The View from Entropy Hall (Online Archive) - From Ed Meskys - RR2 Box 63 - 322 Whitter Hwy - Center Harbor NH 03226
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Issue #9

The View From Entropy Hall #9 for APA-Q 404, 8 Feb. 1997, from Ed Meskys, RR #2 Box 63, (322 Whittier Hwy Mbo), Center Harbor NH 03226- 9708, [email protected], 603-253-6207.


With the coming of state-wide 911 service we were given an actual street address, 322 Whittier Hwy Mbo. Please add that as an extra line in your address list. I still get mail through the Center Harbor PO but I am a resident of the next town, Moultonboro. Also please check that my PO route is given as "RR #2." It was changed from "RFD #1" several years ago but some correspondents are still using the wrong number. (A very few are still using P O Box 233 which hasn't been mine for 20 years!) The street address is not essential for mail (at least for now), but IS essential for services like UPS and FedExpress. Also the Web site for Entropy has been changed by dropping the last few characters, as above.



by Josepha Sherman, August House, Little Rock, 1993, recorded by the Jewish Braille Institute. Josepha is a professional folklorist and has written several fantasy and SF novels. Her books on folklore like ONCE UPON A GALAXY and GREASY GRIMEY GOPHER GUTS have been well received in fandom, and she has appeared on a number of convention panels and given single talks on her field of interest.

She is also interested in Jewish folklore and has written on the subject. This book is a good example and is very interesting to read. In a book of only about 160 pp. she gives the plots of almost 50 stories. These come not only from the Ashkanazi Jews of northern Europe, but from all over the world including central Asia, Morocco, Yemen, Spain, Afghanistan, Iran, andTunesia.

In her notes at the end she discusses the families of folk tales and gives examples of similar stories from different cultures. I recommend this book most highly.


I just read a review of this book (Maria Doria Russell, Vilard Books, 405 pp., $23.) in the in the 4-11 January issue of AMERICA, a Jesuit almost-weekly. The review said it was her first novel and was about contact with an alien race. Early next century radio contact is made with a race orbiting a near-by star and shortly afterwards a ship is sent crewed by Jesuits. I found aspects of the review confusing. I do not know whether the author of the book made some technical errors or whether the reviewer failed to convey clearly what she had said. The title, of course, refers to Yeshua's remark about God and a sparrow in one of the gospels. Anyhow, if you see another review of this book could you please let me know what the reviewer said. I have not yet decided whether I want to try to get a copy and get it recorded.



BLANCmANGE (Mark Blackman). You asked whether "Lalans," the name of the variant of English spoken in parts of Scotland, is a corruption of "Low Lands." I checked with Anne Braude who first told me about it. She said that it IS considered a seperate language from English, and has evolved from a cousin to the version of Middle English once spoken in the north of England. That version of Middle English was the language used to write "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight." "Lallans" simply means "low lands" in its own words and was the language Robert Burns wrote in. Obviously it is further from standard English than "Ebonix" (or whatever the name of "Black English" is) which linguists are now calling a separate language. As I said, I didn't hear "Lallans" spoken in the streets. I wonder if it is st5ll used in parts of Scotland. I see that John Boardman quotes the British census to the effect that only 1.4% of the people are monolingual in Gallic. Does the British census recognize Lallans, and if so, has it found any speakers, either exclusive or bilingual?

DAGON (John Boardman). Back when STARSHIP TROOPERS was newly published and a controversial topic in fandom James Blish was a regular contributor to Red Boggs' fanzine, DISCORD. Blish said here that he wrote THE STAR DWELLERS in response to Heinlein.

You commented of the ease of getting on the ballot in England. In the NH presidential primary elections anyone can get on the ballot by paying a $100 fee, and we usually have a total of some 40 candidates.

Your speaking of relativity reminds me--have you heard anything of or from Carl Frederick? The last few times I saw him included at a "Texas Conference" on relativistic astrophysics at the New Yorker hotel in the late '60s, when he visited me in '74, and at the winter APS/AAPT meeting in NYC in 1976. Speaking of which, if you hear of the winter meeting ever returning to NY could you let me know with as much lead time as possible? I would love to attend one again some day! And speaking of Carl, when I saw him there 21 years ago a hot topic was some kind of reverse EEG developed in a Russian satellite state which re-enforced some particular brain waves. It pushed the recipient into a super deep sleep and one got a full night's sleep equivalent in 2 or 3 hours. Carl had built one and tried it out. He said the sleep was dreamless and since the brain needed dreams he started to have waking hallucinations. I would imagine that judiciously restrained use of the machine could overcome that drawback. Has ANYONE heard any more about this? It is funny that after making a splash in the world news media for a short time all mention of it has completely disappeared. Fred Lerner brought him to a Boskone around 1980 which was the last time I saw him. In 1984 I phoned him for some advice when I was planning to buy my first computer.

Your malediction of all the gods and their circasolstace celebrations was amusing. // Speaking of such celebrations and cultural misunderstandings, I remember hearing on National Public Radio a few years ago about a Tokyo department store which tried to decorate appropriately for the season. The display featured a crucified Santa Claus. Now in view of the over-commercialization of Christmas that might not be such a bad idea. // This year NPR had several interesting bits on the history of Christmas, including an interview on a program broadcast only in NH of the author of a new book on that subject. Unfortunately I remember neither the name of the author nor the title of the book. He said that Christmas was originally a rowdy holiday, much like New Years Eve in Times Square now. In the country peasants would gather at the manor door and demand food and drink of the lord. This can be seen in the Wassail song. When they came to America Christmas became more of a family holiday because in country and city there were no appropriate people to badger for handouts. Also there was a major depression in the 1830s and merchants with government help made a major push to popularize christmas gifts in the hope of this helping lift the country out of the slump. Elsewhere I have heard that because of the Calvinist revolution the celebration of Christmas was banned in England and never regained its previous importance. Last century its status was somewhere between that of Arbor Day and Labor Day. It was Charles Dickens who re-invented Christmas and made it important again. // Can the demise of Twelfth Night also be attributed to the Calvinists? // While a Yule tree might have pagan roots among the Norse I understand that the modern Christmas tree was invented by Martin Luther. The story I heard was that one winter night while returning home he was struck by the beauty of stars appearing between the limbs of a tree. To try to recapture the feeling he cut a tree down, took it inside, and mounted lit candles on it. I wonder if this first one was a bare dissiduous tree or an evergreen. Also, how did this single act become a Christmas tradition in Germany? I imagine it spread from German immigrants to others in the US. // Is the British "Father Christmas" derived from the US Santa Claus? The latter, of course, originated with THAT poem. Is Father Christmas a diminutive elf or the obese creature of current American culture? // The December 14-21, 1996, issue of AMERICA, a Jesuit weekly, had an excellent article, "Ygdrasil, the Cross, and the Christmas Tree" by G. Ronald Murphy, S.J. Fr. Murphy is a professor of German at Georgetown University . He points out a remarkable number of pagan remnants down through the centuries. for instance, a ninth century Teutonic re-telling of the gospel crucifiction story has Yeshua TIED to the cross and a fierce enemy tearing his body open with a speer, after which all sorts of magical events and revelations occur, emphasing the parallel to Wotan tieing himself to Ygdrasel and piercing his side in order to gain the magic runes of knowledge. Also, at Ragnarok, the time of the end of the world, Ygdrasil will open up and shelter the last pair of human beings and keep them through the devastation. The tree will survive, and then there will be a new world, the tree will open and let the couple emerge to start again. Evergreen trees were seen as "visible micromanifistations of Ygdrasil...sacraments visibly containing the real presence and life force of the un-seeable tree of life." One example is the "holly" or "holy" tree whose holiness allowed it to keep itself alive , green, all the winter. All the evergreens, including the ivy and laurel, were regarded with similar reverence. Carols like "The Holly and the Ivy" and "Oh Tanenbaum" resonate this. A tenth century Yorkshire gravestone in the form of a Celtic cross depicts the body of the warrior buried below with his speer and shield, his Viking style helmit, and his knife. The observer sees the dead man as part of the stem of the cross, not resting below the cross as a Christian but within the cross. He is within the wood parallel to the youths in Ygdrasil protected from the cold of death. Also many log-coffins have been exhumed in Germany. The author suggests this as the origin of "our" use of a pine casket for burial. In the Medeterranian world bodies were annointed and placed in tombs to dissicate, and the bones were often moved later to make room for a new corpse. The author also sees the "wooden stave churches" of Norway which probably were originally re-consecrated pagan temples and later ones built to follow their form. From the entrance it looks like an enormous pine tree. "To walk into such a church/temple is therefore to step inside the tree." In one case the one-eyed face of Wotan glares from the capitol of one of the supports. He even sees parallels in the gothic cathedral invented by the barbarian invaders from the north. He finds in the cruciform footprint of the cathedral the Germanic reverence for the cross as tree. Early Teutonic manuscripts had illuminations depicting the cross as a tree with sawed-off stubbs of branches as the cross-piece. Many gothic cathedrals had above the entrance pictures of the general resurrection of the dead, emphasising the protection of Ygdrasil. Finally he sees the Christmas tree as continuation of pagan heritage and does not mention the Martin Luther story.

hOW tOO (dON DEL gRANDE). Is the "Moon Treaty" in force? When Rafe Folch-Pi was active in NESFA and the L-5 Society almost 20 years ago, the "Moon Treaty" was under consideration by the US Senate. If ratified it would have prevented anyone from owning anything in space but would have declared space "the common heritage of mankind." What belongs to everyone belongs to no-one, and no one has any interest in it. Thus there would never be an incentive for private ventures in space, no colonies ever, but only at most small government outposts like in Antartica. Anyhow, the L-5 Society lobbied heavily against the US ratifying it, and at Rafe's request I wrote several letters opposing it. At the time I was under the impression that the Senate did reject it. Did enough countries sign to validate the treaty? Did the US eventually sign on?

As for BART, as I said, when I was living in the Bay Area in the early '60s the whole concept was voted in, county by county. The proposed maps I saw in the papers did show a loop from San Francisco to San Jose, going on both sides of the bay. At that time the San Mateo county voters rejected the bond issue so the Peninsula branch was not built. I never understood why the East Bay branch ended where it did instead of reaching San Jose as I believe the latter HAD approved it. You now say that San Jose doesn't want it because they have/are building their own light rail. And when did San Mateo County approve the airport extension? I did know about the...southern Pacific?...line between SF and SJ. I used it several times between Palo Alto and SF though I usually used the Greyhound bus, or the Peerless Coach across the Dunbarton Bridge to Hayward.

I liked the comments on how suppressing movements enhanced them...the Romans and Christians, Catholics and Protestants, Southerns rebellion leading to abolition, Nazi pograms to Israel, etc.

Speaking of the "House of Windsor," I recently heard on the radio that the Brits had foiled a plot by the IRA to assisinate Prince Charles and Diane. I will bet that now some wish the plot had not been foiled.

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