Rochester Rag October 1995
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ROCHESTER RAG October 1995

(formerly the _News from Detroit_)


Steve Langer
anon ftp site
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On last month's Fix;

the results of the reader modality survey are:

 very mixed, as I feared

I think what I will do is split the readership into 2 electronic groups and one paper group. Those with only email capability will continue to get an ASCII version of this document to read in any way you see fit (on an editor or local HTML browser). Those with live internet access I will just send a note to when the new issue is posted on John Johnson's Web site. This move will go into effect with this issue.

Also, as a bonus for those with live Web access, you will be able to see a photo essay of my recent Florida sojourn by clicking here .

On this Issue

This multi-platform environment that I'm compelled to work in is really pissing me off. At home I've got an Intel box, not so that I can run Windows de jour, but so that I can run Linux. At work, we have all Macs. I write this rag and all my papers on an MSDOS formatted floppy so that I can work at home and at the office. It works like this:

Well, I'm in Florida now, don't have my home computer and am doing this issue on Clinic Macs. I also had the GALL to attempt to save my resume' to this same floppy. Word 6 for the Mac ground and ground and finally said, "Sorry - out of disk space." This despite the fact that over 1 MB is available. Today (Oct. 20), I was about to put the finishing touches on this issue and, to my surprise, found my Word 6 resume' attached in the middle of Rooster McConville's letter. And the rest of the 46 KB issue has been overwritten. This is a bit annoying. This issue had; In short, it was one of the best issues in a while. But not now. Because OUR FATHER, GATES BE THY NAME, is just the most brilliant author of quality software in the world. He must be, Win95 has sold 7 million copies.

On the Verdict

In case you've been under a rock, OJ Simpson was found innocent of all charges on Oct. 3. Whether this has anything to do with fact that he was wealthy, or that the 75% black jury felt that they were just getting some payback, is unknown. But whatever the motivation, congrats to Mr. Simpson and perhaps the media can move onto something more interesting - like perhaps hurricane OPAL that is approaching me at this moment (Oct. 4).

On a Debate

Some time ago a Chinese post-doc, a US Naval officer and I were discussing the pros and cons of socialism vs. libertarianism. I have given up trying to enlighten the post-doc. Even when I point out that his socialist paradise has to build an "iron curtain" to keep its citizens from fleeing to the capitalist Hell on the other side (sorry Milton), he responds with the tired old clitches about robber barons and sweat shops. "You have to have a strong govt. to protect the people's rights from greedy capitalist, white male oppressors ... and so on", he said. One might expect this kind of attitude from someone whose father is high up in the Chinese equivalent of the "politburo". Since he never shared the living conditions of the bulk of his country mates, his knee jerk defense of the system may at least be understood, if not excused. What bothers me infinitely more is the summation by the Naval officer, a born and raised American, who said, "Well, I know one thing. If I was in trouble, I'd rather trust in the fairness of the govt. than in getting a fair shake from a corporation."

"Why", I asked?

"Because all a corporation cares about is money", he replied, "Whereas the govt. can be a disinterested 3'rd party to act as a watchdog."

"Well", I began, "I agree with the statement that the govt. has two primary missions: defense and impartial adjudication. But the govt. is almost never a neutral party because it has taken on many other jobs, thus its interests, and hence motivations, may not always be clear. With a corporation, if you follow the money trail, all actions are predictable. And I don't buy this recurrent argument that all companies will put unwed mothers out on the streets, force their workers to put in 80 hour weeks, and throw their old workers away when they are no longer productive. Producers are also subject to market forces, including the labor market and the court of public opinion. The govt. belatedly slapped bans on DDT after Rachel Carson's book Silent Spring had already caused an uproar among the public who saw pictures of barren eagle nests. Ditto with "Dolphin Safe Tuna."

"But what about AT&T," asked the post-doc. "We'd be paying three dollars a minute if the govt. had not broken up their monopoly."

"True, but who gave them that monopoly", I asked.

"Look Steve, you have to admit that the rich guys will always take your rights so you need a strong govt. to protect you," said the post-doc. The Naval officer mostly agreed.

"OK, you've both said that monopolies are bad so we need govt. to break them up. BUT GOVT. IS THE ULTIMATE MONOPOLY. And don't say that you can simply vote the bad guys out of office. Do you vote for the IRS, the BATF, FBI? If you are afraid of some dinky company taking over a town, a company that has to compete for labor and be decent enough not to be boycotted in the free market, how can you possibly think that putting all that power and more in the hands of a central monolithic govt is a good idea? You have to believe that the people in that govt. are far nicer, more caring and smarter than the evil business guys that you're so scared of."

"But our govt. pretty much does what the people ask it to do", said the Navy guy. "And if we don't like what happens we can change it, like this last election."

"True, the dismantling of the New Deal is a good start," I said, "But don't get all warm and fuzzy yet. We are still basically operating under a slightly more benign dictatorship, but a dictatorship nontheless, and have been since the Civil War."

"What do you mean by that?", asked the post-doc.

"Well Wash. thinks that giving states block grants for education is an improvment, but what they don't get is that the money is not theirs in the first place. Plus there are still unfunded Federal mandates violating the 9'th and 10'th amendments."

"But why was the civil war bad, it freed the slaves, or is that why you're mad, cuz you're a white guy," said the post doc.

Ignoring the bait I said, "The Constitution is a contract, allegedly entered into freely by the member states. No where within does it forbid a state from later withdrawing from the Union, yet we went to war when some tried it. That is clearly a violation of the 9'th and 10'th amendments again."

"But", said the Navy guy, "What were we supposed to do, just let the country fly apart?"

"If you honor the contract that brought it together - yes", I said. "Look, it's no different than if we formed a business contract and it says that you can leave at any time with your half of the money. Five years later you decide to split, I say no, kill you and take your wife, house and money."

"But the only reason the South tried to split was because of greedy special interest groups who wanted the slaves. Once again its your greedy white guys" said the post doc.

"It doesn't matter why. The duly elected representatives of the State voted to secede from the Union and newspaper editorials of the time showed that public support was with them", I said.

"But that's only because the stupid voting public was being fed lies from the special interest groups, they did not know what they were doing", said the post-doc.

[Really, this guy could have wrote for Tass.]
"So let me get this straight, only smart people should be allowed to vote and if the govt. is made up of smarter people they should ignore the voters anyway. So should the Haitians, most of whom are illiterate, be allowed to vote for a President?"

"No because they will only be the tool of the richest guy with the most advertising."

I looked at the Navy guy, winked and said, "I think that pretty much clarifies our positions."

Epilogue: The next day the post-doc button-holed me again and was pushing the idea that the Europeans have a better quality of life because they have guaranteed health care, work shorter work weeks and have much more vacation than most Americans (5 weeks on average, only MDs and Profs get that kind of time off here). Sure, he admitted, they have less material wealth, but they get to spend more quality time with their family and don't have the stress of always hunting for the next dollar. I had to admit, he was right on that score. There's no question that most Europeans work less and the median standard of living probably is higher in France, Germany, and Britian (?) if one considers the subsidised health system. So, am I wrong? Is a paternal govt with cradle to grave security the way to go? I don't think so. Perhaps there are simply two poles of humanity. Maybe most people are sheep that want to be taken care of. In that case, a protective, stifling govt. is probably best. It provides the greatest level of security, and perhaps the highest living standard for the bulk of the population. In the words of Spock, "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few". However, by securing the existence of the lowest classes at the expense of constraining the most capable, the spark of excellence is extinguished.

The U.S. was founded on the principle that certain individual rights outweigh the needs of the many, including the govt. By pointing out that Europeans have less to worry about than those in this country, the post-doc reminded me of a fundemental truth. This country was founded by individualists who revelled in risk taking. They did not want their hands held, but rather the chance to be the best they could be, freed from the fetters of an interfering neighbor or govt. And history documents a list of achievements ascribable to that doctrine that few other continents, to say nothing of countries, can match. Of course, over time the "have nots" become jealous of the "haves" and in their envy the "have nots" seek to impose a govt. as venal and opressive as the one from which we fled.

I have a theory that all govts, eventually, succomb to totalitarianism. This is based on the idea that liberty is good and needed when settling a new frontier, but becomes troublesome once the land is "civilized". Those who previously were revered for their courage and industriousness become reviled when basic needs are met and everyone has leisure time. At this point, less motivated folks move into the now secured territory, demanding the additional comforts and security they were accustomed to at home. Politicians, seeing this oppurtunity, rush to deliver additional security and in doing so, enslave the governed. The evidence of this cycle is obvious to anyone who compares, say, the freedom loving ancient culture of China to younger nation's such as the U.S. And to continue the analogy, the greater freedoms (until recently) of Australia verses the US (laid back gun, environmental, and tax laws). I suspect that the erosion of freedom is irreversble, barring a civil war, which of course just reinitializes the cycle. Perhaps one day mankind will turn to the stars, and those with courage and the entropeneurial spirit will once again challenge the new frontier in search of the commodity that once brought like minded humans here - liberty.

Guest Editorial:

This month, a traveling tale from Dave Barry (reprinted without permission from "Dave Barry is Not Making this Up"). This has been condensed.

The Great Mall of China

 If you listen hard around Hong Kong you can almost hear the clock. 
Tick tick tick it says over the rushed city sounds of the traffic,
the boats and the people. Get ready, it's coming. Midnight, June 30,
1997. This will be a very big day for Hong Kong. The biggest ever. 
Hotel space is already selling out. A lot of people want to be there
to get a glimpse of what it was, to get a glimpse of what it will 

 Some background. Although Hong Kong is geographically part of China,
right now it's a colony of Great Britain. This arrangment dates back
to the 19'th century Opium Wars when British traders were making big
money getting opium from India and selling it, illegally, in China.
In 1839, the Chinese Emporer tried to put a stop to this. Britian,
which at the time had a major butt kicking navy, was outraged that
some piss-ant emporer would try to stop the activities of legitimate
British businessmen just because they were smuggling drugs. So Britain
sent the fleet, China was beaten and one of the things that came out
of the peace treaty was Hong Kong. 

 Hong Kong today is a busy place - 410 square miles supporting six
million people, most of them jammed together around the harbor, which 
we writers are required by law to refer to as "teeming". And it does.
The dirty brown water is churned by thousands of boats, new buildings
pop up every few days. Connecting these buildings over the teeming
streets are teeming skywalks which lead to vast, staggeringly opulant
shopping centers teeming with cameras, electronics, clothing and
jewelry. This is not a place for quiet reflection. This is the world's
ultimate shopping mall where you can hear your teeming credit cards
screaming, "LET US OUT!" In short, this is a place that screams, "We're
rich, successfull capitalists and we're DAMN PROUD OF IT!" And on
June 30, 1997, Britain is going to give the whole fabulous money
machine, and its inhabitants, back to the People's Republic of

  The Hong Kong citizens, who mind you never had a say in this deal,
will simply be handed back to China as if they were a commodity, a
load of pork bellies being traded. China's leaders have promised that
they won't change anything, these are after all the same fun dudes
who gave us the Tiananmen Square massacre. Tick tick tick ...

  So today Hong Kong is nervous. People with money or connections
are fleeing, but millions cannot or will not abandon their homes.
They are waiting. It's coming and the knowledge hangs over the
city like a fog giving the city a Casablanca feel. Tick tick tick ...

  While my family and I were there in August the big news, aside from
typhoon Fred, was the trial of businessman Chin Chi-ming, accused of
blackmailing actresses into having sex with him. Here's an excerpt
from the _South China Morning Post_ with a witness and defense attorney

  Egan: Did you notice if Chin's organ was erect?
  Witness: It was. 
  Egan: Was it fully erect?
  Prosecutor: Objection, how would the witness know?
  Judge: Sustained
  Egan: Very well, then I must ask the witness to describe the organ
	as completely as possible.

  So life goes in Hong Kong. I highly reccomend it as a vacation spot
until 1997. However, you may feel intimidated until you learn how to 
"teem." I learned this when we took a ferry to Macao and when our
ferry landed, the other passengers tried to kill us. OK, they were
trying to be first in line through Customs and Immigration. But they
did not hesitate to shove us violently out of the way. We were being
bounced around like kernels in a popcorn machine and occasionally
I'd get a view of my wife and son being jostled off in the direction
of the Phillipines. 

  "Hey!", I said to a middle aged polite looking man who was
thoughtfully trying to hasten my progress by jabbing me repeatedly
in the spine with his umbrella tip. "Excuse me. I SAID EXCUSE ME

  We learned how to teem. When it came time to buy return tickets, 
I was practically a pro. I got into "line" (a formless, milling mass 
of people) and leaned hard in the direction of the ticket window.
I finally got close to it when an old man - he had to be at least 75 -
started making a strong move around me to my left. I had the advantage
in age and size, but this man was good. He shoved his right elbow deep 
into my gut while he reached his left hand out to grasp the ticket
window. I leaned hard on the man sideways, and then - you can't teach
this kind of thing, you have to have an instinct for it - I made
a beautiful clockwise spin that got me to the window inches in front
of him. I stuck my face right up against the window, confident
that I had won, but then the old man showed great resourcefullness
and stuck his head under my arm and brought his face up to the window 
too. We were both shouting ticket orders, but he shouted in Chinese,
and so he won. But I was making progress.

 However, I never did adjust to Chinese food. For one thing, before
ordering something at a restaurant, Chinese diners like to see the
prospective entree' demonstrate its physical fitness by walking
or swimming around. One day, we thought we entered the aquarium 
district, but then we saw tables behind the tanks and realized that
people were eating these things. We walked by one place just as a man
reached into a tank and pulled out what looked like the world's
biggest newt. It had legs, a tail, buggy eyes and was about the
size of a small dog. The man showed it to some diners who looked
at this thing thrashing inches from their faces, and instead of 
sprinting to a safe distance as I would have, they were nodding
thoughtfully, the way you would when evaluating a Chablis. Another
place had a window display consisting of - and I'm not making this
up - snakes. "Come on in!" was the basic message. "Have some snake."
Here is part of the English menu from the place where we finally ate:

Ox offal and noodle
Sea blubber
Sliced cuttle fish
Sliced pork skin
Pig's trotters
Clam meat
Goose intestine
Preserved pig blood

  The next day we decided to take a trip to the People's Republic.
The tour bus picks us up early in the morning (which is still rainy
in the aftermath of Typhoon Fred). We're each given a sticker to wear 
on our clothes and warned not to lose it or we won't be able to get
back. I hope that was a joke. Our guide - a young Hong Kong man
named Tommy - briefs us on our intinerary. "Because we have only
one day, the tour may be rushed," Tommy points out. After an
hour's hydrofoil ride, we arrive in SHekou, which Tommy tells us means
"mouth of the snake." We line up to go through Customs next to
signs that warn us not to bring in any hot peppers or eggplants.
I personally would not dream of attempting such a thing. God knows
what they do to egg plant smugglers in this country.

 After Customs, Tommy introduces us to our next guide "John", who
will be taking us on an aging bus driven by "Bill." John says our
first stop will be a museum where we will see the world famous
Terra Cotta Warriers and Horses, which have been called (at least
20 times on the tour bus alone) the "Eighth Wonder of the World." These
are life size clay statues of horses and warriers; 8000 were buried
with an emporer in 221 BC to protect him. This was before the 
invention of burglar alarms. A few dozen are displayed here. 

  The museum is about 25% exhibit and 75% gift shops. We look briefly
at the Warriers and then are paraded past shops selling jewelry,
silks, postcards and other authentic Chinese cultural items. Your
major credit cards are more than welcome in the People's Republic. 
Back on the bus, John informs us that Shekou is part of a Special
Economic Zone that the People's REpublic has created to encourage
economic development. The few who are lucky enough to live in the 
Zone, John says, are allowed to engage in all kinds of wild and
crazy economic activities, such as choosing their own job or owning
a small business. In short, they're free to do most anything except 
say or do the wrong thing in which case they'll be run over by tanks
(John does not say this last part explicitly). 

 John also talks about Hong Kong's recovery in 1997. "Hong Kong
will enjoy a high degree of autonomous," he assures us. Our next stop
is the "free market" which is a line of 25 fruit vendors selling
apples and pears to tourists for what I suspect is ten times the
local price. I bought an apple for what I later calculated was
$2.75. Back on the bus I stare in terror at the traffic. China has
achieved a totally free market traffic system as far as I can tell.
There are virtually no traffic lights, and anyone can drive anywhere
in any direction. Everybody is constantly barging in front of
everyone else, missing each other by molecules. The only law seems
to be that if your horn works, you must provide proof of it
at least every 30 seconds.

 If you didn't know that Shekou was a Special Economic Zone, you
would never guess it. The buildings are grim, industrial and 
dirty and many seem to be crumbling. The roads are broken, uneven
and potholed. But the area is turning into a manufacturing monster.
Encouraged by the Chinese govt., many foreign businesses are 
locating factories here, and China now exports $60 Billion/year. 
The US buys a 1/4 of this, including a tenth of our shoes and a
third of our toys. They are big time, Most-Favored-Nation trading
partners of ours, the Chinese.

 Our tour does not include a factory stop. Instead we go to what
John says is the largest kindergarten in Shekou where we are going
to see the children put on a show. A dozen heartrendingly cute 
children play instruments and dance for us while we take pictures
like crazy. Fond memories of the People's Republic. As we leave,
we learn that school wasn't really in session. The show was just
put on for tourists. Back on the bus my son has an insight. "Really",
he says, "all kids are in a communism country because they have to
follow orders and get pushed around." I agree that this is true,
but he will still have to take out the garbage.

  Outside we see a group of dogs tethered to a post looking 
around with a vaguely cheerful dog expression. Some men are looking
the dogs over, the way supermarket shoppers look at tomatoes.
I'm wondering, "Are they going to eat those dogs?" But I don't ask
because I don't want to know. 

 Now we're going through a security check point, leaving the Zone
and entering real China. Everywhere there are buildings seemingly
abandoned in midconstruction. There are also people everywhere,
but nobody seems to be doing anything. I admit this is just an 
impression, but it is a strong one. The main activities seem to be;

1. Seeing how many bundles you can pile on a bicycle and still
   ride it.
2. Sitting around.

  We go through a toll booth - our's was manned by six people -
and get on a surreal expressway. Picture a four lane, interstate
type thing, except that it has every kind of vehicle. Mostly
older trucks and buses, but also tractors, bicycles with bundles
piled incredibly high, even hand drawn carts. Also you come 
across the occasional water buffalo wondering along. Yes!
Water buffalo. On the interstate! Bear in mind that this is
the industially advanced area of China. Of course all vehicles,
including the water buffalo, freely use all lanes. So our bus
is constantly weaving and honking, reaching a top speed of 45
mph, then suddenly braking. We pass a truck with a flat tire. 
Someone has thoughtfully removed the wheel and left it in the 
traffic lane. We pass an overturned pig truck with the pigs
still in it, looking concerned. A group of people are sitting
around watching it. Maybe at some point the trucks just 
spontaneously leap up and right themselves, and nobody wants
to miss it. 

  After an hour we arrive in Dongguahng where we are stopping
for lunch. John informs us that people here like to eat 
poisonous snakes. This makes me nervous about what we are having
for lunch, especially given the scene with the dogs earlier. Plus,
I read the following in a Hong Kong newspaper:

"Beijing (AP): Health officials closed down 92 restuarants in the
city of Luoyang for putting opium poppy seeds in noodles served to 
customers in an attempt to get customers addicted to their
food. Health officials got suspicious when they saw long lines
at some noodle stores while others nearby did little business."

 So I'm concerned about getting a dish that would translate as
"Poodle and Viper Stew with Can't Say No Noodles." I'm relieved
when we have Peking Duck. It's good, but not plentiful. After
lunch we drive on to Guangzhou, which most westerners know as
Canton. John points out that we are passing many shops. This is
true, but they appear to be either permanently under construction
or selling used tires. In a few minutes we encounter proof that
China's population is 1.1 billion. At least that many people
are in a traffic jam with us. Our driver Bill puts on a dazzling
display of skill, boldly bluffing other drivers, aiming for spaces
that I would not have attempted in a go-kart. Watching him,
we passengers became swept up in the drama as he makes moves that,
if successful, may gain us 2 whole feet. 

  We spend an hour and a half this way, finally arriving at the
source of the problem which is, needless to say, a repair
crew. Providing security are a half dozen armed soldiers, smoking
and ignoring the traffic rolling past them. The work crew 
consists of seven men watching an eighth, who is sitting in the
middle of the road holding a hammer and chisel. As we inch past,
this man carefully positions the chisel on a certain spot on
the concrete. It takes him a minute or so to get it into position,
then with great care I hear the slightest ping over the honking. 
The man lifts the chisel to evaluate the situation. I estimate
that, barring any delays, this repair job should easily be
completed in 12,000 years. These guys are definitely qualified 
to do US highway repairs. 

 We move on through Canton and a bicycle traffic jam and pass
a large market where John assures us we can get any type of snake
that we could want. Happily, we don't stop. We head for the
Dr. Sen Yat-Sen Memorial Hall which boasts the largest brass
structure of any kind in Guangzhou Province. Out front is a
sign recounting the place's significance in English and it
includes this mysterious sentence, 

  "In 1988 the Guangzhou municipality had allocated funds for
  get rid of the hidden electrical danger in the Hall

 Next we're scheduled to see the statue of Five Goats, but we're
running out of time which is a shame because I'm sure it is the
largest statue of Five Goats in Guangzhou Province. Instead we
go to the Hotel of Western Style Toilets which is a very popular
stop that nobody wants to miss. The bus takes us on to a train
station for a train bound for Hong Kong. Our Hong Kong guide,
Tommy, leads us to train 97 complete with a smoky dining car, 
people in uniform who are watching you, people not in uniform 
who are watching you, and various little rooms. Walking in the 
rocking cars I felt like a character in a melodrama, "The Last 
Train to Hong Kong." Two fellow tourists walk past still wearing 
their stickers. One also has a souvenir Mao-style hat. This is 
cool, being on a train in Red China, as long as you can get out.

  In three hours we're back in Hong Kong, which felt foreign 
this morning, but now feels safe - like Des Moines. I rip my
sticker off a free man. I still don't know a thing about
China, but I know this, I wouldn't want to be in Hong Kong
after June 30, 1997. 

 Tick tick tick ....

  As we say good-bye to Tommy, I ask him what he'll do. His
reply is instant, "Marry a Westerner and get out of here."
He's laughing, but I'm not sure he's joking. The next day I
read in the "Hongkong Standard" the following stories about
what happened in China the day we were there:

 1. The chief of public security for the province we were in 
    was executed. He'd been found guilty of corruption the
    previous day (no pesky appeals in the People's Republic). 
    Among other things, he accepted bribes for letting people
    out of China.

 2. In Beijing, the People's Daily ran a front page editorial
    calling for a "Great wall of Iron" to protect China from
    "hostile forces"  - namely - democracy. The editorial 
    said that if the 1989 prodemocracy movement had succeeded
    it would have been a great step back for the people and

 Those wild and crazy Chinese leaders! Those happy-go-lucky,
fun-loving, Most-favored nation guys. They're going to have a 
ball with Hong Kong! My advice is, see it while you can. And
if anyone is in the market for a tall, likable Chinese husband,
I know a guy who may be available.

 Tick tick tick ....

Ed: This article was written a few years ago, but today (Oct. 5) on National Public Radio there was a story on Hong Kong. Beijing has warned Britain that it will not respect the 50 year extension of democratic rule as stipulated in the treaty. Britain has threatened to suspend trade over this issue, to which Beijing has politely said, "So what?"

I wonder what my Chinese post doc aquaintence would say?


1. NC State Jeffey writes;

From Wed Oct 18 10:07:30 1995


> "Do you read this with a WWW browser?

No. I prefer good old fashioned ascii.

>  If yes, do you have  an online connection?

not applicable.

>  Would you pay  by the hour for connect time to read
> this from a ceantral server?"

No, but I might charge you by the hour for the time I spend reading it.
In your next issue, I fully expect you to weigh in with your OJ post-mortem.
Please satisfy my expectations.
hope things are fine, Jeff

2. Rafe Donahue writes;

From Wed Oct 18 12:00:56 1995

The answers to your questions:

Gosh, that was easy!

3. Kerry Neef makes a rare appearance.

From Wed Oct 18 12:09:20 1995

> "Do you read this with a WWW browser?

        I did for the first time last month because I got
        sick of looking at all the html junk.

>  If yes, do you have  an online connection?


>  Would you pay  by the hour for connect time to read
> this from a ceantral server?"

        No, I would like a copy printed on high quality,
        100% cotton stock federal expressed to my house.


I'm transferring to Phoenix.  I'll send you address info
once it becomes available.  I'm actually writing this from
Phoenix, but I'm just here on business.  We should be
leaving on Nov. 6th if all goes well with the house sale.
Wrangle arip down to the Mayo here in Scottsdale and visit


4. Texas Tom has a question for those of us more inclined in material science.

From Wed Oct 18 12:27:42 1995

>"Do you read this with a WWW browser?
> If yes, do you have  an online connection?
> Would you pay  by the hour for connect time to read
>this from a ceantral server?"

The nays have it.

Say, Stevie, what is the term for the property of a metal that it is shiny or
not.  Mark here says there is some specific term (not the albedo of it, but
something specific to metals) for the property of metals to reflect in a
shiny-type manner, like the difference between gold and coal.  (I know coal
is not a metallic element, of course, but it sure ain't shiny.)


5. And Rooster, formerly of MSU, has slunk off without informing us to make big bucks in the "other" Rochester.

(You'll need an ASCII editor to see it all)

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Rooster was attempting to give us his email address which is

6. Brian Donahue pens;

From Thu Oct 19 13:17:29 1995

I do not read this with a WWW browser, but I would be willing to pay to have the
Rochester Rag delivered to my door like the sunday paper. Any way you could 
manage this?

7. Lee from Keeweenaw writes;

From Thu Oct 19 15:49:43 1995
From: Lee Howard 

I have to say something about the following from LANGER STEVEN C.
|   And please include your response to last month's survey.
| "Do you read this with a WWW browser?
|  If yes, do you have  an online connection?
|  Would you pay  by the hour for connect time to read
| this from a ceantral server?"

No, but only since I often browse with a text only WWW browser.
Yes, I do have an online connection.
Not at this point (being a poor undergrad and all), but if I had
a Real Job(tm) I would definately consider it.

|                                                                   |
|  "No fight, no blame" - Lao Tsu  "No woman, no cry" - Bob Marley  |
|                                                                   |

8. Rooster tries again - that's the spirit.

From Thu Oct 19 17:08:43 1995


Well lets see...I defended on Aug. 9th.  Not much of a party though....everone
I hung around with was  pretty much gone.  The people at Dagwoods had a going
away party before I left for NY that was pretty much a drunk fest.  Charlie
Scripter happened to be in town that weekend and showed up.  I didn't even know
he was going to be around.  That pretty much sums up the defense.  It was laid
back....I had already by then accepted the job offer from xerox and had a start
date lined up.  I got real lucky on the job scene.

The job is exactly what I wanted i.e. technology transfer.  Currently I'm
working on a new development subsystem for a series of color copiers.  I am
still in the early learning stage....much to learn!

Well I gotta go.  Nice to hear from you!

take care

9. And Doug Wilken writes;

From Thu Oct 19 22:46:03 1995

> "Do you read this with a WWW browser?
>  If yes, do you have  an online connection?
>  Would you pay  by the hour for connect time to read
> this from a ceantral server?"

Dear Steve,

I have a 2400 Baud modem connection.  I use an original IBM PC
(with an 8088 at 4.77 MHz) to do this.  Obviously, I do not have
a WWW browser. In fact, I very much preferred the straight ASCII 
format which you used to use.

Incidentally, just east of St. Cloud on MN-23 I drive by Bauerly
Brothers Construction every morning and get treated to the sight
of the picketing union laborers who feel that $17/hr and full benefits
for the grunt labor and 26+/hr for the drivers is unfair wages.
Gee, highly-trained physics post-docs should see pay scales and
benefits like that.

Am I bitter?


10. Sheryl writes with more MN news.

 9-27-95  Today was the last day of work for Sen Bob Packwood and Rep Mel
Reynolds.  Packwood was accused of sexual harassment and Reynolds was
convicted of having sex with an underage campaign worker.

 9-28-95  Trigger locks for guns and longer post partum stays for mothers
and newborns were among the topics discussed at the convention of the
Minnesota Medical Association.  (What does one have to do with the other?)

 9-28-95  Kirby Puckett of the MN Twins was belted in the jaw by a fast
ball.  He is going to need at least one month to recover before playing
again.  (Good thing for the Twins their season is over.)

 9-30-95  Loss of free coffee has inmates at the Beltrami County jail in
Bemidji, MN jittery.  Coffee and tea aren't free but there is still a free
lunch and they get dessert with their meals.  Reportedly there was a large
amount of complaining when the sheriff cut off the inmates MTV and VH1 and
smoking was banned.

 10-4-95  Hurricane Opal smashed into the Florida Panhandle, sending trees
toppling, pulling homes into the sea, killing more than a dozen and leaving
more than 1 million people in four states without power.  (Seems like a
great time to go to Florida, Steve!)

 10-6-95  A health plan survey gave Mayo Clinic's HMO the highest grades of
any in the state.  The survey by MN Health Data Institute found that Mayo's
plan was the only one with better than average grades for customer

 10-7-95  Free Money!!  It's everyone's dream.  You can download a copy of
the personal finance program for Windows 95 if you do it by Oct 31.  Just
use your Web browser to go to Microsoft's home page on the WWW
( Once there, you'll see complete
directions for downloading your copy of the program at no charge.  (Who says
money doesn't grow on trees?!)

 10-7-95  MN passed a new state law that requires most minor parents to live
at home or with an adult relative in order to receive welfare.  The law took
effect for new applicants Oct 1.

 10-9-95  A Twin Cities transit strike left about 100,000 commuters
scrambling for a way to get to work.  Bus drivers took to the picket line
over wages and use of part-time drivers.

10-10-95  One person was killed and 78 injured when an Amtrak train was
sabotaged southwest of Phoenix and a train went off the track.  Experts are
looking for leads into the derailing, apparently done by a group declaring
itself the Sons of Gestapo.

10-12-95  OJ Simpson bailed out of an hour-long interview with NBC
because he said his attorneys convinced him that it would not be in his best
interest.  ( Instead he's spending his time in Panama City golfing.)

10-16-95  Today was the Million Man March-Or was it the 400,000 Man March?

Steve,  Hope my version of the news does your rag justice.  Do not forget to
pick me up at the airport tonight.  I am leaving now so I hope this comes to
you okay.  I didn't send the file.  I just retyped it because we are having
server problems.


11. And Matt from Arizona, soon to have a new neighbor Kerry Neef, writes:

From Tue Oct 24 15:37:04 1995

   "Do you read this with a WWW browser?
    If yes, do you have  an online connection?
    Would you pay  by the hour for connect time to read
   this from a ceantral server?"

Just to let you know I'm still alive (until Pooky decides otherwise), I'll
answer your simple questions.  No, I don't read your rag with a WWW
browser.  (Yes, I have an online connection.)  Sure, I'd pay for connect
time.  I am nowhere near using up the 50hours/month I currently get for the
base rate of $19.95/month.

Matt Birkholz 
PGP 2.6.2 Public Key ID = 74305425
        Key Fingerprint = B3 34 FB 3E 3C FE E8 57  AA B4 B2 95 A7 C0 1E AF
Finger for key.  (Note missing "z"; thank you, Primenet.)

Ed: So how is fatherhood progressing? Are you keeping a lab book of responses to positive/negative reinforcements to aid me when my time comes?


Quotes(s) of the month:

"There is a difference between truth and fact - one changes in light of new events, the other does not. The path towards wisdom begins with discriminating between the two."


Fix of the month:

"Design a hurricane resistant house and community."



1. Minneapolis, Oct. 14: The Society of Professional Journalists were in town discussing the weighty issues of their trade. Among those voted on:

New York

1. New York City, Oct. 23: The 50'th Anniv. of the UN came to an end with a concert in Lincoln Center. Neither Cuba's Fidel Castro or PLO's Yassar Arafat were invited because they were in this country on limited visas. However, Yasser successfully snuck into the concert where he was noticed by city Mayor Rudolph Guiliani who had Arafat hussled out the back. One of the numbers being played that evening was Beethoven's Ninth Symphony - a tune about the brotherhood of man.

2. Oct. 23: While in town for the UN festivities, Clinton stopped to dine at a restaurant across the street from the ABC News office. Many ABC staffers, who had already been in the restaurant when the President arrived, walked out to find signs stating that all their cars had been moved by the Secret Service to Central Park.


1. Oct. 4: Hurricane Opal took out 27 people and $2 billion in damages.

2. A Surfer was bitten by a tiger shark. But don't worry. It only happens a few times a year.

3. Miami, Oct. 15: The Nightly Business Report came up with some numbers on the differences between the way single men and women handle money.

The report conjectured that possible reasons for the difference are that men consider acquiring wealth a power statement (like beating their wives - no doubt) while women use money to enhance their attractiveness to potential mates. How Darwinian.

4. Oct 4: Disney announced that it will consider same-sex domestic partners of employees "spousal equivalents" for insurance converage purposes. What makes this move even more interesting is that unmarried straight couples get no such break.

Ed.: Again proving, as if any more proof was needed, that liberals define fairness as getting more than anyone else. Which leads to ...

Wash. D.C.

1. Oct. 6: The supreme court is hearing an appeal from Colorado gays. In 1992, a public referendum in Colorado defeated the goal of "spousal equivalency" for insurance purposes for same sex domestic partners of state and city employees. The gay lobby argued that health care is a right, the state argued that it is a state's rights issue and not the purview of the supreme court. The court concurred with the state.

2. Oct. 19: Senate hearings on Randy Weaver/Ruby Ridge are wrapping up with interviews of FBI director Louis Freeh. Yesterday Freeh said he thought the "rules of engagement" were unConstitutional. But a couple of months ago he said,

"The question is whether someone running into a fortified position who is going to shoot at you is as much a threat to you as somebody turning in an open space and pointing a gun at you. I don't distinguish between those."

3. Oct. 15: Clinton is taking credit for getting Bosnian/Serb leaders and mid east leaders back to the negotiating table. But in the 1992 election, he lambasted Bush for being a foreign policy Pres. and not paying enough attention to domestic issues. Recall, "IT'S THE ECONOMY STUPID!"

Ed: I'll give Bill either side of a debate, but damnit he can't have both.

4. Oct 18: Several months ago, I reported that McNeil of the McNeil/Lehrer NewsHour was going to quit the show on account of he couldn't live on the diminished salary that was being asked of him with Public TV cutbacks. In the space of time of that same issue, he announced that he'd changed his mind (I cannot tell which issue it is cuz in Florida I don't have access to my archives). Well, sometime in the past 2 weeks McNeil must have changed his mind again because it is now known as the "NewsHour With Jim Lehrer." McNeil, if he follows his ealier plan, will be off writing books.

5. Oct. 25: If they do nothing else, the current Rep. controlled Congress should be thanked for cutting the IRS budget. The IRS has announced that because of the cutbacks, they do not have sufficient manpower to run random audits and will suspend them - indefinitely.

Net News

Had some really funny "News of the Weird" including:

For those of you who indicated that you would be able to read an online Web version of the Rag in last month's Fix, you will now simply get this notice that the new issue is available to read at your convenience. The new Rochester Rag is up at

John Johnson's Cyber Maze.