Dragon*Con 2012 – Day 3

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First stop on Sunday was the registration desk, before it officially opened.  For $65, I bought passes for the next year’s con.  As these are typically 50% off when purchased in advance, that would suggest that 4 day passes are increasing from $120 to $130 next year.  Maybe that will turn off a few people from attending and help clear the escalators a bit.

Actually, getting around the convention hotels was much improved this year.  Most hotels required a convention pass or a room key to enter the common areas, which may have had a very helpful effect.  Next year, the various vendors will relocate to Atlanta’s Mart, which should open up more ballroom space in the Marriott and hopefully make the merchant areas more navigable.

The first panel for Sunday was Disasters Past, Present, and Future – Hear from the Feds.   With two scientists and a CNN meteorologist, I... did not walk away feeling better about the country’s ability to respond to catastrophes.  There are no specific plans made for each type of threat, but rather a broad approach depending on what the needs are.  Maybe that makes sense.  All in all, we have to trust in the human spirit to overcome, regardless of the difficulties or the losses.

Aside from FEMAs difficulties, the threats of climate, bioterrorism, and natural biological agents are events which require thought and preparation, but catastrophe management is a necessarily reactive process.  By their admission, there are many lessons learned from breakdowns in the coordination of various groups and the chain of command.   Whereas a few past catastrophes were mentioned, this was a high level session.  The most interesting threat was brought up at the conclusion, namely a coronal mass ejection and its potential to cause electrical systems to fail catastrophically.  Imagine nations without electricity – food storage, communications, heating/cooling... yikes.  Hopefully, this type of panel will return but specific to each type of threat for more insights and details.

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Next, we opted for Freemasonry and The Lost Symbol.    Elonka Dunin, to all evidence, is a cryptography expert.  She recalled her initial interest in the field, which grew from her attendance some years ago at Dragon*Con.  This evolved into a consulting role with government agencies and, to the point of this panel, as a resource with Dan Brown as he was writing The Lost Code.  She described the five cryptograms that appear on the cover of this book and how they were resolved, and then talked a bit about the nature of Freemasonry. 

Interestingly, of the 50 or so present, members were present from England, Ireland and the U.S., as well as an employee from their headquarters in Washington, D.C., which is where the climatic scenes in the book are located.  While she kept the subject matter at a high level, it was obvious that there is no uniformity to its various sects.  Other than that, I didn’t learn anything, other than as a long standing, fairly secretive, men only organization, it’s a natural target for a fiction writer.  The cryptography was interesting, and I’ll look for more of that at future Cons if available.

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We traipsed through the vendors area and eventually arrived at a panel that I had been looking forward to:  Alice Cooper.  I’ve never been a fan of his music, but mostly because I’ve just never listened to it.  However, I had seen an interview with him several years ago, and my instinct was on target.  He’s a very engaging, intelligent person who, perhaps most importantly, has very good recollection of his past.  Many celebrities have problem with details... not the case here.

Unless it’s the three album period of which he has no recollection of writing, recording or touring, due to alcoholism, an addiction he replaced with golf.  On high school:  “I was Ferris Bueller... It was the greatest social event of my life.”  He went on to describe that the persona on stage is not who he is, noting that Groucho Marx (with Mae West, Jack Benny and George Burns in tow) understood it as Vaudeville and enjoyed the show from that standpoint.  Salvador Dali, as expected, took a surrealistic view.  He went on to describe Dali rather humorously.

Cooper is also non-apologetically Christian.  He was asked if it was difficult to be a Christian and perform his type of show.  Paraphrasing, he said he did have to think about it.  “But a Christian could play Macbeth, right?  Have you read Macbeth?  It’s got incest, murder, witches, and magic.  Yeah, I can be Alice Cooper.”   By the way, he was born Vincent Furnier, and refers to Alice Cooper in the third person.

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And at that point...

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The convention was drawing to a close.  So, we ventured to a nearby restaurant, where even Batman looked tired, and headed home, D*Con done!

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