Pixel Scroll 9/12/19 The Last Voyage Of The Space Unicorn, By A.E. Van Beagle

(1) DEFINITELY A FIRST. Somtow Sucharitkul’s full day included release of the Czech translation of his short story collection — Den v Mallworldu

What a day!

Siam Sinfonietta was honored by being made Orchestra in Residence of the International Music Festival in Olomouc

I received a medal for my work in cross-cultural outreach from Festa Musicale

My book was launched, the first book by a Thai author ever to appear in Czech

…Amazingly, while taking my orchestra on tour in Central Europe, well known fan and translator Jaroslav Olša organized the publication of all my stories that have previously appeared in Czech as a collection and I am having a book launch today – followed by conducting the orchestra in Martinu Hall! This has got to be a SF first, I would think!

(2) ALPHABET SLOOP. Camestros Felapton saw a need and filled it: “The less loved Star Wars wing fighters”.

I was impressed by this comprehensive list of ‘alphabet’ fighters from Star Wars https://www.gizmodo.com.au/2019/09/star-wars-wings-ranked/

I hadn’t realised there were so many but I can’t help thinking that there is a lot more of the alphabet Star Wars could have covered. So I have decided to fill in some of the gaps.

(3) DINOS FROM DUBLIN. Collider features a long interview with the director — “Exclusive: Colin Trevorrow on How He Secretly Made the ‘Jurassic World’ Short Film ‘Battle at Big Rock’”.

A lot of people are going to wonder how did you make a Jurassic World short film without anyone getting wind of it?

TREVORROW: We shot it in Ireland last winter. They have a grove of redwood trees outside Dublin that look exactly like the national parks in Northern California. I honestly never thought we’d make it this far without getting found out. The Irish can keep a secret….

Netflix has a Jurassic World animated series arriving next year. Do you guys have an idea of how long you want the animated series to go for? Do you have a plan if the show is a huge hit?

TREVORROW: Camp Cretaceous. The animation is gorgeous, it’s really exciting and emotional. I think kids are going to love these characters. The writers are so deeply invested in making something we can all be proud of. If it’s a hit and people want more, we’re ready. Just say the word

(4) FUNDRAISER. Kristine Kathryn Rusch sends fans “A Charitable Reminder” about an event she’s doing tomorrow —

I will be doing a live reading and Q&A for the Read for Pixels YouTube Session at 6.00pm PST on September 13th, 2019 (Friday).

The Pixel Project is a worldwide coalition of grassroots activists and volunteers who strongly believe that men and women must take a stand together for the right of women and girls to live a life free of gender-based violence. Our team, our allies, and our supporters use the power of the internet to mount a global effort to raise awareness about and hopefully mobilize communities around the world to get involved with ending violence against girls and women.

I’m participating in their fall fundraiser which began on September 1. Several other authors are participating as well. We’re donating our time and some goodies to encourage you to give a little bit of your hard-earned cash for the cause. So please join me on Friday!

(5) MAKING PARANORMAL MORE CONVINCING. Erin Lindsey, in “Tying In History, Mystery, and The Supernatural” on CrimeReads tells historical paranormal romance novelists that they’ll write better books if their history is accurate.

…Hang on a minute, you say. I was with you up to the magic paintings, but aren’t we writing historical fiction here? Isn’t that supposed to be, you know… accurate?

For the most part, yes. That’s why it’s so important to get the details right. To make sure everything else is meticulously researched and faithfully rendered, so that when that moment of departure comes, it makes a big impression. It helps if you can even ground your supernatural elements in real life – for example, by referring to unexplained incidents that actually exist in the historical record. For Murder on Millionaires’ Row, I researched ghost stories in the New York Times, selecting a few that took place at roughly the same time and even turning one of the real-life investigating officers into a major secondary character. Readers can go back to 19th century newspaper clippings and connect the dots between murders, ghosts, and a few other surprises—all against the backdrop of an otherwise historically accurate Gilded Age New York.


  • September 12, 1958 The Blob premiered.
  • September 12, 1993 — CBS first aired Rockne S. O’Bannon’s Seaquest DSV on this date in 1993. Seaquest DSV would last just three years.
  • September 12, 1993 — Genre fans were treated to latest version of the Man Of Steel when Lois & Clark: The New Adventures Of Superman debuted this day.


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 12, 1897 Walter B. Gibson. Writer and professional magician who’s best known for his work creating and being the first and main writer of the pulp character The Shadow. Using the pen-name Maxwell Grant, he wrote 285 of the 325 Shadow stories published by Street & Smith in The Shadow magazine of the Thirties and Forties. He also wrote a Batman prose story which appeared in Detective Comics #500 and was drawn by Thomas Yeates. (Died 1985.)
  • Born September 12, 1914 Desmond Llewelyn. He’s best known for playing Q in 17 of the Bond films over thirty-six years. Truly amazing. Live and Let Die is the only one in the period that Q was not in. He worked with five Bonds, to wit Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan. Other genre appearances include The Adventures of Robin Hood, the Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr HydeThe Curse of the Werewolf and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. (Died 1999.)
  • Born September 12, 1916 Mary, Lady Stewart (born Mary Florence Elinor Rainbow). Yes, you know her better as just Mary Stewart. Genre wise, she’s probably best known for her Merlin series which walks along the boundary between the historical novel and fantasy. Explicitly fantasy is her children’s novel A Walk in Wolf Wood: A Tale of Fantasy and Magic. (Died 2014.)
  • Born September 12, 1921 Stanislaw Lem. He’s best known for Solaris, which has been made into a film three times. Both iBooks and Kindle have generous collections of his translated works at quite reasonable prices. (Died 2006.)
  • Born September 12, 1922 John Chambers. He’s best known for designing Spock’s  pointed ears, and for the prosthetic make-up work on the Planet of the Apes franchise. Some of those character creations, including Cornelius and Dr. Zaius from the Planet of the Apes series, are on display at the Science Fiction Museum. He worked on the Munsters, Outer Limits, Lost in Space, Mission Impossible, Night Gallery and I Spy along with uncredited (at the time) prosthetic makeup work on Blade Runner. (Died 2001.)
  • Born September 12, 1940 Brian De Palma, 79. Though not a lot of genre in his resume, he has done some significant work including Carrie. Other films he’s done of interest to us are The Fury which most likely you’ve never heard of, and the first Mission: Impossible film along with Mission to Mars. Not genre, but I find it fascinating that he directed Bruce Springsteen’s Dancing in the Dark video which has a genre connection as actress Courtney Cox would be in the Misfits of Science series and the Scream horror franchise as well. 
  • Born September 12, 1940 John Clute, 79. Critic, one of the founders of Interzone (which I avidly read) and co-editor of the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (with Peter Nicholls) and of the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (with John Grant) as well as writing the Illustrated Encyclopedia Of Science Fiction. All of these publications won Hugo Awards for Best Non-Fiction. And I’d be remiss not to single out for praise The Darkening Garden: A Short Lexicon of Horror which is simply a superb work.
  • Born September 12, 1942 Charles L. Grant. A writer who said he was best at what he called “dark fantasy” and “quiet horror”. Nightmare Seasons, a collection of novellas, won a World Fantasy Award, while the “A Crowd of Shadows” short garnered a Nebula as did “A Glow of Candles, a Unicorn’s Eye” novella. “Temperature Days on Hawthorne Street” story would become the Tales from the Darkside episode “The Milkman Cometh”. Both iBooks and Kindle have decent but not outstanding selections of his works including a few works of Oxrun Station, his core horror series. (Died 2006.)
  • Born September 12, 1962 Mary Kay Adams, 57. She was Na’Toth, a Narn who was the aide to G’Kar in the second season of Babylon 5, and she would show up as the Klingon Grilka in the episodes “The House of Quark” and “Looking for par’Mach in All the Wrong Places”. 

(8) DOCTOR WHO COLLECTIBLES. If you’re at the New York Comic Con (October 3-6) you might have a shot at these —

DOCTOR WHO 3″ Thirteenth Doctor “Kerblam!” Kawaii TITAN

Titan Entertainment are proud to present the latest in their series of limited edition Thirteenth Doctor Kawaii TITANS vinyls! For NYCC 2019, we’re showcasing the Thirteenth Doctor as she appears in the seventh episode of season eleven “Kerblam!” Available in very limited numbers at Titan Entertainment Booth #2142!

DOCTOR WHO 3″ Thirteenth Doctor “Rosa” Classic TITAN

Titan Entertainment are thrilled to announce the latest in their series of limited edition Thirteenth Doctor classic TITANS vinyls! For NYCC 2019, we’re debuting the Thirteenth Doctor as she appears in the third episode of season eleven “Rosa”. Available in very limited numbers at Titan Entertainment Booth #2142!

(9) FILM NOTES. The New York Times’ Joshua Barone is there when two movie scores, overshadowed for one reason or another when they first screened, get their due in a performance at David Geffen Hall: “‘Psycho’ and ‘Close Encounters’ Roll at the Philharmonic”.

‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’

That Mr. Williams wrote his score for “Star Wars” in the same year as “Close Encounters” speaks to his versatility. One is a grand space opera, with catchy Wagnerian leitmotifs and blaring immensity; the other is atonal and elusive, full of amorphous sound that rarely coalesces into melody. (Mr. Williams, ever adaptable, later wrote playfully enchanting music for “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” which the Philharmonic will perform in December.)

If you listen closely, there are signs that “Star Wars” and “Close Encounters” share a composer: an affinity for Ligeti comes through in both, as does a mastery of cosmic Romanticism. But their differences are clear from the first measure. Where “Star Wars” begins with fanfare and a brassy overture, Mr. Spielberg’s movie doesn’t open with any sort of memorable theme….


Steven C. Smith, in his biography “A Heart at Fire’s Center: The Life and Music of Bernard Herrmann,” repeats a quip from the composer that Hitchcock completed only 60 percent of any film.

“I have to finish it for him,” Herrmann said.

That’s not too outrageous; in the films they collaborated on between 1955 and 1964, from “The Trouble With Harry” to “Marnie,” Herrmann’s soundtracks were vital in setting tone and offering insight into psychology.

(10) CATS SLEEP ON SFF. Twitter edition –

(11) TURN BACK THE CLOCK. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] The SF concept of Anagathics or Antiagathics may about to come of age as an article in Nature reveals…. “First hint that body’s ‘biological age’ can be reversed”.

In a small trial, drugs seemed to rejuvenate the body’s ‘epigenetic clock’, which tracks a person’s biological age.

A small clinical study in California has suggested for the first time that it might be possible to reverse the body’s epigenetic clock, which measures a person’s biological age.

For one year, nine healthy volunteers took a cocktail of three common drugs — growth hormone and two diabetes medications — and on average shed 2.5 years of their biological ages, measured by analysing marks on a person’s genomes. The participants’ immune systems also showed signs of rejuvenation.

The results were a surprise even to the trial organizers — but researchers caution that the findings are preliminary because the trial was small and did not include a control arm.

(12) DYNASTIC DUO. SciFiNow shared Eoin Colfer reading from a forthcoming novel — “Exclusive video: Artemis Fowl author Eoin Colfer reads his new book The Fowl Twins”.

The new fantasy series sees Artemis’s twin brothers at the helm of a dangerously fast-paced adventure. With their brother, criminal virtuoso Artemis Fowl, away on a five-year mission to Mars, the younger Fowl children, 11- year-old twins Myles and Beckett, have been left alone at the Fowl family home.

One day, the twins manage to accidentally get caught up in an interspecies dispute when a troll burrows out of the Earth’s core right in front of Beckett’s eyes! In the events that follow the boys are shot at, kidnapped, buried, arrested, threatened and even temporarily killed but, despite their differences, the twins find that there is no force stronger than the bond between them. 

(13) THE TESTAMENTS ON RADIO. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] B Beeb Ceeb Radio 4 are doing a Book at Bed Time, Atwood’s The Testaments. They must have been quietly working on this as I only heard of it yesterday (usually I am pretty genned up on Radio 4 as it is piped to my study).

If you want an abridged audio book then this could be it for you. Episodes begin Monday 16th Sept (so not downloadble yet) starting here.

Margaret Atwood’s powerful and hugely anticipated sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale picks up 15 years after Offred stepped into the unknown. Now shortlisted for the Booker Prize.

(14) ROWLING HONORS MOTHER. It involves a charitable contribution: “JK Rowling donates £15.3m to Edinburgh MS research centre”.

JK Rowling has donated £15.3m to support research into neurological conditions at a centre named after her mother.

The Anne Rowling Regenerative Neurology Clinic at the University of Edinburgh was established with a £10m donation from the Harry Potter author in 2010.

Her latest gift will help create new facilities and support research.

Anne Rowling died aged 45 from complications related to multiple sclerosis (MS).

The centre is an integrated care and research facility focusing on MS and neurological conditions with the aim of bringing more clinical studies and trials to patients.

Neurological conditions studied at the clinic include motor neurone disease (MND), Parkinson’s and dementias.

(15) LEGENDARY ELEMENT. BBC asks, “‘Red mercury’: why does this strange myth persist?”.

For centuries rumours have persisted about a powerful and mysterious substance. And these days, adverts and videos offering it for sale can be found online. Why has the story of “red mercury” endured?

Some people believe it’s a magical healing elixir found buried in the mouths of ancient Egyptian mummies.

Or could it be a powerful nuclear material that might bring about the apocalypse?

Videos on YouTube extol its vampire-like properties. Others claim it can be found in vintage sewing machines or in the nests of bats.

There’s one small problem with these tales – the substance doesn’t actually exist. Red mercury is a red herring.

The hunt for red mercury

Despite this, you can find it being hawked on social media and on numerous websites. Tiny amounts are sometimes priced at thousands of dollars.

Many of the adverts feature a blurry photo of a globule of red liquid on a dinner plate. Next to it there will often be a phone number scribbled on a piece of paper, for anybody foolish enough to want to contact the seller.

(16) EXIT INTERVIEW. [Item by Jo Van.] In New Zealand, the law requires that people going for an employment-related meeting or medical consultation be permitted to bring a support person, who may be there to provide emotional support, other kinds of support for a mentally- or physically-disabled or ill person, or translation services in the case of someone whose English comprehension may not be strong. “Auckland adman hires professional clown for redundancy meeting” in the New Zealand Herald. (“redundancy” = “down-sized” or “laid off”.)

…The Herald understands that the clown blew up balloons and folded them into a series of animals throughout the meeting.

It’s further understood that the clown mimed crying when the redundancy paperwork was handed over to the staffer.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Mike Kennedy, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Iphinome, Jo Van, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

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37 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 9/12/19 The Last Voyage Of The Space Unicorn, By A.E. Van Beagle

  1. Jo Van: That’s a great story about the clown showing up for a redundancy meeting. Thanks for letting us know!

  2. Martin Wooster, it’s brilliant, isn’t it? What better way to demonstrate your advertising skills than to get major newspaper coverage for your job termination? It’s hardly surprising that another ad agency has already snapped the guy up for a new job.

  3. 7) My favourite Stanislaw Lem is The Cyberiad. When he has an inventor ask a newly built robot poet to write a “love poem, lyrical, pastoral, and expressed in the language of pure mathematics. Tensor algebra mainly, with a little topology and higher calculus, if need be. But with feeling, you understand, and in the cybernetic spirit”.

    And it does.

    My favourite De Palma is most likely Phantom of The Paradise. Technically not genre, I guess, but it might as well be for my love of it.

    10) Kitteh!!!

  4. @16: but what about the other party in the meeting? Are they entitled to a warning about the support entity, so they can at least be prepared to face whatever phobia they may have?
    OTOH, I was in a layoff meeting many years ago where having a clown would have excellently expressed my opinion of the company — which may have been the point here….

  5. @Hampus:

    I love Phantom of the Paradise, and it’s totally genre as far as I’m concerned: how is it not fantastical? I think it was me (among my college roommates in 1975-76) who bought the album, which we listened to over&over again. Since friends of ours ran the dorm’s Film Club, we got to see it almost as often as people in Winnipeg did.

  6. Someone needs to write the story in the title, and send it to Uncanny magazine (which calls its readers the “Space Unicorn Ranger Corps” and has the catchphrase “Shine on, Space Unicorns!”).

  7. 5) Good advice. If you’re going to write fantasy set in a historical period, it behooves you to make as much of it as you can true to life so the fantastical elements have a plausible infrastructure.

    I’ve been working out a fantasy setting grounded in ancient Sumerian religion and surviving legal documents. It’s been fascinating. I’m trying to make as much of it as historically accurate as I can, basing the fantasy elements on Sumerian concepts whenever possible.

    The online Oriental Institute collections have been a treasure.

  8. @Paul Weimer

    Oh my gods, it is SO worth it.

    It’s a bit chaotic right now as they’re fixing it up for its centennial, and it’s STILL worth it.

    … If you’re traveling far you might want to make a week of it and take in the Art Institute and the Field Museum.

    The Museum of Science and Industry is an easy walk from the Oriental Institute, but I’m not so sure it’s worth it. It’s mostly corporate-sponsored advertising blinky light puffery, I’m afraid. My gold standard was always the New England Museum of Science, and the MSI is just a carnival sideshow by comparison.

    OTOH the walk will also take you by Powell’s Used Books, one of the best bookstores in all Chicago (founded by the son of the founder of Portland’s Powell’s and he did it first – he inspired his dad to found his own).

    I’m rather fond of the place, as you might imagine.

  9. Meredith Moment: The ebook version of Bruce Sterling’s Schismatrix Plus, which I am very fond of, is available for $2.99 from the Usual Suspects.

    7) Lem’s website has a copy of PKD’s infamous letter to the FBI that accused Lem of being a Communist Party flunky. It also quotes a Lem biography to explain why the author was expelled from SFWA in 1976:


  10. (10) Not quite an exit interview, but here’s part of the final editorial I submitted as Byte.com editor in October 2001 (which they didn’t run, so I posted on my own web site) — the SFnal connection being that “Jerry” refers to Jerry Pournelle, whose “The View From Chaos Manor” was, IIRC, the longest running computer column in the biz:

    (To the tune of “I Am the Captain of the Pinafore” from, of course, Gilbert & Sullivan’s “H.M.S. Pinafore”)

    (Dern) I was the editor of Byte dot com,
    (ALL) And a darned good editor too!
    (Dern) I was there a year or two,
    and let me tell to you
    I herded a chaotic crew.
    (ALL) He was there a year or two,
    and we agree, it’s true,
    We were a chaotic crew.
    (Dern) Though unsure of peer-to-peer
    I use shell account, and fear
    to use Outlook or Windows XP
    I never was vexed
    by PR calls for Comdex,
    And I never argued with Jer-ry

    (ALL) What, never?
    (Dern) Well, sometimes…
    (MOST) Just sometimes?
    (Dern) Well, often…
    (ALL) He often argued with Jer-ry…
    So… left-click twice and one more time
    for the former editor of Byte online.
    Left-click twice and one last time
    For the former editor of Byte online.

    ‘Nuff sung!

  11. Paul Weimer:

    When I visited the Swedish Museum in Chicago after MAC2, they had a space exhibit for children at the top!

  12. Ditto the suggestion for the Colleen Moore fairy castle in the Museum of Science & Industry. One of my favorite things as a child, and I’m pretty sure it’s going in a story, if not a book, at some point.

  13. Well, that was … interesting …

    Was poking around and found, on eBay, a seller offering the eBook version of Gideon the Ninth for $1.99 — apparently the seller will email you the file upon receipt of payment? Is this a new form of monetizing piracy, or have I just been lucky enough not to run into this one before?

  14. @Joe H and @Cat Rambo:

    Okay, the dollhouse is truly an amazing dollhouse and I’m not sorry it found a secure home rather than facing the fate of most dollhouses after their owners have died.

    Still not EXACTLY what I think of when I think of a museum of science, though.

    Okay, they also do have a remarkable collection of antique firefighter’s equipment and vehicles in the basement near the dollhouse, unlabeled last time I checked.

    Sigh. Okay.

    As a sort of attic of random weirdness from mostly local history, an amusement park without rides (excepting the coal mine), the MSI is not bad. It’s only as a museum of science that in my opinion it fails to measure up to a proper educational role.

    If you like model trains it has a fabulous setup.

    And … Oh yes, its collection of space capsules, actual, historically important space capsules, is deeply moving if you’re into that sort of thing. Which I kinda am.

    And … Yyyyeah, the U-505 submarine is also a deeply moving exhibit.

    Okay. Maybe I was a bit overly critical.

    It definitely has hung on to its roots as an exhibit hall for two World’s Fairs.

    (At least they got rid of the Armour meats-sponsored “Food for Life” exhibit which prominently featured meats in every meal option, showcased Armour products, ignored vegetarianism completely (slightly paraphrased label: “You would have to eat THIS MANY loaves of revolting white Wonder-style bread to get as much protein as this one lovely, juicy steak,” with absolutely no mention of nuts, beans, or other plant proteins as any kind of alternative), and had a computerized “compose a menu” game that would give high praise even when you tried to pick the worst possible elements (“Milkshakes contain MILK”). The actual hatching baby chicks in the middle of all that only added to the macabre overtones.

    Now the food exhibit is at least a little more sustainably-oriented and the hatching chicks have been moved to the genetics exhibit.)

  15. @Hampus Eckerman

    My favourite De Palma is most likely Phantom of The Paradise. Technically not genre, I guess, but it might as well be for my love of it.

    I’ve never seen the movie straight through, but agree with @Dr. Science that it’s genre; Wikipedia confirms my recollection that the villain had made a commutative deal-with-some-devil that makes him (and anyone who similarly contracts with him) temporarily immortal.

  16. 16) it was the law that someone be allowed to bring a clown to a meeting with their boss. These really are the crazy years.

  17. In current reading, I just now finished Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia.

    It was very YA in tone, which I hadn’t expected. Plain language, not much subtlety, standard Cinderella MC. Some first-romance stuff, though Thank God no romantic triangle. But a sweet story and a… heartwarming? maybe satisfying?… ending, and it was fun to explore Mexican mythology.

    In audio, it was narrated by Yetta Gottesman, whom I’m not familiar with. She did an okay job, but she didn’t do much with the individual voices, and the cadence of her delivery didn’t always match the meaning of the lines she was delivering. But I’ve got no huge gripes.

    And now I’m off to start another reread of Transformation, the first book in Carol Berg’s Rai-Kirah trilogy. Damn you, Chip ::shaking my fist at Chip::….. 😉

  18. Joe H. says Well, that was … interesting …

    Was poking around and found, on eBay, a seller offering the eBook version of Gideon the Ninth for $1.99 — apparently the seller will email you the file upon receipt of payment? Is this a new form of monetizing piracy, or have I just been lucky enough not to run into this one before?

    It’s a pirate copy. It’s in print on iBooks and Kindle for twelve dollars for the digital copy. Not a bad price all things considered.

  19. Yeah, that’s what I kind of figured, especially given that the seller is apparently based in Morocco and offers a large number of very recent books for similar prices. It just seemed particularly brazen.

    Me, I’m very, very happy to read my legitimately-purchased copy that was auto-delivered to my Kindle on release day. I’m only about 20% of the way into it, but I’m really enjoying it.

  20. @Hampus: My favourite Stanislaw Lem is The Cyberiad. When he has an inventor ask a newly built robot poet to write a “love poem, lyrical, pastoral, and expressed in the language of pure mathematics. Tensor algebra mainly, with a little topology and higher calculus, if need be. But with feeling, you understand, and in the cybernetic spirit”.

    And it does.

    Totally agree! While sadly I can’t comment on how they read in Polish, in Michael Kandel’s English translation those poems are just amazingly brilliant.

  21. ” Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible
    To feeling as to sight? or art thou but
    A… A Trouble with Tribbles. I know it’s some Star Trek episode, yeah the one with that guy from Barney Miller. Let me start over
    Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible
    To feeling as to sight? or art thou but
    A Taste of Armageddon (nailed it!)”

  22. Is that so hard not to misspell Stanis?aw (I mean with a question mark, in the article body)? 🙁
    – Also, the first “film” was a two-part Soviet television play in black-and-white (as Wikipedia puts it).

  23. JVjr: I went back and looked at my draft. There is a character that looks almost like an “L” that isn’t actually an “L”, and whatever it really happens to be is not part of WordPress’ symbol set, the reason it displayed as a question mark. Til then I was unaware of the typo. The management apologizes for this gaffe.

  24. @Mike
    My Windows character map shows it as “Latin lower-case L with stroke”. Which isn’t all that helpful, but I know it’s Polish and I figured that’s what it was supposed to be.

  25. it was the law that someone be allowed to bring a clown to a meeting with their boss. These really are the crazy years.
    — Miles Carter

    Not at all. I think it’s a very good and important law that people who may be vulnerable, fragile, or at a disadvantage are able to take a support person with them into consultations which are likely to be difficult, emotionally-damaging, hard-to-understand, or terrifying.

    If you enable exceptions to that — if you allow someone to make arbitrary decisions on whether someone’s support person should be permitted to attend — then you introduce the possibility of deliberate non-compliance by employers and medical personnel who wish to be petty or punitive.

    In other words, it’s a slippery-slope argument. Either you have to allow any support person they choose, or you have to admit that there’s no point in trying to make the law which provides them with that support.

    And I think it’s a very good law, which helps prevent people from being victimised (or further victimised), while contributing to positive outcomes for both the person holding the meeting and the person attending it. It helps to ensure that there’s no miscommunication or malfeasance, that the right questions get asked and answered and that the answers are understood, and that the person at the meeting has the best opportunity to process the situation in a mentally-healthy way.

    Consider the now-common situation in the U.S. of people “going postal”. I have to wonder how many of those situations could have been avoided if the person in question had been given the proper emotional support during and after their job termination or thesis rejection.

  26. It is a L with stroke (lowercase of course), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C5%81, Unicode U+0142, ł , ł (hmm, these were the HTML numeric entities which I guess need to be escaped, i. e. unpacked, to display the code properly: ł / ł [ETA: nope, it only looks good in the comment preview but after posting, something eats the ampersands]). I know many WordPresses perfectly capable of handling Unicode or at least the Central-European superset of Latin (strangely enough, in (1) Olša came through all right although Mr Sucharitkul didn’t go as far as hunting for the ring in Martin? – that is, ů); but I am not an expert and of course, worse things can happen. Thanks for the hotfix.

  27. JVjr says Also, the first “film” was a two-part Soviet television play in black-and-white (as Wikipedia puts it).

    H’h? The Lem page on Wiki says only this:

    Solaris was made into a film in 1968 by Russian director Boris Nirenburg, a film in 1972 by Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky—which won a Special Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 1972—and an American film in 2002 by Steven Soderbergh.

    Where did you that information?

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