Pixel Scroll 12/10/22 Pixel Was A Scrollin’ Stone

(1) LEARNEDLEAGUE. [Item by David Goldfarb.] After a long drought, we get our second and third in the space of two days!

LL95 match day 22 Q3: What 1898 novel, famous in its own right, is also famous for its presentation in the October 30, 1938 installment of the CBS radio series “Mercury Theater on the Air”?

Filers no doubt will readily identify this as The War of the Worlds, and LLamas knew it too, with an 83% get rate.

Same match day, question 5: “SDCIWC” is an initialism common to many players of the roleplaying game Dungeons & Dragons. Per the game’s original 1974 rules, the first four letters stand for Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, and Intelligence. What do either of the final two letters stand for?

This was Wisdom or Charisma. Get rate was 65%, with 6% of players giving the most common wrong answer “Courage”.

(2) FTC HANGS UP ON CALL OF DUTY. “F.T.C. Sues to Block Microsoft’s $69 Billion Acquisition of Activision” – the New York Times covers the government’s grounds for a suit.

The Federal Trade Commission, in one of the most aggressive actions taken by federal regulators in decades to check the power of the tech industry’s giants, on Thursday sued to block Microsoft’s $69 billion acquisition of the video game maker Activision Blizzard.

The F.T.C. said that the deal would harm consumers because Microsoft could use Activision’s blockbuster games like Call of Duty to lure gamers from rivals. The agency’s commissioners voted 3to 1 to approve filing the suit.

The decision is a blow to the expansion of Microsoft’s video game business, which has become its most important consumer unit and topped $16 billion in annual sales during the most recent fiscal year. For the F.T.C. chair, Lina Khan, a legal scholar who rocketed to fame after she wrote an article criticizing Amazon, the lawsuit will test whether her aggressive plan to rein in the power of Big Tech can survive in the courts….

(3) YOUNG WOLVES. Wolf Pack, the newest release by Edo van Belkom, is the inspiration behind a new TV series coming to Paramount+ on January 26, 2023.

Nothing gets between a wolf and its pack…

Most of the time, Noble, Argus, Harlan and Tora are like any other teenagers. Prowling the halls of their high school in search of new crushes and true friendships, all while trying to keep up their grades. Except these teens are anything but ordinary…

Discovered as wolf cubs in the wilderness of Redstone Forest, the pack knows their adoptive parents are the only humans they can trust with their shape-shifting secret. So whenever the siblings want to wolf around, they race to the forest to run—and relish their special bond. Until the terrible day a TV crew films their shocking transformation—and Tora is captured by a scientist determined to reveal her supernatural abilities to the world.

Now the brothers will do anything to get their sister back. Even if it means taking their powers to a whole new level by becoming werewolves for the very first time–something their parents warned them never to attempt. But once the teens go to the dark side, will they ever make it back to the only life they’ve ever known?

Available on Amazon.ca and Amazon.com.

Bram Stoker and Aurora Award-winner Edo van Belkom is the author of over 200 stories of horror, science fiction, fantasy, and mystery. As an editor, he has four anthologies to his credit that include two books for young adults, Be Afraid! (A Canadian Library Association Young Adult Book of the Year finalist) and Be Very Afraid! (An Aurora Award winner — Best Work in English).

(4) ARTIFICIAL STUDENT INTELLIGENCE. The Atlantic’s article “ChatGPT Will End High-School English” is mostly paywalled, but there’s the beginning:

Teenagers have always found ways around doing the hard work of actual learning. CliffsNotes date back to the 1950s, “No Fear Shakespeare” puts the playwright into modern English, YouTube offers literary analysis and historical explication from numerous amateurs and professionals, and so on. For as long as those shortcuts have existed, however, one big part of education has remained inescapable: writing. Barring outright plagiarism, students have always arrived at that moment when they’re on their own with a blank page, staring down a blinking cursor, the essay waiting to be written.

Now that might be about to change. The arrival of OpenAI’s ChatGPT, a program that generates sophisticated text in response to any prompt you can imagine, may signal the end of writing assignments altogether—and maybe even the end of writing as a gatekeeper, a metric for intelligence, a teachable skill.

If you’re looking for historical analogues, this would be like the printing press, the steam drill, and the light bulb having a baby, and that baby having access to the entire corpus of human knowledge and understanding. My life—and the lives of thousands of other teachers and professors, tutors and administrators—is about to drastically change….

(5) DEL TORO’S PINOCCHIO. Nicholas Barber’s review for the BBC “Pinocchio: The scariest children’s story ever written” includes spoilers. Like these in the very first paragraph:

Two major Pinocchio films premiered this year, but it isn’t too difficult to tell them apart. One of them is Robert Zemeckis’s live-action remake of the 1940 Walt Disney cartoon, with Tom Hanks as a cuddly Geppetto, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt providing the voice of Jiminy Cricket. The other, directed by Guillermo del Toro, has Geppetto’s flesh-and-blood son being killed by a World War Two bomb, Geppetto (David Bradley) carving a wooden boy in a drunken fury, and Mussolini’s fascists ruling over Italy. And then there are the deaths, plural, of the title character. “Pinocchio dies in our film three or four times,” del Toro tells BBC Culture, “and has a dialogue with Death, and Death teaches him that the only way you can really have a human existence is if you have death at the end of it. There are roughly 60 versions of Pinocchio on film, and I would bet hard money that that doesn’t exist in any of the other 60.”…

(6) GARY FRIEDKIN (1952-2022). Actor Gary Friedkin, who made his film debut as a four-foot-tall Munchkin in the 1981 comedy Under the Rainbow, died December 2 of Covid complications. His other genre appearances include, uncredited, in Blade Runner and as an Ewok in Return of the Jedi.


1994 [By Cat Eldridge.] Dorothy L Sayers

Now we have a statue of a mystery writer which you will notice includes her SJW credential. 

The statue of Dorothy L Sayers and stands in Newland Street, Witham, opposite the Witham Library, and also opposite her house.

The statue was cast in bronze, about six and feet tall tall, by the Ardbronze Foundry and designed by John Doubleday, the sculptor who did the Sherlock Holmes sculptures we talked about in the Scroll last night. It was erected in 1994. 

An amusing note: several commenters online say that you can see that quite a few children and even adults like to pet Blitz, Sayer’s feline companion — he is now quite shiny on top!

A very, very not amusing note: it was privately funded through sale of much smaller statues as the British government didn’t think she was worthy of have a statue and wouldn’t fund it saying that she lacked literary worth. Fans of Ngaio Marsh need not apply. 

The plinth bears the inscription: Dorothy L. Sayers 1893 – 1957 and the name John Doubleday, Sculptor with the foundry name.

Witham Library holds a reference collection of all of her works, press-clippings, all of her reviews and letters in the Dorothy L Sayers Centre, which is jointly managed by Essex Libraries and the Dorothy L Sayers Society, and which is held in a specially outfitted room on the upper floor.


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 10, 1815 Ada Lovelace. English mathematician and writer, principally known for her work on Charles Babbage’s proposed mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine. Genre usage includes William Gibson and Bruce Sterling’s The Difference Engine and S.M. Stirling’s The Peshawar Lancers. (Died 1852.)
  • Born December 10, 1824 George MacDonald. Scottish author I think best known for Phantastes: A Faerie Romance for Men and Women and The Princess and The Goblin. His writings have been cited as a major literary influence by many notable authors including C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, G. K. Chesterton and Madeleine L’Engle to name but a few who mention him. The Waterboys titled their Room to Roam album after a passage in Phantastes. (Died 1905.)
  • Born December 10, 1903 Mary Norton. Author of The Borrowers which won the 1952 Carnegie Medal from the Library Association, recognizing the novel as the year’s outstanding children’s book by a British author. She would continue to write these novels for three decades with Hallmark turning it into a film in the early seventies. Her novels The Magic Bed Knob; or, How to Become a Witch in Ten Easy Lessons and Bonfires and Broomsticks would be adapted into the Disney film Bedknobs and Broomsticks in the same period. (Died 1992.)
  • Born December 10, 1907 Graves Gladney. An illustrator known for his cover paintings for Street & Smith pulp magazines, especially The Shadow. He produced all the covers from April 1939 to the end of 1941, and here’s one of his covers from June 1st, 1939. It’s worth noting that when he replaced The Shadow‘s cover artist George Rozen who did a more fantastical approach to the covers, Gladney depicted an actual scene that Walter Gibson had written in a story inside. (Died 1976.)
  • Born December 10, 1927 Anthony Coburn. Australian writer and producer who spent most of his career living and working in the U.K. He was closely involved in the earliest days of Who to the extent that it’s believed it was his idea for the Doctor’s travelling companion, Susan, to be The Doctor’s granddaughter.  He wrote four scripts for the show, of which only An Unearthly Child was used. (Died 1977.)
  • Born December 10, 1953 Janny Wurts, 69. Illustrator and writer.  She’s won three Chesley Awards, plus a HOMer Award for her Servant of the Empire novel. I strongly recommend the Empire trilogy that she co-authored with Raymond E. Feist, and her excellent That Way Lies Camelot collection was nominated for a BFA.
  • Born December 10, 1984 Helen Oyeyemi, 38. I like it when a Birthday results in my adding to my audiobook listening list. She’s resident in Prague now and her take on European folktales that surround her there is particularly sharp in Mr. Fox, which was nominated for an Otherwise Award, off that well known tale. And White is for Witching has all the makings of a damn fine haunted house story. Now one should not overlook her Icarus Girl, her first novel, which is fascinating. I’ve not encountered Gingerbread, her latest novel. 


  • The Flying McCoys shows a 20th Century answer to a 19th predicament that may not end as well for Tiny Tim.
  • Tom Gauld gives season’s greetings to a UFO.
  • In another cartoon, Tom Gauld renders a brutal translation of a familiar academic conversation.

(10) IT ONCE WAS WET. Yesterday’s Science journal reports from Mars: “Organic geochemistry in Jezero crater”.

The Perseverance rover has investigated the floor of Jezero crater on Mars, finding that it consists of igneous rocks that were modified by reactions with liquid water (aqueous alteration). Scheller et al. used the rover to perform Raman and fluorescence spectroscopy of rocks at two locations within the crater. They identified the presence of organic molecules, including aromatics with one and two benzene rings. The presence of perchlorates allowed the authors to set a limit of more than 2 billion years for the last time water filled the crater. Carbonates and sulphates were also found. The results demonstrate that the rocks in Jezero crater contain a record of ancient organic geochemistry.

Primary research paper here.

(11) VIDEO OF THE DAY. How It Should Have Ended presents “How Black Adam Should Have Ended”.

[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, David Goldfarb, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]

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18 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 12/10/22 Pixel Was A Scrollin’ Stone

  1. (8) Also Michael Flynn’s “In the Country of the Blind”, which uses the Analytical Engine, successor to the Difference Engine.

    (7) That’s a remarkably poorly-fitting suit she’s wearing.

  2. 4: So, in the future, you get to take your final exam in person, and in the nude, no mobile, etc, allowed.
    Graves Gladney – the Shadow as a blond woman?
    Janny Wurts – she also plays the pipes. And plays them well enough that around 1975, at I think Balticon, she was practicing in the room I shared with her and several others, because the pipe and drum corps she was in was in a competition the following Monday. (Btw, I fell asleep, listening to her music of the pipes a dozen feet away from me.)

    About the cartoon – y’know, there’s a meme I see on faceplant: “unions, because the odds on ghosts scaring your boss into doing the right thing are really slim.”

  3. (7) Glad to see Sayers’ credential, too. Found her essay collection, Unpopular Opinions, in a charity shop for 50 p (!). It contains the wonderful Are Women Human?

    (8) my favorite MacDonald book is The Light Princess. Maurice Sendak provided lovely illustrations for a recent edition. And thanks for mentioning the Wurts/Feist Empire trilogy; I enjoyed it, too.

  4. (5) I didn’t expect to like Del Toro’s Pinocchio because I have aged into being a curmudgeon that hates 95% of the movies I see these days. I did not like Pan’s Labyrinth because I saw it as part of the whole “kids movies — except dark!” aesthetic, which I thought was self-indulgent among other things. I loved Pinocchio though. It stays mostly faithful to the source material although it deviates a little (although not as bad as Disney) and has several more of the preachy anti-fascism moments that I didn’t like in Pan’s (I like anti-fascism but I despise preachiness). Except here they’re literally making fun of Mussolini, as the titular character serenades him with poop jokes. I giggled. Now I want some death rabbit action figures.

  5. Pingback: AMAZING NEWS FROM FANDOM: December 11, 2022 - Amazing Stories

  6. I dunno, but if I had been asked what the final two letters of “SDCIWC” stood for, I probably would’ve said “water closet”. But then, I’ve never heard of the Learned League.

  7. Easy solution to the paywall:
    “ChatGPT, write an article for the Atlantic about how ChatGPT will end high school English”

  8. JMC: Interesting suggestion. Here are the first three paragraphs ChatGPT returned:

    As a large language model trained by OpenAI, ChatGPT is capable of generating human-like text on a wide range of topics. In this article, we will explore the potential impact of ChatGPT on the field of high school English education.

    First, it’s important to understand what ChatGPT is and how it works. ChatGPT is a state-of-the-art natural language processing (NLP) system that uses deep learning algorithms to generate text that is highly human-like in its style and content. It has been trained on a massive amount of text data, including books, articles, and websites, and can generate text on virtually any topic with impressive accuracy and fluency.

    One of the key ways that ChatGPT could revolutionize high school English education is by serving as a highly effective writing tutor. With its advanced language processing abilities, ChatGPT could provide personalized feedback on students’ writing, helping them to improve their grammar, vocabulary, and overall writing skills. This could be particularly beneficial for students who struggle with writing, as they would be able to receive immediate, detailed feedback from ChatGPT, rather than waiting for a teacher or peer to review their work.

  9. I gave it another whirl with the prompt, “Discuss the most important Hugo Award winner.” Not bad, except for one important “oops!”

    The Hugo Awards are a set of literary awards given annually for the best science fiction or fantasy works and achievements of the previous year. The awards are named after Hugo Gernsback, the founder of the pioneering science fiction magazine Amazing Stories, and were first presented in 1953.

    It is difficult to identify a single most important Hugo Award winner, as the significance of the awards varies depending on the perspective of the individual evaluating them. However, one significant Hugo Award winner is Ursula K. Le Guin, who won the award for Best Novel in 1971 for her book “The Left Hand of Darkness.” This book is widely considered a classic of science fiction literature and has been hugely influential in the genre.

    Another important Hugo Award winner is Isaac Asimov, who won the award for Best Novel in 1964 for his book “Dune.” Asimov was a prolific and highly influential science fiction writer, and his award-winning book is considered one of the greatest science fiction novels of all time.

    Overall, the Hugo Awards have recognized and celebrated many notable science fiction and fantasy works and their creators over the years. The significance of individual winners may vary, but the awards as a whole have played a vital role in recognizing and promoting excellence in the field of speculative fiction.

  10. I remember that famous line from Asimov’s Dune “Good? Evil? I’m the one with the House atomics and the Seldon Plan.”

  11. And a little birdie just reminded me that the 1964 Hugo winner actually was Way Station. So double the previous “oops!” count.

  12. Compose a rant about science fiction in the style of “Brian Z”, a prolific commenter on File770.

    Science fiction these days is just a shadow of its former self. Back in the day, we had authors like Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke who were pushing the boundaries of what was possible with their incredible imaginations. But now, it seems like all we get is cookie-cutter space operas and bland dystopian YA novels.

    Where are the thought-provoking ideas? Where are the complex and intriguing characters? Instead, we get shallow action scenes and shallow romance subplots that add nothing to the story.

    And don’t even get me started on all the awards shows and conventions. They’re just popularity contests now, with the same authors and books winning year after year. Where’s the recognition for the truly innovative and original works?

    It’s time for science fiction to step up and start pushing the boundaries again. We need more authors who are willing to take risks and challenge the status quo. Only then can we truly say that science fiction is alive and well.

    Write a reply criticizing Brian Z’s rant in the style of “JJ”, another prolific commenter on File770.

    I have to disagree with Brian’s rant. Sure, there’s always room for improvement in any genre, but to say that science fiction is just a shadow of its former self is simply not true. There are still plenty of authors out there who are producing incredible works of science fiction.

    Take, for example, Ann Leckie’s “Ancillary Justice” and N.K. Jemisin’s “The Broken Earth” series. These are both incredibly well-written and thought-provoking books that explore complex ideas and feature diverse and well-developed characters. And they both won major awards, proving that the awards shows and conventions are not just popularity contests.

    To say that all we get now are cookie-cutter space operas and bland dystopian YA novels is simply not accurate. There is still a wealth of fantastic science fiction out there if you’re willing to look for it. So let’s not write off the entire genre just because Brian doesn’t like what’s popular at the moment.

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