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Letters to the Editor, January 2005


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 And, of course, anything marked not for publication is not for publication.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 January 2005.

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

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Other Correspondence Pages


From: Nikola Novak
Date: 1/25/2005
Subj: The Confessions of Ayn Rand

Dear Richard Harter,

I have recently come across your web site, to find a page talking about Ayn Rand. The page is located at http://richardhartersworld.com/~cri/1999/rand.html I wish to ask you where you found the information that is written on that page, for I must stress that very little of the information written there is true. For example, it is true that Ayn Rand wrote The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, but they were never published as one book. Moreover, neither of the books praises God - Ayn Rand was a passionate atheist.

The book The Confessions of Ayn Rand, according to my knowledge, does not exist, and the search on Google for "Varonima Press" (your page states that this is the publisher) returned no results.

Finally, Ayn Rand was never famed for her work among the poor. She, in fact, devised a philosophy which specifically stated that donating to the poor must have selfish motives in order to be moral. Her work among the poor which you compare to that of Mother Theresa, would be unselfish, therefore immoral.

There is other information on the page which is incorrect. Which is why I would like you to tell me where you got it from. The spreading of such lies about a great philosopher is a great insult to those studying her philosophy and it must be stopped at its root.

Also, if you want information about who Ayn Rand really was, I'd be happy to send some of it to you for publishing on your web site. I will not tell you to take the page off the Internet, because it is your page and you decide what kind content you will have, but I should tell you that no Objectivist will sanction the existence of such a page and if necessary, the spreading of false information, which can be interpreted as violation of Section 2, subsection i) Copyright or trademark infringement of the Earthlink's AUP, will be reported to Earthlink, which to my understanding is your host.

For this reason, I hope this issue is resolved quickly.

It is quite good to hear from you. As you so perceptively note, very little of the information on the page is factually true. Perhaps a reason for this distressing reality will occur to you. Then again, perhaps not.

Just as a note, the name of the purported publisher is Varinoma, not Varonima. Varinoma Press is the publisher of quite a few non-existent books, of which The Confessions of Ayn Rand is only one.

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From: Lee
Date: 1/24/2005
Subj: THE IMPORTANCE OF A COMMA

Poor barb(you son of a bitch--Jan 6,2005). I read what you wrote and whether it is about Jane Austin or Jane Austen--it, as barb said, "is definately not about her asshole."

Your point is well taken, but nonetheless she managed to find the bullshit despite the missing asshole.
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From: Peter Neilson
Date: 1/23/2005
Subj: Excursions in time

One notes with rye amusement the "last revised" date on your web page at http://richardhartersworld.com/cri/1996/review.html

The date is correct; one does not suppose that it should have been made public. No harm done - no one will believe the date.
One is at a loss to understand what ARPAnet protocol you might have been using to support the page, and how you would have come upon the specifications for HTML at that early date. In 1976 the folks at BBN, SRI and such places were still working out bugs in telnet and ftp. But you were blithely unaware of such difficulties, and wrote up a web page, probably editing it with TECO.
Of course. There were other editors available at the time but no real programmer would have used anything other than TECO. I had planned to use frontpage but it wasn't available; there was a beta version of it called backpage, but I really didn't like the HTML it turned out.

Rereading "The Man Who Folded Himself" and the "The girl, the gold watch and everything," I remain

Richard Harter

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From: Internetairport Term11 FMO
Date: 1/21/2005
Subj: TALK

HI WHAT U UP TO JUST NEED A FRIEND TO TALK TO

----------
NOTE:This E-Mail was sent from a public access SiteKiosk Internet terminal. Since the operators did not create this E-Mail they are not responsible for the content of this message.http://www.sitekiosk.com

My very thought; I'm not responsible myself. Some things are not meant to be, and this internet conversation appears to be one of them.
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From: Adam East
Date: 1/18/2005
Subj: You are off your nut

Ayn Rand believed in the Human Spirit. Not the spirit of any god. Read any of her literature and that will be very apparent. I cannot believe how anyone could be so far from the truth. It is utterly amazing. Does your ignorance know no bounds?

I dunno. I'm sure my ignorance must have bounds but I don't know where they are. Fortunately I am blessed with perceptive readers who bring me to brook, pointing out the errors of my ways.

By the way, which page on my site triggered your outrage?

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From: Peter Ayres
Date: 1/11/2005
Subj: Piltdown Man

Dear Mr. Harter,
I have just read your page on the Piltdown hoax. Does there exist a list of persons who were members of the Sussex archeological society at the time of the discovery?

I don't know of a list, but I would imagine that there is. The problem is finding it. I will do a bit of checking and see if I or one or my readers can come up with.
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From: The good cook
Date: 1/8/2005
Subj: Pecan-crusted chicken tenders recipe enclosed

Pecan-Crusted Chicken Tenders and Salad with Tangy Maple Barbecue Dressing From Rachael Ray's 30-Minute Meals 2

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Vegetable oil, for frying
1 & 1/3 to 2 pounds chicken tenders
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs, beaten with a splash of milk or water
1 cup plain bread crumbs
1 cup pecans, finely chopped in a food processor
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated or ground
The zest of 1 orange Dressing
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup tangy barbecue sauce
The juice of 1 navel orange
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 hearts of romaine lettuce, shredded
6 radishes, thinly sliced
6 scallions, trimmed and chopped on an angle
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Heat 1 & 1/2 to 2 inches oil over medium-high heat in a skillet.

Season chicken tenders with salt and pepper. Set out 3 shallow dishes. Place flour in one, eggs beaten with water or milk in a second. In the third dish, combine bread crumbs with ground pecans, nutmeg, and orange zest. Coat tenders in batches in flour, then egg, then bread crumbs and pecans. Fry tenders in small batches, 6 to 7 minutes, and drain them on paper towels.

For dressing, combine maple syrup, barbecue sauce and orange juice in a bowl. Whisk in oil, and set aside while cooking the chicken tenders.

Combine romaine, radishes, and scallions in large salad bowl or on a serving platter. Toss with 3/4 of the dressing. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Top with pecan-crusted chicken tenders and drizzle remaining dressing over top.

Now there is spam that I can relate to.
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From: barb
Date: 1/6/2005
Subj: You son of a bitch!!

You son of a bitch!! because of you i wrote an entire paper full of bullshit on what i believed to be Jane Austin! your site is definately not about her asshole!! take the damn site off the internet you idiot!!

I grieve for you, though your instructor's comments on your paper must have been priceless. I hope your little lesson about checking your sources has not cost you a grade.

By the way, was your paper supposed to about the famous British author, Jane Austen? If so, I commend to you the thought that care in spelling is part of research.

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From: Madeleine
Date: 1/5/2005
Subj: Nasty words

Dear company, I am complaining about the rude language in the tale stories with a moral It is extremely bad, I am only 10 and I stumble across this while searching for stories on the net PLEASE DO NOT PUT ANY MORE WITH BAD LANGUAGE IN THEM!

I'm sorry to hear that you found stories that offended you. I gather that you may have found one on my web site, although it is a little hard to tell from your letter. For all I know you may be sending me email by mistake - people often do that. I am a little surprised though; my site may have a few "nasty words" in it scattered here and there, but on the whole it is quite mild. I don't plan to change that one way or the other. Anyway, I hope you have better luck in your web reading.

By the way, I am a real human being and not a company.

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From: Peter Neilson
Date: 1/6/2005
Subj: snipping singing nuns

Your web page cut out the part where she sang about the Albigensians, those of the Manichean heresy!

A l'époque où Jean Sans Terre/ D'Angleterre était le roi,/ Dominique, notre Père,/ Combattait les Albigeois.
My non-sequitur turned into an anti-sequitur. How are our readers to understand us? It's hard enough already, given the subject matter of Richard Harter's World, which is all too often mathematics made difficult or some such.
Sorry about that. The special characters did not make it through intact when it arrived here. The snipped portion had more or less turned into rubble.

I wouldn't worry too much about people not understanding us. There is a terrible danger that they will understand us.

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From: Eugenia
Date: 1/4/2005
Subj: Shame on You

It was shameful to say on the early morning show ,now that we have a well know model we can put a Face on Tsunami, of all the thousands of men women and over 12,000 children who lost their lives they too had Faces. Some one need to apologize to those countries for a statement like that.

I'm easy. If you need someone to apologize I'm your man. I hereby apologize to those countries for a statement like that. I opine that my apology doesn't mean much - I have no connection whatsoever with any early morning show. Indeed I haven't seen this face that offends you - morning and I are on the worst of terms. Still, for what it is worth you have my apology.
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From: John
Date: 1/4/2005
Subj: great site

Im currently working on a speech and your collection of anecdotes have supplied a lot of inspiration

Given some of the material on my web site I'm a tad uneasy about what this speech might be about. Be that as it may, I'm glad to have been of service.
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From: Charlie Roosa
Date: 1/3/2005
Subj: Harter family tree

Hello,

I am trying to research my grandmothers (Pearl Harter) family tree.

She was born 1920 and her parent's names were Wilbur Harter & Mabel (Smith) Harter.

My grandmother spent most of her life in Maryland.

Her parents lived on a farm in the Dover, Delaware area.

They had numerous children besides my grandmother and some of their names are Charles, John, Ethel, Marie & Wilbur.

It is my understanding that Charles Harter moved out to the Dakota & Nebraska areas a long time ago and has a very large family.

If you are related or have any details that would help me with this puzzle I would deeply appreciate your help.

I don't think we're related. My grandfather, George Harter, came from Nebraska to South Dakota in 1907. I still have some relatives in Aurora, Nebraska. However my branch of Harters came from Switzerland by way of Pennsylvania.

It's going to being a little tough to track down your Grandmother's kin. There are quite a few Harters in the midwest, but most of them aren't related to each other.

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From: sales
Date: 1/2/2005
Subj: re: Stolen document

Thank you for your enquiry. Our staff will respond to your email as soon as possible.

I believe that this email has reached me by error. I never asked about your stolen document and have no interest in purchasing it.
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From: Peter Neilson
Date: 12/27/2005
Subj: Spending time in questionable places

I got up early this morning. It's almost light outside here in the bleak North Carolina countryside, but no match, I suppose, to the Dark and Bleaker South Dakota Farm Scene where you live, where it's not even five Ante Meridian. If you had a South Dakota dairy farm it would be time to get up and milk the cow.

Being firmly of the belief that there is no such time as five Ante Meridian unless one is staying up very late, I gave up the practice of milking cows some decades ago. I see no reason to resume the practice. It is the sort of thing that one leaves to professionals.
So I was reading one of the literary gems on the Internet, specifically http://richardhartersworld.com/cri/1999/acting.html in which Our Hero again plays a villian, this time an impersonation of Bruce Pelz. For photographic evidence he refers the reader to a 404 by the name of http://richardhartersworld.com/cri/1999/actor.gif when what he intended was http://www.varinoma.com/harter/actor.gif
I suppose that I shall have to fix that.
Around the time that Dijkstra's letter to CACM revealed that the GOTO statement might be harmful, Andrei P. Ershov, the noted computer scientist from Novosibirsk, reported in the same journal that finding errors in a computer program was like finding mushrooms in the forest. (Very Siberian imagery here.) "Having found one," he said, "look for others in the same place." So I did, and actor.gif is not the only one.
I daresay that it is not. This is yet another incident in a long sad story, the shifts undertaken by our hero in the on going struggle to find space for the ever expanding web site. Once upon a time I did business with a company called Tiac, which stood for The Internet Access Company, and located all of my web pages at www.tiac.net/cri. Over time Tiac was acquired by another company that was in turn acquired by still another company. Years passed and my site overflowed my allotted pages. I responded by moving quite a number of the pictures to the varinoma site.

Eventually the last holder of the tiac addresses sold them to Earthlink who gave me a lot more space in the form of eight 10 meg slots. That was nice. What was not so nice was that the address changed to richardhartersworld.com/cri. Somewhere along the way I broke what had been one huge directory into a number of smaller ones, one for each year. To pull this off I had to write a script to scan all the pages and change all of the links. This worked perfectly except for the errors.

Nor was this the end of the story. Earthlink has a 1.05 Gbyte limit on the number of bytes transferred per month. I've been moving the more popular groups of pages off into those extra slots so that I don't overflow the bandwidth limit on my main address. Likewise I regularly move stuff out of the main address to less populated addresses. It's all a mess.

Be that as it may, I suppose I should scan the html sources for image links and clean up the broken ones. I will definitely do it before the next millennium.

What do you think of my taking up the profession of preefrooder of web pages? I seem to have hit upon a mother lode of bad hrefs, right in the back yard of Richard Harter's World. And there are other lousy sites in that Bottom 95%. Is there money in it?
Rest assured that there lots of bad hrefs in many other sites. The entire web could do with a severe amount of peer fooding. Alas, there is no money in it, at least not in these environs. The Concord Research Institute has a very limited budget and a lousy fair attitude towards typos.
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From: Peter Neilson
Date: 12/20/2004
Subj: Kill them all ... "Neca eos omnes. Deus suos agnoset"

Mr. Harter,
In your report on ideologues you mention that you've not been able to substantiate the author of "kill them all".

I recommend a web page, http://www.medievalchurch.org.uk/h_cath_alb.html that seems to have some good information. They ascribe the quote to Arnold, Abbot of Citeaux.

One is reminded (that's polite shorthand for "here's another non-sequitur I've dragged in") of Soeur Sourire, the Belgian "Singing Nun", and her words about about St. Dominic, the founder of her order:

Dominique, nique, nique
S'en allait tout simplement,
Routier, pauvre et chantant
En tous chemins, en tous lieux,
Il ne parle que du Bon Dieu,
Il ne parle que du Bon Dieu

[snip]

The heresy was apparantly Manichean, holding that there were balanced forced of good and evil. See this account: http://cire.henri.free.fr/french/cathares_f/Divers/albigeois.html or the Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manichaeism

The site you mention is a good if rather compressed account of the Carthari. The difficulty I have is that I have also read that there is no actual solid documentation that the Abbot of Citeaux actually uttered those words. Unfortunately I don't recall where I read it. I have the impression that the evial one informed me of it. If so, no doubt he will correct the both of us.
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From: Peter Neilson
Date: 12/24/2004
Subj: Bottom 95 % now Braille captioned

Merry Christmas, Mr. Harter!

Your front page has a neat thingee about "braille captioned for the vision impaired" which I take to mean it's for the blind, or maybe their dogs. So with fear and trepidation and other things running through my anatomy I clicked on it.

I didn't go blind, but I didn't see anything either. Instead it told me this:

Forbidden
You don't have permission to access /icon/icon.html on this server.

Apache/1.3.33 Server at www.thecorporation.tv Port 80

How do I get permission? Or did it detect that I wasn't blind, and it's trying to keep me out of blind secrets that are none of my business?

Alas, the domain name, thecorporation.com, has changed hands. Once upon a time thecorporation proudly announced that it owned your boss. Their web site showed pictures of mysterious machinery and happy workers dressed in the styles of the 50's. They also had numerous neat icons that one could download. Currently thecorporation.com is the home page of a documentary entitled "The Corporation." The credits read:
Starring 7 CEOs, 3 VPs, 2 Whistleblowers, and 1 really big mess
With Michael Moore, Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein and Milton Friedman as themselves. Special guest star: The FBI's top consultant on psychopaths.
In short the usual crew for that sort of thing. You might look at http://www.thecorporation.com/about/ - it's vintage activist rhetoric. I suppose I shall have to pull the links; the original "thecorporation" had some charm; this one is what it is.
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