Pixel Scroll 11/11/17 The Pixel, We’re Told, Never Gives Up Her Scroll

(1) 2017 GALAXY AWARDS. Here is a partial report of the winners of the 2017 Galaxy Awards, presented in China at the Chengdu International SF Conference.

Mike Resnick won for Most Popular Foreign Author.

Crystal Huff tweeted two other results:

(2) I SAY HELLO, YOU SAY GOODBYE. The Atlantic asks “What Happens If China Makes First Contact?” The author traveled to China to report on its SETI efforts, and had lengthy conversations with Liu Cixin whose Three-Body trilogy explores the hazards of such contacts.

The search for extraterrestrial intelligence (seti) is often derided as a kind of religious mysticism, even within the scientific community. Nearly a quarter century ago, the United States Congress defunded America’s seti program with a budget amendment proposed by Senator Richard Bryan of Nevada, who said he hoped it would “be the end of Martian-hunting season at the taxpayer’s expense.” That’s one reason it is China, and not the United States, that has built the first world-class radio observatory with seti as a core scientific goal.

Seti does share some traits with religion. It is motivated by deep human desires for connection and transcendence. It concerns itself with questions about human origins, about the raw creative power of nature, and about our future in this universe—and it does all this at a time when traditional religions have become unpersuasive to many. Why these aspects of seti should count against it is unclear. Nor is it clear why Congress should find seti unworthy of funding, given that the government has previously been happy to spend hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars on ambitious searches for phenomena whose existence was still in question. The expensive, decades-long missions that found black holes and gravitational waves both commenced when their targets were mere speculative possibilities. That intelligent life can evolve on a planet is not a speculative possibility, as Darwin demonstrated. Indeed, seti might be the most intriguing scientific project suggested by Darwinism.

Even without federal funding in the United States, seti is now in the midst of a global renaissance. Today’s telescopes have brought the distant stars nearer, and in their orbits we can see planets. The next generation of observatories is now clicking on, and with them we will zoom into these planets’ atmospheres. seti researchers have been preparing for this moment. In their exile, they have become philosophers of the future. They have tried to imagine what technologies an advanced civilization might use, and what imprints those technologies would make on the observable universe. They have figured out how to spot the chemical traces of artificial pollutants from afar. They know how to scan dense star fields for giant structures designed to shield planets from a supernova’s shock waves.

… Liu Cixin told me he doubts the dish will find one. In a dark-forest cosmos like the one he imagines, no civilization would ever send a beacon unless it were a “death monument,” a powerful broadcast announcing the sender’s impending extinction. If a civilization were about to be invaded by another, or incinerated by a gamma-ray burst, or killed off by some other natural cause, it might use the last of its energy reserves to beam out a dying cry to the most life-friendly planets in its vicinity.

Newsweek has placed its wager: “Search for Aliens: Why China Will Find Them First”

(3) WHERE’S FALCO? Marcus Errico, in a Yahoo! Movies post called “Find the Falcon! How Lucasfilm and fans have been playing hide-and-seek with iconic ‘Star Wars’ ship”, says that Disney has gone to elaborate lengths to hide their full-scale Millennium Falcon model but fans have found out where it is by using aerial photography.

This week’s headlines came courtesy of one Kevin Beaumont, a Brit who, using Google Maps, was able to spot the disguised ship near Longcross Studios outside of London. Disney covered the Falcon with sheeting and tucked the beloved “hunk of junk” behind a ring of shipping containers, shielding it from fans and Imperial troops alike

(4) WE HAVE MET THE ENEMY. James Davis Nicoll faces his greatest challenge:

TFW I realize as a tor.com reviewer I am competing against myself as a jamesdavisnicoll reviewer and vice versa. No choice but to double down until I emerge victorious.

(5) G.I. JOE AND BARBIE, TOGETHER? Two toymakers could become one — “Hasbro reportedly makes a takeover bid for struggling rival Mattel”. The Los Angeles Times has the story.

Mattel has struggled with slumping sales despite hiring a new chief executive early this year, Margo Georgiadis, a former Google executive.

Mattel in late October reported a 14% drop in its third-quarter sales, excluding the effect of currency fluctuations, and suspended its quarterly dividend. It blamed some of the decline on the recent bankruptcy filing of retailer Toys R Us Inc.

That prompted S&P Global Ratings to lower its ratings on Mattel’s corporate debt, and led one analyst to say that Mattel might be better off as a takeover target.

“We believe its brands and manufacturing footprint could be worth more than $10 billion in their current state,” analyst Gerrick Johnson of BMO Capital Markets said in a note to clients. “Thus, the company could have value to a financial, industry or entertainment conglomerate buyer.”

Mattel’s market value is $5 billion after the stock plunged 47% so far this year. The stock jumped 5% Friday to close at $14.62 a share.

(6) FAAN AWARDS. Corflu 35 announced that Nic Farey will be the FAAn awards administrator for the 2018 awards, given for work published in 2017 and to be distributed at Corflu 35 in Toronto.

(7) LIGHTNING STRIKING AGAIN AND AGAIN. Andrew says, “This story is reminiscent of the ‘On/Off’ star in Vernor Vinge’s Deepness in the Sky.” From the BBC, “‘Zombie’ star survived going supernova”:

When most stars go supernova, they die in a single blast, but astronomers have found a star that survived not one, but five separate explosions.

The “zombie” star kept erupting for nearly two years – six times longer than the duration of a typical supernova.”

“Intriguingly, by combing through archived data, scientists discovered an explosion that occurred in 1954 in exactly the same location. This could suggest that the star somehow survived that explosion, only to detonate again in 2014.

The object may be the first known example of a Pulsational Pair Instability Supernova.

“According to this theory, it is possible that this was the result of a star so massive and hot that it generated antimatter in its core,” said co-author Daniel Kasen, from the University of California, Berkeley. “

(8) SUPERGIRL. A genre figure joins the list of the accused: “Warner Bros. Suspends ‘Supergirl,’ ‘Flash’ Showrunner in Wake of Sexual Harassment Claims”.

Andrew Kreisberg, executive producer of The CW DC Comics series including The Flash, Supergirl and Arrow, has been suspended by producers Warner Bros. TV Group over allegations of sexual harassment by multiple women.

Warner Bros. Television, the studio behind the Greg Berlanti-produced comic book shows, has launched an internal investigation into the claims leveled against Kreisberg.

“We have recently been made aware of allegations of misconduct against Andrew Kreisberg. We have suspended Mr. Kreisberg and are conducting an internal investigation,” Warners said in a statement late Friday. “We take all allegations of misconduct extremely seriously, and are committed to creating a safe working environment for our employees and everyone involved in our productions.”


  • November 11, 1994 Interview with the Vampire premieres.


  • Born November 11, 1922 — Kurt Vonnegut
  • Born November 11, 1960 — Stanley Tucci, actor (Transformers: Age of Extinction, Muppets Most Wanted, Jack the Giant Slayer, The Hunger Games series).
  • Born November 11, 1962 — Demi Moore, American actress (Ghost)
  • Born November 11, 1964 – Calista Flockhart (Supergirl)
  • Born November 11, 1966 – Alison Doody, actress (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade)
  • Born November 11, 1974 – Leonardo DiCaprio (Inception)

(11) CALLING GITCHY GUMIE. Matthew Johnson’s offered these lyrics in comments to help File 770 compensate for failing to mention the anniversary of the loss of the Edmund Fitzgerald as an item in “Today in History.”

The legend comes down from the APAs of old
Of the fanzine become a webjournal
The pixel, we’re told, never gives up its scrolls
In the winds of September eternal.

With a full load of links and a hold full of thinks
And Ray Bradbury stories remembered
With two fifths of scotch and a God that they’d stalked
Through the winds of eternal September.

(12) PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER. N.K. Jemisin tweeted:

(13) GOOD TASTE? Annalee Flower Horne questioned Windycon’s choice for a panel title.

(14) FOLKTALES. NPR interviewed Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and Maria Tatar, two Harvard professors, about their anthology: “‘Annotated African American Folktales’ Reclaims Stories Passed Down From Slavery”.

On the complicated history of Joel Chandler Harris’ Uncle Remus stories

Gates: Joel Chandler Harris did an enormous service. We can debate the fact that, well, he certainly wasn’t a black man, and we could debate what his motivation was, and we can wonder, did African-Americans receive any percentage or share of the enormous profit that he made? The answer is absolutely not. But on the other hand, a lot of these tales would have been lost without Joel Chandler Harris.

Tatar: I was going to present the counter argument that is, did he kill African-American folklore? Because after all, if you look at the framed narrative, who is Uncle Remus telling the stories to? A little white boy, and so suddenly this entire tradition has been appropriated for white audiences, and made charming rather than subversive and perilous, dangerous — stories that could be told only at nighttime when the masters were not listening.

Gates: But think about it this way: It came into my parlor, it came into my bedroom, through the lips of a black man, my father, who would have us read the Uncle Remus tales but within a whole different context, and my father, can we say, re-breathed blackness into those folktales. So it’s a very complicated legacy.

(15) HOW LONG WAS IT? ScreenRant plays along with the ides this can be done: “Science Determines When Star Wars Movies Take Place”.

As reported by Wired, Johnson posits that based on the development of life, culture and approximate age of the planets in the universe, Star Wars takes place about roughly 9 billion years after the big bang that created the universe as it is now known. If true, this leaves at least 4.7 billion years between the stories of Star Wars and the present day world. In other words it is “a long time ago.”

The most interesting evidence Johnson gives to this theory is the planet of Mustafar; the site of Anakin and Obi-Wan’s climatic duel in Revenge of the Sith and later home to Darth Vader’s castle. Mustafar is a planet overflowing with lava and containing a nearly ridiculous amount of volcanoes but that climate isn’t all that different to what Earth was like in its early stages. Similarly, Hoth, the famous snowy planet from Empire Strikes Back, could be another Earth-like entity experiencing an ice age. Star Wars‘ motif of having “themed planets” is really nothing more than Earth-esque planets being in different stages of development.

(16) BEHIND THE IRON FILINGS. A BBC report ponders “Why Russia’s first attempt at the internet failed”. (Video at the link.)

In the 1960s, a Russian engineer proposed a civilian computer network to connect workers and farmers all across the Soviet Union, and the idea made it all the way to the highest authorities in Moscow.

What went wrong? Watch this video to find out, and read this in-depth piece for analysis on how this Soviet failure unfolded.

(17) LONGHAND. “The Feeling of Power” redux: “Do we need to teach children joined-up handwriting?”

The US state of Illinois has passed a law requiring school students to learn joined-up handwriting, or “cursive”, overriding the governor’s veto.

It is no longer a requirement in US schools, and some countries have dropped the skill from the curriculum or made it optional.

Why, then, do some – like the UK – still insist on it in a digital age? Shouldn’t children learn to type effectively instead?

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. The Evening Standard breaks down the “John Lewis Christmas advert 2017: Watch as snoring and farting Moz The Monster emerges from under the bed”.

John Lewis this morning unveiled its latest Christmas campaign advert that features a young boy who befriends a scruffy monster who is sleeping under his bed.

The two-minute advert, set to a cover of Beatles track Golden Slumbers by Elbow, tells the story of Joe – who realises a snoring and farting 7ft imaginary monster called Moz lives under his bed.

Joe – who is played by seven-year-old London twin brothers Tobias and Ethan – befriends Moz and the pair get up to mischief, playing in the boy’s bedroom in to the small hours.

After a number of sleepless nights, Joe keeps falling asleep during the day. So Moz decides to give him a night light, which when illuminated makes the monster vanish meaning Joe can sleep undisturbed.

But as the advert comes to an end with the tagline “For gifts that brighten up their world,” viewers soon realise when Joe turns off the night light, Moz returns – meaning they can remain friends.

…Much like the poor boy he keeps awake at night, Moz the Monster feels a bit tired. While undeniably sweet, Moz is a bumbling character that you can’t not love, we have seen it all before. The monster is – really – a hairier version of Monty the Penguin, the CGI star of a few years ago.


[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Nic Farey, Andrew, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day StephenfromOttawa.]

62 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 11/11/17 The Pixel, We’re Told, Never Gives Up Her Scroll

  1. There appears to be a room party going on outside my building. It likely started in the bar. Here in 6134, this is very common, and generally harmless.

    (14) If Joel Chandler Harris hadn’t written down the Uncle Remus stories, we almost certainly would have lost them entirely. They wouldn’t be available to reclaim from the racist frame he wrapped them in. I don’t think I’m remotely qualified to have an opinion on Harris’s intentions or what damage he did to the stories. I don’t know if he was, in his own mind, preserving stories he’d heard and loved, unaware of the problematic nature of his frame, or opportunistically stealing good stories from people he didn’t regard as people, purely for the money. But at least the stories survive, along with the knowledge that there was African-American folklore from the time of slavery. Most of which, sadly, is most likely gone, but we do have these stories.

    But my bias is always for “write the stories down, even if you don’t get it right, rather than let them be lost. You can extract a lot more from poorly preserved literature than from completely lost literature.” It’s as likely as any other bias to have great, gaping holes in its grasp of the world.

  2. 17. “Why, then, do some – like the UK – still insist on [cursive] in a digital age? Shouldn’t children learn to type effectively instead?”

    Earlier generations managed to learn to do both.

  3. 17) Yes, it seems to me that if you have to jot down a note in a hurry, a biro is a lot easier to carry than a typewriter…. My handwriting isn’t anything to write home about, but it does the job; I learned to touch-type on my father’s old Olivetti portable when I was a teenager. I certainly don’t regret being able to do both.

    In short, intelligible handwriting is a skill worth having.

  4. @Steve Wright

    I had the traditional primary school “learn cursive with a fountain pen” treatment and my handwriting is terrible anyway.
    I had a very old-school A level history teacher, and after our first set of essays were marked he handed them out with pithy little comments: “not bad for a first attempt” “answer the question set, please” “quotes are helpful” etc. When he got to me he fixed me with a meaningful look and murmured “word processing from now on, I think”

  5. (13) If you’re willing to call yourself “queer,” you can’t complain about “tutti-fruiti.” Words have power, and when you embrace the other side’s hate language, it takes you places you probably don’t want to go. Why can’t we have a campaign against all hateful terms for LGBT people?


  6. 17: From the point of view of someone who works at a Cambridge College… Trying to set up enough computers for even one Tripos exam would involve a huge amount of work, trying to turn them round two or three times a day would be a non-starter. The College has a small number of laptops that can be used in case of special requirements, but in general it’s all handwritten answers. Directors of Studies will quite often require their students to handwrite a number of pieces of work to keep them in practice.

    [Computers for use in an exam must be wiped and a standard image installed, no network connection is allowed. I believe scripts are dumped to printer immediately after the exam for marking]

  7. @Greg

    I know that you very much dislike the modern reclaiming of “queer” and I entirely understand where you come from with that, but that’s not a reason to dismiss an unrelated complaint about an unrelated word.

  8. 17) My cursive handwriting is crap. My “printed word” is better and I take a lot of notes every day at work. Having clear writing I think everyone needs, I am not convinced it has to be a form of cursive–but that may be a bias of me having not learned it well.

    My secret? I’m always scrolling!

  9. re: 13. When I grew up, Tutti Frutti was used as a slur for gays and their activities. So to see a panel with that title…yeah, I have no desire to attend a con that would think a panel with that title was a good idea.

  10. (12) – Shut up and take my money.

    (17) – My wife has taken it upon herself to mage sure that our children can write cursive. I have been surreptitiously practicing alongside them, as years of training as a Drafter has ingrained block capitals into anything I write.

    What I truly miss is shorthand. I found some of my college notebooks filled with it – I have sadly lost the knack of reading/writing it.

    (13) – As a straight white guy, I try to avoid commenting on these things in favor of listening. This, however – There was no way that this was not a slur. Con staff heads should roll.

  11. It feels like there are at least three related claims here:

    1) Learning to write by hand, and taking notes by hand, have cognitive advantages.
    2) There are other practical advantages to being able to hand-write notes that you, the note-taker, will understand later.
    3) Learning and practicing cursive writing has real advantages.

    The people quoted in the article give evidence for the first claim, and comments here have given arguments for the second.

    Neither (1) nor (2) by itself is an argument for cursive rather than un-joined-up letters. From the viewpoint of learning to recognize letters, I learned to read before I started school. By the time they started us on cursive in third or fourth grade, everyone in my class knew how to read, and could write in un-joined-up letters.

    The writing we learned first looks more like the letters I’m typing now than the cursive did. Have you looked at a capital Q in that style? It doesn’t look like this Q; it looks like a very curly number 2. Q is probably the worst from that viewpoint, but there’s a loop in the capital I, and the “correct” lower-case r looks more like an n than like a hand-written r, because of joining it to whatever comes after it.

    The argument for teaching children to write by hand seems sound (though not for refusing keyboards to students for whom that’s physically or cognitively easier). For teaching them that specific style of writing, not so much. Yes, the relatively few who need to look at handwritten original documents from the 20th century would have to learn cursive later. But people of my generation who are studying documents from the 18th century have to do that now. That doesn’t mean that my teachers should have taught us all that style of script, for the few who would need it in adult life.

    I took handwritten notes in cursive, pretty fast. But in the classes where I needed the speed, I was dropping in bits of mathematical notation, Spanish, and Greek, in all cases purely to save characters: “ni” is faster to write than “neither,” and ~ quicker than “not”. (I once told a classmate that yes they could borrow my notes, but they might have trouble understanding them, because of this.)

    I suspect that part of what’s going on here is adults who don’t want to have to change their style of writing so their children or grandchildren will be able to read their notes, even though it’s mostly habit. I usually handwrite in cursive, but I do still know how to write the letters I was taught when I was five or six.

  12. Paul Weimer: So to see a panel with that title…yeah, I have no desire to attend a con that would think a panel with that title was a good idea.

    I thought referring to LGBTQ as being a “lifestyle” was pretty offensive, too — as is dictating to other LGBTQ people what they are or are not allowed to find offensive. 😐

  13. At this point, the only time I use cursive is when I’m signing a greeting card. Or, I suppose, if I ever write a paper check again.

    My handwriting is famously terrible. At this point, I don’t even do lower-case — everything is done in printing (non-cursive) and in all-caps.

  14. 10) Note that both Stanley Tucci and Calista Flockhart were in the 1999 A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

  15. Whenever I hear “lifestyle,” for some reason, I always picture someone reclining on a couch or chaise. Nice work if you can get it.

    Around sixth grade, my friend Dave simply stopped using cursive. A year or so later, my friend Mark did the same. I looked down at my hideous scrawling and followed them both. With years of practice, my printing became as hard to read as my script, and fellow employees at the A-1 Answering Service complained about it, and I had to do better. I’d like to say I kept it at that level. I really would.

    The Pixxle who has no scrolls
    Once commanded an eight-foot shelf;
    When they commented, “You’ll run out one day;”
    He replied “Kindly frot yourself!”
    But his step-uncle Michael obliged him to read
    Fables of authors and readers and greed,
    For he wrote, re those topics of fandom and polls,
    “There’s no better source for a Pixxle’s scrolls!”

  16. @Joe H. At this point, the only time I use cursive is when I’m signing a greeting card. Or, I suppose, if I ever write a paper check again.

    My handwriting is famously terrible. At this point, I don’t even do lower-case — everything is done in printing (non-cursive) and in all-caps.

    Same here. My all-caps printing is very neat and legible, unless I’m in a tearing hurry, but my handwriting is atrocious. The only time I use cursive is for my signature, which is pretty illegible. (In fact, there’s very little difference between my signature on those touch-screens where you sign with your finger and that done with pen on paper.)

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  18. Vicki Rosenzweig on November 12, 2017 at 5:26 am said:
    There are different styles of cursive, and some are closer to printing than others. (The style I use isn’t the one I was taught in school; it’s one I learned later.)

  19. Even my all-caps printing isn’t that great. Well, from a distance it looks nice because the letter sizes are all uniform and there’s plenty of space between words, etc., but I have this tendency to kind of not draw all of the lines in some letters …

  20. I was taught cursive in school but my cursive handwriting was always less legible than printing, so I stopped writing cursive in 6th grade and have never used it since.
    I’d also note that it’s possible to read cursive without writing it, you can just teach students reading if that’s needed.

  21. Due to a spinal injury that eff3cts both hands in terms of fine motor function, the only thing that anyone sees that I write is my signature which is CAT with three whiskers on either side. Otherwise I use the iPad for all writing.

  22. When I was in high school and university long ago, exams used to involve writing essays in little exam booklets, in “cursive” handwriting. What do they do nowadays?

  23. One suspects that the neuromuscular “talents” behind handwriting are not unlike those behind, say, playing piano or guitar or violin–that they are unevenly distributed across the population and that some of us will never find the movements as easy to learn and perform as others do. Which is not to say that most people can’t acquire basic proficiency with sufficient practice.

    I have no memory of what it felt like to learn cursive (a version of Palmer Method in third grade in 1952-53*), but I do remember pretty vividly what it was like to learn to finger and change guitar chords three years later, and how long it took to get second-nature comfortable with them–and, decades later, what it felt like to learn a new set of grips and moves when I started playing swing. I know I don’t have the gift of learning manual skills quickly (I’d be a much better guitarist by now if I did). I also recall what it took to become the pretty-fast touch typist I am after getting the only failing grade of my life in high-school typing. (Hint: the computer and word-processing software.) Practice, practice, practice. And a forgiving practice environment.

    * By high school I had modified most of the Palmer letterforms to suit my own tastes, and later I stole some pleasing features from European handwriting, and in grad school took up a bit of calligraphy and fiddled with italic cursive with an Osmiroid pen. There’s something very satisfying about writing a pleasing hand with a decent fountain pen. Now if I could only learn to sketch–a skill that many educated folk learned in the 19th century.

  24. I can write quickly and legibly by hand–and I haven’t used cursive since grade school. It may have made sense in the days when all we had was drippy fountain pens and quills, but today we have ball-points and felt-tips (and pencils). There’s no reason to keep the tip of the pen on the page at all times. It really doesn’t affect speed at all. Trust me on this.

    Teach kids to read it, yes. But that can easily be done by teaching the few cursive letter forms that aren’t obvious. And then, hopefully, before long, knowing how to recognize those bizarre shapes will become about as useful as recognizing the archaic long “s” that people often mistake for an “f”.

  25. We learned cursive writing in third grade. I think the earliest we could take a typing class, was tenth grade as an elective and people learned on manual typewriters. (I mainly learned to type by using the Mavis Beacon software when I was a grad student.)

    I find that I can no longer write in cursive. This was brought home when I was required to write out an oath that I wasn’t cheating on the GRE exam. I find that even my printing is getting pretty bad. Probably from typing just about everything.

    Since we’re doing Gordon Lightfoot:

    If you could scroll my pixel
    What a tale my file could tell
    Just like a Jordan movie
    About a wolf from a wishing well

  26. Camestros Felapton on November 12, 2017 at 9:36 am said:
    The bank once bounced one of my father’s checks because they couldn’t read his sig (which, truthfully, was hard to read – as an engineer, he printed more legibly than he wrote). …It was the check to the hospital after I was born.

  27. 13) As I’ve never heard of “tutti frutti” being used as a slur before this discussion, and as I’m very skeptical that all the entries in Urban Dictionary reflect actual usage, I decided to put is “tutti frutti” a slur? into Google and see what came up. This page here is on the fourth page of results. The only vaguely relevant entry was this fascinating if not entirely convincing essay on the origins of the association of fruit and homosexuality, “How—and Why—Did Fruitcake Become a Slur?” So I’m not convinced that’s an inappropriate title. I’ll be curious to see how that story develops.

    With the death of Fats Domino, he’s really all we have left of the Rock and Roll generation. Jerry Lee Lewis and a few others still living were more more rockabilly. Little Richard comes out of the R&B/black gospel tradition. I like to think of it as a little tribute to him.

  28. (13) No–goddamm it no.
    First off, my first thought was ‘tutti-fruiti’ as in the ice cream. And then it was”Oh-Tutti-Frutti like an amalgam”.
    Second–quit re-writing history. “Tutti-Frutti” referred to gay men; not some amorphous queer community. Does that count as cultural appropriation?
    Third–if you’re going to be so cutting edge inclusive as to refer to the ‘queer’ community, then maybe you need to add a fucking sense of humor. I thought it was funny when I read what the panel was supposed to be about. And I say that as an old-school big fag. I’d actually have gone to that one. Sounded like it would have been a hoot.
    Now will come the mea-culpas and sincere apologies and pledges-to-do-better while other people puff up like a broody hen and give off a Victorian-swoon. Gag.

  29. (12) Sounds great. Hope it happens.

    (13) The panel title and description do not mention “LGTBQ”. But it’s obviously implied in the title and the use of the words “social norms” and “lifestyles”. It’s very much “Nudge, nudge. Wink, wink. Know what I mean? Know what I mean?” That does not make it OK.

    (17) When I took wood shop I had to learn how to use hand tools first. I remember it took me forever to develop the coordination and control to saw a clean square cut. But I’m really glad I did. Bandsaws are wonderful, but I don’t have any place to put one. I know I can always do what I need with a small set of tools. It also helped me learn how to do a decent job of cutting bread.

  30. I was writing some labels, and realized another thing about my writing: When I do lettering, I have to avoid “writing” at all. If I want lettering to be easily readable, let alone esthetically appealing, I have to be making a series of pictures of letters, or I will try to work too fast and make a mush of it.

  31. I still handwrite a lot, mostly because I take meeting notes and it’s actually faster than typing, even though I type more than 60 wpm and used to transcribe from a dictaphone. I’m not sure when I made the transition to a combination of cursive and block printing, but maybe high school. It’s readable and that’s really all that matters to me. One of my kids uses cursive reluctantly and the other not at all.

    13) GOOD TASTE? – Eh. I’ve been a member of the LGBTQ community since the 70s and that’s not a term I’ve ever heard, although I vaguely recall my uncle being referred to as a “fruit,” right before my father kicked the guy who said (I think it was another uncle) it out of the house. In any case, I’m a fan of reclaiming words and phrases, if the reclamation is done by members of the groups for whom those words and phrases were meant to be demeaning.

  32. Like every German kid in the 1970s and 80s (and still today), I was taught cursive from first grade on. My handwriting is pretty scrawly. And coincidentally, my Mom blames American kindergarten teachers for that, because during my eight months in an American kindergarten, they taught us how to print letters, but did not pay attention to proper hand posture, probably because the system is different. By the time, I entered school in Germany, the “wrong” posture was already so engrained that generations of teachers could not change it. So when I’m writing by hand, I look very weird to German eyes.

    But even though my handwriting is scrawly, I can still write much faster in cursive than I can write print letters by hand. And so I only use print when I need others to read what I’ve scribbled, e.g. when I’m teaching. When I’m taking notes for myself, I use cursive.

    Regarding young people not being able to read older documents, in Germany we have an extra complication, because instead of the regular Latin cursive, until 1945 school children were taught the so-called Sütterlin cursive, which looks completely different. My parents can still read Sütterlin, I can’t. And indeed, this is becoming a problems for historians, because so many old documents are written in Sütterlin. History departments have started teaching students to decipher Sütterlin. Universities also have people you can contact, if you run across an old family document written in Sütterlin and can’t decipher it.

  33. @StephenfromOttawa

    When I was in high school and university long ago, exams used to involve writing essays in little exam booklets, in “cursive” handwriting. What do they do nowadays?

    We did that also, when I was in college – the dreaded “blue books” (“that was a three-blue-book question”). Googling “Blue Book” and “college” comes up with results that suggest that universities are still using this method.

  34. I took more than my share of essay tests in those little blue books. A highlight(?): Coming back from winter break and discovering that I had been given an Incomplete in Shakespeare. The reason: The prof couldn’t read my handwriting in my essay final, and rather than failing me outright, he had me come to his office and basically read it out to him.

    Which, TBH, was much more than I really deserved, in retrospect. But I think it was a pretty decent final, all things considered.

  35. Camestros Felapton on November 12, 2017 at 9:36 am said:

    My handwriting was so bad as a child my parents hoped I’d grow up to be a doctor

    My wife’s (retired Registered Nurse) handwriting is so bad, that doctors at the hospital complained that other doctors were writing notes on their patients. (Charge nurse looks at notes. “Oh, no, that’s Nurse ULTRAWIFE’s handwriting.)

  36. My handwriting has never been particularly good, and if I need people to read something I’ve written then I do print it (which is still a horrible scrawl, but generally legible). Otherwise, I like to write notes in cursive for my own use. I like the way the words flow and writing in that style actually helps my memory more than merely printing or typing do, probably because I can “feel” the shape of the whole word and how it fits into the sentence rather than just strings of individual letters or button presses.

  37. @Xtifr: “It really doesn’t affect speed at all. Trust me on this.”

    Well, I trust you for you. . . . Like Cora, my (admittedly-horrible) cursive is definitely faster than my (not-as-horrible) printing. Not that I use either nearly as much as I type, of course. FWIW, I print more than handwrite these days (and have for quite some time), but that hasn’t helped my printing speed outpace my cursive speed. But maybe I just don’t do either one enough.*

    The shorthand people are just laughing at all this, I suppose. 😉

    * I love typing so much; forget my ugly handwriting and printing – typing FTW! I’m a very fast, accurate touch typist, especially when using a keyboard with decent tactile feedback (i.e., “clicky” versus “mushy”). I was fortunate enough to take a typing class, then a computer class, over the summer at some point (the summer after 6th grade? earlier? later? not sure). Whew.

    Writing on a whiteboard makes me a bit self-conscious. My printing is weirder and more inconsistent than usual, like I’ve had a few. I never learned to write well using markers on vertical surfaces.

    @Cora: I didn’t know (modern) German and American printing was different. And wow, thanks for the link/info on Sütterlin; it looks like alternate-universe handwriting to me. 😉

  38. Wow, who would have thought that handwriting and cursive would be the hot topic of the day, from all the options Mike offered us? 🙂

    Studying calligraphy in the fifth grade was a big influence on the way I wrote–and allowed me to improve the way I printed so much that I pretty much gave up on cursive then and there.

    I do type far more often (and somewhat faster) than I write, these days, but I do like to get out in the sun with pen and paper every so often, and think about stuff and take notes, which helps me stay in practice.

  39. I changed schools in second grade, moving from a district that didn’t teach cursive until third grade to a class that had already gotten to R. So I never really learned the more frequently used letters and eventually gave up on all of it.

  40. It seems to me that out educational system(s) are setting kids up to fail at apocalypse: (kids, when EVERYTHING falls apart, there will be no electricity and you will probably be forced to use the pages of great literature for toilet paper…)

    They need to learn how to be able to do long division by hand, how to write cursive, right after their classes on creating fire without a match or a Bic.

    I’m surprised more authors aren’t scandalized by this dropping of cursive…how are you going to autograph your books, with block letters?

    (Oh, that’s right…no paper books to sign in the future, just append your signature file. FYI: no electricity also means no ebooks, in case you weren’t paying attention.)

    Other useful future skills that ought to be taught in public school: how to purify water, how to skin and gut a rat, how to make ink from ashes, how to make stone hand tools without chopping off your own fingers, how to barter, how to catch a duck so you can make quill pens, how to scrape paper….

  41. Had a lovely time at Windycon; heard Oor Wombat do a very funny reading from an as-yet-unwritten romance novel, (I want it! I want it! Finish it so I can throw money at you!) featuring the heroine trying to figure out how to commit suicide reliably with a sword that is longer than her arm. (Spoiler: circumnstances intervene and she doesn’t end up committing suicide.)

    And I ate lox and bagels in the consuite; there was an older gentleman sitting at the table and I chatted briefly with him. When he got up to leave I saw his badge and I realized it was Lou Antonelli. (Somehow, I was expecting floppy ears, fur, and a tail. <rueful grin>)

    The theme was “dystopia”. There was a fascinating panel on safe body disposal after a massive catastrophe….

    Whatever kerfuffle may have happened at a Sunday panel, I was unaware of it.

  42. I was taught cursive but hardly ever use it except when trying to impress (in English). Writing English notes or documentation I find it “printing” is much more legible. And if I don’t bother to lift the pen off the paper in between letters it’s faster than cursive but still legible. For Japanese writing I need to lift the pen lift up between characters to be readable at all…
    I also have a shaky hand which means these days, unless I take special care, cursive is just an indescipherable scribble (to me), while either Japanese or English printing (joined-up or otherwise) may be spectacularly ugly but is still readable.
    I do prefer to take notes by hand (in either language) for discussions with close colleagues, but in a bigger meeting it’s keyboard time. My junior colleagues are mostly worse… their handwriting is so bad they need a keyboard all the time.

  43. I have two different kinds of printing, it seems – the kind I use for my notes, which is very fast, abbreviates idiosyncratically, and is tiny and tight except where it suddenly has flourishes. Some of it is joined like cursive but I reject most cursive characters. Then there’s the printing I do when I need others to read, which is slightly slower, and definitely slower than typing, but still pretty quick. I tend to describe it as ugly but legible, but it’s not even that ugly. I got one job on the basis of that handwriting as the manager asked for a handwritten cover letter; he’d had too many experiences with secretaries and admin assistants whose writing was illegible. I print numerals on a daily basis at my day job (Hundreds of them) and frequently need printed notations to go along.

    My signature is firmly established by now and bears about as much resemblance to cursive as one would expect after doing it the same for 10+ years without ever referring back to how cursive is done (And of course X many years before that of my birth-name signature…) I think it’s an improvement on the people whose signatures trail off into a long plain line, and much harder to imitate. (I have also been doing my initials-alone as a looping imprint for a similarly long time.)

    They still used the blue books in university as recently as 2008 (the last year I took a written exam) but they allowed hand printing, not just cursive, for both my university runs (and my similar exam booklets in high school).

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