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Letters to the Editor, October 2003


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 And, of course, anything marked not for publication is not for publication.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 October 2003.

Some of it is a little ancient; I'm slowly catching up - very slowly.

Index of contributors

Other Correspondence Pages


From: David Alexander Proskauer
Date: 10/20/2003
Subj: hi, how are you?

Hi, I live in Argentina, and Im a Biochemistry student. I accept evolution. But I think ID can be science and is detectable.

Quite right; it could be science. It doesn't happen to be, but it could be. In the ordinary course of things I don't engage in email debates about evolution, creationism, and intelligent design; there are more than enough forums for the subject. Although I won't debate the subject I will try to answer your questions.

In turn I have one of my own: How is it that you came to write to me?

If I say that X is a design, maybe you will ask to me. How is possible?
When you say "possible" do you mean one of these questions or something else:
How is it possible for X to be designed?
How is it possible to know that X is designed?
Now well, some atheist (Dawkins, Dennet, etc) affirm that evolution, the universe, etc, are not designed, and with out purpose. My question is how they know that. How do you know that? On what do you base to have so much certainly?
Just a note here, you switch from "they", where "they" refers to some atheists, Dawkins and Dennet in particular, to a rather ambiguous "you". If your questions are addressed to Dawkins, Dennet, et. al., then I can only speculate as to what their answers might be. I rather fancy, though, that they write rather clearly on the subject.
You affirm and argue that there is no design and no purpose in evolution and universe. That implies that you speak as if you knew to distinguish between a designed universe with purpose and other that it is not. That assumes that in base of that you have the certainty that this universe and this evolution are not designed. So, please, answer these questions:

What carries you to conclude that the evolutionary process is not the result of a design and purpose?

I don't know if I am the "you" that your question is addressed to, but I shall give a brief answer.

We don't know for certain that there is no design and purpose in the universe; that, after is, the nature of scientific knowledge, and indeed of knowledge in general. That said, it remains that the universe does not look designed, nor does the course of evolution on Earth look designed. There is an enormous disparity between the means and the observed ends.

Thus, for example, was the universe created and designed to produce us? If that were the case, the process was enormously wasteful, taking some thirteen billion years, and billion of galaxies containing billions of stars, just to produce one planet on which several billions of years of evolution finally, in a series of improbable contingencies, produced our species. At that, I must tell you, the result isn't all that much to brag about.

So just where is this design and purpose? What evidence is there of it? The answer seems to be that when one gets down to cases there is no definite evidence of design and no discernable purpose.

I wait for an explanation and a mechanism of how to distinguish design of something that has not been designed. If you have so clear that it is not designed, I assume that you have a criterion to be able to distinguish.
Now this is a very good question: How does one distinguish between something that was designed and something that was not designed? In the case of artifacts potentially made by our species we have a number of criteria, e.g., stigmata of manufacture and utility for human activities. It is straightforward (though there are borderline cases) to distinguish human designed objects and naturally occuring objects.

We don't who or what the hypothetical non-human designer(s) might be or what they want. Ergo, it is hard to guess what their purposes might be or what their means might be.

Still, we can ask: Are they good at their craft? The answer seems to be: Evidently not. The course of evolution has not been orderly in the large or in the small. The entire process is wasteful in the extreme. The effecting of the design(s) is extraordinarily similar to the results of natural processes.

In short, if there are designers, there might as well not be, for all the effectiveness of their labors.

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From: Dave May
Date: 10/22/2003
Subj: Harters Little liver pills !!

Yes I have it right HARTERS Little liver pills. I have a advertisment paper that shows Doctor Harters Celebrated Family Medicines The Dr Harter Medicine Co. Dayton Ohio U.S.A Not sure on Date ,but looks like 1880's show's everything from Little liver pills to Wild Cherry Bitters,Vermifudge candy,Lung balm what ever that was LOL Let me know if you do have any info on this .

Love it; 120 years of Harter snake oil salesmanship. I have the better of it though - there is no FDA to crackdown on opinions philosophic, literary, and political that come from a large square brown bottle.

Is there any chance of getting a copy of that advertisement?

I did a google check on "Harter Medicine" and turned up some odds and ends. The U of Florida Rare Books collection has issues of Dr. Harters Almanac for years 1875, 1884, 1888, 1891, and 1892 in English and an 1899 edition in German. Dr. Harter operated out of Missouri; when he died in 1890 his daughter moved the Harter Medicine Co. to Ohio. She was a member of the Women's Christian Temperance Union whilst her husband was a manufacturer of Rye Whiskey.

Dr. Milton G. Harter was, by his own account, the graduate of six medical schools in the period 1844-1866. He founded the Harter Medicine Co. in 1873.

I shall have to check into the family tree - we might actually be related. Fancy that.

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From: democracy@government.com (not a real address)
Date: 10/24/2003
Subj: Democracy !

Democracy socialism dictatorship capitalism etc. those are not basic political systems they are secondary systems.

There are only two possible basic political systems let's overpopulate the world to death creating wars starvation poverty crime etc worldwide or have a proper amount of people in the world, you know enough but not too many people where you don't create wars starvation poverty crime etc worldwide.

*** Which one is yours ! ***

Kill pope johnny for starving babies to death to make money from their pain and suffering by demanding everyone overpopulate the world to death then have the local priests stand up and say Look at all that starvation over there everybody Quickly give me money!

Kill pope johnny for overpopulating the world to death creating wars starvation poverty crime insanity abortion etc worldwide. Killing millions and millions of people and enslaving billions and billions of people in total dispair with his;

Come on now more more more just keep having more children NO BIRTH CONTROL! LOOK LOOK LOOK everybody look at all that starvation over there!

Quickly give me money!

If that was you starving to death you would want someone to give you something wouldn't you!

QUICKLY GIVE ME MONEY !

$1, $2, $3, $4, $5, $6, $7, $8, $9, $10 Here ALL you poor people here is $1 for all of you Jesus Loves ALL OF YOU ! Praise the Lord !

Now don't try saying there is too many starving people, or that overpopulating the world to death creates wars, starvation, poverty, crime, abortion etc. worldwide. That is not the problem the problem is that YOU are not giving me enough money to take care of all those good and wonderful starving people. That's the problem.

And no no no I don't pay taxes the money is for the poor.

Well got to go and build more churches in all the rich neighborhoods.

I am the pope !

*** AND IF ANY OF THOSE STARVING CHILDREN TRY TO GET VIOLENT KILL THEM THEY ARE THE "BAD" ONES ***

Would you be a hazelnut, a pecan, or an almond?
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From: Sean-Alonzo
Date: 10/16/2003
Subj: Link Submission: SeanAlonzo.com

Hello:

I would like to submit my site for submission into your links section: SeanAlonzo.com SeanAlonzo.com is the official site of occult fiction author Sean-Alonzo, exploring symbolism, alternative history, philosophy, secret societies and other areas of the esoteric tradition.

http://www.seanalonzo.com

Truly a site for the hidden and unknown - I didn't see anything at all. Perhaps I am not worthy.
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From: EOleen
Date: 10/17/2003
Subj: The Princess and the Steward

Fits an acquaintance of mine to a tee.

Which, the princess or the steward?
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From: joe
Date: 10/18/2003
Subj: Blame the saudies!

Before 911 the afghans were fighting the russians so america (who thinks it can attack anybody any time it wants) gave the afghans money money money and they sent the kids to airplane school

yes yes yes america paid for 911

but try to blame the saudies that way america can go and just take the oil

the plan

Bad news, Joe. The cat stepped on your terminal while you weren't looking.
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From: aleinstein
Date: 10/18/2003
Subj: WE DEMAND !

We demand a national holiday for Al Einstein for single handedly winning world war two by inventing the atomic bomb with his E=mc^2. and a renouncement of all the people that for all these years that try to steal Al's achievement by trying to say they won the war and never saying Al Father of the Atomic Bomb but always saying Al then relativity! trying to claim that the real reason was known was relativity.

WE DEMAND A NATION HOLIDAY FOR AL !

WE DEMAND A NATION HOLIDAY FOR AL !

WE DEMAND A NATION HOLIDAY FOR AL !

The nice thing about the internet is that people who were formerly limited to crayons (no sharp objects, you know) now have an outlet on the internet.
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From: Andrew Gray
Date: 10/13/2003
Subj: Thank you

Hello, i'm am just dropping you a quick line to say thankyou for providing the brilliant explaination of a numeric savant - it has helped me a great deal in my school studies !

You're welcome, although I must say that my little essay was more casual than inspired.
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From: Joe Clawson
Date: 10/11/2003
Subj: richardhartersworld.com/~cri/pages98.html

I'm Joe Clawson and this is my site: www.iaqi.com/turkey. I contact you because I would like to exchange links with your site: http://richardhartersworld.com/cri/pages98.html. I think our sites are related. My site contains news, books and regional information about turkey.

I may be wrong, but I rather fancy that you did not look at the aforementioned web page (one of many in a large site.) Be that as it may, your web site appears to be quite useful for those persons who would find it useful.
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From: krisy more
Date: 10/8/2003
Subj: about the shoes

hello
i am intrested in your shoes fited size 10 80 picex i will like to know the present condition of it and the last price that you will sell it for me looking forward to seeing your mail asap.

You seem to have the wrong email address.
... continued on next rock ...

are u not selling shoes again bcos am intrested in it that is why i whant to buy bcos am a dealer if u can tell me the terms and condition of it and the price u you whant to sell it for me .your regard krisy more

I'm sorry, but I don't sell shoes. I have never sold shoes. I don't expect that I will ever sell shoes. I once wrote a story about a shoe salesman; writing a story about selling shoes is as close as I shall ever come to selling shoes.

I hope you find the shoes you are looking for.

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From: Geary Scott W TSgt 37CS/SCBB
Date: 8/11/2003
Subj: Grackles

I was researching ways to get rid of those stupid birds and I came upon your page. I was wondering if you've ever found a good way to get rid of the grackles?

I have no feeders in my yard, but the tree in my front yard (right over the driveway) is a favorite roost. I've tried the spray stuff to make the tree tacky so they wouldn't want to walk on it. DO NOT DO THIS!!! The stuff come off enough in the rain to make one heck of a mess of your car. I had to use a solvent to remove the sticky stuff from both cars. Spikes aren't an option because I can't get high enough in the tree to make a difference. I've thought about the visual deterrents, but I'm not sure they would actually work. Audio deterrents may work, but seem very expensive.

I was just wondering what you did to rid yourself of these pests? Or have you just come to live with it?

My apologies for replying so belatedly. I have fallen so far behind in my paper work that I feel like the fabled Chinese bureaucrat that who finally processed the marriage application of his grandparents.

My impression is that nothing works against grackles save, perhaps, shooting them. Even then I would worry about them shooting back.

The one thing that one can do is construct a bird feeder that lets the finches through but not the grackles.

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From: Buddyray5
Date: 10/7/2003
Subj: JOKE

IS THIS PAGE A JOKE OR WHAT

Is what page a joke? Details are so tedious, but now and then they are necessary so that people can know what you are on about.
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From: Crissy Austin
Date: 10/3/2003
Subj: contestant selection

How do I apply to become a future contestant on Survivor?

Beats me. I suppose you go to the CBS website (it is on CBS, isn't it) and poke around. They must have the info there somewhere.
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From: Charles Hitchcock
Date: 10/3/2003
Subj: reviews

Unfortunately, my favorite involves a play rather than a book; a reviewer of a performance of LEAR said that all evening the lead played the king as if in mortal fear somebody would play the ace.

I once reviewed a production of Patience by the Maynard Savoyards with the line, "Last night the Maynard Savoyards tried Gilbert and Sullivan's Patience."
And I assume you're familiar with Shaw's response to a bad review....
Is that the one that goes, "I am reading your review in the smallest room of my house; I still have it before me?"
... continued on next rock ...

Essentially. (I've heard it more rhetorically phrased as "Your review is before me; shortly it will be behind me.")

As in, Ashcroft has the bill of rights behind him?
... continued on next rock ...

I thought you were the one wondering why people hate Bush? Appointing (and even being driven by) extremists is a good start....

Well, no. As it is used the term, extremist, doesn't mean much beyond "Those people who have views quite different from ours that we don't like." It is, in my view, a rationalization - the hate comes first, the reasons come afterwards.
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From: Charles Hitchcock
Date: 10/3/2003
Subj: "Brown and Grey" (editorial)

Brown is better than grey IFF it's uniform. When he was guest at our World Fantasy Convention, Silverberg asked (in his distant way) how I managed to keep the hair on my head dark when my beard and mustache were almost white. What I should have said was something like "Ah reckin Ah must be one of thayem thar mutants you-uns keep writing about." -- but it was late, so I just mumbled (didn't even blame it on Davey, which I've been known to do when she's out of earshot).

Brown lensmen are better than grey lensmen, and black lensmen are better still?

I opine that dark hair and greying beard is normal; the hair on my head has very little grey, and that is mostly at the temples and the base of my skull. Sans the aid of chemistry, my beard is blotchily grey, white, and brown.

The real mystery lies not in the color of the hair on the top of your head but rather how you keep any there at all. Must be one of thayem thar mutants ...

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From: Peter Neilson
Date: 9/25/2003
Subj: Marines' Clementine

Mr, Harter, Sir!
You have dedicated your personal web page to "Richard Theodore McElwee who taught me to sing the Marine Corps hymn to the tune of Clementine and vice versa."

This dedication has become the bane of my existence. For days now I have been humming those two tunes, with various words slogging around in my brain. Even the filks get in there, sometimes to the right tune and sometimes on the other. I have insane visions of creating more filk piano rolls, with the "Outer Space Marines" on the music for Clementine, and "ARL" on the Marines' Hymn.

Can't you leave your more dangerous thoughts hidden where innocents are less likely to find them?

But Peter, you know my motto: None are innocent; punish all first and then decide what crime must have warranted their punishment.

You do know, don't you, that you can sing

My mother and father were Irish
My mother and father were Irish
My mother and father were Irish
And I am Irish too
to the tune of "How much is that doggie in the window?"

Cheerily,
Godfather Richard

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This page was last updated October 31, 2003.
It was moved and reformatted February 20, 2005

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