Pixel Scroll 6/23/18 And Now It’s Scrolling All Over the Land; I Still Can’t Seem to Understand

(1) COC ENFORCEMENT AT ORIGINS. Organizers of the Origins Game Fair have issued a statement telling how they will handle reported violations of their Code of Conduct at the 2018 convention, which ended June 17.

Tabletop Gaming overviewed the accusations: “Multiple reports of sexual harassment emerge from this year’s Origins Game Fair”.

Reports first surfaced during the weekend of the show, with one designer and senior member of a games publisher alleged to have asked multiple women to “play test his erect penis”.

In a separate incident, another woman was reportedly followed for multiple blocks back to her hotel.

Tabletop gaming personality Bebo used Twitter to raise awareness of the distressing events on behalf of the anonymous victims, adding: “Anyone who says harassment of women isn’t an issue in the industry can eat dirt.”

Both situations were reported to GAMA, the organiser of Origins, which is said to be taking appropriate action in response, although the company is yet to issue a public statement regarding the events.

Polygon’s story covers responses from the accused, and by Origins’ administering body, GAMA: “Accusations of sexual harassment rock the board gaming community”.

Origins Game Fair, which ran June 13-17 this year, is a tabletop gaming convention sponsored by the Game Manufacturer’s Association (GAMA). Its partner this year was Wizards of The Coast, known for Dungeons & Dragons and the Magic: The Gathering franchises. Other sponsors included a who’s who list of major publishers, including Rio Grande Games, Iello, Wizkids, Paizo and CMON.

Origins is an opportunity for fans to see the latest games, and for those in the industry to see each other and do some networking ahead of Gen Con, the nation’s largest tabletop gaming convention, which is held in Indianapolis each August. Many in the industry choose to mingle outside of the event, and that’s where at least one attendee says an exhibitor sexually harassed them. The allegations surfaced on a personal Facebook page and on Twitter, but were also sent to GAMA. The individual accused has denied the allegations….

GAMA’s official statement says in part:

An incident arose through social media at Origins this year pointing out some specific allegations of harassment. This illicit behavior is a clear violation of our show policies.

To ensure that a thorough review of any allegation is conducted, we must have statements from individuals with firsthand knowledge of the event. Unfortunately, that did not happen in this instance so gathering the information is taking more time. We understand that it can be difficult to come forward and share a statement after an incident occurs, but with the cooperation from individuals involved we can address these situations in a timely fashion.

As we demonstrated earlier this year, we take harassment very seriously and are committed to providing a safe, welcoming and fun environment for everyone at the show.

This serious allegation has not been taken lightly. We are committed to handling this in a thorough and professional manner. We are interviewing all parties involved and gathering statements from witnesses who viewed the incident firsthand. We owe all parties involved a fair process to gather the facts and discern as much as possible those confirmed elements before we act. The ramifications of an unjustified response are simply irreplaceably damaging….

The complete statement is at the Polygon link.

The accusations also prompted Katie Aidley, with several years of experience working for gaming companies and in booths at conventions, to release her post “The truth about sexual harrassment and boardgaming”.

(2) SPEAKING TO THE NEXT GENERATION. A passage from Liu Cixin’s The Micro-Age was utilized in the reading comprehension section of China’s national college entrance exam: “Excerpt of popular Chinese sci-fi writer Liu Cixin’s novel selected in gaokao”.

An excerpt of famous Chinese science fiction writer Liu Cixin’s novel was selected as reading comprehension material in the test paper for the Chinese gaokao exam, China’s National College Entrance Exam that took place on Thursday, which not only surprised many participants but also the writer. Liu later responded saying that science fiction meets the demand of people in this day and age.

After the exam in southwest China’s Sichuan Province ended, participants expressed their surprise at finding an excerpt of Liu’s novel “The Micro-Age” since this type of literature was rare in such a rigorous exam.

…Speaking about this year’s gaokao essay topics, Liu expressed that one of the topics was related to science fiction as it required students to write a letter to the generation of 2035 to elaborate on the big events that have occurred since the year 2000 in China.

He said that unlike previous essay topics which tended to focus on current affairs or the past, this year’s topics were more likely to focus on the future.

(3) DETECTIVE WORK. Carl Slaughter asks, “How can I resist a headline like this?” It absolutely belongs in the Scroll: “This insane golden chamber contains water so pure it can dissolve metal, and is helping scientists detect dying stars.” Business Insider has the story.

Hidden 1,000 metres under Mount Ikeno in Japan is a place that looks like a supervillain’s dream.

Super-Kamiokande (or “Super-K” as it’s sometimes referred to) is a neutrino detector. Neutrinos are sub-atomic particles which travel through space and pass through solid matter as though it were air.

Studying these particles is helping scientists detect dying stars and learn more about the universe. Business Insider spoke to three scientists about how the giant gold chamber works — and the dangers of conducting experiments inside it.

(4) HOW’S HE DOING? Eric Flint gave Facebook reader a health update.

I thought I’d bring everyone up to date on my medical condition, since I haven’t said anything about it for quite a while. That’s because it’s been… complicated.

On the positive side, there’s no indication that the lymphoma has come back. So, yay for homicide therapy, AKA chemotherapy.

On the down side, I started developing atrial fibrillation a year and a half ago, right around the same time the cancer was diagnosed. Whether there’s a causal relationship there or it’s just coincidence, nobody really knows….

Flint continues with full details.

(5) BABYLON FIFTH. In “‘Babylon 5’ is great, so why does it look so bad?”, Engadget’s Daniel Cooper describes in great technical detail the show’s digital origins and resulting challenges when aired using current technology.

Now that the series has made its way to Amazon Prime, it is ripe for a whole new generation of fans to discover it. Except that, if they do, they may find that the picture quality is highly variable, and some sequences are quite hard to watch. Now, it’s fair to say that the show is so good that it’s worth persisting with nevertheless. But how it ended up in this state is a tale of folks trying to plan for its future, only to be defeated by executive neglect…

How bad does it look?

We should probably begin by outlining how effects-heavy shows like Babylon 5 are made, albeit simplistically. There are three different types of shot that were put together to make an episode. You have live-action scenes, which are just actors talking in a room; composites, which have a mix of live-action and CGI; and pure-CGI scenes. In order to protect your suspension of disbelief, it’s important that you aren’t noticing the transitions between them.

A great sequence to explain Babylon 5’s problem is the monorail scene from the Season 2 finale, The Fall of Night, which originally aired on November 1st, 1995. We begin with an entirely live-action shot, where Captain Sheridan (Bruce Boxleitner) boards a monorail shuttle. And you can tell, because it’s framed properly and looks pretty good, even if the film is a little grainy because it hasn’t been restored or remastered….

(6) MURDERBOT’S ASPIRATIONS. Adri Joy delivers a fascinating character analysis in “A Robot Learns to Love Itself: Reflecting on the Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells” at Nerds of a Feather.

There’s a moment near the start of Rogue Protocol, the third in Martha Wells’ Murderbot Diaries series (forthcoming August 7, 2018 from Tor.com Publishing), that quietly broke my heart. The self-proclaimed Murderbot, a rogue SecUnit (a human-robot hybrid “construct”) which hacked its own governor module after an unfortunate murder-based incident that was subsequently wiped from its memory, is trying to distract itself from the endless, stupid problems of humans by watching a new show. Unfortunately, the plot isn’t working out, and Murderbot is eager to get within range of a station so it can download something different. If only, it tells us, this terraforming horror series had a rogue SecUnit character who could stop the squishy humans from all getting horribly killed…

On the surface, this doesn’t seem like a big deal. Murderbot watches rather a lot of shows – indeed, extensive media consumption is its most prominent character quirk – and it also does a lot of complaining, so the combination of the two is not exactly unusual. However, this is the first time it has articulated a desire to see itself represented positively in media.

(7) COMICS SECTION.

  • Chip Hitchcock spotted a Library Comic about All Systems Red. Chip adds, “The author’s former strip used to recommend something (often genre) at least once a week, and most of them were good; nice to see him back at it.”

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • June 23, 1976 Logan’s Run debuted.
  • June 23, 1989 — Tim Burton’s Batman is released in theaters.
  • June 23, 1989 Honey, I Shrunk the Kids premiered.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born June 23 – Joss Whedon, 54. Known for Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, FireflyDr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, Dollhouse, Avengers and Agents Of S.H.I..E.L.D. which is not a complete listing by any means.
  • Born June 23 – Selma Blair, 46. Scream 2 appears to be her first genre role, also Xena: Warrior Princess, Hellboy and Hellboy 2,  both of the Hellboy animated films, The Fog and most recently Lost in Space.
  • Born June 23 – Melissa Rauch, 38. Bernadette Rostenkowski in The Big Bang Theory, Harley Quinn in the animated Batman and Harley Quinn film, Summer in True Blood, and Wasp / Hope Pym  in the Ant Man animated shorts.

(10) FAITH OF THE FUTURE. Syfy Wire’s story “In modern science fiction, religion plays a vital, secular role” by Tricia Ennis examines how religion is treated on a handful of TV sf series — Battlestar Galactica—the reboot of the mid/late 2000’s; not the original, The 100, and Killjoys.

It’s easy to think that science fiction and religion are anathemas to each other. Science fiction is, after all, about imagining a scientifically advanced future where we have moved to the point of near magic, explaining through science things that modern understanding can only dream up. Religion, meanwhile, is about not explaining those things at all, instead choosing to rely on faith and parable and scripture to explain the mysteries of the universe and to comfort the minds of those who follow its teachings. Obviously, those two don’t really go together.

Perhaps science and faith don’t necessarily mesh—but if you’ve been keeping an eye on certain recent science fiction television series, you’ll notice a pattern. Sci-fi might still have trouble bridging the spiritual and the secular, but it certainly recognizes the importance of scripture to understanding our past — and protecting our future.

(11) REENACTORS. Nancy Kress introduced a highly amusing photo taken at Taos Toolbox:

George R. R. Martin and the Red Workshop. If a wedding, why not a writing seminar?

Walter Jon Williams identified the bodies:

Among the casualties were David DeGraff, Jo Miles, Brenda Kalt, Sarah Paige Hofrichter, Kevin O’Neill, Sherri Woosley, Gayle Schultz, Nancy Kress, Walter Jon Williams, Autumn Kalquist, Joey Yu, Liz Colter, Peri Fletcher, Amanda Helms, Carsten Schmitt, Gabrielle Harbowy, Harrison Lee, Kelli Fitzpatrick, Isabel Yap, and Elliotte Rusty Harold.

(12) MUSEUM VISITOR. Rick Riordan said the minerals on display reminded him of this —

(13) A HUGO VOTER IS HEARD FROM. Joe Sherry shares another section of his ballot in “Reading the Hugos: Novelette” at Nerds of A Feather. Ranked somewhere in the middle is this nominee —

A Series of Steaks: Since I’ve already written about the Short Story category, this is Vina Jie-Min Prasad’s second story on the Hugo ballot and it is a real standout. Besides everything, what I really enjoy about “A Series of Steaks” is the framing of forgery and what makes a good forger. Ultimately, that’s what “A Series of Steaks” is about. Helena semi-legally fabricates meat for restaurants that is otherwise undetectable for not being the real thing (ultimately, a forgery). She is offered a contract that she can’t refuse because it comes with a threat to expose her.

The rest of the story is a tense game of Helena (and her new assistant) trying to fulfill the order and somehow protect herself. Prasad’s writing is clear and pulled me right in. It’s a damn fine story and I’m going to be looking for much more from Vina Jie-Min Prasad.

(14) ON THE ROAD. John Scalzi has thrown the Theory of Evolution into doubt. Could this man’s primordial ancestors possibly have lived in trees without room service?

(15) TOON TOWN. Ethan Alter, in the Yahoo! Entertainment story, ”’Who Framed Roger Rabbit’ turns 30: How the toon-powered classic revolutionized Hollywood” interviews screenwriters Peter S. Seaman and Jeffrey price about the 30th anniversary of this film, first released on June 22, 1988.

According to the screenwriters, Zemeckis always had a grand vision for the Ink and Paint Club as a place where multiple cartoon characters — each of whom had its own bit of funny business — would fill the frame. A cursory glance around the nightclub reveals penguin waiters, an octopus bartender, and a vintage black-and-white cartoon heroine slinging drinks. “Bob wanted one of those almost Scorsese-like reveals, where you track in and all the stuff is happening,” Seaman remembers. “We did write gags for like the bartenders — he’s got eight arms, and he’s making these different cocktails. We’d write gags for the penguins, and everybody in there.”

(16) LUCKY PAIR. JSTOR Daily delves into “The Fairytale Language of the Brothers Grimm”.

There once were two brothers from Hanau whose family had fallen on hard times. Their father had died, leaving a wife and six children utterly penniless. Their poverty was so great that the family was reduced to eating but once a day.

So it was determined that the brothers must go out into the world to seek their fortune. They soon found their way to the university in Marburg to study law, but there they could not find luck from any quarter. Though they had been the sons of a state magistrate, it was the sons of the nobility that received state aid and stipends. The poor brothers met countless humiliations and obstacles scraping by an education, far from home.

Around this time, after Jacob had to abandon his studies to support his family, the entire German kingdom of Westphalia became part of the French Empire under Napoleon Bonaparte’s conquering rule. Finding refuge in the library, the brothers spent many hours studying and searching for stories, poems, and songs that told tales of the people they had left behind. Against the rumblings of war and political upheaval, somehow the nostalgia of stories from an earlier time, of people’s lives and language, in the little villages and towns, in the fields and forest, seemed more important than ever.

This then is the strange rags-to-riches tale of two mild-mannered librarians, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm (affectionately known as the Brothers Grimm), who went hunting for fairytales and accidentally ended up changing the course of historical linguistics and kickstarting a whole new field of scholarship in folklore.

(17) LEND HER AN EAR. BBC invites you to “Meet Game of Thrones’ woman of weapons”.

It’s probably not a good idea to get into an argument with Natalia Lee.

The only female armourer working on Game of Thrones, she looks after all the show’s weapons, from flaming arrows to giant catapults.

She also played the fearsome Chella in season one, because they needed “a warrior who chops ears off” and then strings them around her neck.

But while she loves working with the actors, she gets worked up if anyone questions the fact that a woman is wielding swords and slingshots.

“I’m constantly told, ‘Women don’t want to see that, women don’t want to do that.’ It’s so frustrating,” says Australian-born Natalia, 35.

“We’re capable of handling weapons, I’ve proved I can carry all of them.

“My job’s a learned, technical skillset, so your gender has no bearing.”

(18) PANIC OR PATHOLOGY? Answering a pixel from 6/18: “WHO gaming disorder listing a ‘moral panic’, say experts”.

But biological psychology lecturer Dr Peter Etchells said the move risked “pathologising” a behaviour that was harmless for most people.

The WHO said it had reviewed available evidence before including it.

It added that the views reflected a “consensus of experts from different disciplines and geographical regions” and defined addiction as a pattern of persistent gaming behaviour so severe it “takes precedence over other life interests”.

[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Cat Eldridge Carl Slaughter, Brian Z., and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus, who took inspiration from yesterday’s lyric reference.]

67 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 6/23/18 And Now It’s Scrolling All Over the Land; I Still Can’t Seem to Understand

  1. Folks, can you help me out? I swear I remember a concept art style book that was either for Robopocalypse or something about the same time and concept from about 10 to 15 years ago, and I’m having no luck.
    I’m lightheartedly hoping someone here can help me recall the title.
    Thanks!

  2. @ JJ: I remember the V series. It pretty well lost me when they had the reptilian aliens and humans being not only sexually compatible, but able to crossbreed. Yes, I know Star Trek did that too, but they at least tried to posit a solution, even though it was pure handwavium.

    Hmmm… now that I think about it, what really lost me was the human teenager NOT completely freaking out when the teacher she had a crush on revealed himself as an alien and then tried to fuck her. Completely out of character as that character had been drawn.

  3. WISEGUY was indeed the show that the term “story arc” was coined to describe.

    Multi-part stories within an ongoing series, of course, go back much further, as any DOCTOR WHO or DARK SHADOWS fan can tell you. But they weren’t all that common on American prime-time TV until the 1980s — HILL STREET BLUES used them right from the beginning — and the term arose as industry-and-critic-jargon with WISEGUY.

    Though a lot of us read articles about this great innovation in WISEGUY and thought, “You mean like HILL STREET BLUES, soap operas, comic books and all those other examples that predate WISEGUY?”

  4. Story arcs have kept me from watching a lot of shows. I can’t invest the time to fully understand the tics and histories of every cop show. I feel like BUFFY was the first show where I said, “Yeah, I’d enjoy this if I watched it, but I’d also have to watch it every week without fail or I wouldn’t know what was going on.” I’ve said it a lot of times since.

  5. I noped out of Lost early in the second season — one of the smarter decisions I’ve made. All those interesting ideas they tried out and then abandoned, instead of really working them into a story. What a shame. I watch almost no TV these days, though I do consume a fair amount of movies.

  6. @Lee: (V and crossfertility)

    It has been a while since I watched the miniseries, but as I recall, the hybrid pregnancy was created under Diana’s supervision and with a scientific assist. Not that Robin (the human woman) was aware of it, but the TV audience and her Visitor paramour certainly were.

    As for compatible parts… well, if you’re making a full-body covering, you can give it whatever genitals you want it to have, especially external ones. I’m pretty sure the series established the Visitors as egg-layers by nature.

    I didn’t quite nope out of the series, but I do recall being quite frustrated by the effort required to follow the show. Seemed like every other week, it was either on at a different time or getting pre-empted. I did seriously roll my eyes when I realized that the big Visitor wedding they’d set up was between Charles and Diana.

  7. All those interesting ideas they tried out and then abandoned, instead of really working them into a story. What a shame.

    As someone who’s watched the entire series twice, I’m going have to say, “Huh?” There are parts of the overall story that have problems, but hardly anything was actually abandoned. I will discuss at length if needed.

  8. @Marshall:

    As I recall, most of the “Walt the psychic kid and his Significant Comic Book” thread was jettisoned due to the actor leaving the show. At the very least, there was a lot of contemporary hype about the prop department giving him a comic book that Just So Happened to feature a prominent polar bear in the episode where we first saw a polar bear, and that whole thing vanished from the story like a four-toed statue.

  9. @Mike

    Yeah, the short serial has always been a thing in UK tv. It’s been nice to see the form used so successfully recently in Stranger Things and the Marvel Netflix shows. Done well it gives a much tighter focus on plot and character development.

    Also, while plot arcs are more often pointed to ongoing character development arcs are also a thing that’s probably been around even longer. Done well that really adds to the richness of a show, or it can turn into a soap opera. Your mileage may vary as to when that occurs, or even if it’s a bad thing.

    @Rev Bob

    I was too young for Hartnell but do remember the Keys to Time and E-Space Baker era linked seasons.

  10. “You mean like HILL STREET BLUES, soap operas, comic books and all those other examples that predate WISEGUY?”

    In anime, I’d mention Ashita no Joe (Tomorrow’s Joe) from 1970-71, which has an ongoing story over 79 episodes. There may be slightly earlier examples.

  11. One of the rather interesting framing devices used in Hill Street Blues was that each episode was one day. B5 echoes this in that every season is one year.

  12. @Rev. Bob — I think there is a significant difference between “fan theory didn’t manifest” and “plot point dropped”. It’s true, Walt and his plotlines got minimized for largely logistical reasons (the kid sprouted something fierce), but never fully abandoned. (Heck, he even appears in the post-finale mini-episode, “The New Man In Charge”, which also “answers” The Polar Bear non-question. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kH0P-CA7ntE)

    If anything, that’s a fine example of how audiences had imposed false importance on things and then ignored when they were addressed. The fact that people were saying “but what about the polar bear?” around the time of the finale shows that they weren’t paying attention to the show addressing that already. ‘The New Man In Charge’ spells out explicitly what was already perfectly clear.

    (Namely: the Dharma Initiative brought polar bears to the island because they thought they would be useful in the frozen environment beneath the Orchid Station. This ties into one of the main points of Season 5: that the Dharma Initiative was not a source of answers about the island; they were perplexed by the island and blundering about trying to ‘solve’ it and use it’s power, but they never succeeded at it.)

  13. @Marshall:

    I know the polar bear got explained. That’s not what I’m talking about. I quite clearly mentioned the comic book that featured a polar bear in the story, which appeared in the same episode as the real-life polar bear. That was quite broadly hinted at the time to be a Very Significant Juxtaposition And Not A Coincidence… and then nothing came of it.

  14. @Rev. Bob — Yes, true. But part of my point is, that was interpretation, never text. At no point did, say, Hurley or Michael point to the comic book and go, “Hey, there’s a polar bear in this comic Walt was reading and then a polar bear showed up. What’s that all about?”

    I think there’s a difference between something broadly hinted with juxtaposition that may or may not be a coincidence, and actual dropped plot points.

    For example– to go back to the instigating topic of Babylon 5, there was the first season episode where Kosh hired Talia to telepathically monitor a discussion between him and a “Vicar”, (someone with telepathic cyber that can record something telepathic?) the real point of which was the Vicar made recordings of Talia. It was brought up again in the second season– even using a flashback from the first season episode to remind us that THIS RECORDING EXISTS. It never came up again. That’s a dropped plot point.

    Now, back to the instigating comment:

    All those interesting ideas they tried out and then abandoned, instead of really working them into a story.

    Here, I’m still, “Huh?” For example, back to your point: it’s never implied that the comic book is special, but that Walt is special, and that’s an idea that’s never abandoned. It’s the key reason why Walt is gone for Season Two. It’s why, even though Michael gets Walt off the island, Walt still has connection to it. I’m curious what ideas @JJ thinks were abandoned and not worked in, especially since they stopped watching at the beginning of the second season.

    (Note, even though I am very fond of LOST, it does have quite a few narrative problems. Most of those really manifest in later seasons, especially when they try to force mysteries over the value of clear narrative, or rush plot elements so multiple disparate story threads are tied up into one answer. Again, this is a thing I will happily expound upon.)

  15. @Marshall

    To be fair to B5 the actress quit, it wasn’t like they wanted to drop that plot element after foreshadowing it.

  16. Marshall Ryan Maresca writes: At no point did, say, Hurley or Michael point to the comic book and go, “Hey, there’s a polar bear in this comic Walt was reading and then a polar bear showed up. What’s that all about?”

    They don’t need to say it out loud – they put the bear and the comic in the show, of course the audience are going to notice.

    And if the resolution is “That was just another meaningless coincidence”, well fuck that.

  17. @Niall: (Lost, sans comic)

    The “just coincidence” interpretation is pretty strained, especially if the Lost wiki’s documentation of the comic’s content is accurate. It seems the polar bear is far from the only element in that issue which resonates with features of the island and/or Dharma.

    One weird coincidence I could buy, but when there’s a rampaging polar bear and a plot point about keying in a code to control the fate of the planet (although the comic has it inverted) and other echoes which elude me at the moment because I’ve closed that tab, that pretty fairly screams that the selection of that specific issue was no accident. As such, it was fair to expect that to get addressed in some form, which did not happen.

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