Your Happening World (August 20th through August 21st)

  • African sf recommendations from Nine Worlds
  • Comet Flyby Missions for Mars Rovers | The Planetary Society – On October 19, the Mars rovers—like their orbiting cousins—will become comet flyby missions. Comet C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring) will pass within 140,000 kilometers of Mars. This is less than 20 times the distance from Mars to its smaller moon, Deimos. Those distances provide a sense of scale: Deimos appears only a few pixels across to the rover cameras, so the nucleus of the comet will effectively a point source. The coma of the comet, tens of thousands of kilometers across, will take up a substantial fraction of the sky.
  • Loncon 3 – The 72nd World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon) – Renegade Revolution – To be perfectly honest I had no idea what to expect when going to Loncon 3. Until recently I hadn’t heard of it but the more I looked into it, the more interested I became.
  • Flat Out: Worldcon on Wheels – I rolled up at the Excel bright and early on Thursday 14th, and I have to say Access was excellent. I was greeted by one of the volunteers before I even reached the registration queue, which they told me was 45 minutes long at that point, and whisked away to the Access Desk, where I was given a seat while the volunteer dashed off to pick up my badge and registration packet. Even the failure of the Access ribbons to appear was being dealt with courtesy of improvisation with tape and a marker pen in the best traditions of fandom.
  • WorldCon: some thoughts | Writings from Otherworld – Well, tonight we’re off to Dublin for Shamrokon. Before I haul myself onto the plane, tail-end of conflu and all, here are some thoughts about my first WorldCon experience.
  • The Story of FRES – A Summary – Think Defence – What FRES is remains a puzzle, wrapped in an enigma, an enigma that wears clown shoes.

Your Happening World (August 7th through August 12th)

  • Why it’s time to lay the selfish gene to rest – David Dobbs – Aeon – This raises a question: if merely reading a genome differently can change organisms so wildly, why bother rewriting the genome to evolve? How vital, really, are actual changes in the genetic code? Do we always need DNA changes to adapt to new environments? Are there other ways to get the job done? Is the importance of the gene as the driver of evolution being overplayed?
  • Water and air are all you need to make one of world’s most important chemicals | Ars Technica – Licht's method claims to use only two-thirds of the energy of the Haber-Bosch process. Along with the elimination of the need to produce hydrogen from natural gas, the overall carbon emissions are reduced quite significantly. The whole process also takes place at milder conditions (Haber-Bosch needs 450°C and 200-times atmospheric pressure).
  • The Canadian Priest Kangaroo
  • Every Day Is Like Wednesday: Re: That movie that’s probably well on its way to making tens of millions of dollars already – And, if a lot of people make a lot of money and there are a lot of accolades being thrown about, then a lot of credit is going to go to a lot of people, from whoever cut those winning trailers to the designers and animators who got Rocket's fur to look just so to Gunn himself. If comic book people get any credit, chances are it's going to be as a collective (i.e. "Marvel") or under a "Special Thanks" near the end of the end-credit scrawl (IMDb has comics writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lannning receiving writing credit; if that's on the screen near the "written by" credit, then that's awesome).
  • ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ Character Creators Fight for Cash and Credit – – As Michael explained in a telephone interview, the focus on his brother has encouraged the studio to reconsider its obligations to him. “The more often Bill’s name gets mentioned, and the more often he is given public credit for something that he did, the easier it is for me to go to Marvel and say, ‘You might want to consider raising your offer.’ ”

Your Happening World (July 14th through July 22nd)

  • 1974 -1986: A Spotlight Chronology (work in progress/draft) | Bits of Books, Mostly Biographies – What is perhaps most notable in placing a series of press reports on abuse scandals over any period of time is that there’s a lot of shock and outrage and not much action from anyone in a position of duty, responsibility or power to do anything except to apparently express more shock and outrage, this time on our behalf, before swiftly moving on. Something the collection of press reports at SpotlightOnAbuse ably demonstrate and which forms the spine of this chronology.
  • BBC – Blogs – Adam Curtis – WHAT THE FLUCK! – That at the same time as the police pursue the dodgy private investigators, like AIS, who are bugging and hacking their way into thousands of peoples' lives, the very same police – along with the security services, GCHQ and the NSA – are doing exactly the same to millions of other people. The only difference is that it's legal – because the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act of 2000, and other laws, allow them to do it.
  • How to find the missing Buk system |
  • i believe you | it’s not your fault – Can we use our collective life experience to be a safe haven for kids who need it? Can we tell stories and answer questions and offer solidarity and resources and maybe break some cycles before they begin? Can we do it with humor and transparency, and without coming across like dorky, hand-wringing moms? After all, so many of us are still those kids. So many of us will always be those kids. Well, we can try. … We’re just people who’ve been through stuff, and we’re here. Ask us anything. It’s not your fault. We believe you.
  • Rick Remender, Alleged Statutory Rape, and Jet Black – If your discomfort with the whole Captain America #22 issue is simply the fact that sex had happened between two consenting adults in the presence of alcohol, this isn’t for you. You’re free and completely entitled to hate that and view it with great disdain but my attitude and problem with the fandom is not because of people finding issue with that overused plot device to get two people to finally be comfortable enough to do it but because of people making claims that Jet Black is 14 years old (when she’s not) and thus stating that despite her even saying she’s beyond those years to dare accuse Remender writing a statutory rape scene and faulting Sam Wilson as a rapist. If you had any of these thoughts, this is for you. Before you continue your crusade, please at least let me provide you with some facts.
  • The End of Fan-Run Conventions? | Cheryl’s Mewsings – My point is, however, that there is no upside to running fan conventions anymore. There is no satisfaction in a job well done. The only probable outcome is that you will spend the weeks after the convention dealing with angry and disappointed attendees, and avoiding social media because you don’t want to have to read the awful things that are being said about you.

Your Happening World (June 22nd through June 24th)

Blog fodder for June 22nd through June 24th:

  • The War Nerd: Like it or not, what’s happening in Iraq right now is part of a rational process | PandoDaily – I just wish Americans would stop assuming every place is like us. Let me tell you, for a Sunni Kurd to say, “I have Shia friends, I have Christian friends” is about as brave and radical as it gets, short of suicide, in the Middle East. I never heard any of my Saudi students say anything remotely like it. Well, how could they? By law, Shi’ism and Christianity are banned in the Kingdom. So they didn’t have the opportunity, even if they’d had the mindset (which they didn’t).
  • Genre needs a lot more cruel and nasty reviews | Damien G. Walter – We need writers and reviewers like Priest who have the expertise and willingness to reflect back the problems in modern genre fiction. Because the problems are very real. Violence of the flattened, meaningless kind Priest pinpoints in Barricade is endemic in the genre.
  • Editor’s blog: I am sexist • – This is a realisation that has slowly dawned on me over the last few years. Without really meaning to do so, I have been going around saying and doing things that demean women and casually downplay the importance of issues of gender discrimination all my life. It's a horrible thing to recognise about yourself, gradually or not. I try to be a generous and caring person and I am pretty sensitive, so the idea that I have been ignorantly treating half of the people I know and love in this way makes me feel awful.
  • Tony Blair, dread creature of the forbidden swamp | Idiot Joy Showland – Tony Blair rises every couple of months, like a bubble of swamp gas. First there’s an uneasy buried rumbling, then small tremors shake the surface, and then suddenly he bursts through, a gassy eruption stinking of farts and sulphur. It doesn’t matter how many rounds you fire into his shambling frame; he just won’t die. Whenever something unpleasant happens in the Middle East, whenever some huge corporation is discovered to be starving people to death or poisoning them through calculated negligence, whenever the chaos of the international order reaches a starts to wobble into another death-spiral, a damp wind blows through a graveyard somewhere in England and Tony Blair emerges from his tomb.
  • WW2 Drawings

Your Happening World (June 11th through June 12th)

Blog fodder for June 11th through June 12th:

  • Brussels Brontë Blog: Football and the Brussels Brontë Story… – But not only were the Jenkinses responsible for introducing the two literary geniuses to Brussels, the same family was also largely responsible for the introduction of the British sport of football to Brussels. (For these two feats alone, perhaps the Jenkinses merit some day an honorary plaque or a street named after them in their adopted city?!)
  • Stuck in Condoland | Toronto Life
  • Your Fave Is Problematic — Dan Savage
  • RealClearDefense – Why Are We So Afraid of Small Carriers? – This leaves us in an awkward situation, where the Navy sails a fleet of flat-decked aircraft carrying warships that will soon fly one of the most advanced tactical fighter jets in the future, and that are comparable in size and capability to the largest “aircraft carriers” that any other navy has to offer. And yet for bureaucratic and public relations reasons, we can’t call these warships “aircraft carriers,” even though they perform many of the missions that aircraft carriers execute, and in time of war would be expected to shoulder much of the burden placed on the larger carrier fleet.
  • Anorak | The Judges of Miss World, 1970: Bombs, Blacks And The Angry Brigade – The Miss World contest of 1970, of course, isn’t famous for its motley crew of judges but for the feminist protest that took place in the middle of the show. While the judges were putting women in order of beauty, Bob Hope the London-born compere, came on stage to go through a comedy routine. All of a sudden about fifty women and a few men started throwing flour bombs, stink bombs, ink bombs and leaflets at the stage wile yelling “we are liberationists!”, “We’re not beautiful, we’re not ugly, we’re angry” and “ban this disgraceful cattle market!”. The worldwide live television audience couldn’t fail to notice what was happening. Bob Hope certainly noticed and he quickly tried to flee the stage as the missiles flew by. Julia Morley, the wife of the organiser Eric Morley, grabbed hold of his ankle in a desperate attempt to stop him leaving. It only took a few minutes for the police to restore order but ‘Women’s Lib’ had in one fell swoop established itself as part of the seventies.