Programs and Speakers

Keynote Speaker: Thom Hartmann

StaRGazing 2008 is pleased to announce Thom Hartmann as its Keynote Speaker. Thom is a nationally syndicated talk show host on Air America Radio. His program is carried live locally on KTLK-AM 1150 and he is the highest-rated progressive talk host in America. Thom is also a New York Times best-selling author on the subjects of progressive politics and ADD/ADHD.

Thom Hartmann, who started in radio in 1968, is also is an internationally known speaker on culture and communications, an author, and an innovator in the fields of psychiatry, ecology, and economics. The co-founder (with his wife, Louise) of The New England Salem Children's Village (1978) and The Hunter School (1997), he has led national innovations in the areas of residential treatment for abused children and private/public education for learning-disabled children. Hartmann is the four-time Project Censored Award-winning, New York Times best-selling author of nineteen books currently in print in over a dozen languages on five continents. He is the former executive director of a residential treatment program for emotionally disturbed and abused children, and has helped set up hospitals, famine relief programs, schools, and refugee centers in India, Uganda, Australia, Colombia, Russia, and the United States through the German-based Salem International program. Formerly rostered with the State of Vermont as a psychotherapist, founder of The Michigan Healing Arts Center, and licensed as an NLP Trainer by Richard Bandler (who wrote the foreword to one of Thom's books), he was the originator of the revolutionary “Hunter/Farmer Hypothesis” to understand the psychiatric condition known as Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD). A guest faculty member at Goddard College in Vermont, he also synthesized the “Younger/Older Culture model” for describing the underpinnings – and possible solutions – to the world's ecological and socio-political crises, suggesting that many of our problems are grounded in cultural “stories” which go back thousands of years. His most recent books are “Screwed: The Undeclared War Against the Middle Class,” “The Edison Gene,” “The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight,” “Unequal Protection: The Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights,” “We The People: A Call to Take Back America,” and “What Would Jefferson Do?” His book “The Prophet's Way” led to an unsolicited invitation to a private audience with Pope John Paul II in 1998. His book “The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight” led to a September, 1999 unsolicited invitation to spend a week with His Holiness The Dalai Lama at his home in Dharamsala, India, and inspired a web-based movie (“Global Warning”) written and produced by Leonardo DiCaprio. The father of three grown children, he lives in Portland, Oregon with his wife Louise, to whom he's been married for over 35 years.

An Explanation of Astrology with Jack Taube

Jack has studied astrology for many years and is here to give information about the history, sociology, and anthropological origins of this controversial discipline.

Brain on Steroids with Dr. Kevin Sinchak

Sex steroids play vital roles throughout an animal's life. They mediate the sexual differentiation of the brain early in development. This ultimately affects how the adult brain responds to these hormones in the regulation of reproductive physiology and behavior. Although sex steroids (androgens, estrogens, and progestins) originate from the gonads and act in the brain, the brain both converts these gonadally derived steroids to other active hormones and produces its own steroids from scratch (neurosteroids). Dr. Sinchak will review some of the roles that sex hormones play in the sexual differentiation of several different species during development of the young animal. In the adult, these steroids act on the differentiated neural circuits to regulate reproduction and reproductive behavior. Dr. Sinchak's research investigates how the sequential release of estradiol and progesterone from the ovary turns on and off opioid neural circuits important for timing reproductive behavior in the female. Another set of his recent findings indicates that the female brain responds to rising estrogen from the ovary by producing its own progesterone (neuroprogesterone) from cholesterol. This neuroprogesterone is an important trigger for the hormonal cascade that stimulates ovulation of the egg. Additionally, there is evidence that this neuroprogesterone (or lack thereof) may be associated with menopause (at least in rats).

Dr. Sinchak is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at California State University, Long Beach. He received his Ph.D. in Zoology and Neuroscience from Michigan State University in 1996 and was a Postdoctoral Fellow in Neurobiology and Neuorendocrinology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA in 2001, lecturing and working as an Assistant Research Neurobiologist there through 2005. In 2005, he was a Visiting Scientist at the Riken Brain Science Institute, Waco Institute, Waco, Saitama, Japan. From 2005-2006 he was an Assistant Professor at the Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts. He is an ad-hoc reviewer on the subjects of Behavioral Brain Research, Brain Research, Endocrinology, Hormones and Behavior, Molecular Brain Research, Neuroendocrinology, Neuroscience, Pharmacological Research, Physiology & Behavior, Psychoneuroendocrinology and for various publications, including the Journal of Chemical Neuroanatomy, Journal of Endocrinology, Journal of Neuroendocrinology and Journal of Neuroscience. He is a member of the Society for Neuroscience and the Society for Behavioral Neuroendocrinology.

BYOB Wine Tasting

The name really says it all. The Pub Crawl's not your scene, but you would still enjoy imbibing a few spirits in good company? Bring your favorite reasonably priced bottle to share.

Beer Tasting with Devin Knowles

Beer expert and home brewer Devin Knowles will focus on that darkest of beer styles, stout. Devin will discuss the origins and history of the style while sampling variations including dry stout, sweet stout, milk stout, oatmeal stout, imperial stout and more. You'll see there's no reason to be afraid of the dark. Last year's presentation on German beers proved extremely popular so space is limited to 20 participants.

Chocolate Tasting with Danila Oder

This chocolate tasting will have two parts: In the first, we will taste 9 brands of bittersweet chocolate (70-72% cocoa solids). Subject to availability, these will probably include Schokinag, Lindt, Callebaut, Trader Joe's, Valhrona, Scharffenberger, Green & Blacks Organic, and a couple of single-origin chocolates. An assortment of common filling flavors, such as dried fruit, nuts, marzipan, peppermint candy, and coffee beans will be available to taste with the chocolates. In the second part, small tastes of a variety of excellent purchased filled or flavored chocolates will be available, including: Michel Cluizel, Beverly Hills's K Chocolatier, and Lake Champlain Chocolates. A small fee ($3-$5) may be charged at the door. Supplies are limited, so in order to guarantee seating, please RSVP to Danila at

Election Q&A with the GLAAM Board of Directors

Have you ever wondered what it takes to become a member of the GLAAM Board? Curious about the responsibilities Board members fulfill? This is your opportunity to have these and other questions answered by current members of the Board of Directors.

Enneagram with Danila Oder

A personality-typing system of unknown origin, in the last 15 yeas the Enneagram has been expanded by many gifted teachers. It is somewhat like the Myers-Briggs system (MBTI) but is both simpler and more sophisticated. This lecture will introduce you to the history, concepts, and basic features of the Enneagram, and discuss its applications in daily life. Many real-life examples will be presented. Audience discussion and questions will give attendees a start on figuring out their types. Danila Oder has a lifelong interest in psychology, and is an accomplished handwriting analyst.

Filk Music Performance with Alan Stillson

Filk got its name when a group of people at a sci-fi convention met to sing folk music and parodies and there was a typo on the program. The name stuck and the genre still lives. There are filk groups throughout the world, including greater LA. If you like sci-fi, science, and social musical satire, you'll love this stuff. Alan Stillson is the leader of the GLAAM Folksong SIG and an active filker. Other LA-area filkers will be invited, but we don't know if the hotel has a port for beaming.


A free-wheeling, non-judgmental forum where you can ask those questions you have always wanted to ask of members of the other sex – and actually get some answers! There are sure to be many laughs and maybe a few revelations.

Friday Follies Planning Session

Join your fellow Mensans for this opportunity to select, plan, deail, and rehearse your contribution to the Friday Follies Showcase later this evening. Make new friends, renew acquaintances and decide if you want to work as a solo act, duet, or be part of a larger group! During this one hour planning session you'll find suggestions, props, music, and other accoutrements to assist you in planning yoru presentation to share with your fellow Mensans. Provided ideas will focus on re-interpretation of iconic movie scenes or the political events of the day. Go with one of our suggestions OR come up with your own idea to share!

Friday Follies Showcase

Late Arrival? No worries! The first part will provide additional time for new arrivals to catch up while Showcase participants – your fellow RG attendees! – finish off set-up instructions and blocking considerations. Beginning at 10:20, the Showcase will start as we enjoy the contributions of our Mensans. Mensa Bucks awarded for participation and for audience judged categories and awards.

Genealogy: Researching Your Family History with Lenard Mc Donald

Lenard offers two lectures at the RG: Genealogy 101: How to Start Your Family History Research Lenard demonstrates family history computer programs and gives an introduction to genetics as you begin your search into your roots. Genealogy 201: Advanced Family History Research Lenard continues your education in genealogy as he explains the genetic tie-in to genealogical research. Additional handouts will be provided to assist you in your search into your roots.

GenX Meet & Greet with Danielle Hanne

Come spend a little time getting to know some of the GenX'ers from GLAAM and around the country before departing on the Pub Crawl.

Gen Y Meet & Greet with Ronni Peck

Want to meet others your age? Gen Y is a newer SIG, filling the gap where Gen X leaves off. We are geared towards those born between 1976 and 1988, but are open to anyone interested in activities and discussions focused on the Twenties. Join us at the Meet & Greet and get to know other Ms in their 20s/early 30s before we join GenX on their pub crawl!

Gen Y Murder Mystery Activity with Ronni Peck

Yesterday in the West Texas town of Mitchido, Richard Woods was shot and killed as he was riding to town. A wealthy landowner, he left behind a wife, Katherine, and a daughter, Annabel. Today the townspeople have gathered to try and discuss what should be done. No one is sure who will be arrested as the murderer; EVERYONE is a possible suspect. Who could have done it?

Hosted by Gen Y, but open to everyone, this is a classic murder mystery party where the attendees/characters try to solve clues and figure out whodunit! Could it be YOU? There will be a sign-up sheet posted beforehand where you can choose your own character. Attendance is limited to around 30. Prizes possible for correctly guessing the killer!

Good Stories: Narrative and Virtue in the Postmodern Age with Dr. Brian Treanor

Virtue ethics is a philosophical tradition that approaches ethics with a much wider scope than, for example, deontological ethics (e.g., Immaneul Kant) or consequentialist ethics (e.g., John Stuart Mill), asking the question “what should I do?” in the context of the broader questions “what constitutes human flourishing?” and “who should I be?” However, traditional versions of virtue ethics are confronted by substantial challenges in the so-called postmodern context, chief among these is the lure of relativism. Dr. Treanor will discuss the role of virtue in human flourishing, with a particular eye to flourishing in (1) the “postmodern” milieu and (2) a time of ecological crisis.

Brian Treanor is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Loyola Marymount University. He has published widely in ethics, philosophy of religion, and environmental ethics. His book, Aspects of Alterity: Levinas, Marcel, and the Contemporary Debate, appears in the prestigious Perspectives in Continental Philosophy Series at Fordham University Press.

Intelligence, Virtue, and Intellectual Excellence with Dr. Jason Baehr

Intellectual excellence is often equated with intelligence. But this conception neglects an important dimension of intellectual excellence: viz. intellectual character virtue. In this presentation, Dr. Baehr will distinguish these two dimensions of intellectual excellence and examine some of the connections between them. He will also address the relation between intellectual virtue and moral virtue.

Dr. Baehr received his Ph.D. in philosophy at the University of Washington in Seattle in 2002 and has been teaching at Loyola Marymount University since 2003. He works in the areas of epistemology and ethics and has published articles in several scholarly journals including The Philosophical Quarterly, Philosophical Studies, Metaphilosophy, and Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.

Jefferson's Passion — Monticello with Dennis Lynch

Dennis Lynch, veteran Advanced Placement History teacher, Academic Decathlon coach, and 2002 Los Angeles County Teacher-of-the-Year, will take you on a PowerPoint tour of the fascinating home of Thomas Jefferson. Monticello, the mansion he spent 40 years designing and building, reflects the personality, imagination, and impact of one of the most intriguing, creative, and complex figures in American history. Join the speaker for this presentation highlighting in pictures and anecdotes the home that captures the essence of his greatness as well as his paradoxes.

J.R.R. Tolkien: The Man Behind The Lord of the Rings with Nancy Martsch

Fifty years ago, an Oxford Professor of Old English published a book which would go on to sell millions of copies, establish a new genre, influence the lives of many, cause its author to be named “Author of the Century”, and be the subject of a major motion picture. What is this book, The Lord of the Rings – and who was J.R.R. Tolkien, its author? This talk will briefly summarize The Lord of the Rings; then survey Tolkien's life and writing, with emphasis on his early life and influence on his masterwork; and finish with the effect The Lord of the Rings has had upon the world.

Nancy Martsch is a Tolkien expert and the Co-ordinator of the Mensa Tolkien Special Interest Group. In addition to editing the Group's newsletter, “Beyond Bree”, she has written Basic Quenya (a primer of Elvish), edited List of Tolkienalia, and contributed essays to Tolkien publications. She has also given talks on Tolkien at literary conferences, including Tolkien 2005 (Birmingham, England), and the 1992 Tolkien Centenary Conference (Oxford).

Libertarianism and the Libertarian Party with Joe Leibrandt

What is libertarianism? How does this philosophy fit into the traditional left-right political axis? What goals does the Libertarian Party hope to accomplish? We will discuss these and other topics. Joe Leibrandt was born in Philadelphia, the Cradle of Liberty. He is the former chair of the Libertarian Party of Philadelphia and the former Coastal District Chair of the Libertarian Party of Orange County. He is a member of Orange County Mensa. He has been a research assistant, an IT consultant, a marketing director, and a brewer. He is unemployed and needs a job.

Looking Backwards, Occultly or What was that about Past Lives? with Nadine

This is an audience participation adventure in Black Mirror Scrying. The ever-enigmatic Nadine has been persuaded, once again, to present another topic. Nadine, BFA Theater, California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, CA; Juris Doctorate cum laude; occultist, Druid, and shamanic sort-of-mystic; Member OBOD (Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids, UK); Guest Member British Mensa, including Pagan SIG, UK, will take you on an esoteric adventure, demonstrating an old technique for illuminating your history or at least providing you with an interesting Goth-party game.

Mormonism and Politics with Brian Madsen

Who was the first Mormon to campaign for U.S. President? If you guessed Mitt Romney (or his father), the answer may surprise you. Which Mormon president prophesied that someday the U.S. Constitution would “hang by a thread”, after which Mormon elders would come to its rescue, and what does that prophecy mean to Mormons today? Which precedent-setting test of the First Amendment did the Mormons bring to the Supreme Court in 1879 … and how did the Court's decision turn the Mormon church on its head? Why was the first U.S. Senator legally elected from Utah not allowed to take his seat? What did Martin Van Buren and James Buchanan do to so anger the Mormons that they posthumously baptized every other U.S. President but them? Which U.S. State governor issued an extermination order declaring open season on any Mormon found within state borders? Which Mormon president and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture declared the civil rights movement of the 1960's a Communist conspiracy? Why did the church campaign against the ERA in the 1970's, and in favor of DOMA legislation in this decade? If you've always thought of Mormons as patriotic Republican Americans, come learn how tumultuous the Mormon love/hate relationship with America has really been.

Brian is an ex-Mormon and has lectured on the Mormon religion at past RGs and focuses his discussion this year on Mormon influence on politics and vice versa.

Mystery Activity Check-in

After familiarizing yourself with the general instructions provided to you at time of Registration and securing the necessary minimum number of team members (6), complete your Mystery Activity Registration and proceed to Hospitality for your supplies and further details. Note: Your teams must consist of the minimum number or more and no person can be on more than one team. All team members must be Registered for the RG at time of Check-in. This activity portion will run through Saturday evening with results presented on Sunday. Not all team members need to be Registered for Sunday to participate. Prizes will be awarded for winning entries. For those not yet committed to teams and/or later arrivals, see the late check-in hours at the RG Registation Desk and proceed to Hospitality to confirm your participation.

Open Mic with Jay Friedlander

Sing, play an instrument, tell jokes, make a political statement, poetry slam. It's all fair game at the StaRGazing 2008 Open Mic.

Physiological Responses to Deception: How to Lie and Get Away With It with Keith Miller

When engaging in deception, the body responds to stress in predictable ways, manifesting subtle clues that can be interpreted by the trained interviewer to discover “lies.” This [lecture?] will cover the basics of liguistic, paralinguistic, and physiological symptoms that are generally indicative of deception. How can you tell when someone is being untruthful? What signs do you give off that increase (or decrease) your believability? … And finally, can you REALLY believe anything I say? Other topics will include types of lies, and behavior-evoking questions that should give you an excellent idea whether or not someone is telling you the truth.

Keith R. Miller, CFI, CRT, CCHN is a Certified Forensic Interviewer / Interrogator [CISA – Center for Interviewer Standards and Assessment]. He is a graduate of the Basic and Advanced courses in the Reid Technique of Interview and Interrogation and is certified in the Reid Technique of Interview and Interrogation and Reid Institute Member [John E. Reid & Associates]. Keith is also a Certified Crisis and Hostage Negotiator [P.A.T.C. – Public Agency Training Council], a member of the International Association of Hostage Negotiators [I.A.H.N.] and has conducted more than 1,000 interviews and interrogations of criminal (and civil) suspects, witnesses, and victims.

Poetry Reading

Join us for some dramatic reading of possibly poignant (& possibly pornographic?) poetry. Whether you're a poet yourself or whether you just have an appreciation of the art form and wish to share your favorite published work, all are welcome. Host TBD.

Political Discussion with Stratton Lindenmeyer

The always-opinionated and entertaining host will lead a spirited political discussion.

RVC Rap with Clark Jones

Meet the Regional Vice Chairman, and hear what's going on around the Region. If requested, he can give a quick overview of how American Mensa is organized at the national level, and the sorts of things that the various people do. Questions will be welcomed, and Clark will attempt to play “politician” and answer them.

Restoring the Founders' Republic with Dr. George Clark

The Founders left the power to draw voting districts in the safest hands they could conceive of – the representatives of the people. They apparently could not find a way to avoid the inherent conflict of interest that would allow politicians to use the redistricting power to gerrymander, to deny the people a fair vote and to thus maintain themselves in office. As a result of this loophole, 99 percent of election results are now predictable and the vestige of democracy that remains is only the lifeless, empty shell of the Founders' Republic. It is no wonder that we hold those who govern us in such low esteem. We didn't choose them and don't approve of them. However, we now have the technology to solve the gerrymandering problem, after more than 200 years of voter abuse, and restore voting power to the people. Then, when we voters are once again sovereign, we can begin to make improvements in our goverment. Dr. Clark will discuss: 1) The importance of the vote; 2) Evidence that the republic is not working; 3) How our votes are stolen and 4) How fair voting can be restored.

George L. Clark, Ph.D. is a retired research scientist in the fields of lasers and optics, including high-speed imaging, imaging through atmospheric turbulence, imaging with imperfect optics, high-speed optical communication, and optical radar. His work on imaging used computer power to reconstruct high-quality images from corrupted or incomplete data. He is listed in Strathmore's Who's Who, The Global Directory of Who's Who, Who's Who in The West, Dictionary of International Biography, Engineers of Distinction, Personalities of the West and Midwest, and International Who's Who of Entrepreneurs.

Sing Along with Alan Stillson

Alan will provide the piano and the songbooks, you provide the voice. Enjoy the pleasures of group singing, from folk songs of the '50s and '60s to Broadway show tunes, country, and rock music.

Solar Power with Clark Jones

Clark's Solar Energy System is the title of this talk as our RVC discusses “gazing” at the nearest (astronomical) star, and putting its power to use. He will show pictures and graphs and discuss some of the practical issues of a real solar electric system.

Stable Isotopic Clues to Fluid Pathways in the Earth's Crust with Dr. Gregory Holk

The circulation of aqueous fluids through the Earth's crust has profound effects on its geologic evolution, the formation of ore deposits, the migration of hydrocarbons from source to sites of accumulation, and the storage of groundwater resources. Major crustal-scale fault zones play a major role in determining the pathways for fluid flow in these systems.

Studies of the isotopes of oxygen (16O, 17O, and 18O) and hydrogen (H, D) of rock and mineral samples affected by crustal fluids provide valuable information to the geoscientist about the history of water-rock interaction as well as the duration and intensity of events involving fluids of diverse origin. Isotope exchange reactions between water and rock occur during these events that provide information about temperature and fluid source (meteoric vs. magmatic vs. metamorphic vs. formation waters).

Dr. Holk received his Ph.D. in 1996 from the California University of Technology and did Post-Doctoral Research at the Department of Geological Sciences and Engineering at Queen's University (Canada) and for the Mineral Resources Group, Geological Survey of Canada.

When Push Comes To Shove: What You Need To Know About Crowd Safety with Paul Wertheimer

At some point, we all experience the terror of being caught in a crowd. Recognizing the signs of an impending crowd disorder and knowing how to react, can be the difference between a safe escape, injury, or worse. In February 2003, two back-to-back horrific US nightclub disasters claimed 121 lives and injured close to 300 people. The preventable disasters shocked the nation and challenged the popular belief that in an emergency, procedures are in place to protect the public from danger. Paul will challenge the audience with this question: What would you do if a fire or crowd disorder erupted at a favorite club, movie theater or sports venue?

Paul Wertheimer is the founder of Crowd Management Strategies, Inc. and, the first website on concert crowd safety. He authored the safety task force report following the 1979 Who concert tragedy in Cincinnati, Ohio. Paul has spent more than 1,000 hours in crowds of all types, including more than 100 hours in mosh pits. His crowd safety publication for spectators, You and the Festival Crowd was translated into three languages and remains the most widely read pamphlet of its type. Paul has been profiled in a variety of publications, such as The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, and USA Today. He has made appearances on: ABC 20/20, Discovery-Times Channel, CNN, FOX, MSNBC, CBS, NBC, CBC, BBC, MTV, VH-1, National Geographic, and Animal Planet, including TV segments for Inside Edition, Worst-Case Scenario, and Dateline NBC.

Click Here to see the full schedule in chronological order, including dates, times, and locations inside the hotel.

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