Inhuman Swill : August 2006

Worldcon Wednesday

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So I keep putting off my Worldcon report because I'm busy and it seems so daunting. So I'll break it up by day.

So Wednesday, after landing at LAX, Laura and I rented a car and negotiated the freeways to Anaheim without too terribly much difficulty. We managed to get checked in and parked at the Marriott fairly quickly—and yes, in that order—and then we met Craig Engler and Scott Edelman for a rather late lunch by the hotel pool. Just before our food arrived, though, Craig was summoned away by a Battlestar Galactica–related phone call with the New York Times, and his Turkey "Off the Rack" Sandwich went uneaten, except by flies, at least for as long as I sat there.

Lunch was enlivened by the sight of Robert Reed flexing by the adjacent pool.

Sadly, Laura and I both had to abandon Scott at the lunch table before Craig returned, since I had a panel at 4:00 pm. Laura left first, and after wrangling with Scott over the check (I lost) I joined her. We raced over to the convention center—me decked out in the clothes Laura chose for me—picked up our badges in the Green Room, and ran into [info]tnh outside our panel. She commiserated with me about having to serve as moderator, and kindly examined the list of other panelists to tell me what she knew about each.

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The case of the missing movie

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So I have a chance to review the new Mike Judge film Idiocracy, opening September 1st in New York and Los Angeles ... if only I can fucking find it. I've scoured the Web for information, including the movie ticketing sites, including the 20th Century Fox site, and gotten a big fat NOTHIN'. It seems to have simply vanished, before it even existed. I would like to put an ad on the back of a milk carton:


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Inclined to hurry

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Boy, if this doesn't get me writing faster on the novel, nothing will!

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Mmmmmmm. Calvados good.

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Pluto in the doghouse

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I find myself unmoved by Pluto's demotion in planetary status, except to be glad. Schoolchildren may be mourning, or so we are told, but science is not a process of codifying public sentiment. If it were, science would still be propounding the "natural theology" of the early 19th century, and evolution would be a fringe theory.

Science is a process of modifying and refining our model of how the universe works, through repeated observation, theorizing, and experimentation. If calling Pluto a dwarf planet offers a better model of our solar system than the one it's replacing—and if you read much astronomy, this can't come as a surprise, since Pluto's planetary status has long been considered suspect—then huzzah. Science works, and I for one have a hard time crediting how anyone, let alone a little kid, could lose sleep over how we categorize a distant ball of ice.

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In this brief wintry clip, Ella demonstrates her rebounding technique:

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Warren Jeffs, fugitive polygamist and FBI 10 Most Wanted posterboy, is in custody.

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She's a butte!

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They're not yet annotated, but I've posted photos, most of them taken by Laura, from our hiking trip down by Coyote Buttes in northern Arizona.

Full set.

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Harlan Ellison™, increasingly irrelevant for years, is now entirely so, as his trademark grope of Connie Willis at Saturday's Hugo Awards ceremony demonstrated.

I would have mentioned this in my upcoming Worldcon report, but I didn't want to gloss over the incident in the course of recording all the good things that happened in Anaheim. This was definitely not one of them.

Harlan Ellison™ was one of my heroes as an angry young college student. I had somehow managed to overlook him until I ran across a copy of Shatterday between my junior and senior years of high school. When I started college, I discovered to my delight why a good university library kicked ass over my local bookstore—more volumes of Harlan Ellison™ than you could shake a fist at. I was sometimes ambivalent about his fiction, but his essays rarely failed to move me. Their articulate rage and vivid conveyance of a forceful personality—practically a force of nature—thrilled me beyond reason. I read everything I could lay my hands on, and I'd be lying if I denied that Ellison's rhetorical style wielded a huge influence on my own later writings about Mormonism. * 

I can still clearly recall the moment when one of the earliest big cracks in my young worldview appeared. It was a Harlan Ellison™ essay in which he spat vitriol all over the LDS Church for its decisive role in defeating the Equal Rights Amendment. I felt that I respected women, but until that moment I had never critically considered the objections to the ERA that I had been spoon-fed at home and from the pulpit. If one of my intellectual heroes disapproved of my people, what did that say about me? Was I really as good, thoughtful, and respectful a person as I believed I was?

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ShunnCast #24

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Epidode #24 of "ShunnCast" is now available, in which the soft tissues of the male body are held up for examination and misidentification, revenge is thereby extracted, and a terrible and uncommon sin is revealed to be not so uncommon after all. Plus, frontier prophet weds double sets of sisters!

See also [info]shunncast.

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The Accidental Terrorist 30th Anniversary Sale

Signed editions
that even a
could afford.

Order yours now!

William Shunn

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