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[ Excerpt from Encyclopedia Britannica:  stochastic process: in probability
theory, a family of random variables indexed by some other set and having the
property that for each finite subset of the index set, the collection of
variables thus indexed has a joint probability distribution; it is one of the
most general objects of study in probability.]

Date: Sun, 12 Jan 2003 22:59:11 EST
Subject: IVySubs: Stochastic perturbations in the plasma flux, or, A silly

**  ivy-subscribers relaying  **

Dear Anyone --

  I'm pleased to report that the "Real or Imagined" series has gotten me so
many pleasant communications, both on and off the IVy list, as well as from
numerous unexpected quarters, that my head, which has always been
unpleasantly swollen, has now reached the bursting point, and given that it's
filled with a very bad-smelling green slime which differs from ordinary brain
tissue, I sure hope my skull, which has become paper-thin in the last 5 or 10
lifetimes, doesn't give way.

  On the known side of the IVy list, I'd like to thank Mary Teitelbaum,
Thomas Hoyt, and John Alexander for taking the time to acknowledge my fairly
demented and unreliable prose (is that false modesty?  Could be.).  Anyhow,
I'm also pleased to report, for the sake of harmony and balance and life,
that I've received a fair number of what some might consider to be unpleasant
responses to my writing.  But I'm so vain that I think of any response as
being better than no response at all, and love the attention, even if the ARC
might be in the hostile range.  What the heck, it's all ARC!

  Here's a sample of some of the "love letters" I've received in this vein:
"Phil, you are full of malarkey, and always have been."  And another: "So
many of your facts are wrong that you ought to hire somebody as a
fact-checker so that you stop spreading so much erroneous information while
pretending to be a know-it-all."  "You ought to be ashamed of yourself for
being critical of some of L. Ron Hubbard's best efforts to salvage mankind."  
Here's one of my favorites, personally: "The IVy list would be a better place
without you."  And lastly, "Although I've never seen it in writing, I think
the Church of Scientology would be correct in declaring you a Suppressive
Person."  The above are not necessarily from fellow-listers.

  Well, I could go on, but that's enough for now.  Cyberspace is a big
place, and isn't always necessarily friendly.

  Moving on to another topic, there's an author by the name of Douglas
Adams, who wrote _The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy_, and (thank goodness)
a number of other wonderfully humorous and extremely illuminating books.  
Early on in one of his books, he mentioned something that went about like
this: if you were to find all the answers to what the universe is and what
it's doing here, it would vanish at once; and what would replace it would be
much more complicated, much more unfathomable, and possibly more awful than
the one we have now.  And it's also possible that this has already happened.

  Well, I really liked that a lot, because I've had a theory somewhat
similar to that, and it goes like this: if folks don't simply work in the
direction of having all that is called "their case," but instead attempt to
get rid of or as-is or cause to vanish all that is their case, if they are
successful in doing that, and I believe it can be and has been done, what
will replace it (and sometimes very quickly) will be more complex, more
unfathomable, and much more awful.  And this has probably already happened.

  If anyone has had any experiences that corroborate this theory (or not),
please write,  I beg of you.

  As never,

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