TAFF Platforms Released

Brad and Cindy Foster, Curt Phillips and Randy Smith are your official Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund candidates in the 2014 race to pick a delegate to Loncon 3. Here are their platforms and nominators —

Brad and Cindy Foster

Why Brad and Cindy? Because they are one mind in two bodies. (They wish they had two minds, but that’s asking too much.) Because between them they have covered almost all the fannish bases. And, because this is probably the only way they will ever get to see London. He draws pictures – lots of them, and has lived the life fannish through zines and locs. (A paper-person.) She has been social (a people-person) through conventions and conversations. He’ll have to look you up in his files to remember which zine you pub, but she’ll remember your name, face, and family history.

Nominators: Mike Glyer (US), Andy Hooper (US), Steven Silver (US), David Langford (UK), Yvonne Rowse (UK).

Curt Phillips

I am a fan. I guess I always have been; I think I always will be. I’ve collected more science fiction than I’ll ever have time to read, but I keep on collecting more. I’ve written for and published fanzines; I’m the OE of FAPA. Have done many other fannish things in my time, both usual and unusual. But I’ve never traveled outside America. I’d very much to meet some of the wonderful fans in the UK and from across Europe as your TAFF delegate, and then come home to write about my adventures for you. Please support TAFF! Vote!

Nominators: Randy Byers (US), Ulrika O’Brien (US), John Purcell (US), Claire Brialey (UK), Pat Charnock (UK).

Randy Smith

Fandom is a conversation that began in the letter columns of the 1920s pulps and now extends around the world. As active participants in that conversation, we can look for new ways to expand, strengthen, and create new and divergent paths of exchange. We truly never know where it will take us. The TAFF delegate to LonCon 3 will be able to contribute in some small and unforeseen ways to that creative conversation. I would be honored if that person were me. I also promise a speedy appearance of my trip report.

Nominators: Christopher J. Garcia (US), Mark Olson (US), Kevin Standlee (US), Colin Harris (UK), Patrick McMurray (UK).

[Thanks to Jim Mowatt for the story.]

Another TAFF Candidate Announces

Randy Smith has entered the 2014 TAFF race. On his Facebook page he posted “I am informed by the TAFF administrators that my name will appear on the ballot for 2014. Many thanks to my nominators: Christoper J Garcia, Kevin Standlee, Mark Olson, Colin Harris, and Pat McMurray!”

This makes a three-way race, Curt Phillips and Brad and Cindy Foster having announced a few weeks ago. The nominating deadline is December 31, leaving open the possibility one or two more fans may decide to vie for the trip to the 2014 Worldcon in London.

[Thanks to Chris Garcia for the story.]

Rosalyn Yalow (1921-2011)

Nobel laureate Dr. Rosalyn Yalow passed away May 30, the New York Times reported today. I want to offer my condolences to Ben Yalow, her son, who I’ve worked with on many convention committees over the years.

Dr. Yalow shared the  Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for 1977 with Roger Guillemin and Andrew V. Schally for development of the radioimmunoassay (RIA) technique, described in the Times obituary as

an extremely sensitive way to measure insulin and other hormones in the blood. The technique invigorated the field of endrocrinology, making possible major advances in diabetes research and in diagnosing and treating hormonal problems related to growth, thyroid function and fertility.

This discovery was one of many she made with Dr. Solomon Berson, her colleague who passed away in 1972:

With Dr. Berson, Dr. Yalow made other discoveries. Using radioimmunoassay, she determined that people with Type 2 diabetes produced more insulin than non-diabetics, providing early evidence that an inability to use insulin caused diabetes. Researchers in her lab at the Bronx veterans hospital modified radioimmunoassay to detect other hormones, vitamin B12 and the hepatitis B virus. The latter adaptation allowed blood banks to screen donated blood for the virus.

The UK Telegraph, in its lengthy obituary, made this significant observation:

The commercial possibilities for RIA were enormous, but while Rosalyn Yalow and Berson recognised this, they refused to patent their method. Instead they made every effort to get RIA into common use, putting its scientific value ahead of their own financial interests.

Dr. Yalow had some limited contact with fandom, such as participating in the 1989 Worldcon program (Noreascon III). Either there or at another con, Isaac Asimov engaged her in debate about a question to do with radiation and later claimed victory in his memoir I, Asimov. However, Mark Olson, in his review of that book, denies that Asimov triumphed:

He grumps that he wasn’t able to convince her and comments that while they were both equally stubborn, he was right, and she was wrong! (And the really amusing part is that, as he describes the point at issue in his essay, he was almost certainly wrong, and in a fairly elementary way!)

Dr. Yalow was the subject of a biography by Eugene Straus, M.D., published in 1998, available in searchable form on Amazon.com and as a paperback.

Her autobiographical article on the Nobel Prize website is here.

Where Secret Masters Lurk

Conrunners with ties to the World Science Fiction Convention, and smaller cons also entirely run by volunteers, will rendezvous at SMOFcon 27 from December 4-6, 2009 in Austin, TX.

The theme of this year’s SMOFcon is Time Management. The hospitality suite opens Thursday night. During the day on Friday Vincent Docherty, Deb Geisler and Mark Olson will be running a Budget Boot Camp. (“Where did you put that decimal point, plebe? Drop and give me twenty!”)

Their first progress report has just been posted as a PDF.

All Over But the Shouting

Kevin Standlee of the FOLLE committee points out in a comment that the Ackerman and Ley Hugos were reclassified as Special Awards five years ago, the change first appearing in the Noreascon 4 Souvenir Book. Questions about Ackerman’s estate only surfaced the issue for debate. But Rich Lynch, a fellow member of the FOLLE committee, feared there was decisive resistance to making the correction – which triggered his protest to a fannish listserv.

I really dislike making Kevin the lightning rod for this deal simply because he’s willing to discuss it in public. He’s already corrected the official Hugo Awards site. It’s not even clear he had a hand in the decision: “Honestly, I don’t know who the specific person was who changed it, but the change had stuck and was in the FOLLE records.” Nor do the FOLLE committee reports attached to the minutes of 2004 Worldcon Business Meeting give any details about why changes were made to the Hugos, only those made to Worldcon history are explained.

So I will confine myself to a couple of basic questions. Kevin, you were on the FOLLE committee at the time, didn’t all members know about the changes – how was that work done? Also, it would not have taken five years for this question to come up if FOLLE annotated its work on the Hugo list the way it does the Long List of Worldcons — what would it take to have that done, something which will add transparency and credibility to the work?

The FOLLE committee was created in 2003 at the TorCon 3 business meeting, and its original members (in office when the changes were made) were Mark Olson (Chair), Kevin Standlee, George Flynn, Joe Siclari, Vince Docherty, Rich Lynch and Craig Miller. The committee’s organizers told the TorCon 3 Business Meeting:

[Our] policy is to have the Long List include the version which in our judgment best reflects the facts as understood by the people involved, and to document whatever variations or details we have discovered in the notes. We will respect historical judgments as long as they are not clearly in error, and we will attempt to objectively verify any corrections or notes we add.

I have always admired that vision statement, and the latest revelation concerns me because the result isn’t consistent with the goal.

It’s easy to make an educated guess whose database is perpetuating the change. The FOLLE report in the 2004 WSFS Business Meeting minutes mentions:

We have made huge progress in developing a Long List of Hugos using data supplied by Dave Grubbs and the ISFDB and are now (slowly) working to perfect the entries. (N4 has somewhat diverted the chairman’s attention, but we’ll get back to work…)

The Internet Science Fiction Database still characterizes the Ackerman and Ley Hugos as “Special Awards.” That designation was given to all committee awards on the list published in Noreascon 4’s Souvenir Book (2004), making clear there was a reclassification involved, not just a layout decision.

Can it be that the Long List of Hugo Awards was more accurate before people set out to perfect it?

Before leaving the subject I want to field a couple of questions that hit my e-mail today.

Q: Should I include Slater on the Hugo winners?
I think not. Ackerman was voted the Hugo by the participating membership. Ackerman’s gallant gesture ought not to be confused with an actual legal right to overrule the voters’ choice.

Q: Was Ackerman’s Hugo identical to, say, Alfred Bester’s Hugo?
I can’t say from personal experience. I would expect Ackerman’s Hugo to be identical to the others (or as close as Jack McKnight could produce them) since they made a point of giving his first. But even if it is identical, that wouldn’t by itself decide the conceptual argument of how Ackerman’s award should be classified. For example, Chesley Bonestell’s special committee award was a Hugo rocket — and that’s why the rules were subsequently changed to forbid giving Hugos rockets as committee awards. At the time of the first Hugos there would have been no bar to doing so.

I’ll end by repeating that the most helpful piece of evidence in this debate has been 1953 Worldcon committee member Bob Madle’s confirmation that all the categories were voted on. So there’s no justification for reclassifying Ackerman or Ley.

Need to Cut Back on Chocolate?

As I roamed around Denvention on Saturday afternoon, looking into program rooms for something interesting to watch, I saw Mark Olson raining green-foiled Andes Mints on a small audience of fans playing “Trivia for Chocolate.”  Steven Silver and Jim Mann were the other quiz masters. I stepped inside.

It didn’t take long for me to decide that “Trivia for Chocolate” ought to be renamed “Mike’s New Diet Plan.” I managed to win only two pieces.

At first I sat behind David Goldfarb. The scouting report on David Goldfarb expressed in baseball terms would be: great bat, bad glove. He knows, by a conservative estimate, well, everything. David’s only weakness is fielding. If he actually had to catch the chocolate the competition might be closer.

I spent some time watching David’s winnings bounce past me, til they asked a question that I should have gotten – seeing that I was the answer. We all realized how little of the proceedings I was hearing and I moved to the front row, to the seat nearest Tom Galloway that was not already occupied by his own hoard of chocolate. After that my main handicap was ignorance, but that’s when I scored my two pieces. Knowing Mack Reynolds wrote “Adventure of the Extraterrestrial” was worth one Tim-Tam, a chocolate-dipped biscuit imported from Australia.

Marty Massoglia arrived halfway through the program and from then on scored heavily. Ah, the golden memories of once upon a time when Marty, Bruce Pelz and I entered a team trivia competition as the “LA Smog” and did so well. What decade was that? Hm, another piece of trivia I’m forgetting.

Note: David Goldfarb has posted a LiveJournal entry about “Trivia for Chocolate” that also tells how he pillaged Tom Whitmore’s book collection as the winner of another trivia game at Denvention.)