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Letters to the Editor, November 2000


This a traditional letter column. You are encouraged to write a letter of comment on anything that you find worthy of comment. It will (may) be published in this column along with my reply. As editor I reserve the right to delete material; however I will not alter the undeleted material. E-mail to me that solely references the contents of this site will be assumed to be publishable mail. All other e-mail is assumed to be private. And, of course, anything marked not for publication is not for publication. Oh yes, letters of appreciation for the scholarly resources provided by this site will be handled very discreetly. This page contains the correspondence for November 2000.

I have been receiving quite a bit of peculiar mail because the mutant watch page has a link to my Are mutations harmful? page. I have gathered them together in their own page.

Index of contributors

Other Correspondence Pages


From: Debra Atlas
Date: 11/25/2000
Subj: Crusted roast turkey

When I was young, my family and I always were invited to Thanksgiving Dinner at a neighbor's home. The lady of the house claims to be a direct decendant of someone who arrived in America on the Mayflower. He set the table each year and cooked her fixings along with the "line" that it was exactly like the early pilgrims prepared for their special dinner.

She would wash, stuff and truss her turkey. Then prepare a "dough" about an inch thick and after buttering the surface of her turkey, she would lay this dough over the turkey and put it in the oven. As I think back, the crusty of dough protected the breast of the bird, the same as we often use a piece of foil. At some point she would she would remove the turkey from the oven, lift off the now stiff, browned crust from the turkey and put the turkey in the oven again to brown for a while.

Has anyone every heard of this "turkey crust"? I'd love to hear about it!

I have a vague recollection of seeing my mother do this but I can't find it in any of my cookbooks. Perhaps one of my readers can add some information.
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From: Tony & Suford Lewis
Date: 11/25/2000
Subj: South Dakota

Dear Mr. Harter,

your money arrived and you are now safe unless the Highmore in 76 bid is resurrected.

That's good. Working on a worldcon would violate the terms of my probation agreement. It is true that I don't currently have one but if circumstances require I could arrange to get one.
I checked and one of my fourth cousins on my mother's mother's side lives in Yankton, SD. He went to Yankton College and liked the area so he stayed.He met a Roman Catholic girl, converted, and married her. As far as I know, I have no other relatives in your state.
That's reasonable. There is some cachet in having a relative in South Dakota but it is not the sort of thing that one wants to overdo.
One of my Australian cousins told me "New Zealand is our Canada."
Chortle. I like that. When I think about it there are a lot of parallels.
I see that people are finally taking seriously the possibility of voting for "none of the above." Whoever does finally gbet to be President will probably get nothing through Congress in the next two years--this is not all bad.
Indeed. When I consider the promises that each of them made I count it as a positive blessing.
I hope your rabbits are not diseased.
Now be nice. I am counting on them catching rabbit plague. They show every sign of being disgustingly healthy and plump. Life is so disappointing.
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From: gdfsg
Date: 11/20/2000
Subj: fdgdfsgfsd

gfdsgfedsgfsdgdf

This is the most concise and comprehensible account of creationism that I have ever seen.
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From: Deepie
Date: 11/28/2000
Subj: Help me !!!

I have been searching for a fragrance, my step father purchased in France, years ago. I cant find it anywhere ! Its called CYANE/CAYNE or something like that ! Please help me find this perfume, there is no other like it !thankyou

I'm sorry, I can't help you on this one. There is a French singer name Cyane. Her web site is http://perso.wanadoo.fr/yannminh/cyane/

You might find a clue there. Unfortunately I do not read French so I cannot help you.

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From: Diann Morgan
Date: 11/26/2000
Subj: thanks for the web site on harters

Hi, I am Diann Morgan. I did not know my grandfather Ralph Harter as I was 6 when I died. My mother got married at 35 and I hardly remember my grand- mother. Anyway' I am almost 60 and this is the first time I got to a girl Harter. Thank you for your time on the web site. Diann Morgan. cigalage

Thanks for writing. It has been a while since I've done a search for Harters on the web. I suspect that there are a lot of them that I have missed.
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From: RoseyPonyAppy
Date: 11/28/2000
Subj: Bravo

The Piltdown Man WAS a big fake! But I think you were misinformed. If I remember correctly, all the guys had was ONE TOOTH. And they jumped to a crazy conclusion. There WAS a knee joint, but they found that at least 15 miles away....in a different layer of earth. Nutty ppl right?

You're a little confused. The bones for Piltdown Man at the Piltdown site included a jawbone with two molar teeth, a canine tooth, and fragments of a fairly complete skull cranium. Fragments of a second skull (Piltdown II) were supposedly found some miles away.

Your reference to "one tooth" suggests that you are thinking of "Nebraska Man" which is an entirely separate matter. In that incident there was a find of a fossil pig tooth which was briefly misidentified as a fossil ape tooth. Before the misidentification could be straightened out the press sensationalized the find as Nebraska Man.

The knee joint bit sounds like a garbling of the garbled Lucy story. Lucy is an Australopithicene found by Johanson; it is a mostly complete skeleton. There was a separate knee cap found about 15 miles away; however it was not part of the Lucy find. Creationist literature often gets the two finds mixed up.

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From: Harv Millman
Date: 11/29/2000
Subj: Stuffed camel recipe

Have you tried to see if the recipe is authentic?

Nope. It always seems that when I have a camel around I never have enough friends to invite for dinner.
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From: Charles Hitchcock (hitch@ptc.com)
Date: 11/22/2000
Subj:
Beethoven's Ninth

The bassists were pikers; knowledgeable conductors dread doing RUDDIGORE with an orchestra of people rather than automatons, because there's a section (where the pictures of ancestors come alive) that usually requires a \complete/ blackout (including stand lights). You wouldn't believe what a dextrous violinist can slide into a score in a few seconds of absolute darkness....

Chortle. I can believe it. I haven't seen Ruddigore for decades. IIRC that was back in the days when Harvard did real student productions before American Rep did its takeover.

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AFAIK Harvard still does lots of real student productions. In my time (1971-73) the Loeb was merely the biggest noise; I built two shows there, two in Leverett House, one in Lowell, and one in Mather (all down by the river, facing the Business School), and helped with several others, including a handful of G&S at Agassiz (possibly where you saw RUDDIGORE -- and if it was in Spring 1974, I was the one in the judge's robes & wig). There may even be student productions at the Loeb, still; I think what's most changed is the discrete summer season and the number of guest productions that came in when a student production would have meant working during exams or summer vacation.

And there were the even smaller shows, like the one in a South House living room; the orchestra got tired of having Cox toss Box's breakfast (yanked out of the convenient fireplace) into their seats along the side, so on closing night everyone one of them threw something back -- mostly English muffins, but it was still quite impressive given the number of strings crammed into the space.

Spring of 1974 for Ruddigore sounds about right. American Rep did and does some good stuff. I think, though, that I prefer the student productions. During the 80's I wnt mostly to the Brandeis productions. Partly that was a side effect of having moved to Concord. Harvard was in walking distance when I lived in Cambridge; Brandeis was more convenient when I moved to Concord.

One of the things that I miss here is the theater although the truth is that I seldom got to the theater in my last few years in Concord. Still, it was there if I wanted to go.

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From: Charles Hitchcock
Date: 11/22/2000
Subj:
lettercol
BTW you might enjoy the letter in the November letter column from a chap named Justin. He's definitely not one of the great minds of this millennium.

Yes, that's definitely somebody whose elevator goes in circles (if you'll pardon a mixed metaphor -- I've just seen a stunningly good student(!) production of NOISES OFF and some of Dottie Ottley's garblings are still rattling around). Or could we say his reasoning is not just circular but spherical?

It could be amusing to subject him to a demonstration of how unreliable eyewitness accounts are. Such used to be done in journalism schools, and my 8th-grade history teacher set one up (a staged mugging at assembly). And when eyewitnesses can assume the supernatural, and there's nobody to ask details.... (One of these days I'm going to ask an alternate-history jam (they've become popular program items at conventions) "What if there hadn't been an eclipse of the sun the day Yeshua bin Yussuf was crucified?")

I don't know if you've run into Tom Endrey -- he may have started coming to Boskone after your time -- but his comments about bridges on the moon, faces on Mars, etc. have lead one of our more rational members (e.g., too rational to get entangled in Worldcon bidding) to observe that Tom lives in a much more interesting world than we do. I suppose that could be an epitaph for a lot of the god-shouters, whatever the denomination.

Or maybe, to borrow from GOOD OMENS, Justin simply has a faith that can be measured in multiples of Everest. I hope you've read GOOD OMENS; among other lines is a reflection on your comment about God as a trickster (mixed with one of Einstein's notable failures), to the effect that God doesn't play dice with the Universe; it's like playing marked cards in a dark room with a dealer who smiles \all the time/. Of course, there are plenty of indications in the Bible that God is a trickster; for all the innovation of monotheism, people created the Hebrew deity in their image, just like the polytheists of the time.

Our lad Justin seems to be representative of the breed. Some of the hallmarks include:

Aggressive sarcastic humility. Few of them can resist a bit of sarcasm about great scientific minds vs their humble selves. This is usually followed by an exposition of why they are ever so superior.

The "dare you consider the truth" ploy. This moth ridden bit of intellectual rag pile bait suggests that their respondents are deeply afraid to consider the possibility that they, the crank, might be right.

The great conspiracy. The crank is in possession of the TRUTH. The TRUTH is disdained because the great conspiracy has constructed a falsehood which is pushed by the establishment.

Massive indifference to factuality. It is not just that they are mistaken about a wide variety of things; it's a human fault that I suppose we all have. They mostly are not interested in and indeed actively resist considering whether what they say is true.

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From: Charles Hitchcock
Date: 11/22/2000
Subj:
wrt typewriters (your response to Tony)

Apparently, they still have uses; there was a newspaper story just recently about a typewriter shop in Manhattan. A number of writers (not just authors) still swear by them, and the shop has a ]secret[ source that makes ribbons for many varieties of machine.

It would seem that every obsolete technology has its fans. WRT typewriters, though, one can argue that the impact of the word processor on literary quality has been bad. The nub of the matter is that an author can produce more words with a wp than with a typewriter. The amount of worthwhile content produced per unit of time is not increased - only the number of words.
I suppose it depends on how thoroughly you're used to a specific way of working. I learned hunt-and-peck early and touch in 8th grade, and bought an electric out of present money a couple of years after finishing college. (You probably remember some of the 20,000-word monthly zines it produced for APALOOSA, although I don't think you had to run off the worst of them.) But I sold it in the early 80's, to a friend buying a college present, and have never regretted shifting to computers (even when it required a roomful of machinery). I suspect those who write good first drafts and make something of a fetish of their craft are most likely to be typewriter fans; those of us who like to rewrite, or who lack the dexterity, value the flexibility of a computer (and even the portability of a laptop -- someday the 20 pages I wrote while touring Alaska will at least be in APA:NESFA).
I much prefer computers myself. Regardless of whether I am using a typewriter or a computer my first drafts tend to be typo laden. Words disappear with great regularity. Sentence structures never found in Strunk & White occur. What is worse I am an abysmally poor copy editor of my own work. Perhaps 50% of my typos are immediately visible to me. The others remain unseen, hiding under the rock of auctorial blindness, only to spring out in the presence of a reader, delightedly waving a flag saying "Here I am!".

... continued on next rock ...

I think you exaggerate the effect of electronic writing compared with electronic distribution. I offered my own outpourings on typewriter as example, but for a truly classic instance you should remember L. Ron Hubbard; the story about the roll of butcher paper mounted on his typewriter may be legend (I don't know how he felt about keeping carbons), but IIRC he once turned out a short novel (35,000 words?) in a week, to spec. With conditioning (did he have callouses like a carillon player?) and no care for the result, a writer can produce about as much drivel on a typewriter as on a wp -- he just can't upload it to the net to inflict it on the world.

It is true that one can put any sort of rubbish up on the web; my site is evidence of that. There are people who can and do pump a lot of words out. The chap who did the Shadow reportedly did a million words a year, year in and year out. Kornbluth reportedly could turn out a several thousand word short story overnight upon demand. This kind of productivity was fairly common among the old pulp writers. One of the reasons they could do this was the formula ridden nature of pulp fiction. C.S. Forrester, otoh, laid it done as a rule for himself that he wouldn't write more than a thousand words a day.

What I was getting at is that it is mechanically easier to pump out words with a wp, not so much with respect to raw composition (after all it is still done with a keyboard) but because of the editing power. What we do see these days is that the volume of written material turned out by genre authors is greater. Part of this, no doubt, is a simple response to commercial demand. The markets demand fat paperbacks. I opine that it is easier to meet that demand with the new technology, at least in the industrial grade extruded fantasy product market.

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I'm not sure how true this is. Taking the parts in order: - It seems logical that wp facilitates editing but not writing, but one might expect \better/ material rather than \more/ material -- how many of the past generation's hacks actually typed two full drafts? (Certainly there are pre-wp non-hacks whose writing reads like it came from a wp, e.g. dropping in stock paragraphs A-E at selected intervals to re-establish background in a series of stories.) - Certainly individual books are fatter than they used to be. But are genre authors really pumping out that much more material? Classic authors often used pseudonyms so magazine editors could put more of their material in each issue (witness the ASTOUNDING SF poll in which Heinlein came in second to "Anson MacDonald", his most common alias), and I recall Anderson having 4 books published in 1974.

It is possible that wp allows the less strong to pound out more material than they overwise might, and leave editing/cleanup to specialists; I'm not sure how much the rotten copyediting that many books show nowadays reflects the low input quality and how much the high pressure and dreadful wages.

I'd also question "the markets demand"; fatter books may be the way marketroids hope to avoid backlash for price increases that have seriously outrun inflation. And paperbacks are incredibly cheap to manufacture; a fatter book, even if the selling price per page is lower, may yield more net profit if it lets the publisher raise the price.

You make some good arguments. Oddly enough many of the prolific writers of the pre-wp era are among those counted the best in sf, e.g., Heinlein, Ellison, Anderson, and Silverberg.

The word processor gives you more liberty to revise as you go along. That's what I thinking of when I mentioned better editing. With a typewriter when the words go down on the paper they can't come back up. All you can do is mark the paper for later copy editing. Your options in writing are:

1. Get it "right" the first time.
2. Revise as you go along.
3. Do complete redrafts.

It is most efficient to get it right the first time ("right" being final) and not edit. I opine that it is more efficient to revise as you go along than to do complete redrafts. Making delayed revisions means that you don't make the change when you think of it.

To be honest I don't find my arguments above convincing.

Still, the testimony of writers seems to be that they can write more with the word processor. I do not say better, merely more.

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From: Fderbar
Date: 11/20/2000
Subj: Who wants to eat a meal

a bit crass and unsophisticated. the humor is found in people's misery and shows low level of intelligence on the part of the author. over and out.

What on Earth is this about?

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THE ABOVE IS ABOUT A PIECE OF "HUMOR" I SAW ON YOUR WEBSITE ABOUT A POPULAR TV SHOW IN RUSSIA WITH THE ABOVE STATED TITLE.

Thank you for the clarification. I understood that you were offended about something - it's nice to know what it was. I regret to inform you that I haven't the slightest intention of pulling the piece. It is the nature of humor to seem crass and unsophisticated to those who are readily offended, especially when it gores their particular ox. As a side note, I have no notion as to who the author of that piece was. Most of these things circulate anonymously. If it should chance that I do discover the author I will certainly inform him of your displeasure.
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From: bohdi
Date: 11/8/2000
Subj: fuckin a bro

havn't read it all
but i like where you're coming from
where you at
if i may ask
i'm a young 'un
although not so young
28
and i once read about an old man man ready to die and 'they' asked him
'if you could do it all over again, whatta you miss?'
he said:
more sunsets
more wine
more love

I unfortunately have a over active brain
what you say
software experimentation?
whiskey!!!!
what!!!!

not exclamation marks intended (I'm drunk on a bitta beer)
let me know whats goin down bro
cheers
bohdi

A letter terse
Free verse
Excellent

If I had it to do over again I wouldn't change a thing; if I did I wouldn't be me now, I'd be somebody else. Still, as you say,

More sunsets
More wine
More love

&&

Better software

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From: Fembah
Date: 11/7/2000
Subj: Richard Harter's World

Do you accept contributions to your zine?

As a general rule I don't accept contributions but I do make exceptions from time to time. What did you have in mind?

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I've just finished publishing a book entitled THE LOVE POEMS OF THE FEMINIST FROM THE DARKSIDE by Fembah. It has poems, cartoons, advice stuff. It's marketed towards women.

Any interest? (Be honest.)

I'm not sure what you have in mind. Am I interested in running selections from the book? Probably not although that naturally depends. Did you want me to do a review? I might do that for a reviewer's copy but it doesn't excite me (of course I haven't read the book - maybe it will knock my socks off).

What would I be interested in? What would be interesting would be an article by you about how you came to write the book and how you got it published. Is it self-published or published by a publishing house? Usw.

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Give the people what they want, I always say.

I have a friend who self-published and she's been my guide through the whole process (every book has different needs).

1. Get the book THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO SELF-PUBLISHING by Tom & Marilyn Ross (invaluable).

2. Have the book printed yourself. I went to Easton Printing in Parkersburg, WV. You might want to go to someplace closer, but Easton has been doing an incredible job for me.

3. This is the really time consuming part. Contact independent bookstores close by where you live, contact them on the internet, and have postcards made up announcing your book and do a media blitz. (That's going to be my next step).

4. Try to get publicity for your book (that's why you heard from me). Bookstores will take you more seriously if they see you've done your homework.

5. If you can find a niche, that's helpful. Mine is, of course, independent feminist bookstores. My friend wrote a book on her AT thru-hike - she's marketing it through outdoor retail shops and the Appalachian Trail Conference.

Good luck to a fellow author!

Thanks for sharing your advice. I don't know as it will help but your correspondence will appear in my letter column. It's one small bit of publicity.
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From: Justin
Date: 10/14/2000
Subj: A More Truthful Definition Of Evolution

Evolution is the sweetly deceptive grand theory of origins postulated by men and women whose vast intelligence has clouded their common sense. It is a god that has captivated the hearts of millions of people who desperately want to believe that they can live this life without fearing any accountability to the true God. Evolution is a philosophy that has contributed greatly to the decay of modern moral thinking. It has reduced all of human existence into the worthless realm of a cosmic accident with no intelligent beginning and no intelligible end. It has propagated the devaluation of human life, to the point where existence for many is a mundane, purposeless routine of laughable significance. Evolutionary thinking has blessed the human race with notable 'visionary' thinkers and leaders like Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Karl Marx- all wonderful, kindhearted, peace-loving gentlemen in their own right.

Evolution is simply a manipulative tool used by governments to subdue man's search for his Creator. It is a cash cow used by self-seeking scientists to keep the government grants rolling in. It is a dillusion spoon fed into the fragile minds of children who can't yet think for themselves. It is the ugliest example of human pride, arrogance and ignorance to see a world that has all the definitive markings of being created, and then denying that Creator. How sad that people professing to be so wise have become such fools!

At the very root, the theory of evolution is a philosophy; a world view that absolves man from ever having to contend with God. It is a way of explaining away sin. It is a method of extricating individuals from the necessity of seeing themselves as fallen individuals who must take responsibility for their offenses against a holy, just and righteous God. If evolution is true, then there is no God. And if no God, no sin. And if no sin, no judgement, no Heaven, no Hell, and certainly no need for a Savior. How conveniently this theory plays into the hands of people who just desire to live by their every impulse. How neatly it dispels of the 'myth' of God, and relegates Him to the long forgotten annals of the Dark Ages. Oh, how free we have become!

But the truth is, we are not free. Yes, we can delude ourselves for the duration of this life and believe we are free. But that which we believe does not always correspond to reality. And the reality is that God is alive and well. The reality is that Jesus Christ is the Truth; He is true freedom. The reality is that evolution is based on what amounts to learned speculation and conjecture. But the historical proof of the resurrection of Christ is based on eyewitness testimony and fact. And I will take the eyewitness testimony of men who gave their lives to proclaim this truth over the illogical, convoluted theories of 'experts' who have a vested interest in seeing their theory accepted. Because if evolution is proved wrong, you're out of a job!

I don't know who you are, nor do you know me. But I'm here to tell you that Jesus Christ came, died for your sin, and rose again to prove that He was God. I have seen His power at work in my life, as He has transformed me from a selfish, ignorant drunk into a person who now lives for a purpose. And that purpose is to glorify my precious Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Sir, you may believe in the depths of your heart that Jesus Christ is a meaningless name from a meaningless time. But His short life has impacted billions of lives in a way neither of us can comprehend. Don't be deceived! Faith and reason are not enemies. They work together. And reason says that in a world as harmonious and complex as ours, a world that exudes all of the evidences of an intelligent designer, then we must stipulate that a Designer exists. All things exist through the mighty power and agency of Almighty God. Don't reject Him! Don't harden your heart to that voice that tells you that there is something more. Believe on Jesus Christ today, and you will truly know reality.

I hope this letter has been helpful. And I hope that someday I will meet you in God's glorious Kingdom.

Until then, God Bless you. And feel free to write a correspondence, rebuttal, or letter of agreement, if you are so inclined.

I am quite puzzled as to why I should get this letter from a stranger unless it is some sort of proseletyzing spam. Your characterization of evolution has no particular relationship to reality; however I really am not interested in debating the matter in email. There are many public forums for that.

Trusting that you are same,

... continued on next rock ...

Certainly my letter was not an instance of so-called "Proseletyzing Spam". You recieved it because, in my perusal of different web sites dealing in the subject of evolution, I happened upon your address. Now, I am quite certain that a person of nominal intellectual stature like myself could never sway the hardened beliefs of a man of science. However, I do believe that the theory, (and I do stress the word theory) of evolution has had more than its fair share of press. For instance, all public school children today are, in a sense, 'proseletyzed' into the scientific community's chosen faith- that being evolutionary theory. Never are they told, taught, nor given a chance to even hear that there is another 'theory' that has as much validity, and much more historical weight on its side. And if it is mentioned, surely it is only in passing, with an accompanying tone of jest. In fact, evolutionists, along with the Supreme Court and the A.C.L.U. have succeeded in making it ILLEGAL to even MENTION the fact that there MIGHT be a Creator! How strange! In this society that supposedly puts a premium on freedom of thought, it is illegal to teach that there MIGHT be a Creator. That kind of strangle hold on education smacks of blatant propoganda. It it could weel be that Your theory has no basis in reality.

I am quite confident that you believe the various theses that you advance. That doesn't mean that they are true; indeed they are stuff and nonsense. Thus, for example, "evolutionists" have had very little to do with banning the teaching of religion in the schools. This is scarcely surprising since "evolutionists" have all sorts of different religions and lack of religion - some are Catholic, some Protestent, some Jewish, some Islamic, some Buddhist, some Hindu, some atheist, some agnostic, et cetera. The Supreme Court has held (and rightly so in my opinion) that the state and the schools may not treat any religious viewpoint as being privileged. That has nothing to do with evolution; rather it has to do with religious tolerance. This is a peculiar concept, one probably not to your taste, that Western civilization has adopted for pragmatic reasons - the alternative in history having been religious wars and persecution.

Another bit of error is your confusion about use of the word "theory" in "the theory of evolution". The usage refers to a systematically organized body of knowledge.

Regrettably, you are quite wrong about evolution getting more than a fair share of press in the schools. The sad fact is that (in America) the know-nothings have had so much influence that very little is taught about evolution at all.

You do not mention what "other theory" you have in mind. There are many that you might be referring to. I rather fancy, however, that you have in mind a literal interpretation of Genesis. Biblical literalism was demolished two centuries ago - by Christians.

Please, if you would be so kind, answer me this one simple question: If evolution DIDN"T take place, than what is the alternative for explaining our origins? Is ther even the slightest bit of room in your mind to contemplate the unthinkable: that we are created, not evolved?
Oh, it's quite thinkable that we, the human species, were created in situ much as we are now. It is not a pleasant thought because it implies that our creator is a master of deceit with enormous powers, a trickster God like Loki in Norse myth who has arranged every feature of the world in such a way that it is consistent with our having evolved even though we have not. Perhaps you are happy with the thought of having been created by a Lord of Lies and Illusion.
I want to assure you that I mean no harm, and I intend this in the most congenial Spirit. I hope to here your insights.
And the best to you, too.
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From: Anthony R. Lewis
Date: 10/23/2000
Subj: Divers topics

Mr. Harter,

on this page

http://richardhartersworld.com/cri/fancuric.html

"Disorientation" is spelled as "Disrientation". This disriented me.

It would. It's surprising how much of the page still stands up given that it was written ever so long ago. I suppose ditto and hekto are ancient technology nowadays.
We still await your $12 for Boston in 2004 Presupport. This is the only way of being sure you won't have to work on the convention.
The Czech is in the male.

I haven't written it up yet but I made a major westwards meander, driving to Portland and then visiting people down the coast. The Nivens have an absurd mansion.

PS: We have a surplus of wildlife and weather here. Would you like some rabbits? How about a few feet of snow?

... continued on next rock ...

Mr. Harter,

you might want to look at www.improbable.com if you are not already cognizant of it. Of particular interest is the feline reaction to bearded men. I suggest you add a pointer to it on your site.

A truly scholarly study compromised by inadvertent handling of one of the photos by an assistant whose had previously been picking catnip.
By the way, when are you updating your site?
I updated it the day before the election on the thought that I would add an editorial disappoving of the person who won the Presidential election. Much to my delight neither Gore nor Bush won. Unfortunately there are officious busybodies about who are attempting to alter that desirable state of affairs.

The fan curriculum page is now updated.

I have rabbits; there are more than the neighborhood cats can eat. I expect we will have snow although we have only had a pluvality of rain, so far.
A pluvality of rain, eh? I take it that you are a Neptunist rather than a Plutonist.

One benefit of snow is that the deer passing through the yard leave tracks.

I bought a CD burner so I can send genealogy files to my family. As far as I can determine, I have only one relative in South Dakota.
That seems to be about right. SD has about .25% of the American population. I infer that you have about 400 Americans in your genealogy.
PS--our company has no typewriters any more.
Typewriters are plot elements in movies called "You've got mail". They have no other use.
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From: Charles Hitchcock
Date: 11/17/2000
Subj: further animadversions on Wisconsin

Have you seen DOGMA? It was running on cable last weekend; I had forgotten that God's last words to the angel Bartleby (just before She blows him away for attempting to destroy the universe) were "Was Wisconsin really so bad?"

Chortle. South Dakota, on the other hand, was part of the rubble left over from creation. More precisely, it was where the rubble was supposed to go but they ran out of rubble. Think of it as unused land fill.

... continued on next rock ...

And you chose to move back there? I never knew you had a thing for unrubble....

The cost of living here is cheap. Of course there isn't much living here but what there is is cheap. The real problem I have is a lack of book shelves. You wouldn't have any spare book cases would you?

There is a real possibility that I have more books than the entire town of Highmore.

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Considering we just had to buy more ourselves -- no. I recommend IKEA for bookcases -- the ones finished in paint instead of fake-wood aren't that expensive. Although if living there is that cheap I would think you could find a carpenter (with experience on something smaller than houses) who would do a reasonable job at a reasonable price (maybe not in Highmore, but perhaps at ?? (where you enlisted)?).

As a matter of fact that's what I intend to do. I have a chap building a display case for me to hold the silver collection. There are people around here are good woodworkers who work cheap. I would build bookcases myself but I don't have all of the tools that I need. We shall see. It's winter here which is a good time to do projects INDOORS.

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Awwwwww... whatever happened to the 6x2(-flake) snowdrift? You mean you're actually getting (horrified pause) weather?

Yes indeed and I'm not the least bit happy about it. What we need here is a stretch of above normal temperatures to get rid of the white stuff on the ground. I have an awful feeling that my luck is out this year.
Not that Boston has been as mild as last year (when mums were still blooming the second week in November) either. At least it's been dry; there's been only two nor'easters so far. (Of course, one of them would be the day we were flying back from WFC -- we cut our tourism short to get home at a reasonable hour, then sat two hours waiting for permission to take off because Boston was so backed up.)
I notice by the weather maps that you've gotten a bit more wet since then. The Boston area weather is definitely more temperate than that of South Dakota. I expect that in the long run I will become a snowbird.
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From: Aaron Sevivas
Date: 11/6/2000
Subj: Beef stew

You posted a recipe for beef stew on the internet.. My wife and I loved it.. thanks! (The page said it was updated November 1997 so don't worry if u don't remember!)

Forget it!? I have a pot of it (not the 1997 pot) warming up at the moment. I'm glad you like it. Old reliable, I calls it.
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From: Philip Gee
Date: 11/6/2000
Subj: camel link

Hello webmaster,
This will be a strange query/request for you but I am sure you will understand it. Every global search engine takes web-goers to your site if they use the search term "camel". For camel owners this is somewhat confusing. I thought today that I should ask you if you could put the following on your site: (For camel owners try: www.austcamel.com.au) If you have at look at this site you will see it is a dedicated camel information site. I hope you see the virtue and some humour in adding this to your web site.

Weird. I checked it out a little bit. Google pops my site near the top. It doesn't show up in the Alta Vista search in the early pages. Yahoo has a good selection of links for Camels. It doesn't show up early in the Magellan list. I expect that it will slide back down again in the rankings. Search engines have funny ideas about what is relevant for a search. I have a page entitled "The Dancing Slave Girls of Gor" which is an extended humorous anecdote about a mythical college. It pops up as #5 on Magellan if you search on "slave girls".

Be that as it may your suggestion is a good one. I'm adding links to the yahoo page and to your page (the information section).

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From: "Justin Cobb"
Date: 10/23/2000
Subj: Twenty One Questions

This is a silly question, but by any chance, are you the guy from "Survivor"? I know 'Richard' had a last name beginning with H. Don't worry, I'm not going to bother you and be a pain in the ass if you are. I'm just wondering.

Nope, he's not me and I'm not him. You've tickled my curiousity. Why did you think I might be?
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From: MARIA PALUMBO (Palumbodetective@PRODIGY.NET)
Date: 10/13/2000
Subj: Catching rabbits

how would you go about catching a rabbit

I assume that you read my little fiction about catching rabbits and want to know about the particulars of catching rabbits within the context of the story, i.e., how did Manhe go about catching rabbits.

Nowadays one uses a trap or a snare or a gun. Our ancestors might have used a bow and arrow and their ancestors before them might have used a throwing stick. Manhe, however, would not have had any of these. What might he have done?

He might have thrown a net over the rabbit. This requires that the rabbit be still, i.e., feeding, and not running away. It also requires that he would be close to the rabbit. To do this he would have needed to know something about when and why a rabbit runs, what the circumstances might be such that a rabbit would feed close to him.

He might have thrown a rock at the rabbit. Again, his chances would have been best if he were close to a rabbit which was still.

He might have flooded out a rabbit's hole. This requires that he can find it and can find both entrances if there are two.

These are some of the possibilities. The point of the story, such as it is, is that the hunter must understand in some way the behaviour of his prey. In many hunter/gatherer cultures the hunted animals are anthropomorphized. That is, the hunters think of the hunted as a sort of people. It has been suggested that in the evolution humans social intelligence, the understanding of the behaviour of others of the species, was transferred to hunting intelligence. My little story was a "just so" rendition of this thesis.

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From: "Michael Kneisly"
Date: 11/1/2000
Subj: camels

I am a ninth grade student doing a report on camels. I am researching in particula rthe camel and how it was used in the Middle East, etc. If you have any information on this topic, please send it to 'dogtale@hotmail.com'.

I'm sorry, I can't really help you. I suggest you consult the online Encyclopedia Brittannica. My camel page is a recipe for whole roast camel.
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From: Charles Hitchcock
Date: 10/23/2000
Subj:
What Being a Marine Is About

I was skimming through some old parts of your page I'd read before and noticed a familiar chord; have you read one of this year's nominees, CRYPTONOMICON? I would be quite surprised if Stephenson had been a Marine, but there's at least an air of verisimilitude in some of the passages about the unfortunately named Bobby Shaftoe; I'm curious whether they ring true to you.

I haven't read it. I suppose I should but I have a large backlog of books to read at the moment. I was recently on a Western Meander which included Portland and a couple of trips to Powells. You will understand that this produced said large backlog. I picked up sundry antique SF gems such as Slan and The Black Flame. Moving to Highmore has had a bad side effect. Everytime I get near a bookstore I think to myself - it will be a long time before I get to a real bookstore again. Buy while you can, Richard. The upshot is that the books are like rabbits.
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From: Charles Hitchcock
Date: 10/23/2000
Subj:
The Lion and the Minnesota Tourist

The move from Massachusetts must have left you even harder up for amusement than I expected if you're reduced to abusing Minnesotans; after several stfictional weekends the worst I can find to say about them is "mostly harmless". (And who is Wisconsin to talk? "You are in a maze of bland little cheeses, all alike.")

I must admit that a state that elected Jesse Ventura as governor can't be all bad. Your line about "You are in a maze of bland little cheeses, all alike." is all too true. One of the things that I miss about MA is having a decent selection of cheeses. Apparently America beyond the Atlantic coast doesn't believe in real cheese.
(Did I pass this on to you?)

What did the Minnesotan say to the Pillsbury dough boy?

"Nice tan!"

Snicker.

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If you're not already reading MT VOID, see also http://www.fanac.org/fanzines/MT_Void/MT_Void-1840.html I never realized Mark Leeper had a sense of humor....

It's a cheesey sort of fanzine. This is all your fault. I hadn't previously visited the fanac.org site (I will have to add a link to it) and delightedly reread The Enchanted Duplicator, thereby consuming the better part of an hour that might better have been spent visiting Little Nemo.
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From: Charles Hitchcock
Date: 10/20/2000
Subj: Jerry Springer

Then again, maybe people watch because they like to know that somebody is worse off than they are, or is willing to act more stupidly in public than they think they would. (I don't think I've seen Springer specifically, but thanks to a tangle of factors I'm now exposed to a mix of soap operas and trash talkshows while exercising. The things people are willing to do on TV....)

JS is a middle of the night rerun here which accounts for my familiarity with the program. The thought that most of the participants on these programs all have the right to vote explains much about the current election campaign.
Or Mencken may have been right when he said nobody ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public. (Although I suppose the man who coined the term "booboisie" was pandering to an audience that liked to believe itself better than most people.)
Just so. One of the great human delusions is that each of us are better than our fellows. At first this might seem like an impossibility rather like everybody having an above average IQ but it is not. The trick is that everybody has their own individual measuring stick.
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From: Florence L McGee
Date: 10/23/2000
Subj: Meeter's Kraut Juice

I have been trying to find Meeter's Kraut Juice at my stores and can't find it. Could you please tell me where I can buy it. I use it in Sauerkraut and Dumplings.

I shop in Ft Smith, AR - Tahlequah, OK - Sallisaw, OK

I'm sorry but I can't help you. A search at www.google.com on "Kraut juice" turns up quite a few sources for kraut juice including how to make it. You might find something there.
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This page was last updated November 30, 2000.
It was reformatted and relocated April 10, 2005

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