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9thdoctor

Ted Keer, RIP

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I just learned from Stephen Boydstun that Ted Keer passed away recently.

http://forum.objectivismonline.com/index.php?/topic/20690-the-logical-leap-by-david-harriman/&do=findComment&comment=354790

I'm still too shocked to say much...just wow, what a loss.

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Dennis,

Thank you for the information.

This is terrible.

I liked Ted, even though we tangled a bit at times and I never did find out what he looked like. He seemed averse to showing his face online. 

After he stopped posting, we sometimes wrote offline. The last was over a year ago, though.

My deepest condolences to his loved ones if they ever see this.

Ted was a unique light in O-Land.

I'm going to miss him and I grieve with this news of his passing.

Michael

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Aaaahh, this sucks. My OL baptism included an all-out brawl on the 2nd amendment where Ted employed words of insult so choice I could only gaze at the screen in awe. Later we became good friends and he was one of my favourite, favourite  writers on this site.  Dearly missed.

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I saw the notice over on RoR. 

Ted was always insightful. We disagreed on some points, but I do not remember what they were. We did agree on much and I remember those engagements better. He was a good scholar and a thoughtful writer. He directed me to the textbook on philosophy written by Cardinal Desire-Joseph Mercier. 

 

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Ahhh. It is saddening to hear of Ted's passing. It was always interesting, exciting, and rewarding to read his pieces. He would come up with unexpected perspectives, that made perfect sense. We chatted frequently over a decade ago when he was blogging a lot. His site is still up and the most prolific year was 2008 with 130 blog posts. http://radicalsforhappiness.blogspot.com/2008/ He had a wonderful mind and I remember fondly his visit to my East Williamsburg loft around 2006. He wasn't very attractive physically but when he started to speak his thoughts and imagination sparkled and inspired. I remember him not wanting to know my thoughts about a painting, because he wanted to think about it fresh and unbiased. I loved that.

 

I just revisited his site and scanned the long list of tags like "Druids" Gary Cooper" and "Arabic." I clicked on "linguistics" and found the following essay about language history and its value is that "... it connects us with the universe on a scale that far exceeds our here-and-now moment-bound existence."

 

Thank you Ted.

Immortal? No. Eternal? Maybe. (Part I)

 

By Ted Keer

 

The question of immortality doesn't arise to animals, they can't conceive of time in the abstract or of their own deaths. But humans can look at both the distant future and the deep past. Indeed, every time you look at the sky, you see history. The stars of Orion, for instance, lie some 500 light years away, and ago.

 

The science of comparative linguistics deals with the past as well. By comparing related languages we can deduce the nature of the mother tongue which gave rise to them, even though this dialect may be long dead, and was never written down. For example, the English words wit and wise, the Latin video, and the Greek idea all come from the same Proto-Indo-European root wid- meaning to see, and hence to know. The Proto-Indo-European language is not attested in any written form. It was spoken by pre-literate horse nomads in the area north of the Black Sea some six thousand years ago, long before Sumer or Stone Henge or the Pyramids. We know it existed because we know its descendents. See my post on Calvert Watkins' Proto-Indo-European dictionary. No current descendent of Proto-Indo-European uses the form "weid-" today. Over the millennia the /d/ in "weid-" changed to a /t/ in Proto-Germanic and hence English. In Latin the /w/ became a /v/ as we see in modern French and Spanish. In Greek the /w/ dropped out, leaving only "idea."

 

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Most of our vocabulary results from either our native stock inherited through Proto-Germanic or comes through other Branches like Greek and Latin, as well as Celtic, Slavic, Indo-Iranian and the like. Other Branches include Baltic, (e.g., Lithuanian,) Albanian and Armenian. And last century the extinct Hittite and Tocharian were discovered in Anatolia and Central Asia.

 

Ferdinand Saussure, famous mostly today to postmodernists who have developed relativist theories based on the notes for his university course published and modified by his students after his death early last century, was a brilliant theoretician who studied an anomaly he saw in the reconstructed roots of the Indo-European proto-language. Most IE verbs had the root form noted by linguists as CVC- or more specifically CeC- meaning consonant-vowel-consonant. And in such root the vast majority had the specific vowel /e/. Examples include *bher- "to carry" (Latin fer-o English bear Greek pher-ein) and *pe(r/z)d- "to fart" (Latin "pest-" Slavic "perditi"). But there were also a large number of roots with either no first or last consonant, and the majority of these roots had some other vowel than /e/ as their root vowel. Examples include *ag- "to lead/plow" (English "acre" and from Latin "agriculture") or *sta- "to stand, to stay" as in Latin "sta-tus" or Greek "stasis". Saussure wondered if there might not have been some now unknown letter that existed in Indo-European but which, becoming silent, had affected the sound of those vowels as had silent /e/ in English which lengthens the vowel of breath to breath or of wisdom to wise. Maybe *sta- was originally *steH where the lost consonant (probably a sound made in the throat) changed the vowel before it left.

 

Saussure came up with the theory as a university student. Others found this theory fascinating, and suggest some /h/-like sound. But how to prove it? Saussure died in 1913. In 1915 and subsequently the Czech linguist Bedrich Hrozny published his translation of the newly discovered Hittite language of ancient Anatolia. It turned out that Hittite was an Indo-European tongue, and that this pre-Greco-Roman dialect exhibited /h/-like sounds just where Saussure had predicted them.

 

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Saussure, using the scientific method, had predicted the sounds that existed in a language he had never heard, and that had been unspoken for millennia. Most people know linguistics as an exotic academic subject. Professor Doolittle in My Fair Lady springs to mind. No one can make money from historical linguistics. utterly impractical, it is a perhaps seen as pursuit of racists, cranks and the English upper class. Perhaps. But like the paleontologists impractical study of fossils, the astronomers impractical study of stars, and the historians impractical study of long forgotten wars, historical linguistics does have a connection with the human soul, one on the level of fine art, it connects us with the universe on a scale that far exceeds our here-and-now moment-bound existence. Far from showing us how small we are, such studies connect us with the timeless, and show how great is the mind of man. Such knowledge may not make us immortal, but it does connect us with the eternal.

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Michael, thanks for your thoughts about Ted.  I thought of him as a professor and have emailed lots of questions to him for many years and he was very good at replying.  I've been saddened by his death for awhile and wondering what I will do.

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Mike,

I'm glad to see you again.

:)

I'm sorry it had to be at such a sad time. It's because of you Ted and I ended up communicating at a bit offline. (btw - I revised my opinion of him for the better :) and I'm pretty sure he knew it.)

I heard you went through a bad patch and I hope you are recovering OK.

It's been a while, but I think about you...

Good thoughts, too...

Michael

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I found this old, angry letter from Ted Keer, which I may have reposted years ago.

Peter

 

From: : Ted Keer kiaer@banet.net To: objectivism@wetheliving.com Subject: OWL: : License to Kill Date: : Tue, 17 Jul 2001 19:01:29 -0700

 

My best friend and lover of years was murdered in a botched robbery five years ago.

 

I concede that the state is not now, if ever, worthy of any trust. The examples of G.H.W. Bush's and Clinton's personally motivated wars, Waco, Ruby Ridge, Amadou Diallo, Rodney King, Abner Louima, and Elian Gonzales, etc., show that agents of the state will go to any end against private citizens.  The stakes for freedom and human rights are too high to leave capital punishment to "O.J. juries", congressional chambers and Christine Todd Whitman's. The state, and perhaps the culture are indicted.  But am I therefore bound?

 

Do my taxes imprison (feed, clothe, house, educate & entertain) my love's killer?  For whose benefit?  Don't tell me the murderer's imprisonment is for my benefit, I am much smarter, richer and physically imposing than he is.

 

And what of my (if I had one) thirst for revenge?  Will the state protect an (ipso facto rightless) murderer from my free action?  If I kill him will you imprison (feed, clothe, house, educate & entertain) me?  Reductio ad absurdum.

 

Issue me a license to "vent my rage" or just to "carry out my duty." Let the murderer be found guilty of a capital offense in a trial of his peers.  Then, in a second judicial hearing, strip him of his rights, declare him an "outlaw"; that is, out of the protection of the law. Allow myself and the relatives and perhaps friends of the deceased who so wish to file for a license to execute a capital sentence.

 

Let us would be executioners post a bond subject to forfeit to cover the damages due the deceased if he is later found guilty.

 

Let our own lives be forfeit if, in a murder trial, we can be shown to have knowingly executed or used execution to murder an innocent man.

 

Then let us carry out our right to self defense.

 

If the agents of the state cannot be trusted, then maybe private citizens with life and property in jeopardy can.

 

But don't say that private citizens can't be trusted.  Government that is not for by and of the people is tyranny, and a tyranny that protects murderers from victims is ripe for revolution.  Don't fail to protect our rights because the state is corruptible.  The mafia is corruptible, but will serve my ends nonetheless if I buy a contract.  Issue us licenses to execute or we victims may just decide to become outlaws ourselves.

 

Ted Keer

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Greetings all,

This will be my first and only post on OL.  Ted lead a compartmentalized and complicated life.  My being here has crossed a circle that he kept private. At one extreme, he was a loving Uncle, excited to share all the joys of life with his nephews and niece.  At the other, he could be bitter and angry, throwing darts at targets that may not have been the intended recipients, but were instead opportunistic proxies for an unknown true target.  He suffered with demons that I hope have lost their grip now that his spirit has departed this plane.  I will not dwell on the sorrow of it all.  Rather, in true "Ted" fashion, I will share that which made Ted happy.  Simply put, Ted loved books.  He read more than anyone I know and if the local library were a for-profit business, they'd have lost money on him.  His interests spanned everything from proto-indo-European trees to Heinlein, Thomas Aquinas, and Uralic languages.  Just prior to his passing he was learning American Sign Language.  He shared his love of books with my children, his nephews and niece.  Upon his passing, the kids donated money to the library and asked that they purchase books on snakes, rocks, mythology, languages, science fiction, Doctor Who, and Ayn Rand.  Ted loved the woods and found great joy in collecting remnants of deer and other creatures and teaching the kids to bleach the bones.  I now have a collection that looks like something out of a natural history museum.  Ted loved rocks (especially geodes) pecan pie, old movies, and building couch forts.  He had a vast and encyclopedic collection of music. He loved a good joke, like the time he would hold telemarketers on the line and tell them off in Russian.  He loved his own past, learning about his Carpatho-Rusyn heritage.  Ted enjoyed unconventional horticulture, nursing poinsettias between seasons and propagating opuntia from the dunes of NJ (I now have some in my garden).  He loved to argue.  He loved Legos.  Ted loved the Szechuan Garlic Chicken at our favorite Chinese Restaurant and following it up with a Hacker-Pschorr.  May this parting bit hopefully bring a smile...He was buried with a copy of Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology minus a few pages from which the kids crafted origami boats and sent off some honorary ashes downstream where he often wandered.  

- With Love, Ted's Sister.

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G,

Thank you.

It's an honor to meet Ted's sister.

As you can see from this thread, he was cherished around here.

I realize you must be a very private family, so I won't bother you with questions I have about him. I must note, however, that I am intrigued by him. demons and all. There was something good inside him that made him tick. I felt it made him vulnerable, too.

I have a request. Please reconsider your position about this being your only post on OL.

Even if you do not resonate with the ideas we discuss and do not wish to enter those discussions, I am certain OL members and readers would be grateful and delighted with anything else you may want to tell us about Ted. He was part of our past and will always be remembered, regardless.

My very best to you, G.

You are a wonderful sister.

Michael

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8 hours ago, G Keer said:

May this parting bit hopefully bring a smile...He was buried with a copy of Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology minus a few pages from which the kids crafted origami boats and sent off some honorary ashes downstream where he often wandered.   

- With Love, Ted's Sister.

This calls to mind Leonard Bernstein being buried with his score of the Mahler 5th.  He performed the Adagietto at the memorial service for Bobby Kennedy in 1968, here's that recording:

 

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BTW, a while ago I was shopping on Audible.com and came across a well-written review.  It was good enough that I proceeded to check out the author's other reviews.  There's no question in my mind who the writer was:

https://www.audible.com/a/listener/A2M87ZUCNF11U3?ref=a_pd_Classi_c15_rvlsnl_2

The McWhorter one is the clincher. 

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10 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

G,

Thank you.

It's an honor to meet Ted's sister.

As you can see from this thread, he was cherished around here.

I realize you must be a very private family, so I won't bother you with questions I have about him. I must note, however, that I am intrigued by him. demons and all. There was something good inside him that made him tick. I felt it made him vulnerable, too.

I have a request. Please reconsider your position about this being your only post on OL.

Even if you do not resonate with the ideas we discuss and do not wish to enter those discussions, I am certain OL members and readers would be grateful and delighted with anything else you may want to tell us about Ted. He was part of our past and will always be remembered, regardless.

My very best to you, G.

You are a wonderful sister.

Michael

May I add to this request?  I became a good friend of Ted's here after initial hostilities (I am a progressivist socialist. that is to say a Canadian) and I enjoyed his delightful wit-- I remember one exchange about Dr, Who, when I remarked that  Tardis we made for our son out of an old wardrobe was too small) and he said, "Only on the Outside".

When he left here he invited me to contribute to his own site, which I believe I wrote some (pretty mediocre) poetry for under my anagram Daunce Lynam.

I miss our exchanges and his large unique mind so much, though I deplored what I thought his wrongheaded political views as he did mine. I wish he were here to write scathing critiques of William's Diary or pour scorn on the waste of space that is a hockey rink, and parry return lunges in kind.

Deepest condolences, what a huge space he must leave empty.

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