Back to index of "this and that in my life" pages by Donald Sauter.
Dedicated to the proposition that every thought that's ever been thunk may be of use or interest to someone . . .
ME: Rather than comment on the Terry Nichols case specifically, I'll say that all that legal jargon exasperates me. You know about me and my ideas about justice being based exclusively on common sense and conscience. What do we need these dumb words for - conspiracy, manslaughter, voluntary, involuntary, degrees of murder, wire fraud, mail fraud, and on and on and on... A person did what he did. It was either right or wrong. If it was wrong there should be some appropriate punishment (actually, restitution whenever possible.) The introduction of legal jargon in no way helps or clarifies the situation. "Conspiracy" is a laugh. The court is saying, "Never mind what you did, but you did it with interaction with others - conspiracy!" I got news, every second of every day every living human being is involved in conspiracy - thousands of them simultaneously. Same with "fraud". Hey, we can't get you for what you did, but you used the mail to do it - mail fraud!!! Give me a break. I always get this little groan of a laugh when I read a newspaper article describing what some criminal did, and at the end they list the charges - which are so generic and vague. Based on my jury duty experiences I am more forgiving of seemingly stupid jury decisions than most people. In my experience, you are *obligated* to be stupid on a jury. That is the *point*. You are not *allowed* to think. You are at least led to believe you must follow the judges instructions rigorously. If the judge says "you didn't hear that" than you have to pretend you didn't hear it. Anyhow, my proposal for all the world to see is simply common sense and conscience. ME: I fixed a copper pipe today with a pinhole leak. Actually, spurt is a better word. I would be feeling very accomplished except that I did the same thing to a different pipe a month ago. What's going on? Is my house on the verge of going hydro, so to speak? THEE: What does cgi-bin mean? You said you're worried about it. I'm now looking cautiously over my shoulder. We watched the first half hour of "Mystery Science Theater" last night. Since it's a Japanese movie, I was expecting a lot of Paul-getting-busted jokes. None so far but we still have another hour and a half to go. ME: You can have a batch of Beatle Significa games, but for give-away only. Apple came down on my head long ago - years before cracking down on everybody else selling Beatle stuff. My claim has been from the beginning that the game is in no essential way different from a book, and up until a few years ago, anybody could write a book about anything. It seems Elvis and the Beatles changed all that... ME: I forget exactly, but I thought cgi-bin was "something graphical interface - binary" - not something to put a smile on the face of my text-only computer screen. I tried to help a neighbor find a small leak in his plumbing today. Is it time to head for higher ground? We need to revisit the end of the Standing Stone tape. My internet friend K~~ is practically brushing shoulders with our kid [Paul Mccartney]. Revisiting the Paul Craig Roberts issue, is the U.S. government responsible for the Ok. City bombing? Now that you've got me started on conspiracy theories, why didn't the hole in Ron Brown's head come out at the time? THEE: Would you capitalize the word "to" when you spell out "I Want to Hold Your Hand"? I wouldn't but I may be wrong. How about "EGStHEMaMM" or even "WDWDIitR"? I believe David Koresh burns in Hell but that Janet Reno will not because of the outcome at Waco. I believe Oswald acted alone. I believe Bruno Richard Hauptman had no involvement in the Lindbergh baby kidnapping. I have no opinion on Judge Crater's disappearance. From today's Reuter's news: Carl Perkins has been hospitalized. He's suffered a fairly serious stroke. ME: Yes, I *would* capitalize To in I Want To Hold Your Hand. I know it's me against the world, but it looks so much more balanced, and all words are important, if not in every instance, at least generally. In any case, it's easier to just go ahead with a convention rather than stew over each word, "Ok now, would the meaning stay the same to most people if we eliminated this word here...?" You wished me luck with my scrabble page, and I got some very sympathetic comments from a scrabble master. They're still in my guest book. THEE: Subject: Tablature, is it still a valid system? In article <67bljk$dhi$1@alexander.INS.CWRU.Edu>, iz710@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Donald Sauter) wrote: > CU, of the American Lute Society, The correct name is the Lute Society of America. > points out how handy it is that tablature > works for a whole family of instruments. If the soprano lute player is sick, > a tenor lute player can jump in. You won't see that in a modern string > quartet, now will you? Well, you left out my major point that tablature obviously is capable of handling complex art music: it's the medium through which the works of Francesco da Milano, Dowland, Weiss and a multitude of other lute composers' music has come down to us. Caroline Usher Lute Society of America "I brake for theorboes." THEE: Subject: Tablature, is it still a valid system? I enjoyed your three posts on this subject. I have been staying out of this thread because it seemed like another of those interminable theological arguments that people in this ng get into from time to time, plus my reluctance to tangle with Tom Shaw who seems to think that anyone who doesn't agree with him is a moron and isn't afraid to say so. You hit the nail right on the head when you point out the superiority of tab for reading music in different tunings. I have never used tab for playing classical music, partly because I've never seen any and partly because I can read well enough in standard notation for at least the two most common classical tunings, ie standard tuning and dropped D. However, I also play ragtime/blues guitar (on a steel string) and those guys use all kinds of tunings that are pretty unfamiliar to a classical guitarist (open G, open D, various other weird things). Using tab I can just retune and play, whereas to try to figure out what's going on from standard notation would take days or weeks. It would completely destroy any enjoyment I get from playing the music. THEE: Here are some recent obituaries, all of which you may have heard about: Stubby Kaye--He created the role of Nicely Nicely in the Broadway version of "Guys and Dolls" and took it to Hollywood. Reading his obituary, I thought that maybe the dialogue isn't as sharp as a Runyan fan like you might want but some of the songs are pretty good, including Nicely Nicely's "Sit Down, You're Rocking the Boat." Nicolette Larson--She was only 45. She had a worldwide smash hit with her cover of Neil Young's "Lotta Love." She also sang a lot on the first Young LP I ever bought, "Comes a Time." Indeed, on that LP, his version of "Lotta Love" is perhaps the only song she did not sing on. Chris Farley--He was 33. His death is still technically a mystery but it seems clear that he died from some over-indulgence or other. Everyone who knew him said he was a super nice guy. When I heard he died, I immediately remembered his sweet interview with Macca on "Saturday Night Live." Let me see what I can recite from memory: CF. When you said "the love you take is equal to the love you make," did you mean it? PM. Yes, Chris. I still think the more you give, the more you get. CF. That's...awesome! ME: Coincidentally (you've done it again!) I just reread one of Runyon's most gut-bustin funny stories 2 days ago. It's called Piece Of Pie and it featured Nicely Nicely. That's not a typo, by the way. (Which one is not, you ask?) Even though it appears as big as life on the covers of all of his books, I only recently realized the correct spelling is Runyon, upon reading the intro to one of the books I picked up last week. A newspaper changed his a to o and he kept it. I read Runyon's Breach Of Promise while in court today. But not out loud. I only know Chris Farley by the PM skit and he has a very warm spot in my heart for that alone. From a recent National Scene article, "Jurors deliberate in bombing case": The last sentence was, "Jurors also asked one question, which Judge Matsch refused to answer." We can't have jurors knowing what to do, now can we? From a recent Microsoft case article: "We'll be happy to make our case to the judge and prove we're in full compliance with his order." Sound like anybody you know? Subject: what to make of this s j gould Thanks for the comments. Wow, this Gould character has you on a string, doesn't he? First of all, evolution has *always* been the march from the first, single, most simple quasi-form of life to every creature that now exists. If Gould is going to start saying, "Hey, we never said that" then there is no hope for communication with these guys. Don't tell me that he has embraced Senepathy's idea of every species independently climbing out of the primordial mud puddle!!! Besides, in his Hen's Teeth... book there is an essay on how in evolution, the descendent species has a larger body than the parent species. There are hardly any exceptions. That's not becoming more complex? And now you tell me that Gould agrees that the human race is special - how come not a single talk.origins participant knows that? Why did they tear me limb from limb if I'm saying the same thing as their guru? Do you know that geocities is up to 3 megs for free now? THEE: Here are some updates on rockers of yesteryear: David Bromberg: According to a web site about the Chicago entertainment scene, Bromberg now lives in Chicago and occasionally performs. Mick Taylor: Taylor was a member of the Rolling Stones for five years (1969-1974). The band put out a few famous LPs during that time. Brian Jones was in the band for at least six years before Taylor. Ron Wood has been in the band for 23 years since Taylor. I stick by the statement in my note. THEE: Subject: Today's web controversy--Unarchy in action The New York State Attorney General has asked New Yorkers to e-mail him with their opinions on whether a convicted child killer should get parole. It got written up in "USA Today," I think. Here's the New York site: http://www.oag.state.ny.us/surveys/steinberg.html Comments? THEE: We really love being online, and your encouragement helped us make the jump!! I've developed e-mail relationships (is that an oxymoron?) with a couple people and love being in touch with the Pearl Jam message board!! I've even posted on the Pearl Jam message board--cause...you never know if some infamous Seattle rocker...might surf the net too!! ME: It's a few hours after Christmas now, but continue having a merry Christmas season. (According to my kitchen clock it's still Christmas - the batteries died yesterday.) I logged on this morning to see if there were any Christmas greetings - and there were! Thanks. And guess who signed my website guestbook? My sister in Oregon! Also got an entry from a famous personage in the classical guitar world. I don't think the world knows Stephen Funk Pearson as well as Eddie Vedder, but it was quite a thrill. I also got a visit from a scrabble grand master. I'm starting to feel like a true citizen of cyberspace. ME: re: unarchy. The NY State Attorney has asked NYers to email him with opinions on whether a child killer should get parole. ME: The NY attorney general is asking for opinions on the parole of a child killer. This is getting close to my unarchy idea. ME: Thanks for the David Bromberg update. Castleman & Podrazik #1 indicates that both Holdups are studio recordings. The one you have has George Harrison on guitar, if you didn't already know. You might have to take my word for it, but that's just Hself's sense of humor. In any case, isn't it a badge of honor of sorts to be accused of ignorance of the Rolling Stones (as with Hansen, or Spice Girls, etc.)? THEE: Yes I did see this on the news the other day, very sad. Apparently the attorney general's office is doing this as victim impact statements for Joel Steinberg's parole hearing since Lisa has no family to speak for her, he's petitioning the public to send in their views. I wonder if Hedda Nessbaum will be there? I've been following the Nichols trial the last few months. The verdict really confused me...how can someone be part of a conspiracy and not know buying bomb materials and making a bomb then turning it over to an accomplice (McVeigh) would not end in the loss of life (168 in this particular instance)? Involuntary manslaughter, give me a break???? It must be a compromise jury vote, I'll be interested to hear what the jury has to say after the penalty phase of the trial and he is sentenced. From all things I've heard the victims/families are a bit upset with this verdict and that will show when they give their statements during this penalty phase. Also the State of Oklahoma gets a bite at them too (state level), so Mr. Nichols, the *manslaughterer*, will not be free of the Death Penalty anytime soon, 160 more counts to go. THEE: Is this Boxing Day...cause people are fighting at the mall for the best sales? Or...folks are trying to trash all the left over boxes... ME: Rather than comment on the Nichols case specifically, I'll say that all that legal jargon exasperates me. You know about me and my ideas about justice being based exclusively on common sense and conscience. What do we need these dumb words for - conspiracy, manslaughter, voluntary, involuntary, degrees of murder, wire fraud, mail fraud, and on and on and on... A person did what he did. It was either right or wrong. If it was wrong there should be some appropriate punishment (actually, restitution whenever possible.) The introduction of legal jargon in no way helps or clarifies the situation. "Conspiracy" is a laugh. The court is saying, "Never mind what you did, but you did it with interaction with others - conspiracy!" I've got news, every second of every day every living human being is involved in conspiracy - thousands of them simultaneously. Same with "fraud". Hey, we can't get you for what you did, but you used the mail to do it - mail fraud!!! Or the telephone - wire fraud!!! Good grief. I always get this little groan of a laugh when I read a newspaper article describing what some criminal did, and at the end they list the charges - which are so generic and vague. Based on my jury duty experiences I am more forgiving of seemingly stupid jury decisions than most people. In my experience, you are *obligated* to be stupid on a jury. That is the *point*. You are not *allowed* to think. You are at least led to believe you must follow the judges instructions rigorously. If the judge says "you didn't hear that" than you have to pretend you didn't hear it. Anyhow, my proposal for all the world to see is simply common sense and conscience. THEE: Hself beat me at '60s Trivial Pursuit lastnight. She asked, "Which Beatle described himself as 'the invisible guitarist'?" "George," I said. Was I right? Cool gifts: A CD by Tiny Tim and Brave Combo (1996) called "Girl." Yes, the title track is "Girl." They also tackle "Hey Jude." Tim sings in a baritone. You mentioned that it's good to be ignorant of Hansen. I fear that I'm slightly less ignorant now. My nephews love 'em, and did a lip-synch Christmas Day. I tried to get all male adults to link arms and hold back all female adults but we didn't have the bobby uniforms to make it look right. So, I just had to scream in a high-pitched voice. Glad you enjoyed the New York Attorney General's web site. What was common sense to you was an outrage to the chap who showed it to me. THEE: Subject: Only 3 Layers of Cereal - What a Wimp! I first heard about the multi-cereal bowl thing in CONSUMER REPORTS 10-15 years ago. I have, of course, perfected it; you still seem to have a ways to go. I have the following basic layers, listed from bottom to top: (1) a few bite-sized squares (chex, mini-wheats, whatever) (2) healthy cereal (raisin bran, corn flakes, wheat flakes) (3) crunchy cereal (usually Health Valley, low-fat granola with dried fruit - it used to be fat-free). (4) more crunch (I use 100% bran) (5) sweet cereal (the ones you mentioned; Fruit Loops give a fruity flavor; I like the cereals with marshmallow bits) (6) fruit (frozen strawberries, blueberries, or peaches, defrosted in the microwave - fresh is OK, too, but I'm lazy) Layer 1 is optional. Layer 2 makes up the bulk of the food stuff. Layers 3, 4, and 5 are thin layers. I usually prefer darker cereals (e.g., wheat flakes over corn flakes) for layers 2 and 4 to offset the lightness of layers 3 and 5. Lately, I've been skipping layer 6 to avoid waking up little Alex by using the microwave. I vary the cereals in the different layers depending on changing tastes and what the store I'm shopping in carries. You ought to read Stephen Jay Gould's book. (By the way, what happened to my entry in your guest book? FULL came out ULL and *is* came out *is. You get what you pay for, I guess!) The book is too verbose, but you'll enjoy his discussions of statistics. With regard to evolution, he uses the example of a drunkard's walk. The drunkard comes out of the tavern. There is a 30-foot-wide sidewalk between the tavern wall (on the left, where the drunkard is initially standing) and the gutter (on the right). If the drunkard's steps are random to the left and right, he'll eventually end up in the gutter, although there is no trend in that direction in his motions. With life, the left "wall" is the limit to how simple an organism can be. Life began at the left wall and right near the wall is bacteria. It remains the dominant life form (it and insects); Gould lists the wide range of (frequently harsh) environments that bacteria have been found in and does some estimates of biomass. The "progress" we see in evolution is nothing more than the spread of the distribution. The distribution would spread towards the left of bacteria, too, but it can't because of that wall: the lower limit on complexity. Some of the studies Gould cites did look at trends in complexity for some groups of species and found movements in both directions, with no dominant trend. Humans are special only in the sense that they are an extreme case, an accident basically. One of Gould's points is that our tendency to focus on extreme cases in evolution, baseball, etc., is what causes us to mistakenly see progress (in the case of evolution) or regress (in the case of baseball) where they aren't. Nothing about evolution inevitably leads to a life form as complex as human. If we ran the evolutionary "tape" over again, it is unlikely we would see humans (or any conscious life form) again. Anyway, now that I've set you straight, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! P.S. Hself got me THE ROLLING STONES' ROCK AND ROLL CIRCUS for Christmas; I look forward to listening to it - all except for Yoko, that is. ME: A, you put your layers in the wrong order, b, when you ditch the optional layers, you come up with a figure a lot like mine, c, be honest, fresh or frozen fruit doesn't coordinate well with milk and cereal, d, that consumer reports is out-o-print and my web page is for all times and e, if you got sompin' to say why doncha put it on a web page? I don't know where to start with the gould nonsense. About that analogy where humans are like falling in a ditch, but falling in a ditch is inevitable while humans are an almost impossible accident - WHAT KIND OF STUPID ANALOGY IS THAT??? Maybe your r'n'r circus won't have yoko. I was listening to WMUC a few weeks ago and I realized they were playing r'n'r circus. I was getting all excited as we got closer and closer to Yoko and - nothing! Did the dj zap her, or was this always an outtake? You're Welsh man??? Do you know what a moggie is? You should be great on those ll sounds. ME: With all due respect, how could *anyone* beat you at '60s trivia??? I am flummoxed. Didn't they ask about all the bit players on Batman? No, I think George Harrison was the "invisible singer". The chap who is outraged at common sense will have a sticky time in the new millenium. Send him my regards/condolences. THEE: Fruit doesn't go well with milk and cereal? Try it, you'll like it. Besides, why else would some cereal makers show fruit on their cereal on the boxes? Since you don't like Gould, you'll probably love Dennett. The following web page has links to a number of arguments about evolution in the BOSTON REVIEW: http://22.214.171.124/BostonReview/evolution.html No, I'm not Welsh. My great-grandfather was from England and had a family there. He came to the United States to make his fortune and, a few years later, sent for his wife and family. She had decided enough was enough and remarried or something. He remarried and raised a new family in the US. (Incidentally, he was Woodrow Wilson's press secretary at one time.) One of the sons from his first family settled in Wales after World War I. I'm descended from his second family. THEE: to: guitar society discussion group I've been wanting to submit my own topic for discussion, partly related to the above. From what I can see it seems like most guitar societies in the USA seem to focus on concert series that bring in name guitarists. While this is all well and good, I like the idea of offering other things for local guitarists: venues (such as open stages) for performance, workshops, networking opportunites (to meet folks for ensemble activities), etc. Granted, the area where I live (DC/Baltimore corridor) has many concerts featuring guitarists, so there's little need to organize along these lines. I hope, however, that our list does not evolve into an exclusive discussion of techniques for organizing concerts, selling tickets, which players to bring in, etc. THEE: I just listened to Yoko on the R'N'R CIRCUS. The instrumental is a standard rock/blues progression with a walking bass, a little bit faster than MONEY on LIVE PEACE IN TORONTO. The rhythm guitar (Eric Clapton?) is too loud and dominates the whole of the "song". The violinist chimes in occasionally with some pretty lifeless playing; he's no Dave Swarbrick (Fairport Convention - he really wails on Chuck Berry's SWEET LITTLE SIXTEEN on one of their live albums). Yoko doesn't start screeching until a few minutes into the piece. Conclusion: you didn't miss anything you haven't already heard on the B side of LIVE PEACE IN TORONTO. THEE: Subject: Egads! Hi. I was searching the net for a guide to the rules of football and I somehow happened upon your UFO stories. I've had a similar sighting to the first one you describe although I'm sad to report there was no ungodly squawking. That's one of the weirdest/neatest true sighting stories I've read. Ever hear it since or come up with any other theories? > If no outfield fence is too radical for everybody, couldn't we at least > move it way back - to 580 feet, say, in every direction? That would have > a similar effect of bringing the number of achieved bases into > correlation with the goodness of the hit, plus, when somebody does hit > one out, it would be a big deal. Homeruns ARE a big deal. Sheesh--If you drastically lower the chances of hitting one out of the park, you've just drastically lowered the game's excitement level. That'd be like eliminating the goalie in hockey and boarding up the opening of the net, save for a four-inch by two-inch slot at which the players would have to shoot. THEE: Last week, I sang some traditional Christmas carols to Hself, such as, "Happy Christmas to you listeners everywhere..." etc. I forgot to mention in my last message that an in-law gave me a vinyl copy of Paul McCartney's "Choba b CCCP" for Christmas. She had no idea how much it's worth, or that I already have one. I suppose I can compare labels and see if I have exact duplicates, but I'm also thinking of just unloading a copy. Do you have any friends who'd like to buy one cheap? Have you seen Rycko's CD of the "Wedding Album"? I'm sorely tempted. THEE: After reading your tablature articles, I feel compelled to debate you a bit. I may do that in this issue or possibly in the next issue. Depends on time. Did you ever get fax paper for that machine? I could fax you what I have and you could proof it before coming over. ME: Still no fax paper - and still not feeling too inspired to get some. Not convinced the faxing effort is worth it. A debate! Yippee! In our newsletter, no less! Somebody read one of my articles! How can this be?! Can't imagine what I said that's possibly debatable, but hit me with yer best shot! ME: Subject: home runs I got such a kick out of your messages - thanks! I never really seriously thought that OFFICIAL FOOTBALL RULES trick would work - just a dumb joke. Regarding home runs, I guess .ca in your email address means it would be tough to punch you in the nose personally. :) Think it over. Without an outfield fence the scrappy little player who can hit "tweeners" will be the new home run king. And it would be a million times more thrilling than the old-fashioned pop-up home run. The adrenalin would be flowing bigtime on both sides. Subject: Snowa Had a fun email for me yesterday starting, "Hi. I was searching the net for a guide to the rules of football and I somehow happened upon your UFO stories." That's what it's all about, eh? I'll ask the local Beatles fan club guy about your Snowa copy [Choba b CCCP]. Remember, devices that spin vinyl are becoming thin on the ground. The Wedding Album on cd? Boo hoo hoo. The collectibility value of my record collection just hit absolute zero. Which reminds me - maybe I'd better sell my books before this web thing catches on. ME: Subject: You really know you're beaten when... ... you start nitpicking letter case. So what does your computer rag propose - infinitely variable cases? Whew, the geeks have taken over the asylum. Fruit is on cereal boxes because it is photogenic and plays off its reputation as a miracle food. When are people going to wake up - fruit is just sugar-laced vegetables. THEE: Here's our guitar and flute program: Grand Solo - Sor (just me) Bachianas Brasilieras No. 5 - Villa-Lobos Flute Sonata in E Minor - Bach Through A Night - James Park Entr'acte - Ibert THEE: Subject: J, J, J, J, yeah! Nah, nah, nah, nah, ni, nah, nah! HJ! I like your idea of doing away with all honorifics and calling people only by their name. Where I differ with your proposal, is I want to revive the British tradition of only using last names. "The game's afoot, Watson!" What d'ya say, Sauter? I got $50 from the Washington Post last Friday. I think that comes out to $5 a word, my highest pay rate ever. I'm sure you don't get all the cool stuff with the CD version of "Wedding Album." THEE: Subject: Fermi Paradox On the Fermi paradox: you make sense. In some sense, the human race has to be special. I have a few ideas on the subject... First, it may simply be that life is what is special. Even if life exists on Mars, it may be that that it originates very seldom.. Life might have originated on Mars and been transmitted to Earth through meterorites like that one NASA is looking at, or originated on Earth and been transmitted to Mars. We really don't know how life originated and it might be very unlikely, effectively unique. As for the development of intelligence, given life, I think it's likely. There's been a clear long-term trend of increasing encephalization since the Cambrian. Despite the eagerness of some evolutionary biologists to deny any "plan" in nature, there for sure is a trend. It might even be that our kind of life _cannot_ evolve in this universe, and is thus a transplant from some other universe (al la Andre Linde) with different physical laws that allow the easy evolution of carbon-based life. An analogy: if we develop a self-replicating robot, that'd be a life form, one that couldn't evolve by itself. Robot life might thrive when transplanted into a universe whose laws made our biochemistry impossible. I see the beginnings of earth life, in that scenario, as the result of ham-and-cheese sandwich left on the beach by observers visiting from another universe. One that had been in the back of the fridge for a long, long time. The exploration/colonization of the Galaxy using Von Neumann probes certainly makes sense, but there is an even faster way to make one's mark. Imagine a simple Von Neumann probe that eats rock and lives on sunlight. it replicates until it consumes the entire asteroid belt (takes a few years) and then makes a sloppy Dyson sphere of solar-powered robots circling the sun, absorbing almost all the sun's energy with an efficiency of, say, 10%. (asteroid versions work best, because little materiel is needed for low-G construction, thus doubling time is lower.) This we could do in the very near future, certainly less than 50 years, if we wanted to. Anyhow, we build this sucker, and then have it make many, many mirrors, forming a truly huge synthetic aperture telescope with an effective aperture wider than the earth's orbit. We can see a lot... A system of this kind is mentioned in one of Charles Sheffield's books. The angular resolution of such a telescope is just the wavelength divided by the diameter, and the we could thus see things a meter across on a planet of Alpha Centauri, and resolve planets in the Virgo cluster, 30 million light years away. And if we use this distributed optical system to project a laser beam, the resolution is the same. What we can see, we can hit. Remembering that the total solar output is about a billion times that which falls on the Earth. I figure we can zap at least 1 earth-type planet per second, which is about 30 million boiled planets per year. So Earth is insignificant,, ha? reach out and touch someone.! Another possible relevant idea is that technological developement leads, with essentially no exceptions, to _accidental_ total destruction. If vacuum decay is possible, it may be that technological races always trigger it by accident and destroy their entire light cone. The first sign we'd see of this would be our disintegration. Given that scenario, our greatest possible ambition would be to blow ourselves up before any other doofus gets to. The optimistic scenario is that there's nobody out there. If there is anyone, we're probably hosed - as well as confused about how theyleave no footprints. Fermi's paardox is a bit like Olber's paradox. Olber thought that the night sky should be bright if there are an infinite number of stars; Fermi asks why it isn'tfull of spaceships. I don't believe Carl Sagan understood these issues very well. ME: $5 a word, eh? Or a penny per word and $4.99 for the brainstorm? What do you know about writers gettting paid per word. Apparently it was a big deal when Damon Runyon got a dollar per word. I remember you being not negative towards live Bob Dylan recordings. In which case, I will hazard a recommendation - Hard Rain may be my favorite. Good scrabble game with my father over the holidays. He started with PORTALS for 70+ and I went through most of the game 50 points down. All along I knew I needed a bingo myself. I had the spot scouted out and kept saving my best bingo letters, I E S blank. After 4 turns of this, with the spot still intact, I got STRINGED on 3-word score to put me up by 20. There was only one tile in the bag - and it was a Z ! So instead of going out on my next turn, I sat like a lump while Sauter (my father) played 4 times to go up by 20, not to mention getting the 10 points for the Z (while I went down 10 points.) Great game. ME: Subject: Fan mail from a former, minor acquaintance at NRAO. Dear Dr. Seth Shostak, Probably too many people have passed through your life to remember me. This is Donald Sauter. I was a "co-op" at NRAO from 1973-75, along with guys like Joe Greenberg, Steve Hirsh, Ted Davis and Lee Garvin. (I forget who helped you.) Anyhow, I saw you in the recent San Franisco Examiner article about man-made radio interference. Trying to track down your e-mail address I found some interesting Web pages with your imprint. Just thought I'd say hi, and invite you to look over my web page "The human race is special" whenever you have a few minutes with nothing better to do (not too often, huh?) The address is http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/Lobby/7049/special.htm [now http://www.donaldsauter.com/human-race-special.htm ] The Examiner article referred to the Big Bang as a "titanic explosion". Take a look at my /big-bang.htm page, too. Man, if you guys find something, I'll be some perplexed - but it would be great! Take care. THEE: Re: Fan mail from a former... Thanks for making "contact", man... (that's better than the aliens have done so far). I'll check out the Web site. Seth Shostak THEE: I apologize for passing along that story about "I Love Ringo" as the truth. The article was written by Richard Harrington, a man whose veracity I've questioned for years. Good "Mystery Science Theatre 3000" last night. There was a scene where a bunch of kids burst out a door and ran down outdoor stairs. The MST gang started singing "A Hard Day's Night." I guess it should have been "Can't Buy Me Love," but their hearts were in the right place. THEE: Re: Fermi Paradox What's the name of the paradox dealing with one crackpot's message inside another crackpot's message? => Despite the eagerness of some evolutionary biologists to deny any => "plan" in nature, there for sure is a trend. See Gould's FULL HOUSE. => [I]f we develop a self-replicating robot, that'd be a life form, => one that couldn't evolve by itself. Why not? Suppose the self-replication was NOT 100% error-free. => Imagine a simple Von Neumann probe that eats rock and lives on => sunlight. it replicates until it consumes the entire asteroid => belt (takes a few years) and then makes a sloppy Dyson sphere => of solar-powered robots circling the sun, absorbing almost all => the sun's energy with an efficiency of, say, 10% ... This we => could do in the very near future, certainly less than 50 years, => if we wanted to. Yeah, sure, 50 years. => The angular resolution of such a telescope is just the wavelength => divided by the diameter, and the we could thus see things a meter => across on a planet of Alpha Centauri. => ... => And if we use this distributed optical system to project a laser => beam, the resolution is the same. What we can see, we can hit. => ... => I figure we can zap at least 1 earth-type planet per second, => which is about 30 million boiled planets per year. Time to rejoin reality ... => Given that scenario, our greatest possible ambition would be => to blow ourselves up before any other doofus gets to. That was funny! You forwarded this message to Seth Shostak? [No.] Give the poor guy a break! THEE: Subject: Jason Vieaux Concert I just got a call from Jason Vieaux. He is performing at the Phillips Collection tomorrow (Sunday, Jan 11) at 5 pm. The concert is free!!!!! If you are unaware of Jason's artistry...all I can say is that if there is ever to be another Williams or Bream it will be Jason. He is one of my all time favorite players!!!!! He won the GFA Competition when he was 19. Now about 5 five years and two CDs later, he is an unbelievable talent! I'm not sure what he's playing, but you can bet it will be one of the best guitar concerts you ever go to. ME: This evening whilst doing dishes, I heard a song on WWMD that I didn't fully recognize until about half a minute from the end. It was From Me To You. Great arrangement! You said your place of work doesn't get the Washington Times on the weekend? In case they do, take a look at Saturday page B4. There's a frame from a comic book showing the Who, the cartoon Beatles and Batman. (The only other guy is an alien.) You're not writing comic books under the name Mike Allred, are ye? While you're there check out B8 - "Could CD-ROM make rabbis obsolete?" How could they *not* - along with everything else, I ask? (Except for whatever makes CD-ROMs obsolete.) ME: Subject: Beatle album covers; you goofed. Dear [Straight Dope] Cecil, I'm not a regular enough reader to know how often you blow one. (This can't be the first, because I remember you initially fumbled the prize-behind-the-3-door problem.) I don't know Lee from AOL. I don't know his friend. I do know that he meant to say Beatles VI, not Beatles '65. But thanks, anyway. Now I know what an umbrella is. P.S. I know what *all four* Beatles are holding on Beatles VI. P.P.S. Did you ever make use of my brilliantly sarcastic contribution to the exploding bird problem - you know, how a cup of rice and 2 cups of water make a gallon of cooked rice? P.P.P.S. How can somebody in my dream explain to me what is going on in my dream? ME: Thanks for your thoughts on the Fermi Paradox. It was quite eye-opening. I had been thinking along the lines of alien races advancing steadily beyond us, but you opened my eyes to how *huge* an advance that could be. I wish you had been involved in the talk.origins discussion. You might want to monitor that group, by the way. Also, t.o. is mostly evolution; i wonder if there is a more appropriate group for the Fermi Paradox. ME: Subject: Featured page - yes? Hi arflemin, I believe my website has some decent content, and there's a lot more on the way. I've nominated it to a few community leaders over the past several months and have gotten no response. You have a few moments to look it over? Thanks. THEE: Subject: It ain't Snova till it's Snova I just started reading Berkenstadt and Belmo's "Black Market Beatles." I'm already getting the itch to buy another Beatles bootleg. It's been almost two years since I did. THEE: Subject: Fermi paradox I got around to looking at some of the discussion, if you can call it that, in origins. What a waste. The prime lesson is that most people in this world have nothing interesting to say. If you want to exchange some ideas on the fermi paradox , I'm interested and guarantee to do better than the whole population of origins. If you want someone who has thought more about this and related topics, find Klaus Lackner's article on Von Neumann machines, or the Nasa report, "Advanced Automation for Space Missions", Proceedings of the 1980 NASA/ASEE summer study, edited by Robert Freitas. . Frank Tipler also comes to mind, although he's crazy. There's some discussion going on in one of the science fiction groups on Usenet, maybe they have something to say. Although it's unlikely. There's a science fiction author, Charles Pellegrino, who has thought about this some, although he hasn't carried as far as one could. He thinks that most intelligent races might be busy hiding from each other, and that they routinely smear those emerging intelligent races incautious enough to broadcast radio. Unlikely, because wars of all-against-all eventually terminate with a winner. It wouldn't take too long. Actually, carrying these ideas all the way, the optimal strategy for an intelligent race would surely consist of propagating through the Universe as a wave at near-lightspeed, using every bit of matter they encounter as fuel or raw materials for reproduction. Stars, galaxies, other intelligent races and their works all dumped into the hopper and reprocessed. The laws of physics allow it. The people playing semantic games over the meaning of 'special' should all be crucified. The ability to conquer the universe is special, all right, more special than making honey. Nobody else is out there using it. Similar arguments bubble up in discussion of the evolution of human intelligence, when comparisons are made between humans and animals, humans and near- human competitors such as Neandertals, or for that matter differences in IQ between individuals and ethnic groups today. Usually the suggestion is made that there is nothing "special" about doing algebra, that it is no more 'special" than a bird building a nest, or Joe Neandertal wrestling a stag to the ground. Tell me that after the machine-guns have spoken! or, better yet, after the fallout. Anyhow, there are lots of topics, I think, where clear analysis shows that something very strange is happening, soemthing not understood. Most people fuzz over the issue and don't even see the problem. THEE: I settled in last night with the Feb. 21, 1964, issue of "Life" magazine. Here's your question: According to the issue, a promotional tour was hampered by snow. Travel arrangements for the tour had to be hastily altered because of east coast blizzards; the tour switched from planes to trains. Who was on the tour? ME: Lee Harvey Oswald? Or maybe Dennis R. Hendley? (see page 22) Unfortunately, my copy only has the Cover and 4 pages. THEE: Thanks for interesting Monopoly page! I especially liked your "get out of jail free" deal :):) ME: Check out this upcoming release from WAE Records! Love Me Do - Chipmunks Love Me Do - Beatle Barkers (Woofer & Tweeter ensemble) Love Me Do - from Big Band Beatle Songs (Phase 4 Stereo!) Love Me Do - Sing a Song With The Beatles (pre-karaoke karaoke) Love Me Do - Billy Lee Riley (harmonica) Love Me Do - Johnny Mann (Beatle Ballads) Love Me Do - Cafe Creme (discomania) The problem is... filling out an album with Little Child covers. Did you see the most recent Straight Dope? Cecil fumbled big-time. P.S. I think the MST3000 error regarding AHDN/CBML is what is called egregious. ME: >>Despite the eagerness of some evolutionary biologists to deny any >>"plan" in nature, there for sure is a trend. > >See Gould's FULL HOUSE. Why bother? Your summary - even if off by a country mile - is all anybody needs to know how moronic Gould's book is. >>[I]f we develop a self-replicating robot, that'd be a life form, >>one that couldn't evolve by itself. > >Why not? Suppose the self-replication was NOT 100% error-free. You'd have a bunch of good-for-nothing robot babies. >>Imagine a simple Von Neumann probe that eats rock and lives on >>sunlight. it replicates until it consumes the entire asteroid >>belt (takes a few years) and then makes a sloppy Dyson sphere >>of solar-powered robots circling the sun, absorbing almost all >>the sun's energy with an efficiency of, say, 10% ... This we >>could do in the very near future, certainly less than 50 years, >>if we wanted to. > >Yeah, sure, 50 years. He said, "if we *wanted* to". (My asterisks.) >>angular resolution of such a telescope is just the wavelength >>divided by the diameter, and the we could thus see things a meter >>across on a planet of Alpha Centauri. >>... >>And if we use this distributed optical system to project a laser >>beam, the resolution is the same. What we can see, we can hit. >>... >>I figure we can zap at least 1 earth-type planet per second, >>which is about 30 million boiled planets per year. > >Time to rejoin reality ... Stop being such a spoil-sport. THEE: It's a subject I've been interested in for some time. Partly it's because I have a long-term interest in Von Neumann machines. I think we could build one in the near future, certainly in the next few decades. That might be a very good thing, since it could be used to ensure that no child goes hungry - in fact, that no child has fewer opportunities than Bill Gates. I was just talking (tongith) about the Fermi paradox with an old friend. He's trying to come up with some argument that the average speed of expansion might be much, much slower than the maximum possible., but I don't buy it at all. This has to be true for _all_ or virtually all intelligent species, the usual problem with such arguments. Anyhow, in the course of the phone call I came up with several new twists.. First, the obvious, obvious if you just read the new issue of Science. There's been a lot of work tracing human ancestry through analysis of the mitochondrial genome, and they estimate that "mitochondrial Eve", the ancestress of all modern human mitochondria, lived 100,000 to 200,000 years ago in Africa. That estimate depends on the mutational rate of mitochondria. That's been estimated by looking at the difference between human and chimp mitochondria, that split being around 5 to 7 million yeatrs ago. But now the Czar raises his ugly head. There's an Army lab that does mitochondrial DNA work, aimed at identification of war dead. They were called in to to certify that certain bones found around what used to be called Sverdlovsk were indeed the Czar's. They were, but an oddity cropped up - he had two different kinds of mtDNA. Turned out that lots of people do, somewhere between 10 and 20%. And that's because the mutation rate is far, far higher than had been estimated. If mtDNA has always mutated at the rate we see over the past few generations, mitochondrial Eve lived 6,000 years ago. Note that date. It's been suggested before. Anyhow, if the universe is only a few thousand years old, there is no Fermi paradox. Of course that solution has its own problems. Assume that the net energy of the universe is zero, as assumed in standard inflationary cosmology. The positive mass- energy is balanced by negative gravitational energy. This suggests that it may be possible to _make_ a universe for free. If so, it is probably the case that the overwhelming majority of universes are made in the labs of intelligent species, rather than by random vacuum fluctuations. And it should possible to tune such universes, choosing the relative strengths of the fundamental forces. It seems to me that most useful universe to create might be one in which life could exist but could not evolve. Perfect for colonization. Hospitable but uncontaminated. An unfurnished apartment. Cf. Philip Jose Farmer's "Maker of Universes" series. Actually, only now do I realize that Andre Linde's and Alan Guth's ideas about daughter universes, etc. suggest that most universes may be artificial. Here we need a calculation of the relative likelihood of creation by vacuum fluctuation or by intelligent species with too many physicists. One can imagine mechanisms that might stifle technological civilizations, although it seems unlikely that these would stop all or nearly all such civilizations. One can imagine greatly improved false reward systems. Our motivations are shaped by evolution; thus, we have built in wants that result in behavior that usually resulted in success and offspring, at least in the past. But those built-in wants and desires can be confused,. One can have sex wih birth control pills; it feels the same but doesn't result in babies. One can take opiates or other chemicals that are analogs of the endorphins generated by evolutionarily useful actions... One can watch a movie about space exploration, rather than actually bothering to do it, and the illusion gets better all the time. It may be that technological progress inevitably results in ever- more-effectiive fake stimuli, just as enjoyable (ultimately more enjoyable) and far easier to get than that resulting from real accomplishment.. On a related note, someone once pointed out that inflatable girls get better every year, while actual girls stay the same. A straight-line extrapolation suggests that everyone will have made the switch to steel-belted radials by sometime in the next century. Damon Knight wrote a story on this theme years ago, in which synthesized experience outcompetes reality. This is the 'into-the-navel' scenario. Increases in intelligence might be a wild card. Despite what people say, breeding for higher intelligence is a snap. If you had sufficient patiece, say 100 or 200 years, you could create a new ethnic group that averaged , say, 130 IQ. Not a problem,. Obviously such genetic configurations are possible, because they happen naturally all the time. . With genetic engineering techniques and cloning, yopu could probably do more than that in one generation. You might dig up Johnny Von Neumann and clone a real genius. Eugene Wigner, a friend who went to the same high school and a mere Nobel-prizewinning physicist) said "Johnny wasn't like the rest of us. Johnny was _smart_". People who knew him seriouslty speculated on whether he was a human being. [ parenthetically, the time to rob the graves of talented dead folks for DNA samples is now, before they put out the armed guards.] Imagine a race whose average analytical abiliies were those of Gauss, or Newton, or Von Neumann. Perhaps they would take a path that we simply cannot imagine. I realize that this is begging the question, but I can outline a practical method of finding out - do it ourselves, re-engineer ourselves, and see what happens. Smarter people might either give us the answer to the Fermi paradox or actually _be_ the answer, somehow THEE: Subject: Mommie Dearest You only have an abridged issue of that "Life"? Bummer. There's good Oswald poop, and even an OK photo of Jack Ruby and two of his, ahem, artistes. You have the letters column, right? Anyway, the article only mentions that the Beatles took a train. It doesn't say why. To find that out, you have to read a humorous piece about Joan Crawford's publicity blitz. She was promoting a movie and was doing work for Pepsi. It was her plans that had to be rearranged because of the blizzard, according to the magazine. I thought that was pretty interesting. I didn't see Cecil. Ever since I read my first one in 1985 (it had to do with a certain strange side effect from asparagus), I've been a fan. THEE: >>>[I]f we develop a self-replicating robot, that'd be a life >>>form, one that couldn't evolve by itself. >> >>Why not? Suppose the self-replication was NOT 100% error-free. > >You'd have a bunch of good-for-nothing robot babies. If the interior light on your car burns out, is the car then good-for-nothing? If the car is leaking oil, does it still run? There are all sorts of errors in the mechanical appliances you use, but you still use them. There are all sorts of DNA replication errors in you, some perhaps responsible for your talent on guitar, your Scrabble abilities, and your seeming tin ear when it comes to listening to Yoko Ono. THEE: Subject: URGENT! STEINBERG PAROLE DENIED! I have just been informed that the state Parole Board has DENIED the early release request by killer Joel Steinberg, who is serving 8-1/3 to 25 years for the death of his never-adopted "daughter," Lisa. The Parole Board, citing the "colossal risk" posed by Steinberg's release, ruled that he has continued to "disclaim responsibility for the injuries which caused the victim's death." "Extensive incarceration is the most appropriate response to your behavior," the Board said. You may read the full text of the Parole Board's decision by visiting my website at ww.oag.state.ny.us The avalanche of E-mail messages received from over 4,000 New Yorkers and concerned citizens from around the world helped send a loud and clear message to the Parole Board that, 10 years later, the public remains as concerned as ever about this case and the broader problem of child abuse. Many writers suggested in heartfelt comments to my webpage that victims are all too often forgotten in even the most tragic and disturbing cases. But together, we helped remind the Parole Board that tragedy that six-year-old Lisa suffered at the hands of someone who should have shown her only love, affection and a parent's caring devotion. The Parole Board's decision means that child killer Joel Steinberg will remain where he belongs -- behind bars -- for at least the next two years, when he will again be eligible for parole. During that time, you can be sure that I will continue to do my best as New York's Attorney General to speak out in cases such as this and ensure that victims' voices are heard. Again, I thank you for joining me in that cause on behalf of other children like Lisa, as well as all victims. Sincerely, DENNIS C. VACCO ATTORNEY GENERAL THEE: I seem to attract hackers =) A kid in Seattle started asking me Blood Bank questions on Sunday. Yeah...Seattle...he doesn't know what Eddie Vedder looks like...thought this kid claims he lives in the same neighborhood as Bill Gates. Anyway, his web is http://members.aol.com/Imthejason/Main.html and my interview is on it =) ME: Got a letter from Dennis Vacco, NY State Attorney General, for my help in keeping a child killer from parole. Email, that is. I told him how great it was to see unarchy in action. Gould says humans as certain as drunk falling in ditch. Gould says humans extraordinarily accidental. Gould speak with goofy tongue. ME: I got a thank you note from NYSAG Vacco today. Thank you for sending me to his rescue. man, it's great to see unarchy in action. The Joan Crawford discovery was another of your goodies. BUT... if you sent it to a website instead of to me the WHOLE world could be digging it. [Now it's on the web.] Here is Cecil's question from last week. "What do all four Beatles hold on the cover of the Beatles '65 album?" Now, what is wrong with that question? Can you believe it, Cecil goes on to tell us what an umbrella is... ME: My tablature articles in the latest guitar society newsletter really enraged some people. And here I was trying to make the world a *better* place... ME: I didn't send you the latest newsletter figuring it's not of particular interest and you've seen others. I thought my contributions were good and positive and enriching, but, whew!, the negative feedback I've gotten - a lot of it borderline nasty. I spent all yesterday quaking. I'll send you a copy. THEE: Subject: Beatles '65 I don't get Cecil's error! Man, this is frustrating! I looked at "Beatles '65" (at page 156 of "All Together Now") and, yes, they're all holding brollies. So, what gives? If you have a free moment this weekend, give me a ring. (Historical note: "Beatles '65" was not part of my childhood. I bought my copy at a used record store outside of Boston circa June 1982, after my sophomore year in college. It was my first original, pre-Apple Beatle LP. My favorite song, by far, was "I'll Be Back.") That delightful Feb. 21, 1964, "Life" had good Beatle dirt in the letters column, which I think you saved. There's also a Beatle reference in the caption for the gag photo on the last page--it's a barber photo. Hself and I watched "Repo Man" last night. It's still awesome. It's almost as if the perfect spoof of "The X Files" got made eight or so years before "The X Files" ever aired. ME: "I'll Be Back" is one of the best BUT... it has that oddity of a second b-section, (i.e. a c-section). Cool idea for a pop song, but I've always felt it was weak and actually drags the song down a bit. (I'm talking about "IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII thought that you would realize...") Yeah, I have the letters page - that was the basis for my Dennis Hendley having to take the train joke. No, I missed the barber photo somehow. Nuts. Glad you like Repo Man. Me, being a much more fragile creature, derived no enjoyment on any level (couching it in the most positive terms.) It's probably too late but there's a concert at the Nat. Ac. of Science today celebrating 50th anniversary of the LP 33 1/3 record. Free. 4 pm. preconcert discussion 3 pm. Includes Cage - 33 1/3 for LPs and Phonographs; Daugherty - "Elvis Everywhere. Best concert hall I've ever been in, if you haven't been there. THEE: Sorry you didn't like "Repo Man." Aside from the ceaseless profanity, excessive violence, and frequent drug use, what didn't you like about the film? I finished "Black Market Beatles." I give it five stars, out of 20, unfortunately. The authors interviewed the man, named uh Nurk Twin, who got the tape of "Peace of Mind" and provided it to the record pressers. The authors asked him where it came from. "I don't know," said Nurk Twin. OK, good information. THEE: We had a really fun get-together last night with the Beatle club. We listened to and discussed the Decca audition. Some obvious insights HAD the Beatles been signed to Decca: No George Martin. Maybe we'd know the Beatles as John, Paul, George and PETE! (or maybe Pete's lousy drumming/non-"Beatle" personality - did I say that?! - keeps them from making it!) Anyway, it was fun as always. ME: Hope I didn't give you a bum steer on the Sunday concert. Just a couple of days ago I had reason to replay my Peter Schickele Good Time Ticket album and it struck me, why I didn't get it autographed at the 100-yrs-of-radio concert at the Nat Ac of Science a couple of years ago??? Just got notice forwarded to me of Carl Perkins' death. I did my first BMI search today, looking up a song, Ain't No Flies On Me. Is it right that year information is rare or nonexistent? And that ASCAP is less likely to yield anything? The philosophic problem, as always, is, if you don't find something, is it because it isn't, or because you didn't look correctly? Anyhow, do you have anything to say about the word sequence "no flies on"? Incidentally, I found web pages for a Pa. group called No FLIES oN Frank. Long shot question: do you know the writer Patrick McGivern? ME: While on this sad topic, it just occurred to me to ask if the case of the little girl who was killed in the Las Vegas casino rest room last year continues to be discussed. That one was heartbreaking, even without the infuriating attitude of her father - for $500 or something, the jerk said he wouldn't cause the casino any trouble.
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Abbreviations: Hself = generic name, male or female (Himself, Herself). LC = LOC = Library of Congress. EGStHEMaMM = everybody's got something to hide... WDWDIitR = why don't we do it...
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