Pixel Scroll 3/11/23 Please Send In Two Hypercube Tops As Proof Of Ob, To Receive Your Free Pixel Scroll Title

(1) SPARKS FROM A GOOD CONDUCTOR. Somtow Sucharitkul proudly announces, “I ranted in my Facebook page and the Hollywood Reporter picked it up as an Op-Ed!” Beware spoilers. “Tár Ending is Not Cate Blanchett’s Character’s Downfall: Consultant” in The Hollywood Reporter.

The closing shot of Todd Field’s Oscar-nominated drama has been taken to represent the final fall from grace of the film’s eponymous heroine. But maybe we’ve got the whole thing backwards, writes Thai conductor Somtow Sucharitkul….

Well before Todd Field’s Tár opened in Thailand, I got my first review of the film from my friend, director Paul Spurrier. Paul had seen the film while in Los Angeles for the American Film Market.

“So we have here a mad genius conductor, who is kicked out of a major European orchestra after an act of violence, has rather ambiguous dealings with some young prodigies, ends up in Southeast Asia conducting a youth orchestra in a tawdry venue …,” he began.

“Oh!” I said, “You went to a screening of our film?” Because Paul was giving me the exact plot of our own film, The Maestro: A Symphony of Terror, a horror fantasy we made two years ago, which I wrote and starred in as the aforementioned “mad genius” conductor.

“Actually, no,” he said. “I just saw Tár.”

Since, I too have seen Tár and, as it turns out, Paul wasn’t wrong. Field’s movie does have a similar plot to The Maestro. Alas, I am a poor substitute for the incomparable Cate Blanchett, and our film is wholly different in substance anyway, being a modest little tribute to the horror films of the 1980s. In any case, the fall of the mighty, from Prometheus to the present, has always been the very essence of what we mean by the word tragedy….

(2) GUNN CENTER BOOK CLUB. Everyone is invited to the Gunn Center for the Study of SF’s (CSSF) monthly virtual book club happening on Friday, March 31, 2023, at noon (Central Time). Register here

For the month of March, the Center has chosen Donna Barbra Higuera’s The Last Cuentista. A comet has hit Earth and now Petra Peña’s world is collapsing. Petra, her family and hundreds of others venture to another planet to continue the human race. Petra awakes on a new planet 100 years in the future, and she is the only one who remembers the history of her people. Winner of the Newberry Medal and the Pura Belpré Award in 2022, Higuera infuses Mexican folklore with interplanetary elements to highlight the importance of preserving the history and culture through storytelling.  All ages are welcome to join.

(3) KGB PHOTOS. Ellen Datlow shared her snapshots from the March 8 Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series with Scott Lynch and Elizabeth Bear: KGB March 8, 2023 at Flickr.

(4) I’LL BE STABBED! “Using ChatGPT to Rewrite ‘Game of Thrones’? OpenAI Co-Founder Says ‘That Is What Entertainment Will Look Like’”The Hollywood Reporter has the story.

… “That is what entertainment will look like,” Brockman said at a Friday panel at SXSW. “Maybe people are still upset about the last season of Game of Thrones. Imagine if you could ask your A.I. to make a new ending that goes a different way and maybe even put yourself in there as a main character or something.”

Hollywood creatives have already begun considering the potential impact — both good and bad — that ChatGPT could have on the TV and filmmaking process. As The Hollywood Reporter examined in January, organizations like the Writers Guild of America West have said they are “monitoring the development of ChatGPT and similar technologies in the event they require additional protections for writers,” though screenwriters interviewed by THR said they could see ChatGPT as a tool to aid the writing process, rather than replacing the work of writers….

(5) MOVIE REVIEW. The Hollywood Reporter’s James Hibberd says “SXSW: ‘Mrs. Davis’ Is a Perfectly Timed Warning About A.I. Madness”.

What if ChatGPT, but too much? Too popular, too omniscient, and far too nefarious than today’s cutting-edge chatbots?

That’s the premise of Mrs. Davis, an ultra-ambitious series from Big Bang Theory veteran Tara Hernandez and Watchmen creator Damon Lindelof. Mrs. Davis, premiering at SXSW before its April 20 streaming debut on Peacock, tells the story of a heroic, street-savvy nun (three-time GLOW Emmy nominee Betty Gilpin) battling an omnipresent AI and its legion of obsessed fans who will do anything to please their tech deity (called Mrs. Davis), which is supposedly striving to make the world a better place. Oh, and there’s also a quest for the Holy Grail, possible Nazis with butterfly nets, nefarious magicians and a teary make-out session with Jesus — and that’s just in the first two episodes. As Gilpin’s character, Simone, says at one point: “It’s a lot.”…

(6) OFFICIAL FILTERS CHALLENGED. George Packer argues “The Moral Case Against Equity Language” in The Atlantic.

The Sierra Club’s Equity Language Guide discourages using the words stand, Americans, blind, and crazy. The first two fail at inclusion, because not everyone can stand and not everyone living in this country is a citizen. The third and fourth, even as figures of speech (“Legislators are blind to climate change”), are insulting to the disabled. The guide also rejects the disabled in favor of people living with disabilities, for the same reason that enslaved person has generally replaced slave : to affirm, by the tenets of what’s called “people-first language,” that “everyone is first and foremost a person, not their disability or other identity.”

The guide’s purpose is not just to make sure that the Sierra Club avoids obviously derogatory terms, such as welfare queen. It seeks to cleanse language of any trace of privilege, hierarchy, bias, or exclusion. In its zeal, the Sierra Club has clear-cut a whole national park of words. Urbanvibranthardworking, and brown bag all crash to earth for subtle racism. Y’all supplants the patriarchal you guys, and elevate voices replaces empower, which used to be uplifting but is now condescending. The poor is classist; battle and minefield disrespect veterans; depressing appropriates a disability; migrant—no explanation, it just has to go.

Equity-language guides are proliferating among some of the country’s leading institutions, particularly nonprofits. The American Cancer Society has one. So do the American Heart Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Medical Association, the National Recreation and Park Association, the Columbia University School of Professional Studies, and the University of Washington. The words these guides recommend or reject are sometimes exactly the same, justified in nearly identical language. This is because most of the guides draw on the same sources from activist organizations: A Progressive’s Style Guide, the Racial Equity Tools glossary, and a couple of others. The guides also cite one another. The total number of people behind this project of linguistic purification is relatively small, but their power is potentially immense. The new language might not stick in broad swaths of American society, but it already influences highly educated precincts, spreading from the authorities that establish it and the organizations that adopt it to mainstream publications, such as this one.

Although the guides refer to language “evolving,” these changes are a revolution from above. They haven’t emerged organically from the shifting linguistic habits of large numbers of people. They are handed down in communiqués written by obscure “experts” who purport to speak for vaguely defined “communities,” remaining unanswerable to a public that’s being morally coerced. A new term wins an argument without having to debate. When the San Francisco Board of Supervisors replaces felon with justice-involved person, it is making an ideological claim—that there is something illegitimate about laws, courts, and prisons. If you accept the change—as, in certain contexts, you’ll surely feel you must—then you also acquiesce in the argument….

(7) ANOTHER IDEA WHOSE TIME HAS COME. Ever notice how often two movies with the same general idea reach theaters in the same year? Now ask how it comes to pass than two movies based on the same book might do so. Gizmodo looks ahead to when “Cixin Liu’s Novel Supernova Era Will Explode Into Theaters”.

…For those who want to see Liu’s work on the big screen, good news—his 2003 novel Supernova Era is coming to theaters.

In fact, two Supernova Era movies are technically on the way, and possibly a TV series as well. Conquerer Entertainment, which has the adaptation rights to the novel, has announced a Chinese-language version of the movie, which will be simultaneously produced with an English-language version. If you don’t know the book (which Tor Books released in English in 2019), it’s got a (somewhat literally) killer premise. Here’s the official synopsis:

Eight light years away, a star has died, creating a supernova event that showers Earth in deadly levels of radiation. Within a year, everyone over the age of thirteen will die.

And so the countdown begins. Parents apprentice their children and try to pass on the knowledge needed to keep the world running.

But when the world is theirs, the last generation may not want to continue the legacy left to them. And in shaping the future however they want, will the children usher in an era of bright beginnings or final mistakes?

“The book has captured my interest due to Liu’s imaginative world-building and thought-provoking themes such as the fragility of civilization, the importance of leadership, and the role of technology in shaping society,” Conquerer co-founder Vasco Xu told Deadline. “It also raises questions about the nature of power, the relationship between science and morality, and the implications of different forms of administrations. Due to its futuristic setting and the presence of a significant global event at its core, the book has the potential to be adapted into two enthralling productions that would appeal to both the domestic Chinese audience and the global market.”

Assuming both movies get made, it’ll be very interesting to see how they compare and contrast. But we likely won’t get a chance to do so until 2026 at the earliest.

(8) RED DWARF NEWS. Radio Times reports ”Red Dwarf’s future confirmed after legal dispute resolved”.

…The future of Red Dwarf has finally been confirmed after a legal dispute between its creators, Rob Grant and Doug Naylor.

It’s no secret that the writers, who co-created the comedy series, haven’t always seen eye to eye, dissolving their partnership in the 1990s.

Naylor continued to write the Red Dwarf TV series but, in 2021, launched a High Court action against Grant over the rights to the show.

The dispute has now been resolved and it’s been confirmed that both of the writers will continue separately working on Red Dwarf in different media.

A statement reads: “Rob Grant and Doug Naylor are delighted to announce that the ongoing dispute over the Red Dwarf rights has been resolved.

“Moving onwards and upwards, Rob and Doug hope to launch separate iterations of Red Dwarf across various media, working again with the cast and other valued partners, and wish each other the very best.

“Smoke a kipper, Red Dwarf will be back for breakfast!!”…


1970[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

This is something rather different for a Beginning.Jefferson Starship’s Blows Against the Empire would be nominated for a Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo fifty-two years ago at the first Noreascon. It wouldn’t win and it’s the only album nominated until the Splendor & Misery recording by Clipping was nominated at Worldcon 75 for a Hugo in the Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form category. That didn’t win either. 

It is the first album to use Starship instead of Airplane, this under Kantner alone who produced the album, a name which Kantner and Slick would use for the Jefferson Starship that emerged after Jack Casady and Jorma Kaukonen left Jefferson Airplane. 

Kantner claimed that the inspiration for the album was the work of Heinlein, particularly Methuselah’s Children where a group of people hijack a starship. Kantner even quotes the novel in the opening song, “Mau Mau (Amerikon)”: “Push the button, pull the switch, cut the beam, make it march”. 

After listening to the album, I’ll be frelled if I can see how it relates to Methuselah’s Children at all. And I’d love to hear why it was nominated for a Hugo. Was it the Heinlein connection?

1974’s Dragon Fly was I think a much better SF album with “Hyperdrive” alone being one of the best SF songs done. 

So I’ll pick the Beginning stanza of “The Baby Tree”

There’s an island way out in the sea
Where the babies they all grow on trees
And its jolly good fun To swing in the sun
But you gotta watch out if you sneeze-sneeze
You gotta watch out if you sneeze


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 11, 1921 F. M. Busby. Together with his wife and others he published Cry of the Nameless which won the Hugo award in 1960. Heinlein was a great fan of him and his wife — The Cat Who Walks Through Walls in part dedicated to Busby and Friday in part to his wife Elinor. He was a very busy writer from the early Seventies to the late Nineties writing some nineteen published novels and myriad short stories before he blamed the Thor Power Tools decision for forcing his retirement. (Died 2005.)
  • Born March 11, 1925 Christopher Anvil. Pen name of Harry Christopher Crosby, a Campbellian writer through and through. He was a staple of Astounding starting in 1956. The Colonization Series that he wrote there would run to some thirty stories. Short stories were certainly his favored length as he only wrote two novels, The Day the Machines Stopped and The Steel, the Mist, and the Blazing Sun. He’s readily available at the usual digital sources. (Died 2009.)
  • Born March 11, 1935 Nancy Kovack, 88. She appeared as Nona in Trek’s “A Private Little War”. She also showed up in The Man from U.N.C.L.E.The Invaders, as Medea in Jason and the ArgonautsBatman (twice as Queenie), Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, I Dream of JeannieTarzan and the Valley of Gold,  Marooned, Get Smart! and The Invisible Man
  • Born March 11, 1952 Douglas Adams. Another one who died way too young. I’ve read and listened to the full cast production the BBC did of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy but have absolutely no desire to see the film. Wait, wasn’t there a TV series as well? Yes, there was. There’s also the Dirk Gently series which is, errr, odd and its charms escape my understanding. He and Mark Carwardine also wrote the most excellent Last Chance to See, their travels to various locations in the hope of encountering species on the brink of extinction. It’s more upbeat than it sounds. (Died 2001.)
  • Born March 11, 1961 Elias Koteas, 62. Genre appearances include the very first (and I think best of the many that came out) as the sports-crazed vigilante Casey Jones in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III (I did warn you, didn’t I?), Cyborg 2 (just don’t, really don’t), Gattaca, Skinwalkers, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and The Haunting in Connecticut.
  • Born March 11, 1963 Alex Kingston, 60. River Song in Doctor Who. She’s in a number of different stories with a number of different Doctors.  I don’t see a lot of other genre work from her but she was in Ghost Phone: Phone Calls from the Dead, as Sheila and she was Lady Macbeth in the National Theatre Live of Macbeth. Now the latter I would have really to seen!  Oh, and she’s in the Arrowverse as Dinah Lance, in FlashForward as Fiona Banks and recently shows up as Sara Bishop on A Discovery of Witches, a series based off the stellar Deborah Harkness All Souls Trilogy series of the same name.
  • Born March 11, 1989 Anton Yelchin. Yes another way too early death. Best known for playing Pavel Chekov in Star TrekStar Trek Into Darkness, and Star Trek Beyond. He also was in Terminator Salvation as Kyle Reese, in the Zombie comedy Burying the Ex as Max and voiced Clumsy Smurf in a series of Smurf films. Really he did. (Died 2016.)


  • Arlo and Janis work a genre reference into a strip about tonight’s change to daylight savings time.

(12) YOU’VE GOT MAIL. Not sff, but the New York Times tells about a fascinating project that’s started to sift the centuries-old impounded mail taken to from prize ships during England’s colonial wars: “Long-Lost Letters Bring Word, at Last”. At the article are quotes from these old letters.

… None of those lines ever reached their intended recipients. British warships instead snatched those letters, and scores more, from aboard merchant ships during wars from the 1650s to the early 19th century.

 While the ships’ cargoes — sugar from the Caribbean, tobacco from Virginia, ivory from Guinea, enslaved people bound for the Americas — became war plunder, the papers were bundled off to so called “prize courts” in London as potential legal proof that the seizures were legitimate spoils of war….

…For centuries since, the bulging boxes of those undelivered letters, seized from around 35,000 ships, sat neglected in British government storage, a kind of half-forgotten dead letter office for intercepted mail.

Poorly sorted and only vaguely cataloged, the Prize Papers, as they became known, have now begun revealing lost treasures. Archivists at Britain’s National Archives and a research team at the Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg in Germany are working on a joint project to sort, catalog and digitize the collection, which gives a nuanced portrait of private lives, international commerce and state power in an age of rising empires.

The project, expected to last two decades, aims to make the collection of more than 160,000 letters and hundreds of thousands of other documents, written in at least 19 languages, freely available and easily searchable online.

Many of the papers haven’t been read in centuries, and many letters remain sealed and unopened….

(13) THAT’S WHO. At Galactic Journey, Jessica Holmes provides commentary on the very latest (in 1968) Doctor Who story arc. “[March 10, 1968] The Best Laid Plans (Doctor Who: The Web Of Fear [Part 2])”.

The latest serial of Doctor Who tempers the base-under-siege formula with an infusion of ‘whodunnit’, but is this a fresh take on the format or are the mystery elements just a red herring? Let’s take a look at the latter half of The Web Of Fear….

(14) BREAK IT TO HIM GENTLY. “What $27.2 billion buys NASA — and more space stories you may have missed this week” at Yahoo!

Tom Cruise, if you’re reading this, you may want to sit down

Back in October, the head of Universal Pictures made waves by hinting that an upcoming film led by none other than Tom Cruise could literally be heading to outer space. Now, at the time, it seemed a little outlandish, but given Cruise’s career of going to increasingly extreme lengths to pull off elaborate stunts, going to space didn’t seem like too much of a giant leap.

But, unfortunately, it appears someone already beat him to it. On Wednesday, a trailer for “The Challenge,” which was produced by Channel 1 Russia in partnership with Roscosmos and partially filmed aboard the International Space Station, was released. The story is said to follow a surgeon who’s taken aboard the ISS to perform an emergency procedure on an injured cosmonaut. No word on if “The Challenge” will see an official release in the United States, although Tom Cruise likely still hopes to one-up that production by becoming the first civilian to do a spacewalk outside the ISS. And you know what? I think there’s a pretty good chance he’ll actually try to do it….

(15) PUT ON YOUR THINKING CAPS. “To Save Physics, Experts Suggest We Need to Assume The Future Can Affect The Past” contends a writer for Science Alert.

…The quantum threat to locality (that distant objects need a physical mediator to interact) stems from an argument by the Northern Ireland physicist John Bell in the 1960s.

Bell considered experiments in which two hypothetical physicists, Alice and Bob, each receive particles from a common source. Each chooses one of several measurement settings, and then records a measurement outcome. Repeated many times, the experiment generates a list of results.

Bell realized that quantum mechanics predicts that there will be strange correlations (now confirmed) in this data. They seemed to imply that Alice’s choice of setting has a subtle “nonlocal” influence on Bob’s outcome, and vice versa – even though Alice and Bob might be light years apart.

Bell’s argument is said to pose a threat to Albert Einstein’s theory of special relativity, which is an essential part of modern physics.

But that’s because Bell assumed that quantum particles don’t know what measurements they are going to encounter in the future. Retrocausal models propose that Alice’s and Bob’s measurement choices affect the particles back at the source. This can explain the strange correlations, without breaking special relativity.

In recent work, we’ve proposed a simple mechanism for the strange correlation – it involves a familiar statistical phenomenon called Berkson’s bias (see our popular summary here).

There’s now a thriving group of scholars who work on quantum retrocausality. But it’s still invisible to some experts in the wider field. It gets confused for a different view called “superdeterminism”….

(16) READY FOR MY CLOSE UP. “NASA spacecraft beams back tantalizing images of volcanic world Io” at MSN.com.

… Io is tortured because it’s stuck in a relentless “tug-of-war” between the massive Jupiter and two of Jupiter’s other big moons, Ganymede and Europa — a world that might harbor a sizable ocean. This powerful push and pull creates profound heat inside a world that’s a little larger than our moon. All this heat seeks to reach the surface, resulting in molten lava and extreme volcanism. It’s extremely unlikely a world swimming in lava could host conditions for even the hardiest of life to evolve. But other moons in our solar system could potentially contain suitable conditions for life to evolve in their subsurface, like the Saturnian moons Enceladus and Mimas (and, of course, Europa).

Scientists like [mission director Scott] Bolton use these images to, among other things, identify new volcanoes. The darker spots are often places where eruptions have occurred, and other recent NASA imagery shows that this volcanism is incessant. A looming question is whether a global magma ocean oozes inside Io, or if there are just giant pockets of molten rock.

When the Juno spacecraft gets nearer to Io, it’s not directly approaching the moon, but veering by the moon’s orbit, as shown in the graphic below. During each orbit, Juno will snap pictures at the closest approach before it once again whips around the gas giant Jupiter. By the end of December 2023, Juno’s orbit (PJ 58) will bring it within some 930 miles of Io. It’s a much-anticipated event.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Stephen Colbert interviews Steven Spielberg about a now-ironic complaint about Spielberg’s Night Gallery episode. “Spielberg’s ‘Appalling, Irresponsible’ Contribution to the Horror Anthology, ‘Night Gallery’”.

[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Kathy Sullivan, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, 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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41 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 3/11/23 Please Send In Two Hypercube Tops As Proof Of Ob, To Receive Your Free Pixel Scroll Title

  1. (3) KGB photos… you do realize what all of us who remember the Cold War’s first thought it, right?
    (4) I’ll be stabbed. So, chatbot-“written” fanfic, right? With the same quality level? (I mentioned the other day that someone on a blog I hang out on referred to the chatbots as “autocorrect writ large”.)
    (6) Filters… this is just stupid. While we’re at it, my late wife was always annoyed that she couldn’t use “gay” in her writing. It was a word she liked, gay and carefree… and now poof.
    (9) You don’t understand why it was nominated? A bunch of techies and hippies hijack Earth’s first starship? Is that not genre, and qualified?
    “Would you care to go up and walk on A deck with me… her head hooked in Andromeda….”
    Further, it legitimately was the Starship… given it was half of San Francisco at the time – the Airplane, half of CSNY, 3/5ths of the Grateful Dead….
    (12) Doesn’t some of that impounded mail belong to the heirs? I’m looking forward to the lawsuits….
    (15) There are a number of challenges, suggesting the Special Theory is, of course, incomplete. A lot of the issues can be solved by non-locality… meaning FTL communication that does not require backwards in time. That’s questionable, anyway, since reactions have been shown to work both ways… but forward in the experimenter’s timeline.

  2. (15) They’ll have to figure out how to fit it in with Maxwell’s equations of electomagnetism.

  3. @Cat Eldridge–You are absolutely right. That’s why I always insist on milk chocolate pixel creams, NOT those inconveniently heavy and less tasty chocolate manhole covers.

  4. @P J Evans: It’s well known that Maxwell’s equations fail in contexts where quantum mechanical effects are significant.

    (And Maxwell’s equations as commonly written (which isn’t the form Maxwell came up with at all, but that’s a different rant) fail a general principle of physics, which bothered a Swiss patent clerk so much he came up with the Special Theory of Relativity in the process of reconciling.)

  5. Cat:

    Jefferson Starship’s Blows Against the Empire would be nominated for a Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo fifty-two years ago at the first Noreascon. It wouldn’t win and it’s the only album nominated until the Splendor & Misery recording by Clipping was nominated at Worldcon 75 for a Hugo in the Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form category. That didn’t win either.

    The only musical album. Two Firesign Theatre comedy albums were nominated.

    “The Baby Tree,” by folk singer Rosalie Sorrels, was the only cover song on Blows Against the Empire.

  6. (6) “ A new term wins an argument without having to debate.”
    Gee, George, aren’t you debating it?
    If anyone can play (and they can and already are), I’ll jump in. Y’all should be much more widely used: it’s short, easy to say and English needs a second person plural (as almost nobody uses “ye” anymore). “Enslaved person” is already widely used by Civil War historians, and “slave holder”, rather than “owner” was used by 19th century abolitionists.
    I thoroughly approve of the principle of putting the person (noun) first and characteristics (adjectives) second, and see nothing unusual in people trying to shape language to suit their aims. They’ve done it throughout history, for good and ill. How the guides Packer dislikes so much will fare will be a matter of which usage sticks, and the discussion will be interesting and, I hope, thoughtful. After all, people who can start with the infinitive “to go” and come up with “went” for the past tense can do anything.

  7. Msb on March 11, 2023 at 10:44 pm said:
    Y’all should be much more widely used: it’s short, easy to say and English needs a second person plural (as almost nobody uses “ye” anymore).

    “youse” appears to have been invented in multiple English dialects whereas “Y’all” has a distinct flavour of parts of the US

  8. (10) I loved Anvil’s Pandora’s Planet back in the day.

    Thanks for the title credit!

  9. RE: (6) OFFICIAL FILTERS CHALLENGED. George Packer argues “The Moral Case Against Equity Language” in The Atlantic.

    Language changes. People don’t. They live until they die, and their chosen colloquialisms die with them. So do their prejudices and insecurities. Some, sadly, try to pass on their prejudices as “cultural heritage.”

    The article tells us more about George Packer than it does arguing about established language. We know, of course, that he’ll go right on calling people whatever he’s been calling them, no matter how descriptive or condescending, and that if he were to be forced (which isn’t going to happen) to modify his language, he’d feel as inferior for it. He obviously feels threatened at the mere idea of treating people equally via language.

    The “moral case” argument fails in that it’s neither morally correct to treat others as inferior via language, nor to use language to describe the perceived “faults” of others, nor to indicate that they are somehow inferior for being so, just for those words having being habituated in the language.

    No human being chooses to be born “different” than the perceived “norm” of the majority of people in this country. Yet, all of these groups (Black, Jewish, Asian, disabled, LGBTQ) have been targeted at one time or another with unjust laws aimed at their demographic.

    There is only one race, the HUMAN RACE, and within it exists a wide variety of sizes, shapes, colors, languages, abilities, disabilities, genius and imbecilities. Another word for all the descriptive words in the Sierra Equity Guide is, after all, “human beings.”

  10. 6.) I see the perennial debate about “person first” language has managed to rise from its fetid lair, coupled with the usual hollering about inclusive language from those who really want to punch down on others.

    The situation is really simple. Be polite, call people what they want to be called, and if someone says they don’t like being called something…well, then, respect their wishes. All these debunking debates do is obscure the reality that the arguer against inclusive language really, really wants to use those terms to bully other people. Without penalty.

    It says something that the arguments don’t rise above those I dealt with from middle schoolers who were trying to use the shunned words to bully and intimidate their peers.

  11. @Msb: As Camestros notes, “y’all” has such a strong regional association in the US that I can’t see it getting widely adopted. Besides, English already has a second person plural: “you”. Its usage is about as old as singular “they”.

  12. (6) It sounds like some people are trying to straighten the shadow without dealing with the body.

  13. 6) Charitably, written by someone who a) does not realize these linguistic shifts are neither new nor top-down and b) is unfamiliar with the concept of a style guide. Less charitably, written by an unrepentant bigot. Either way, the quote reminds me why I stopped bothering with click bait from The Atlantic.

  14. 6) A friend from Left, Virginia, assures me that “y’all” is singular and “all y’all” is the plural.

  15. RE: Joyce Reynolds-Ward:

    SPOT ON! Bullying and derogatory language go hand in hand.

    The last time someone tried it on me (I’m short for a guy), I let him rant, and then told him, “Well, you’re entitled to whatever opinion you want. It means nothing to me. Oh, and by the way, you must be very insecure as a person to have to act out that way.”

    I never saw a bully melt and slink away like that. He never bothered me again. However, when one deals with mobs, I wouldn’t recommend it.

    There’s a mob right now taking aim at transgendered CHILDREN, seeking to eliminate any medical care for them, and ignoring decades of research, medical and psychological study, and entirely ignoring the standards of care.

    This emboldens the bullies to act out with violence against them, and anyone who looks like they might be. Time to speak up to your legislators. This has to stop!

  16. @ Camestros Felapton
    I grew up with “youse” being an adjective associated with New York City/New Jersey, e.g. “youse guys”. What we need is a pronoun. And “youse” is as regional – to an American – as y’all.

    @several othersi
    There are a lot of things I dislike about the US South, but y’all is too strikingly useful to disdain because of its origins, not least because it is so easy to spell correctly. If you can’t set aside the disdain, perhaps take the A. Lincoln approach, when he declared “Dixie” as a legitimate spoil of war.

    @Phil RM
    Yes, I know. But a usage that provokes errors among the unskilled isn’t doing anybody any favors. English has pronouns that show number in all cases except the second person plural. Fixing that would make things easier for all users. Subject-verb agreement in English is hard enough without uncertainty as to how many people you’re talking about.

    @ Joyce Reynolds-Ward
    Hear, hear! The shrieks and whines about, first, “political correctness” and, now, “wokeness” (“treating others with courtesy” in more old-fashioned language) are shocking to people raised to put courtesy first in any interaction with other people. Although courtesy remains imperative, its demands change with time and we must change with them, which can be difficult. For example, in a recent discussion about pronouns, I pointed out that courteous address for a married woman in my youth was to call her by her husband’s name. I don’t know how L. Jagi Lamplighter or her spouse would feel about that, but I would never start out by addressing or referring to her as Mrs John C. Wright. Similarly, I try to employ courteous usage as far as I have kept up with it. When I fail to keep up? That’s what apologies are for.

  17. Re: MSB:

    The issue of the opinion piece in #6 was the writer’s “inalienable right” to use denigrating or diminishing language toward others, and the virtue signaling “outrage” at not being able to call people whatever he wanted. This is the antithesis of civil discourse. It’s generally the result of insecurity.

    In correspondence, I was taught to refer to women whose status is unknown (no Mrs. or Miss in their correspondence) as Ms. If the recipient wants to be referred to as “they” or “them,” then I’ll address them as such.

    If someone introduces his husband or her wife, it is what it is. Responding with outrage and virtue signaling will not change them into what the author wants, nor will making laws against children getting supportive care for gender dysphoria suddenly turn everyone into a ideal, Biblical males or females.

    When someone forces their “alternate reality” on others, it’s best to look past what they’re saying, and examine why they are saying it.

  18. (6) From the article title, I assumed “clickbait” and “army of strawmen” and decided there were better uses to put my eyeballs to today. From what y’all are saying, it sounds like I didn’t go wrong there.

    Y’all appears to be transcending region in and of itself, or at least is common usage in many different regions; what remains regional is whether it is singular or plural. In southern Louisiana, where I grew up, the singular is “you” and the plural is “y’all”, so I suspect I will continue for years to come to do a double-take when I encounter the singular “y’all” despite knowing that’s how it’s done in some of the other y’all-using regions.

    Meanwhile I have been heartened to see the rainbow Y’ALL MEANS ALL slogan plastered joyfully on structures and items of apparel in all sorts of regions. With that slogan, I refute George Packer.

  19. @Msb: English has pronouns that show number in all cases except the second person plural. Fixing that would make things easier for all users. Subject-verb agreement in English is hard enough without uncertainty as to how many people you’re talking about.

    The second person singular “you” always takes the plural verb form (just like the second person plural “you”): the third person “Is she going to the lab?” becomes “Are you going to the lab?” in second person.

    If you can’t set aside the disdain, perhaps take the A. Lincoln approach, when he declared “Dixie” as a legitimate spoil of war.

    That didn’t exactly pan out, did it?

    And “youse” is as regional – to an American – as y’all.

    Absolutely – which is why I don’t think “youse” is going to catch on as an alternative, either.

  20. (sorry for the back-to-back posts – the edit link appears no longer available)

    Also on the subject: Someone I follow on Mastodon posted a link to a CNN article about changing attitudes about whether ma’am or sir were appropriate terms of address – I guess? – I didn’t follow the link, but I had to sit for a moment with the Mastodon user’s question, “Do women find ma’am offensive these days?” – with the unstated assumption that the question “do women find X offensive” could ever have a simplistic yes or no answer (as though all women everywhere were is lockstep about how they’d like to be addressed!), and the unstated argument in his second sentence, “I have always used it as a term of respect” (as though what the speaker was taught about etiquette took priority over the preferences of the real, living person standing before them).

    I have had the unpleasant experience of asking a man not to call me ‘young lady’, and him hotly retorting that I should feel complimented, every other woman of his acquaintance took it as a compliment.

    Also of asking a man to please stop holding the door and just go through already so I could go in too (there is an art to holding a door such that the recipient of your chivalry can actually get through the door without contortions or extreme violations of personal space, and he had not mastered it), and him insisting that “my mama would roll over in her grave if I didn’t hold the door for a lady!”

    Basically, the idea that one should ask a person “how would you like to be addressed/treated?” or at the very least, be willing to take correction graciously, seems a hard sell for some types. And these types do seem prone to use the fictional or counterfactual opinions of women absent from the actual interaction as evidence that the actually present woman is wrong to have the preferences she does.

  21. While some changes in speech may be warranted, replacing English with some kind of Orwellian Doublespeak will not solve the underlying problems, it will only make things worse.

  22. I still use “Sir” or “Ma’am” occasionally, but mostly in context of “Sir, sir! You forgot to take your drink!” or “Ma’am! Your credit card!”

  23. @PhilRM
    First para – touché! Much better to argument to say, as I also think, that it’s confusing to use the same word for both plural and singular. (Same with sheep, deer and moose – but they come up less often in conversation.)

    2nd, it did pan out in that Lincoln requested the song and it was played, right before he was murdered. And it’s got a catchy tune. Shame about the words.

    Y’all is much more widely used than before, especially is the wonderful “Y’all means all” slogan – instructive and witty!

  24. @Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little–

    I didn’t follow the link, but I had to sit for a moment with the Mastodon user’s question, “Do women find ma’am offensive these days?” – with the unstated assumption that the question “do women find X offensive” could ever have a simplistic yes or no answer (as though all women everywhere were is lockstep about how they’d like to be addressed!), and the unstated argument in his second sentence, “I have always used it as a term of respect” (as though what the speaker was taught about etiquette took priority over the preferences of the real, living person standing before them).

    What we’re taught is polite and respectful is always going to be the default when we don’t know what the individual prefers, until we learn that customs and preferences have changed, or that a particular individual has different preferences.

    Not every initial interaction provides a non-awkward opportunity to ask–for instance, “Sir! I think you dropped your wallet!” I’ve got no idea what the guy’s name is (unless I waste time going through his wallet, while should be trying to get his attention), and “Hey, you!” doesn’t suggest friendly intentions.

    You need to use something that indicates some respect and good intentions. “Sir” or “Ma’am” are the ones I’ve learned. I can learn new ones, but I haven’t encountered new ones that are intended for that.

    Even face to face, you don’t necessarily want to start asking questions before you’ve indicated some basic respect.

    There have definitely been times when I’ve been quietly ransacking my brain for a gender-neutral alternative. Such as the front desk clerk at a bookstore I like, one whom I hadn’t encountered before. Young but definitely adult, no name tag, and appearance was absolutely gender-neutral. If this person had turned away from me and I needed to get their attention again, I could find no form of address that didn’t have a high chance of being wrong and therefore potentially offensive. Give me a gender-neutral honorific to use, and I’ll use it, at least in those “I’m really not sure” situations, even if it doesn’t become the default honorific for everyone.

  25. (1) I thought the same thing when I saw the ending. She gives no indication at all, during rehearsal or performance, that she finds this job demeaning or inconsequential. And given that we learn at the beginning that she is an EGOT (Emmy/Grammy/Oscar/Tony) winner, she’s no stranger to working in all sorts of fields. I see it as resilience and a refusal to accept the cancellation that others would impose on her (whether or not she deserves it).

    (6) As someone who is extremely anti-woke, I like seeing these woke bluenoses crash and burn in their own censoriousness. Speech codes, cancellations, bowdlerizing Dahl and Fleming and Stine, all lead to well-publicized backlash and ridicule.

  26. The editing function disappeared quite some weeks back, snd it’s very, very annoying.

    Like the notifications, I’m sure it’s a result of software refusing to behave.

  27. @Joe H
    Oh yes, that so much. I think they don’t know it’s short for you all, but I would have expected them to learn better in grade school.

    I’ll use y’all sometimes, usually when I’m annoyed. If I’m really trying to get it across, I’ll use all y’all.

  28. Re:6
    In a gathering of SF readers, I’m surprised that no one comments how Orwellian it is to try to change people’s language usage for political reasons. Of course, anyone who offers the slightest reasoned objection will be condemned as a reactionary bigot…..
    Here are some words for the so-called equity language crowd to look up and think about:
    1. Zealot
    2. Fanatic
    3. Crackpot
    And some articles: a couple of years ago, The Atlantic had a wonderful article that described how polls and research showed that an overwhelming majority of people of ALL races and ethnicities in this country felt that the PC crowd had gone too far and had moved from trying to promote social justice and equity to fanatic overbearing, bullying and intimidation. Only about 8% of Americans felt they hadn’t.
    And let us not forget the example of the extraordinarily liberal San Francisco multi racial community that decided a few months ago that it had had enoogh, and threw out its school board for the same kind of nonsense.
    George Orwell, Joseph Stalin, and the murderous Red Guard of the Chinese Cultural Revolution of the 1960’s all called themselves socialists, but only Orwell deserves any respect, and is my hero.
    Liberals and leftists have quite rightly called out ultraconservative and moderate Republicans for being too cowardly or craven to call out Donald Trump and his stooges and followers over the last six years. A few but not enough voices on the left have begun to point out that our side has some pathologies, extremists, crackpots, and would be censors, too. To dismiss these Liberal and Left dissenters as reactionary bullies and closet bigots is to be disengenuous and dishonest. The Far Right has for a long time now used as a useful tool the fact that the far far Left really does hate America itself as much as the Right hates the Federal Governmnent, POC, and LGBT people. Neoliberals have only exacerbated this situtation, as they adopt the cultural agenda and censoriousnes of the far Left, even as they sneer at and economically exploit middle and working class people with conservative economic policies. Bill Clinton and his treasury secretary Robert Rubin did more damage to this country by repealing the New Deal than Reagan ever did, and primed the country for Trump by convincing broad swatches of the country that supposed liberal elites had contemptuously abandoned them.. Trump and his ilk have made it out that the world is a giant zero-sum game, where you’re either oppressor or oppressed. (White working class people are not “privileged”; that is laughable. They aren’t discriminated against like black people, but they are almost as explotied and the worst is planned for and still coming. ) The last straw: when the lunatic fringe on the Left finally reached its apotheosis and the cynical Right’s confirmation of its claims when all of these “equity guides” decided recently that it was discriminatory and evil to refer to oneself as an American. If you can’t see that, then you’re part of the problem….

  29. And…I see the concern trolls have landed. Anonymous, to boot.
    Some counter words for the pearl-clutching Right invoking the ghost of Orwell to consider:

    1.) Bigot.
    2.) Racist.
    3.) Sexist.
    4.) Bully.

    Look them up, then consider the appropriation of “critical language theory,” “woke”, “neoliberal”, and other terms misused by the right wing in their rush to keep the world safe for pale-hued, insecure, supporters of the patriarchy.

  30. Msb on March 12, 2023 at 1:59 pm said:

    English has pronouns that show number in all cases except the second person plural.

    And third person plural.

    Thinking about it: “we” seems to be the only actually-plural pronoun in English. “You” and “they” both don’t show number, and all other pronouns are singular (though we have a bizarre and baffling selection of those).

    Thus, the simplest way to restore consistency to the language is to add singular-we! (Which, in fact, royalty and editors are already trying to do.) 🙂

  31. @xtifr: Thus, the simplest way to restore consistency to the language is to add singular-we!

    We are not amused.

  32. The problem as I see it is that too many people, whether Conservative or Liberal, are walking the evil paths of anger, animality, hunger, and hell. If you’re using scurrilous epithets, you’re probably one of them.

  33. 6) From the Atlantic? Y’all can color me gobsmacked.

    Language does change organically over time. And sometimes there is an effort to promote change. The useful honorific “Ms.” had fallen out of popular usage when it was re-introduced in the 1960s.

    IMO, problems begin when changes become linguistic contortionism resulting in less accuracy. i.e., justice-involved person vs. felon. Being a felon (like any other group identifier) need not be the primary descriptor of one’s life, but there are moments where clarity of identification will matter.

    Problems also begin when something is presented as a “guide” but ends up being enforced as a term of employment.

    @Jeff Jones

    I agree!

    9) I’ve also wondered about the provenance of that nomination. I asked OGH about it a while back and received some good information, but haven’t really had time to work on that project.

    IMO, Blows Against the Empire is unlistenable. I like Airplane. I love Starship. This album…no thanks. The lyrics may well make it genre, but the actual music is…not good.

    Clipping, on the other hand, was very good.

    A tangential project that I have on my desktop is a list of albums with genre themes that might have been appropriate nominees. A big, recent miss, again IMO, was the Mission to Mars album by Styx.


  34. Carl Andor:

    “Language changes. People don’t. They live until they die, and their chosen colloquialisms die with them.”

    Nah, not really. When I grew up, we talked about “black persons” to describe people of a darker skin colour (at that time, it was unusual in Sweden. Then once when I was maybe 15-16, I was corrected by my English teacher. We worse supposed to say “coloured”. So I did, because that was the then neutral word. Then maybe 10-15 years ago, I saw younger people mocking a man of my age for using the word “coloured” it had turned impolite as it implied white wasn’t a colour. Or pink for that matter. Now you were supposed to say “black”. So I modified my language. Then suddenly there came “People of Colour”. If I’m not too boomer, I think it’s still wrong as a a swede to say “coloured people” in our language, but ok to write “People of Colour” in our English descriptions.

    I have during my short lifespan seen words being reclaimed and made acceptable and I have seen other words being adopted by racists and turned unacceptable. I try to change my language every time I notice such a change as to not become an asshole. I guess it might get harder with time.

    So I do think people change and adopt new words, leaving others behind. At least I do.

    Then of course, not everything is about language, but some is also about culture. In US it is polite to use someones title. In Sweden it is seen as rude, as it implies that the person with the title looks down at everyone else. We had a country wide reform to do away with all titles to remove hierarchies from our daily speech, that was some 50-60 years ago. Before that everyone used titles and you asked if it was ok to remove them. So when people in US try to be polite to me by saying Mr Eckerman, my first reaction is to feel attacked, wondering what the heck I have done to deserve to be called that.

    It’s a generational thing though. We have one word for singular “you” and one for plural “you”. The younger generation use the plural form of “you” in shops to be more polite towards customers. We older people get insulted by it, as if we were assholes who came in demanding to be shown respect.

  35. I’m honestly trying to use words like “Sir” and “Ma’am” sometimes to be polite, but as it is so impolite with titles in my own language, I usually only manage when I have some time to prepare beforehand. And I have absolutely no idea what should be used if I wanted to be gender neutral.

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