Pixel Scroll 6/26/18 Eliminate The Inscrollible, Whatever Remains, However Impixellable, Must Be The Fifth

(1) AMAZING’S SUBMISSION SYSTEM, TAKE TWO. Jason Sanford sent a link to his open post on Patreon, “Amazing Stories rejection emails and why I report on the SF/F genre”.

Last week File770 covered my reporting on Amazing Stories and their submission system. Steve Davidson commented on that Pixel Scroll article and it lead to some discussions between he and I. I published an update this morning and figured I’d pass it along in case you were interested in it…

Sanford recounts an unnamed author’s description of problems they had getting the status of a submission to Amazing Stories, and how he put it to the test.

…After talking with authors like the person above and seeing comments from many other writers who said they didn’t receive rejections, I decided to do more digging into the Amazing Stories submission system. I set up two test accounts of my own in their system, one using a Yahoo account and the other a Gmail account. I didn’t receive either of the initial email verifications for these accounts or the multiple password resets I requested. These emails didn’t even arrive in my spam folders.

I also examined the email header and code from one of the Amazing Stories rejections which an author did receive and forwarded to me. This rejection email was sent through the Amazing Stories submission system using a Gmail account as the send-from address with a separate reply-to address using the amazingstories.com domain. (Note: I won’t publish these email addresses to respect the privacy of the people working on Amazing Stories.)

The author quoted above used Gmail, as did some of other authors who said they didn’t receive their rejection emails. One of the test accounts I set up was also a Gmail account. Google should not block emails sent between valid Gmail accounts, so the failure of these emails to arrive into other Gmail accounts strongly suggests something was wrong with how the Amazing Stories system was set up or sending out emails.

After doing these tests I spoke with Steve Davidson about all this. His complete response is quoted below. Steve said he’d pass along the information about the email verification and password resets to his webmaster to be investigated and, if needed, fixed.

A few hours after Steve said his webmaster would look into the issue, I again tested the password resets. They now worked and I received the emails in my Yahoo and Gmail test accounts. Another author also confirmed they now worked where they hadn’t before.

In short, shortly before I raised this issue with Steve the emails wouldn’t arrive from their system. After Steve said he’d let his webmaster know about the issue, the emailed worked. This alone strongly suggests there was an issue with Amazing Stories’ system.

I hope this means the issue the Amazing Stories submission system is fixed. I personally want to see Amazing Stories succeed with their relaunch and believe most people in the genre feel the same. And there’s no shame with admitting a new submission system had some issues. Galaxy’s Edge recently had a major submission glitch with a number of subs being lost. They posted a message explaining the issue and even authors whose submissions were lost appeared to be cool with everything….

Amazing Stories’ Steve Davidson responded on Facebook.

…While we investigated and then explained that the issue(s) were on the recipient’s end of the email chain (spam folder, settings that were overly sensitive to automated messages originating with our server’s email program) we nevertheless have changed the system to originate from a Gmail sending account, which ought to make it past nearly everyone’s electronic censors.

We are also adding an FAQ and a direct contact button on our submissions page; we’ve re-written the rejection notice and have re-examined our internal policy for when more personalized rejection emails will be sent.

One “issue” that apparently exacerbated this situation for some was the fact that we were not made aware of the problem(s) for some authors directly, which we believe ought to have been the first step on the part of people having issues. We received over 200 submissions the first day we opened and have processed several hundred more since; the number of direct queries we received regarding failed communications can be counted on one hand.

Each of those was handled on an individual case bases and, from our end, did not appear to rise to the level of a “systemic” problem that needed to be looked into more deeply.

In point of fact, our native email server was sending out the appropriate status update messages (it was checked numerous times), but some recipient email servers were rejecting the messages, most likely because they originated from an unfamiliar source (our email server) AND were automated status updates.

From our end, everything appeared to be working as it should and, lacking feedback to the contrary, we were in no position to do anything about it.

Once we were made aware of the problem, we thought that an explanation would prompt users to look into their email servers and address the issue with their providers. Since this largely seems to not have been done and we continued to receive complaints, we have taken the steps outlined above.

If you continue to have an issue with email communications from our website, we STRONGLY request that you contact us directly.

(2) BEYOND COCKYGATE. Elsewhere, Jason Sanford has surfaced another interesting trademark claim. The thread starts here.

(3) BUSTED. Is it true that JDA has a lot more followers in Twitter than he did a few days ago?

(4) NERO AWARD. The “Nero” is presented annually by The Wolfe Pack for the best American Mystery. The award criteria include:

  • written in the tradition of Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe stories
  • first published in the year preceding the award year
  • originally published in the United States

The 2018 Nero Award finalists are:

  • The Dime by Kathleen Kent, (Mulholland Books / Little, Brown)
  • The Lioness is the Hunter by Loren D. Estelman (Forge)
  • Gone to Dust by Matt Goldman (Forge)
  • August Snow by Stephen Mack Jones (Soho)
  • Blood for Wine by Warren C. Easley (Poisoned Pen Press)

(5) CAMPBELL. Analog has posted a lengthy excerpt from Alec Nevala-Lee’s forthcoming book ASTOUNDING: John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, and the Golden Age of Science Fiction.

“The Campbell Machine” plumbs the obsessions behind several of his ideas about the human mind.

…In “Design Flaw,” Campbell had argued that the solution to highway hypnosis lay in “a solid engineering job,” and psionics was his attempt to frame the project in terms that he thought would appeal to his readers, prompting them to collect data that would illuminate the unexplored aspects of consciousness that had resulted in Joe’s accident. The editor had once held out similar hopes for dianetics, but now his motives were far more personal. He had been unable to avenge his stepson directly, so he would overthrow all of physics and psychology instead.

If he proved unable to stick with it for long, this only reflected a pattern that had been evident throughout his life. In his article on Joe’s death, Campbell had claimed that some people had “an acquired immunity” to highway hypnosis, but he didn’t mention that he included himself in that category, or that he attributed it to the hell of his youth. On the day after the crash, he had written a long letter to his father, explaining why he was impervious to hypnotic trances. The drivers who were the most at risk, he wrote, were the ones who were good at concentrating, and Campbell was “not just intellectually afraid of it—deeply and effectively afraid.”

He placed the responsibility for this squarely on his parents: “You and Mother so disagreed that I had a hell of a time trying to satisfy the requirements which both of you placed on me; doing so was inherently impossible, and it was damned uncomfortable. But you did give me a life-long immunity to highway hypnosis!” His childhood had taught him to survive, but at a devastating cost: “You and Mother between you gave me immunity to many things that neither one of you could have; either of you could have crippled me. . . . At the time, of course, I felt a vast injustice; I do not forgive you, because that’s a useless and arrogant thing.”…

(6) LUND OBIT. Land of the Giants actress Deanna Lund, 81, died June 22. The Hollywood Reporter obituary begins —

Deanna Lund, who played one of the seven castaways trying to survive in a world of large, unfriendly people on the 1960s ABC series Land of the Giants, has died. She was 81.

Lund died Friday at her home in Century City of pancreatic cancer, her daughter, actress and novelist Michele Matheson, told The Hollywood Reporter. She was diagnosed in September.

Lund starred as Valerie Scott, a selfish party girl, on the Irwin Allen-created series, which aired for two seasons, from September 1968 until March 1970.

Set in the year 1983, 20th Century Fox’s Land of the Giants revolved around the crew and passengers of the spaceship Spindrift, which on the way to London crashed on a planet whose humanoid inhabitants were hostile and unbelievably huge. The show was extremely expensive to make, costing a reported $250,000 an episode.

The sexy Lund had appeared as a redheaded lesbian stripper opposite Frank Sinatra in Tony Rome (1967) and as Anna Gram, a moll working for The Riddler (John Astin), on ABC’s Batman, leading to her being cast on the show….

(7) NOT MY SPACE LEADER. Vice Motherboard is sorry you missed it: “The Space Nation of Asgardia Inaugurated Its First Leader in an Incredible Ceremony”. Asgardia, a self-proclaimed space-based democracy, has “inaugurated” its first head of “state” — namely Igor Raufovich Ashurbeyli, the billionaire providing what appears to be the bulk of the backing for the “state.” Ashurbeyl, a native of Baku, Azerbaijan, has made his fortune on weapons and related aspects of the Russian military-industrial complex. He has also been said to be a “true patriot and believer in the strong [Russian] state.”

Mike Kennedy sent the link with an observation: “So, a Russian oligarch is heading up a ‘space-based democracy’ which is to be ‘a united supra-national space state open to all people on Earth.’ What could possibly go wrong?”

The space nation held an incredible ceremony on Monday inaugurating its self-declared leader Igor Ashurbeyli as its head of state. Ashurbeyli is a Russian billionaire whose money comes from weapons systems. His backing has allowed Asgardia to thrive and he wants the country to join the UN, but to do so it must have a functioning government. It elected a parliament in April (a motley collection of international characters between the ages of 40 and 80, as specified by the Asgardian constitution) followed by Ashurbeyli declaring himself head of state.

To celebrate the momentous occasion, the Asgardians held a fantastical celebration at the 13th century Hofburg palace, the former principal imperial palace in the center of Vienna, Austria. It was creepy. It was beautiful. It was elegant and magical in a way that Terra-based ceremonies no longer are and it began with children introducing cosmonaut Oleg Artemiev who shared a very special message from the International Space Station.

(8) FIRST STAN, NOW BUZZ. What’s the use of being a babe magnet if your adult children get in the way? The Independent has the story: “Buzz Aldrin sues his children for trying to take control of his finances after claiming he suffers from dementia”.

Astronaut Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin has sued two of his children and former business manager for trying to take control of his finances and accused them of “slander” for saying he suffers from dementia.

The 88-year-old said in a lawsuit that Janice Aldrin, Andrew Aldrin, and former manager Christina Korp are included in the lawsuit which claimed they took control of millions of dollars of “space memorabilia” and his company finances “for their own self-dealing and enrichment”. Mr Aldrin owns BuzzAldrin Enterprises and a charity group called the ShareSpace Foundation.

He has also accused the three of elder exploitation for “knowingly and through deception or intimidation” keeping him from his property as well as stifling his “personal romantic relationships”.

(9) SYNDROME ROUNDUP. Carl Slaughter picked these out —

(10) VALE BOB NEWBY. Ethan Alter, in the Yahoo! Entertainment story “Emmys: How the ‘Stranger Things’ VFX team brought Sean Astin’s bloody death to life”, says that Sean Astin’s death on this show was a shocker and the Stranger Things vfx crew deserves credit for making the on-screen death plausible.

It’s the moment that had Stranger Things fans screaming: adorkable Radio Shack manager Bob Newby (played by geek icon Sean Astin) uses his technical savvy to save the day, only to become chow for the monstrous Demodogs. Bob’s shocking death scene is arguably the biggest highlight of the show’s second season, replacing #JusticeForBarb with #JusticeForBob as a trending Twitter topic. It also provides some of the best evidence of the show’s Emmyworthy special effects, overseen up by husband-and-wife F/X team of Paul and Christina Graff.

(11) THEY BLINDED ME WITH SCIENCE. H.P. posted this Venn diagram at Every Day Should Be Tuesday:

He says it illustrates this idea:

A story can be good but be neither superversive nor pulp.  A story can be pulp but be neither superversive nor good.  A story can be superversive and good but not pulp.  A story can be all three (easier said than done).  A story can be none of the three (easy enough—the real trick is figuring out how to win awards for it).  And so on.  Think of it as a Venn diagram.

However, the Filer who sent it to me says what the diagram shows is that most superversive and pulp fiction isn’t good.

Who’s right?

Regardless, what H.P.’s trying to do is define the characteristics of “superversive.”

People associated with Superversive Press have written several posts that I will be drawing from that attempt to pin down just what the term means.  The best are by Tom Simon, Corey McCleery, and L. Jagi Lamplighter.  Each identifies particular traits of a superversive story.  Simon points to moral high ground and courage.  McCleery insists that superversive stories should be aspiring/inspiring, virtuous, heroic, decisive, and non-subversive.  Lamplighter argues that, for a story to be superversive, it must have good storytelling, the characters must be heroic, and the story must have an element of wonder.

These are good starting points.  You can probably guess which trait I like least.  “Good storytelling” isn’t useful as a trait because it conflates superversive with good.  The only other term I really don’t like is “non-subversive.”  If you are defining superversive in contrast with subversive, as Simon does, then it is no more than a truism.  And a superversive work may subvert, indeed, it probably should.

(12) SPEAK HUP. Will Seuss Inc. sue the BBC? Verse illustrates the Beeb’s article “The haughty history of the letter H”.

Throughout history, those with social clout have set the standards for what’s the more acceptable pronunciation….

Like Dr. Seuss’ Star-Belly Sneetches and Plain-Belly Sneetches, there are two types of creatures — haitchers with H on their 8th letter name and aitchers with “none upon thars”.

That H isn’t so big. It’s really so small. You might think such a thing wouldn’t matter at all.

But it does — the tiny H on “(h)aitch” divides the nation. The pronunciation has become something of a social password, a spoken shibboleth distinguishing in-groupers from out-groupers. Those with social clout set the standards for what’s “in” and what’s “out” — no H has the stamp of approval.

The best kind of people are people without!

Shibboleths die hard — the opprobrium attached to haitch probably derives from its long association with Irish Catholic education. There’s no real evidence for this, mind, as Sue Butler points out, but never let facts get in the way of a good shibboleth.

(13) A CAT ON THE RAILS. The BBC has pictures: “Japan unveils Hello Kitty-themed bullet train”

It is enough to wake the tired eyes of the groggiest commuter. A striking white and pink bullet train themed around the Japanese cartoon character and marketing phenomenon Hello Kitty.

The bespoke train will begin a three month run between the western cities of Osaka and Fukuoka on Saturday.

It was unveiled by the West Japan Railway firm which hopes the use of a famous local export will boost tourism.

Hello Kitty branding features on the windows, seat covers, and flooring.

(14) CASH FOUND BEHIND THE SEAT CUSHIONS. But not the currency you’d expect: “Hoax ‘devil coins’ found in Bath Abbey”.

Two “devil coins” that were hidden in Scandinavian churches as part of an elaborate hoax in the 1970s have been discovered in the unlikely setting of Bath Abbey.

Dusty odds and ends, including an order of service from 1902, were found in the abbey when stalls were removed for restoration work.

The most intriguing discovery, however, was two coins bearing a picture of Satan and the legend Civitas Diaboli on one side and 13 Maj Anholt 1973 on the other.

Experts figured out the coins were linked to the story of a Danish eccentric who perpetrated an elaborate 40-year hoax that was only discovered almost a decade after his death.

(15) YOUR OWN MARTIAN ODYSSEY. Red Rover, Red Rover send HiRISE right over… SYFY Wire reports “A Mars video game developed from NASA data now exists, and it’s pretty far out”. Developer Alan Chan has a new Mars rover driving game available for the Steam gaming platform. It features terrain developed from NASA data gathered by the HiRISE camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. It also features a “ridiculously overpowered Mars rover” which is even equipped with jump jets. You can careen across (or even a bit above) Mars’ Victoria Crater, Western Cerberus, South Olympus, Jezero Crater, Bequerel Crater, Hibes Montes, Candor Chasma, Aeolis Streams, and Noctis Labyrinthus at speeds far beyond any yet achieved on Mars.

Quoting the article:

“The HiRISE camera onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is the most powerful one of its kind ever sent to another planet,” states HiRISE Principal Investigator Alfred McEwen of the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory at the University of Arizona. “Its high resolution allows us to see Mars like never before, and helps other missions choose a safe spot to land for future exploration.”

…Red Rover is now available on Steam for $4.99, and it even supports Oculus Rift for the ultimate immersive VR experience.

 

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Chip Hitchcock, Hampus Eckerman, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]

60 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 6/26/18 Eliminate The Inscrollible, Whatever Remains, However Impixellable, Must Be The Fifth

  1. First!

    14) Leo Rosten did something of the sort, or at least wrote a story about it. Look up “A Seminole With a Hole In His Head”.

  2. (5) Interesting stuff about Campbell. I didn’t realize that the term “highway hypnosis” dated that far back.

  3. @5: Sounds like Campbell would have been a good person not to meet. I’ve read a lot about his good and bad sides, but in this he seems such a whiner.

  4. (11) THEY BLINDED ME WITH SCIENCE. what the diagram shows is that most superversive and pulp fiction isn’t good.

    I’m going to send H.P. his very own copy of Venn Diagrams for Dummies. I’m pretty sure that’s not the message he intended. 😀

  5. Chip Hitchcock: I’m surprised to hear you didn’t meet Campbell. Did he pass away before you got into fandom?

  6. recommended recent reading: Claire Humphrey, Spells of Blood and Kin. This is her first novel; I don’t remember seeing any of her shorter work, but she’s clearly learned her craft. What’s more interesting is her subject: Lissa has inherited the title of village witch of the ~Russian community in Toronto, without enough training/experience because she learned from her grandmother — her fully-assimilated parents wanted nothing to do with fantasy. The stress increases because one of her first clients is something like a non-transforming werewolf who depended on grandmother to help with self-control, and because her stepsister blows in from London expecting crash space and being far more sociable than Lissa is used to. This sounds like a setup for a soap opera, but it isn’t; Lissa knows she has serious responsibilities (and some that I’d call trivial but her clients don’t). The not-werewolf also feels responsibility, for somebody he carelessly infected after grandmother’s death. All of this happens in the first few pages; I found the working-out interesting and plausible, neither prolonged nor cut off, with the possible exception of gur fbyhgvba gb gur arj jrerjbys hfvat n pbairavrag nzbenyvfg. I will be watching for Humphrey’s next work.

  7. @OGH: I’m not that old; Campbell died just after I finished high school, which I spent in the more-or-less-boondocks (surviving on mostly-not-new books in a surprisingly good local library — I wrote about SF in a senior-English paper for which most of the references were anthology editors’ forwards). There were a couple of meetings of an SF club at school, mostly to organize to see 2001, but I didn’t start going to conventions until they were in reach, after moving to Boston for college — and getting a good-enough summer job that I could afford new magazines, which turned out to have convention listings.

  8. Is anyone here really well-versed in Michael Moorcock’s Jerry Cornelius stories? There’s a novella in the series coming out this year, so I got The Cornelius Chronicles (4 novel omnibus) from the library. I’m halfway through the first novel, The Final Programme (1968), and it’s… not good. I was shocked to learn that it had actually been made into a movie and spawned many subsequent stories.

    I’m trying to figure out what I am apparently missing. It just seems to me to be an ode to the 60s sex-and-drugs-and-rock-and-roll culture and experimentation with psychotropic drugs and visual stimuli. The plot is meandering, and the characterization is near-nonexistent.

  9. @JJ
    I wish I could help you, especially since I was so happy when I came across a copy of The Life and Times of Jerry Cornelius as a teenager, because it should be right up my alley, considering I was a big Bond fan at the time.

    However, my reaction to the actual stories was much like your. Lots of 1960s sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll and not in a good way. Very little in the way of plot. When Jerry slept with a Chinese general, the book met the wall. Not because I had a problem with the gay sex, but because the Tienanmen massacre had happened shortly before and so sleeping with a Chinese general was about as sexy to me as sleeping with Hitler or Stalin.

  10. @jj “I’m halfway through the first novel, The Final Programme (1968), and it’s… not good. ”

    Forgive me if I tell you stuff you already know. 🙂

    It suffers very much from not being in its time, and being an experiment — *for* its time it was revolutionary, and did a lot of mind-expanding and genre-expanding. Seeing it now in its expanded genre makes it in some ways a lot less interesting.

    This holds true for a lot of the formal and stylistic innovations of the Quartet; things that we now see as “Oh, right, *that*” were making some of their first appearances. It also comments very heavily on the rest of Moorcock’s Eternal Champions work around that time, which means that bits of that can easily go past people if they’re not attuned to it or paying that kind of attention. (The formal structure, for example, of the early parts of the first book in many places closely matches The Dreaming City.) Indeed, a lot of it is investigation of the position of the Hero (and/or Champion) transferred from a fantasy world into a “1960s as they might have been” — bringing it closer to home for greater impact, a strategy which worked well then — now, somewhat less so. :/

  11. Thank you, Cora and imnotandrei, for letting me know that I’m not alone in thinking that. I appreciate the additional context. Back to library it shall go. 🙂

  12. (3) BUSTED.

    I’m just LOLing at JDA buying 5,000 Twitter followers. That is hilarious. 😆

  13. Cora:

    “I wish I could help you, especially since I was so happy when I came across a copy of The Life and Times of Jerry Cornelius as a teenager, because it should be right up my alley, considering I was a big Bond fan at the time.”

    I read that one in the 80s and found it mostly irritating and incoherent. Also including an extremely boring and sad BDSM-scene if I remember correctly. Absolutely not worth reading.

  14. (1) From Steve Davidson’s response: “In point of fact, our native email server was sending out the appropriate status update messages (it was checked numerous times), but some recipient email servers were rejecting the messages, most likely because they originated from an unfamiliar source (our email server) AND were automated status updates.”

    Then your system was broken, Steve.

    The vast majority of users are not in a position to demand that their email provider change their server settings, nor (to be blunt) should they be. If multiple servers are blocking your emails as spam, the problem is on your end. You don’t get the luxury of writing those servers off as “overly sensitive” and shifting the repair burden to your submitters. Fixing the problem is your responsibility, not theirs.

    (11) That diagram does indeed posit that most superversive, and most pulp, content is not good. Heh. Chart fail! Perhaps “H.P.” should have noted that the diagram was simplified/distorted to focus on the concept rather than a true representation of proportion.

  15. “You don’t get the luxury of writing those servers off as “overly sensitive” and shifting the repair burden to your submitters. Fixing the problem is your responsibility, not theirs.”

    I don’t understand this comment. The problem was fixed, wasn’t it? And it wasn’t by shifting the burden to the submitters, was it?

  16. @Hanpus: “I don’t understand this comment. The problem was fixed, wasn’t it? And it wasn’t by shifting the burden to the submitters, was it?”

    It was fixed after a big public stink. Until that happened, the “solution” was exactly to expect the submitters to pester their email providers:

    Once we were made aware of the problem, we thought that an explanation would prompt users to look into their email servers and address the issue with their providers.

    Emphasis mine. That is a wildly inappropriate and unrealistic expectation – a blind hope, not an actual solution.

  17. I do think the Cornelius Quartet gets better as it goes — there’s more play with story structure, and 70s disillusionment undercutting the initial 60s wish-fulfilment gives it more depth. Not a sufficiently strong argument if you’re really not getting on with it at this point, though.

  18. @JJ Is anyone here really well-versed in Michael Moorcock’s Jerry Cornelius stories? … I’m halfway through the first novel, The Final Programme (1968), and it’s… not good.

    The Final Programme is very definitely the least good of those novels, but they’re all heavy going unless you’re interested in experimental writing. I’d suggest dipping into some of the later ones to get a sense of the style and moving on. The plotlessness, fragmented text, and context-free sex, drugs, and violence are all very much the point but they’re very much an examination of and comment on a vanished zeitgeist at this point.

  19. @Rev. Bob. Not going to get into it here, but I completely disagree with your sentiment.
    I am going to get into it here.
    Our messages were sent out. They were not received. They were not received because the recipient’s system rejected them. They were rejected for no good reason: our messages were not spam, they were formatted properly, they were addressed properly, they were written in english. They were received by the majority of recipients.
    We went the extra mile to do what we could to mitigate the problem that exists for some recipients.
    A ‘problem’ that was blown out of proportion by both a lack of direct communication with us, first by the folks having the problem, and second by Sanford not inquiring when he thought he had a story.
    Our initial system worked just fine. Some email servers rejected the messages because they (THEY) were configured improperly or set too sensitively.

  20. I’m inclined to agree with others on the Cornelius books – they were cutting edge in their time, but nothing – nothing – goes out of date faster than modernity.

    I think they’re victims of their own hype, too… I recall reading them in the late Eighties, with the sense mounting, each time I turned a page, of “This? This is what people have been making such a fuss over? Seriously?” It’s unfair, I know, but that was my reaction.

  21. I enjoyed the Jerry Cornelius books a great deal and have not revisited them in some time.

    In my time getting a math degree, I have never seen a Venn diagram that posits proportional relationships among the things being grouped. I occasionally see one that’s designed to give the impression of a smaller or a larger intersection in non-technical work, but that’s about it.

  22. @Steve: “Our initial system worked just fine. Some email servers rejected the messages because they (THEY) were configured improperly or set too sensitively.”

    Then your initial system was not “working just fine.” It is your IT department’s responsibility to cope with exactly that sort of issue. It is not your submitters’ responsibility to complain to their providers that they did not receive a message they did not know was sent.

    If someone doesn’t check their spam folder – yeah, that’s on them. But if the message bounced off of their provider’s server, and that happens with multiple providers? That’s on you, 100%.

  23. “In my time getting a math degree, I have never seen a Venn diagram that posits proportional relationships among the things being grouped. I occasionally see one that’s designed to give the impression of a smaller or a larger intersection in non-technical work, but that’s about it.”

    Never?

  24. “Then your initial system was not “working just fine.” It is your IT department’s responsibility to cope with exactly that sort of issue. It is not your submitters’ responsibility to complain to their providers that they did not receive a message they did not know was sent.”

    It is actually the responsibility of several different persons. It was Steve’s responsibility to address the issue when he was notified. Before that, he couldn’t know that emails weren’t arriving. It is the submitters’ responsibility to choose an email provider that doesn’t throw away too many items – when they have understood that there might be mails that are lost because of their server settings. And it is their responsibility to actually send a mail and ask when they haven’t received the mail they obviously were expecting.

    And so on.

  25. @Hampus: “Before that, he couldn’t know that emails weren’t arriving.”

    Trouble with that is, most mail servers will send a bounce notification to the sender when rejecting an email. I’ve gotten plenty of those in my day, and they specify the reason for the rejection. They also tend to get sent almost instantly, being automated responses.

    Of course, if the Amazing Stories status emails were being sent from an unmonitored address – which is possible for this kind of task, but a really terrible idea – then the bounce notices would’ve never been seen. I mean, at the very least, you want to ensure that error messages generated by outgoing email get brought to somebody’s attention…

    At the absolute least, this looks like a case of woefully insufficient testing on the AS side. “Our status emails get rejected by some providers” is not a small problem; it should have been detected before launch.

    (I was doing forensic email analysis back in the ’90s. I don’t have much call for those skills these days, but I still know my way around raw header data.)

  26. If your emails are getting through to everyone but me, then maybe I should be getting in touch with the tech support people at my friendly neighborhood ISP. Which actually answers queries.

    If your emails are bouncing off the servers at Gmail, you need to look into it, and find out how to convince them that you’re not a spam house.

    I used to work somewhere that periodically would have its emails bouncing off other people’s servers. I don’t recall whether the problem was that they had bought service from a company that was also selling to spammers, or if some spammer was falsely claiming that its emails came from my then-employer. I do know that they didn’t solve it by telling each of the people they did business with to talk to their individual email providers in order to fix it.

    When we started getting bounce messages, the IT department did what was necessary to get off the shared “this domain is a spammer” lists, and told the staff that they were working on it and might need to use the telephone for anything urgent. It didn’t expect individual employees to solve the problem, and it didn’t expect individuals we were writing to to try to solve it for us.

    I just googled, and according to Statista it is no longer the case that the typical email is spam. As of three months ago, a little less than half of all email is spam. But that’s the only data point on their graph of the past four years for which that’s true, and while 55% or 64% spam is worse than 48%, that’s still a lot of crap that my ISP is protecting me from.

  27. I was a big Moorcock fan in the 80s, and I too struggled with the Cornelius novels, although I assumed the failing was mine, not the books’. I agree with Ghostbird that the later ones were better. The Life And Times stories were particularly fragmented, though, and not a good entry point.

    I seem to remember reading somewhere that Moorcock was trying to equate the scientific concept of entropy with social entropy and – guessing here – perhaps literary entropy too, hence the fragmentation. I’d guess William Burroughs would be an influence. If I remember – it was a long time ago – the Eternal Champions in his various novels fought for law or chaos, and perhaps Cornelius was intended as an agent of chaos. I dunno.

  28. @Hampus Eckerman: A great counter-example! You are right: I shouldn’t have said never. But it’s not common.* That diagram you link to is “roughly” proportional.** It’s a good information visualization for its purpose. I will continue to interpret Venn diagrams with perfectly symmetrical proportions as not representing proportion at all.

    *I think. I haven’t measured it. It’d be bad visualization for a lot of math, though.
    **I’m still trying to decide whether it’s possible to have three intersecting circles which are proportional for arbitrary valid proportions. I’m not in a position to use pen and paper just now, so it’s not going quickly, though you’d think I’d have a counter-example by now if it were false.

  29. I’m learning my way around email at this point in my life, which is funny, because I figure I’ve got a fighting chance to outlive it.

    The absolutely hardest thing for me to explain to users is why our email systems will not accept email they can get via their personal account. If it works one way, it should work the other, they say, and they aren’t wrong. Everything else hard I can explain as policy (and shrug off and do if I’m overridden), but this is a tough sell.

  30. @Steve Davidson

    Sounds like you have a workaround in place. On the original problem, you may want your tech folks to ensure your Internet facing DNS has appropriate SPF records for your mail servers, relays, etc. When this first came up I looked and amazingstories.com does not have SPF records. A lot of mail systems use these records to help determine if mail is spam, spoofed, etc. Many systems will drop mail at the border if there is no SPF to reference.

  31. 3) OMG.
    I had been tracking JDA’s follower counts, and yeah, the jump was unusual. I thought maybe someone had linked to him and he got some conservative juice.

    That’s funny.

  32. Well. Looks like everything in the Retro Hugo packet is PDF.

    Fan writer:
    Art Widner
    Arthur Wilson Bob Tucker
    Donald A Wollheim
    Forrest J. Ackerman
    Harry Warner, Jr.
    Jack Speer

    Fanzine:
    Futurian War Digest
    Inspiration
    Le Zombie
    Spaceways
    The Phantagraph
    Voice of the Imagination

    Novelette:
    The Star Mouse by Fredric Brown

    Novella:
    Hell is Forever by Alfred Bester
    Nerves by Lester del Rey
    The Compleat Werewolf by Anthony Boucher
    The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag by Robert A. Heinlein

    Short story:
    Etaoin Shrdlu by Fredric Brown
    Proof by Hal Clement
    The Sunken Land by Fritz Leiber

  33. 3) I kind of believe he saw Chuck Wendig got a huge follower jump after an anti-Trump thread, and said, “I can have a follower jump too!” and bought it.

    I mean, just when I think he can’t do something more sad, he finds a way.

  34. @Rev. Bob: I don’t know how much email has changed since you were forensing (forensicizing?) it; however, ISTM that you’re assuming without evidence that Amazing was notified of bounces. Also, I note from reports here that Worldcon 76 seemed to be having problems getting Hugo notifications to its membership; was that entirely their fault, or were this a muddle in the middle?

  35. Rev. Bob, to be fair, I’m a secretary and a major part of my job is sending emails to customers and prospective customers. A surprising number of emails end up in the Big Bit Bucket In The Sky, with no bounce message. Depending on the settings of both the senders and the receivers, it’s entirely possible that Amazing Stories wasn’t getting sufficient bounce notices to let them know there was a serious problem, until it all blew up in Steve’s face.

    Never ascribe to malice what can be explained by bad luck or lack of competence. And Amazing’s core competency is stories, not emails….

  36. I did get through the Cornelius Chronicles (the omnibus of the first four books) at least once back in high school, but I’ve never quite been able to repeat the process since then.

    Hugo-wise, I finished Collapsing Empire (my first Scalzi novel other than Redshirts) and while I thought it had a bit of a slow start, I did enjoy it a lot and read it over the course of about two days; having said which, I don’t think it’ll affect the rankings at the top of my ballot. Next up: New York 2140.

  37. I read the first Jerry Cornelius novel in the 1980s, don’t remember being very impressed (but I don’t remember much of it at all). I also watched “The Last Days of Man on Earth,” (first, actually) based on the novel. It was described as being similar in spirit to Buckaroo Banzai. My girlfriend (now wife) and I thought it was a mess.

  38. I vastly preferred Corum, Hawkmoon, Erekose and Elric (in that order) to Jerry Cornelius.

  39. Re: Venn diagrams
    Well I did study math and my thesis was partly about statistics and I just say this: Real Venndiagrams have proportional subsets. Its just they are often used to illustrate something else, where the proportions doesn’t matter and hence are more or less invented (i.e made equally large so it looks neat).
    While Im giving the diagram the benefit of thinking it belongs in the latter category, it does only say that there is an overlap between good and superversive, and its definitely not a big one. Exactly how small is probably not possible to measure, but its not a positive endorsement in any case…

    Sometimes you are the pixel and sometimes, well, the pixel scrolls you

  40. You can’t represent all possible proportions of intersections of three sets by Venn diagrams with circular regions. The sizes of the individual sets and the sizes of the pairwise intersections determine the geometry of the diagram, leaving no room to adjust the size of the 3-fold intersection. For example, you can’t represent the case of three sets A, B, C, each of size 1, where the pairwise intersections are each of size 1/2, and the 3-fold intersection is also of size 1/2 (meaning that there is nothing that is simultaneously in two of the sets without also being in the third set). But we can represent this easily as finite sets: A={w,x}, B={w,y}, C={w,z}.

    Up until today, I had never seen anybody attempt to represent proportions with a Venn diagram with circular regions.

  41. The main web mail providers recently ramped up their spam protection by requiring not just SPF headers, which most mail servers set, but also requiring DKIM and DMARC. They both need DNS configuration to work, so anyone running their own mail servers now needs to control their DNS…

    If you don’t have them, you’re classified as sender unknown which ramps you right up the spam indicator charts.

  42. Many of the Retro Hugo voter packets files are PDFs with links to websites, and my Foxit Reader for Linux doesn’t seem to be able to send me to them. I hope that future administrators will just supply HTML files for those files.

  43. 11) Of course most superversive & pulp fiction isn’t good. Sturgeon’s Law, people. If the diagram is in fact proportional, it implies those genres are Sturgeon-compliant.

    What word or expression should I use for “worse than expected under SL” and “better than expected under SL”? super-Sturgeon for “better”, sub-Sturgeon for worse?

  44. @Peer:
    Well I did study math and my thesis was partly about statistics and I just say this: Real Venn diagrams have proportional subsets.

    I don’t think that Venn’s original paper supports this — it is about only whether things are, or are not, in particular sets. It doesn’t seem to use the size of the circles to represent how many or much of something is being compared.

    @John A Arkansawyer
    I’m still trying to decide whether it’s possible to have three intersecting circles which are proportional for arbitrary valid proportions.

    Consider the “standard” 3 circle diagram, in which all three intersect all of each other (like Boromean Rings). That defines seven areas whose size can be measured (1 area inside all three rings, 3 areas which are in pairs of rings, and 3 areas which are in only one ring). (I’m ignoring the area outside all of the circles.) Let Circle 1 have an arbitrary area, and scale Circle 2 and 3 relative to it. Given that the first circle is at an arbitrary point and has an arbitrary radius, you have only 4 more “knobs” to adjust — the locations of the other two circles, and their radii. One of those locations is defined with respect to the first circle in only one variable: absolute distance away. The other’s location is defined in two variables: absolute distance from circle 1, and absolute distance from circle 2.

    So you have 5 variables you can adjust. Circle 1’s radius and location are arbitrary. Circle 2 is located x1 away from Circle 1 and has radius x2. Circle 3 is located x3 from Circle 2, and x4 from Circle 2. Its radius is x5.

    I don’t see how you can make the 6 areas that aren’t arbitrary take any value you want when you only have 5 variables to adjust.

    ETA: Somewhat ninja’d by David Shallcross while writing this. (who did a more straightforward explanation)

  45. Oh I didnt say alll subsets would be proportional, but that doesnt mran the proportions have to be all the same, regardless of true values. You usually try to match them look like reality?

  46. “I don’t think that Venn’s original paper supports this — it is about only whether things are, or are not, in particular sets. It doesn’t seem to use the size of the circles to represent how many or much of something is being compared.”

    If we are going purely by the original paper, we shouldn’t call them Venn diagrams, but Eulurian circles.

  47. Bruce A on June 27, 2018 at 11:37 am said:

    Many of the Retro Hugo voter packets files are PDFs with links to websites, and my Foxit Reader for Linux doesn’t seem to be able to send me to them. I hope that future administrators will just supply HTML files for those files.

    According to their web site, the contact for questions and suggestions regarding the Hugos in 2019 is wsfs@dublin2019.com.

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