Pixel Scroll 8/14/18 I Never Saw A Purple Pixel, I Never Hope To See One

(1) UPHOLDING TRUE NOBILITY. Bill Ernoehazy outlined the issues of a current controversy within the Society for Creative Anachronism in a Facebook post:

This is about whether a Crown can be allowed to ignore the Governing Documents of the Society for Creative Anachronism.

This is about whether the SCA acts to protect the very essence of the Peerages — that they are examples of courteous and noble behavior, as well as extraordinary skill in their endeavors, their teaching of their skills to others, and their service to the Society.

The current Crown of Trimaris knowingly elevated a person who is demonstrably lacking in basic courtesies; who posts hateful and bigoted speech in social media; who does so under his SCA name, leaving no distinction between his SCA membership and his mundane identity.

The current King of Trimaris has openly joined in such hateful speech in replies to this person’s posts. The screenshots are widely held, and erasure and sanitizing media sites cannot erase those behaviors.

…This is the crux of the matter.

This is why people are taking their regalia off.

This is why people are resigning their Peerages and awards in shame.

I have petitioned for redress, in the manner set forth by the Board of Directors.

I now publicly call upon the Board of Directors of the SCA to take up their rightful authority in these matters and address this fundamental challenge to the integrity of the Peerages, the authority of the Board of the Directors, and the worth of the Board’s policies on harassment and hate speech.

A Reddit summary, #IStandWithDavius, explains —

Davius St. Jacques, a Master of Defense living in Trimaris, has handed his MoD collar and his White Scarf over to Their Highnesses Trimaris. The current king of Trimaris has made racist statements all over social media, and makes no secret of his stances. Davius is black. Over the objections of the Masters of Defense, the king made, in a private ceremony, another MoD who also shares his racist views.

Trimaris is the state of Florida, for those who do not know.

…It is the expectation of the SCA that its members and participants, in all events and activities of the SCA, will conduct themselves in accordance with these tenets.

Corpora Article X, Grievances and Sanctions, A. General, Add Section 4: Hate Speech

Hate speech is not tolerated in the Society. Hate speech is speech or symbols that offend, threaten, or insult individuals or groups, based on race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, disability or other traits. Such symbols and speech have no essential part of any discussion of ideas and are of so little value to the Society that any benefit that may be derived from them is clearly outweighed by the harm caused. The use by any participant in the Society may result in possible sanctions up to and including revocation of membership and denial of participation.

The Davius St. Jacques Facebook post read:

Let all who see these words know their Highnesses have accepted my Collar and White Scarf back. My Crown has shown me that their oatha of protection and fealty mean nothing to them and i can not in good conscience wear the trappings of an office they do not wish me or mine to perform. Know however, that the trappings of the office maketh not the man. A person can be given the right to wear the items of an order but it doesnt make one worthy of the order …. and neither does NOT wearing the trappings keep one from proving they ARE worthy… I plan to put all my effort into proving this. So if you see me, please take note that Don is the proper term of address for a member of the Order of the Golden Rapier which is the only Rapier Award i hold independent of the Kingdom of Trimaris. I love you guys , but this is a thing i feel o need to do. I can not serve a Crown that has broken its oaths to me. I WILL not bring glory to a Throne that openly mocks my Order and denigrates my service.

An SCA participant who blogs as Beauxarmes wrote a heartfelt analysis about the importance of these events that got over 20K views this weekend, “Confronting Racism in the SCA”.

…Now, you might be asking yourself, Why does this matter? Or: I don’t play in the SCA. Or: I don’t play in Trimaris. Or: I don’t involve myself in politics when I play.

…When you identify yourself as a member of the SCA on social media – even a normal member, much less the royalty of an entire kingdom – you take on the responsibility of being the face of the organization. If the SCA gets a reputation as a place where racism and bigotry are tolerated, even rewarded, then that’s the end of the organization in the long run. If the current King of Trimaris is presenting a face of racism and intolerance… that’s a problem. If he’s rewarding another of his openly racist friends with a Peerage… that’s a problem. If he’s doing it in clear defiance of the Peerage’s wishes… that’s a problem.

And if one of those Peers feels so strongly about it that he feels he must publicly protest it… that’s not a problem…

The response has been so volatile Beauxarmes decided he needed to write an additional post explaining “Why I’m in the Society for Creative Anachronism”.

And he’s also written a second part to his essay:  “Confronting Racism in the SCA, Part II”.

(2) LAVALLE. Victor LaValle’s The Changeling: A Novel is one of the winners of the 2018 American Book Awards.

The American Book Awards were created to provide recognition for outstanding literary achievement from the entire spectrum of America’s diverse literary community. The purpose of the awards is to recognize literary excellence without limitations or restrictions. There are no categories, no nominees, and therefore no losers. The award winners range from well-known and established writers to under-recognized authors and first works.

There’s at least one more work of genre interest among the winners –

  • Cathryn Josefina Merla-Watson and B. V. Olguín, Altermundos Latin@ Speculative Literature, Film, and Popular Culture (UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center Press)

(3) RPG REPORT. Did you ever run across something that instantly sparks the “Hey-everyone-vote-this-a-Hugo” response? I may not feel the same way in the morning but right now… A very funny thread by Ursula Vernon that starts here.

(4) A MIRACLE OF RARE DEVICE. Galactic Journey’s Ida Moya offers an incredible look at what computer gaming was like in the days when the computers took up a whole room: “[Aug. 14, 1963] Engineers at Play (Spacewars!, hacking, and the PDP-1)”.

…Pohl doesn’t tell us what kind of computer he saw Spacewar being played on, nor does he name the people responsible for programming the computer to play such an active and compelling game. But I can take a guess from what I have seen about computing – it is a PDP-1, a Programmed Data Processor-1, made by Digital Equipment Corporation.

A new way to use the Computer

These young men at M.I.T. are a different generation from the buttoned-down physicists and computer scientists I work with here at Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory. The computer users here in the Theoretical Physics or “T” division tend to be very serious about their computing, and there is no time for frivolous use of these expensive machines. The IBM 7090 and other equipment we have is carefully guarded, and has no time for games.

From what I hear, these fellows at M.I.T. are a bunch of unwashed boys who emerged from the model railroad club to play with this spare computer called a TX-0. This TX-0 is a transistorized version of another one-off military computer called Whirlwind, also developed at M.I.T. These young men are not doing anything like serious physics or science, but are rather doing these useless but extremely clever things like making programs that convert Arabic numerals to Roman numerals in as few steps as possible. These kids could only get time on the TX-0 in the middle of the night, when other people aren’t using the valuable computer time, so they have very undisciplined habits and working hours. I hear that they call what they are doing “hacking.”

One interesting thing about this “hacking” and the computers they use is that, instead of using punched cards, like the batch processing we do on our IBM Stretch, they use a Friden Flexowriter, an unwieldy sort of teletypewriter, to make punched paper tapes of programs that they then directly feed into the computer. The hackers have direct access to the computer, and can fix programs themselves, rather than having to give their card deck to an operator, and hope that the results come out. That is what Pohl is talking about in his article when he says “…add another tape.”

(5) IT’S THE WATERS. Juliette Wade’s Dive Into Worldbuilding bring an encounter with “Laura Anne Gilman and Red Waters Rising”. You can watch video of their conversation and read a detailed synopsis at the site.

It was a real pleasure to have Laura Anne Gilman back on the show to talk about the third book in her Devil’s West series. She has visited us twice, once to talk about Silver on the Road, and once to talk about The Cold Eye, so it seemed only fitting to find out how the trilogy ended up!

I just love this world that Laura Anne has created, because it’s so deep and complex, and feels so true. It’s an alternate American history in which the entirety of what would have been the Louisiana Purchase was never owned by either the French or the Spanish, but is being protected by a being known as “the devil.”

The identity of the devil is not super clear. Physically, his appearance fluctuates from one set of features to another….

 

(6) WAKANDACON. Karl-Johan Norén calls it an “Interesting article on conrunning philosophy, even if I believe it paints ‘classic’ fandom with an image a little too tainted by Gamergate and the Puppies.”– “How the first Wakandacon escaped the fan convention curse” at The Verge.

Here, in the basement of the Hilton Downtown Chicago over the first weekend in August, the Barthwells — Dave, 35; Ali, 29; Matt, 26; and friends Taylor Witten and Lisa Beasley — have accomplished something both time-honored and nearly impossible in today’s commercialized fan culture. With virtually no experience among them, the five Chicago natives successfully organized and hosted a fan convention for roughly 2,000 fans over three days, all while knowing that several groups of first-time organizers had recently attempted similar feats and failed catastrophically and very publicly.

How can black people make Wakanda real?

Wakandacon started as a tentative, nerdy idea: how can black people make Wakanda, the utopian advanced African nation where Black Panther takes place, real? By the convention’s end, that idea had blossomed into something all nerds have searched for, at one point or another, but that black fans have rarely been able to truly enjoy: a space where you can love what you love fiercely alongside people who look like you and share that passion — a place to belong.

(7) WORLDCON FILER MEETUPS. Rick Moen’s updated announcement is posted here.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • August 14, 2009District 9 premiered on this day.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born August 14 — Halle Berry, 52. First genre role may have been the They Came from Outer Space series; other genre work includes The FlintstonesSolomon & Sheba, Die Another Day, the X-Men films, Catwoman and the Extant series which has a really dumb premise.
  • Born August 14 — Christopher Gorham, 44. Genre work in Jupiter RisingThe Magicians, Buffy the Vampire SlayerOdyssey 5 and Once Upon a Time series; voice work in a lot of DCU animated productions including The BatmanJustice League: WarJustice League: Throne of Atlantis and Justice League vs. Teen Titans.
  • Born August 14 — Brianna Hildebrand, 22. Deadpool and Deadpool 2The Exorcist series and The Tragedy Girls slasher film.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Breakfast with the superheroes at Eek!.

(11) INCREASE YOUR VOCABULARY. The Frisky coaches you on “6 ‘Star Trek’ Catchphrases And How To Work Them Into Everyday Conversations”.

Catchphrase #1: “Make it so!”

Who Said It/What It Means: This curt three-word phrase was Captain Jean-Luc Picard’s standard way of issuing an order, often immediately followed by a sexy sip of earl grey tea.

How To Use It In Real Life: Every time you would normally say, “Yes.” Example:

Barista: Would you like cream in your coffee?
You: MAKE IT SO.

(12) MAKING OF A STAR. CNET reports on a tweet by William Shatner to give Carrie Fisher a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (”William Shatner: Let’s get Carrie Fisher a Hollywood star”). In that, he joins Mark Hamill — who went a bit further earlier this month in suggesting the vandalized Donald Trump star could be replaced by one for Fisher.

The Star Trek and Star Wars universes are colliding.

On Monday, actor William Shatner, who played Star Trek’s Captain Kirk, tweeted, “Hey @starwars is it true that @carrieffisher does not have a star on the walk of fame? If it is what are we going to do about it?”

…Shatner continued the discussion on Twitter after his initial tweet, agreeing with a fan who suggested Fisher should have a star placed next to that of her late mother, singer and actress Debbie Reynolds.

(13) JURASSIC REWATCH. Daniel Dern writes: “My friend Kevin Kulp (creater of the Timewatch RPG which includes, among other things, time-travelling velociraptors, IIRC), started watching (or perhaps re-watching) Jurassic Park a few days ago, and found himself tweeting about the various OSHA safety fails, in a spirited thread that starts here.”

(14) UTAH’S VR PARK. For the well-heeled fan, the greatest Fantasy Park in history is opening September 8th! Evermore in Pleasant Grove, Utah debuts with a huge party–at $89 a pop: https://www.evermore.com/

(15) DON’T BLAME THE GAME (OF THRONES). Kevin Polowy, in the Yahoo! Entertainment story, “Forget ‘Game of Thrones’:  Matt Groening Reveals Unlikely Inspiration Behind New Animated Fantasy Series ‘Disenchantment,”  says that Groening’s new animated fantasy series Disenchantment on Netflix is not intended to be a parody of Game of Thrones.

“It’s from growing up with fairy tales and fantasy and all the rest of that,” Groening told us recently at San Diego Comic-Con (watch above). “I was particularly inspired as a kid by Rocky and Bullwinkle. And in The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show there were ‘Fractured Fairy Tales.’ And I thought, ‘Oh man, this would be great to do as a grownup.’”

In fact, Groening says, he and his creative team steered away from contemporary shows like GoT that play in that sandbox.

“We didn’t want to be influenced. In fact, we had a rule that certain major fantasy shows that you might be familiar with, we said we’re not going to do any more jokes, other than ones we already thought of. There’s a few references to things you might be familiar with, but [mostly] we went the other way.

(16) HUGO HANDICAPPING. John Scalzi’s “A Pre-Worldcon Q&A” self-interview includes this prediction:

Well, do you think The Collapsing Empire will win the Hugo? 

Nope, I think N.K. Jemisin is gonna three-peat with The Stone Sky.

Why is that?

Uhhh, because the Broken Earth trilogy is an absolutely groundbreaking achievement (pun entirely intended) in modern science fiction and fantasy? Don’t you agree?

I guess I do since I’m actually you? 

Yes. Precisely. But even if you weren’t in fact me, you would still have to acknowledge that Nora’s work on this series is stunning, and deserving of every accolade that’s been sent her way. To be clear, saying this is not a diminution of any of the other nominated works or their authors, including me and my novel. As I said, every novel on the ballot is eminently Hugo-worthy and could win, depending on the calculus of the voters as a group. But individually, The Stone Sky is worthy, and as a part of a larger whole, it’s a remarkable work.

(17) PLUNK AND BOOM. A great find by Krypton Radio – the Sailor Moon theme played on traditional Japanese instruments.

(18) ABOUT THOSE GRAPES. Ann Leckie has heard this bit before. Thread begins here.

(19) YOLEN’S NEBULA ANTHOLOGY. Black Gate’s John O’Neill defends an editorial decision in “Fairy Tales, Space Stations, and a Sequel to The Thing: The Nebula Awards Showcase 2018, edited by Jane Yolen”:

For example in 1980, for Nebula Winners Fourteen, Frederik Pohl jettisoned virtually every single short fiction nominee (and all the novelettes) so he could make room for just two stories, C. J. Cherryh’s Hugo Award-winning “Cassandra,” and Gene Wolfe’s massive 60-page novella “Seven American Nights.” That had to be a tough call, but I think it was the right one.

In the 2018 Showcase volume, editor Jane Yolen makes a similar choice. Seanan McGuire’s Every Heart a Doorway, which won the Best Novella Nebula, is a massive 176 pages, far bigger even than Gene Wolfe’s 60-page classic, and would throughly dominate the anthology. Instead, for the first time I can remember, Yolen has chosen not to include the full version of the Nebula Award winning novella, but rather represent it with a 20-page excerpt. That leaves her with enough space to include every short story and novelette nominee (or at least, as is the case for Fran Wilde’s 96-page The Jewel and Her Lapidary, a substantial excerpt).

It’s a bold decision, and I applaud it. The 2018 Nebula Awards Showcase is a terrific volume, and it certainly gives you the opportunity to sample a wide variety of top-notch fiction from last year, including the delightfully subversive fairy tale “Seasons of Glass and Iron” by Amal El-Mohtar, Sam J. Miller’s thoughtful and creepy sequel to John Carpenter’s The Thing, “Things With Beards,” Caroline M. Yoachim’s “Welcome to the Medical Clinic at the Interplanetary Relay Station / Hours Since the Last Patient Death: 0,” and excerpts from All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders and Arabella of Mars by David D. Levine

(20) I WILL SURVIVE. Nerdist is convinced “Thor’s Old Roommate Darryl Survived Thanos’ Infinity War Snap!” Twitter video included in the Nerdist article.

We can argue over which Avenger deserves the title of Earth’s mightiest hero, but there is no debating the greatest secondary character in the MCU. That title goes to someone who has never actually been in a Marvel movie, Darryl Jacobson, Thor’s old roommate. The last time we saw Darryl was before Infinity War, and we’ve had no idea if he was turned into dust in the wake of Thanos’ master plan. But don’t worry, because not only did he survive the Snapture, he took time out of his very busy work schedule to wish his old roomie a belated happy birthday.

And Gizmodo/io9 has more: “Video Evidence That Thor’s Roommate Darryl Survived Avengers: Infinity War”.

(21) INSTANT CLASSIC. At least I think it is, and so will those who get all the File 770 in-jokes packed into Soon Lee’s verse.

@Lenore Jones

The scrollvolution will not be autopopulated
The scrollvolution will not be brought to you by Godstalk
In four brackets without large supplies of facecloths
The scrollvolution will not show you pictures of felines
Sitting on books of non-binary taverns in the snow
Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein and more
Old Favourites been touched by unforgiving Suck Fairies
The scrollvolution will not be autopopulated

[Thanks to David Doering, Juliette Wade, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories,, Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Robert Whitaker Sirignano.]

78 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 8/14/18 I Never Saw A Purple Pixel, I Never Hope To See One

  1. @Kendall: or perhaps “teaflection” – like reflection, but with a cup of tea. In 7225 as we spread across the stars, there are still renegades who think you put the milk in before the hot water.

  2. @Chip: Another couple of similar examples. David Brin started writing in 1980 (and was not particularly prolific by SF standards) but in 1984 he got a Hugo for his second novel (Startide Rising) and in 1985, a Hugo for his 5th short story (“The Crystal Spheres”). Ted Chiang is another fellow who got well-deserved awards for very early work.

  3. Kendall:

    I presume “teflection” should be “reflection”?

    …I have no idea? It’s the closest thing that *almost* makes sense as a word there (but not quite), but I would swear I typed boring old “effect”. I type badly on my phone, and my phone has sometimes offered previous typos as options for replacing a word I’ve entered, and some choices are utterly bonkers (for microtherion, for instance, it suggested “depression”).

    (All the way to 9566, where the SCA period had expanded from covering 600-1600 to covering 0-1900, and there are vociferous debates how many electronic devices this allows, with some people insisting that anything short of smartphones is “close enough to count”.)

  4. Oneiros

    there are still renegades who think you put the milk in before the hot water.

    This works great when making traditional Indian Subcontinental milk chai where the tea is boiled in the milk/water mixture. Any other time, NO NO NO. Tea being made in boiled water MUST finish steeping before you add the milk.

    Teaflection sounds nice…

  5. Ted Chiang is another fellow who got well-deserved awards for very early work.

    One of these decades he may win an award for his second short story collection.

  6. microtherion on August 15, 2018 at 5:03 pm said:

    (1) I can’t help the thought that a reenactment in which many of the “nobles” are terrible people with thoroughly abhorrent views is historically vastly more accurate[…]

    Yes, that’s just one of the reasons why the SCA’s motto is “The middle ages, not as they were, but as they should have been.”

    So if those jerks want to use authenticity as an excuse for their brain-damage, I’m afraid it really won’t fly.

  7. No, no, the milk-in-first debate refers to tea made in a pot. Do you put milk in the cup before pouring brewed tea from the pot, or not? It is a hot (sorry) debate, which I am advised runs along class lines in the UK. I have no skin in this game, and will happily do whatever anyone making me tea prefers. I rarely brew tea at home, but I do like the habit when I visit it.

    By the way, Chrome on my Android phone is prepopulating today. Chrome on my Android tablet hasn’t been for days, but I haven’t checked today.

  8. And now sticky fields are not sticky, but what can you expect in the year 0255.

    Now I must write something with a fictional religion in which teaflection is a sacrament.

  9. Teaflection feels like it ought to be going on somewhere in the Raadchai Empire.

  10. Putting milk in tea? What is wrong with you people?

    (Actually, I like a nice milky tea, just not in Chinese or Japanese teas.)

  11. I’m not sure what order things happen in, when I get my Thai Iced Tea. 😉 I just know it’s marvelous.

  12. @Lenora Rose: well there’s always an exception somewhere 🙂

    @Lenore Jones: This is anecdotal but I have overheard, in cafes, people talking about this order: cup -> milk -> teabag -> hot water. The first step is correct, one must begin with something to put the ingredients in, but milk in first, then teabag?! You just end up with weak, horrible tea. I can sort-of-understand putting the milk into the cup then pouring from a teapot but this still seems backwards to me – why are people adding milk before they know the strength of the tea? Risky gamble.

    PS I’m pretty sure I have your names correct but very sorry if I’ve mixed them up!

  13. @Oneiros IIRC (and if what I read was correct), the “milk in first” approach started with people making serving tea to either guests or children, so the person pouring would, at least in theory, have known how strong the tea was.

    In practice, how much milk I want in my tea depends partly on the strength of the tea–and I don’t measure my loose tea leaves precisely–and, these days, partly on the fat content of the milk: is it whole or 2% or 1% (marginal) or mixing jugs of skim or lowfat with cream or half and half at a cafe somewhere? So I add milk until the color of the tea+milk mixture looks right, which is why I’d rather do it myself unless with one of the very few people who have seen me drink tea often enough to know what appearance equals tea Vicki will like.

    Just to complicate this, the whole milk of my childhood was i think 4% fat, googling tells me that these days in the US it’s “at least 3.5%,” and the milk I was using in Montreal last week was labeled as 3.8%. The milk in my refrigerator here in Massachusetts just says “whole milk,” and while I think what I had in Montreal was slightly richer, I am not paying that close attention, especially as one of the reasons I am drinking tea is for the caffeine, so the first cup of the day in particular is a bootstrap problem.

    Here in 8181 you have to make it yourself the first time, but then you can ask the artificial stupids for “a cup of Assam tea the way I like it” and they’ll match that. (Here in 8181, ordering an artificial intelligence to do that sort of trivial thing for you is agreed to be wrong, though if an AI is a member of your family it might well offer, just as my partners and I make tea and coffee for each other.)

  14. Lenore Jones: While I disagree with “milk first” pouring from a pot as well (for the reasons Vicki describes), I at least understand that. But this was putting in the milk before *the hot water*. I have had this done in cheap food places (Tim Horton’s etc.) and it always results in very bad weak tea.

    Though it doesn’t shock me nearly so much as the places which ask if I want milk or cream for oolong, green tea, or tisanes. Um, NO.

    I have done so to one half oolong half black mix a friend has because the black was the major note, and I have had green tea lattes (where the tea is steeped in the steamed milk with a bit of simple syrup, ideally, not the ones made with tea-flavoured syrup) which worked but were such a vastly different flavor profile from a cup of green tea that they really don’t count as the same drink.

    (I do put milk in pu’erh as well as in almost all black teas, even flavoured ones, which I gather makes me a philistine of a different sort. Speaking of which, it’s been steeping for over 20 minutes, I should go fetch it…)

    Huh. 3159. Is that why the sky looks so apocalyptic? No? Pity.

    (The 3 year old has a cold. The smoke is giving him a really nasty cough. He’s home with grandma from day care today. I almost was. Wish him well.)

  15. @Vicki Rosenzweig: In re “artificial stupids”–did you quote that or invent it? Because if you thought that up, there’s a story in it!

    Here in 9722, we still haven’t mastered automatic form filling on Chrome/OS X.

  16. According to Sondheim’s research of late 1800’s customs, You pour the milk before the tea. But that’s proper pot-brewed tea; as someone who’s dealt with temperature changes from additions, I join @Lenora Rose in befuddlement at adding milk before a teabag.

  17. @John A Arkansawyer, I recall an SF novel from some twenty years ago using the term “artificial stupids” for the AI in the book. If memory serves (and it may not, since I don’t even recall author and title) these were about Siri-level AIs.

  18. @Vicki Rosenzweig: I always thought whole milk was 3%. Shows what I know.

    @Various: I like “artificial stupids”! 🙂 Great phrase; I’d never heard it before.

  19. @BLP3: “What’s the quickest, most effective way to add a table of contents to make it easier to navigate around the work.”

    First, sorry I didn’t see this sooner. The past week has involved much more running around than usual, and your question (as well as Cassy’s reply) slipped into the gap between checking the box and clicking the email link to verify the request. (My mother got a toothache, the dentist diagnosed that two teeth needed to come out, the oral surgeon yanked theem, then the problem wound up being a third tooth which flared up and got removed today. This unfolded a bit at a time over several days this week.)

    Second, the tl;dr answer (because this does get rather long – apologies to everyone else here; feel free to skip this whole comment) is, “it depends on the specific book.” There are a lot of variables, and any solution will ultimately depend on your specific situation. Sorry, but there’s no infallible magic wand.

    Anyway, as to Cassy’s suggestion:

    I open the epub document in Sigil (free epub editing software), highlight each chapter numbers/name and hit the “header” button (it’ll go bold and bigger); and then, after I’ve done this for all chapter headings, hit the “table of contents” button. It will auto-generate a table of contents with all words/phrases that marked as headers included as separate items.

    Not having used Sigil (I prefer calibre and am under the impression that it absorbed Sigil some time back, but I may be misremembering and it may have assimilated a different editor), that looks like a plausible option and I have no reason to doubt it. The trouble is that it appears to require that one skim through the whole book, manually picking out headers, and that can get both tedious and spoilery. There may indeed be no other way, but…

    Before I continue, let me note that “TOC” can mean either or both of two things. Since you mentioned navigating the ebook, I’m assuming that what you really lack and want is a proper NCX file, which is the metadata used by your reader when you pull up its navigation features. (You definitely have one of these, because the spec requires it, but if it’s a bad one, it may be limited to a “Start” entry and a “Midpoint” entry. Not exactly helpful!) This is different from a visible table of contents “TOC” page, usually located at the beginning or end of a book, which corresponds to what you’d find in a physical book and frequently has links to the start of each chapter. So, keep in mind that I use “NCX” versus “TOC” below to avoid confusing the two.

    While I’m at it, I always advise cloning the ebook before tinkering with it, particularly if you’re new to the process. As long as you have a backup, though, the worst result of experimenting is that you delete the experiment, clone a new monster, and start over. Hardly the worst problem in the world…

    Anyway, I usually open such a book in calibre’s editor and look at the code for the front matter and the first chapter heading, so I can get a feel for what I’m dealing with. If the chapter starts with an HTML header tag (h1, h2, etc.), and if it’s reliably used – more on that in a bit – calibre has a built-in function that will create an NCX for you, based on parsing the ebook, picking out headers, and assuming that they are chapter titles. That’s great and fast if it works, but that’s a substantial “if.”

    The common problems here are fourfold. One, sometimes an author uses fancy paragraph styles as headers. While there’s no visible difference to a reader, that means that the calibre auto-NCX routine doesn’t know how to identify and include them. The easiest solution I know for that is to use calibre’s search feature with a good regex expression to convert the pseudoheaders into true headers. (Note that “easiest” is comparative and does not necessarily correspond to a recognizable value of “easy” or “simple.”)

    Two, sometimes header elements get used for other things, which may mean that you need to prune the generated NCX. That’s one of the least-bad complications to encounter, as such pruning is simple but tedious. You can run into that a lot in books where each chapter has both a number and a name: “Chapter Five” on one line and “The Scrolling of Pixels” on another. Both are likely to be coded as headers, and it may take a few trial runs to get what you want.

    Three, some authors are inconsistent with their styling, especially if you’re looking at a work which was written and published as a serial over a long time. This can mean that styles which look alike are actually generated differently or given different names – so you might get a mixture of true headings and pseudoheaders. This is basically the reverse of the second problem: the generated NCX is incomplete.

    Fourth and finally, sometimes an ebook will chunk its text in ways that have nothing to do with chapters, which can cause problems of its own. These are usually fairly minor issues, such as an unusual page break in the middle of a chapter, but they can still jar one out of the reading experience. Luckily, the calibre editor has a good split/merge feature, with which one can rechunk the text so that one chapter is one file – something I wholeheartedly recommend as a Best Practice.

    In that last case, you can set up a search for “Chapter \d+” (the word, a space, and one or more digits), start at the first page, tell calibre to search all text files, and then use a find-split-find process to split the text so that one file equals one chapter. You can also search for the CSS class name used for the chapter headers, and if you go that route, there are ways to use that process to convert fancy-paragraph headers into real headers along the way. However, that requires knowing a bit about regex, so it can be dicey.

    OTOH, if the ebook is properly chunked (one file per chapter or other significant element), manually making an NCX using calibre’s tools is pretty simple. You just go into what calibre calls the TOC editor, delete any bad entries, then manually repeat “make new entry, select destination file, type the chapter name as the description” until you’re done. It’s not fun, but it works,

    There is another approach, though. If it happens that your ebook has a poor NCX but a good, fully-linked TOC, it’s surprisingly easy to translate the latter into the former. Makes sense, right? I mean, it’s basically the same information; only the syntax is different – and they’re more alike than you might think. Again, though, this involves cloning the data, then using a regex search and replace to change the syntax – which can be tricksy for a novice.

    In sum, it’s not a trivial problem if you’re a stickler for Getting It Right, but I’ve dealt with enough permutations that given more specifics, it wouldn’t be very hard to walk you through a solution for any of them. The hardest task is usually finding the chapter headers, followed by performing the edits without spoiling the story for yourself.

  20. My understanding is that the lower the fat content of the milk, the better it is in tea, because tannin in tea. For coffee, on the other hand, fatter is better: thus cream in coffee.
    In west Texas, we were getting 1/2% milk: just enough fat so it wasn’t “blue” and had a decent flavor.

  21. @Oneiros
    “This is anecdotal but I have overheard, in cafes, people talking about this order: cup -> milk -> teabag -> hot water.”

    That’s effectively cold-brew tea? (Lukewarm-brew tea?)

  22. Yeah, I agree milk before brewing the tea makes no sense. But a lot of American tea, at least, is very poorly made. I also hate it when I ask for tea in a restaurant and get brought a cup of hottish water with a teabag on the side. I usually remember to ask them to pour the water over the bag for me, but it’s still not proper boiling water.

  23. @Lenore Jones–There are very few restaurants where I would trust them not to have already left the teabag steeping too long by the time they brought it to me. Imperfect as dunking the teabag in the water is, at least that way I control how long it steeps.

  24. I’m sure that’s why they do it. But I prefer oversteeped to understeeped.

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