MT VOID 12/06/13 -- Vol. 32, No. 23, Whole Number 1783

MT VOID 12/06/13 -- Vol. 32, No. 23, Whole Number 1783

@@@@@ @   @ @@@@@    @     @ @@@@@@@   @       @  @@@@@ @@@@@ @@@
  @   @   @ @        @ @ @ @    @       @     @   @   @   @   @  @
  @   @@@@@ @@@@     @  @  @    @        @   @    @   @   @   @   @
  @   @   @ @        @     @    @         @ @     @   @   @   @  @
  @   @   @ @@@@@    @     @    @          @      @@@@@ @@@@@ @@@

Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
12/06/13 -- Vol. 32, No. 23, Whole Number 1783

Table of Contents

      Co-Editor: Mark Leeper, Co-Editor: Evelyn Leeper, Back issues at All material is copyrighted by author unless otherwise noted. All comments sent will be assumed authorized for inclusion unless otherwise noted. To subscribe, send mail to To unsubscribe, send mail to

Old SF TV on VHS (offer):

Before I offer these on Freecycle, I thought I'd check if anyone who gets the MT VOID is interested in any of the following (all recorded at SLP):

You have to come pick them up in Old Bridge (NJ) if you want them. [-ecl]


Apparently one of the possibilities for interstellar flight is to have a big superlight sail pushed by a laser from earth. A laser on Earth would always be directed at the sail no matter how far it gets. This could really take people to nearby stars. But it would require faith. What the scariest word to people on such a voyage? The most terrifying word is "sequester". [-mrl]

Another Mathematics Puzzle:

Frequent contributor Dale Skran sent me the following problem that I will share.

The problem is:

Compute the number of ordered pairs of positive integers (m,n) that solve

2m + 6n = 2006
and for which m + n is a multiple of 13.

Solutions next week. I will publish the list of people who send me a correct solution along with my own solution.

Google and Heinlein (comments by Mark R. Leeper):

I talked to another attendee at the Chicon VII about Google. I was fairly impressed by what they have been able to accomplish. The guy I was talking to responded negatively saying that he was afraid of Google. Well, I can understand that Google certainly has power. But I see Google sort of the fulfillment of a science fiction prophecy.

World War II really caught the United States unprepared. On December 7, 1941, the United States had the 18th largest military in the world. Seventeen countries had bigger militaries. With the exception of a few forward thinkers like Billy Mitchell, the United States military was preparing to fight World War I again. And for the most part that was how we were armed. That had to change very quickly once we got involved in a modern World War II. We mobilized and retooled industry and built the weapons and equipment we needed to wage war. It was impressive then and is now to see how much industry was able to create once they knew what was needed and knew that the government would pay for it. US business was really very creative and intelligent in solving the technical problems of supplying the military.

Writers like Robert Heinlein saw this and were impressed by the power of American business and industry. When the war was over Heinlein thought that the next big goal was going to be conquering the moon. Heinlein hoped that American industry would tackle much of this next goal itself, having already demonstrated their capability. You can see a lot of his philosophy and worldview reflected in the film DESTINATION MOON, which Heinlein contributed to in a major way, writing the original story and part of the script. Heinlein wrote about people like Delos David Harriman (in his novella "The Man Who Sold the Moon") and Jim Barnes (in DESTINATION MOON) who do not wait for the US Government but who conquer space on their own.

Heinlein must have been very disappointed with what really happened. American Industry did not take the lead or even get involved with space until the government pulled them into it. And the government itself had not gotten involved in space until the Soviets shamed them and terrified them with the first small beeping man-made satellite. Then it was NASA, a government administration that really led the way. They told industry what they wanted to have.

So Heinlein and most of his generation never lived to see very much of American industry taking the bit it its teeth. Mostly industry has concentrated in making products that they could sell for a profit. On the whole not a lot of companies put a lot of money into research and development. And the stress on the research was to feed development as fast as it could be done. IBM and AT&T Bell Laboratories were the big research companies.

It seems to me that we are starting to move a little more into the world that Heinlein envisioned. But it is not coming from organizations run by outwardly staid business men in business suits. It is coming from companies with names like Google and Apple, which Heinlein might have found a trifle strange.

I have met people who have told me that they are afraid of Google and what it could do if it wanted. That still may happen some time, but for the time being I am mostly seeing Google pushing us into the future. The September 30, 2013, TIME magazine listed some of the many (many!) projects that Google is working on that go way beyond simply making search engines and selling advertising. You have probably heard about Google developing self-driving cars. According to TIME their cars read and obey road signs, see and other cars, and do as good a job at driving as a human could do. They are doing a lot more than that. These are some of the more future-looking projects they are working on:

Project Loon will provide Internet access to remote locations all over the world where it never could be available before. They are doing this by relay stations in balloons that would float twelve miles above the ground.

Makani Power is creating airborne wind turbines that will float 1000 feet above the ground delivering safe sustainable power to the ground.

These are arguably sort of extensions of their Internet interests, but now they are getting into advanced biological research. They are operating Calico, a wholly owned subsidiary that is looking at the processes of human aging and, perhaps in the long term, looking at slowing or even stopping the aging process. This is very sci-fi stuff, but it is for real.

Another company, SpaceX, is building their own geostationary satellites and as of this writing plan to launch later today (Thanksgiving day).

For quite a while it really looked like industry was not going to do much to take the lead on advancing humanity to boldly different technologies. Of late the future is looking up. [-mrl]

Why I've Stopped Going to (Most) Conventions (comments by Evelyn C. Leeper, with additional comments by Mark R. Leeper):

From 1969 to 2003, Mark and I missed only two Boskones. But then we stopped going. Why?

It was too cold, and too far, and too expensive.

It wasn't that it was too cold *or* too far *or* too expensive; it was that it was all three together.

For the last nine Boskones we went to, three of those years there was a storm either on the way up or the way back. One time it took us ten hours to get to Framingham (from NJ). The last year we went may have been the one with near-zero temperatures.

The move to Springfield had actually helped us. The move to Framingham added some time, but the move to Boston added another hour yet. And the year it moved back to Boston, our convention costs (hotel, parking, and food) went up by a third.

At which point, we decided enough was enough, and switched to Philcon. It's under two hours away (versus six), and parking is free. Yes, you have to drive anywhere you want to eat, but since we have a car, that's not a major issue.

(Mark would add a fourth reason, I think: each Boskone seemed a lot like the previous Boskone. The panels tended to show a certain similarity that meant the interest value declined over the years. I cannot entirely dispute this.)

But what about Worldcon?

Worldcons used to be the only way fans could get together. Then smaller local and regional conventions started up, and the Internet came along, and a lot of the need that drove people to go to Worldcons has been answered by other, cheaper, more convenient methods. And, yes, having a decade of expensive, remote (to most fans) locations has not helped. Mark and I went to every Worldcon between 1983 and 2006. But 2007 (Japan) broke the streak. We also skipped 2009 (Australia) and only went to Reno and San Antonio because we did road-trip sightseeing vacations in those areas. Heck, we *drove* to San Antonio. Driving to San Antonio added three weeks of vacation time for only a few hundred dollars each (for motels and gasoline) over the cost of airfare if we went for only five days, making it more cost-effective to drive.

We'll be skipping London, and also Spokane, and I see no announced bids that will inspire us to spend the time, money, and effort to go. If my choice is to go to (e.g.) London again and spend a lot of my time in a convention centre, or to go to (e.g.) Cambodia and Vietnam (our plan for next year), for me it's not a difficult choice. As Mark points out, if Worldcon were some place interesting to go to as a tourist, why would we want to spend our time there in a convention center instead of seeing more of the area?

Worldcon as a stand-alone trip is expensive: our hotel in San Antonio cost over $1000 and, had we flown, airfare would have been another $1000 for the two of us. That's for five days; for the same cost per day we spent ten days in Costa Rica earlier in the year.

(Yes, one can look for cheaper hotels. But they are not always available or convenient. If you go with a cheaper but inconvenient hotel, it decreases the amount of time you can spend actually at Worldcon.)

As for the argument that Worldcon offers more than a regional, that may be, but are all those other things something I want? For several years now, there has been no point in going to the Masquerade; I am short and *never* get a good view of the stage, or even of the screens. The Hugo Awards suffer from the same problem, although the visual is not quite as important. Still, now with streaming I can watch them in real time without spending $1000.

Panels? Back when I started I could see panels with classic Golden Age authors. Now the best I can hope for is panels *about* classic Golden Age authors. Something has passed me by, and most of the panelists at conventions these days are unfamiliar to me. Many are knowledgeable and worth listening to, but how can I figure out which ones? And all too often interesting-sounding panels turn into political debates. Indeed, all too often the convention decides to adopt some agenda which tends to over-shadow other aspects.

And with YouTube and streaming, I can see, for example, "The Howard, George, and Gardner Show" without leaving my house.

(Indeed, not only are the panelists often unfamiliar, but the Hugo ballot seems filled with unfamiliar names as well. Where did they come from and how did I miss hearing about them?)

In an attempt to be all things to all people, there are a lot of panels and other programming on topics of little interest to me (e.g., costuming, anime, filk). The one "peripheral" topic I have an interest in, science, usually gets short shrift these days (except in Chicago).

And some panels have just been done to death. Twenty years ago a panel on the best alternate history stories might have been new and exciting; now it is stale.

The bottom line is that while twenty years ago I would find myself with multiple panels of interest every hour (sometimes as many as five in one time slot!), now I find one or two and have some slots where there are none. This is not entirely a bad thing--one needs time to see the art show and dealers room, and lunch is a good thing. But it does decrease the appeal of Worldcon.

I was never a real partier to start with, but as Michael Longcor says, "I can't party as hearty as I partied when I partied at twenty-one." Or perhaps more aptly, I'm ready for Tom Smith's "ConValescence". (I like filk; I am just not interested in panels on it or participatory sessions.)

So why should I spend $2000 per person for a five-day Worldcon when I can go to a three-day Philcon for less than $200? (Even if you count Philcon as only two days, it's still a quarter the price per day.) And this is not even looking at the membership costs!

(Which is not to say that Philcon too cannot become repetitive. For people interested in programming, such as moi, conventions that see themselves as a social venue will probably not come up with amazingly different panels each year.) [-ecl]

Mark adds:

I have a continuing open question on just what would be lost if a science fiction convention were migrated to the Internet? So far I have only had two features that would not migrate well to the Internet. One is that you want to see your friends close enough to be breathing the same air. You can see friends and talk to them over the Internet, but that is not the same as being physically close. I think it was Bob Friendly at Bell Laboratories who said that he wanted to be able to smell the people he talks to. That comes at a high price, but it is a feature that the Internet probably cannot currently match.

The other feature is an excuse to get up and go someplace. It is a little de-humanizing to sit staring at a computer screen for long hours.

Nevertheless, and not everybody agrees with me on this, I think that the future of the science fiction convention is on the Internet. The advantages of on-line conventions by far outweigh the disadvantages. For example, I go to presentations at conventions for new ideas. I can get a wider variety much more efficiently by just listening to TED Talks. Meanwhile on another computer Evelyn can listen to the The Howard, George, and Gardner Show.

It is a little surprising to me that there have not been more experiments with having science fiction conventions move on-line. Fans are supposed to be forward-looking people. This is technology that is here already waiting to be used. [-mrl]

12 YEARS A SLAVE (film review by Mark R. Leeper):

CAPSULE: This is the truly horrifying true story of Solomon Northup, a free-born black man who in 1841 was kidnapped and sold into slavery. 12 YEARS A SLAVE is based on his eyewitness account of his years of slavery, what he saw, and what he experienced. As one character puts it, "the story is amazing and in no good way." It is a powerful and important film, an unflinching look at some of (what we would hope is) the worst cruelty of human slavery in the Antebellum South. Rating: +3 (-4 to +4) or 9/10

[Spoiler warning: I discuss one shocking sequence in the film that really needs to be commented on. I do not think that it diminishes the viewing experience.]

Over the years we have seen films about crimes against humanity committed in history. There are many very good films about the European Holocaust. There simply have not been very many films to depict the nightmarish cruelty of slavery in the United States. No doubt part of the reason is financial. Selling the idea that the country allowed the horrendous crimes that occurred under slavery would not sell well to the American public. The narrative film that came the closest was probably the television mini-series ROOTS, made under the eyes of the network censors. That film handled the subject considerably more gently than the subject really deserved in order not to offend the television-watching public. This may be the first narrative film to show slavery this realistically. Not all slaves were treated so cruelly under American slavery as we see in the film, and some no doubt had it considerably worse, though how that could be strains the imagination. What we see in this film is credible and damning enough.

Solomon Northup (played by Chiwetel Ejiofor) was a well-educated, free-born black man living in Saratoga, New York in 1841 when he was offered a supposed job with a circus. He accompanied two men to Washington, DC, where instead they drugged him and sold him as a slave. He was forced to hide his education and take a name he was given, Platt. Periodic beatings were part of his treatment from the beginning. He was treated hellishly and so were the other slaves around him.

In truth, not everybody in the South's slave system is portrayed as being sadistic and cruel. Northup's first "master," William Ford (Benedict Cumberbatch) seems to be a decent man of conscience who appreciates Northup's intelligence and talents. However, the racial system is stacked against blacks and abhors even the mutually beneficial relationship Northup and Ford enjoy. Ford's carpenter (Paul Dano), white and jealous of Northup's position, is able to destroy the relationship. Northup has to work for a new and less scrupled master, Edwin Epps (Michael Fassbender). For the slaves working for Epps is a constant parade of beatings, rape, and torture, physical and mental. All of this is sanctioned by Scripture, as Epps tells his slaves.

In the film we see a spectrum of decency or lack thereof among the slave owners. Though as with Ford even a decent master is no protection from the system. And perhaps the most shocking sequence has Northup nearly lynched and left hanging from a tree limb standing tiptoe to breathe. As he stands there slaves around him go about their daily business doing there best not to look at him and none daring to help him or even visibly react to his peril apparently for fear of being made to share his fate. This goes beyond injustice and cruelty to the point of dehumanizing the innocent. It is a scene reminiscent of some of the worst of the European Holocaust.

The screenplay by John Ridley is based on Northup's own book and had to be carefully written to avoid melodrama. Recounting this story of slaves in the hands of decadent slaveholders, it would have been tempting to go overboard. The horrors of slavery are many, but it would be too easy to go to extremes and end with the cheap and unreal effect of Richard Fleischer's melodramatic MANDINGO. Even Quentin Tarantino's DJANGO UNCHAINED felt a little false on the subject of slavery. At no point does one feel this film is exaggerating.

The film has an impressive cast with familiar actors in even some relatively small parts. One suspects that as with Stanley Kramer's JUDGEMENT AT NUREMBERG actors were willing to accept minor roles just to be associated with an important film. Also, the right director had to be chosen, not just for his dramatic talent, but perhaps to fit the right profile. When Steven Spielberg made THE COLOR PURPLE, in some quarters it was held against him that he was a white man and a Jew making the film about the black experience. Director Steve McQueen is black but British so he is also an outsider to the American black experience.

Like Steven Spielberg's LINCOLN from last year, and for which this is a good companion piece, this film is required viewing to understand the United States as it was in the 19th, 20th, and 21st century. I rate it a +3 on the -4 to +4 scale or 9/10.

Film Credits:

What others are saying:


ALL IS LOST (film review by Mark R. Leeper):

CAPSULE: Robert Redford is traveling a long distance alone in a sailboat when mid-Indian-Ocean he hits a shipping container fallen from a container ship. He knows enough sea craft to avoid drowning for eight days, but it is a battle that he loses hour by hour. Fewer than five sentences are spoken in the flashback. The rest is just watching Redford doing whatever it takes and finding sometime ingenious solutions to problems cropping up. Rating: low +3 (-4 to +4) or 8/10

Test pilot Chuck Yeager was asked what he did when he got into real trouble flying a plane. He said you do not panic. You just keep doing the next thing and the next thing and the next thing.

Roger Ebert once said that you could make a really fascinating film showing a craftsman just working and showing the audience how he does what he does.

There is a very good suspense film, Philip Noyce's DEAD CALM. It involves a psychopathic killer, but what makes the film interesting is a sequence with Sam Neill as an Australian naval officer trapped and abandoned on a sinking yacht. He goes step-by-step, saving the boat from--or at least forestalling--sinking. He does the next thing and the next thing and the next thing and we wordlessly follow what he is doing. That same idea is the basis of the film ALL IS LOST.

Robert Redford plays an unnamed yachtsman who mid-ocean, 1700 nautical miles from land, has a collision with a shipping container carrying tennis shoes. The story begins with him saying goodbye to all who knew him and then in flashback wordlessly tells the story of how he fights valiantly against the ocean to stay alive. This is a film of action and suspense with no guns and no villains but the sea and an inevitable death. It is interesting that ALL IS LOST is so suspenseful. The title is something of a spoiler saying that things are not going to go well for him. We know from it and the first scene that even the man, capable sea man as he is, will eventually give in to despair.

At one time Redford played a series of films that Redford pointed out were on a theme of American winners. He played one winner after another. These were films like THE CANDIDATE, THE STING, and THE NATURAL. In ALL IS LOST he is older, rugged but less callow, and seems to be doing penance as he loses one battle after another with the sea. Sometimes his loss is through a mistake or nature doing something unexpected to him. And nature has some expected threats like storms and sharks. Sometimes his failures because of his negligence, sometimes bad luck, and sometimes we do not know what causes some of his problems. The viewer has hope for him, but that film's title hangs heavily over the entire narrative. At times the viewer might question his strategy, such as why he does not use his sails while he can.

The film is written and directed by J. C. Chandor, who also wrote and directed MARGIN CALL two years ago. That film depends mostly on the dialog and very little on the visuals. This film goes to the other extreme. Chandor uses a score by Alex Ebert and uses it sparingly. Still, when the viewer does hear music it seems out of place. This film could have gotten along with no music at all. This is probably one of the best films of the year and certainly one of the tensest. I rate it a low +3 on the -4 to +4 scale or 8/10.

Film Credits:

What others are saying:


IN A WORLD... (film review by Mark R. Leeper):

In a world where having a resonant voice is your fortune, voiceover artist compete with each other for success in overdubbing films, film trailers, and TV ads. Families of voiceover artists revolve form their own community and subculture. But if is hard to make a living in the business unless you are one of the top five great voices. Lake Bell wrote, directed, and plays the main character, Carol. Carol is the daughter of one of those five great voiceover artists and in her mid twenties she is intending to follow her father into the business. Not too surprisingly she has to balance her professional life with her emotional life. Can she find love and success?

This community of voiceover artists is a subculture few people knew existed. Not surprisingly the best part of the film is the look into this community and seeing the nuts and bolts of voiceover work. This is a small education for the viewer. The love story is fairly typical stuff and the comedy is more just an atmosphere of occasional whimsy, but it never goes all the way to funny. Occasionally it is hard to pierce through the professional jargon to understand what the characters are saying. Occasionally because sometime characters speak with accents, it is hard to make out what they are saying.

After you see the film you may find you are taking care to project better when you speak. Rating: high +1 on the -4 to +4 scale or 6/10 [-mrl]

BLACKFISH (film review by Mark R. Leeper):

This is one of those documentaries that make me ashamed to be human. The film tracks so-called accidents at SeaWorld between human and orcas (the so-called killer whales). Director Gabriela Cowperwaithe's film convincingly traces these dangerous incidents to the horrible treatment of orcas. This is an intelligent animal pulled out of the open ocean frequently from their mothers and put in unpleasant cement pools and given a boring life for all the time between performances. In the open ocean there is no record of them ever harming humans. In fact they appear friendly and curious about humans. They do kill and maim humans when put into the tight pools that they are given by ocean parks like Sea World. The whales do injure and injure their human trainers, but it can to traced to the abusive ways in which humans treat them. Some of the stories recounted in this documentary are heartbreaking. The film makes a very good case that this is an animal that cannot be kept in captivity. It is not in the orca's nature. And the Sea World whales are punishment trained, frequently starved if they do not perform. Attempts to raise them in captivity are dangerous both to the whale and to the humans who work with whales. The film in large part covers the story of Tillicum, held for performing and breeding, in spite of the fact he has killed several people. There are interviews with people who have worked with the whales and especially Tillicum who have become disillusioned with the profitable but cruel business of Ocean parks. Rating: high +2 on the -4 to +4 scale or 8/10 [-mrl]

Bill Clinton's Diet (letters of comment by Dan Kimmel, John Purcell, and Gregory Benford):

We got several responses to Mark's comments on Bill Clinton's diet in the 11/29/13 issue of the MT VOID.

Dan Kimmel writes:

Bill Clinton is NOT a "strict vegetarian." He is a "vegan" (as is my niece and my mother). It's not only no meat or dairy. It's no eggs or fish either. Ellen DeGeneres, James Cromwell, and Al Gore are also vegans. (Gore apparently just announcing his change of diet.) I can take it or leave it, mostly leave it, but this is a separate thing from being merely "vegetarian." See

Evelyn adds:

Basically, all vegans are vegetarians, but not all vegetarians are vegans. [-ecl]

John Purcell writes:

I fully understand the importance of a healthy diet, but I don't think I would ever cut red meat completely out of my diet. I definitely want to, and do, cut down on the portion sizes, which helps control weight gain and is more heart-healthy for me. The trick is to have more variety in my diet and exercise each day. So far that plan of attack has resulted in some weight loss, a very good thing, indeed. [-jp]

And Gregory Benford writes:

No need to copy Clinton's veggie diet: you don't have his massive cardio problems. Veggies have plenty of downside: protein deficiency, too much sugar, no fish (a clear positive in diets). [-gb]

Evelyn notes:

Tofu, beans, and TVP are reasonable vegetarian/vegan sources of protein. As with any diet, you have to pay attention to what you eat. [-ecl]

Mark replies:

I plan to continue my current diet that includes a limited amount of red meat with an occasional lapse at a place called Texas Road House. [-mrl]

Jewish Food (letter of comment by Dan Kimmel):

In response to Mark's and Fred Lerner's comments on Jewish food in the 11/22/13 and 11/29/13 issues of the MT VOID, Dan Kimmel writes:

Real fresh made gefilte fish--as opposed to getting out of a jar or can--is delightful, with or without horseradish.

I like many Ashkenazi dishes (what's Chanukah without latkes?) but Fred Lerner is right that there is a whole world of Jewish cooking beyond that. My cousin makes a Persian charoset for the Passover seder that is wonderful. [-dk]

THE HAUNTING and THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE (letter of comment by Kate Pott):

In response to Evelyn's comments on THE HAUNTING and THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE in the 11/29/13 issue of the MT VOID, Kate Pott writes:

Loved your film comparison notes but have a few questions.

Why do you think Eleanor is wearing Theo's robe? I assumed she had bought new clothes which included more fashionable sleeping wear as well as her old comfy bathrobe.

Also, I picked up on the romantic imagery from Scott and Shakespeare but where does "velvet and tweed" come from?

In the novel, Theo has just left a long-time relationship in which she shared an apartment with her lover. Helps to explain her desperate, rather clumsy immediate pursuit of Eleanor.

What do you mean about Markway checking for a pulse but not considering her artificial heart? What artificial heart? [-kbp]

Evelyn responds:

I don't think Eleanor was necessarily wearing Theo's robe; I think it was a continuity error where she runs into Theo's room without taking the time to put a robe on, but then is seen staying there wearing a robe.

I must admit I could not find a literary reference to "velvet and tweed", but it seems to be a common expression in children's clothing, and I'm guessing it came from *somewhere*.

I guess I was unclear about the artificial heart. It wasn't that anyone in the film had an artificial heart, but that scientists have recently developed a continuous-flow artificial heart that means that the user/wearer does not have a pulse. See or google "Bud Frazier" and "heart". [-ecl]

"The Howard, Gardner and Martin Show", MURDER BY DEATH and THE CHEAP DETECTIVE, and THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE (comments by John Purcell):

In response to the 11/29/13 issue of the MT VOID, John Purcell writes:

The latest VOID has arrived in my mailbox and deserves a few comments.

First off, I watched that Howard, Gardner and Martin Show video a couple weeks ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. More than anything, the video reinforced my long-held contention that SF fandom--well, the entire SF community--creates its own mythology, and this myth-building is one of the things that I find so attractive about fandom. It is always a pleasure to hear folks sharing their stories, like these three friends did. The sharing contributes more tales to our combined history, and that is always a good idea.

Valerie and I love MURDER BY DEATH. The cast is wonderful and it's a fun movie. CLUE is another good one, too, in which Tim Curry steals the show, and it also has a great cast. For some reason we have yet to see THE CHEAP DETECTIVE, and it does sound like a movie we would enjoy. I shall have to remember the date, or at least calendar it.

Wasn't there a remake of THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE starring Roddy McDowell? I am going to have to Google that and see; it was one of the best horror movies I have ever seen. Yes, there was, in 1973, screenplay by Richard Matheson.

Well that should do it. See you next week. [-jp]

Evelyn responds:

The Roddy McDowell 1973 film was the "Hell House" film I was writing about, and was not a remake of another film. It did not just have a screenplay by Matheson; it was based on his novel HELL HOUSE. [-ecl]

[See also John's comments on diets, above.]

The Second Shooter (letter of comment by Jim Susky):

In response to Mark's comment on the second shooter in the JFK assassination in the 11/22/13 issue of the MT VOID, Jim Susky writes:

I once read a book called BEST EVIDENCE (by David Lifton). His thesis was that JFK's body itself offered the best evidence for the case (the body was altered).

Anyway, my take on the assassination goes no farther than to say that there must have been one shooter, other than Oswald, at about 2 o'clock reckoned by the limo riders.

Cinemark Theatres showed Stone's JFK last week. I don't know enough or trust Stone enough to play fair with the facts to comment on his particular theory--but the Zapruder film shows the headshot indicating the 2 o'clock shooter (from direction of brain spray).

That cinches it--no matter what "Explanations" or speculations are proposed.

From Wikipedia:

"The United States House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) concluded in 1978 that Kennedy was probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy."

I think this was based in part on a recording of a police radio--which was "acoustically analyzed." (see Acoustical Evidence)


Evelyn responds:

The "Nova" show on the assassination came up with entirely different conclusions from the same evidence, so "clinches it" is clearly a subjective judgment. [-ecl]

ENERGY FOR FUTURE PRESIDENTS (letter of comment by Gregory Benford):

In response to Dale's review of ENERGY FOR PRESIDENTS in the 11/29/13 issue of the MT VOID, Gregory Benford writes:

Muller review: "Although Muller's points about radiation are well founded, his optimism bias toward both fission and fusion power seems overly strong, especially in comparison to competing technologies like Space Solar Power." Um ... The economic upfront cost is surely too much to make plausible SSP's deployment anytime soon, whereas nuclear provides 20% of your power now, and more in France (maybe 85%--and they sell more to every neighbor). [-gb]

This Week's Reading (book comments by Evelyn C. Leeper):

I am watching the BBC production THE HOLLOW CROWN, which consists of adaptations of William Shakespeare's RICHARD II, HENRY IV (Parts 1 and 2), and HENRY V. I know that people talk about how Shakespeare makes us empathize with Richard II, and laugh with Prince Hal and Sir John Falstaff, but all I find myself thinking is that these are all fairly despicable people. Richard II thinks everything he does is okay because he is king ("when the King does it, that means it's not illegal" sort of thing). Harry Percy (a.k.a. Harry Hotspur) is constantly flying off the handle. Falstaff lies, steals, drinks, wenches, takes bribes from able-bodied men and impresses slaves into the army instead, and Prince Hal is little better. And for all his complaints about Richard II's imperiousness, Henry IV is not all that different.

For years, decades even, everyone has been raving about SHADOW OF THE TORTURER by Gene Wolfe (ISBN 978-0-671-54066-1) and the subsequent books in "The Book of the New Sun". At one point ages ago I had started this, but never got past the first chapter or so. Now I decided to give this another try. This time I got about fifty pages in before I quit.

In THE LANGUAGES OF PAO by Jack Vance (ISBN 978-0-812-55696-4), Vance takes the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis to an extreme, or appears to. Yet the three classes of society are not created entirely by the languages, although that is not what is claimed: "The people of this area will be persuaded to the use of a new language. That is the extent of the effort." The description of the actual implementation seems to involve the isolating of children into three groups which are then raised in the mores of their intended class. (Indeed, the descriptions seem reminiscent of the methods of the Spartans.)

And the position of women is not only incredibly sexist (which can be explained as the attitudes of the cultures involved rather than an ideal promoted by Vance), but completely illogical. The planet Breakness has a shortage of women, apparently because they practice infanticide on girls (though this is never said explicitly). So they want women, and get them as indentured "servants" from Pao. But at the end of their indenture, the women return to Pao with their daughters (and a few sons selected to study there). In other words, Breakness never seems to figure out that a society with a huge surplus of men is going have permanent problems.

(I am reminded of the story where in order to increase the number of women available (so that men could have multiple wives), the king decreed that women might have as many daughters as they want, but must stop having children as soon as they had a son. This, not surprisingly, did not solve the mathematical problem. Why not?) [-ecl]

                                          Mark Leeper

Quote of the Week:

          Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.
                                          --Aldous Huxley

Go to our home page