About, Version 3.1

Editor's Note: Please see the most recent version of this FAQ for up-to-date information.

The Gus Van Horn FAQ

1. Who are you?

I am a scientist and freelance cultural and political commentator who resides in the Boston area. You won't find me in a phone book, though, because I write under a pen name.

2. How would you describe your political views?

Briefly, I'd call myself a godless capitalist.

Since my political views are based on my more fundamental philosophical views, I would describe myself more completely as an advocate of Objectivism, the philosophy of Ayn Rand. By that, I mean that as far as I understand Ayn Rand's philosophy, I fully agree with it. That said, I do not hold myself out as an authority on Objectivism. If that's what you're looking for, I refer you to the good people at the Ayn Rand Institute.

3. Why do you use a pen name?

I use a pen name for two primary reasons: First, it makes it easy for me to keep my scientific and writing careers neatly separated. Second, "Gus Van Horn" is much more marketable than my real name.

Not only is my real name as common as dirt, there are at least two celebrities -- one of whom is a popular writer -- who share my real name.

4. How did you come up with such a fine pen name?

Most of the story is explained in my first post. Basically, as part of a running joke, I was reinventing myself as "Gus," and I was a "trial lawyer from west Texas." The "Van Horn" came later (but as part of the same joke) from a mental association of mine. Needing a last name and transposing a town name (Van Horn) for a county name (Jeff Davis) in my mind's eye, I pulled up "Van Horn County" in west Texas and took its name as my last name. A scanned image of the very map is shown below.

5. Why do you sign all your posts "CAV?" Aren't your initials "GVH?"

It's for Caesar Augustus Van Horn, of which "Van Horn" is a last name.

6. What's with the occasional submarine post?

I was once a junior officer aboard a Los Angeles class nuclear submarine.

7. Why do you use the antiquated spelling "Moslem?"

On the one hand, I recognize that I can inadvertently make a comment that a reasonable person could find offensive from time to time, and I take corrective action whenever I am apprised of such a lapse.

On the other hand, I do not adopt multiculturalist spellings of words, terminology, or grammatical practices. This is because I do not accept the multiculturalist premise that certain words are inherently evil.

8. What are your blog policies?

I have them, but choose not to list them in any great detail. I have found that people who are possessed of class and common courtesy really don't need to be told what I expect. Conversely, it is generally the people who have to be told about such issues who will ignore what I have to say or deliberately flout it anyway. So why give them ideas?

I will mention a few things here. First, I do not necessarily endorse products that advertise here or vouch for other web sites linked from here. (See also my link policy.) Second, while I generally try to moderate and answer comments in a timely manner, time constraints do sometimes cause long delays in moderation and keep me from answering some comments. Finally, I rarely reject comments, but when I do, it is usually for gross breaches of etiquette or spamming.

9. What's that green thing in your blog's address bar?

Mohammed. I adopted him as my blog's mascot during the Danish cartoon controversy.

10. What is that a picture of next to your comments?

That's an image of a ship being torpedoed as seen through the crosshairs of a periscope. More details, including a larger image and its source, are here.

11. Is that sketch on your blog's masthead supposed to be you?

Yes, and it has a funny story behind it.
I was blogging late one night when my wife interrupted me to ask a question. When I get going good, I can sometimes be quite testy when interrupted. She left the room after the interruption and came back grinning awhile later with a drawing titled, "The Bitchy Blogger". I liked it so much I decided to scan it in and use it for my new masthead.
It worked out very nicely for me, too, that I like the color combination of blue and yellow.

12. What is your favorite post of all time?

Hands down, it's the one I wrote about my Dad on Father's Day in 2005.

FAQ Version 3.1, September 26, 2010 (prior version)

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