Pixel Scroll 11/24 The Choler out of Space

(1) Fans beat the pros at trivia – well, of course they did.

The awkward moment when Peter Capaldi, Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss came third in a Doctor Who pub quiz.

The trio – who called themselves The Time Wasters – clearly didn’t know their wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff


(2) John Picacio teed off against the World Fantasy Con’s call for new award design submissions:

Artists — how do you feel about someone who says, “Give us your ideas for free. If we decide we like one of them, we’ll use it for our own personal branding and for our own prestige. We will hire someone to make multiple images of it and that person will not receive compensation either. We have zero respect for any of you as working professionals.”

As of today, that’s the official message that the World Fantasy Convention just transmitted to all professional artists as the WFC searches for a new image for their World Fantasy Award. See their new “World Fantasy Award Call for Submissions”.

That’s right. Your ideas and your work — for nothing.

It’s an extremely unprofessional message, and it’s not one that befits experienced professionals. It says to all of its members — writers, editors, agents, publishers — that the organization doesn’t value its own branding enough to properly invest in it. That’s very sad to see.

This stirred up debate among commenters on Picacio’s Facebook page, including Ellen Datlow, Sean Wallace, Irene Gallo and others.

(3) Two days ago I ran David Hartwell’s photo of a NY subway car wrapped in a graphical ad for The Man in the High Castle  — but today Amazon announced it will remove the ads amid uproar over their use of insignia inspired by Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan.

The online retailer made the decision to pull the ads amid widespread coverage of the wrap, which cover half the 42nd Street shuttle’s seats in decals of the American flag with the stars replaced by an emblem that closely resembles the Nazi Reichsadler, the heraldic eagle used by the Third Reich. The other side features a recreation of a World War II-era Japanese flag in red, white and blue….

Straphanger Ann Toback was disturbed to find the posters wallpapered on the Grand Central shuttle.

“Hate speech, hate insignia requires a response when you see it, you don’t just say, ‘oh, it’s New York,” said Toback. “You see, you have a choice to stare at the Japanese empire insignia or the Nazi insignia.”

A spokesman for the MTA said there were no grounds to reject the ads because they do not violate the authority’s content-neutral ad standards, which only prohibits advertising that disparages an individual or group. ..

Some activists and officials, however, expressed outrage that the advertisements were allowed to run.

“As a Jew, I am offended, and as a New Yorker, I am embarrassed,” said state Rep. Jeffrey Dinowitz. “The MTA should be ashamed of themselves and this ignorant advertising campaign, as it is offensive not just to the Jewish community, but to all Americans.”

Mayor de Blasio also decried the ads, calling them “irresponsible.”

…Not everyone was bothered by the marketing. One rider said, “It’s not like the end of the world, it’s not specifically targeting a group of people. It’s just for a show.”

(4) Justin Raimondo contrasts the novel and miniseries in “Myths of Empire: The Man in the High Castle: a review of sorts” at AntiWar.com.

Dick’s original version would never be allowed on American television: the political realities of our time forbid it. Empires are founded on mythologies – narratives in which historical events are interpreted in a way that justifies the status quo, and crowds out any dissenting version, consigning the truth – if such there is – to the margins.

(5) Myke Cole posted a photo of him receiving his promotion from NYPD Commissioner Bratton. (All I can find in bios is that he does “specialized work” there.)

(6) At National Review Online, Katherine Timpf discusses how she got death threats after she joked on the Fox News Channel comedy show Red Eye “I have never had any interest in watching space nerds poke each other with their little space nerd sticks, and I’m not going to start now.”


“Yesterday I tweeted something, and all I said was that I wasn’t familiar with Star Wars because I’ve been too busy liking cool things and being attractive.”

Now, I received a few death threats right after I posted the aforementioned tweet — which, by the way, was why I was saying Star Wars fans were “crazy” in the first place. Overall, though, it wasn’t a big deal, and I kind of forgot about it.

Then, this week, one Star Wars super-super-super fan who calls himself “AlphaOmegaSin” made a ten-minute (!) video brutally ripping me apart.

(7) “NASA not ready for dangers of deep space, auditors say” writes Jerry Markon of the Washington Post.

American culture and cinema often glorifies space travel, from the heroic early adventurers of “The Right Stuff” to the more recent rescue of Matt Damon’s astronaut character from Mars in “The Martian.”

But the reality is less glamorous, with journeys into deep space posing serious dangers to astronauts that include inadequate food, radiation exposure and heightened risks of developing cancer and other maladies. And NASA is not yet ready to handle those dangers as it moves ahead with plans to send the first human mission to Mars by the 2030s, according to a recent audit.

NASA inspector general Paul K. Martin found that the legendary space agency “faces significant challenges” ensuring the safety of any Mars-bound astronauts,  and that its schedule to limit the risks is overly “optimistic.” As a result, he said, Mars crews likely will have to accept more risks to their health and safety than their predecessors who went to the moon and work in the International Space Station.

(8) “Mœbius & Jodorowsky’s Sci-Fi Masterpiece, The Incal, Brought to Life in a Tantalizing Animation” at Open Culture.

Last year we featured artwork from the Dune movie that never was, a collaboration between Alejandro Jodorowsky, the mysticism-minded Chilean director of such oft-described-as-mind-blowing pictures as El Topo and The Holy Mountain, and the artist Jean Giraud, better known as Mœbius, creator of oft-described-as-mind-blowing comics as Arzach, Blueberry, and The Airtight GarageIf ever a meeting of two creative minds made more sense, I haven’t heard about it. Alas, Jodorowsky and Mœbius’ work didn’t lead to their own Dune movie, but it didn’t mark the end of their artistic partnership, as anyone who’s read The Incal knows full well.

Telling a metaphysical, satirical, space-operatic story in the form of comic books originally published throughout the 1980s (with sequel and prequel series to come over the following 25 years), The Incal on the page became the fullest realization of Jodorowsky and Mœbius’ combined vision.

(9) Blue Origin’s New Shepard space vehicle successfully flew to space, reaching its planned test altitude of 329,839 feet (100.5 kilometers) before executing a historic landing back at the launch site in West Texas.

“But more significant,” notes the Washington Post, “was the landing of the rocket booster, which descended, flew through 119 mph high-altitude crosswinds and touched down on the landing pad by firing its engine again. The company based in Kent, Wash., said it landed just four-and-a-half feet from the center.”


(10) Today’s Birthday Boy

  • Born November 24, 1916 – Forrest J Ackerman

(11) “How an industry of ‘Amazon entrepreneurs’ pulled off the Internet’s craftiest catfishing scheme” in the Washington Post.

There’s only one problem with Dagny Taggart — she doesn’t exist. Evidence collected and examined by The Washington Post suggests that Taggart (who is named for a character in Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged”) is a made-up identity used by an Argentine man named Alexis Pablo Marrocco. Marrocco, meanwhile — and other self-described “Kindle entrepreneurs” like him — form part of a growing industry of “Amazon catfish.”

The catfishing process varies according to the specific “entrepreneur” using it, but it typically follows the same general steps: After hiring a remote worker to write an e-book for the Kindle marketplace, Amazon’s e-book store, publishers put it up for sale under the name and bio of a fictional expert. Frequently, Kindle entrepreneurs will then buy or trade for good book reviews. (Jeff Bezos, the owner of Amazon, also owns The Washington Post.)

At the end of this process, they hope to have a Kindle store bestseller: something with a catchy title about a hot topic, such as gambling addiction or weight loss.

“Making money with Kindle is by far the easiest and fastest way to get started making money on the Internet today,” enthuses one video that promises to guide viewers to riches. “You don’t even need to write the books yourself!”

(12) Cute set of fandom greeting cards.

Sorry fav show canc tumblr_nwv6pwxkGE1r8pdmio3_500

(13) ‘Tis the season to break this out again: WKRP “As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly” Thanksgiving

[Thanks to David K.M. Klaus, Martin Morse Wooster, Amy Sterling Casil, Brian Z., John King Tarpinian, and Tom Galloway for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day GP.]

122 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 11/24 The Choler out of Space

  1. @Bruce Baugh,

    Thanks for the explanation, Bruce. See I never got that rationale at all because:

    Juvyfg haqrefgnaqvat gur pbagrkg lbh tvir onpxtebhaq gb, gur punenpgre jr frr tvir guvf vasbezngvba gb Senax frrzf gb zragvba gur xvyyvatf gb uvz nf n jnl gb znxr vg nyy crefbany gb Senax, engure guna pbzvat bss hf yrggvat uvz tb gb fcvgr gur Anmvf, be xvyyvat gur snzvyl gb fubj bss gb gur Anmvf. Ng yrnfg gung vf jung V tbg sebz gur fprarf.

  2. Tom: Death threads against whom? Surely not another Puppy? I must admit I didn’t often go to that blog during the height of the recent unpleasantness out of concern for my blood pressure.

  3. Why is the sculptor who designs the World Fantasy Award doing work that requires compensation while all the other volunteers working for the con’s non-profit are not? After reading the Facebook discussion prompted by the “artists need to eat” rant by John Picacio, I am not understanding what makes a free sculpture different than all the free art that runs in the convention program, the software created to run the event and all the other volunteer contributions. Those people, I am guessing, also eat.

    This situation is not like the Huffington Post making millions as a commercial enterprise while it asks writers to contribute their work for free in exchange for exposure. World Fantasy Con isn’t a for-profit enterprise. All its funds go into the event and future events.

  4. Stephen: I have a complicated set of reactions to some of those. On the one hand, I wish very strongly never to diminish any real threat anyone gets. Harassment is bad news. And yet…there are cases I can check where they say confidently “X happened right here”, and I look and don’t see X at all. Sometimes I see a very different Y, and sometimes I don’t see anything at all.

    To cite an example at hand: Did David Gerrold encourage people to boo at the Hugos? No. There’s room for disagreement on how much booing there was, because room acoustics and personal experience are like that. But there can’t be honest disagreement over whether he encouraged it – there’s simply no honest room for any view but that he distinctly and clearly discouraged it. And yet you’ll find Puppies telling each other for sure that Gerrold led the crowd in boos against Puppies’ names as they were read out.

    And we’ve seen how people like Antonelli and Beale interpret criticism of them, all the way up to feeling like calling in the cops is a sensible response.

    So…darn it, I don’t want to say “I’ll believe it when I can see some verification apart from your assertion”, because that’s a terrible thing to say. They don’t owe me or others disclosure on details. But honestly, I can’t trust them at their word.

  5. Stuart: We don’t actually see the paperwork getting done, least not in the first two episodes, but it’s clear there’s international tracking of the case and presumably rather a lot of paperwork moving back and forth, from the ministerial level down to ground level.

  6. rcade: Worldcon is a not-for-profit enterprise (and the organizers commonly spend thousands of their own dollars, uncompensated, to put it on). Do we know for sure that World Fantasy Con is, too? Because as I said in this post https://file770.com/?p=26183&cpage=1#comment-370487 , I remember WFC concom telling me, a couple decades ago, that they were expected to make money from the convention.
    Am I misremembering? Was I misinformed at the time? Have things changed? I don’t know. So I hope that someone with current knowledge can tell us if the WFC is expected to make money for its organizers and/or for the WFC Board. Because that makes a HUGE difference, morally, to the artwork question.

  7. Maybe it’s just me, but profit or non-profit I feel artists should be compensated even if it is nominal amount.

    (I am more forgiving of non-profits who don’t compensate. it’s still wrong though)

  8. For the record: They were right. Turkeys can fly. My office is right next to a wildlife reserve, and we frequently get large flocks of turkeys wandering around in the parking lot and common areas this time of year. If they can’t fly, then I gotta tell ya, they must be nature’s only climbing birds, because I’ve seen them roosting in trees.

    From a distance, because wild turkeys are large, territorial birds with nasty talons and sharp beaks, and I have no interest in getting close to one.

  9. rcade –

    I am not understanding what makes a free sculpture different than all the free art that runs in the convention program, the software created to run the event and all the other volunteer contributions

    That’s where I’m stuck as well.

  10. They were right. Turkeys can fly.

    Wild turkeys can. The turkeys one buys in the supermarket that end up on your plate for Thanksgiving dinner, not so much. Domesticated turkeys have been bred to be so heavy that there is no way they can get off the ground.

  11. It’s my understanding that Worldcon does compensate (if only nominally) for Hugo base designs (They get a free Attending membership). The WFA designer should be compensated at least as much. And if the same design gets used year after year, they should be compensated commensurately.

  12. Domesticated turkeys have been bred to be so heavy that there is no way they can get off the ground.

    Sure they can; it just involves a helicopter.

  13. I remember WFC concom telling me, a couple decades ago, that they were expected to make money from the convention.

    I take it, though, that this means they are expected to make a surplus to pass on to future conventions, which is different from being a profit-making business as that’s usually understood.

  14. @John Seavey:

    When I was little we had chickens who roosted in trees.

    You don’t need the power of flight to get into trees, as the parents of many five-year-olds will tell you.

  15. I think the artists pay thing is related to the fact that artists get requests *all* the time to supply free art. We get regular requests to submit free designs to competitions, usually with the attitude that we are being done a favor instead of the other way around, and often with the coda that the contest then owns all submitted art.

    And even then, even if the one artist chosen gets paid (and usually they don’t) what all the other entering artists have produced is art that can’t be used for any other purpose. It’s a huge time-suck.

    Artists are as busy and hard-working as roofers, plumbers, surgeons and chefs, and yet we rarely see those other professions asked the way artists are to provide free samples of their work in the hopes of maybe being paid.

  16. From the World Fantasy Organization website:


    The Board has no claim, other than through its stipulations of limited amounts of funds for specific activities, on the net profit of the convention. Should the convention result in a net loss, the Board has no responsibility to cover such a loss. Many convention committees purchase liability and event insurance coverage to address unforeseen losses.

    Profitable conventions are encouraged to help seed future conventions to assist with initial start up costs.

  17. Andrew M: That’s not how I remember it. I remember talk about how the concom were “investors” who were personally supposed to make money. Unlike Worldcon.

    As I said, I welcome any correction from people who have actual current knowledge of the subject.

  18. I really don’t mean to be rude and I don’t mean to be ungracious.

    And it’s true that not-for-profits are a whole different ballgame.

    It’s just, this is such a very sore spot for artists.

  19. @Everyone concerned that the Man in the High Castle has confusing plot twists and incomplete information:
    I read the novel several years ago specifically because I’d heard that Dick used the I Ching to write it. For those of you unfamiliar with divination via primitive random number machines, please Google. I always assumed while reading the novel that when something didn’t make sense or took a jarring turn or otherwise popped me out of the story, it meant I’d hit a point when Dick got stuck and tossed the coins.

  20. (2) I think Picacio has badly jumped the gun on this. Looking at the announcement here:

    Between now and April 2, 2016 the World Fantasy Awards Administration will welcome submissions from artists within the arts community proficient in the three-dimensional form, for a new physical trophy for the World Fantasy Award. The ideal design will represent both fantasy and horror, without bearing any physical resemblance to any person, living or dead.

    This is a pretty standard RFI style of language. They haven’t claimed any rights or even the specifics for what a submission is. It is not uncommon, in say, comics, for an artist or writer to be asked to draft up a page layout or a sample 4 pages of script for submissions to be judged. I can’t tell you how many sample scripts I’ve done, or demos friends have put together.

    If they were claiming the rights to any of the designs or planning to use all of the submissions, there might be a justified compliant here. But right now, it seems to be ‘we’re looking for rough ideas and if we like yours, we’ll commission you to continue developing it’.

  21. Wasn’t Tank Marmot making threats here, too? Not that any evidence remains (thank goodness).

    @everyone re: flags

    Thanks, I think I get it now. 🙂

  22. It’s been a while since I read The Man in the High Castle, but I remember coming away from it with the impression that the most important difference between its world and our own was not the “Germany won WW II” thing, so much as that, in its world, the I Ching actually worked.

  23. Artists are as busy and hard-working as roofers, plumbers, surgeons and chefs, and yet we rarely see those other professions asked the way artists are to provide free samples of their work in the hopes of maybe being paid.

    I agree that artists have a good reason to be frustrated by the expectation that they might work for free.

    I just don’t think this particular situation is an ire-worthy example of that, because artists are being treated exactly like every other convention volunteer and no one’s making money. Thousands of people give their time to put on a major con.

    As a programmer, I wouldn’t be insulted if the convention put out a call for programmers to volunteer their efforts. I certainly would not declare, as Picacio did, that it sent the message, “We have zero respect for any of you as working professionals.” Volunteer non-profits ask for free work all the time. This does not insult the idea that the work has financial value.

  24. @Steve Wright: I think Dick would say that, like us, the people in Man in the High Castle are locked up in a world that is largely illusory in ways that support the powers holding us prisoner, and that something sometimes manages to shine through from beyond, even if we are never able to fully grasp it. That the I Ching sometimes, in peculiar circumstances, delivers truth cast into a particular framework wouldn’t surprise a man who suspected and feared the Gnostics were onto something. This isn’t especially different from, say, a Mormon author writing a story in which there’s tangible truth to at least some Mormon doctrines…or, for that matter, a materialist author writing a story in which there’s direct confirmation of materialist claims.

  25. I believe there is a fair amount of misinformation flying around here. I can give some non-exhaustive examples of WFC past practices. The 2014 WFC was put on by the Baltimore-Washington Worldcon Association, a 501c(3) organization. I was on the committee. The WFC did make some profit, which was retained by the corporation, used to finance part of the 2017 Worldcon bid, passed to other 501c(3) organizations, etc.

    To the best of my knowledge, the WFC does not have to be run by a 501c(3) organization, or even by an existing club or organization. The WFC board can award the convention as they wish.

    The Board as an organization has little, if anything, in the way of assets. Each convention pays for the casting of the awards handed out at the convention.

    This causes some difficulties in paying for the design of a new award. I am not sure if the board is going to impose on the next WFC that that convention pays for the design of the new award as well as for the casting.

    I fully support that artists need to be paid for their work. Then again, I have also seen caterers, for example, provide sample meals for tasting in order to win a competitive job.

    It is also true that those authors who write appreciations of the GOHs to put in a program book for a convention are not compensated, but are doing it usually out of friendship for the honoree. The art is often the work of an Art GOH, provided as part of showing off that artist’s work and recompensed by the convention paying for room, board, and transportation. (Mostly it is reused work except for the cover of the convention book, which can still be sold by the artist as an original work.)

    And, or course, there are artists who are fans and provide their work gratis, just as the other fans do to work on a convention. Gahan Wilson might even have been one of them, back at the start of the WFC.

  26. The WFC bills itself as a more-or-less professional event, for authors, editors, publishers, etc. As such they should be expected to be reasonably professional in such things. As such, I see two faults here:

    1. The announcement wasn’t very clear about what they were looking for. As Peace and others have pointed out, artists get people begging for free work all the time, and that is seriously unprofessional. For an Internet announcement, it might have been more useful to be more clear that this was not begging, if indeed it wasn’t. (And if it was, the WF folks should indeed be ashamed.)

    2. Picacio should have asked for clarification instead of leaping to the worst possible interpretation. These people are supposed to be professionals, so it seems reasonable to give them the benefit of the doubt. I’m quite sure Datlow knows better than to ask artists of whatever medium to give away their art for free.

    So at the moment, I’m not on either side. I’ll await clarification, and then decide who I’m backing.

  27. Idiot me.
    I went and binge-watched The Man in the High Castle, and now I’m out of episodes.
    I hate waiting for serials.
    Oh, and I really like it.
    But I can’t imagine what was going on with the advertising folks setting up the campaigns in New York.
    What were they thinking, seriously, wtf?

  28. @ Jim Henley

    Aaah, sorry. Looking at that again, it was needlessly ambiguous. I meant that the hatred of the fans led to the suffering of Trimpf. My point was the weirdness of people showing their love of Star Wars by ‘giving in to their hatred and anger’ like that. In retrospect, even that was kind of a stupid thing to say, since it trivialises the serious issue of online harassment.

    It was basically ‘failure mode of clever’ right across the board.

  29. Fun fact: Gahan Wilson was the toastmaster at the first three WFC.

    He was also GOH in 1998.

  30. Jack Lint on November 25, 2015 at 3:30 pm said:

    Fun fact: Gahan Wilson was the toastmaster at the first three WFC.

    One of those times, as toastmaster, he talked about the difficulty of sculpting the back of Lovecraft’s head, since no one, as far as he knew, had ever taken a picture of it.

  31. Another commenter, non-Pup.

    Are you referring to the part where the Marmot talks about finding another commenter and having a shootout with him? Because that seems to be a lot like a death threat by a Pup, not a death threat to a Pup.

  32. Aaron for crying out loud, we get it. You hate the Puppies! We know! You can still slow down and make sure you understand what you’re reading before “correcting” people who didn’t actually get any facts wrong. Seriously, try following the thread again.

  33. @BGHilton: No worries. Thanks for the clarification. There was an outside chance your literal words could have meant, “She hated (Star Wars) so now she suffers (death threats and abuse).” We had a crypto-GG comment earlier today in another thread and I failed to recognize your name from prior threads, so I had no remembered history to go by. But I didn’t want to accuse you without being sure, so I asked. I appreciate your taking the time to respond.

  34. @Jim Henley

    That was a bit much for a fairly mild comment.


    I believe Tom Galloway was answering Cally’s query about who Marmot threatened, so yes, non-Pup threatened by a Pup, and that was exactly what Tom meant. 🙂

  35. @ Jim Henley – Not at all. I really should have thought that one through before hitting ‘post’. Thanks for the benefit of the doubt.

  36. Jamoche on November 25, 2015 at 5:20 pm said:

    Double-take time at Consumerist: the current top item is about “Nutty Nuggets” (and other funny store-brand names)

    I like what appears to be a Magritte inspired spread that is called “This is not butter…”

    [also Total Words Written 49,423]

  37. Wow, reading the comments on that thread with the benefit of hindsight really makes the Puppies look like pathetic, blustering fools.

    I mean, even more so than they did at the time the comments were written.

  38. StephenfromOttawa: This death threat stuff does seem to happen. Apparently some of the Sad Puppies received such threats after the Hugo nominations were announced last spring.

    Yeah, that was the big outraged claim.

    Then it turned out that the so-called “death threat” consisted of Larry Corriea’s wife getting a phone call from an old high-school classmate who had read an article detailing both VD’s abusive comments about women and Correia’s association with VD, and gotten concerned for her welfare. Apparently Corriea’s wife was quite upset about the phone call.

    It wasn’t a “death threat” — and Correia himself was directly responsible for it, by the company he chooses to keep. But of course, Correia chose to blame that on non-Puppies, instead accepting personal responsibility for it.

  39. I don’t know what threats might have been made. I do recall Torgersen claiming fairly recently that he had received threats, and way back in the spring Kowal posted something urging people not to issue threats, so she must have heard of something. That’s basically what my comment was based on.

    That comment thread with Kratman reacting to perceived insult, amongst all the other wild talk, was really something.

  40. Camestros Felapton on November 25, 2015 at 5:43 pm said:
    I like what appears to be a Magritte inspired spread that is called “This is not butter…”

    “Ceci N’est Pas Le Beurre”?

  41. StephenFromOttawa: way back in the spring Kowal posted something urging people not to issue threats

    Kowal’s post was a direct response to Correia complaining about a “threat”. Then it came out what actually happened.

    I do not remember reading any Puppies coming right out and saying “I (or my family member) received a threat”. I remember some of them claiming that “others” had received threats. Given the lack of veracity to pretty much every single other accusation Puppies made about what “SJW”s had supposedly done (some of which were merely psycho conspiracy theory-based claims, and the rest of which were just outright lies — for instance, JCW’s claim about how PNH verbally assaulted his wife, who was essentially stalking PNH), I took those to be more of the same.

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