Sunday, May 27, 2012

Catching Up


First off, here's a cute little petition that Rasty thought up -- and sent off to various sites that might enjoy it.

The idea behind this is that, given the intelligence – or lack thereof – of a lot of recent Arizona politicians, we’d like to see some sort of guarantee that our elected officials hereafter should be at least more intelligent than Koko the Sign-Language Gorilla. Koko has been known to pass human IQ tests with scores between 80 and 90. Therefore…

“Any person running for any public office in the state of Arizona must first qualify by taking a standard Stanford-Binet Intelligence test, and pass with an IQ score of at least 95.”

Heheheheh. I daresay there are a lot of states other than Arizona that should pass the same law.


It may be a bit premature to comment on the Phoenix ComicCon, since it's still going on, but what I did manage to see was quite impressive.

Admittedly, I was a last-minute invitee -- called in for a one-day (Friday) membership so I could fill in on the "Elfquest" panel. I didn't have that much to contribute, besides a couple of Elfquest songs, the brief history of how the album "A Wolfrider's Reflections" came to be made, and a bit of historical information: that Elfquest wasn't the first graphic novel ever published; that honor goes to "God's Man", by Lynd Ward -- a novel composed entirely of one-page woodcuts -- published in 1929. Still, during that panel I learned a lot more about the history and probable future of the franchise than I had in all the years previous.

Aside from the panel, I got a quick glimpse of the rest of the convention -- which was huge. The last couple of conventions here in Phoenix, LepreCon in spring and CopperCon in autumn, have been pitifully small. I'd originally thought this was because of the economy; after all, people can't afford to spend money on fun -- like SciFi conventions -- when they're out of a job. But seeing the numbers at Comicon, I had to revise that opinion. The problem is that the clubs which sponsor conventions simply haven't been recruiting new blood over the past few decades, haven't advertised sufficiently on the Internet, haven't tried to bring in the kids by devoting more tracks to gaming, films and TV shows, and particularly haven't kept up with SciFi publishing. In case anyone hasn't noticed, the number of hard-copy SciFi magazines has shrunk down to no more than three: ANALOG, FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION, and ASIMOV'S. Meanwhile, the number of online SciFi e-zines, and e-books, has grown by leaps and bounds. Most of the clubs haven't noticed this, and that was a mistake.

The 'zines that have remained in hard-copy print, in great numbers, are comic books -- which explains the success of Comicon. I didn't get the actual membership figures, but the population I saw was huge. I'd say it was half the size of DragonCon, but in about the same convention-space. The dealers' room was easily the same size, and the number of tracks was nearly as large. I wish I'd gotten to see more of them. Though it's primarily, as the name says, a comics-convention, there were enough tracks (and dealers' products) on other subjects to qualify it as a comics-leaning general SciFi con. This is much the same direction that DragonCon took, being first a gamers' con and then branching out.

From what I heard there, the only local SciFi con of similar size is DarkCon: another specialty convention, this one themed toward "pirates -- past, present and future". From what I've heard, the future-pirates are beginning to outnumber the past-pirates, and both totally outnumber the present-pirates. This rather implies that DarkCon will follow the same path.

I wish them both luck.


In the same week, I saw articles on the Net announcing that: a) according to the Council on Islamic-American Relations, complaints about Sharia law being pushed in American courts are "racist"; b) according to several Baptist pundits, groups campaigning for alternate or "green" fuels are "Satanists"; c) according to a group of nearly 40,000 ultra-Orthodox Jewish men in New York City, the Internet must be heavily censored because it promotes "unadulterated freedom" -- which is supposedly a bad Thing. Wow.

What this shows is that fundamentalists of all three of the big monotheistic religions are tyrants, bigots, paranoids, and just plain nuts. And I've even seen certain brands of Buddhists tending that way. *Sigh*

Why do I get the feeling that the world is headed for another showdown between religion and rationality?

--Leslie <;)))>< )O(


TJIC said...

I cringed when I saw the last bit: "fundie-nuts". In my experience, folks usually say stuff like this when they're about to engage in a round of Christian-bashing while ignoring all sorts of other bad behaviors.

I was quite pleased that what followed was equal opportunity, and criticized religious excess and nuttery from all quarters.

As a free thinkiner... and a practicing Catholic, I think it's utterly dandy to criticize religion, but I dislike it when folks single out one particularly variety for their opprobrium. Thanks for being even-handed.

Ori Pomerantz said...

“Any person running for any public office in the state of Arizona must first qualify by taking a standard Stanford-Binet Intelligence test, and pass with an IQ score of at least 95.”

Are you sure you want more competent politicians? Seems that would make them more dangerous.

Aya Katz said...

Leslie, this has been a fascinating report on the current state of fandom. So comics and pirates are in, general SF out!

What do you think of the future of filking? Are there filksings at the comics and pirate cons?

windmills said...

Leslie, your comment about SF-cons not recruiting younger blood is spot on... speaking for myself, I've wanted to go to one since I, many years ago, read "Fallen Angels", and had managed to be under the impression that they were just another fun thing gone the way of Apollo rockets and mail-order Thompsons. (By the way, there was a character named Jenny Trout...?) I always know when comicon is in town, though, (San Diego) its impssible not to. On a related note, trying to find some of your earlier music in any digital format has been extreemly frustrating, particularly since I'm not even trying to steal it, just buy it. Any plans to re-release Firestorm et. all? -J

Leslie Fish said...

Hi, TJ. Natch, I wouldn't have bothered to comment if 'twere just the Westboro Baptists or the Islamofascists sounding off again; everyone knows about them. But Jewish fundie-nuts aren't something one runs into every day; they brought the whole monotheism theme into question, which is something new.

Hi, Ori. More intelligent politicians might notice the growing outrage of the electorate, and do something to please The Masses before things get to the point of shooting revolution.

Hi, Aya. The only filking I heard about there was at room-parties -- but then, that's how filking at gen-cons started, so I'm not worried.

Hi, Windy. Heheheheh. Yes, "Jenny Trout" was a take-off on me. Frank Gasperik got mentioned under his own name, as did a lot of other fans. Hmmm, you can find a lot of my songs on YouTube, and there are some links through my website:, and of course has just come out with my latest album, "Avalon Is Risen". Yes, Random Factors has plans to re-release "Firestorm"; I've already cut the guitar-tracks for it, and will do the vocals as soon as I can get back to central California. Patience!

Antongarou said...

Leslie, you might not run into them a lot over in the US, but in Israel you run into them every other day in the news. But this country always had a larger share of fundie-nuts then its size warranted

Ori Pomerantz said...

But Jewish fundie-nuts aren't something one runs into every day; they brought the whole monotheism theme into question, which is something new.

At least they aren't trying to censor our Internet. They're trying to only be "a little bit pregnant".

If anybody's interested, here is a link to an internal view of this.

Leslie Fish said...

Hi, Ori & Anton. Regardless of the internal *pilpul* of the conference itself, what bugged me was that complaint about "unadulterated freedom". Everybody else has learned to deal with the dangers of the Internet, and there's no reason that the Orthodox can't use the same methods. If the Hassids want to become the Jewish version of the Amish, they're certainly free to do so (and let's hope they also adopt the Amish custom of the "scamper-year"), but that fear of freedom raises warning-flags. Anyone who fears freedom should not be allowed any political power, regardless of what religion they use as excuse.

--Leslie <;)))>< )O(

KateGladstone said...

What would be *really* scary would be if some much kindling, but faster-growing faith adopted the Fundie mindset after having cemented its demographic gains by becoming some country's established-and-mandatory creed (as a result of that very popularity: enough people join to become the national majority and vote outsiders into second-class citizenship for "not being as nice as we are.")For a fictional world with that in its background, read J. Neil Schulman's RAINBOW CADENZA.

KateGladstone said...

Actually, Leslie, only 75% of the Amish sects have that custom of letting the kids "vacation" from Amishness do a year before they finally decide to join the church forevermore ... The very strictest sects (who don't usually come to tourists' attention, let alone seek out or permit such attention) refuse to take the risk of having defectors.

KateGladstone said...

Have you considered writing a song with the story of Lynd Ward's GOD'S MAN ?

KateGladstone said...

It turns out that the Lynd Ward title is actually GODS' MAN (Google it, find cover images, and check Wikipedia too, to see!) and _not_ GOD'S MAN.
That's right: the tile presupposes polytheism.

KateGladstone said...

I am willing to wager that even the dimmest politician has an IQ over 95 already ... S/he is likely to be 10 to 20 IQ points ahead of the folks who vote for him/her.

Remember also that at least one standard IQ test begins with the question "Who discovered America?" (required answer: "Columbus") and goes onto include such questions as "Why is paying our taxes important?" (full credit given _only_ for an answer that wouldn't be given by, say, Libertarians. Answering "Because you go to jail if you don't" gives only partial credit.) Similarly, for the IQ-test question "What is the name of the nearest planet?" you are marked wrong if you answer, say, "Earth — only thirty feet away, straight down" or wrds to that effect: the required answer is _always_ "Mars": even when it's on the opposite side of our Sun and Venus is on the same side of the Sun as we are. (Similarly, the "most distant planet" on this test is ALWAYS"Pluto": even in years during which it's in that part of its orbit which is inside the orbit of Neptune ... And even although Pluto has even officially moved from the category "planet" to the category "large outer asteroid: one of zillions in the second asteroid belt," or some such.