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Missive #2

We almost did the entire distance on our morning walk but were getting wet and Erik started shaking it off. The midday walk yesterday was canceled because of rain. So far the total rainfall reported has been 0.31″ with a 70 % chance of more during today.

I have edited almost all of the Old Archive Page links to the WordPress Home Page. I should finish that today — a total of 300 pages. The next editing project on my To Do List are the links from Books I’ve Read to the pages where I show the book cover and review. The current links are to the page; I want to change that to the date on the page. There are about 700 of those. HA

I have two VA appointment tomorrow. Maybe find out when they are going to schedule the left eye cataract surgery.

Feedback—The First Four Months, or
Appreciation and Outrage from the Readers
By John Ross


Copyright 2003 by John Ross.
Electronic reproduction of this article freely permitted provided it is reproduced in its entirety with attribution given.

This week’s offering is a feedback column. After four months, it’s time.

My inaugural column was about lawyers, and the virtues of having an aggressive plaintiff’s bar in this country. Not surprisingly, trial lawyers liked it and are widely quoting it. A few of you wrote, complaining that some industries were disappearing in some areas because of lawsuits. This is true, and unfortunate, but the problem as I see it is with juries, not lawyers. If in some places there are no Ob-Gyns because of the prohibitive cost of liability insurance in that area, the problem is the juries in that area that have awarded unreasonable sums of money. I hope that these jurors will mend their ways and the situation will correct itself eventually. This is why I think every successful American has the moral obligation to NOT “get out” of jury duty, but to strive to get on a jury, and lead the other jurors in rejecting unreasonable claims. This includes rejecting a judge’s instructions if they go counter to what the jurors believe is just. Jury Nullification should be taught in every school, starting as soon as possible.

My column about inverted pay scales in looks-oriented professions brought emails saying “I never thought about it that way, but you’re absolutely right. That’s why I don’t want my daughter to become a call girl!” So glad I could help clear that up.

The treatise on reading brought some lengthy correspondence about your own early experiences with books, and confirmed something I’ve long suspected: That there is a “that way from birth” component to insatiable readers that is unrelated to raw intellect. One man with a fistful of engineering degrees and who is in my opinion a brilliant aircraft designer confessed that he almost never reads anything unrelated to his field. Of his two children, one is like him in this regard, while the other reads everything in sight. Both are “A” students.

The piece on Bob Lutz being hired by General Motors and his spearheading new, exciting designs inspired many of you to write “It’s about time!” or words to that effect. A few spoilsports whined that a thousand-horsepower Cadillac was excessive. Of course it is. That’s the point of it.

My college calculus professor emailed me that he liked my “Statistics for Dummies” column that explained how with a large enough sample, you are always going to get a few things you really don’t want, like serial killers. He pointed out that this was not, in fact, the strict definition of The Law of Large Numbers, but more like a corollary (Ross’ Corollary?) He is right, of course. The Law of Large Numbers is that as the sample size gets large, the experimental results approach the predicted probability. Flip a coin four times and you can get heads 0%, 25%, 50%, 75%, or 100% of the time. Flip a coin 100,000 times (I know of one high school math class that actually did this as an experiment) and the results are going to be very, very close to 50.0% heads.

Things heated up a bit when the topic turned to abortion. The emails were almost all positive, about both columns, but a few of you insist on trying to make me debate the issue with you, when you want to “Just treat the fetus like any other living human under the law” and make performing an abortion murder. I’ll answer all of you together right here. I don’t profess to have all the answers, but one big problem with the above position is this:

Medical technology is advancing to where we will eventually be able to fertilize an egg outside the womb and end up with a baby without ever using a uterus. So, I take an egg in a petri dish, add semen, look at it under a microscope, and see that fertilization has occurred. Ten seconds later, I rinse the petri dish in the sink. By the above reasoning, I have committed the most heinous of premeditated murders. If you feel that way, fine, but I don’t and never will. Do I like the idea of an abortion performed a day before the scheduled delivery? Of course not. But I can’t imagine a doctor agreeing to perform such a procedure without some monumentally compelling reason, and in fact, of the hundreds of thousands of abortions performed annually, OBs tell me that less than a dozen are the “partial birth” type. I have to assume there was a reason other than “I’ve decided I don’t want to be pregnant”.

I do not want to get into a long debate about this. I think the issue should be between a woman and her ob-gyn. I know many OBs and none of them would perform a late-term abortion nor do they know any other doctors who would. My position is much like that of my 88-year-old mother’s: “The whole abortion issue wouldn’t be the problem that it is if middle aged men would stay the hell out of it.” Amen.

The StripperMom essay has become a favorite among readers, especially those in the St. Louis area. I continue to run into StripperMom and her boyfriend Jack in local eateries. I found out a couple weeks ago that there has been an interesting development. It seems that StripperMom got into one of those pointless arguments where Jack wouldn’t cave in on something trivial (drive her somewhere instead of paying for a cab) and it infuriated her. She narrowed her eyes and screamed “I’m going to ruin your life!” Memo to women: If you are going to say six words to your boyfriend in the hope that they will cause him to do what you want, pick different ones than those. “I just fellated the football team” would be a huge improvement over “I’m going to ruin your life.” Because of this, StripperMom has a new name: Fatal, short for Fatal Attraction. As I told Jack, I wouldn’t trust Fatal with my rabbit, let alone sleep in the same house with her and cutlery, lest she get a third nickname: Lorena.

My piece on race was one of the most commented-on of all the columns, and none of the emails I’ve received have been negative. I find this astonishing. Not a few people said they laughed out loud at the notion of my mythical “Howie Long Trial” being labeled “The trial of the century” and being of monumental importance to the white community. Many also said my conversation with the black businessman was one of the most depressing things they’d ever read, but that it explained a lot.

Standing in for Dear Abby and advising a young man as to how to behave towards “the girl of his dreams” drew the most comments of any piece I’ve written so far, and many of you want to hear more. Most emails were from men and were of the “Where were you when I was twenty/single/growing up?” genre. Some men wrote to say they tried behaving as I advised towards their existing girlfriends and were amazed at the positive results they got.

One man told me he would have suggested different advice from what I gave: Tell the hapless fellow to work out three times a week in the gym and build up his body. Have him find the guy who is the most successful one around with girls, and pay him a thousand dollars to hang out with him and learn from him. Tell him to ask hot women to help him select a new wardrobe. Have him hire call girls regularly to keep things in perspective. Well. I reminded this reader that the original advice was given to a chap who needed help with a date he had coming in three days, and that in any case I doubted he had an unlimited budget.

A lot of women sent comments that they wished more men had figured out that women get tired of predictable men who obsess about them at the slightest provocation. A few emailed pictures along with their comments. Memo to picture-sending women: The tattoos and piercings are fine, but I hate bangs, so comb your hair off your forehead for at least the few seconds it takes to snap a pic.

The Smith & Wesson column has caused the most vitriolic commentary of all the pieces I’ve written. Most of you liked it, but a small but vocal and impassioned minority has accused me of being a sellout, a traitor to the Constitution and the freedom movement, in the employ of the company, and misrepresenting the facts of the matter. The recurrent theme of these missives is “The new company has said they’ll honor The Agreement. It’s a legally binding contract, and if they don’t publicly renounce it, they deserve to go bankrupt.”

Folks, I don’t know whether The Agreement is a legally binding contract by itself, or something that is not legally binding since the suit was dropped, like a proposed divorce settlement that becomes moot when the petitioner withdraws the divorce petition. (Yes, I know what it says at the bottom. That doesn’t make it true.) If The Agreement is the former (as most people on the Internet say it is), then why aren’t any of many parties involved demanding that S&W comply with the terms in it? The Clintons may be gone from the White House, but there are many other parties involved, like the City of Boston. S&W is ignoring entire sections of the agreement (read the section “Sales and Distribution, Code of Conduct.” S&W is complying with NONE of it that isn’t State or Federal law.) Why isn’t Boston screaming bloody murder? And isn’t there a legal doctrine which states that after a certain period of time, you lose the right to demand compliance with a contract if the other party has never complied with the terms and you’ve never complained?
Disagree with me if you want, but don’t brand me a traitor for believing that S&W should be judged by what they are doing right now rather than what someone in the past at S&W may have said they would do.

Those are the high points. Stay tuned for more commentary.

John Ross 8/18/03

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