Pixel Scroll 11/3/16 A Pixel Full of Sound And Fury, Scrolling Nothing

(1) CODES OF CONDUCT. Dave McCarty and Helen Montgomery share thoughts about administering Codes of Conduct (CoC) in “The Shield or the Weapon” at Copious Free Time. These excerpts encompass some of their more challenging points, but only a reading of the post can do justice to all the nuances they bring out.

DAVE McCARTY: …As another example, there was a time a few years ago where Bob(2) brought a new CoC for their convention to a fairly public convention runner forum (presumably for review and input).  As with most CoCs, there was a lot there that was good but at least a few people had some push back on some of the policies.  One of the pieces of feedback about one or two specific policies was that they were worded in a way that made them overly broad…almost everyone attending Bob(3)con would be in violation of these sections of the CoC.

In response to the feedback, Bob(2) stated that they didn’t believe these parts of the CoC were problematic since the organizers knew who they would enforce them against.

Selective enforcement is *absolutely* a weapon and it’s a heinous one.  It’s one of the larger issues disenfranchised groups have in regular life…it’s one of the preferred tools of racism and sexism and I would *bet* almost any other “ism” folks can throw at me.

If we are going into something with the thought of “how do we safeguard our member’s enjoyment”, I find it exceedingly unlikely that we ever work our way to policies designed to be used against *specific* people or even *narrow* groups.

This is the soul of the issue on CoC issues for me.  Are we trying to protect or are we trying to remove.  Is this about preventing harm or seeking retribution?…

HELEN MONTGOMERY: …About 10 years ago I was involved in writing the CoC for Bob(6)con.  The group decided early on that we didn’t want just an anti-harassment policy, because there were a lot of other behaviors that can make a convention less safe and less fun.  So we went with the broader CoC.  The intent is a shield – here’s how to act and not act so that everyone has a good time.  It’s a much longer version of Wheaton’s Law – don’t be a dick.  We went in with the assumption that most of our attendees didn’t want to violate Wheaton’s Law.  We incorporated what attendees should do if there are problems, starting with “try talking to them if you feel comfortable doing so” and we listed that consequences of violating the CoC included but were not limited to X, Y, and Z.  We recognized that behaviors and circumstances are made up of shades of gray, and we gave ourselves flexibility to work with that reality.

Fast forward to a recent Bob(6)con.  There’s a guy, Bob(7), who has become well-known in the larger community as being someone who has sexually harassed women.  At least one convention has banned him, albeit with much Sturm und Drang in the process.  He then shows up on our membership list.  He’s never been accused of causing any problems at Bob(6)con.  What’s a con to do?

As luck would have it, I was Board President at the time.  (Pardon me whilst I wipe away the sarcasm that just dripped from that sentence.)  There was much internal discussion, and ultimately we stood by what has been our stance from the beginning with our CoC – we do not pre-emptively ban people from Bob(6)con….

(2) LIST KICKER. Looking over “The Ars Technica science fiction bucket list – 42 movies every geek must see” I came away convinced the list could have been a lot shorter – they may be good, but are Enemy Mine and WALL*E indispensable viewing? — and yet it does bring to people’s attention previously unsuspected gems:

Primer (2004)

Shot on the cheap in and around Austin, this 2004 film about a pair of engineers who accidentally discover time travel in their garage is not easy to follow the first time you see it. The characters mumble dialog into their chests just like how real humans talk, the narrators telling the story might be lying, and the same events are shown from multiple points of view—we’re never sure what’s really real. But the joy, they say, is in the journey, and trying to piece together exactly what the hell happens in this story of unexplained paradoxes is part of the fun. Primer is that rare kind of film that not only benefits from repeat viewings but also manages to show you something new every time you watch it.

(3) UNPLANNED OBSOLESCENCE. John Scalzi was spun off onto an alternate timeline last night. Did you notice? — “The Cubs, the 108-Year-Long Streak, and Old Man’s War”.

This year, as the Chicago Cubs came closer and closer to winning a World Series, people wondered what that might mean for the Old Man’s War series of books. After all, in several places I had people in the books discussing the Chicago Cubs and their inability to win a World Series, and in The Human Division, it’s actually a plot point. So what happens to those books, now that the Cubs, after 108 years, have won a World Series?….

Now the Old Man’s War books suffer from the same problem as all the science fiction stories before 1969 that named a first man on the moon, or the ones that imagined canals on Mars. The real world caught up to them and passed them by, waving as it did so.

And that’s okay. This is the risk you take when you put a plot point in your books that’s contingent on the real world….

(4) TRUNK STORIES. James Davis Nicoll at Young People Read Old SFF unleashed his test audience on Fritz Leiber’s “A Pail of Air” this time.

(…)”So right then and there,” Pa went on, (…) “I told myself that I was going on as if we had all eternity ahead of us. I’d have children and teach them all I could. I’d get them to read books. I’d plan for the future, try to enlarge and seal the Nest. I’d do what I could to keep everything beautiful and growing. I’d keep alive my feeling of wonder even at the cold and the dark and the distant stars.”

But will this resonate with younger people? Let’s find out!

The responses as a whole are some of the best Nicoll has received to date.

(5) RODDENBERRY. Gene Roddenberry will be inducted into the New Mexico Museum of Space History’s International Space Hall of Fame on November 12.

“Mr. Roddenberry was chosen because of his vision of what space exploration could, be his commitment to promoting the future of space exploration and his work that inspired people worldwide to believe in the reality of the “final frontier”,” said museum executive director Christopher Orwoll, adding that, “Roddenberry’s leadership brought to the forefront social, political and cultural issues that impacted the world then and continue to do so now.”

The Museum’s new exhibit will showcase Roddenberry’s vision.

The introductory panels for the exhibit highlight Roddenberry himself, his history as a filmmaker and the legacy of his Star Trek series, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Exhibit cases throughout the gallery document just how widespread the Star Trek phenomenon has become. Collectibles of just about every kind are represented, from Barbies to stuffed bears to pizza cutters, and everything in between. The series, although relatively short-lived in the beginning, touched on many social and moral issues particularly how women were viewed. One exhibit case is dedicated to “The Women of Star Trek”. Another pays homage to the various “Starships of Star Trek” and a third features photos, videos and other images from the series.

But the smallest exhibit cases may be the ones that hold the real treasures, straight from the vault of the Smithsonian. The Star Trek episode The Trouble With Tribbles, written by David Gerrold who will be a special guest on opening night, revolves around furry little critters that multiply at an incredible rate and who also have a serious dislike for Klingons. Although the Starship Enterprise was overrun by tribbles at the time, only a very few remain in existence today. The tribble visitors will admire inside its eight inch case was actually used in that episode and is on loan to the museum from the Smithsonian.

The champion of the original Star Trek postage stamp will attend the induction.

In 1985, Kraft started and led a thirteen year campaign to have Star Trek emblazoned on a stamp. His efforts, and those of his Star Trek Stamp Committee, paid off in 1999 when the stamp was created as part of the Post Office’s “Celebrate the Century” series of commemorative stamps.

This year, the U.S. Postal Service issued four commemorative Star Trek stamps celebrating the 50th anniversary of the famous television show which first aired on September 8, 1966. It didn’t take an act of Congress or over a dozen years of letter writing and campaigning, or, as Kraft might say, even a letter from God. The original 1999 stamp campaign and the amazing effort that went into it, is documented by Kraft in his book, Maybe We Need A Letter From God.

(6) MY BAD. Ken Liu noticed more people are buying his anthology than The Complete Works of Confucius.

(7) WHO REY! Amanda Hess’ “How Female Fans Made Star Wars Their Own” in the New York Times talks about how lots of female Star Wars fans are excited by Rogue One because it’s about a woman leading a bunch of men around and that there are now more women in Star Wars than “Leia, Leia, Leia and Rey, Rey, Rey.”

The dominant cultural image of a “Star Wars” fan may be a lightsaber-wielding fanboy, but women have always been essential creators in the fan universe. They started early fan clubs and mailed out fanzines like Skywalker and Moonbeam, packed with fiction, essays and art. In 1982, Pat Nussman published an essay in the zine Alderaan that described a female fandom so rich and vast that she was prompted to ask, “Where are the men?” She continued, “Male names are rare in columns or fanzine order lists, male faces scarce at media conventions, and the number of men writing or drawing or editing in media fandom so minimal as to be practically nonexistent.”

(8) IN PLAIN SIGHT. Via Galleycat and Leah Schnelbach at Tor.com I learned —

Emma Watson has been participating in the Books On The Underground movement. According to The Telegraph, the actress and founder of the Our Shared Shelf book club, dropped off copies of Dr. Maya Angelou’s Mom & Me & Mom all around the London Tube.

Here’s more from the BBC:

“The star left the novels as part of the Books On The Underground movement which sees ‘book fairies’ leave their favourite reads for people to enjoy. Watson left about 100 books with some including a hand-written note….Books on the Underground started in 2012 and leave about 150 books in stations across London each week.”

(9) BENEDICTION. Doctor Strange extended movie clip.

(10) NOTHING FAZES NEW YORKERS. The PrankvsPrank YouTube crew sent a man dressed as Marvel’s Silver Surfer on a motorized surfboard through the streets of New York City.

[The video] showed Jesse Wellens donning the elaborate costume, featuring comic book-style paint and metallic silver shoes, as he glided about Manhattan.

Wellens turned several heads and received audible cheers as he rode his motorized silver surfboard through traffic and down a nearby boardwalk.

He even drew attention from police officers and a hot dog vendor who stopped to pose for a picture with him.


[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster,. and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Aziz Poonawalla.]

55 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 11/3/16 A Pixel Full of Sound And Fury, Scrolling Nothing

  1. You have both a first and second fourth. Trying to set a new tradition?

    (Appertaining now, etc etc)

    ETA just finished the latest Rivers of London/PC Peter Grant story. Definitely up to standard. Mostly I’m relieved it finally came out, it was beginning to look like vapourware. Also makes it eligible for best series…

  2. To ticky or not to ticky
    That is the question
    Whether ’tis nobler in the mind
    To suffer the pixels and scrolls
    Of outrageous fortune, or
    To take up arms against
    A sea of posts
    And by reading end them!

  3. Primer bears a couple of repeat viewings to try and truly untangle which version of whom is doing what to whom and why. Totally worth it though.

    @bghilton Galactus? It’s New York. They’d fix him up with a Nathan’s, a NY slice, a pretzel and something from Papaya King and he’d be good. 🙂

  4. RedWombat has released Chapters 13 and 14 of Summer in Orcus.

    This is a somewhat dark, but utterly entrancing fantasy, and if you haven’t given it a try, I encourage you to do so.

  5. “the same problem as all the science fiction stories before 1969 that named a first man on the moon”

    EXCEPT for the one by Lester del Rey. He had the foresight to name his first man on the moon Armstrong.

  6. 4) Having young folk read older sci-fi is a wonderful idea. Here’s a link to the story if, like me, you hadn’t read it before. I really enjoyed it–much more than the youngsters did–particularly the account of courage being like a ball. But their complaints are fair and it’s interesting to hear their thoughts.

    6) Eh, The Complete Works of Confucius leaves out the Spring and Autumn Annals as well as the Family Sayings of Confucius. No wonder people aren’t buying it.

    More seriously, I really should see if my local library has a copy of Liu’s new book.

  7. (9) I had actually thought of seeing the 3D version of this, but now I don’t think I will. If that teensy clip made me woozy, I can’t imagine what the full screen would do.

  8. @2: Well, I guess I’m not a geek then, because I’ve only seen 18.5 of these. (.5 for Tron, where I walked in halfway through at a con). And there are several I’m not likely to see as I don’t equate “geek” with “gorehound”. I wonder how many of the staff at Ars Technica have seen all of the list?

  9. (2) Wall-E is there because it’s extremely highly regarded in the specific slice of geekdom that Ars Technica is writing for. Pixar movies, in general, have tended to have messages that are very amenable to people who see themselves as alpha computer geeks (not surprising with it coming from Silicon Valley and all). I’m surprised The Incredibles didn’t show up as well.

  10. Bonnie McDaniel on November 3, 2016 at 8:16 pm said:

    (9) I had actually thought of seeing the 3D version of this, but now I don’t think I will. If that teensy clip made me woozy, I can’t imagine what the full screen would do.

    I watched it in 3D and really enjoyed it but I keep feeling I enjoyed it more than it deserved. It is possible that the woozy helps distract from the plot holes.

  11. @Petréa: not surprising with [Pixar] coming from Silicon Valley and all

    Silicon Valley’s borders aren’t marked on maps, but I think most Californians would agree it doesn’t include any of the towns Pixar (in any of its incarnations) has resided in. San Rafael, Richmond, and Emeryville are all too far north and/or east.

    Pedantry aside, I don’t think there’s any need to use purported software industry bias to explain why Wall-E would appear on a list of “geek movies”. Pixar is extremely popular with US audiences in general and Wall-E is their science fiction movie, and a generally very well-reviewed one at that.

  12. (9) Came back from a IMAX showing of Doctor Strange and enjoyed it much. Everything worked for me, FX and all.

  13. San Rafael, Richmond, and Emeryville are all too far north and/or east.

    All too far north. East – that’s mountains. (I grew up in the Bay Area, and my first several jobs were in various kinds of electronics assembly and testing.)

  14. (7) True dat. A male SW faan was like a unicorn in those days — and most of them were into it b/c their wives had gotten them interested.

  15. Was going to add the movies I’ve seen on the list (high 20-something) but then I saw Zardoz on the worst of the worst list and forgot in my outrage. It’s a classic!


  16. [blockquote]I think the first bit of WALL-E is an incredibly gorgeous and bleak short film. [/blockquote]

    I like the first part of the closing credits, and how they use differing art styles to imply the passage of time–starting with “cave man”, Egyptian, Greek, and Roman, going through several more modern styles and ending up with an 8-bit video game.

  17. Today’s history-repeats-itself: reviving the screwfly solution. Longtime or historic readers may remember “The Screwfly Solution”, one of the stories published as by Racoona Sheldon just before the person behind “James Tiptree Jr.” was identified.

  18. 9) Looks like someone is trying to outdo Peter Jackson. Dude, that chase scene in the Hall of the Goblin King was supposed to already be over the top!

    Frankly, the more I see of the trailers, the less likely it becomes that I’ll have any interest in seeing the movie.

  19. @ Petrea

    Pixar movies, in general, have tended to have messages that are very amenable to people who see themselves as alpha computer geeks (not surprising with it coming from Silicon Valley and all).

    I see I’m not the first person to be pedantic on this point, but Emeryville (which I used to live a block from the border of) is very definitely not Silicon Valley. And Pixar movies do a lot of subtle shout-outs to their East Bay location, from the neighborhoods depicted at the opening of The Incredibles to the scene in Up set at Fenton’s Creamery (which I lived two blocks away from, back two addresses ago).

    When Pixar set up their campus across the street from the very picturesque old Emeryville Town Hall (and down the block from the yummy and worker-owned Arizmendi Bakery, not that I’m biased or anything) they weren’t picking a location with an established reputation for computer-based tech. In fact, that general area (paralleling I-80 and stretching from downtown Emeryville up to around University Ave. in Berkeley) mostly has a long-time rep for biotech.

  20. 3) Re: Cubs victory… Hamilton in Chicago used “Go Cubs Go” as a curtain call Thursday night. Also: What Chicago sounded like a mile from Wrigley Field on Wednesday when they won

    4) “A Pail of Air” knocked my socks into orbit when I first read it at the age of… oh, maybe nine? Ten? I know this because it’s the very first SF work that I made of point of remembering author and title. I hadn’t gone back to reread it since, because, frankly, I was afraid the Suck Fairy would have gotten to it. Reading the comments from young folk today, now I’m pretty sure that I don’t want to go back and reread it again…. But at the time, it was amazing.

  21. It’s hard to believe that any one person would like all of the films on that Ars Technica list. [I had seen exactly half of them, and none of the “bonus” worst list.]

  22. Reading the comments from young folk today, now I’m pretty sure that I don’t want to go back and reread it again…. But at the time, it was amazing.

    I didn’t read the comments from the whipper snappers. Did anyone point out that putting pure oxygen near a fire is a Bad Idea?

  23. It’s hard to believe that any one person would like all of the films on that Ars Technica list. [I had seen exactly half of them, and none of the “bonus” worst list.]

    I’ve seen 18. And one off the bonus list, Barberella. I can say that because it happened to be shown a couple of months ago on Movies!. As far as I can tell, the only edit done was to blur the naughty bits on Jane Fonda. Yes, a movie that was (I assume?) risque and controversial on release is mild enough for broadcast network filler today. (I found it to be in the bad “bad movie” list, not the good “bad movie” list.

    (There should be a list of “bad movies often shown on broadcast networks because it is cheap filler.” I have seen parts of Solar Babies sometimes, also as network filler, but never stop to watch the whole thing. I think that I’ve seen all of Cherry 2000 a segment at a time. And it would have to include Mac and Me. I never avoid stopping to watch that when its on.)

  24. SF in unusual places again: From the author of “So, You Must Talk to the Woman Who Is Wearing Headphones” comes the new apocalyptic blockbuster, “We Can Probably Make Plans For After the Election”.

    Thanks for the link, because it led me to this article about the current Glorious March Towards Ideological Purity.

  25. It’s hard to believe that any one person would like all of the films on that Ars Technica list.

    I don’t see the point of this sort of comment, considering that the introduction to this list points out that— as is the case with every list like this that I’ve ever read— it’s a compilation of favorites from various staff writers who don’t all agree, and they know many readers won’t agree.

    But at the risk of straining your credulity, I’ll just say that there are only 8 movies on the list that I haven’t seen, and I like all the ones that I’ve seen (on the “good” list, that is; on the “bad” list, I think Re-Animator is excellent). Which proves nothing except that there’s not much point in saying you don’t think there’s anyone who has such-and-such a set of opinions, because there always is.

  26. @Darren Garrison

    I didn’t read the comments from the whipper snappers. Did anyone point out that putting pure oxygen near a fire is a Bad Idea?

    Yes; at least one person did. Not to mention the unfeasability of making a what amounts to a blanket fort against hard vacuum. In my defense, at the age of nine-ish, I didn’t think of such things….

  27. (4) I like the idea of James’s blog but I find it kind of frustrating to read, because I think the responses don’t actually reveal much about generational differences— they’re mostly just the same kind of diverse reactions that SF readers have always had. I mean, maybe that’s the point, since that at least tends to disprove the Adam-Troy Castro hypothesis that the reactions would be uniformly “meh.” But I still feel like the blog is framing them as being representative of The Youth and that whenever the reviewers remember that this is their responsibility, their commentary becomes much less interesting as they turn up the volume on their opinions just like every Internet reviewer does, even if they’re very familiar obvious opinions. I mean, of course the science in “A Pail of Air” is silly… but think it’s a safe bet that there were plenty of readers who understood that just as well in 1951.

    I’m also pretty sure that even in its time, this would’ve been a story that spoke more to adults; even though it’s narrated by the kid rather than the parents, the story is one big metaphor for trying to carry on as a parent/caregiver even when the state of the world seems to be hopeless. So it’s kind of a weird one to just hand to a teenager with no context and say “Do you like this?”

    None of this is meant as any kind of knock on the reviewers— I really like their writing. I do think a larger group would be nice though, if the intention is really to capture a cross-section of how younger people respond to these stories; there are way more than four kinds of SF fans.

  28. I’ve seen around 30 of the movies on the Ars Technica list and 5 on the bonus list. And have the rest waiting in my library.

    My feelings are that some of the movies were movies that every geek should have seen, but aren’t anymore. They haven’t aged that well and are there more for nostalgia. Movies best known for special effects can always be replaced when better technique is made available.

    I wouldn’t recommend Terminator 2 to anyone today. Nor Robocop. I liked Enemy Mine, but nah, not on the list. Missing Time Crimes, Akira and Cube.

  29. (4) Actually, after saying “teenager”, I realized that the blog doesn’t say anything about how old the reviewers are except that they were born after 1980… so I guess “younger” just means “younger than 36”? Which makes the premise of the blog somewhat less interesting to me; the comment that inspired it was talking about “newbies”, readers who are just starting to discover SF, and I feel (though I don’t know) that that still tends to happen in or before high school.

    It also explains the feeling I get from the one reviewer who has really hated almost every story on the blog so far, that they already have fairly well-defined tastes in SF.

  30. @Cassy B.: Even though I said above that I think it’s “a story that spoke more to adults”, I did read it at a pretty young age like you. I think it just works in a different way then.

    If you’re not yet old enough to really worry about the science (or you’re just temperamentally not inclined to do so), then it’s just a very imaginative story about how your family manages to get by rather cozily in this crazy end-of-the-world scenario… and the narrator’s naive POV makes it engaging. But if you’re old enough to identify more with the parents, the subtext under the cozy tone is kind of terrifying. There’s no source of heat or food that could possibly be sustainable in the long term; the materials they have to work with are ludicrously inadequate; but they carry on because they have a responsibility to carry on, and they put on a brave face for the kids. It speaks to the fear of sudden extinction that adults had in the 50s, and the different fear of more gradual collapse that we have now.

    It’s in the in-between range where I think the story is more likely to just not work on either of those levels. Then it’s just “Eh, the science doesn’t make sense, and Pa and Ma are just cheerful and uninteresting, I don’t see why I should care.”

  31. I guess a shorter version of the above would be that despite the can-do spirit of the story, I don’t think Leiber really wanted or expected everyone to think “Oh, a blanket fort works great! We’ll be fine!”— more like “Well, somehow it’s actually working, even if I’m not sure how it could. Oh God… our survival now depends on a blanket fort.” Though maybe this is colored by my having read Leiber’s other work and therefore having a sense that he wasn’t in general a “we’ll be fine” kind of guy.

  32. This moose has enjoyed (or at least, watched without walking out of) 25 of the “good” list, enjoyed Zardoz (despite the Webley-Fosbery), and seen bits (possibly non-naughty) of Barbarella.

    There are some films I won’t bother to seek out, but it’s a list and on the whole not a bad one. (IMAO, of course.)


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