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Answered Prayer

I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: O Lord, make my enemies ridiculous. And God granted it.

~ Voltaire (born:1694-11-21 died:1778-05-30 at age:83) [François Marie d’Arouet Voltaire]
Introduction People I Dislike Peace & War
Reporting Typos and Errors Esperanto Religion
Kudos Experience Is A Hallucination
US Elections
Child Pornography The Idiot Response

Introduction

Here is a sampling of the email I received in response to my various essays, mostly on ethics and religion. My responses are marked with a ∇ and green type.

Please email your feedback for publication, letters to the editor, errors, omissions, typos, formatting errors, ambiguities, unclear wording, broken/redirected link reports, suggestions to improve this page or comments to Roedy Green : email feedback to Roedy Green or Canadian Mind Products.

If you want your message, your name or email kept confidential, not considered for public posting, please explicitly specify that. Unless you state otherwise, I will treat your message as a letter to the editor that I may or may not publish in the feedback section. After that, it will be too late to retract it because I don’t want to waste my work formatting it and composing a response.

If you disagree with something I said, especially when sending an ad-hominem attack, a rant composed mainly of obscenities or a death threat, please quote the offending passage and cite the web page where you found it, tell me why you think it is wrong and, if possible, provide some supporting evidence. I can’t very well fix erroneous or ambiguous text if I can’t find it.

If you are pointing out an error in formatting or want to complain about the way things look (e.g. a bad choice of colours), it is best to include a screen snapshot of the offence with the URL (Uniform Resource Locator) of the page you found it on e.g. http://mindprod.com/feedback/feedback.html You can make one with FastStone. Sometimes things look different in different browsers, so tell me which browser you used too.

My email address above is not clickable or copy/pastable or machine readable. It is an image. You need to copy it down on a piece of paper and manually key it into your email program. Why would I so rudely inconvenience you? To protect myself from automated spam harvesters. See mung for details why you may need similar protection. Without that dodge, I get thousands of spams a day which makes me lose real mail. I had to abandon my earlier email address to the spammers.
I only publish comments, not typo notifications and error reports. I get far more mail than I have time or energy to answer, so I do the public mail first. Ones that are almost identical to those already published tend to go to the bottom of the pile. I almost never find time to respond to private emails.

Reporting Typos and Errors

I have poor vision and I type very fast so I make more than my fair share of typos. Further, DSK typos mostly slip through a spell checker. It takes another pair of eyes to detect them.

If you find any error, even the most minor typo, ideally please send me the corrected paragraph and the URL. The other big problem is information that goes stale. Please let me know about it, with the fresh information and/or the URL where I can find it, if possible.

Knowledge keeps no better than fish.
~ Alfred North Whitehead (born:1861-02-15 died:1947-12-30 at age:86)
An email like the following won’t likely result in any change to the website:
yer hole website sucks its jest lies you commie fag me and my friends are cumming to kill youal!!! hooah
~ Anonymis
One like this will:
At http://mindprod.com/livinglove/kensbooks.html you repeat the untrue hundredth monkey urban legend. Ken Keyes’ book,  Hundredth Monkey starts out with a metaphor for how human social movements take off. Unfortunately, the hundredth monkey story, on which the metaphor is based, is an urban legend. The legend was started by Lyall Watson in Lifetide. It was debunked by Michael Shermer in  Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition and Other Confusions of Our Time. The metaphor is not crucial to the thesis of the Keyes book, despite it being in the title.
~ Jim Jones

Kudos

Most of the email I get is a death threat or someone requesting me to commit suicide, usually without a coherent explanation as to why or what passage upset them. Sometimes people are, believe-it-or not, pleased with my work.

Thank You : Erik Hermansen : email Erik Hermansen : 2012-10-26

Thanks for all the wonderful content at mindprod. I have returned to the Java pages so many times. Particularly, when I leave the language for a bit and get rusty, it helps out. The organization and content there is modeled after how a human being would actually want to learn. I think of the site as a shining example of hypertext being used well.

I also went up the tree and read some of your other essays on philosophy, politics, etc. These are also enjoyable and sometimes enlightening reading. I’m grateful that you spent so much effort on what must be a labor of love for you.

Carry on in good style

The Java glossary started out as notes to myself so that when I came back to a topic I could get back up to speed quickly. Then I started sharing them. Then I started adding to it every time I answered a newsgroup question so I would not have to answer it again and so I could revise and expand my old answers and have everyone see the latest. Others began to send corrections and ideas. Java is on the back burner at Oracle and programmers are now mostly experienced, so the glossary is not as useful as it once was. I still use it the same way you do, as a refresher. I designed it to make it easy for me to find something I know in is there somewhere.

The Idiot Response

Modern Idiocy : Ross Koningstein ross@bluedog.com : 2000-07-28

Instead of modifying guns to make them childproof, gun zealots successfully lobby to keep them the way they are. The supposed reason — to make it easier to overthrow the government should the need arise. The other reason, it would cause a slight delay for reflection before firing at an intruder — most commonly a family member.

I would like to contribute the following. US citizens can use the above argument about overthrowing the US government, but not non-citizens. One of the many odd (and tragic) ways that US law limits its legal system for discrimination, immigration, etc.

Actually, the US government takes a fairly dim view on any threats by armed US citizens, such as the Waco Texas incident. On the whole, the US is weird about guns.

See this essay at Soros.org [no longer available] on the legal grounds for the removal of aliens.

I might go even further than you. What gives me the right to stop non-Canadians from coming and living here in Canada? It was just an accident I was born in the most livable country, not a result of any great virtue on my part. On the same lines, it strikes me as supremely unfair that computer programmers in Canada are paid many times what programmers in India are, even though we are doing the exact same work. There is something seriously broken with an economic system that generates such anomalies. Canada steals skilled workers from the third world with its discriminatory immigration policies. Economics is so inherently unstable, taking always primarily from those with the least and giving to those with more than enough.

People I Dislike

Charlton Dislike Page : Chris Davies stude7@nortelnetworks.com : 2000-08-04

An armed populace is not what keeps the government honest! It is a population that participates in democracy.

I believe both you and the NRA (National Rifle Association) have missed the point about keeping the government honest because keeping the government honest involves a definition of honesty. Honesty is not an all encompassing word that governs all truth, it is a personal definition. For example, some people think that a lie of omission is being dishonest, I, however, do not.

The only way to keep the Government honest is for the people with the definition of honesty to be the government, e.g. Anarchy. Pierre-Joseph Proudhon said "..reciprocity…is the very essence of [social] justice.". Anarchy is the only system where true social justice is implemented and I’m surprised that you stay a supporter of Democracy since gay people are so marginalised by majority rule. As Winstanley says There shall be none as lords over others, but everyone shall be lord of himself, subject to the law of righteousness, reason and equity… (Winstanley went on to justify his statement using God, but we should not question an honorable motive just because the method is bad).

Anarchy would work fine if everyone had a social conscience. Unfortunately most don’t. I am willing to give up some freedom in return from protection from such as those on my Don’t Like page.

I rather liked your pages as a whole, I started by reading the how to write unmaintainable code essay, but was quickly drawn into the rest of the site. You have inspired me to write a similar philosophy section for my own page about my anarchist beliefs and views.

That is great, but first find yourself a public home page. Yours is accessible only by password. I hope thousands of people do likewise. At some point in the not too distant future, AI (Artificial Intelligence) engines will start analysing all these essays. Those eccentric (in the sense of not-mainstream) thoughts will spur the AI on to think in new categories, to ask new questions.

Charlton Dislike Page Revisited : Chris Davies stude7@nortelnetworks.com : 2000-08-07

Anarchy would work fine if everyone had a social conscience. Unfortunately most don’t. I am willing to give up some freedom in return from protection from such as those on my don’t like page.

I think everyone does have a social conscience, unfortunately it is overruled by greed. Capitalist societies (and to a large extent, the remaining communist ones) are experiencing a growing crime epidemic, politicians talk endlessly about harsher punishments for criminals. Take this to it logical extension and we get capital punishment for all crimes, even the most petty. The USA is already moving towards this with life imprisonment for petty drugs offenders, the UK is also getting tougher especially on sex crimes. As well as this, people are getting more and more paranoid about crime, they are becoming willing to sacrifice more and more freedom in return for security. Again, take this to its logical extension and we have no freedom but total security. Is a society where we have no freedom a good society? Crime becomes a problem when you take away the rights of the individual, take away a persons right to food and shelter and (s)he will go out and take these things.

However the trend is in the other direction. In times past you could be hanged for stealing a loaf of bread, but no longer.

The exception, of course, are the laws on marijuana which make absolutely no sense. Here in Canada crack dealers sell their product quite openly. The courts are so clogged there is little likelihood of punishment.

Think about how your decisions would be affected if you took away the economic factor from your judgement. There would be no incentive to abuse animals or other people in return for greater profits, what you get is the same if you do or don’t abuse the liberties of other living beings. So tell me that those who torture animals in the name of medical research do not feel some guilt over the whole bloody process, it is just that under capitalism the gains in property outweigh the moral implications in the heads of those who perform these acts. The people who kill for money are not monsters, they are people like you and me, categorizing them as monsters only makes their isolation from society worse. We must address the root of problems, not just treat the symptoms.

Consider this excerpt from Leonard Cohen, Selected Poems 19561968, ( ISBN (International Standard Book Number) : none) out of print.

ALL THERE IS TO KNOW
ABOUT ADOLF EICHMANN
 
from Leonard Cohen, Selected Poems 19561968
 
EYES: Medium
HAIR: Medium
WEIGHT: Medium
HEIGHT: Medium
DISTINGUISHING FEATURES: None
NUMBER OF FINGERS: Ten
NUMBER OF TOES: Ten
INTELLIGENCE: Medium
 
What did you expect?
 
Talons?
 
Oversize incisors?
 
Green saliva?
 
Madness?

~ Leonard Cohen (born:1934-09-21 age:81)
Most people would agree that being ruled over by an aristocracy is bad. But why is it that people do not realize that an aristocracy is still an aristocracy even when it is democratically elected. By electing people as our speakers we are saying here is a man that is the best amongst us, so he must represent our views!.

The ancient Greeks had direct democracy, but then it was really an aristocracy. Only aristocrats could be citizens. We are returning to direct democracy gradually with all the opinion polls the politicians watch so carefully. Technology will make direct democracy feasible again, even with a giant population. The elite can still bamboozle. There are blacks who vote Republican.

Democratic process is just a way of making us think that we have some sort of say in government and is just as bigger lie as Christianity. In many ways, Christianity is better than democracy. At least with God there is no pretense that we have a say in the process of government, there is no fundamental lie.

That is great, but first find yourself a public home page. Yours is accessible only by password.

My home page is public, unfortunately, there is just no public content there yet. Plus, you are right about the AI engines. I have built one myself but most sites do not allow robots in.

Direct Democracy : Chris Davies stude7@nortelnetworks.com : 2000-08-09

The ancient Greeks had direct democracy, but then it was really an aristocracy. Only aristocrats could be citizens. We are returning to direct democracy gradually with all the opinion polls the politicians watch so carefully. Technology will make direct democracy feasible again, even with a giant population.

Well, I don’t know much about politics in Canada, but if they are anything like those in the UK the above statement is BS. Technology will indeed make direct democracy a reality once again, but your average person (like myself) is not qualified to make judgements about how much aid we should send abroad or how mush to raise income tax to stimulate the economy without raising inflation. In fact the only person I am qualified to govern is myself and possibly some children. I think the same could be said of 99% of the UK population (including most if not all the politicians). I have no wish to inflict my uninformed decisions upon the rest of the country, but equally, I have no wish to be governed by the uninformed decisions of others.

The result, of course, is that via the mass media more and more of the UK population is finding out just how stupid the decisions that politicians make are. Most believe that they cannot change the system and so grow apathetic about it. This sort of person would not participate in any direct democracy scheme. Others (like me) think they can change the system and spend most of their lives attempting to catalyse change. This sort of person would also not participate in direct democracy. So which segment of the population are left? Those who believe the government do a good enough job. These would also not participate in direct democracy because they believe the country runs itself quite nicely without their input.

Anyway, the point of this rant is that only a small segment of the population would participate in direct democracy. The small sample size renders the effects statistically invalid.

The elite can still bamboozle. There are blacks who vote Republican.

I think I can explain why some blacks vote Republican. Surveys conducted in the UK indicate that most people think that there is no functional difference between the Republican and Democrat parties in the US. Why should a black man not vote Republican? Its not as if they are going to introduce a law which makes slavery legal again. US politics seems incredibly shallow to those in other countries. I watched a factual (If rather tongue-in-cheek) documentary about a man who ran a ficus tree for senate (When they refused to register it as a candidate on the grounds that it wasn’t human (Which, incidentally, is a violation of the tree’s rights as the US constitution says nothing about the persons mentioned being human persons.) this man urged voters to write in the tree on their ballot papers and then vote for it) the votes for the tree were not counted when it became clear that the tree had won.

Modern politics disillusion the electorate. The apathy that ensues leaves us open to Brave New World style utopian government. Paranoia? Yes probably, but it is a risk worth considering.

You don’t require everyone to participate to get the popular will effected. Statistics show that you can get a pretty good estimate with even quite small samplings. The catch is in politics, the samplings are not random. This gives extra power to those that care about a particular issue. That is as it should be. If that concerned minority start doing things that tick everyone else off, then more people start caring about the issue and start voting on it. There is no need for everyone to vote on everything if all is percolating along ok.

US Presidential Elections

Some Canadian Moron : Alaska Trapper Harrison trapper@gci.net : 2000-12-18

Like we don’t have enough problems, Now we got some Canadian moron who lives off USA $ criticizing our elections. Glad you don’t vote here…! we got the right man in.. The democrats are to dirty to know this. Fix your own country before you get into ours!

But we did fix our own country! We Canadians have uniform balloting rules and uniform ballots across the country and we got all 17 million of our votes counted in four hours. We don’t allow vote result reporting in the east to affect the votes in the west. We don’t have an electoral college. Every vote is equal, no matter which province (Canadian for state) you live in. Its a Good Thing™ both Democrats and Republicans want to increase educational spending.

USA wannabees : Alaska Trapper Harrison trapper@gci.net : 2000-12-18

Somebody has got to tell you guys how to do things… Lord help us if you ever tried to do something on your own. You know as well as I do that more than 1/2 your country are USA wannabees. Look at all the USA influence there is in your country… Dont see much canadian stuff down here.

Given that you admit you don’t know much about Canada, I find it odd that you have such strong opinions.

The last thing we want to do is baby sit for the rest of the world. Gets real boring. I guess when your #1 your hated for all you have and it breeds a lot of jealousy. But we didn't get to be #1 and we don’t get to stay #1 by whinning about everything and crying for help every time our nation is in trouble…I for once would like to see other nations reach out and help us. If they would give back 1/10 of what we have given them. But no.. they just whine! We are a nation founded upon Christian principles… Maybe now with Bush in there we will get back to that and away from the evils of gore and clintonian politics. I think with bush in there we will stop helping your sorry butts and we will finish Saddam off, once and for all..

The rest of the world does not appreciate being baby sat on either. The USA tends to act unilaterally. One of our former prime ministers compared bordering the USA to sleeping with an elephant. I think we should be moving toward democratic world government, rather than anarchy ruled by a few bullies.

I hope you enjoy your $100 tax cut and $1000 corresponding later tax increase to pay the debt caused by giving the billionaires a trillion dollar tax cut and paying for the new missile and defense systems oddly required by the USA for its new isolationist posture. Bush fooled you into thinking he has your interests at heart. He is in the pockets of big defense, big tobacco and big pharmaceuticals. Big defense likes the US getting involved in expensive wars. Given Bush senior’s record, I expect Bush junior to be even bigger on military intervention than Clinton, despite what he claims. We’ll see.

Esperanto

Esperanto Accents : David Wolf dwolff@world.std.com : 2001-06-18

Saluton Roedy,

I found your Java Glossary (actually because I was following the unmaintainable code section :-) ).

It’s very nice. If you want, I have some minor comments but overall it can easily stand without changes.

(For example, one thing I noticed was your suggestion that the accent marks have slowed Esperanto’s acceptance. This is, of course, debatable, but in my 20 years of experience with Esperanto, the accented letters are actually irrelevant to people. They may use it as an excuse, but they’re really too busy, not interested, put off by the presenter’s crummy presentation etc.)

It was a factor for me. It bogged my second attempt at Esperanto back in 1980 when I got as far as learning how to burn new EPROMS for the Apple ][ and Okidata printer to display the accents, but did not get the keying to work. It still irritates me no end they are so messily handled. Esperanto is supposed to be a logical beautiful language. These sloppy accent conventions are like warts. They destroy the perfectionist appeal of Esperanto. None of the usual computer tools work. Even after all these years it still requires considerable fussing about with soldering irons to make them work. Every hurdle you put up blocks another percentage of converts. The Internet should have been a major boost — being able to rapidly find materials and other people to talk to, but the accents don’t work without considerable fooling around requiring unusual technical expertise. That is why I wrote my essay, hoping to make that job a little easier.

Accents are one thing that could be very easily fixed. A central body such as ELNA (Esperanto League for North America) could give blessing to one accent convention for Internet use so that search engines would then start working properly. Without search engines you are wasting 90% of the power of the Internet. The search engines won’t change. If the mountain won’t come to Mohammed…

I’m sorry you have a bad experience at your first convention. Esperanto is a complete language, so a beginner can get lost if others don’t take care to make the events easy. Again, this is just my experience, but in the US, adults seem to avoid saying anything at all in Esperanto until they feel they can make complete sentences. We’ve also started a buddy system at our national conventions to match beginners with volunteers who have more experience.

The problem really was that everyone else had been coming to these things for years. I was the only rank novice. They could not very well design activities around just one person. I was out of place both linguistically and socially. Like most adult students, I can’t stand the thought of making mistakes in public. The time to learn is much younger before such inhibitions are so burned in. It might also help if you were tagged as a novice so that people did not come up to you expecting you to understand them. I wonder how many other enthusiasts came to one Esperanto convention and never returned because they felt so humiliated at being so inept.

The other thing that would help is simply getting more Mp3 material out on the web. It is one thing to read Esperanto with a dictionary at hand and quite another to make sense of it coming in by ear at Speedy Gonzales rates in a wide variety of accents. My pronunciation page is a small step in that direction.

Perhaps you ran into the 17th Rule: "Any Esperantist may correct any other Esperantist’s use of the language." :-)

Thanks —

David Wolff
Prezidanto, ELNA (President, Esperanto League of North America)
Nia celo estas sxangxi la mondon. (Our goal is to change the world.)

Canadian Official Bigotry

Starting in 1885, Canada banned aboriginal people from performing religious ceremonies and dances. This included sweat lodges (saunas). This was not repealed until the 1950s. Could you imagine removing any other groups religious and cultural rights that brazenly? Gay people were not permitted to congregate or dance in the 1960s.

~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68) source

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