Not Blogging a Gordon Conference
A major summer industry in New England is the Gordon Research Conferences, on subjects ranging from microbial stress to atomic physics. According to ancient tradition, on Sunday the SUVs collect before a redbrick building at a distinguished tree-filled college. Researchers stroll forth in denim and sandals; some white-haired, others black- or blond-ponytailed, of all ethnicities and genders; in short, an international population of scientists for one of Earth’s most distinguished and enduring conferences for science research. The Gordon ritual proceeds with a dinner of amazingly good food, followed by the opening session in a treacherously run-down auditorium, with uneven floorboards and spring-poking chairs designed to keep awake all the jet-lagged participants.
The proceedings open with a young student staff director earnestly reciting the Gordon regulations. No photography; no recording; no unauthorized use of any unpublished work (which is what the conference is all about). After hours, plied with much alcohol to loosen tongues, there must be no delinquent behavior. No harassment of any kind, including sexual harassment. The young staff director smirks at having to read those words before a gathering of serious scientists.
Above all, no social media. No Facebook, no revolution-inciting Twitter, and no blogging.
At this point, in the immortal words of that famous scene from Les Miserables, there “stands an angel smiling, a finger to his lips.” Let no more be said of the sacred scientific exchange that occurs within that hallowed hall.
Instead, let’s report on a different conference, on a mothership ten light-years away. The Zorgon Research Conference on Abducted Humans is gathering upon their giant spiderweb, the participants each clinging by their eight claw-like appendages. The keynote Zorgonian presents a study of attempted captive breeding of abducted humans (AH). According to the Zorgonian, AH are an unculturable species; that is, they do not breed in captivity, only in their native Earth habitat. The Zorgonian cites an experimental report from the ‘70’s in the journal National Inquirer.
The eight-legged participants shift irritably, and the spiderweb sways. It’s a no-no to go on about published work that anyone can read in the journal. The Zorgon conferences are supposed to be for unpublished data. An alpha Zorgonian rubs one appendage against the other, sharpening his/her claws. Meanwhile, a younger beta Zorgonian asks, “Why bother abducting them anyway—why not just observe their behavior in situ? Nowadays their own technology blasts plenty of reproductive data into space.”
Now a second speaker reveals her/his new unpublished data: A method to induce AH to reproduce. The method is to show them nonstop CNN video of Anderson Cooper (AC), the sexiest object in the known universe. In the presence of AC, AH is unculturable no longer.
This revelation takes the first speaker by surprise. Growling in the back, he/she sharpens his/her appendages against each other. The two speakers finally agree to duke it out later in private, behind the now empty giant spiderweb.
Will the speakers carry out a delinquent act? Will they actually get expelled from the Zorgon Research Conference?