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My Schedule for Capricon 37

Here comes Capricon 37, this year again in the Westin Chicago North Shore Hotel in Wheeling, Illinois. It begins Thursday, 16 February, and runs through Sunday, 19 February. I'm participating in a number of program items.

Thursday, February 16

Conventions in the Social Media Age
Birch A (1), 3:30pm - 5pm
Track: Fan Interest

Liz Gilio (moderator), Meg Frank, William Frank, Neal F. Litherland, Bill Higgins

Social Media has allowed us unprecedented access to each other. While in many ways this is a good thing, it also allows anonymity and negativity to enter what many fans consider safe spaces. Has online fandom changed cons? For better or for worse? Has social media filled a void that cons used to fill? Are cons even necessary any more?

Friday, February 17

What Keeps You in Fandom?
Willow (1), 1pm - 2:30pm
Track: Fan Interest
Division: Programming
Dexter Fabi (moderator), Val Hoski, Jessica Guggenheim, Jason Betts, Bill Higgins

Every year you go to the same conventions, or you keep looking for that one author's books, or you dress as that character in the show you like.... what keeps your fandom alive? And what keeps you participating in your fandom at large?

Introduction to Classic Movies
Willow (1), 8:30pm - 10pm
Track: Media
Division: Programming
Dexter Fabi (moderator), Frank Salvatini, Bill Higgins

What classic SF movies are MUST see, and why?

Saturday, February 18

Return to Jupiter: NASA's Juno Mission
Botanic Garden Ballroom A (1), 10am - 11:30am
Track: Science
Division: Programming
Bill Higgins (a solo talk)

Last summer, a new spacecraft arrived at Jupiter. Juno's mission is to orbit the giant planet, studying its powerful magnetic field, intense radiation belts, and the intricate interplay of particles and energies surging through nearby space. Bill Higgins reviews Juno's role in gathering more clues to the formation and evolution of Jupiter.

Writing "Real" Aliens
Botanic Garden Ballroom B (1), 11:30am - 1pm
Track: Writing
Division: Programming
Richard Garfinkle (moderator), Phyllis Eisenstein, Martin L. Shoemaker, Michael Coorlim, Bill Higgins, Natalie Silk

Why do so many aliens look or sound like humans with prosthetics on their faces? Why does human sexual morphism/beauty codes carry across all species? Why aren't there more bugs and blobs?

Kids Plan a Mission to Mars
Elm (1), 4pm - 5:30pm
Track: Kids
Division: Programming
Jason Palmer, Bill Higgins, Lisa Garrison

What would YOU do if you were planning a mission to Mars? What things do you think would be needed?
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My Schedule for Friendship Is Confusion

Once again, I'm heading to Novi, Michigan for the 2017 iteration of Detroit fandom's venerable convention Confusion-- this year named "Friendship is Confusion." I'm participating in three program events. Say hello if you encounter me there.

Fan Guest of Honor Induction
Saturday 1 PM
St. Clair Room

The Fan Guest of Honour Introduction and Induction is a traditional ConFusion event, wherein any attending Fan GoHs of years past welcome the new Fan GoH to the club.

(I was Moonbase Confusion's Fan Guest of Honor in 2007, the year after Chuck Firment and the year before The Roving Pirate Party. This year we'll be inducting Mark Oshiro.)

Return to Jupiter: NASA's Juno Mission
Saturday noon
Manitou Room

Last summer, a new spacecraft arrived at Jupiter. Juno's mission is to orbit the giant planet, studying its powerful magnetic field, its intense radiation belts, and the intricate interplay of particles and energies surging through nearby space. Bill Higgins reviews Juno's role in gathering more clues to the formation and evolution of Jupiter.

Pimp Your Mars Rover
Saturday 5 PM
Manitou Room

What would a vehicle need to traverse the unforgiving surface of Mars? A perfect panel for those interested in engineering the next buggy.
Panelists: Karen Burnham (moderator), Martin L. Shoemaker, Courtney Schafer, Bill Higgins
Bill Heterodyne animated

My Schedule for Worldcon: Midamericon II

It's nearly time for the 74th World Science Fiction Convention, MidAmeriCon II, in Kansas City, Missouri. It runs from the 17th to the 21st of August at the Kansas City Convention Center in Kansas City, Missouri. Here are program items in which I'm participating. "Kansas City, here I come!"

WSH HH&O 1090x960

Jungian Mindscapes and Clement's Iceworld

Thursday 10:00 - 11:00, 2201 (Academic) (Kansas City Convention Center)

[I'm the second speaker in this academic session of two short talks.]

“The Red One” and Enduring Archetypes of Science Fiction’s First Golden Age:
The Jungian Mindscapes Campbell Inherited from the Writers of the Fin de Siècle

Charles Von Nordheim

The Search for Saar: Looking Back at Hal Clement's Iceworld with 21st-Century Science
William S. Higgins
Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory

Some scientific aspects of Hal Clement's 1951 novel Iceworld are notable 65 years later. First, in 1951 not one exoplanet was known. Clement would live to see an abundance of new planets circling distant stars. Furthermore, rather than seeking Earth-like planets, one may search for worlds Clement's sulfur-breathing aliens might inhabit comfortably. The planet-hunting Kepler spacecraft has identified at least one planet, Kepler 42c, where conditions approximate those of the imaginary world Saar. Second, in detail unusual for SF of its time, Iceworld explores a planet with remotely-operated spacecraft, anticipating the methods of the coming Space Age.

Kaffeeklatsch: Bill Higgins

Thursday 12:00 - 13:00, 2211 (KKs) (Kansas City Convention Center)

An hour of conversation with a few people who wish to converse with me. Attendees must sign up in advance Wednesday afternoon for the limited seating. Signup instructions are here. (I doubt actual coffee will be served.)

Other kaffeklatsch hosts in the same room at the same time—at different tables—will be Kathleen Ann Goonan,  Brianna Spacekat Wu, and Christopher McKitterick.

Edison's Concrete Piano

Thursday 18:00 - 19:00, 2206 (Kansas City Convention Center)

Bill Higgins (Moderator), Dr. Jordin Kare, Allan Dyen-Shapiro, Howard Davidson,  andyvanoverberghe

Even the greatest minds have some pretty strange ideas. In 1911, Edison decided to create a concrete piano. What other great, or extremely bizarre ideas have found their way to the US patent office? A look at the oddities that people have imagined.

Note: This panel has moved forward one hour from the original timeslot.

Where Science Fails

Friday 15:00 - 16:00, 2502B (Kansas City Convention Center)

Brother Guy Consolmagno SJ (Moderator), Bill Higgins, Anna Kashina,  Dr Helen Pennington, Mr. Donald Douglas Fratz

Although scientists are supposed to follow the scientific method, sometimes that allow their human side to get ahead of them. What caused the crisis of replication in social psychology, the false alarm on cosmic inflation detection, or the announcement of cold fusion?  How can these errors be avoided, and how do they damage the reputation of science?

Ask a Scientist

Saturday 15:00 - 16:00, 2210 (Kansas City Convention Center)

Mx Rachael Acks, Bill Higgins (Moderator), Dr. Claire McCague, Dr. Lawrence M. Schoen, Dr. Geoffrey A. Landis

Do you have a pressing question about the earth's warming, worm holes, advances in communication technology, cloning? A panel of scientists in varied areas of expertise are here to answer your scientific queries. Answers will be timed out at five minutes each, so don't ask for a detailed explanation of General Relativity! Please keep questions brief and specific.

Fizz and Fuse, the Reactor Brothers

Saturday 16:00 - 17:00, 3501H (Kansas City Convention Center)

Dr. Jordin Kare, Bill Higgins

In this humorous ad-lib chat, Jordin Kare and Bill Higgins diagnose people's spaceship (and other SF) problems in the style of "Car Talk."

Playback from Pluto

Sunday 15:00 - 16:00, 2502B (Kansas City Convention Center)

Bill Higgins

There's a treasure at the edge of the Solar System, a data recorder aboard the New Horizons spacecraft, sending Earth several gigabytes acquired during last summer's flyby of Pluto. The excitement of the initial encounter still lingers. Downlinks in recent months continue to illuminate the mysteries of Pluto, and 2019 brings us all new data. What will we learn?

Bill Heterodyne animated

My Schedule for Musecon 6

I'm attending Musecon 6 this weekend in the Westin Chicago Northwest hotel in Itasca, Illinois.

I'm on the program for a couple of items.

Return to Jupiter: NASA's Juno Mission
Friday 9:00 PM - 10:15 PM
Room: Carlyle

This summer, a new spacecraft arrived at Jupiter. Juno's mission is to orbit the giant planet, studying its powerful magnetic field, its intense radiation belts, and the intricate interplay of particles and energies surging through nearby space. Bill Higgins reviews Juno's role in gathering more clues to the formation and evolution of Jupiter.

MuseCon's Eternal Ukulele Summit - 2016 Edition
Sunday 1:30 PM - 2:45 PM
Room: Trafalgar

Lisa Golladay, Bill Higgins

We hold these truths to be self-evident: That your life with a uke is better than your life without one. That you can bring a uke or borrow a loaner. That all players are welcome at any skill level, including the ones who haven't started yet. And that anyone who thinks a blues progression in C is "too easy" isn't trying hard enough (we can fix that).
rockin' zeusaphone

Let's Talk Pluto! Hangout 2PM This Sunday with Aaron Freeman

Aaron Freeman and I will be conversing by means of Google Hangout this coming Sunday, 28 February, at 2 PM Central Standard Time. The topic is Pluto, recently explored by NASA's New Horizons mission. If that sounds like fun, please tune in. Send your questions along.

In its flyby last July, as you probably recall, New Horizons gathered so much data about Pluto, its big moon Charon, four smaller moons, and Pluto's atmosphere that it's taken many months to play back-- and even now, not all the data have yet been transmitted to Earth. Since new results are announced frequently, there's always something new to say.

So Sunday, we're holding our own personal Plutopalooza, and Aaron has renamed himself "Chaaron Freeman" in honor of the big gray satellite.

To join in, click this invitation link.

It leads to a page that says "You need an invitation to view this event," with a button that says "Request an invitation." Click that button, and you reach a page that says "You requested an invitation to this event. You will receive an invitation when the event organizer approves your request." At this point, I presume, some combination of Google's robots and Aaron himself will work unspecified magic. Come Sunday at 2 PM Central, fire up Google Hangout.

I suspect the event will be recorded, should you choose to review it later. But on such details, I am, like tiny particles suspended in Pluto's tenuous atmosphere, hazy.

During the encounter in July, I witnessed the excitement at New Horizons' home base, the Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory, and assisted APL with some education activities. In my capacity as a NASA Solar System Ambassador volunteer, I've been telling people about the mission for months.

Aaron Freeman is presently Artist-in-Residence at the Chicago Council on Science and Technology. His job: communicating about science in his offbeat, witty way. You can find his work on the Web, on Twitter, and on YouTube.

Aaron describes himself as "funnyman, science blogger... improv actor, auctioneer, MC, host, moderator" and a bunch more nouns. He entertains and educates, and has even left his mark in Chicago's history books. Years ago, I was a guest several times on his TV and radio talk shows. Recently we reconnected when the Chicago Council on Science and Technology invited me to give a talk in their Speakeasy series at Geek Bar. Aaron turned up, and it was a delight to see him again.

Long story short (skipping past this remarkable thing), we hatched a plot to do a Hangout next Sunday. Can't wait!
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The Very Best Fake Cowboy Song

What's the best fake cowboy song? "Jingle Jangle Jingle?" "Don't Fence Me In?" "Wah-Hoo?" Some other song?

"Jingle Jangle Jingle," also known as "I've Got Spurs That Jingle Jangle Jingle," Joseph J. Lilley and Frank Loesser, 1942.

"Don't Fence Me In," by Cole Porter and Robert Fletcher, 1934. Lyrics.

(Bonus: Trigger kisses Roy Rogers.)

"Wah-Hoo," by Cliff Friend, 1936. Lyrics.

Until recently I didn't care for the highly-earwormy "Wah-Hoo," but then I discovered the Hoosier Hotshots' cover of the song, and it's growing on me.