Pixel Scroll 12/8/19 Why The Pixel Shudders When It Perceives The Scroll

(1) MCINTYRE BEQUEST. Clarion West announced in August that they are the recipient of the literary assets of Vonda N. McIntyre, who wished that the organization manage her literary copyrights in perpetuity. Locus Online in an article today reported —  

She also left a bequest of $387,129 to the program, the largest single financial gift in the organization’s history: “The bequest will bolster the Clarion West endowment, strengthening our mission and ensuring our financial stability for years. Vonda’s extraordinary generosity will allow Clarion West to continue to support emerging writers for generations to come.” Janna Silverstein has joined as literary contract manager, and will advise Clarion West on how to manage “all copyright materials.”

(2) A BORROWER AND A LENDER BE. In the Washington Post, Heather Kelly looks at dedicated e-book patrons who sign up with multiple library systems (including out of state ones) because e-book sales to libraries are rationed and signing up for multiple libraries is the only way to quickly check out popular e-book titles: “E-books at libraries are a huge hit, leading to long waits, reader hacks and worried publishers”.

…And while there are technically an infinite number of copies of digital files, e-books also work differently. When a library wants to buy a physical book, it pays the list price of about $12 to $14, or less if buying in bulk, plus for services like maintenance. An e-book, however, tends to be far more expensive because it’s licensed from a publisher instead of purchased outright, and the higher price typically only covers a set number of years or reads.

That means Prince’s recently released memoir “The Beautiful Ones” recently had a four-week wait for the e-book in San Francisco. Library-goers in Ohio’s Cuyahoga County were waiting 13 weeks to download Jia Tolentino’s book of essays, “Trick Mirror.”

Library e-book waits, now often longer than for hard copies, have prompted some to take their memberships to a new extreme, collecting library cards or card numbers to enable them to find the rarest or most popular books, with the shortest wait.

(3) CLARION WEST SCHOLARSHIP CREATED. With a gift of $1,000, Blue Corn Creations, a publishing firm undertaking a variety of Native American-themed projects, has launched a scholarship for writers of Native American descent at the Clarion West Writers Workshop: “Blue Corn Creations Sponsors Scholarship for Native American Writers”

 “We’re excited about developing the next generation of Native superhero, science fiction, and action/adventure stories,” said Rob Schmidt, owner of Blue Corn Creations. “To do that, we also need to develop the next generation of Native writers. This scholarship will help accomplish that.”

Clarion West has helped emerging writers reach for their dreams of professional careers in speculative fiction since 1971. Every summer, aspiring science fiction and fantasy writers attend the Clarion West Writers Workshop, a six-week intensive whose instructors include the best and brightest in the genre. Attendees benefit from the opportunity to hone their craft with the guidance of successful writers.

“Historically the field has reflected the same prejudices found in the culture around it, leading to proportionately fewer successful writers of color,” according to Clarion West’s vision statement. That’s why the Blue Corn Creations scholarship is a great fit with Clarion West’s mission, said Schmidt. “With it the workshop can serve another group with untapped potential: Native Americans.”

The Blue Corn Creations Scholarship for students of Native descent will help cover tuition, fees, and lodging for one student in 2020. The winner will be awarded in a blind judging to those indicating an interest on the application form. 

…Blue Corn Creations and Clarion West encourage others to contribute to the scholarship fund. The goal is to establish a permanent full scholarship for students of Native American descent.

(4) BAIZE WHITE MOURNED. Mark Oshiro is going on immediate hiatus while he deals with the sudden death of his partner Baize White.

The pair figured in an important story about Code of Conduct enforcement in 2016 when they surfaced issues of mistreatment at a midwestern con: “Mark Oshiro Says ConQuesT Didn’t Act On His Harassment Complaints”.

(5) SPINNEY OBIT. Sesame Street’s Caroll Spinney died December 8 reports the New York Times:

Sometimes he stood 8 feet 2 inches tall. Sometimes he lived in a garbage can. He often cited numbers and letters of the alphabet, and for nearly a half century on “Sesame Street” he was Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, opening magic doors for children on the secrets of growing up and the gentle arts of friendship.

His name was Caroll Spinney — not that many people would know it — and he was the comfortably anonymous whole-body puppeteer who, since the 1969 inception of the public television show that has nurtured untold millions of children, had portrayed the sweet-natured, canary-yellow giant bird and the misanthropic, furry-green bellyacher in the trash can outside 123 Sesame Street.

…Big Bird appeared in “The Muppet Movie” (1979) and “The Muppets Take Manhattan” (1984), and in 1985 starred in “Sesame Street Presents: Follow That Bird,” in which a meddlesome social worker sends him to live with “his own kind,” a family of dodos in “darkest Illinois.” He runs away, and has a cross-country adventure.

…With the impending 50th anniversary of “Sesame Street” in October 2018, Mr. Spinney left the show after his own remarkable half-century run as the embodiment of two of the most beloved characters on television and one of the last surviving staff members who had been with the show from its beginning.

(6) AUBERJONOIS OBIT. René Auberjonois, known to fans as Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’s shapeshifting Odo, died December 8. Variety noted his famous roles in and out of genre: “René Auberjonois, ‘Star Trek’ and ‘Boston Legal’ Actor, Dies at 79”.

Auberjonois was a prolific television actor, appearing as Paul Lewiston in 71 episodes of “Boston Legal” and as Clayton Runnymede Endicott III in ABC’s long-running sitcom “Benson” — a role that earned him an Emmy nomination for best supporting actor in a comedy in 1984. He played shape-shifter Changeling Odo in “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” and carried that role into video games, voicing Odo in “Harbinger” and “The Fallen.” His appearance as Judge Mantz in ABC’s “The Practice” earned him another Emmy nod for guest actor in a drama in 2001.

… Other film credits include Roy Bagley in 1976’s “King Kong” and Reverend Oliver in “The Patriot,” as well as parts in “Batman Forever,” “Eyes of Laura Mars” and “Walker.”

…Auberjonois was also known for his voice roles, particularly in 1989’s Disney Renaissance hit “The Little Mermaid,” in which he voices Chef Louis and sang the memorable “Les Poissons.” Fans of “The Princess Diaries” would recognize him as the voice of Mia Thermopolis’ father, Prince Philippe Renaldi, in an uncredited role.

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • December 8, 1954 The Atomic Kid premiered.  It was produced by Maurice Duke and Mickey Rooney, and directed by Leslie H. Martinson. It stars Mickey Rooney, Elaine Devry and Robert Strauss. This is the film showing in 1955 at the Town Theater in Back to the Future

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 8, 1861 Georges Méliès. Best known as a film director for A Trip to the Moon (Le Voyage dans la Lune) which he said was influenced by sources including Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon and Around the Moon. (Died 1938.)
  • Born December 8, 1894 E. C Segar. Best known as the creator of Popeye who first appeared in 1929 in Segar’s comic strip Thimble Theatre. Popeye’s first line in the strip, upon being asked if he was a sailor, was “Ja think I’m a cowboy?” J. Wellington Wimpy was another character in this strip that I’m fond of.  (Died 1938.)
  • Born December 8, 1916 Richard Fleischer. Starting in the early Fifties, he’s got he an impressive string of genre films as a Director — 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, Fantastic Voyage (which came in second to Star Trek’s “The Menagerie” at NyCon 3 in that Hugo category), Doctor DoolittleSoylent Green (placed third in Hugo voting), Conan The Destroyer and Red Sonja during the thirty year run of his career. (Died 2006.)
  • Born December 8, 1939 Jennie Linden, 80. She’s here for being Barbara in Dr. Who and the Daleks, the 1965 non-canon film. Her next genre forays were both horror comedies, she was in A Severed Head as Georgie Hands, and she’d later be in Vampira as Angela. She’d show up in Sherlock Holmes and The Saint as well. 
  • Born December 8, 1950 Rick Baker, 69. Baker won the Academy Award for Best Makeup a record seven times from a record eleven nominations, beginning when he won the first award given for An American Werewolf in London.  So what else is he known for? Oh, I’m not listing everything, but his first was The Thing with Two Heads and I’ll single out The Exorcist, Star Wars, The Howling which I quite love, Starman for the Starman transformation, Beast design on the  Beauty and the Beast series and the first Hellboy film version.
  • Born December 8, 1951 Brian Attebery, 68. If I was putting together a library of reference works right now, Attebery would be high on the list of authors at the center of my shopping list. I think The Fantasy Tradition in American Literature: From Irving to Le Guin is still essential reading and Parabolas of Science Fiction with Veronica Hollinger is very close to a Grand Unification Theory of the Genre. 
  • Born December 8, 1953 Kim Basinger, 66. She was the of Bond girl Domino Petachi in Never Say Never Again. After that, it’s Vicki Vale in Burton’s Batman as far as we’re tracking her. (We’re pretending My Stepmother Is an Alien never happened.) Ahhhh, Holli Would In Cool World… there’s an odd film.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Non Sequitur has Alexa working on helping you to become a better writer.

(10) 124C2020. Nicholas Whyte is able to tell us all about the coming year because he’s been reading its history for years: “Life in 2020, as portrayed in science fiction”. Here’s what one author has in store for us:

In 1907, the gloriously named Horace Newte published The master beast : being a true account of the ruthless tyranny inflicted on the British people by socialism A. D. 1888-2020, republished in 1919 as The Red Fury: Britain Under Bolshevism. Unlike the other two, Bellamy isn’t mentioned explicitly but it’s clearly a response all the same. Newte’s hero is dismayed to see socialists come to power in Britain at the start of the twentieth century, followed of course by a successful German invasion. He then sleeps from 1911 to 2020, and awakes to find a morally degenerate country where women behave with dreadful freedom. But England is then invaded again, this time by African and Chinese forces, and he escapes to France. It’s online here.

(11) A SEASON FOR GIVING. Nerds of a Feather helps fans with their holiday shopping in a series of posts about gift suggestions, such as — “Holiday Gift Guide: Games (All Kinds!)”. Adri Joy’s enthusiasm about the Goose Game is contagious.

Untitled Goose Game (Recommended by Adri)

It will come as a surprise to nobody that Untitled Goose Game is my pick for a video game gift this year. This year’s most memeable game, from indie developer House House, combines elaborate stealth-based mechanics with the aesthetics of a rural English village, and puts you in the shoes (well, the webbed feet) of a horrible goose completing a number of tasks to mess with a series of villagers. Featuring four main areas for mischief which open up into an increasingly elaborate world, its a game whose puzzles are satisfying and unrepentantly sadistic, with a great flow through the “level-based” tasks and into more elaborate post-game tests. There’s also plenty of fun to be have in tasks which serve no in-game purpose apart from the pure-hearted joy of being a goose, and while this isn’t quite Breath of the Wild levels of “exploring the world because its there” content, it’s still a diversion that can be returned to even once your goose to-do is all crossed off.

(12) BREAKING IN. The Odyssey Writing Workshop posted an interview with Guest Lecturer JG Faherty.

Once you started writing seriously, how long did it take you to sell your first piece? What were you doing wrong in your writing in those early days?

I started writing fiction in 2004, but prior to that I had been writing non-fiction for a long time. Laboratory manuals and procedures, business documents, etc. Then I got a part-time gig writing elementary school test preparation guides for The Princeton Review. That required writing fictional reading passages. I found I liked it, and here’s where real serendipity enters the equation. Makes you wonder if Fate really exists. I wanted to write horror and sci-fi, so I attended a convention (LunaCon) in New York, where I met Odyssey Director Jeanne Cavelos. We talked, and she said I should submit something to an anthology she was working on. I had two days before the deadline. I went home and wrote like a fiend. Finished my first-ever short story and sent it to her, unedited, unproofed.

It got rejected, of course.

But she sent it back with a note saying I almost made it in, I had real talent, and I should keep writing. So I did. And a year later I made my first professional sale, a short story. The year after that, it was two pieces of flash fiction and some poems. Then another couple of short stories. I went on like that for five years, all while also working on my first novel, which was published in 2010.

In those days, I’d have to say I was doing EVERYTHING wrong! I didn’t know about using editors or beta readers. I thought you just proofed your work and the publishers edited it. I didn’t know about first or third drafts. I didn’t know how to write a cover letter. I didn’t know anyone in the business except Jeanne. Over time, I attended more conventions. Met people. Joined the Horror Writers Association and the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America. Took some classes. Learned how to edit properly.

And gradually, the quality of my work improved.

(13) BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE. In “The Hugo Initiative: They’d Rather Be Right (1955, Best Novel)”, after mustering all the possible explanations for the book’s unlikely victory, Nerds of a Feather’s Joe Sherry drops this bomb:

Is They’d Rather Be Right the worst Hugo Award winning novel of all time? I’m in the minority of readers who hated The Three-Body Problem, so that will always be in contention for my personal Worst Hugo Winner of All Time category.

(14) BONES. The New York Review of Books’ Verlyn Klinkenborg dismisses their own question “What Were Dinosaurs For?” while covering a selection of dino books.

…As I was reading some recent books on dinosaurs, I kept wondering, “What were dinosaurs for?” It’s a ridiculous question, and I wondered why I was wondering it. After all, dinosaurs were “for” exactly what we are “for,” what every organism has been “for” since life began. Every species that has ever lived is a successful experiment in the enterprise of living, and every species is closely kinned at the genetic level with all other species. This is harder to grasp than it seems, partly because the logic of that Satanic preposition—“for”—is so insidious, so woven through the problem of time. Teleology is the moralizing of chronology, and nowadays science tries to keep watch for even the slightest trace of it, any suggestion that evolution has a direction tending to culminate in us or in what we like to call intelligence or in any other presumably desirable end point.

(15) LEGACY. PopHorror interviewed the actor about his myriad projects including his one-man Ray Bradbury show: “He’s No Dummy – Actor Bill Oberst, Jr. Talks ‘Handy Dandy,’ Ray Bradbury And Bill Moseley’s Beard”.

PopHorror: Are you still touring with Ray Bradbury Forever (Live)?

Bill Oberst, Jr.: Yes. I’ve got a show in Atlanta next year and then I’m going to Walla Walla, Washington. I wanted to go there just so I could say Walla Walla. It’s fun. And then I’ll be performing at some libraries next year because it will be the 100th anniversary of Ray’s birth. We did it on Broadway, and we did it in Los Angeles. We did about ten performances last year, so I learned what worked and what didn’t work. My goal is to get it to the point where people who know nothing at all about Ray Bradbury, people who have never read a word of his, can say, “Wow, I got something out of that.” I’m not interested in the Wikipedia info, where he was born and what he wrote and all that.

Think about it: after we’re all gone and all the people who have known us are gone, what’s left of Tracy and Bill? What were our lives lived for? What did we stand for? What is it about us that future people can say, “Well, I don’t know anything about Tracy or Bill, but this thing they did could apply to my life.” That’s the test. In 100 years, who is going to remember you unless you have some legacy, some mark.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Darrah Chavey, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Danny Sichel, Nicholas Whyte, Michael Toman, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day David Shallcross.]

Pixel Scroll 9/24/19 Scroll If You Must This Old Great Head, But Dare Not Say Aught Bad About Cheesecake

(1) LE GUIN FELLOWSHIP. Shelley Streeby is the 2019 winner of the Le Guin Feminist Science Fiction Fellowship sponsored by UO Libraries’ Special Collections and University Archives at the University of Oregon. [Via Locus Online.]

The intention of the Le Guin Feminist Science Fiction Fellowship is to encourage research within collections in the area of feminist science fiction. The UO Libraries Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) houses the papers of authors Ursula K. Le Guin, Joanna Russ, James Tiptree, Jr., Kate Wilhelm, Suzette Haden Elgin, Sally Miller Gearhart, Kate Elliot, Molly Gloss, Laurie Marks, and Jessica Salmonson, along with Damon Knight…

This award supports travel for the purpose of research on, and work with, the papers of feminist science fiction authors housed in SCUA. These short-term research fellowships are open to undergraduates, master’s and doctoral students, postdoctoral scholars, college and university faculty at every rank, and independent scholars working in feminist science fiction. In 2019, $2,000 will be awarded to conduct research within these collections.

(2) FOR THE COOKIE MONSTER WHO LIVES WITH YOU. Bustle tells how Trader Joe’s Haunted House Chocolate Cookie Kit bridges the holidays.

Just in case you missed it, all of Trader Joe’s Halloween and pumpkin products have officially hit shelves for 2019, so autumn is finally in full delicious swing. Joining all of our spooky favorites in this year’s lineup is the Trader Joe’s Haunted House Chocolate Cookie Kit, a crowd-pleaser and returner from last year that will tide you over until gingerbread house season finally arrives. (Although this is arguably much better — what gingerbread house can also boast that it’s haunted?)

As usual, Joe is nothing if not prepared — the kit comes ready with everything your spooky little HGTV-loving heart desires. It contains six different chocolate cookie pieces to make up the house, plus an extra cookie ghost for spooky ambiance.

(3) BAD CHECK TREK. John G. Hertzler, who played Martok on Star Trek: Deep Space 9, has written a Facebook post about his bad experience with Jerry Silber of NE Trek Con in Albany, NY in 2016.

…Just as he did with Aron [Eisenberg] and Bob [O’Reilly], at the conclusion of the convention, Mr. Silber looked me straight in the eye and handed me a bad check that he not only failed to write a number that agreed with the alphabetical amount but he post dated it for nearly a week in the future. He knew what he was doing! I didn’t notice because I trusted him. Bob trusted him. Aron trusted him. Mike Friedman trusted him. Garrett Wang, Max Grodenchik, Chris Abbott trusted him. All were handed bad checks. All were stiffed at the end of the weekend during which we all gave 110% of our ability to entertain and inspire the fans of Star Trek. Aron gave perhaps a little more…like 150%…but he always did. It’s not the money….it’s the betrayal of trust and then the dishonesty. Because I live in New York state, it was fairly simple for me to sue Mr. Silber in small claims court to make good on his check. The judge listened to both sides of the issue and found in my favor in approximately 5 minutes. A judgement was made against Mr. Silber that would follow him about for 20 years or until paid. In two days, it was paid. Somehow he found the money! That was great for me but there were my friends and colleagues who were still left with nothing….

(4) SUPERSTINKERS. James Davis Nicoll makes it sound like you want to be careful not to create any gaps in your urban ecology, because who knows what will move into it: “The Care and Feeding of Supervillains” at Tor.com.

…After all, it’s a lot easier to track down people in bright, garish costumes whose mental quirks compel them to leave riddles, jokes, maps, and large billboards hinting at crimes to come. This is the moment where our roof-runner should stop and think.

Mishandling these eccentrics means the difference between living somewhere like the Silver Age Central City, where rogues were willing to follow rules of engagement, or living somewhere more like the Punisher’s New York, where every encounter is going to end with a corpse….

(5) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • September 24, 1956 — The world’s first transatlantic telephone cable, from Clarenville, Newfoundland, to Oban, Scotland, began operation.
  • September 24, 1995Space: Above and Beyond with debut the first two episodes, “Pilot” and “Omega Squadron” airing as a single film. It would last a single season.
  • September 24, 2007 — The Journeyman series debuted. Marketed as a “time travel science fiction romance” series, NBC didn’t renew it after the run of its first thirteen episodes was done.
  • Septembr 24, 2009 FlashForward first aired.  Adapted for television by Brannon Braga and David S. Goyer, it was based on the novel Flashforward by Robert J. Sawyer. It lasted for one season. 
  • September 24, 2013 — Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. first aired on the ABC Network.  Six seasons later, it’s still going strong. 

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 24, 1922 Bert Gordon, 97. Film director most famous for such science fiction and horror films as The Amazing Colossal ManVillage of the Giants and The Food of the Gods (based of course on the H.G. Wells’ novel The Food of the Gods and How It Came to Earth).  His nickname “Mister B.I.G.” was a reference both to his initials and to his preference for directing movies featuring super-sized creatures.
  • Born September 24, 1930 Jack Gaughan. Artist and illustrator who won the Hugo several times including once for Best Professional Artist and Best Fan Artist in the same year. Most of his from 1970 onward was for Ace and DAW. He illustrated the covers and hand-lettered title pages for the unauthorized first paperback edition of The Lord of the Rings which Ace released in 1965. (Died 1985.)
  • Born September 24, 1934 John Brunner. Favorite works? The Shockwave Rider, the Hugo Award winning Stand on Zanzibar and The Sheep Look Up. That was easy. What’s your favorite works by him? (Died 1995.)
  • Born September 24, 1936 —  Jim Henson. As much as I love The Muppet Show, I think The Storyteller is his best work. That’s not to overlook Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal which are also excellent.  (Died 1990.)
  • Born September 24, 1945 Ian Stewart, 74. Mathematician and writer. He makes the Birthday Honors for the four volumes in The Science of Discworld series he wrote with Jack Cohen and Terry Pratchett. Each segment of the book alternates between the usually absurd Discworld story and serious scientific exposition. He did write two novels with Jack Cohen, Wheelers and Heaven
  • Born September 24, 1951 David Banks, 68. During the Eighties, he was the Cyberleader on Doctor Who in all stories featuring the Cybermen — Earthshock, The Five Doctors, Attack of the Cybermen and Silver Nemesis. In 1989, he played the part of Karl the Mercenary in the Doctor Who: The Ultimate Adventure stage play. There were two performances where he appeared as The Doctor as he replaced Jon Pertwee who had fallen ill.
  • Born September 24, 1957 Brad Bird, 62. Animator, director, screenwriter, producer, and occasionally even a voice actor whom I’m going praise directing for The Iron Giant, The IncrediblesIncredibles 2 and Tomorrowland. He’s the voice of Edna Mode in both the Incredibles films. 
  • Born September 24, 1965 Richard K. Morgan, 54. The Takeshi Kovacs novels are an awesome series  which is why I haven’t watch the video series. His fantasy series, A Land Fit For Heroes, is on my TBR, well, my To Be Listened To pile now. 
  • Born September 24, 1979 Justin Bruening, 40. Seriously who really thought did we needed a reboot of the Knight Rider series? I know it was one where he played Mike Traceur, the son of character Michael Knight, but still… it lasted a pilot film plus eighteen episodes. He went one to to cast as Benjamin Price in  Ravenswood, a supernatural drama that got cancelled after one season. And intriguingly he was cast as Steve Trevor in Wonder Woman, a never-broadcast television pilot. 

(7) COMICS SECTION.

  • Maria Scrivan delivers a Star Wars chicken joke.
  • The Flying McCoys matches up Bigfoot with another well-known reference and winds up with a pretty funny cartoon.

(8) SCI-FI STANDBY. Titan Comics is reissuing the first two years of adventures from the iconic, British classic Dan Dare written and drawn by David Motton and Keith Watson — reprinted for the first time ever.

(9) HARD-WORKING BIDDER. Hampus Eckerman was amazed at what he received from the Glasgow in 2024 bid chair: “They’re sending out handwritten letters and pins!!”

(10) NO MATTER WHAT YOU MAY HAVE HEARD. “Cats are just as loyal to their owners as dogs, study finds” – an article in the Independent.

…Dr Kristyn Vitale, lead author of the study, said: “Cats that are insecure can be likely to run and hide or seem to act aloof.

“There’s long been a biased way of thinking that all cats behave in this way but the majority of cats use their owner as a source of security.”

Vitale continued: “Your cat is depending on you to feel secure when they are stressed.”

For the study, the team of researchers replicated situation tests that were originally designed in the 1970s to help evaluate the parent-infant bond.

But, instead of parents and infants, the scientists tested the relationship between 108 cats – including 70 kittens and 38 adult felines – and their owners.

(11) REPRESENTATION CONTROVERSY. In the Washington Post, Lindsey Beyer says that there is a conflict between Autism Speaks and the Autistic Self Advocacy Network over the character of Julia, an autistic character who has been part of the Muppet cast since 2017. “How a ‘Sesame Street’ Muppet became embroiled in a controversy over autism”.

… An autistic “Sesame Street” Muppet is caught in a conflict between the most prominent autism organization in the United States advocating for early intervention, and autistic adults who see the condition as a difference, not a disease needing to be cured….

The Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN), an organization run by and for autistic people, announced it had cut ties with “Sesame Street” after the children’s program partnered with Autism Speaks to make the Muppet the face of a public service campaign encouraging early screening and diagnosis of autism. ASAN has accused Autism Speaks of using “language of acceptance and understanding to push resources that further stigmatize and treat autistic people as burdens on our families.” It contends that resource materials from Autism Speaks encourage parents “to view autism as a terrible disease from which their child can ‘get better.’ ”

(12) LIPS ARE SEALED, EVEN IF ISS ISN’T. Newsweek reports that “Russia Refuses to Tell NASA What Caused Mystery Leak on ISS”.

Russia has said it knows what caused the air leak on board the International Space Station in 2018 but intends to keep it a secret, with its space agency head Dmitry Rogozin stating: “We won’t tell you anything.”

The leak, which caused a drop in pressure, took place on 29 August, 2018. After investigating the cause, the crew found a small hole—0.07 inches in diameter—and fixed it using heat-resistant tape. It was in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft docked at the ISS and it posed no threat to any of the astronauts on board.

(13) DESSERT TOPPING? FLOOR WAX? BBC tells how “Nasa’s IceSat space laser tracks water depths from orbit”.

Scientists say one of the US space agency’s (Nasa) new Earth observers is going to have a transformative impact in an unexpected area.

The IceSat-2 laser mission was launched a year ago to measure the shape of Antarctica and Greenland, and to track the thickness of Arctic sea-ice.

But early results show a remarkable capability also to sense water depths.

IceSat’s laser light penetrates up to 40m in the clearest conditions, opening up a raft of new applications.

“As much as people think all areas on Earth have been reasonably well mapped, it’s really not true when you start looking at shallow water areas,” said Dr Christopher Parrish from Oregon State University.

“We’ve got huge data voids from the shoreline out to about 5m water depth.

“This hinders our ability to study things like inundation, the effects of major storms, and the changes to coral reef habitat.”

A project has already started to map the seafloor around low-lying Pacific islands and atolls, which will assist tsunami preparedness for example.

The capability should also enable scientists to work out the volumes of inland water bodies to help quantify Earth’s global freshwater reserves.

(14) NO BALONEY SHORTAGE. “Snopes: How do you survive 25 years debunking fake news?”

…Snopes began as a forum for sharing and investigating urban legends and cool folklore.

But in a world where “fake news” dominates, where disinformation is a part of the political sphere and misinformation touches every single corner of the internet, what is it about this online encyclopaedia which has made it become the go-to bible for many fact-checkers?

And how is it evolving to deal with the current landscape?

…David Mikkelson, the co-founder of Snopes, says: “People come to look up things they’ve encountered on the internet and find out whether they are true or not.

…”The standards we use for fact-checking are about going after what most people are questioning or asking about.

“We don’t make any judgments about what’s too silly or obvious or frivolous or not important enough.”

However he added that sometimes he found it disconcerting what the audience considered to be important and how it was sometimes very different to what his team would consider reporting.

“There may be rumours of a chemical attack against civilians in Syria and all sorts of rumours about whether that happened and who was involved. There are questions around did the government do it; was it an outside force etc and that doesn’t get much interest.

“But then you might have a ridiculous story about something like a woman giving birth in an elevator and it gets millions of views.”

(15) STORM SNOOPERS. An amusing account of the mass storming of Area 51 in the Guardian: “I ‘stormed’ Area 51 and it was even weirder than I imagined”.

…My neighbors at the parking lot-slash-campsite were a punk band called Foreign Life Form. They weren’t part of the planned music lineup, one Life Form explained as he ate Chef Boyardee room-temperature from a can, but when they heard about Alienstock, it seemed like fate.

My other neighbor, an erudite, joint-smoking history podcaster from Oregon, wore a T-shirt that said “Take me to your dealer”. He and his son had had the shirts custom-made; the Life Forms were disappointed they couldn’t buy some….

(16) BOT TO TROT. On eBay, bidding is up to $50,100 for this “15-Ton 2-Story Tall Gasoline Powered Car-Smashing Piloted Giant Battle Robot”. Or is that 12 tons? Opinions differ. “This giant 12-ton fighting robot is on sale for $1” says the New York Post.

One man’s 12-ton, 16-foot-tall fighting robot is another man’s treasure.

Eagle Prime, the crown jewel of MegaBots Inc.’s fleet of sci-fi-inspired piloted robots, is being sold on eBay with bids starting at a single dollar. Founded by Gui Cavalcanti, Matt Oehrlein and Andrew Stroup, the company is shuttering operations amid money trouble. Their latest high jinks, a futuristic bot battle between the US and Canada, drew thin crowds online.

“It was meant to be monster trucks meets UFC with a hint of WWE,” Oehrlein tells The Post. “The goal was to build a multibillion-dollar sports league of robots fighting in stadiums.”

(17) GETTING IN THE MOOD FOR HALLOWEEN. The Valley Relic Museum in Los Angeles has lined up a scary panel event.

“For the last twenty years, I have been fascinated with the ghost stories of Los Angeles. One of my favorite pastimes is to explore historical and haunted locations in the area. This past year I’ve turned my hobby into a podcast and I have been interviewing people about their personal ghost stories as well as exploring haunted locations in Los Angeles and beyond for my podcast Ghost Magnet, from the Playboy Mansion to the house on Cielo Drive (associated with the Sharon Tate Murder) there is no shortage of ghost stories or paranormal activity,” says Bridget Marquardt.

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