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Letters to the Editor, October 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 And, of course, anything marked not for publication is not for publication.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 October 2005.

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

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Other Correspondence Pages


From: john crimson
Date: 10/20/2005
Subj: piltdown man

Dear Sir,
In 1986 I was working in Auckland School of Medecine New Zealand when I met the old Professor of Dentistry,Richard Taylor.The faculty was moving him to a smaller room as he became less important in his old age,he was 87 at the time.As I helped him move his fascinating collection of skulls,fossils,books etc he told me a little story about the Piltdown man.About 1933 he was examining a cast of the jaw and teeth of the Piltdown man and came to the conclusion that it was a fake because the wear on the teeth was all wrong.He wrote to his English peers of his findings,but in his words"such news from the colonies challenging the greatest English minds at the time, was ignored".Look who had the last laugh,a 'lowly' nz dentist.

Thanks for writing. A remarkable thing about the Piltdown hoax was the obviousness of the hoax - once it had been exposed. Others could have seen what Professor Taylor saw. Still, the matter is not simple.

Whatever the event, whatever the claim, there are always skeptics. There are people who believe that the moon landings were a hoax, that Einstein was a deluded fraud, and that evolution is an atheistic conspiracies. Such persons poison discourse. It is all too easy to mistake honest criticism for the rantings of a crackpot.

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From: Aaron Koshorek
Date: 10/17/2005
Subj: thank you so much

hello
to whoever created the ste that i am emailing from i thank you greatly. I only am doing this because if i spent my valuable time making a site this great then i would appreciate some thanks for doing it. Well i had to do some understanding on "The Cole Equations" and well...i won't ramble on. Thank you so much for making such a great site..it was easy to follow and it helped me out very much. I appreciate it.

You're welcome, and thanks for expressing your appreciation. If you're doing a paper may I suggest that you take more care with your spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Teachers are often fussy about such matters.
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From: John Wheater
Date: 10/10/2005
Subj: Petra

You're right, it IS hard to find.
thanks...
But, hang on, the scansion demands 'as if' for 'as' in line 3,
n'est-ce-pas?

This is not an easy question to answer. As you say, the scansion implies "as if" rather than "as". A search on the web turns up about half a dozen copies. I suspect that what has happened is that a google search turns up http://www.cs.rice.edu/~ssiyer/minstrels/poems/487.html first. As it happens, this version is missing the "if". If memory, that fickle mistress of misbegotten references, serves me properly, that is where I got the version I posted.

The best reference I can find on the web purports to been have copied from "BEST LOVED POEMS OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE ed. Hazel Felleman (Garden City Publishing Co., 1936)". It has that vexing "if". Incidentally this source also claims that the original title of the poem was Pedra rather than Petra. It might be so.

The difficulty with the web as a resource is that there is no provenance for information. Anybody can say anything and can copy anything without attribution.

Anyway, thanks for calling this to my attention. I will follow up on this and see what I can turn up.

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From: Peter Neilson
Date: 10/10/2005
Subj: flynnd>>flynndlog&

In http://richardhartersworld.com/cri/1998/miller.html
erroneous text "published poshumously"
correct text "published posthumously"

Thank you. This correction will be published posthumously.
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From: Lois Harter
Date: 10/6/2005
Subj: Lyrics Request: Beach Boys - 409

Lyrics from http://lyrics.astraweb.com

Lois Harter has sent you some lyrics!

As all true Californians know, the guru B. (Brian) Wilson is of The Beach Boys variety. You and Deb obviously need to come visit and soak up some of that California Culture....

I will say that this confirms all that I have suspected about California Culture. It's a frightening thought, but there it is.
[snip lyrics: Gaak]
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From: Michel Durinx
Date: 10/5/2005
Subj: memorizing digits of pi

Surely not! Your correspondent is the esteemed
root@eruditorum.org whom I quote:

Enoch [Root] shrugs modestly. "Where I grew up, memorizing the digits of Pi was the closest thing we had to entertainment"
--Neal Stephenson, "Cryptonomicon"
Perhaps the eminently educated Enoch eloquently enumerated the digits of Pi but he wasn't my correspondent. Rather he is witness that there were others besides my correspondent who indulged in the practice.
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From: ashley
Date: 4/12/2005
Subj: idiot

you are such an idiot to display such crap about an author of such prestige and to make a joke of her life and work

I have every confidence that you are right. I am perplexed on one point though - which author are you talking about?

[Note: The date is correct. I gather that hotmail is rather slow in getting their mail out.]

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From: Peter Neilson
Date: 9/23/2005
Subj: Coast-to-coast by horse

I had written:

...tall equipment rack. It's another item in the long list of things that I have never done, along with being a short order cook and riding horseback from the Atlantic coast to the Pacific coast.
I think the coast-to-coast riding would be the most feasible. There are innumerable horseowners along the way (unless you try to travel through the Badlands or such) who would be happy to help with stabling and horsetrading. There are wagon-train outfits that do this sort of thing. You might join up with one of them. There is safety in numbers--ask any horse.
Our Lady of the Large Black Dog did the wagon-train thing in her youth. Wagon-train reenactments are quite popular in western South Dakota; for such events the participants need open country and plenty of spare time - South Dakota supplies both.

A chap named Dennis stayed at my place overnight last year whilst attempting to make his way from New England to Oregon on bicycle. He started a bit late and got defeated by the Rockies somewhere in Montana.

Bicycles, horses, either way the trip takes a substantial amount of time.

You would not succeed as a short-order cook. You are too imaginative, and would begin to take liberties with the orders. We already know this from your military service, and I rather doubt that you are looking for MORE orders at this stage of your life.
Good point, although I have observed many short-order cooks taking liberties with the orders.
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From: Lee
Date: 10/1/2005
Subj: DISGUSTING PROCESS

Please to expound on the digusting process it(sake) was originally made(if you know). Also to make this a complete letter--hey dude where's my money!

I was sort of curious about that disgusting process myself. We shall see if Mr. Hitchcock will illuminate our minds. In any event, I think he has your money.

... continued on next rock ...

Why wait when one has wikipedia. Apparently since rice and water just left together produce mold, an entire village chews rice, spits in a tub and this is then fermented. And that is indeed DISGUSTING!!!

I rather fancy that I didn't want to know that. A truly happy life depends upon being ignorant of a surprising number of things.
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From: Peter Neilson
Date: 9/30/2005
Subj: flynnd>>flynndlog&

002005.09.30.1420Z
found in: http://richardhartersworld.com/cri_b/pages/pages1996.html
found in: http://richardhartersworld.com/cri//2002/edit029.html
404 value: http://richardhartersworld.com/cri/1996/toon.html
proper value: google "cartoon laws of physics"

This is one is difficult; I have toon.html stashed away somewhere; I removed it at one point in the past because it was overly large. I have this problem with space, you know. I will attend to the matter though. I am not quite certain whether I will delete the references or restore it in one of the annexes.
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From: Robert Eggleton
Date: 10/1/2005
Subj: Rarity from the Hollow Update

Since I last wrote, "Rarity" has received a few blurbs. More are pending. I reiterate my request for one from you. Please see: www.fatcatpress.com The first blurb is on the publisher's site. Following are some more. I'll email the ms on instruction.

"RARITY FROM THE HOLLOW is one of those strange and exciting bits of literature that captures you with its uniqueness and then lingers on your mind, reasserting itself from time to time to remind you that your reality may not be everyone else's. A rich and original work, full of aspects and images that are certain to make it worth recommending to friends you wish to impress. Not for everyone, but for those ready to embrace the offbeat, a welcome surprise." -William F. DeVault, author, LOVE GODS OF A FORGOTTEN RELIGION

"An unlikely pair, the strange Lacy Dawn and her sent-to-Earth android DotCom take the reader on a wildly improbable and sometimes disturbing romp from rural Appalachia to an alien shopping mall as Lacy attempts to save the world, heal her parents, and fall in love." --Mary Rosenblum, author, "THE DRYLANDS," "CHIMERA," "THE STONE GARDEN," and "SYNTHESIS AND OTHER VIRTUAL REALITIES"

"Robert Eggleton is a gifted storyteller of boundless imagination and masterful skill. *Rarity from the Hollow* is a dark, humorous and suspenseful science-fantasy story that showcases Eggleton's expert characterization, description and dialogue. His frank and honest portrayal of poverty in rural Appalachia is reminiscent of Stephen King's use of "everyday horrors" to create a convincing sense of dread. Eggleton counters the story's dark mood with touches of warmth and humor, la Ray Bradbury. I look forward to reading more from this rare, original author." --J. D. Nelson http://www.MadVerse.com

"The book reached straight for my heart-strings and played them masterfully. The book is well-written, so much so that its emotions beat stronger than in most any other book I've read. --Brent P. Newhall http://brent.other-space.com/"

"...the subject matter is dark and strong, unflinching in its portrayal of human darkness, and not for the faint-hearted or easily offended. Robert Eggleton is not afraid of employing complex style and structure to fit the needs of his story. The mixture of sci-fi, gritty reality, humour, and the mode of thriller reminds me a great deal of Dean Koontz's writing, and Robert Eggleton may indeed have the potential to follow in Dean Koontz's footsteps." --Kevin Patrick Mahoney Authortrek

"Lacy Dawn is my kinda gal, and "Rarity From the Hollow" is my kinda book. Set in rural Appalachia, it dishes up courses of the offbeat, the unusual, and blends them into a superb main course of good storytelling. This book tells me that we'll be hearing much more from Robert Eggleton, much more, and it won't come a moment too soon for me." --Ed Williams, Syndicated Columnist of Free Wheelin and author of "Rough as a Cob: More Juliette Journals"

"Rarity is one helluva a read. Buy it." - Allan Cole, "The Timura Trilogy," "Dying Good"

Thank you for writing. You have my permission to use the following blurb:
"Rarity from the Hollow" is an outstanding example of novels of its type. I can heartily recommend it to all who would enjoy reading it.
-- Richard Harter

... continued on next rock ...

In addition to the blurb, something that might be helpful would be if you find a place to mention "Rarity from the Hollow" on your site. I'm sure you remember that a portion of any proceeds has been designated to prevent child abuse. Also, as a therapist in a children's mental health program, it was written to sensitize and bond readers to this cause. Thanks for your consideration.

The above information will appear on my web site.
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From: Henning Strandin
Date: 10/1/2005
Subj: Regarding vowels and booze

While sipping on the contents of a glass of Cardhu, I found myself reading the exchange between you and Mr. Hitchcock, regarding unpronounceable liqueur names and the potential qualities of Hawaiian whisky. At the point where you wondered if it were possible to make pineapple beer, I was reminded of the coconut vodka I had in Samoa. It was called "Voka" and while perhaps not a sophisticated taste like Scotch, it was pleasant enough and did the job. (And it came in a charming and practical plastic bottle.) And look, one less consonant.

When I was in Panama some of the enterprising gentlemen in my outfit distilled an alcoholic drink from coconut. As I recall it wasn't called anything as pretentious as coconut vodka; rather it was simply called jungle juice. I imagine that the difference is that they weren't manufacturing it for the tourist trade.
Manoia!
(That's "cheers" in Samoan. It may look like a mouthful, but it's easier to say than "Ua puna muamua le vai inu?"--has the drinking water been boiled?)
I would imagine that manoia rhymes with paranoia, the difference being that ma's are happy folks whereas para's are marginal people. Incidentally it isn't technically a rhyme, but I don't recall the precise term. Google and extended stays in houses of correction are available for those who insist on knowing.
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From: Anthony R. Lewis, PhD, FN
Date: 10/3/2005
Subj: NESFA removation and conundrum

recently NESFA rebuilt the pad outside the rear door. The define the size of the pad, it had forms BUT, on the other hand, being concrete it was non-Platonic. How can we resolve this contradiction?

I don't quite see a contradiction here. The forms define the size of the pad but are not the pad itself. As you may check for yourself the forms, being ideal, are not present in the material world whereas the pad, being concrete, is present.

Always remember that the shadows in Plato's cave were concrete - ancient Greece had advanced construction techniques.

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From: Peter Neilson
Date: 9/30/2005
Subj: flynnd>>flynndlog&

002005.09.30.1345Z
found in: http://richardhartersworld.com/cri_b/pages/pages1997.html
404 value: http://richardhartersworld.com/cri_b/pages/darwin/darwin97.html
proper value: http://richardhartersworld.com/cri_b/darwin/moredar.html

A change request for this problem report has been created and has been forwarded to scheduling.
002005.09.30.1400Z
found in: http://richardhartersworld.com/cri/1996/language.html
missing entries: Forth, Java, Perl, Python
Java, Perl, Python were not computer languages in 1996; at least they weren't real computer languages. Forth is an assembly language for a machine that (I hope!) doesn't exist.
002005.09.30.1405Z
found in: http://richardhartersworld.com/cri_b/pages/pages1996.html
"404" value: http://richardhartersworld.com/cri/1996/infantry.html
proper value: http://richardhartersworld.com/cri_a/military/infantry.html
Some doubt whether the infantry actually is in the military. Policy here is to avoid religious arguments - the correction has been sent to the proper authority.

... continued on next rock ...

The 1996 piece clearly requires updating. It should not be too much trouble to build a Forth machine out of readily available hardware. I used to have a PDP-8E-and-a-half in my basement. If I remember the name of the lucky person I gave it to, you can probably get enough scrap DEC hardware from him (I think he has LOTS of stuff) to build about anything you want, if reliability, cooling and portability are of small concern. The E-and-a-half (almost an F, see) was built by Jack O'Connor (better known on tenor banjo and mandolin) and Steve Hopkins out of scrap the two of them acquired when both worked at DEC. They had to re-knit the core memory which had been destroyed "to protect the proprietary nature of software." You'll need a wire-wrap gun. I think they are now mostly obsolete.

Color me excessively envious. Modern computers (the desk top kind) have no cachet. Real computers either were at least desk sized or else they were mounted on an equipment rack. I never got around to putting together my very own seven foot tall equipment rack. It's another item in the long list of things that I have never done, along with being a short order cook and riding horseback from the Atlantic coast to the Pacific coast.

IIANM though, one can download PDP-8 and PDP-11 emulators from the net. I suppose one cobble together a switch panel and connect it to a PC via a usb port. I miss rocker switch panels.

I call 'em as I see 'em. The forwarding page looked pretty crufty to me. Some people wonder about the difference between the infantry and the adultery.
The latter precedes the former.
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From: Chip Hitchcock
Date: 9/29/2005
Subj: 808

I believe both you and the esteemed Professor Neilson are incorrect. Errors increment, such that 6 404's will give you a 409 -- in which case you have a problem; as the great guru B. Wilson informs us, "Nothing can catch my 409."

In my experience errors multiply, much like rabbits. Some persons, not you or I of course, discover that during debugging two new bugs are added for each one removed. For this reason some say that programs start out in a state of as much perfection as they can muster, and then degenerate rapidly thereafter as they are improved.

Be that as it may, I don't recognize the great guru B. Wilson, and know nothing of his 409. Is this something I should check into? The only 409 I know of is a cleaning fluid.

I lead such a sheltered life.

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From: Chip Hitchcock
Date: 10/1/2005
Subj: Pineapple beer

I had asked: I wonder if you can make pineapple beer.
Technically not; beer starts with starch rather than sugar. (Hence the observation that sake is really beer rather than wine, not to mention the disgusting process by which it was originally produced.) I'm sure somebody has tried making pineapple wine; the results I leave to your imagination.
The notion is sufficiently odd that I felt it warranted a google search. The search turned up 519 hits, including some recipes. I'm not sure of the legitimacy of the product nor of the quality. From the first hit on the subject of odd beers:
I had two sips of the pineapple beer and poured it down the sink.
I had one sip of the lemon beer and poured it down the toilet.
There were 1290 hits on potato beer. Potatoes certainly have plenty of starch. I don't know about the quality but I like the name, Spotted Tongue Golden Potato Beer. Maybe the "spotted tongue" refers to what your tongue looks like after drinking it.

Pineapple wine turned up 19,300 hits which a bit more than the 15,00 hits for tomato wine.

... continued on next rock ...

A fair cop; "X beer" can mean "beer with X" rather than "beer made from X", and X has a large range of values. (Sometime when you're in civilization, look in a large liquor store for lambics by Liefman or Timmerman.) I'm not surprised that lemon and pineapple didn't work; there are some things that Just Don't Go with hops.

I'm not quite sure how far I would have to go to be that civilized.

I informed Our Lady of the Large Black Dog of the great pineapple beer issue. I believe her response was, "Oh, yuck".

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From: Jerry Kuperberg
Date: 9/23/2005
Subj: DOG MOANING

MY DOG MOANS WHEN HE SLEEPS -- VERY LOUD AT TIMES??????

I'm not quite sure why you told me this, or what you expect me to do about it, but I certainly thank you for the information.

Oddly enough the Large Black Dog also moans, albeit not in his sleep. Instead he does it when he is begging and is getting impatient for a response. Perhaps your dog's moaning means that he is dreaming about getting a treat.

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From: Peter Neilson
Date: 9/28/2005
Subj: Far Above, Cayuga's Pumpkin

The folks at Cornell have chosen to move their pumpkin. The story of the vegetable's demise, instead of being at http://www.news.cornell.edu/Chronicles/3.19.98/pumpkin_plummets.html as you relate at the end of http://richardhartersworld.com/~cri/1997/pumpkin.html is now better hidden, at http://www.news.cornell.edu/Chronicle/98/3.19.98/pumpkin_plummets.html

Your reference to the original pumpkin story remains valid.

Thank you for the information. I will emend the page in question.
Perhaps you failed to realize when you embarked on website creation that website maintenance was part of the deal. Have you considered writing a daemon (you could use a cron job, I suppose) that will occasionally check the validity of your links, and e-mail you a nastygram to summarize the decrepit ones? You owe as much to your faithful readers.
Some, not I of course, take the view that I already have a daemon that checks the validity of my links and that sends me such nastygrams. Be that as it may, I am deeply grateful for your continuing efforts on behalf of my unfortunate and hapless readers.
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From: Heather Sanders
Date: 8/25/2005
Subj: read this!!

(nothing whatsoever)

Done!!
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From: Faithful reader
Date: 10/1/2005
Subj: Memorizing pi

Has anyone else picked up the seemingly useless habit of learning infinite digits of pi by memory?

My, the things that this younger generation gets up to. In my day all our digits were finite. The only person I ever knew that had learned an infinite number of digits of pi was little Freddy Singer. At least we supposed that he knew an infinite number. The first word out of his mouth was three and he just kept going on from there. The way I hear it he got a good job with IBM as a random number generator. He came to a bad end though. One day a VP came through and heard him spouting off seven sevens in a row. The VP thought he was faking it and fired poor Freddy on the spot. Nowadays he's a bum on the bowery where he drinks cheap wine and mumbles a lot.
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