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    Re: Joshua Slocum, Victor Slocum, and lunars
    From: Wolfgang K�berer
    Date: 2009 Mar 3, 23:27 +0100

    Frank, just a simple question:
    
    Do you still maintain your claim that "that famous lunarian expert Baron von
    Zach ... was astounded to
    discover that the whole crew knew and worked lunars"?
    
    Your post just deals with the cook. You simply cannot draw your above
    conclusion from that simple story. Neither can you draw further conclusions
    about the nautical proficiency of (North)American seamen at that period. Or
    do you withdraw your statements now?
    
    And your remark:
    
    "So because you never managed to find the original article, you have
    concluded that there WAS NO original article?? I can think of another
    explanation..."
    
    is obviously besides the point. I stated the simple fact that I have been
    unable to find the source that you seem to rely on. You did not give it;
    just a saucy tale ("the whole crew knew and worked lunars") which could not
    be believed by anybody in his right mind. As long as I cannot find the
    source of such an outrageous statement I am free - even compelled - to doubt
    that it - or its factual basis - exists. That's the basis of rational
    science - nomothetical or ideographic - since the Age of Enlightenment (at
    least this side of the pond). Apart from that you have - as ever -
    insinuated that I have drawn a certain conclusion - which I expressly did
    not. Just read again what I wrote. I'd be obliged, though, if you could
    supply the citation from the "Correspondance Astronomique, Geographique,
    Hydrographique, et Statistique", Vol. 4, 62 - 65. We could then get into a
    more serious discussion with a common textual basis.
    
    By the way: Your information that von Zach "had moved to Genoa and/or
    Marseilles (?) around 1814" seems incorrect, too. According to my
    information he lived in Marseille since 1809 and since 1815 in Genoa; but
    that is of little consequence here. Just shows your carelessness with facts
    again.
    
    And you wrote:
    "First, Zach read and wrote English, no doubt about that."
    I'd be obliged if you could prove that - beyond reasonable doubt. That " HE
    HIMSELF records his conversations with the members of the crew of
    Cleopatra's Barge in his article in the "Correspondance" doesn't mean
    anything. And that "It does not appear from his account that he dealt with a
    translator" circumvents my argument: if you have only a limited command of a
    foreign language and do not use a translator you are more prone to
    misunderstandings than if do use one. I am not aware of a tradition of
    mentioning the use of a translator in such written accounts of travels and
    visits of that period anyway, so the  conclusion you are suggesting lacks
    any FACTUAL basis.
    
    To my comment:
    "And: 2) we'd have to take at face value that what he was told was true,
    because
    von Zach doesn't say that he actually saw the greatest part of the seamen
    use the sextant and make nautical calculations."
    
    you remarked:
    "Yes indeed. They may have lied. It may have been a bizarre conspiracy to
    fool the astronomer..."
    
    What a cheap shot! And how it missed, because the french text you now quote
    again only deals with the cook. What about "the whole crew" you have been
    harping on?
    
    Same goes for your following intended rebuttal:
    "Again, von Zach asked direct questions that would reveal a mere boast and
    got answers that genuinely surprised him for their accuracy and detail. He
    examined the notebooks. He saw the calculations for himself."
    
    Oh my: He only talked about the black cook.
    
    Finally you say:
    "It's too bad that this dismal and completely speculative theory, that the
    story was a legend, has been dredged up from the abyss once again."
    
    That's funny! The idea that a story is a legend to be "completely
    speculative". I always thought that it is the other way around: legends bear
    the burden of proof (and succumb to it mostly). And who would believe that
    the story that the whole crew of "Cleopatra's Barge" knew and worked lunars
    is anything but a legend?
    
    Good night
    Wolfgang
    
    
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