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.]

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

  1. Haha, The Leading Hispanic Voice In Sockpuppet Accounts has now announced that Yakov Merkin is The Leading Israeli Voice In Science Fiction… because he has apparently never heard of Lavie Tidhar. 😆

  2. 6) ALDISS But the story is really incredibly bad… For example:

    But then, Hedgerley had not taken part in the earlier deep boring, when…. But that was one of the things he must try not to think of.

    You can revel in the whole glorious text here: http://shawweb.myzen.co.uk/stephen/fgr/lava.htm

    Hey, I rather like some of Aldiss’ books that others deplore (yes… Barefoot In the Head), so I’m choosing sides. Curmudgeon 1, Challenger 0.

  3. What — you expect him to have any actual knowledge of the sff genre? How dare you!!

  4. @Camestros Felapton: “Scrollin’, Scrollin’, Scrollin’ on the pixels” – Yay! 😀

    @Dann: Thanks for the tip. I really like my offline reader and don’t want to make an account anywhere for reading feeds, but I’ll keep this in mind if I decide to change how I do things. Interestingly, The Old Reader has an API and has gotten people to make apps to integrate with their site. ::bookmarking for future consideration::

    @Dann: “Cough” – LOL, you can’t fool me (much).

    @Michael Kennedy & @Mike Glyer: Oh good, I was wondering how on earth the other cartoon related to Mike’s description! Now all is clear. 🙂

    @JJ: I must say the obligatory “oy!” here. 😛


  5. Cane-related randomness: Some years ago, I was waiting on the TSA line, and I could not help but notice that the man in front of me was leaning on a cane, but the cane was actually an inverted golf club. I forget now whether I looked it up later out of curiosity or if there was a sign posted, or some combination thereof, but the rules at the time stated clearly that canes were expressly permitted and golf clubs were expressly forbidden (to be brought on the aircraft). I don’t know what the actual outcome of the man’s attempt to get through security was (I didn’t want to miss my own flight), but it’s an interesting problem.

  6. (Thinking about it now, the bit about “no golf clubs” might have been on the same sign that forbade firearms, knives, swords, and other long blades, chemical sprays like mace and pepper spray, fireworks, and so on and so forth. Other sports equipment like baseball bats might have been forbidden as well.)

  7. Contrarius on March 20, 2018 at 4:13 pm said:

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

    As I said, it was a long time ago and the thought of suing or even pressing charges never entered my mind until years later. We were in a rush, I was already stressed, and I had no proof, although I suspect at least a few people who saw it would have backed me up. I sometimes wonder if I’d raised a fuss then if things would be incrementally better now.

  8. They were going to take away my tuning hammer (piano tuning) because it was longer than some arbitrary number they had. Luckily, my sister and brother-in-law saw what was going on and I was able to hand it over to them, and got it back later. I lost my fleece vest, though, because they delayed me so long I had to run for the plane and missed retrieving it from them. (This was at Stapleton, or whatever they call it now. Same bastards who took the Swiss Army Knife I’d had for thirty years.)

  9. @JJ

    Haha, The Leading Hispanic Voice In Sockpuppet Accounts has now announced that Yakov Merkin is The Leading Israeli Voice In Science Fiction… because he has apparently never heard of Lavie Tidhar. ?

    Well, he doesn’t seem to be aware of any authors outside his little bubble. Though I have to confess you made me look at his blog and Twitter feed which is 100% “Buy my book” at the moment.

  10. The assumption that someone carrying a cane must be helpless is exactly why my 97 year old mother in law refuses to carry one, though it would be helpful for her to do so.

  11. Meredith Moment – SF style!

    Unexpected Rain (The Dome Trilogy #1) by Jason LaPier is on sale for 99 cents in the U.S. from HarperVoyager (uses DRM). It sounds like SF-mystery; one Amazon reviewer refers to it as being a cross between PKD and the Traveler RPG. 😉 Uh, okay?!

    [ETA: It looks like this was originally self-pub’d in 2010, then picked up by HarperVoyager and published by them in 2015.]

    “When an airlock opens, killing a number of residents in a domed city, dome operator Jax is wrongly accused of mass homicide. Along with rogue police officer Runstom, he must prove he’s not to blame and find the true murderer before it’s too late.”

    It starts with a small twist, then goes to Runstom’s POV. I read this sample at some point, but while I’m interested (I re-read the sample to be sure!), I can’t find it anywhere in my list, I don’t own it, and I even searched File770.com. (shrug) No trace I could find! 🙂 Anyway, it sounds up my alley. ::purchase::

    [ETA: My search-fu is horrible, so who knows.]

    BTW book 2 is Unclear Skies at $2.99 and book 3 is Under Shadows at $4.99. I have no idea if those are the usual prices

  12. @Lenore Jones / jonesnori: in my case, i don’t need the cane to be able to get around, i need it for assistance.

    my issue is athritis (in my lower spine, knees, elbows, shoulders, knuckles, lol); when my back knots up, it can imbalance me as i don’t always know if one hip is going to actually follow the other while I’m walking.

    However, adrenaline is your friend when it comes to things like that. marvellous evolutionary adaptation. I’ll pay later, but I could certainly throw that cane and do a full tilt boogie.

    I’d much prefer losing the cane to getting shot, or knifed as well. having been the victim of a mugging in Camden, NJ (one mugger arrested, the other got away; arrestee went down for third time is the charm), I know from experience that if you suddenly give up what they’re trying to take from you (in my case a shoulder bag – cash was in my sock you dopes), it confuses them, and can give you the few moments you need to do “something”: in my case, that something was lying down on the bench in the bus stop (yes, I should not have been IN the shelter, a perfect place to get trapped. stupid mistake on my part) and kicking the piss out of one of them. the other guy had no idea of how to fight a prone individual. Kickee was the one who got arrested.

    Studies have demonstrated that you stand a much better chance than you’d think of not gettijng shot by an armed assailant if you take action to remove yourself from the situation. Of course, those statistics are highly situational, but I’m a pretty good judge of the odds and still manueverable enough to defend myself.

  13. @Laura “Tegan” Gjovaag: the !@#$%^&*()!! who pushed you is seriously lucky you were in a hurry; she should have been disciplined if not fired. (I have the impression that some portion of the people in TSA are just there-for-the-wrong-reasons, although I’ve never had a problem with them.) My one disability experience was excellent — I forgot to take off a temporary wrist brace and the agent was very careful/solicitous about making sure that the completely blunt metal insert was the only trigger; maybe (as noted) there’s just something about canes.

    @Kip W: I sympathize wrt your lost Swiss Army knife — I’ve shipped a knife (due to no checked luggage) at least once and erred twice (both times saved by sane TSA reps and helpful checkin agents) and my partner lost the one that was their first present from me (not to TSA but to a failed shipping attempt) — but they do not belong on a plane. For that matter, I had trouble getting mine on a cruise recently, and was advised to leave it my cabin; possibly a reflection of different customs in Europe, where portable tools (per previous comments) seem less common.

    Interesting to hear from people who actually have …Quandry; that was my last project for NESFA Press (they found other … volunteers …), and IMO the first one to be actually edited (as in, I read all of both writers’ work that I could find, and extracted the good stuff) instead of merely produced (from the author’s these-should-be-back-in-print). Nice to know it’s still remembered 35 years later….

  14. @Laura “Tegan” Gjovaag: the !@#$%^&*()!! who pushed you is seriously lucky you were in a hurry; she should have been disciplined if not fired. (I have the impression that some portion of the people in TSA are just there-for-the-wrong-reasons, although I’ve never had a problem with them.)

    I don’t know that she wasn’t disciplined. The other agents at that gate were shocked by her action and went overboard helping me after the incident. Possibly it was her last day. Who knows?

    I actually spent more time wondering what I did wrong (I was extremely shy and very self-conscious) and it took me quite some time to come to the conclusion that she was completely in the wrong. If she had given me a moment to collect myself, asked for the cane politely and allowed me to brace myself, I could have walked through the metal detector without falling. It was the “grab it from the hand and shove” that caused the problem, and there was no call for it. She had no reason to do it.

    At least the convention was great. I seem to recall that was the year Brian Blessed showed up and I was surprised at how short and cuddly he is. I wanted to give him a hug every time I saw him.

  15. (1) I’m not going to spend my time chasing clickbait, but my immediate question was how well they controlled for all the other life factors that might correlate strongly with reading time. Things like income, class, education, etc. Now maybe they did identify all the possible confounding factors and do a data-matched correlation with reading time being the only variable. Or maybe it’s click-bait.

  16. …after adjusting for relevant covariates including age, sex, race, education, comorbidities, self-rated health, wealth, marital status, and depression.

    They may not have controlled for everything relevant, but they did make an effort.

    Social Science and Medicine, a scientific journal, published by Elsevier. Im not certain it’s peer-reviewed, but it’s not clickbait.

  17. @JJ —

    Haha, The Leading Hispanic Voice In Sockpuppet Accounts has now announced that Yakov Merkin is The Leading Israeli Voice In Science Fiction… because he has apparently never heard of Lavie Tidhar. ?

    I just got a huge laugh from reading the blurb for JDA’s new book. It actually compares his book to Old Man’s War, claiming anyone who liked that one would like his book.


    The cognitive dissonance, it BURNS.

  18. @Heather Rose Jones

    The abstract for the report seems pretty interesting. As Lis suggests, they controlled for many factors. One of the things that popped out at me was that there were significant contingents within the overall study group that were devoted exclusively to books or periodicals. That allowed them to compare the two different styles of media against each other.

    I might have to go back and read it again in detail, but what I gathered from a quick pass, their conclusions seem to be reasonably justified.

    History, in general, only informs us of what bad government is. – Thomas Jefferson

  19. Jeff Smith and Steve Davidson, my objection is to people who assume the cane is *not* needed, like Laura’s TSA assailant (grrr). Some people who use canes can sometimes get along without them for a bit. Some can’t, and assuming they can is rude and dangerous.

    Steve, of course you’re right that adrenaline can do wonders. But it is not going to make every cane-user able to run. Some, yes. If the advice had said “if you are able” I would not be objecting the same way.

  20. Tangentally, this conversation on canes reminds me of some comments by people I know who use mobility scooters at cons; apparently sometimes people get offended when such a person stands up and takes a few steps, as if a scooter is only allowed for people whose mobility is SO impaired that they cannot stand or walk at all. Which attitude simply baffles me. If someone has a chronic condition which means walking for any great distance is painful (or impossible!), that doesn’t mean that they cannot walk at all…

  21. Lenore, I agree. You shouldn’t assume that someone with a cane either 100% needs it or 100% doesn’t need it; people can fall anywhere in that wide range, and you’re not going to know where by seeing them for five seconds (or longer, for that matter). But to just assume that they’d be fine without it is the worst case assumption.

  22. @Heather Rose Jones: your reaction was also my initial one — but I ignored all the ads and clicked on the link to the article itself. I’m no longer familiar enough with statistical methods to be a qualified reviewer (if I ever was, as an autodidact(statistician)-by-necessity with 6 semester-hours of basic psych), but it read to me as if they had controlled for a lot of variables (not just the obvious ones like income) and still come up with strong odds that lifespan relates to reading.

  23. If you give a file a pixel, it will want a scroll.
    If you give a file a scroll, it will want an award.
    If you give a file an award, it will want an award ceremony.

  24. @Kip W

    Back in 2001, I was flying pretty routinely with some pretty high zoot test equipment that my company transported in a carry-on. Our kit included some semi-sharp tools that quickly went away. We used them for scraping around bits of an engineered wax that was used to stick our sensors in place. The tools ended up being replaced by guitar picks of all things. In some ways, the picks were an improvement.

    We also used to carry a dead blow hammer that we used to excite structural vibrations. Oddly the hammer lasted as a carry-on item for a bit longer.

    What was really strange to me was that I knew what the electronics and cabling looked like on the inside. Lots of very dense pieces coupled with “wires” should have received far more attention from the TSA than was ultimately the case.

    Eventually dealing with TSA inspection issues caused us to change to a hardened case that could be shipped in the belly of the plane. But there were more than a few times when the TSA inspection….or lack thereof…really had me shaking my head.

    Don’t expect to build up the weak by pulling down the strong. – Calvin Coolidge

  25. Not long after 9/11 a friend flew to a…birthday party? Something where you give gifts. Perhaps a wedding… and had the present in her carry-on. Only after she’d arrived (having cleared security with no difficulties) did she realize that the neatly-wrapped present should have been confiscated. It was a lovely, ornate athame. (Which is to say, a moderately long dagger….)

  26. My TSA story occurred when I was flying back home from Austin. I had stowed a neat little folk music gadget–a piece of wood with two spoons attached–in my backpack. The gadget made it a lot easier to play musical spoons, because holding them in the proper position is a real pain.

    As you might guess, I was pulled aside and asked about them because they made a real strange X-ray profile. So I ended up pulling out the musical spoon gadget and playing it for the TSA agent. He let me pass.

  27. I carry a very small keyboard (2-1/2 octaves) in my backpack, and have been asked to demonstrate that it works on at least one occasion. Not sure if they suspected it to be fiendish, or if they just wanted to hear my chops. No doubt the latter. I gave a couple bars of Flight of the Bumblebee and was passed through.

  28. My TSA story is from 2011. We were flying out to San Antonio (Texas) to play a festival. We changed flights in San Diego and had to go through security again. We had with us, among other items, two guitars and a bass guitar, all in hard cases stuffed tight with merch (both for padding and for a place to store merch). We also had a backpack full of effects pedals. Each of the guitarists at that time used more than five pedals, and I used three at the time. Lastly, I was carrying a box of tapes in my backpack. None of this offered up any trouble leaving from SFO, where bands flying out to various fests is probably close to an every-day occurrence, but San Diego is an entirely different story. The pedal bag was easily explained away but the young and friendly fella who saw the tapes was utterly confused, having never seen a tape in his life, or at least couldn’t remember having seen one. We both thought the situation was funny, but he remained extra cautious and swabbed down several of the tapes with magical anti-explosionary powder. It was difficult getting the tapes back in the box, mostly due to the stress of trying to re-pack without holding up the line.

    We’ve been through airport security a couple times since then with pretty much the same luggage, but the shows we’ve flown to have been in NYC with no flight changes, and it’s been smooth sailing each time.

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