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September 29, 2015

Dear Mr. Pérez,
In a world witnessing the wanton vandalism of so much ancient glory your Wonder Woman Omnibus is heart raising.  We can create glory even now … by “we,” of course I mean “you.” 

My first exposure to Wonder Woman must have been in 1944 to 46 or thereabout.  I could not yet read, but I got something of the tone by looking at the art.  If memory serves she had some sort of transparent airplane back then.  But it was obviously girl stuff so I did not seek it out again, even though I read lots of comics later as a child.  I do not mean to imply that even then I was in contempt of girls and women.  They ran the home, which was my life, and the schools, where my brother went and duly reported on.  Men left the home and went out to be servants, either in some institution like the military my father served in, or the community, which a young doctor who roomed with us served 24/7.  “Girl stuff” was like “nuclear physics” – not for the likes of me truly to understand. 

Then after a brief pause, say a few weeks ago, some misguided soul sent a little girl home in disgrace for having Wonder Woman on her lunchbox.  I was outraged.  It called for some gesture however insignificant.  I wasn’t there and although the news is generally pretty accurate, I should have kept silent until I heard both sides.  Still it was a monumental bum rap.  Decades after a few minutes’ exposure and after decades of inattention I was sure that Wonder Woman did not promote violence; my memory is pretty good.  My brain, then innocent of the indiscretions I have heaped upon it, worked quite well.  My response had to be unambiguous but not confrontational support of Wonder Woman in a language all could understand.  Money should do. 

Maybe I’d buy an old comic.  But all Amazon had on offer was your creation.  It was a bit more money than my raging soul was ready to pony up, but I have a good friend who likes graphic novels so I would buy it to register that there is still a fan out here and then hand it over as a gift.  My research calls on every ounce of strength I command.

It arrived.  We and my friend had plans to meet.  We broke plans a couple of times, but meet we ultimately would.  All the time the volume lay whispering to me.  At last I thrust back the stuff of my life and gently – it was still to be a gift – peeled back the plastic wrap just to take a peek, don’t you know.  Days passed.  I remained buried in a world that few could dream of.  My friend refuses to talk politics, but the first quarter of the book might just have well as come off the front pages of the news sites.  Unspeakable danger.  Incalculable violence for incomprehensible motives.  Great powers gone insane.  Temples erected to control or appease demons shattered.  All that are missing from the mundane world are the graphics and the supernatural machinery, and I’m not so sure about the machinery.  How could you possibly have known back then where we would be now?

I read every word, scrutinized each picture, kept flipping back to verify some foreshadowing word or some graphic detail I had not made careful note of.  Does the word “hooked” mean anything to you?

This is the world as I have known it.  Even and again I’d think, “high muckity muck,” where did that come from?  I’ve not heard it since the time when the story is set.  Or some similar phrase now lost would arise.  And the incredible graphics … well I guess you know them well.

So to my work.  A storm cloud broods over me.  I always liked comics with animals as the characters.  They were light hearted stories.  I’m a light hearted guy, and that’s a good thing, else the gloom of my work would crush me.

In order to have babies, in the long run people, and other animals, have to mate with cousins.  The authoritative version is in Handbook on Evolution and Society, chapter 19 by Professor Robin Fox of Rutgers.  The quick version is a letter I wrote for the Swedish public health people,

The longer version is
or you could spend a very long time perusing my web site 

If you are interested, the mechanism is addressed in a paper I co-authored, Fluctuation of fertility with number in a real insect population and a virtual population M.L. Herbert and M.G. Lewis, African Entomology 21(1): 119–125 (2013). Give the nod and I’ll email you a copy; they have already most kindly given me permission to do that. 

So I shall take it as read that you understand: if a person fails to marry a cousin, say within 9th cousin, there will be a small but significant loss of fertility, the same happens in the next generation, it gets worse until, quite abruptly after a few generations, the babies stop altogether.  You recognize at once the Waste Land curse of the Holy Grail legend. 

This next you can take for drama, not evidence.  It is presented in context as evidence in some of the links above.  But consider this: if the reason a civilization falls is due to external factors – asteroid impact or climate change say – the life expectancy, so to speak, of an empire will be constant with age.  A graph of life expectancy against age will be a horizontal line, and probably a very noisy one.  But if the reason for failure is internal – political correctness or worshiping the wrong gods – then the line should go up as the losers are eliminated and those that remain have a better life expectancy.  Again, the graph should be quite noisy since multiple factors are probably at work.  But the graph looks like this for lower Mesopotamia:
Information taken from R. H. Carling THE WORLD HISTORY CHART International Timeline Inc. Vienna, VA 1985.  The experience of Southern Mesopotamia.  The vertical axis is the chance of an empire of any age continuing to rule locally for another 50 years.  The horizontal axis is the ages of the empires. 

How’s that?  It’s clean as a whistle.  Only one or two causes must be at work, and they are neither inside nor outside of the population.  It can only be the very fact of a large population that dooms it, and doom it is.  Makes you think of the fates.  Every thing you were ever taught about history is wrong; this alone is the driving force. 

To say the reception of the idea has been cool would be an understatement.  Maybe a super hero could make it stick.  So I became a super hero.  Check out the misadventures of Florida Man on  Scroll down to Florida Man 1 and work your way back.  As you see – light hearted.

So now the punch line, which you will understand better than almost anybody:
You don’t want to be the friend of a hero; their friends keep getting killed.  Wonder Woman is pretty good on this account.  But heroes answer to the gods.

You really don’t want even to see a god; you could get turned into a spider or a weed.  And the gods answer to the fates.

The gods don’t even like talking about the fates.  Seeing the obvious trauma the fates have endured, somebody has tried to get them to change things a bit.  But they go on spinning the thread of life, measuring it and cutting it.  But who starts the thread?  The fates may predict some hero, but they don’t start the thread.  That depends on the stork.

The stork seems friendly enough, but even the stork can’t really make a life.  The stork depends on – ta dah! – kissing cousins. 

And who urges cousins to kiss?  That would be I, I should think.  I’m not saying you should take up my burden.  The fates are nasty enough already.  Feel free, of course.  Grab it and run if you like.  But I thought you might get a chuckle out of seeing the supernatural machinery unfolded.  I do not ask you to join me any more than I would ask you to join forces with a hero or gaze upon a god.  Meanwhile I shall press on with my lonely burden. 

Thank you again.  Do grace us again with more works of genius.  What should we read next?


M. Linton Herbert MD 

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