Pixel Scroll 5/9/18 They Had Many Books For Their Kindles And Nooks And Hardcovers Kept In A Pile

(1) AWARD REVOKED. While I haven’t located any related protests in social media that would explain the decision, evidently the Romance Writers of America received enough complaints after making their award to the Washington Romance Writers to change their minds: “Update on 2018 Chapter Excellence Award”.

On May 1, 2018, RWA’s board voted to rescind the 2018 Chapter Excellence Award granted to Washington Romance Writers. This decision was made after extensive review and deliberation, because the board found it impossible to hold Washington Romance Writers up as an example of excellence due to a number of complaints received after the board voted to grant the award.

Incidents reported to RWA were submitted by WRW members as well as meeting and retreat attendees who were made to feel unwelcome, disrespected, and embarrassed by members of Washington Romance Writers. Such incidents potentially violate RWA’s Code of Ethics for Members, RWA’s By-Laws, Chapter By-Laws, and are clearly in violation of the Chapter Code of Conduct recently adopted by RWA and required to be included in all chapters’ governing documents by March 2019.

RWA’s board is dedicated to ensuring that all members feel respected, and we will no longer tolerate insensitive or biased behavior. We hope and expect that WRW is willing to take steps to ensure its future success as an RWA chapter. Only by working together can we make RWA stronger.

(2) COCKY OR NOT TO COCKY, THAT IS THE QUESTION. You may have already read news stories about Faleena Hopkins’ effort to trademark the word “cocky” for a series of romance books (her works include Cocky Romantic and Cocky Cowboy) and reports that she warned off some other writers who use the adjective in the titles of their books (see “Romantic novelist’s trademarking of word ‘cocky’ sparks outcry” in The Guardian.)

(3) THE CASE OF THE MISSING COCKY. Now there have been claims that Amazon, a primary sales channel, has been culling other authors’ titles based upon her claim.

What’s more, there have been claims that Amazon has removed some customer reviews using the word “cocky,” and delayed the posting of others (which their makers tried to post either in protest or to test Amazon’s policy.)

You can see this one’s gone:

Original URL: https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R3A3NXV2FH4Q4A

Google cache copy of page with review: https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:zxJaTw9kaAcJ:https://www.amazon.com/Falling-Hard-New-Adult-Anthology/dp/098614150X

However, there are both titles and reviews still on Amazon with “cocky” in them which are not by the author claiming the trademark. There’s no way to tell whether any of those were zapped, then restored, by Amazon.

JJ ran a search of customer reviews containing the word “cocky” and got only 3 hits, which seemed rather low:


I don’t know. It does seem like a very small search return; they’re almost all “trending” results rather than individual review results, which would indicate that they are quite recent reviews.

Heidi Cullinan did a thread on the topic:

If Amazon is deleting things — what’s with their legal staff? Do they really think they have exposure from this?

The Romance Writers of America have gotten involved:

(4) GILLIAM STROKE. And it was just the other day we were reporting his luck had finally changed for the better: “Terry Gilliam Suffers Minor Stroke Days Before Verdict on Cannes Closer ‘Don Quixote'”.

Terry Gilliam suffered a minor stroke over the weekend, days before a final verdict on whether his long-gestating passion project The Man Who Killed Don Quixote will be screened as the closing film at the 71st Cannes Film Festival.

The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed that Gilliam, 77, had a minor stroke but is fine now and recuperating at his home in England, awaiting the outcome of a court ruling regarding the screening of Don Quixote on the last night of the festival May 19. French newspaper Nice-Matin first reported the news.

(5) FIRST LOOK. The Daily Beast tells about “The Secret Photographs of Stanley Kubrick”.

According to Michael Benson’s authoritative Space Odyssey, Kubrick shot setups with the Polaroid then, based on the results, he and cameraman John Alcott adjusted lighting and the placement of his Super Panavision 70mm cameras.

“I think he saw things differently that way than he did looking through a camera,” Alcott told Benson. “When Kubrick looked at this Polaroid still, he would see a two-dimensional image — it was all one surface and closer to what he was going to see on the screen.”

It’s estimated Kubrick shot some 10,000 insta-images on 2001, and if you only know Kubrick as a reclusive eccentric that reliance on the Polaroid might seem a characteristic quirk.

But in fact it was an extension of the creative sensibility he developed as a teenager working for Look. From 1945 to 1950, Kubrick was a photographer for the picture magazine, evocatively and empathically documenting ordinary New Yorkers, celebrities, athletes, and post-war playgrounds like the amusement park.

He shot more than 135 assignments for Look while honing the skills, relationships, and chutzpah that led him to filmmaking.

Yet this vital strand of Kubrick’s artistic DNA has been criminally underexplored. The Museum of the City of New York’s new exhibition Through a Different Lens: Stanley Kubrick Photographs, on view through October 28, aims to change that….

(6) HIRED HELP. BuzzFeed takes you “Inside Amazon’s Fake Review Economy”. Given the ongoing debate on deleted reviews on Amazon, it may be interesting that a ReviewMeta algorithmic analysis (per CEO Tommy Noonan) of 58.5 million reviews on Amazon found 9.1% of them (5.3 million) to be “unnatural” and possibly fake. Unsurprisingly, Amazon disagrees claiming that <1% are “inauthentic.” Note that this article is concerned with paid reviews (both positive and negative), not tit-for-tat reviews as have been discussed in File 770.

The systems that create fraudulent reviews are a complicated web of subreddits, invite-only Slack channels, private Discord servers, and closed Facebook groups, but the incentives are simple: Being a five-star product is crucial to selling inventory at scale in Amazon’s intensely competitive marketplace — so crucial that merchants are willing to pay thousands of people to review their products positively.

…In October 2016, Amazon banned free items or steep discounts in exchange for reviews facilitated by third parties. But Tommy Noonan, CEO of ReviewMeta, a site that analyzes Amazon listings, said what he calls “unnatural reviews” — that is, reviews, that his algorithm indicates might be fake — have returned to the platform. In June 2017, Noonan noticed an uptick in unnatural reviews along with an increase in the average rating of products, and the rate of growth hasn’t slowed since.

Amazon’s ban didn’t stop sellers from recruiting reviewers. It only drove the practice underground. Reviewers are no longer simply incentivized with free stuff — they’re commissioned specifically for a five-star rating in exchange for cash. The bad reviews are harder to spot, too: They don’t contain any disclosures (because incentivized reviews are banned, and a disclosure would indicate that the review violates Amazon’s terms). Paid reviewers also typically pay for products with their own credit cards on their own Amazon accounts, with which they have spent at least $50, all to meet the criteria for a “verified purchase,” so their reviews are marked as such.

(7) CYBER TAKEDOWN. Equifax has been in no hurry for the complete damages to be made public. The Register has the latest totals: “Equifax reveals full horror of that monstrous cyber-heist of its servers”.

Late last week, the company gave the numbers in letters to the various US congressional committees investigating the network infiltration, and on Monday, it submitted a letter to the SEC, corporate America’s financial watchdog.

As well as the – take a breath – 146.6 million names, 146.6 million dates of birth, 145.5 million social security numbers, 99 million address information and 209,000 payment cards (number and expiry date) exposed, the company said there were also 38,000 American drivers’ licenses and 3,200 passport details lifted, too.

(8) LOOKING FOR CIVILIZATION THAT PREDATES HUMANITY. Gavin Schmidt, a climate scientist at NASA, published a recent paper about what could be left in the geological record that could identify a pre-human technologically advanced civilization.

The drier scientific discussion is here: “The Silurian hypothesis: would it be possible to detect an industrial civilization in the geological record?”


If an industrial civilization had existed on Earth many millions of years prior to our own era, what traces would it have left and would they be detectable today? We summarize the likely geological fingerprint of the Anthropocene, and demonstrate that while clear, it will not differ greatly in many respects from other known events in the geological record. We then propose tests that could plausibly distinguish an industrial cause from an otherwise naturally occurring climate event.

Impressively, he has also written a short story about the impact of making such a discovery: “Under the Sun” at Motherboard.

(9) CRAIG OBIT. Noble Craig, U.S. actor, died April 26, 2018. Severely injured during wartime service in Vietnam, he used his disabilities to forge an acting career, taking roles those with four limbs were unable to fill, beginning with Sssssss (1973). Also appeared in Poltergeist II: The Other Side and Big Trouble in Little China (both 1986), The Blob (1988), A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child and Bride of Re-Animator (both 1989).

(10) STAR TOY. Have you fiddled with this yet? — ESASky is an application that allows you to visualize and download public astronomical data from space-based missions. Mlex sent this sample:

(11) 1984. Fanac.org has posted another Hugo ceremony video: “L.A.con II (1984) Worldcon – Hugos and Special Tributes – Robert Bloch, MC.”

Hey, there’s R. A. MacAvoy at 13:00. And guess who at 22:16 and 23:45.

L.A.con II, the 42nd World Science Fiction Convention, was held in Anaheim, CA in 1984. Toastmaster Robert Bloch’s introductory remarks are tantamount to standup comedy, and the video also includes several special and moving tributes along with the Hugos. The first tribute is presented by Robert Silverberg and Harlan Ellison to fan and editor Larry Shaw (who died within the next year) and the second to Robert Bloch himself. There’s also some fun with Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle on stage having to do with a rocket shaped object. Thanks to the Southern California Institute for Fan Interests (SCIFI) for this recording.


(12) PLANETARY AWARDS. The 2017 winners of the Puppy-influenced Planetary Awards have been announced.

  • Best Shorter Story: “The First American” by Schuyler Hernstrom (Cirsova).
  • Best Novel: Legionnaire (Galaxy’s Edge) by Jason Anspach and Nick Cole.

(13) FREE CELL. A better model? “Artificial Intelligence Takes Scientists Inside Living Human Cells”

A new application of artificial intelligence could help researchers solve medical mysteries ranging from cancer to Alzheimer’s.

It’s a 3D model of a living human cell that lets scientists study the interior structures of a cell even when they can only see the exterior and the nucleus — the largest structure in a cell. The model was unveiled to the public Wednesday by the Allen Institute for Cell Science in Seattle.

The technology is freely available, and Roger Brent, an investigator at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle who was not involved in the tool’s development, has been using it for several months. He’s a big fan.

“This lets you see things with a simple microscope that are going to be helpful to researchers all over the world — including in less affluent places,” Brent says.

(14) VACUUM POWER. BBC video: “The amazing power of the world’s largest vacuum” — is used for testing spaceworthiness; also tests noise resistance, and was used in first Avengers movie.

(15) DOUBLE STAR. Michael B. Jordan was on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to talk about his recent and his upcoming star turns in sff epics.

‘Fahrenheit 451’ star Michael B. Jordan approaches every role by journaling the character’s backstory, including his portrayal of Erik Killmonger in the blockbuster film ‘Black Panther.’


[Thanks to JJ, Steve Green, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Rob Day, Cat Eldridge, Carl Slaughter, Andrew Porter, and David K.M. Klaus for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributingh editor of the day Joe H.]

76 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 5/9/18 They Had Many Books For Their Kindles And Nooks And Hardcovers Kept In A Pile

  1. Another one I tweeted today. Micro SFF:

    “Everybody, I have an announcement. My name… is Victor Frankenstein! And my creation’s name…” (Here the creature shyly displayed his left hand.) “…is Mrs. Victor Frankenstein!”

    “They filed their nails, a scroll, Chapter 11, and out.”

  2. (1) It seems they need to rethink their award procedures for this. That much unhappiness with the chapter ought to have been knowable.

  3. Speaking of books, I was and am a big fan of Tower Comics—especially of T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents. Well! Comic Book Plus has PDF downloads of 79 issues of Tower titles, which are Public Domain due to some failure to copyright. They are free. 20 T.H.U.N.D.E.R., 4 Dynamo, 2 NoMan, 6 Undersea Agent, 3 Fight The Enemy (which includes the only comic story I know of by Boris Vallejo), and all the rest are neo-Archie teen rom-com material (26 Tippy Teens…) which I will look into later.

    Here they are.

  4. 6) The perils of allowing one company to become the end all and be all 800 pound gorilla of bookselling. “But they’re letting us bypass the gatekeepers I hear you cry!”

  5. (6) You mean those books that have several pages of 5-star reviews and no middling opinions on release day probably aren’t worth reading? You don’t say.

    Although I do appreciate the platform being extended to the small and weird. Small weird power.

  6. 8) I would think looking at minerals would be the way to go. Any industrial civilization would have to have mined large amounts of say iron and moved it, so is it now present where it would be naturally expected or is it too concentrated in a few spots and maybe too pure suggesting it had been refined before.

  7. 6) I assume this affects all reviews based sites, Expedia, Yelp etc. And professional reviewers also get pressure to write only positive reviews as discussed here before. I remain convinced it’s primarily about the authors vanity and wanting praise and also secondary about trying to get more sales.

  8. Wait, Beale was a guest on Alex Jones’ show yesterday, and is attempting to start a feud with new conservadarling Jordan Peterson? Guess he’s moving on in the world.

  9. For the Space Opera fans, don’t forget the second Eurovision semi-final round is tonight. I’ve also found an article I wrote during the 2004 contest trying to explain things to non-Europeans.

    Mr Wogan is no longer with us, but Graham Norton does an adequate job as a replacement commentator. I did remember to repost the article to Kuro5hin the following year, and the winnings following Ruslana’s victory covered the cost of the port nicely.

    2004… Blimey…

  10. 10) Uh oh, a time suck in store for me…

    8) Although the time frames are much smaller, I am also thinking of “The World Without Us” which discusses how long the remnants of our technological civilization might last if we suddenly disappeared overnight. The answers Weisman give are: “not as long as you think”

    I can think of some SFnal stories and novels that touch on the idea one way or another. One of Niven’s Draco Tavern stories, as I recall, touches on the idea.

  11. 4) According to one of the film’s producers quoted in this report, Terry Gilliam was “taken ill”, but did not have a stroke.

    Completely unrelated, but has the Doctor Who Magazine/Time Time brouhaha been mentioned here yet? In brief, some older readers aren’t too happy about a long-running feature being passed on to a “Young People Review Old SFF”-eque group. Coverage has now reached the UK tabloid press (specifically, The Mirror) – albeit in typically sensationalized form.

  12. 8) Paul: I think you mean Niven’s “The Green Marauder” (other SF examples include the Uplift universe by Brin and Brown’s “Letter to a Phoenix” ).

  13. (8) Isn’t the obvious answer just to ask the nearest member of the Great Race of Yith?

    (Why yes, I have just been re-reading Winter Tide and cannot wait for Deep Roots)

  14. Paul Weimer, for some reason this reminds me of all those scenes in movies and TV shows where our heroes walk into a ghost town that’s been empty since the Gold Rush, and everything still works. There are bottles of liquor in the bar, and the piano is in tune and there are lights. I was expecting something at least vaguely comparable when I first went to a real ghost town (Manhattan, Colorado), and instead found a patch of wilderness where a couple of squared-off logs were still in proximity to one another. In general, the main remaining tell was that there would be multiple varieties of berries growing around the rectangular area that had been, say, a miner’s cabin. These were great places to pick some snacks, and we gave thanks to those who planted them.


    Their scrolls were small and they filed.

  15. So we’re unlikely to actually find any surviving corridors leading to monstrous libraries in the Great Sandy Desert of Australia? Or stone cities embedded in Antarctic glaciers? I am disappoint.

  16. Pingback: 1984 Hugo Awards Ceremony Video Posted | The Hugo Awards

  17. (11) Thanks for pointing this out. I’ve posted about it (with credit to File 770) to TheHugoAwards.org and added a link to the video to the 1984 Hugo Award page.

  18. Years ago I went to a ghost town in southern Arizona. You could see occasional bits of foundation wall, but the most likely thing to survive was the hearthstone and perhaps a bit of chimney.

  19. Well it’s all climate and materials isn’t it? Stone endures, to a degree, everything else maybe not so much without human upkeep. From visiting a number of ghost towns and ruins: at 70 to 80 years you still have buildings though in increasing states of collapse; 150 years on – brick and stone walls, foundations, and chimneys (though usually collapsing); 1000 years – foundations and not much else ( and those would mostly be buried without the archaeologists).

    A digression but people are amazing though. We visited one ghost town recently. Maybe four blocks in its heyday. And yet the records say it was segregated all the same with a Hispanic side of town and an Anglo side…

  20. Climate definitely matters. I’m on the east coast, and unprotected wood rots much faster here than in southwestern ghost towns. At the edge of our property, there’s the remains of an old cabin that was abandoned maybe thirty years ago. Pretty much all that’s left is the stone chimney, a few pieces of metal roof buried in leaf litter, and the daffodils that the previous owner planted.

    I blogged about it here: https://sweetgumandpines.wordpress.com/2017/06/13/flowers-from-a-lost-garden/

    It’s pretty common around here to see the line of old roads and ditches in the woods, long after any other sign of habitation is gone. Isn’t that how aerial photography is used to find archeological sites–by looking for topography, or even subtle changes in vegetation, that doesn’t look natural?

  21. Meredith Moment: New Voices of Fantasy (recent anthology edited by Peter S. Beagle) is currently $1.99.

  22. @Bruce Arthurs

    That’s horrible news. As utterly inadequate as it is: best thoughts and hopes for Hilde and you.

  23. @Nickp

    My figures above would definitely all be arid desert climate.

    I’ve read about the aerial surveys. It’s amazing how long impacts can be seen from the air. I remember reading an article a few years back where an aerial survey in the seventies found what looked like a mass aircraft crash in Europe. Turns out the burned gliders from operation market-garden in ww2 were still imprinted in the grass growth pattern in the fields. Can’t find an article or photos online though.

    Unrelated: My personal 10,000 moment for the day –

    Blue Blood Harvest

  24. @Bruce Arthurs
    Oh f*ck. That’s really tough to deal with.
    (I knew a guy, in west Texas, who was permanently in a halo because his skull was barely attached to his spine. He’d been wearing it for years then.)

  25. Visit Bodie if you want to see a ghost town that still has buildings. It’s kept in a state of arrested decay. It’s between Tahoe and Reno.

    Much smaller is the historic mining town that is part of Malakoff Diggens, California’s largest hydraulic mine, but that was one of the highlights of our California gold rush vacation a few years ago. The mine area is fascinating.

    Bruce, sorry that Hilde isn’t doing better.

  26. @Bruce Arthur, I’m so sorry. I hope the doctors can come up with some kind of support for Hilde. Thank god for audiobooks.

  27. I visited one of Syrias dead cities once. Old houses still standing after more than 1000 years, only the roofs missing. Stone is truly a fantastic building material.

  28. Recent reading of possible interest: Gregory Maguire, Hiddensee: A Tale of the Once and Future Nutcracker. I bounced hard off Wicked (possibly due to hype) and Lost (his version of the man who might have inspired Scrooge), but thought this might have an interesting story and found it did. This follows a boy dubbed Drosselmeier through all of his life (with some bits concentrated and others that could be summed up as “years passed”) leading through a version of the E.T.A. Hoffman story, with unnamed cameos from other figures of märchen and plausible appearances by historical figures. Whether there’s anything supernatural in it is arguable, but the supernatural has an interesting backstory that threads through Drosselmeier’s life. It’s still aimless — most things happen by fortune or misfortune, with attempts at planning not working out — and dark in patches, but not as bleak as the others I’ve read, and scattered with interesting cross-cultural bits.

  29. wrt discoveries from the air: the tech has recently improved substantially due to lidar, which (per National Geographic et al) can partially pierce tree canopies that are overgrown enough to make the ground invisible, thus showing some of the surface irregularities (as discussed above) that would be visible in a less-fecund climate. Also note that in New England some structures last because they’re built more substantially than the average cabin; in 1979 I helped dismantle (for transportation and restoration) an all-wood building (except for the back wall of the walk-out basement) dating from 1811 and long-abandoned. The team head said that wood-eating ants(? — not termites) would probably have brought the timbers down in another decade or so, but there was little weathering even though a lot of the structure was exposed — 8″ timbers don’t rot as easily as planks. (That’s 8″ and up; supports in the center bay, where wagonloads of apples would have been brought in for milling, were 18-30″ square.)

  30. 8) In the books of Charles Fort, he collected data that people ignored when it happened, as in cases where manufactured screws were found in a seam of coal. Mostly likely if evidence is found of a civilization that is more ancient than modern man, it will be presumed to be a hoax, or the work of crackpots misapplying the evidence.

  31. (3) If Amazon is deleting things — what’s with their legal staff? Do they really think they have exposure from this?

    I know exactly who in Amazon Legal would have been out ahead of this, and that person is no longer with the company (and not of their own free will, either).

    Realistically, this is unlikely to cause long-term harm to Amazon. Because how many times has this sort of thing happened, now? Going all the way back to the 1984 debacle from about a decade ago.

  32. Yeah, but will dressed-stone blocks or other large-scale modifications of natural terrain (road networks, etc.) even be visible/recognizable if we’re talking not about thousands or tens of thousands of years, but millions or tens of millions of years?

  33. @Bruce Arthurs – I’m sorry. I’m glad Hilde has someone to help her. I hope you are doing okay.

  34. (2 & 3) I’ve been following “cockygate” since shortly after it broke. I wish it had involved another word because news coverage of romancelandia controversies is bad enough without somebody throwing the word “cocky” in there. :-/

    This whole mess reminded me of some of the Usenet wars I used to join(ish) on the SF groups. Only now with added videos. It followed all the same steps — dumb mistake, denials, claims that she was the victim, obtuse responses — all surrounded by people ending up in off-topic discussions or trying to make helpful suggestions.

    At the rate it was going, I kept expecting her to insult Patricia Wrede. Nudge nudge wink wink.

    Hey! 2 plus 3 make a 5th!

  35. @ Jayn
    Yay! My copy of The Female Man is decades old.

    @ Bruce Arthurs
    How awful for you both. I’m sorry to hear this.

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