Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society

12/27/19 -- Vol. 38, No. 26, Whole Number 2099

Co-Editor: Mark Leeper, * *

Co-Editor: Evelyn Leeper, * *

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TOPIC: Why You Got Three Copies of Last Week's MT VOID (explanation

by Evelyn C. Leeper)

My apologies for the three copies of last week's MT VOID.  The

explanation is a combination of both Optimum's and Yahoo Groups's


I have been using Yahoo Groups to send out the MT VOID.  It is

(was?) a moderated group, and after I emailed each issue there was

a separate step to approve it before it actually went out.

As noted before, Yahoo Groups was changing, and last week they made

the big change, removing all the archives of each group.  In the

process, they seem to have 1) caused some sort of multi-hour delay

in postings going out, and 2) removed the approval step.

At about 9AM, I sent out the issue.  The first problem was that

Optimum did its thing in randomly blocking all our email sent

through both Thunderbird and Opera from our desktop.  So then I

switched to sending out the issue via Gmail.  (Sending out email

through web interfaces is not blocked, but using Optimum's

interface messes up the formatting.)

Normally I get a request to approve it almost immediately.  When I

didn't, I went to the Yahoo Groups page to approve it, but could

not find the usual page for approvals.  So I sent it again about

10AM, but again nothing.

At this point, I decided Yahoo Groups was no longer working.  So I

took the membership list I had saved and constructed a mailing list

for my Gmail account.  And I emailed the MT VOID to this list.

This is the first copy you received.

After several hours, the clog at Yahoo Groups cleared.  That was

when you got the mail from the first two attempts to send it.  And

that is when I discovered that the moderation aspect of the mailing

list had apparently disappeared.

My plan for the future is to use the Gmail mailing list.  This

means that all additions, deletions, and changes have to be sent to

me.  It does make all these changes easier.

My gmail address is but sending
to my older (and much shorter) email will
still work, or just replying to the mail with the issue itself.

Changes in the colophon reflect this new information.

I will keep the Yahoo Group (now merely a mailing list) around for

a while, but after a few months of using Gmail directly, I will

probably delete the Yahoo Group entirely.  If at any point, I find

that someone is sending unmoderated mail to the Yahoo Group, I will

delete it sooner.  [-ecl]


TOPIC: Science Fiction (and Other) Discussion Groups, Films,

Lectures, etc. (NJ)

January 9, 2020: CHARLY (1963) & FLOWERS FOR ALGERNON by

      Daniel Keyes (1959, 1966)

January 23, 2020: THE HANDMAID'S TALE by Margaret Atwood,

      Old Bridge Public Library, 7PM

February 13, 2020: THE QUIET EARTH (1985) & novel by Craig Harrison


March 26, 2020: TBD by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Old Bridge Public

      Library, 7PM

May 28, 2020: TBD from Europe/Latin America,

      Old Bridge Public Library, 7PM

July 23, 2020: CLIPPER OF THE CLOUDS by Jules Verne (a.k.a.


      published by Ace in 1961 in an omnibus titled MASTER OF THE

      WORLD, which is the title of the sequel), Old Bridge Public

      Library, 7PM

September 24, 2020: TBD from Europe/Latin America,

      Old Bridge Public Library, 7PM

November 19, 2020: Rudyard Kipling:

    "A Matter of Fact" (1892)

    "The Ship That Found Herself" (1895)

    ".007" (1897)

    "Wireless" (1902)

    "With the Night Mail [Aerial Board of Control 1]" (1905)

    "As Easy as A.B.C. [Aerial Board of Control 2]" (1912)

    "In the Same Boat" (1911)

      Old Bridge Public Library, 7PM

Northern New Jersey events are listed at:


TOPIC: My Picks for Turner Classic Movies in January (comments by

Mark R. Leeper)

Well, we are now almost in the farseeing new world of 2020.  And,

guess what?  I am running around trying to get this month's work

done.  I have been seriously tied up with planning the awards of

Online Film Critics Society.  Just this morning I turned in my

ballot of nominations for society awards.  The films I have liked

the most were JOJO RABBIT, THE AERONAUTS, and THE REPORT.  Now if

things go like they usually do those films will be completely

forgotten at awards time.

Here is what January holds in store:

When I was a young boy I thought that Bob Hope films were just

about the ultimate in screen humor.  These days I can see one and

about the best I can do is cracking a smile.  Much of the "funny"

seems to have drained out of the movie.  In ALIAS JESSE JAMES, Hope

is an insurance salesman mistaken for Jesse James.  He has sold a

life insurance policy to Jesse.  However Jesse is in a dangerous

profession, robbing trains and such.  Hope has to buy the life

insurance back while everybody else thinks Hope is the real Jesse


The most fun you can have with this film is TV trivia.  There must

be nearly twenty cameo roles in this film, each of them being

played by what would have then been then a familiar television

cowboy.  See how many you can recognize.  Hope plays opposite

Rhonda Fleming and Wendell Corey,

[ALIAS JESSE JAMES Thursday, January 2 @ 02:45 AM (ET)]

The sad fact of ADDRESS UNKNOWN (1944) is that the short story *is*

a short story.  There have been attempts to film the story but

usually it has to be padded out and anything added just decreases

the strengths of the story.  The truth is that the story has one

very good idea.  Any distraction from that one idea detracts from

the story.  The story was written under the name Pressman Taylor,

but the author's real name was Katherine Taylor.  In the days

leading up to war in Europe two partners in an art business look in

horror at Germany in falling to the fascists.  One runs the

business while the other leaves to go to Germany and see first-hand

how the country is changing.  The film is highly recommended if you

cannot find the story anywhere.

[ADDRESS UNKNOWN, Friday, January 3 @ 03:15 PM (ET)]



TOPIC: This Week's Reading (book comments by Evelyn C. Leeper)


EMPIRE by Edward Gibbon (Penguin, ISBN 978-0-307-70076-6), from

Book II:

"The total disregard of truth and probability in the representation

of these primitive martyrdoms was occasioned by a very natural

mistake.  The ecclesiastical writers of the fourth or fifth

centuries ascribed to the magistrates of Rome the same degree of

implacable and unrelenting zeal which filled their own breasts

against the heretics or the idolaters of their own times."

E: There has certainly been debate over the number of martyrs

during the various persecutions, and whether the numbers given y

the ancients included all those persecuted, or just those killed.

(One need only read Josephine Tey's comments on the "Scottish

martyrs" to see that this can happen in modern times as well.)

"It is obvious, that, as long as the immutable constitution of

human nature produces and maintains so unequal a division of

property, the most numerous part of the community would be deprived

of their subsistence, by the equal assessment of a tax from which

the sovereign would derive a very trifling revenue.  Such indeed

might be the theory of the Roman capitation; but in the practice,

this unjust equality was no longer felt, as the tribute was

collected on the principle of a real, not of a personal imposition.

Several indigent citizens contributed to compose a single head, or

share of taxation; while the wealthy provincial, in proportion to

his fortune, alone represented several of those imaginary beings."

E: This sound like a very peculiar way to levy a "head tax."

"[The] conqueror of the Franks and Alemanni [Julian] could no

longer be painted as an object of contempt; and the monarch himself

[Constantius] was meanly ambitious of stealing from his lieutenant

[Julian] the honorable reward of his labors.  In the letters

crowned with laurel, which, according to ancient custom, were

addressed to the provinces, the name of Julian was omitted.

"Constantius had made his dispositions in person; he had signalized

his valor in the foremost ranks; his military conduct had secured

the victory; and the captive king of the barbarians was presented

to him on the field of battle," from which he was at that time

distant about forty days' journey.  So extravagant a fable was

incapable, however, of deceiving the public credulity, or even of

satisfying the pride of the emperor himself."

E: The practice of superiors taking credit for the accomplishments

of those reporting to them is apparently nothing new.

"The predecessors of Julian, his uncle, his brother, and his

cousin, indulged their puerile taste for the games of the Circus,

under the specious pretence of complying with the inclinations of

the people; and they frequently remained the greatest part of the

day as idle spectators, and as a part of the splendid spectacle,

till the ordinary round of twenty-four races was completely


E: That's only because golf, baseball, and MMA/UFC had not yet been

invented (although the gladiatorial contests might qualify for the


"[Julian] extended to all the inhabitants of the Roman world the

benefits of a free and equal toleration; and the only hardship

which he inflicted on the Christians, was to deprive them of the

power of tormenting their fellow-subjects, whom they stigmatized

with the odious titles of idolaters and heretics."

E: Which no doubt they claimed was a war on Christianity.

"The restoration of the Jewish temple was secretly connected with

the ruin of the Christian church.  Julian still continued to

maintain the freedom of religious worship, without distinguishing

whether this universal toleration proceeded from his justice or his

clemency.  He affected to pity the unhappy Christians, who were

mistaken in the most important object of their lives; but his pity

was degraded by contempt, his contempt was embittered by hatred;

and the sentiments of Julian were expressed in a style of sarcastic

wit, which inflicts a deep and deadly wound, whenever it issues

from the mouth of a sovereign."

E: Well, yes, he actually thought the Christians worse than other

non-pagan religions, but he expressed this mostly through what

today would be Tweets rather than rounding Christians up.  What he

did do, though, was to require outward fealty to paganism through

sacrifices and such offered as part of Senate meetings, public

games, and so on.  This made it difficult, if not impossible for

Christians to be a part of these.  This is basically the Roman

equivalent of having prayer in public schools, and having their

Pledge of Allegiance saying "under the gods."  (I bet if someone

suggested changing to that today, you would get an immediate


"But the laws and manners of modern nations protect the safety and

freedom of the vanquished soldier; and the peaceful citizen has

seldom reason to complain, that his life, or even his fortune, is

exposed to the rage of war.  In the disastrous period of the fall

of the Roman empire, which may justly be dated from the reign of

Valens, the happiness and security of each individual were

personally attacked; and the arts and labors of ages were rudely

defaced by the Barbarians of Scythia and Germany."

E: This security of peaceful citizens was mostly true (with some

exceptions, as noted) up through the 19th Century, though there

began to be shelling of cities even by then.  However, the aerial

bombing introduced in World War I, and greatly expanded in World

War II, has made this no longer operative, and the safety of the

vanquished soldier, though now presumably protected by the Geneva

Convention, is certainly no longer to be assumed.

"Horseflesh, which in every age and country has been proscribed by

the civilized nations of Europe and Asia, they devour with peculiar

greediness; and this singular taste facilitates the success of

their military operations."

E: Times change.  When we were in Belgium in 1989, horse steak was

featured on restaurant menus.

"The Jews were a nation; the Christians were a sect: and if it was

natural for every community to respect the sacred institutions of

their neighbors, it was incumbent on them to persevere in those of

their ancestors.  The voice of oracles, the precepts of

philosophers, and the authority of the laws, unanimously enforced

this national obligation.  By their lofty claim of superior

sanctity the Jews might provoke the Polytheists to consider them as

an odious and impure race.  By disdaining the intercourse of other

nations, they might deserve their contempt.  The laws of Moses

might be for the most part frivolous or absurd; yet, since they had

been received during many ages by a large society, his followers

were justified by the example of mankind; and it was universally

acknowledged, that they had a right to practise what it would have

been criminal in them to neglect.  But this principle, which

protected the Jewish synagogue, afforded not any favor or security

to the primitive church. By embracing the faith of the gospel, the

Christians incurred the supposed guilt of an unnatural and

unpardonable offence.  They dissolved the sacred ties of custom and

education, violated the religious institutions of their country,

and presumptuously despised whatever their fathers had believed as

true, or had reverenced as sacred."

E: Basically, Julian felt that tradition and "the ways of the

fathers" (the "mos maiorum" of the Romans) were more important even

that cold logic.  The Jews got a pass on their religion because

they were continuing a tradition older even than Rome.  The

Christians, on the other hand, discarded and ridiculed the

traditions of *their* ancestors when they embraced this "upstart"

church.  So Julian's "tolerance" was limited in large part to long-

established religions.  Before you scorn that, consider how new (or

seemingly new) religions are treated by our laws and leaders.  In

their time (and even now), Christian Science, Mormonism, Santaria,

and (ironically Wicca and other neo-pagan groups have been

dismissed as "not real religions," and their adherents denied First

Amendment protections.

"The total disregard of truth and probability in the representation

of these primitive martyrdoms was occasioned by a very natural

mistake.  The ecclesiastical writers of the fourth or fifth

centuries ascribed to the magistrates of Rome the same degree of

implacable and unrelenting zeal which filled their own breasts

against the heretics or the idolaters of their own times."

E: Clearly Gibbon had very little patience with religious


"In one of his laws he has been careful to instruct posterity, that

in obedience to the commands of God, he laid the everlasting

foundations of Constantinople: and though he has not condescended

to relate in what manner the celestial inspiration was communicated

to his mind, the defect of his modest silence has been liberally

supplied by the ingenuity of succeeding writers; who describe the

nocturnal vision which appeared to the fancy of Constantine, as he

slept within the walls of Byzantium.  The tutelar genius of the

city, a venerable matron sinking under the weight of years and

infirmities, was suddenly transformed into a blooming maid, whom

his own hands adorned with all the symbols of Imperial greatness."

E: Nor does he think much of visions, particularly when the details

are supplied by fabulists many years later.

"The sublime and simple theology of the primitive Christians was

gradually corrupted; and the Monarchy of heaven, already clouded by

metaphysical subtleties, was degraded by the introduction of a

popular mythology, which tended to restore the reign of


E: Here one assume Gibbon is referring to the panoply of saints,

though to non-Christians the Trinity itself seems to smack of

polytheism.  [-ecl]


                     Mark Leeper


          Someone told me that each equation I included in the book

          would halve the sales.

                                          --Stephen Hawking,

                                            A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME