The View from Entropy Hall (Online Archive) - From Ed Meskys - RR2 Box 63 - 322 Whitter Hwy - Center Harbor NH 03226
Home | Newest Issue | Browse Archive | Email Ed

Issue #25

The View From Entropy Hall #25 for APA-Q 425, 19 Sept. 1998, from Ed Meskys, RR #2 Box 63, 322 Whittier Hwy, Center Harbor NH 03226-9708, [email protected], 603-253-6207. Text online at: http://www.geocities.com/entropyhall and when I get the software as email list. {Corrections made after APA distribution in braces.}

>ADDRESS CHANGE I have a bug in my email account as "[email protected]" which makes it difficult to download or refer back to messages, so with the sysop's permission I have opened a second account as "[email protected]gsel.org". As people write me I will ask them to change their address lists to the new one, but I will continue to use the old one for listserves only. (Later I hope to replace that one, too, with one that works better.)

Meanwhile, the Timebinders listserve has gone crazy. For a while they were running close to 300 messages a day. I heard they are down to about a hundred now but I am making no headway in catching up. I was gone ten days for the NFB con in Dallas and Readercon, and, on return, had close to 1500 messages to read. I was really afraid of what I would find after a two week vacation combined with worldcon. Worst is that this constipation of my mailbox is preventing other email from getting to me on a timely basis. I have dropped Timebinders. The discussion is interesting but life is short (to quote Fred Lerner) and I do have to get on to other things, like NIEKAS 46.

Anyhow, on June 22 and again on July 27 Brian Thurston downloaded onto floppy all unread mail clearing my box, and now without Timebinders I am keeping up. This Fall I will ask friends whether activity levels are reasonable, and if so will return to Timebinders. Meanwhile I got almost 2 megabytes of email on floppy, which I am going through a bit at a time. Any message with a quote inside of a quote of previous mail gets deleted immediately. That is the sign of a lazy slob in his manner of responding to previous messages. If you sent something really important in June or July please write again. Meanwhile, I will eventually get through all of it. Highest priority will go to current mail. Using my word processor I can skip around and am doing non-timebinders stuff first and will probably just give up on Timebinders itself. and delete it without reading.

Also, Brian says he will probably move the ENTROPY page to a different site. Watch for announcement.

>MESHKON PROGRESS REPORT

Columbus Day weekend it still looks like a "go" for the Boardmen and Fred Lerner but I am not sure who else will be here. Bruce Neurock has to work and others are committed to Albacon. After that next shot will be around New Years. The holiday is on Friday and Stanley's classes resume next Monday so we will have our open house/party either Friday or Saturday afternoon. (New Years Day is usually OK for driving because the drunks are usually sleeping it off then.)

>DOG-PADDLING IN THE INTERNET

Sandy decided she wants to surf the Internet and has now achieved something between wadeing and dog-paddeling in it (her terms). She had a 20mhz 486 with Windows3.1. Before investing in a better machine she wanted to be sure she would really use it, so she rented a Packard-Bell Pentium233 for three weeks and signed up for the free two month trial at Prodigy. She liked what she had, so went shopping for a computer to buy. She got the best deal from Staples and picked up a Conpaq Presario 233, store demo, for $800 and a three year service in the home contract thrown in. She signed up with a local Internet Service Providor and has been on the internet since July 1. She dropped Prodigy when she returned the rental machine because in those three weeks she used up $60 worth of in-state long distance service. All the major providors are such a long distance call away, but there are two local ISPs which she can call toll free. She has chosen Worldpath, so her address is: [email protected]

However she had a problem on reply mail to her which is finally fixed. My bulletin board generates a standard format for return address, so I figured all services do the same. when Brian configured her machine for her, he out of habit put "com" instead of "net" in her return address, so all reply mail bounced. It took almost two months to figure out what was wrong but probably have it fixed now.

What helped confuse matters and helped delay the solution was that we thought that Marsha Jones had an analogous problem. Her work puts her full name on her return address but she can only get mail addressed to mjones.

Oh yes, while Sandy and I were at Staples buying her computer I wanted to get a new antenna and battery for my cordless phone which was acting up. Sandy had paid $90 for it five years ago. It is not only computers whose prices have dropped. The clerk told me that the replacement parts would come to about $25 but he could give me a new Lucent phone for under $20 which was better than he original!

>NIEKAS

At long last NIEKAS #45 is finished. It is 4.5 years since #44 came out. I had many problems but hope they are solved and I would like to do an ish every 8 months or so. Let's see if I make it!

#45 is a single subject ish guest edited by Joe Christopher, a Mythopoeic specialist in Texas. (Starting with #46 he will have a column on SF related music.) Thish is on "dark and gothic fantasy." and I am trying to also market it as a trade paperback in book stores. It has 120 pages, is "Perfect Bound," and has a $9.95 cover price. Unfortunately the cover artist, Bob Knox, who did a beautiful cover misunderstood my needs and, instead of putting "NIEKAS 45" on the upper left corner as a book logo, splashed it across the top of the cover. This is makeing it difficult to market as a book. Fred Lerner suggested I have a "dust jacket" printed up with the proper logo for the book market, and I have to look into that.

I distributed copies at Worldcon but will not be bulk mailing the rest for a few more weeks as I try to verify a five year old address list. Besides the "usual" availability for LoC, trade, art or article, subs starting with thish are $19 for four ish, $1 per ish extra outside the US.

Also, the printer only collated 100 copies for us to bring to Bucconneer and I am slowly collating the rest. He will perfect bind them only when all are done.

>THE CULVER LINE, REVISITED

In the last ENTROPY I mentioned losing the email from Moshe Feder about the history of the Culver transit line in Brooklyn. I just found it and am now quoting it. From: [email protected] Subj: (FWD) RE: CULVER LINE forwarded From: [email protected] (Joseph Brennan) Date: 29 May 1998 23:06:17 -0400

Is this really what "the Encyclopedia of New York" says? It's chock full o errors.

"Incorporated 1869, Andrew R. Culver started with horse-drawn carriages and then an elevated railroad from 9th Avenue and 20th Street , (Park Slope) Brooklyn, to Gravesend (horses) and later to Coney Island (steam, 1875). He sold to the LIRR in 1893. In 1902 the BRT (Brooklyn Rapid Transit) bought it. As of 1919, the trackage (powerage?) was converted to allow operation of subway cars such as those on the 4th Avenue line along the Culver Line."

Prospect Park and Coney Island Railroad Co was incorporated in 1874 as a steam railroad and was never operated by horse. The route was known by the name of its owner Andrew Culver, probably because no shortened form of its proper name is distinctive (the "Coney Island" is no good for example). It was open to Coney Island by 1875; conceivably there was a brief period when it ran only to Gravesend but it hardly seems worth noting. It was in private right of way within the line of Gravesend Ave from Greenwood (9th Ave and 20th St) to Ave X, and then on its own right of way to Culver Terminal (so called) at Surf Ave. A branch opened in 1889 in private right of way near 39th St reaching two important points: the West End railroad and a Union Depot at 36th St and 5th Ave (open 1890), and the South Brooklyn Railroad's line to the 39th St Ferry to Manhattan.

I'm not sure Culver sold it directly to the LIRR, but LIRR did acquire majority stock by 1893, and I think 1902 is correct as the date LIRR sold this stock to the BRT. The Coney Island land holdings were sold off around 1902 also; they were not large but included the Iron Piers, the lookout tower, and part of what became Dreamland. Culver Terminal itself of course went with the railroad.

The line was electrified with overhead trolley wire in 1899, and the Greenwood service was run by trolleys from that date. Trolleys were also through-routed in the summer from several other city routes in Brooklyn. Summer service from the Fifth Ave El began in 1895 and was partly electric as of 1899, though some steam service may have run as late as 1904. Fulltime electric el service began in 1907, running jointly with the trolleys from Greenwood south of the junction at Kensington (near Ditmas Ave). 39th St Ferry service ended about 1900. LIRR steam trains to Gravesend race track continued to 1908.

An elevated line was built by the city over the private right of way from 9th Ave to Kensington Junction, over Gravesend Ave to Ave X, and then, not over the old line, over the Shell Road and private property on Coney Island. The elevated service, still called the Culver line, was shifted to the new el in 1919, leaving the original line to trolleys only, after 20 years of mixed operation. At some date after 1919, the private right of way in Gravesend Ave was paved over, so that the line became a street trolley. In the 1930's (?) the name of Gravesend Ave was changed to McDonald Ave. This was one of the routes operated by PCC trolleys as of the 1930's. Culver Terminal was closed circa 1944 and the trolley line was rerouted to the old Coney Island and Brooklyn terminal close by. It ran until 1956. It continued to operate down to Coney Island Yard (Ave X) by trolley for freight until about 1965, and then by diesel until about 1980 (anybody?). Freight operation was by the South Brooklyn Railway company, owned by the TA.

The el, meanwhile, was run as a real el till 1932, i.e. solely by wooden elevated trains off the Fifth Ave El. From then to 1940, it had both el trains and parttime subway service from the new Nassau St loop, which became the only service as of 1940. As of 1956, most of the line, Ditmas Ave south, was through-routed with the IND subway, as it still is today (F train now). The remainder lost Nassau St service about 1960 and became the Culver Shuttle from 9th Ave to Ditmas Ave, which ended its days as a one-train one-track operation circa 1976 (funny, my memory is better for events before my lifetime!).

Joe Brennan Columbia University in the City of New York

 

>BLACK CONFEDERATES

Boardman and others in APA-Q have occassionally speculated about the role of blacks in the Southern armies of the Slaveholders' Rebellion. On Saturday 19 July "All Things Considered" on NPR had a relevant story. The first stage of a memorial to blacks who fought in that war was just dedicated in DC and it wasn't on or near the Mall but in a black neighborhood. The story added that at a later date a granite wall listing all the blacks who fought would be added. That story led into a much longer one on descendants of blacks who fought for the CSA many of whom were free. Apparently not much is known about them and their motivations, largely because their descendants felt shame. Today some young descendents are trying to rediscover their roots and are even joining "sons of the Confederacy" groups. According to the story much is still a mystery but apparently some ancestors had felt patriotism for their state, not a nation which was an abstraction, and fought for it. Others felt some sort of loyalty to their masters, and still others simply did what they were told. I do not remember the numbers, but apparently a very large number were involved. If anyone is interested in more specifics they can order a recording or transcript of the broadcast for that date or check the NPR website.

>TOM CLANCY'S "OP CENTER"

was an interesting and exciting book(Berkely, 1996). This is the first book by him that I read though I have seen the movie version of RED OCTOBER.

The book was very well paced and I can see why he makes the best- seller lists. The villains were the leaders of two competing groups of neo- Nazis in Germany and a raceist hate organization in France, and their main opponent was a US agency (fictional, I believe) which sends active operatives out into the world to fight on behalf of US interests.

The French baddie, using the nom-de-guerre of Dominique, is a billionaire who made his fortune in computer games, and is trying to coordinate all hate groups around the world into a network under his control. His own group in France calls itself "Jacobites." He intends to use computer games on the internet to help promote racial and ethnic hatred. He is a bit too much of a super villain, haveing access to information on everyone to blackmail or otherwise control them, and a large corps of secret agents and moles. He and the two Nazi leaders in Germany are almost too violent in their hatred and actions to be believable. And I do emphasize the "almost." The scenes shifted rapidly from place to place and each was headed by a location, date, and time. Ten major characters were followed plus a number of walk-ons, victens of killings, and mobs.

A few aspects of the story bothered me. A science-fictional gadget, the "T-Ray," used tarahertz radiation to examine concealed items by reflection, could read documents in sealed envelopes and take pictures of people and things behind walls clear enough to identify the people. I just cannot imagine such a device ever being possible. Also surveilance satellites could resolve images to a fraction of an inch which I also find incredible. The other point that nagged at me was the relationship between one US agent in Germany, Hood, and an old flame of his. They had been lovers 20 years earlier when she had suddenly disappeared. They were supposed to meet in front of a theater and he was so upset by the stand-up that he kept the unused tickets in his wallet for the intervening years, despite his eventually meeting and marrying someone else, having a happy relationship, and several children. Then by coincidence he sees her leaving his hotel lobby in Germany, chases her, and they both have a torrid attraction for each other. I cannot imagine someone, no matter how heart broken, still carrying the torch for 20 years. The coincidence of her sudden appearance made me sure for many chapters that she was a secret agent of Dominique sent to ensnare him, but she wasn't. While she worked for Dominique as a game programmer she was not involved in his terrorist activities or hate games, but she did know enough about his commercial computer software to be able to help Hood's group break into the dangerous software. Given the premise of this 20-year passion, the relationship did play out very well and reasonably. He WAS an honorable man and never did betray his family, and she did help him despite knowing she would not be able to get him back.

One of the major action figures was in a wheelchair from a terrorist bonbing in Lebanon many years earlier. He had strengths and determination which were heroic but were made to sound possible. His actions fit the physical abilities and gear already established for him. Also it was nice to see a handicapped person given a major action role.

I did not like the first few chapters and was close to dropping the book. It started with graphic violence and torture to establish how bad the baddies are, and I was afraid the whole book would dwell on such graphic violence. Fortunately my interest in the story picked up as more characters and their concerns were introduced, and on the whole I found the book a very enjoyable read. If you like lots of action, many short chapters with cliff- hanger endings, and interesting characters, then get it.

>PARABLE OF THE SOWER

As I said in a previous ENTROPY, I found Octavia Butler's presentations at Lunacon '98 very interesting, and decided to try at least one of her books. NLS had recorded three, BLOODCHILD & OTHER STORIES, KINDRED, and PARABLE. I liked SOWER very much and have just requested the other two from the Talking Book library. At Lunacon Octavia had been asked why she had only had one collection of shorts since they were so good. She explained that she found it very difficult to write short fiction and did it very rarely, and it would be a very long time before she had enough for another collection. KINDRED is her best known book and is also available on commercial "spoken word" recordings. As I have often said, I do not like to read graphic violence and I am nervous about this one (it is about a black woman time traveling into slave-time Maryland) but will try it anyhow.

As I said before, SOWER (Four Walls Eight Windows, 1993, 299 pp.) is about a woman who has a vision of mankind populating the galaxy and starts a new religion to fulfil this dream. One sequel, PARABLE OF THE TALENTS, has been written but not yet published, and I assume there will be more. The book has two parts, the first establishing the nature of the world and the United States in 2024, and the second about the heroine's trek from the Los Angeles basin to northern California during which she accumulates a company of about a score of fellow refugees.

The US economy is in a state of decline and society is in chaos. All the social progress of the last century has been reversed. Even people with jobs cannot make ends meet, and gangs of drugged hoodlums rampage through the streets killing and burning, like in the worst ghetto riots of today. Slavery is back in all but name. People work at below-survival wages, are paid in scrip which can only be used in company stores, build up a negative balance, and are not allowed to quit until the debt is paid off. Even their children, without their permission, can be "sold" as indentured servants to help "reduce" the dept. The super-rich are isolated in secure enclaves in this Heinlein or Pournelle utopia. Only a Newt Gamebridge or Jessie Helms could be happy here.

At the start of the story the protagonist, Lauren Olamina, is 17 and living with her parents and siblings in a small walled community of a hundred or so. Both her parents have PhDs and university positions but cannot make ends meet. They have to grow their own food, barter handicrafts and services with fellow community residents, and the community has its home schooling network since the public school system has fallen apart. Lauren is very observant and thoughtful, and sees that something has to change for our civilization to survive. She tries, unsuccussfully, to communicate her concerns to her family and friends, and writes down her thoughts in what she calls "Earthseed, The Books of the Living." This is named in contrast to the "books of the dead" of some past religions. She accumulates a survival package of non-perishable food, weapons, and other gear and studies Boy Scout handbooks and other survival manuals. She figures she will have to strike out on her own some day. Half way through the book, when she is 18, a gang breaks down the walls of her community, kills her family and many others, and destroys everything they cannot steal. After verifying that her family is dead she strikes out with her survival pack and one other survivor of her community. She plans to head north and the other girl goes along with her. In the second half of the book she picks up other stragglers until she has a score or so of followers and at the end they settle on some unused land in Northern California.

That is the gist of the book, and it is excellent. I found her and her companions fascinating personalities, and the future was as well realized as in any Heinlein novel. I am now awaiting the next novel in the series, PARABLE OF THE TALENTS, with great eagerness. Lauren, despite her lack of a real education, will continue to develop her non-theistic religion which will eventually lead mankind to the stars and new opportunities comparable to those Europeans found in the Western Hemisphere. It should be a fascinating and exciting story.

>COMMENTS

~BLANCMANGE (Mark Blackman). In Q422 you remarked on my dislike of using the word "America" to refer to the US and asked how we should refer to ourselves. You mentioned that Latins refer to us as North Americans, but you pointed out that upsets Canadians. Exactly why I do not like just "America."I prefer to refer to our country as "the States" but there is no comfortable way to use it as an adjective. Without getting into verbal contortions one does have to refer to "American currency," "American culture," etc. I have seen people use "stateside" as the adjective which isn't too bad but still sounds funny. And there is NO other way I can think of for referring to residents than as to "Americans." [] NASA did NOT name the Challenger replacement "Atlantis." Atlantis was one of the original 5 shuttles, 4 working ones (including Columbia and Discovery and the never-finished Enterprise), and the replacement was named "Endeavor." I have heard it said that the shuttles were named after famous exploration ships but I do not know enough history to identify the originals. Bjo Trimble led the Trekkers in the letter campaign which named the prototype "Enterprise" but after drop tests without engines it never flew again. When I toured the Cape in 1975 Enterprise was set up as for launch as a tourist attraction, but then went on tour and was not there when I returned in 1992. Several years ago I saw mention of it rusting away in a corner at Dulles airport.

In Q423 I was interested in your research into the origin of the menarche slap. You said it wasn't a particularly Jewish practice and was not meant as a punishment but as a restoritive of blood circulation. I wonder how many Jewish women today do consider it as a sort of punishment. [] You said that Gnosticism was a Christian heresy. I BELIEVE it predated Christianity and was a near-eastern "mystery" cult, and some followers were later influenced by Christianity and took on some of its (modified) beliefs. It did produce some apocryphical gospels and was largely suppressed as a heresy. I have a mild interest in the history of religion and have ordered from the Talking Book Library a recent history of Gnosticism.

~DAGON (John Boardman). Often I think you go too far with your "Colin Fergusen Awards" but at worldcon I met one "recipient," Howard Griffith, and I agree with you 100%! He IS a real gun nut. I do not like guns and I do not like people who carry guns. My mental picture of an NRA member is of a senile pervert ("dirty old man") who masturbates while fondling his Uzi. Unlike Fergusen, the guy who shot his muggers on a NY subway became a fold hero. He did break the law and did endanger the other passengers with his reckless shooting, but I can empathize with him and the public attitude. Getting mugged leaves you with a feeling of being violated and sick inside, and not everyone can shake it off with time. The result is rage and hatered which can result in irrational acts. He had been violated once and was looking for a chance to get revenge, so he over-reacted the next time a gang tried to mug him. I can really understand his becomming a folk hero for others who have been mugged or lived in fear of being mugged. The closest I ever came to that situation myself was some 20 years ago at Penn Station when someone pretended to be a redcap and ran off with my luggage. Just from that I felt sick and violated and an anger which lasted for several months. It must have been even worse for you when your house had been broken into and many things stolen. I forget, had they also vandalized what they didn't take?

But anyhow, as I said I never met anyone before Howard Griffith who deserved the Fergesun as much as he did. I don't think you should stretch things by finding marginal people for it every ish, but make it more effective by only giving it to real extreme cases like his.

I was very interested in your history of the KKK in Q422. Especially intreagueing were its origins in the culture of the Scotts who had come via the colony in Northern Ireland. (When had they settled in the South, and why had they migrated? Many Catholic Highland Scotts had been deported to the Carolinas after Bonnie Twit Charlie's (thanks, Jim Reynolds) failed invasion. Did the Ulster Scots, Calvinist Lowlanders, come voluntarily or were they forced to move a second time?) Also interested that East Tennessee had almost seceeded from the CSA like West Virginia.

In Q423 you mentioned that during the slaveholders' rebellion Robert Lee sold into slavery captured northern black soldiers. I was very interested to see this refutation of the claims of some Lee apologists that he was not fighting for slavery but for the rights he felt belonged to his native state. [] I _LIKED_ your comment that almost every religion practiced today was at one time a capital offence, so their survival shows the the ineffectiveness of capital punishment as a deterrant. I seem to remember reading somewhere that murder is more likely to happen in jurisdictions where it is a capital offence. The only possible reason I can see for capital punishment is for deranged people who are likely to kill again were they ever to be released or escape from prison. Anne Braude makes the point that a personal already in prison with no chance of parole who kills a fellow inmate or guard should be executed for no other punishment CAN be added to his sentense. Yes, that is true, and also if he killed once while in prison isn't he likely to do so again? [] I have never understood why you favor the forced amalgamation of minority cultures and makeing the peoples abandon their languages, customs, etc., to conform to those of the majority. I see this in your remarks on Yugoslavia, India, Russia, etc. [] I like your comments on the new movement for a constitutional amendment to "protect" the flag from desicration. As you say, only something sacred could be "desicrated." This makes the flag, in their eyes, something to be worshiped, an "idol" and the bible condemns "idolotry." Wonderful reasoning! Also it is interesting that such pushes for a constitutional amendment only occurred during times of anti-war protests, so the conservatives must be planning something which will inspire a new anti-war movement. [] In your other ish you mentioned two other Krishna books by de Camp that I have not read--PRISONER OF ZANAMARK and BONES OF ZORO, which I will now have to look for. Over the years I have enjoyed this series very much. One book I own which I have not gotten around to reading is ROGUE QUEEN. Since the title does not follow the OF Z* pattern I gather that while it is in the Krishna universe it is not set on Krishna itself. [] Are you sure Mackinley Kantor's alternate Civil war novel was published in LOOK?I read the serial and at that time read SAT EVE POST and COLLIERS regularly, but not LOOK.

~JERSEY FLATS, TOO (Roberta Rogow). Congratulations on the run-awaysuccess of your novel THE PROBLEM OF THE MISSING MISS. Three printings and I guess more to come. Then there will be book clubs, paperback, foreign rights, etc. I am croggled that you anticipate getting more from the Japanese translation than from the original US hardcover. Hope the sequel THE PROBLEM OF THE SPURIOUS SPIRITUALIST, does as well. With that success there is a good chance that the Library of Congress will put it on a talking book a year or two down the road. I do not read much crime fiction but I am looking forward to this one. Dodgson and Doyle must make an interesting contrast. [] You commented that your parents want New York culture and San Francisco climate. I can understand the climate preference, but having lived in both areas I would have thought the culture level equivalent. I guess it depends on what kind of culture you are looking for. Both have a great variety of music from opera to rock, NY has more live theater but SF has some, both Broadway and Off-Broadway equivalent, food of all cultures, libraries, museums. The Stern Grove concerts match those in Central Park. Lamplighters match NY Light Opera. NY has a longer opera season, but SF had the fall and spring seasons, and there were performances in the Greek Theater above the Berkeley campus. Foreign and art films were in theaters and on university campuses. The SF and Oakland symphonies were both top flight, and even a little town like Livermore had its own symphony. Friends in Walnut Creek say there is much music and theater on their side of the Berkeley Hills so they don't even have to take BART to Oakland or SF. And the BArea has adequate public transportation like NYC. When I visited my friends just before the SF worldcon in '93 they took us to an excellent outdoor performance of Shakespeare somewhere near Orinda. And after all that I live in a real hicksville. Sigh.

~QUANT SUFF (John MALAY). In Q423 you mentioned a large number of semi- professional baseball teams in the NYC area in four different leagues. I am surprised that a semi-professional team can survive near a professional team, but then I am not a sports fan and do not understand the mindset. I am a hundred miles north of Boston and local sports fans follow Boston teams. On the local news radio I see that Nashua NH, only 30 miles north of Boston, does have a successful baseball team, The "Pride," but with a strictly local following. Other NH cities have not had such successful teams but Keene, quite far away (in difficulty of driving or public trans if not in miles) is beginning to develop a team following for "The Swamp Bats." . [] Chuck Shermick's (spelling?) Web appearances sound really amusing. I believe it was he who was mentioned in ANSIBLE as a (former?) fan who got his kicks by yanking the chains of the newage nuts with even more preposterous "revelations." Wish I had a better memory for names. Anyhow, the bit in ANSIBLE said that it was his picture of the comet/ufo on the Web which set off the cult suicide in California.


Back to Issue Archive      
End of Page

Hosted by www.Geocities.ws

1