I am finishing this up Wednesday night and will mail it to the Official Editor tomorrow morning. It is a tossup whether it will make the 410 disty or be held for #411.
EMAIL & SUCH
Brian keeps planning to set up a listserve for me to distribute ENTROPY. I think it will finally happen. He has up to #12 on his web page and I will give him this and the mailing list tomorrow, July 24. If you are reading this elsewhere and want to get on the listserve send me your e-mail address. I especially want comments on my history of Tolkien fandom and my search for missing NIEKAS manuscripts so I will start with the oldest relevant issue and send following ones out at about one-week intervals. I have a cheap printer on my computer and APAQ readers comstantly complain of faint copies. Brian ran off #12 on his printer which was much better. Anyhow, if you would rather read it on your screen, just let me know!
Work is picking up on NIEKAS #45, the dark fantasy ish guest edited by Joe Christopher. Only two articles still need poorfing, and Jim Reynolds has most of the rest typeset. Todd and I gave up our Lonestarcon huckster table but we MIGHT have the ish there. If so it will be in the fanzine sales room and I will try to place it with several dealers. Now I have to get to work on my next general ish.
THE NFB CONVENTION
As usual I attended the annual National Federation of the Blind convention the first week of July. It broke our attendance records but is still far from Worldcon class. We registered 3346 people, and only have registration at the door. We have no security so badges are not needed to get in, but we have a number of incentives like door prizes (some worth up to $1000) and special room rates (New Orleans Hyatt for $45 a night!) to encourage registration. Also registration only costs $10. Still, some attendees never got around to registering.
Half the con is special committee and division meetings and I went to dog guide users, scientists & engineers, and research & development. Also there is a big huckster room with all kinds of high and low tech items for sale. Microsoft is finally cooperating with the disabled community and helping our programmers make their software speech and Braille friendly. The Carroll Center, an adult rehab school in Newton MA, had a booth where they gave free one-hour demo lessons in Windows 95 without a mouse and with speech. They teach it at their school in the form of an intensive full-time course at $1,000 for a week. Anyhow, I gave it a try and was very pleasantly surprised. It was not the horror I thought it would be. After the screen reading software (Windoweyes, JAWS for Windows, etc.) has some more bugs out of it I might consider making the switch from DOS. However it would involve about $700 for the screen reading software and a steep learning curve so I am not rushing in. I am still using PC Write and PC File in DOS and am happy with them, but will eventually need Windows to operate the upcoming computer disk talking book system.
As an aside, one problem with PC Write #3.03 is that it makes all my returns hard when transferred to Word or Word Perfect. This makes working with typesetters for NIEKAS difficult. I wish there were an easy way to get rid of them.
Ours IS primarily a political convention--not in the sense of Republican or Democrat, but as an advocacy and civil rights organization. We DO have friends on both sides of the isle in Congress, and our own officers include both active Democrats and Republicans. We did achieve our goal this year of a national "Braille bill" which requires that all blind and visually impaired children be offered Braille if it will benefit them. You would be surprised to know how many blind children went through school without ever being taught this vital skill. We also got Congress to amend the copyright laws to make it easier to produce Braille and talking books and magazines. Our main remaining goal at the moment is to restore the linkage between how much a blind person can earn without losing Social Security and medicare benefits and what a senior citizen can earn.
We are again facing a problem with the portrayal of blind persons by the media. We helped get the program GOOD AND EVIL off the air a few years ago. Had it been a major success our negative publicity, protests to sponsors, etc., would have had little effect, but we did get the network to cancel the show early and never show the last few filmed episodes. We know the show was a farce but still the bumbling and stupid blind character would leave a residue of negative feeling about the abilities of blind persons in the general public. It might have a subconscious negative effect on the decisions of a manager considering hiring a blind teacher, lawyer, mechanic, computer worker, or whatever.
Now Disney is making a live-action movie of Mr. Magoo. Ever since they first bought the rights to the creep we have tried to communicate with them, urging them to kill the project. At our convention we passed unanimously a strongly worded resolution criticising the studio and project and got a lot of good publicity. They still refuse to talk to us. We will continue to generate negative publicity on the project but have no hope of having a real economic impact on them. All we can do is to keep telling the public that Magoo is as funny as a broken crutch.
Our organization did get a contract with the Department of Labor for an exciting new project, Jobline. For about 15 years we had "Job Opportunities for the Blind" which helped about 100 blind persons a year find competative work at good pay. Now we are setting up a nation wide job listing service which will be accessable 24 hours a day with a touch-tone phone. You can access the Federal computerised job listing database and specify field of interest, location of where you want to center your search and the radius to which you will travel, expected pay range, etc. As each listing is read by a computerized voice you can interrupt and reject it and move on the next one at the touch of a button. It is now a demo project in Baltimore and we are soliciting local state employment agencies and voc rehab agencies to sponsor local access points.
BLAnCmANGE (Mark Blackman). I really liked some of the quips you printed, namely [quasiquoting] "neopagans are the best witch hunters, finding witches where there were none,"and "McVeigh was so outraged that the government killed children at Wacko that he went out and killed children in Oklahoma City."
DAGON (John Boardman). I am on "timebinders," a computer mailing list for the discussion of fan history. About a month ago someone requested membership but his return address was messed and the "postmaster" couldn't figure out who heesh was. The applicant referred to being in the sticks and needing more contact than the "monthly trip to a BPLF meeting." Maybe you or another APA-Q reader knows who this Beaker People person might be. The address for Timebinders is "[email protected]".
Transit Authority sponsored stories on National Public Radio claim that most New Yorkers like the subway fare cards. Are the new turnstiles equipped with slots to use the cards on exiting, even if this feature is not used now? I remember when I lived in NY in the '50s the TA had proposed a zone fare system with fares ranging from 5c to 25c depending on the length of the ride, but it was rejected. Such a zone plan would be easier to impliment, as in DC and SF, with the fare cards. Also bargain fares nights and weekends. Is that in the future plans of the TA? Is fear of this a cause of the dislike of the cards?
I first read Williamson's THE HUMANOIDS in the early '50s when I first started reading SF. About five years ago the Library of Congress talking book program recorded it and his sequel, title forgotten. I read both at that time and I have no memory of using mental powers to fight the robots. (You said that the robot technology was based on the second triad of metals, including rhodium, and the human counter-effort used the third triad.) I only remember that at the end of both books the robots won and mankind was doomed to a perpetually protected life with no room for excitement or exploration. When the first book appeared in ASTOUNDING it was as two stories, "With Folded Hands" and "And Searching Mind," the latter implying room for mental growth. My memory of the story, in ASF and in book form, did not seem to leave that "out."
You mentioned that when Shakespeare's HENRY VIII was first performed the Globe theater burned down. I assume that this was not the end of dramatic presentations in London. It wasn't until the dour Calvinists took over that plays were banned in England. How near the end of Shakespeare's career was this? Where did they continue to present the plays?
I had never heard the accusation that Disney stole Mickey Mouse from a former partner. What is the story? According to a biography of Disney that I read 10 or 15 years ago, early in his career, while he was working for someone else, he created "Oswald the Rabbit" (or am I misremembering and it was "Andy Panda?") but retained no rights to the character. After that he vowed to never work for someone else again. Speaking of Oswald (and Andy), when did they fade away? I remember seeing comic books featuring him (and different ones with Andy) in the mid-'40s. Also, were they associated with particular studios or conics chains? Also, I do not remember any movie cartoons of either character.
I hope the protests of the NFB about demeaning portrayals of blind persons by Disney will have more public acceptance than the funnymentalist protests of the Southern Baptists. (See above.) As our resolution said, Disney could never get away with re-doing Amos and Andy. Nor should they bring back Magoo. When Blacks, and blind persons, do have real equality farcical characters would not hurt anybody, especially in a totally farcical environment. But not today.
Everett F. Bleiler
To personal matters. About the doughnut- like pastry, for which you gave the Lithuanian name and mention having forgotten the Polish. Could it have been paczki? There should be a nasalization hook under the "a," which my computer cannot handle. If so, in Chicago they used to call pretty much the same thing a Bismarck, but it usually had currant jelly instead of prunes. It was impossible to eat without squirting jelly all over oneself.
Second point: If you are interested in Jane Austen pastiches. Reginald Hill in his There Are No Ghosts in the Soviet Union has an excellent one on Emma: "Poor Emma." It's available in paperback, or at least was, Avon.
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