• MT VOID, 09/02/22 -- Vol. 41, No. 10, Whole Number 2239

    From evelynchimelisleeper@gmail.com@21:1/5 to All on Sun Sep 4 11:16:55 2022
    09/02/22 -- Vol. 41, No. 10, Whole Number 2239

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    Excerpt from "Colombia, Venezuela, and Brazil Travelog"
    (Part 1) (travelogue by Mark Leeper)
    BLADE RUNNER, Transliteration, Herodotus, and the Mt. Holz
    Science Fiction Society (letter of comment
    by John Hertz)
    This Week's Reading (THE LAND OF LONG LOST FRIENDS,
    HOW TO RAISE AN ELEPHANT) (book comments
    by Evelyn C. Leeper)


    TOPIC: Excerpt from "Colombia, Venezuela, and Brazil Travelog"
    (Part 1) (travelogue by Mark Leeper)

    2/17/01 Roxton Camp, Maple White Plateau

    I woke up early as usual. I have had a hard time sleeping since
    we got to Brazil. I guess I like it cool at night and it is hot
    and humid. Back at the lodge they have air conditioning, but of
    course you cannot air condition a tent. Evelyn was still
    sleeping and I heard something that must have come to the river
    to drink in the morning. It sounded big and heavy. I pulled on
    my shirt, pants, and sandals and grabbed by camera but by the
    time I got to the water there was nothing to film. I am not
    sure what kind of animals we would get coming to drink. The
    Orinoco is slow and particularly muddy on this stretch and I am
    a little surprised that any animal can drink from it.

    The Plateau is still about two hour's drive by jeep over what
    they call roads here. It probably would have taken the
    Challenger expedition something like three days to travel the
    distance, but they were on foot for this last part. Even so it
    is going to take a while. And the trip through the jungle on
    that road, though not really boring, is lacking in a lot of
    variety. Any animal who hears the jeep engine is long gone by
    the time we drive by so the best we can hope for is seeing a few
    birds, and then we have to look really quick. I imagine back in
    Challenger's time there was a lot more to see.

    A lot of nasty things come out of this jungle. We are just a
    little way east of the Rio Negro. Ever read "Leiningen versus
    the Ants" by Carl Stephenson? I haven't seen any big ants,
    actually, but you do see smaller ones swarming over trees. I
    don't know if they ever really get army ant swarms like the ones
    Stephenson wrote about. Also the mosquitoes can be pretty bad.

    Breakfast was scrambled eggs and fruit. There were a few pieces
    of toast, but they were burnt. They eggs were watery. Even the
    fruit which was good the last few days seemed a little overripe
    and mushy. But still I was looking forward to the day. I mean
    this is really the centerpiece of the whole trip. It doesn't
    matter how many times you have seen pictures and films of live
    dinosaurs, it is nothing like seeing the real things in front of
    you. And we get only one day. Actually with the jeep ride to
    and from the plateau and the cable ride up and down half the day
    is taken up with that. Evelyn was saying that the Brazilian
    government was going to build a small dormitory for travelers on
    the top of the plateau, but the conservation people decided to
    protest and the plans were quickly cancelled. Probably for the
    best. There is only one Maple White Plateau. Only one place
    that we can really see dinosaurs in their natural habitat left
    alive. I don't want to see anything happen to them. We were
    done and ready to go at 8:00, but the jeeps were late. Gil
    won't be going with us. I guess he has seen the top and he
    doesn't want to pay the ticket for a ride up and down. We pay
    only one fee for the whole trip so do not see how much of it
    goes for the trip up the plateau, but I take it the Brazilian
    government gets a hefty chunk of change for everyone who goes up
    to the plateau.

    At about 8:20 the two jeeps pulled up and Gil packed three of us
    in the back of each. There is a seat next to the driver, but I
    guess they don't want to share the front with a tourist. Evelyn
    and I got one jeep and Jim joined us. One of the couples has to
    be split up for the trip. I guess Jim doesn't mind. Actually
    since I will be working on my log it wouldn't bother me too much
    to be split up from Evelyn. You might wonder how I can write in
    my log on these--I hate to use the word "road"--wet sand traps.
    With a palmtop the shaking doesn't stop my typing.

    Anyway, I we have an Indian driving. We sit in the back. It is
    not really comfortable, but we didn't come to Brazil for
    comfort. I am going to see dinosaurs. Jeez. Just the thought
    of it. Actually it shouldn't be so hard to see them. I mean if
    the Brazil government would cooperate, they could clone them or
    something. Of course that would end their monopoly. I guess
    when you discover something like the Maple White Plateau in your
    own country you want to milk as much from it as you can. Brazil
    does not have that many big moneymaker industries. I guess let
    them benefit as much as they can from the one thing they have
    that nobody else in the world has.

    The drive through the jungle was long and hot and dull. It was
    about 10:15 when Evelyn tapped my leg. Just over the trees you
    could see the Maple White Plateau. It looked like a lot of rock
    and not much green at he top. I was hoping to see a pterodactyl
    or two flying over. No such luck. It just looked like a lot of
    rock. I have to try and find out why this rock is like this. I
    mean geologically. It all looked like it was one piece from
    here. Actually it was all one piece at one time in its past.
    The Summerlee Column broke off as cleavage at one point. It
    looks like the only place that the rock was climbable and it
    broke off. That was how Challenger got up. He climbed
    Summerlee Column and used a tree to cross over to the main part
    of the plateau. That was also how he got stuck up there. I
    guess it is kind of pointless looking for where the tree fell.
    Everything is just so big.

    I asked the driver if we would be seeing "Curupuri." He thought
    that it was very funny that I used that word and he didn't tell
    me anything. Everybody back home knows the dinosaurs are called
    Curupuri and that is what the Indians call them. This guy had
    never even heard of the name. If the Indians don't call them
    Curupuri, who does? Where did we get that name for them? It is
    hard to know how much of this is publicity and how much is real.
    Anyway now the driver thinks that I am some sort of a jerk.
    Honestly, Curupuri is supposed to be the Indian name for the
    dinosaurs. I don't think the drivers think very much of the

    [to be continued next week]



    TOPIC: BLADE RUNNER, Transliteration, Herodotus, and the Mt. Holz
    Science Fiction Society (letter of comment by John Hertz)

    In response to Mark's comments on BLADE RUNNER in the 06/10/22
    issue of the MT VOID, John Hertz writes:

    In MT VOID 2227, Vol. 40, no. 50, 10 Jun 22, I concur in Mark's
    note on BLADE RUNNER (R. Scott dir., U.S. theatrical version 1982),
    "Scott ... seems to revel in unpleasant images."

    In response to Evelyn's comments on Herodotus in the 06/17/22
    issue, John writes:

    In MT VOID 2228, Vol. 40, no. 51, 17 Jun 22, Evelyn may not be
    quite fair to Herodotus. He was of the school holding that, as
    Montaigne put it (ESSAYS Bl. 3 ch. 8 [1595]; J. M. Cohen tr. 1958;
    Penguin ed'n 1993 p. 310), "all good historians ... among matters
    of public interest [let] popular opinions and rumors have their
    place." Montaigne quotes Quintus Curtius IX:1, "Truly I write down
    more than I believe, for I can never affirm what I doubt, nor
    suppress what I have heard", and Livy I, preface, & VIII:vi, "It is
    not worth while either affirming or refuting these things. One
    must stick to the report." We now are not thus satisfied.

    In response to Evelyn's comments on transliteration in the 07/01/22
    issue, John writes:

    Transliteration [MT VOID 2230, Vol. 41, no. 1, 1 Jul 22] is, in the
    old saying, an art, science, or mystery--even though "mystery"
    didn't mean then what it does today. A woman I used to know said,
    "A good transliteration is perfectly clear, and allows the reader
    to pronounce the transliterated expression without error or
    difficulty, if the reader already knows the language being

    And in a meta-comment, John writes:

    Although that [07/01/22] issue of the MT VOID says, "we have
    dropped the 'Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society' from our header",
    the copy I received still shows it. I am reliably informed MT VOID
    2231, Vol. 41, No. 2, 8 Jul 22 has it too--not that I mind. [-jh]

    Evelyn responds:

    I had dropped the 'Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society' in the
    template of the text version, but forgot to do so in the HTML (and
    hence PDF) versions until MT VOID 2233 (the 22 Jul 22 issue).


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

    I caught up on the "No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency" series by
    Alexander McCall Smith with TO THE LAND OF LONG LOST FRIENDS
    (Anchor, ISBN 978-0-525-56427-0) and HOW TO RAISE AN ELEPHANT
    (Anchor, ISBN 978-0-593-31095-3). McCall Smith is trying to be
    more in tune with present trends, but seems mildly uncomfortable
    with this. For example, in a discussion of men having many
    girlfriends, there is mention of men who don't like "ladies".
    (McCall Smith often has his characters speak of "ladies" rather
    than "women"--not surprising, given the name of the agency, I
    suppose.) Mma Makutsi thinks this is unfair of them because this
    means some women won't find men. The idea that some "ladies" don't
    like men apparently doesn't occur to her, and none of these men
    ever seem to be a character in one of the books. (In Botswana,
    homosexuality and homosexual acts are legal, as is gender-affirming
    treatment, and discrimination on the basis of either is prohibited.

    (However, gay marriage and adoptions by gay partners are not

    There is perhaps less detection in these books than earlier ones,
    and more personal problems. There are also long passages about
    rain, and cattle, and whether men should cook, and how various
    interpersonal relationships should be handled. On the whole these
    repeat similar passages from earlier in the series, but this one
    spoken by a math teacher was new, and really resonated with Mark's

    "I like it when I get through to some of the kids. Maybe a child
    who has not been doing well ..., and then you show them that they
    can actually do mathematics rather well, and then you see their
    face light up and you know that you've gotten through to them That
    is a very special moment. ... I had a boy, fourteen, maybe
    fifteen; he was not doing very well in my mathematics class, an so
    I gave him some extra time in the afternoon. [description of how
    his problem was a father who kept telling him he was stupid, and
    how the teacher countered that] He started to do very well,
    ..Mma. He has gone off now to do a degree in mathematics. He
    wants to be an actuary."

    (And speaking of current attitudes, "wokeness", and all that stuff,
    did you even notice that McCall Smith used the plural pronouns
    "they", "them", and "their" for a single individual?)



    Mark Leeper

    There's a fine line between a numerator and a denominator.
    Only a fraction of people will find this funny.

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