Meeting #3106 Feb 20, 1997 PDF Print E-mail

President: Christian McGuire
Scribe: Pie'd Typer Beth O'Brien

Preceded by some sparkling repartee about the south sides of north bound horses amongst the membership, only the south side of which was caught on tape, north bound President Christian McGuire called the 3,106th meeting of the LASFS to some semblance of order at 8:15 p.m. He was trotting so fast that Rob Cole never got a chance to make his weekly motion to adjourn before the meeting went anywhere.

GOOD NEWS! There were no SPECIAL ORDERS OF BUSINESS. BAD NEWS! We had to listen to last week's MENACE read by Scribe Beth O'Brien, whose performance elicited an unusual round of applause and only one correction, which turned out to be incorrect. The minutes were then approved as mini-ha-ha'd on the motion of the Guy with the Sideburns, Joe Zeff.

We honored PATRON SAINT Maureen Garrett with three rousing cheers. Caught in a time warp, Charles Lee Jackson, II, started to add "and a reissue of her...." Realizing that we had done that last week for Craig Miller, the Emperor tried to change in mid stream. The Society liked that horse, however, and gave her a reissue of Maureen Garrett. The Scribe's pen ran out of ink at this point, but several gallant fen offered to provide her with a substitute. Special thanks to Rick Foss and Scratch Galloway. Ed Green then galloped through an AUCTION.

BUSINESS: Ed Green said that he was trotting out the Fugghead of the Year Award, having decided that he was no longer going to be Mister Nice Guy by calling it the Most Memorable Fan/Fanac of the Year Contest. He explained the voting rules and announced that the first nominee was the Magic the Gathering game. A discussion of whether or not Ed would accept the nomination of Sam Frank for Fugghead of the Year unfolded, with Ed insisting that he would not accept the nomination. Christian asked hypothetically what would happen if he gave Ed a dollar to nominate Sam as Fugghead of the Year. Ed said he would not take it. Sage Jerry Pournelle asked why Ed would not take it. Leigh Strother-Vien and several others enlightened the sage, pointing out that Sam has no sense of humor, with Ed indicating that he did not need that kind of flack. Jerry promptly offered Ed $2.00 to nominate Sam Frank, and Ed indicated that there would have to be at least three digits in front of the decimal point before he would consider it. Having established the minimum monetary value for which Ed would consider accepting the nomination, Jerry opined that it might be worth it. Discussion ensued about whether a speech would be given by the runner-up. Ed said no, because being named Fugghead of the Year was honor enough. Besides, the runner-up might be a non-vocalizing object. At the Sage's suggestion, it was decided that the first creature capable of actually making a speech would do so. In the spirit of the contest, Christian nominated himself. Ed was trying to gallop out of Dodge City still unscathed when Phil Castora indicated that, while he could not provide three digits to the left of the decimal point to nominate Sam Frank, he would start it off with a $5 bill if anybody else wanted to join in. Prez McGuire appointed Phil and Joe Zeff as heads of the subcommittee to nominate Sam Frank. Rick Foss opined that we should talk about something that actually had to do with Science Fiction, and gave Christian a press release about a book signing by Ben Bova at Flights of Fantasy in Santa Monica on February 25, 1997.

Registrar Selina Phanara was temporarily missing, so Rick Foss took the floor while a search party was organized. Rick announced that tonight's program would be a showing of the first three episodes of Neil Gaiman's "Neverwhere." Rick indicated that "Neverwhere" is going to become a hard cover novel issued in July 1997. The next three episodes will be shown next week. March 6th will be a talk on "Law in Cyberspace" by Eugene Volokh of UCLA law school, March 13th has no program yet, and March 20th will be Tom Safer's cartoon show. Selena introduced GUEST Nicola Cuti from Canyon Country, who had learned about the LASFS from Frank Waller.

SAGE BREAK: Jerry Pournelle gave us the highlights of sessions he had attended at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Seattle.

  1. Life on Mars or Elsewhere in the Solar System: Jerry reported that there were several sessions on whether the Mars rocks really have life in them. Most interesting was Tom Gold's theory that oil has nothing to do with fossils, but comes from the center of the earth as part of a petrochemical process. Jerry pointed out that everywhere on earth that hot oil is found, anaerobic life is present. He indicated that, if this relationship holds true elsewhere, evidence of life on Mars could be expected to be found about a mile under the surface. Another prime candidate for finding evidence of life is Europa, whether or not it has a liquid ocean, because there must be tidal heating forces if nothing else. Therefore you will get hot petrochemicals and water. Jerry said that it would not be easy to go there, and the working conditions would be poor, so he proposes that we first figure out how to build a rocket to go to someplace on earth, such as the mid-Atlantic ridge, with robots capable of digging down four kilometers. His thesis is that if we can't do it here we can't do it anywhere else, and it is far less costly in time and money to demonstrate our capacity to perform such feats here first.

  2. "Sugarscape": This is a computer simulation developed by personnel of the Brookings Institute. It has a grid in which squares have a sugar producing and carrying capacity, each square with its own capacity and renewal rate, and actors who can see and move for varying numbers of squares and who have varying required sugar consumption rates. Jerry got really excited about this game, which has simple rules but generates really complicated societies.

  3. Immunology: Polly Hulzinger of the National Institute of Health has had a strange theory of immunology, more argument than evidence. The conventional theory is that the immune system recognizes what is you and what is not-you and eats what is not-you, which has problems in such areas as pregnancy. Polly's theory is that the stimulus to the immune system is a bad cell death. Cells are programmed to die in certain ways. If they die in other ways they don't give out the chemical signals they do when they die in the normal way. This explains both why the immune system does not attack babies, whose cells are not dying abnormally, and does not attack cancers. Cancer cells are not unhealthy, they are too healthy. Another panel member in this session has developed a highly effective system of injecting monoclonal antibodies to which low-level alpha emitters have been attached into leukemia victims. The antibodies find the bone marrow cancers, the alpha emitters damage the cancer, the cells start dying, and the immune system then reacts to the sick, dying cells. His results confirm Polly's theory. The kicker? The National Institute of Health has decided that her system is not innovative enough and they are therefore cutting her budget.

Following up on Jerry's immunology discussion, Leigh Strother-Vien shared information from a report of a study that determined that women who perform fellatio are less likely to have miscarriages because their immune systems recognize their partners' sperm. Jerry said he'd have to remember that one - he's sure there a lot of young men who'd like to make that argument, and probably some old ones, too. He then commented on the destructiveness of sperm, which is designed to penetrate cell walls.

ANNOUNCEMENTS: Christian announced that there was candy for sale at the back of the room made of chocolate and shaped like science fiction characters. Matthew Tepper reported that he became an uncle that morning, courtesy of his sister-in-law Serena Scott Thomas. The baby is named Tallulah, and Matthew is no longer the last of the Teppers.

Joe Zeff gave a FAANISH COMMITTEE REPORT about a customer severely unclear on the concept. He sent a letter complaining that service in his community was terrible because it is so busy that he can't get logged on. He suggested that until the service in his city could be corrected he should have free access to an 800 service. Selena REVIEWed the Hale-Bopp comet. She can see both tails with binoculars, and recommends that it is worth getting up at 5:00 a.m. to see it. Francis Hamit reported MISCELLANEOUSly that he has a client with a sense of humor who has purchased a quarter page ad in "De Prof" every month for a full year. Francis encouraged us to support our advertisers. The Emperor reported that callers wishing to leave a message on the LASFS answering machine can bypass the introductory greeting by pressing the asterisk key.

Rob Cole moved to adjourn, and we cantered out at 9:20 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Pie'd Typer Beth O'Brien  

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