Pixel Scroll 12/21/18 Golden The Ship Was Ho! Ho! Ho!

(1) DOOM PATROL TEASER. Daniel Dern helpfully adds a Rot-13 footnote to the video: “For Filers too young and/or cool to recognize the background music’s singer, Fvatvat ‘Gvcgbr Guebhtu Gur Ghyvcf’ vf Gval Gvz , of course.”

DOOM PATROL is a re-imagining of one of DC’s most beloved groups of outcast Super Heroes: Robotman, Negative Man, Elasti-Girl and Crazy Jane, led by modern-day mad scientist Dr. Niles Caulder (The Chief). The Doom Patrol’s members each suffered horrible accidents that gave them superhuman abilities — but also left them scarred and disfigured. Traumatized and downtrodden, the team found purpose through The Chief, who brought them together to investigate the weirdest phenomena in existence — and to protect Earth from what they find. Part support group, part Super Hero team, the Doom Patrol is a band of super-powered freaks who fight for a world that wants nothing to do with them. Picking up after the events of TITANS, DOOM PATROL will find these reluctant heroes in a place they never expected to be, called to action by none other than Cyborg, who comes to them with a mission hard to refuse, but with a warning that is hard to ignore: their lives will never, ever be the same.

There’s a flock of character posters, too.

(2) BUMBLEBEE LIFTS OFF. NPR non-fan Scott Tobias says that in “Flight Of The ‘Bumblebee’: Transformers Flick Soars Over (Low) Franchise Expectations”

Mankind has split the atom, sent a man to the moon, and now, in arguably its most unlikely achievement, it has produced a watchable Transformers movie.

There’s really no scientific expression for how low Michael Bay’s five previous Transformers movies have set the bar, but it’s not enough to praise Bumblebee, the diverting new spin-off/prequel, for basic visual coherence or evidence of identifiable human emotion. It does better than that, imbuing the commercial cynicism of a Hasbro product with the borrowed warmth of E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial, Splash, and a soundtrack so chock-a-block with ’80s favorites that it gets from The Smiths to Steve Winwood in a hummingbird’s sneeze.

Though Bay has stayed on as producer, director Travis Knight, who made the wonderful Laika animated film Kubo and the Two Strings, and his screenwriter, Christina Hodson, almost make a point of crumpling up his vision and tossing in the waste basket. Gone is the Bay’s risible mix of mythology and militarism, replaced by simplified conflict and an emphasis on the friendship between an outcast and an exile. Gone also is the leering, dorm-room poster sexuality, replaced by a notably chaste teen romance that doesn’t get past first base. Bumblebee seems to have more of a family-friendly mandate than Bay’s Transformers movies, but the lightness and earnestness serves the material well. Movies inspired by toys tend to crack like cheap plastic under too much weight.

(3) TOP SFF. Here’s The Verge’s list of “Our favorite science fiction and fantasy books of 2018”:

The long and bleak year of 2018 is almost over. It was a year full of devastating storms and disasters, scandal after scandal from tech companies, and chaotic politics from around the world. If there was any bright point in the year, it was that 2018 also brought with it a bumper crop of fantastic science fiction, fantasy, and horror novels that served as an oasis to examine the world around us, or to escape for brighter pastures.

The best books of this year told stories of interstellar colonization, of fantastic magical civilizations, optimistic alternate worlds, and devastating potential futures. They brought us fantastic characters who sought to find their places in the vivid and fantastic worlds they inhabited.

One of those books is –

The Tiger Flu by Larissa Lai

Set in the distant future, humanity survives on a planet wrecked by climate change and plagues in Larissa Lai’s latest novel The Tiger Flu, which follows a community of cloned women who are battling for their very survival waged by illness and economics.

Lai’s story follows two women: Kirilow, a doctor of Grist Village whose lover Peristrophe dies of a new strain of flu. Peristrophe was vitally important to their community — she could regrow her limbs and organs, and following her death, Kirilow sets out to Salt Water City to try to find someone to replace her. There, she meets Kora, a woman living in the city who might be able to save her community, but who resists leaving her family behind. Lai’s story is an intriguing post-apocalyptic novel, one rife with biotech and the remnants of the world from before.

(4) SPACE COMMAND. On Late Night With Stephen Colbert the USS Enterprise receives a message from an alien curious about this whole Space Command thing. (The one thought up by Trump, not Marc Zicree.)

(5) THE KING JEFF VERSION. Now in those days a decree went out from Jeff VanderMeer counting down his Facebook rules for 2019:

I’m expanding my blocking next year to people who (1) love ice cream, (2) hate vultures, (3) tag me in posts comparing me unfavorably to authors I hate, (4) post cute animal vids without checking the source, (5) think wine coolers are cool, (6) have “author” as part of their name, (7) are inept at the fine art of humble bragging, (8) tell me something’s inspired by Annihilation just to get me to retweet it, (9) send me emails about how convinced they are the biologist wanted to commit suicide, and (10) send me every goddamn photo of a weird tree every single goddamn time. – Love, Curmudgeon

(6) MOFFAT OBIT. You saw him a lot, but did you know his name? “Donald Moffat, Commander Garry in John Carpenter’s The Thing, passes away at 87” – details at Syfy Wire.

Donald Moffat, the English actor most known for playing station commander Garry in John Carpenter‘s 1982 remake of The Thing, has died at the age of 87. According to The New York Times, Moffat passed away Thursday in Sleepy Hollow, New York, after complications arose from a stroke six days before his 88th birthday.

… Born in Plymouth of the U.K.’s Devon County in December of 1930, Moffat moved to the United States at the age of 26 to pursue a full-time acting career. Besides The Thing, the actor appeared in a number of other genre projects, like Night Gallery, The Terminal Man, Logan’s Run (the TV series), Exo-ManPopeyeThe Right Stuff, and Monster in the Closet.

(7) MASTERSON OBIT. “Peter Masterson, Actor, Director and ‘Best Little Whorehouse in Texas’ Writer, Dies at 84”The Hollywood Reporter has the story.

The father of actress Mary Stuart Masterson and a two-time Tony nominee also helmed ‘The Trip to Bountiful’ and appeared in ‘The Stepford Wives’ and ‘The Exorcist.’…

(8) ICONS LOST IN 2018. Last week, Turner Classic Movies posted its annual in memoriam video. Harlan Ellison, Jerry Maren, William Goldman, Gary Kurtz, Margot Kidder, and Stan Lee are some of the genre figures shown.

In loving memory of the actors and filmmakers who have passed away in 2018. We will remember you for all time.


December 21, 1968 – Apollo 8 launches. The Washington Post’s Joel Achenbach notes the 50th anniversary of Apollo 8.  “No space mission had ever presented so many exotic ways to kill astronauts,” Achenbach writes. “Apollo 8: NASA’s first moonshot was a bold and terrifying improvisation”.

Walter Cronkite held a tiny model of the Apollo 8 spacecraft and strode across a darkened studio where two dangling spheres represented Earth and the moon. This was the CBS Evening News, Dec. 20, 1968, and three Apollo 8 astronauts were scheduled to blast off the following morning on a huge Saturn V rocket. Cronkite explained that the astronauts would fly for three days to the vicinity of the moon, fire an engine to slow the spacecraft and enter lunar orbit, circle the moon 10 times, then fire the engine a final time to return to Earth and enter the atmosphere at 25,000 miles per hour.

“They must come in at JUST the right angle. If they come in too steeply, they will be CRUSHED in the Earth’s atmosphere. If they come in too shallow, they will SKIP OUT and go into Earth orbit and not be able to return,” Cronkite said….


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 21, 1892Hubert Rogers. Illustrator during the Golden Age of pulp magazines. His first freelance work was for Ace-High, Adventure, Romance, and West. In ‘42, he started doing covers for Astounding Science Fiction which he would do until ‘53. He did the cover art for the ‘51 edition of the Green Hills of Earth, the ‘50 edition of The Man Who Sold the Moon and the ‘53 edition of Revolt in 2100. (Died 1982.)
  • December 21, 1928Frank Hampson. A British illustrator that is best known as the creator and artist of Dan Dare, Pilot of The Future and other characters in the boys’ comic, The Eagle, to which he contributed from 1950 to 1961. There is some dispute over how much his original scripts were altered by his assistants before being printed. (Died 1985.)
  • Born December 21, 1937 Jane Fonda, 81. Sure everyone here has seen her in Barbarella? Her only other genre appearances are apparently by voice work as Shuriki in the animated Elena of Avalor series, and in the Spirits of the Dead, 1968 anthology film based on the work of Poe. She was the Contessa Frederique de Metzengerstein in the “Metzengerstein” segment of the film. 
  • Born December 21, 1948Samuel L. Jackson, 70. Where to start? Did you know that with his permission, his likeness was used for the Ultimates version of the Nick Fury? It’s a great series btw. He has also played Fury in the Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger, The Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Avengers: Age of Ultron and Avengers: Infinity War and showed up on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. too! He voiced Lucius Best (a.k.a. Frozone) in Incredible and Incredibles 2, Mace Windu in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace and Star Wars: The Clone Wars, the Afro Samurai character in the anime series of the same name and more other genre work than can be listed here comfortably so go ahead and add your favorite role by him. 
  • Born December 21, 1962Kevin Murphy, 56. American actor and writer best known as the voice and puppeteer of Tom Servo on the Mystery Science Theater 3000. And he does RiffTrax which are  humorous audio commentary tracks intended to be played along with various television programs and films. 
  • Born December 21, 1966 Kiefer Sutherland, 52. My, he’s been in a lot of genre undertakings! I think that The Lost Boys was his first such of many to come including FlatlinersTwin Peaks: Fire Walk with MeThe Nutcracker PrinceThe Three Musketeers,  voice work in Armitage: Poly-MatrixDark City, more voice work in The Land Before Time X: The Great Longneck Migration,  Marmaduke and Dragonlance: Dragons of Autumn TwilightMirrors, and yes he’s in the forthcoming second Flatliners as a new character. 
  • Born December 21, 1971Jeff Prucher, 47. Won the Hugo Award for Brave New Words: The Oxford Dictionary of Science Fiction which to my knowledge is still the only historical dictionary of words originating in sf, plus citations and bibliographic information for them. If there’s another one, I’d like to know about it. 

(11) DON’T JUDGE BY CHARACTERS ON TV. Ada Hoffman told Twitter readers, “[If] you are NT, I am going to explain several reasons why you SHOULD NOT EVER judge if a character is ‘autistic enough’ by how well they match autistic characters on TV. Any TV.” Thread starts here.

(12) SPACE DOESN’T HAVE ENOUGH SPACE? The Man Who Sold The Moon, Delos Harriman, died before authorities could smother him with paperwork for his illegal mission – not so  Swarm co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Sara Spangelo: “FCC fines Swarm $900,000 for unauthorized satellite launch”.

Swarm Technologies Inc will pay a $900,000 fine for launching and operating four small experimental communications satellites that risked “satellite collisions” and threatened “critical commercial and government satellite operations,” the Federal Communications Commission said on Thursday.

The California-based start-up founded by former Google and Apple engineers in 2016 also agreed to enhanced FCC oversight and a requirement of pre-launch notices to the FCC for three years.

Swarm launched the satellites in India last January after the FCC rejected its application to deploy and operate them, citing concerns about the company’s tracking ability.

(13) COUNTERING ROGUE DRONES. [Item by Chip Hitchcock.] BBC chronicles “Gatwick airport: How countries counter the drone threat”. Context: per another BBC post, possibly 100,000 or more passengers grounded due to somebody flying at least one drone around the airport. It’s unclear so far whether it was a random idiot, or somebody deliberately harassing; the latter reminds of Christopher Anvil’s “Gadget vs. Trend” which is framed by quotes from a sociologist complaining first about rampant conformism and last about rampant individualism, after a device has allowed people to be … disruptive.

Rogue drones “deliberately” flown over one of the UK’s busiest airports caused travel chaos this week.

Incoming planes were forced to divert to airports up and down the country as the drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), repeatedly appeared over the airfield at London’s Gatwick Airport.

The situation was so serious the Army was called in to support the local police in tackling the issue, with the runway finally re-opening on Friday morning.

For some time now, governments around the world have been looking at different ways of addressing the dangers of drone use in areas where they pose safety risks.

Here we look at some of the solutions – ranging from bazookas to eagles.

More: “Gatwick disruption: How will police catch the drone menace?”

(14) 770 FROM 770 IS NOTHING. Here’s the real reason for today’s diminished sunlight — senpai has stopped noticing me!

(15) SAD FOR REAL. No explanation why yet, but “Scientists Find A Brain Circuit That Could Explain Seasonal Depression”.

Just in time for the winter solstice, scientists may have figured out how short days can lead to dark moods.

Two recent studies suggest the culprit is a brain circuit that connects special light-sensing cells in the retina with brain areas that affect whether you are happy or sad.

When these cells detect shorter days, they appear to use this pathway to send signals to the brain that can make a person feel glum or even depressed.

(16) YA DESERVING YOUR ATTENTION. Surprisingly, all six books chosen by Vicky Who Reads for “Best of 2018: Hidden Gems + Underappreciated Books” are sff.

There are so many amazing books this year that I personally think did not get enough hype or recognition, and today’s all about highlighting some of the quieter YA releases that you should definitely check out!

Every single book on this list and the ones to come are books that I’ve already read + loved, but obviously there are 2018 novels I haven’t read and could definitely qualify. But, alas. It is not to be.

One of those picks is –

Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson

I feel like in end of the year lists, we oftentimes forget about books that published earlier in the year, but Undead Girl Gang is a book I looooved! Not only did it star a fat Hispanic MC, but it’s also a really great book about friendship?

I mean, this girl has her mean girls revived as “zombies” of sorts (just not…flesh eating) and I loved seeing how they resolved their differences throughout the novel. It was not only super nice to read about friendship and not a lot of romance, but I also really loved the sort of fun narrative style that makes you enjoy what’s happening and not take it too seriously!

(17) OUTWARD MOBILITY. Paul Weimer makes a recommendation at Nerds of a Feather: “Microreview [book]: Implanted, by Lauren C Teffeau”.

Lauren C Teffeau’s Implanted combines future cyberpunk beats with a climate changed ravaged future, a vertically oriented arcology setting, and a strong central character with a thriller chassis for an entertaining read.

…The strength of the novel is Emily as a flawed, complicated character with lots of fiddly bits to her personality and story. Far from being a smooth operator when dropped into her new, unwelcome situation, and on the other hand, avoiding the trap of making her a completely clueless newbie without any skills, the author creates Emily as someone with strengths and weaknesses, in terms of skills and personality, that become plot relevant and interesting to her development and growth. Her desire to reconnect with her former life, damn the consequences, is a major driver of the plot as well.

(18) FELINE NAVIDAD. Camestros Felapton’s “Carols with Catnip” features seasonal music behind a video visage of Timothy the Talking Cat. It’s sort of like that Sauron eye fireplace video, except even more horrifying!

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

63 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 12/21/18 Golden The Ship Was Ho! Ho! Ho!

  1. 9
    Last time I went past the Saturn V engine in front of Boeing Rocketdyne, I saluted it. (I don’t go past it often.) It’s big – and they needed five of them to get the thing off the ground.

  2. @1: another show I won’t watch — but I wonder whether there’s a reason for that specific music; does the show take place then?

    @16: according to later information from Fear of Landing, there’s now no doubt that this was deliberate; Gatwick was announced as closed until 4pm, and another drone showed up just then after a hiatus. No traces yet, so no indication of whether it’s an ecoteur who objects to planes in principle, a local unhappy with the noise, an extortionist practicing…. The link mentions a few other cases specifically at Gatwick in recent months; apparently the authorities didn’t try preventive measures then, but they’re reacting now.

  3. Sacrificial fourth.

    @13 is why we can’t have nice things. (My sympathies to the stranded and re-directed travelers. I heard one interview with a person who was stuck on an airplane, with a small child, for something like 8 hours….)

  4. (15) Hey, maybe figuring out how Seasonal Affective Disorder works is a first step towards real help.

    (16) Whatever the specific motivation, this is a form of terrorism.

  5. That TCM clip was very nice but you should have mentioned Michael Anderson, who directed a LOT of sf.

  6. 10) I’m still disappointed that the Jurassic World movies didn’t bring back Samuel Jackson with an Imperator Furiosa-style bionic arm.

    And while Kiefer Sutherland may have done a voice in the Dragonlance animated movie, if anyone ever offers you a chance to watch the Dragonlance animated movie, turn and run in the other direction as fast as your legs will carry you.

    On an unrelated and much, much happier note, Elizabeth Willey’s Well-Favoured Man trilogy is finally available on US Kindle. (Well, mostly — book 3 will be arriving in January.) I really need to reread them because I remember enjoying them but don’t have any actual specific memories. Also, the blurb on Amazon compares them to Zelazny, Ellen Kushner’s Swordspoint and Steven Brust, which really does seem aimed directly at me.

  7. 1) Admittedly, I am spoiled by Grant Morrison’s brilliantly surreal and philisophical Doom Patrol run. But this looks cute and funny, so its at least worth checking out.

    12) This is no joke. Kessler Syndrome means a satellite collision will lead to a cascade of debris that could eventually make Earth orbit unusable.

    Incidently, there’s an extremely good, extremely hard SF series that deals with cleaning and policing Earth orbit for random debris.

    16) looks at Mt. Tsundoku. Sighs heavily

  8. (13) BBC radio this morning is reporting two people have been arrested. While of course adhering to the principle of “innocent until proven guilty”, I dare say that there a lot of sighs of relief this morning as long as there aren’t any copycats… Apparently the maximum sentence for “interfering with an aircraft” is 5 years, but a lot of people are hoping that the book is thrown at whoever was responsible – I did see someone yesterday wondering whether skinning alive with a rusty spoon is still available “pour encourager les autres”.

  9. 1) I liked the early part of Grant Morrison’s run too much to want to see a modern DC take, I think. Especially if they’re going to cop out and have Negative Man instead of Rebis. I’m not optimistic about how they’ll treat Jane either, though I don’t know if that’s fair.

    (I know one plural person who thinks Jane as written by Morrison is good representation but I suspect opinions are going to vary a lot.)

  10. There doesn’t seem much point doing Doom Patrol if it isn’t weird as flippin’ eck – the music was a good sign.

  11. Meredith Moment:

    Revenant Gun by Yoon Ha Lee is on sale at Amazon US for 0.99 cents. This was on my Wishlist, so I don’t know if it’s on sale anywhere else.

    Here in 6911, our feline overlords now have robotic can openers and have decided to keep us around anyway, out of a general fondness for us-or comic relief.

  12. Robert Reynolds, as of five minutes ago Elevenfox Gambit Revenant Gun was NOT on sale at Kobo. I thought they had a price-match policy, but either I was mistaken, or they haven’t noticed yet.

    Here in 2191 we are reading One-hundred-eighty-six-fox Gambit…

  13. @Arwel —

    Apparently the maximum sentence for “interfering with an aircraft” is 5 years

    That should be plenty — as long as it’s 5 years **per aircraft**.

  14. me: I see I misreferenced @13 as @16, without even the excuse of commenting after local midnight. Oh well.

    @Camestros Felaptron: I’d have thought the next step would be anti-drone-drones. The Fear of Landing story has a video of a … possible … anti-drone drone (it’s carrying a chainsaw). But (as some of the links note) catching a battery-powered drone with anything is non-trivial given its low profile; the ?Predator? that Iran claimed to have downed was much larger (not to mention giving off a major heat signature from its jet engine), and a harassment drone could operate by program with little or no radio communication. It’s possible that a drone-catching drone could be developed, but it won’t be trivial, and it may not ever be as effective as other means.

    @Contrarius: I like that approach.

    I will be interested to hear about motivations; the story @Arwel Perry links to just mentions a middle-aged pair from a town ~10 miles perpendicular to the flight path. I’m a bit surprised that somebody hadn’t done this already at Heathrow, which appears primed (unlike Gatwick) for an expansion that will require moving a lot of people.

  15. In honor of the Christmas #1 – We Built this City on Pixel Scroll

    (Hard to get proper sausage rolls around these parts.)

  16. @Robert Reynolds —

    Meredith Moment:

    Revenant Gun by Yoon Ha Lee is on sale at Amazon US for 0.99 cents. This was on my Wishlist, so I don’t know if it’s on sale anywhere else.

    But wait, there’s more!

    — in fact, all three books in the trilogy are currently available for $0.99 each.

  17. 13) @Lis Carey: “Whatever the specific motivation, this is a form of terrorism.”

    What makes this terrorism? It doesn’t sound that different from any other form of civil disobedience that disrupts travel. I don’t take it seriously when someone claims Black Lives Matter is terrorism because they block a road. What if those responsible are calling attention to the role of air travel in climate change? Or are trying to stop it?

  18. @Contrarius: IIRC, @OGH posted a similar link that I sent in some time ago; it’s one approach, but the links in this Scroll note that there have been issues with cost (training a bird to strike at something non-edible isn’t easy) and (IIRC) cruelty-to-animals. It’s also not clear how effective they’ll be in real-world trials (cf Missile, Patriot, Efficacy of); I see the French trained using one specific drone, which raises questions about how similar a different drone would have to be to be recognized as prey. (Raptors are very sharp-sighted; I don’t know whether they could be trained to attack the sound of tiny propellers.)

    @me: details on my previous response: per Wikipedia, Iran claimed to have taken down (i.e., it didn’t just fail-and-crash) a Sentinel. This is a stealth craft about which very little is known, but it’s guessed to have a single jet engine and to be at least 65 feet across; possible downing methods include hacking the communications and/or GPS (the latter is said not to be possible). The original Predator had a piston engine rather than a turbine, but even that would throw off more heat than an electric engine.

    I wonder whether we’ll see drone makers announcing development of drone killers, given the huhu that just two people caused.

  19. @Chip —

    IIRC, @OGH posted a similar link that I sent in some time ago; it’s one approach, but the links in this Scroll note that there have been issues with cost (training a bird to strike at something non-edible isn’t easy) and (IIRC) cruelty-to-animals.

    Woops, sorry for any double posting! If you’ll watch the vids in the articles, however, you’ll see that there are multiple (at least two that I know of) documented instances of wild eagles taking down drones — so there shouldn’t be any real problem with training eagles in general to want to kill them. 😉

    Also note that the French military is happy enough with their nascent program so far that they have already ordered a second batch of eaglets.

  20. 5) Are we to read this as blocking the union of those 10 sets, or their intersection? It seems very specific.

    12) I’m a little surprised that it is the FCC who is taking responsibility for policing orbital satellites. I suppose there are some analogy to radio spectrum, but still I would have suspected some other bureaucracy would have the job.

  21. Following up to myself, I see the FAA claims to regulate commercial launches, both within US borders, and by US entities anywhere.

  22. (11) I think this applies to just about anyone! If you’re basing a character of type X on how such characters are shown on TV, you’re in serious danger of offending people, in pretty much every case. Heck, TV still struggles to offer realistic depictions of women, despite the fact that they make up around half the population!

  23. @Andrew I remember Brainstorm being in heavy rotation on HBO for a while, possibly due to the brief inclusion of titillating content. I think the “you” being addressed in that article is a person under 30 years old.

    The movie is kind of a mess but has a lot of interesting bits and a good cast.

  24. Re FAA regulation, the audio for the launch in NZ for NASA of a RocketLab Electron rocket mentioned winds exceeding FAA limits. My first thought was that they were using FAA standards because it just makes sense, but that they have to (regardless of payload ownership) is even more logical.

    Also, ISTR a US company doing an unauthorised (by the US) launch a few months ago, which was causing them some grief.

  25. So. There are a bunch of people on my timeline who LOVE The Armored Saint. I’m having a hard time getting through chapter two. Am I being too picky with the way the female protagonist is reacting to the holy soldiers? (Or the fact that they’ve got a chemical that explodes when in contact with water wrapped in salt-encrusted fabric in a really humid room?)

    Is the beginning just a bit rough and it gets better?

  26. @Andrew: Also, just to nitpick a little about that article, Brainstorm didn’t predict virtual reality. World on a Wire predicted virtual reality. Brainstorm predicted various things that don’t exist, mainly recording and playback of sensory stimuli.

    (And also psychological torture more or less like in Greg Bear’s Queen of Angels. I found that part a bit confusing since it was supposedly calibrated to your worst fears, but still seemed to be just playing a tape. But I think it’s a really effective scene, because of the intro by a calm authority figure who explains what’s about to happen to you and then says if you’re a government employee you’d better turn it off now.)

  27. @ULTRAGOTHA: IIRC, it doesn’t get much better; Cole gets heavily into grimdark in both this-world and other-world fantasy, and authorities the two novels I’ve read (this and #1 ShadowOps) are brutal and stupid. I assume some people like his work, as #2 of this series has already been published, but I don’t plan to bother.

    @Contrarius: it will be interesting to see whether anyone can repeat the French results (which aren’t exactly what was posted before, just similar IIRC) — and how well the supply of eaglets holds up. (I hadn’t known eaglets were available to order — I wonder whether they’re captured or bred?) I do note the Post article is almost 2 years old, so the BBC’s report of later issues might be correct (or might just not cover enough).

  28. Meanwhile, in local reflection of a previous Pixel: I took some exercise around the neighborhood and found that one enterprising soul has accompanied a polar bear and an underinflated snowman with a holiday-colored dragon (green with red trim) that flaps its wings instead of just standing there.

  29. Eli: [Brainstorm] is kind of a mess but has a lot of interesting bits and a good cast.

    Natalie Wood died while it was still being filmed, so they had to try to finish it with the footage that they had, which meant a fair number of workarounds, I think. Whatever it was meant to be, it ended up being something different, and I’m sure that didn’t help.

  30. John A Arkansawyer: What makes this terrorism? It doesn’t sound that different from any other form of civil disobedience that disrupts travel. I don’t take it seriously when someone claims Black Lives Matter is terrorism because they block a road. What if those responsible are calling attention to the role of air travel in climate change? Or are trying to stop it?

    Well, obviously your barometer is different, but I would call anything which risks causing plane crashes domestic terrorism. Things that constitute civil disobedience don’t generally cause great risk to peoples’ lives.

  31. (12) “We can lick gravity, but sometimes the paperwork is overwhelming.” Wernher von Braun, 1958

  32. @JJ

    Rather unexpectedly, I agree with John on this one. Terrorism is deliberately causing death or injury for political ends, and this lacks both. And the definition matters because it’s convenient for the state to define terrorism as broadly as possible, to prevent opposition.

  33. Sophie Jane: Terrorism is deliberately causing death or injury for political ends, and this lacks both. And the definition matters because it’s convenient for the state to define terrorism as broadly as possible, to prevent opposition.

    That definition of terrorism requires a declaration of intent. The problem is that no notification or declaration of intent has been given.

    So I’ll go with “extreme reckless endangerment” — sending drones out onto the runway area, without notifying the airport or the news media that they will be doing so, puts planes in danger of crashing. And that’s way worse than blocking a street to inconvenience traffic; it deliberately risks peoples’ lives.

  34. Two suspects, a middle-aged couple were taken in, questioned, and released. I don’t know if they are no longer suspects or if the cops decided not to charge a couple of fools. (I just heard a radio report in passing this morning.)

    Honestly, if they’re the ones who did it I think at least some charges would be appropriate, even if it’s just minor charges resulting in fines rather than jail time. I agree that the intent doesn’t seem to deliberately cause bodily harm, so in this case it’s not terrorism, but the level of mischief caused does seem to me to warrant some legal sanction.

    Or maybe they caught the wrong people.

  35. I’m sure if the people who did this get caught, they’ll face jail time and more. It’s cost too much money for them not to get hammered. I can’t judge whether there’s actual reckless endangerment involved. The aviation industry overstates danger on a routine basis and I hesitate to take them at their word, but I’m still glad they’re overcautious.

    @JJ: It is more like direct action than civil disobedience. Some will tell you we’re at or past that point with climate change. I’m not convinced of that yet, but I’m beginning to wonder where the line is. I’ll be dead before the worst of it hits and I should probably just party down, but I have that damned kid to think of.

  36. John A Arkansawyer; It is more like direct action than civil disobedience. Some will tell you we’re at or past that point with climate change. I’m not convinced of that yet, but I’m beginning to wonder where the line is. I’ll be dead before the worst of it hits and I should probably just party down, but I have that damned kid to think of.

    I’m mystified as to where you’re getting a connection to civil disobedience or acts of protest with this. As far as I can tell from information that’s been posted, it’s nothing more than one or two people getting smashed or stoned and going “Woah, dude, I should take my drone over to Gatwick and fly it around, that would be really cool.”

  37. @JJ: “I’m mystified as to where you’re getting a connection to civil disobedience or acts of protest with this.”

    That’s kind of how I felt about seeing it called terrorism.

  38. No, you said:

    John A Arkansawyer: It doesn’t sound that different from any other form of civil disobedience that disrupts travel.

    Where did you get the idea that this is civil disobedience?

  39. @JJ: “Where did you get the idea that this is civil disobedience?”

    From the same place the idea that it’s terrorism came from. No one knows who did it or why; we’re all speculating.

    Now that it’s been shown to be a remarkably effective way of causing trouble and getting attention, I bet it’ll be used against climate change at least once. It’s a massive inconvenience that costs stockholders lots of money, falls disproportionately on the privileged, and prevents a small amount of atmospheric damage.

    Now that I’ve thought it through, I’m surprised it hasn’t happened already.

  40. @JJ:

    As far as I can tell from information that’s been posted, it’s nothing more than one or two people getting smashed or stoned and going “Woah, dude, I should take my drone over to Gatwick and fly it around, that would be really cool.”

    As I noted in a comment, the interference took place over multiple days, including restarting right at the time the airport was scheduled to reopen after ?? hours shut down. The BBC story says

    The shutdown started just after 21:00 on Wednesday, when two drones were spotted flying “over the perimeter fence and into where the runway operates from”.

    The runway briefly reopened at 03:01 on Thursday but was closed again about 45 minutes later amid “a further sighting of drones”.

    The airport said at about 12:00 a drone had been spotted “in the last hour”.

    This sounds too persistent for a couple of stoners. The story also says

    Supt Justin Burtenshaw, head of armed policing for Sussex and Surrey, described attempts to catch whoever was controlling the drones as “painstaking” because it was “a difficult and challenging thing to locate them”.

    “Each time we believe we get close to the operator, the drone disappears; when we look to reopen the airfield, the drone reappears,” he said.

    I’m not sure how much of this to believe because I don’t know what leads them to think they’re getting close — line of sight? radio signals intercepted? — but I wouldn’t assume they’re flat-out lying (e.g., because they’re not trying to cover up criminal behavior by police).

    further to @Contrarius: the Fear of Landing article says

    Last year there were a few programmes training eagles to take down drones but concern about injury and cruelty to the birds has put a stop to the major projects.

    I wish the author had put in more links, but I’ve never found a hole in her work (and in some cases it’s been obsessively detailed). It would have been interesting to hear more about this, e.g. whether the “concern” was from PETA or from problems actually found in the program.

    I’m especially appalled by the fact that there have been multiple previous reports (per FoL) of drones seen close-up by pilots of passenger transports near Gatwick, with no reaction by authorities.

Comments are closed.