(1) LIGHTS OUT AT PARLER. When Twitter banned President Trump and purged thousands of QAnon-linked accounts that fell under the company’s “coordinated harmful activity” ban (due to concerns about online incitement leading to violence), Parler was one of the alternative social media sites expecting to offer a new home to the traffic — until its tech host, Amazon, pulled the plug: “Parler sues Amazon after pro-Trump site goes dark” in the Washington Post.
Parler filed a lawsuit against Amazon Web Services on Monday, just hours after the social media network was taken offline when Amazon pulled support.
Parler filed the suit against Amazon on Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington. The company alleges in the suit that Amazon breached its contract by not giving it 30 days’ notice before dropping service. Parler also argued that Amazon was being hypocritical by not taking similar action against Twitter, where violent posts can also appear.Big Tech abandoned the social media site, known for allowing unfettered speech on its platform, over the weekend after expressing concern that the site was not properly moderating posts that could incite violence. Google and Apple removed Parler from its app stores, while Amazon — which was hosting the site on its cloud — decided to stop working with it, effectively removing it from the Internet.
…Even after Apple warned Parler that it needed to implement a more thorough content moderation plan or be kicked off the App Store, the social media network spurned the idea.
(2) HOYT. Sarah Hoyt, in “…Book Promo And Some Blather By Sarah” [Internet Archive link], urged people not to make her Amazon sales collateral damage in their reaction to its treatment of Parler.
A lot of you are furious at Amazon for joining the unconscionable censorship of Parler, which btw is still relatively small and all innocuous, other than, you know, allowing Trump a platform (Because as invaders, the left can’t let the president of the US address the nation, of course.) Look, so am I. I’m even more furious because I have no way out of the trap.
Yes, a lot of you — yes, I’m looking at you — have raged at Amazon for years and told us it would come for us and that we should get out now. This was not only misguided (I’ll explain why) but also it’s kind of the equivalent of poking a chained prisoner and saying “run.” He really wants to, but all you’re actually doing is torturing and wounding him.
However, since last night, this has TRULY become an emergency, not because of what Amazon will do or won’t do to ebook fiction (more on that) but because a core of my readers will now refuse to buy from Amazon under any circumstances, which means that I’m going to lose a lot of my income (and Amazon won’t give a flying fig. But I get your outrage, I understand, and yet you’ll only hurt the writers, UNTIL WE HAVE AN ALTERNATIVE.)
(3) CORREIA. Larry Correia’s post “Bow Before Appgooglezon” [Internet Archive link] at Monster Hunter Nation mentions neither Parler nor Amazon, but everyone in comments knows what’s being discussed, and they do name them.
(4) PUNDITRY. Camestros Felapton finds the two prior authors a source of inspiration for his own commentary. Quoted here are the final lines of a pair of his latest posts.
…So there you go, not one red cent apart from any red cents where a proportion of the red cent might go to Sarah Hoyt.
…It is a bit late in the day for Larry to discover that Elizabeth Warren had a point but it is noticeable that the step big tech took that tipped Larry over the edge was them clamping down on speech aimed at inciting violence to over throw an election.
(5) SCALZI. John Scalzi has written several posts on recent developments, beginning with “Thoughts on Coups and Sedition, 1/8/21”. (His comment on Trump’s Twitter ban is comparatively laconic: “Huh”.)
Fine. First question: Was what happened on Wednesday an actual coup attempt?
What makes you think that it wasn’t?
I don’t know, I guess maybe I thought a real coup wouldn’t include a guy who looked like a Jamiroquai cosplayer at a Nazi bar karaoke night.
Just because it was a stupid coup attempt doesn’t mean it wasn’t a real coup attempt. Trump plumped for the thing to happen in his nodding and winking way on Twitter, and he incited it and encouraged it in person. The attendees came expecting to take part in one, and had planned their strategy, such as it was, on Parler and other not-exactly-savory portions of the internet. They brought weapons and zip ties. They went looking for congresspeople. They weren’t just there to hang out on the mall, wave their Trump flags, get a churro and go home. They meant business. Fortunately like all Trump business, it went belly up in record time. But that’s neither here nor there for the intent….
(6) JEMISIN. N.K. Jemisin identifies some historical myopia in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s video (linked in yesterday’s Scroll) but adds “I’m mostly fine with Arnold’s message, BTW.”
(7) WATCHING BB. Buckaroo Banzai is the theme of the World Watch One Newsletter for January 10 [PDF file] which contains Steven H Silver’s “The Buckaroo Barrier” (pp. 15-16) where he explains, “I’ve been a fan of the film Buckaroo Banzai ever since I saw it in the theatres. A few years ago, I realized that for a lot of people, the first viewing of the film left them confused and disliking the film. I discuss why a second viewing may be necessary to appreciate it.”
(8) FIVE YEARS. Wil Wheaton shared his sobriety anniversary on Facebook His testimony begins:
Yesterday, I marked the fifth anniversary of my decision to quit drinking alcohol. It was the most consequential choice I have ever made in my life, and I am able to stand before you today only because I made it.
I was slowly and steadily killing myself with booze. I was getting drunk every night, because I couldn’t face the incredible pain and PTSD I had from my childhood, at the hands of my abusive father and manipulative mother.
It was unsustainable, and I knew it was unsustainable, but when you’re an addict, knowing something is unhealthy and choosing to do something about it are two very different things….
(9) SELF-PROPELLED TBR. Most have to go to the mountain, but his Mount TBR came to him, and James Davis Nicoll can even tell you the names of “Five of the Best Books I Never Meant to Read”.
While but a callow youth, I subscribed to the Science Fiction Book Club. The club, wise in the ways of procrastination, would send each month’s selection of books to subscribers UNLESS the subscribers had sent the club a card informing the SFBC that one did not want the books in question. All too often I planned to send the card off, only to realize (once again), when a box of books arrived, that intent is not at all the same thing as action.
Thus, I received books that I would not have chosen but, once in possession, I read and enjoyed them. All praise to the SFBC and the power of procrastination! Here are five of my favorite unintended reading experiences…
(10) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.
1991 — The Nebula Award for Best Novel went to Ursula K. Le Guin’s Tehanu: The Last Book of Earthsea, the fourth novel of the Earthsea sequence. It published by Atheneum in 1990. It had been twenty years since the last Earthsea novel was published. It would be not the last novel as The Other Wind would follow twenty years later. It would also win the Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
- Born January 11, 1886 – Samuel Cahan. Frequent Argosy interiors for us, e.g. Pirates of Venus and The Synthetic Men of Mars (Burroughs), “The Earth-Shaker” (Leinster). Outside our field e.g. this fine drawing of Woodrow Wilson. (Died 1974) [JH]
- Born January 11, 1906 – John Myers Myers. A score of books, including historical fiction, nonfiction, poetry; for us marvelously Silverlock – get the NESFA Press edition with songs, a Reader’s Guide, commentary; as the folklorist George Melikis said about something else, “I love studying Macedonia because everybody lives there.” (Died 1988) [JH]
- Born January 11, 1923 — Jerome Bixby. His “It’s a Good Life” story became the basis for an episode of the original Twilight Zone episode under the same name and which was included in Twilight Zone: The Movie. He also wrote four episodes for the original Star Trek series: “Mirror, Mirror”, “Day of the Dove”, “Requiem for Methuselah”, and “By Any Other Name”. With Otto Klement, he co-wrote the story upon which the Fantastic Voyage series and the Isaac Asimov novel were based. Bixby’s final produced or published work so far was the screenplay for The Man from Earth film. (Died 1998.) (CE)
- Born January 11, 1928 – Virgil Burnett. Author, illustrator, sculptor, Professor of Fine Arts at Univ. Waterloo (Ontario, Canada). A dozen short stories collected in Towers at the Edge of a World. Here is a cover for The War of the Worlds. Here is his frontispiece for Jurgen. Here, The Rubâ‘îyat [pl. of rubâ‘î , a kind of quatrain] of Omar Khayyam. Here is his cover for Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Here is Alexander the Great. See this note on a 2013 exhibit by his daughter at Haverford College. (Died 2012) [JH]
- Born January 11, 1930 — Rod Taylor. First SFF role would be as Israel Hands in Long John Silver. He would follow that up with World Without End (which you probably heard of), the Hugo nominated The Time Machine, Colossus and the Amazon Queen (Taylor claims to have rewritten the script though there’s no proof of this), The Birds (I really don’t like it), Gulliver’s Travels, One Hundred and One Dalmatians and last, and certainly least, The Warlord: Battle for the Galaxy. (Died 2015.) (CE)
- Born January 11, 1931 – Mary Rodgers. Her Freaky Friday and three sequels are ours; I’m unsure about her musical Once Upon a Mattress – is “The Princess and the Pea” fantasy? She did music and lyrics for Davy Jones’ Locker with the Bill Baird marionettes, also music for a Pinocchio with them. Daughter of Richard Rodgers. (Died 2014) [JH]
- Born January 11, 1937 — Felix Silla, 84. He played Cousin Itt (sic) on The Addams Family in a role invented for the show. The voice was not done by him but rather provided by sound engineer Tony Magro in post-production. He was also responsible for the physical performance of Twiki on Buck Rogers in the 25th Century though the voice was supplied by Mel Blanc or Bob Elyea. And he played an unnamed Ewok on Return of the Jedi. (CE)
- Born January 11, 1961 — Jasper Fforde, 60. I read and thoroughly enjoyed every one of his Thursday Next novels with their delightfully twisted word play as I did his Nursery Crimes series. I thought last year when I wrote Birthday note up that I had not read his Shades of Grey books and I was right — I now know that I read the first few chapters of the first one and wasn’t impressed enough to finish it. I do know I’ve not read the Dragonslayer series though I’ve heard Good Things about them. (CE)
- Born January 11, 1963 — Jason Connery, 58. Son of Sir Sean Connery. He’s best known for appearing in the third series of Robin of Sherwood, a series I loved dearly, including the music done by Clannad which I’ve got live boots of. He also played Jondar in the Vengeance on Varosstory on Doctor Who during the Sixth Doctor era (much least favorite Doctors). He was Ian Fleming in Spymaker: The Secret Life of Ian Fleming. And he was a young Merlin in Merlin: The Quest Begins. (CE)
- Born January 11, 1972 — Tom Ward, 39. He’s Captain Latimer in the Eleventh Doctor’s Christmas Special, “The Snowmen”. He played H.G. Wells in Hallmark’s The Infinite Worlds of H. G. Wells series, and he’s Edward Goodwin in Harry Price: Ghost Hunter. His latest genre role was as Sir Robert Peel in The Frankenstein Chronicles. (CE)
- Born January 11, 1976 – Alethea Kontis, age 45. A dozen novels for us, four dozen shorter stories. NY Times and USA Today best-seller. Keynote address at Lewis Carroll Society’s Alice150 Conference. “Alethea means truth in Greek, but I was named after an episode from the first season of Kung Fu where Jodie Foster played a little girl named Alethea Ingram…. Our last name was originally Kontaridis, but my grandfather shortened it.” Makes good baklava, plays bad acoustic guitar. [JH]
- Born January 11, 1987 – Wesley King, age 34. A dozen novels, including two with Kobe Bryant and the possibly well-titled Incredible Space Rangers from Space. NY Times best-seller. Has read “Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”, The Time Machine, four Shakespeare plays, War and Peace, Where the Wild Things Are. Lives in Nova Scotia and on a 1967 sailboat. [JH]
(12) COMICS SECTION.
- At The Far Side, alien researchers have made a little mistake.
- The Flying McCoys shows a highly efficient robot.
- Pearls Before Swine has a terrible Star Wars pun you’ve probably thought of already. If only you had a syndicated comic strip!
(13) BUT ON THE EIGHTH LEG. Literary Hub podcast Otherppl with Brad Listi brings us “George Saunders on How You Know When the Talking Spider Belongs in the Story”.
…For me, my intention is I really want all my stories to speak to those moments in our lives when the scrim drops away and we’re confronted with the brutality of this life that we’re living in. And also the beauty. But I want my stories to be comforting in the sense that they won’t be full of shit if you read them at a low moment. That means that I don’t want anything in a story that doesn’t serve that purpose, or another way of saying it is I don’t want anything weird to happen until it’s going to do that kind of emotional work. So my default is there’s no weird shit allowed. I’m basically a realist at heart. But every so often you get to a place where a story is saying, “If you will just let me have the talking spider, I will be more profound.” Or often what it does is it says, “There’s a question that I have to ask here in this story, but I can’t do it without the talking spider. Would you allow it?”
(14) CLASHING SYMBOLS. Mental Floss says the public can “Help Massachusetts Choose a Possible State Dinosaur”.
Massachusetts residents have no shortage of state symbols through which to celebrate their regional devotion….
Now, Massachusetts state legislator Jack Patrick Lewis is lobbying for another one: state dinosaur. As Boston.com reports, Lewis has fostered a passion for prehistoric creatures ever since seeing The Land Before Time (1988) in his youth, and he’s hoping an official state dinosaur will help fellow Bay Staters learn about the area’s early history.
Lewis has chosen two species to consider for the designation. The Podokesaurus holyokensis is a 3-to-6-foot carnivore whose fossils were unearthed around Mount Holyoke in 1910. Mignon Talbot, the woman who made the discovery, was the first woman to ever name a newfound dinosaur. The Podokesaurus’s competition is the Anchisaurus polyzelus, a slightly larger herbivore whose bones were located in Springfield, Massachusetts, more than half a century earlier….
(15) DINO NEST. At the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, “Researchers Announce World’s First Dinosaur Preserved Sitting on Nest of Eggs with Fossilized Babies”.
…“This kind of discovery—in essence, fossilized behavior—is the rarest of the rare in dinosaurs,” explains Dr. Lamanna. “Though a few adult oviraptorids have been found on nests of their eggs before, no embryos have ever been found inside those eggs. In the new specimen, the babies were almost ready to hatch, which tells us beyond a doubt that this oviraptorid had tended its nest for quite a long time. This dinosaur was a caring parent that ultimately gave its life while nurturing its young.”
The team also conducted oxygen isotope analyses that indicate that the eggs were incubated at high, bird-like temperatures, adding further support to the hypothesis that the adult perished in the act of brooding its nest. Moreover, although all embryos were well-developed, some appear to have been more mature than others, which in turn suggests that oviraptorid eggs in the same clutch might have hatched at slightly different times. This characteristic, known as asynchronous hatching, appears to have evolved independently in oviraptorids and some modern birds.
(16) SHARING EXPERIENCE. The Odyssey Writing Workshop Blog presents “Interview: Graduate & Guest Lecturer Gregory Ashe”.
You’ve published six books in your Hazard and Somerset mysteries. Do you tend to outline your books and series ahead of time, or do you tend to figure things out as you go along? When you started the series, did you know how many books you would write and where your characters would end up?
Although I have become more and more of an outliner, there is still an element of excavation and discovery in each book I write. One challenge I’ve faced as a writer is that I tend to write long books—and if I’m not careful, they become massive. Outlining helps me control the size of the story, as well as ensuring that I hit the right beats and turns when and where I want to. The excavatory and exploratory side of storytelling tends to happen, for me, between those major plot points. I have written quite a few books without an outline at all, but that is less and less the case. The same is true for series. The Hazard and Somerset series essentially took shape as two parts: the first four books, and then the last two. I learned from that, and when I wrote ‘season two,’ Hazard and Somerset: A Union of Swords, I had a fairly comprehensive outline for the five-book series. I now tend to write all of my series this way, with an outline to guide the pacing of the series as well as the individual books.
(17) CAT SCAN. In a video at A.V. Club, “Take a model train tour through a world ruled by giant cats”.
Jonathan Lawton is a visionary artist. His work may seem humble—the West Yorkshire man builds model railways, set in blue-skied little villages, just like so many other people looking for a productive reprieve from their daily lives. But, Lawton’s work extends beyond its genre and into the realm of speculative fiction thanks to his collaborator, a cat named Mittens that towers like a benevolent god in a showcase of his creation….
(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Power Rangers Pitch Meeting” on YouTube, Ryan George explains that people who see the Power Rangers remake will not enjoy Bryan Cranston’s performance as a 65-million-year-old blue guy or that there’s no Power Rangers action until 90 minutes into the movie.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, JJ, Andrew Porter, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, and John Hertz for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]