Pixel Scroll 4/23/17 Scroll White And The Seven Pixels

(1) BORN ON THE SEVENTH OF JULY. In “Spinning a high-tech web”, the LA Times provides an elaborate, photo-illustrated preview of Tony Stark’s upgrade to the new Spider-Man suit that will be seen in Spider-Man: Homecoming, due in theaters July 7.

(2) FILK HALL OF FAME. The 2017 inductees to the Filk Halll of Fame were announced at FilkOntario this weekend:

(3) FAHRENHEIT 451 TO SMALL SCREEN? The Bradbury novel is on the road to development once more. “HBO to Adapt Fahrenheit 451, starring Michael B. Jordan”  — BookRiot has the story.

Now, HBO is “moving toward a production commitment” (via Variety) on a feature-length adaptation of Bradbury’s 1953 novel starring Michael B. Jordan (Creed, Chronicle, Fantastic Four) as the protagonist Guy Montag and Michael Shannon (Man of Steel, Boardwalk Empire) as Montag’s boss, Captain Beatty.

The film will be directed by Ramin Bahrani (99 Homes, At Any Price), who is co-writing with Amir Naderi (99 Homes, The Runner). David Coatsworth (production manager on Underworld: Evolution, Ender’s Game, My Big Fat Greek Wedding) will serve as producer.

(4) THEY’RE HUUGE! “Black Holes Are Bigger Than You Thought” accuses Yahoo! News. (Just how big did you think they were? How did Yahoo! News find out?)

Now meet S5 0014+81.

It’s the largest black hole ever discovered and is heavier than our Sun by 40 billion times (40, 000, 000, 000) in the last observation.

If you plug in the equation above, you’ll find that this black hole has a Schwarzschild radius of about… 119 billion kilometers, along with a said diameter of about 236,39 billion km.

(5) THE TOUGHEST AROUND. Let Den of Geek point you at “17 really difficult LEGO sets”.

The Tower Of Orthanc

It may look simple enough on the box, but The Lord Of The Rings’ Tower Of Orthanc is actually a real tough cookie. Because most of its 2,359 pieces are jet black and slim, working out which bit goes where is the stuff of nightmares (in, um, a good way). The Treebeard that comes with it will make the struggle worth it… honest.

Buy The Tower Of Orthanc now for £348.07.


  • April 23 — World Book and Copyright Day

Pays tribute to authors and books and their social and cultural contribution to the world

(7) DID YOU KNOW? Last year the International Costumers’ Guild participated in a “friend of the court” brief to the U.S. Supreme Court, joining Public Knowledge, the American Library Association, and others, asking the Court to protect the rights of clothing designers and costumers to freely practice their craft.

(8) AT HOME. The Verge’s Andrew Liptak reports “Netflix will invest billions to shoot its original content in California”:

Netflix is betting that filming closer to home will produce better content. In 2015, the streaming giant has announced that it would be doubling its output of original content, and it is aiming to have original productions make up half of its of its streaming catalog in the coming years. The goal is to entice users to come to the service by providing content that can’t be found elsewhere, but that goal is proving to be a strain on the existing film studio infrastructure. To cope, Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos announced that the company would be investing $6 billion to expand infrastructure in California, rather than chase tax incentives offered by states.

Sarandos explained to The Wrap that the company determined that going after the incentives leads to diminishing returns when it comes to their final products. Filming out of state is hard on the actors and crew of a project, and the move will help bring projects back home to California. That could prove to be costly for the company, even as California has increased its own tax incentive program in recent years. While remaining in the state will likely cost Netflix more, Sarandos seems to think that the extra cost will be worth spending.

(9) SQUEAK UP. YouTube’s TheBackyardScientist set up 10 megaphones end-to-end to see how loud a noise he could make.

The video, posted to YouTube by TheBackyardScientist, features Kevin Kohler explaining he was inspired by Bart Simpson‘s prank in the season 8 Simpsons episode The Secret War of Lisa Simpson to place 10 megaphones end-to-end and test the results.

Bart’s experiment led to a shock wave that shattered all of the windows in town — as well as Homer’s fridge full of beer — but Kohler quickly ran into a problem Bart didn’t face: a feedback loop.


(10) BITE ON. The number of people who give their smartphones to dogs as chew toys is probably smaller than the number of men who have walked on the moon, but for them — “There’s an anti-dog label inside the Galaxy S8 — here’s what it means”. Let The Verge explain it to you.

Basically, you don’t want Fido in a situation where a battery could hiss and explode in its mouth. It’s obviously possible that a child could bite through the battery as well, but the likelihood of him / her piercing through the battery is lower.

(11) ARTIFICIAL DOG INTELLIGENCE. Amazing. How is it mine doesn’t do that?

(12) FIX THE SLATING PROBLEM FOREVER. That’s what Greg Hullender would like to do. At Rocket Stack Rank he summarizes his views about the effectiveness of 3SV, EPH(+) and their combination. He says, “I  think it makes it really clear that we need both 3SV and either EPH or EPH+. Otherwise, even small slates (100 to 200 people) will be able to control a significant amount of the final ballot, including adding embarrassing nominees.”

For each year, we produced two theoretical maximum graphs. A “finalist graph,” which shows what percentage of finalists a slate could have captured for a given number of slate voters, and a “sweeps” graph, which shows what percentage of entire categories a slate could have captured.

Looking at those four pairs of graphs (2.1-2.4 below), we will draw the following conclusions;

  • Std (5/6) by itself is far too weak.
  • EPH doesn’t protect enough finalists, but it is excellent at preventing sweeps.
  • EPH+ is an improvement on EPH, but it’s still not enough by itself.
  • 3SV is much stronger for protecting finalists, especially for modest numbers of slate voters, but it’s vulnerable to sweeps, and it breaks down for slates above about 300 people.
  • The 3SV/EPH and 3SV/EPH+ combinations are far, far stronger than either component alone. Either combination is probably sufficient, but the second one is stronger.

Accordingly, we conclude that the Business Meeting should ratify both EPH+ and 3SV. That should protect the Hugos from slating interference for the nonce.

(13) DREAM CASTING. Enjoy “Miles To Go” hosted at Archive of Our Own. Note – Password = Vorkosigan (as it says at the post).

There once was a man who dreamt of the stars…

A fanvid based on the Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold.

…Obviously, it’s not so easy to make a feast for a fandom with no existing visual source. But where there’s a will, or in my case an enormous and driving folly, there’s a way. It was always going to be an ensemble vid, with Miles as the star, but the question was how to cast it. I did eventually solve that problem, and I won’t discuss my solution in detail here because… spoilers.

[Thanks to Carl Slaughter, Cat Eldridge, Robin Reid, JJ, Doctor Science, Greg Hullender, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories, Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kurt Busiek.]

156 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 4/23/17 Scroll White And The Seven Pixels

  1. @Greg

    If you’re going to add in some stats to identify “hostages” then at that point I’d just go the whole hog and publish the actual vote totals and let them be analysed. I suspect that wouldn’t be a popular move though.

  2. I really think the likelihood of secret slates is quite small. Any group with motives to create a slate will also have motives to make clear that they are doing so. So the most likely situation is one where we know there is a slate, know what is on it, but don’t know what will reach the shortlist because of it: and EPH deflators might help us tell that. If we don’t want to exclude natural slates (Doctor Who) or, even more significantly, convergence on (perceived) quality (Sex Criminals), we don’t have to.

    Still, how effective would showing the EPH deflator be? I take it (correct me if wrong) that if something has 80 slate votes, and 80 organic votes with normal degrees of overlap, it will still have a larger EPH deflator than things which have only organic votes. And such a thing might or might not have got on the ballot without the slate, depending just how well other things were doing, and I’d have thought it would be hard to tell which. (And of course at the longlist stage we wouldn’t know what things were lined up to be on the ballot, anyway.)

    It’s true this wouldn’t do anything about bullet slates. And I don’t think it would be difficult to stop people nominating other things in those categories: if they had signed up just to vote for the slate, why would they want to nominate anything else? But nothing open to us can really do anything about that kind of slate – not EPH itself, not even the root-and-branch ‘ban slates’ method. I think we just have to shrug, and say that the perturbation that slates of that kind can cause is quite minor – at least if there is only one slate.

  3. By the way, speaking of natural slates, it struck me that if Nominee Diversity had to be invoked to exclude a third episode of Game of Thrones, that implies that EPH did not by itself prevent it reaching the shortlist. This to me is a good sign, suggesting that EPH is not having too large a perturbing effect on non-slate nominations, but others may disagree.

  4. It also suggests that Game of Thrones had a huge number of votes to overcome that factor-of-three point reduction. Perhaps it’ll win the Hugo.

    As for the deflator, we’d have to try it to see. If a slated work had a deflator of 2.5 while organic works in that category had just 1.5, then I’d probably vote to reject it. Over 3.0, no question I’d reject it. But if it was under 2.0, probably not.

    Given the final numbers, we can always compute (with some accuracy) whether a work would have made the ballot without the slate. But, as Mark points out, it wouldn’t be popular to make that available before the vote.

    I’m hopeful that I’ll take grab the handout after the ceremony in Helsinki, go back to our hotel room, plug the numbers into my program, and have estimates for slate impact in time for the business meeting the next day. (And I’m hopeful that it’ll agree better with my original estimate than it did last year!)

    I’m also hopeful that when I analyze the numbers in San Jose, they won’t show any evidence of slating in any category. If that’s the case henceforth, then maybe it’ll be enough for people to know that “maybe we can’t stop it, but we can detect it, and we’re not seeing it.”

  5. It also suggests that Game of Thrones had a huge number of votes to overcome that factor-of-three point reduction. Perhaps it’ll win the Hugo.

    Well, it would only be a factor of three if everyone who voted for any voted for the lot, which presumably isn’t true; partly because (I take it) there were more than three, or indeed five, GoT episodes last year, partly because GoT fans (not being minions who signed up only to vote for that) would have other preferences as well. What I take this to mean is that ‘natural slates’, being less compact than artificial slates, can survive EPH.

  6. It still means Game of Thrones had tremendous support. Note that if (say) 300 fans all voted for all three episodes, then EPH would give each one just 100 points. If the fans divided into teams of 100 and each voted for just one episode, EPH would also give each episode 100 points.

    This is part of what makes EPH so elegant. Whether you slate vote or divide up, it takes the same number of people to get the effect.

    EPH cannot stop slates that have tremendous support. Natural or not. It does tend to prevent them from getting sweeps, though. For all we know, there were four popular GoT episodes in the top 15.

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