1) EXTENDING LIFE FOR ISS? TechCrunch says: “The Trump administration is reportedly moving to privatize the International Space Station”. (“I’m sorry, Dave, but it will cost you $2.5 million to open the pod bay doors.”)
The Trump administration is planning to privatize the international space station instead of simply decommissioning the orbiting international experiment in 2024, according to a report in The Washington Post.
According to a document obtained by the Post, the current administration is mulling handing the International Space Station off to private industry instead of de-orbiting it as NASA “will expand international and commercial partnerships over the next seven years in order to ensure continued human access to and presence in low Earth orbit.”
The Post also reported that the administration was looking to request $150 million in fiscal year 2019 “to enable the development and maturation of commercial entities and capabilities which will ensure that commercial successors to the ISS — potentially including elements of the ISS — are operational when they are needed.”
(2) PALEYFEST. PaleyFest LA puts fans in the same room with over a hundred TV stars at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood from March 16-25. This almost throws Comic-Con in the shade. Deaadline reports: “PaleyFest LA Sets Talent From ‘Handmaid’s Tale’, ‘Queen Sugar’, ‘Riverdale’ For TV Event”.
In addition to the previously announced opening night tribute to Barbra Streisand, the lineup at this year’s fest includes over 100 stars from some of the best shows making waves on television including Seth MacFarlane, Eric McCormack, Debra Messing, Elisabeth Moss, Joseph Fiennes, Anna Faris, Allison Janney, Thomas Middleditch, Kumail Nanjiani, Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles, Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons, Iain Armitage, Zoe Perry, Freddie Highmore, Rutina Wesley, Ava DuVernay, KJ Apa, and Lili Reinhart.
PaleyFest LA 2018 gives fans access to special screenings, exclusive conversations, and behind-the-scenes scoops and breaking news from the stars and creative minds behind their favorite shows. This years shows include The Orville, Will & Grace, The Handmaid’s Tale, Silicon Valley, Supernatural, The Big Bang Theory, Young Sheldon, The Good Doctor, Mom, Queen Sugar, Riverdale, and Stranger Things….
Click the link to see all the stars who will be appearing for these shows —
Friday, March 16: Opening Night Presentation: PaleyFest Icon: An Evening with Barbra Streisand (7:30 pm):
Saturday, March 17: FOX’s The Orville (2:00 pm):
Saturday, March 17: NBC’s Will & Grace (7:00 pm):
Sunday, March 18: Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale (2:00 pm):
Tuesday, March 20: CW’s Supernatural (6:45 pm):
Wednesday, March 21: CBS’s The Big Bang Theory and Young Sheldon (7:30 pm)
Thursday, March 22: ABC’s The Good Doctor (7:30 pm):
Saturday, March 24: CBS’s Mom (2:00 pm):
Saturday, March 24: OWN’s Queen Sugar (7:00 pm):
Sunday, March 25: CW’s Riverdale (2:00 pm):
Sunday, March 25: Netflix’s Stranger Things (7:00 pm):
(3) CHANGING THE CHANNEL. Abigail Nussbaum covers new TV shows in “Winter Crop, 2018 Edition”.
…I don’t know if I’m going to stay in love with all of these shows (three episodes in, I’m starting to lose patience with Counterpart, for example), but they have a hook that the fall’s carefully samey procedurals don’t even try for.
- Black Lightning – There’s a scene about halfway through the premiere episode of the CW’s latest DC superhero show that really made me sit up, and think that maybe we were about to get a genuinely revolutionary take on this increasingly problematic concept. Retired superhero turned school principal Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams) has just rescued his daughter from the clutches of a gang boss, in the process causing panic at a nightclub. Wandering outside the club in a daze, he’s discovered by some cops, who immediately train their guns on him and order him to “get [his] black ass on the ground”. Jefferson could comply–as he did earlier in the day when he was pulled over for “fitting the description” of a liquor store robber–and his powers mean that he isn’t in any immediate danger. Nevertheless, a long litany of frustration, including from the earlier run-in with the police, takes its toll, and he clenches his fists and lets fly with his electric powers, leaving the cops alive but on the ground as he power-walks away.It’s a scene that feels important for two reasons. First, because of how rarely black heroes–and black superheroes in particular–are allowed to express anger, much less allow themselves to be overcome by it. Think, for example, of the MCU’s black heroes–Falcon, War Machine, Luke Cage, and Black Panther–and how often they’re positioned as the level-headed, or cheerful, counterpoint to a hotheaded or angsty white hero. Even as heroes of their own stories, these characters are expected to proceed with calm deliberation, and are rarely allowed to express rage or frustration–in Civil War, T’challa is seeking justice for the recent murder of his father, and yet he spends the film acting cool and collected, while Captain America and Iron Man’s every temper tantrum is indulged and excused. For Black Lightning to allow its titular hero to feel rage–to make that expression of rage our introduction to him as a person with powers–feels like a thesis statement, as well as a deliberate rebuke to the stereotype of the angry black man.
(4) LOST AND NOT FOUND. An interview with a student of manuscripts in The Guardian: “‘I really want to find it before I die’: why are we so fascinated by lost books? “
Does the Book of Kells lose any of its allure when a mass-produced paperback version is available to buy just feet away, in Trinity College Dublin’s gift shop? No, says de Hamel: “There are things you’ll see in an original manuscript that even a microfilm or digitised surrogate cannot convey – drypoint glosses, erasures, sewing holes, underdrawing, changes of parchment, subtleties of colour, loss of leaves, patina of handling – even smell and touch and sound, which can transform knowledge and understanding of the text when its scribes made it and first readers saw it.” So, when we mourn lost manuscripts, it’s not just over the disappearance of words, we are also losing an understanding of the process of their creation – the author’s scribbles, their hasty additions, their fraught deletions.
There are many lost books that de Hamel hopes to one day see: “The Book of Kells had more leaves in the 17th century than it does now. Are they somewhere in someone’s scrapbook? The 12th-century Winchester Bible, perhaps the greatest English medieval work of art, had a number of miniatures cut out, possibly as recently as the 20th century: some, at least, probably do exist. I really, really want to find one before I die.”
(5) HEFTY TOME. If you want a hardcover of Rosarium’s massive Sunspot Jungle, pledge the fundraiser – see details at “Sunspot Jungle: Kickstarter Exclusive Hardcover Edition”.
On June 17, 2018, Rosarium Publishing will be turning five years old. So, we’ve decided to throw a little party. Since we like to say we “introduce the world to itself,” we just knew it had to be a global party!
Like any good party, we’ve invited some friends, acquaintances, associates, people we’ve heard good things about, and some complete strangers.
The end result is Sunspot Jungle!
A two-volume, spec fic anthology filled with stories from over 100 writers from around the world!!!
This campaign is for special hardcover editions of the anthology only available to you Kickstarter supporters.
(The paperback for Vol. 1 will be out in December while the one for Vol. 2 will be released in spring of 2019.)
(6) GAVIN OBIT. John Gavin (1931-2018): US actor who later became a diplomat, died February 9, aged 86. Screen appearances include the horror classic Psycho, the psychological drama Midnight Lace (both 1960), two episodes of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour (1963/65). Reportedly signed up to play James Bond in Diamonds Are Forever until Sean Connery agreed to return to the role, but this apparent setback allowed him to fulfil a lifelong dream to become the US ambassador to Mexico.
(7) CATHEY OBIT. Reg E Cathey (1958-2018): US actor, died February 9, aged 59. Genre appearances include Star Trek: The Next Generation (one episode, 1993), The Mask (1994), Tank Girl (1995), Grimm (three episodes, 2013), Banshee (two episodes, 2014), Banshee Origins (three episodes, 2014), Fantastic Four (2015). He also provided a voice for the video game Star Wars: The Old Republic – Rise of the Hutt Cartel (2013).
(8) JONES OBIT. Mickey Jones (1941-2018): US musician and actor, died February 7, aged 76. Genre appearances include The Incredible Hulk (three episodes, 1978-81), Galactica 1980 (one episode, 1980), Starman (1984), Misfits of Science (one episode, 1985), ALF (one episode, 1986), Probe (one episode, 1988), Something Is Out There (six episodes, 1988), Total Recall (1990), It Came From Outer Space II (1996), Penny Dreadful (2006), Necrosis (2009), Deadtime Stories (one episode, 2013).
(9) TODAY IN HISTORY
- February 11, 2008 — Tolkien heirs file Lord of the Rings lawsuit
(10) WOODEN YOU LIKE TO KNOW? Another case where a gang of facts dismantle a wonderful story: “Did Abraham Lincoln sleep here?”
Visitors to a small log cabin in Kentucky are right to ask: Is it true that Abraham Lincoln slept here? On the eve of Lincoln’s 209th birthday tomorrow, Brook Silva-Braga has the answer:
Professor Henri Grissino-Mayer has come to Hodgenville, Kentucky to solve a mystery almost as old as Abraham Lincoln himself.
Silva-Braga asked, “So, someone pulls off the highway, sees you guys drilling into this cabin and says, ‘What are you doing here?’ what do you say to them?”
“What we’re trying to do is authenticate when this cabin was made by using the tree rings in the logs,” he replied.
(11) VESTED INTERESTS. In the past five years Disneyland has experienced growth in these social groups, and now two are in court — “They’re Disneyland superfans. Why a lawsuit is alleging gangster-like tactics against one social club”.
They stroll through Disneyland in packs of 20 or more, motley crews that resemble a cross between the Hells Angels motorcycle gang and a grown-up Mickey Mouse Club with their Disney-themed tattoos and their matching denim vests strewn with trading pins and logos.
Disneyland social clubs, by most accounts, are harmless alliances of friends and family who meet up at the park to share a nerdy obsession for all things Disney. With club names such as Tigger Army and Neverland Mermaids, how threatening can they be?
… But a lawsuit filed in Orange County Superior Court has revealed a dark undercurrent to the pastime. The head of one club has accused another of using gangster-like tactics to try to collect “protection” money for a charity fundraiser at the park.
The lawsuit reads like mob movie set in a theme park. The plot revolves around the Main Street Fire Station 55 Social Club, whose leaders claim they have been bullied and terrorized by the head of the White Rabbits Social Club.
(12) LOOKBACK. The British Science Fiction Association’s Vector does a science roundup in “Vector’s pick of science news in 2017”.
First of all, water. Two new inventions for increasing the supply of drinking water caught our eye:
- one, using a graphene-enhanced membrane for desalination
- and another, using sunlight in a device that pulls water out of the air.
In other exciting news regarding fluids, albeit less immediately applicable: scientists have made a fluid with negative mass. But then, the usefulness of inventions is often hard to judge….
(13) I’VE BEEN TO OKLAHOMA, BUT I’VE NEVER BEEN TO KLINGON. Even people in Tulsa have heard about it now — the Tulsa World ran a story about the Swedish production Hampus Eckerman brought to our attention last month — “Brush up on your Klingon for a new vacation hotspot”.
In search of a new and different vacation spot, with great food and cultural delights? Look no further.
A theater in Stockholm is playing host to a Klingon delegation seeking to promote tourism to Qo’nos (pronounced “Kronos”), the home planet of the ruthless yet honorable race of warriors from the cult TV franchise “Star Trek.”
(14) DOESN’T LEAVE MUCH TO WATCH. At Superversive SF, Anthony M tells about the unrewarding experience of trying to “retake the culture” — “The Problem of the Scold” [Internet Archive page].
Right now those of us on the cutting edge of the coming revolution in the entertainment field face a very thorny problem: We are scolds.
Brian Neimeier has – correctly, in my view – pointed out that we should simply be refusing to see films and shows written by people who hate us and that direct their hate at us.
So no Star Wars. No Star Trek. It is looking increasingly likely that Marvel movies are just about done. Television? Forget it, pretty much. Netflix, the exceptions are few and far between. Should we be supporting Netflix anyway?
… They get annoyed at me. I’m a killjoy. I’m a wet blanket. I see politics in everything. I’m ruining their fun. And of course, in a sense, they are exactly right. Nobody wants to hear me bash “Frozen”, because it will ruin the movie for them. And they like the movie!
I have turned myself into a scold. Many of us have. Nobody likes scolds. We’re negative and we annoy people. And scolding so far has not worked outside of getting people who already agree to clap their hands.
(15) PRECEDENT. NPR looks at influences on the world of the new movie — “Black Panther’s Mythical Home May Not Be So Mythical After All” – and finds a similarity to a historic African empire built on trade instead of military might.
There are different theories about the real-life inspiration for Wakanda. Ta-Nehisi Coates, who authored a reboot of the Black Panther comic series, explained his in this post for The Atlantic’s website. But the actor Chadwick Boseman, who plays Black Panther on screen, told The New York Times that Wakanda is a fictional version of “the Mutapa empire of 15th-century Zimbabwe.”
So how does the mythical Wakanda compare to the real-life Mutapa?
Stretching from modern-day South Africa into Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Zambia, the kingdom of Mutapa thrived from the early 1400s to about 1760.
“Mutapa operated on three basic levels: they had a capital city, provinces and little villages,” says Professor Angelo Nicolaides of the University of South Africa. Chiefs ruled at each of these levels under the supreme authority of the king, known as the Munhumutapa.
Like so many other kingdoms that believed in the divine right of kings, “the Mutapan people believed that their leaders were placed in positions of authority by the creator,” says Nicolaides. “The oral tradition tells us that they were involved in ancestral worship to a large extent, and the people believed that the kings had a very good relationship with the spirit world.”
(16) CONFERENCE OVERLOAD IN DC. T.M. Shine has a piece in Washington Post Magazine about how many conventions he could go to in Washington in a week. Among the events he went to were Fortfest 2017, the International Fortean Organization convention, and Blerdcon, which started off as a con for “black nerds” and evolved into a con for people who like to wear superhero costumes — “Net neutrality, sex, falconry: In one week, I crashed as many D.C. conferences as possible”.
I’m romping around this convention, mingling with those dressed in costume, which is basically everybody. Blerdcon started as a celebration of black nerds, and then all minority nerds, but now it seems to be simply all of us — white, black, Hispanic, Asian. My costume is weak, I admit — just me with my various conference badges — but I begin to imagine everything from laser beams to android shrapnel bouncing off them. But what would my superhero name be? Evolution Man sounds too grand. I kind of like Symposium Man, but what would his powers be? Powerful personal anecdotes that freeze listeners in their tracks? The ability to spot a raised hand from 100 yards?
(17) WHAT DRONES CAN DO. The PyeongChang Olympics opened with 1218 drones filling the sky in the formation of the Olympic flag.
Good Morning America talks about how it was done.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Steve Green, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, Will R., Carl Slaughter, Jeffrey Smith, ULTRAGOTHA, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]