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Letters to the Editor, October 2004


This a traditional letter column. You are encouraged to write a letter of comment on anything that you find worthy of comment. It will (may) be published in this column along with my reply. As editor I reserve the right to delete material; however I will not alter the undeleted material. E-mail to me that solely references the contents of this site will be assumed to be publishable mail. All other e-mail is assumed to be private. And, of course, anything marked not for publication is not for publication. Oh yes, letters of appreciation for the scholarly resources provided by this site will be handled very discreetly. This page contains the correspondence for October 2004.

Some of it is a little ancient; I'm slowly catching up - very slowly.

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From: Brandon Young
Date: 10/16/2004
Subj: Sith

I just read a column on your site regarding Sidious/Palpatine plotting to take over the Galaxy. I must say, I agree with you 95% of the way and have fought this belief to several non-believers of the Palpatine/Sith connection. I guess I would say it's more 99% of the way, because there basically is no proving yet, what it is I am concerned with:

My concern is basically this: Whose to say that Darth Maul was just a sacrifice? Couldn't have Darth Maul, as angry and bitter towards the Jedi as he is be a helpful hand to Sidious with the rest of his plans? I ask this because during the Qui-Gon funeral, Palpatine doesn't seem too happy even though he has been elected Chancellor. He has to start over trying to find a new apprentice, while yes thinking that this new young Skywalker is in fact a good choice for one- but he needs to start working on his plans now in order for everything to turn out in his favor.

Then of course, he converts a very powerful Jedi named Count Dooku who will eventually join Sidious as a Sith Lord named Darth Tyranus. I feel that Tyranus is more of a sacrifice because he knows from the first time he meets Anakin ( age 9 ) that he wants him for an apprentice ( I will watch your career with great interest! ). He just needs Dooku to convince Jango Fett to become the template for a clone army and to rally systems to the belief that the Republic is corrupt and who will eventually lead the Republic to war.

Again, couldn't have Darth Maul done these things? He could have either A) convinced Jango Fett to become the template of a clone army, or B) been the template of the clone army himself. As far as creating a separatist group, he could have easily convinced The Trade Federation to lead the systems to war against the Republic while using Darth Maul as a weapon of fear in the eyes of the Federation and the Confederacy of Independent Systems.

The interesting thing about Palpatine / Sidious is that he always manages to think in almost every possible direction. Surely if Darth Maul didn't die, he could have used him for something else- getting Dooku as his apprentice was just a backup plan.

The analysis that you refer to was not written by me, and it was written before episode II came out. However it holds up surprisingly well; events in "The Attack of the Clones" follow the course Ross predicted.

While I agree that Palpatine/Sidious has plans for (almost) every possible contingency, I opine that Darth Maul's death is foreordained in all of them. Darth Maul's training, his very being, revolves around revenge against the Jedi. At some point he says, "At last we will show ourselves. At last we will have our revenge." Darth Maul is too innocent, too forthright, too honest to succeed in the duplicitous double dealing that Palpatine's path to the throne requires. Moreover there is no reason not to sacrifice him. Sith masters necessarily have an ambiguous relationship with their apprentices. The Sith, being on the dark side of the Force, deal in lies, deception, ambition, corruption, and betrayal. A Sith apprentice always is a danger to his master, and apparently is held in check only by the most rigorous domination. An apprentice is a valuable but treacherous tool.

As you say, Dooku is the real sacrifice. Yet, there is something strange about the Dooku business. Dooku is far too powerful and independent to be a proper apprentice. They act more as colleagues. Dooku may be the junior partner - no cowering subservience for him.

Palpatine knows he will have to destroy Dooku before Dooku destroys him. Presumably Dooku also knows this. Why, then, does they collaborate? I opine that each believes that they are the superior, that their plots are more devious. On this reading Palpatine has snared Dooku with Dooku's ambition and arrogance, concealing from Dooku his true strength.

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From: petert2
Date: 10/15/2004
Subj: what the fuck is going on ?

man, answer me ASAP. Or you will have big problems!

Trolling for email addresses, are we?
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From: THETRUEHARTS
Date: 10/16/2004
Subj: The Great Rabbit Massacre

This was a disgusting story. I don't see what the point of it is and just who is supposed to enjoy it. You obviously have missed out on one of the great joys of pet ownership-sharing your home with an intelligent, loving and loyal house bunny. If you had, you certaining wouldn't be so ignorant in thinking there's any amusement in your pet brutally killing an innocent animal and then dragging its carcass into your home. And then sharing it with everyone! Get real!

P.S. I've had cats before. Yes, they are great. But if one of mine were to bring home a dead rabbit, it would be a sad thing, certaining nothing to find enjoyment in or brag about.

Dear Angie

I regret, of course, that you did not find that little story (not mine by the way) just to your taste. I daresay that there is nothing I can say in its defence that will change your opinion. That said, I will say that your focus is a bit off; the theme of the story is the baffled emotions of a hapless householder as she deals with a cat doing what cats do and offspring and husband as they do what offspring and husband do.

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From: Jessica
Date: 10/6/2004
Subj: Emulating Defoe's Writing Style

Hello, I have just found your site while doing a search for articles on Daniel Defoe. I am in a graduate course entitled "Masterpieces of Nonfiction." In the course, we read several novels and then we are to write papers that emulate the style of the author. The first book is Defoe's "A Journal of the Plague Year." I am in a technical writing program, and the writing expected of this particular course is very different from what I am used to. I have looked through your site and gleaned a few tips on how to go about emulating a writer, but I am writing to find out whether you can point me toward any other sources (online or in print) that might help me. Your site is extensive, and I am not sure if I was able to find all of the topics there that might help. I just need to come up with some sort of guideline for emulating Defoe, because I don't think it is going to come naturally to me!

This is not a topic that had previously occurred to me. (The preceding sentence, by the by, is in the style of dialogue appearing in a Georgette Heyer regency romance novel.) My general advice would be to read a bit of Defoe and look for those elements of his style that are idiosyncratic. As a starting point here is a quotation from an introduction to "Robinson Crusoe" by a professor of English:
"Another aspect of Defoe's style that creates a strong impression of formlessness, especially when the reader confronts it in its original text rather than in a modernized version, is his syntax. In its extension and lack of rhythic pauses, its reliance on repeated phrases and clauses, and the tendency to drop connective words denoting causal relationships, it seems to present reality as an undifferentiated continuum and to pay no heed to fine distinctions and ironic nuances of meaning. His rambling sentences, often paragraph-long, create a sense of authentic life by seeming to render Crusoe's experiences precisely at the moment he lives them ..."
There you have some of the elements of Defoe's style. As a suggestion you might take some of Defoe's work and rewrite it your own native style. Then you could go back to Defoe and see more clearly how he does things.
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From: Angie Berg
Date: 10/7/2004
Subj: addresses for thank-you notes

Dear Abby,
My mother passed away 3 weeks ago yesterday while were there (in Illinois). While going thru the cards on the flowers and plant arrangements we came upon a problem I am sure other readers have had. There were names of the people that sent them, but if you don't have addresses, where do you send the Thank-you notes? It would help others during this very trying time if the florists would get addresses and put them on ALL cards. It would make a sad time so much easier! Thank-you,
Sad in Alabama

Dear Angie

I believe you have the wrong email address. However your advice is excellent, and I will post it in my correspondence column.

My condolences on your loss.

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From: Peter Neilson
Date: 10/4/2004
Subj: Pierre to Highmore

Mr. Harter, Sir!

You have stated that a particular disk was, "back in Highmore, 50 rather odd miles away."

Allow me to suggest that in my copious attempts at studying mathematics I have always found 50 to be even. Your discovery of an odd value for this number is remarkable, and allows 50 to be placed in the set of "interesting" numbers. It also allows 50 to be infinite. For further discussion of this latter thought see various proofs in "Stress Analysis of a Strapless Evening Gown", an erudite tome you undoubtedly have read.

Your observation is acute and yet it is not quite precise. The passage you quote affirms that "miles" are odd rather than that "50" is odd. Can miles be odd? Indeed they can. Consider. One mile = 5280 feet, so one mile, being the product of 5280 and feet, is odd if and only if both 5280 and feet are both odd. It is well known that my feet are odd. Indeed they are rather odd which accounts for the observation "50 rather odd miles". So it follows that one mile is odd if and only if 5280 is odd. Since my authority on odd matters is unimpeachable (there being no provision in the constitution for impeaching my authority) there is no basis for disputing my affirmation that miles are odd. Instead we have established that 5280 is odd, rather than that 50 is odd.

It follows of course that 5280 is infinite for reasons outlined in the venerable tome that you reference. One can carry the matter further, however, and ask whether 5280 is an ordinal infinity or a cardinal infinity. In this regard we observe that numbers are not birds and that therefore 5280 must be a ordinal infinity.

... continued on next rock

We have large numbers of cardinals here in North Carolina. They fly around in sufficient quantity to give pause to anyone who might think that they are not numbers. It's hard to tell whether they are infinite, but they truly seem beyond counting. On the other hand, some mathematicians claim that infinity is not a number, thus invalidating your proof and changing my birds (not to mention your feet) to ordinals.

I believe that my cardinals are uneducated, and have no understanding of even and odd, let alone infinity. There is a College for them in Rome, but they never go there. Would South Dakota accept them?

I don't know. I would have supposed that cardinals, being red, would be communist or at least socialist and thus quite unacceptable in South Dakota. However the political geographers insist that the Republican states are red and that the Democratic states are blue. I can only conclude from this that Republicans are communists.
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From: Tom Speziale
Date: 9/20/2004
Subj: SAN programming language

Okay - so when are you going to release it? :-)

Good question. I figure that I will complete the spec by October 15 and have a first implementation of an interpreter by Mar 2005.
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This page was last updated November 21, 2004.

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