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July 26, 2003

Open thread 2
Posted by Teresa at 09:26 AM *

This is an improvised answer to the problem of Particles comments. It’s also something to play with while I’m semi-away.

Comments on Open thread 2:
#1 ::: Glenn Hauman ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2003, 10:09 AM:

She's away...?

Time to dig out the new decorations.... now where did I put those tiki torches?

#2 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2003, 10:54 AM:

I'd like to take as moment to do some shameless promotionalizing. Over at The Invisible Library. I'm blogging about writing, books and general shenanigans. Very informal, just for fun. I post some short stories on occasion. So if anyone feels inclined, check it out. I'm a struggling writer of fiction so I'd appreciate even just a glance. No comments section yet but feel free to drop me an e-mail.

#3 ::: LNHammer ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2003, 01:04 PM:

Me, I'm waiting for someone involved in Well-Versed Skiffy to set up a polemical web site so I can go promote it. It's going to be the next hot trend after the New Weird crests, but if the people doing it don't get the word out, it'll be hard to convince people of it.


#4 ::: DaveK ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2003, 05:34 PM:

I think we're supposed to comment on the Particles and not on my submission to Tor which went into the mail yesterday.

Um, uh, nice selections. Now if I can only find out about when ribbon was invented. Ah yes, good ol' Google. ;)

#5 ::: Mris ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2003, 08:07 PM:

Forgive my ignorance, LNHammer, but what is Well-Versed Skiffy? Who does it, and what do they like?

#6 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2003, 01:57 AM:

And speaking of language....

just had an interesting experience looking up the word "quirkyalone" on Google (and does anyone else keep wanting to spell that Googol?) -- surprised to find that I have a high quirkyalone index....

The quiz on the first hit is actually quite amusing. TomBob says check it out.

#7 ::: dw ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2003, 02:21 AM:

"Maybe we should thank the Democrats for shedding their moderate clothing to reveal their true Swinging-Seventies selves."

Greetings from Glorious Majority Leader!!!!

#8 ::: John Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2003, 09:00 AM:

Semi-away where? I hope someplace nice.
(and with a bar)

#9 ::: Anne ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2003, 10:03 AM:

And speaking of skiffy, the cover story for August's _Smithsonian_ is on pulp art.

I'd like to know what Well-Versed Skiffy is, too, but I've never heard of the New Weird, either. I know I've been out of fandom for a long time, but were we ever normal?

#10 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2003, 11:01 AM:

John: They're in Seattle right now which has many nice bars even if we didn't get to the one with the buddha hand infused vodka. Later today they're off to Portland to visit relatives. I can't speak to the bars there.

Oh, and I found a recipe for pineapple liqueur. It isn't exactly a drink recipe, but it looks like something interesting to do with pineapple. Want the url?


#11 ::: LNHammer ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2003, 11:03 AM:

The tag line of Well-Versed Skiffy is "good SF, good hooks, good meter" — essentially, science fiction narrative verse, aspiring to the versecraft of mainstream poetry and the storytelling of a genre magazine. (That would be the New Formalist and Expansive wings of contemporary poetry.) Because, let's face it, the largest part of SF poetry is neither good poetry nor a good read. Ur-texts would be Frederick Turner's Genesis and The New World. The large-scale, quixotic goal is to write stories as good and as popular as medieval romances.

As for who's doing it, good question — as I said, I can't find a web site. I'm hoping I fit in the parameters above, tho' lately I've been doing Greek myth sex farce (in rhyme) because I can actually sell that, sometimes.

I'm more vague on the New Weird. I gather it involves China Meiville and fellow-travelers, and large, old cities.


#12 ::: Richard Brandt ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2003, 03:16 PM:

Hey, I've been Particled! Or Jeanne Gomoll has, anyway.

Well, nice to know someone still stumbles across the first of the current series of Fanthologies every now and again.

#13 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2003, 03:19 PM:

For New Formalist SF poetry, the first person that comes to mind is Joe Haldeman; Tom Disch would, I think, be in there, and I've seen a little from Michael Bishop. (I know I'm neglecting others.) The difficulty for the Average Reader(tm) is that there have not been many outlets for SF poetry, and the magazines that consider it at all generally want only short "light verse." This -may- be broadening with the growth of online magazines, but this could easily become an essay on Skiffythumpyversifyingexpialidocious --

Once they got the metric minted,
Proofread, justified, and printed,
Cried the spacers, "This ain't hardly
Skiffy; it's not strange-new-worldly,
Has no guns or mercenaries;
Po-ah-tree, we blow it berries!"

-- but of course, neither the time or place; the words of Robert Fagles are harsh after the songs of Lin Carter.

i've been doing it for a number of years, too, and occasionally get it into print; there will be a number of examples, at various lengths and subjects, in the collection early next year. End of commercial.

#14 ::: LNHammer ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2003, 03:29 PM:

Geoff Landis. And tho' she doesn't write formal verse, I suspect from conversation that Eleanor Arnason is sympathetic to the cause. And yes, the markets for narratives over 100 lines are few, even when it's hard SF with rivets. Maybe someone should try to sell an anthology. Maybe I should.

But speaking of particles of form, a quiz: What form of poetry are you?


#15 ::: Anne ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2003, 04:35 PM:

How cool! I'm Blank Verse, and if I weren't I'd be Haiku, Samurai Jack's opponent.

John, do you have a notification list or some such?

#16 ::: Jeff Crook ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2003, 10:36 PM:

I post some short stories on occasion.

Keith, I hope you aren't planning to publish them elsewhere. Have you looked at any writers' guidelines lately? More and more magazines are taking a hard line about publishing anything on the web, even your own website. I don't know how they check - maybe they google it, or googol it, or whatever, before they send out the contract.

#17 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2003, 11:42 PM:

If you are interested in Science Fiction Poetry, mine is one of the Big Two sites:

This was actually funded by SFWA, at my request to Joe Haldeman when he was President.



2.1 The History of Science Poetry
2.2 Huxley & Other Critics on Science and
2.3 Magazines, Anthologies, and Collections of
Science Fiction Poetry
2.3.1 Magazines
2.3.2 Anthologies (Exclusively Poetry)
2.3.3 Single-Author Collections of Science
Fiction Poetry
2.3.4 Anthologies Including Poetry
2.3.5 Science Fiction Poetry Online
2.4 Science Fiction Poetry Authors

3.1 Fantasy Poetry Authors
3.2 Fantasy Poetry Collections and Anthologies
3.3 Fantasy Poetry Magazines

4.1 Russian
4.2 German
4.3 French
4.4 World


6.1 Books
6.2 Organizations & Awards
6.3 Articles



9.1 Postscript on Anti-Modernism
9.2 Bibliography

10.1 Biography
10.2 Bibliography


13.0 The Poetry of H. P. LOVECRAFT



Thanks for considering this reference,

Professor Jonathan Vos Postm
winner of a Rhysling Award for Best Short Science Fiction Poem

#18 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2003, 03:23 AM:

Formalist poetry and SF poetry? One of the more obvious proponents of both is George MacBeth (collected into one of of Judith Merrill's best of the year anthologies, and author of the Robert Lax football cheer)....

MacBeth didn't write SF and didn't repudiate it. He did play with a lot of the same tropes. And he's one of the few people I've heard read who opened me up to enjoying pieces of his I hadn't enjoyed without his reading. Do you know him, Mike?

Tom W.

#19 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2003, 08:48 AM:


Thanks, Yes I had thought of that. Stories I intend to submit for publication aren't being posted. The ones on my site are stories either too long, short or weird.

#20 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2003, 08:56 PM:

MKK: I can't speak to Portland \bars/, but the brewpub opposite the Orycon hotel is well worth visiting: large variety (including a real ale) and generous samples.

#21 ::: Dave Kuzminski ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2003, 08:57 PM:

Ah, you found a larger version of the table tennis match that I listed in the animation comments down below. I still think it's brilliant. ;)

#22 ::: Holly ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2003, 10:53 PM:

Help! I'm trying to remember a word for what people do outside of polls on election day--you know, standing around with signs and buttons, promoting their candidate. The word isn't campaigning.... I'm thinking there's a word that sounds like "racketeering" but that's not it. My thesaurus is no help... am I delusional?

#23 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2003, 11:33 PM:

You may be thinking of "electioneering".

#24 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2003, 01:53 AM:

Tom: Yes, I definitely remember MacBeth from the Merril anthologies (this is primary education we're talking about here), and I have never forgotten "The Crab-Apple Crisis," not least because I read it close on the blazing jets of Herman Kahn.

Well, those metaphors are nicely done. Now to parse the potatoes.

#25 ::: Holly ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2003, 09:10 AM:

Thanks, Claude.

#26 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2003, 09:36 AM:

If you can find it, check out Bob & Ray's version of "Queen For A Day." The sob stories are sobbier, the host is smarmier, and the prizes are cheesier than the real thing, if you can imagine it.

Obliquely reminds me of "The Continental," which lives on as a recurring sketch on SNL (whenever Christopher Walken is available), and was probably only remembered because of the MAD comics parody, "The Countynental."

#27 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2003, 12:58 PM: is a working URL for the Life in Elizabethan England: a compendium of common knowledge link.

#28 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2003, 01:58 PM:

Dear John M. Ford (whose poetry I very much admire): "The blazing jets of Herman Kahn"? That takes me back... [dissolve to]:

Herman Kahn (15 Feb 1922-1981?) Very important person in the history of
American foreign policy and the field of Futurology. Herman Kahn (as
I have determined) was a promising graduate student of Physics at
Caltech, whose professors felt that he had "the right stuff" to
someday win a Nobel Prize, but he felt that sociopolitical problems
were more difficult and interesting. He scored the single highest
level ever observed on the standard U.S. armed forces intelligence
test (equivalent to a 220+ I.Q., some think) and was an obvious genius.
He headed R&D at the RAND corporation (Air Force think tank) then
began his own think tank, the famous Hudson Institute. There he
perfected his analysis of war and peace in international policy,
including the "Scenario" method of forecasting -- in essence, first
crunching the numbers and then writing a series of science fiction
short stories about alternative futures. In fact, he hired an
assistant (whom I've met) whose job it was to read all the science
fiction magazines and record every interesting technical and
sociological idea for further study. With Anthony J. Weiner and the
Hudson Institute, he wrote the definitive Futurology book:
"The Year 2000" (New York: Macmillan, 1968), a must-read for SF
authors, if only for its list of 100 possible future inventions.
He was, in essence, the #1 consultant to the military-industrial
complex. He told me (as I foolishly declined a job at the Hudson
Institute) that he was hired by the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the
United States, who sent him in to do the definitive study of the
war in Vietnam. He asked for carte blanche, to be able to go anwhere,
see any documents, interview anyone. On his return, he presented
his massive analysis in writing to the Joint Chiefs, but prefaced it
with this oral summary: "Gentlemen: I have determined that there ar
23 unacceptable ways of winning the war in Vietnam, including nuclear
and biological options, 14 acceptable ways of winning, and only one
way of losing. And, gentlemen, you have found it."
A great Santa Claus of a man, gentle, friendly, and thoughtful,
he was reviled by a leftist public that assumed he was a fascist "hawk" from his
controversial books "On Thinking the Unthinkable" and "On
Thermonuclear War." He invented the words "Megadeath" and "The
Doomsday Device" and thus is part of the composite villain
(with Henry Kissinger) Dr. Strangelove in the Kubrick's nuclear holocaust
masterpiece "Dr. Strangelove, or How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to
Love the Bomb." How do I know all this, gentle reader? Well, I dated
his daughter Deborah in the late 1960s. This was on the summer
retreat of Fire Island, where cars are banned, and people carry their
groceries home on little red wagons. I painted a mushroom cloud on
his wagon, a prank which he found eminently amusing. Just as most of
us can think faster than we can type, which messes up our writing, he
could think much faster than he could talk, and so he tended to leave
out the ends of his sentences, which made conversation mysterious.
He, his brilliant wife (who was a "computer" in the Manhattan Project),
his practical-joking son and pragmatic/romantic daughter seemed oddly familiar to me.
When I asked, Debbie said "Oh, yes. Bobbie Heinlein asked us if he could use
us as the model for the family in 'Podkayne of Mars.'" So I, Jonathan
Vos Post, can say that I once dated the fictional character Podkayne.
This little essay, like everything else on the Ultimate Science Fiction Web Guide, is copyright
1996,1997,1998,1999,2000,2001,2002,2003 by Magic Dragon Multimedia. All Rights Reserved.

#29 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2003, 02:16 PM:

I'm not so far gone that I'm not going to notice advertisements.

#30 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2003, 03:42 PM:

Dear Patrick,

I don't have a blog. But I do update my 8-year-old 300 Megabyte web site almost daily. Rather than hotlink your readers to any of the 700 or so pages in my domain, or even an anchor within one, I sometimes cut-and-paste a precisely on-topic snippet of text, where it seems appropriate to me. If I am offending you, your wife, or your readers, please let me know your preferred protocol. As a professor of 5 different subjects, I am sensitive to the needs of students and administrators alike. The five are Astronomy, English Composition, Computer Science, Math, and Physics. About right for a 2nd genration science fiction author/editor, right?

Thank you.

#31 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2003, 08:02 PM:

Drat! Perils of posting from Patrick's computer. That was from me, not Patrick.

#32 ::: John Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2003, 10:44 PM:

Mary Kay,

Yes, do send the URL and sorry for the late response. My wife just delivered baby number two over the weekend.

Pineapple liqueur sounds interesting. I've done the Stoli/Doli recipe (or imitated it as best I could from what cryptic info I was able to get out of the waiter at Capitol Grille)....


#33 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2003, 11:50 AM:

Congratulations, John!

#34 ::: Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2003, 12:13 PM:

Since this thread is an open one, I thought I'd remind you all to vote in the Hugos.

Hugo Award voting closes at midnight Pacific Time on Thursday, July 31st. Be sure to cast your vote.

The voting deadline for the 2003 Hugo Awards is midnight Pacific Time on Thursday, July 31st. However, our membership team is not able to instantly process memberships and send back membership numbers and the mandatory voting PIN numbers. Therefore, if you wish to use the on-line web ballot to vote, please register on-line for your membership by midnight Tuesday, July 29th.

A personal identification number (PIN) is required to use the web-based on-line Hugo ballot. So far, nine electronic ballots have been rejected for incorrect PINs. You may not substitute a membership number for your PIN. Personal identification numbers were sent to all member households in a letter with the last progress report. If you cannot find this letter, please send a PIN request to Include your name, postal address, and membership number.
#35 ::: Anne ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2003, 06:47 PM:

And speaking of poetry, I've just written a sestina!

I blame Neil Gaiman.

#36 ::: Anne ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2003, 06:50 PM:

And speaking of poetry, I've just written a sestina!

I blame Neil Gaiman.

#37 ::: Anne ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2003, 06:51 PM:

And speaking of idiocy, I've just posted this twice. I blame my dialup. Sorry...

#38 ::: John Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2003, 07:41 PM:

Thanks, Claude! (one-handed here on the keyboard!)

#39 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2003, 08:26 PM:

I assume the other hand was occupied with baby #2 . . .

#40 ::: verbminx ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2003, 12:25 AM:

playfair, interesting. i always preferred the viginere table. i have a feeling that most of the people who bought the code book are also the people who wrote all their notes to friends in grades 4-7 in code. (In my case, it was problematic because I had lazy friends who wouldn't bother to decipher them. Oh well.)

anyway, this is not my site, but you may find it interesting:
Masquerade and the Mysteries of Kit Williams.

#41 ::: John Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2003, 07:45 AM:

Claude, I should've known better. Touche.


Yes, baby number two is now able to threaten my computer equipment when I make the mistake of leaving the door ajar so she can follow me into my office.....

#42 ::: LNHammer ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2003, 10:43 AM:

I prefer to blame Joe Haldeman when I write a sestina. He's good for it.


#43 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2003, 03:07 PM:

The sestina seems to be largely ignored in American pre-university English (there could be many bilious comments here, but there will not), and most people who know the form seem to have been introduced either in advanced college courses or by tripping over one in an unexpected place (e.g., -Sandman-) and saying "Was ffcr einen Gere4t ist das?" or the local equivalent.

I'm pretty sure the first one I read was John Brunner's "The Oldest Glass," which appeared in the critical study THE HAPPENING WORLDS OF JOHN BRUNNER. (Very little of Brunner's poetry seems to have been published anywhere widely accessible, and some people are startled to learn that he wrote any at all -- but, uh, we've been over that patch.)

#44 ::: Anne ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2003, 04:36 PM:

Ooh, I should look for that! Thanks!

I didn't know about sestinas until I got to my troubadour course in grad school, when I had to read Arnaut Daniel's. (Yummmm.) Then I mostly forgot about them until I went on a Gaiman binge a couple of weeks ago. Recovering Occitanist that I am, my willpower fell by the wayside.

#45 ::: Lydia Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2003, 09:53 PM:

The virtual confessional has commanded me to say 392 Hail Marys and 16 Our Fathers for venial sins, and 4 weeks of fast for mortal ones. And various other fripperies like turning myself in to the authorities if what I confessed to was illegal. And I didn't even confess to irreverence.

#46 ::: verbminx ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2003, 10:34 PM:

Neil Gaiman has a way of pushing people into sestinization, whether personally or merely by authorial influence. I have to admit that Angels and Visitations was my first sestina encounter. Fortunately, I have resisted the temptation to write them (possibly by not feeling equal to the form, and not for want of encouragement, either).

#47 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2003, 11:25 PM:

mmm... tack on irreverance plus being gay and not even a little bit sorry, and I pulled down 867 Hail Marys and 32 Our Fathers.

But only 3 weeks' fasting.

#48 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2003, 01:37 AM:

As has been said since computers were gigantic walls of little blinky lights, with a strip of adding machine tape emerging from a tiny slot giving the results in demotic English, the machines are excellent at piling up raw numerical data and not so good at cooking it. Uh, correlation, that is. With a chi-square of dark chocolate at 70% relevance.

It occurs to me (for to whom else would it occur?) that Googling on "What did I do recently that was bad?" (pressing the "I'm Feeling Lucky" button, naturally) might produce an interesting pile of data to which the Baldrick Sort, or midden-heap-sort algorithm, could be usefully applied, but I abruptly notice that Halley's Comet will return in only fifty-seven years, and had best make preparations right now.

#49 ::: Anne ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2003, 09:07 AM:

Verbminx: I had a colleague in grad school who wrote good troubadour poetry in both English and Old Occitan. He told me that anybody can write a sestina, as long as they've got the right rhyme words. Then you write the envoi, to set up your rhyme order. And then the muse takes it from there.

#50 ::: LNHammer ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2003, 10:35 AM:

Except, of course, then you have to know where you're going to end up, and hope you don't have fifth and sixth stanzas either crammed or filled with diversionary fluff.

He's right about needing the right end-words. It especially helps if at least have have more than one meaning, especially in different parts of speech. And as an obvious correllary, stylistically it's easier to write one when you're a ruthless enjamber.

I've been having fun using sestinas for narrative.


#51 ::: Anne ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2003, 10:51 AM:

L, that's true, but I often write from the end anyway. The 6th stanza was a pain and a half, and it ended up not being what I'd planned on, but I'm pleased nonetheless. (Which could well be the dancing-bear syndrome.)

I didn't manage to enjamb any words, but I did do some clauses. Mostly it was happy accident, but I'm going to claim I did it on purpose.

And wow, narrative sestinas? I boggle. How does one go about such a thing?

#52 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2003, 11:57 AM:

Sestinas are fun; I haven't committed any, but I do confess to acrostic sonnets on the names of personal friends. Not that I still have copies of any of the ones I've generated....

It can be difficult to make names precisely 14 characters long.


#53 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2003, 12:05 PM:

Said Thomas Whitmore.

#54 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2003, 12:20 PM:

Welcome home, Teresa.

And speaking of Wendy Cope's Wasteland Limericks, here's the opening 10% or so of a Wasteland homage I finished earlier this year:

Resume of J. Alfred Prufrock
By Jonathan Vos Post
Copyright a9 2003 by Emerald City Publishing

 Let us go and make our visit
 (To determine): Do I dare disturb the universe?
 (To determine): So how should I presume?
 (To determine): Then how should I begin to spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?
 I should have been a pair of ragged claws scuttling across the floors of silent seas.
 (To determine): Should I have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?
 (To determine): Would it have been worth it, after all?
 To swell a progress, start a scene or two
 Advise the prince
 I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled
 (To determine): Shall I part my hair behind?
 (To determine): Do I dare to eat a peach?
 I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach

Rather than dump the whole thing here (as I have been hinted at regarding netiqette), I'll get it from my PC to my Mac, from whence to HTML and my web domain.

My netiqette may be out of step with this modern age, since I started programming in 1967 and was heavily emailing on the ARPANET by early 1973. Ghod -- that's 30 years ago!

I've published sestinas since 1968 or 1969 (in a newspaper, first time), and consider them one of the Great Forms. And wasn't Joe Haldeman's narrative double sesitina in Omni the highest-paid example of all time?

#55 ::: LNHammer ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2003, 04:15 PM:

Anne: It helps to have a story with an obsessive quality. Like, say, rewriting "Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came" or Demeter's search for Persephone or Orpheus & Euridice, to name one.

JvP: The PowerPoint Wasteland?


#56 ::: Paula Kate Marmor ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2003, 10:46 PM:

I am please to discover that I too have been Particled, and that I am terza rima.

- pk

#57 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2003, 12:51 AM:

Ah, Patrick N Hayden, you have found me out (at least it wasn't Teresa Nielsen H who got into my secrets). I'm about halfway through creating one based on John Michael Ford though no others are slouching towards the surface waiting to be born....


#58 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2003, 02:37 AM:

Uh, Tom, I hate to, you know, thing, but the "M" isn't for Michael. The nickname is a dull family story for another time. AD 3042 seems about right.

Doesn't keep you from writing the sonnet, of course.

#59 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2003, 03:42 AM:

Would it be presumptuous of me to point out "David J Goldfarb"?

#60 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2003, 08:13 AM:

What we really need is someone with an eight-letter first name and a six-letter last name.

#61 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2003, 12:08 PM:

LNHammer: "The PowerPoint Wasteland?" exactly. Actually, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" is not "The Wasteland" (my mistake) but both are by T.S. Elliot. Maybe I misremembered because I quoted from both in my verse play "John Lennon Mettes T.S. Elliot", which was published in the German anthology "13 Rock Fantasies."

And don't forget the character in the Isaac Asimov story who was translating "The Odyssey" into limericks...

Next slide, please?

Resume of J. Alfred Prufrock
By Jonathan Vos Post
Copyright a9 2003 by Emerald City Publishing
Part 2


Idiosyncratic Actions:
 I have measured out my life with coffee spoons
 I have gone at dusk through narrow streets
 I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed
 I have seen my head [grown slightly bald] brought in upon a platter
 I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker
 I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker
 I grow old … I grow old …
 Human voices wake us, and we drown

#62 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2003, 12:51 PM:

Speaking of takes on Childe Roland, anyone with an advance copy of Stephen King's _Dark Tower V: Wolves of the Calla_ will discover (among a multitude of other interesting things) an obsessive concentration on names that add up to 19 letters. Not great for sonnets, perhaps, but some twisted soul could probably adapt it to poetry!

#63 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2003, 04:28 PM:

Tom, I have the double-dactyl you created from my name and Mary Kay's. I was going to email you, but while it's obvious that that address is a spamtrap, it's less obvious whether removing "SPAM" is sufficient. Email me (see above) if you want it.

#64 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2003, 08:47 PM:

Hey Vicky. I wouldn't mind having a couple of that double dactyl myself.

MKK --

#65 ::: tom whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2003, 01:45 AM:

Removing the capitals of NOSPAM does in fact reach me; I still have the electronic versions of same saved in my Palm (though I write things on the back of my hand instead of my palm -- the latter tends to be smeared by opening doors, for example, and gets much sweatier). Thanks for thinking of forwarding same! You and MKK have full permission to post as you think appropriate. If Vicki fails to get it to you, MKK, I'll dig it out and send it on. Ah, the joys of Minicon excess....


#66 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2003, 03:01 AM:

Teresa: I have just read the Marx/slash/Engels. Aieeeeee. Words fail me.


#67 ::: LNHammer ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2003, 02:41 PM:

Backing around to earlier comments, I think the description of Well-Versed Skiffy as "New Formalist SF poetry" is a little misleading; better would be "Expansive SF poetry". The Expansive movement unites New Formalism, with its attention to form, with a concern for narrative and persona. Without especially that latter, SF poetry is essentially impossible, as the only "authentic voice" is contemporary; and the F in SF assumes the former.

The advantage of identifying with New Formalism is that it's better known.


#68 ::: Adrian ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2003, 05:30 PM:

I can only echo Mary Kay's sentiments about Marx/slash/Engels. Especially because I read "Freedom and Necessity" so recently. I see your "Aieeee!" and raise you an "Eeep!" Furthermore, thanks for the limericks.

#69 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2003, 02:02 AM:

Shoe Baca comes with 2 detatchable kidneys? Um. Um. Um.


#70 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2003, 04:32 AM:

Ah, Mr. Ford (in a Bellockian mode) --

If the skin be but punctured before it is boiled,
the confection is wholly and utterly spoiled.

Now, if _you_ give me a seven-letter middle name beginning with M to play with (others may do so, but I don't expect to believe them [With the first you are only the worse for the fright, But after the second...]), I might be able to continue on with the sonnet. Or Not.

Tom W, on the west coast and quite punchy at this hour waiting on a download of someone who wanted comments on a trailer for a fan-season-8 of BUFFY

#71 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2003, 09:48 AM:

I like it, Larry. Just promise me I won't wind up on any panels with Scott Green.

Thomas Sherman, consider yourself Encouraged.

All, the Marx/slash/Engels slashfic came to me from Debra Doyle. I'm not sure I'm brave enough to ask her how she found it.

The bizarre plushies were recommended to me by my nephew, Isaac Hayden, who has an eye for these things. I've been promised a couple more good links by his older brother Milo, and await them with considerable anticipation.

#72 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2003, 11:51 AM:

Speaking of plush toys reminds me. I sent you email with a link to some amazing crocheted items. If you haven't seen it you may want to go excavating in your email.


#73 ::: John Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2003, 12:27 PM:

Mary Kay,

What happened to the pineapple liquer link? I gotta have something to drink while I change all these pampers....


#74 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2003, 12:45 PM:

Is It Just Me, or is there a great irony in your calling an item about an edible (yoghurt) "Make Money Fast"?



#75 ::: Milo Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2003, 01:43 PM:

My dear Teresa, please check your e-mail. Two enticing, utterly wonderful links lie within.


#76 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2003, 03:42 PM:

Hey, Milo! Thanks for the links.

#77 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2003, 05:43 PM:

John: Somehow the bookmarks for all the liqueur making sites I found had disappeared. The ways of computers are mysterious. However, I have relocated most of them now. The two pineapple recipes are at

I've started one with tiny wild plums and star anise.


#78 ::: Anne ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2003, 08:20 PM:

Oh, wow. I used to work in a cross-stitch shop. Those subversive designs are absolutely perfect, even to the species of the thweet widdle birdies.

#79 ::: Bruce ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2003, 10:51 PM:

*snarf* on the subversive cross-stitch!

#80 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2003, 11:29 PM:

I cut up a whole pineapple and left it soaking in Everclear while I went travelling. The results are very promising. I'm marinating a dab of vanilla bean, a bit of cardamom, and one or two white peppercorns in it while the sediment settles out.

Anne, weren't they just? Made me momentarily wish I did cross stitch. Subversive knitters just make structural oddities like klein bottle hats, openwork spheres, and the notorious lace coracle.

#81 ::: LNHammer ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2003, 10:40 AM:

I cannot, alas, promise anything about Scott Green. I do not control him.


#82 ::: Anne ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2003, 10:52 AM:

Teresa, I'll trade you a klein-bottle hat for the subversive XS of your choice, as long as you aren't in a hurry for it. (But then, I wouldn't be in a hurry for the hat, either; I gather that knitters have as many UFOs as needleworkers.)

#83 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2003, 04:14 PM:

Dear Andrew Plotkin and Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden (who blogged Plotkin's site):

You've done a very fine job with
"The Periodic Table of Dessert
Designed by Andrew Plotkin
Copyright 2003"

I'd like to point out that there is considerable overlap with:

"The Periodic Table of Aliments" [Analog, October 1992] co-authors Professor Jonathan Vos Post and Professor Christine M. Carmichael.

Our domain gets over 12,000,000 hits per year, now in its 8th year, and includes The Ultimate Science Fiction Web Guide, The Ultimate Mystery/Detective Web Guide, The Ultimate Western Fiction Web Guide, and is about to launch The Ultimate Romance Fiction Web Guide.

I think that we need to discuss copyright issues. Again, I am impressed by your beautiful, clever, and colorful work on the web. I understand Open Source software very well, having been a VP and Board Member of an open source company that was acquired for $7,500,000 by what was then called VA Linux (now VA Software) on NASDAQ.

Professor Jonathan Vos Post and Professor Christine M. Carmichael (a full-time Physics professor) are well-known internationally both as scientists and as science fiction authors.

I await your reply with some interest.


Jonathan Vos Post
Part-time Professor at 4 colleges and universities
Computer Science
English Composition

cc: Law Offices of John M. Woodburn

#84 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2003, 08:44 PM:

Now here's an interesting point of etiquette: when one thinks that there is "considerable overlap" between two works, is it more polite to, as an apparent first step,

A) privately e-mail the other author to inquire, or

B) implicitly accuse the other author of plagarism in public and in someone else's forum, complete with cc's to an attorney, while incidentally suggesting that merely linking to the other work could also be an intellectual property violation?

I'm tempted to e-mail Miss Manners and inquire.

#85 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2003, 10:40 PM:

Dear Kate Nepveu,

No accusation of plagiarism made. No wrong by anyone in linking.

I think that Andrew Plotkin did some good work. Some of it apparently original. The thermal spectrum is nice. The "atomic" crystal structures are particularly clever. He may not have seen the Analog piece, which was in black and white anyway. His presentation is marvellous, and I said so.

I'd probably be happy with a citation or footnote in future editions of his hardcopy chart, and a link from his page to mine. He's unlikely to make enough money from hardcopy chart sales to be worth the trouble to pay me a few cents.

I have to give notice, as a matter of writer's rights, or waive my ability to enforce.

Certainly no harm by Making Light, which does what blogs are supposed to do, and does it so brilliantly that it is one of the few that I read daily.

But, unless you are actively following cases through Science Fiction Writers of America, Mystery Writers of America, the National Writers Union, each of which have recovered about $1,000,000 for writers who were infringed, you may not know how careful a writer must be in defending his/her rights.

I speak as someone who is out at least $100,000 from a crooked CD-ROM publisher, even though I won a unanimous 7-0 decision in California Supreme Court.

It was impolite for me to have allowed any implication that makinglight had erred in any way, and, Kate , you might well be right that I was ill-mannered in acting in this semi-public forum. As I've said, I'm a dinosaur with 37 years software experience, and over 30 on what's now called the internet. Fashions change. I stand ready to be enlightened, even to have my wrist slapped. But, as someone who's acted as an agent for other writers, and as a many-years re-elected representative of writers collectively in writers organizations, I stand by the necessity to prompty notify folks of even inadvertant appearance of infringement.

I also think that Harlan Ellison is a hero.

Thank you for your sensitivity and your decorum in letting me know that I may have seemed over the line.



#86 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2003, 11:45 PM:

Jonathan Vos Post:

Yes. There is some overlap. There is also considerable overlap with about two dozen other periodic tables of this-that-and-the-other. Some people collect the things. The first few I saw, both of which featured food, were created before the web existed. If your version was more recent than that, and you're concerned about rights issues, I suggest that you and your lawyer take it up with your artistic predecessors.

Meanwhile: My weblog is not an appropriate place to address this issue. It just now took me about thirty seconds to google up Andrew Plotkin's website. His e-mail address can't be far behind.

#87 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2003, 12:36 AM:

Jonathan Vos Post ... Jonathan Vos Post .... when I first saw the name in the comments section of this web log it seemed somehow familiar.

Then it came to me. Around ten or twelve years ago I was sysop of the SFRT on GEnie. Imagine my surprise one afternoon to get a call from a "Jonathan Post." He wasn't a member of GEnie or the SFRT, but he had a complaint. He'd heard that Jerry Pournelle was talking about him, and he threatened to sue me, and to sue GEnie, if I didn't tell him what Jerry was saying. "It would be easy to find out using Unix tools," he said.

I was polite to him, hung up, and ignored the call. I figured that I'd start worrying about it when the process server showed up. No process server ever arrived, so I forgot about it.

I was wondering if maybe you were the same guy.

#88 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2003, 12:37 AM:

BTW,, the top link when I Google on Jonathan Vos Post, is both ugly and unreadable. If you need some help designing a site, let me know.

#89 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2003, 02:48 PM:

Dear James D. Macdonald,

I have no problem with Jerry Pounelle. Indeed, he published two of my poems in anthologies of his. I held up a copy of a book by him, Larry, Niven, and Stephen Barnes when I was (years ago) on "NBC-TV Today Show." He'd offered to be the godfather of my first child. I also like his Western and Mystery novels.

The long-ago incident you remember was part of a lawsuit against two demented fans who had me fired from Rockwell International, where I was working on 5 different space shuttle safety issues. These safety issues were thus prevented from going to NASA and FBI investigation, where they belonged. Rockwell's dossier on me, which I got by subpoena, was over 440 pages long, and detailed the defamations by those fans, as well as the numerous awards I had received (i.e. commendations from 4 successive heads of NASA, Rockwell's "Good Citizenship Award", and science fiction stories published with Rockwell permission).

As a result, I have been giving testimony to the Columbia Accident Investigation Board, and to Special Agents of the NASA Inspector General.

The case "Post v. Rockwell et al." becamse the longest running suit for each of 5 judges in the Los Angeles County Superior Court. It ran, from incidents of defamation in 1987, through 2002, and is currently being considered by the California Supreme Court.

The issue with Pournelle online was that he was allegedly republishing defamations by the individual defendants in "Post v. Rockwell et al."

I had been earning, in inflation-corrected money, $120,000 per year at Rockwell, 15 years ago. Plus huge benefits. That was ended by those fans, who admitted taking entire works I had authored and affixing their names as if they were co-authors. And declaring themselves "Producers" of a $1,000,000 industrial planetary space travel video I conceived, got funded, wrote, directed, narrated, and supervised special effects.

I have, perhaps, been hyper-sensitive to plagiarism and defamation ever since.

Unless you've been forced, in defense of your reputation and livelihood, into a major lawsuit, as with (for instance) Walter Jon Williams over "Hardwired"), you cannot imagine the agony that ensues, win or lose, and the care with which you try to avoid it ever happening again.

Those writers who have done so are also protecting the rights of all writers.

Also, I have met and chatted with you at Worldcons and the like, and we seem to get along just fine, face to face.

And thank 's website has it (with me holding 2 Hugo Awards) is about 10 years out of date, and ugly to boot. I threw it together when my web domain first went online, February 1996. Thank you for your time and attention, which is sincerely appreciated.

Thank you,

Jonathan Vos Post

#90 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2003, 02:56 PM:

Dear Teresa Nielsen Hayden,

I first emailed Mr.Plotkin.

I wanted to privately email you, too, but I could not readily find your email address through either your blog nor your home page.

I apologize for misusing your blog, as it seems I have.

If, in the unlikely event it ever comes up again that you validly hotlink a site that any of your blogreaders have problems with, should you have a private mailto link for them to so inform you?

I'm also a bit tense right now over our dog Kramer just coming back from the hospital yesterday, after major leg suregery. Also, two of my wife's closest friends just died on the same day, late this week, one in Australia, one in Scotland. Also that a settlement conference is coming up in about a week in an Appeal on a 5-year fight I'm involved in to save an historic theatre (once called "Perkin's Palace" and now the "Raymond Theatre" in Pasadena).

But hard times are no excuse for impolite behavior.

Thank you,

Jonathan Vos Post
[over 210 publications, presentations, and broadcasts about Space]

#91 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2003, 03:16 PM:

I wanted to privately email you, too, but I could not readily find your email address through either your blog nor your home page.

Looking in the top left corner, directly under her photo, in the weblog page was too tough for you? That's directly beneath the link you objected to. You wouldn't even have to scroll down to find it.

Jonathan, quit while you're ahead.

#92 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2003, 08:24 PM:

I went to Google to see how long it would take to find my own e-mail address. It took less than two minutes. As Jim has pointed out, my address is on this page, and would have been on your screen when you were looking at my Particles links list. Also on this page is a link to the home page I share with Patrick, where there's a nice clear link to the brief FAQ Patrick wrote about writing to us. At the bottom of the FAQ are both our e-mail addresses.

In short, Mr. Post, either you have serious visual or reading comprehension problems, or you didn't bother to look for my address, then fibbed about being unable to find it.

I spoke with Tom Whitmore today. Among other things, we discussed novelty "periodic table of ______" posters. The earliest one that either of us remembers seeing was the Periodic Table of the Vegetables. Tom thinks that one may have been published in the early 1970s.

I found the story about you and Rockwell unconvincing in its own right, so I went and looked for something else that's easy to find on the web: your resume.

You've had a great many impressive-sounding jobs. The trouble is, when we exclude companies where you're a corporate officer or otherwise have an interest in the firm, the Rockwell job's the only one you've kept for more than a year. Most of the others lasted eight months or less. I still don't believe your account of what happened to you at Rockwell, but I can see how it must have hurt to lose that one.

Over on the academic side, you list yourself as having a Ph.D., then acknowledge that it's an A.B.D., and has been one since 1977.

Under your current employment, you list yourself as an Adjunct Professor of Astronomy in the Science/Engineering/Math division at Cypress College. That sounds impressive. But Cypress College is a two-year community college that emphasizes ESL readiness and instruction. It offers associate degrees in:

Accounting; Administrative Assistant; Administrative Support; Air Conditioning and Refrigeration; Art-General; Art-Advertising Design; Automotive Collision Repair; Automotive Technology; Aviation Management; Commercial Pilot; Computer Applications; Computer Information Systems; Computer Programming; Computer Science; Court Reporting; Culinary Arts; Dance; Dental Hygiene; Drafting Engineering Technology; Flight Attendant; Food Service Management; General Studies; Geographic Information Systems; Health Information Technology; Hotel Operations; Human Services; Liberal Arts; LVN to RN; Management; Marketing; Medical Staff Services Science; Merchandising; Mortuary Science; Mutli-Cultural Studies/US; Music; Photography; Physical Education; Pre-Engineering; Psychiatric Technology; PT to RN; Radiologic Technology; Registered Dental Assisting; Registered Nursing; Secretarial-Legal; Small Business Management; Theater Arts; Travel/Tourism; Word Processing.
Those are all good and useful subjects, but I'd be interested in finding where the "Science/Engineering/Math division" fits into that curriculum.

#93 ::: LNHammer ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2003, 08:27 PM:

So every one of these periodic tables are infringing? Given that there's prior art—namely, Mendeleyev's original periodic table—of which all of them, including yours, are all parodies, that's a wee difficult to sustain.


#94 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2003, 11:07 PM:

Mr. Vos Post:

Your mention of your lawsuit made me curious, so I looked for the decision on Lexis.

I found the unpublished decision of the Appellate Division in _Vos Post v. Turner et al._, No. B131268 (April 17, 2002), which affirmed the trial court's dismissal of your lawsuit on the ground that the complaint was barred by the statute of limitations.

You might be interested to know that I was unable to find any mention of an appeal of this case on the California Supreme Court's website (either in their case information system, or in their list of unpublished opinions for which review is pending). In addition, Lexis does not list the case as having had review granted.

As it appears to be your understanding that review has been granted, you or your attorney might wish to confirm that the court's internal records are not the same as the information it provides to the public.

#95 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2003, 11:20 PM:

I've just discovered that it's not useful to try to google for information included in PDFs -- go figure.

The information I was seeking was copyright dates on some of those periodic tables, particularly the Table of Vegetables (I remember whose kitchen I saw it in in the late 1970s, at which point I was already familiar with its existence, and have a call in to her to see if she still has it on her wall and can give me the copyright date). I'll let you all know when I hear back. I'm quite certain that it well predates 1992.

SPOILER ALERT *** Omnilingual by H Beam Piper **
If you have not read this story and think you might and are concerned that I may spoil the punchline, please stop reading!!

I wonder what might have happened if the periodic table that became the Rosetta Stone for understanding the Martians in Piper's classic story "Omnilingual" had been one of these parodies. The better the parody, the longer it might take to actually discover what was wrong....


#96 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2003, 12:17 AM:

Kate, that gets a long low whistle of appreciation.

Thomas, I went googling for that copyright date and couldn't find it. I suspect it's best found in the corner of someone's framed copy.

#97 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2003, 12:56 AM:

Teresa: one endeavours to be of assistance.

It occured to me that the decision of whether to grant review itself might be what's under consideration by the Supreme Court. However, there are cases listed in the system where no decision on granting review has been made (example at the Supreme Court level, and corresponding entry at the Court of Appeal level), so that seems unlikely to be the cause of the lack of information on the web page.

#98 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2003, 01:03 AM:

I meant to include the case information screen at the Court of Appeal for Mr. Vos Post's case, for comparison to the one above.

#99 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2003, 01:16 AM:

Well, the friend no longer has the poster, and remembers it as somewhat later than I do -- early 1980s. Still well before 1992. Will continue looking.

#100 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2003, 01:53 AM:

Meta-comment, or for the Buddhists among you _metta_ comment --

I think there's a master's thesis or a self-help book awaiting the person who can elucidate clearly the difference between this thread and the thread under "Follow the Money" on this same blog. _Pace_ JVP (and it's important to bring this up when litigious people are present) this group seems remarkably supportive of some while possibly being perceived as attacking of others. It's my guess that JVP believes he's being attacked here (or at least ganged up on) -- it's only a guess, and I'd appreciate being proved wrong! My perception is that a lot of us are actually interested in finding out what the local values of truth are.

"Follow the Money" got very cooperative, where this thread got very (politely) confrontational. Is it as simple as defensiveness? What triggers defensiveness, if that's the key? I wonder whether someone will ever do a serious analysis of what leads some threads in blogs to go ballistic where others become very supportive -- it's a fascinating sociological phenomenon, recorded in a very different way than similar exchanges in conversation, widely available, and a very large sample. ((I'm not saying this thread has gone ballistic, or threatens to -- I'm saying that some threads do so. This thread is much more confrontational at the moment than most on this blog, and because of that is Interesting, to me at least, on a sociological level. YMMV.))

Ah for infinite time and resources! I won't follow this up; if any of you do, I'd appreciate an acknowledgement, he says with a wry smile.


#101 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2003, 02:11 AM:

Dear James, Teresa, Kate, and Tom,

I thank you all for the time and care you have made in checking facts, which trump opinion most of the time. You are all correct. I'd like to add some context, if I may.

In chronological (or blogological order)...

(1) James and Teresa: I obviously didn't see Teresa's email address right in front of my eyes. Although I'd googled the website she shares with Patrick, I didn't think to look in the FAQ. Just adds to my appearence of idiocy. No point in fibbing. Have you ever stood by the open refrigerator door unable to find something you know is there, and then look sheepish when your significant other grabs it at once, where it was hiding in plain sight?

(2) Let's get back to other Periodic tables later.

(3) My resume is on two versions online, one for teaching, one for management/software, but they agree in salient points for now. I'd split the Boeing employment into pieces, based on the job title and location, as they promoted me and relocated me during my 5+ years there. As the Space Division of Rockwell was acquired by Boeing, that gives me more than 11 years with what is now Boeing. Not exactly the fast-paced internet time. The 6 months on contract at the Lockheed-Martin Skunk works was a 1-year contract that I completed twice as fast as they expected. Not a problem. But thanks for your sympathy. Losing the space program job hurt deeply, but far less than (for instance) losing my mother when she was only 42 and I a teenager.

(4) The Ph.D. (ABD) story is interesting, to me, but probably less to you. I had all course requirements complete after the M.S. (earned in a year flat), and over 36 credits beyond. I passed the Doctoral candidacy exams by one of the highest scores they ever had. I had published research results in what's now called Artifical Life and Nanotechnology (neither term existed then). U.Mass./Amherst was in chaos, with 5 of the 9 Deans gone, and President Bolger (who just resigned) not yet in. Half my Computer & Information Science Department faculty fled, after an unpopular new chairman. After I left, he was voted out a Chairman in a no-confidence vote. What happened was that my ad hoc Thesis Committee was never able to cohere into an Official Thesis Committee, so my dissertation was never formally taken from me and evaluated, and thus neither approved nor denied. The Dissertation Credits on my transcripts still show as "Incomplete." I've been back, suggesting that they form a committee and evaluate the thesis, enough chapters of which have now been published in refereed science journals and international conference proceedings. That may yet happen, some day. The job at Rockwell investigated this, and formally decided to pay me on the same scale as those employees who had their Ph.D. awarded. But it does make full-time professorships almost impossible, hence my having qualified in 5 subjects at 4 colleges in the past 12 months.

(5) I wouldn't knock community colleges. Cypress College has a fairly big Math, Engineering, and Science division, and many Astronomy faculty. The Chairman was a doctoral student of Professor Gregory Benford, a friend known to many of you for his award-wining fiction. He recommended me for the position, just as Ray Bradbury and Arthur C. Clarke and Ben Bova have recommended me for other positions. I was also offered an Astronomy position at Mt.San Antonio College -- the single largest 2-year college in the U.S.A.; true, only one US Nobel Prizewinner went to a 2-year college, but don't knock the education or quality of some professors, please.

(6) Of course I over-reacted. Of course, Mendeleyev has priority (although a few sort of beat him to the punch with "octaves"). hence myself, Mr.Plotkin, and other fall within the Parody exception to copyright. Nobody's plagiarized anybody. A citation would be the normal scientific protocol to resolve the matter.

(7) Kate, you did a good job of checking the legal citation. But what's missing from the record includes: (a) there are 5 exception to the statute of limitations on Defamation in California, all of which we invoked. (b) the "continuing publication" and/or "republication" exceptions are why I tried so hard to find out if someone online was republishing the too-old defamations. (c) There were over 20 Motions in Limine, oppositions to same, Motions of Privilege, and the like as to what could be allowed in those exclusions. (d) A retired judge was stipulated to decide these pretrial motions relating to the statute of limitations. (e) On the day of hearing, he was recovering from back surgery and on heavy painkillers. (f) He had not read the hundreds of pages of breifs specially prepared for the hearing. (g) He kept no notes, had no clerk, lost his paperwork, and failed to return the originals to trial court. (h) On the phone, he told all attorneys that, of course, he did not intend to tie the hands of the trial court from determining if the exceptions were raised. (i) He failed to write that down. (j) The trial court had no option but to dismiss. (k) The appeal was hampered by the opposing council submitting an incomplete record. (l) Moreso, the Clerk of Civil Appeals admitted being unable to locate over 1,000 pages of already filed evidence. (m) My attorney slipped into deep problems with diabetes, and was unable to continue the appeal. (n) He misinformed me on the date I needed to file a Petition for [Appellate] Reconsideration and a Supreme Court Petition for Review. (o) In Pro per, I tried to file, but was deemed too late.

(8) This case now connected with Post v. Palo/Haklar. That's the one where I won 7-0 in State Supreme Court (a published opinion, indeed, THE textbook opinion in its niche). Turner & Jones & Rockwell republished defamations to Palo and Haklar. Turner & Jones' counsel offered to represent Palo & Haklar. Things went weird there, after I won that trial. Palo & Haklar sued the attorney for Turner & Jones. That's right, my opponents sued my other opponents' attorney for malpractice.

(9) My poor befuddled attorney found himself ina retrial of the trial I'd won in Superior and Supreme Courts. He forgot even to ask Palo & Haklar to authenticate the documents showing that Turner & Jones' counsel delivered the defamatory documents to them. My attorney, poor old man, forgot even that we had a lien on the malpractice case.

(10) The CA Supreme Court has until 16 Aug 2003 to either grant or deny me review on the petition I filed on 16 June 2003, which explains in far greater depth how the two cases are tied togther.

(11) Either way, it's been a nightmare. And several appeals along the way were NOT published, and hence not on line. I was supported by 6 lawfirms in Friends of the Court Briefs, which represented women, asians, pacific islanders, rural workers, hispanic workers, and other discriminated against groups in solidarity with me. My $2,000,000+ damages pale in comparison with what these groups lose every month when they can't afford justice. It's not just writers who should care about the outcome of my cases.

(12) Tom's right about "Omnilingual." I discuss that in my web domain in the discussion (linked to from The Ultimate Science Fiction Web Guide) about How To Communicate Wioth Extraterrestrials, which heavily references Science Fiction literature.

(13) I've had a slightly too-interesting life. I've learned enough about Law to act as an uncredentialed paralegal for law firms specializing in Appeals and Supreme Court briefs. I do over-react to those things that have hurt me, vaguely akin to a post traumatic stress syndrome soldier diving for cover at the sound of a car backfiring.

(14) But I have a real education, and do real teaching, and real research, and write real science fiction, fantasy, plays, poems, journalism, music reviews, and whatever.

(15) I guess that I need to be much more careful in accidently insulting people who otherwise might find my experience useful or entertaining, by my unnecessarily stirring up skepticism. I've lost some friends along the 15 years of continuous litigation. I'd have been much better off writing 6,000 pages of novels instead of 6,000 pages of legal material.

(16) But I thank you all for your very civilized and open-minded willingness to dig for the facts and allow me to explain my side of the story. Sometimes I feel that only people in our utopian community are a safe place to show my scars, and seek empathy. But Tom and others who've seen me at cons for the past 20+ years (where I've done over 200 panels) can agree that I've never brought all this up in public fora. I'd usually rather converse about the literature we love, the history we share, and the cosmos which is our destiny.

(17) You could (and still can) banish me. Or treat me like a shell-shocked survivor of the front lines. It is your community, and I feel privileged to have been treated in a civilized way. I feel this same sense in the Netherlands or Scotland or other advanced countries, and less often in my native America, which has a sad anti-intellectual and anti-rational streak.

(18) Any other questions? I try to answer honestly, even when not under oath. And have I got documentation to back me up on everything *sigh*. Had to buy an 8' x 16' shed to handle to documents overflowing a 2600 ft.sq. home. Have to leave wife (full Ph.D. in Physics, full-time Professor of Physics at 4-year University) and son (14-year old university Sophmore with mostly straight A average) room for their lives. They've already heard the above story too often already. Sorry if it is ugly in places. It is part of my real life. Now, if I can only capture some of this in fiction..

Thank you again,

Jonathan Vos Post

#102 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2003, 03:05 AM:

On my part I've no desire to banish; it's nice to see such a long and relatively non-defensive post putting out your side. And I'm personally glad that you're taking that approach (I admit to being someone who likes to see controversies resolve without violence). Confirmed on at least me not having heard the story or the details before.

I'm interested in your comments on other periodic tables, when you can. Or was the Omnilingual reference what you meant? I'm still wondering what the results of us trying to translate a culture through spoofs would be like (imagine that the only remnant of our current culture is a complete file of The Onion, for example -- it's very useful for deconstructing the culture from within the culture, but probably useless for reconstructing the culture from outside unless one already knows that it's a parody).

See you in Toronto? (Assuming I get it together to make it for the semi-obligatory reasons...)


#103 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2003, 08:31 AM:

JVP, I'm almost afraid to say anything, lest any more of your family members or pets suffer disasters.

#104 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2003, 08:40 AM:

"I admit to being someone who likes to see controversies resolve without violence."

It's so refreshing to see someone take a stand against the common wisdom. Why, before you said this, Tom, we were all planning to resolve this controversy with baseball bats and brass knuckles.

(Kate Nepveu was actually building a small siege engine, but now that you've come forth with your brave and novel insight, I'm sure she'll reconsider.)

#105 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2003, 09:27 AM:

So I shouldn't mail her the trebouchet schematics?

I think he meant verbal violence, seriously.

Non-seriously, I'd rather have plastic knuckles than brass ones, or even the cartilage ones I have now, which hurt all the time.

#106 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2003, 10:04 AM:

"I think he meant verbal violence, seriously."

A concept right up there with "liquid ice," "daytime night," and "true lies."

Words can certainly hurt people, and some language is full-on reprehensible. It's perfectly reasonable to criticize verbal cruelty. But cant phrases like "verbal violence" serve to erase important distinctions--in this case the (one would think) rather important one between "sticks and stones" and "words."

Lose too many of those distinctions and you've lost civilization.

My raised eyebrow was meant to point out that Tom's comment was a non sequitur: nobody in this discussion was contemplating violence at all.

#107 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2003, 10:21 AM:

As far as the legal aspects, we have reached the limits of what information is available online.

Two points that can be discerned: the published decision has to do with what kind of appeal one can take from administrative hearings on wage claims. It's online, accessible from this page (see the end of the list from the Supreme Court). Apologies for the awkward link, but the other routes I found required you to log in to Findlaw.

The present appeal seems to be from the Court of Appeal's dismissal of the appeal for Mr. Vos Post's failure to provide the record (the court had dismissed it four prior times, and then vacated the dismissals for good cause as the relevant rule allows). Disposition screen in Court of Appeal; Rule 8(b) referred to therein; case summary at Supreme Court. The subject of the dismissed appeal cannot be determined from the online records. However, the case does not appear to be close to a disposition on the merits.

Patrick, Tom, Xopher: but it was going to be an exquisitely *polite* siege engine . . .

#108 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2003, 10:29 AM:

Patrick: Perhaps it's bad for civilization if we use 'violence' metaphorically to mean aggressive, cruel, unpleasant language, ad hominem attacks, etc. I think you may be right, but it calls for further contemplation (for example, the same would apply to words like 'war' and so on; there's nothing that has ever happened in fandom that rises to the level of a war, yet certain heated controversies in fannish history have been so characterized -- this may also be a bad thing, but it's rather common).

(And not central to or arguing against your point, but there are certain verbal acts which are equivalent to violence, at least under law. Threatening violence is as bad for society at large as violence itself, because it reinforces the domination of the strong and aggressive over the weak and/or peaceful. Not nearly as bad for the victim in the individual case, of course.)

I read Tom's comment as being pleased with the fact that no one on either side here was resorting to any kind of unpleasantness, nor in fact departing from the most courteous discourse. His use of the word 'violence' may not have been the best choice, but I thought he was exaggerating for humorous effect.

#109 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2003, 10:46 AM:

Tom: I'm surprised you see a similarity at all between this thread & "Follow the Money". Could you explain?

As far as this thread, the first post from Mr. Vos Post contained the following:

Dear Andrew Plotkin and Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden (who blogged Plotkin's site):

Addressing Andrew Plotkin in public, rather (or in addition to) e-mail; also indicating that simply linking to a site, somehow gives the linker a connection to intellectual property problems with that site. Also, a failure to differentiate between Patrick and Teresa, one of whom linked to the site, one of whom did not.

You've done a very fine job with
"The Periodic Table of Dessert
Designed by Andrew Plotkin
Copyright 2003"

I'd like to point out that there is considerable overlap with:

"The Periodic Table of Aliments" [Analog, October 1992] co-authors Professor Jonathan Vos Post and Professor Christine M. Carmichael.

Here we have the suggestion of plagarism, or some other form of intellectual property violation. Also, most authors do not refer to themselves as "professor" in the bylines of their fiction writing.

Our domain gets over 12,000,000 hits per year, now in its 8th year, and includes The Ultimate Science Fiction Web Guide, The Ultimate Mystery/Detective Web Guide, The Ultimate Western Fiction Web Guide, and is about to launch The Ultimate Romance Fiction Web Guide.

Apparently irrelevant reference to the poster's web page, since no online reference to the prior periodic table was given.

I think that we need to discuss copyright issues.

Note this is considerably less specific than the later descriptions of what the poster would like.

Again, I am impressed by your beautiful, clever, and colorful work on the web. I understand Open Source software very well, having been a VP and Board Member of an open source company that was acquired for $7,500,000 by what was then called VA Linux (now VA Software) on NASDAQ.

Open Source also irrelevant to the discussion; reference to being high-up in a prior company that was sold for lots of money, also apparently irrelevant.

Professor Jonathan Vos Post and Professor Christine M. Carmichael (a full-time Physics professor) are well-known internationally both as scientists and as science fiction authors.

Referring to oneself in the third person; citing academic qualifications.

I await your reply with some interest.


Jonathan Vos Post
Part-time Professor at 4 colleges and universities
Computer Science
English Composition

cc: Law Offices of John M. Woodburn

Long list of academic credits, which are also not relevant, and a cc to an attorney.

Put the following together:

CC to an attorney;
Reference to company that was involved in, being sold for lots of money;
Long list of credentials suggesting how well-known, smart, and important this person is;
Statement that "I think that we need to discuss copyright issues.";
All made in public, in someone else's forum, without mentioning any efforts to contact the other person first and work things out.

All writers are interested in improving their writing. If Mr. Vos Post did not intend to accuse Andrew Plotkin of plagarism in public and threaten litigation in someone else's blog, he should note that that was the clear impression he gave to this reader. And I think that's more than sufficient to explain the subsequent course this thread has taken--in which I have attempted to be civil, and I think the other posters have also attempted.

Teresa, if you weary of this discussion on your blog, please say so and I will drop it.

#110 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2003, 01:09 PM:

Patrick -- Interesting to see an editor speaking out against metaphoric usages.... I'll admit to being hackneyed in using that particular metaphor. It is a trifle common. (("Life ... is like a metaphor." "No, life is a simile!"))

Kate, what I was struck by was the difference, rather than the similarity. Reading them in close temporal proximity gave me mild cognitive whiplash. Assuming the audience for threads on this blog has some similarity across threads, I noted the difference in tone and wondered why. And I think you've done an excellent job of elucidating where it started.

#111 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2003, 01:32 PM:

"Interesting to see an editor speaking out against metaphoric usages."

Or in favor of clear distinctions. Take your pick.

Metaphors are great, but you don't have look very far to find examples of people doing real harm by losing track of what's literal and what's a metaphor. Just this week, for instance, we've seen the provisions of the "PATRIOT" Act, supposedly passed in order to fight "terrorism," being used to give prosecutors more leeway in pursuit of the War on Some Drugs. Drugs, see, are a "weapon of mass destruction." Next: low math scores are a weapon of mass destruction! Aimed straight at our children!

Incidentally, you're an old friend so I forgive you, but few things about being an editor in one's day job are more thoroughly annoying than the frequency with which those who want to argue with (or correct) one's usage will do by playing the "Surely you as an editor..." card. Or "I can't believe that you, an editor..." As if I deserve to be taken down a peg just for existing. On the day I go around claiming to be free from error because of my grand status as An Editor, perhaps you'd be justified in trotting that one out. Otherwise, just perhaps, not.

#112 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2003, 02:27 PM:

Thomas, dear, you're being infinitely benevolent again.

JVP, you said

(5) I wouldn't knock community colleges. Cypress College has a fairly big Math, Engineering, and Science division, and many Astronomy faculty. The Chairman was a doctoral student of Professor Gregory Benford, a friend known to many of you for his award-wining fiction. He recommended me for the position, just as Ray Bradbury and Arthur C. Clarke and Ben Bova have recommended me for other positions. I was also offered an Astronomy position at Mt.San Antonio College -- the single largest 2-year college in the U.S.A.; true, only one US Nobel Prizewinner went to a 2-year college, but don't knock the education or quality of some professors, please.
Given how much else you said, I'm surprised that you didn't correct my erroneous impression that you teach at Cypress College. I see now that I should have checked your main resume against your teaching resume.

You're no longer a member of Cypress College's Science/Engineering/Math Faculty, having taught there for all of seven months. You've now moved on to a position as part-time adjunct faculty at Woodbury University in Burbank, CA, where you're teaching elementary algebra, intermediate algebra, and physics for architecture students (with lab section). You're also a part-time member of something called the Faculty Pool at Pasadena City College (English composition) and California State University (computer science).

I don't suppose it crossed your mind that Jim meant it kindly when he said "Quit while you're ahead"? I've never before zapped a poster because I was embarrassed for him, but I'm starting to think about it.

#113 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2003, 02:28 PM:

Kate, feel free to keep going as long as it amuses you. I'm following it with considerable interest.

#114 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2003, 02:39 PM:

And yes, it would have been an extremely polite siege engine. Thank you for pointing out all those odd features of JVP's posts. I'm not nearly as lightfooted as you are.

#115 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2003, 03:24 PM:
#117 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2003, 04:25 PM:

I swear, when you two misunderstand each other, it's like an avalanche down miles of unbroken slope.

#118 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2003, 07:54 PM:

Teresa: amuses isn't precisely the word, but I'm glad to hear that the tone I was striving for seems to have come through. And I was looking up the legal bits anyway out of curiousity, so thought I would report what facts I could find.

In other news, I saw _Pirates of the Carribean_ today. I remember you'd really liked the trailer. I wasn't impressed by the trailer, but the movie had me smiling for nearly all of it (and it is rather long, probably too long). Quite fun. Did you ever get to see it?

#119 ::: Lydia Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2003, 07:58 PM:

I don't have any formal legal training, but as an abstract searcher, I spent a lot of time looking at legal suits to decide whether or not they could become a lien upon the land I was searching. Johnson County, Iowa had several intertesting ones, surprisingly enough, including the man who was suing the University of Iowa Hostpital because they failed to stop his wife from poisoning their second son to death while he was in the hospital. Holding the hospital responsible for his wife's behavior, behavior she'd been persuing at their home for some days, tickles my sense of the absurd. If he hadn't noticed, why did he think the hospital would? But I digress.

I've seen fuck-ups like these before. The judicial system is far more than merely fallible. However, the long list of disasters that JVP lists for his law suit are just this side of improbable. Had my attorney been so utterrly dilatory, I would have fired him a year into the case or less, and found someone that was awake.

The thing I noticed when going down the Docket Entries of the first suit was the sheer number of times that JVP's attorneys failed to file required documents in the necessary amount of time. There's a note on one of them that they received a "box of loose paper" which the judge declined to accept, sending it back to be properly bound. In the Post vs. Palo case, the case is dismissed five times in 12 months for insuffficient paperwork from the appellant. If I were the judge, I'd be damn sick of the thing by then. It also looks like there was some weird problems with submitting papers to the wrong one of the two suits going on simultaneously. That reminds me of my divorce.

I filed pro se which means I did it myself. Our common property was a computer, a waterbed, and two cats, and he had them all. Pro se means that you get to do your own typing, so I typed up my own Summons and Petition for Dissolution, Proof of Service, and Agreement of Termination. I was incorrectly told that I should not type up the Judgment and Decree.

When I showed up to court, we went through the formalities: "Your name is Lydia Drew Nickerson?" "Yes, your honor." "And you live at 35XX Garfield in Minneapolis?" "Yes, your honor." "Your birthdate is May 24th, 1962?" "Yes your honor." "And you were married on the 21st day of June in 1984 in Johnson County, Iowa." "On the courthouse lawn, your honor." He glared at me. I went back to "Yes your honor."He read each statement I had written in the Summons and Petition, including the charming one about the parties being unreconcilable. I solemnly agreed with each statement. Great fun.

After establishing that I was me and that I was married and I didn't want to be married anymore, he looked at me in considerable surprise and said, "Where's the Judgment and Decree. I can't finish this without a Judgment and Decree." He gave me until 3:00 that afternoon to come back with the necessary document, which was, I kid you not, the Summons and Decree in the past tense, with a whole bunch or Where As's, and a filip at the end saying that by his grace and through the power of his holy office, he hereby pronounced me free of all bonds of matrimony and permitted to find my own way to hell.

So, I showed up at 3:00 with the silly document in my hand. I took a seat at the back because there were two attorneys standing in front of the bench and the judge was saying, "I can't sign this. It's a mess. Did you know," he said, turning to one of the attorneys and shaking his finger, "that she's filed for dissolution under a different docket? What a mess. Now, look, you two, I'm five for five today. As soon as I've done that pro se back there," he pointed at me, "I'll be six for six. Go out there, get me something I can sign, and come back in here in the next thirty minutes, and I'll be seven for seven at the end of the day. Go!"

If ever I thought the law majestic, that popped that bubble. I was both amused and annoyed to be a batting statistic for a family law judge. I'm still a little appalled that there could have been two open dissolution cases for the same couple. That is not supposed to happen, though I don't know if there are good safeguards against it or not. I do know that the Recorder's Office and the Clerk of Court are generally staffed by women who are overworked, have been there for 40 years. Imagine their delight with computers. Right. This was happening as the changeover was happening. Hmm, I've digressed again. Sorry.

Ending? About a month later, I got a yellow postcard from the county that said that my petition on case number such and such had been affirmed. I was officially divorced. How nice.

#120 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2003, 01:50 PM:


I've been trying to avoid speculative or evaluative comments on Mr. Vos Post's lawsuits, as you're right, strange things can and do happen; also, I don't practice in California, and so things that strike me as odd might be established practices there. But his tale is really quite remarkable.

(As an aside, while the web pages for the California courts are far from perfect, I'm still quite impressed with the amount of information they have available.)

I'm appalled at your divorce story. I defend a lot of cases brought by pro se plaintiffs (mostly prisoner litigation), so I'm familiar with the burdens that pro se parties face. It's really in everyone's interests to provide pro se parties with clear, useful information about what they need to do: the mechanics run much more smoothly; the pro se party is hopefully less frustrated by the system; and I don't have to spend as much time trying to figure out what, exactly, this person wants and how we should respond. =>

I believe that a number of courts are making greater efforts to provide better information on common pro se actions like divorce or landlord/tenant issues, but I don't know how well those efforts are going. I think it's well worth the time investment, though.

(Also, at least in the areas I'm familiar with, Family Court judgeships are not considered very prestigous positions. Which is also a shame, since I'd bet they're the judges that people are most likely to find themselves before.)

#121 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2003, 02:43 PM:

Kate: When I was working as a reference librarian I found Nolo Press books very helpful as a resource for people doing their own legal work. Most of them, I think, are about things like wills and rental agreements and stuff like that rather than actual in court stuff. But I'm pretty sure they do a Divorce Book. Perhaps there is an untapped market here for books intended to help the pro se cases.

(If I wanted to be cute and thread cross, I could suggest you write one and self publish. But I'd never do anything like that. Oh no.)


#122 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2003, 03:29 PM:

Mary Kay: I've heard such books, but I'd prefer to have the courts put out information that the individual (or their local library) doesn't have to pay for.

And I wouldn't know enough or from the right perspective to write that kind of book, even if you would do something like that . . .

#123 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2003, 03:35 PM:

Suddenly I am imagining the launch of Fool For a Client Press, but I would never . . . no, nolle prosse that, that's -exactly- what I would say.

#124 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2003, 12:44 AM:

Dear Teresa, Kate, Lydia, et al.,

I just spent 90+ minutes composing a vivid, clever reply to the latest round. One slip of fingertip, and it diasappeared into server limbo, never to be reconstructed.

I recounted, wading through alligators of painful memories, how the "box of loose papers" was one I shlepped to the clerk's office 6 or 7 times over 2 years. It was their job to accept it, index it, combine it with other documents, and bind for the Appeals Court clerk, and only then to be seen by three appellate justices.

This the clerks could not do, law be damned.

One clerk lost 1,000+ pages. We sent his office letters for months. No answer. We wrote to the presiding judge of L.A. Superior -- largest judicial district in the world. More judges, more courtrooms, more cases, more trials...

That hopeless clerk was never seen again at that courthouse.

The successor never read the letters -- lost them 6 months rubberbanded between two 9x12 envelopes. So she refused the boxes that the letters explained had to be accepted.

Finally got the appeals court clerk to ask for them. That clerk rejected them as loose, said I should have the superior court clerk index and bind them. Square 1.

Eventually, skipping more months, the Appeals Court Oral Argument, equivalent of trial, happened. I won on every argument. But the justices said that there was just short of enough evidence to substantiate those arguments.

That was in the 1,000 pages of missing records.

As to only 7 months at Cypress, teaching physics, let me excerpt from a letter I sent about that.


Steve Duncan
District Director, Human Resources
North Orange County Community College District9
1830 W. Romneya Drive
Anaheim, CA 92801-1819
phone (714) 808-4500
fax (714) 808-4801

25 December 2002

Dear Mr. Duncan,

This letter is a formal demand that you overturn the invalid rejection of my Equivalency, and certify that I have (for all purposes) the equivalent of a M.S. in Physics or Astronomy, so far as the North Orange County Community College District is concerned. I will thereby be authorized to work again at Cypress College as Part Time Adjunct Professor of Astronomy, as I have done since August 2002; and that I am authorized to work as Part Time Adjunct Professor of Physics.

Let us review the chronology of this matter

I was recommended for the position of Part Time Adjunct Professor of Astronomy by Professor Gregory Benford, former Chair of Astrophysics at U.C. Irvine, best-selling author, advisor to the White House, and Dissertation Committee Member for Cypress Astronomy/Physics Chairman Ron Armale’s own Ph.D.

My formal Academic Employment Application for “Job # CCX-C45” was completed 15 June 2002, and filed then or shortly thereafter. Among other things, it included a listing of 3 degrees from accredited universities, noted that I had “all but degree” for a Ph.D., and attached a resume which showed my teaching experiendce and 20 years in the Space Program and Aerospace industry.

I was interviewed on or about 21 June 2002 by Dr. Ron Armale and Interim Division Dean (Science, Engineering, Math) Larry Mercadante. They gave me their highest possible rating, and asked me to start teaching three classes in August 2002.

I provided your HR department with fingerprints, certified transcripts, payment, and all other documents requested. They began a time-consuming and incorrect process of asking me to throw away the papers from your department which I had already signed, and then sign new papers in which I would accept a lower salary (1st column) than the medium salary (2nd column) that had been agreed to. I politely refused to give myself a pay cut. After many weeks, numerous 90-mile commutes, several letters to your department, several phonecalls, a letter from me to the University of Massachusetts Registrar, and phonecalls between your staff and said Registrar, your department’s error was rescinded. By now, I had been teaching for many weeks, and my paychecks had been incorrect. This error under your authority wasted precious time in which we could otherwise have prevented the far more serious blunder that lay in ambush.

Beginning 19 August 2002 I taught three classes, two lectures and one lab, to roughly 100 Cypress College students. For many such students, per their written evaluations to me, I was the best professor they had ever had. My in-class performance was evaluated by Dr. Armale on 7 October 2002. He wrote: “Very good lecture, interesting, entertaining, and informative…. I liked your lecture overall. Good job!”

Dr. Armale, both one-on-one and in the presence of Dean Mercadente, explicitly offered me a similar teaching position in Winter 2003, contingent on your Equivalency Committee’s approval.

To teach a second semester, or become a full-time faculty member, what NOCCCD requires is that I have EITHER a M.S. in Astronomy, OR and M.S. in Physics, OR a B.S. In Physics and a M.S. in Engineering, OR the equivalent. The word “equivalent” is where your staff dropped the ball.

On or about 14 October 2002 I submitted a 2-page form “Supplemental Application for Equivalency”, per the blank form sent to me 9 October 2002 by Esther Saucedo, Personnel Specialist. Your office at no time asked me to annotate my transcripts or provide more letters of recommendation. I have, and had, in fact, a 1968 Caltech Catalog, with copious description of the contents of my very advanced coursework, and details on how Caltech was the #1 science school in the world, with more Nobel Prizes than any other institution. I happen to be a co-author with one such Nobel laureate, per a document that you have in my file. Neither your office nor anyone at Cypress College indicated that your approval would be any more than pro forma, i.e. that in the absence of evidence or testimony against me, my Equivalency would be rubber stamped. Your office never requested or otherwise indicated the desirability of documents from third parties testifying the interpretation of my transcripts and related material.

On 5 November 2002, you signed and sent to me a letter denying my equivalency. It read, in applicable part: “Your Equivalency Application for the discipline listed below was considered by the District Equivalency Committeee on 4 November 2002. I regret to inform you that your application was not approved [emphasis in original]. The determination of the committee was that your current educational and/or professional background is not equivalent to the minimum qualifications for the discipline pursuant to the District equivalency criteria…”

That letter conceals who was present to vote thereon, and (more important) who was required to be present but was not. The letter also conceals the substance of the discussion, with was defamatory and biased in the extreme. Your Committee simply failed to comprehend, or did not believe my record, that my 2 B.S. degrees from Caltech; plus my M.S. and Doctoral work in another field; plus 210 publications, presentations, and broadcasts in Astronomy; plus 20 years in the Space Program and Aerospace industry; plus awards from 4 heads of NASA; constituted the Equivalent of a M.S. in Physics or Astronomy, as purportedly required.

The relevant procedure in described in North Orange County Community College District Board Policy, Section 3000, Policy #3009 “Equivalency.” Paragraph 2.1.2 reads: “One a case-by-case basis, the standing membership shall be augmented to include one tenured faculty member from each campus whose primary assignment is in the discipline or area under consideration, and selected by the tenured faculty of the appropriate departments.” Said regulations thus require you to have a meeting of an Equivalency Committee which includes at least 2 tenured professors in the relevant field Astronomy: (one from Cypress and one from Fullerton). This they conspicuously failed to do.

They had a meeting of 4 bureaucrats with NO significant relevant degrees, plus Ron Armale (who spoke powerfully in advocacy for me). The Astronomy Professor from the Fullerton campus never showed up. Four clueless drones were not convinced by Ron, didn't understand my transcript, and virtually accused me of obsolescence and plagiarism. Specifically, despite the objections of Dr. Armale, I was accused of having my degrees “too long ago” (which is both illegal Age Discrimination and failure to realize that academic standards were higher in the 1960s and 1970s). I was likewise accused of not having written all of the publications I’d listed, which is probably a longer publication list than all the faculty together of any of your academic departments.

Dr. Ron Armale and Interim Division Dean (Science, Engineering, Math) Larry Mercadante. Were both shocked by the actions of your Committee, both in terms of the failure on your part to ensure that a Quorum was present, and that all accusations against me were both baseless and irrelevant. It is well-known, as I now discover, that your committee frequency fails to have the requisite 2-tenured-faculty minimum. ...

On 9 December 2002, you as the VP of HR, and Dr. Ron Armale, received by facsimile (with first class mail following) a 3-page formal letter from Caltech Provost (and VP and Physics professor) Steve Koonin, at length corroborating my claim that I had the equivalent of AT LEAST a M.S. in Physics or Astronomy. In part, this distinguished man who runs the day-to-day operations of the world’s #1 science school stated:
“I have no hesitation in judging that Mr.Post’s formal qualifications and professional experience make him more than comparable to essentially all M.S. degree holders in Physics or Astronomy.” You never responded to that letter.

Under your watch, a committee meeting without quorum denied me Equivalency, in a pathetic writing, with no appeal. Their appeal procedure, purportedly on the District web site, is (and has always been) "under construction."

So Dean "Merc" and Chairman Armale have no legal basis to rehire me, although they re-assert that they offer me rehire contingent on the NOCCCD's approval. Your refusal to date to overturn the procedurally improper hearing has resulted in my being, de facto, fired from a position from which I am more than qualified, and have the support of students, faculty, and administration alike. You have done a disservice to the State of California, under whose laws you purport to follow; to your Board Policy, which you failed to follow, and which you have been covering up for some time in several similar instances; to the students and faculty of Cypress College. You have done me severe financial damage, and should contemplate how to recompense me for same. You have insulted me, my family (my wife is a full-time Physics Professor), my colleges and universities, and the teachers who have guided me. My mentors include the late Nobel laureate in Physics Richard Feynman, whose mentors included Robert Oppenheimer (father of the A-bomb), whose mentors in turn included Albert Einstein. You have thus told an award-winning student of a student of a student of Albert Einstein that he doesn’t know Physics or Astronomy. What would the Orange County Register make of that, hypothetically speaking, in the midst of their hard-hitting stories on a $60,000,000 scandal that embroils your campuses?

I formally request that you immediately overturn the illegal and incorrect actions done under your authority. Such administrative actions could easily be overturned ... quickly and inexpensively by your direct authority or that of Jeffrey O. Horsley, Vice Chancellor of Human Resources. You are, please, to immediately grant me Equivalency, retroactive to 4 November 2002, without any further re-application on my part. You are to offer me financial compensation for throwing me out of work. You are not to interfere with my application for Unemployment Compensation. You should, if you have a shred of decency, apologize in writing to myself, to provost Koonin, to Dr. Ron Armale and Interim Division Dean (Science, Engineering, Math) Larry Mercadante, and the students who have been deprived of taking a second course from me, as so many eagerly anticipated. Education is too important to be left to bureaucrats.

Sincerely yours,

Jonathan Vos Post
Adjunct Professor of Astronomy



"Faculty Pool" means that at Pasadena City College (flagship of california's Community College system) in English Comp, at at Cal State University at LA, in Computer Science, I have beaten hundreds of competitors to be accepted to teach classes in those fields as they come up -- when the full-timers don't want to, in order of seniority in the faculty pool. But PCC just eliminated 300 classes, and many part-timers. Cal State LA has doubled tution in a year, and still is cutting back on classes.

California has a little $38 billion budget deficit. This leaves the door open to the recall of our governor, and his likely replacement by "The Gubernator." For my wife's photshopped comment on that, with assist from Lincoln, see our home pages, as modified this morning.

Thanks again for your constructive criticism.

BTW, I emailed an apology to the author of Periodic Table of Desserts.



#125 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2003, 04:00 PM:

BTW, I emailed an apology to the author of Periodic Table of Desserts.

I am pleased to hear that and hope it may conclude this discussion.

#126 ::: Lydia Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2003, 06:10 PM:

I'm appalled at your divorce story. I defend a lot of cases brought by pro se plaintiffs (mostly prisoner litigation), so I'm familiar with the burdens that pro se parties face. It's really in everyone's interests to provide pro se parties with clear, useful information about what they need to do: the mechanics run much more smoothly; the pro se party is hopefully less frustrated by the system; and I don't have to spend as much time trying to figure out what, exactly, this person wants and how we should respond.

Actually, Kate, it was worse than that.

At the time, the only information that was "free" was a packet from the Clerk of Court. If you asked for the DIY Divorce Kit, they firmly informed you that there was no such thing. After about a half an hour of rephrasing and questioning, not to mention proving that I knew what the words pro se meant, they produced a small packet of photocopied documents at the price of 10 cents per sheet.

The woman at the counter said, "It needs to look like this."

I thumbed through it. It had a child support agreement, division of real property, and other weird items. I told her that not all of it looked applicable, and she answered in a very annoyed tone of voice, "We're not allowed to give legal advice, here. We could be sued. If you want legal advice, get an attorney."

"But I was told by an attorney at Legal Aid that you would tell me what documents I need to file."

"Well, you should go back to him and ask him what you should file, then."

I looked very forlorn, I expect. I was awfully scared. I had very little self-confidence at that age, and even less money. "What about filing?"

"Filing is $70."

"Can I file now?"

"No. You have to bring in the documents to file."

"Oh. Which documents?"

"Look here," she said. "Here's the Summons and Petition, the Proof of Service, and the Agreement. You just bring those in. You don't have to worry about the Judgment, that's the Judge's job."

Small voice: "Ok, thank you. But how can I file a proof of service if he hasn't been served?"

"Well, we can't very well serve him until you've filed, now can we?"

"Well, but, what does service mean?"

"It means that he's been notified that there's a divorce case pending. So you see, you can't serve until you've filed."

So, I went home, and carefully typed out copies of the documents, removing mentions of homes and children and alimony and such.

Then, I tried to figure out how to have my ex-to-be served. You can do it by mail $3.00, or by sheriff, $25.00. Oh, but try getting someone to tell you what these two different methods entail, and how to arrange for them. Of course, no one would explain the advantages and disadvantages. "We're not allowed to give legal advice, you know. We could be sued." All of this was complicated by the fact that my ex-to-be was in another state. I think I talked to the Sheriff's office two or three times before I felt like I knew what was going on.

I finally chose the service by Sheriff. Mostly, I think, because the Sheriff's office was so nice, and because I understood that method much better than the one by mail.

Service came, service went, and I waited for a court date.

When the judge told me that I had to have the Judgment and Decree, I almost cried. "But...but...the Clerk of Court, I mean the woman there, she said that I didn't need to, that you'd take care of it."

"Well, I don't know who you talked to, but they're not supposed to give you any advice. Now just go and write up a Decree. Can you bring it back by 3:00? Because if you can't, I can't get you back on the docket for another month or more, you know."

So, you know the rest of the story.

Based on web sites I've seen lately, I think that the counties have become a lot more cooperative, and that there are now actual information packets, not just photocopies with the names redacted. I do hope so.

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