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Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
Club Notice - 11/03/00 -- Vol. 19, No. 18
Table of Contents
Chair/Librarian: Mark Leeper, 732-817-5619, firstname.lastname@example.org Factotum: Evelyn Leeper, 732-332-6218, email@example.com Distinguished Heinlein Apologist: Rob Mitchell, firstname.lastname@example.org HO Chair Emeritus: John Jetzt, email@example.com HO Librarian Emeritus: Nick Sauer, firstname.lastname@example.org Back issues at http://www.geocities.com/evelynleeper. All material copyright by author unless otherwise noted.
Comments from member John Sloan on my comment that anti-matter was supposed to be getting medical uses:
Just a quick note: antimatter is already in common use in medicine. PET or Positron Emission Tomography involves injecting the subject with a tracer containing a radioactive isotope that emits positrons as it decays. The positrons strike electrons. Gamma rays given off by the mutual matter- antimatter annihilation are detected and imaged. A typical application is using a tracer of glucose, which lead to those striking images of thought processes as the glucose is metabolized in the brain. The downside is that the PET scanner must be near a particle accelerator. The half life of the isotope is so short that they manufacture some of it, rush it to the scanner, where it is injected into the patient.
So when you're PET-scanned, you're really having matter- antimatter explosions going off in (for example) your brain. No documented cases of a brain going in to warp drive as far as I know. :-)
Voting (comments by Mark R. Leeper):
Every once in a while I take one of these truisms, one of things that everybody else knows is true, and just ask myself do I really believe it.
I correspond with a friend from Germany. We started out discussing science fiction films, but we both are both interested in politics. Sooner or later the conversation had to get around to politics and comparing the two political systems. Is it better to have a system where the third strongest party, whatever it is, is very weak compared to the first two or one where parties have power commensurate with size. That sort of thing. My friend asked me about American voter apathy. He had a statistic that said that of eligible voters only 52% actually voted in national elections. Does this not point to something being wrong in American politics? I gave this some thought. Well we all know that everybody who can should vote. We even see billboards and college notebooks telling people they should vote. Is it a bad sign that only 52% of eligible people do vote? Even if it is, should we be trying to convince people who might not vote that they should. Most of us would say immediately that we want everyone with the right to vote actually exercising that right. I am not so sure.
I own stock in a number of companies. Every year they send me proxy statements. Every year they want me to vote for who will be part of the board of directors. I always abstain. I simply do not have a good educated opinion of who should be on the board of directors of a company I own stock in. It would be irresponsible to vote where I do not have an intelligent opinion. To be perfectly honest I have no idea how to evaluate the candidates for the board of directors of a big company 95% of the time or more. I abstain and I suppose I deserve what I get. But it never makes a noticeable difference. If I do not have any idea who are the better candidates, I really feel I have a responsibility to abstain. Should the same principles apply to national politics?
Where we live we are seeing billboards going up telling people they should vote. I ask if that really makes anything better? Do we really want to increase the actual voting percentages of those people who are qualified to vote? I am not saying that this would not be a better country if everybody studied the issues and candidates and made intelligent choices. The sad truth is that that is not going to happen. Given that a lot of the people who abstain, if forced to vote, would probably not do it in a logically informed manner, why do we try so hard to get them to vote regardless of the value of their vote? I think coercing these people to vote endangers the quality of the results of the process.
Now one reason I hear for convincing people to vote is that if they have the right they should be exercising it. To this I say "bull!" Nobody says you have to exercise all your rights in order to make use of them. For most of your rights, just having them is enough to be using them. Do we want the government to try to billet troops in everybody's houses just so we can use our Constitutional Right to refuse? Should we all go out and commit crimes so we can exercise our Miranda rights? No, it is enough that we have these rights and have the option to exercise them if the need arises. And with every one of our rights we have one more right. We have a right to choose not to exercise that right. And certainly in some cases we should know that it is best for all concerned that we do not exercise it.
Another reason I have heard to push for increasing voting percentages is that is we pick another loser then people more will be able to say, at least they had a hand in picking him, so they will have no kick coming. This argument is also a load of duck tires. When we get a poor choice winning an election, the entire eligible voting population has responsibility whether they voted or not.
Voting is a valuable right for those who value it. If some people self-choose to not exercise that right, it is probably a good thing for society that they not be prodded, forced, or coerced. That will only lower the quality of the results of the process. [-mrl]
CHINESE COFFEE (a film review in bullet list form by Mark R. Leeper from the Toronto International Film Festival):
Capsule: Effectively a one-act play of a writer and his friend and agent talking about their Bohemian lives in Greenwich Village in 1982. This is a film of narrow appeal. It is too much of talking about what is right and wrong about a fictional book and with the personalities of fictional people. Not much in the way of deep thoughts and only occasionally is the conversation of interest. Rating: 0
THE STRANGER (a film review in bullet list form by Mark R. Leeper from the Toronto International Film Festival):
Capsule: A straightforward and by the numbers crime film. Two drug dealers and a cab driver. After smuggling a kilo of cocaine into Vienna then cannot sell it. No big surprises and not even much excitement, but it entertains. Rating: low +1
THE AMERICAN NIGHTMARE (a film review in bullet list form by Mark R. Leeper from the Toronto International Film Festival):
Capsule: In the late 60s into the 70s was a flowering of American independent horror films fueled by turbulent times. This is a documentary of interviews with five major horror directors of that time and other people involved in horror films. The link of inspiration to current events is not always clearly drawn, but the film is never dull. Made for the Independent Film Channel. Rating: high +1
EISENSTEIN (a film review in bullet list form by Mark R. Leeper from the Toronto International Film Festival):
Capsule: This disappointing study of the life of Russia's greatest filmmaker does what it can to gloss over those aspects of Einstein would most be interesting to the casual fan of his films and instead concentrates on songs he sang when he was drunk and quick phone calls to find what Comrade Stalin thought of his films, and his dance techniques. Director Renny Bartlett has turned this from an informative film about Eisenstein into a very personal film bordering on the surreal. It is an accomplishment but perhaps not the film that cinema history fans, more interested in how he worked and less in how he danced and sang, might have wanted. Rating: 0
THE UNCLES (a film review in bullet list form by Mark R. Leeper from the Toronto International Film Festival):
Capsule: A mentally impaired woman borrows neighborhood children to cuddle. Her two brothers decide she needs a child of her own and set out to choose a father. Low budget Toronto based film is a warm comedy with no major flaws and no major virtues. Likable but not greatly involving. Rating: low +1
SEANCE (a film review in bullet list form by Mark R. Leeper from the Toronto International Film Festival):
Capsule: A remake of SEANCE ON A WET AFTERNOON (or a re-adaptation of the book by Mark McShane) with supernatural elements added. Unsuccessful psychic/medium wants to prove her abilities and make herself famous. When she comes in possession of a kidnapped child, she decides she feed clues to the police as verifiable psychic visions, eventually releasing the child and having visions where the child can be found. Rating: 0
LA MOITIE GAUCHE DU FRIGO (a film review in bullet list form by Mark R. Leeper from the Toronto International Film Festival):
Capsule: Intended to look like a Michael Moore documentary on what is going wrong for the workers in the Canadian economy. Instead it is almost entirely scripted with actors. That robs a lot of the appeal. Not really a film that works. Rating: low 0
TWO THOUSAND AND NONE (a film review in bullet list form by Mark R. Leeper from the Toronto International Film Festival):
Capsule: Quirky and intelligent like some of the best of Woody Allen. Just at the proudest moment of his career a paleontologist discovers he has five weeks to live due to a rare brain disease. This changes his behavior, his personality, how he sees the world, how the world sees him. Under the influence of the disease he sees his life in various weird ways. John Turturro at the top of his form stars in an excellent low budget comedy-drama from Canada. Rating: +2
VULGAR (a film review in bullet list form by Mark R. Leeper from the Toronto International Film Festival):
Capsule: Very uneven film with some fairly harrowing scenes. A loser who makes a sparse living as a clown is gang-raped by three men. Left with a death wish he risks his life to save a little girl and is suddenly a media hero with his own TV show. When the same three men try to blackmail him he plans revenge. Shot on a very low budget in New Jersey, this is a film of narrow appeal. Rating: 0
Quote of the Week:
The trouble with our times is that the future is not what it used to be. -- Paul Valery