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Letters to the Editor, July 2004


This a traditional letter column. You are encouraged to write a letter of comment on anything that you find worthy of comment. It will (June) 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 And, of course, anything marked not for publication is not for publication.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 July 2004.

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

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From: ytterbium
Date: 7/7/2004
Subj: NIAGARA FALLS

Love your site. I have been reading it for years. However I have found an error. In your "Quiz for people who know everything" it is stated that Niagara falls regress 2.5 feet daily! I looked it up--it used to be 2.5 feet per year. Now through "evening of the water flow" it is 1 meter per ten years. Thought you'd like to know.

Thanks for the heads up. In truth, I already knew that - others have pointed out the typo. I just haven't gotten around to correcting it. As I say, I need another millennium to catch up in.
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From: Peter Neilson
Date: 7/13/2004
Subj: telephone dog voltage

Your story about the dog who receives the telephone ringing signal is not technically correct. Phones carry three separate signals on a single pair of wires: voice, DC, and ringing. The ringing signal is nominally 90 volts rms, and the DC is 48 volts.

It seems, then, that the story's 9 volts should really be 90 volts.

Richard, you know all this stuff. You're old enough to have experienced the old Army-style magneto field telephones that'll zot you fiercely (but not kill you) if you grab hold of the lines while someone cranks the phone. Is the failure yours, for not proofreading the material sufficiently, or mine for not 86-proof-reading my bottle of scotch before looking at your website?

Oh, and do we care to speculate on why the dog didn't get the 48 volts, too?

Now, Peter, you know it was a shaggy dog.

I do remember those field telephones. Some people say that I am older than dirt. I wouldn't exactly say that myself but I remember when dirt was invented. Before that we had to plow rocks.

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From: Sam Hine
Date: 7/7/2004
Subj: [Commentary Submission] Fahrenheit 9/11

An internationally acclaimed author and social critic gives a unique perspective on Michael Moore's new film Fahrenheit 9/11. You have the author's permission to reprint this commentary free of charge in Richard Harter's World, as long as you include the credit line at the bottom with working hyperlinks to his websites. Please let me know if you use it.

FAHRENHEIT 9/11
A Personal Response

Johann Christoph Arnold

[snip essay which can be found at http://www.christopharnold.com/articles/jca/fahrenheit-911.htm]

I haven't seen the movie yet (as of this writing it has not yet appeared in the local (50 miles away!) theatre. However I have read somewhat of the furor and have seen other movies by Michael Moore so I have some sense, perhaps inaccurate, about the state of affairs. Briefly, I am confident that the movie is, among other things, manipulative propaganda. That's what Michael Moore does; he's good at it. Equally it is clear that the good pastor was manipulated by it.

Perhaps of more interest that my unreliable opinion is the following quote from the essay:

"But for me, even more disturbing than the film itself was the reaction of a benumbed public, stumbling out into the glaring lights of a Saturday afternoon mall. Nothing, apparently, will change these people:"
But of course the public is benumbed. It is just entertainmment. News is entertainment. Documentaries are a form of fiction, using bits of truth gathered in a collage to cloak an agenda. The nature of the visual media is the manipulation of emotion. The public is benumbed because they know the truth that they live with; what the media, television and moves, presents to them is a shuck and a scam.
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From: J. W.
Date: 7/7/2004
Subj: 'How to argue Effectively'

Just a note about the article you have, supposedly by 'Stuart J. Williams', Attorney. This was in actuallity writtern by Dave Barry, a rather famous humor columnist for the Miami Herald. Here is a scanned copy in its entireity. http://www.davebarry.com/natterings_files/daveHOWTOARGUE.pdf

Thanks for the note. I ran it the way it came to me; when things circulate on the internet they tend to lose their proper attributions. I will replace the text by a link to the Dave Barry article.
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From: John Tenerowicz
Date: 7/10/2004
Subj: do you ignore me ?

Do I ignore you? Frequently.
At 03:28 PM 7/10/04 +0000, you wrote: >I need answers to all questions ASAP.
The answer to all questions is "Maybe".
For example: Is 42 the answer to life, the universe, and everything?
Answer: Maybe.
Where are you, man ? What a problem ?
Where am I? I am here. Well, maybe I'm here. Some say I'm not all here. "What" isn't a problem; it's the place inbetween a question and answer.

It's good to hear from you. Do write again, even if you never meant to write to me in the first place.

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From: Concerned Senior Citizen
Date: 7/5/2004
Subj: Letter From A Concerned Senior Citizen

Dear Sir,

I am a senior citizen. During the Clinton Administration I had an extremely good and well paying job. I took numerous vacations and had several vacation homes.

Since President Bush took office, I have watched my entire life change for the worse: I lost my job. I lost my two sons in that terrible Iraqi War.

I lost my home.

I lost my health insurance.

As a matter of fact, I lost virtually everything and became homeless. Adding insult to injury, when the authorities found me living like an animal, instead of helping me, they arrested me.

I will do anything to insure President Bush's defeat in the next election.

I will do anything that Senator Kerry wants to insure that a Democrat is back in the White House come next year. Bush has to go.

I just thought you and your listeners would like to know how one senior citizen views the Bush Administration.

Thank you for taking the time to read my letter.

Sincerely, Sadaam Hussein

My ezine is rather apolitical. Still, many of my readers feel as you do about President Bush, and share your sentiments about his possible re-election.
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From: WarCraftWn
Date: 7/1/2004
Subj: kraut juice

Your observations about kraut juice at http://richardhartersworld.com/~cri/1998/convfood.html likely reflect those of most people; however, this is really a good addition to tomato juice and, although it is an acquired taste, it can be absolutely delicious.

I have no doubt but what you are right. My readers always are. Still, I will note that most people prefer vodka to kraut juice as an addition to their tomato juice.
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From: Doug Paris
Date: 7/4/2004
Subj: Piltdown Man Questions

I am a student ... writing a research paper on the Piltdown Man for a summer Geology class. I was wondering if I could ask you a few interview questions to include in my research paper.

These questions look suspiciously like questions that you were given to you to answer. It also happens that the answers to most of these questions are contained in my article on Piltdown Man on my web site. However I am an amiable chap and will answer them anyway.
1. Where exactly was the Piltdown man fossils found?
There were two locations. One was the Piltdown quarry in Sussex. (See the map for details.) All of the fossils except the "Piltdown II" skull were found there. The location of the Piltdown II skull find apparently was at John Martin's Netherhall Farm in Sussex, not far from the Piltdown Quarry.
2. Was the location important or significant in scientific terms to support or call into question the authenticity of the fossils?
The location could have been important because of an error in dating. I quote from my page:
"In 1925 Edmonds had pointed out that Dawson was in error in his geological dating of the Piltdown gravels: they were younger than Dawson had assumed. In 1951 he published an article pointing out that there was no plausible source for the Piltdown animal fossils. Millar (p203) writes:
The older group of Piltdown animals, he said, were alleged to have been washed from a Pliocene land deposit in the Weald. Edmonds thought there must be some misunderstanding. There was no Pliocene land deposit in the entire Weald which could have produced them. The only local Pliocene beds were marine in origin and lay above the five-hundred foot contour line."
Unfortunately Edmond's paper was in 1951; in 1949 Flourine tests had already established that the Piltdown Man fossils were considerably younger than the local geology. The exposure came in 1953; Edmond's paper had nothing to do with the exposure.
3. What made some skeptical about the authenticity of the Piltdown man fossils?
There are two different issues. The first is whether the fossils were an outright fraud; apparently some people in Sussex who knew Dawson smelled a rat. Other than that their genuineness as fossils went unquestioned. However quite a few paleontologists believed that the jaw and the skull came from different creatures.
4. What features made the fossil fit in with the theories of human evolution during the time?
I quote from the web page:
"...Elliot Smith felt that the large brain case would have developed first. Sollas did not, but did strongly support mosaic evolution, i.e., features appearing in patches rather in a smooth transition. It was his opinion that human dentition developed before the human jaw. Woodward and others believed that eoliths (supposed very early stone tools) indicated the presence of an early, intelligent hominid in England. Piltdown man, with his large braincase, his simian jaw, and his near human dentition fit the theoretical picture."
5. Could these fossils be considered a transition fossil?
Yes.
6. Who is believed to have actually created the hoax?
There is a long list of possible hoaxers. See the web site for a list.
7. In your opinion, who is the most logical candidate to have created the hoax?
Clearly, Dawson.
8. Why would someone wish to create a hoax?

9. Was the Piltdown man an adequate example of the missing link that was needed in paleontology at the time?

If it had been genuine it would have been.
10. How was it possible to make current bones such as the jaw to appear fossilized, and why was the differing dates of the jaw and skull not noticible?
They were treated first with chromic acid and then with a stain. In general fossils cannot be dated directly, but must instead be dated by the age of the geology in which they are found.
11. What were the deviation in characteristics between the jaw and the >skull of the Piltdown man?
The jawbone was a typical orangutan jawbone; the skull an unusual but definitely human skull.
12. With advanced dating techniques, is it impossible to create a similar hoax today?
Yes and no. It would be very difficult and probably impossible to create a similar hoax that would survive an examination using modern techniques - if they were applied. However we must remember that the Piltdown hoax could have been exposed using the techniques available at the time, i.e., if the fossils had only been more carefully examined the hoax would have been exposed.
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From: jianyunl
Date: 7/1/2004
Subj: hotel request

I need your confirmation about Adora Golf Resort.

I will confirm that the Adora Golf Resort is in Turkey. I suspect that this is not what you were looking for. Perhaps you have the wrong email address.
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From: Jeff Chen
Date: 6/22/2004
Subj: caliban's will

it has come to my attention upon the solution of caliban's will that there is a much simpler way.

here are the 3 statements:

(1) No person who has seen me in a green tie is to choose before Low;

(2) If Y.Y. was not in Oxford in 1920 the first chooser never lent me an umbrella;

(3) If Y.Y. or 'Critic' has second choice, 'Critic' comes before the one who first fell in love."

since no statement is to be superfluous, we know that all first parts of the 3 statements are true. also, since they cant be superfluous, from the first statement, you know that someone has seen Caliban in a green tie, meaning low cannot be last.

from the first part of the third statement (which you know is true), it means low is first (since he had a choice between 1st and second and now we know he is 1st), obviously, critic didnt fall in love because you cant be before yourself, so assume low fell in love. then critic must come before him, and he cannot, since that would put critic befoe low, which contradicts statement 1. therefore, Y.Y. must be the one who fell in love, critic comes before Y.Y., which means that to fill the 2 spaces, low is first, then critic, then Y.Y.

for the umbrella part, there really is no other way to do it.

Nice try, but no cigar. Your observation holds for (1) and (2) but not for (3). That is, there must have been someone who saw Caliban in a green tie, else statement (1) is superfluous. Likewise, Y.Y. must not have been in Oxford in 1920, else statement (2) is superfluous. The catch with (3) is that the first part does not have to be true. If we know for some reason that Critic did not come before the one who first fell in love then (3) implies that Low is second. This is brought out moderately clearly in the analysis. I must admit that rereading that puzzle (and the solution) makes my head hurt.
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This page was last updated July 13, 2004.

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