Thursday, April 19, 2007

Six Degrees--or Less--of Separation

The tragedy Monday at Virginia Tech brings home the point of how close we can find ourselves to an event without realizing the connection.

In the 1990s we fell in love with a television series called "Home Front." It became one of those wonderful series which prompted articles entitled "The Best Television You Aren't Watching." My husband and I have subsequently become friends with the creators, Lynn Latham and husband Bernard L--uh(I can't spell it without looking it up and it's a joke on their screen credit as well.) One scene which has remained with me all those years was of a character saying you should never be more than three (I think it was three) phone calls from the President and, in the episode, put that to work.

At the time, Bill Clinton was president. His Vice-President was Al Gore. His cousin-by-marriage was my son's day-care provider when I lived in Vienna, Virginia. Three phone calls to the Oval Office. I used to belong to a women photographers group that also included Tipper Gore, so in a national emergency--or correct counting of votes in 2000--I might have cut the steps by one.

Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon raises this game to an art form (the University of Virginia, I think, has a computer program to make this even easier to play.) As it happens, My husband has direct contact with people the game only puts him at 2 or 3 degrees of closeness (Harlan Ellison and Hugh Jackman both come to mind.) On days like Monday, it becomes a reality of our shrinking world.

Christoper James Bishop, the professor of German, killed in the gunman's assault on the classrooms at Virginia Tech, is the son of Michael Bishop, an award winning science fiction author. Michael is one of many science fiction professionals I photographed for an on-going personal project and exhibit, beginning back in 1988. And, of course, I was the lawyer for the Science Fiction Writers of America for six years, so our paths would have crossed more than just through the photo session--such as at the Nebula Awards or the World Science Fiction Convention or the World Fantasy Convention. One degree of separation.

My heart goes out to Michael and his wife. In a post I saw earlier today on a list-serve of writers I am on, Michael Bishop let Walter Jon Williams know that a memorial fund would be set up at Virginia Tech in his son's honor. Any contribution, no matter how small, will be appreciated:

Donations may be made payable to the Virginia Tech
Foundation for the Jamie Bishop Scholarship
(for German Majors):

Virginia Tech Foundation
University Development
902 Prices Fork Road
Blacksburg, VA 24061

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