movie, and was pretty convinced that I had never seen the movie, until I hit the dance scene and knew that the woman was Mary Steenburgen before actually seeing her face. So obviously I had seen it, but it was really forgettable. There are also some cringey bits with Native American tropes.

  21. 1) There has been a historical museum railroad running in a town near where I live since 1966. Supposedly, it was one of the first museum railroads in the world.

    The situation seems to be similar to Santa Fe’s. The railroad was a short branch that was originally built to transport grain and passengers. When freight and passengers moved to the road post WWII, the railroad was shut down and due to be demolished. A club of railway enthusiasts bought and restored it. The vintage steam trains are running regularly on weekends during the summer season now and are a popular tourist attraction. You can also talk railway technology with the volunteers who operate the train. I introduced one of them to the legend of John Henry once, which amazingly he did not know. The historic railway is closed at the moment for obvious reasons, but will supposedly reopen by May 31.

    The Bruchhausen-Vilsen historic museum railway even starred in this music video by Big Daddy Wilson, so enjoy:

    [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eHq_c7AbUlc&w=560&h=315%5D

  22. And speaking of Libertarians, the Washington Post covered their online convention. It’s not online, only in an emaili that I got, hence I’ve reprinted it here.

    America’s third-largest political party has its ticket, after Libertarian activists Jo Jorgensen and Spike Cohen were nominated as their candidates for president and vice president. You probably haven’t heard of either.

    Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, who briefly ran for the Libertarian nomination, infrequently appeared in polls and had name recognition below 20 percent when he did. Jorgensen, the party’s 1996 nominee for vice president, is its first nominee since 2004 to have never held elected office and its first female nominee.

    She had serious competition. In the weekend convention, largely conducted online, Jorgensen won on the fourth ballot. That was after an effort to draft Amash, enticing the reluctant candidate back into the race with a show of support, failed; learning of the effort on Twitter, Amash wrote that “I’m honored and grateful, but I am not a candidate this year and will not accept the nomination.”

    That left Jorgensen as one of the best-known contenders in a field that included another LP vice presidential nominee (Jim Gray) and a one-man political satire named Vermin Supreme. It was dominated, though, by party loyalists like Jorgensen and Cohen, whose platform included priorities such as legal plutonium for public use and “going back in time to kill Baby Woodrow Wilson, which ultimately makes killing Hitler unnecessary but we’re still going to do that too.”

    Cohen was foisted upon Jorgensen by delegates, pushing past a less-satirical candidate in the convention vote for VP. Since joining the ticket, Cohen has reined himself in and Jorgensen has spoken for them, giving the same pitch that she gave 24 years ago: The party will loosen regulations and let the free market do its magic.

    In an interview with Reason, Jorgensen called the response to the coronavirus “the biggest assault on our liberties in our lifetime” and opposed the bipartisan spending bills passed to respond to the pandemic, saying it “would be better if Americans got to keep their money and let them decide which companies deserve money, not the government.”

    That’s similar to what Gary Johnson, the party’s biggest vote-winner since it began contesting presidential elections, ran on in 2012 and 2016. It’s not unlike the pitch Amash was making before his surprise exit from the race.

    But there’s worry that Jorgensen, while unencumbered from any association with the big two parties, won’t cut through the noise. Delegate and party strategist John Vaught LaBeaume, who joined the effort to draft Amash, said Monday that the party should begin opening up its nomination to everyone who registers with the party. The traditional convention process, he said, ended up sidelining the only candidate who might have capitalized on the attention the party got four years ago, when Johnson won nearly 4.5 million votes.

    “A clutch of LP poobahs ran off Justin Amash, insisting a sitting Member of Congress be subjected to ‘debates’ where a bunch of unknowns taunted, calling him a fraud and a heretic,” LaBeaume said, characterizing the criticism Amash faced online. “Then, in the face of the twin 2020 perils of Donald Trump and the other party’s base pushing ‘Democratic’ socialism, Libertarian convention delegates nominated a ticket of Some Lady/Some Guy Who Podcasts from his Basement 2020.”

  23. I downloaded Fantasy Network and played around on it a little, it’s easy to use and seems to be a cool concept apart from Worldcon. And since March I’ve also become very familiar with Zoom. So time to research Discord I suppose.

  24. bookworm1398 says I downloaded Fantasy Network and played around on it a little, it’s easy to use and seems to be a cool concept apart from Worldcon. And since March I’ve also become very familiar with Zoom. So time to research Discord I suppose.

    The Zoom Meeting app is what I use for my weekly Wellness visits with Jenner my PCP. It’s got a lot of work needing to done to it, ie I should be able to turn off the video view of myself, and it should automatically connect the audio which it doesn’t. I’ll download the other apps for my iPad soon.

  25. @Cat Eldridge. To auto connect the audio in Zoom, go to settings, choose meetings and then choose auto connect to audio.
    To turn off video during a meeting, tap on the screen, a bar will appear along the bottom. Click on the video camera icon on the bar to turn video on and off.
    Hope that helps.

  26. @Cat I had to read that a couple of times to confirm that that wasn’t Vermin Supreme’s platform.

    Poor Amash, being called names while trying to get the nomination to run against Donald Trump, that noted exemplar of civility toward his political opponents.

  27. In Hugo reading, I’m currently about a quarter of the way through Middlegame, and enjoying it thoroughly. Makes me feel like a young SFF fan again full of sense of wonder.

  28. @bookworm1398 & others regarding Discord,

    The Balticon Discord server is still open if you want to explore it. It’s quite a powerful platform (I first used Discord for gaming), where you can set up different “channels” which are like chatrooms for different topics. It supports txt as well as voice and video.

    The invite link is below (I grabbed it from the Balticon webpage):
    https://discord.com/invite/baltimorescifi

  29. It seems that the Zoom interface differs depending on what device you are using, so Zoom guides will have to reflect that to avoid confusing new users.

  30. Goobergunch says Another SF connection to this year’s Libertarian Party: their 2020 convention theme is (was?) the Heinlein-coined TANSTAAFL.

    Heinlein didn’t it as predates him by some decades.

  31. @John Hertz: You are right. Sorry about that. With someone as multi-faceted as Kathryn Daugherty even a footnote about her is not a simple thing. Also, I was distracted by having to read several back issues of File 770, and there was an article by Randy Byers. Sigh.

  32. @Chip Hitchcock: that is not a bad description of Santa Fe. My rule 1 of dealing with SF is to stay as far away from Cerillos Road (the strip mall) as possible.

  33. …..Duck Dodgers in the 24 ½ Century…..

    14) The frustrating thing about these stories is that they seem designed to embarrass the President rather than to illuminate the issues. I’ve restrained myself from reading exhaustively, but there have been credible reports of doctors suggesting that they are using hydroxychloroquine successfully in certain cases. I’ve seen anecdata that suggests that when a person gets the drug may make a difference in the effectiveness of the treatment. And healthcare workers in some countries are taking it as a prophylactic measure.

    Some of the trials that have been interrupted seem to be using higher doses of the drug than are commonly used in non-Corona ailments.

    What dosage are they testing? At what phase in the Coronavirus cycle are they administering it? Are the halted trials simply identifying conditions/dosages where it doesn’t work? Is it the combination of the drug and the virus that causes heart problems?

    Unfortunately, we’re at a cultural point where if the President said to drink more water, half of the country would respond with “he wants people to drown themselves”. Of course, having a President that ponders whether he should be on insulin isn’t making things any easier…..

    Regards,
    Dann
    Me on a political map.

  34. Chip Hitchcock on May 26, 2020 at 1:56 pm said:

    I remember my father mentioning students arriving at Otowi on the Denver & Rio Grande…, but not whether they were more likely to have changed twice coming off the then-ATSF main line or to have come down from the north.

    It depends on how long ago. There once was a rail line that came into Santa Fe from the north: the D&RGW “Chili Line”, closed in 1941. Until it closed, the station in Santa Fe was an actual “Union Station” (serving multiple carriers; in this case the D&RGW from the north and the AT&SF from the south). The whole area was rebuilt when the New Mexico Rail Runner (commuter rail to Albuquerque and Belen, built on a different route than the ATSF/SFS branch from Lamy) was built and kicked the SFS out of the station.

    The “flying switch” does sound a little hairy — but is there an approved way of dropping cars when the points are toward the locomotive rather than the back end of the train? Is somebody supposed to go to the expense of building a wye, or are pickups and dropoffs limited to opposite directions?

    It wasn’t until after we witnessed what they’d done that I’d realized how unusual it was, and how risky it was. Among the risks: the ground operator could throw the switch while our train was still passing over it, causing it to derail and then have the loose car crash into it.

    I think the approved method of doing what was needed here (putting a car into a single-ended siding) would be to put the car needing to be spotted ahead of the engine. You would do that somewhere along the line where you have a double-ended siding (“runaround”). Then you push the car ahead of the locomotive to the single-ended siding. This takes more time and is awkward.

    In the specific case we witnessed, it would have been possible to do this sort of arrangement. We rode down on the passenger train from Santa Fe to Lamy, where we had lunch while the SFS switched out the freight they’d brought down from Santa Fe to interchange with the ATSF and put together the return trip including that beer car on the back of the passenger cars.

    A lot of deprecated railroad practices slow down operations in favor of improved safety: flying switches, “poling” cars (which is why older locomotives have round pockets on their corners), boarding/deboarding while the train is in motion, and so forth. Lisa and I have some railroad training videos that show you how you’re supposed to do some of these things theoretically safely. But they do have an element of risk, and over time, the lives of the employees have come to be considered more valuable than they once were.

    (And I personally think that’s a good thing, unlike the owners of those businesses who, protected from any liability from killing their employees and apparently more interested than money than morality, are telling their workers to ignore all of those safety “recommendations” and Get Back to Work.)

  35. I knew about the 1941 closure; my father taught at Los Alamos Ranch School (1917-1942) for most of its existence, so it’s not surprising students used the “Chili Line”, at least early on. (He would also have used it; his notes mention being met at the station by a rider leading a second horse, and being told a buckboard would be along for his luggage later.) I got the impression that the school used a bus even before the line closed, so more-recent students could have been picked up as far away as Santa Fe.

    I was thinking about the solution of the car in front, but wonder whether that would also be an issue on a train carrying passengers; would the FRA not have been bothered by the loss of visibility? (I’m guessing the locomotive had the cab at the back, like most non-highspeed engines I’ve seen, but in the cases I’ve seen the engine compartment is narrower than the cab, while a car could have been the same width.) I am not surprised that regulations of more-recent decades value human life over profits, or that those regulations grew slowly; when Massachusetts started to shut down one of my choruses had started performance week for Anthracite Fields — IIUC an incomplete title, as part of the text is John L. Lewis’s speech after the Centralia bituminous-coal mine disaster (1947).

  36. @Kevin Standlee:

    A lot of deprecated railroad practices slow down operations in favor of improved safety: flying switches, “poling” cars (which is why older locomotives have round pockets on their corners), boarding/deboarding while the train is in motion, and so forth.

    On the other hand, there’s nothing quite like walking briskly alongside the train carrying your bride away from you during your honeymoon and realizing you don’t dare try to hop on and they won’t stop. It seems to me that losing your wife during your honeymoon is also a safety risk.

  37. Dann665: Unfortunately, we’re at a cultural point where if the President said to drink more water, half of the country would respond with “he wants people to drown themselves”.

    Yeah, no. The people criticizing Trump aren’t doing it for the sake of criticizing him. They’re doing it because so much of what he says and does legitimately deserves to be criticized. If the President said to drink more water, those people would say “Finally! He actually said something sensible!”

    Really, Dann, how can you expect to be taken seriously when you continually put up strawman arguments like this? 🙄

  38. @JJ

    I’m glad all of your friends, acquaintances, and various social media streams are measured in their responses. I’m getting things from all directions and what I said is modest hyperbole, but contains the requisite kernel of truth.

    All you have to do is look at free trade to see how things have flipped. The GOP used to be pro-free trade while the Dems opposed it. Now that the President opposes free trade, both sides have flipped positions.

    Regards,
    Dann
    This Tagline is OFF TOPIC! (as if the rest of the message wasn’t)

  39. Let’s also not overlook the fact that Dann is complaining about unfair treatment of the guy who spent years claiming our previous President was born in Kenya and wasn’t a native-born citizen, who suggested studying whether bleach could be used internally to treat COVID-19 in humans, whose comments on the per capita rate of COVID-19 testing in the US can most charitably be understood by assuming he has no idea what “per capita” means, and who is currently attempting to smear a former Republican congressman and current morning news host for the murder of an aide who wasn’t, in fact, murdered, at a time when Scarborough wasn’t even in the state where the aide died.

    And yeah, the insulin thing. Trump is AT BEST an idiot.

    Dann, I would appreciate links to those credible reports of doctors suggesting that they are using hydroxychloroquine successfully in certain cases, or that healthcare workers in some countries are taking it as a prophylactic measure. Real sources, of course. The claims I’ve seen so far of “doctors saying they’re using hydroxychloroquine successfully” have all turned out, on closer inquiry, to be individual doctors and tiny numbers of their own patients, with no controls, making them just, at best, anecdata. There’s no way to establish that the hydroxychloroquine played any role other than not actually killing them.

    And so far, all the studies that include a control group have not shown good results. This, for instance, is the largest:
    Malaria drugs tied to risk of death, heart problems in COVID-19 patients

    It’s really not looking good for hydroxychloroquine in treatment of COVID-19.

  40. @Lis Carey

    I think he should absolutely be criticized for what he does/says that is wrong. i.e. misidentifying President Obama’s birthplace, smearing Scarborough, etc. It would also be helpful if Mr. Trump would leave the deep medical explanations to the people with the education and the speaking ability to properly communicate on those issues.

    As for the link, sorry. I’m not in the habit of creating a bibliography of my general reading habits. I hope to be more helpful when I get my cloudhook installed.

    I generally agree that most of the reports that I have read are at best anecdata. I wouldn’t base policy on them. But that’s all part of the scientific process, right? Start with a hypothesis and test it?

    What I am wondering is whether treatment earlier in the virus cycle might be useful? Also the risk/reward vs. cytokine storm syndrome? And whether there is enough of a prophylactic benefit to warrant wider usage? BBC.com had a number of current stories suggesting that healthcare workers in several nations are taking it on that basis.

    Regards,
    Dann
    Coolidge is dead – “How could they tell? – Dorothy Parker

  41. Didier Raoult, the French doctor who started promoting hydroxychloriquine, dismissed the studies showing that the drug is killing people (or at least increasing rather than decreasing the death rate) because they’re based on big data. How dare scientists try to figure out what’s going on with someone else’s patients?!

    When there is no evidence that a drug is helpful, and evidence that it’s harmful, why the hell would you decide the answer is to give it to people sooner? There is no prophylactic effect: people who are on the drug for other reasons also get COVID-19.

    People were/are taking it because the charismatic doctor who claimed it worked got a lot of attention, and it took a little while for the evidence that he’s wrong to get out there. And because not everyone will see the difference between “the president, with no medical training whatsoever, thinks this is good” and “the medical experts who work for the US government recommend this.”

    That’s not even about the incumbent’s competence: I wouldn’t have advised getting medical advice from any US president, because they aren’t medical experts: running casinos isn’t a medical qualification, nor is running a peanut farm, serving in the military, or being a senator, state governor… or motorcycle mechanic.

  42. I just heard a report on the new today that India is increasing the production of hydroxychloriquine and is planning to use it to treat COVID-19 patients. Besides, Indian doctors are likely more familiar with the drug, its risks and side effects, since malaria still is an issue in India. Maybe this will generate some useful data that tells us if and under what circumstances hydroxychloriquine is effective.

  43. @Dann —

    But that’s all part of the scientific process, right? Start with a hypothesis and test it?

    It has been tested. Even WHO is dropping investigations into it now, because of the increased death rate.

    Everyone needs to remember that one disease is not the same as another, so drugs that are safe for one disease treatment may not be safe for another. In the case of hydroxychloroquine and Covid, it is becoming more evident that the Covid virus causes heart muscle damage along with all the other tissue damage it does. Therefore, if a drug like hydroxychloroquine might have a propensity to cause minor (and therefore usually unnoticed) heart damage when used to treat other diseases that DON’T damage heart muscle, then usage in combination with Covid could easily cause heart complications that we don’t otherwise see with the same drug.

    I am tempted to encourage Trump to start using insulin, but that would get perilously close to all the idiots who are already wishing death on their political opponents (I just read today of an elected Republican who stated publicly that “the only good Democrat is a dead Democrat” — and yes, that’s a direct quote). But I can at least remark that Darwin gets us all in the end!

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