July 4th, 2014


Dr. Phil at Detcon 1 Is A GO!

NASFiC In Detroit

The good news is that my doctor has signed off on me attending Detcon1, the 2014 North American Science Fiction Convention, in just TWO WEEKS. While I will be using a wheelchair to get around, I do have six panels and a reading.

The complete Detcon1 schedule can be found here.
ADDED: Detcon1's version of my schedule is here.

Friday 18 July 2014

Michigan Voices 1: Short Readings - Joliet A - Literature
Fri Noon (1 hr.)

A group reading featuring Michigan authors.
Martin L. Shoemaker, Dr. Phil (Philip Edward Kaldon), Michael J. DeLuca, David Sklar.

The Good and Bad in Science Fiction - Nicolet A - Detention
Fri 7:00 PM (1 hr.)

Damon Knight said in 1959, "People turn to science fiction for a blend of two feelings---the roller coaster shock of fantasy and the instinctive feel of reality; the feeling that this might be true. If we forget either of these things, we start losing our audience. And I think we are forgetting one of them... I am talking about that sense of reality," suggesting too many stories were just "pleasant little intellectual games." Have things changed since then and how? If not, should they?
Chuck Von Nordheim mod, Dr. Phil (Philip Edward Kaldon), Carrie Patel.

Saturday 19 July 2014

Vehicles: Past, Present, Future - Ambassador Salon 2 - Science
Sat 11:00 AM (1 hr.)

Horses, steam, electric, gas and diesel, then back to electric again. What about hydrogen? Flux capacitors? Where's my flying car? Where do trains fit in?
Mike Substelny mod, Dr. Phil (Philip Edward Kaldon), Erik Kauppi, Matthew Alan Thyer, Emmy Jackson, Eric McGlohon.

RoboCop: Or There Will Be... Trouble - Nicolet A - Media
Sat 2:00 PM (1 hr.)

For some people, RoboCop is the best SF movie ever set in Detroit (despite being filmed just about everywhere else), and is often cited as one of the best films of 1987. The movie, now 27 years old, was followed by 2 sequels, tv shows, animated shows, comics, video games, and a 2014 remake. Our panel discusses the original RoboCop, its themes and its uses of the idea of the city of Detroit, and compares it to its sequels and the remake.
Pablo Vasquez mod, Alex von Thorn, Dr. Phil (Philip Edward Kaldon), Daniel O'Riordan, Margaret Yang.

Detention to Detcon1: Science! - Mackinac East - Science
Sat 6:00 PM (1 hr.)

How has science & technology changed, in the time between Detention & Detcon1? How has it changed our lives and enabled projects that simply couldn't be done before? What was supposed to advance, but didn't?
Erik Kauppi mod, John Wardale, Dr. Phil (Philip Edward Kaldon), Tobias S. Buckell.

Sunday 20 July 2014

Science Fiction and the Space Age - Nicolet B - Detention
Sun 10:00 AM (1 hr.)

At the time of Detention in 1959, the space age had barely started with the launch of Sputnik in 1957. But Science Fiction had already been around for decades. It's now 2014, and this weekend marks the 45th anniversary of the Apollo moon landing. How has our changing relationship with space influenced the genre since 1959?
Steven Shaviro mod, Chad Childers Martin L. Shoemaker, Dr. Phil (Philip Edward Kaldon).

Clarion 2004 + 10 - Mackinac West - Literature
Sun 11:00 AM (1 hr.)

Ten years ago one of the last Clarion workshops at MSU was held, before the workshop moved to San Diego. Instructors and students of that last class (and others) share their thoughts on the successes, failures, benefits from their Clarion experiences after 10 years.
Dr. Phil (Philip Edward Kaldon) (2004) mod, Al Bogdan (2004), Traci Castleberry (2005), Amelia Beamer (2004).

Ren Center 5th Floor (Click on map for larger.)

Ren Center 3rd Floor (Click on map for larger.)

Full floorplan can be found here.

Main hotel is full. You can find overflow space or still Register at the Detcon1 website.

Dr. Phil

Sometimes I'm Right

Just a couple of weeks ago gas hit $3.95.9/gallon for regular. And I said it would flirt with four buck gas, but it would drop in time for the Fourth of July driving holiday. Those who obsessed about filling that tank early would be hit hardest, while the rest would feel grateful for the low -- i.e. high -- gas prices.

Tuesday gas dropped to $3.80.9, then it was $3.73.9 and on Thursday 3 July, it was down to $3.69.9/gal for regular. What a huge drop! Why we're saving loads! Why it's... 6½%...


Have a wonderful Fourth, everyone. We've already pulled the DVD for 1776. (grin)

Dr. Phil



Just yesterday morning we were talking to our financial guy, and he made a comment about the Dow. And I pointed out I haven't been following it in a while -- was it still over 16,000?

Well, NPR just reported that yesterday's pre-holiday session had the Dow Jones Industrial Average exceed 17,000 for the first time.

That means we're all rich, the economy is humming along with full employment, the tax coffers are overflowing so we're fixing all our infrastructure this summer...

Yeah, it doesn't necessarily mean all that much. The 20 industrials in the average change over time, so it's not even the same average, but then how could it be? Still, it is a milestone.

Back in junior high, I had a social studies economics course with Mr. Ceretta. We did a project where we had X number of fake dollars and we invested in the stock market over several months. One thing that helped was the Dow going over 1000 the first time -- I made a killing, mainly because I was heavily into railroads, including the bankrupt Penn Central. It's stock kept going back and forth between 4 and 5, and with no fees in our calculations, I'd buy low and sell high every couple of days.

Yeah, making money on Wall Street does not have anything to do with financing the engines of industry.

Oh well. 17,000. It's a number.

Dr. Phil


Meanwhile, in a sweltering hot Philadelphia, a Continental Congress did meet and through rancorous debate and terrible compromises, did finally solemnly swear together, unanimously...

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, ***

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Button Gwinnett       William Hooper       John Hancock
Lyman Hall            Joseph Hewes         Samuel Chase
George Walton         John Penn            William Paca
                      Edward Rutledge      Thomas Stone
                      Thomas Heyward, Jr.  Charles Carroll of Carrollton
                      Thomas Lynch,Jr.     George Wythe
                      Arthur Middleton     Richard Henry Lee
                                           Thomas Jefferson
                                           Benjamin Harrison
                                           Thomas Nelson, Jr.
                                           Francis Lightfoot Lee
                                           Carter Braxton

Robert Morris         William Floyd        Josiah Bartlett
Benjamin Rush         Philip Livingston    William Whipple
Benjamin Franklin     Francis Lewis        Samuel Adams
John Morton           Lewis Morris         John Adams
George Clymer         Richard Stockton     Robert Treat Paine
James Smith           John Witherspoon     Elbridge Gerry
George Taylor         Francis Hopkinson    Stephen Hopkins
James Wilson          John Hart            William Ellery
George Ross           Abraham Clark        Roger Sherman
Caesar Rodney                              Samuel Huntington
George Read                                William Williams
Thomas McKean                              Oliver Wolcott
                                           Matthew Thornton

*** I'm not sure I noticed before that in the first line, "united" is not capitalized. A Ken Burns moment, as he had noted that before the Civil War we said "the United States are..." while after we spoke of "the United States is..."

We can still learn from our history. Happy Birthday US.

Dr. Phil

20,000 Librarians Walk Into A Vegas Casino...

I read this piece to Mrs. Dr. Phil this morning, about the recent -- this past week? -- American Library Association's Las Vegas convention. It came on my Facebook feed, except when I went to share, Facebook knew better than I did, so updated in the meantime. I tried scrolling down to find it, but Facebook knows better than to let you see something you were just looking at. I thought the link came from Michigan writer Merrie Haskell, but going to her Facebook wall, Facebook knew better and wasn't displaying all her posts.

I hate Facebook.

Eventually, since I was on the Kindle Fire HD, I gave up on the semi-useful Facebook app and returned to the Silk browser, where the History function found the post I wanted to link to. Go Amazon. The next step would've been Google...

ANYWAY, part of the reason why this linked blog post from Curious City was interesting was it was about librarians and the unreality distortion field that is Las Vegas. Plus the title, which I used for my title, sounds like the opening to a great joke.

Frankly, I've never been to Vegas. I imagine that most of the professional meetings (American Physical Society March Meeting) and conventions (WorldCon) I go to are just too small and would be swallowed up and trampled over in Vegas. American Chemical Society Summer Meeting might be on a par with ALA. Someday I'd like to go, just to hit some of the restaurants and maybe a show. But it's not a high priority. We'll go back to Finland long before a first trip to Las Vegas.

I have flown over Las Vegas at night, which is pretty amazing, actually.

Anyway, 20,000 librarians walk into a casino in Vegas... And they talk.

Dr. Phil

Sigh... Sniff...

Just finished our annual DVDing of 1776.

Sure it's a musical. And even with 13 colonies, there is some compression of the Continental Congress. And undoubtedly some liberties, so to speak, with the facts. But by God this is one of America's finest hours.

Messy? Rancorous? Political? Personal? For sure, without a doubt.

But the events leading up to Thursday 4 July 1776 -- 238 years ago -- were done by men. It was a human process, flawed and glorious that it was. It's hard to consider that we WERE talking about rebellion. That there were British troops in the colonies. That if they had gotten to sweltering Philadelphia that June, that the members of the Second Continental Congress would have been hung and their families left destitute and properties seized. It was no small thing to do.

Nor was unanimity an easy or foregone conclusion. It wasn't one set of colonies, but thirteen separate peoples, economies and histories.

And it was a close thing.

So, watching some of the delegates sign the document, then start taking up their places in the iconic painting positions, at 10:30 this evening, we were surrounded by neighbors setting off their own personal fireworks -- celebrating their life, liberties and their right to potentially cause brush fires and burn our house down. But no matter.

It was the Fourth of July.

I even had a hot dog at lunch.

Happy Birthday, these United States of America.

Dr. Phil