MT VOID 10/15/99 (Vol. 18, Number 16)

MT VOID 10/15/99 (Vol. 18, Number 16)

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Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
Club Notice - 10/15/99 -- Vol. 18, No. 16

Table of Contents

Outside events: The Science Fiction Association of Bergen County meets on the second Saturday of every month in Upper Saddle River; call 201-447-3652 for details.

Chair/Librarian: Mark Leeper, 732-817-5619,
Factotum: Evelyn Leeper, 732-332-6218,
Distinguished Heinlein Apologist: Rob Mitchell,
HO Chair Emeritus: John Jetzt,
HO Librarian Emeritus: Nick Sauer,
Back issues at
All material copyright by author unless otherwise noted.


On Thursday, October 21, at 7:30 PM Harlan Ellison will be speaking in the Performing Arts Center of Brookdale Community College in Lincroft, New Jersey. Tickets are $7. See"An Evening for further information or contact Student Activities at 732-224-2788. [-psrc]

[I know the URL looks wrong, but that seems to be it. -ecl]


I am not someone who gets angry easily, but I saw something in Princeton that got me upset. I was walking on Nassau Street looking for a place to have dinner. Leashed to a light pole was a white dog. Not as big as some, but the size of a German Shepherd. The dog was making something of a fuss unhappy about being chained, whining to passers-by. This seemed to be a dog just unused to be being left on a street. I think I made a face to entertain the dog and he stopped his whining to look at me. (I have a theory that dogs and very young children find human adults boring. Any kind of strange motions you make they will find interesting. Keep them non-threatening, of course.) He seemed to be a nice looking dog and alert. Surprising he was not trained a little better. After a moment I had to break eye contact and the dog forlornly started his whining again. Some dogs do not take well to training and I supposed this might be one.

Service was not very good at the restaurant. People were complaining. I must have been there at least an hour at a minimum. I left the restaurant and returning by the same path I heard the same whining. Sure enough the white dog was still leashed on the same short leash to the same pole. But one thing was now different. My attitude was very different. This is no dog who needed training. To be trapped tied to a pole for a few minutes in the afternoon is one thing. To be tied to the same poll for what now seemed like it could have been hours and with night coming on is something else altogether. Now I really wanted to take whoever did this and throttle him or her. How can he not see this from the dog's point of view.

There is no species of animal easier to empathize with than a dog in my opinion. I suppose that a chimpanzee is very close to us genetically. He probably has emotions that are similar to ours, but he does not grow up in our society. That has to make a difference. Cats do share our society but what goes on in a cat's head I rarely can figure out. They have a very different psychology from humans. But at least in my opinion there is no other species that exhibit so wide a spectrum of emotions that appear to be like the corresponding human emotions than does the dog. Some of the longtime readers of this column will know my pet theory that dogs who have grown up in our society and no longer fully canine and are a lot more human than we realize. This is due to their instincts as a animal who lives in packs to pick up the behaviors of their leaders and to always be open to learning new rules. So I am more ready to look at things from (what I am guessing is) a dog's point of view than any other animal.

How do I see things from a dog's point of view? A dog is constantly trying to understand the rules in this alien human world. On one hand many dogs pick up a considerable amount of human language. It is a surprising amount considering that they are after all a different species. Anybody who thinks a dog is stupid is definitely a "glass is half empty" type. But even with some language knowledge they must spend much of the time bewildered by what is happening around them. A dog's attitude is 20% understanding our society in an almost humanlike way. The other 80% is going with or occasionally bucking the flow. For a dog like this, tethered so that he can walk around an area of maybe nine square feet, left for hours, seeing night falling, the fear of abandonment must be terrible. Meanwhile these tall creatures on their hind legs, too tall to even comfortably look in the eye, keep walking by and ignoring him. The dog knows he hasn't the dexterity to unhook the leash and even if he did Where would he go to find a meal? And what if he did get away and the master came back and could not find him? But if the dog has been tethered a long while he is probably hungry and thirsty. I can understand how he might whine a bit. I would probably be in hysterics. I wonder if other people think about how incredibly cruel our behaviors are to other species. It is easy just to tie a dog up, go about one's business, and pick up the dog when ready. Someone could do that without giving a second thought to the amount of unhappiness and perhaps even terror that gets added to the world. [-mrl]

Quote of the Week:

     Obscenity is what happens to shock some elderly and
     ignorant magistrate.
                                   -- Bertrand Russell