Mark Twain Pixel Scroll 4/30/16 Never Mind The Scrollocks, Here’s The Sex Pixels

One hundred percent pure Scroll.

(1) NOT QUITE FAILURE TO LAUNCH. “Nail-biting start for Russia’s new Vostochny space centre” – BBC has the story.

“Oh please, darling, fly!”

A technician standing behind me was really nervous during the launch countdown at Vostochny, a new space centre in Russia’s Far East.

It was the second launch attempt – a day after the previous one had been aborted at the last minute.

I noticed that some of the technician’s colleagues also had pale faces and had crossed their fingers.

It emerged later that a cable malfunction had led to the postponement of Wednesday’s launch.

This time there was relief for Russia’s federal space agency, Roscosmos, as the Soyuz rocket, carrying three satellites, blasted off and the booster stage separated.

President Vladimir Putin had travelled 5,500km (3,500 miles) to watch the launch and was in a black mood after Wednesday’s cancellation, berating Vostochny’s managers for the financial scandals that have blighted this prestige project.

(2) DEAD TO RIGHTS. For a collision between the real world and fantasy, see “Gucci warns Hong Kong shops on paper fakes for funerals”. Gucci is trying to prevent people from selling paper mockups (of their products) to be burned in placate-ones-ancestors ceremonies.

Italian luxury goods maker Gucci has sent warning letters to Hong Kong shops selling paper versions of its products as offerings to the dead.

Paper replicas of items like mansions, cars, iPads and luxury bags are burnt in the belief that deceased relatives can use them in the afterlife.

Demand for these products is highest during the Qingming “tomb-sweeping” festival, which happened last month.

The shops were sent letters but there was no suggestion of legal action.

(3) NEAL STEPHENSON CONNECTION. Kevin Kelly writes “The Untold Story of Magic Leap, the World’s Most Secretive Startup” in the May issue of Wired, about mega-mysterious virtual reality company Magic Leap.

Among the first people (CEO Rony) Abovitz hired at Magic Leap was Neal Stephenson, author of the other seminal VR anticipation, Snow Crash.  He wanted Stephenson to be Magic Leap’s chief futurist because ‘he has an engineer’s mind fused with that of a great writer.’  Abovitz wanted him to lead a small team developing new forms of narrative.  Again, the myth maker would be making the myths real.

The hero in Snow Crash wielded a sword in the virtual world.  To woo Stephenson, four emissaries from Magic Leap showed up at Stephenson’s home with Orcrist–the ‘Goblin-cleaver’ sword from The Hobbit trilogy.  It was a reproduction of the prop handcrafted by a master wordsmith.  That is, it was a false version of the real thing used in the unreal film world–a clever bit of recursiveness custom-made for mixed reality.  Stephenson was intrigued.  ‘It’s not every day that someone turns up at your house bearing a mythic sword, and so I did what anyone who has read a lot of fantasy novels would:  I let them in and gave them beer,’ he wrote on Magic Leap’s blog.  ‘True to form, hey invited me on a quest and invited me to sign a contract (well, an NDA actually).’ Stephenson accepted the job.  ‘We’ve maxed out what we can do on 2-D screens, he says.  ‘Now it’s time to unleash what is possible in 3-D, and that means redefining the medium from the ground up.  We can’t do that in small steps.’  He compared the challenge of VR to crossing a treacherous valley to reach new heights.  He admires Abovitz because he is willing to ‘slog through that valley.'”

Magic Leap has also hired Ernest Cline as a consultant.

(4) REYNOLDS RAP. The Traveler at Galactic Journey has kind words for a prozine in “[April 30, 1961] Travel Stories (June 1961 Galaxy)”.

My nephew, David, has been on an Israeli Kibbutz for a month now.  We get letters from him every few days, mostly about the hard work, the monotony of the diet, and the isolation from the world.  The other day, he sent a letter to my brother, Lou, who read it to me over the phone.  Apparently, David went into the big port-town of Haifa and bought copies of Life, Time, and Newsweek.  He was not impressed with the literary quality of any of them, but he did find Time particularly useful.

You see, Israeli bathrooms generally don’t stock toilet paper…

Which segues nicely into the first fiction review of the month.  I’m happy to report I have absolutely nothing against the June 1961 Galaxy – including my backside.  In fact, this magazine is quite good, at least so far.  As usual, since this is a double-sized magazine, I’ll review it in two parts.

First up is Mack Reynolds’ unique novelette, Farmer.  Set thirty years from now in the replanted forests of the Western Sahara, it’s an interesting tale of intrigue and politics the likes of which I’ve not seen before.  Reynolds has got a good grasp of the international scene, as evidenced by his spate of recent stories of the future Cold War.  If this story has a failing, it is its somewhat smug and one-sided tone.  Geopolitics should be a bit more ambiguous.  It’s also too good a setting for such a short story.  Three stars.

(5) POHL PIONEERED. In a piece on The Atlantic by Michael Lapointe, ”Chernobyl’s Literary Legacy, Thirty Years Later”, the author credits Fred Pohl with writing the first novel about Chernobyl and says that Pohl’s 1987 Chernobyl “is done on an epic scale.”

(6) INDIE NOVELTY. Cedar Sanderson tells how she self-published a coloring book in “Non-Traditional Books” at Mad Genius Club.

So why am I telling you about this? Well, it’s different. Someone reading this may be a terrific artist (I’m not, by the way. I doodle really well) and this might be a great way for them to get a product on the market. I figure you can learn along with me, or from my mistakes, so you don’t have to make the ones I did.

Ingredients for a Coloring Book: 

  • Pens, pencils, and paper
  • A thematic idea (mine was adorable dragons and flowers)
  • Line-Art (this from the pen and paper, or you could create it digitally, which would be even better)
  • A good scanner
  • Graphics software: Gimp will work, Photoshop is actually better for this
  • Wordprocessing software: I laid the book out in Microsoft Word. You could use InDesign if you have it and are comfortable with it.
  • Patience

Cost? Well, not counting the cost of pens, ink, paper (I had all of those at the beginning, although I did invest some in upgrades) I spent about $12 on Inktail’s final production stages. That was $10 for a Createspace ISBN and $2 for stock art elements to put on the cover. Time? Well, now, that’s a horse of a different color.


Born April 30, 1938 — Larry Niven.

(8) TO THE LITTLE SCREEN. ScreenRant reports “Wheel of Time Book Series to Become TV Show”.

Fans of the best-selling American fantasy novel series Wheel of Time, created by Vietnam War veteran and prolific genre fiction writer Robert Jordan, are no doubt well familiar with the epic, fourteen-novel long series for its many well-detailed narrative elements and Hugo award-winning reputation. Drawing from European and Asian mythology, Jordan (who was born James Oliver Rigney Jr.) saw fit to create a fantasy realm and spiritual mythos that borrows elements from Buddhism, Hinduism, and Christianity. The resulting overarching narrative accordingly featured an overarching thematic concern with the forces of light and dark, mirroring the metaphysical concepts of balance and duality in kind.

As an answer to British novelist and former Oxford University professor J.R.R. Tolkien’s likeminded The Lord of the Rings, Jordan made a name for himself until the time of his death in 2007 as the chief successor to the throne of bestselling imaginative fantasy. The legacy that Wheel of Time has since left in the wake of its author’s death still holds a certain reverence for his grandly orchestrated fiction – and now that special place the series holds in the hearts of many fans looks to be fit for future production as a major network TV series.

Posting to the official Google+ account for the Wheel of Time franchise and intellectual property, Jordan’s widow, Harriet McDougal, was pleased to let fans of the series know that a late legal dispute with Red Eagle Entertainment has been resolved, meaning that the production of an official TV series based on her late husband’s masterwork will soon be announced. Speaking on behalf of Jordan’s estate, McDougal posted the following:

“Wanted to share with you exciting news about The Wheel of Time. Legal issues have been resolved. The Wheel of Time will become a cutting edge TV series! I couldn’t be more pleased. Look for the official announcement coming soon from a major studio.”

(9) MONSTERPALOOZA. Lisa Napoli explains that “Halloween is a $7.5 billion year-round industry”.

Here among the crowds of freakily dressed people at Monsterpalooza at the Pasadena Convention Center, Yvonne Solomon stands out. Not because of the red dress she’s wearing, with a plunging neckline. It’s the large old-fashioned baby carriage she’s pushing. In it are four distinctive creatures:  “These are my were-pups,” she said. “They’re silicone, handmade little pieces of art.”

Were-pups.  Baby were-wolves. Solomon paid an artist $650 a piece for these creepy-looking critters. At this gathering of fellow monster fans, she’s assured a sympathetic reception for her investment. Horror fests like Wizard World and Shuddercon take place every weekend, all around the country. People happily fork over pricey admission fees for the chance to mingle with like-minded mutants and monsters.

“You’re in a big hall with a bunch of people you don’t have to explain yourself to,” Keith Rainville said, who is here selling vintage Mexican and Japanese horror tchotchkes. “We’re all from the same mothership that dropped us off in this weird world.”

Rainville is one of 200 vendors here, selling one-of-a-kind pieces, like what Paul Lazo brought from his little shop of collectibles in New York: “He is a severed head with a bloody pan and he’s damn handsome.”

(10) INKSTAINED WRETCHES ON DISPLAY. Shelf Awareness catches a vision of the American Writers Museum.

The American Writers Museum, the first in the United States to focus exclusively on American writers, “past and present,” will open in March 2017 in downtown Chicago, Ill. Located at 180 North Michigan Avenue, the museum expects to draw up to 120,000 visitors each year and is working with more than 50 authors’ homes and museums around the country to build its exhibitions. Among the planned attractions are re-creations of writers’ homes and fictional locales (including Tara, Cannery Row and the House of Seven Gables), interactive exhibits about writers’ lives and methodologies (including “travels” with Jack Kerouac and John Steinbeck, for example), and ample space for film screenings, talks, readings and presentations. The museum aims to hold exhibitions on a range of subjects. Roberta Rubin, the former longtime owner of the Book Stall at Chestnut Court in Winnetka, Ill., is co-chairman of the museum’s board of directors.

(11) VIRTUOSO. Hear the Star Trek: Voyager (Theme) “Metal cover” done by YouTube guitarist Captain Meatshield.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Will R., and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip W.]

124 thoughts on “Mark Twain Pixel Scroll 4/30/16 Never Mind The Scrollocks, Here’s The Sex Pixels

  1. I don’t think what L said was concern trolling. It wasn’t addressed to “you” and wasn’t expressing that “you” would be happier if only. It was straight up social criticism. People do this thing too much and shouldn’t. A lot of us thought her* social criticism was off base, and she reconsidered. IOW, we had an argument and then it was over :).

    *Going by the avatar picture here. I apologize if I am misgendering.

  2. I’m pretty sure I just saw someone in another thread use the term “concern trolling” to mean “an unnecessary or disingenuos raising of the level of concern towards something”, so perhaps we can all agree there is some drift with the term depending on the context lol and now we have all clarified or pitched in so hopefully it’s all coming up Milhouse 😉


  4. I kinda think the accusations of concern trolling were hyperbolic in this case. I am also annoyed with the knee jerk anger about people looking at screens in public*, but I don’t think that was going on in the original post. I’m also happy to finally find myself disagreeing with our resident marsupial, for once.

    * much of it reminds me of criticism leveled at me for reading books in public years ago.

  5. I’ve noticed more misunderstandings, high emotions, and tempers than usual since the Hugo shortlist announcement.

    Some people overuse technology. Others underutilize it. Some may be perfectly balanced. To an outsider it’s hard to know which is which. But is easy to judge people based on a 5 second glance.

    Much of the current technology discussion does remind me of head in a book rants I used to get which makes them easier for me to dismiss.

    I find using the term concern trolling for someone whose a member of a group who generally has reasonable things to say weird but it’s likely I got lost in how we moved from VR to concern trolling. I’m stressed with the Hugo stuff, recovery, & rediscovering food.

  6. @Tasha Turner:

    I’m stressed with the Hugo stuff, recovery, & rediscovering food.

    Rediscovering food is the best! Last year, about 6 months after chemorad ended, I started getting to the point where I could chew without much pain and taste things. So I got to have a series of “First _______ in a year” meals. It was glorious. Now I’m at the point where I can finally start increasing the spiciness of things, and it’s great. I am glad you’re able to start eating things that were unavailable to you.

  7. Around here I can tell the hummingbirds are nesting because they want the fur my cat has left behind on the patio cat tree. If the cat happens to still be there they hover just out of reach and she clicks at them.

    Also, Person of Interest is back and I’ll be really pissed if it turns out the puppies pushed it off this year’s ballot.

  8. @Cassy B
    I haven’t tested cheese yet. I’m waiting 3 months for that. It was 6-9 but I don’t think I can hold out that long. I had my first burger in ages. It was not a good burger but it was pain free and no noticeable problems afterwards.

    @Jim Henley
    The most amazing part is being full. I was so limited before. I haven’t felt full in 2 years. Yesterday with the burger on a roll I felt full. Tonight was similar. Boneless chicken was safe last week. Mother’s Day I’m hoping to be up to going out with my mother-in-law for my first steak in ages. Looks like I’m going at a faster pace than planned. Good luck with the spiciness food glorious food. Cheers to getting better. May you continue with good health.

  9. I’m also happy to finally find myself disagreeing with our resident marsupial, for once.

    Pfff! See if I leave you any cubical poop in the will!

  10. At least cubical poop is better than cubicle poop, though I suppose you might find the combo in inadequately secured Australian office buildings.

    My goodness it’s bedtime.

  11. Yay, rediscovering food!

    I had a roommate who was allergic to chili. First time I cooked food, she had to run into her room and hide for three hours until I had managed to air the apartment. It took one year until she moved out and then half a yar again until I had readjusted to my previous spice level until I could enjoy my favourite dishes again.

  12. @Tasha Turner:

    The most amazing part is being full. I was so limited before. I haven’t felt full in 2 years. Yesterday with the burger on a roll I felt full. Tonight was similar. Boneless chicken was safe last week. Mother’s Day I’m hoping to be up to going out with my mother-in-law for my first steak in ages. Looks like I’m going at a faster pace than planned.

    This makes me so happy.

  13. I am excited for new Person of Interest! 😀 And I’m glad I’m not the only one who read that as “cubicle” :X

    @Tasha – hurray for expanding food horizons! 😀 Cheese is a tough one, even for those with more robust digestions, but I will keep my fingers crossed for you!

  14. @Tasha,

    Yay for more food options! Food is such a big part of my life that if I were to be restricted in what I’m able to eat, I would be unhappy.

  15. Tasha, happy you are rediscovering food! One of my favorite bits from Psalms is “O taste and see that the Lord is good…” 🙂

    Speaking of being buried in devices, at one of the other websites I visit, young women report that they often pretend to be buried in their devices to proactively avoid street harassment, especially on mass transit.

    Speaking of being buried in books in public, many years ago I was reading my book during lunch. It was a sad part, so I was crying while I read it. (I cry easily. I used to tear up at that old phone service commercial “So why are you crying?” [Our son] said he called just to tell me loves me!”] Anyway, so I’m enjoying my book and my lunch (back when it was real meat) and this guy sitting next to me (whom I had never seen before) actually waves his hand between my face and my book and tells me not to cry because it’s only a book. I was so angry I could have spit nails. Not that I said anything at the time. Just gave him the death glare and went back to reading. When I remember it now, I think that he was not a reader. For those interested, it was Daughter of the Empire by Raymond Feist and Janny Wurts. I still re-read that trilogy periodically. And I still cry at that part.

  16. Rediscovery of food is fun. Kinda like being a kid all over again.

    @World Weary
    Great point about using electronic devices as a way to avoid harassment.

    Ugh on the book story.

  17. @Tasha
    It’s bad of me, I know, but your rediscovery of food reminds me of I WILL FEAR NO EVIL, where Heinlein’s protagonist, in his new body, does the same thing…

  18. @Paul
    LOL I’d love a new body. The youngest age I remember wishing for one was age 8. By then I was already tired of weird health problems.

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