The WSFA Journal

The Official Newsletter of the Washington Science Fiction Association -- ISSN 0894-5411

Edited by Samuel Lubell

On the Good Ship, the USS Gilliland
Why Did The Chicken Cross The Road
And, Speaking of Floods...
The Return of the 90 Foot Tall Disclave Head
Specifications Sheet for the Pistol/Wheel/Skateboard

On the Good Ship, the USS Gilliland


The June 6th Post-Disclave meeting of WSFA opened at 9:16. There was $514.90 in the bank. Disclave Past reported that "It feels so gooood!"  We didn't even bother with a hotel walkthrough <but what about a swimthrough?>  We may have in excess of $10,000 left.

            Joe Mayhew is organizing a planning party/schmoozefest for Disclave '98 on July 19th.  He pronounced himself impressed by the level of work displayed. 

            There was nothing from the publications committee. The entertainment committee had a rather interesting Rube Goldberg engine device that will NOT be demonstrated in the basement and certain not in their own basement.  It will be demonstrated where no one can sue.  It is conservatively engineered and should go 100 foot per second.  It needs bulletproof steel.  Alexis announced he was going to wear safety goggles when testing it.  The club was suitably impressed.

            Lee Strong pointed out that the U.S. Navy has a ship the USS Gilliland in the Bob Hope class.  There was no answer as to whom it was named for.  <Alexis looked around hopefully, but remembered that his adventures that culminated in a grateful Navy naming a ship after him were still highly classified.>

            There was no old business.  For new business, John pointed out that First Friday in July was the Fourth of July <patriotic music was suddenly heard as a giant flag dropped from the ceiling.> which, of course, is when John and Kathi's fabulous bungalow has their annual Fourth of July party.  "So, that's where I'll be," said our dedicated president.  "And all WSFANs are invited."  He said that he will try to beat the record for the shortest WSFA meeting ever.

            "You mean I'll be deprived of a WSFA meeting?" Alexis was disappointed <sure>.  "I'll put up a sign."

            Kathi pointed out that the WSFA meeting time is when the fireworks will be.  Joe pointed out that you can announce a no business meeting but John said, "I don't want to.  I'm going for the record." <The patriotic music was replaced by the underdog theme from Rocky.>

            Mike Nelson said that WSFA's new trustee was heartbroken not to be asked to do a report earlier in the meeting.  Eric said, "I have no idea what the trustees' business is," proving that he'll fit right in. 

There will be a Bucconeer meeting on June 21st at the Baltimore Clubhouse.  Dan Hooey told the club about a Murder One episode with a lawyer named Pomeranz killing himself by hanging from a rope tied to a pipe.  John Pomeranz told about meeting the Disclave hotel's salesman, who was proud of the Black Robes selling out the hotel (needless to say, this conversation took place before the flood.)  He said that WSFA is not liable for what lunatics <wrong convention>  do in their rooms.  So we probably won't be sued but he didn't want to make waves. The hotel thinks there was about $40,000 of damage.

Joe said that Kevin spoke with one of the owners.  They are willing to have us come back.  The rooms are still blocked for us.  We just need to get the other owner's approval <cue ominous music.>  John said he is using this as an opportunity to re-examine our insurance.  He spoke to our insurance agent who said many clients start off by saying that this will be the strangest thing you ever heard, but this was the first time it actually was the strangest thing he had ever heard.  

The meeting was adjourned at 10:05

Attendance:  Pres. John Pomeranz, VP Elspeth Burgess, Sec. Samuel Lubell, Tres Bob MacIntosh, Trust. Michael Nelson, Trust. Michael Walsh, Trust. Eric Jablow, 98 Chair Joe Mayhew, 99 Chair Sam Pierce, Covert Beach, Steve desJardins, Darrin Dowty, Tooth Fairy, Alexis and Lee Gilliland, Charles Gilliland, David Grimm, Dan Hoey, Judy Kindell, Dick and Nicki Lynch, Keith Lynch, Winton Matthews, George Nelson, Lance Oszko, Kathi Overton, Peggy Rae Pavlat, Beth Pozzo, Rebecca Prather, Dick Roepke, Juan Sanmiguel, John Sapienza, George Shaner, Steven Smith, Lee Strong, Michael Taylor, Michael Watkins, David Wendland, Beth Zipser and Mike Zipser.





from the Internet


Plato:  For the greater good.

Karl Marx:  It was a historical inevitability.

Thomas de Torquemada:  Give me ten minutes with the chicken and I'll find out.

Timothy Leary:  Because that's the only kind of trip the Establishment would

let it take.

Nietzsche:  Because if you gaze too long across the Road, the Road gazes also across you.

Oliver North: National Security was at stake.

Carl Jung:  The confluence of events in the cultural gestalt necessitated that individual chickens cross roads at this historical juncture, and therefore synchronicitously brought such occurrences into being.

Jean-Paul Sartre:  In order to act in good faith and be true to itself, the chicken found it necessary to cross the road.

Ludwig Wittgenstein: The possibility of "crossing" was encoded into the objects "chicken" and "road," and circumstances came into being which caused the actualization of this potential  occurrence.

Albert Einstein:  Whether the chicken crossed the road or the road crossed the chicken depends upon your frame of reference.

Buddha:  If you ask this question, you deny your own chicken-nature.

Salvador Dali:  The Fish.

Darwin:  It was the logical next step after coming down from the trees.

Emily Dickinson:  Because it could not stop for death.

Ralph Waldo Emerson:  It didn't cross the road; it transcended it.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe:  The eternal hen-principle made it do it.

Ernest Hemingway:  To die. In the rain.

David Hume:  Out of custom and habit.

Saddam Hussein:  This was an unprovoked act of rebellion and we were quite

justified in dropping 50 tons of nerve gas on it.

Jack Nicholson:  'cause it (censored) wanted to.  That's the (censored) reason.

Ronald Reagan: I forget.

John Sununu:  The Air Force was only too happy to provide the

transportation, so quite understandably the chicken availed himself of the


Sappho:  Due to the loveliness of the hen on the other side, more fair

than all of Hellas' fine armies.

Henry David Thoreau:  To live deliberately ... and suck all the marrow out of life.

Mark Twain:  The news of its crossing has been greatly exaggerated.

Stephen Jay Gould:  It is possible that there is a sociobiological explanation for it, but we have been deluged in recent years with sociobiological stories despite the fact that we have little direct evidence about the genetics of behavior, and we do not know how to obtain it for the specific behaviors that figure most prominently in sociobiological speculation.

Captain James T. Kirk: To boldly go where no chicken has gone before.

Machiavelli:  So that its subjects will view it with admiration, as a chicken which has the daring and courage to boldly cross the road, but also with fear, for whom among them has the strength to contend with such a paragon of avian virtue?  In such a manner is the princely chicken's dominion maintained.

Hippocrates:  Because of an excess of phlegm in its pancreas.

Andersen Consultant: Deregulation of the chicken's side of the road was threatening its dominant market position. The chicken was faced with significant challenges to create and develop the competencies required for the newly competitive market.  Andersen Consulting, in a partnering relationship with the client, helped the chicken by rethinking its physical distribution strategy and implementation processes. Using the Poultry Integration Model (PIM) Andersen helped the chicken use its skills, methodologies, knowledge capital and experiences to align the chicken's people, processes and technology in support of its overall strategy within a Program Management framework.



And, Speaking of Floods:

RISING TIDE by John M. Barry (Simon & Schuster $27.50)

Reviewed by Alexis Gilliland

The book is subtitled "The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How it Changed America." The flood was one of those great historical watersheds that made history‑‑propelling Herbert Hoover to the Presidency, giving Huey Long his start in politics. With Calvin Coolidge resolutely silent on the issue, Hoover made his name in relief work. Huey Long defeated O.H. Simpson, the incumbent Governor of Louisiana, who had approved the unnecessary dynamiting of the levee south of New Orleans, to save the city at the expense of their neighbors in St. Bernard and Plaquemines Parishes. An amazing story, and I never heard of it.

Barry has a wonderful hook to get the book started, the rivalry between two engineers, James Buchanan Eads, an engineer of genius who built the first steel bridge at St. Louis, and Major General Andrew Atkinson Humphreys, Head of the Army Corps of Engineers, coming to his post because he had conducted a major (but not the first survey) of the Mississippi River, and for his heroism in the Civil War; he led the final disastrous charge at Fredericksburg, saying afterwards that "I felt like a young girl of sixteen attending her first ball .... I felt more like a God than a man." When Eads turned his attention to opening the sandbars choking the mouth of the Mississippi below New Orleans, a job the Corps of Engineers had been screwing up, it was war between them. Humphreys almost broke Eads; at a time when Eads needed to raise money to continue, Humphrey refused to release the official data on the depth of the channel. A friend of Eads sailed his ship, drawing 14', through the channel to establish that it was creditworthy. A subsequent act of Congress forced the Corps of Engineers to admit that the channel had been sounded to a depth of 16'. Once the work was completed, Eads turned his attention to Humphreys, writing an extensive critique of his work for Van Nostrand's Engineering Magazine which he had printed as a pamphlet and distributed to members of Congress. The data from Humphreys survey was valid, but the conclusions he had drawn from it, to spite the long dead Ellet who had published the first survey, were corrupt, and he subsequently resigned his commission.

The Corps of Engineers, however, remained in charge of the Mississippi, and being political rather than scientific, it messed up the science and engineering arguments and decided that the river could be contained by a levees‑only policy (which no one, not Eads, Ellet, nor Humphreys had advocated.) The Corps built the levees, and opened the rich lands of the lower Mississippi to development, promising that the river had been tamed. Naturally, the development required a lot of capital, and the well‑connected Percy family moved in to carve themselves an empire out of the wilderness They invented sharecropping to get labor, and abused their mainly Black sharecroppers to get rich, and things went well for more than 40 years, until the Corps of Engineers closed the Cypress Creek outlet in 1921. It was a major safety valve, and closing it raised the flood stage on the lower Mississippi by more than 6 feet. A condition not visible in dry weather, of course, but in the fall of 1926, when it started to rain, it rained to beat hell. On January I, 1927, the Mississippi reached the flood stage at Cairo, Illinois.

The Flood of 1927 was under way. The most dangerous floods are those that have several flood crests; in 1927 the US Weather Bureau at Cairo counted 10. When the river shook loose of the levees that sought to confine it, the result was like a dam breaking. The water would erode the levee, either by spilling over the top or tunneling under the base, and when the levee had been breached, the river would push through to form a crevasse. The crevasse at Mounds Landing was immense, unleashing a wall of water three quarters of a mile wide and as much as 130 feet deep, flooding an area 50 miles wide by 100 miles long with up to 20 feet of water. The human cost? 185,459 people lived in the area, and virtually all of them would be forced from their homes. In all, 27,000 square miles were flooded and 931,159 people‑‑out of the nation's 120 million‑‑were made homeless.

It is curious to think of Calvin Coolidge as a hero, but he did what Libertarians would regard as heroic; he was opposed to a large, interventionist government and he did everything in his power to prevent the government from giving aid to the victims of the disaster. Coolidge refused even to visit the flooded area, because he was afraid that he might be swayed from his principles and convictions. Never mind that without the Corps of Engineers building the levees to tame the river most of those people would not have been in harm's way. Never mind that the Corps, an arm of the government, had botched the lob. The government would not lift a finger or a hand on behalf of the disaster victims

Based on his experience with wartime relief work in Belgium, Herbert Hoover was the man in charge. In her diary, Agnes Meyer, later owner of the Washington Post wrote that Hoover was "consumed with ambition .... The man's will‑to‑power is almost a mama." Government agencies did what Hoover asked, using current funds, the Red Cross reported to him, the banks and corporations looked on him as their man on horseback. "I shall be the nominee," he said, "It is nearly inevitable." There were plenty of volunteers and donations, but the magnitude of the 1927 disaster was beyond a billion 1927 dollars, big money, really big money.

To feed the flood victims was one thing, as late as March 1928 the Red Cross was feeding 12,000 in Washington County alone. To help the flood victims rebuild their farms (fences, ditches, livestock and barns were all gone) and homes, Hoover arranged for the local barks to extend a line of credit of about 30 million. dollars, which came to about 20 dollars per victim. This was totally inadequate, and in the event, only about 5 percent of that money was ever loaned out, but Hoover proclaimed victory, and in 1928 it got him elected President. At that time the Black vote was solidly "Party of Lincoln" Republican, and Hoover‑‑pursuing a "Southern strategy" to get elected‑‑made them promises which he didn't keep. After the 1929 market crash, Hoover continued to make inadequate arrangements, and continued to claim victory all the way to the dustbin of history.

There is an abundance of well‑researched riches. The rise and fall of the Klu Klux Klan, for instance: the KKK rose as a popular movement for white, middle America, and it fell‑ collapsed, really‑‑because the leadership was in it to make a profit selling Klan regalia. The leadership argued over the gusher of money the Klan provided for them and fell out over dividing the profits. The hook also gives the derivation for the Negro slang term for a white boss. The term was "Mister Charlie," after Charlie Silas, a levee overseer, who used to shoot Negro workers who annoyed him and let the river carry them away. Then there was the hunting party where Teddy Roosevelt refused to shoot a tethered bear. The papers reported the bear was a cub, and the Teddy Bear was created. In fact, the bear was full grown, and another member of the party dispatched it with a knife. The book ends noting that the Corps of Engineers is committed to keeping the Mississippi flowing through New Orleans, but in the event of a major flood, Project Flood plans to split the river, sending 1.5 million cubic feet per second down the Atchafalaya River and 1.5 million cfs past New Orleans Since the Atchafalaya is a shorter route to the sea, with a steeper slope, the danger is that in a major flood, the Mississippi will shift its channel, bypassing New Orleans entirely. A fascinating read.



The Return of the Ninety-Foot Tall Disclave Head


The Third Friday 6/20 meeting was launched at the Ginters at 9:18 PM. Tribal Leader John wore the skin (the Skin of Barney-kill).  He announced the making of Barney: The Movie.  The club hailed John, the Barney killer.  Erica apologized for the heat saying she is in the process of having two fans installed.  The club reassured her, not to worry, there was a whole room full of fans there. 

            The club was treasurer-free but John said we had too little money.  Lee Gilliland said, "Let's throw a party anyway!"  John asked if we had any trustees to which a mysterious voice yelled out "Trust No One!" 

            Disclave Past (Michael Nelson) called on John who said he was holding the insurance news.  Disclave Past then turned over $5,000 as a partial payment.  Disclave past has about another $6,000.  Lee Gilliland said the flyer we had for the con was very appropriate.  It read "Disclave is Back, Bring Your Swimsuit!"   Disclave '98 (Joe) called the Ramada and asked when we could talk contact.  He spoke with one of the owners who said it was OK to come back.  But the other owner doesn't want us back until the insurance was settled. Joe said that John had said that the insurance was settled because we are not liable.  So it could be that we are not going back or maybe the horse will talk <from the old joke about the man who got a lot of money from a king to make a horse talk and was given a year to do so.  Everyone said he was crazy but the man said, who knows, in a year the horse may die, or the king may die, or, who knows, maybe the horse will talk.>  We may need to look for another hotel, you can leave that to me.  There are other hotels but they don't have as much function space.  We may have to give up some functions, like the Discave.


1.     Get the New Carrollton Ramada (his preferred option)

2.     Get a different hotel, on the same weekend

3.     Get a different hotel, on a different weekend (it might just come to that)

4.     Cancel Discave (gasps of horror)


The hotel is saying we are liable because the asbs' space on the fourth floor was blocked for them by a WSFA member.  Somehow the person whose room leaked got on the blocking list even though he was not a member of Disclave or Black Robe.  Joe said it was not a good idea anyway to block rooms because to the hotel it looks like the rooms are taken, when sometimes people don't show. He says that he hopes something will happen and the Ramada comes to Kroness on their knees.<You'll have to ask Joe for this reference.>

            Chuck Divine asked if we spoke with other SF clubs. John said yes, they all rushed home to check their insurance.  Joe said that we need to consider the spin carefully.  Some of this is risky.  Hotels don't distinguish between science fiction groups.  If anything hurts our reputation, it could jeopardize the World Con hotels.  If we allow the asbs' activities at our convention, we become them.  We are a grown-up activity, not an `adult' activity.  I'd be against Baptists or SCA preaching at our convention. We are for science fiction fandom. I'm against anyone booking rooms for others without special permission. 

            Joe said there were some things that seemed wrong at the time, but little that would be remember five years from now.  Mike Nelson did as good a job as possible without being clairvoyant or 90 feet tall.  If anything he was too nice.

            "Don't get too stressed out," advised the Other Joe. "I have a heart condition," replied Joe.  "Why would you say that."

            Chuck said that a few years ago there was an incident with the NYC cops doing damage.  Were they invited back?  Joe said they tip bigger than we do.  John added that Shiners do lots of damage to hotels but they pay hefty damage fees.

            Erica said that running a Disclave would raise her antidepressant bills.

            The Entertainment committee said they tested the bike on Friday the 13th.  It worked perfectly, but supported the other guy's theory, it didn't move.  The treasurer came in and gave a belated report, $5,489.70 including the $5,000 check received at that meeting.

            There was actual real business.  Lance said that Bucconeer had need of WSFA's 1000 foot extension cord and a four gallon coffee maker.  John said, not if you're planning to make crab chili in it. Lance said he needed an industrial strength extension cord, not just a normal extension cord.  Elspeth expressed concern about crossover between Bucky and WSFA.  Lance withdrew his request.

            John announced that the July First Friday meeting will be July Fourth.  So everyone is invited to the Bungalow for a party and the world's fastest WSFA meeting. The record is 17 seconds.

            The fanzine File777 had extensive coverage of Disclave in the same issue that John's rebuttal of a review of the last Disclave appeared.  That review had said that the presence of asb would cause problems <why didn't they warn us then?> John's letter assured File777 that this wouldn't happen.  So it's his fault.

            The club proceeded to engage in a major brawl over how to pronounce Neil Gaimon's name. <purposely misspelled so we can fight over how to spell it.>  Dick Lynch said MIMOSA <vote for the Hugos>  had a party for its 20th issue which contains Jack Chalker's short history of Baltimore fandom.  Joe corrected him, saying "Part One."  "In Part Two everyone changes sex," said Mike Walsh, absolutely deadpan.  The room exploded.

            Mike Nelson is working on the comp list, waiting for the list of those who worked on the con suite.  "Are the people from 403 on the list?"  Chuck Divine is the second fastest runner in NASA in his age group. October 4th is the 40th anniversary of the launch of Sputnik.  Chuck is running a party featuring real Russians.  Erica will be throwing a party to celebrate her 40th birthday and Karl's graduation from college.  She's inviting the known universe <is that different from Known Space?>  Erica told us to clean up, and get our cans into recycling bins and to throw out our garbage.  The meeting adjourned at 10:03.


Attendance: Pres. John Pomeranz, VP Elspeth Burgess, Sec. Samuel Lubell, Tres Bob MacIntosh, Trust. Michael Nelson, Trust. Michael Walsh,  98 Chair Joe Mayhew, 99 Chair Sam Pierce, Covert Beach, Bernard Bell, Chuck Divine,  Darrin Dowty, Alexis and Lee Gilliland, Erica Ginter, Joe Hall, Dick and Nicki Lynch, Keith Marshall, Fox Mulder, Barry and Meridel Newton, Judy Newton, Lance Oszko, Evan Phillips, Juan Sanmiguel,  George Shaner, Michael Taylor, and TR Smith.


"Oh, Wow!" -Sam Lubell's reaction on seeing that a new building ten minutes from his home is to be a brand new Barnes and Noble Superstore.

"Up-Oh!" - Sam Lubell's reaction on seeing that this Barnes and Noble Superstore is about ten feet from his bank.

Specification Sheet For

The Pistol/Wheel/Skateboard

1. The apparatus weighs 19 pounds, of which 5 pounds is the rotating pistol/wheel.

2. The pistols are 9" long, 1" in diameter, with a bore of 0.450" and are muzzle-loading matchlocks. Only one pistol will be fired at a time, the other one being there to balance the wheel. Using a charge of 2.5 grams, or 38 grains, should give the bullet a muzzle velocity of about 1000 ft/sec.

3. Given that the bullet weighs 135 grains, about 0.02 pounds, the force of the bullet will amount to 20 ft-lbs/sec, which should recoil the 19 pound p/w/s system at 1.1 ft/sec. This same 20 ft-lbs/sec should spin the 5 pound p/w with a circular velocity of 4.0 ft/sec. Since the p/w has a diameter of 16", 1.33 it, it has a circumference of 4.2 ft, and will be rotating once every 1.047 seconds, or at about 57 rpm. These are the maximum forces expected.

4. The bullet catcher is steel, 1 1/4" at the mouth, and tapering to a 1/2" cup to hold the 45 caliber lead ball. The pistol will be fired at a range of 4" from the bullet catcher.

5. There is a small peg coming to within 1/4" of the wheel, and on the peg is a blob of modeling clay that will stop the wheel from drifting while the fuse is burning.

[Bears in Space]