The View From Entropy Hall #38 edited by Ed Meskys

THE VIEW FROM ENTROPY HALL #38, completed 22 October, 2006, for APA-Q #509, from Ed Meskys, 322 Whittier Hwy, Moultonboro NH 03254-3627, Back issues at and Corrections made after APA distribution in braces. I guess this could also be called NIEKAS #46.10. To help you move around in the email edition, I mark new subjects with "^^", and sub-sections with "|". My thanks to Sandy for cleaning up and formatting the last few ish.

^^PROBLEMS {As mentioned in the colophon thish was completed Oct 22, and was supposed to go into APA-Q 509. Normally, I do not circulate e-copies of ENTROPY until after the APA has appeared, but in October it was already quite late and John Boardman did not know when he would be able to finish it. I have given up waiting, and with John's permission, am circulating it to other readers.

{If APA-Q folds I will probably look for another APA to try. Reading for me is very slow and I could not handle as many zines as FAPA or SAPS would require. I would have to consider monthly ones like APA NESFA or e-APAs like N'APA or the Los Vegas APA. Unfortunately many e-fanzines are done as PDFs, and my screen reading software has a lot of trouble with it. While I can read the whole of FELINE MEWSINGS, I can only read the first page of VEGAS FANDOM WEEKLY.

{the ENTROPY website at Geocities was built and maintained for me by Stanley's friend, Brian Thurston. He recently died at the age of 30 because of a congenetal heart condition, before putting up this issue. I cannot add to it, or update it, because I do not know the passwords. Issues since #29 are also available at Bill Burns's site,}

^^LANDMARKS The last few months have included several significant landmarks in my life. Late last year marked 50 years in fandom. Reading Rog Phillips' fan column in a Ray Palmer mag (Other Worlds?)and Anthony Boucher's {Rocket to the Morgue} convinced me that fandom must be fun and I decided to get involved. 1955 Worldcon was to be in Cleveland and I was going to be vacationing with my parents on the Blue Ridge Parkway/Great Smokey National Park just before that, so I convinced them to return by way of Cleveland. I wrote away for info and was sent the four progress reports, but while we were en route people watching our mail informed us that I had to be back for college registration before Labor Day. The trip was cut short and I missed Clevention. I wrote Rog Phillips asking whether NY got the 1956 worldcon, and how to get in touch with NYC fandom. He suggested I write Ron Smith, publisher of INSIDE, and Ron invited me to a meeting of the NY Science Fiction Circle. I attended in either November or December 1955, the last meeting to be held in the back room of a bar on 3rd Ave. and 16 St. (Wurtherman's Hall?). Next month meetings switched to Riverside Dive. Life has never been the same after that.

January marked 40 years in New Hampshire. I had moved here on Jan 2, 1966, to take a job teaching Physics at Belknap College. I rented an apartment for 1.5 years and bought this house July 1967.

This March I turn 70 and am a REALLY old fart. Only I don't {feel} old. And in October Sandy turned 60.

^^PHILIP K. DICK MEMORIAL "2007 will be the 25th anniversary of the death of Philip K. Dick. We hope to commemorate this occasion by producing a memorial volume of short stories, poetry, reviews book/film, essays, and artwork, especially in the style of his early contemporaries, Finlay, EMSH, etc., plus any previously unpublished material related to the great man. As editor, we would be most greatful for your assistance in publicizing this non-profit making project, perhaps by requesting your readers to contribute to {PKD: IN MEMORIUM}, a working title only or reproducing this flyer. Tentative closing date is 31 October, 2006. Please send hard copy to the PKD Project 134 Hollybank Rd. Kings Heath Birmingham B13 0RL ENGLAND UK"

Unfortunately I did not publish before the deadline. Others expressed skepticism because of the lack of names associated with the project, and an eddress or website.

^^MAILING LISTS I maintain in my Outlook Express address book several mailing lists to which I forward items I think appropriate. Some of these mailing lists get a yearly average of only two or three forwards, while the busiest gets one or two a week. Subjects include items intended for people I went to college with, the Entropy mailing list (which also gets my Christmas letter), the Christmas letter list for those who do not get entropy, the mandatory joke list (I get about ten a day but only forward about two a week), for members of Lions Clubs, about movies & TV, for members of the National Federation of the blind or persons interested in blindness, non-prosletizing, but usually odd-ball bits about religion, and a subset of the last group which gets items only of interest to Catholics. If you want to be added to any of these lists, just drop me a note.

^^SELF-DRIVING CARS When I first started reading SF in 1950 I read in an anthology, probably edited by Conklin, a story with "Betty-B" in its title. An inventor developed some sort of organic robotic brain which he dreamed would run all sorts of machinery for mankind, including piloting automobiles for blind persons. The hero installed it in a boat but it ran amok, disregarding human commands and reproducing. At the end of the story our hero succeeded in destroying it.

For the last few years Marc Maurer, president of the National Federation of the blind, has spoken of blind engineers eventually developing a car which would drive itself. This would be a project of the Jernigan Research and Training Institute created by the NFB. He spoke of a number of dreams which this institute would bring about. It has already developed an electronic long white cane which would warn of overhead hazards, and when you are standing in line, would tell you that the person ahead of you has moved up. Price will be about $250. It developed a pocket-sized reading machine which would speak documents, signs, or box labels. It was released in July and costs $3500. It is a Canon 5 megapixel camera married to a high-end PDA with special software. Price reflects the high development cost. As technology improves the software will be installed in a cell phone.

But a self-driving car? That seemed incredible to me. Just think of what it would have to cope with, children and animals in the street, stop signs and traffic lights, other cars, including unskilled or drunk drivers, temporary obstructions like a knocked-over garbage can or a fallen tree limb.

In the late 1950s I saw an article in Colliers and a movie at an auto show in Manhattan about an automatic pilot for cars on a future freeway. There would be a wire down the center of each lane, and sensors in the front of the car would detect deviation from the lane and correct for them. Magnetic residues from the previous car would indicate that car's speed and how long ago it went past. This was to prevent rear-end collisions. I think there was also a mechanism to allow changing lanes for passing. I think it was GM which built a test track, where the movie was shot. But this is only for use on specially equipped freeways, far from a car which would take you from your door to a mall or local tavern.

At the NFB Washington (DC) Seminar  on Jan 30 a speaker pointed out that the Defense Department has had for several years a competition for a vehicle which would travel 100 miles over rough terrain to a specific target, not known to the contestants until the day of the competition. For the first contest, in March 2004, with a prize of one million dollars ,no vehicle got more than a few miles before getting stuck or breaking down, but the speaker said that last time five vehicles completed the course. I was startled as I had not heard about the repeat, but a week later I got the tape of the January, 2006, issue of Scientific American which had an article about it. A short time later NOVA on public TV had a story about it.

For the rerun in October, 2005, DARPA (defense advanced research projects agency) had upped the prize to $2 million. They set a 132 mile course across the Majove Desert. It covered very varied and rough terrain including dropoffs, narrow gaps, passing under bridges (to block GPS reception), and all sorts of obstacles, and the winner had to run the course in under ten hours. 25 contestants of 195 had passed the qualifying tests, which brought the number down to 118, then 43 before the final cut. Two more crashed after qualifying, bringing the number down to 23. Four completed the run in under 7.5 hours. A fifth completed in 12.9 hours. The winner, from a Stanford University team, won at 6.9 hours. Second place came in 11 minutes later. Two hours before the start each team was given a disk with 2935 gps positions they had to pass to stay on course, and had to find their own way between these points. The article went into detail on the techniques used by the vehicles which completed the course and some of the more ingenious ones by those which didn't. Many had useful techniques for an eventual production vehicle. The army wants, eventually, an unmanned vehicle which could scout out a battle field, or deliver supplies or a bomb.

And progress continues.. This appeared on May 3, 2006, on the NFB in computer Science listserv:

Seven months after an unmanned Volkswagen successfully drove itself over the rugged desert, the Pentagon is sponsoring another challenge for self-driving vehicles that can weave through congested city traffic without causing an accident. The contest, to be held in November 2007, will test the vehicles' ability to independently carry out a simulated military supply mission in an urban setting in less than six hours. The Pentagon's DARPA created the latest challenge to spur development of vehicles that could be used in the battlefield without any sort of remote control.

Participants will have to navigate a complex 60-mile test course in a yet-to-be-determined city filled with moving vehicles -- both manned and unmanned. The test course will be designed like a real city street where vehicles will have to make sharp turns, navigate intersections and avoid crashing into obstacles such as utility poles, trees and parked cars. Equipped only with a computer brain and sensors, the participants will be graded on how well they can obey traffic laws, change lanes, merge with moving cars and pull into a parking lot. The first vehicle that successfully completes the mission will win $2 million. Unlike previous DARPA contests, in which the winner takes all, second-place finishers will get $500,000 while third place will receive $250,000. While the vehicles in last year's contest had to drive on rough roads and dodge man-made obstacles, they didn't have to drive in traffic.

"We believe the robotics community is ready to tackle vehicle operation inside city limits," DARPA director Tony Tether said in a statement. Stanford University computer scientist Sebastian Thrun, who won last year's race, said he was excited to see DARPA take the challenge to the next level. Thrun said the artificial intelligence knowledge gained from the contest could also benefit society by pushing the development of "smart cars" that can self-navigate on highways and potentially reduce accidents. teams will face off in a semifinal match and the field will be winnowed down to compete in the final round. DARPA is faced with a congressional mandate to have a third of all military ground vehicles unmanned by 2015

The NFB speaker said there was a market for this in the sighted civilian world. The car would drop you off at the entrance to a mall and park itself. When you were done you would hit a pager in your pocket or purse and it would meet you at the door, even if {the door} were different from the one you went in.

Prediction of developing technologies is so hard to do correctly. (As has been asked at several recent cons, what happened to the flying car? Or the personal helicopter? I remember a cover story in POPULAR MECHANICS or POPULAR SCIENCE in the 50s about the Hiller Hornet, a promised 2-man personal helicopter.) So much more has to be developed to avoid moving hazards like people, animals, and other vehicles, that I find it hard to believe that this can happen in 15 years. And if it does happen, it will be an expensive luxury accessory installed in expensive cars like the Lexus or Mercedes. When could it become standard in the equivalent of the Geo or Neon?

^^OUR FIFTEEN MINUTES It all started on Jan 12 when we showed up for our bi-monthly cartons of government surplus food in the Commodities supplemental Food Program and were told that it was no longer available. Next couple days we saw nothing about this in the news or on the web, so I phoned our local NPR station and asked what was happening. A reporter, Dan Gorenstein, called me back next day, said he had heard nothing of this, and took down some names and phone numbers. He found that NH had to cut 700 people, and were taking no renewals (we were due to re-certify) or new applicants. He phoned various state and federal offices. No one at the Federal level would talk with him, but he learned about the cut from various state offices. State Senator Lou Delasandro was pissed and said a state appropriation could be gotten thru in 30 or so days, but Concerned Citizens of Ossipee said it should be taken care of at the Federal level. Dan decided to do a story and wanted to interview us while we do our regular shopping trip on the 19th. He rode in our car and went in with us as we went into seven stores shopping for ourselves and the Lions Club. (Sandy runs the kitchen for the club during Tuesday night bingo.) He ran the story the next evening in the 5:50 local news slot, repeated next morning, and devoted it all to this one story.

The next Wednesday I got a call from the local ABC-TV outlet in Manchester, which also wanted to do a story. They were to drive up that afternoon, pick me up at home, and meet Sandy in the library where she worked. However when he had driven 40 or so of the 70 miles from Manchester he phoned to say that something came up and he had to turn back. They would do the story without us. I did not get to hear the story as our limited satellite service does not include his channel, and I failed to connect when I tried to go on line to pick up the broadcast. (This is WMUR-TV, channel 9, out of Manchester, NH.)

Then Dan Gorenstein called us back and said he wanted to do a personality story about us in connection with Valentine's Day, and needed some more time with us. He joined our shopping trip on February 9 for about one hour. On the 13th he had us on the nationally distributed Day to Day half way thru the first hour (12:30 local time), and next day a different cut on the local NH interrupt of Morning Edition at 6:35 and of All Things Considered at 5:60.

Last of all, a reporter from the Laconia Evening Citizen dropped in on the monthly meeting of the Lakes Region Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of NH on Jan 28 and ran a story with picture the next day.

Incidentally, Sandy found only one story on the web about the CSFP cut, in a Michigan newspaper, and that was gone from the web next day. I have since heard that the fiscal 06-07 budget submitted by Bush proposes to completely eliminate the Commodoties supplemental Food Program, and to close down all local "community Action Program" services, which administer local transportation, fuel assistance, "meals on Wheels", and many other community services.

^^DAVID PALTER ON DA VINCI CODE, OZ, & ISLAM Former fan David Palter is one of the recipients of my email list on movies and TV, and I want to share his responces to two circulated stories about the Code movie.

Dear Ed, That was an interesting review of the movie, Da Vinci Code, which I personally am not rushing out to see. Having already read the novel, I am not that excited. It really was a very silly novel, for several different reasons.

The secret society which is seen to be zealously guarding its knowledge about the life of Jesus, logically would have to either want that information to become generally known, in which case all historical records should be made public, or it should not want it to become known, in which case the historical records should be destroyed. The idea of carefully protecting some cache of records while never releasing, them serves only to make the society itself into a target of religious fanatics, and accomplishes nothing. And the idea that our heroine, the grand daughter of the slain secret historian, is bequeathed an endlessly complex series of clues within clues within clues, rather than simply being told the truth about herself and the secret society of which her grandfather was a member, is also utterly ridiculous. It is an insanely inefficient and dangerous way to carry on the work of that society. The whole illogical strategy is clearly designed for the sole purpose of generating an action-packed plot, but it isn't something that anybody would ever actually choose to do.

That said, the novel was still moderately entertaining. The ideas involved are more original than those of most novels that I read. Even though the plot logic is ridiculously contrived, well, the Wizard of Oz doesn't really make sense either, and it has the most notoriously weak ending in the history of the motion picture, which as you will recall is that Dorothy wakes up and discovers that it was all a dream. Even so, the Wizard of Oz is an entertaining and memorable movie.

Speaking of which, you probably know that there was recently another novel, entitled {Wicked}, and a broadway play based upon it, that seeks to tell the real story behind the obviously implausible events described in the original Wizard of Oz. This was actually a terrific idea and started off extremely well, but the author of {Wicked} seemed to be setting it up as an epic fantasy, and then went nowhere with it. In the end I was very disappointed. Much ado about nothing, in effect. Of course, as a fantasy fan I don't always see things the same way the general public does, which we have already seen with the insanely popular Harry Potter series that doesn't impress me at all.

[and from a later letter, responding to a letter I found on the Christian Fandom listserv about the movie studio which filmed {The daVinci Code} creating a website where readers could argue about the ideas used in the book]

Dear Ed,  Interesting letter regarding the forthcoming movie version of {The DaVinci Code}. I did read the book, and it was somewhat entertaining, however, it does definitely contain some annoying historical inaccuracies (as distinct from theological inaccuracies which are harder to judge), as well as an implausibly contrived plot. The theological issues don't really concern me, since I don't believe in Christianity anyway. To me, the book replaces one fantasy with a different fantasy.

I do think that it is both a responsible step and a good publicity device for the studio to create their own web-site for the purpose of presenting the various objections to {The DaVinci Code}.  Even though, as the letter notes, many critics will still be angry, the studio is still being helpful. These issues do merit discussion.

It's also sort of interesting that this issue is coming up at a time when the world is being convulsed by violent protests by Muslims about some cartoons published in a Danish newspaper which are deemed to be offensive to Islam. {The DaVinci Code} is potentially as offensive to Christianity as these cartoons are to Islam, however, most Christians do not respond violently to religious disagreements, unlike Muslims. Historically that was not always the case, of course.  Islam in the present has many of the attitudes which Christianity had in the middle ages. Islam needs to catch up.

If we were to imagine a movie that presents a profoundly revised version of the history of Islam, in the way that {The DaVinci Code} presents an alternative version of the history of Christianity, it would be impossible to release such a movie, because it would just be too dangerous. The response of the Islamic world would be too violent. [Imagine if a studio were to film Salman Rushdie's {Satanic Verses}! When I mentioned this to David he said it would probably start WWIII-ERM]It is to the credit of Christianity that it is still possible to discuss the religion even in ways that some see as heretical. Even so, there are Christian extremists such as the loathsome Fred Phelps, who make it harder for me to appreciate the relatively benign character of modern Christianity. I still think that the world would be better off without religion, as John Lennon once daringly suggested.  --  David Palter

^^COST OF IRAQ Last time I mentioned liking the bumper-sticker, "Bush lied. Thousands  died," and adopting it as my signature. I know it is an oversimplification and Republican apologists say the claim of weapons of mass destruction was an honest error, but this Spring I heard that several towns in Vermont passed at town meetings resolutions urging their Congressman to initiate a movement to impeach bush for lying.

In January I heard on the radio that while 2,000 Americans had died in Iraq, another 16,000 were disabled by injuries, 20% with brain damage. That is over 3,000 people disabled with brain damage. In October I heard that the U.S. death toll in Iraq has reached 3,000, and assume the number of brain injuries has also risen proportionally.

The war in Afghanistan was necessary because the Talaban were protecting the terrorists. But it seems there were no significant numbers of terrorists in Iraq, until now as a result of our invasion. Unfortunately now that we have started this mess there is no way for the U.S. to leave before there is a resolution.

^^OF COMICS AND CARTOONS John Boardman's recurrent column in DAGON, "I'll See You in the Funny Papers," brings back memories of comics I used to like, and arouses my curiousity on history. This exchange occurred in the Trufen listserv in May, 2006:

rich brown wrote: (Who is it in Popeye who goes around mumbling, "Somebody owes me an apology."?) Olive Oyl's father -- who, in the Altman movie, was played by MacIntyre Dixon. I think you're right, and I believe his name was Cole Oyl. As I recall, the original strip featured the Oyl family long before Popeye came along and took over. I should say that I recall *reading* this; I wasn't around at the time. -- D Gary Grady

Does this mean that before my time "Thimble Theater" was originally about the Oyl family, and Popeye came along later and took the strip over? I vaguely remember another strip in the 40s where, before my time, a new character pushed aside the originals.a strip about hillbillies whose title and characters I have forgotten. "Snuffy Smith?" "Barney Google?"

Does anyone have a copy of the comic strip showing the Shepherd Pooh beating up the Disney Pooh? Here is what Mark Blackman said about it: "The cartoon of Pooh vs. Pooh was in Tony Millionaire's strip Maakies back when it ran in the NY Press; it's now in the Village Voice. I thought I'd clipped it and put it inside a copy of The Pooh Perplex (I never owned any Milne Pooh books - I read library copies), but no. (I did turn up a flyer for a Yiddish production of Vini-Der-Puh.)"

If anyone has a copy of this I would appreciate a Xerox of it. Thanks.


|From Jeramy Edmonds: I am trying to document a sort of Tolkien fanzine history database at that is open to contributions from other fans, if you have a chance to mention it to others. Thanks again, Jeremy Edmonds 872 Loyalton Dr. Campbell CA 95008

|From LOCUS #549, Oct 2006: Middle Earth, Oregon A new subdivision called "The Shire" is being built in Bend, OR, designed to evoke the hobbit village fromJ.R.R. Tolkien's {The Lord of the Rings}, less than 200 miles from editor Terry Carr's birthplace in Grants Pass. The neighborhood is modeled on 18 century English villages, with 15 cottages and 16 town houses arranged around a common area. The houses, priced from $550,000 to $850,000, will be constructed using green techniques, and feature gabled roofs with artificial thatch made from strands of PVC. Cottages have names like Swordman's Lodge and Butterfly Cottage,and the adjascent irrigation canal has been named Brandywine Brook. The storage sheds even have round doors, like those on hobbit holes. The developer, Ron Meyers, isn't actually a fan of the books (though he's seen the movie), and credits the marketing ploy to a friend. "He's the one that's the Tolkien freak. Not me." We wonder what Carr would have thought about the whole idea. For more information, visit

[This strikes me as very tacky; and what's the connection with the late Terry Carr? Why did the builder even refer to him?]

|From David Palter: I wanted to comment about the musical version of Lord of the Rings which I saw last July, here in Toronto which is, so far, the only city in which it has been performed. Personally I was completely happy with it. I thought it was very beautiful and very true to its source material. I also believe that even though the movie trilogy version of Lord of the Rings by Peter Jackson is a truly magnificent accomplishment, it did not utterly exhaust the possibilities of [Lord of the Rings}, and the musical version does add something of value to what we already have in the movie version.

I also felt that there was something weirdly ceremonial about this musical. It is as though the actors were not performing what they knew to be a work of fiction, but rather, they were religiously commemorating what they believed to be real events, somewhat in the manner that Christians put on religious plays at Christmas time to commemorate the birth of Christ, as they believe it to have happened. This was, in itself, a fascinating effect. It was like stepping into an alternate reality.  --  David

|From Andrew Porter: The Somme and Tolkien

A POINT OF VIEW? By Lisa Jardine

Ninety years ago, Allied commanders launched the World War I offensive lastingly remembered as the Battle of the Somme. At 7.30am on 1 July 1916, officers blew their whistles to signal the start of the attack. As 11 British divisions clambered out of their trenches and walked slowly towards the enemy lines, German machine guns opened fire, causing wholesale carnage. The first day of that battle was the bloodiest in the whole history of the British Army. By the end of the day, the British had suffered 60,000 casualties; almost 20,000 were dead, including 60% of all the officers involved. One of those who survived that horrific first assault, and who endured the prolonged ghastliness of the months of fighting that followed, was the young JRR Tolkien.

The Allied plan had been to launch a coordinated Anglo-French assault. The British would attack along a 15-mile front north of the meandering river Somme. Five French divisions would attack along an eight-mile front through rolling farmland south of the Somme. When he describes the desolation of the battlefield, strewn with the mangled corpses of friend and foe, at the end of combat, we sense that Tolkien has himself witnessed that bleak devastation? To ensure a rapid advance with minimal resistance, Allied artillery had been pounding German lines for a week beforehand, firing over a million and a half shells at the enemy. British soldiers recalled later how throughout the night before the battle, the entire length of the English trenches shuddered and vibrated from the reverberating shock waves of uninterrupted big gun bombardment of the enemy lines. The saturation bombardment was supposed to annihilate the opposing forces, leaving their positions undefended. Cavalry units would then pour through to pursue the fleeing Germans. But open preparations for the assault gave clear advance warning of an impending attack, and German troops simply moved into underground concrete bunkers and waited.

Almost five months later, the Allies had advanced only five miles, at a cost of over half a million lives. Early in 1917 the Germans fell back from their positions for strategic reasons. Their withdrawal made a mockery of the months of bitter battle and appalling loss of life. It had all been for 'a few acres of mud'.

Intended to be a decisive breakthrough, the Battle of the Somme instead became a byword for futile and indiscriminate slaughter. At the Somme, the new, devastatingly efficient weapons of mass destruction - the tank, mustard-gas and the machine gun - marked the beginning of mechanized warfare on a huge scale. War would never be the same again.

The poet Wilfred Owen was killed in the final week of World War I at the age of 25. His poems - which I first read at school - offered searing testimony to the way this new kind of war ended any possibility of romanticising personal sacrifice, or elevating the individual in combat to the status of hero. For me his Anthem for Doomed Youth captures better than any military history an absolute disenchantment, no matter how "good and true" the cause: "What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?/Only the monstrous anger of the guns?/Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle?/Can patter out their hasty orisons." A more mundane kind of eye-witness account - but as compelling - comes from an extraordinary collection of audio-recordings of the recollections of ordinary serving soldiers, to be found on the Imperial War Museum website as part of a virtual Somme commemoration. Pte Don Murray, for instance, recalls how, as he and his comrades walked towards the enemy lines, the Germans appeared from their bunkers: "They just wound up their guns on automatic affairs and fired... and of course they just mowed us down." And he goes on to evoke the sense of numbing isolation, still vivid to him all those years later, he says: "And it seemed to me eventually there was just one man left, I couldn't see anybody at all, all I could see was men lying dead, men screaming... and I thought what can I do, I was just alone in a hell of fire and smoke and stink."

Tolkien had just graduated from Oxford with a first class degree in literature when he saw his first active service at the Somme. From July 1916 until he was invalided out with trench fever at the end of October, he experienced the full relentless ghastliness of day after day of trench life under fire - the discomfort, the cold, the mud, the lice, the fear, the unspeakable horrors witnessed. He had taken comfort from the fact that he was fighting alongside his three oldest and dearest friends from his school-days - a quartet of gifted would-be-poets who hoped to become outstanding literary men. But by November, two of those friends were dead. Tolkien and the one other surviving member of their "club" were never able to rebuild a closeness shattered by the enormity of what had occurred - by the sense of total loss, the obliteration of the band of friends almost before their creative lives had begun. "I was pitched into it all, just when I was full of stuff to write, and of things to learn; and never picked it all up again." --JRR Tolkien On the Somme.

Imagination is a uniquely human attribute. Freely exercised, it allows each of us to transform our everyday experience, elevating it into something more consolingly meaningful. How, then, does the human imagination cope with trauma of the kind Tolkien and his fellow-soldiers experienced in 1916? We might expect those months of unremitting horror in the trenches of the Somme to have fed into, and coloured, the ferocious battles and scenes of slaughter in Tolkien's three-part {Lord of the Rings} (begun in the 1930s), or in the Fall of Gondolin which he began writing while convalescing in the spring of 1917. Glimpses of the battlefield do occur within Tolkien's epic tapestry - Morgoth's monstrous iron dragons surely owe something to the tanks first used in combat in World War I, which terrified the horses of the cavalry. When he describes the desolation of the battlefield, strewn with the mangled corpses of friend and foe, at the end of combat, we sense that Tolkien has himself witnessed that bleak devastation.

But in the main, Tolkien's imagination swerves away from Wilfred Owen's despair, mining the depths of his own sense of waste and loss, to salvage from it emotional, spiritual and moral meaning. This imaginative determination finds its way deep into the narrative fabric of his tales of Middle Earth. In spite of the horror of total war, Tolkien chooses in his writing to focus his attention on the redemptive power of individual human action offered unconditionally as part of a common cause. Frodo Baggins is each of us aspiring to do good within modest limits. "I should like to save the Shire, if I could," says Frodo early in his quest. "Though there have been times when I thought the inhabitants too stupid and dull for words."

Tolkien's epic works are large-scale memorials to the modest struggles of ordinary people doing their best for good against the forces of inhumanity. They are a brilliantly achieved exemplar of the way the human imagination can configure a better future even in the aftermath of senseless, bloody destruction. As such they sustain and offer solace. In 1940, Tolkien spoke of how "to be caught in youth by 1914" was a "hideous" experience. "I was pitched into it all just when I was full of stuff to write, and of things to learn; and never picked it all up again." Yet his enduringly popular works - especially {the Hobbit} and {the Lord of the Rings} - have given generations of readers an Ariadne's thread for their emotional yearnings, guiding them through the labyrinth of an ordinary life - giving it shape, giving it meaning, and above all, giving them hope.?

Follow-on comments: Yes, well written! You mention {The Hobbit} and {LOTR}, but anyone wanting to feel the real depths of JRRT's despair should read {The Silmarillion}. John Humphries, Songkhla, Thailand.

I haven't read the Gondolin material, but it's not the battle descriptions that shine in {LOTR} - they are rather mannered - so much as the descriptions of older battlefields, of Mordor and the Dead Marshes. He makes plain the desolation and the haunted, poisoned wreck left by ancient battles; if the Western Front lies anywhere in his work, it's surely there. Grant, Salisbury, UK

Just a quick word on what a great piece of journalism I think this is - bringing something (now) so distant into sharp relief by explaining its derivative nature towards something that we have all (mostly) seen on the big screen in the past couple of years. In my opinion, if it makes one more person attempt to comprehend the scale of what has gone before - and importantly, what we can learn from it - then this piece will have served a good end. Elliott Gough, Horsham, West Sussex

This is a very good article from a true Tolkein fan. People often try to liken {The Lord of the Rings} to the events of WWII, which Tolkein always tried to play down (even writing as such in the prologue to the Fellowship). Suggesting that his view of war, heros, humanity and inhumanity stem from his involvement in WWI is far more likely. Mark Beal, York

Very good article . An aspect of Tolkien's work that is not always appreciated in certain quarters . Namely mine and Jrr's old Regiment , The Lancashire Fusiliers (our website chatroom) Bill Duggan, Swindon , Wilts

Many years ago I corresponded with Tolkien's son, a schoolmaster like myself. He said the Dark Riders in his novel were based on a real recurring nightmare from the First World War. Tolkien, riding a good cavlary horse, had somehow got lost behind the German lines, and, imagining he was behind his own trenches, rode towards a group of mounted cavalrymen standing in the shade of a coppice. It was only when he drew nearer he realised his mistake for they German Ulhans, noted for their atrocities and taking no prisoners. When they saw him they set off in pursuit with their lances levelled at him. He swung his horse round and galloped off hotly pursued by the Germans. They had faster steeds but Tolkien's horse was a big-boned hunter. They got near enough for him to see their skull and crossbone helmet badges. Fortunately for Tolkien (and us, his readers) he raced towards some old trenches which his horse, used to hunting, took in its stride. The Uhlans' horses weren't up to it and they reined in leaving Tolkien to get away to his own side. He was terrified and the cruel faces of those Uhlans and their badges haunted him in nightmares for a long time afterwards. Years later, when he was writing his novel, the Dark Riders were the result of that terrifying chase. Revd John Waddington-Feather, Shrewsbury Story from BBC NEWS:

^^LETTERS [Addresses &/or eddresses will only be printed with specific permission.--ERM]

|MARK BLACKMAN [Comments on 05 annual letter edited from BLANCMANGE 424] Re your address change, ha, moving, but without the hassle of packing! I'm reminded of the joke about the town on the Russian-Polish border that's about to be incorporated into one of the 2 countries. A towns-man hopes that they become part of Poland. "I couldn't stand another Russian winter." Maybe you can be annexed by Florida? [] St. Mongo? I thought that Ming's people worshipped the Great God Tao. [] Reading machines are astonishing. I presume that there'll be an earpiece for private listening. I once spent a couple of hours reading recipes & cooking directions to a friend as she typed them up in Braille. [] Sandwich Fair - an agricultural fair with a limited menu. (Yes, I see that it's in Sandwich.)

[Comments on ENTROPY 37 edited from BLANCMANGE 425] A museum of religion? Interesting, but tricky to be objective. Religious wars have victims & victimizers, but both cast themselves as the innocents persecuted by the evil. In Britain alone, Protestants warred with Catholics & with other sects of Protestants; it was just a matter of who was in power. [] the Church of Scotland, like the Church of Ireland, is what we call Anglican. (Visitors to Dublin are surprised that St. Patrick's Cathedral is Protestant.) Imposing the Book of Common Prayer on Scottish Presbyterians & English Calvinists was one of the causes of the English Civil War. [] Re cathedrals, we usually say "seat". [] Friends don't serve friends haggis. (And no, it's nothing like stuffed derma, or kishke.) [] As my family fled the Tsar, but I'm anti-communist, I have mixed feelings about the November Revolution. [] A friend made a stuffed rabbit, Zaphod Beeblebunny. [] BritRail's breakup was Thatcher's Tory privatization. [] I bet the Cardiff hostel was happy to have a guest who didn't complain about the garish exterior. [] Yes, David is the patron saint of Wales, so perfectly acceptable for a Catholic church in Wales; the Irish can't name all of their churches after St. Patrick. [] Re Park's What's New, Jimmy Swaggart once held up a Bible and said "This is the Constitution of the United States of America - the Holy Word of Almighty God!", but we know better and demand that our legislators & judges should too. Unfortunately, too many don't find it objectionable that "of course" Alito's decisions will be based on his religious - or "moral" (thereby disparaging the rest of us as immoral) - beliefs. Laws must be secular in a pluralistic society, and science is not based on objective experimental evidence, not faith. The Bible is not a lawbook or a math/science textbook; and it's even a patchy history book. (What it may be, as Jackie Lichtenberg & I once characterized it, is a great S&S epic.) [] Unmanned probes are great for gathering knowledge, but eventually humans have to go out there, so we should get started. And from a public relations standpoint, that means engaging our imaginations, something live astronauts can do that robotic probes can't.  (My nephew had a picture of Ilian Ramon on his wall, not a Mars Rover.) [] Before people went into space, dogs & chimps were sent up. I have no objection to using rich tourists to show that space is safe. [] Re {Glory}, "a ship delivers a cargo 13,000 years after [the order is placed]", Fed Ex isn't that bad. Arthur C. Clarke used solar sails in {The Wind from the Sun}, though not tachyons. [] "Bush lied, thousands died": began as "When Clinton lied, no one died" - an evasion on an intimate matter vs. disastrous lies on national policy and abuse of power. So which one was impeached and which one won't be. [] Heinlein was born 7/7/7. [] Xena's moon is Gabrielle, after the tv characters (our modern mythology; I understand that there's a rock on Mars named after Yogi Bear). [] Sam Moskowitz reminds me of Churchill's quip "History will be kind to me, for I shall write it." In my last conversation with him, he quibbled with my calling Dave Kyle a founding member of Lunarians, saying that he wasn't involved during its first year. But the minutes of the Club's first meeting not only have Dave present (and SaM not), but even being elected (first) President, while subsequent ones reveal that SaM didn't show up at Lunarians till several meetings later. And in a write-up for Lunacon '94's Program Book, he reopened (& dragged Lunacon into) his feud with the Kyles over nasty allegations re flights to Loncon (the London Worldcon) in 1957. I'll let Hall know what I have. [] The Book of Common Prayer was banned during the Protectorate. [] There are those who claim that "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" was written 15 years before the date of Moore's by Major Henry Livingston Jr. of Poughkeepsie. [] Said Gonick of the eunuch admiral Zheng-He (or Cheng-Ho), he had "a lot of-" "Nerve! A lot of nerve!"  His expeditions cost more than they earned, making an easy target for bureaucrats, just like the space program. During the reign of Kublai Khan, China twice tried to invade Japan, but was thwarted largely by storms. [] Bonnie Calahan> His Tolkien zine Entmoot nevertheless made it into Greg Shaw's obits. [] I seriously doubt that HPL influenced UFO nuts. His gods & the standard "gray" aliens share no resemblance. [] Sprague de Camp's mention of a sign he saw once for Conan's Deep Dish Pizza inspired a fan-fic that had the Barbarian inventing pizza when townsfolk bombarded him with the ingredients on a hot day. But he, and the Greek & Romans who've long-baked flat breads, would have had a hard time emulating Domino's without tomatoes, a New World fruit (or vegetable). Proto-pizza came about in Italy, but the phenomenon was re-imported from the US after WWII. [] Fred Lerner> Card was orthodox Mormon enough in 1992 to have written an article that condemned homosexuality and that threatened to cause a boycott of Lunacon '93, at which he was GoH. [] Andy Porter, I have some of my father's Old Left buttons from the '30s - Free the Scottsboro Boys, Gus Hall for President, Mike Quill for City Council.  (Yes, that Mike Quill, head of the Transit Workers Union during the '66 strike.; he served 4 terms.) [] Peter Sullivan, When I convert Works zines to Word, I get several opening & closing pages of e's, rectangles & yen signs; that's easily deleted, but sporadic paragraphs similarly get trashed. I've also copied-&-pasted MS Word zines to text and seen smart quotes & apostrophes converted to rectangles. [] APA-F, Q's predecessor, was weekly. APA-Q was originally biweekly. [] The dollar coins that Ed left as a tip when we were at dinner last year were mistaken for quarters. The current dollar coin is gold-colored. [] Mormons regarded blacks as cursed with the mark of Cain. [] The Puritans came to America because of religious tolerance. They were against it. [] APA-Q began in 1974. FAPA is nearly 4 decades older. [] When I first began using a computer, I did layout on it, then cut mimeo stencils with a dot-matrix printer. In 1989, someone watched us produce the Lunacon newszine on a computer and remarked that it was good that we'd advanced from that, pointing at a mimeo. Wordlessly, my co-editor pulled a page from the printer, laid it on an electrostenciler, then set the e-stencil on the mimeo. [] "The War of the Rebellion" is the official US Gov't name. [] Berwick upon Tweed is glad to be spared brutal Scottish winters.

Your comment to Boardman, The Moskowitz book is {Explorers of the Infinite}..[] Son of Kong was a legit sequel, with the same director, producers, writer, technician (Willis O'Brien), even a star (Robert Armstrong as Carl Denham).  At the end, the island blows up. Mighty Joe Young was a cut above a rip-off. It had harm and its use of "Beautiful Dreamer" was haunting. (Btw, it too was remade a few years ago, with Charlize Theron as the lead.) [] Re war with France in 1798, during the 1790s there were French attacks on US ships. Pres. Adams sent envoys to Paris to resolve things, but 3 officials, code-named X, Y & Z asked for bribes. The US public outrage cried "Millions for defense, but not one cent for tribute", and there were naval skirmishes 1798-1800. War fever also led to the Alien & Sedition Acts. When Napoléon came into power, the matter was settled.

|ANNE J. BRAUDE Ruth Berman wrote, "For someone who hasn't been moving, you have an awfully mobile address." Ed is obviously a serf.  Remember the student definition of serfdom:  "When the land moves, you have to move with it." Perhaps we should get him a serf board for Christmas?                                         Anne

|NED BROOKS I had noted your new address. Hope you and Sandy are settling in OK.

I don't trust those filters. Earthlink filters my e-mail - but only to the extent of marking it as spam in the subject line. They often get it wrong, letting through all of the fake lottery rubbish and most of the Nigerian Scams; and what is worse, labelling as spam perfectly harmless e-mails from fans. I review the list after the mail is downloaded.

I have never found the transmission of any special characters to be reliable in e-mail, and have given up dragging them in from CharSet. Even the meager typesetting commands in the composition window toolbar aren't reliably transmitted through yahoogroups.

Most references seem to call this Saint "Mungo", and I found a site that says the name Mungo was a nickname and his real name was Kentigern. Asthis was all circa 600 AD, anything is possible and any Christian sect might claim him. [I only heard the name said, and never had it spelled to me. It sounded like "Mongo" so that is how I wrote it. Apologies for the error.-ERM]

Excellent con report!

"Driving out Sandy saw a neat bumper sticker on the NY Thruway, "Bush lied. Thousands died." While it is an oversimplification, I like it so much that I have adopted it as my email signature." I never had an e-mail signature, but I've been using "Who's the star-spangled Torquemada?" as a Slanapazine title and a homade bumper sticker.

It was recently reported that a woman with surname Callahan could not register at Yahoo because her name contains - purely coincidentally - the word "allah"!

Best, Ned Brooks

|LINDA BUSHYAGER It was fascinating. I really enjoyed the convention report. Also was glad to read about Hay on the Wye - the town of books. We went there when we visited England a few years ago for the Worldcon with a fannish bus tour that didn't allow us enough time there (or anywhere). We did see a lot of sheep during the trip though! Thanks for reminding me about this interesting town.

|MARLON CLARK I'm reading my way through the fanzine. I like it. When I was in Britain several years back, the locals said that the breakup of the railways now allowed the various companies to point fingers at each other when something went wrong, and nobody had responsibility. Maybe something like that happened for your train ride. I'll keep reading. Marlon

|CRIS HALL Ed, I enjoyed your post. [I quoted Boardman from ENTROPY 36 in the ReadingClub4TheBlind listserv and this is his reply-ERM] I love Milne. My mother read the Pooh books to me, and we both laughed until we cried. I also had a couple of records containing some of the stories. I don't know who made them, but the voices were fabulous, unlike those in Disney's travesty. I have never been able to watch it all the way through. For most of my childhood, I was unaware of its existence, and when I first discovered it, I couldn't believe that it had the nerve to call itself "Winnie the Pooh." Incidentally, I think that the depressed robot, Marvin, (Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy) is a modern reincarnation of Eyour. cris

|BEN INDICK I finally read Entropy 37. Inspiring. You always amaze me, Ed, and I am happy that you and Sandy manage so completely. You are still active in Tolkieniana too, and I imagine you will be going to Canada to see that 5 or 6 hour theatrical version. [Unfortunately not. Travel and ticket price are too expensive.-ERM] (Ridiculous. It should be sliced into two plays, like Nicholas Nickelby was, or cut. That is too much to ask of a general audience.) During WWII, I was in Birmingham for a few weeks and although a medic on ships, was assigned to the far overloaded US Army post office. We cleaned it up, but many packages from the USA to soldiers had lost addresses. I ate a lot of candy and read  lot of torn magazines. Thanks. Ben

|ROBERT H. KNOX Thanx for the latest ENTROPY...tho I can't comment with any authority about most of the content, I can offer a few words re KING KONG... I don't believe that MIGHTY JOE YOUNG can rightly be called a "rip-off", as it was produced By Merian C. Cooper & Ernest Schoedsack, who had done KING KONG and SON OF KONG. Certainly, it was an attempt to duplicate KONG's success, but can you rip off your own product?  I think not.

                                   Anyway, SON OF KONG was a quickie cash-in, done in the same year as the 1933 KONG. It's played for laughs, basically, and is entertaining in its own right, though not to be compared with the original film. Carl Denham (again played by Robert Armstrong) is in deep doodoo because of Kong's NYC rampage, and is being sued by half the city. He and Captain Englehorn (Frank Reicher) decide to blow town in the Captain's ship, the Venture, to eke out a living carrying cargo in the Far East. At an obscure port, they encounter the man who sold Denham the map of Skull Island. He is anxious to leave the area because of an insurance scam and because he has just caused the death of a drunken owner of a cheesy sideshow, so he tells Denham that there's a hidden treasure on Skull Island. Needless to say, they go there, along with the late sideshow owner's daughter, who has stowed away aboard the Venture. On Skull Island, the group encounter, among other creatures, the 12-foot offspring of Kong. Unlike his old man, however, this ape is rather friendly. Well- I won't tell you the whole story, but I do recommend the film, which has just been reissued on an excellent DVD.

                            As to Peter Jackson's KING KONG, I found it a bit overlong at around three hours, but, overall, a quite spectacular and well-done film, and the best Kong film since the original. Jackson obviously loves and respects the 1933 film, as this one is based directly on the original story, and is even set in the '30s. And, as much as I love Willis O'Brien's original stop-motion work, the SPFX in this new version are outstanding, even by today's standards. I will own the DVD! Hope this has been of some help, and hope all's well with you.

                             Yrs,  R. H. Knox

|HOPE LEIBOWITZ I am still trying to get through the entire issue in e-mail - I don't have a comfy chair in front of my computer so I don't like to spend too much time here.

Regarding the past president of the fwa, you are confusing them with Corflu guests of honor. They are two different things. I don't know if you have gotten a reply from anyone else yet. It is the Corflu GoH that is picked out of a hat, and anyone who doesn't want to be considered can pay $20 to have their name taken out. And the GoH has to make a speech at the banquet on Sunday.

The past president of fwa is done by nominations and voting, and the nominees don't have to be present, or even alive I think, if memory serves. There is probably a list on some web site.

We aren't thinking of going to another Astronomicon. Charles was very disappointed in the filk track, as though he isn't a fan or a reader he does like filk. Hardly anyone showed up for the concert by the filk GoH, Roberta Rogow (sp?) and I think it might have been cancelled.

I saw a few other comment hooks but didn't want to do a reply and then have to delete the entire zine. I guess the main thing was the transportation problems you had leaving after the Worldcon to go home. Yikes! It sounded like a severely taxing physical and mental experience. I want to go to Minicon, as it is one of my favorite cons. But just the effort of booking a flight is making me procrastinate. And I already have a membership. Gotta do it soon.

|LLOYD PENNEY 1706-24 Eva Rd. Etobicoke, ON CANADA M9C 2B2

I'm back to the lettergrinder right after our big convention in Toronto, Ad Astra 25. There were special celebrations, and we had a great time. We've been on the committee for 25 years, and this year, we retired. We'll be happy to just attend next year. So now that it's done, it's time to get back to letterhacking, and I'll now tackle The View From Entropy Hall 37.

Where I work, I do data entry on a website, and if I want to set a special symbol or a letter with an accent of some kind, I have to set it with a special code. Where I am, for example, if I want to set an e with an accent, é, I have to set it as &#230 to get the accented letter to set on the website. You may have to find a similar coding for your own system.

Wish I could have gotten to Glasgow, but now, our greatest concern is saving enough money to go to LAcon IV this coming August. I think we'll be able to do it, but we're praying for enough cash to cover it all. I hate putting anything like that on the credit card.

The Zaphod Beeblebrox rainbow bear.I have some friends here who have their own Beeblebears, as they call them. There's a big Tolkien event happening in Toronto, but it is scaled and priced for an international audience that can afford the costs. I certainly can't.

I think there will be a new space race, US vs. China to the moon, but I think that for the most part, it will be a friendly race. Both countries have a lot of pride wrapped up in this, and I think that at some point, when the costs get past expensive to ridiculous, the two might work together to get back to the moon. Don't want to insult your largest trading partner, after all.

Astronomicon.we had a good time at the con, and odds are we'll return next year. The main reason we were usually in the con suite is that Yvonne and I were in charge of it. (That's an old habit of ours.a guest of the con, and also on the committee. That's changing.Yvonne and I have decided that after 25 years of running and working conventions, we are retiring. We'll just attend and have a good time.) We were surprised to see three large rooms for the con suite while one or two would have done fine. One room should have been used at a storage and prep room, but nonetheless, it was good to have lots of space to deal with. Spider jammed in one part of one room, there was conversation in another, and a poker tournament in the other, and no one disturbed the others.

You mention Lunacon.some friends at Ad Astra said they'd also attended the 2006 Lunacon a few weeks ago, and they said it was expected it would be the last Lunacon because of the hotel and declining attendance. The numbers of those who read regularly and are knowledgeable about science fiction are steadily declining. Those who come to the cons in their teens and twenties are, I have to think there for the good times, and not for the literature.

|Zev Sero You wrote, "all that was in the kitchen was tea cups and tubes of instant coffee. (These tubes, about the size and shape of a non-king-size cigarette, seemed common in the U.K.)" I've seen these here in the USA, but when I've gone looking to buy them I could only find them in variety packs including various flavoured coffees, none of which I care for very much.  I've been looking for a box of tubes of just plain Nescafe, and haven't yet found one for sale.  I suspect that they may only be available from industrial suppliers.

"Driving out Sandy saw a neat bumper sticker on the NY Thruway, 'Bush lied. Thousands died.' While it is an oversimplification, I like it so much that I have adopted it as my email signature." Well, you're entitled to your own opinions, but you're not entitled to your own facts. The plain fact is that Bush didn't lie, at least about anything that led to thousands of deaths. He has lied, or at least been free with the truth, about other matters, such as what his prescription benefit plan would be likely to cost. But I suppose wildly underestimating the cost of proposals is to be expected from politicians, and there's certainly nobody in politics I'd trust not to do the same. But with regard to the current war, he hasn't told a single deliberate untruth. That's not an opinion, it's a fact.

"So what should our current definition of planet be? And how many are  there?" If you limit it to bodies comparable to Galileo's six, then there are eight planets. And they nicely balance. Four rock planets and an asteroid belt, then four gas giants and another asteroid belt (may as well classify the Kuiper belt as one). Then the heliopause and the Oort cloud.

"My Very Earnest Mother Ate Jelly Sandwiches Using No Knives, Hands, Or Gloves" for Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Asteroids, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Kuiper belt, Heliopause, Oort cloud, Galaxy.

"Another travel option between Boston & NYC for future ref; the Chinatown buses were the best bargain." On the other end of the scale, if you feel like treating yourself, is

"Good to see at least one American who actually likes dollar coins." Me too.

"I assume you know the old story of how Berwick-upon-Tweed was at war with Russia from the start of the Crimean War until Nineteen Sixty Six?" It would be a nice story, if only it were true.

"Regarding Puritans and Pilgrims. It fascinates me how people are taught even today that the Puritans came to America "for religious tolerance." As historian High Brodin put it, it would be much more accurate to say that they came to America for religious intolerance - only this time they would be the ones intolerating!" They came for the freedom to worship as they thought right, and to make others do the same.  Cf {Lest Darkness Fall} by L Sprague de Camp.

"They ought to re-name the place Atlantis and take a star off the flag. Now, instead, billions will be spent to rebuild. No doubt, the job will go to Halliburton." Actually, IIRC the first big contract to be announced went to a company owned by a prominent Democratic fundraiser.  So much for that.

"I had never thought of comparing the number of US dead in Iraq to those killed in 911. I note your point that it has reached 2/3 of the 911  victims." And still far less than were expected when Congress authorised the invasion of Iraq. Not to mention that it's about what we could expect to lose in a *day* in most of our wars. And meanwhile, there hasn't been another 11-Sep; some of us don't think that's an accident.

"In your discussion of minor wars not in the almanac you mentioned wars "against France in 1798 and 1942." I am puzzled by these references. 1798 would have been during the second year of John Adams' only term, and only ten years into the real operations of the US government." Yep. And we were in an undeclared but legally recognised war against France. (Which is an early proof against those who currently insist that we can't legally be at war unless Congress says the magic words "we declare war".)

|MILT STEVENS Dear Ed, In Entropy #37, you include an interesting idea regarding asking Supreme Court nominees about their views on science. Unfortunately, it is probably more interesting for a bull session than as something to do in the halls of Congress. The question "How does being descended from a monkey influence your judicial philosophy?" is easy. It doesn't and shouldn't. What we are makes a difference. Where we come from doesn't. H. L. Mencken may have had a point when he said, "Darwin was wrong. Men aren't descended from apes. They' re still apes." However, that isn't much of an idea to base a legal system on. Science really doesn't have any relationship to law. I don't think you could develop a scientific legal code, and I don't think people would like the results if it was tried. Law has to be based on some sort of a philosophy, and that philosophy will probably resemble some parts of some religions that have shown up in the past. So it goes. I guess we won't have the chance to see distinguished jurists asked their opinions on string theory in the near future.

I enjoyed your account of your trip to the worldcon in Glasgow. If you hadn' t told me, I wouldn't have known that Shrewsbury was the fictional home of Brother Cadfael. I've seen and enjoyed several of the mysteries, but I didn' t remember any specific town being mentioned. It is entirely possible I wasn 't paying attention.

Don't worry about losing your accent marks on my account. I never know what to do with accent marks in other languages, so I just ignore them. That must be very disappointing to the fans of accent marks all over the world. Milt Stevens

|PETER SULLIVAN Ed Meskys wrote: "I had the mistaken memory that the name "Church of Scotland" had applied to the recognized Presbyterian church, but in correspondence Diana Paxson tells me that it is applied to the Anglican church in Scotland." Not sure this is right - I am pretty sure that "Church of Scotland" refers to a different denomination than the Anglican/Episcopalian "Church of England." Certainly I remember reading about the compromise whereby the Royal Family are members of the "Church of England" whilst in England and "Church of Scotland" whilst in Scotland, which dates back to the union of  the crowns in 1603. In effect, they change their religion every time they cross the border. This was how Princess Anne managed to get re-married in church even after a divorce a few years ago - she got married in Scotland, where she was a member of the "Church of Scotland," which did not recognize her previous marriage in the "Church of England." Yes, I know that's not even logically consistant even in terms of its own logic, but never mind. I notice that when Prince Charles got re-married, they didn't try the same trick, and his second wedding was just a civil (non-church) ceremony.

"Some tax laws must have changed in 1946 or 1947 which made it impractical for wealthy persons to retain large holdings." Not sure about the Second World War, but I know that during World War One there were several cases where estates got hit by several sets of death duties in quick sucession. For instance, the father would die from natural causes, then the eldest son who inherited would die from war action soon after with no heirs of his own, then the youngest son would die from war action as well. Shockingly, there was no exemption from the normal peacetime death duties for deaths from war action. So the dowager lady would be widowed, lose two sons and still have to pay three sets of death duties. Often they would end up handing the whole estate over to the state rather than sell it off piecemeal to pay the death duties. As I say, I've heard of this mainly with respect to the First World War, but it might have applied to a lesser degree after the Second World War as well.

Also, many large houses were requisitioned by the government during the Second World War (for instance, the famous Bletchley Park estate where they cracked the Enigma) and in some cases were in such poor condition when it was time to hand them back that the original owners didn't bother re-claiming them.

"Our other day trip was by bus to Hay on Wye, a town of 5,000 people known for having some 40 second-hand bookstores." Second hand bookshops are not common in England these days. There is an excellent large one called Barter Books near me in Alnwick, in Northumberland, but it's the only one local that I'm aware of. I have often thought of going down to Hay on Wye. Setting myself a strict cash limit first! But, as you have discovered, it's not exactly the easiest of places to get to.

John Boardman writes: "But the poodle is originally a German breed, and is there spelled 'Pudel'." I seem to remember reading that "Pudel" means "water dog." The English word "puddle" comes from the same etymology - which is appropriate, in that poodles love puddles!

Ed Meskys writes: "I believe the Past President [of Fanzine Writers of America] is selected at random from the attendees [of Corflu], after which heesh must give a GoH speech at the Sunday luncheon-banquet." I'm not sure this is quite right. As I understand it, the Corflu Fan Guest of Honour is chosen quote at random unquote. (The reason for the quotes being that anyone who has been Guest of Honour at a previous Corflu is officially exempt. Unofficially, so is anyone else who pays the standard bribe for their name to mysteriously get lost before it goes into the hat.) Past President of the F.W.A. is a different office, and is elected at Corflu, and has no duties whatsoever - it's purely an honorific as I understand it. Whether the balloting is done as part of the F.A.A.N. Awards (also voted for at Corflu, as an antidote to the fan Hugos) or if it's just done "by acclamation" I'm not sure.

"And [the U.S. being at war with France in] 1942? Was this somehow related to the Vichy government acting as Hitler's puppet?" I know that the British government were at war with the Vichy French government - I think France was required to notionally declare war on Britain as part of its surrender terms from the Germans. There actually was some enemy action between the British a nd French over the fate of the French Navy - the British sank several French ships in the Morroccan port of Odun when the local French naval commander refused to surrender them. I wasn't aware of any U.S. involvement, however.

-- Peter Sullivan <>

|JAMES TAYLOR Hi. Just some short comments on The View from Entropy Hall #37, which I downloaded from after recognizing your name. Can't remember where I heard it. Might have been from Teresa Cochran, one of the Katzs or the TruFen listserve.

Basicly you took my vacation. I was planning on going to Glasgow for the Worldcon as well. Had my membership and was ready to go. But when I tried to make reservations for the University Housing there were no rooms left for Friday night.  Didn't want to change accomadations for one night and everything unraveled from that point. I ended up not going, but that's not the only similarity. While you carried on to Shewsbury I was planning on going to the same area of the Welsh Borders to visit the book village: Hey-on-Wye. As for the detour on the rail trip.  I would guess that after some recent rail accidents in the UK it could have been track maintenance. While finger pointing is still going on, basicly enough wasn't being spent on maintenance for long enough to have an impact on safety.

|KERRY ELIZABETH THOMPSON I've been thinking about Merlin living backwards. It's been a long time since I read the Mary Stewart books but, I think, in them he lives forward like everyone else. Where I do recall his living backwards, I think, is in {THE ONCE AND FUTURE KING}. [Both memories correct.-ERM]

I looked up "Ptolomy," to make sure I'd spelled it correctly, and discovered that there's a St. Ptolomy. No kidding, he's right here in the Patron Saints Index: Who knew? Kerry

[and from a later letter] I agree completely about the importance of space exploration, including manned exploration. It is odd that the author of "What's New" holds a dim view of it.

To open another can of worms: Despite my mistrust of nuclear as an energy source here on earth, I support its use in unmanned spacecraft, such as the recently launched New Horizons mission to Pluto. As far as I can tell from reading the documentation, this power supply is safe and efficient, with little or no chance of breaking free and contaminating space. Certainly, it is imparitive that we find more efficient, less costly, and less environmentally damaging power sources for spacecraft than standard chemical fuels, especially if we are to explore the outer reaches of the Solar System. The  reason I bring this up is that I have become aware that some who support the Space Program balk at using nuclear fuel. When I was talking to Pat Logan about the Pluto mission, she got very exercised about the nuclear power issue. Yet, what alternative currently exists that could reliably power a spacecraft for a decade or more? [Especially at distances too great for solar panels to provide power.-ERM] Ion drive and other alternatives, including solar sails need to be developped but, for  now, nuclear is the best way to go IMO.

As I'm sure you know, that business of Benedict XVI's condemning Harry Potter has since been exposed as the crass hoax it was. Apparently, it was perpetrated by a small Catholic, "pro-life" so-called news service, the name of which I can't for the life of me remember just now.

As to the Pope and Science: The vatacan astronomer has been widely quoted in the general media as condemning Intelligent Design and allied subjects as not being Science. He states clearly that Evolution does not conflict with faith, nor does Science in general. See e.g.: The last two paragraphs: "A leading Catholic scientist, George Coyne, director of the Vatican Observatory, took the opportunity to attack creationism. 'The ID movement belittles God, making him seem too small and paltry," he said. "God is not an engineer who designed the universe. He did not design me - He loves me.'"

Prof Coyne conceded that the Catholic Church was divided on the issue. But he expected Pope Benedict to stick with the declaration made by his predecessor John Paul II that "the theory of evolution is no longer a mere hypothesis".

National Geographic recently did a big story on Zheng-He. It is interesting to speculate on what might have happened had the Chinese continued their global exploration program. Might be an Alternate History series there. *grin*

I enjoyed Peter Sullivan's story of Berwick upon Tweed's long war with Russia. Can't say positively if I'd ever heard it before, though it did seem vaguely familiar. It was most entertaining, in any case. Reminds me in an oblique way of {THE MOUSE THAT ROARED}.

And, speaking of books: I was flabergasted - uh, croggled - to find that you didn't remember Zaphod Beeblebrox! Of course, THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE has been a constant in my life, not to say an influence, since I first heard it on NPR in 1981. I listened to the Radio 4 rebroadcast in the mid 80's when we lived in England. I acquired the Listen For Pleasure two cassette abridged editions of the first four books, read by Stephen Moore (Marvin) and, years later, the unabridged, four cassette audio editions of the same books read by Douglas himself. I've never been able to get hold of the fifth book, {MOSTLY HARMLESS} in either abridged or unabridged format. Both and initially promised that the unabridged edition was availible and on its way, only to inform me later that it was unavailible. Very disappointing.

I've seen the television series both on BBC and on PBS, and bought it on video some years ago. I went to see the movie with great trepidation, recalling how Jackson had mangled {THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING}. But, I was pleasantly surprised and, indeed, ended by loving the movie. It was different from the radio series, the television series, and the books; but, that's all right. Though greatly simplified and somewhat modified as far as plotline, the movie was, I found, charming and captivating. The movie was probably the inspiration for the bear you saw. It's a pity you didn't have Sandy take a picture of him. He sounds really cute.

I've recently discovered THE BARTIMEUS TRILOGY by Jonathan Stroud: {The Amulet of Samarkand} RC 58011, {The Golem's Eye} RC 58924. Apparently, they don't yet have the third volume, {PTOLOMY'S GATE}. The whole series is availible from Listening Library; though, strangely, the third volume only comes on CD, whereas the first and second come on cassette. I bought them through

This is a YA series, an alternate history or alternate universe story in which magicians rule London and the spralling British empire. Highly recommended!

You and your readers might be interested in Disabled Americans for Democracy ( and The Arty Blog (, Progressive, grassroots online communities inspired by Howard Dean. Both need members and active participants.

BTW I like your signature line. I recently saw a line that would also make a great sig.: The Rapture is not an exit strategy. Kerry Elizabeth Thompson

|MARIAN WALKE Thank you! Now we know of some other sites to visit next time we get to Britain. And your account brought back the dreadful memories of the Philadelphia airport, where we had nearly as rough a time as you did. With any luck I will now suppress those memories again.

I didn't know you could get canned haggis, but there is a Scottish Imports store in Cambridge and I will look for it there. Haggis was a wonderful revelation for me. You hear so much bad stuff about it, but it was delicious. Mark and I were staying at the Moat House Hotel in Glasgow, where they were unprepared for American fans in many ways. One was that they ran out of haggis at the second day's breakfast. Evidently fans are more willing to try it than other American tourists.

|TARAL WAYNE I browsed and were I 25 or 30 again I might have commented. But while I enjoyed various spots, I don't seem to have the energy to write reactive locs. I have to be really worked up or have my buttons pushed. The matter of Sedna, Xena and so on came close, but really, what did I have to add?

My life has revolved around having my kitchen replaced lately.  And no sooner than that was finished and I had moved everything back in place, when the phone line failed and had to be dealt with. I ended up moving a lot of stuff out of my bedroom and living room so the repairman from Bell could get at the jacks. And I wonder why I have no energy to do real work anymore?

^^COMMENTS |BLANCMANGE 423 (APA-Q 503)Like your comment that "intelligent design" has a place in science classes, along with phlogiston, the 4 humors and spontaneous generation, as examples of earlier theories which have proved wrong. [] I had never been really enthusiastic about any sports, pro or amateur-perhaps because of my severe, only partially corrected by heavy glasses, nearsightedness. I never listened to ball games on the radio, but moaned when the Trolley Dodgers lost, and was very glad when they finally won a world series. People had said that it was the first ever win by the Dodgers, but a few years ago I read an article about how the "Brooklyn Bridegrooms" won a world series over the NY Giants. Did the "Bridegrooms" change their name to "Trolley Dodgers", or did they fold and be later replaced by a totally new team? Anyhow, when the Dodgers left Brooklyn I lost my last vestige of interest in baseball. However was glad to see the Red Socks and White Sox finally break their respective curses and win a series. [] Amused by your "There's word that Jack Benny will be honored on a 39¢ stamp (naturally). " [] Your saying that in Jewish belief, "technically it's the ketubah (marriage contract, written in Aramaic, btw) that  "performs" the marriage." Interested me. In Catholic belief it is not the priest who performs the marriage, but the two individuals themselves. The priest is there only as an official witness, which is why isolated couples can marry when there is no prospect of a priest being available in a reasonable time. [] You said that drinking water is for weight gain, not loss. Actually it is for both. As you pointed out, a boxer will move up to the next weight class by drinking water just before the bout. On the other hand, drinking a lot of water flushes salt out of the body, which reduces the water retention and shows a drop in weight 12 hours later. It is a trick used by Weightwatchers. I have noted that the day after I eat a can of Campbell soup I put several pounds of retained water the next day.

|BLANCMANGE 424, Jan. 19, 2006, (APA-Q 504) The new reading machine (Kurzweil NFB Reader) has a standard ear-bud jack which cuts out its very soft speaker. I also use it for a patch-cord to an amplified speaker when demonstrating the machine to audiences. It is a marvelous breakthrough in giving access to print, but is tedious to use for large documents like multi-page fanzines. It is not good on round objects like soup-cans or light colored print on a dark background. I will be getting upgrade chips every month or two as they make improvements, which promise to reduce some of these glitches. [] In your comments to Fred Phillips you spoke about the Society for Creative Anachronism being a re-creation in both senses of the word, which is good. The "anachronism" in the SCA's name emphasizes their motto, "the middle ages as they {should} have been." [] Again I like your re-iterated comments about writers of military need not advocate war in our society any more than than authors of crime fiction necessarily advocate murder in our society.

BLANCMANGE 425, March 2, 2006, (APA-Q 505  I totally agree with your "Muslims .have little cause for justifiable outrage over a cartoon of Muhammad as the Patron of Terrorists." The Muslim reaction to the Danish cartoon of Muhammed with a bomb with a lit fuse for his head proved the truth of the cartoon. [] Your comment on Bush favoring Dubai despite it being one of only 3 regimes to recognize the Taliban because "Neil Bush, Jr. 's brother, has extensive business ties with (ie, gets regular bribes from Dubai & the UAE; he's been called 'Billy Carter without the beer'" is very good. []

|BLANCMANGE 426 (APA-Q 506)  Enjoyed, but sorry, no comments.

| BLANCMANGE 427, April 12, 2006, (APA-Q 507)  You wrote that while airport security confiscates nail clippers and checks shoes, it does not check baggage (which had held the bomb over Lockerby). Security rules keep changing every month or so, but now nail clippers are permitted, and after many changes, small quantities of liquids and jells. When I flew to NFB in July and LACon in August I know my luggage was opened because stuff was re-arranged. Cigarette lighters cannot be carried on board or in luggage. Sandy wanted to buy a "jet boil" stove for cooking meals while at cons but there is no way we would be allowed to bring the fuel. [] What kind of software is "Codes Revealed"? [] Was amused to read that Scientologist Isaac Hayes quit the TV show South Park when he realized that that installment parodied Scientology only after it had been broadcast. Loved the fact that the writers then depicted  his character "Chef as the victim of a 'fruity little cult that scrambles brains', and giving him a gruesome death. (Yes, they killed Chef, those bastards!)" [] Noted your comment that while conservatives are constantly trying to whittle down access to abortions, it will always be available to the rich and powerful. [] If Romania builds a Dracula theme-park I do not see it bringing in many tourists. [] Thanks for the etext of your zines, which allowed me to read and enjoy them, and make comments.

Edmund R. Meskys NIEKAS Publications National Federation of the Blind of N.H. Moultonboro Lions Club 322 Whittier Hwy Moultonboro NH 03254-3627 my credo: Clinton lied, nothing happened Bush lied, thousands died and over 3,000 permanently brain injured

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