Pixel Scroll 7/12/20 You’ll Be Shocked At How New Law In Your Area Makes Delicious Fat-Burning Scrolls From This One Weird Pixel

(1) IF YOU WANT TO KEEP ON TREKKIN’. — Here’s George Takei’s advice:

(2) UPSTAIRS, DOWNSTAIRS, NO STAIRS. Variety invites fans to “Watch: ‘Star Trek: Lower Decks’ Trailer Shows First Look at Animated Comedy”. (Some characters seem to have trouble keeping their redshirts on.)

The official trailer for CBS All Access’ new half-hour animated comedy “Star Trek: Lower Decks” has arrived, and it’s putting an irreverent spin on the beloved franchise.

“We’re not really elite — we’re more like the cool, scrappy underdogs,” explains lower-deck Ensign Mariner in the trailer.

“We live on a spaceship, nobody is dying from a spear wound!” she exclaims in the midst of some onboard mayhem.

The 10-episode series, which has already been renewed for a second season, is the first animated “Star Trek” series in more than 45 years. “Star Trek: The Animated Series” had a brief run starting in 1973.

CBS All Access subscribers can watch the show each week on Thursdays starting Aug. 6 on the digital subscription video on-demand and live streaming service,

(3) ANOTHER SITTING. Gal Beckerman tells New York Times readers “The Baby-Sitters Club Taught Me Everything I Needed to Know About Literary Fiction”.

A confession: As a 9-year-old boy, I loved the Baby-Sitters Club books.

So deep is my remembered shame that even now, sitting at my keyboard at the age of 43, I’m blushing. I know that times have changed, that today boys can like whatever they like, are even applauded for it. But in the 1980s, when it seemed the only real options for me were “The Hobbit” or the Hardy Boys or Choose Your Own Adventure books, stories that as I recall all involved dragons and trap doors and motorcycle chases, sneaking home one of Ann Martin’s books about a group of 12-year-old girls from fictional Stoneybrook, Conn., felt like a crime. I mean, all of the covers were pastel.

It was a moment. I think I read the first 15 books in the series over the course of fourth grade; whatever was in my school’s library — and I certainly didn’t share my enthusiasm then with another soul.

My great immersion in the friendship of Kristy Thomas, Mary Anne Spier, Claudia Kishi and Stacey McGill (and Dawn, Mallory and Jessi — you know I couldn’t forget the later additions) is something I’ve had reason to revisit lately. That’s because my two daughters, 10 and 7, are now obsessives of the Sitter-verse. They have read the books, tracking down the out-of-print ones as e-books. They have devoured — like torn at each other’s hair to get at — Raina Telgemeier’s graphic novel reboot of the series, which debuted in color in 2015. And for the past year their bedtime routine involves listening to audio versions of the books, all 131 of which were recently produced by Audible. As if that weren’t enough, they have been counting down the days to a television adaptation streaming on Netflix beginning July 3 that will offer a modern-day update. Basically, I should have bought real estate in Stoneybrook….

(4) ON DECK. “Horror Has Become Normal: An Interview with Gish Jen” at LA Review of Books.

Baseball, the national pastime.

As Walt Whitman put it, baseball has always had the “snap, go, fling” of the American atmosphere. And it has so many democratic ideas built into it. We take the idea of a level playing field for granted, as well as the idea that everyone should have a turn at bat. But as the daughter of Chinese immigrants, I’m aware of how strange these ideas can seem to people from other countries.

When you first decided to create this dystopian world, did you realize how much detailed imagining it would require? Did you already know a ton about AI and baseball, or did you learn a ton to write the book?

Do we ever know how much work a novel is going to be? Luckily, I like investigation of every sort, and I was able to study up on both technology and baseball as I wrote. Luckily, too, I live in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where I’m surrounded by expertise. The MIT Technology Review very generously allowed me to sit in on their EmTech conference twice. And I was able to consult with people like Ted Williams’s biographer, Bill Nowlin.

(5) #COMICBOOKTOO. “Inside the Comic Book Industry’s Sexual Misconduct Crisis—and the Ugly, Exploitative History That Got It Here” in the Daily Beast.

…The month of June saw the comics industry rocked by successive waves of predatory conduct allegations, amid similar reckonings around sexual harassment in the affiliated worlds of video games, twitch streaming, tabletop games, professional wrestling, and professional illustration. Some of the allegations, as with superstar writer Warren Ellis, were new. Others brought renewed scrutiny to lingering problems like the allegations against Dark Horse editor Scott Allie and DC writer Scott Lobdell. Most of the stories came from marginalized creators who’d previously been silent for fear of being blacklisted. In June, that wall of silence cracked, and what showed beneath was red and raw and deeply, viscerally angry.

“A huge reason why abusive, predatory, and discriminatory practices go unchecked in the comics industry is this: the impetus is always put on the victims to come forward,” Maï wrote in an email to The Daily Beast. “Victims are expected to speak out at great personal cost—at risk of losing jobs and damaging their financial livelihood, at detriment to their mental health and threats to their personal safety… For every story you hear, there is also an unimaginable amount more that are not heard.” (Stewart did not respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment.)


  • July 12, 1961 Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea premiered. It was produced and directed by Irwin Allen off the screenplay by him and Charles Bennett.  It starred Walter Pidgeon and Robert Sterling with a supporting cast of Peter Lorre, Joan Fontaine, Barbara Eden, Michael Ansara, and Frankie Avalon.  It was produced for about one and a half million dollars, and certainly made its costs back at the box office. Critics weren’t terribly fond of it but audiences really liked as it made over eight million dollars over its summer and early autumn run. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it an anemic 39% rating.


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born July 12, 1865 – Lucy Perkins.  Best known as author of children’s books, e.g. Dutch Twins and two dozen sequels; sold 2 million copies all told.  Illustrated Aesop, Anderson, Grimm, Robin Hoodhere is her cover for Edith Harrison’s Moon Princesshere for Julia Brown’s Enchanted Peacockhere (line drawing and text) is her own “Queen of Spring”.  (Died 1937) [JH]
  • Born July 12, 1912 – Joseph Mugnaini.  Thirty covers, twenty interiors, particularly for Bradbury.  Here and here are two versions of his cover for Fahrenheit 451.  Here is a Bradbury issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.  Here is an etching for The Martian Chronicles.  Here is a cover for Hal Clement’s Mission of Gravity.  Five artbooks.  (Died 1992) [JH]
  • Born July 12, 1923 James Gunn, 97. Writer, editor, scholar, and anthologist. Winner at ConStellation of a Hugo for Best Related Work for Isaac Asimov: The Foundations of Science Fiction. His New Encyclopedia of Science Fiction Is quite excellent from an historical context now. I’ve not read his SF novel, The Immortals, so would be interested in knowing how it is. And let’s not overlook The Road to Science Fiction, his series of rather excellent anthologies covering all of SF.  (CE)
  • Born July 12, 1933 Donald E. Westlake. Though he specialized in crime fiction, he did dip into the genre on occasion such as with Transylvania Station which you think as a Clue-style novel he wrote with his wife Abby. On the horror end of things was Anarchaos. And he wrote a lot of genre short fiction, some fifty pieces by my count. (Died 2008.) (CE) 
  • Born July 12, 1939 – Mike Hodel.  Host for a decade and a half of Hour 25 on radio, locally on Station KPFK.  Harlan Ellison, who succeeded him for a year, called it “a forum for writers and fans, publishers and readers….  he brought serious thinkers and noble madmen to the microphone”, Angry Candy p. xxi (1988).  Two short stories in Fantasy Book.  Reviews in Transmissions and Weird Tales.  Interviewed Philip K. Dick in The Missouri Review (note Vincent Di Fate cover).  (Died 1986) [JH]
  • Born July 12, 1944 – Helene Flanders.  Vancouver, British Columbia, fan.  Edited the club’s BCSFAzine issues 57 (March 1978) to 71 (May 1979).  Fancyclopedia 3 says she was found murdered in her apartment, augh.  (Died 1982) [JH]
  • Born July 12, 1947 – Hiroshi Amata, 73.  Author, critic; translator particularly of classic fantasy, The Ship of IshtarThe Night Land; student of natural history (Birds of the World and Fish of the World, collections of 19th Century paintings, have been translated into English).  Two dozen books.  So far his 12-volume Tales of the Imperial Capital, Tokyo from an occultist perspective, has not been done in English; 5 million copies sold in Japan; here is a cover for Vol. 2 by Yoshitaka Amano, Artist Guest of Honor at the 65th Worldcon.  [JH]
  • Born July 12, 1947 Carl Lundgren, 73. He co-founded ASFA (Association of Science Fiction & Fantasy Artists of America), and won 4 Chesleys, including Artistic Achievement. At the tender age of eighteen, he was co-chairman of the first media SF convention, The Detroit Triple Fan Fair which featured comics, movies and various things of a SF nature. At Chicon IV, he was nominated for Best Professional Artist but lost out to Michael Whelan. (CE)
  • Born July 12, 1961 Scott Nimerfro. He had an impressive production list of genre films and series, to wit Tales From The CryptTrekkiesX-MenPerversions Of ScienceThe GatesPushing Daisies, and the Once Upon A Time series which he produced three seasons of. He has one genre acting credit in “Let the Punishment Fit the Crime“ story of Tales From The Crypt in which he was  Fouser. (Died 2016.) (CE)
  • Born July 12, 1968 Sara Griffiths, 52. She appeared as Ray in the Seventh Doctor story “Delta and the Bannermen”.  She was being considered as a companion to the Doctor, a role however taken by Sophie Aldred as Ace. (CE)
  • Born July 12, 1971 – Michelle Welch, 49.  Five novels and a collection of flash fiction introducing her Gbahn characters; four novels of elementals (one each) under another name.  Editor of two podcast anthologies.  Collects stringed instruments, which she sometimes plays.  Still working on a Big Fat Historical Fantasy set during the English Civil War; last year’s NaNoWriMo (nat’l novel writing month) helped some.  Website here.  [JH]
  • Born July 12, 1976 Gwenda Bond, 44. Writer, critic, editor. She’s written a prequel to the Stranger Things series, Suspicious Minds, and I’m very fond of the two novels (The Lost Legacy and The Sphinx’s Secret) so far in her Supernormal Sleuthing Service which she wrote with her husband Christopher Rowe.  And she penned the Dear Aunt Gwenda section of Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet that Small Beer Press published in the early part of this millennium. (CE) 


(9) IS ANYBODY THERE? DOES ANYBODY CARE? Connie Willis draws parallels to the present day in “Independence Day And 1776 (The Movie)”.

… Not only is America in dire straits–“I do believe you’ve laid a curse on North America,” John Adams says, “a second flood, a simple famine, plagues of locusts everywhere,”–they’re dealing with many of the same problems we are right now.

They’re plagued with diseases (“The children all have dysentery, and little Tom keeps turning blue,” Abigail says. “Little Abbey has the measles, and I’m coming down with flu…they say we may get smallpox”) and shortages (sewing pins and saltpeter instead of toilet paper and PPE.)

There are lines that could have been spoken today, like Benjamin Franklin’s saying, “Never has a nation been more recklessly mismanaged,” and there are parallels in the people. We have Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whose health we’re praying for, and they had Caesar Rodney, a Congressman from Delaware who was dragged back to Congress from his deathbed to provide a deciding vote.

In 1776, they’re also dealing with critical issues of what they want their country to be and issues of racial justice that are threatening to tear the country apart and may even stop America from being born: “Now you’re calling our black slaves Americans?” the delegate from North Carolina asks John Adams, and Adams replies, “They’re people and they’re here. If there’s any other requirement, I never heard it.”
“They are not people,” North Carolina says. “They are property.”
“No, sir,” Jefferson says, “they are people who are being treated as property.”

And here we are, 244 years later, having that same conversation. On the Fourth two people painted over a “Black Lives Matter” sign on a street, proclaiming, “The narrative of police brutality, the narrative of oppression, the narrative of racism, it’s a lie,” and two days ago when Joe Biden said in his Fourth of July message that all people are created equal, the spokesman for the Republican Party accused him of trying to destroy the Declaration of Independence. “It says ‘All MEN are created equal,’” she said huffily….

(10) DOOM PATROL! [Item by Daniel Dern.] Five episodes in (out of a listed nine), Season Two of DC’s live-action Doom Patrol is (for me) one of the best comics-based TV series ever, with plot and character elements spanning the source comic series’ decades and creators. This season we’ve had (more) episodes including both Flex Mentallo and Danny The Street.

The show will make more sense if you’ve seen the first season.

If you want to be frugal, and can shim in modest binging, wait until Season 2 Episode 9 comes out — new episodes drop each Thursday, so, mmm, (according to IMDB), August 6, and try the DCUniverse 1-week free trial, or a month for $7.99, or HBO Max, a free week or a $14.99 month.

Note: DCUniverse is available via the web, and as an Android and iOS app. I watched DP Season 1 on my iPad; having (finally) added the app to my Amazon Fire Stick, I’ve been watching Season 2 on the TV — even more fun!

(11) MY MOUNT TBR HAS A PECULIAR PERIL. [Item by Daniel Dern.] The first few paragraphs of Laird Hunt’s review of Jeff Vandermeer’s A Peculiar Peril“Jeff VanderMeer’s Young Adult Novel Is a Madcap Magical Mash-Up” – (if you can’t get to it, here’s Ian Mond’s review from Locus Online) were so compelling that I stopped reading the review … and have online-reserved a copy from my local public library, which, thankfully, re-opened about two weeks ago for by-appointment contactless pick-ups of reserve requests. (Items are in paper bags. Yes, brown, but not delivered in the dead of night 🙂

Picture a 200-foot-long death machine built to crush everything in its path — powered by pulped earthworms, defended by demi-mages and captained by the gently stoned 19th-century French novelist Jules Verne — and you will have glimpsed just the tiniest portion of the madcap magical mash-up that is Jeff VanderMeer’s first full-throated sally into epic young adult fiction, for readers 12 and up. Overuse has made combinatory comparisons risible, but VanderMeer’s highly allusive maximalist tome requires them. So: “A Peculiar Peril” is equal parts “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” “Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell,” Matt Groening’s “Futurama,” “Mary Poppins” (or is it “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”?), “Curse of Chucky,” “Alice in Wonderland” and David Lynch’s hallucinatory adaptation of “Dune.”…

(12) DOLITTLE DOES ENOUGH. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Between advance reviews and the “has dragon” reveal, I declined to pay’n’go to see the recent (Dr.) Dolittle live-action (well, presumably lotsa CGI and other animation) movie (with Robert Downey Jr as the good doctor, Tom Holland voicing Jip the Dog, Emma Thompson voicing Polynesia the parrot, along with other well-known names), but this was one of the first items on my library reserve list to make it to my brown paper bag pickup, and, having watched it, I enjoyed it enough that I don’t regret it, but don’t feel that if you haven’t yet seen it, you need to.

I like that this was not done as an “origin” movie. I liked the Rube Goldberg steampunk gadgetry (or should that be steampunk Rube Goldberg gadgetry) and various other flourishes. The dragon was legitimized as a plot element, but (thankfully) didn’t go all Game-of-Thrones-firestormy. And could easily enough been something other or less than a dragon. At least they didn’t try to shimmy in some dragon-with-the-flagon patter, although perhaps that would have been a nice touch, although, admittedly, lost or going right by 99% of the audience. (Here, perhaps only past a modest 25%?)

(13) BIRDS DO IT, BEES DO IT. Even things with chitin do it: “What Lobsters And Ants Can Teach Us About Social Distancing”.

Ants do it. Lobsters do it. Even equatorial mandrills do it. Why don’t many Americans do it: Wear masks and keep a wise social distance from each other?

Scientific American reports this week how several animals seem to know how to take precautions and keep their distance so they’re less likely to be infected by a peer.

Spiny lobsters, for example — and really, aren’t they all? — can apparently sniff out infection in the urine of another lobster, and don’t get too close to them.

University of Florida researchers discovered this when a virus spread among spiny lobsters in the Florida Keys. As Dana M. Hawley and Julia C. Buck write in Scientific American, “Despite how unnatural it may feel to us, social distancing is very much a part of the natural world.”

A 2018 study at the University of Bristol found that when ant colonies are exposed to a virus, ants keep their distance. Forager ants, who are out and about to scrounge up plant saps and insect eggs, stay outside of the colony, so they don’t risk infecting the queen ant and her nurses. Reproduction can safely proceed.

(14) FAN ART ASSESSMENT. “Exploring the Hugo Awards: The 2020 Finalists for Best Fan Artist” by Constanze Hofmann on the Glasgow in 2024 website.

Fandom is generous, and that includes its artists. The Fan categories of the Hugo Awards celebrate the generosity that goes along with an incredible amount of work, just for the fun of it. In the past, I haven’t looked closely at the Fan categories, because who has time to look at everything? Turns out I’ve missed a lot of interesting things, so this year I’m making sure to look at those often-overlooked categories and cast my vote…

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

51 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 7/12/20 You’ll Be Shocked At How New Law In Your Area Makes Delicious Fat-Burning Scrolls From This One Weird Pixel

  1. (6) Anyone who was a fan of either Barbara (“Yes, master?”) Eden or Michael (“You are prisoners of the Klingon Empire against which you have committed a wanton act of WAR!”) Ansara knows they were married. Did they meet during the production of this movie?

  2. (8) The Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal “Teleporter” comic is basically a very short version of James Patrick Kelly’s great story “Think Like a Dinosaur”.

  3. (7) Donald Westlake’s career as an SF writer was actually kind of significant — he was quite prolific — though never brilliant — in the field in the late ’50s to early ’60s until he left via a diatribe against John Campbell that was published in the Hugo-winning fanzine Xero.

    His most obviously SFnal novel is Anarchaos, published under the name “Curt Clark”.

    I have long felt that he made the right decision leaving the field — his SF was really pretty routine, while his crime fiction is tremendous. (And the best SF I’ve read by him was crime fiction set in the future.)

  4. (7) James Gunn has a science fiction magazine named for him (“James Gunn’s Ad Astra”), btw.

    Westlake’s “Nackles” is a nifty horror story, the TV adaptation of which apparently led to Harlan’s departure from the 1980s version the The Twilight Zone

    (9) Big fan of 1776!

  5. (6) Anyone who was a fan of either Barbara (“Yes, master?”) Eden or Michael (“You are prisoners of the Klingon Empire against which you have committed a wanton act of WAR!”) Ansara knows they were married. Did they meet during the production of this movie?

    They were married in 1958, so they were already married when they made the film.

    His most obviously SFnal novel is Anarchaos, published under the name “Curt Clark”.

    I’d totally forgotten the real name behind “Curt Clark”. I bought that book around 50 years ago–I probably haven’t read it again for close to 40. (I’m incapable of letting go of books…)

  6. @7 (Westlake): oddly, the abovementioned are the only two stories ISFDB shows as published under the “Curt Clark” pseudonym; IIRC, Anarchaos was very ordinary, but “Nackles” was not.

    @9: unfortunately, 1776, like Hamilton, simplifies history almost beyond recognition; OTOH, there are indeed disturbing parallels — although King Donald doesn’t have nearly the style of Jonathan Groff. BTW, the link above only gets me the first couple of hundred words of Willis’s post; suggestions on how to get the rest?

  7. Chip Hitchcock: the link above only gets me the first couple of hundred words of Willis’s post; suggestions on how to get the rest?

    In the “Log in” nag box, click “Not Now”. It should recede enough for you to read the whole post.

  8. (9) There’s an episode of St. Elsewhere in which Mark Craig (played by William Daniels, who was John Adams in 1776 on Broadway and in the movie) visits Philadelphia for some reason. At one point he remarks to his wife, “It’s hot as hell in Philadelphia” — a line from 1776. I think there are a couple of other shout-outs to 1776 in the episode.

  9. Rich Horton says I have long felt that he made the right decision leaving the field — his SF was really pretty routine, while his crime fiction is tremendous. (And the best SF I’ve read by him was crime fiction set in the future.)

    And which novels would those be? Yes I’m very interested.

  10. (9) I was lucky enough to see 1776 on Broadway (a 9th-grade bus trip, 90 miles each way to Manhattan). Visible from the vicinity of the theater was at least one “WAR IS OVER / IF YOU WANT IT / Happy Christmas from John & Yoko” banner, so it must have been the end of 1969. I don’t totally dislike the movie, but the camerawork is just too frantic. The original cast album is quite good.

  11. 3) Along with the Hardy Boys, Rick Brant, Tom Swift, and Tom Corbett, I read Nancy Drew, Cherry Ames, and had a wicked crush on National Velvet.

  12. Anarchaos wasn’t horror; it was a Bat Durston space opera. I agree with Rich Horton that Westlake was a great comic crime writer and a mediocre sf writer.

  13. (10) Would like to watch Doom Patrol, but dear me, the UK streaming situation as far as the DC TV shows is lunatic. Scattered over at least 4 different services, so making it a real bind to see things properly

  14. @Cat Eldridge — my personal favorite Westlake novels are the comic Dortmunder novels, beginning with THE HOT ROCK.

    Many others recommend the rather darker Parker books, as by Richard Stark, which begin with THE HUNTER.

    And there are many strong standalones — I like THE AX, for example. HUMANS, also. And SMOKE, which is SF.

  15. The Dortmunder books are great but yeah, I always liked his standalones the best. (Had the same experience with Ruth Rendell and the Wexford books.)

    I love “Help, I Am Being Held Prisoner” and I remember hugely enjoying “A New York Dance” although I find myself wondering how well it’s aged since it was written. And he did a wonderful non-genre comedy called “A Likely Story”. I don’t reread much but that book is one where I’ve literally finished the last page, turned straight back to the first page and started it again.

    (Tastes vary. Another reader I spoke to hated ALS so much she didn’t read another Westlake for years. And speaking of ageing well, there are a couple of bits, particularly the way the gay characters are written, that are a bit wince-inducing now.)

  16. Speaking of non-Dortmunder Westlake books, there’s Baby, Would I Lie? and Trust Me on This about a guy who works for the equivalent of the National Enquirer, Dancing Aztecs (which was my first Westlake), Money for Nothing, and the posthumously published (but written in the 1970s) The Comedy is Over

  17. I’m a fan of the Richard Stark Parker novels. Coincidentally I just reread “The Mourner” yesterday.

  18. @gottacook: but the camerawork is just too frantic. That’s an interesting reaction; having seen multiple stage productions (none on Broadway) before the movie came out, I’d say the lighting is bit over the top but the camera work (which I re-saw pieces of just a few days ago) seems relatively staid. Everyone has the gout….

    Westlake’s Humans is fantasy in the line of Good Omens, although the fantastic elements are less important (and my brief note on it says the theology is “interesting”). I have a certain fondness for Two Much, especially the twist ending. What’s the Worst That Could Happen, my favorite of the Dortmunder novels, is one long effective twist.

  19. Chip: Upon further review, you’re right; it’s been a long while since I’ve seen the movie.

  20. 14) Good article. I’m probably putting Iain Clark at the top of my ballot.

    7) I briefly read that as Donald EASTLAKE and thought “there’s no way he’s older than my Dad.”

    9) Of all the musicals about U.S. presidents and cabinet members, 1776 is my least favourite. IMHO, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson is better, James Watt the musical is better, Nixon in China is better.

    10) Doom Patrol is decent & the cast is excellent (I mean Timothy Dalton, Diane Guerrero, Matt Bomber & Brendan Frasier!). But… so much of every episode is spent with the main characters yelling at each other that it gets a bit exhausting to listen to.

  21. In Hugo reading, I’m re-listening-to Middlegame and having about as much fun with it as I did the first time through.

    This book makes me happy. So many great turns of phrase, so many great character observations, such an odd and twisty plot. And in audio, the very stylized narration by Amber Benson is quite effective (even if I still don’t like her accent!).

    I suspect this isn’t what the Hugo voters are really going to go for on the ballot, even given McGuire’s popularity, but I hope everyone gives it a try!

  22. @13 But I’m already following the example set by ants and lobsters. They don’t wear masks. And I don’t either.

  23. HowardB, then I hope you’re staying far away from me. I have asthma. I really can’t afford to lose any more lung capacity. COVID would be…. bad.

    You do realize, I hope, that one doesn’t wear masks out of selfishness, to protect oneself; one wears masks out of altruism, to protect others. Masks are much better at protecting others than they are at protecting the person wearing them.

    So people who refuse to wear masks in public are, in essence, saying “my avoiding a minor discomfort is more important to me than possibly saving human lives.”

  24. @Cassy — I heard just today about some research about patients with asthma having better CV outcomes that patients who don’t. It’s preliminary, and mechanisms are not understood as yet.

  25. Years ago I remember being at Larry Smith’s book booth at a convention and he mentioned he’d lost a significant amount of his breathing capacity and a customer commented, “Ah, breathing is overrated.” And Larry replied, “Not when you can’t breathe, it’s not.”

  26. 12) Is that a reference to The Court Jester? For that matter, is TCJ recommended? I’ve never seen it.

    Please, friend, could I have a pixel for my uintatherium?

  27. @David Shallcross: Yes, dragon/flagon is a Court Jester reference and yes it’s well worth seeing

  28. @Cassy Sorry to hear about your asthma, but you have no idea of my own personal or medical status and didn’t ask. In any matter, I have no bug to pass on to you, even if the science supported it.

  29. Reading: I decided it had been entirely too long since I’d read any Charles de Lint, and I had Terri Windling’s Fairy Tale series on the brain after a some recent Twitter posts, so I revisited Jack the Giant-Killer and (tonight, pretty much in one sitting) Drink Down the Moon. And while reading tonight I did something I’d not done in a long, long time: Went into my guest room, to the Big Wall of CDs, and pulled down a couple of CDs of Irish music to actually put into my Blu-ray player and listen to as I read.

    Next up: Not sure yet.

  30. Next up: Zelazny’s Doorways in the Sand, now that it’s out in eBook format.

  31. @Olav Rokne: Nixon in China is an opera, not a musical; BBAJ started in 2006 (per W); the first thing I find for Watt is a 2011 new-musicals card. 1776 has weakly-constructed (to be kind) songs and makes Jefferson in particular better than he was, but it was a step toward realistic representation of people who had previously been idolized. The fact that Nixon managed to censor a scene is also a point in favor of the restored movie. (Also a nit: it’s not about POTUS etc., but about people who became those decades later.)

    @David Shallcross: cute (and similarly aged) title! tCJ is very much of its time (at least to my eyes — apparently it didn’t do well on first release); there are parts that are still brilliant, parts that are too saccharine for words, and parts that are just ugh. There are enough good parts that IMO it’s worth seeing (and seeing favorite-frump Angela Lansbury as an ice princess is interestingly strange), but it’s not unmixed.

    @HowardB: I’m sure you can find a paper somewhere that says wearing a mask doesn’t reduce the risk of passing COVID-19 — but one paper is not “the science”.

  32. @HowardB —

    In any matter, I have no bug to pass on to you, even if the science supported it.

    Unless you get tested every single day, you don’t know this to be true.

    Also — every time you walk into a store (or restaurant, or whatever) without a mask on, you are telling everyone else in there a couple of things:

    First, you are telling them It’s okay to not wear a mask — which makes it more likely that OTHER people will neglect to wear masks — which in turn makes the spread of disease more likely.

    Second, you are telling them that you’re a selfish, self-centered jerk who doesn’t care about the health of anyone around you.

    Do you really think either one of those things is a message that you want to be spreading around?

    Seriously, I am continually gobsmacked by the way some people resist masks. Nobody rises up in righteous indignation when they see signs reading “no shirts, no shoes, no service”, after all. And few people these days resist wearing seatbelts. This mask phobia that some folks have is just amazingly childish.

  33. @HowardB: “In any matter, I have no bug to pass on to you, even if the science supported it.”
    Science, hmmm? I do not think that word means what you think it means.

  34. HowardB: In any matter, I have no bug to pass on to you, even if the science supported it

    … said the asymptomatic woman who managed to pass the coronavirus on to at least 71 people, simply by riding in an elevator by herself. 🙄

  35. …but you have no idea of my own personal or medical status and didn’t ask.

    Nor did anyone ask you to volunteer your anti-mask stance, but here we are.

    If you’re going to come out of the blue with a proud and context-free boast of your refusal to wear masks during a pandemic, and you don’t want others to infer you’re a selfish jerk who’s happy to be part of the problem, then it’s on you to include those mitigating details. (And then it’s up to everyone else to decide if that changes their opinion of your non-mask-wearing-ness. It might not!)

    Or you could just not make statements like “I don’t wear masks.” That would also prevent the selfish-jerk assumptions. I mean, really, that would probably be simplest.

    (I sewed a new mask today! Followed the pattern at ragmask.com. It’s nicer for exercising in than the flat masks are, because when I inevitably cease being able to breathe through my nose, the pooched-out shape keeps the fabric from plastering itself over my gasping mouth. But it turns out 95% size is still too big for my wee face. Will try another at 85%. I wish I had the sewing chops to make one that looks like a bird beak, because that would rock. CAW CAW MF’RS)

  36. Joe H. says Reading: I decided it had been entirely too long since I’d read any Charles de Lint, and I had Terri Windling’s Fairy Tale series on the brain after a some recent Twitter posts, so I revisited Jack the Giant-Killer and (tonight, pretty much in one sitting) Drink Down the Moon.

    Ohhh I love those novels by him. Set in Ottawa as he’d not developed Newford yet, they’re both quiet wonders of urban fantasy.

  37. And now that I think about it, I seem to recall seeing a familiar name in the acknowledgements for Drink Down the Moon … 🙂

  38. Joe H. says
    And now that I think about it, I seem to recall seeing a familiar name in the acknowledgements for Drink Down the Moon … ?

    One sec… Huh, didn’t know that was there.

  39. I’ve been making this mask and recommend it.


    The shoestring tie makes it very adaptable. My dad likes the flat style better and has a bunch of masks that he received as gifts. I’ve replaced the ear elastic with shoestrings for him. Disproportionately large heads run in the family so the ear elastic pulls very uncomfortably. Also, shoe strings are easy to get at the 99 cent store.

    The one anti-mask friend I have can’t explain her position at all, and it’s not political with her. I’ve been wondering if it’s related to claustrophobia. If my mother were still with us, I think putting a mask on would give her a panic attack.

  40. If you wear glasses, a mask with a centre point that sits fairly high on your nose will reduce fogging. Wire inserts along the top can also help.

  41. But didn’t you hear? That wire is a 5G antenna to either track you or make you sick or both! (latest from Qanon)

  42. Ha, edit window timed out on me. That was confusing…

    @World Weary – thanks, I am stuffing that one in my pattern hoard too!

    The one anti-mask friend I have can’t explain her position at all, and it’s not political with her. I’ve been wondering if it’s related to claustrophobia. If my mother were still with us, I think putting a mask on would give her a panic attack.

    I feel that, hard. I get the mask-claustrophobia too. I think it’s related to the way that, as a kid, I could never sleep with my face under the covers no matter how scary the monsters under the bed. Maybe it was something about breathing in a breath composed partially of my previous exhalation, but I’d immediately feel like I was suffocating, and even knowing it was “only” psychological, I just couldn’t deal.

    Anyway, the slightest bit of effort while wearing a mask and my nose shuts down, and I quickly lose my good singer’s diaphragm-breathing technique, and then it’s just gasping and stitches in my side until I give up and sit down for a bit. It’s demoralizing.

    I’m trying to train myself out of it by practicing consciously using my core muscles when I breathe. Breathe in through the nose, however deep I can at the time, then forceful breath out through the mouth, powered by the core muscles. HAAAAAA. After a few repetitions that sort of reopens the abdominal area for deeper inhales.

    Anyway, I’m not not going to wear a mask, and I’m not going to stop biking/walking uphill/skating/carrying heavy boxes while masked, so I’m doing what I can to make things less miserable.

  43. @ Nicole
    I figure it isn’t hard to change the loops to ties. (I prefer ties myself.)

  44. @ Nicole, I don’t knit, but will forward those patterns to a dear friend who does. They are great!

    My roommate works at a retail nursery so is working in the heat in a mask all day. I got a small taste of her suffering this week when I assisted with the physical inventory at work. I’m exhausted. She told me she thinks its admirable that you are exercising while masked. (All of us in the finance department were commiserating on what poor conditions we’re all in these days).

  45. @World Weary
    I may be masked while exercising (and science says it’s good to do! harder breathing means more droplets expelled that fly farther!), but it’s never longer than an hour or two at a time. I’m one of those lucky folks who already worked from home and still works from home (full-time writer supported by a programmer spouse who also works from home), so I haven’t experienced the all-day mask marathon like your roommate has. Kudos to her!

    Tonight’s not-roller-derby-practice night. A bunch of us are getting together for outdoor, non-contact, socially-distant skating. My league mate said she’d be at the park doing agility drills and dance moves and everyone is welcome to come up to 6 feet close to her. Last week’s heat wave finally broke so it should be quite pleasant. I’m-a try making that 85% sized-down ragmask afore I go.

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