• MT VOID, 02/04/22 -- Vol. 40, No. 32, Whole Number 2209 (1/2)

    From evelynchimelisleeper@gmail.com@21:1/5 to All on Sun Feb 6 07:24:22 2022
    Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
    02/04/22 -- Vol. 40, No. 32, Whole Number 2209

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    MT VOID Typeface (comments by Evelyn C. Leeper)
    Mini Reviews, Part 8 (WIFE OF A SPY, FRANCE, BAD LUCK
    BANGING OR LOONY PORN) (film reviews
    by Mark R. Leeper and Evelyn C. Leeper)
    THE DOOR INTO SUMMER (film review by Dale Skran)
    (a book review in the form of an extended essay
    by Dale Skran) (part 2)
    Star Trek Economics (letters of comment by Sam Long,
    Tim Merrigan, Gary McGath, Scott Dorsey,
    Paul Dormer, and Alan Woodford)
    BILLY BUDD (letter of comment by Paul Dormer)
    FREE GUY (letter of comment by Dorothy J. Heydt)
    (letter of comment by John Hertz)
    Memorious"/"Funes, His Memory", and translations)
    (book comments by Evelyn C. Leeper)


    TOPIC: MT VOID Typeface (comments by Evelyn C. Leeper)

    Reports are that the typeface is much better. Now I just hope I
    can remember how to keep it that way! [-ecl]


    TOPIC: Mini Reviews, Part 8 (film reviews by Mark R. Leeper and
    Evelyn C. Leeper)

    Here is the eighth batch of mini-reviews, with movies from other
    countries in languages other than English.

    WIFE OF A SPY (SUPAI NO TSUMA): (**SPOILERS**) We have seen a lot
    of spy thrillers set in Europe, usually with American or British
    spies, but WIFE OF A SPY is a bit different. This, the latest film
    from Kiyoshi Kurosawa (not relation to Akira Kurosawa), is set in
    1940 in Japan, and has as its spy a Japanese businessman. We can
    tell he has some problems with the current Japanese government, as
    he and his wife are warned they are too Westernized (clothing--
    although the clothing edict seems to apply mostly to women--whiskey
    choices, etc.). (Several of the conversations between the main
    character and his friend in the Japanese security forces,
    discussing whether to inform on people, seem reminiscent of
    conversations between Ben-Hur and Masala.) The plot is not always
    easy to follow, and several characters are not what they seem
    (well, it is a spy thriller). There is probably a lot that
    Japanese audiences will pick up on that Western audiences might
    miss (e.g., apparently one of the wall hangings has a motto that
    can be taken as a comment on the situation), but others are clearer
    (a comment about a year-end corporate gift of rice cakes and sugar
    is that it is to help with the ration cards). Halfway through we
    discover the focus of the espionage which is the Japanese medical
    experiments at the infamous Unit 731 in Manchuria/Manchukuo. The
    Japanese government kept quiet on "crimes against humanity" for
    decades and the secret was basically kept for many years after the
    war, though some hints leaked out. It was not until this century
    that court cases and some official acknowledgement by the Japanese
    government has happened.

    Released theatrically 09/17/21; available on various streaming
    services. Rating: low +2 (-4 to +4), or 7/10.

    Film Credits:

    What others are saying:

    FRANCE: In FRANCE, France de Meurs (played by Lea Seydoux) is a
    telejournalist who goes through a personal crisis and tries to
    change her style. At the beginning we see her arranging news
    scenes that appear to be off the cuff, but are being artfully
    staged or even faked, probably for ratings. Wherever she goes,
    France runs into people who know her from television; she has given
    up her private life for fame. Even when she thinks she has managed
    to shake her admirers (or stalkers), she finds she cannot avoid
    them. Much of the thrust is lost in translating the text. One
    good touch is that the production designer creates a scene and then
    makes many small objects in that scene the same striking color,
    giving it more of a feel of artificiality. The film as a whole is
    reminiscent of NETWORK, though France is no Diana Christensen.

    Released theatrically 12/10/21; available on various streaming
    services. Rating: high +1 (-4 to +4), or 6/10.

    Film Credits:

    What others are saying:

    BALAMUC): *WARNING*: This film begins with an X-rated hardcore sex
    scene. (Boy, I tell you! Films are better than ever.) As the
    film begins, we focus on the attitudes of one group of people and
    their reactions to having a sex film of a teacher and her husband
    on the Internet. The director also gives us a view of the current
    economic status of Romania which helps the viewer to place the
    story in time, as well as a film about attitudes towards sex,
    ethnicities, nationalism, and other hot topics. Romania seems to
    be a land of noisy traffic and the director takes us on a slow tour
    of the streets of Bucharest, during which we see street scenes that
    run on for minutes. The film provides three different endings, one
    of which seems inspired by the song "Harper Valley P.T.A."
    Ultimately, the whole film seems like a joke.

    Released theatrically 11/19/21; available on DVD from Netflix.
    Rating: 0 (-4 to +4), or 4/10.

    Film Credits:

    What others are saying: <https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/bad_luck_banging_or_loony_porn>



    TOPIC: THE DOOR INTO SUMMER (film review by Dale Skran)

    A Japanese version of Robert A. Heinlein's THE DOOR INTO SUMMER is
    running on Netflix, and I would strongly recommend any SF fan watch
    it. It's not a bad intro to SF for regular folks either. The
    beauty of this adaptation is that moving it to Japan removes pretty
    much all of the parts of the original novel that don't stand the
    test of time, while preserving what makes THE DOOR INTO SUMMER
    classic SF.

    The plot has been somewhat modified, but not in any way that
    fundamentally alters anything good about the story. The framing
    device of the cat looking for a "Door into Summer" is retained, and
    the cat has been brilliantly cast, with the result that the
    sweetness of the hero's love for his pet shines through. The
    problematic aspects of a relationship with an eleven-year-old have
    been expunged by making her seventeen, and all the talky Fifties
    slang Heinlein dialog is now Japanese, totally filtering and
    updating it so that it is not jarring to the ear.

    The original book has some brilliant description from the 1950s of
    what a real household robot might be like, and although details are
    wrong, you can clearly see the real-life Roomba shining through the
    text. The 2025 tech is possibly more advanced that it should be,
    but the anti-gravity is much deprecated in the movie [I actually
    missed it completely] and the movie cleverly focused on a "plasma
    battery" as a key new invention. The real "SF assumption" is, of
    course, time travel, but without time travel and cold-sleep there
    is no plot.

    Since the entire story is about the evolution of robotics, there is
    a strong resonance with Japanese cultural tendencies. The updated
    story works surprisingly well as a touching romance as well as a
    tale of an engineer wronged who uses technology to set things
    right. After watching the movie, I came to see the cat's search
    for the "Door into Summer" as a metaphor, not just for the hero's
    search for a better life and revenge, but also for the entire
    history of the human pursuit of a better future. May we all find
    our own personal "Door into Summer," and as the rockets rise from
    Boca Chica Texas, the door to a brighter future for all of humanity
    is slowly cracking open in the depths of the Covid-19 winter.

    I'm rating THE DOOR INTO SUMMER a +2 on the -4 to +4 scale, a must
    see for a serious SF fan, and a super must see for Heinlein fans.
    This is probably the best adaptation of any Heinlein book yet. THE
    DOOR INTO SUMMER is a G-rated(*): a no-sex, minimal violence movie
    suitable for all ages, although the complex plot will confuse most
    kids. However, they will like the cat. [-dls]

    (*) Officially, there is no US rating. It is G-rated in Japan, and
    rated "12" in the UK. [-ecl]


    book review in the form of an extended essay by Dale Skran)
    (part 2)

    [This is the second part of a review of TREKNOMICS: THE ECONOMICS

    Let's take a look at the most common elements of "Star Trek"

    -- Communicators: They are pretty much a joke. We've made them
    real in just a few decades after Original Trek, and about 100x
    better than what is shown in Trek.
    -- Universal Translators: We have made enormous progress toward
    such devices, and seem on course to match or exceed "Trek" level
    capabilities over the next few decades.
    -- Tricorders: We are well on our way there, and surely will
    exceed what was shown in Trek in less than 100 years, if not much
    -- Computers: Trek computers are more advanced than what we have
    now, but not that much more advanced. We seem on a path to achieve
    "Trek level" computers in much less than 100 years. Computers are
    one of the technologies that must be constrained to avoid a
    "Singularity" so the only plausible explanation for the limited
    capabilities of Trek computers is deliberate widespread restraint.
    -- Medical technologies: Certainly, Trek has some real advances
    over the present day, but the number of deadly diseases and plagues
    in the Trek universe are astonishing. People seem to live long
    lives by today's standards, but not that much longer. There does
    not appear to have been any systematic effort to extend the human
    lifespan, something that most probably is the result of the
    suppression of science and technology.
    -- Cloaking devices: One of the real-world technological advances I
    have found the most surprising is the development of "invisibility
    shields". There are currently working models of shields that work
    at some defined energy frequency, i.e., visible light, that make an
    object behind them invisible. It seems reasonable to expect that
    few hundred years of progress will result in something at least as
    useful as the Romulan cloaking device.
    -- Tractor Beams: Folks are working on them--see this link. It may
    not seem like that much, and they may never move a big spaceship,
    but gee, they work on small objects right now.

    Clearly, any kind of genetic engineering is very limited in the
    Trek universe. We don't hear much of genetic disease, so a
    reasonable assumption is that somatic genetic cures are widely
    used, but germ line engineering is not. Also, there is very little "biological" technology on display, again suggesting systematic
    suppression of GMO plants and animals, as well as using biology for
    materials processing.

    Trek writers have the conviction that genetically engineered
    "superhumans" will be afflicted with overweening arrogance and
    pomposity, leading them inevitably to endless internecine warfare.
    This is as though the "superhumans" consisted only of Caesar,
    Alexander, and Napoleon, when they could just as easily be
    Einstein, Hawking, and Curie. Trek stories about genetic
    engineering are best understood as "just-so" tales that buttress an
    assumption, rather than explorations of what might actually make
    sense or be possible.

    Data is impressive as an android, but he was created in secret by
    one scientist, suggesting that such research is being
    systematically suppressed. Once Data was found, the Federation's
    ethics prevents him from being dismantled to understand how he
    works, resulting in the "Data" technology having little impact on
    the larger society, at least for a long time.

    One curious feature of the Trek utopia is a complete lack of the
    current significant population of the mentally ill and addicted.
    We are forced to assume that federation medical technology has
    become quite successful in treating such issues, to a much greater
    degree than infectious diseases or aging. This may be an area where
    the Federation has secretly directed the allocation of vast
    resources such that here at least progress has been very great.
    Some episodes express concern about holodeck addiction, and indeed
    this does seem like a very real problem. The holodeck could
    fulfill any fantasy with no risk except a growing disconnection
    from the real world. Needless to say, the PG world of Trek is not
    one in which the dangers of the holodeck can be explored. For the
    holodeck technology to not have a devastating impact on Trek
    society, either there are strict limits on how it can be used, or
    the anti-addiction treatments are indeed powerful.

    It is frequently declared in Trek that crime has been eliminated,
    but the details are vague at best. Via some magical means,
    criminals are "rehabilitated" via medical treatment and therapy.
    This sounds good, but from a glass half full perspective it may be
    little different from lobotomy. Ian Banks had a far more plausible
    solution--a robot is assigned to each criminal to follow them
    around and prevent them from committing a new crime. The criminal
    is free to engage in legal activities, but they have permanently
    lost any sense of privacy or control over their lives. One imagines
    that being followed by a robot at all times would make you a social
    pariah as well. Whatever the flaws in Banks's approach, it seems
    more implementable than that found in Trek.

    The author devotes an entire chapter to the mental wellbeing
    Trektopia has achieved, and since his parents and many of his
    friends are psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists, finds a
    special connection with Counselor Troi. The author is correct that
    perhaps the greatest scientific advance shown in Trek involves the
    eradication on a mass scale of virtually all mental disease. Aside
    from the "cheat" of having am empathic therapist, Trek is skimpy on
    the details. Much like the replicator, Trek solved all these
    problems before the addition of empathic Betazoids, so they can't
    be the key factor.

    The author attributes a lot of this mental wellbeing to material
    abundance, and surely many poor folks in the real-world stuffer
    from stress, anxiety, and depression that would be much relieved by
    an infusion of cash. However, we need only look at the lives of
    those in the real world who are well off to see that satisfaction
    of material wants alone does not resolve all mental issues. In
    fact, if we look at Hollywood in some ways it makes them worse.
    The only real value of the author's analysis is to focus attention
    on the benefits that would come from achieving universal good
    mental health.

    It is easy to speculate that behind the curtain in Trektopia lies a
    highly coercive mental health apparatus. If you have some issue,
    you are mandated to accept the treatment. There appear to be no
    asylums, "Devil's Island" planets of the insane who refuse
    treatment, or wandering bums listening to voices and peeing on park
    benches. The only way this can be achieved is if there are
    generally accepted treatments for essentially all mental disease,
    and the usage of those treatments is mandatory. I'm more or less ok
    with this, but the author should be more honest about what
    Trektopia really requires.

    This is not to say there is no technological progress in Trek, and
    certainly work related to energy, warp drive, and weapons seems
    quite advanced, but overall, aside from ending material want, and
    eliminating addiction/mental diseases, much of what humans might
    want from science is not available in the Trek universe.

    A further curious feature of Trek mythology is that humanity is
    destined to evolve into something like the Organians, the Travelers
    or even the Q, all races with God-like power. However, exactly how
    this is supposed to happen with all the restraints on genetic
    engineering and artificial intelligence is unclear. The idea that
    Wesley Crusher, genius though he may be, would suddenly be able to
    travel through time and space via mind-power alone just a few 100s
    years in the future is risible. Trek tries to have it both
    ways--holding out the promise of vast evolutionary growth while
    delaying it to a vague and distant future. At times Trek seems to
    devolve into a kind of homo dominus philosophy--that there is
    something special about humanity that will lead to this amazing

    The second to the last chapter explores in some depth the author's
    love of the Ferengi, who he sees as being a modest exaggeration of
    Western capitalism. In this role, he becomes a Ferengi apologist,
    suggesting that they do not loot and enslave [they do], and fails
    to grasp that they are terrible capitalists. The Ferengi
    completely ignore the profit-making potential of science, making
    them more like a primitive combination of mercantilists and
    pirates. The Ferengi appear to represent the author's
    understanding of capitalism, which is sadly limited. His vision is
    equally limited in that, although apparently from a Jewish
    background, he cannot grasp the degree which the Ferengi and
    indeed, the entire Star Trek: Deep Space Nine series, is suffused
    with anti-semitic overtones. Not only are the Ferengi a
    stereotyped representation of Jewish merchants, but the
    Cardassian/Bajoran conflict is a thinly disguised retelling of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict with the Palestinians/Bajorans as the
    heroes, and the Cardassians as a parody of the Israelis.

    In the last chapter the author takes off his fannish mask and
    reveals himself as a European social democrat in political
    leanings. He appears to start from the assumption that capitalism
    is a bad thing, and leap directly to the wonders of Trektopia. He
    even seems to think that the economy is some kind of magical wealth
    machine that will rapidly build us toward the Treknonomic future as
    long as we adopt the commonplace nostrums of the left--high taxes,
    wealth redistribution, and a vast welfare state. The author,
    although trained in economics, does not seem to appreciate that the
    wealth he observes around him is the direct result of capitalism
    combined with stable law that protects intellectual property, and
    that absent these two motors there is no reason to think wealth
    would continue to grow. Certainly, the lesson of the 20 century is
    that the more extreme the implementation of socialism/communism,
    the poorer the society becomes. Like many on the left who have
    never run a business or seen the magic of capitalism in action, the
    author sees neither the benefits of capitalism or the deficits of

    Finally, and surprisingly for a lover of Star Trek and SF, the
    author believes that space has no relevance to the future of
    humanity. He is further convinced that Elon Musk is deluded in
    thinking he can settle Mars without the full weight of a government
    behind him. Treaknomics was written in 2016. One wonders if the
    events between 2016 and 2022 may have changed his mind? Musk is
    now the leading global space power, has the most advanced
    technology, and operates the largest satellite network that has
    ever existed, dwarfing any previous government effort. Also,
    richest man in the world. Also, really just getting started.

    As many have said, SF is not about the future--it is about
    today--and that is certainly true of Star Trek. Trek can be a great inspiration, but is a poor guide to the real future, including our
    economic future. In fact, by design it avoids discussion what is
    most likely our real future:

    -- Rapid advancement of computers and artificial intelligence
    -- Development of extremely powerful medical and biological
    technology using genetic techniques, including but not limited to a
    much longer human lifespan.
    -- No faster than light travel or teleportation
    -- Widespread usage of 3D printers that really are "matter
    printers", but that still need elemental stocks to function
    -- Cheap [er] energy using Space Based Solar Power, ground solar,
    wind power, and eventually fusion.
    -- Development of space resources allowing effectively unlimited
    quantities of raw materials
    -- A rapidly peaking and then declining population on Earth as the
    world modernizes
    -- A need to adapt to climate change
    -- Essentially unlimited and all-pervasive communications
    technologies that are speed of light limited
    -- Humanities expansion into space confined to the solar system
    over the time period Trek covers

    There may well someday be a "Capitalism 2.0" that replaces what we
    think of as capitalism today, but Trek's vision of utopian
    committees allocating unlimited resources seems unlikely to be our
    future. There is no real-world experience that suggests any
    mechanism better than money/market forces for resource allocation,
    and lots of real-world experience to suggest that "committees" are
    a terrible idea no matter who is on them. The author lays
    underfunding of orphan diseases at the feat of capitalism, but
    aside from a tiny group of libertarians, there is a strong
    consensus that government ought to be involved in funding research
    in parallel/cooperation with the private sector. Having both
    approaches seem obviously superior to either one, and Trek
    represents the end of "private" decisions in capital allocation. If
    orphan diseases are underfunded (and I agree they are) the
    government should allocate more resources to this task. The US
    government is currently writing trillion dollar checks to fight
    COVID--19 and shore up the economy, so surely a measly $500M or so
    for orphan diseases can be found. Trek offers nothing that will
    make this kind of mis-allocation go away, although it is true that
    if we were all abundantly wealthy, there would be no pressure to
    raise the child tax credit, for example. But the key requirement
    here is MORE WEALTH not NO MONEY.

    The chapter on the commons is especially unsatisfying. Trek offers
    no better solution to the problems of the commons than we can
    achieve today. Somehow, we managed to ban fluorocarbons and fix
    the ozone hole, so clearly a capitalist society can manage a
    "commons" problem. That we have not properly dealt with climate
    change is due in large part to the continuing attempt by a
    significant part of the left to use climate change as a lever to
    destroy capitalism. Since the goal of this faction is not
    preventing destructive climate change but instead the dissolution
    of capitalism, they are not much motivated to find cheap,
    low-carbon ways to generate energy, especially any "politically
    incorrect" energy like nuclear or fusion power.

    The Achilles heel of TREKNOMICS lies in the fact that there will
    always be a need for some resource allocation, especially for large
    projects, and TREKNOMICS offers nothing any more advanced that the
    empty promises typical of socialism/communism.
    The author also knows that the infinite abundance of Trek World is
    unlikely to be achieved in the real world. Even if everyone is
    given a 3-D printer, those printers will still need supplies of all
    the elements to function, and those elements can only be obtained
    by mining, not magic. It is virtually impossible to imagine a
    transition from a world is which intellectual property rights are
    fundamental to our lives, not just to commerce, to one in which
    they do not exist.

    Trek leaves unanswered how the resources are marshalled for any
    large project, like building a starship. The history of
    open-source projects suggests that although this approach can be at
    least competitive with proprietary software, it is not at all
    suited for any large-scale construction or research effort due to
    an inability to collect the needed resources, including focused
    project management, and large numbers of full-time dedicated staff.
    If science is done by "unpaid volunteers" in an extremely wealth
    society, we are likely to get a much smaller, and quite slow-moving
    scientific enterprise, much as existed in the 18th or 19th century
    when only aristocrats could afford to do science. And this is
    exactly what we see in Trektopia.

    It is quite possible to imagine a future in which every citizen
    receives a substantial basic income, and the higher that basic
    income is, the more like Trektopia we will become. We might start
    with a fully rebated carbon tax, and add to that a fully rebated
    tax on software, robots, and AI. If this basic "dividend" is about
    $25K a year, poverty is essentially eliminated. If it grows to
    something like $250K/year, we are verging toward something more
    like Trek-topia. Somewhere between $25K and $250K per year, the
    burning question will be--who does the windows? In other words,
    how are the "dirty jobs" accomplished? The author seems to
    envision that folk will wait on tables just for fun, or perhaps to
    get a chance to work as a chef at the restaurant, but who works in
    the mines? Who builds the houses? Who cleans the toilets? If the
    answer is robots, and that almost certainly will be the answer, we
    will have a world of material abundance where the allocation of
    those robot resources is a key issue. Having a fully rebated tax
    on software/robots/AI seems like a fundamental foundation of this

    The author struggles with the "moral hazard' robots create, and
    looks unfavorably on Asimov's "spacers" with their solitary,
    fearful, and decadent lives supported by a multitude of robots. He
    clearly hopes that Trektopia has some solution to this
    problem--perhaps by strictly limiting the role robots can play in
    society, although the details are never made clear.

    I have long thought that to keep the mass of ordinary folks
    gainfully employed (since I don't think they will all be engaged in
    artistic and scientific endeavor!) certain segments of the economy
    should be "technology limited" so that they can employ many folks
    with no special abilities. For consideration, I nominate home
    construction, recycling, and healthcare.

    Having said all of the above, this "universal dividend" future will
    still have the following familiar features:

    -- Money
    -- Private property
    -- Intellectual property
    -- Resource extraction industries
    -- Taxes
    -- A mix of government and private resource allocation

    This future may well have some approximation of the material
    abundance Trek features, but with unpredictable impacts from AI and
    genetic technologies. Our record of anticipating the social
    impacts of networked computing is rather poor--who anticipated
    Twitter? Tik-tok? Instagram? We are already seeing strange
    impacts from AI, such as face recognition working poorly by race,
    and chatbots that rapidly learn to be racist. Trektopia may be
    right that some kind of restraint on AI and computer technology may
    be a social necessity, but the debate over exactly what those
    limits ought to be is going to be difficult. Personally, I'm close
    to the idea that banning social networks, or dramatical regulating
    what they can do, may be necessary for our survival. Their negative
    impacts are so much worse than is generally understood.

    In conclusion, TREKNOMICS is thought-provoking, but frustrating in
    its blunders and misconceptions. [-dls]


    TOPIC: Star Trek Economics (letters of comment by Sam Long, Tim
    Merrigan, Gary McGath, Scott Dorsey, Paul Dormer, and Alan

    In response to Dale Skran's comments on Star Trek economics in the
    01/28/22 issue of the MT VOID, Sam Long writes:

    I understand that the Starship Enterprise had a crew member--a
    ship's tailor--whose job it was to see to the uniforms of the rest
    of the crew. This fellow would (with the help of an early
    Data-like robotic assistant) issue new uniforms when needed, and
    repair uniforms that had suffered wear or damage aboard the
    starship or on a planet's surface. So it was that, when Captain
    Picard would return from one of his away-adventures with his outfit
    in tatters, he would (after he had changed uniforms) take the torn
    one down to the tailor's cabin, hand it to the robotic assistant,
    and say to the tailor, "Make it sew." [-sl]

    Tim Merrigan writes:

    I suspect that the existence of, and relatively easy access to,
    matter replication, and short distance teleportation (from high
    orbit to a planetary surface, so, at least tens, if not hundreds,
    of miles, and a transporter transmitter/receiver is nice to have,
    but not necessary) would have major effect on the economy. [-tm]

    Gary McGath summarizes:

    The moneyless economy of Star Trek is so incoherently presented in
    the shows that no one can really make sense of it. [-gmg]

    Scott Dorsey responds:

    "Oh, my parents don't use money. They have credit cards!"
    -- My friend's niece

    Paul Dormer adds:

    One of the affects of the pandemic in the last couple of years
    appears to be the abandoning of cash in favour of cards (debit as
    well as credit). The only cash I've paid last year was the barber
    and the window cleaner. Even a cheese vendor on a stall in the
    high street was taking cards. [-pd]

    Alan Woodford replies:

    I've used a little bit more cash than that, but only because a lot
    of the local car parks haven't updated their ticket machines yet.

    Mind you, I'd have been happier if one of the ticket machines I had
    to use out in the country last year *hadn't* been updated...

    The car park was in a mobile phone not-spot, and it was taking a
    couple of minutes per person to actually connect and pay--imagine
    how happy the queue was! [-af]

    Paul responds:

    The smartphone I bought a couple of years ago turns out can't be
    used for contactless payment. [-pd]

    And Alan says:

    This was the ticket machine not able to phone home--most people
    (including me) were trying to use cards rather than phones for the

    Of course, in the good old days, the machine would have had a coin
    slot, but it is presumably cheaper not to have to empty the
    machine. [-af]

    [A lot discussion of credit cards vs cash followed; see <https://groups.google.com/g/rec.arts.sf.fandom/c/YSGNy2KQUbU>.]


    TOPIC: BILLY BUDD (letter of comment by Paul Dormer)

    In response to Mark's comments on BILLY BUDD in the 01/28/22 issue
    of the MT VOID, Paul Dormer writes:

    I only know the Britten operatic version, written for the Festival
    of Britain in 1951. Still often performed. Both Britten and
    E. M. Forster, the librettist, were gay but I'm told they toned down
    the homo-erotic elements from the novella. [-pd]

    Mark replies:

    I have never heard the opera. I do like the film score. [-mrl]


    TOPIC: FREE GUY (letter of comment by Dorothy J. Heydt)

    In response to Evelyn's review of FREE GUY in the 01/28/22 issue of
    the MT VOID, Dorothy J. Heydt writes:

    [Evelyn writes,] "FREE GUY: FREE GUY seems to crib a lot from
    STRANGER THAN FICTION, and I'm sure if I knew more about video
    games it would be clearer what is going on. I mean, I understand

    [continued in next message]

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