(1) ANSWER THE QUESTION. FastCompany finds “Siri and Google get ‘Black Lives Matter’ right. Alexa, not so much”.
Ask the Google Assistant whether Black lives matter, for instance, and you’ll get a forthright answer. “Black lives matter,” it responds. “Black people deserve the same freedoms afforded to everyone in this country, and recognizing the injustice they face is the first step towards fixing it.”
When asked if “all lives matter”—a phrase sometimes used as a derailing tactic by those who’d rather not discuss racial inequality—Google gets even sharper: “Saying ‘Black Lives Matter’ doesn’t mean that all lives don’t,” the Google Assistant says. “It means Black lives are at risk in ways that others are not.”
These answers only arrived on Friday afternoon, after more than a week of nationwide protests triggered by the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Previously, the Google Assistant would only say that “of course” Black lives matter, without elaboration, and when asked about “all lives matter,” Google said it couldn’t understand the question.
The new responses, along with somewhat similar ones from Apple’s Siri assistant, show how “Black Lives Matter” has at last become a mainstream way to acknowledge racism in America. They also highlight the fine line tech giants walk in building voice assistants that can answer any question. These companies have generally tried to avoid controversy, and it wasn’t long ago that they shied away from the topic of racial injustice entirely. Yet they’ve also presented their AI assistants as human-like conversationalists. That might prompt users to expect the assistants to have opinions, in a way that conventional search engines do not….
(2) GAMING BUNDLE FUNDRAISER FOR RACIAL JUSTICE. [Item by Rose Embolism.] Itch.io, the independent game development/publishing marketplace has offered a charity “Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality” that has 755 computer and tabletop RPG offerings for a minimum donation of $5.00 (normal value $3,400.00). All proceeds will be donated to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and Community Bail Fund, split 50/50. A lot of these are retro platformers and RPGs, but there’s a lot of very different creative, personal or simply weird games in there. I paid $15.00, and I’m still looking through them, a little overwhelmed.
This will be going on for 7 more days, and no membership in Itch.io
As of today they’ve raised $2,638,842 of their $5M goal.
(3) RECOMMENDED SFF. Sirens, a conference examining and celebrating the intersections of gender and fantasy literature, has tweeted a list of “Black women, nonbinary, and trans folks writing SFF works about Black people and Black communities.” Thread starts here.
Here are two examples:
(4) LONG GONE. The Hollywood Reporter, in “Hartley Sawyer Fired From ‘The Flash’ After Racist, Misogynist Tweets Surface”, says that Sawyer, who played the Elongated Man in The Flash, was sacked after tweets he made in 2012 and 2014 were publicized.
…The tweets, all from before he joined The CW series, make references to sexual assault and contain racist and homophobic language. Sawyer’s Twitter account has been deleted, but screenshots of the old posts have circulated online in the past two weeks. His firing also comes amid nationwide protests against systemic racism in the wake of George Floyd’s May 25 death in Minneapolis.
“Hartley Sawyer will not be returning for season seven of The Flash,” reads a statement from The CW, producers Warner Bros. TV and Berlanti Productions and executive producer Eric Wallace. “In regards to Mr. Sawyer’s posts on social media, we do not tolerate derogatory remarks that target any race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, or sexual orientation. Such remarks are antithetical to our values and polices, which strive and evolve to promote a safe, inclusive and productive environment for our workforce.”
(5) PICARD AND OTHER TREK ACTORS SING. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Not sure what started YouTube showing this to me… managed to only kill <10 minutes on them at least :-0
Not clear if this is from an episode, tho I doubt it 🙂
- Captain Picard Dancing and Singing on the Bridge
- The (ST:Voyager’s) Doctor saves the day while singing opera
- Doc & Seven Singing you are my sunshine — Star Trek voyager
And again, impromptu, at Fan Expo:
- Jeri Ryan and Robert Picardo sing beautifully!
(6) ROCKIES ROAD. Add MileHiCon 52 to the list of conventions going virtual in 2020.
In response to the impact of the COVID19 virus and the economic stress on everyone at these times, the MileHiCon Committee and Board of Directors has made the difficult decision to go VIRTUAL for MileHiCon 52. We do not want to expose our attendees to the possibility of contracting COVID19 at our convention. While we could try to hold the con with everyone wearing masks and practicing social distancing, with the type of programs we usually provide, we don’t feel that we could have a fun and safe convention under those circumstances. In addition, it is still uncertain that gatherings of more than 50 people will be permitted and there is a strong possibility of a resurgence of the virus in the fall. Therefore, the committee has decided to take MileHiCon Virtual.
…Those of you who already have paid for memberships to MileHiCon 52 Live will be able to attend with no extra charges. We will be coming out with a new pricing structure and registration system soon. Check our website and social media channels and watch for updates.
(7) TODAY IN HISTORY.
June 8, 1949 — George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four was published for the first time. Secker & Warburg, a firm founded in 1935 whose partners were both anti-fascist and anti-communist, was the publisher. Most critics thought it was a success with the notable exception of C.S. Lewis who thought it lacked credibility. There have been several film productions, three television adaptions, myriad radio works and even opera and ballet versions. It will enter the public domain in February of next year.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz and OGH.]
- Born June 8, 1829 – Sir John Millais, Bt. Painter created a baronet by Queen Victoria, the first artist honored with a hereditary title. President of the Royal Academy. Here is Ferdinand Lured by Ariel (Shakespeare’s Tempest). Here is Speak! Speak! When a critic said “I can’t tell whether the apparition is a spirit or a woman,” Sir John answered “Neither can he!” This mastery of the principle I’ve called The greater the reality, the better the fantasy was at its most controversial with Christ in the House of His Parents; see here. It shocked Christians. No halos; a messy carpenter’s shop; Mary is portrayed, accused Dickens – who we’d say knew something about realism – as “an alcoholic … so hideous in her ugliness that … she would stand out … as a monster, in … the lowest gin-shop.” Ophelia was made the cover of Rich Horton’s Best Fantasy of the Year, 2007 (hello, Rich). It is essential to Shakespeare’s Hamlet that Ophelia is a real woman. Yet Sir John has, in her face, in his composition, and in his marshaling of detail, shone the light of fantasy compellingly upon this moment. (Died 1896) [JH]
- Born June 8, 1905 – Leslie Stone. Author, ceramist, gardener. One of the first women published in our early pulp-paper magazine days; “When the Sun Went Out” was a 1929 Gernsback pamphlet promoting Wonder Stories, “Letter of the Twenty-Fourth Century” was in the December 1929 Amazing. Two novels, a score of shorter stories. Pioneer in writing about black protagonists, strong female characters. Social criticism may have been strengthened by using relatively simple plots and personalities her readers were accustomed to. Memoir, Day of the Pulps. (Died 1991) [JH]
- Born June 8, 1910 – John W. Campbell, Jr. Author of half a dozen novels, a score of shorter stories like “Who Goes There?” and “Forgetfulness.” For 34 years edited Astounding, renamed Analog, and a short-lived fantasy companion, Unknown (see Fred Smith’s Once There Was a Magazine). Ushered in the Golden Age of SF. Won 16 Hugos, of which eight were Retrospective, all but one for editing (Retro-Hugo for “Who Goes There?”). On the other hand, in his ASF editorials he supported many forms of crank medicine, and promoted Dianetics, and specious views about slavery, race, and segregation, all of which was well-known in sf fandom. In the Sixties he rejected Samuel R. Delany‘s Nova for serialization saying that he did not feel his readership “would be able to relate to a black main character.” Focusing on his foundational contributions, his name was put on the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. Last year it was renamed the Astounding Award after the latest winner called him out for “setting a tone of science fiction that still haunts the genre to this day.” (Died 1971) [OGH]
- Born June 8, 1915 — Frank Riley. He’s best known for They’d Rather Be Right (co-wrote with Mark Clifton) which won a Hugo Award for Best Novel at Clevention (1955). Originally published in serialized form in Astounding unlike his eight short SF stories that were all published in If. Sadly he’s not made it into the digital realm yet except for scattered stories. (Died 1996.) (CE)
- Born June 8, 1915 — Robert F. Young. Starting in the early Fifties through the Eighties, he wrote some 150 stories that appeared in Amazing Science Fiction, F&SF, Saturn, Fantastic Universe, Amazing Stories and many other publications. Several critics compared him in style to Bradbury. Late in his career, he wrote four genre novels including one released only in French, La quête de la Sainte Grille, that was a reworking of his “Romance in a Twenty-First Century Used-Car Lot“ novelette. “Little Dog Gone” finished third for the Short Fiction Hugo at Loncon II to Gordon R. Dickson‘s “Soldier, Ask Not”. Several thick volumes of his work are available at the usual digital suspects. (Died 1986.) (CE)
- Born June 8, 1917 — George D. Wallace. He’s here for playing Commando Cody in the early Fifties Radar Men from the Moon movie serial. He would later show up as the Bosun on Forbidden Planet, and had minor roles late in his career in Multiplicity, Bicentennial Man and Minority Report. He also played a Star Fleet Admiral in “The Man of the People” episode of The Next Generation. (Died 2005.) (CE)
- Born June 8, 1926 — Philip Levene. He wrote nineteen episodes of The Avengers including creating the Cybernauts which won him a Writer’s Guild Award, and served as script consultant for the series in 1968–69. He also has three genre acting credits, one as a Supervisor in “The Food” episode of Quatermass II; the second as a Secuity in the X the Unknown film, and finally as Daffodil in Avenger’s “Who’s Who” episode. (Died 1973.) (CE)
- Born June 8, 1928 — Kate Wilhelm. Author of the Hugo Award–winning Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang. She also won a Hugo Award for Best Related Book and a Locus Award for Best Nonfiction for Storyteller: Writing Lessons and More from 27 Years of the Clarion Writers’ Workshop. SFWA renamed their Solstice Award the Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award. She established the Clarion Workshop with her husband Damon Knight and writer Robin Scott Wilson. (Died 2018.) (CE)
- Born June 8, 1930 – Roger Sims. His Room 770 (shared with 3 others) of the St. Charles Hotel at Nolacon I, the 9th Worldcon (1951), held our most memorable room party, running till the next day and almost eclipsing the con. Co-chair, with Fred Prophet, of Detention the 17th Worldcon; both named Co-chairs Emeritus of Detcon the 11th NASFiC (N. Am. SF Con, since 1975 held when the Worldcon is overseas). Fan Guest of Honor at Nolacon II the 46th Worldcon (1988); at Rivercon XXIV. DUFF (Down Under Fan Fund) delegate. Co-chair (with Bill Bowers) of Corflu IV (fanziners’ con; corflu = mimeograph correction fluid, once indispensable); co-chair (with wife Pat) of Ditto X and XVII (fanziners’ con; a brand of spirit-duplicator machine, i.e. another copying technology). Having published a fanzine Teddy Bear, he was appointed head of the Teddy Bear Army – no, it was the other way round. [JH]
- Born June 8, 1948 – Suzanne Tompkins. One of the Founding Mothers of CMUSFS (Carnegie Mellon U. SF Society). With Linda Eyster, another Mother (later L. Bushyager), began the fanzine Granfalloon; with Ginjer Buchanan, published the fanzine Imyrr; with husband Jerry Kaufman, The Spanish Inquisition (Fan Activity Achievement award for this), Mainstream, Littlebrook. Guest of Honor write-up of Buchanan for 77th Worldcon Souvenir Book. Various con responsibilites, e.g. Hotels department head at the 73rd Worldcon. TAFF (Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund) delegate, published Travels in the United Kingdom. Fan Guest of Honor at Moscon III; with Jerry, at Balticon X, Westercon XLIV, Minicon XXVI, Boskone XXXIV. “Suzle” to many. [JH]
- Born June 8, 1965 – Paul & Stephen Youll. British identical twins; both artists first exhibited at the 45th Worldcon; a dozen covers together until Stephen moved to the U.S. Three hundred fifty covers by Paul, four hundred fifty by Stephen, plus interiors. Art book for Stephen, Paradox; also in Vincent Di Fate’s Infinite Worlds; Graphic Artist Guest of Honor at Boskone XXXVI, at Millennium Philcon the 59th Worldcon. Here is a cover by both for On My Way to Paradise. Here is a cover by Paul for Ringworld. Here is Stephen’s cover for the Millennium Philcon Souvenir Book. [JH]
- Born June 8, 1973 — Lexa Doig, 47. Cowgirl the hacker on TekWar,the post-Trek Shatner series that he actually made sense in. She was also Andromeda Ascendant/Rommie on Andromeda and Sonya Valentine on Continuum, andthe voice of Dale Arden in the animated Flash Gordon series. One-offs in Earth: Final Conflict, The 4400, Stargate SG-1, Eureka, V, Smallville, Supernatural and Primeval: New World. (CE)
(9) COMICS SECTION.
(10) THANKS FOR YOUR CONCERN. Rick Riordan covered the territory in 2018:
(11) ON THE FRONT. “Book design has become more important than ever – but what makes an iconic jacket, asks Clare Thorp.” Examples from in and out of genre.
A pair of eyes and red lips floating in a midnight sky above the bright lights of New York on The Great Gatsby. The half-man, half-devil on Brett Easton Ellis’s American Psycho. A single cog for an eye on A Clockwork Orange. Two orange silhouettes on David Nicholls’ One Day. The original Harry Potter colour illustrations.
A great book might stay with us for a long time but, often, its cover does too. There’s a famous saying about never forming your opinion of a book by the jacket adorning it. But most readers know that we do, in fact, judge books by their covers all the time. Everything about a book’s cover – the font, the images, the colours – tells us something about what we can expect to find, or not, inside. A reader in the market for some bleak dystopian fiction is unlikely to have their head turned by a pastel-hued jacket with serif font.
(12) JOIN THE PARTY. “UAE Mars mission: Hope project a ‘real step forward for exploration'”
The first Arab space mission to Mars is preparing to lift off within weeks. Fuelling is due to begin next week.
It will take seven months to travel the 493 million km (308 million miles) to reach Mars and begin its orbit, sending back ground-breaking new data about its climate and atmosphere.
The probe will remain orbiting Mars for an entire Martian year, 687 days, to gather sufficient data.
A single orbit around Mars will take the probe 55 hours.
In a briefing on Monday, programme director Sarah Al-Amiri said the project should be a major incentive for young Arab scientists to embark on a career in space engineering.
(13) HEAVY METAL. “Notre-Dame fire: Work starts to remove melted scaffolding” — BBC has many photos.
When the fire broke out in April of last year, there was already work in progress on the roof of the cathedral, with a big structure of scaffolding in place around the spire, BBC Paris Correspondent Hugh Schofield reports.
While the spire did not survive – it crashed down at the height of the conflagration – the scaffolding did. In fact in the intense heat, a lot of it melted and became attached to the building, like a great metal parasite.
(14) MALTIN ON ANIMATION. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the episode, “Animation Part One” of the Maltin on Movies podcast, Jessie Maltin interviews her father, Leonard Maltin, about his classic book Of Mice And Magic, published 40 years ago and still in print. Maltin discusses his love of animation, beginning with how he discovered animation by discovering obscure animators whose works appeared on the seven New York City TV stations eager to fill time in the 1950s. Maltin says he was also inspired by Bob Thomas’s The Art Of Animation and the shows where Woody Woodpecker animator Walter Lantz discussed his work.
(15) MAKING GAS. SYFY Wire aims readers at a playable classic: “Long-Lost SimCity Spinoff Discovered, And You Can Play It Online”.
No crude jokes here; just a good, clean trip in the wayback machine for a look at a newly unearthed simulation game about running an oil refinery (yes, you read that right) from SimCity developer Maxis. Thanks to some slick internet sleuthing, a copy of the long-lost game is now free to play — if that’s quite the right word for it — by motoring on over to the Internet Archive.
The anonymous reader reportedly uploaded the game from a 3.5-inch floppy disc, which to date remains the only known surviving copy. As you can tell from the Twitch stream that gaming historian Phil Salvador (who’s written extensively about the long-lost game at his blog) created to take a look under the hood, don’t expect any SimCity-style handholding when you fire up SimRefinery: there are no instructions, you’re pretty much thrown into the sim without any real guidance of what’s going on, and yes, if you don’t know what you’re doing, you can even set the place on fire….
(16) MARVEL TO CELEBRATE ITS OWN FREE COMIC BOOK DAY. Marvel announced:
This July, readers will get a chance to dive into some of Marvel’s most exciting new titles with brand-new stories for free at participating comic shops! Originally part of May’s Free Comic Book Day, Marvel will be now be releasing two never-before-seen titles for fans to get a first look at some of Marvel’s biggest upcoming events. Each issue will contain two separate extraordinary tales involving the X-Men, Spider-Man, and more by Marvel’s most acclaimed creators!
Available on July 15, Free Comic Book Day 2020: X-Men will feature a brand-new X-MEN story by Jonathan Hickman and Pepe Larraz that will lead into the game-changing X Of Swords crossover! The second story will also foreshadow an upcoming epic tale by Tom Taylor and Iban Coello.
And on July 22, Free Comic Book Day 2020: Spider-Man/Venom will provide two exciting tales connected to the coming major storylines in Venom, Amazing Spider-Man and Black Cat from top creators Donny Cates, Ryan Stegman, Jed MacKay, and Patrick Gleason and more!
(17) DOCTOR WHO: LOCKDOWN. Written by Steven Moffat and starring Pearl Mackie as Bill Potts and Matt Lucas as Nardole, this video was home-produced remotely during the ‘lockdown’ period of the COVID-19 outbreak in June 2020. And it seems Bill Potts was in a recent protest march.
After the terrible events of World Enough and Time/The Doctor Falls, Bill Potts and Nardole are trying to keep their spirits up…
From the transcript:
…I’ll say this a lot of very angry people with a very very good reason to be angry kept their distance and kept their calm at least where I was. “Everyone remember to be kind” hasn’t always worked out that way which is understandable there are some things you never seem to get away from however hard you try but hey maybe this time. I don’t know this time it feels different…
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, Rich Horton, JJ, John Hertz, Cat Eldridge, Rose Embolism, Chip Hitchcock, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Joe H.]