requiescat in pace (?), spqr (100)

Wed, 12 Apr 89 21:09:05 EDT

Dear Colleagues:

We have suffered the departure of our memorable gadfly, Sebastian Rahtz,
from Humanist; we have heard several eulogies, some of them attempting
to persuade him to return from beyond the pale; in the following two
messages, we will even read an attempt to question reality, and
entertain one otherwise pricked by the Rahtz, who indeed prophesied that
hats would be waved when spqr left. Let these messages make an end of
it. Spring approaches, in many places the temperature is well above
freezing. Burial must follow quickly. No more, until the archaeologists
begin their digging, years hence!

Humanist Mailing List, Vol. 2, No. 830. Wednesday, 12 Apr 1989.

(1) Date: Sun, 9 Apr 89 11:35:41 EDT (33 lines)
From: Walter McCutchan <>
Subject: The departure of Sebastian Rahtz.

(2) Date: Tue, 11 Apr 89 10:38:27 BST (43 lines)

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Sun, 9 Apr 89 11:35:41 EDT
From: Walter McCutchan <>
Subject: The departure of Sebastian Rahtz.

I am amused by the furor that I see in HUMANIST because one reader,
albeit a vocal one, has decided to withdraw from our readership.
While I take no particular pleasure from seeing Sebastian Rahtz depart
(any man's death diminishes me) I also feel no particular discomfort
from his leaving us, perhaps in peace.

Further, I am amused to see so many HUMANISTS lament that they will
miss Mr Rahtz's 'thought-provoking' comments. I would have thought
that his self-admitted "bad taste", and his "trivial" and "ignorant"
postings would provoke little, if any thought.

How much thought they actually did provoke, I have no way to discern,
but for my part, the man who talks to his cats (and tells all of us
about it), who dismisses OCP with an imperious wave of his hand, who
suggests that the way to solve a small software problem with a NAMES
file is to "throw away your IBM mainframe and buy a real computer"
provoked only the thought "why is this person wasting my time?"

I don't even feel bad suggesting that Mr Rahtz wasted my time, he
certainly was not above suggesting what was and was not worthy
material for HUMANIST, and complained of others "clogging my mail".

So let us all in our own way bid farewell to Mr Rahtz and wish him all
the success he deserves.

walter mccutchan

p.s. Flames to me, no sense clogging up peoples' mail :-)
(2) --------------------------------------------------------------46----
Date: Tue, 11 Apr 89 10:38:27 BST
From: Sean O'Cathasaigh, FRI001@UK.AC.SOTON.IBM
Department of French, The University, Southampton SO9 5NH

In an impressive (if eerie) ceremony in Southampton last week I was
inducted as Chief Mallard of the Southampton Lodge. The secret nature
of the ceremony was considerably reinforced by the fact that it was
conducted over local network links: I didn't see the other participants.
My first task is to solicit material from fellow Humanists about
Sebastian Rahtz. It seems appropriate to commemorate the passing of
the first Humanist to expire on active service. The trouble is that
so few (if any) people have met him that first-person reports are
difficult, not to say impossible to come by. There have even been
suggestions that he is/was a figment of Willard's imagination,
simply because Willard referred to him as "my alter ego". But our
sainted editor wouldn't act like that, would he? And besides, I have
met people who know people who they think actually met Sebastian.
Mind you, when I went to Oxford last week, I didn't meet anybody who
had met him there, although at one stage (and for all I know still),
Sebastian had an e-mail address on the Oxford VAX cluster. I admit
that there *are* some puzzling aspects about the whole business -
for instance, it's strange that Southampton, which had six
Humanists, now only has three. The suspicion has been voiced that
the other two (Brendan O'Flaherty and the mysterious AYI004, whose
biography doen't appear in the appropriate list) may have been
alteri nos - but for whom? Again, if anyone has actually met these
people, could they please let me know directly? I hope in time to
collate all the relevant info and make it available in the form
of a solemn obituary to all Humanists who wish to record their
respects. Perhaps the material could be placed on a file-server
accessible to those who key in the Mallard song...

Sean O'Cathasaigh (aka Dr V.D.U. MacHine)