Light in the Bushel No. 2 -- Autumn 1986
Bread in My Jar (Sheryl Birkhead)

Harry Warner, Jr.
423 Summit Avenue
Hagerstown, MD 21740
It was very fine to receive a fanzine from you again after all these years. It was even better to find in it the statement that you haven't been publishing for a long while. I'm so self-centered that I always assume I've been cut from a mailing list for failure to write enough locs on a fanzine. Instead of theorizing that a fan has gafiated, I visualize dozens of fine fanzines continuing to pour forth from his mimeograph year after year until I see a specific statement to the contrary. ((I can live with this guilt no longer...))

I don't know how serious you might be about retiring sit the age of 30, but if you can work it out, don't hesitate to do so. I got out of the work ratrace years ago and haven't regretted it for an instant. Of course I was a trifle older than you, 60 when I retired.

I almost won the Irish Sweepstakes as a boy. Before puberty, I was a phenomenon for luck. I won an expensive bicycle on a rigged wheel of chance at the local fair that had always functioned perfectly in the past, I was deadly at bingo, and I almost broke up the Catholic school I attended because I was the only Protestant in my grade and I invariably won anything that was chanced off. So my uncle bought a bunch of Irish Sweepstakes tickets in my name and forced me to sign a document entitling him to half the grand prize for financing the venture. But just before the race and the drawing of the sweepstakes, I won a $150 top-of-the-line Philco radio in a local contest and that biggest accomplishment overtaxed my luck facilities. I didn't win the Irish Sweepstakes or anything else for the next 45 years. It was a disastrous, complete burnout of my luck. I thought the good fortune might be returning a few years ago when I won as a door prize at the local rescue mission store an LP recorded by the daughters of the mission operator, but that turned out to be a solitary echo of past glories.

Eric Mayer
1771 Ridge Road East
Rochester, NY 14622
Sweepstakes--I'd like to hear more about that. I have a vague understanding that it is something you can attack as a sort of hobby, but I'm not sure how. I love the scratch-off contents that come packed sometimes in paper towels and such--though I never win. And I do send back all those contest forms from publishing houses. Once I won something ... well, I wrote about that already...$500 worth of bedroom furnishings from a local department store ... I dropped my entry in the box. Aside from that I finally broke down and bought a few lottery tickets last week, when the jackpot was $141,000,000. Didn't win. (Surprise) But what is the reasoning behind sweepstaking? Is there a realistic chance of winning...something? Not the grand prize...but something? I remember reading that James Thurber's father was a sweepstakes player and was puzzled also. Sounds like a fascinating topic. Actually, I've come to the conclusion, at the advanced age of 35, that in the USA today your best bet ... if you didn't win the birth sweepstakes...is the lottery or something similar. Never mind the hard work crap ... I've tried that. If survival, barely, is what you're after I guess it's okay. It's funny, but it might not be a bad idea to have some small chances of wealth and comfort perpetually out in the mail. I recall thinking, when I had the lottery tickets last week that at least I had one shot in 6,000,000 ... which is better than none. The cliche is that someone wins...but a lot of people don't appreciate the truth of this. They rather assume that one chance in 6,000,000, because it is vanishingly small from the individual perspective ... i.e., you could buy a ticket a day your whole life and have virtually no statistical chance of winning ... is really nonexistent. And this is of course not true. The one chance in 6,000,000 of winning $41,000,000 is every bit as real as the one chance in one that my somewhat smaller pay check will arrive Thursdaty on my desk. The event is as real as an event which is certain to happen from the individual perspective. But do you want to skew the probabilities in your favor? If something out of the ordinary happens it might as easily be getting run over by a truck!

Halt! Hugos There? (Sheryl Birkhead)

Don't know much about sf awards...but the Australian ballot has always struck me as absurd. Heck, if A, B and C get 40%, 30% and 30% respectively, then more people thought A was best than thought either B or C was best. And isn't that supposed to be the question? Well, the question has to be...which do more people think is best. If you've got more than two candidntes you can't realisically ask which do most think is best, because maybe most don't favor any of the candidates. The Australian ballot system seems an attempt to ask a question which cannot appropriately be asked by the method set forth. As it is it does not answer either which most thought best or which more thought best but only which happened to win by Australian ballot ... whatever that means.

Hmph. (Sheryl Birkhead)

Buck Coulson
2677W-500N
Hartford City, IN 47348
The theory of the Australian ballot is that there isn't that much difference among the 5 best stories of the year, and most voters are dumbasses anyway, so let the second and third and so on place votes count for something. I agree fully on both counts, most of the time. Once in a great while, one story is particularly outstanding, but it usually doesn't get on the ballot anyway, so what the hell? Incidentally, Nebulas aren't any improvement, despite the snob appeal of being voted on by one's peers.

((All right for you to talk, Buck, you've got your Hugo...Seriously, though, Buck raises the most valid objections to my point of view vis-a-vis the Australian ballot, and I feel compelled to ansser. Thusly: (a) Granted the variation in quality among nominees may not usually be that great, it still hurts when a clearly superior nominee who also transparently has the most support, loses because of the quirks built into this Byzantine tallying system. (b) Granted that the award may reflect the opinion of dumbasses; it may at least be determined by a method that does reflect that opinion. Under the Australian ballot system, judgments of quality are irrelevant in the face of these dancing numbers. When a race goes all the way to the fifth ballot, one can argue that the winner is chosen because more people thought it was the worst of the lot! I won't, but it bears thinking about. Sad to say, I was not in a position to drive a revision to the Hugo voting through this year's Worldcon business meetings, but there's always next year ...))

There isn't much street crime in this area, certainly. I don't know how many people carry concealed weapons--that's why they're called concealed. But about half the pickup trucks in the area have a rifle or shotgun (or both) in them. I expect the ratio is even higher in your area, though perhaps not in the city limits. Incidentally, I do carry a concealed weapon occasionally, though not usually at fan gatherings. (("Usually"?))

Brian Earl Brown
11675 Beaconsfield
Detroit, MI 48224
A couple years ago Black Baptist Ministers were in Detroit for a convention. And this being a border city, naturally many drove over to Windsor to experience Canadian life. What the ministers didn't expect was to have their handguns confiscated. But then I was shocked that any servant of God would need to be packing. I thought God took care of his own.

Like you, I, too, dislike the Australian ballot. Too frequently second-place choices on the first ballot go on to win, which comfounds my sense of rightness. But worse, it doesn't do what it was supposed to do: eliminate ties. The whole point of this complicated balloting system was that it would automatically run-off ties. It's a joke that should be canned. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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Sometimes big bundles of egoboo come in the smallest packages. Take the postcard from JAY KINNEY, who writes "LIGHT IN THE BUSHEL was attractive enough that I actually read it through and enjoyed its low-key charms. Short chatty zines are where it's at!" That makes all the agonizing over the layout of a flimsy eight-pager seem worthwhile. Just wish I could regain access to a Selectric after buying that italic element...WALT WILLIS notes receiving LITB #1 on his birthday, and returned the favor by sending a picture postcard of himself, holding a copy of Light in the Bushel, no less. "In returning the compliment of a self portrait I have to admit that you have aged a lot less than I have. But what's the portrait in your attic like, eh, tell me that." ... MAE STRELKOV adds, "The baby picture is irresistible. No wonder you are giving it circulation! If I'd looked half as charming as a baby, I'd be sending reproductions of such a photo around too! Coo, coo, coo!" Erk.... MARC ORTLIEB says he prefers to avoid politics, but notes that "the problem with a system that only counts first place votes is that, in a five place race, an item can win while only having twenty one percent of the votes cast." ... ROY TACKETT, like Buck, says "condom" seems like a perfectly appropriate term for convention fandom. I dunno, maybe I'm not getting through on this one ... SHERYL BIRKHEAD ponders: "Somehow I thought it was UNDER a bushel, not in a bushel..." Um, well, yes, I'm sure you're right, but somehow the title has more resonance for me this way. You know: Light In August, Light in the Piazza, Light in the Bushel ...Sheryl also joins in with BRAD FOSTER, STEVEN FOX and COLLEEN KELLY in admiring the splendid cover by Debbie de Yampert last issue, and deservedly so. Now that a year's gone by, if Debbie can get more time away from her work as a graphic artist, and it we all ask really nice, we may see some more from her sometime.

LONDON (AP) - Libya will replace money with a system of barter, Libyan television has reported.




ART CREDITS: Front cover artwork by Steven Fox; calligraphy by Alfred Barela. Brad Foster: pp. 1, 3, 7. Sheryl Birkhead: pp. 8, 9, 10. Back cover from the files of the El Paso Times, and thanks again for everything, Monica. And you know, they didn't even close up the Pershing theater, after all.

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