Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
02/08/19 -- Vol. 37, No. 32, Whole Number 2053

Co-Editor: Mark Leeper,
Co-Editor: Evelyn Leeper,
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        You Say To-may-to, I Say To-mah-to (comments
                by Mark R. Leeper)
        California, There You Go (comments by Mark R. Leeper)
        This Week's Reading (THE BULLY PULPIT) (book comments
                by Evelyn C. Leeper)


TOPIC: You Say To-may-to, I Say To-mah-to (comments by Mark R.

The other day in a restaurant Evelyn asked me what the difference
between tortellini and tortelloni was, and I said it was the same
as between Bellini and baloney.  [-mrl]


TOPIC: California, There You Go (comments by Mark R. Leeper)

When I was quite young--six years old or so--I did not know what I
wanted to be when I grew up (though I did think it would be fun to
work in the movie studios).  But I did know where I wanted to live.
Somewhere I had heard that it did not rain in California.  This was
back in the days that it still did rain reasonably in California.
I thought that living someplace where I never had to deal with rain
and play around inside of science fiction movies would be the ideal
future for me.

I should say that this was many years before there was a song on
the radio entitled, "It never rains in California."  It was just at
the time I was in kindergarten it was a popular myth that
California was a rain-free state.  It never occurred to a very
young me that it would not be great to live in a place where it did
not rain.  I did not expect that the time would come when
California would be hard hit by the lack of rain,

As I got older I knew that California had its faults and one of
them was named San Andreas.  Later I moved to live and go to school
in California and without realizing it I was actually living just
yards away from an actual fault line.  But quakes are very rare
events.  Bad weather was more common. And if you averaged out the
bad effects of the quake it would still be less over all than the
bad weather we got because of rain.  After lived on the fault line
about three years--never once feeling a single vibration--I moved
away.  I moved to New Jersey and in the first month or so I lived
through a most noticeable earthquake.

So I was still convinced that California had the perfect climate.
Now due to global climate change it almost does not ever rain in
California.  Areas that had for decades had beautiful climate are
drying up and turning to tinder.  And like all good timber it was
very flammable.  Houses within some of the most beautiful land in
the world were bursting into flame.  Suddenly there is nothing so
comforting about the promise that it will never rain on them.
California now has quakes and had withering wildfires.  The air had
a load of smoke and air pollution.  In the mountains where it snows
at all the snowpack is getting thinner and thinner.  The snowfall
blankets the ground earlier and melts off sooner each year.

California for years has battled for programs to help curb global
climate change.  It is not just the right thing to do.  California
is extremely vulnerable to deadly results of global climate change.
Like every other state their efforts to curb climate change and way
too little way too late.  It is going from the most desirable land
to live in the country to some of the least attractive.  At least I
did not decide to settle in my favorite state.  [-mrl]


TOPIC: Circumnavigating the Earth (letter of comment by John

In response to various comments on circumnavigating the earth in
the 01/25/19 issue of the MT VOID, John Purcell writes:

I had to laugh at all the comments about Jules Verne being
geographically challenged, especially the way your readers figured
out what it would take to circumnavigate the Earth in 40 minutes,
which I guess we could call the Puck Challenge.  Only in a science
fiction fanzine.  My word, but we are such geeks--and damned proud
of it, too!  [-jp]


TOPIC: This Week's Reading (book comments by Evelyn C. Leeper)

GOLDEN AGE OF JOURNALISM by Doris Kearns Goodwin (ISBN 978-1-4165-
4786-0) is about, well, Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft and
the Golden Age of Journalism.  (Duh!)  For those who know the
period from around 1900 to 1912 only as "McKinley gets shot, Teddy
Roosevelt becomes President, then Taft is elected and Teddy goes
exploring, then Teddy comes back, is unhappy with Taft, forms a
third party, and thus hands the election to the Democrat, Woodrow
Wilson," Goodwin provides a lot more context.

For example, in 1904 Roosevelt and Taft were the best of friends.
In 1908, when Roosevelt declined to run and Taft was elected, this
had cooled a bit--Roosevelt had vowed after winning re-election in
1904 that he would not run in 1908, and he was regretting that
promise.  However, unlike many of today's politicians, he felt
obliged to keep it.  By the time 1912 rolled around, Roosevelt and
Taft were bitter enemies.  This seems to be mostly Roosevelt's
doing: he felt that Taft was not pushing policies Roosevelt
supported hard enough; basically Taft was not progressive enough
for Roosevelt.  On Taft's side, Taft felt that *he* was President,
and he resented Roosevelt speaking as though he (TR) still ran the

My admiration for Roosevelt was somewhat diminished by Goodwin's
descriptions, though I had reservations even before reading this
book.  For example, Roosevelt's positive glee for war has always
been troublesome.  As Goodwin writes, "Even before assuming his
post in the Navy Department, Roosevelt had insisted that he 'would
rather welcome a foreign war.'  ...  While McKinley, who had 'seen
the dead piled up at Antietam, prayed for peace, Roosevelt, who had
never seen combat, absurdly romanticized war."  [page 222]

This is perhaps not unlike Robert A. Heinlein and Joe Haldeman.
Heinlein spent World War II behind a desk and wrote STARSHIP
TROOPERS, considered by many a glorification of the military in
general and the infantry in particular.  Haldeman spent his time in
the military "in country" in Vietnam, and wrote THE FOREVER WAR,
which is less than totally positive towards the military (at least
the "upper management" of the military) and war.  Heinlein's war is
a necessary war to save humanity; Haldeman's war is a useless war
based on a misunderstanding.

Roosevelt has some opinions we might want to consider, though.  "It
would result in 'a dreadful calamity,' Roosevelt told a
conservative friend, to see the nation 'divided into two parties,
one containing the bulk of the property owners and conservative
people, the other the bulk of the wageworkers and the less
prosperous people generally; each party insisting upon demanding
much that was wrong, and each party sullen and angered by real and
fancied grievances.'"  [pages 444-445]

Also, "Neither this people nor any other free people will
permanently tolerate the use of the vast power conferred by vast
wealth, and especially by wealth in its corporate form, without
lodging somewhere in the government the still higher power of
seeing that this power, in addition to being used in the interest
of the individual or individuals possessing it, is also used for
and not against the interests of the people as a whole."  [page

In an interesting parallel to the present, Taft played a lot of
golf, but often as part of a weight-loss regimen; in those days,
golfers *walked* the course rather than rode around in a gold cart.
Even so, reporters eager for any story during Taft's times away
from Washington portrayed him as doing little besides playing golf,
which was perceived as "a rich man's game."

This period also marked the rise of what was called then
"muckraking" journalism, and is now called "investigative
journalism."  This was led by McClure's, with the most prominent
journalists being Ida M. Tarbell, Lincoln Steffens, and Stannard
Baker, as well as the novelist Upton Sinclair.

By the way, the term "bully pulpit" should be parsed as a fantastic
platform for advocating one's positions, "bully" meaning "great" or
"splendid" and being one of Roosevelt's favorite words, often used
as an exclamation by itself.  It does not (or did not) mean a
platform from which to harangue and intimidate one's opponents.

The book itself is thorough, but intimidating.  However, its 912
pages include about 150 pages of footnotes, so the average reader
does not have quite the challenge it first appears.  Still, it's a
lot of reading, and not for the "casual" reader.  [-ecl]


                                           Mark Leeper

           The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your
                                           --Albert Einstein