Pixel Scroll 3/19/18 Scroll Miner’s Data

(1) READ FOR LIFE. Inc. tells “Why Reading Books Should be Your Priority, According to Science”.

People who read books live longer

That’s according to Yale researchers who studied 3,635 people older than 50 and found that those who read books for 30 minutes daily lived an average of 23 months longer than nonreaders or magazine readers. Apparently, the practice of reading books creates cognitive engagement that improves lots of things, including vocabulary, thinking skills, and concentration. It also can affect empathy, social perception, and emotional intelligence, the sum of which helps people stay on the planet longer.

(2) SOMTOW. The Thailand Tatler covers Somtow Sucharitkul’s fundraising concern for a U.S. orchestral tour: “Siam Sinfonietta Takes To The States”.

As the local music scene continues to thrive and as Thai musicians of all ages and styles gain increasing recognition both at home and abroad, the talented youths of Siam Sinfonietta are getting ready to play at Carnegie Hall in the Big Apple for the third time this April as part of the New York International Music Festival.

Siam Sinfonietta is a scholarship orchestra that aims to provide local prodigies with the great opportunities to perform professionally, regardless of background or income. In order to ensure that all 70 musicians and orchestral staff can have a smooth tour of the States in April, Opera Siam is holding a series of fundraising events, such as a recent Star Wars-themed concert on March 15. Find out how you can still support them here.

Listen to the opening of their Star Wars marathon concert – and see his lightsaber conductor’s baton!

(3) SOCIETY PAGE. Congratulations to Catherynne Valente!

(In case it’s a bit obscure, the ultrasound pic is a clue.)

(4) ANOTHER CLUELESS ATTENDANT. Author Fran Wilde was lectured on a plane that her cane could be a weapon.

(5) BLUE MAN GROUP. Expedition 55 sets new standards in space fashion. Or as David Klaus ad libs, “Are we not Astromen? We are DEVO! Also, if you tailor those uniform coveralls to fit, you have the uniforms of the Starfleet of the NX-01 Starship Enterprise.”

(6) BRIAN ALDISS, CURMUDGEON. Kim Huett had to take a short hiatus from Doctor Strangemind which he is determined to make up with a new 3,400 word article “about a story that Brian Aldiss assures me is only 3300 words long. Still, is 3400 words too many for what Brian also assures me is the WORST SCIENCE FICTION STORY EVER!!!”

You’ll have to read the article and decide for yourselves: “Brian Aldiss & the Worst Story Ever!!!”

It is my impression that Brian Wilson Aldiss was generally considered to be a stern but fair elder statesman until he passed away in 2017. I, on the other hand, considered him to be far more curmudgeonly than that (he would never have made a passable member of the Beach Boys for example). It also my opinion that Brian Aldiss adopted his curmudgeonly persona relatively early in his career. Oh, but Doctor Strangemind I hear you all cry, Brian Aldiss was never a curmudgeon, at least not until he was old enough to carry the title with a suitable level of gravitas! Ah ha, my poor innocent audience! You have fallen into my cunningly constructed audience trap and now while you lay squirming in the metaphorical mud at the bottom of the pit of unwarranted assumption I’ll just sit here on the lip above and tell you all about how in Australian Science Fiction Review #15 (published by John Bangsund in April 1968) that young curmudgeon, Brian Aldiss, did go so far as to accuse two fellow British authors of writing as he put it the, ‘WORST SCIENCE FICTION STORY EVER!!!’ To quote from Aldiss himself:

There was one story in particular in Authentic which, ever since I read it on its first appearance in 1954, had impressed me as reaching a really impressive level of badness. To my great delight, I found on reading it again that it has grown even worse over the intervening fourteen years. I therefore would like to nominate as the worst sf story ever published:

The Lava Seas Tunnel, by F.G. Rayer and E.R. James, (Authentic SF, edited by H.J. Campbell, Vol.1, no.43, March 1954.)

(7) BUJOLD AT RIVENDELL. The Rivendell Discussion Group of the Mythopoeic Society will host Lois McMaster Bujold at its April 7 meeting in Minneapolis.

(8) NEED SHARPER HEARING? Cnet says “Spock’s ‘Star Trek III’ ear tips can be yours”.

An iconic set of pointy ears worn by Leonard Nimoy in “Star Trek III: The Search for Spock” are up for auction through Lelands.com and they look pretty funky when you see them up close. You’ll notice pits and wrinkles in the flesh-colored appliances. On film, they were artfully blended with make-up to match Nimoy’s own ears.

(9) CLARKE CENTER. A bonus podcast by the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination’s associate director sharing his personal reminiscence on Stephen Hawking, who passed away on March 14, 2018. Viirre was the medical director for Hawking’s trip into weightlessness on a zero gravity flight in 2007.

Only last December, he accepted the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Lifetime Achievement (his citation and acceptance speech can be seen here), during which he said, “It is no small task to be judged as having met with what would have been Arthur’s expectations for intellectual rigor powered by imagination, insatiable curiosity, and concern for our planet and its inhabitants.”


  • March 19, 1999 Farscape premiered on Syfy.


  • Cat Eldridge sent along xkcd’s suggestion for multiplying internet outrage.
  • Mike Kennedy sent Non Sequitur’s not exactly funny theory about a trend in closing bookstores.

(12) PRISONER COMICS. First shown on Canadian and UK TV screens in 1967, The Prisoner was co-created, written, directed and starred Patrick McGoohan (Scanners, Braveheart). Titan’s new comic series is released for the 50th Anniversary of the first US broadcast in 1968.

Titan Comics are excited to announce that they are partnering with print and poster house Vice Press to create a Diamond UK exclusive cover for The Prisoner Issue #1. This first-ever Vice Press exclusive cover for The Prisoner Issue #1 – designed by Star Wars movie concept artist, Chris Weston – is based on his original silk-screen poster created for Vice Press to mark the 50th Anniversary of The Prisoner hitting US TV screens.

Titan’s new The Prisoner comic series, licensed by ITV Studios Global Entertainment, is set in the world of The Prisoner – based on the celebrated cult TV series – from writer Peter Milligan (X-Statix, The Mummy) and artist Colin Lorimer (The Hunt, Harvest)…

“I’ve made no secret about how The Prisoner is my favourite television show of all time,” said Vice Press cover artist Chris Weston, “I have always wanted to create my own artistic tribute to The Prisoner. Fortuitously, my friends at Vice Press offered me the chance to fulfil my lifelong ambition to create a loving artistic homage, timed to coincide with the show’s 50th anniversary.”

(13) OSCAR’S LOVECHILD C3PO. Joal Ryan, in “Let’s revisit the spacy ‘Star Wars’ Oscars from 40 years ago” at Yahoo! Entertainment, has several clips from the 1978 Oscars, in which Star Wars was the only film of this series to be nominated for Best Picture and when Bob Hope, in his last time as Oscars MC, made some groaning Star Wars jokes.

Bob Hope, as he had done 17 times before, hosted the ’78 Oscars. The icon was 74, and this would be his last show as emcee. But he was as quick as ever with the lecherous gag, and the rat-tat-tat monologue that had been punched up with current events. (“1977 will be known as the year of Star Wars, which has grossed over $200 million,” one Hope line began. “That’s more than even some baseball players make.”)

(14) PLATYPUS NEWS. If you thought milking a cow was dangerous…. “Platypus milk: How it could combat superbugs”

Platypus milk could help combat one of humanity’s looming problems, antibiotic resistance, scientists say.

The weird creatures have a duck’s beak, venomous feet and are one of only two mammals able to lay eggs.

Australian scientists discovered in 2010 that the semi-aquatic animal’s milk contains a potent protein able to fight superbugs.

They’ve now identified why, and say it could lead to the creation of a new type of antibiotic.

(15) ALEXA BASHING. Paris Martineau at The Outline says “Hey Alexa, shut up”. My question is: would Paris say that if it was a man’s voice?

Why do voice assistants need to talk so much? If you’ve ever used one of Amazon’s ridiculous, yet rather addictive (I have two) Echo products, you know what I’m talking about: Whether you’re setting a timer, or asking her to play a podcast, Alexa just won’t shut the fuck up. Even when you give it a relatively simple command (like, “Alexa, set an alarm for 6 a.m.,” or “Alexa, set timer for five minutes”) it always responds with either a partial or total repetition of your phrase (“Okay, alarm set for 6 a.m. tomorrow,” or “Timer set for five minutes”), which can be more than a little annoying when it’s two in the morning and you don’t exactly want a booming robot voice waking your roommates up a wall over.

(16) DRIVING WHILE BETAZOID. From Marina Sirtis’ appearance at Dublin Comic Con last year.

Marina Sirtis (Counselor Deanna Troi) tells the hilarious story about driving the Enterprise as well as burning the bridge.


[Thanks to David K.M. Klaus, Mark Hepworth, John King Tarpinian, Danny Sichel, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Andrew Porter, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, rcade, Brian Z., and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

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78 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 3/19/18 Scroll Miner’s Data

  1. (1) Well, hell, if 30 minutes of daily reading translates to 2 extra years of life, I’ll surely go over the century mark.

  2. Even when you give it a relatively simple command (like, “Alexa, set an alarm for 6 a.m.,” or “Alexa, set timer for five minutes”) it always responds with either a partial or total repetition of your phrase (“Okay, alarm set for 6 a.m. tomorrow,” or “Timer set for five minutes”)

    Yes, it repeats the task back to you so you’ll know it heard you right, and is in fact going to do what you asked.

    That way, if it says “Ordered salami for six from Amazon Foods,” you know there’s something to fix.

  3. 5) I got so excited when I saw the name “Tingle” among that group!

    eta — natural fifth!

  4. Any fantasy reader knows a cane can be a powerful weapon, even if there isn’t a sword hidden inside.
    Flying last week, we were asked to remove all food from our bags for screening, apparently travelers with too many goldfish may be considered suspicious,

  5. @Lis —

    It’s the dead of night, and I’m awake arguing with my computer about backing up files from an old external hard drive to a new one. It’s always something!

    Oh, and most of my alternative SJWs are outside barking at the coons and possums and deer…. The actual credentials, of course, are much too smart for that nonsense!

  6. (3) SOCIETY PAGE. Hehehe, she’s a geek after my own heart.

    (5) BLUE MAN GROUP. (reads astronaut names) (is bummed @Contrarius got there first with the Tingle reference) 😉

    (11) COMICS SECTION. @Mike Glyer: I recommend using this XKCD link for the comic, so people can mouse over and get the kicker text. Also: Very cute. 😀

    I’m super-behind on XKCD because for some reason, my feed reader just doesn’t recognize that there are new items there (even if I remove & re-add it), even though looking in Firefox’s built-in reader, I see the latest stuff. Harumph. Stupid reader. (The feed is valid.)

  7. Today’s Meredith Moment:

    K.B. Wagers’ Behind the Throne, the first book in her recently-completed Indranan War trilogy, is on sale at Kindle US (and presumably the other usual suspects) for 99c.

    I really loved this book and its sequels. SciFi Now describes it as being “like an intergalactic The West Wing, but with more assassination attempts.”

  8. @Contrarius–

    Oh, and most of my alternative SJWs are outside barking at the coons and possums and deer…. The actual credentials, of course, are much too smart for that nonsense!

    Dora, my alternative SJW credential, says that your actual credentials are entirely right. She woke up just long enough to say so.

  9. Mike had a blog in the city
    Writin’ for the fans ev’ry night and day
    And he never lost one minute of sleepin’
    Worryin’ ’bout the way things might have been

    Big file keeps on turnin’
    Seven Seventy keep on churnin’
    Scrollin’, Scrollin’, Scrollin’ on the pixels

  10. Mike Glyer on March 19, 2018 at 10:48 pm said:

    Kendall: Thanks for the xkcd link suggestion. I’ve made the change.

    The original link worked better as a practical joke though. When I first opened it I was genuinely cross for a nano-second.

  11. I foresee a difficult time scaling up a platypus milk industry.

    Maybe they should try to consult with the folks that make the Chihuahua cheese.

  12. Canes. I have one for precisely two reasons: to help my mobility when my back knots up (it’s Arthur Itis) and because it gives me a three foot reach and has a nicely weighted brass ball grip.
    And to give me another reason to be pissed off at TSA.
    Three reasons I have a cane.
    I’m usually reluctant to bring it with me when flying because TSA is so randomly capricious and I don’t want to lose it, but there are times when I know I’m going to need it and really have no choice. (No, a collapsible travel cane is not an option – certainly not when you’ve been tooling around with a black and brass shillelagh.)
    So far, I’ve been lucky, receiving nothing but compliments on my taste and even an inquiry as to where I obtained it, but I know one day it’s going to become an issue. Travel Anxiety – your tax dollars at work.

    Serious note: MOST “sword canes” are BS, so caveat emptor.

    I’m predicting a whole new series now from Tingle, though how he’s going to make handling the entire ISS plausible is beyond me…and I probably don’t want to know.

  13. I do have a stiletto cane at home and it is not BS in any way. Of course, it is an antique.

  14. I’m a coal miner’s grandson…so am I a pixel’s scroll’s reader too.

    Happy for Cat, angry for Fran.

    @JJ Wagers’ series is fun, going to have to promote that sale over on Twitter for others to get in on that goodness.

    7) Hey, that’s my neck of the woods. The question is…will I be in town to go to it? (I am off to Britton this morning for a few days, for instance…)

  15. @Hampus Eckerman: that would be one of the few ways to acquire such a thing that isn’t BS.

    Help for interested consumers: if every single cutlery store is offering the same model (and you can have it for under $250 bucks), chances are it comes from China, is NOT made as anything other than a novelty and yoour big defensive surprise is going to end up bending if it hits a plastic button….

  16. Any fantasy reader knows a cane can be a powerful weapon, even if there isn’t a sword hidden inside.

    The fact canes are potential weapons are why sword canes don’t count as concealed weapons in Canada. In fact, they’re kind of legal (which is to say, use it to prepare fruit salad [1] and it is OK. Use to intimidate or hurt people and it’s illegal.).
    I have a recurring issue at work where once a shift or so someone asks if I am permitted to beat patrons with my cane. There is another usher who has a cane and she never gets asked that. I am thinking of getting a rainbow coloured cane to see if it looks friendlier.

    1: Don’t make the mistake I did when I used a sabre to make fruit salad.

  17. 4) I’m a little surprised. After having my ankle rebuilt after a disastrous fall on the air almost five years ago, when travelling, I need to bring my cane with me. (I can mostly get by without it day to day but being stuck in a seat or in transit for hours plays merry hell with it) At this point, the only thing I’ve found is always praiseworthy of both airlines and airports has been accommodating my cane.

  18. A couple of reading reports:

    Stone Mad by Elizabeth Bear, a novella sequel to Karen Memory (just over 40k words but within the breathing room).

    Short version: if you liked Karen Memory, pick this up as well.

    It picks up not long after the novel finished, with Karen and Priya having settled down together and enjoying a celebratory night out at the fanciest hotel in town. Inevitably this won’t go smoothly, and we quickly get mysterious – and then violent – manifestations apparently centering around a couple of spiritualists and a stage illusionist. In the middle of this Karen and Priya are trying to jostle their way into a better sense of their relationship with mixed results.
    I was a bit surprised by the direction this took, with the steampunk elements of the novel being joined by [spoilers], but it replicated the fun of the first book and threw in some intense character work. If I was going to criticise I’d say that it didn’t meld the two elements quite as well as it should, and as a consequence the ending was a bit jumpy.
    I wouldn’t be shocked if this was testing the water for The Further Adventures of Karen and Priya and The Sewing Machine, and if so I can sign up for that.

    Gods, Monsters and The Lucky Peach by Kelly Robson, a novella (just under 40k words).

    I ordered this on the strength of Robson’s shorter work like Waters of Versailles or We Who Live in the Heart.
    I wonder if this is meant to connect to We Who Live in the Heart in some way – maybe set earlier in the same history – because it shares a few mentions of a post-apocalyptic setting where humanity have mostly retreated below ground to avoid climatic disaster, with a few people working aboveground on new ways to live, and mentions of an economy now working on “billable hours” of work. In this we meet Minh, an old scientist who has lived through the darkest plague years and ended up with 6 tentacular legs. She’s worked her whole life on allowing humanity to try to live aboveground in domes, and to some extent can’t see beyond continuing to do this. Her assistant Kiki is much younger, from a generation dubbed “the fat babies” (which sounds mean but if people can invest “Millenials” with a dismissive insult then it’s pretty realistic) and wants to break out of the status quo but isn’t really sure how.
    The first half of the story lays a lot of this groundwork and background, but then launches into a slightly odder second half – Time Travel! Unfortunately it’s pretty much useless for fixing the world – you create alternate realities that don’t impact on your present. However it’s still of some use – someone wants to go back and study the unblemished ecology of Mesopotamia in order to work out how to fix it, and they hire Minh and Kiki for the job. The most interesting strand here is a set of quick switches to the perspective of the local king, who has to deal with weird strangers appearing and a priest using the situation as a power play. My problem is that I’m not sure the leisurely first half left enough time and space to deal with such a big idea in the second, and the very end feels quite rushed, and there’s a whole strand about the motives of their corporate employers that doesn’t get much examination.

  19. In re canes —

    I recently started carrying a cane because of arthritis in one knee — not so much because of pain, but because losing all one’s cartilage makes the knee joint very unstable (who knew?).

    While carrying it, I have been very pleasantly reminded of the good things about Southerners. It’s amazing how everybody and their brother wants to help me with even the smallest things while I’m carrying it. Keep in mind that I’m a physically imposing, six-foot-tall woman — normally everyone is asking ME for help! — but now everyone seems convinced that I can’t do a single thing for myself. Which is not all bad. 😉

    As for canes being weapons — I was pretty amused when I attended the counterprotests in Shelbyville and Murfreesboro. The police were very, very much on the alert after Charlottesville — we had to go through TWO checkpoints at Shelbyville, including metal detectors, and nobody was allowed to carry any sort of weapons or shields or helmets or poles for signs or anything — but canes were allowed.

    One reason I carry a lovely pink cane with multicolored flowers on it — it looks much less threatening, but I could still bash someone over the head with it if I needed to! 😉

  20. @kendall

    A Filer kindly recommended http://www.theoldreader.com a while back. I never miss a ne XKCD anymore. I’ve also rediscovered some authors that I’ve missed.

    There is a third party iOS app called FeedlerRSS that uses The Old Reader as a basis for serving the same info. It all syncs quite nicely.

    This tagline deleted due to lack of interest.

  21. bookworm1398 and James Davis Nicoll

    I suppose it muddies the waters that I’ve studied Goju Shorei that explicitly trains with the cane as a weapon? No cutting edges needed.

  22. I recall my father taking one (fairly short) plane trip where they took his cane, which he needed for balance, before letting him board – and then didn’t give him enough time to board before they let the rest of the passengers on, which included some college athletic types. (My father had to lean on the jetway wall to keep from falling over as they went by.)

  23. @steve davidson: one of the Lee Hoffman essays that I reprinted in In and Out of Quandry concerns the search for a sword cane (in Manhattan ~60 year ago, so it was more plausible); they concluded that the search had more substantial hazards than being offered a fake.

  24. And I trust that everyone remembers the great scene about buying a sword cane and testing the blades in the Vorkosigan series? 🙂

  25. @James Davis Nichol: of course not. everyone knows the proper cutlery to use on salad is a smauri sword!

    @Contrarius: heh. I’m NOT an imposing male – 5’5″ and slight (except for the bowling ball I acquired working on Amazing); I also looked much younger than my age, so not only no public assistance or courtesy, usually hostility more often than not.
    Not even when all the hairs went gray and white – until I started using the cane. People clear a path for me, open doors, hold doors, ask if I need help when carrying packages…it’s quite nice most of the time.

    @BravoLimaPoppa3: the only reason I’d get a sword or stiletto cane would be for the novelty; the cane itself is more than sufficient to deal with unarmed troublemakers, can keep a knife weilder at bay quite effectively (disarm them, especially if they don’t know how to really hold one) and might even serve as an effective distraction (throw, run) if up against a hand gun (which, again, most idiots using for nefarious purposes have probably never shot).

    I don’t think it muddies the waters at all, though I’m curious if anyone has ever tried to get a Bo staff through TSA (as a walking stick).

    @ PJ Evans: I’m sorry to hear that but not surprised. I strongly urge you to instruct your father to “fall down” in the jetway if that ever happens again…

    @Chip Hitchcock: interesting. I’ve got TWO copies of In and Out of Quandry/Up to the Sky in Ships

    Cane Fandom, anyone?

  26. (4) I was travelling many many years ago to the Doctor Who convention, Visions, in Chicago with a bad knee and had to use a cane. For most of the multi-flight trip I had no problem, but in the St Louis airport a TSA employee decided my cane needed to go through the x-ray but decided to not bother *telling* me that before grabbing the cane from my hand and literally PUSHING me through the metal detector. I fell. Hard. The other employees were shocked (it was many years ago) and very apologetic. I was helped up and cared for and they got a cart to take me and my husband to our connecting flight (we were already late and they called ahead and held the frigging plane for us, too). The woman who pushed me? She just stood there stone-faced. I don’t know why.

    When we boarded the plane, the last two passengers, I was crying and limping and my cane felt unfamiliar in my hand and I was a complete mess. I saw a few people who looked annoyed when I entered the cabin who suddenly looked sorry as we were seated – next to a woman with a baby and across the aisle from another baby. At that point, flustered, hurting, angry… I wanted to get off the plane and just die but the flight attendant was already buckling me in as we pulled away from the gate (I wasn’t an invalid, but no one was taking any chances at that point – in retrospect, no one wanted to be sued). To my relief and joy, both babies were seasoned travelers and neither of them cried at all. The one across the aisle from me smiled and waved at me during lift off, trying to cheer up the sad stranger. The one in the window seat slept the entire trip. It was literally the best flight I’ve ever been on, before or since. Too bad I was in pain the entire time from having been shoved through a metal detector.

    The times I’ve had to use a cane I got the distinct impression that many people don’t believe you need a cane, especially if you are young, and some think it’s funny to try to remove the cane to see how you do. Such people need a clue-by-four to the knee.

  27. steve davidson on March 20, 2018 at 12:43 pm said:

    That won’t be necessary, as he’s dead. (For quite some time, thanks. But if you want some amusement, his first patent was for a rolled-paper cover for the headrests on barber chairs. He was a senior in college when he applied for it: 22826888.)

  28. I ended up using a cane the last few days of MidAmeriCon II, thanks to a fall, and I greatly appreciated that I had no problems with airport security or the Alaska Airline staff on the flight home. (It helped that it was a collapsing cane, so there were no problems stowing it during the flight.)

  29. Using a cane as a weapon or distraction is quite a problem if you need it to stay standing or walking. Throwing it and running away, in particular, seems a bit of a fantasy unless it’s strictly a costume cane.

  30. @steve davidson, when Chip mentioned In And Out of Quandry to you I had a feeling you would have a copy of the double . I have (only) one copy, I bought it for the Chandler half.

  31. @Laura!

    Poor thing! But I must ask — why are you not a millionaire from the lawsuit settlement by now? 😉

  32. Rob Thornton asked “Where have all the pixels gone?”. Scrolled to files every one!
    Where have all the files gone? Put in archives every one!
    Where have all the archives gone? Stored on floppies every one!

    Oops I Seam to have landed in a dead end, can anyone do better?
    Sending the floppies to landfill only makes things even more difficult!

  33. Where have some of the files gone? Stored on floppies, Bernoullis, zip disks, or punched tape most of them – long time bit-rotting.

  34. Where have some of the files gone? Stored on floppies, Bernoullis, zip disks, or punched tape most of them

    Punched tape holds up pretty well. It doesn’t depend on magnetism.

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