From Lognet, issue 94/2.

Sau La Sacdonsu

(From the Start-Giver = Founder)

This issue, too, is being sent gratis to some old customers and former members. Haispe! (Enjoy!)

* * *

There wasn’t room in Lognet 94/1 for the photograph of Kirk Sattley ... even though we had one and he was the subject of Wes Parson’s Profile. So to make amends to Wes and Kirk—and to those who’d like to see all the faces in our rogues’ gallery, soi crano—I’m running it this time ... belatedly, but right smack in the middle of this page.

* * *

This issue of Lognet is fatter, at 28 pages, than any LN has ever been. The previous record-holder was LN 90/3 with 24 pages. Our standard, of course, for five years has been a 20-page issue; for 20-page LNs weigh exactly 1 ounce. So long as the number we were sending out domestically was less than 200, the U.S. Post Office required us to send them first class. So staying at the minimum weight saved us a good bit of money. What has enabled us to depart from that rigid standard are two independent developments:-

One, our membership has grown since our last SA ad so we can now send LN out—domestically, at any rate—under a bulkmail permit. Bulkmail requires a minimum of 200 domestic pieces each time. That means that issue-weight is no longer a critical factor. It will now cost us exactly as much—again, domestically—to send a 1-oz., 20-page issue as it would to send a 3-oz., 60-page issue ... if we ever found that much to say! Production costs go up proportionally, of course; but now postage doesn’t. Since postage is a major component of cost, if there is any good reason to produce a lengthier issue, we can now do so.

Two is that “good reason.” Putting out four issues a year is in fact a little wearing on your “Production Editor.” (I've changed my title from “Editor-in-Chief” to “Production Editor” because that’s what I do now.) Through LN 93/4 and four issues before it, Jenny Brown was our Production Editor, and a most welcome addition she was to our LN team! But last spring she found herself suddenly loaded down with other duties and had to turn the production job back to me.

Well, it takes me a month—give or take a few days—to put out an issue of Lognet. That’s writing my part in it, editing, or simply vetting, other people’s parts, getting my parts vetted by others—which often means corresponding back and forth about each piece several times by e-mail—and then assembling the issue with PageMaker, which Detra Jenny has now taught me how to do. After that there is the running of proof (which, blessedly, I can do now with my own new StyleWriter II, so I no longer have to run to Kinko’s a half dozen times to drain an issue dry of errata ... well, nearly dry; one never seems to get them all). Then, once the proofs have been declared good, there is the paste-up, the placing of Rex’s art-work, and the delivery—with hopeful instructions—of the camera-ready copy to the printer. Then, once the issue is printed, there is updating your address labels, printing them, sticking them on, putting on the airmail postage for our foreign members, and sorting out the domestic pieces by their Zip Codes ... which is something else the Post Office requires us to do to “earn” our bulkmail privilege. Then it’s delivering the issue to the P.O., and off it goes. All this can be accomplished in about a month from the time the other sridou (“writing-givers”) get their pieces in to me.

Recently, and almost without noticing, I have become an aging scholar. Like others of my kind, I still have about 200 years of work to do, soi crano. (Like a flock of Tristram Shandys, the more we aging scholars work, the farther we seem to be from finishing our work!) Consequently, there are a half-dozen half-planned books still standing around like patient wraiths in the corners of my study, awaiting their turns. (I’m finishing up one of them now, thank goodness. It’s a derivative of my 1970 futurist novel, The Troika Incident, and is called The Job Market. In it I propose a computational solution to the problems of inflation and unemployment. Between Lognets, soi crano, I’ve been working on finishing this book for the last two years. It was first drafted back in 1975 when I was still living in England; and the manuscript itself plus my many Troika friends have been nagging me to finish it for the last 20 or so Loglan-intensive years. So if, as I have promised myself, I do finish the JM book this winter, I will be providing them and me with a good deal of satisfaction.

There’s also some neatening-up of my pre-Loglan social psychological work that I mean to do. That's the next project after JM. Believe it or not, I was a once a fairly busy social psychologist; and there is a very old body of possibly still-important results from those early years of work still to be published ... not to mention a dozen fascinating scientific problems raised by the data that still deserve thinking about ... if I can get my head out of Loglandia, soi crano, long enough to start thinking about them again.

I am happy to say that that’s not all, soi crano, that occupies my time these days. I am also a traveller and a culture buff—I used to be a sailor, too, but I’ve given that role up, uu—and I find that, after taking stock, there is still half a planet waiting to be visited, soi crano, before I can courteously take my leave of it. My wife and I figure that one month a year spent traveling is the least that we can do to advance that sentimental objective.

With such a busy work and play schedule facing me, taking four months a year to produce a quarterly Lognet was beginning to seem a bit much. So I asked my fellow Directors the other day—actually, it was more like the other year, come to think of it—what they thought of our cutting Lognet back from a quarterly to a “thirdly,” and making up the loss to our readers by producing longer issues. (Longer issues don’t take proportionally longer to assemble, fortunately, although they do cost more at the printer’s.) This was my argument:-

A normal 20-page issue—the size forced on us by our initially small membership and the high cost of 1st Class postage—has 18 pages of content. We are committed to providing you, our members, with 4 such issues a year. That’s 72 pages of content. When, in the past, we failed to provide you with that much annual reading, we always extended the period for which your dues were paid. We could do that again to compensate for going to a thirdly. But instead I proposed that we produce three longer issues, say one 24-page and two 28-page issues a year. That would give you 22 + 2 x 26 = 74 pages of content a year.

The Board reflected and agreed. So that’s what we’re offering you, Hoi Logli: a thirdly LN with at least 74 pages of content each year. What you will be doing if you accept this offer is permitting me to cut back my Loglan-intensive work-schedule from 4 months to 3 each year.

In short, you’ll be retiring about 25% of me; the rest works on quite happily, I assure you.

* * *

So much for the unusual fatness of this issue. Now for its unusual content.

This issue has, indeed, the longest Lo Lerci we’ve ever printed ... not only because the issue itself is long but because a higher proportion of it is devoted to letters than ever before. There are 16 letters this time, nearly all with fairly substantial answers from me. One reason we used so many is that we had them to use. But another is that we were expecting some other pieces that we didn’t get; so we filled in with letters. But never mind. Some of the missing pieces—among them a much longer Sau La Keugru than we’re printing this time—will be coming along next time. It will report the outcomes of all the usage discussions we’ve been having in the Keugru over the past nine months. Look for it. It should be quite a column.

Another thing that didn’t show up for LN 94/2 was Steve’s Lo Cninu Purda; but that seems to be on an “every 2nd issue” schedule these days. So we can probably expect one from Steve next time.

Bill Gober’s “Hu Logla Sanpa Toi?” has, sadly, been withdrawn. Would anyone else like to do a column on usages? By that or any other name? Obviously we need one.

I have particularly enjoyed commenting on this batch of Lo Lerci ... in effect, answering these good letters in public. Collectively they amble over quite a lot of ground, as you may already have seen. All in all they’ve obliged me to think and write more widely about Loglan than I have in years. I hope you enjoy the product as much as I’ve enjoyed my part in the production. If you want to get in on the discussion of any of these topics, they’re all still open. Write some new Lo Lerci on one or more of them for December. Perhaps in this way we can get those of you who are not connected to The Institute by e-mail more actively involved, ae.

Another piece that showed up for this issue was Wes Parson’s Profile on James Jennings. This is the third in Wes’s series of Tiftua Profiles, the first two having been on Steve Rice and Kirk Sattley. (What is a “profile” in Loglan? Why, a “person-picture-form” of course, a pertcufoa. LOD just made that word for me, believe it or not.)

I am personally following this series of profiles with great interest. I have worked with most of our tiftua (“offering-workers”) for a long time, of course, although with most of them only at a distance. But except for Wes himself and Bob McIvor, I knew nothing of their personal histories until I read about them in Wes’s columns.

* * *

We need more of us on our work-teams. We’re being strung out pretty thin right now. Not only have we lost Bill Gober and need to replace him in our work-groups, but we’ve thought of a lot more work that needs doing than we have hands to do it with now. Some of it is work on the language (particularly on its logical usages), some on LN (which could use a couple more regular columns now that it’s a bigger book), some on our teaching tools (which I’ll be more specific about in a moment), and some on La Logli (which still needs that “assistant editor” that I’ve asked for several times; in other words, Kirk needs help). I know I mention TLI’s tiftua-needs quite frequently these days. But even so, I’m going to mention them at least one more time, soi crano.

Highest on my list of needed someones is someone to extend the input list for MacTeach 1. MacTeach 2 could also be helped along with new input lists, of course. But M1 is our most basic program in that it teaches utterance formation, that is, grammar and usage. The short input list we were able hurriedly to put together for it before GPA-ing (“Going Public Again”) in 1989 is far too short; it doesn’t take the learner nearly far enough into the language.

M1 is a very flexible program. The first input list we prepared for it works very well indeed as far as it goes. But let’s face it: those first 400-odd utterances do not take the learner much beyond kindergarten Loglan. We need many more utterance forms; we need deeper inroads to be made into the truly challenging parts of the language; we need a four-square attack on what may be the “alienness” of Loglan metaphysics by making it more familiar. In short, we need a far more ambitious program of grammar and usage teaching than the existing M1 input list provides.

The tools are there. As I say, the M1 program itself is virtually limitless. It will teach the user anything the input-writer gives it to teach. And it will take any sort and nearly any length of utterance that the input-preparer—who is really the teacher behind all the MacTeach programs—wants to plug into it. Both Bob McIvor and I have probably forgotten the M1 input-writing code. But we have the early protocols, and a little experimentation usually suffices to bring such coding systems back.

What we need, Bob and I, and do not have (because all our other tiftua are busy with their important tasks ... as indeed we are with ours), is someone who is willing to try, at least—at first under our tutelage—to devise a learning track through Intermediate, and eventually through Advanced, Loglan. This would involve forging a sequence of perhaps 1,000 carefully crafted “utterance frames.” These would be initially presented to the user in a fixed order so that u would be able to build at first on what u had just learned. But later the program would free u’s competence from that context-dependency by requiring u to master the same frames over again but in a random order. The user who had made this challenging double voyage successfully would almost certainly know how to interpret and build a very tough assortment of Loglan sentences indeed.

What materials would be available to the input-writer? Well, there are (1) the later portions of Steve Rice’s soon-to-be-published Loglan 3 ... for in the later portions L3 is not a primer; and (2) the MacGram Test Corpus itself. This famous corpus—which now consists of several thousand test sentences, for Bob keeps adding to it all the time—exhibits in bristling detail everything that LIP can currently understand. I’m sure Bob will let you have a copy for such a worthy purpose. From it you could not only draw endless inspiration about what to teach, but by checking off from it what M1 already teaches, and then what you give it to teach, you will leave yourself a very useful checklist of what remains to be done.

What sort of talents should this new tiftua have? Well, it would help, but not be absolutely essential, if he or she were a programmer. For the cues embedded in the input lists that cause our MacTeach programs to perform are programmatic cues, devices that computer programmers will immediately understand. But, I repeat, familiarity with how programs in general work is not essential. Anyone who knows what he or she wants the MacTeach programs to do will find it relatively easy to make them do it.

It will also help if the input-preparer is a logli with a fair to middling skill in handling Loglan, who likes to think about how to teach things, and is interested in increasing u’s own skill as well as those of others. They say that the best way to learn something is to teach it. Well, here’s your chance. You can be your own first guinea pig, the first one to follow your new, tough track through Intermediate, and then Advanced, Loglan.

Any takers? Contact either Dr. McIvor or me at any of our addresses. I can promise you that all of us in the tiftua cadre, who probably include the most competent logli in the world at the moment, will be among the first to submit ourselves to whatever new learning discipline you can contrive for us. For we too want to improve our loglandical skills.

As thin on the ground as we still are—as deprived of language-normal speaking opportunities as that means we all still are—a good, tough, CAI (“Computer-Aided Instruction”) program is probably the most powerful tool we could currently build for helping us punch through that “difficulty barrier.”

* * *

Let me end this issue with a couple of brief notes: Our Patrons & Sustainers—the people who have volunteered to pay dues of $200 & $100 per biennium instead of the standard $40—are now making it possible for TLI to offer free tools and memberships, as well as all the free software they can use, to those overseas logli whose personal finances would otherwise not permit them to join us. For example, we’ve been recently joined by two Russian and one additional Chinese logli whose dues, books, and software we’ve been able to provide as gifts of The Insitute. When it comes time to renew your own dues, Logli, you might want to think of joining this special group of mainly North American logli who are allowing us to extend our Loglandian hospitality worldwide.

* * *

Apart from learning how to punch through the “difficulty barrier”—which I’m convinced is created more by the difficulty of solving logical problems “on the fly” than it is by the alienness of our over-simple metaphysics—TLI’s chief task is to build up our list of logical usages, each one a “canned” solution to a logical problem that, thereafter, will not have to be solved on the fly. I know there are at least five logicians out there who are currently “just listening:” Prof. Quine, Prof. Perry Smith, Prof. Parks-Clifford, Prof. Elliott, and Jerome Frazee. We invite you all to join our logic roundtable. Somehow we formally-trained logli will have to solve these problems for the others. We’ll have to devise ways of dealing with the logical problems of everyday speech elegantly, correctly, and yet routinely. Help us do that. If you can write and receive e-mail, that will help.

* * *

If you don’t have LOD yet, you should get it. It is one of the handsomest learning tools that TLI has ever offered. You can edit it, add words to it, use it as a word-maker. In short, if you’re an aspiring Loglan writer, it’s just what you’ve always needed, soi crano.

I use my LOD to extend Loglan nearly every time I touch it. For example, when I do a sight-translation—such as Lederman’s Joke in this issue—or compose a letter to a comrade, or write a story, I typically build a half dozen new metaphors; and LOD helps me turn them into words. Dr. McIvor has made both LOD’s word-making facility and its edit-saving function so simple, so graceful, so enticing, that adding new words to the language is almost as easy as thinking them up. Every once in a while, of course, I send my file of “user edits” in to Bob, who then consults Steve or whatever other local experts he can find before installing them in the next edition of the dictionary that is constantly growing under his hands.

We invite you all to join us in this satisfying, and now very easy, process of making Loglan grow.