MT VOID 03/02/12 -- Vol. 30, No. 36, Whole Number 1691

MT VOID 03/02/12 -- Vol. 30, No. 36, Whole Number 1691

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Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
03/02/12 -- Vol. 30, No. 36, Whole Number 1691

Table of Contents

      Ollie: Mark Leeper, Stan: Evelyn Leeper, Back issues at All material is copyrighted by author unless otherwise noted. All comments sent will be assumed authorized for inclusion unless otherwise noted. To subscribe, send mail to To unsubscribe, send mail to

Science Fiction (and Other) Discussion Groups (NJ)

March 8: HOGFATHER (Episode 2) (book by Terry Pratchett), 
	Middletown (NJ) Public Library, film at 5:30PM, discussion 
	after film
March 22: EXPEDITION TO EARTH by Sir Arthur C. Clarke, Old Bridge 
	(NJ) Public Library, 7PM
May 24: OF MEN AND MONSTERS by William Tenn, Old Bridge (NJ) Public 
	Library, 7PM
July 19: SCHILD'S LADDER by Greg Egan, Old Bridge (NJ) Public 
	Library, 7PM
September 27: CYBERIAD by Stanislaw Lem, Old Bridge (NJ) Public 
	Library, 7PM
November 15: TRIGGERS by Robert J. Sawyer (tentative), Old Bridge 
	(NJ) Public Library, 7PM

Northern New Jersey events are listed at:

Identification 1 (comments by Mark R. Leeper):

An "Ewok" is a network-enhanced stir-fry pan. [-mrl]

Leap Year Conundrum (comments by Tom Russell):

Since we gain one-fourth of a day each year, after two years why isn't it dark at noon? [-tlr]

[Arthur Koestler claims it is. -mrl]

Inside Joke (comments by Dan Cox):

In the STAR TREK episode "Return to Tomorrow" aired February 9, 1968, Dr. McCoy (DeForest Kelley) says "I will not peddle flesh! I'm a physician." In the radio program SUSPENSE, DeForest Kelley played a talent agent in the title role of the "Flesh Peddler" episode aired August 4, 1957. [-dtc]

[I wonder who introduced that into the episode. Though sometimes a coincidence is just a coincidence. -mrl]

Science Fiction Aliens and International Politics (comments by Mark R. Leeper):

In H. G. Wells' THE WAR OF THE WORLDS the author intended that the aliens be very close to his image of what humanity would evolve into in the far future. We know that from his other writings. It was important for him in the writing that he make the Martians as alien as possible and his imagery of them very consciously mimics the imagery of squids and octopuses. That is more disturbing than something like the aliens we see in "Star Trek" that are almost all entirely humanoid. In fact, suppose you take all the many alien races in the "Star Trek" universe. Now, for each feature ask which is the most common. What is the most common ear shape? What is the most common forehead? What is the most common eye shape? Now you put these all in a single body and what does it look like? It would look like a human from Earth. They are all minor variations on Earth humans much more than they minor variations on any other alien form that showed up in the program. The aliens in "Star Trek" are just not very alien. They were a little better in "Babylon 5", but not a whole lot. These are all human-like aliens. It might be bad to be defeated by the Mimbari, but it is much scarier to be beaten by the Shadows or the Vorlon and worse to be the subjects of something that looks like a slug. I think worse than just being dominated by another race, we do not want to be dominated by something very alien too us.

So part of the horror of the situation in WAR OF THE WORLDS is that we are being beaten by and will be ruled by something that is basically a life form inferior and less than us. They are ugly and have tentacles. If we felt that they were somehow a higher life form we might be more accepting. I do not think dogs mind being dominated by humans because they respect the capabilities of the human life form. To coexist with humans dogs have to do a certain amount of compromise. I know from experience that a dog really hates having someone put a collar around his neck and using it to control the dog and limit his freedom. But deep down the dog respects humans for what they are able to do. We have cars; we have can openers; we can go out of the house and return with meat. The dog does not choose a human, but a human certainly usually selects the dog. Domestic dogs are at first weary of these tall creatures on two legs but gives up rebelling at some point and try to adapt and fit into human society. If the dog had no such respect for humans and no hope for rewards that no other canine would give him, the dog would not see why it was the dog's fate to be dominated by humans.

In WAR OF THE WORLDS the great horror is that humans are to be dominated and will have to serve a creature that looks like a relative of the cephalopod family. It is ignominious to be ruled by such a thing and there are suspicions of what a creature with alien-bred tastes might want with a human. We would rather be dominated by an alien that looks like a human but with green skin then by something that looks like a spider or a slug.

Similarly in history we have been more afraid of enemies the more their appearance and life style is different from ours. We are more afraid to have Iranians as enemies than we are to have Frenchmen. In World War II, in spite of the horrors that were inflicted on minority citizens of Germany and Austria and Poland by Germans and Austrians and Poles themselves, we never interned United States citizens even recently migrated from those countries. Our fear was of the Japanese. It was them we interned because we were afraid of their alien-ness. We saw them as a lower life form than "Christian Americans" and so were terrified that they would defeat us and dominate us. This is not to say the Japanese were not in their own way as bad as the Germans. They certainly committed their own share of atrocities, but to the best of my knowledge the Japanese did not select a minority of their own people and commit atrocities upon them. But it was not the barbarity of the Japanese people that made Americans single out this ethnic group. It was to a much greater extent their alien appearance and the fear that something so alien might be the next ruler of the United States.

It is bad to be defeated and dominated at all, but it is far worse to be defeated and dominated by something we do not understand. This plays out in international politics. In the Cold War we were fearful of the Soviets and what they might do, but at least they looked and acted relatively European. In the Middle East we are dealing with people who look and act very differently from the way we do. This creates fear and loathing on both sides. [-mrl]

Another One Bites the Dust (comments by Evelyn C. Leeper):

It is with a heavy heart that I report the passing of yet another used bookstore. This time it is (was) Half Price Books in Montgomery/Rocky Hill/Belle Mead/Delray/Skillman, New Jersey. (The store was not connected with the "Half Price Books" chain. The confusion over the town's name is just how New Jersey works.)

This is the second time I have just happened to go to a used bookstore where I have some store credit, only to discover that they were closing their doors in a few days. The previous time was the used bookstore in Keyport, and in both that case and this, the owner was closing the brick-and-mortar store, but continuing to sell on-line. In the case of Half-Price Books, though, he had already removed everything he thought would sell on-line, so the selection of books to use my store credit on was very depleted. (And with a three-for-two sale, I needed to find more books than usual. I did manage.)

Know Knew Books in Palo Alto was another bookstore that I loved, but that when I went to visit after a several-year hiatus was also having their going-out-of-business sale. Is there some sort of psychic energy sent out by going-out-of-business sales that tickles my brain? There may be, because I remember that this time as we were pulling into the shopping center lot for Half-Price Books, I was thinking, "Someday we'll pull around this curve and see an empty storefront where the bookstore used to be.")

The main reason for the closure of Half-Price Books seemed to be the usual: sky-rocketing rent. In addition, they were not getting as much new good stock coming in as they need. Is that a function of people buying fewer books in general, or because of the bookstore's almost rural location? A contributing cause may be the closing of another book dealer last December. JR Trading was a wholesaler who bought overstocks of hardbacks and trade paperbacks from the publishers and then resold them at heavily discounted prices. They apparently sold primarily to dealers and schools, but twice a year they had sales open to the public, and I would see the same recent books there that I would see multiple copies of at Half Price Books.

It is also true that a few years ago the owner had a stroke and (I think) sold the store to a different owner who may not have been as attached to the brick-and-mortar aspect.

This is just the latest in the gradual winnowing away of used bookstores in central New Jersey. There used to be three used bookstores in Red Bank--now there are none. Twice-Read Books is now a Starbucks. Pyramid Books may have closed as part of the entire chain's demise. And The Book Pit closed due to poor location and somewhat slipshod business practices--the posted hours seemed approximations only, and there were often piles of musical equipment blocking access to many of the bookshelves. The used bookstores in New Brunswick closed over twenty years ago, during that city's decline--and the renaissance there has brought brew pubs and fancy restaurants, not used bookstores. The used bookstores in Shrewsbury and Matawan also closed over twenty years ago; the one in Milltown moved fifteen years ago to an inconvenient location with inconvenient hours and may not even be there anymore.

The only real bookstore left in our area that I know of is the Cranbury Book Worm. (I hope that saying that doesn't jinx it.) One thing that helps keep it in business is that it owns its own building, and even if it did not, it does not seem to be a location that would generate high rents. (The same dynamic seems to be what keeps Bell's in Palo Alto afloat, though in both cases when the owners decide to retire there is some question whether there will be anyone who wants to continue them.)

These New Jersey closings parallel a series of closings in New York: the Science Fiction Shop; Science Fiction, Mysteries, and More; Barnes & Noble used book store; Gotham Book Mart; the Dover Books shop; Coliseum; 12th Street Books; Tower Books and Records; and others from so long ago I have forgotten them (not to mention Kim's Video and Footlight Records). It is like a replay of the closings of all the secondhand bookstores that used to line Fourth Avenue down near the Strand in the first half of the last century. (The Strand, at least for now, is still there.)

And on our trip last year to Phoenix, we discovered that Bookmaster, a great used bookstore with two locations in Scottsdale, had closed.

None of these were quite as traumatic, though, as the closing of Johnson's Books in Springfield, Massachusetts, which closed a few years ago after 113 years in business. That was where I went when I was in high school and college, and where I acquired some of the first books I bought. When Mark and I were dating in college, during vacations, we would meet at Johnson's and spend the day together in Springfield (being halfway between our two towns). [-ecl]

A Few TV Reviews More (television reviews by Dale L. Skran, Jr.):

We have reached that strange point in the SyFy season where EUREKA has not yet started, yet SANCTUARY, HAVEN, WAREHOUSE 13, and ALPHAS are on hiatus. What to watch? I'm still following FRINGE (an old friend, but perhaps a bit tired), SUPERNATURAL (still interesting, but not reaching new heights) and the new NIKITA (actually improving and becoming really exciting, with an anything can happen attitude). And yes, VAMPIRE DIARIES and SECRET CIRCLE make a fun pair on Thursday nights. DIARIES is still upping the ante and CIRCLE is getting more interesting as it goes along. Finally, MENTALIST is still hypnotizing me--that's worth a review in itself.

But what's really up is SyFy's trademark "powerful Monday's" with an old show in a new season (BEING HUMAN) and a new show--LOST GIRL. BEING HUMAN is picking up where things left off last season, following our werewolf as he infects his girlfriend, our vampire as he finds himself the #2 vampire in the city, and our ghost as she learns to possess human bodies. The point, as always, is that being human is tough if, at the core, you really are a monster. This is a gory, fun show, not for kids, but not really threatening or disturbing either. I like its consistent efforts to develop the characters and follow their lives as they struggle with what they have become.

LOST GIRL is something you have never seen on TV before--a tale of the Fae. The general background is that the Fae (faries in the old sense)--both light and dark--live among humans in a secret, parallel society, with their own courts and law, and a few human helpers. The Fae possess a vast range of powers and shapes, and might be best thought of as a different, metamorphic species. Anna Silk plays Bo, a succubus who does not know her origins in the Fae world, and who lives outside the laws of light and dark Fae, refusing to side with either.

The series follows her as she meets a human girl who becomes her sidekick, fights to be allowed to be independent of the Fae factions, and struggles to control her powers, which kill any human she has sex with, or even just kisses for an extended period of time. As things move along, she starts to operate as a supernatural detective, taking cases from both the light and dark side. She finds that she can have sex with another Fae, notably Dyson, a policeman/wolf shifter, without killing him but still revitalizing herself with his personal energy. This means that if she can find a Fae to have sex with, she can recover from virtually any injury.

LOST GIRL has a lot of sex, and yet Silk brings such a wide-eyed look to the show that it doesn't even seem slightly salacious. For her, sex is food. Really. Given that she has killed virtually every human she has ever touched, her somewhat disengaged attitude is only logical. LOST GIRL has a few rough edges, especially in the dialog, but the fantasy action is fast and furious, if a bit on the creepy side.

LOST GIRL is a Canadian show just recently licensed by SyFy, which is currently in its third season in Canada. SyFy has licensed the first two seasons, so there is a lot of fun to come. Unlike some British shows that come over oddly to an American audience, there does not seem to be a strongly Canadian flavor to LOST GIRL. For that matter, the original NIKITA TV series was all Canadian, and exception of a cast of villains who always appeared to be Caucasian Eastern Europeans or Russians, it seemed quite intelligible to an American audience.

I'm not sure who I'm recommending LOST GIRL to exactly. It's surely not for kids, but if you are looking for skin, this is not the place to come either. In any case, if you like this sort of thing, check it out! [-dls]

A SEPARATION 9film review by Mark R. Leeper):

CAPSULE: This is a film about moral issues and about decent but imperfect people who have serious decisions to make. It does not oversimplify and writer/director Asghar Farhadi does not take sides. Farhadi does not talk down to his viewer and he trusts his audience to make their own decisions. In his world reasonable people can still end up in perplexing moral conflicts. This is adult filmmaking in the best senses of that term. Rating: low +3 (-4 to +4) or 8/10

Rob Reiner's A FEW GOOD MEN, with screenplay by Aaron Sorkin, pits Tom Cruise as Lt. Kaffee against Jack Nicholson as Col. Jessup on a debatable point about defense policy. The poor audience might well have sided with the wrong person. Luckily the filmmakers had Jack Nicholson smoke cigars and make male chauvinist comments, so the audience has clear signals that Nicholson is a bad man and his arguments must be bad. Reiner makes clear that Tom Cruise's character will always be in the right. It is convenient to have the filmmakers make the issue so unambiguous. They do not confuse the audience with complex issues of ethics or take the chance that someone might come out of the theater having sided with the wrong side. Nice safe movies do much better at the box office.

Films that trust the audience members to think about a complex issue and make up their own minds are rare. The last film I remember like that was THE HOUSE OF SAND AND FOG. Perhaps neither side of the moral question in that film is entirely right, but neither is entirely wrong either, and arguably each is more right than wrong. A SEPARATION is about complex moral issues that are not tied up and gift-wrapped for the viewer. The film, written and directed by Iranian Asghar Farhadi, begins with the conflicts already occurring. Simin (played by Leila Hatami) and Nader (Peyman Maadi) are presenting their cases before a judge. Simin would like a divorce. She wants Nader and their daughter Termeh (Sarina Farhadi) to leave the country, but she would settle for a divorce so she could leave Nader behind. This is not a society that she wants to bring Termeh up in. Reasonable as her concerns are, her husband Nader does not think he is free to go. His father (Ali-Asghar Shahbazi) is in advanced stages of Alzheimer's. Even though Nader's father no longer even recognizes his son, Nader feels he is honor-bound to care for his father, just as Simin feels she must provide a better life for Termeh than she would have in Iran. The secular judge does not really decide for either person but chooses not to consider the case. But under Islamic Law all decisions rest with the husband and if Nader remains steadfast the court will not interfere or even decide for either husband or wife.

Simin leaves Nader and goes to live with her parents after finding a daytime caregiver for Nader's father. Raziah (Sareh Bayat) takes the job but is overwhelmed by the deteriorating condition of Nader's father. He now requires someone to clean him, but in this theocratic society a woman seeing the unclothed body of an adult, male non-family-member is considered a sin. In addition, due to an unavoidable incident Nader's father comes near death. In Nader's rage Raziah is fired and forcefully shoved out the door--an action that would later have serious consequences.

The story is just about a simple domestic problem, but it has moral twists at every turn. These are people who interest the viewer and their problems are as engrossing--make that more engrossing--than watching Tom Cruise climbing around on s skyscraper. Like the court, Farhadi refuses to take sides in the issue. He presents a complex moral situation and looks at how Iranian society with its class structure and its religious demands complicates the issue.

Among other things the film does is show how much differently a theocracy is from a society like we are used to in the West. The dictates of the religion hang over all the conflict in the film. Finding a care-giver for Nader's father is made nearly impossible since the religion will not allow a woman to see the body of a man not in her family out of fear that they are going to have sex, something that is not the remotest possibility in the situation here. Raziah cannot take the job without her husband's permission because the religion gives him dominion over her. And because Raziah cannot be trusted to make these decisions for herself (heaven forbid) there are telephone hotlines to mullahs who make often out-of-touch decisions about what is or is not allowed by the religion.

Asghar Farhadi recognizes that he does not need an earth-shattering premise to make a compelling film. One can find complex and engrossing moral dilemmas on every street. And he realizes the value of not bulling his way into the telling to make sure the viewer reaches the same conclusions he does. We are used to didactic "message" stories. So a film that takes a balanced attitude on the issues and respects the viewer gives a real feeling of freedom to come to his/her own conclusions. I rate A SEPARATION a low +3 on the -4 to +4 scale or 8/10.

Film Credits:

What others are saying:


NO SUBTITLES: LÁSZLÓ & VILMOS (film review by Mark R. Leeper):

CAPSULE: Writer and director James Chressanthis gives us a star- studded tribute to Vilmos Zsigmond and Lászlós Kovás, two cinematographers of nearly identical backgrounds who brought a much more natural feel to film photography. NO SUBTITLES NECESSARY: LÁSZLÓ & VILMOS traces the two men's careers from photographing together the 1956 Hungarian Uprising to filming between them many of the most important and influential films of the late 20th century. Rating: high +2 (-4 to +4) or 8/10

NO SUBTITLES NECESSARY: LÁSZLÓ & VILMOS is a documentary about the careers and lifelong friendship of cinematographers Vilmos Zsigmond and Lászlós Kovás. Coming from Budapest, Hungary, the two revolutionized the look of film in the 1970s and 1980s, bringing a more naturalistic style to American filmmaking. Together and separately they filmed 140 movies, including some of the most influential films of the 1970s and 1980s: EASY RIDER, THE DEER HUNTER, FIVE EASY PIECES, PAPER MOON, HEAVEN'S GATE, MCCABE & MRS. MILLER, and CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND.

Vilmos and Lászlós were film students together in Budapest. In 1956 came the Hungarian Uprising when the people tried to throw off Soviet domination of Hungary. The two men in their mid-twenties took cameras to the street to document the conflicts. They gave little thought to the personal danger they faced from the invading Soviet troops. They filmed the army firing on their fellow countrymen. Their style was to get close to the action and they could not set up lights. They had to use available light. This was a training ground for a naturalistic style that would serve them well later in life. The Soviets won and there were the two filmmakers with 30,000 feet of cinema footage of the revolt and a home country that did not dare to see it. So the two escaped to Austria, smuggling out their contraband footage. They gravitated to California and the American film industry, their progress somewhat impeded by inability to speak English. From there they gradually worked their way into the film industry, filming a few porno films and some horror. Lászlós got some attention for his work on EASY RIDER in 1969. For Vilmos the breakthrough film was 1971 film MCCABE & MRS. MILLER for Robert Altman. Either together or separately, they worked on many of the major films of the period. Their style was to avoid staginess to create an uncontrived feel.

Writer and director James Chressanthis mixes equal parts of respect and affection in profiling the two filmers. He presents interviews with Karen Black, Peter Bogdanovich, Sandra Bullock, Richard Donner, Dennis Hopper, Todd McCarthy, Robert McLachlan, Bob Rafelson, Mark Rydell, Sharon Stone, Jon Voight, and John Williams. There are also clips from films from their combined works. The clips themselves do more than the discussion and interview do to display the special texture their photography gives a scene. Particularly with exterior scenes the background becomes as important as the actors. The blackening sky from the first sequence of SCARECROW or the deep forest of DELIVERANCE can be as active a participant as the actors in front of it.

One negative aspect of the film is that as it is presented it is hard to keep straight which photographer shot which films. Their styles were quite similar. But since the film celebrates their joint contribution, perhaps that is even some of the intention. These are two men, as close as brothers, whose mission and message was to not create an artificial environment to shoot the film in. It is instead to take a natural environment and show it off with the quality of the photography. This film makes an excellent companion piece to the documentary VISIONS OF LIGHT: THE ART OF CINEMATOGRAPHY directed by Arnold Glassman, Todd McCarthy, and Stuart Samuels. I rate NO SUBTITLES NECESSARY: LÁSZLÓ & VILMOS a high +2 on the -4 to +4 scale or 8/10. It is highly recommended for cinema fans. It will be released to video February 28, 2012.

Film Credits:


THE WRONG BOX (comments by Peter Rubinstein):

In response to Mark's comments on THE WRONG BOX in the 02/24/12 issue of the MT VOID, Peter Rubinstein writes:

The Wrong Box is available from Warner Home Video ( [-pr]

Mark replies:

I stand corrected. I looked for it a year or so back and did not find it. [-mrl]

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

JOURNEYS BEYOND ADVICE by Rhys Hughes (ISBN-10 1-902309-26-X) is a limited edition collection of seven stories. (I managed to get it at a reasonable price because the corners were bumped.)

"The World Beyond the Stairwell" is presumably patterned after William Hope Hodgson's THE HOUSE ON THE BORDERLAND, although there are clearly other influences as well. For example, all the mythological beasts the characters meet are from Jorge Luis Borges's BOOK OF IMAGINARY BEINGS and all the quotes about them from the bestiary in the story are actually from the Borges. In addition, part of the story takes place in Argentina, and Borges is even mentioned explicitly by one of the characters. This is not surprising--Hughes's NEW UNIVERSAL HISTORY OF INFAMY was a complete pastiche of Borges's UNIVERSAL HISTORY OF INFAMY, and Borges is obviously a major influence on Hughes. (In fact, discussing "The World Beyond the Stairwell" on a blog, Hughes said, "It was a great excuse to go though Borges's BOOK OF IMAGINARY BEINGS and use it as a sort of playbox to borrow monsters from!") Also, the main character is named Howard, perhaps a nod to H[oward] P[hillips] Lovecraft.

"A Rape of Knots" has the sense of "grotesquerie" that one associates with Lovecraft, but could not really be called Lovecraftian. It is a very *visual* story, which may be why I think of it as more like a film (or an episode from something like "Night Gallery", though it is obviously not suitable for that show).

In "Mah Jong Breath" is the description, "We share the premises with a legitimate company and they don't even know it. Our rooms slot through theirs, like a hidden compartment in a conjuror's box. A silk smuggler's trick from Yunnan. Very cunning." This is both Borgesian and reminiscent of the real-life situation at the Bell Labs Holmdel building. The offices were set in long parallel aisles. But in spite of the fact that the offices were pretty much all the same size, the aisles were not evenly spaced across the cross aisles. The reason wasn't obvious--it was because between every other pair of aisles there was a long corridor/room for electrical, telephone, and computer connections. The doors to it were designed to blend in with the walls, and the whole thing was "slotted between the rooms" in the manner described by Hughes.

Hughes also indulges his penchant for in-jokes by naming the local vicar Lionel Fanthorpe. (Lionel Fanthorpe was a priest who was also an extremely prolific, if not especially skilled, writer of science fiction for Badger Books.)

"The Swine Eater" is the other William-Hope-Hodgson-inspired story in the volume, and Hughes's own favorite. This may be because it has even more word-play and literary tricks than usual. The narrator says, "The chauffeur drove us out of the city, over hills and through momentous canyons, to the country inn of another Carnacki, where we supped heartily for free and exchanged anecdotes about found wallets and lost islands. I'm reluctant to move on from such convivial surroundings, so I intend to stay here while you, the reader, are dragged back down the roads to the city and the miserable abode of Captain Babel. Throw open the rotting doors of the seedy hotel where he has taken lodgings; up the greasy stairs and under a ragged curtain into his room!"

"The Semi-Precious Isle" is a story of a man looking for his Irish roots. However, the mathematician in me feels obliged to point out that the characters get their genetics wrong.

"The Herb Garden of Earthly Delights" has someone passing himself off as a demon because he is held in thrall by being threatened with spicy food. And "The Singularity Spectres" rounds out the collection.

THE AFRIKA REICH by Guy Saville (ISBN 978-1-444-71065-6) is an alternate history in which Germany won World War II, but unlike most such novels, it is set in Africa rather than Europe or the United States. This is somewhat counteracted by the fact that almost all the characters in it are European or American, with minimal participation by actual Africans.

There are other problems as well. This is the first book of a series (a trilogy? who knows? in his "Author's Note", Saville refers only to "subsequent books"). And though it seems very well researched, the pacing is strictly from Saturday matinee serials. Example (a bit of a spoiler, but it happens early on): our hero is trying to escape in a plane. He is running after it as it taxis. He cannot make it and sees the plane pull away. End of chapter. Beginning of next chapter. The plane slows, turns around, and comes back for him. This sort of thing happens over and over, along with a couple of other tricks from the serials, and it really undercuts the somber tone of the novel. [-ecl]

                                          Mark Leeper

Quote of the Week:

          To Thales the primary question was not 'What do 
          we know?' but 'How do we know it?'.

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