Pixel Scroll 5/19/18 For Once A Goof In A Pixel I’ve Provided Wasn’t Introduced By Me

(1) #NEBULAS2018. Cat Rambo is ready for the banquet:

(2) #NEBULAS2018. Tell me this doesn’t send a shiver down a writer’s spine:

That comes from a thread with livetweeted highlights of a Nebula Conference panel.

(3) #NEBULAS2018. Pin at the Nebula banquet.

(4) UNWASHED MASSES. Don’t tell this to writers, but Jimmy Kimmel has been prowling the streets asking strangers, “Can You Name a Book? ANY Book???”

According to a recent study from the Pew Research Center, almost one in four Americans has not read a book in the past year. So to find out if that is true, we sent a team to the street to ask pedestrians to name a book, and here are the very sad results.


(5) STARSHIP TROOPERS AS SPAGHETTI WESTERN. Fabrice Mathieu has done an incredible job with his new mashup called Far Alamo (Vimeo Staff Pick) in which John Wayne, Clint Eastwood and other Sixties western stars meet the world of Paul Verhoeven when the Alamo is attacked by BUGS!

(6) LATE ARRIVAL. Jeb Kinnison wants to convince you “Why ‘Arrival’ is Bad Science Fiction”.

The value of science fiction: narratives predicting science and technology and effects on future society. Stories enabled by the new, that help readers grasp what is to come and where they might place themselves to affect the outcome of their own stories. These can be more or less inherently entertaining, but the fascination of young people (especially young men) for them is in dreaming of mastery: to understand and control Nature, to vanquish enemies and nurture their families through something other than brute force and violence (though a blend of both is often very popular!)

“Junk science” is those beliefs promoted to persuade or entertain that have either been shown to be false or are simply unsupported by empirical tests. The media world is flooded with it, with sober studies making one small data point on some topic oversimplified and promoted as a breakthrough, to get clicks or publicity for research funding. “Junk science fiction” is therefore a story that borrows the authority of science to make unsupported or frankly false claims as part of a narrative, which nonscientists will accept as plausible or possible. And Arrival is junk science fiction.

(7) NOT EASY BEING GREEN. Tor.com’s Brandon O’Brien says “It’s Time to Talk About Marvel’s Gamora Problem”. Were you running out of things to criticize about Avengers: Infinity War? This will restock your cupboard.

To be clear, this is not me saying that that the movie is bad, or unenjoyable in a general sense. The action was engaging for the most part, and there are some character progressions that I think elicited real dramatic effort from the film. I like how it sets up Tony Stark’s pained, traumatic franchise-long journey from selfish, egotistical brat to responsible, self-sacrificing, if conflicted leader, which I hope they go all in on in upcoming installments. Thor, being my absolute favourite character from the franchise in general, has one really committed throughline, from losing everything that ever mattered to him in two back-to-back genocides to literally taking a beam of white-hot suffering through his body just to regain trust in his own heroic potential. Individual moments, like when Captain America, Black Widow, and Falcon have their first fight with Thanos’ Black Order goons in Scotland, are delightful to look at, visually. And some of the more unlikely on-screen team-ups, like Tony with Doctor Strange, or Thor with Rocket, actually make room for really interesting dialogue.

But ultimately, there’s one aspect of the film that I simply can’t get past. We need to talk about what happens to Gamora….

(8) CAPTAIN MARVEL. The promise of Carol Danvers – What Culture makes a case for “Why Thanos Should Fear Captain Marvel.”

She is one of Marvel’s all time most beloved and powerful characters, especially in more recent years.  Since then, she’s had a new look, gone in various new directions, and has been at the absolute forefront of everything the company has tried to do.  A transition into the MCU was inevitable.

…Even Kevin Feige has said Danvers is as powerful a character as we’ve ever put in a movie.  Her powers are off the charts, and when she’s introduced, she will be by far the strongest character we have ever had.”



  • Born May 19, 1944 – Peter Mayhew


  • Mike Kennedy learned from Pearls Before Swine how bookstores can compete against Amazon. Turns out it may be hard on the customers, though.

(11) DON’T STEAL THAT SMELL! Apparently they just got around to this, 62 years after the product went on the market: “Hasbro officially trademarks Play-Doh smell”.

Toy maker Hasbro announced it has trademarked one of the most recognizable aspects of one of its most iconic products: the smell of Play-Doh.

The Pawtucket, R.I., company announced Friday that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has officially recognized the distinctive Play-Doh smell as a registered trademark of the brand, which first hit stores in 1956.

(12) CURIOSITY. The Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination presents “Why: What Makes Us Curious, with Mario Livio” on June 11.

June 11, 2018
Roth Auditorium
Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine
UC San Diego

The ability to ask “why?” makes us uniquely human. Curiosity drives basic scientific research, is the engine behind creativity in all disciplines from technology to the arts, is a necessary ingredient in education, and a facilitating tool in every form of storytelling (literature, film, TV, or even a simple conversation) that delights rather than bores.

In a fascinating and entertaining lecture, astrophysicist and bestselling author Mario Livio surveys and interprets cutting-edge research in psychology and neuroscience that aims at exploring and understanding the origin and mechanisms of human curiosity.  As part of his research into the subject, Livio examined in detail the personalities of two individuals who arguably represent the most curious minds to have ever existed: Leonardo da Vinci and Richard Feynman. He also interviewed 9 exceptionally curious people living today, among them Fabiola Gianotti, the Director General of CERN (who is also an accomplished pianist), paleontologist Jack Horner, and the virtuoso lead guitarist of the rock band Queen, Brian May (who also holds a PhD in astrophysics), and Livio presents fascinating conclusions from these conversations.

(13) GRANDMASTER’S TRADING CARD. Walter Day presented SFWA Grandmaster Peter S. Beagle with his souvenir trading card during tonight’s Nebula ceremony.


(15) GAIMAN ADAPTATION. NPR’s Chris Klimek says it’s OK: “London Calling (Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft): ‘How To Talk To Girls At Parties'”. Last year at Cannes this was being called a disaster; no word on whether it’s been reworked.

Men Are From From Mars, Women Are From Venus, a best-selling early-’90s relationships guidebook argued. How to Talk to Girls at Parties, a sweet, slight comic fantasy expanded from an early-aughts Neil Gaiman short story, knows the truth is far more complex: Men and Women Are from Earth, Members of an Advanced Extraterrestrial Species on a Reconnaissance Mission Here While Temporarily Wearing the Bodies of Men and Women are from…. well, we never find out where they’re from, exactly. But every planet has its misfits.

(16) STILL READY PLAYER ONE. Did I already link to Glen Weldon’s review of this movie? Just in case: “Arcade Firewall: ‘Ready Player One’ REALLY Loves The ’80s”.

There will be grunts.

Grunts of recognition, that is. If you watch Steven Spielberg’s solidly built sci-fi phantasmagoria Ready Player One in a crowded theater, there will be grunts aplenty, so prepare yourself for them.

You can’t, you won’t — but try.

Every time any beloved or at least recognizable nugget of 1980s popular culture turns up onscreen, one or (likely) more of your fellow audience members will let out a low, pre-verbal phoneme, a glottal unh, to signify that they do, in fact, recognize said nugget and wish to inform those around them of this key development. This grunt, by the way, is a subspecies of the one heard at live theater, whenever a given patron wishes to express their comprehension of, and/or amusement at, some passage of dialogue they find particularly trenchant (that one’s more an amused hm!).

(17) VEGGIES IN ORBIT. GeekWire headline: “Small seeds could lead to a giant leap in space farming”.

The next Orbital ATK delivery to the space station will carry several strains of seeds for Arabidopsis, a flowering plant that’s closely related to cabbage and mustard. These will be grown in the Final Frontier Plant Habitat which was delivered on an earlier mission. The same genetic variants will be grown on Earth and used as baselines to compare harvested specimens sent back from the space station. You may recall that an earlier experiment in the overall mission to test growing of plants (including crops) in space involved lettuce, which was actually consumed by astronauts onboard the station.

When Orbital ATK’s Antares rocket launches a robotic Cygnus cargo spaceship toward the International Space Station, as early as Monday, it’ll be sending seeds that could show the way for future space farmers.

The Antares liftoff is currently set for 4:39 a.m. ET (1:39 a.m. PT) on Monday from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, with an 80 percent chance of acceptable weather. NASA’s live-streaming coverage of the countdown begins at 1 a.m. PT Monday.

More than 7,200 pounds of supplies, equipment and experiments will be packed aboard the Cygnus. One of the smallest payloads consists of seeds for the Final Frontier Plant Habitat — part of a $2.3 million, NASA-funded initiative that involves researchers from Washington State University, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, the University of New Mexico and Los Alamos National Laboratory.

The automated habitat was delivered during previous cargo resupply missions and set up for planting. Once the Cygnus’ cargo arrives, astronauts can proceed with the habitat’s first official science experiment, which is aimed at determining which genetic variants of plants grow best under weightless conditions.

(18) STAND BY TO SCORCH YOUR CREDIT CARD. Ars Technica delivers a “Peek at LEGO’s upcoming sets: Star Wars crafts, Hogwarts, Ninjago city, and more”, sharing pics of LEGO’s upcoming summer and holiday 2018 sets, including:

  • Jedi Starfighter ($19)
  • Collector Series Y-Wing Starfighter ($199)
  • Snoke’s Throne Room ($69)
  •  Star Wars X-Wing Starfighter ($79)
  • Sandcrawler ($139)
  • Kessel Run version of the Millenium Falcon ($169)
  • Hogwarts Express ($79)
  • Hogwarts Great Hall ($99)
  • Quidditch Match ($39)
  • Ninjago City Docks ($229)
  • Ninjago Destiny’s Wing ($19)

Non-genre sets pictured include:

  • Arctic Supply Plane ($79)
  • Cargo Train ($229)
  • LEGO City Passenger Train ($159)
  • Creator Expert: Roller Coaster set ($379)
  • Mobile Stunt Show ($49)

(19) CATS SITTING WITHIN SF. Cory Doctorow discovered “Bandai is manufacturing armored cats”. Here’s an example. More photos at the link.

(20) DEADPOOL’S HISTORY. ScienceFiction.com explains how “‘Deadpool 2’ Mocks Marvel’s 10-Year Anniversary Video” in “Deadpool 2 – The First 10 Years.”

The clip chronicles the history of the ‘Deadpool’ franchise from 2008 to 2018, also giving it a 10-year history like Marvel Studios’ MCU – it even has the same format, aesthetic, as well as the use of dramatic background music. Clocking in at just over a minute, the clip features only Deadpool, unlike the MCU’s version which had commentaries from several key players in the film series, as he narrates what happened in the last decade that led to the creation of the upcoming sequel. The clip is filled with the character’s signature brand of humor as he honestly speaks about Reynolds’ starring in ‘Green Lantern’ and ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine,’ which certainly didn’t help their cause, as well as Fox’s multiple rejections of the project


(21) DEADPOOL IS HISTORY. Mark Kermode’s review of Deadpool 2, “…not as bad as Kick Ass 2” ouch.

Main problem in his view is it has tried to be more than the first and lost what he liked about the first one.

[Thanks to IanP, Jayn, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Iphinome, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, Mark Hepworth, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Chip Hitchcock.]

113 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 5/19/18 For Once A Goof In A Pixel I’ve Provided Wasn’t Introduced By Me

  1. So, another thing that struck me about Kinnison’s dislike of Arrival because language and the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis falling apart with respect to causality makes it bad science fiction is analogous to a historical movie or biopic being a bad movie if they deviate at all from the facts in order to create dramatic tension. Sure, sometimes it does exactly that, but more often than not, biopics deviate from the facts for all sorts of reasons, including compressing events due to time constraints. Is it more important to just get the gist of the events, or is it irredeemable when they start to deviate?

  2. @Niall McAuley:

    Catholic theology is not keen on blanket statements like “the only path to God is through Christ” since you don’t get to put limits like that on God.

    Er, isn’t that straight out of John 14:6? “No man comes to the Father if not through me.” (I was going to quote the Greek, but evidently we don’t get full Unicode here.)

  3. @David Goldfarb,

    that was said by Jesus, right? I seem to recall that he was less of a stickler for the letter of a rule, and more interested in the spirit of the rules – including befriending ‘non-persons’ like lepers, tax collectors, etc, precisely the ‘wrong’ kind of people from the point of view of the (religious and other) establishment at the time. So it seems fairly reasonable to argue that Jesus might be more in favour of a non-believer whose actions are closer to those that Jesus might choose, than in someone who professes deep belief but whose choices might be further from Jesus’ own.

  4. Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

    What’s in your heart, and what you actually do, matter more than words and outward forms.

  5. @David: Catholic theology is also not big on reading Bible snippets literally without context. You can read that snippet as “People who come to the Father do so through me (whether they know it or not)”.

  6. @Ctein: “Yes, that’s one way it could physically work — your decision to kill/not-kill Hitler creates a fork where one timeline has the consequences of you doing that and the other has the consequences of you not-doing that.”

    Um, not what I said. I stipulated a fork caused by the mere arrival of the traveler, not by decisions made afterward. The futility isn’t a philosophical state, but a physical one; nothing the assassin does can affect his original timeline, because he didn’t arrive there. He arrived in the new branch, and any repercussions happen there.

    To create a simpler (because it’s more extreme) thought experiment, suppose you could do something that would kill off 2 billion innocent people on the planet, but give you everything you ever wanted in life — would you do it?

    Closer analogy: Suppose you could do something that would create a generation ship, magically populated with two billion new-minted souls*, on an unalterable collision course with a star a century or so distant… and doing so would give you whatever you wanted in life. Would it be ethical to do so?

    The idea that the inhabitants of the forked timeline only exist because you went back in time is what I was looking at for moral and ethical ramifications.

    * This is why I hinted that theology gets weird. Assuming for the sake of discussion the existence of a soul and an afterlife which varies based on one’s goodness or badness… what happens to the soul in a many-worlds model where every decision that can be made ultimately is made? Does each branch clone a new set of souls and afterlives when spawned, or does every “you” across the multiverse share one indivisible soul? I don’t claim to have any answers, but it’s a neat question for those occasions when one wants to get a headache in a hurry.

  7. 4) Even if you don’t count Moby-Dick (and I wouldn’t, given that the guy though it was the author’s name), the one other guy did say The Jungle Book, which is actually also the title of the Kipling book the various films are based on. So we got one.

  8. Dear Rev Bob.,

    Ah, thanks for the correction. I did slightly misunderstand your analysis. The physics and the philosophical and ethical implications play out much the same way.

    I wasn’t making an analogy, I was creating an extreme moral example to illustrate that regardless of the physical model one chooses one can still come up with ideas of morals and ethics.

    I have this very vague recollection that religious philosophers have considered questions akin to the ones you raise. But nothing and no one specific is coming to mind, I’m afraid. I wouldn’t even know where to start looking.

    pax / Ctein

  9. Rev Bob, Ctein,

    Contemporary philosophers of religion certainly do discus the implications of the many worlds hypothesis, including the questions concerning the soul you raise. I have not seen anything I would recommend that advances the discussion beyond your questions, but I read very little religious philosophy these days.

    On the issue of free will and aliens’ foreknowledge of future events, one can go to the classics. Saint Thomas Acquinas’ account of God’s foreknowledge is strikingly similar to the account of how the aliens in Arrival experience reality. The classic responses that reject Acquinas’ view (that God views all events throughout time as present simultaneously) are found in Duns Scotus and William of Ockham. Philosophers of religion have been gnawing the same bones for more than 600 years, asking if Acquinas’s view can be reconciled with free will. I found it all descended to technicalities very quickly when I studied it briefly 40 years ago, and had an immediate strong impulse to fight the hypothetical.

  10. Dear John,

    Thanks for the pointers.

    I think it is safe to say that most folks do not realize how big a tent philosophy is. Nor how long many of these ideas have been discussed.

    I am definitely not a deep scholar in these matters. Even calling myself a layperson is probably self-aggrandizement. You may notice that I am pointing out some interesting questions and saying there are diverse answers possible, without giving any specific thoughts of my own. ‘Cause I can come across as an ignorant fool quite well without trying. [grin]

    Vaguely related– a book by one of our own, Guy Consolmagno, entitled: “Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial?”

    The title comes from a question the Pope asked about four years back.

    pax / Ctein

  11. Me: In any case, all fiction is based on what is not true.

    Chip Hitchcock:

    I can see this as a general point, but where would you place (for instance) Mary Doria Russell’s Doc? IIRC, she states in the surrounding material that the only thing in the book that is not known to be true is the mixed-blood child — who could easily have slipped through the cracks. Do we know enough about the principal characters to be sure they didn’t do what the story says, or is it a lie simply to say someone did something when we’re not certain?

    I haven’t read that book so I can’t comment on it, but in general, the basis for something to be called fiction is that it has to have something that is, if not false, at least not known to be true and perhaps speculative in some way? So in that case the material it’s based on is true but it is fiction because something is at least speculative and arguably false. So I’ve taken “based on” in at least two different senses here and in that other comment.

  12. @Lee wrote:

    @ Ctein / Stoic Cynic: This is something atheists have to deal with all the time — people who think that without religion there can’t be morality or ethics.

    People like that make me want to start ranting about the cardinal virtues. It is absolutely possible to not believe in God and still be concerned with morality and ethics.

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