Pixel Scroll 3/25/17 Not Really Very Specific

(1) CASHING IN. Naked Security has discovered “Spock will unlock Kirk ransomware – after you beam up a bunch of Monero”.

Star Trek fans might remember an episode from the original series where our heroes were transported to a mirror universe where their counterparts served an evil version of the Federation. At the end of “Mirror Mirror“, it is the alternate universe’s Spock who begins to set things right.

One has to wonder if the creators of the recently discovered Kirk ransomware had that episode in mind. SophosLabs threat researcher Dorka Palotay told Naked Security that this new specimen appeared a few days ago….

Monero is the new (or old) latinum

Unlike the ransomware families SophosLabs has seen so far, this family uses Monero for ransom payment, which is a cryptocurrency similar to bitcoin. Monero has already been popular among cyber-criminals. You could say it’s the new latinum – the favored currency of the Ferengi. Or, you could say it’s the old one. (These temporal paradoxes give us a headache.)

(2) SPOOK FANAC. Naked Security also disclosed that the CIA named one of its hacking tools after a famous science fictional gadget – “Latest Wikileaks dump shows CIA targeting Apple earlier than others”.

Here’s a breakdown of the tools documented and their purpose:

Sonic Screwdriver: Fans of Doctor Who know that the Sonic Screwdriver is the Doctor’s trusty device for analysis and defense. In the CIA’s world, it’s a “mechanism for executing code on peripheral devices while a Mac laptop or desktop is booting,” allowing attackers to “boot its attack software even when a firmware password is enabled”. The CIA’s Sonic Screwdriver infector is stored on the modified firmware of an Apple Thunderbolt-to-Ethernet adapter. The documentation for this was released internally at CIA headquarters November 29 2012….

(3) IRON FIST. While my Facebook friends have leveled plenty of criticism, Comicbook.com declares “Iron Fist Is The Second Biggest Marvel Netflix Premiere”.

Marvel’s Iron Fist may not have gone over well with critics, but fans can’t seem to get enough.

According to a report by Parrot Analytics, Marvel’s Iron Fist is the second-biggest debut for a Marvel series on Netflix so far, performing better than both Marvel’s Daredevil and Marvel’s Jessica Jones in the first week it was available to stream. Iron Fist falls just short of Marvel’s Luke Cage, which was Marvel’s best debut to date.

It should be noted that Parrot Analytics is a third party industry analyst and that these metrics are not endorsed by Netflix. Netflix does not share its viewership numbers publically.

(4) DO’S AND DON’TS. Here are the first two of “Ray Bradbury’s 12 Rules For Writers” at Tripwire.

  • Don’t start out writing novels. They take too long. Begin your writing life instead by cranking out “a hell of a lot of short stories,” as many as one per week. Take a year to do it; he claims that it simply isn’t possible to write 52 bad short stories in a row. He waited until the age of 30 to write his first novel, Fahrenheit 451. “Worth waiting for, huh?”
  • You may love ’em, but you can’t be ’em. Bear that in mind when you inevitably attempt, consciously or unconsciously, to imitate your favorite writers, just as he imitated H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, Arthur Conan Doyle and L. Frank Baum.

(5) BY YOUR ROYAL LEAVES. Standback guested on Jonah Sutton-Morse’s Cabbages and Kings podcast. (I’m not trying to blow his cover, he sent the link indicating it should be a “scroll item for Standback.”)

This episode I am joined by Ziv Wities (@QuiteVague), host of the SFSqueeAndSnark short story discussion site, to discuss Jo Walton’s The Just City.  We covered our different reactions to the story, the elevation of Plato’s Republic to a holy text, and the problems of privilege and how it is portrayed in The Just City.  In addition, Brandon O’Brien returns for the second installment of Black Star Cruises, a review of Maurice Broaddus’ forthcoming novella Buffalo Soldier.

There’s a transcript of the podcast available at the site, too.

Z – So, this is the only book in my entire life that I have ever bought based on a book ad. There was a print ad for the Just City in Fantasy & Science Fiction and I saw it and I read it and I said that sounds really really really cool. I don’t think I’ve ever reacted that way to a print ad before.It’s just, it’s just a cool high-concept idea, and one of the things that really grabbed me about it was the idea that it’s not only a recreation of The Republic but specifically that it is done with the support of a goddess.  With Athene, Athene?

JSM – Yes

Z – With Athene supporting and bankrolling and magicing together the entire thing.

(6) DON’T BLAME WEIR. The Wrap reveals “More Hollywood Whitewashing: CBS Pilot Casts 2 White Actors in Lead Roles Written for Minorities”.

Andy Weir’s sci-fi drama “Mission Control” was written with a bilingual Latina and African-American man — now played by Poppy Montgomery and David Giuntoli…

According to an individual familiar with the project, producers initially did reach out to and offer the roles to non-white actors, but they passed. The production ultimately moved on as the script evolved, leading to the casting of Montgomery and Giuntoli. Montgomery’s character will no longer speak Spanish in the final version of the pilot.

The pilot, which the individual described as an “ensemble drama,” does feature nonwhite actors in other roles, including “Desperate Housewives” alum Ricardo Chavira as the director of the Johnson Space Center and Nigerian-born actress Wunmi Mosaku as Rayna, the mission’s public affairs officer….

(7) A NUMBER OF BUGS. Find the answer to “What Kind of Bug Eats Books” here. There are five main types, a number that suits the Scroll perfectly.

Bugs that eat books aren’t injurious to humans, but they can destroy your library. Book-eating insects inhabit books in their larval stage, eating collagen glues, cotton, leather, linen and paper. These insects can be difficult to spot because of their small sizes and hiding instincts. Use a magnifying glass to inspect volumes for intruders. There are five types of bugs that commonly infest books.

(8) SOMETIMES IT CAUSES ME TO TINGLE. Future Nobel laureate for literature Dr. Chuck Tingle weighs in on Castalia House’s latest antics at The Rabid Puppies.

in recent days man name of JOM SCALZI put out a big time book name of THE COLLAPSING EMPIRE. bad dogs blues said they could copy it and do better, so to keep bad dogs blues honest this is now website to show current sales rank between BAD DOGS BLUES fake book and JOM SCALZI real book. this is good way to determine wether or not being a devil is a WINNING WAY. please enjoy.



(9) MAKING PROGRESS. Christine Valada gave this update about Len Wein’s health:

Len is doing better but still not on social media. It’s boring when he’s not actually working and he’s at war with the restrictions on his diet. What a surprise, right? The amputated toe is considered healed (yay), but the doctor needs to do some clean-up work on his second toe which had been delayed because of the neck surgery. He’s a captive patient in rehab, so that will get done on Monday evening.

(10) SAD TRIVIA. Today’s Livestream of the Debbie Reynolds/Carrie Fisher public memorial had over 63,000 views. Right now, the link is just showing a short slide-show of the pair at various ages.

Their celebration of life was in the same auditorium that Sammy Davis, Jr.’s was held.

The BBC had a few brief quotes from before and during the memorial.

Earlier Mr Fisher said the public was invited to the memorial “because that’s how my mother would want it”.

He added that she was “very connected to her fans and felt they were a part of her”.

James Blunt was friends with Carrie Fisher and recorded part of his debut album in her bathroom. His tribute song will be accompanied by a montage of photographs of the pair.

Todd Fisher called it a “beautiful song to Carrie”, adding that “it might rip your heart out”.


Princess Leia from Star Wars reel shown at SDCC 2015.

(11) NO CGI FOR FISHER. Gene Maddaus of Variety, in “Bob Iger Reveals ‘Star Wars’ Han Solo Spinoff Details, Talks Plans After ‘Episode IX’”, reports on a talk that the Disney CEO gave at USC.  Iger says that Carrie Fisher’s performance in Episode 8 is complete and does not have to be digitally enhanced and the forthcoming moving about young Han Solo will reveal how Chewbacca got his name.

At the conference, where he also confirmed that he’s “definitely” leaving in 2019, he said he has seen Episode 8, “The Last Jedi,” and addressed how the company is handling the death of Carrie Fisher, who appears extensively in the film.

“We are not changing ‘8’ to deal with her passing. Her performance remains as it was in ‘8,’” he said. “In ‘Rogue One’, we created digitally a few characters… We’re not doing that with Carrie.”

…Iger was otherwise tight-lipped about Episode 8, saying that he sometimes reviews dailies “in my laptop in bed under the covers” to keep the project secret from his own teenage boys.



The Tolkien Society started Tolkien Reading Day in 2003 after a journalist from New York enquired as to whether or not there was such an event. March 25 was selected because that is the date of the Downfall of Sauron.


  • March 25, 1957 — United States Customs confiscated 520 copies of Allen Ginsberg’s Howl and Other Poems, printed in England, on grounds of obscenity.

(14) BY THE LITRE. “Discovery enables ‘mass produced blood’” – the BBC has the story. Chip Hitchcock says, “The kicker is that it’s so expensive it’s only useful for types so rare that they’re in very short supply — e.g. Heinlein’s AB-.”

(15) HOT PILOT. You can listen to the recording of Harrison Ford excusing his Han Solo moment at this link: “’I’m the schmuck that landed on the taxiway’”.

A recording has emerged of Harrison Ford explaining to air traffic control why he flew directly over a waiting passenger jet and landed on a taxiway at John Wayne Airport in southern California in February.

(16) CURRENT READING. Rosemary Benton visits a newsstand 55 years ago at Galactic Journey — “[March 25,1962] A Double Hit (A.Bertram Chandler’s The Rim of Space and John Brunner’s Secret Agent of Terra)”.

I turned to Brunner’s Secret Agent of Terra. I couldn’t help but feel as if I was reading a novella that pitted the characters of H. Beam Piper’s Paratime series against the American agents of The Time Traders. In almost exact contrast to the universe of Chandler’s piece, Brunner’s protagonists are agents of the Corps Galactica – a economic and security force powerhouse for Earth’s galaxy-wide territories. When a remote and technologically backward world called Planet 14 is penetrated by off-worlders looking to take advantage of the natural resources of the isolated human society, it is up to agents of the Corps to infiltrate the population without notice and take down the exploitative evil doers.

(17) FREE DELANY. You do not need to be a member of Facebook to read this unpublished novel excerpt by Samuel R. Delany:

Here’s the coda to a not yet published novel, whose manuscript ran more than 700 pages in 2006: Shoat Rumblin: His Sensations and Ideas.

Samuel Delany

(18) FURTHER DELIBERATIONS. Here are the newest reviews from the Shadow Clarke jury.

Tidhar’s novel is both subtle and quotidian, bolshie and wildly inventive.  In common with some of its characters, it is a cyborg patchwork; a novel about a bold future that has its feet firmly planted in the past.

The book started life as a series of short stories, reworked and ordered here within a narrative frame to form a novel.  It’s complex and wily, structured around three points in time: a present, a future and a far future. The author introduces themselves quietly in a first-person Prologue, a writer sitting down in a shebeen in Tel-Aviv – perhaps in our present, perhaps not – to tell a science fiction story.  They sip cheap beer while the rain falls outside and put pen to paper: ‘Once the world was young,’ they begin, ‘The Exodus ships had only begun to leave the solar system then…’ (2)  Our writer in the present addresses us as if were a knowing audience in a far distant future, ‘sojourners’ amongst the stars who tell ‘old stories across the aeons.’  These stories – of ‘our’ past but the author’s fictional future – make up the meat and substance of the book that follows.  It sounds like rather a baroque set-up and it’s barely gestured at but it is thematically fundamental.  Central Station is a book about how the future remembers, about the future’s past. It’s a historical novel as much as a science fiction novel.

Good Morning, Midnight is a bit of a shortlist risk, as shadow jury conversations have proved. Ranging in complaints about too much lyrical sciencing to complaints about too much overt preciousness, overall, the general jury criticism toward the book has been along the lines of “too much too much.” And yet, the novel has been blurbed as a blend of Station Eleven and Kim Stanley Robinson– two supreme yet entirely different approaches to SF, flawed in their own “too much” ways (the first, a well-written, but literary carpet bagging of superficial SF tropes, the other, an over-lingering on most things, including the sublimation of ice). With comparisons like these, Good Morning, Midnight might be just the kind of “too much too much” I, and other Clarke readers, would relish. Besides, it has stars on the cover, a spaceship in the story, and is free of the usual, predictable pew-pew hijinks that tends to come with spaceship stories, so, for those reasons, it seems like something worth discussing within the context of possible Clarke contenders.

If the blurring of the ‘human/animal’ distinction gives Geen’s book its substance, the thriller plot gives it its shape—and here the novel comes a little unstuck. With two plot strands unfolding over the length of the novel, the reader is geared up to expect two conclusions: first, the revelation of whatever it was that caused Kit to flee ShenCorp; and second, the final reckoning. ‘Uncanny Shift’ builds the intrigue, as Kit is invited (not compelled, no, not at all) to work on the development of a new income stream: consciousness tourism. She’s not sure about the ethics of this, as she tells one character:

When discussing Steph Swainston’s fiction within the context of the Clarke Award, it is never long before the question arises: but is it even science fiction? I have heard it said that Swainston’s debut, The Year of Our War, should not have been eligible for the Clarke Award by reason of it being a work of fantasy rather than SF. No doubt similar objections were voiced in respect of the volumes that followed. The old dragons versus spaceships dichotomy, in other words, complicated only by the fact that there are no dragons in Swainston’s Fourlands novels, and there is a strong argument to be made that the multi-generational, FTL space craft so beloved of much heartland science fiction is as much a fantasy as any mythical leviathan and possibly more so.

(19) POWER GRAB. Prosthetic limbs with built-in power cells could be self-charging.

A synthetic skin for prosthetics limbs that can generate its own energy from solar power has been developed by engineers from Glasgow University.

Researchers had already created an ‘electronic skin’ for prosthetic hands made with new super-material graphene.

The new skin was much more sensitive to touch but needed a power source to operate its sensors.

Previously this required a battery but the latest breakthrough has integrated photo-voltaic cells in to the skin.

(20) IN THE END, GOODNESS PREVAILS. NPR says Power Rangers is fun in the end: “In The Agreeably Schlocky ‘Power Rangers,’ ‘Transformers’ Meets ‘The Breakfast Club’”.

Power Rangers cost a little over $100 million to make and looks about half as expensive, unless catering services were provided by Eric Ripert. The five Power Rangers are appealing but bland, as if skimmed from a CW casting call, and Israelite stages the action sequences in a chaotic mass of swish-pans and rapid-fire edits, perhaps to hide the daytime special effects. And yet the film grows steadily more disarming as it approaches the grand finale, in part because it believes so earnestly in the unity necessary for good to defeat evil and in part because everyone appears to be having a ball.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, David K.M. Klaus, Mark-kitteh, Andrew Porter, Chip Hitchcock, Matthew Johnson, John King Tarpinian, and Standback for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Meredith.]

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63 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 3/25/17 Not Really Very Specific

  1. @19: I was especially taken by this from remembering an early Dick Francis story, in which an ex-jockey PI with a prosthetic arm must periodically stop to change batteries; I expect the tech is much better now, but there’s something Man Plus-ish about skin being a recharger.

    Sacrificial pre-fifth!

  2. Fifth for Scholarship (since industry was taken)!

    I remember that Dick Francis story, and his high-tech arm…

    Re: (11) I’m sort of glad they won’t CG Carrie Fisher, but sad she will appear no longer, and afraid of how they’ll end her role.

  3. (3) Iron Fist

    The plural of anecdote is not data, but my friends on FB were generally positive towards the series. Few of them effused over it the way they had over season 1 of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, or Luke Cage, but none of them seemed to hate it.

    Most frequent criticism: Too much corporate scheming, not enough cool mystical kung fu fighting.

  4. 14. From what I gather from chatting with people taking my blood on a regular basis, it would be great if it was that simple. While the AB- type is rare (only .6% of the US population according to Wikipedia) an AB- person can receive red cells of types A-, B-, AB- and O- without harm. That’s about 15% of US blood. O- people can only accept O- (but theirs can be given to anyone) so they can only use 6.6% of the supply and the demand for O- is disproportionately high to to its usefulness for pushing into people whose type is unknown who need blood right now.

    When they talk about rare blood types they usually mean types that fall outside the simple ABO system like these. If not for those types the makers of synthetic blood would just aim for all O- all the time.

  5. @Camestros Felaptop: I’m O- (“universal donor”), like the rest of my family, but I can’t donate because I’ve been in a monogamous relationship for over 20 years, I mean, because I have safer sex, I mean, because I haven’t been celibate for 12 months, I mean, because the American Red Cross bites. ::eyeroll:: #NotBitterAtAll 🙁

    (Hopefully I don’t regret posting this.)

  6. (5) @Standback, kindly convey to the podcast that they are THE BEST for having transcripts. Those of us who use eyes, not ears, love them for it (Esp. since it’s so much faster to absorb). Podcasts are for people who are too lazy to do blogs, I say.

    (8) The good Doctor T proves love is real again. And so is math.

    (17) Yes, you do. Login required.

    (20) Wow, I thought it was low-budget just from the trailers — $100M for that? Where did all the money go?

  7. Kendall: The Australian system has similar rules and they always seemed odd since any donation is tested before it’s accepted. I once had to take a 12 month time-out due to a false positive that couldn’t be duplicated on retesting (and which said I had been exposed to an infection that was logically impossible – I would have had to have actually had the disease in question at the time of my previous donation to get the result I got).

    But I don’t think it’s the Red Cross that bites in these cases – the rules, paranoid and outdated as they are, are handed down to them from Government agencies (the FDA in the US according to the US Red Cross site).

  8. (3) IRON FIST

    I’ve been slowly watching Iron Fist, and the key there is slowly – it’s not grabbing me enough to binge watch it. I think the problem is that the characters aren’t up to scratch – the lead is just coming over as a bit of an ass, and the sorta-bad guys aren’t very exciting. It’s not that it’s a bad series, just that it’s not great.


    I finished the (ahem) JOM SCALZI last night. Basically, if you’re a Scalzi fan you’ll like it. It’s got his trademark light and slightly snarky tone, character driven dialogue that makes me chuckle, and a swift moving plot. However, it’s setting up an ongoing series with quite a few elements to introduce, and it inevitably suffers a bit from having to get all that explained, and it’s very much just a first installment, without a self-contained story.

    In other news, Chuck Tingle remains a delight. It doesn’t look like his site is tracking the numbers in real time, because the BAD DOGS BLUES are now doing even worse than his site shows. It seems likely that Mr BAD DOG won’t even be able to claim his usual “category bestseller” in an Amazon sub-sub-sub-category. He’s currently #38 in his first chosen category of Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Galactic Empire and getting honestly outsold by a bunch of bog-standard self-pubbed space opera (oh, and Marco Kloos’s back catalogue. And Dune.)

  9. (3) IRON FIST

    We’re 4 or 5 episodes into this and enjoying it so far. It’s not as good as Jessica Jones, but I prefer it over Luke Cage, which I found very slow.

  10. Camestros Felapton on March 25, 2017 at 11:04 pm said:
    I’m O- but I’m not allowed to give blood in Australia because I lived in the UK during the height of mad cow disease. ?

    It’s the same for me in Turkey.

  11. @Lurkertype – I’m glad the transcript helped. I know they make the show more accessible to various audiences who can’t or don’t want to listen.

    I’d challenge the “too lazy to blog” stereotype a bit, though :). Among other things, I think the text flattens some of @Standback’s obvious enthusiasm. But I’m glad the transcript helped. I believe that both Flash Forward and Fangirl Happy Hour have transcripts for every episode going forward, and I think Skiffy & Fanty are working on this as well, if you need more to read 😉

  12. @Camestros

    I’m O- but I’m not allowed to give blood in Australia because I lived in the UK during the height of mad cow disease. ?

    In Germany as well. Ironically, I eat very little meat and didn’t eat any beef at all, while in the UK, except that one mystery meatloaf I couldn’t refuse, because I’d been invited.

  13. @Blood donours. Im allergic against basiccly everything and hence not suitable to give my blood away, so Ive been told.

    @Iron Fist: Yeah, Im with Mark. Its slow. Its a bit like Agents of Shield in thats its not bad, but its not terrible engrossing either. If legion would be on Netflix, Id watch that instead (Ive watched the first few episodes on amazon prime, but its costly). The story really seem to start now that Im in episdoe six (SIX!), until then I was surprised how much problems they had in featuring action in this action series. And the sidekick to be, didnt want to be in the story, so they featured her in AMA-fights, I guess? Didnt really flow there. Now its getting better, but its still not what Id like it to be…
    If I understand correctly, critics were allowed a half-season-preview – since the story didnt get off the ground before half a season, Im not surprised in the pannings.
    And personally, I think the creators missed using one of the martial artists from The Raid 2 as antagonists in the sixth episode…

    “The way of the exploding scroll”

  14. 15) Sadly and tragically, this is an argument why the dream of flying cars was just such an impractical one. There’d be thousands of such incidents every year, undoubtedly with fatalities and with more drama than Ford’s own.

    12) There is a twitter feed from the antipodes [@ShireReckoningW] that in real time plus some hours to put it for American and Western Europe has been tracking the movements of the Fellowship through the series because of the convenient calendar dates

  15. lurkertype: $100M is what you pay just to ante up in the blockbuster business these days. The new version of Beauty and the Beast cost three times that.

  16. 8) SOMETIMES IT CAUSES ME TO TINGLE – I wouldn’t bet against that future Nobel Prize.

    I finished The Collapsing Empire the other day, which is itself a feat, because I keep bailing on books (sorry, Roses and Rot, but that was your third strike, in spite of the gorgeous prose). I didn’t hate it. The story itself was interesting enough to pull me forward, it had his trademark characterization via high concept attributes and, once again, the writing irritated the crap out of me. Please don’t let Twitterspeak become a trend (explodey? Really?).

  17. @Kendall
    Same here (except I’m A+). It used to be a lifetime ban, but now it’s just twelve months after the last time you had sex with another man. That might make a difference for some people.

    However, my birth certificate has a warning that says “DO NOT PUNCTURE THE ORIGINAL CONTAINER.”

  18. I had no idea that living in the UK during the mad cow scare banned me from donating blood in so many places.

    (6) Don’t Blame Weir
    Sigh. Disappointing.

    (8) Sometimes It Causes Me To Tingle
    Bad dog blues snooze and lose. 🙂

    (11) No CGI For Fisher
    I’m glad Carrie Fisher’s role in the next film will be as it was shot. I wonder what they’ll do for the one after that?

    (18) Further Deliberations
    I’ve been sliding off these reviews (still too tired for them, I think) but I’ve been keeping track of them so I can read them once I’m up to it. I definitely appreciate the links. 🙂

    (19) Power Grab
    Oooh, I hope this gets rolled out to other things like electric wheelchairs, too. Disability aids running out of power is an annoying limiting factor.


    Yes, those rules seem increasingly out-of-date and prejudiced. 🙁

  19. @Paul Weimer: 15) Sadly and tragically, this is an argument why the dream of flying cars was just such an impractical one. There’d be thousands of such incidents every year,

    Someone’s an optimist.

  20. Apologies — I just accidentally approved 10 spam comments. They’re deleted now, but some of you will see them because you have comments forwarded. Sorry for that.

  21. Count me among those who used to be a regular blood donor (and a preferred one, because I was — perhaps still am — cytomegalovirus negative) but is rejected based on having spent time in the UK during mad cow-relevant periods. I sometimes wonder idly whether I could still donate while visiting the UK, but the question hasn’t arisen yet.

  22. I’m credited with 88 armfuls of A+. Some of those are for Platelet donation instead of whole blood which count double. Unfortunately I suffer from White Coat Syndrome and my pulse rate and BP had a tendency to go through the roof when I sat down by a Platelets machine so they kicked me off and back to whole blood.

    In the UK we’re just asked if any close relatives have been diagnosed with CJD.

  23. Iron Fist isn’t as bad as I expected, but it’s not good. I’ve watched the entire series and am not entirely sure why. I guess I’m a completist. Parts are okay, but mostly I’m imagining the much better show it could have been.

    To begin with, Finn Jones by his own admission was given 3 weeks to learn martial arts and often only 15 minutes to learn a fight before shooting began. That’s not great. In part because Jones isn’t good at martial arts, the fight scenes don’t shine and equally important don’t reveal anything about Jones. In the previous Marvel shows, each main character had their own fighting style. Jones’ would probably be graceful and quick–and he has a (mostly) unstated no-kill rule–, but he can’t do the moves and the show doesn’t really bother too much with his style or the fights anyhow.

    The show also really isn’t about anything. At times, one can see the writers hinting at something, e.g. maybe the theme is cults, maybe it’s how one’s elders try to make you into the type of person they want you to be, maybe it’s something else entirely. But no theme is really developed.

    The characters are also poorly written. Danny, despite being a Buddhist monk, often lashes out angrily and violently. There are hints K’un Lun isn’t a Buddhist paradise but has problems of its own. This might explain his behavior except those hints aren’t developed and may only exist because the viewer is trying to force some sense onto the show.

    I don’t know if the show runner was lazy or just bad (he did the final season of Dexter so I suspect bad). In the end, it doesn’t really matter. There are a few bright spots–a karaoke singing killer’s introduction is maybe the best part of the series, but his fight with Danny, like most of the fights* and the show itself is a disappointment.

    *the only exception is a drunken kung fu fight against Lewis Tan who actually auditioned for the role of Iron Fist. Tan is good at martial arts, is quite charismatic, so one wonders if the show would have been better with him as the lead. Still, he’s no Jackie Chan and I’m not sure if the fight really is good or just stands out from the rest of the show’s lackluster fights.

  24. @Shao Ping: I think Tan would have been way better as the lead. Sorta makes the “missed opportunity” part of the lead casting even worse.

  25. Still haven’t started Iron Fist, although I will at some point, but I don’t have enough superlatives for the new season of Samurai Jack. Although Mako, as the voice of Aku, is sorely missed.

  26. @MrDallard: Thanks, whoops, I meant to edit that to say the FDA + Red Cross (forgot) but really it’s the FDA, I guess. As far as the rest, it’s odd how one can have as much unsafe opposite-sex sex in dodgy circumstances as one likes, but still donate blood. Obviously, they have to test all blood anyway, as you say; they’re not really gambling on the blood supply, but the blanket rules for same-sex contact are draconian and make it seem as if they’re just rolling the dice on other donations.

    Sorry, it seems I’m still feeling grumpy today! 😉 I’m going to try to stop harping on this.

    @Various: I didn’t know about the mad cow thing, wow.

    @Greg Hullender: Yeah, I made a reference to the current 12-month thing. LOL at your birth certificate; so once you’re cloned, it’s safe to puncture the clone??? 😛

    @Meredith: Re. #11 and the third/last movie, your comment made me think of two options (aside from the mentioned-somewhere kill her off, psniff…). #1 They could keep her off-screen, but do some audio tricks. #2 Same thing, but have a stand-in on-screen, only shot from behind so they’re not messing with front-side make-up/CGI; making someone up to look similar from behind would be trivial with the right size/shape person and a good wig, methinks.

  27. I sort of understand the mad cow disease thing because of the lengthy latency period and because you cannot detect it. But blood is tested for HIV anyway and the latency period is much shorter, so why such a lengthy ban and why only for gay and not straight sex?

    My parents were banned from donating blood in the 1980s for a couple years due to having spent time in Singapore, even though Singapore is probably one of the safestr countries in the world regarding disease prevention.

  28. SFReading: I finished Brother’s Ruin by Emma Newman last night, which Tor’s calling gaslamp fantasy. Read my take over at the 2017 rec post. Short take: I enjoyed it a lot! I hope it does well and gets more than the so-far two contracted novellas (Newman has ideas beyond that, but the first two have to do well enough for Tor.com to buy more.) Interesting world and main characters (the protagonist and one magus in particular). 🙂

    In other news, there’ll be two more novels in Newman’s “Planetfall” series. How’d I miss this, or did I just forget?! The next one will be Before Mars, coming in April 2018, followed by another in January 2019. Woo-hoo! Old news to y’all, maybe, but news to me (or my memory’s worse than I thought).

  29. But blood is tested for HIV anyway and the latency period is much shorter, so why such a lengthy ban and why only for gay and not straight sex?

    I suspect it’s pragmatism. If they alienate a smallish minority with silly rules then they don’t loose out big time. If they ask every straight person about hookups they might suddenly lose their entire donation community. It is daft. A straight person could have anonymous sex in club toilets every weekend and it’s no problem. My married friend Pete has to lie every time he donates.

    They won’t have mine any more. They seem to think that a small monkey bite in 2006 is likely to result in rabies (surely the incubation period is passed?) or more excitingly they worry about genetic abnormalities.I await my monkey super powers eagerly.

  30. @nickpheas,

    The New Zealand version does ask everyone (including straight persons) about hookups & drug use (especially intravenous). That’s for every time you wish to donate.

    Given the number of exclusion criteria, a significant percentage of the donor pool won’t be accepted at any given time (e.g. you have to wait four months after visiting a malaria country). And if you lived in the UK/France from 1980-1996, you are not able to donate at all.

  31. Straight sex isn’t quite a free pass to donation here either. The Australian donor questionnaire asks if we’ve been or had had sex with sex workers of either gender or had sex with anyone who might answer yes to some of the questions about drug use, sexual activity or blood-borne illness.

    Our equal opportunity people and the Australian equivalent of the FDA have both been asked to reconsider the rules and both decided to go with extreme caution based on probably outdated statistics. Here’s the Australian Red Cross Blood Service’s official explanation sheet.

  32. @ Paul Weimer
    15) Sadly and tragically, this is an argument why the dream of flying cars was just such an impractical one. There’d be thousands of such incidents every year, undoubtedly with fatalities and with more drama than Ford’s own.

    I dunno, we’ve been tolerating 30,000 – 40,000 deaths per year for decades with surface vehicles. There’s a lot more room not to hit each other above the surface than on it, and self-driving technology may keep the flying cars away from each other.

  33. @Soon Lee: That NZ page seems similar to the U.S. in this respect – male-male sex stops donation eligibility for a year. BTW I couldn’t find “hookup” references (searching is tough without an expand-all on that page) – not sure what you mean, sorry.

    Interesting that a stroke or TIA prevents future blood donations. I wasn’t aware of that and I couldn’t find something like that on the main U.S. Red Cross page. I found an obscure reference here (the part about aspirin, et al. mentions it), so I must be missing something on the main Red Cross site. This info is sometimes spread out over too many pages/sections.

    @Mister Dalliard: Nothing gets a total free pass, if you put it that way. 😉 BTW your first link is broken

  34. And if you lived in the UK/France from 1980-1996, you are not able to donate at all.
    Lived there for more than 6 months – I arrived in England mid-May 1996…

  35. @Kendall,

    By hookup, I meant casual sexual activity, which I thought is covered by the questions in the Sexual Activity section I linked. Though to be fair, with hookups you are less likely to know your partner’s history (assuming they are honest with you).

    (I tend to answer most of my questions with the caveat, “not to my knowledge”.)

  36. Air cars can use space three-dimensionally while working. The failure mode, though, is down, and probably hitting someone minding their own business on the ground. It’d be one thing if any air vehicle that stops working would just stay floating in the same space.

  37. @Errolwi,

    Yeah, many of my friends who did their OE in the UK in the 80s & 90s aren’t allowed to ever donate. (Which is why I try to donate when I can. Because I can.)

  38. It’s been a while since I read The Just City, but I’m pretty sure Kebes didn’t have a general objection to being forced to live there. He had a very specific desire to get revenge on the slavers that took him and (iirc) killed his mother, and that’s the one thing the Just City can’t give him.

    More generally, I think being entangled with the world in a theme in Walton’s writing, and it’s more clearly emphasized in the Plato trilogy, where there’s an effort to get outside history and it doesn’t work.

  39. I went and had a look through the UK rules and it turns out I’m not allowed to donate blood, but not because of anyone else’s health – people who have fainting spells and dizziness related to low (or wonky-low) blood pressure are banned. I suppose that should’ve been obvious, since the primary method of controlling it is to drink (lots of) water and eat (a moderate amount of) salt to raise blood volume, and removing a bunch would probably be unhelpful.

    Oh well. At least I know.

  40. I’m reminded of an acquaintance at university who went – once – to try and give blood. She told us, later, that she’d taken the questionnaire they gave out, ticked various boxes relating to “low blood pressure”, “fainting spells”, “diagnosed with anaemia” and suchlike, and handed it back to the nurse…

    … who studied it carefully and passed it on to a doctor…

    … who studied it carefully and announced the result: “On the whole, it’s in everyone’s best interests if you keep your blood.”

  41. 33 years ago I spent September through mid December in London. I am now evidently forever barred from donating blood here (USA).

    My brain is not, however, spongey.

    Rosie the Pixeler
    Nevertheless, She Pixelisted.

  42. A friend of mine at University was similarly turned away from donating blood because his blood pressure was too low. When he asked how he could raise it he was told, “Well, you know, stop exercising, eat more fatty foods, start smoking, increase the amount of stress in your life….”

    (He was trying to finish a Ph.D. in Physics at the time. More stress would have killed him.)

  43. I thought Iron Fist was about a CW level show until the last 4 episodes which made the characters all out to be idiots or assholes or both and the writing, which wasn’t great already, completely crapped the bed.

    Felt very rushed and never sure of itself

  44. A+ here, and a frequent platelet donor. Not as frequent as I used to be since I started working part time, though. Had to stop for a while last year because my blood pressure kept being too high, but then I went onto some meds for that and now they’re taking it again.

    For a while the blood center was usually doing just platelets and plasma, and not bothering with the red blood cells. Then they discovered that my blood has an uncommon trait. They sent me a letter with a membership card, telling me somewhat breathlessly that I had traits shared by no more than one person in a thousand! Naturally this piqued my curiosity. Well, it turns out that I am c-. (For information on CDE blood groups, see this Wikipedia article) and in fact it’s really more like one in six. I mean, okay, uncommon, but a far cry from .1%.

  45. David Goldfarb on March 26, 2017 at 8:42 pm said:
    My father was donating platelets at one time, because he apparently had too many, or so I understand. (He donated fairly often anyway. At least five gallons.)

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