Pixel Scroll 10/1/18 I’ll Have A Short Half-Caf Scroll With Free-Range Foamed Pixels, Please

(1) DOES IT SUIT ME? Would you believe that no one is more surprised about this than the Doctor herself? “‘Doctor Who’: The Doctor Realizes She’s A Woman In A Brand New Clip!” at ScienceFiction.com.

In the first clip released for the upcoming season, we see that, thanks to the memory-affecting nature of the regeneration, Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor will discover the gender right along with the rest of us. She can’t even remember who she is, just that she’s “looking for a doctor,”…


(2) WORDS TO THE WISE. Bustle shares “11 Sci-Fi & Fantasy Writers With Incredible Advice For Aspiring Authors”. I love to listen to writers talk about writing. And it’s much easier to do than actually writing!

“Apply logic in places where it wasn’t intended to exist. If assured that the Queen of the Fairies has a necklace made of broken promises, ask yourself what it looks like. If there is magic, where does it come from? Why isn’t everyone using it? What rules will you have to give it to allow some tension in your story? How does society operate? Where does the food come from? You need to know how your world works.”

? Terry Pratchett, in A Slip of the Keyboard

(3) TRAVELERS TO NZ TAKE HEED. Bad news for CoNZealand? Radio New Zealand reports “Travellers refusing digital search now face $5000 Customs fine”.

Travellers who refuse to hand over their phone or laptop passwords to Customs officials can now be slapped with a $5000 fine.

The Customs and Excise Act 2018 – which comes into effect today – sets guidelines around how Customs can carry out “digital strip-searches”.

Previously, Customs could stop anyone at the border and demand to see their electronic devices. However, the law did not specify that people had to also provide a password.

The updated law makes clear that travellers must provide access – whether that be a password, pin-code or fingerprint – but officials would need to have a reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing.

“It is a file-by-file [search] on your phone. We’re not going into ‘the cloud’. We’ll examine your phone while it’s on flight mode,” Customs spokesperson Terry Brown said.

If people refused to comply, they could be fined up to $5000 and their device would be seized and forensically searched.

(4) SOUNDS ASTOUNDING. The Coode Street Podcast’s latest episode has a Golden Age theme: “Episode 338: Alec Nevala-Lee, Andy Duncan, and the Astounding Legacy”.

Worldcon 76 in San Jose, California this past August was a busy time. Thousands of science fiction and fantasy writers, readers, artists, publishers, and fans of every stripe travelled across the country and, in some cases, around the world to celebrate the best in SF.

We (Gary and Jonathan) had a wonderful time while we were there and managed to record four special episodes. Our final conversation is one of our favourites. Alec Nevala-Lee‘s Astounding: John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, and the Golden Age of Science Fiction is a fascinating and probably definitive examination of Astounding, John W. Campbell and the writers who made up that time.  Andy Duncan, a long-time friend of the podcast, also just published “New Frontiers of the Mind”, his first story for Analog (successor to Astounding) which examines the connection between Campbell and Rhine. Both Alec and Andy sat down with us in San Jose to discuss Campbell, Astounding, and their own work.

(5) FREEMAN DYSON. The Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination’s Into the Impossible podcast features Freeman Dyson — Episode 19 – Nature Has More Imagination.

In a ranging conversation, associate director Brian Keating interviews the preeminent scientist and thinker Freeman Dyson, discussing his career in science and letters, the role of creativity and subversiveness, the perils of prizes, and how nature always shows more imagination than we do.

(6) AMERICA ON POTTER. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] In a morning TV appearance to promote her new book American Like Me: Reflections on Life Between Cultures, America Ferrera also talked about other books that she finds important (Today Show: “America Ferrera says these are the books that inspire her”). She particularly enthused about the Harry Potter series, saying of her young son Sebastian (who goes by Baz), “Baz is only four months old. I cannot wait to read Harry Potter to him so I can read it again. I can’t wait to see him discover that whole world. Every night we read Goodnight Moon. I could recite it right now. That’s his nightly book. A good children’s book is genius. I love reading to him.” She also mentioned that her husband reads to the boy, saying, “My husband reads to him in the mornings. He wants to expose him to all kinds of reading. He’s read him A Brief History of Time out loud. If Baz grows up and becomes a physicist, it’s because he read that book out loud.”

All children should be so lucky.

(7) SCREENTIME. Abigail Nussbaum is back with “Thoughts on the New TV Season, 2018 Edition” at Asking the Wrong Questions.

The First – Hulu’s series about the first manned mission to Mars looks and sounds like many millions of bucks.  It’s full of moments of breathtaking cinematography backed by a sweeping orchestral score.  But all that grandeur often seems to be in service of obscuring the fact that The First has so little to say about its putative topic.  Despite what promotional materials may have promised, the season takes place on Earth, after an accident during the launch of the first stage of a semi-private venture to the red planet leaves the rest of the project in jeopardy.  Tech visionary Laz Ingram (Natasha McElhone) brings in former astronaut Tom Hagerty (Sean Penn), with whom she had previously feuded, to lead the next mission and help convince the public and politicians not to pull funding.  But even this logistical, political, and technical challenge isn’t where the show’s heart really lies.  Instead, The First turns out to be much more of a character drama, about the kind of people who choose to risk their lives on a long, arduous, dangerous journey into the unknown, and the people they leave behind….

(8) EZQUERRA OBIT. Carlos Ezquerra (1947-2018) has died — 2000 AD paid tribute:

2000 AD is profoundly saddened to confirm that artist Carlos Ezquerra has passed away at the age of 70.

One of the all-time greatest comic book artists, the Spanish illustrator was one of the titans of 2000 AD.

Originally from Zaragoza, Carlos began his career in Barcelona, drawing westerns and war stories for Spanish publishers. Breaking into the UK market on romance titles like Valentine and Mirabelle, he was head-hunted for the new IPC title Battle Picture Weekly where he drew Rat Pack, Major Eazy and El Mestizo.

In 1976, he was asked to create a new character, the future lawman Judge Dredd, for a new weekly science fiction comic called 2000 AD. Thanks to his enduring partnership with John Wagner, Dredd was to become one of the world’s most recognisable comic book characters, with Carlos there to apply his inimitable style to some of the biggest stories in the strip’s history, such as The Apocalypse War, Necropolis and Origins.


  • October 1, 1957 The Brain From Planet Arous premiered on this day
  • October 1, 1958 — National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) founded
  • October 1, 1968 Night of the Living Dead premiered


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]

  • Born October 1, 1872 – James Allen St. John, Artist who is particularly remembered for his illustrations for the novels of Edgar Rice Burroughs, although he illustrated works of many authors. There are two recent collections of his work, J. David Spurlock’s Grand Master of Adventure: The Drawings of J. Allen St. John and The Paintings of J. Allen St. John: Grand Master of Fantasy by J. David Spurlock and  Stephen D. Korshak. It is said that Frank Frazetta was a student of his, but I was unable to confirm that.
  • Born October 1, 1914 – Donald A. Wollheim, Editor, Publisher, Writer, Fan. Encyclopedia of Science Fiction calls Wollheim “one of the first and most vociferous SF fans.” He was a founding member of The Futurians and a member of First Fandom; The Immortal Storm by Sam Moskowitz and The Futurians by Damon Knight are both essential reads on his contributions to early fandom. His first story, “The Man from Ariel”, was published in the January 1934 issue of Wonder Stories. His David Grinnell-penned novels are quite good, as are the ones under his own name. He co-edited the World’s Best SF anthologies for 26 years, and his editorship of imprints such as Avon and his founding of DAW Books were key to the development of the genre as we now know it.
  • Born October 1, 1922 – Terry Jeeves, Member of First Fandom, Fan Artist, Editor, Writer, and Organizer. He helped found the British Science Fiction Association in 1958, later serving as chair and as editor of its zine, Vector, for two years, and was one of the first fans recognized with the Doc Weir Award for service to British Fandom. He published a fanzine of his own, Erg, for over 40 years. His A Checklist of Astounding in three parts covers the years 1930 to 1959, and he was credited for assisting with Michael Ashley’s complete index of the prozine in 1981. He was contributing letters and fan art to fanzines right up until his death in 2011 at the age of 88.
  • Born October 1, 1928 – Laurence Harvey, Actor best known as The Manchurian Candidate, who had appearances on genre shows including Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Night Gallery, and roles in other genre movies including The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm and The Winter’s Tale.
  • Born October 1, 1935 – Dame Julie Andrews Edwards, 83, Actor, Writer, and Producer from England known for lead genre roles in Mary Poppins and the Rodgers and Hammerstein version of Cinderella, playing the Queen in the Ruritanian films The Princess Diaries, and lending her voice to various animated feature characters, including the Queen in the Shrek movies. In 1974 she published a children’s novel, The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles.
  • Born October 1, 1943 – Sharon Jarvis, 75, Writer, Editor, and Fan. Co-wrote 3 different SFF novel series under the pen names of H. M. Major, Johanna Hailey, and Jarrod Comstock. Author of 3 volumes of True Tales of the Unknown for Bantam Books and fannish essays such as “To Con or Not” Parts Two and Three (though curiously the first part is not to be found) as published in the Cranky Bitches series in Fantasy Newsletter in 1983, and editor of the 1985 non-fiction anthology Inside Outer Space: Science Fiction Professionals Look at Their Craft, which contains contributions from some of the big names in genre writing.
  • Born October 1, 1944 – Rick Katze, 74, Attorney and Fan. I’ll just quote Fancyclopedia 3, which does him justice:

A Boston-area con-running fan. He is a member of NESFA and MCFIand was a member of SCIFI. He has been an officer of both NESFA and MCFI. He has worked on many Boskones as well as a number of Worldcons. A lawyer, professionally, he was counsel to the Connie Bailout Committee and negotiated the purchase of the unpaid non-fannish debt [of ConStellation, the 1983 Worldcon in Baltimore which went into the red for more than $150,000 – that’s $380,000 in today’s dollars] at about sixty cents on the dollar.

He chaired Boskone 21, Boskone 28, Boskone 41, and Lexicon 8, and edited many books for NESFA Press, including the six-volume Best of Poul Anderson series. He was made a Fellow of NESFA in 1980. He appeared in the fannish musical Back to Rivets.

  • Born October 1, 1948 – Mike Ashley, 70, Editor and Anthologist, and that is somewhat of an understatement, as the Mammoth Book series by itself has thus far run to thirty volumes including such titles as The Mammoth Book of Awesome Comic Fantasy and The Mammoth Book of New Jules Verne Adventures. He also did The History of the Science Fiction Magazine, which features commentary by him. He’s done a number of genre related studies including The History of the Science Fiction Magazine with Robert A. W. Lowndes, and Out of This World: Science Fiction But Not As You Know It.
  • Born October 1, 1950 – Natalija Nogulich, 68, Actor best known to genre fans as Admiral Necheyev in Star Trek: The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine, who has also had guest roles in numerous genre series including Dark Skies, The Pretender, Charmed, and Sabrina the Teenage Witch.
  • Born October 1, 1954 – Paul Park, 64, Writer and Teacher whose Ruritanian novels were nominated for World Fantasy, Tiptree, and Sidewise Awards, and whose SFF novels and stories have been finalists for Nebula, Clarke, Tiptree, BSFA, World Fantasy, Sturgeon, Shirley Jackson, and Kurd Laßwitz Awards.
  • Born October 1, 1960 – Elizabeth Dennehy, 58, Actor who played Lt. Commander Shelby in the Emmy-nominated Star Trek: The Next Generation two-part episode “The Best of Both Worlds”, guest roles on Quantum Leap, Charmed, and Medium, and parts in Gattaca, The Last Man on Planet Earth, Red Dragon, and Hancock.
  • Born October 1, 1962 – Hakeem Kae-Kazim, 56, Actor from Nigeria with the Royal Shakespeare Company who has appeared in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, The Librarian: Return to King Solomon’s Mines, The Jinn, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Slipstream, Global Effect, the TV miniseries King Solomon’s Mines and The Triangle, has had guest roles on Gotham, Scorpion, The Adventures of Sinbad, and The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, and has provided voices for numerous videogames including editions of World of Warcraft, Lego Star Wars, Halo, Final Fantasy, and The Golden Compass.
  • Born October 1, 1969 – Zach Galifianakis, 49, Actor, Writer, and Producer who had a main role in the series Tru Calling, appeared in the films A Wrinkle in Time, The Muppets and The Muppets: Most Wanted, and has done voices in animated features including The Lego Batman Movie.
  • Born October 1, 1973 – Rachel Manija Brown (an Eldridge favorite, as she has reviewed for Green Man Review), 45, Writer of the Change series with Sherwood Smith, and Laura’s Wolf, first volume of the Werewolf Marines series. Author of SFF stories, poems, and essays including “The Golden Age of Fantasy Is Twelve: SF and the Young Adult Novel” published in Strange Horizons.
  • Born October 1, 1989 – Brie Larson, 29, Actor, Writer, Director and Producer. Her earliest genre appearance was a guest role on Touched by an Angel at the age of 9. In addition to a guest spot on  Ghost Whisperer, she appeared in the movies 13 Going on 30Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, and Kong: Skull Island. She directed and starred in the indie film Unicorn Store, is the star of the upcoming Captain Marvel movie, and will appear in the next Avengers film.


  • Born September 30, 1949 – D Potter, Editor, Photographer, and Fan, was a New York and then Bay Area fanzine fan. She participated in numerous Amateur Press Associations (APAs), pre-internet fanzine-sharing and discussion groups – often focused on a specific subject of interest – which distributed copies and letters via group meetings and snail mail, including Apa-nu, A Women’s APA, APA-Q, Myriad, Mixed Company, Spinoff, MISHAPFAPA, and Intercourse. She was founder and Original (or Collating) Editor of the music discussion ALPS, and Fan Guest of Honor at Balticon 16 in 1982. Although she passed away last October, her website can still be seen at http://onyxlynx.blogspot.com.

(12) A BIRTHDAY LETTER OF COMMENT. Sheila Williams sent a correction to our birthday listings —

My thanks to whoever included me in the list of September 27, 2018 birthdays. Just wanted to mention an error, that I’ve only seen once before. The first sentence reads “Sheila Williams, 62, Editor of Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine for the past thirteen years, following twelve years before that working under Isaac Asimov and Gardner Dozois at the magazine, which is a remarkable achievement.”

Actually, I worked at the magazine for 22 years before becoming editor. I joined Asimov’s in June 1982 (hired by Cathleen Moloney) and just celebrated my 36th year on the staff. In addition to Cathleen, Gardner, and Isaac, I also worked with Shawna McCarthy during her entire tenure as editor of the magazine.


(14) PICK OF THE LITTER. Huffington Post promises “A Missing ‘Game Of Thrones’ Character Is Coming Back In Season 8”.

If anything, Jon Snow’s direwolf lived up to his name in Season 7 of “Game of Thrones.”

Throughout the course of seven episodes, the King in the North’s constant companion didn’t show up once. Ghost was an actual ghost.

This despite the fact that the wolf would probably come in handy in confrontation with zombie hordes, undead polar bears and the Night King, who’s taking down dragons with pinpoint accuracy like he’s plaid-wearing, retired sniper Mark Wahlberg in any Mark Wahlberg movie….

(15) IS HE BALD ENOUGH? The Hollywood Reporter says, “Nicolas Cage Says It’s Too Late to Be Superman, But He’d Be a ‘Great’ Lex Luthor.” You may recall that Cage was in line to play the Man of Steel for director Tim Burton’s Superman Lives, which famously never got off the ground.

Cage touches on that topic (among many others) in an interview by Hadley Freeman published in The Guardian (“Nicolas Cage: ‘If I don’t have a job to do, I can be very self-destructive’”). In that, Freeman writes:

Because of his son’s name [Kal-El], I tell him, there’s an online campaign to make him the next Superman. “Oh, I think my Superman days are long gone,” he laughs with a little pat of his belly. He would be an amazing villain in it, I reply. His eyes light up. “Oh, that would be GREAT! I’d make a great Lex Luthor!”

(16) CONTINUED NEXT ROCK. BBC says “Prehistoric art hints at lost Indian civilisation” — petroglyphs estimated up to 12,000 years old — which makes them pre-“civilization”, back in the hunter-gatherer era.

“Our first deduction from examining these petroglyphs is that they were created around 10,000BC,” the director of the Maharashtra state archaeology department, Tejas Garge, told the BBC.

The credit for their discovery goes to a group of explorers led by Sudhir Risbood and Manoj Marathe, who began searching for the images in earnest after observing a few in the area. Many were found in village temples and played a part in local folklore.

“We walked thousands of kilometres. People started sending photographs to us and we even enlisted schools in our efforts to find them. We made students ask their grandparents and other village elders if they knew about any other engravings. This provided us with a lot of valuable information,” Mr Risbood told the BBC.

(17) THE LONG WAY HOME. James Davis Nicoll’s youth have returned! And the Young People Read Old SFF panel has been assigned Walter M. Miller Jr.’s “The Will.”

SF 68 was a South African radio show that ran in, well, 1968. Producer Michael McCabe went on to produce the more successful Beyond Midnight. SF 68 adapted a number of American SF stories to radio play form, many by authors I would not have expected to sell rights to an Apartheid era South African program. If there is a story behind that, I have not heard it.

Walter M. Miller is best known for his Canticle For Leibowitz (of which there is a top notch adaptation far too long for this project). Indeed, the rest of his body of work has been essentially eclipsed by Canticle. Still, there are pieces while not as iconic as Canticle are worth consideration. “The Will” for example demonstrates a laudable understanding of the true utility of time machines other, Hugo-winning, works manifestly do not. But perhaps my volunteers will not agree with me.

The Will can be listened to here.

(18) CONCERNED. Motherboard (from Vice) brings us news that a “Top CERN Scientist [is] Suspended for Presentation That Argued There Is No Sexism in Physics.” His theory seemed to be that women aren’t discriminated against in science — particularly physics — they just aren’t as good.

In a copy of [Dr. Alessandro] Strumia’s presentation seen by Motherboard, Strumia frames his presentation as an effort to get to the bottom of the “mainstream” and “conservative” positions about gender equality in physics and science more generally. Strumia framed his presentation as an attempt to “use data to see what is right.”

A number of slides show what Strumia described as data about the percentage of women in different fields, sexism in citations, sexism at conferences, and gender asymmetry in hirings. These data items conflict with a number of other studies that point to rampant discrimination in STEM, however. For example, a study published earlier this year by Pew Research found that nearly half of women in STEM say sexual harassment is a problem and that they have experienced some form of discrimination.
Strumia’s presentation also claimed sexism against men, on the grounds that scientists were killed in wars and that universities have made hiring decisions based on equal gender representation “irrespective of merit.”

According to [Dr. Jessica] Wade, who wrote an op-ed for New Scientist about Strumia’s talk, his presentation “claimed that women weren’t as good at physics, were promoted too early, and received disproportionate funding given their ability.”

(19) POWERS AND PRATCHETT. FTL Publications has posted video of some classic author interviews:

  • This is a 2-part interview with Tim Powers at the Arcana convention in St. Paul on October 1, 2004. Tim talks about his novels, including The Drawing of the Dark, The Annubis Gates, Dinner at Deviant’s Palace, The Stress of Her Regard, and Declare. He also discusses the writing process.


  • Sir Terry Pratchett (d. 2015) is interviewed at Minicon by Jim Young (d. 2012) on March 26, 2005 in Bloomington, Minnesota, USA. The author talks about his writing, meeting J. K. Rowling, and how he received the OBE.

[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, James Davis Nicoll, Andrew Porter, Carl Slaughter, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Joel Zakem, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

48 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 10/1/18 I’ll Have A Short Half-Caf Scroll With Free-Range Foamed Pixels, Please

  1. @3 – I’ve traveled internationally pretty regularly since the late 1970s. I’ve occasionally had a lot of things searched – including books, papers, files, manuscripts, etc….

    When you cross a border you are subject to search. It is amazing to me that people find this to be surprising.

    The most detailed searches I’ve had were in the 12 months after 9/11 in Europe and in the early 1980s entering the USSR. I got searched a lot more in my 20s and 30s than I do now, excepting the 9/11 period. I’ve had my fingerprints taken in communist countries.

    In the USA you can go through the “Global Entry” program. Here you pay a fee, get your fingerprints and photo taken, and have a *usually” short interview. It allows you to have a lot less intensive screening both on USA domestic flights and international entry into the USA. If you travel a lot, especially internationally, it is a real time saver.

  2. Avery: I’ve been across the pond 7 times as an adult and to Australia twice; the only time I had to show anything was when I was carrying convention flyers, which I volunteered as I thought might have fit the UK’s definition of [commercial materials]. The current level of security is not traditional.

    @10 (wrt Katze): Fancyclopedia puts the total Constellation debt at $75,000; even if the membership reimbursements are considered debt and added to that, I doubt they would make the sum $150,000 as the peak membership fee was ~$60.

    edit: Fifth!

  3. @3 Yep, NZ now only slightly better (in theory reasonable suspicion required) than the rest of the Anglosphere

    If your passport is from this list, you won’t need to speak to a person to clear Customs (usually), but everyone has a brief chat with Biosecurity (and a likely appointment with either a luggage xray or a food-sniffing canine).
    You leave your shoes and belt on when boarding an aircraft (except maybe to North America), but you do have to take out your laptop (and liquids in international flights).
    I regularly get from “phones on” to ground-side at Auckland in under 30 minutes (no hold luggage, the shorter NZ/AU biosecurity queue). I don’t think it has ever taken me more than 15 minutes to go through security when boarding. I do tend to travel on a business schedule rather than a tourist one, times not guaranteed 365/7/24.

  4. I’ve been in a bit more than 50 countries, and flown around 20 times only this year. I have in total had my luggage searched four times. One on the way to Bangkok. One home from Syria.

    And two times in US.

  5. @avery abernethy When you cross a border you are subject to search. It is amazing to me that people find this to be surprising.

    What makes you think people are surprised rather than, say, outraged?

  6. The most boring aspect of all the Superman films was Lex Luthor. The DC TV universe is keeping him dead. Nichols Cage need to find better work.

  7. How much of Constellation’s debt was from the small mountain of uneaten crabs?

  8. Books read:

    Reread of Left Hand of Darkness. I was surprised to realize I did not remember the ending of this novel, I remember lots of details about the culture and themes but not the significant death. Very much worth rereading.

    Bug Jack Barron – Norman Spinrad. It’s interesting how a novel can be dated even though the technology is not obsolete. Freezing upon death has been available for fifty years now and there are less then 500 people frozen worldwide, its certainly not something you could bribe senators with. Makes the whole plot seem kind of silly.

  9. @ Chip: This is part of the attempted normalization of totalitarian structures.

    @ Sophie Jane: That particular phrasing is frequently used in a type of argument I describe as “why am I the only adult in a room/world full of children?” It’s a not-so-subtle putdown of the presumed intelligence of anyone else in the conversation, or at least of anyone who doesn’t agree with the arguer.

  10. I’ve had my bags searched a few times. It’s never a big deal, and it doesn’t take more than 5 or 10 minutes. My strategy when dealing with bureaucracy in general is to try to be cheerful and polite or else sad and disappointed, but never angry or bitter. If something goes wrong, I want them to want to help me.

    The biggest thing that gets asked about is medications. Bring them in their original bottles–an unmarked bottle of pills can land you in a cell while they try to identify the contents. There is a certain amount of “old-person privilege” here; they expect older people to travel with a personal pharmacy.

    Definitely don’t travel with anything embarrassing in your luggage. And leave the gun at home.

    As far as the phone search goes, it says they’d only do it if they had probable cause. Like finding a copy of “Top 10 Mobile Phone Apps to Commit Terrorism in New Zealand and Australia: 2019” when they searched your bags. Just in case, I’d suggest deleting the porno too.

  11. Yeah, surprised isn’t how I would put it.

    The issue isn’t that people search stuff, it’s that the rules for electronics are getting more and more invasive. It’s like – while it’s probably within their *right* to look through your wallet, record your bank card numbers, the slip of phone numbers you kept in there in pre-cell days (At least I did) and keep copies of the pictures of your spouse or kids, you pretty much NEVER have them actually doing such an invasive – and potentially dangerous to the security of your assets and relations – search.

    But those sorts of private details *are* on your phone. So people get uncomfortable, the way they would have been uncomfortable if a border guard decided they wanted to go through your wallet and your private assets in detail.

    And that’s in the cases where it isn’t a business phone, which in some cases might lead to choosing to swallow a fine, or possible breach of NDA and termination.

    And people are upset, because what used to be an exceptional thing — laptops and portable electronics have been around for decades and in use on planes or travel and were never considered acceptable for targeted searches outside very extreme circumstances — is becoming a norm.

  12. The great thing about modern data storage is its portability. Have tobs of files that you want to sneak through customs? Buy a hollowed-out coin and stick a 512 GB MicroSD card in it. Or hide it alnost literally anywhere else.

  13. This is just to say

    I have eaten
    the planet
    that was in
    your solar system

    and which
    you were probably
    for your descendants

    Forgive me
    it was delicious
    so crunchy
    and full of Energon.

  14. @Lenora Rose

    And people are upset, because what used to be an exceptional thing — laptops and portable electronics have been around for decades and in use on planes or travel and were never considered acceptable for targeted searches outside very extreme circumstances — is becoming a norm.

    People should be upset — the standards announced in the recent Riley v. California decision should be applied at the border.
    However, electronic border searches are not becoming a norm.

    In FY17, CBP conducted 30,200 border searches, both inbound and outbound, of electronic devices. CBP searched the electronic devices of more than 29,200 arriving international travelers, affecting 0.007 percent of the approximately 397 million travelers arriving to the United States. Of the more than 390 million arriving international travelers that CBP processed in FY16, 0.005 percent of such travelers (more than 18,400) had their electronic devices searched.


    It is extraordinarily unusual to have your phone or computer searched at the border.

    The real affront to privacy at the border doesn’t even have to be at the border.

  15. PJ Evans, Because of your comment, I just checked; Murderbot just dropped into my Kobo! <happy dance>

  16. where it isn’t a business phone, which in some cases might lead to choosing to swallow a fine, or possible breach of NDA

    Standard practice seems to be heading towards sending people out with factory reset devices with just the company switchboard number loaded, which are then restored over the internet once safely through everything. Backup and wipe again before travelling home.

  17. bill: Both the US border into Canada and the Canadian border to the US (same geographic locale, different government’s flunkies) have recently affirmed their right to do the searches. How common it is (yet) is less alarming than how determined they are to have the utter right.

    I also wonder how quickly that number is rising. The footnote you cite includes two fiscal years, and there’s a noteable increase, more than half again, between the two years, even if they downplay it by noting what small percentage of travelers that happens to be. What will FY18 look like? FY19?

    Though I agree with you on your final line and its point.

  18. I doubt searches of electronics is likely to become routine until it can be more automated – there’s just to much effort involved, However, as a means of targeting individuals it increases the capacity for some people to be harassed at borders – including journalists & news photographers.

  19. Coincidentally, the NZ list of acceptable passports doesn’t even include all countries that signed the Schengen agreement, let alone all EU countries. The selection doesn’t make much sense either, e.g. why are Germans, Dutch and French people okay, but Austrians, Belgians, Luxemburgers and Swiss people are not?

  20. @Avery Abernathy
    I have also travelled a lot since childhood and my father has travelled even more and detailed and invasive searches at the border are not normal, when entering a democratic country.

    I’m old enough to have experienced the annual family visits to East Germany and also travelled to the Soviet Union during Communist times. Their questions and searches were massively annoying, though even at the time no one ever considered that behaviour normal. East Germany was the worst, particularly when you were leaving and they literally turned your car inside out and shoved a mirror under it to make sure you weren’t smuggling anybody out. Poland was pretty awful as well – they required you to list all your electronic devices (mostly walkmens, radios and the like at the time – this was the late 1980s) even when you merely passed through their country. Personally, I suspect the young male border guard was just frustrated and decided to take it out on a group of teenaged girls. But no one, neither the East Germans nor the Poles nor the Soviets ever felt entitled to rummage through your personal documents.

    Apart from travel to Eastern Europe, where you got searched every time, I had a US border guard drive me to the brink of tears as a 15-year-old solo traveller during the Reagan era, and had my carry-on luggage searched twice, all in the UK, had myself and my luggage swabbed for explosives once (in Germany) and had my car searched at the Dutch border during the pre-Schengen era once. The latter infuriated me, because I’d crossed the border at the same checkpoint maybe fifty times with my parents in my Dad’s nice company car and the guards never stopped us or anybody else. But the first time I crossed the Dutch/German border alone as an 18 or 19-year-old in an old car (cause I couldn’t afford a better one), they frisked my car looking for drugs. I think I even said something like, “I don’t do drugs, what do you take me for?”

    If you take any prescription medication, particularly painkillers, across an international border, get a confirmation from your doctor that you need the medication. Though neither I nor my parents have ever had issues with medication at any border and I always have aspirin in my carry-on luggage, when travelling, and throat medication and anti-histamines in my checked luggage (plus sometimes salt tablets in larger quantities, because I cannot get them in Germany), while my parents have the usual elderly people prescription meds. Never had a problem.

    I have no problem with someone scanning my passport, asking me to fill out a form (though the US form could be better written), with putting my luggage through an X-ray machine or with sending dogs to sniff for drugs, bio-hazards and the like. That sort of thing is to be expected, even though I’m very glad that the Schengen agreement allows me to travel without such annoyances as border controls. However, rummaging through my personal files on my phone and/or laptop and/or tablet without a very good reason of the sort that would hold up in a court is not acceptable. Travel is a human right.

  21. Cora, I see your message. And thank you for the detailed description of your experiences with borders.

  22. @Cora I assume one of the filters on the list of fast-track countries is a case-by-case data exchange agreement (not via the EU, it seems). I also assume a reciprocal element in many cases, so I can see how the list aligns fairly well with likely NZ priorities. Mildly surprised Japan not there (Japanese signage is fairly common in tourist areas), I wonder if NZ is low on their priorities.

    I’ve been randomly (they select a batch of 6 or so consecutive people) sniffed for explosives leaving Australia a couple of times. My cabin bag was searched when entering the UK from Turkey a couple of decades ago (and my hold luggage late arriving), but my last-minute ticket purchase probably ticked a ‘potential drug smuggler’ box.

    BTW, interesting list of example low-risk countries in this UK policy

  23. When I travel, I have chargers and cords for electronic devices as well as the devices themselves, all of which I refuse to check for fear that they will be lost or stolen. I keep these in ziploc bags and remove them from the suitcase and put them in the x-ray bins; otherwise, my carry-on bag invariably gets pulled aside for checking. They will say “oh, no, you can just leave those in your bag” — but when I do, then my bag gets pulled for a check. So I’ve learned to pull all my little bags out and put them in the bins. I frequently get pulled aside for selective groping and scanning, too.

    My checked luggage also invariably gets rifled by TSA every single time I fly. I have a stack of saved TSA notices now. On my 2-leg flight out of San Jose, my checked bags got searched on both legs. The f*****s took a ziploc bag containing bottles of liquid from the interior of the suitcase, where it was well-padded on all sides, and re-packed it on top of everything else, so that it was right next to the top external wall of the suitcase. So of course there were heavy bags slammed on top of it, the bottles split open, and despite being inside a ziploc bag, I found that it hadl leaked on everything in the suitcase when I got home. 😡

  24. @JJ: read beyond the first line. Paragraph 2:

    Part of the shortfall was dealt with by not providing membership reimbursements for staff and program participants. (At modern Worldcons, other than the Guest of Honor, everyone right up to the chairman pays for their memberships. If cash remaining after the con permits, there are membership reimbursements for staff and program participants. This is a large chunk of money and is a Worldcon’s largest financial cushion.) This still left an unpayable debt in the neighborhood of $75,000.

    IME (from several Worldcons) this is a budget item but not a debt. I also find, as I noted, $75K in reimbursements hard to believe; at an average price of $40 (a lot of workers buy early, so that’s a high estimate), that’s 1875 memberships to refund out of 6400 total. I am wondering where those numbers came from; as a member of MCFI I was watching the process fairly closely, and recall $38K being the goal — which would require fans to have given up $37K in money they’d personally spent, which seems a lot by the standards of 35 years ago. (Taking the statement that $30K paid off 60 cents on the dollar as correct still means there was $25K outstanding.) The odd thing is that the person who responded to a query on another subject was heavily involved with the bailout; I don’t know whether they’ve proofed that article.

    @Robert Whitaker Sirignano: I doubt any of the debt was for crabs; they filled a lot of seats, and so should have made enough in fees to pay the company that ran the feed. One thing the Fancy article omits that I heard at the time was that the concom made unrealistic estimates of at-the-door income (expecting to double N2’s numbers despite having the ~same size regional as a base), but I’ve also heard that denied and don’t expect to get the truth this far after the fact.

  25. “The selection doesn’t make much sense either, e.g. why are Germans, Dutch and French people okay, but Austrians, Belgians, Luxemburgers and Swiss people are not?”

    Austrians, Belgians, Luxemburgers and Swiss people do not need a visa for New Zealand if they are travelling as tourists.

  26. Come to think of it, they did check my luggage in North Korea too. But no one would expect anything different.

  27. Camestros Felapton on October 2, 2018 at 12:32 pm said:
    I doubt searches of electronics is likely to become routine until it can be more automated – there’s just to much effort involved, However, as a means of targeting individuals it increases the capacity for some people to be harassed at borders – including journalists & news photographers.

    From speaking to my journalist friends, this is exactly what happens.

  28. Chip Hitchcock: JJ: read beyond the first line.

    I did. I clearly read the whole thing when I wrote that bit up, and I reported what Fanac says accurately. If you disagree with it, talk to Katze and/or the people at Fanac, I’m not interested in your pissing match.

  29. @Joanna Rivers: Actually, Gendry turned up again in season 7, and joined up with Jon Snow.

  30. @Hampus: I was referring to use of the eGate, not visa requirements. An American etc who does require a visa (e.g. is taking up a permanent job) can still use the eGate – which may direct them to talk to a person if there is something not covered in the electronic records. There are also questions on the arrival card that the Biosecurity people can not deal with the ‘wrong’ answer for, they direct you to the Customs person sited behind the Biosecurity podiums.

  31. Ah, ok. I was in New Zealand earlier this year and can’t say it took much time to pass the border control. It was a very quick thing, even though I didn’t use eGate.

  32. @bookworm : AFAIR, the bribe was not being frozen, but becoming immortal (without being frozen)
    And the turning point was the requirement for immortality.

    Been a long time since I (re-)read it (last century I think), but I was a big fan of Bug Jack Barron

  33. @JJ: I’m not interested in your pissing match. What pissing match? I’m arguing with your misreading of the article; I’m not wasting my time arguing with the article itself, but I was there and note FYI that it doesn’t align with what we were told when we were working on the bailout. What you’re really saying is that you’re not interested in facts if you show you made a mistake — which doesn’t surprise me.

  34. JJ: About the 1983 Worldcon bailout, I didn’t realize that the Fancyclopedia was counting potential membership reimbursements towards a $150,000 total, which seems to be the root of the problem here. Everybody understood that those kinds of reimbursements weren’t entitlements, and would only be paid if a surplus was available, which of course it wasn’t.

    This was a big story in File 770 for over a year — you can see the numbers bandied about at the time in these excerpts of my coverage.

    File 770 #44 p21
    File 770 #45 p3
    File 770 #48 p6
    File 770 #50 p2

  35. The only place I think has been legitimate to count potential membership reimbursements — which as Mike points out, are not entitlements and are not guaranteed — is when trying to compare Worldcon budgets from year to year on a common basis. An analysis I recall seeing from (as I recall) Mark Olson put in the estimated reimbursements for conventions that did not/could not pay them in order to show just how much more expensive non-North American Worldcons tend to be to run compared to North American ones. It’s not always that obvious because the membership costs are generally comparable if you don’t include that (unpaid because the convention can’t afford it) reimbursement expense.

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