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Letters to the Editor, February 2002


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 And, of course, anything marked not for publication is not for publication.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 February 2002.

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From: "Emile P Hamer
Date: 02/17/2002
Subj:
Burning question

What incident in Corsica?

Grovius

Alas, He Who Censors All Things forbids the answering of your question.
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From: kera
Date: 02/2/2002
Subj:
On your "Creationism" essay...

I read some of your other "trolls"--the ones you explain are meant to offend--so I am not really sure how seriously i should take your essay on Christian Fundementalists and Creationism. If you care, read on.

Are you suggesting that I should not care?
I think you generalize. You assume that all other "civilized nations" are lacking their old-world lower class? I consider Japan a civilized nation, and yet they are still slave to the same ideas of honor and ritual suicide that their ancestors followed. The British (aside from having teeth like nastiest of third-worlders) savagely impose their will on Ireland. There is still a great dislike of the Catholic faith in Enland, as deeply-rooted and as uneducated as Fundamentalism. I think that you must see that the uneducated, irrational side of man is unaviodable in all countries. Some leading intellectuals are as dogmatic about their logical beliefs as Christians are about their "irrational" beliefs.
Of course I generalize. However it does not do to defend America by pointing to the antics of English soccer fans or the peculiarities of continental philosophy and the vagaries of post-structuralism. It remains that by many indices America is well behind the "civilized world". Thus we rank poorly in such things as infant mortality, life expectency, and the level of educational achievement of our children. OTOH we excel at murder, street crime, and in executing people.

I grant that the uneducated, irrational side of man is to be found everywhere and at all times. It is in the nature of our species. Still there is the irrational and then there is the irrational. A bit of dottiness here and there does not harm a society; indeed it gives it charm. However organized religious fanaticism does harm societies that are afflicted with it.

Another thing, i have to follow one of the greatest essayists and philosophers ever here, and assert that it is a disquised blessing that more people do not think. Religion, however illogical, is the "opiate of the people." Your average man needs something to believe in. I am not religious myself, and i criticize religious fanatics as well, but if everyone in society was as cold and calculating as the "intellectuals," what would become the status of the working man? I wrote in one of my philosophy papers once that philosophy is the rich man's plaything. I would say the same thing for science. Unless what science dictates changes the workload or creates/destroys another job, what the hell does it matter to you average man? If we came from apes, or if we are something more than that, does it even matter? i do not usually defend religion, but why do high-strung intellectuals even worry about convincing everyone, educating the masses? It's the new Christianity with the same zeal of capturing converts.
One of my little projects that I mean to get around to at some point or another is to write an essay entitled "After all, does truth really matter?" Obviously some truths do matter. Few of us would want to fly in an airplane designed under the principle of cultural relativism. OTOH, as you say, does it even matter what we came from? Well, yes, it does matter - people like to have good stories for these things. They don't have to be true; it suffices that they are interesting and satisfying stories.
I do not see the harm in having a less-educated working class choosing to believe in whatever makes them happy. and i do get tired of these geniuses having nothing better to do with their brains then corrupt the universes of anyone else.
There is a little difficulty; what do we do about education? What do you teach in the schools? The creationists want their rubbish to be taught in the schools or at worst they want the schools gutted so that they don't teach anything about evolution. (They've done depressingly well at that.)
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From: George E Worroll Jr
Date: 02/04/2002
Subj:
Semper Fi

I love your site.. A nice balance between humour and serious articles...

Thank you, that it what I am trying for.
Sorry to hear about your mother- but you seem to realize that as long as you keep hold of the memories of the good times, she is never truly gone.
True. Her last evening was perfectly normal. I imagine though that if someone had told then that it was her last evening she would have said, "Well, it's about time." She was a very pragmatic woman in some ways.
I like the story of your adventures in the Marine Corps- I had some good times and some rough times. Never got busted, but my CO did hit me with suspended reduction to PFC and suspended forfeiture of pay, and 30 days CCU not suspended. Don't know if they had CCU when you were in- but it was 30 days of boot camp all over again, removing most of the training and replacing it with sandbag filling and breaking big rocks into little rocks. And doing all the little working parties that prisoners in the brig did.
That came in after my time. It sounds like brig time without the brig.
Our quonset huts were probably the same ones you stayed in when you went to Pendleton.
I wouldn't be surprised. In the late 70's I was at Fort Sill OK (as a civilian testing radar software) - some of the barracks there were left over from WW I.
It paid off though- My CO believed in doing all he could to help a Marine that had fallen to the side, without being weak when it came to punishment. Two months after CCU, I pinned on Corporal...

You'll be glad to know that while many things have changed, the spirit of the Corps is still there. When political pressure mounts to make things easier, the Corps changes things before congress makes them... and finds a way to make it just as difficult, if not as brutal, to become a Marine. Most changes aren't for that though- the vast majority are fueled not by political correctness like in the Army or navy, but by the changing face of war.

So they are; war really has changed since I was in.
Recruits don't get hit, but that just makes the DIs more creative in punishment PT and their psychological torture.
Well, recruits were never supposed to get hit and mostly they weren't. I gather that nowadays when they say "don't hit the recruits" they don't wink when they say it. It's hard to believe that DI's could be more creative in punishment PT and psychological torture than they were in my day.
The PFT was made safer, more accurate, and more difficult in 96 and again in 98. Boot Camp PT has been modified to be a more gradual buildup in the start, to avoid injury, while still producing equally fit Marines. The previous Commandant, while the other services worried about expensive new equipment and coed recruit training, issued Marines an improved combat boot and began many initiatives to study the new face of war and how to fight it. The current Commandant has broken with the tradition of all services wearing the same utility uniform, with something distinctive and more effective camoglague.
I like that - improved combat boots. The man has his priorities straight.
THe most important thing- As in your day, the Corps gets fewer people, less money, older equipment- WE STILL DO IT BETTER THAN THEM.
It's good to see that things still haven't changed.
Semper Fidelis brother, good luck. Even when I sign on to the National Guard next week, my uniform may say US Army, but my soul still says US Marine.

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From: Leslie Bramm
Date: 02/21/2002
Subj:
In memory

I don't know if you're the person who wrote the obituary for his mother, but I thought it was touching. She sounds like the kind of person I would have enjoyed spending time with.

Thanks.

That would indeed be me and yes, she was the kind of person that you would have enjoyed spending time with. I did myself.
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From: Peter
Date: 02/15/2002
Subj: Uncle Eddy and the dinosaurs

After visiting American sites such as http://www.fixedearth.com/ , and as you know there are many like it, yours is a breath of fresh air.

Would that breath of fresh air be one in a recently manured field?
There is one line I envy on your site: "Best viewed with a bottle of scotch", how I wish I had thought of that for my site! What do you mean where's that? Here of course http://www.peter-ghiringhelli.v21net.co.uk/ Nothing like yours, just a collection of links, the more intricate stuff I leave to you young 'uns. Yes, I am a good few years older than you, my kid sister was born in 1935 the same year that you put in a personal appearance.
It is always hard to believe that there is someone older than me. My mother, yes, she was older. She sort of had to be - biology, you know. And then there are many people around here who are older than me; however that is only natural - in South Dakota there is nothing to do but grow old.
My antecedants? I come from a very old family, a long line of people on both the main and distaff side, dating well back to before Christ. My uncle Eddy swore (a fault we couldn't correct) that we even went back further than the dinosaurs (which he considered to be a show off upstart branch).
The traditional line is "I come from a long line my mother listened to." Your Uncle Eddy wouldn't have been related to the grand poobah in the Mikado, would he?
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From: USS CONSTITUTION
Date: 02/15/2002
Subj:
Humor: USS Constitution

USS Constitution, Commissioned in 1797, at no time made any voyage in 1779, 15 years prior to its coonstruction. And at no time did it "run out of shot," nor are any other statements in the story appearing on your web page occur.

Granted. So?
We who are stationed aboard this glorious and historic ship are happy to assist with the promulgation of any factual material you might be interested, however, as crewmembers received no more than a pint of rum (watered down and known as Grog), per day, I doubt that there is much interest.
There's your problem; they're watering down your grog. I wouldn't advise you to complain about it though; it might be regarded as mutiny, and the penalty for that is keel hauling.
JO2(SW) Pete Robertson
Public Affairs
USS Constitution

... continued on next rock ...

Touche'
You get points for originality.

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From: M Little
Date: 02/20/2002
Subj: Thank you

Your home page is always good for a giggle. Thank you.

You're welcome. As the sign on the urinal says,
WE AIM TO PLEASE.
YOU AIM TOO, PLEASE!
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From: Raccio-Hughes, Pat
Date: 02/19/2002
Subj: your site

I just had to tell you how much I loved your writings on haying and horseback riding! I found you by doing a google search on "doubletree," and have lingered as long as I dare. You're a funny man.

A funny man? Indeed I am. Many have said it, most of them being small children tagging behind me on the street.
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From: Bill Clark
Date: 02/05/2002
Subj: UFT

A few years ago there was a New York Times bestseller that "proved" science was at an end. No progress would be made until the Holy Grail of physics, the Unified Field Theory, was found - and THAT, the author said, was tens of thousands of years in the future. Scientists proclaimed this a halmark work.

I suspect that you are referring to The End of Science by John Horgan. Whatever the faults of the book (they are many) it is not nearly as bad as you make it out to be.
This is my rebuttal. I derive a conceptual version of the UFT from some basic principles of Celestial Mechanics, showing that it is a line in the classical Three Body Problem. I then show that this line is a tiny part of a whole three dimensional surface, which is far, far beyond the UFT. Modern science is literally a point on this surface, infinitesmally small.
It's a pity but there is no link on your site to your version of the UFT. It might have been interesting to see how you got from celestial mechanics to a unified field theory. It is a progression of ideas that is not just in the ordinary way of proceeding in physics.
Please take a moment to explore the documents on my web site. The ideas are not too hard to fathom.
http://www.inviticus.com
But are they right?
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From: jayme maxfield
Date: 01/28/2002
Subj: kitty contest ?

hello my name is jayme maxfield ,iam writing this email for my cat simon,he heard from some of his cat buddies that there was some kind of kitty contest ,hes really excited .we got simon from an ad in the paper ,hes 4 or 5 weve had him for almost a year, him and I are best friends he started his life in the pound and been kicked around for years till we saved him .I used to be a dog person now we have 3 cats and i love them all but simon is my first love .hes a mostly white cat with some black spots he weights 22 pounds but hes very fit and looks like a "SIMON ".We figured if you were looking for a special cat hes the one . i really enjoyed your website ,and iam sure simon, squeege and finny would enjoy it to if they could read sincerly simon and jayme

One of us is confused; there is no kitty contest being conducted here. However this site supported the campaign against kitty porn while it was still active.

... continued on next rock ...

kitty porn, what?
we thought there was a contest supported by Glamour Kitty Litter.....guess not! but if you here otherwise let us know, our cat is BEUTIFUL IN A VERY NOBEL MANNER. he's not a porn star.

Kitty porn refers to the practice of posting pictures of naked felines on the web. (It's a joke.) I'm sure that your cat is the finest and noblest of felines. The only connection that this site has with kitty litter is that we have a recipe for kitty litter cake.
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From: noah7afm
Date: 01/223/2002
Subj: interpreting The Great Divorce

I am an elementary teacher, and I'm trying to assist my daughter in understanding The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis. She struggles with comprehension, and is also tutored to increase her reading skills. She is a 10th grade high school student. Do you know of any sites that could help us. Please e-mail me at **** Thank you!

This is a little difficult. I searched on "The Great Divorce" using google; the search turned up many pages but most of them are of no value in trying to understand the book. The following pages may be helpful:

http://www.geocities.com/lindentreekay/grtdvc.html
http://www.hu.mtu.edu/~dsulliva/classes/lewis/gd_1to3.htm
http://www.hu.mtu.edu/~dsulliva/classes/lewis/gd_4to7.htm
http://www.hu.mtu.edu/~dsulliva/classes/lewis/gd_8to10.htm
http://www.chaminade-hs.org/tarmac/april/feature2.html

I hope this is of some help.

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From: Hppy705
Date: 01/24/2002
Subj: How Much Is That Doggy In The Window?

Can you tell me who sang "How Much Is That Doggy In The Window?"

My understanding is that it was Patti Page's song but that is subject to correction.
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From: Yoshi
Date: 01/23/2002
Subj: a question

Hello.

My name is Yoshi. I'm a political scientist and I have learned so many things from your home page.

So, I have to say "Thank you very much" at the first.

But I have one question to you. In Yahoo Japan's message board ("The History of Science") the somewhat natsy discussion has started. One guy translated Lakatos's comment quoted in your home page into Japanese but another woman severely criticized that translation. The part of the sentences he translated is as follows: http://richardhartersworld.com/cri/1999/lakatos.html

but it has not been and must become a succession of periods of normal science
He says that "must not" is the thing Lakatos tried to say, so this part must be a misprint. What do you think about it? I also think he is right.
He is correct; the text in Lakatos reads "must not become". The text on my web page is in error; I will correct it immediately. My apologies for providing an unnecessary point of controversy.
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From: reppirj
Date: 01/25/2002
Subj: Raped!

You American co-ed girls are unbelieveable ! Stupid ! You don't even know when you are being set up, and raped Europen style. Haven't you ever heard the expression screw the Yanks? Well, thats what they just did to you! And laughed about it after you left. How many American co-eds do you think they rape in a single day? Think about it.

Er, you do realize that An American Co-ed on European men is an elaborate joke don't you?
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From: cadwell family
Date: 01/25/2002
Subj: big bad john?

hi big bad john i had a question for you do you have any wifes in the past or now and do you have any childern or grand children

Getting a trifle personal, aren't we? Not that I mind - my life is rather an open book, albeit one with a lot of blank pages. I have no past or present wives and no children that I know of. Why on earth would you ask?
ps writ back
Done. Don't count on a repeat.
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From: Thomas Le
Date: 01/22/2002
Subj:
The reincarnation game... Is there an end

I really enjoy this game. You have put a lot of time and work into it. I commend you on it.

Thank you for the kind words. It was fun creating it although it isn't complete yet,
I have one question. Is there a true end? Or does it endlessly go around and around? Do you believe there can be enlightenment? and is that why there is no end if there isn't?
Within the context of the game there can be enlightenment; without enlightenment one goes endlessly round and round. I haven't added the enlightenment sequence to the game yet; it will take a fair bit of additional work to do it the way that I want it.

As you may have noticed the great wheel of life has four great ages, the age of the East Wind, South Wind, West Wind, and North Wind, which correspond to the seasons of the the great circle, e.g., East Wind equals Spring and so on. The fate and status of the Empire depends on the age. Each great age is divided into subages, early, middle, and late, so that there are twelve stages as you move around the wheel. Most lives end by moving one step around the wheel.

As a consequence of this "moving one step" the game needs several lives in each step. I stopped at 6-8 but it will work better if there are about a dozen per stage. The point of this digression is that the enlightenment sequence will work better if the main wheel is dense.

I have a suggestion as to how to make it better. Basically it is easy to know when the life is going to end in a death or if it will go on to more desicions. This can be remidied in a few different ways. The quickest, probably simpilest way is to put javascript on every page for link and put the text of the desicion in the task bar. I know that there are hundreds of pages and this would be very time consuming.
(Ugh)
The other way would be to do a different naming scheme of the pages so it's not obvious.
I expect that I will rename all of the pages at some point; I can create a simple script to alter all of the names and links. As it is the naming convention makes it easier for me to keep track of the whole mess as I modify it.
You might know of this thing because you made it, but I thought I would say something about it.
Thank you for pointing that out.
I also noticed that the pages havent been updated in over a year. Would you like someone to take them over?
Oddly enough, I'm currently working on it and will be making a major addition. I'm adding an entire suite of female lives. This will increase the size of the wheel about 50%. For various technical reasons I won't be updating the pages until I get most of the new pages done.
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From: Erin Brown
Date: 01/24/2002
Subj:
hiring women tips

How reliable is the source on these "tips"? Did someone actually have a copy of this Mass Transportation at hand? I'm putting together a Women In Business Issue of our magazine for March. I wouldn't mind running this list, though I would like to be certain it's not just some internet myth, like KFC debacle...

As far as I know it is just an internet myth. There is a version that circulates that mentions a source; however the chap whose name was mentioned wrote and denied all connection. It might be real but I would treat it as a plausible myth if I were you.
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From: Charles Hitchcock
Date: 01/22/2002
Subj: creationist doublethink

... continued from last rock ...

I'm more likely to hear that sort than you are, being closer to the firing line so to speak, both by virtue of residence and internet activities. Still, now that I reflect upon it, you are right. It's just that the "You're going to burn in Hell, Nyah, Nyah, Nyah" types are so conspicuously obnoxious.
I can see you'd have more of them -- but this area is hardly free; there have been too many Mormons around since they started building a ]cathedral[ across rt 2 from the Arlington water tower, and there's always the Jehovah's Witlesses (the ones who knock on the front door, then on the kitchen door because we're a corner property...). But proselytizers are much more polite than preachers or netizens.
There was even a street demonstration by some creationists in Concord MA. I like to think that they got pitying looks from passers by.
(You've heard about Unitarian proselytizers? They knock on your door and make you an offer you can't understand -- but you still have to be polite to them, because otherwise they'll come back at night and burn a question mark in your yard.)
I love it.
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This page was last updated February 21, 2002.
It was reformatted and moved November 29, 2005.

~cri/
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