Pixel Scroll 5/9/21 Scrolled In The Pixel Was – Oh! Oh! Oh!

(1) DELANY’S CARTE BLANCHE. The Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan will present movies curated by Samuel R. Delany as part of its Carte Blanche series, in which cinema and art-world luminaries present a selection of films that are of personal or professional significance to them: Carte Blanche: Samuel R. Delany from May 20-June 6.

On the occasion of his 79th year, Samuel R. Delany, multi-time Nebula and Hugo award-winning author and lauded literary critic, taps into a lifetime of cinematic obsessions for MoMA’s Carte Blanche series. Delany’s colorful picks—encompassing the classical avant-garde of Jean Cocteau’s The Blood of a PoetMaya Deren’s Meshes of the Afternoon, and Jean Vigo’s L’Atalante; masterworks by Michael Powell and Luis Buñuel; and newer treasures like Peter Jackson’s King Kong and Martin Scorsese’s Hugo—honor the expressive power of the fantastic on film. Accompanying his selections are a rare screening of his own experimental science-fiction featurette The Orchid and Fred Barney Taylor’s effervescent portrait of the author, The Polymath, or The Life and Opinions of Samuel R. Delany, Gentleman.

Of his choices Delany writes, “Sometimes I feel like the character in Myra/Myron Breckenridge who announces something to the effect: Between 1938 and 1950, there were no bad films made in the United States of America. That’s kind of how I feel about all films. It’s like Andrew Saris said, ‘There are no amateur films. They’re too expensive to make. If you can afford to make a film, you’re making a film.’”

If you’d like to explore more Delany cinema favorites, he’s recommended some additional films to seek out: Abel Gance’s Napoléon (1927), Jean Delannoy’s The Eternal Return (1943), Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s The Red Shoes (1948), Ernest B. Schoedsack’s Mighty Joe Young (1949), Jacques Tourner’s The Flame and the Arrow (1950), Jean Cocteau’s Orphée (Orpheus) (1950), Stanley Donen’s Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954), Mervyn LeRoy’s Rose Marie (1954), Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Sidney Lumet’s Dog Day Afternoon (1975), Ingmar Bergman’s Fanny and Alexander (1982), and Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York (2002).

(2) CONVENTION COMEBACK. The Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention announced on Facebook they’re planning an in-person event for September 9-12, 2021 at the Westin Lombard Yorktown Center, Lombard, Illinois.  

…In IL, the State will be moving to a reopening Bridge Phase on May 14, with Phase 5 to occur on June 11.  Both of these phases would permit conventions like ours to take place, so while we can’t predict what will happen over the summer, at this point it looks very likely that the show will go on!  

It will be a requirement that masks covering the nose and mouth be worn during the convention.  We don’t know yet whether vaccinations will be required by the State, but we encourage all attendees to have been vaccinated and bring proof of vaccination in case that is required.  Obviously, if you have any symptoms of COVID-19, you should not attend the convention and should contact your doctor.  

To help with social distancing, for this year’s show we will not have a con suite.  Attendees arriving on Thursday will be able to pick up their materials outside the dealer room on Thursday evening.  At the moment, this is the only change we anticipate to our programming; we hope to have the con suite back for the 2022 show, which will be held May 5-8, 2022.  

…Our Friday evening auction will feature more rare material from the Estate of Robert Weinberg.   Our Saturday evening auction will contain material from several consignors, including many rare items from the Estate of Glenn Lord as well as few scarce items from the Estate of August Derleth (including perhaps his scarcest book, “Love Letters to Caitlin”).  Other great material includes a copy of the Herbert Jenkins edition of Robert E. Howard’s “A Gent From Bear Creek!”  

Keep checking their website www.windycitypulpandpaper.com and Facebook page for further updates.  

(3) BEST RELATED. James Davis Nicoll got everyone to play along – one way or another – when he tweeted this question:

The thread starts here and continues….

(4) DOCTOR WHO HARASSMENT ISSUES. The Guardian updates an earlier story: “Noel Clarke accused of sexual harassment on Doctor Who set”.

The Noel Clarke sexual harassment controversy threatens to embroil the BBC after several sources came forward to allege they were sexually harassed or inappropriately touched by the actor on a flagship show, Doctor Who.

Another Doctor Who actor, John Barrowman, has also been accused of repeatedly exposing himself to co-workers on two BBC productions, prompting questions about whether the corporation allowed a lax culture on its sets during the mid-2000s.

The developments come a week after ITV, Sky and the BBC announced that they had cut ties with Clarke after the Guardian published testimony from 20 women who variously accused him of groping, sexual harassment and bullying.

… Barrowman, who played the character of Capt Jack Harkness in Doctor Who and its spin-off show Torchwood, is accused of exposing himself repeatedly on both sets, although numerous witnesses described the incidents as inappropriate pranks rather than anything amounting to sexually predatory behaviour….

(5) HISTORY FROM ANOTHER PLANET. The Smithsonian will display a Star Wars X-Wing fighter reports the New York Times: “Coming Soon to a Hallowed Hall of Spaceflight: An X-Wing Fighter”.

The National Air and Space Museum holds some of the most hallowed objects of the aerial age.

Visitors can marvel at the 1903 Wright Flyer that skimmed over Kitty Hawk, N.C., the bright red Lockheed 5B Vega that Amelia Earhart piloted alone across the Atlantic Ocean and the bell-shaped Friendship 7 capsule that made John H. Glenn Jr. the first American to orbit the Earth.

Now, the museum said, it will display a spacecraft that has flown only onscreen, in an entirely fictional galaxy where good and evil seem locked in eternal battle.

That’s right: An X-wing Starfighter will grace the museum’s newly renovated building on the National Mall sometime late next year, the museum said on Tuesday, which was celebrated by “Star Wars” fans as a holiday because it was May 4 (May the 4th be with you).

The Hollywood prop, with a wingspan of 37 feet, appeared in “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” in 2019 and is on long-term loan from Lucasfilm, the movie’s production company.

While air and space purists may grumble about precious exhibition space being turned over to a pretend craft that played no role in advancing actual space travel, the exhibition is not the first time the museum has allied itself with the franchise’s crowd-pleasing power. In the late 1990s, it presented “Star Wars: The Magic of Myth,” a show based on the original “Star Wars” trilogy; that show went on tour across the country.

(6) SELF-SURVEILLANCE. “Aiming for lateral accountability: Cameras will either help… or thwart… Big Brother” says David Brin.

…“Massive camera hack exposes the growing reach and intimacy of American surveillance.” A breach of the camera start-up Verkada ‘should be a wake-up call to the dangers of self-surveillance,’ one expert said: ‘Our desire for some fake sense of security is its own security threat’, reports The Washington Post.

I remain appalled that so many very smart people actually seem to think that each year’s new tech levels – and menaces – will now freeze and stand still long enough for us to ban them. Cameras get smaller, faster, cheaper, better, more mobile and vastly more numerous far faster than Moore’s Law (Brin’s Corollary!

Consider the recent case of San Francisco’s City Council banning facial recognition systems, when keeping them open to public criticism is exactly how we discovered and then corrected many problems like racial and gender bias in the programs.

Anyway Facial Recognition programs won’t be resident in police departments for long, where some city council can ban them, but will be cheap apps in phones and AR glasses, available from a thousand directions. Result? Cops who are banned from using versions that are open to supervision will instead surreptitiously use dark web versions, because it might save their own lives.

We need to focus not on uselessly trying to ban tech that might be abused, but on eliminating the abuses. And that can only happen with more light, aimed at those with power.

Oh, the dangers are very real! These techs will certainly empower agents and masters of despotism, if you already have a despotism. And hence the lesson and priority is to prevent despotism altogether! Because these same techs could instead empower vibrant citizenship, if we see to it they are well-shared and that no elite gets to monopolize them.

Which they will, if we try simplistically and reflexively to ban them.

It’s not that the ACLU and EFF and EU are wrong to fret! They are absolutely correct to point at problems and to worry that surveillance techs could empower Big Brothers and render citizen privacy extinct. It is their prescriptions that almost always are short-sighted and foolish.

Making a tech illegal will not stop elites form having and using it. 

Let me repeat that.

Making a tech illegal will not stop elites form having and using it. 

What it will do is make them arrange to do it secretly, where the methods won’t be appraised and criticized publicly.

(7) MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER KICKSTARTER HITS GOAL. “Joel and the Bots have successfully funded a full new season of MST3K” — 36,581 backers pledged $6,519,019 to bring back the show.

We’ve got movie sign once again, amazingly, as Mystery Science Theater 3000, the TV show that taught us all the true meaning of a Patrick Swayze Christmas, has once again brought home a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund a full new season of the beloved movie-riffing show. The “Let’s Make More MST3K & Build The Gizmoplex!” campaign—the latter referring to a new web portal that series creator Joel Hodgson intends to build as the permanent online home for the show—wrapped up yesterday, hitting all of its funding goals, including milestones for a full 12 episodes, as well as Halloween and Christmas specials….

(8) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

  • May 9, 1997 — On this day in 1997, Fifth Element premiered in the United States. It was directed by Luc Besson and produced by Patrice Ledoux from the screenplay by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen Whitchurch was based off the story by Luc Besson. It starred Bruce Willis, Gary Oldman, Ian Holm, Chris Tucker and Milla Jovovich. It did exceedingly well at the box office, far beyond returning the investment that the company put into it. It was both praised and damned in equal amounts by critics who either loved it passionately or despised it with all their heart. It finished fourth in the voting for the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation at BucConeer the next year. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a rather excellent eighty-six percent rating.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born May 9, 1867 J.M. Barrie. Scottish novelist and playwright, best remembered as the creator of Peter Pan. Scots by birth and education, he moved to London, where he wrote a number of successful novels and plays. There he met the Llewelyn Davies boys, who inspired him to write about a young boy who has magical adventures in Kensington Gardens (first included in Barrie’s 1902 adult novel The Little White Bird), then to write Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up. (Died 1937.) (CE) 
  • Born May 9, 1906 – Eleanor Estes.  Three novels for us, a score of others.  Librarian and teacher.  Newbery Medal, Lewis Carroll Shelf Award.  Eleanor Cameron said EE’s stories of fictional Moffats were classic.  As it happens I have known two Moffatts and one Moffat in SF.  (Died 1988) [JH]
  • Born May 9, 1913 – Richard McKenna.  Half a dozen stories for us published while he was alive, a dozen more afterward.  One Nebula, posthumously.  The first and last stories to appear in his lifetime, “Casey Agonistes” and “Hunter, Come Home”, are masterworks and unforgettable.  One novel, The Sand Pebbles, outside our field; made a successful film.  Served a score of years in the Navy.  (Died 1964) [JH]
  • Born May 9, 1920 Richard  Adams. I really loved Watership Down when I read it long ago so will not read it again that the Suck Fairy may not visit it. Are any of the various Watership animated affairs worth seeing? Reasonably sure I’ve read Shardik once but it made no impression one way or the other.  I heard good things about Tales from Watership Down and should add it my TBR pile. (Died 2016.) (CE) 
  • Born May 9, 1920 William Tenn. Clute says in ESF that “From the first, Tenn was one of the genre’s very few genuinely comic, genuinely incisive writers of short fiction, sharper and more mature than Fredric Brown and less self-indulgent in his Satirical take on the modern world than Robert Sheckley.” That pretty sums him up I think.  All of his fiction is collected in two volumes from NESFA Press, Immodest Proposals: The Complete Science Fiction of William Tenn: Volume I and Here Comes Civilization: The Complete Science Fiction of William Tenn: Volume II. (Died 2010.) (CE)
  • Born May 9, 1925 – Kris Neville.  Four novels (a fifth still unpublished – in English; a Japanese translation by Yano Tetsu has appeared), six dozen shorter stories.  Fan Guest of Honor at Westercon XVI.  Impassioned remarks by Barry Malzberg here; he edited The SF of KN; recent coll’n Earth Alert!  (Died 1980) [JH]
  • Born May 9, 1926 – Richard Cowper.  A dozen novels, a score of shorter stories.  Essays, letters in FocusFoundationVector.  Guest of Honour at Eastercon 30, Unicon 3, BECCON ’85.  Outside our field, four novels, memoirs, under another name.  More here and here.  (Died 2002) [JH]
  • Born May 9, 1936 Albert Finney. His first genre performance is as Ebenezer Scrooge in Scrooge. That’s followed by being Dewey Wilson in Wolfen, a deeply disturbing film. He plays Edward Bloom, Sr. In the wonderful Big Fish and voices Finis Everglot in Corpse Bride. He was Kincade in Skyfall. He was Maurice Allington in The Green Man based on Kingsley Amis’ novel of the same name. Oh, and he played Prince Hamlet in Hamlet at the  Royal National Theatre way back in the Seventies! (Died 2019.) (CE)
  • Born May 9, 1938 – George Schelling, age 83.  A score of covers, two hundred forty interiors.  Here is the May 62 Amazing.  Here is the Oct 64 Galaxy.  Here is the May 65 Worlds of Tomorrow.  Here is an interior, also from Amazing (Jun 64).  Outside our field, animals, aquatics, e.g. for Field and StreamAudubon. [JH]
  • Born May 9, 1951 – Joy Harjo, age 70.  Poet Laureate of the United States (the 23rd; the second to be given a third term; the first Amerind, I believe – she is Creek).  Nine books of poetry; plays; seven albums of music.  Lily Prize, Wallace Stevens Award.  Two short stories for us, one anthology (with Gloria Bird).  Website.  [JH]
  • Born May 9, 1979 Rosario Dawson, 42. First shows as Laura Vasquez in MiB II. Appearances thereafter are myriad with my favs including being the voice of Wonder Women in the DC animated films, Persephone in Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief and her take as Claire Temple across the entire Netflix Marvel universe. No, I don’t consider her or anyone else’s acting on the two Sin City films to a highlight of their acting careers.  (CE) 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • This Rhymes with Orange is what might be called a different take on a T. Kingfisher story.

(11) A GEORGIA READER RECOMMENDS. The New York Times Book Review knows “The One Book Stacey Abrams Would Require the President to Read”. That book isn’t genre, but a lot of others mentioned in the intereview are.

What books are on your night stand?

I read several genres at once, rotating through as the mood strikes me. My long read right now is “The Coldest Winter,” by David Halberstam. My sibling book club picked “Ring Shout,” by P. Djeli Clark, which is paced wonderfully so it will not be over too soon (but luckily before our call). A recent discussion with my niece reminded me how much I love fairy tales of all kinds, so I decided to dive into “Tales of Japan: Traditional Stories of Monsters and Magic.”

Describe your ideal reading experience (when, where, what, how).

I had it a few weeks ago. Georgia’s mercurial weather shifted from an unreasonable 48 degrees to a balmy 75 degrees over the weekend. Knowing how soon it could be 25 degrees or 89 degrees, I filled my water bottle, poured myself a glass of Martinelli’s apple juice, and picked up “Black Sun,” by Rebecca Roanhorse. Soon, I was outside on the patio in the springtime, midafternoon, with my feet up on the ottoman and my reading glasses perched on my nose….

(12) TRANSPARENT FANTASY. In the Washington Post, Molly Born profiles West Virginia’s Blenko Glass, which nearly folded because of the pandemic but was saved because they started producing figurines based on “the mythical Flatwoods Monster,” which allegedly terrorizes the residents of Flatwoods, West Virginia.  Liz Pavolvic, who designed the figurine, plans to develop “other sc-fi ideas” for Blenko, beginning with the Mothman, a legend made into the film The Mothman Prophecies. “How a mythical backwoods monster saved a struggling West Virginia glass company”.

… The first alleged sighting of the “green monster” occurred in the town of Flatwoods in 1952, when a group of locals reported seeing a giant floating creature with a spade-shaped head, claw-like hands and a metal “dress,” emitting a toxic mist or odor. In recent years the legend has inspired a museum, festival and tchotchkes sold at the local gas station.

Designer and illustrator Liz Pavlovic visited Blenko’s factory and flipped through old catalogues, looking for inspiration to pair with Pavlovic’s own playful renderings of this and other popular cryptids they sell on prints, stickers and magnets. Pavlovic submitted a sketch that captured the creature’s spooky aesthetic, right down to its beady eyes and the fabric-like swirls of its outfit….

(13) DON’T STAND UNDERNEATH WHEN THEY FLY BY. Space.com reports: “Huge Chinese rocket booster falls to Earth over Arabian Peninsula”.

The Chinese rocket has come down.

The 23-ton core stage of a Long March 5B booster crashed back to Earth Saturday night (May 8), ending 10 controversial days aloft that captured the attention of the world and started a wider conversation about orbital debris and responsible spacefaring….

Also issued today — “NASA Administrator Statement on Chinese Rocket Debris”.

NASA Administrator Sen. Bill Nelson released the following statement Saturday regarding debris from the Chinese Long March 5B rocket:

“Spacefaring nations must minimize the risks to people and property on Earth of re-entries of space objects and maximize transparency regarding those operations.

“It is clear that China is failing to meet responsible standards regarding their space debris.

“It is critical that China and all spacefaring nations and commercial entities act responsibly and transparently in space to ensure the safety, stability, security, and long-term sustainability of outer space activities.”

(14) CORPORATE TRICKERY. “Opposition to Net Neutrality Was Faked, New York Says” – the New York Times has the story.

Internet service providers funded an effort that yielded millions of fake comments supporting the Federal Communications Commission’s repeal of so-called net neutrality rules in 2017, the New York attorney general said on Thursday.

Internet providers, working through a group called Broadband for America, spent $4.2 million on the project, Attorney General Letitia James said. The effort generated roughly nine million comments to the agency and letters to Congress backing the rollback, almost all signed by people who had never agreed to the use of their names on such comments, according to the investigation. Some of the names had been obtained earlier, in other marketing efforts, officials said. The agency approved the repeal in late 2017.

Broadband for America’s members include some of America’s most prominent internet providers, like AT&T, Comcast and Charter, as well as several trade groups.

Supporters of the repeal regularly cited the number of comments opposing the rules. Investigators said Broadband for America had “commissioned and publicized a third-party study” of how many comments were being submitted, and then briefed F.C.C. officials on their findings as part of their push.

“Instead of actually looking for real responses from the American people, marketing companies are luring vulnerable individuals to their websites with freebies, co-opting their identities and fabricating responses that giant corporations are then using to influence the policies and laws that govern our lives,” Ms. James said in a statement.

(15) MORE THAN SHELVES. Architectural Digest takes you “Inside the World’s Most Beloved Independent Bookstores”.

Pro qm (Berlin)

In 1999, Katja Reichard, Jesko Fezer, and Axel J. Wieder launched Pro qm, a bookshop and laboratory for ideas on everything from urbanism to climate change. The white space is punctuated by shocking pink ladders and colorful tomes on design, architecture, and pop culture.

(16) LAST NIGHT ON SNL.

  • “Wario” introduces us to the evil brother of Super Mario Bros.’s Mario.
  • “Chad on Mars” has an unlikely hero out to save Elon Musk’s Mars mission.
  • “Weekend Update:  Baby Yoda On Star Wars Day Celebrations” had an interview with Baby Yoda, who said he “smoked weed and took pills” on Star Wars Day, “because I’m not like a nerd, you know.”

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, JJ, Cat Eldridge, James Davis Nicoll, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, Kathy Sullivan, StephenfromOttawa, Andrew Porter, Michael J. Walsh, John King Tarpinian, and John Hertz for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day jayn.]

86 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 5/9/21 Scrolled In The Pixel Was – Oh! Oh! Oh!

  1. @ bill and dann665 – I grew up in the UK in the 70s and 80s. We had nationalised steel production, coal, gas, car manufacturing, telecoms, mail, rail travel, air travel, education, health service, television broadcasts, etc etc – a good fraction of the means of production and related entities. We don’t like to talk about the mass murders these days. Largely because they didn’t happen.

  2. Meredith says Quite a lot of Europe has been doing just fine with democratic socialism, thanks.

    One could argue Canada has done well so as well to a great extent.

    I also like his claim that “communism/socialism is the semi-official political theme* of genre fiction”. It’s funny but I see very, very little genre fiction themed along these lines. Even the fiction of China Miéville who is a self-avowed Marxist rarely, if ever, actually features communism/socialism as a political theme. I don’t think that even either of the cities in The City & The City is classically socialistic.

  3. @ Cat Eldridge

    I also like his claim that “communism/socialism is the semi-official political theme* of genre fiction”. It’s funny but I see very, very little genre fiction themed along these lines.

    Agreed. Without thinking too much about this, it seems to me that Le Guin’s The Dispossessed is the only novel that I can think of that directly addresses leftist politics (i.e. anarchism). I don’t think you can consider dystopian novels as “leftist,” there are so many books that posit “if this goes on” (like Heinlein’s fix-up Revolt In 2100).

  4. Rob Thornton says Agreed. Without thinking too much about this, it seems to me that Le Guin’s The Dispossessed is the only novel that I can think of that directly addresses leftist politics (i.e. anarchism). I don’t think you can consider dystopian novels as “leftist,” there are so many books that posit “if this goes on” (like Heinlein’s fix-up Revolt In 2100).

    Dystopian novels are generally authoritarian in nature and I consider those, like the counterpart real world governments, neither right nor left for the most part. And The Dispossessed is one of the few overtly genre leftist novels I’ve read. Much of genre fiction set on this world is post-political in setting.

  5. Cat: Volvo (the automobile company) hasn’t been owned by Ford since 2010, when the Chinese company Geely purchased it. In fact at least one Volvo model sold in the US is manufactured in China rather than Sweden. During the past two years, Ford finally stopped producing several cars that were based on Volvo engineering; see Wikipedia, “Ford D3 platform”.

    AB Volvo, the Swedish-based multinational, still produces trucks and other heavy equipment; it split from the car operation when the latter was bought by Ford in 1999.

  6. @cliff the UK, once the global leader in steel production now produces about 1% of China’s output. How’d that nationalization work out for ya? That experiment in nationalization was abandoned in favor of greater capitalism once it proved a grotesque failure.

    The main point is that the UK always remained a capitalist country. It never went socialist or communist so the comparison doesn’t apply.

  7. Some of my really happy memories from youth include:
    Hanging out with Phil Klass at Randall Garrett’s house “Hightower,” where he was staying as his university had sent him to California to ‘find out what’s going to happen in the rest of America in the next twenty years.’ He averred that ‘though I have been an atheist most of my life, I still get sick in a Chinese restaurant if pork was cooked in the wok.’
    Having breakfast of a dozen eggs with Richard McKenna at Milford. To do this one had to stay up all night with him reciting poetry from memory. It was a reference to “The Sand Pebbles,” and if you made it through the night and the dozen eggs, he would foot the bill. Walking back and forth and reciting poetry out loud was how he survived the monotony of the engine room aboard ship.
    As cultural anthropology, McKenna was writing about the generation before he arrived in China, the attitudes and values of the people who were there, and why and how things got to where they were when he arrived.
    One should not be astonished at the lack of explicit language used in the book. The assumption that current usage of language has always been the norm is one of the things that science fiction writers ought to have on their radar. It is as lacking in literary refinement as having historical characters discuss their feelings in post-Freudian psychological terms. Just as bad as poor science. But, it does help to have known some ‘old sailors’ to understand that ‘swearing like a sailor,’ though proverbial, was a very different thing back in the day than it would be today. Sailors of McKenna’s generation would likely be shocked out of their wits by contemporary music lyrics.
    As for “Watership Down,” I consider it one of the great epic stories, and this many years after reading it I still get chills and tears thinking about that moment when General Woundwart confronts Bigwig and learns that Bigwig is not the Chief Rabbit of the warren. That is one of the great heroic moments of fiction.
    The films of both “The Sand Pebbles” and “Watership Down” fall far short of the substance of the books. Dramatic presentations always run the risk of losing the heart of a book, and in these cases, “Watership” comes off somewhat better than “Sand Pebbles.”

  8. Jon DeCles: Where the bar is set for “shocking” language at a given time seems to be hard to pin down. The basic collection of English profanity and obscenity can be traced back a long way — implying they were in common use all along, by someone.

    The other day I was reading the account of the Civil War and an occasion when General Hancock appeared on the field and “turned the air blue” — but no exact quotes, of course.

  9. @Miles Carter and the USA, once the global leader in steel production now produces about 9% of China’s output. I don’t think ‘nationalization’ or ‘socialism’ had anything to do with it but I’m willing to be proven wrong.

  10. The best piece of extra worldbuilding I’ve read is actually a fanfic about the doe who made the deal with the Black Rabbit to let’s does reabsorb their kits, which I think was called “She Who Chases The Moon” but my memory ain’t what it was.

    Bright Moon, Who Goes Farther Still. It also fixes the chief flaw of Watership Down, which is the dearth of female characters until quite late. (This is also an intrinsic plot point, so it can’t be altered, and the book is absolutely wonderful around it, so NOT a visit from the Suck Fairy but definitely a thing I noticed.)

  11. Acoustic Rob: It’s cheap labor, isn’t it?

    In the 19th century, there was a point when the price of US coal delivered at the dock in England was cheaper than domestic coal because the US labor force worked so cheap.

    Think of every kind of manufacturing job that’s moved away from the US to other parts of the world in the past 50 years.

  12. I reread Watership Down at least once a year. It’s lovely and seems more or less immune to the suck fairy. It is a masterwork in meticulously preparing the reader to feel the emotional impact of the really important moments it builds toward–“spearpoint moments,” to use Jo Walton’s terminology. “Silflay hraka, u embleer rah” is one of those. So is the moment Jon DeCles mentions, when General Woundwort realizes Bigwig isn’t chief rabbit after all, and falters at the thought of there being a bigger, stronger, even more clever rabbit to face.

    Of the animated adaptations, my opinion is that the 80s movie is beautiful, faithful, chilling, thrilling, full of mythic resonance–and weirdly incoherent; and that the recent Netflix adaptation could have been so much better had they not tried to wedge so many Hollywood tropes into it (the romance! the rivalries! the heroic death! the bereaved lover!) at the expense of, well, letting the rabbits be the rabbits Adams wrote them to be.

    What has gotten struck by the suck fairy, for me, is the duology of Maia and Shardik. I still reread them now and again, but not nearly as often as Watership Down, and I don’t enjoy them as wholeheartedly. (I might enjoy a version of Maia from Ocula’s point of view – she’s a much more interesting character to me. Her charisma isn’t the sort that wraps the plot around itself, Mary Sue style, the way Maia’s is.)

  13. Mike Glyer on May 10, 2021 at 1:01 pm said:

    Reading Civil War journals and letters, Sherman was good at that.
    (A quote, spelling corrected: General Sherman says that he came near hanging one damned rascal claiming English protection on the Meriden Campaign and would have hung him only he begged so hard but he sent him to Alton and damn him he is there yet and will have to stay there as long as this lasts he also says that he would be the best pleased to go to and take Nassau and shovel the damned place of in to the ocean of any thing yet today General Sherman swore that he would hang the last man that was to be found at Savannah claiming British protection, that they were not British subjects and were not recognized by Queen Victoria as subjects)

  14. (16) I’m not about to watch any SNL, much less one with Ol’ Musky, but the phrasing here makes me worried that people might not realize Wario’s been around for decades now.

  15. According to the Conservative government the British steel industry was making a comeback when it was privatised in 1998 (so how well did THAT work?)

    As well as labour costs being rather more expensive than in China, much (maybe all) of the ore was imported. When I was growing up there were still quarries extracting local ore (went there, saw the draglines), but the quality was low, and the quarries were closed down as uneconomic.

  16. I thought of Tenn’s “Null P” a lot in the administration of the former President

  17. “It’s not socialist even if it has all those socialist aspects and programs and industries and infrastructure because I say so” seems to be where this conversation is going.

    I guess no-one’s ever heard of hybrid systems.

    (“People own stuff” isn’t actually a disqualifying factor. Enough already.)

  18. Jake says I’m not about to watch any SNL, much less one with Ol’ Musky, but the phrasing here makes me worried that people might not realize Wario’s been around for decades now.

    I watch just the Weekend Update segments of the show as they’re superb political satire. Otherwise I’ve been ignoring the show for its entire history but then I’m not a comedy person in general though I’m definitely up for something along the lines of Clue.

  19. My biggest complaint about William Tenn is that his output was far too small! 🙂

    @Meredith: It’s worse than that! It’s like:
    “No, you can’t do that, that’s socialism!”
    “It works fine in northern/western Europe!”
    “That’s not actually socialism!”
    “Ok, well whatever you call it, let’s do that!”
    “No, you can’t do that, that’s socialism!”

    And around and around…. :rolleyes:

  20. @Xtifr, thank you for succinctly describing the ‘socialism two-step’ that is so common from conservatives in the US.

  21. Xtifr said:
    @Meredith: It’s worse than that! It’s like:
    “No, you can’t do that, that’s socialism!”
    “It works fine in northern/western Europe!”
    “That’s not actually socialism!”
    “Ok, well whatever you call it, let’s do that!”
    “No, you can’t do that, that’s socialism!”

    Blockquoting because it is the distillation of the argument.

  22. @ Dann665:

    As someone who grew up in (one of the) Nordic polities, I can tell you that they are definitely socialist, although not communist (neither in the marxian, nor in the soviet, sense). If your definition of “socialist” does not fit the Nordic polities, your definition of socialist is defect.

  23. Ingvar says As someone who grew up in (one of the) Nordic polities, I can tell you that they are definitely socialist, although not communist (neither in the marxian, nor in the soviet, sense). If your definition of “socialist” does not fit the Nordic polities, your definition of socialist is defect.

    Thank you for that comment. His comment is indeed defective in the way that the Rights commentary on socialism always are.

  24. @Cliff

    Less serious answer – the lack of mass murders was courtesy of Lady Thatcher and her economic reforms.

    More serious answer – None if this is binary. It is a sliding scale. Many/most western democracies are pretty standard liberal democracies wearing socialist costumes. They have their limits and, thankfully, mass murder is beyond those limits. Western liberal democracies have uniformly reversed course away from socialism whenever they experience the predictable result of new laws that move them towards socialism.

    By comparison, China is a socialist/communist state wearing a free-market costume. The resulting mass murder isn’t really a surprise.

    Put another way, putting a Lada label on a Saab does not turn a Saab into a Lada.

    @Acoustic Rob & OGH

    Labor costs are certainly a factor. Differentials in tax and regulatory loads are factors. Currency manipulation is a factor.

    Curiously, Mr. Trump’s administration lowered corporate taxes and made a dedicated effort to reduce the regulatory burden and companies started re-locating into the US. A concomitant effect was that income for the lowest quintile rose faster than for the highest quintile for the first time in decades. Now we have an administration that wants to increase corporate taxes and regulations and plants are shutting down/moving back overseas.

    @Meredith

    I guess no-one’s ever heard of hybrid systems.

    @Xtifir

    “No, you can’t do that, that’s socialism!”

    I agree. With apologies to Ingvar, we are talking about hybrid systems that include fully functioning free markets rather than socialist governments. Even the US is a hybrid system.

    The US could adopt a more European model, but what would be the cost? We spend trillions on forward-deployed military forces that benefit Europeans (and Japan and South Korea and Australia); effectively subsidizing those respective governments. We would have to abandon most of those operations. Freedom of navigation operations would be scaled back leaving the seas subject to the pirates of eastern Africa (Somalia, etc.) and the pirates of the CCP. Is that a worthy trade?

    Our (comparatively) free-market healthcare system disproportionately funds global drug/healthcare research. What happens if we follow the European practice of capping prices at the cost of production without regard to development costs? What happens when we join the club that authorizes the first and fifth generations of a drug for use but opts not to permit the 2nd through 4th generations because they don’t present a significant improvement over the older (and cheaper) versions? Is that a worthy trade?

    Here’s the larger problem. Shifting American government spending by a percentage point or two to mimic European “socialism” probably isn’t a big deal. I think the harm is greater than the benefit, but that what robust public discussions are about, right? The larger problem is that the American left includes a non-trivial number of people that want the real-deal version of socialism. They want tight regulation of corporations. They want confiscatory taxes. They want to “tax the rich, feed the poor, ’til there are no rich no more” despite the demonstrable history of such policies creating poverty. I’m OK with opposing any further movement leftward just to keep that latter group firmly out of power.

    (FWIW and in case I haven’t said it lately, there are some interesting things that the US could learn from Europe. One example would be the use of trade schools in Germany. Other examples exist.)

    For recent books where socialism…or lightly defined utopian socialism…was prominent, consider the following:

    The Light Brigade – the communists went to Mars where they live in peace and prosperity and are inventing lots of lifesaving technologies. Such has never ever been the case throughout the history of communism.

    The City in the Middle of the Night – The city in question has no defined economic system. Entities meet. They talk. Decisions are made “collectively”. Puppetry occurs.

    The Dinosaur Lords – In which the author takes the novel approach of pointing out that the same basic group of people ended up in charge of the socialist state after the “revolution” dismantled the royalty. But it somehow works anyway.

    There have been a few other works where there was a passing glance at various utopian versions of a socialist-adjacent society. [The Broken Stone Chronicle Series, The Broken Earth Series, Too Like The Lightning]

    In every case, the author makes no effort to define how a society might avoid the long and bloody history that comes from excessive levels of socialism. Collectivism is presented with few details and much hope.

    When someone can figure out how to collect more/better information outside of the price of goods in a free-market system, then I’ll be interested. Until then, it’s just hope and change for the sake of hope and change.

    [Apologies to OGH for the length/bandwidth consumption.]

    Regards,
    Dann
    Delay is preferable to error. – Thomas Jefferson

  25. Dann665 states In every case, the author makes no effort to define how a society might avoid the long and bloody history that comes from excessive levels of socialism. Collectivism is presented with few details and much hope..

    Wow. Excessive levels of socialism. Care to tell those polities that have been successful social democracies practicing socialism for generations without any bloody history that socialism always leads to mass murder? I submit that you’ve not proven your thesis.

  26. Socialism: potluck suppers, barn raisings, public libraries, public schools, public parks, public highways, public hospitals, a national military (with or without a draft), a government for groups bigger than a small village.

  27. P J Evans opines Socialism: potluck suppers, barn raisings, public libraries, public schools, public parks, public highways, public hospitals, a national military (with or without a draft), a government for groups bigger than a small village.

    Nice, very nice.

    I’d certainly add volunteer fire departments and ambulance services as well. Amitai Etzioni called it communitarianism which might be a more work accurate way of describing it. Almost all polities have some degree of socialism or if you prefer communitarianism inherent in them.

  28. Along wiith all the things that P J Evans lists above, my favorite piece of everyday socialism is the sidewalk. In a libertarian dreamworld it would be almost impossible to walk along the side of the road because every landowner might bar you from crossing their property or charge you a toll or maybe shoot you for trespassing. But the wise socialists in our local governments have seized control of a strip of each owner’s property and made walking in that area free for everyone.

  29. Dennis Howard says Along wiith all the things that P J Evans lists above, my favorite piece of everyday socialism is the sidewalk. In a libertarian dreamworld it would be almost impossible to walk along the side of the road because every landowner might bar you from crossing their property or charge you a toll or maybe shoot you for trespassing. But the wise socialists in our local governments have seized control of a strip of each owner’s property and made walking in that area free for everyone.

    Maine had a case not long ago where a Right Winger argued that his property rights extended to the edge of the street nearest the road, not the inner side of the sidewalk as is held by Maine law as he said was assumed. He was at the end of a street that led down to a beach and it would’ve blocked access to that beach.

    He lost when it went to Court and also discovered the Maine law held that the State owned sixteen feet from the center of the road, so it actually was about six feet unto his lawn. That became crucial when utility work dug up that part of that property within a few months. And yes utilities are other communitarian affair.

  30. The place my parents owned in west Texas had an easement for the road in front. The property line was the center line of the road! (So we had to maintain the ditch next to the road – mowed it with the lawn.)

  31. P J Evans says The place my parents owned in west Texas had an easement for the road in front. The property line was the center line of the road! (So we had to maintain the ditch next to the road – mowed it with the lawn.)

    Yeah property rights differ widely from state to state. And don’t get me started on beach easement and rights which go all the way back to English common law.

    Right here in Maine we’ve got a lawyer arguing that clams and crabs are not part of fishing rights because they’re obviously not fish and therefore no one has harvesting rights to them in the intertidal zone.

    No, I don’t expect a Court to reverse three centuries of legal practice and tradition.

  32. Many decades ago, one of my great-aunt’s husbands (she out-lived a few in her time) referred to streetlights as “creeping socialism.” ROFLMAO.

  33. (3) BEST RELATED. The best response is from Galactic Journey, of course: “Oh, I get the joke, although the joke’s on James because the 1970s haven’t even HAPPENED yet.” 😉

    (10) COMICS SECTION. LOL!

  34. I guess one gauge for socialism/not-socialism is the need for charitable giving to supplant the livelihood of the less-fortunate in society, If this is absolutely required, you’re probably not looking at a socialist society. If it’s a nice-to-have, you may be,

    On that basis, I’d put both UK and US outside of the “may be socialist” sphere. I cannot speak for Russia, neither pre-Soviet collapse, nor post (nor can I speak for any other part of the former Soviet Union).

    Note that dann665 uses “socialist” and “communist” as if they mean exactly the same. They don’t. They’re related, but not the same.

    In terms of “improvements to the country”, I’d also say that while socialized healthcare is a boon, increased access to (higher?) education is probably, over time, much more important. And one of those things that tend to increase general wealth, thus providing more tax revenue for providing healthcare, education, and child care.

  35. Sorry for the delay.

    Y’all forgot the local dog catcher as socialism. You laugh about stereotypical conservative responses but seem to be unaware that you are providing stereotypical leftist responses. It’s almost as bad as the current Congressional fetish of labeling everything as “infrastructure”.

    Briefly, I disagree. The police, courts, roads, regulator easements for sidewalks/power/telephone/gas lines, sewage systems, street lights, etc. are all just the basic functions of government. They aren’t “socialism”. Asserting them to be components of socialism is simply a miscategorization.

    Folks, I vote FOR tax increases benefiting my local public schools and public libraries on a regular basis. My hair…it does not burn…

    Parenthetically, I’d agree that the military is a socialist-adjacent organization. Having witnessed/experienced the gross inefficiencies and rank abuse of power up close, I want nothing further to do with anything that drives American further towards socialism.

    Regards,
    Dann
    When law and duty are one, united by religion, you never become fully conscious, fully aware of yourself. You are always a little less than an individual. – Frank Herbert

  36. Pingback: Top 10 Posts for May 2021 | File 770

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.