The View from Entropy Hall (Online Archive) - From Ed Meskys - RR2 Box 63 - 322 Whitter Hwy - Center Harbor NH 03226
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Issue #27

The View From Entropy Hall #27 for APA-Q 436, 31 July 1999, from Ed Meskys, RR #2 Box 63, 322 Whittier Hwy, Center Harbor NH 03226-9708, [email protected], 603-253-6207. Text online at: {Corrections made after APA distribution in braces.}

ENTROPY is my APA-Q zine which I do whenever I can, about 4 times a year. Because my discussion of passing on my fanzine collection (see "Of Age and Libraries" below) concerns NESFA I am also putting thish through APA-NESFA for 15 August. Since I am not a member of the APA I would greatly appreciate someone passing on to me any comments directed to me or in further discussion of this. If the commentators could email me text files of their comments that would be perfect. Thanks!

Brian Thurston has finally put up the new ENTROPY website at: He has modified the site after consulting the service mentioned last time in order to help make it more accessible to blind users. The Entropy site carries all back issues of THE VIEW FROM ENTROPY HALL. Brian dropped his subscription to the service which originally held the Entropy website but looked at it six months later, and the first 25 issues of ENTROPY are still there. He could not write to it, however, so could not put in a forwarding direction to the new site. Also, at least MCFI, the Mythopoeic Society, and N3F websites have links to this old site. I do not know if someone could trace all these backwards and direct the sites to redirect to the new Entropy site. The old site is

Below is a rough draft of what will be the opening section of my editorial in the next NIEKAS, #46. I am looking for additional input for the special focus section on sports, especially baseball, and SF and fantasy. This will give you a good idea of what I have, and if you need it to help your bit I will be glad to send copies of the articles and reviews on hand. Below is the second draft of the opening section of my editorial column for the next NIEKAS. It has not yet been passed by Nan Scott to proof my understanding of her hand-written letter that was never intended for publication. I WILL delete or change it if she wishes. Anyhow, I am sending it to several people to try to get additional material for the focus section, especially reviews of additional sf/fantasy sports stories. If any potential contributor wishes to see the material on hand, I will be glad to send her a copy.

Fred Lerner has provided many excellent ideas for NIEKAS over the years. Several times he saw an article intended for NIEKAS and suggested building it up into a special focus section or special issue. Such articles inspired the focus sections on religion in SF in N25 and on Kipling's influence on our field in N44. He also came up with the focus on Islandia and the special Silverlock issue of NIEKAS, and collected the contributors. He also suggested making a long Moskowitz manuscript into a single issue of NIEKAS. (Others have also contributed ideas...Mike Bastraw; the Barbarian focus, the 50-word short short story issue, and the Bradbury and Obsessions chapbooks, Anne Braude: the Norton issue and the dragon focus in N30, and I; the focuses on laws of magic in fantasy, on Dr. Who, and the special Arthurian fantasy issue.) When Fred saw the Nan Scott manuscript on the lack of overlap between SF fen and sports enthusiasts, but going on to review three baseball fantasy novels Kinsella's Shoeless Joe and The Iowa Baseball Confederacy and Darryl Brock's If I Never Get Back, Fred immediately suggested a fourth book for her to find and review: Coover's The Universal Baseball Association and I remembered Nancy Willard's Things Invisible to See which I had read. Fred also suggested getting additional pieces on the parallels of baseball and SF fandom..., which he went on to write himself. Fred went on to suggest others who might contribute and though several promised none came through. Anne Braude had an excellent idea but did not have the knowledge to write it up. Earlier this century the United States had a sports ethic traceable back to the British "playing fields of Eton" about winning and fair play. Anne says that Red Granger, the West Point football hero of the 20's or 30's, was a national ikon, considered the ideal sports hero, and wonders how this influenced pulp fiction, especially S.F. heroes of the time. I remember kids' radio shows of the '40s like "Jack Armstrong, the All American Boy" and comics like BLUE BOLT about two West Point students, which carried it on. Today it is gone and now "winning isn't the most important thing, it is the ONLY thing." How was this reflected in the SF of the'30s, and how does modern stf reflect its loss? I brought up this focus in the con suite of the 1998 Ditto and many SF, fantasy, and horror stories were named which had a sports motif. Right now I can only remember the novel The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant by Douglas Wallop later made into the play and movie DAMN YANKEES, and the Anderson-Dickson "Hoka" story parodying "Casey at the Bat." Since then I came across Bishop's Brittle Innings and George Alec Effinger's story collection Idle Pleasures both of which Nan has reviewed as supplements to this section. I developed like the typical SF fan in Nan's article, neither playing in nor watching sports. I don't know how much was due to my extreme nearsightedness (which only corrected to 20/50 with very thick glasses) and how much to intrinsic interests in other directions. But even though I grew up in Brooklyn and hoped the Dodgers would win the World Series, I never listened to a game on the radio or attended one. Around 1948 I did watch one game on a neighbor's TV but only because my friend wanted to watch it. I don't remember whether he was a Yankees or Giants enthusiast. Anyhow, when the Dodgers left Brooklyn I lost my last vestige of interest in baseball. Now I have come to despise all professional sports because of the selfishness of the team owners who will only stay in a city if the taxpayers will foot the bill for a billion dollar sports complex with luxury sky boxes. I did attend about 15 high school football games and two college basketball games, but only because of pressure by the administration to go and support the school. I have never attended or watched on TV any other sporting event. I do get interested in historical or theoretical pieces, like the PBS TV series on baseball, and the articles in thish. (Coeditor Todd is the exact opposite He watches all kinds of athletics enthusiastically.)

Nan and I have continued to correspond about the nature of interest in sports, and her most recent letter gave me a feeling for why people follow sports teams. I found her arguments very powerful and want to quote them here.

I was never keen on playing sports. I had no natural talent or coordination, and it wasn't especially encouraged of girls in the 1940s anyway. There were no formal Little Leagues. Who would have volunteered to coach? There was a war on! So we boys and girls, (mostly girls on my block) played some casual pick-up softball in vacant lots in spring and summer. Except for horse riding and swimming that was it for me, but I was always a passionate baseball fan, probably because my parents, my aunts, my grandparents, my great aunts, all followed the game, and going to triple-A high minor league professional baseball games to see the Toledo Mudhens was one of a number of things we did as a family on a summer night or a Sunday afternoon. In later years I sometimes asked myself why I cared so much, and reminded myself that it was only a game.

But apart from the aesthetic aspect and the history of baseball, I think it, and college basketball, have a capacity to fuse and unify an otherwise disparate community. One of the books in the college correspondence course on children's lit that I teach for The University of Kansas is Betty Bao Lord's In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson, which treats this theme, though its main theme is duality, the delicate balance between blending into the American melting pot and retaining one's root culture, multiculturalism. In this children's novel, which seems very light and playful on the surface, easy and fun to read, but which is also rich in theme and symbols, a little Chinese-American girl in 1947 Brooklyn grapples with the dual goals, to become an American and part of the group, while remaining herself with her family's own ethnic traditions and customs. Meanwhile, Jackie Robinson, grandson of a slave, and a member of a minority group still not "melted", is inspiring and unifying Dodger fans of all colors and ethnic backgrounds as he also brings African-Americans into a cultural and financial mainstream of U.S. life in his integrating of major league baseball. I happened to be teaching this novel on campus in 1988 the week the K.U. Jayhawks won the National Championship in basketball, and that too was a very unifying experience as Greeks and independents, faculty and students, grad students, undergrads, traditionalists, bohemians, all shared in a mutual joy. It is, I guess, that capacity to unify and to supply joy, often sudden and unexpected, that attracts me to sports, mainly baseball and college hoops. I liked high school football but barely follow the college and pro games, dislike pro basketball, and pretty much ignore hockey. As for soccer, a game in which you may not use your hands, but you are allowed to butt the ball with your head??? Forget it!

When I was growing up SF was a literature for male nerds. SF was rare and that "crazy Buck Rogers stuff" to the general public. Many other fen, like me, were misfits and huddled to contemplate our "sense of wonder" and fit Nan's description. Tolkien and Spock on STAR TREK brought in the women, and then STAR WARS and other major movies and TV shows brought in the general public. Today EVERYONE watches SF but most still do not read it. But isn't that true concerning all forms of literature? I just saw in SF CHRONICLE a list of all the major best seller novels ever published in the U.S., and perhaps only six or 8 ever topped one million copies. When you think that there are about 200 million adults here, what does this say about readership in general? One author commented that the Danish translation of his novel sold as many copies as the U.S. edition. Think what this says about the relative literacy of the two countries?

Anyhow, a number of media fen do begin to read tie-in novels, move in to the more sophisticated general SF, and into fandom. Among younger fen I find far more interest in sports than I did when I first entered the field.

While 63 is not THAT old, I do feel things closing in and worry about what to do with my books, magazines, fanzines, and other stuff. I started reading S.F. from the library in 1950, buying magazines in 1951, and books shortly after that. At one point I tried collecting magazines and paperback books as one would collect coins or postage stamps, getting variant editions. When a book would be reissued with a new cover I would pick it up. Same with FANTASY BOOK magazine which had published some issues with variant covers. I collected mainly magazines and paperback books at that time, but had to give up on trying to be a completist in the mid-'60s. As my collection grew I added bookcases and even built a new library/office in 1970. I never threw out a fanzine, and bought some other collections, and now have perhaps 50 boxes of them in the attic, the basement, the garage, and even on the side of the stairway. While I was sighted I kept the zines in file folders filed by title, but that has broken down long ago. Now I cannot access the items I would like to find, even the properly filed ones because the boxes are buried under others and scattered in random order. For instance, I never read Archie Mercer's mimeographed novel, THE MEADOWS OF FANTASY, and now want to do so. It would probably be easier to find and buy a replacement copy than find my old one.

The S.F./FSY books I am not worried about. Sandy is not interested in any except those she might want to re-read. Many she has never read and is not interested in trying to read. However Stanley likes the idea of eventually inheriting the book collection and I hope he will have his own home and the space to store it by when both Sandy and I are gone. I have kept alternate editions on some books and older fragile copies are stored on rather inaccessible shelves high in the stairwell to the second floor. I might consider selling these though few if any are very valuable.

Magazines are another matter. Originally I only collected digests and not pulps, though I did get a few of the latter. I do NOT have the really rare digests like MARVEL TALES from before WWII, but have most post war digests through around 1970. I had concentrated on ASTOUNDING and UNKNOWN, and have all but two dozen Campbell ASFs and about half the UNKNOWNs. I have a very few WEIRDs from the '20s and the first issue of AMAZING inscribed to me by Hugo Gernsback and Frank R. Paul. I have other scattered pulps...not more than two or three dozen, and a score or two of ARGOSSYs from before WWII. Lately I have acquired only semi-prozines like MZB FANTASY, TOMORROW, HARSH MISTRESS, AMAZING until it folded a few years ago (not the recently revived media tie-in zine), etc. I have a few early Ackerman FAMOUS MONSTERS and SPACEMEN just because they WERE by Forry. I have many post-war British prozines, including some short-lived ones, again to about 1970. And then there are a few real oddballs like an issue of the Argentinian URANIA, LA REVISTA DEL ANO 2000. The condition is not pristine. I did read the magazines and while I was careful, they do show signs of wear. Some paper is yellowing, and something really strange happened to my GALAXYs. Either mice or insects loved the glue and many of the spines are gone.

Neither Sandy nor Stanley have any interest in any of these. Sandy does not LIKE short stories and Stanley is afraid the magazines would fall apart if he tried to read them. This is the first thing I will sell, and plan to start writing dealers in the next few months. I think I will only keep the MZBs and TOMORROWs because friends are involved in these zines. An old correspondent going back to the '50s, Peter Shulin from a Suburb of Pittsburgh, just sold HIS magazine collection to a dealer from the DC area and I have written him to find out to whom and how satisfied he was with the deal. I will also contact other dealers like Bob Madle and Rusty Hevelin to see if they are interested. I know that old pulps are considered valuable collectors' items but unfortunately most of my zines are digests. I am a little reluctant to let go of the collection but realize I will never be able to use it, nor will anyone in my family, so it should eventually find its way into the hands of those who will appreciate it.

Fanzines are a much more difficult matter. As I said, I have at least 50 boxes of them, and new ones accumulate at a rate of 2 or 3 feet a year. I love fanzines but get only a small portion of what is published today, and even then get to have read to me only about half of what comes in. Favorites include FILE 770, MIMOSA, CHALLENGER, SFC, LOCUS, TWINK, and ERG, though I enjoy many others, like FANTASY COMMENTATOR, too.

I must do something about these before I pass on just to be sure they will be preserved. I am running out of room and will have to find a home for them before too long. In March I brought this up at a fan meeting in a bar in Brooklyn (see below), and said I was looking for a home for them and help gathering and sorting them. Theresa Neilson Hayden suggested getting in touch with NESFA as they are near me, we know each other, they have a clubhouse to store them, and the manpower to dig them out and sort them. I have not yet visited the clubhouse, but apparently they are already running out of room. At Lunacon they were selling off duplicate books from their library to make room. Illogical as it seems, it still hurts and feels like I am disposing of my children, so I am not rushing into this. I do know that even if they cannot store the zines and make them available, they could help find and sort them and find a place which would preserve them.

Actually, on July 19 I attended my first NESFA meeting in 24 years and brought up this matter. Mark Olson, Tony Lewis, and others suggested that Joe Siclari and the fan history project could spend some time at my home finding the zines and packing them up for preservation. Three days later Joe phoned me and he will probably drive up some time next year, picking up Mark Olson and others, and make a start. Joe said he drove his van up to Howard deVore's a couple of times and took away many of his fanzines, and has more trips to make. Funding is a problem but the ideal is to make several fanzine collections available for reading and research in different parts of the country and to sell off surplus copies to help fund the project. They would also like to expand it to include prozines since they are so important to the history of our microcosm.

I also collect books about SF including histories, autobiographies, studies, etc., and have some 200-300 titles. I want to keep these for now but provide for their care in my will. I thought I might leave them to the High Hallack writer's retreat, which Andre Norton is setting up but Joe said that that project seems to be falling apart. Anyhow, I am making my intent public so people would know what to do if something sudden happens to me, and I will listen to suggestions and keep my plans flexible.

Finally there is correspondence. I have letters from J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and a number of now deceased authors in our field. Many are properly stored in a filing cabinet and I have no thoughts about what to do about them. Some are quite valuable and of real historic interest and I have no thoughts about what to do with them at this point. I have not discussed this with Stanley who would have first call on them.

I have other, non-stfnal, items to dispose of eventually. Another interest of mine is subway and elevated railroad lines and I have a few books and many years of E.R.A. [Electric Railroaders' Association] HEADLIGHTS, and an almost complete run of TRANSIT MAGAZINE published for NY Transit Authority employees in the '50s. The latter had an interesting historical piece or one on a system in another city every ish.

From my teaching days I have many physics, math, and astronomy textbooks. Stanley will never be interested in these and library and charitable book sales do not want old textbooks. I want to keep some as references to look something up if necessary, or if I end up helping or tutoring someone. Some have historical interest like an astronomy book from 1900 or THE ATOMIC THEORY published in the 1880s. It is amazing to read these today and see how our knowledge has changed. But the dozens of college texts have no value to anyone and except for a few favorite titles I will probably just have to dump them. . This has gone on too long but next ish I hope to remember to discuss some of my favorite reference and textbooks.

I have already given part of my stamp collection, which I have had no interest in since I left high school in 1954 to NIEKAS co-editor Todd Frazier who DOES collect stamps. I am giving away my Lithuanian books to individuals as I find them and institutions which might be interested. And that leaves my thousands of cassettes and other recordings. I have runs of GALAXY and ANALOG on 8-1/3 R.P.M. phonograph records, hundreds of SF books on special format audio cassettes (to play six hours on a c-90), and blind-related books and magazines. I expect when I am gone they will be simply dumped. Maybe Stanley will want my 50 or so filk tapes, many pirate copies but some purchased originals. I do not want to leave an impossible mess for Stanley to clear up when I am gone, and am in a house-cleaning mood. If anything can be used or appreciated by anyone else they should go there. I am even beginning to wonder about art objects and fine crystal, china, silver, which belonged to my parents but which our life style does not make use of. We do NOT do elegant tea or dinner parties and I doubt Stanley will. I really have to talk to him about this, and if he does not have any interest perhaps we should find antique dealers so they would eventually go to someone who could use them.

So much there is to do and see there simply is no way
We're so tired from running about I'd scarcely call it play
We'll die before we're forty 'cause our bodies just can't last
But we'll cram in a lot of fun in the harried leisure class
--Clam Chowder in their album STEWED

From February 12 to March 20 Sandy and I spent a frantic and exhausting five weeks of "having fun." Feb 12 to 14 was Boskone in Framingham, Mass. I was on two panels, and attended (and sometimes kibitzed) on others. I had a NIEKAS table in the Huckster room, and sold Fred Lerner's new book on the history of libraries for him. (Before that I had been in DC on N.F.B. Business Jan 29 to Feb 3, and had dinner with Dick Eney and Tamar Lindsay Sunday night. Also I helped at a support meeting for elderly blind, on Feb. 3 going straight from the Manchester airport to the meeting in Laconia.) The next 2.5 weeks were tame with one N.F.B chapter meeting, two Lions Club meetings, and one session helping them operate their fund-raising bingo.

Friday March 5 we took off for Lunacon at the Ryetown Hilton in NY, a.k.a. the Hilton Escher. This meant driving to Concord NH, taking a bus to Boston's South Station, Amtrak to Stamford CT., and Metro North to Rye. There, like at Boskone, we shared room and food with Jane Sibley, Ed & Wenna Hutnik, and Jim Reynolds (we also had Lis Carey with us at Boskone). Todd Frazier couldn't make either con because a labor shortage at work kept him from taking time off. Again I was on two panels and kibitzed on others from the audience, especially one on the history of NY fandom and one on the new Worldcon non-rotation plan.

Sunday afternoon we returned to Brooklyn with the Boardmen and had a nice visit the next few days. John got me caught up reading APA-Q, though NOW I have to find the time to write up my notes. Monday Sandy and I took the subway to the Polish neighborhood in Brooklyn and I stocked up on provisions to bring home...fresh (non-smoked) kilbasa, two kinds of heavy rye, cheese babka, and poppyseed babka made by the Lithuanian Bakery in NJ, Chruschik (ausukiu in Lithuanian), basically pie dough which is deep fried and sprinkled with confectioner's sugar while still wet, and very substantial Polish/Lithuanian jelly donuts. In ENTROPY 14 Everett Bleiler said he thought I was describing "paczki." We got all these at Eagle Provisions on 5 Ave around 18 St. When done we needed lunch and Sandy found an excellent Greek luncheonette right across 5th Ave. from Eagle. We went by subway and returned to the Boardmans' by bus.
Next morning Sandy, John, and I did our usual book hunting trip, but this time were joined by Mark Blackman. For future reference I want to give as detailed information as I can reconstruct about all the bookstore locations. This time we started in downtown Brooklyn to see if some stores I used to frequent 30 years ago were still there. The first store was Avery's Books on the south side of Livingston St., just East of Bond. It still had a good selection. The manager told us that the others I remembered on Montague St. were gone, and one on Willoughby near Lawrence was about to close. He said there were a couple of others, both very small, around Court St., but we didn't ask for directions. We went to Willoughby next and found the store was not closing, but had just moved to an upstairs location. "Binkin's Books and Dolls" was 54 Willoughby on the south side(718-855-7813) just west of the Lawrence St. subway exit. From there we caught the R to City Hall to visit Rose's on Chambers near Church. We found nothing of interest and were VERY disappointed that the Tribeca restaurant, around the corner, was out of business. On our last few visits we had had excellent Polish lunches there. And we really missed my favorite bookstore, SM&M, forced out of business by a greedy landlord. We walked north on West Broadway to our usual next stop, Soho Books just north of Canal (351 West Broadway NY 10013, 212-226-3395. Their business card also listed other locations, which I had been unaware of, at 80 Nassau St, NY 10038, 791-1788, a little SE of City Hall, and "Bleeker St. Books, discounted new and old" 350 Bleeker St, NY 10014, 675-2084. They also participate in the NY Online Bookfinder,

We were really ready for a late lunch and were getting a little tired, so we kept our eyes open for a restaurant. Just a bit later, Sandy found an Indian restaurant, Karahi 508 Broome St. (n side, just west of W. Broadway) NY 10013, tel 965-1515. They had an OUTSTANDING luncheon buffet at a VERY reasonable price. It was late and little was left on the buffet, but they cooked up some extra just for us. Their Chicken Tandori was marvelous, as was their dessert of rice pudding. Everything else was excellent, too, but those were what really struck me. Since the buffet was shutting down for the afternoon they put the whole bowl of rice pudding on our table and we each had three helpings until we finished it. Anyhow, two days in a row Sandy found excellent restaurants for lunch.

Then we headed north and west to the "S F Shop," sharing a location with a comicbook store, on Sullivan just north of Bleeker, where we found several wanted titles. From there we had planned to go on to the Strand Bookshop, the Barnes & Noble superstore at Union Square where I wanted to investigate their "instant remaindered" titles, and the children's shop, "Books of Wonder" and two used bookshops on 18 St. near 6 Ave. However I was pooping out and suggested we quit. The others felt likewise so we grabbed the subway at West 4 St. Sandy went home with John, but I took the R train to 9 St. and walked to the Gate Pub at 5 Ave. and 4 St., where a fan group meets on the second Tuesday of the month. (They are moving to a new location just NE of Union Square in Manhattan.) The group started as an offshoot of an online chat room or something like that whose members wanted to also meet face to face. There was no formal organization, mailing list, or announcements other than on the Internet inviting all readers to drop in. Gary Farber sent announcements to a few people, including me, which is how I had heard about it.
I got there at 5:30, a bit early, got a nice microbrew, and fell asleep at a table in the back area where the group usually meets. I woke up around 7 and no one was there yet, and was about to go back to John's in disgust when two showed up. One had been sitting at the bar alone for a half-hour and hadn't noticed me because the back was so dark. Anyhow, about eight or ten gathered in all and we had a great time talking and drinking microbrews. I brought up my concerns about passing on my fanzine collection and they suggested I get in touch with NESFA about preserving it and making it available. See my remarks above.

Around ten P.M. people realized they were getting hungry Pat and Theresa Neilsen Hayden invited us to their home a few blocks away on Union Ave. between 4 and 5 Ave, where we phoned out for Pizza while our hosts plied us with beer and hard cider. As Theresa was lifting a six-pack out of the fridge a wet bottom tore, four bottles shattered on the floor, and she cut her bare feet to the accompaniment of expletives. After she patched herself up things settled down to faanish talk. I was very interested to learn that on that very day Gary Farber had been put on a train to Boston where he would be staying with a friend until he could get back on his feet financially.

A bit past midnight I was getting tired so called Perdita who had promised to pick me up and Moshe Feder gave her directions there. Theresa came out to wait with me but it was cold and she didn't have a coat on. Others started to leave too, and Moshe and Lise Eisenberg decided to wait with me. They saw Perdita find a parking place a bit down the street so they helped me find her before she could get out and start looking for the right house number. Perdita offered to drive Lise home, as she lived less than a mile away on Montague St. Moshe rode with us to a spot a little closer to his subway station.

Next day Perdita drove us to Penn Station and John came in with us to help us handle our luggage, which unfortunately is NOT made of sapient sandalwood.

We did nothing on Thursday, my 63rd birthday, but Friday I led a group of nine Federationists to a leadership training seminar in Wooster (or however they spell it) Mass. I got home late Saturday night and next morning right after church Sandy and I drove to Middlebury VT for a Tom Paxton concert. We stopped in a wonderful "home hostel" where Sandy cooked dinner before the performance. We greatly enjoyed the concert and bought a CD of his favorite classic songs during the break. He had a fellow folker from Cambridge with him who backed him up on several songs, and did one solo. Unfortunately I messed up my Braille notes and cannot remember his name. In the performance Paxton did only a few of classics like "Can't Help But Wonder Where I'm Bound" and "What Did You Learn in School Today" but otherwise did songs all new to me. He started with a few topical political satires and then did many love ballads and other general songs. Most of the audience was middle-aged like Sandy and me but there were a few young people in the sold-out house. Paxton only sold his nostalgia C.D. but said that all his recordings can be found on AMAZON.COM or by dialing 1,888-npr-disk. Also he no longer does a newsletter announcing his appearances and recordings. A website, "dirty linen," lists all performances of virtually all folk singers.

Next morning we drove home and had a Lions Club dinner meeting that night. Tuesday morning Sandy had her Tai Chi class and that evening I took a Red Cross sponsored course in first aid. (On March 2nd I had taken the CPR course.) After three days' recovery we had a N.F.B. chapter meeting Saturday afternoon and that evening we attended a concert by "Woods Tea Company" at the Old Mill in Laconia. Woods Tea had been originally a pair of musicians doing a mix of Celtic and folk music and come from Vermont. Every year they perform in Laconia shortly after St. Patrick's Day. This year they acquired a third voice and were better than ever. Again we bought their latest C.D. which was basically a re-creation of their current concert program.
Exhaustion, anyone?

Sandy found for me on the website an interview of Octavia Butler which she downloaded onto disk and which I read. In it Butler mentioned that it will take three more volumes after PARABLE OF THE TALENTS to finish the Starseed series.

As I said above, on March 14 we attended a Tom Paxton concert in Middlebury, VT, and on the same day I started to re-read Diamond's GUNS, GERMS, AND STEEL. One song Paxton performed was "The Road from Srebenice" (the name sounded like "Shebernitza" but John Boardman told me he thought this was the correct spelling) about the Serbian massacre of every male Muslim in that city, 6,000 in all. Diamond wrote of the Mauri massacre in December, 1835, of the entire population of the just rediscovered Chatham islands, about two thousand in all.
The Chatham Islands are farther south than most Pacific islands and were settled by New Zealanders a couple of centuries after New Zealand itself. N.Z.'s northern island was lush and could support a dense population. Many competing tribes developed and constantly had fierce battles against each other. The Chatham Islands were off the trade routes and were forgotten soon after discovery and colonization. There were no trees so the Islanders could not build replacement canoes and became isolated. The food crops they brought with them could not prosper in the colder climate and soon they were down to seafood for survival. Lack of supplies forced them to limit their population and develop a peaceful society. They practiced population control by castrating some infants at birth and developed a system of peaceful mediation for resolving all disputes. By our standards it was an ideal society.

Then a European ship stumbled on the island and the crew casually reported their find at their next port of call, on New Zealand. A group of Mauris immediately went to their war canoes and invaded the islands. A few weeks a second load of Mauris followed. They purposely killed all but a few inhabitants. They had no interest in negotiating with the natives or sharing the new land with them. They simply wanted the islands and their seafood resources for themselves. Initially they took a very few prisoners, but at whim a Mauri would kill one of them. When asked why they did that, they asked why shouldn't they kill them? Anyhow, in a very short time the last Chatham Islander was exterminated. Is there any difference between this and what the Serbs did in Srebenice? This brings two further thoughts to mind.

While the Serbs are not the only villains in the former Yugoslavia, they are by far the worst. I do find them comparable to the Germans under Hitler. However the world is an awful place, considering the religious massacres in India and Sri Lanka, the Communist murders in Russia under Stalin, Cambodia, China during the "Cultural Revolution," the ethnic wars between the Hutus and Tutsis (I know the spelling is wrong) in central Africa, etc. Germany has become a peaceful democracy with no more Nazi fanatics than can be found in the U.S., and perhaps some of these other lands will become truly civilized some day. And look at the absolutely horrible Vikings who murdered and plundered from Constantinople to Ireland. Today they are the Danes, the most civilized people in Europe, and have been that way for many years. And were the Normans or Saxons who invaded the British Isles any better? While modern England is not as civilized as Denmark (look at the horrid conquests of India and other lands and the concomitant dehumanization of the native populations only last century), they still are far better than their ancestors.

Finally let us look at the very depressing lesson to be learned from the Chatham Islands. I hate this conclusion but I cannot avoid believing that any pacifistic ideal society cannot survive if any aggressive society exists anywhere. Larry Niven made that point in his first published story, "The Warrior," in which humanity has conditioned itself as a whole into a pacifistic society and then runs into the Kzin, a warrior race, for the first time. In this story man learns to fight again only at great psychological cost. Please, can someone convince me that I have drawn the wrong conclusion?

Dr. Jacob Fried in his "Editor's Letter" in the November 1998, JBI VOICE [Jewish Braille Institute, 110 E. 30 St., NY 10016] said: ...Jews are staying with Clinton, not because they approve of his behavior, but because they like where he stands on the issues most important to them. Their comments can be summarized by "disgusting," quickly followed by "but I don't want him to quit." Indeed, they have an even lower opinion of Kenneth Starr as a monomaniacal, completely partisan Captain Ahab obsessed to impale Moby Dick and frenziedly determined to prosecute the prurient details of the president's sex life. Jews, like others, insist that this scandal have little relevancy to governing the nation. This has kept the poll ratings of the only president we have at an amazing 60 plus percent despite the contempt for his morality.

I quote the following from FILE 770 #129 (Mike Glyer, 705 Valley View, Monrovia CA 91016):
Oblivious to all the rocus about Kosovo thirty fans in the little Yugoslavian town of Bela Crkva would like Americans to know they have formed a Faros science fiction club. Faros president Srdjan Stankovic's describes the local scene in e-mail. "At the moment there are only four S.F. clubs in our country and our club is the most active one. Our activities are publishing our magazine, organizing literary evenings and lectures, S.F. movie projections, and discussing of all S.F. areas. We keep meetings to once a week every Tuesday." They are interested in contacting other clubs and trading their fanzine, which is up to number six. Whether your zine is paper or electronic they'd love to get a copy and their address is 1.Oktobra 24 26340 Bela Brkva Yugoslavia or [email protected]

If you buy from or any of a dozen other web sites you could help the NFB by going through something called "" There are two ways to do this. You can go to the National Federation of the Blind website,, and then clicking on something like "shopping mall." Then you select from the menu amazon or whatever you want. All purchases and handling charges will remain the same, but the NFB will get a 5% commission on the sale. Sandy and I bought several books and CDs and bid on many auction items this way and all went smoothly. (The commission does not apply to the auctions.)

Or you can go to the greater good website and click on NFB as your preferred charity, and go on from there. I would greatly appreciate any such help on your part! (Unfortunately not all of the stores in the mall have sites accessible to blind users, but the NFB is working to educate them and get them to improve their sites.)

I have had all of the last few distys read to me but the tapes are scrambled and I do not want to delay thish any more by taking time to sort out and relisten to them for comments. I have made some comments on a hit-or-miss basis and that is all I can do for now. I will try to make some comments on old distys next time.

~BLANCMANGE (Mark Blackman). In Q 431 your comment, "if only deer overpopulation could be used to solve the problem of human hunger" brings to mind something Fred Lerner told me many years ago, and what I just read in Diamond's GUNS, GERMS, AND STEEL. Fred had commented that deer meat all the requirements for kosher meat as long as they are slaughtered properly, so why aren't the animals raised for food? He said he had asked a forest ranger that told him that when the animals are confined into herds they develop and share diseases. Diamond said that in the history of mankind only fourteen large (>100 lb) herbivorous or omnivorous mammals have ever been domesticated, and not for lack of trying. Other animals have been tamed, like Indian elephants, but not domesticated. For an animal to be domesticated it must have every one of six characteristics, one of which is to huddle together when frightened, not flee madly. If a herd of deer were to be spooked, Diamond said, they would panic and kill themselves on the barriers. Domesticated animals have been genetically altered by their long association with mankind, and behave differently from their wild cousins. [] The first time I had "Dos Eques" beer was in 1969 when John & Bjo Trimble took me on a tour of the less seamy parts of Tijuana. John loved the stuff and suggested I try it, but Bjo hated it and quipped, "Dos eques, that's two horses and it tastes like it." I enjoyed the pun and never imagined that someone would REALLY think that the name meant that! [] In re the famous JFK "ein Berliner" gaff, I liked your English parallel, "Poul Anderson is Danish, not a Danish." [] Loved your "penguins and walruses are poles apart."

In Q432 I liked your very realistic comments on the situation in Serbia. While the general thrust is similar to Boardman's it does not have his shrill hysteria and does not raise hackles. Yes there have been insane killings by all involved, and the almost united efforts of NATO are as likely to be unsuccessful as the UN in Korea or the US in Vietnam. On the other hand I do feel that Melosovich is a mad killer of the stripe of Hitler and Stalin. I do wonder why during WWII the US made no effort to bomb the infrastructure supporting the death camps and to even deny their existence. Has anything come out in the post-war memoirs of allied participants or unclassified documents on strategy? In early April, a few weeks after the bombing started, NPR interviewed a Serbian university professor of history who said the bombing was helping Melosovich gain fuller control and stop his opposition, but explained that the current action is in accord to Serb plans going back to before WWII. Back then plans had been drawn up to incite an Albian uprising to use as a pretext to exterminate the Albanian population in Kosovo. He said that the plans were kept in readiness for an opportune moment, and that was now! [] Thanks for the update on Tom Feller's address. [] Thank you for giving me again the name of the Greek, Eratostatnes, who first measured the diameter of the earth using sites in Alexandria and southern Egypt. The inf. is in many of my astronomy textbooks but I have to get someone to help me look it up. By repeating it here I will be able to go back to the disk with thish of ENTROPY to find it again. [] Yes, Niagara Falls WAS turned off when Sandy, Nan, and I stopped there on the way back from St.Louiscon in 1969. Most or all of the water was diverted through the powerhouse shunt, and temporary dams kept the water away from the falls themselves. I no longer remember whether just the Canadian falls were turned off so that some water still went over the other half, or both were turned off so that all of the water went through the shunt. This was done to permit rock work on the faces to slow down erosion. [] I think all copiers in the '50s used wet processes. Whether the one with the brand name "Verifax" made positive or negative copies I do not remember. When I graduated from college in 1958 my parents felt it necessary to make up a backup photostat of my diploma in case fire or something destroyed the original, and that copy was negative. Later that summer when I was working at Evans Signal Labs of Fort Monmouth NJ the library gave me a negative photostat of the journal article I needed. When I attended a physics conference August 1962, at U of Washington in Seattle and saw a wonderful cartoon on the bulletin board the secretary made a positive copy for me on their wet copier. Whether this was an advance in technology or simply use of a different brand copier I do not know. In both processes the color was dark brown rather than pure black. Xerox was the first successful dry copier and took its brand name from the Greek word for dry.

~HOW TOO (Don Del Grande). In Q 429 you mentioned fanatical environmentalists who want to defend all animals from any human encroachment or exploitation. Recently when REAL environmentalists complained that minks stolen and released by wacko animal rightists were killing off an endangered species, the nuts said basically, "So what. Minks are carnivores and should be free to do their thing." [] You commented to Blackman that you thought non-North American had their own slot in the rotation plan. They did for a short time about 30 years ago. The original rotation plan was put in as a result of fan-political shenanigans in the voting for the 1953 Worldcon site. New York fen wanted to bring the con back to its point of origin in NYC but because of internal feuding they were not given the nod. The first eight worldcons had gone in two cycles east to west ("orderly progression westward" to quote FANCYCLOPEDIA II): NY, Chicago, Denver, LA and Philadelphia, Toronto, Cincinnati, Oregon. Then it went to New Orleans and Chicago. My reading of fan history is not thorough enough to know what years NYC had put in bids. In Chicago in 1952 San Francisco had a major bid for '53 (back then voting was one year before the con and done by show of hands at the business meeting) and had splurged by renting the hotel penthouse for an all-con-long (I believe) bid party. NY fan politicians decided that if they couldn't get the con they would throw their support to neighboring Philadelphia and then help run the con. Phili won and SF got the con a year later. Fan histories say that the initial loss took the spirit out of them and the '54 con was not what it would have been a year earlier. Anyhow, that prompted the establishment of the original rotation plan with three zones moving west to east, with the provision that if the con ever left North America the rotation would be delayed a year and no zone would be skipped. Thus when the con went from NYC in 1956 to London in 1957, in 1958 it went to Los Angeles. Also when it went from Oakland in '64 to London in '65 it went to Cleveland in '66. Around this time an official fourth, non-North American zone was added. To spread the burden of having to go overseas to put on a bid among all three North American zones, the overseas zone was put on a five-year cycle. The 1970 con went to Heidelburg/Frankfort Germany. Some jingoistic US fen did not like to have "our" con go overseas and resented the scheme. Jack Chalker spearheaded a bid to hold the 1970 con in Bermuda, which technically fulfilled the requirement for a site off of North America. (Bob Silverberg's bid to hold the 1965 con in the Virgin Islands was a joke pure and simple and not meant to derail Loncon II--though it almost did--and I have heard it said that Jack Chalker put in his bid in order to wake up a moribund Heicon committee and get them back on track though it did look like a serious bid to an outside observer.) Then the jingoists sabotaged the whole scheme by pushing it too far and destroying the significance of the Worldcon. They voted that the Worldcon would go overseas every second year, but that on these years an "American" con would be held, and that the Hugos would be awarded at this American con on those years. Thus we gave overseas fen only the hollow name of a Worldcon but kept the real things for ourselves exclusively. The very next year this system was rescinded but instead of going back to either of the first two plans where a zone would be delayed by an overseas con, the zone would instead hold a bastardized NASFIC or rumpcon. The first NASFIC was held in LA when the Worldcon went to Australia. Without any legal requirement overseas cons have continued at intervals of approximately five years (1979, 1985, 1990, 1995, and 1999), but with an extra one thrown in in 1987. The last time I remember voting for site selection by show of hands was in 1967 when Oakland won over LA. Because of many personal concerns I was almost gafia from 1970 to 1979 and am not sure just when the mail ballot came in. Because of advance reservation
requirements by major hotels and convention centers voting was advanced to two years ahead in 1969 and to three years in 1977. Now another change is in the wind. There are fewer and fewer cities with facilities willing and capable of hosting a con, and with the talent to put one on. In recent years Baltimore, Boston, Kansas City, Seattle, and Washington DC had to drop out because they could not get facility contracts. And just this week I learned that San Francisco will have to move its '02 bid to San Jose because of hotel problems! The proposal on the table is to do away with the rotation plan altogether and merely require that the selected city be a certain minimum distance from the city where the voting takes place. If this is adopted I see no excuse whatsoever for holding a NASFIC and hope the idea dies a deserved death. NOTE: the above history is written from memory and it is decades since I read IMMORTAL STORM, FANCYCLOPEDIA II, ALL OUR YESTERDAYS, and other historical documents so a few details might be misremembered. [] When I lived in the Bay Area in 1962-65 Muni cost 25c, if I remember, and on Sundays only you could buy an all-day pass for $1. However you could only buy these on the cable cars, at the Bay Bridge Bus Terminal, and some drug stores. I believe there was a similar pass for the AC (Alameda Contra Costa) bus system for about $2, but am not sure. When I visited SF in 1993 all day passes could be bought from the vending machines that sold cable car tickets but I did not get one as bus transfers could be used again and again in any direction for a two hour period and once we got to a place we stayed there for quite a while. NYC is SUPPOSED to have a one-day pass but only at limited locations and none of the ticket clerks seemed to know where to get them. Monthly passes were available everywhere for a very reasonable price, $62. Since a single fare is $1.50 a commuter broke even on this and any extra rides for evening or weekend entertainment is a free bonus. [] When I was in Catholic high school in the early '50s a religion teacher told the class that having an abortion automatically excommunicated the person, and the ban could only be lifted by applying to Rome. But this would not have applied to Dorothy Day because she had her abortion when she was still an atheist and before her conversion. Quite a few notorious sinners went on to become saints.
In Q432 you commented on my using a wet photocopying process in 1957. Wups, that was a goof on my part. I had the summer job at Evans Labs in 1958, between graduating from college and starting graduate school. See my comments to Blackman above.

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