home
Site map
March 2006 TOC
Archived letters
email


Letters to the Editor, March 2006


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 And, of course, anything marked not for publication is not for publication.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 March 2006.

Index of contributors

Other Correspondence Pages


From: Sam Hine
Date: 2/26/2006
Subj: opinion piece submission

It has been a few months since I last sent you a new commentary by writer and social critic Johann Christoph Arnold of Rifton, New York. Could you please consider publishing this piece? Arnold is the author of ten books, including Endangered: Your Child in a Hostile World. Call me any time if you have questions, and let me know by e-mail if you are able to use it.

We have a little problem here. I disagree quite heartily with the sentiments and viewpoints of the piece. I am willing to publish Arnold's article on the understanding that I will accompany it with a counterpoint article of dissenting opinion. If this is acceptable, please let me know.
Return to index of contributors

From: Frank Makinson
Date: 3/12/2006
Subj: MathSOL

Your one page, http://www.varinoma.com/varinoma/index.html has a page reference that is invalid. The pointer to "Richard Harter's World" use the URL of http://www.tiac.net/users/cri/ and that gives a 404 error.

Thanks for calling my attention to the bad link. I've fixed it.
I sent an attachment in early July 2005 with the subject title, but you stated you hadn't found time to read it. I have redone the material in the attachment to make it easier to understand and will attach it with a new name, ScientificUnits.pdf (13k). One could have concluded that the MathSOL article required a different set of scientific units, but perhaps my attachment makes it easier to see how they were developed.

I am not the original author of the concept, as the dimensional data set that described the concept was in an old publication, but the author of the dimensional set was not identified.

I took a look at the paper, but, to tell the truth, it didn't make a lot of sense to me. No doubt I am missing something. The issues I have include:
  1. I do not understand the motivation for multiplying by the cosecant parameters. As far as I can see they introduce an unnecessary complication.
  2. I do not see where you get your unit of time, S-sub-T, from. You give a physical constant for the unit of length, but none for the unit of time.
  3. I do not see any reason for regarding the wavelength of 21 cm line as being any more scientific than the cesium hyperfine ground state transition. In either case units are based on conveniently measurable physical constants.
  4. In your "seamless translation" it appears that you are using theta to do a numerical translation of units from one system to another. If this is what is going on, you need to make it clear.
Just as a final note, a common strategy in physics is to choose units so that the important constants, e.g., the speed of light and the planck's constant, have numerical values of one. The choice, I suppose, depends on which equations you wish to simplify.
Return to index of contributors

From: Nate Carlucci
Date: 3/15/2006
Subj: http://richardhartersworld.com/~cri/1998/anastasia.html

i just wanted to let you know that i found your page on the movie anastasia from a while back. http://richardhartersworld.com/cri/1998/anastasia.html

of particular interest to me was your rant about the Zeotrope Theatre and Franklin, MA. I'm not sure if you remember it or not. I worked at the Zeotrope for the last 6 years and attended frequently the first 21 years of my life. I thought it might be of interest to you to know that it was recently closed and demolishe. Tragically. I personally fought hard to save it, starting a petition with about 1,000 signitures. The townspeople wanted the theatre to stay, but the money of the developer prevailed. The theatre was still thriving until it's last day, on which it was sold out.

I just thought I'd let you know I appreciated your mentioning of it (facts were a little off about Franklin and about the Theatre but I enjoyed it nonetheless). Good luck with the web site

Rant!!? I will have you know that I write entertaining personal journalism. Mmmphh.

Oh yes, I remember the Zeotrope. You inspired me to read that essay of mine; reading it invoked a flood of nostalgia. In its way the Zeotrope was quite wonderful, not only for its eccentric construction and its inexpensive prices, but also for its name. Now that I think on it, what is the origin of the name? Google turns up lots of entries for "zeotrope" but the only definition I could find was "Zeotrope is a liquid mixture that shows no maximum or minimum when vapor pressure is plotted against composition at constant temperature" which doesn't sound theatrical.

In any event, I am sorry to hear that it's gone.

Return to index of contributors

From: Anthony R. Lewis, PhD, FN
Date: 3/16/2006
Subj: Forward into the past

is it true that the SD legislature will be passing a constitutional amendment to restrict the franchise to white male protestants?

Completely untrue. OTOH I wouldn't be surprised if they passed a constitutional amendment banning evolution.

The latest on the abortion nonsense is that some group from Madison (Wisconsin's answer to Berekely and Cambridge) wanted to campaign to get a referendum on the ballot. The SD right-to-lifers and right-to-choicers united in telling "them" that they would do it themselves, thank you, and we don't want no goddamn furriners from the US interfering. So the bill may go on the ballot. The latest polls say it will go down to defeat 57%-43%. I assume that the 57% is comprised of 50% women and 7% intelligent men.

The great advantage of this imbroglio is that lots of outside groups will come into South Dakota and spend money on propaganda. This sort of thing has become a major source or revenue for the state.

Return to index of contributors

From: Stefan Wöhrmann
Date: 3/11/2006
Subj: AW: mental arithmetic thanks for your information on your website

thank you so much for this lesson.

Can you believe ... all the deaf boys of my class just feel like superman because they can do this number- trick you taught us in such an excellent way, that I could understand that myself and I could explain that to my students.

With high speed they can write down the whole table - and yes - we feel lucky and proud!!

[snip table of fifth powers]

Just allow me two additional questions:

If somebody gives us their fifth power of their number you get the last digit from the fifth power.

(Well what is the range the person can deliberately choose a secret number maybe 1 - 40? What if the number after stripping off the last 5 becomes to high? ))

It won't. Once you strip off the last five digits you get a number that has five digits at most. Find the first digit from the table.
2. Is there another trick you can share?
Here is a simple one. Suppose you want to square a number that ends in five. Remove the last digit. Call the result n. Multiply n by n+1 and put a 25 on the end. For example: suppose you want to square 35. Multiply 3 and 4 to get 12. Tack on 25 to get 1225. Another example, to square 75, multiply 7 by 8 and append 25 to get 5625.
Return to index of contributors

From: Peter Neilson
Date: 3/1/2006
Subj: the toilet seat problem

At 06:20 AM 3/11/06 -0500, you wrote: A Mr. John McIntosh agrees with you on this problem, but the two of you have overlooked the obvious. The Germans (of course) have a solution. Google for "dreaded sitzpinkel". Better yet, check out http://asecular.com/~scott/misc/toilet.htm

Chortle. Once upon a time I had a small volume that detailed an ergonomic toilet. The author felt that the standard porcelain throne was deficient in quite a few respects, male spattering and scattering being only one of them. According to him the seats are poorly engineered. Alas, the volume has disappeared. The German toilet is the precise opposite - it is the non-ergonomic toilet.
Return to index of contributors

From: Joe
Date: 3/13/2006
Subj: Creation vs. Evolution

I noticed that you had stated, in return to one of your contributors comments about creation, that there are "minor difficulties" in Creation. Even if that is so, which it is not, what about the major difficulties in evolution. There are, by far, many more major difficulties and mistakes with evolution than the minor difficulties that you claim are in Creation. First of all, how did evolution start in the first place? Where are all the missing links which would take one type of animal to the next? I could go on, but there is no need to as just these two questions are more than evolutionists have been able to answer since the debate started.

Well, Joe, it is good to hear from you and I look forward to hearing from you again in the next century. The phrasing, "minor difficulties", was a bit of genial understatement - the "difficulties" are manifest and major. Being the clever chap that you are, I'm sure you appreciate this.

Be all of that as it may, I am trifle puzzled by what you think you mean by your two questions. As to the first, evolution got started as soon as there was primitive life, and it operated much as it does today, via variation and natural selection. If you meant to ask, how did life get started, that is a different question. The answer is that we don't know at present - it is only recently that we have even begun to have the scientific knowledge to attempt to reconstruct the workings of a bit of complex biochemistry that happened upwards of 3.8 billion years ago. Regardless of how life got started on Earth (I'm fond of the time traveller who threw away a half eaten ham salad sandwich myself) evolution is what happened (and is happening) after it got started.

As to your second, it really doesn't make much sense. Do we know where the transitional animals (and plants, and fungi, and protists, and prokaryotes) are - they are long dead, their bodies are eaten, recycled, buried, or otherwise destroyed. There is no mystery about that. Some, a very small minority of the quintillions of life forms that have existed in the last few billion years, have left there remains in the earth where diligent paleontologists have been digging them up. So there are lots of links. The museums are full of them. Of course we don't have all of the links, so there are always going to be "missing links".

The truth of the matter is that the substantive debate between evolution and creationism was over and settled in the nineteenth century, although there is always the ten percent that doesn't get the word. Do write again when you get caught up to the twenty first century.

Return to index of contributors

From: Ralph D Anderson
Date: 3/11/2006
Subj: hurt

(nothing)

Take two aspirin and don't call me in the morning.
Return to index of contributors

From: Peter Neilson
Date: 3/8/2006
Subj: Kitchen Blues]

Installing the tile goes faster if you are drunk. My grandfather reported that when he had a house built in 1930 (after having sold a large amount of stock in 1929, just before the crash, and no I don't know his secret of prognostication) the workman who installed the red tile floor in the east porch was drunk. The workman found that he could speed the installation by not worrying about making the tiles level. They were at odd angles to one another, slightly, but everything soon solidified, so even if he worried about it, there was little he could do. My grandfather trusted the man and did not notice the bad work until the man had been paid.

This is the very scheme I plan to use.
To this day the tiles on that porch show the shoddy work, reminding one and all of the joys of doing work while drunk.
The error was to use red tiles. Just as there are certain colors of clothes and cars that don't show the dirt, so there are certain colors of tiles that don't show the workmanship.
What kind of wine did you bring back from Italy?
A bottle of Chianti and a bottle of Barolo. However there is a local filling station that sells wine in bulk. We don't anticipate difficulties with the work.

... continued on next rock ...

Richard Harter wrote:
> a local filling station that sells wine in bulk.

Gasoline (three flavors), kerosene, diesel, wine (white & red) and milk. Got it! Yeah, only in South Dakota. Does the pump also dispense rosé wine by mixing red and white?

You think you are joking, but in Italy they really do have wine pumps albeit not witht he gas pumps. You bring in your jug and just fill 'er up.

... continued on next rock ...

Yes, but do they mix red & white to make rosé?
Of course not! Only in South Dakota.

Yes, so. You have a problem with this?
Return to index of contributors

From: Barbara Renner
Date: 3/9/2006
Subj: how do you apply

My husband would love to be on your show and this sounds just perfect for him. How do you get an application.

I'm sorry, the page you were looking at was just a joke page and has no official connection with the survivor show. Try checking the CBS web site.
Return to index of contributors

From: John McIntosh
Date: 3/6/2006
Subj: the toilet seat problem

Hi Richard,

I saw your article on Science Creative Quarterly after it was mentioned in passing here a few weeks back. http://corner.nationalreview.com/

They've done that before. Apparently the people at National Review have some strange obsession with toilet seats.
From there I found the copy on your home page, from 1998, and from there, your email address ... and I thought I'd write and say hi, because I did basically the same calculation recently myself, thought you might like to hear you're not alone in thinking about it. http://www.urticator.net/essay/4/482.html
I took a look at it; it appears that similar thoughts appear to great minds.
The strange thing is, I wound up with a different answer. The incremental costs match up, after changing notation, but for the frequency f I got 2p/(1+p) instead of (2p-1)/p. (It matches up to my variable y, with d=0 and m=1/2.) Then I guessed p=3/4 instead of 2/3, and decided that the right solution was one day a week, instead of evenings. But I take your point about "middle of the night surprise", probably I'll add a note about that some time soon. :)
I'll take a look at your calculations and mine and see what the difference might be. I doubt that I will actually change it (the page seems to be an web "classic") other than adding a note with a link to your page.
Return to index of contributors

From: Jean Jennings
Date: 3/8/2006
Subj: fun

I just read part of your site... love the humor. Thank you.for sharing.

Thank you for writing. I always like to hear from people who like the site.
Return to index of contributors

From: Butch Novy
Date: 3/7/2006
Subj: Mailing list

Do you have a mailing list? If so, please add me.

I'm sorry, I don't have a mailing list. Check in once a month to see what's new.
Return to index of contributors

From: Chris Hogg
Date: 3/6/2006
Subj: The purpose of tools

On your site, some years ago, I ran across something called "The purpose of tools". I have since tried to locate it again with no luck. Do you still have that somewhere on your site and if so could point me in the right direction? Thank you. Keep up the good work.

I am the very man to answer your question. The page in question is located at http://richardhartersworld.com/~cri/1998/tools.html. I'm glad you asked. Upon rereading it I found it to be an accurate description of many of my tools.
Return to index of contributors

From: T.W. Sullivan
Date: 3/5/2006
Subj: Snappy Feminine Comebacks

how would you give back a snappy remark back to a employee when addressing a problem to him and he says "you are so emotional"

Good question. I dunno, how about, "You are so dodging the problem. Let's talk about that instead." Or maybe, "You are so forgetting that I am the boss."
Return to index of contributors

From: Roberta Welden
Date: 3/5/2006
Subj: 1650

Wow, that's an awful large kitchen! Is that a kitchen/dinning area? I can't wait to see the after pics.

I opine that the pictures are misleading. The kitchen area itself is small and had a serious lack of counter space. However there is a large peninsula (not an island because it extends from the wall) that is a dining area. The peninsula gets used as auxilliary counter space, a place to set the mail, etc, and is generally covered with clutter. I rather like it, but Deb says it has to go.

Alas, she is right. Not only is it a clutter trap, it closes in the kitchen area and makes some of the limited counter space inconvenient. Unfortunately I can't put an island with power and plumbing there - the house doesn't have a basement. Instead I will have a regular dining room table.

I have just ordered the new base cabinets - I am thoroughly traumatized at the moment. I'm replacing the wall cabinets with open shelving that I will build myself. At the pace all of this is happening the kitchen should be done by late April.

Why do I do this to myself?

Return to index of contributors

From: Steve Bush
Date: 3/5/2006
Subj: random vector with constraints

re: http://richardhartersworld.com/cri/2005/vconstraint.html

I've enjoyed reading some of your articles. I forget now what google search came upon your site, bookmarked it a few days ago and finally got back to reading some of it today. I am a mathematician myself. A thought on your random vector with constaints problem:

Solution: evaluate the N+1 Bernstein Polynomials for degree N and at t = a random number (0,1). This gives you the desired vector V[0] .. V[N].

The Bernstein Polynomials are the basis (pun intended) of my work, I'm a NURBS curve programmer.

I'll leave it to you to look up Bernstein Polynomials and NURBS curves, not to mention Bezier splines, if you don't already know. Wikipedia has a decent description. But briefly, they are exactly what we learned in algebra 1 as the terms of the binomial expansion of (a+b)^n, but setting b = 1-a, ie, a+b=1. There are generally given as a function of t for time. EG, the 5 bernstein polynomials for degree 4 are:

1*(1-t)^4
4*(1-t)^3*t
6*(1-t)^2*t^2
4*(1-t)*t^3
1*t^4

and for degree 5 are:

(1-t)^5, 5*(1-t)^4*t, 10*(1-t)^3*t^2, 10*(1-t)^2*t^3, 5*(1-t)*t^4, t^5

Etc. The coefficients are comb(n,a), ie the n'th row of pascal's triangle, and the terms are steadily increasing in the power of t and decreasing in the power of (1-t).

But one of the cooler properties, and why they are so useful in spline geometry computation, is that they are a "partition of unity". That is, for all values of t they always add up to 1. This is your constraint. Obviously the sum of the terms is (t + (1-t)) ^N = 1^N = 1.

[here delete a very simple discussion of why they are so useful in describing curves, eg, bezier splines and nurbs, since you may already know all about it... if you want, I'll send you what I just mentally deleted but never actually wrote, just ask...]

Anyway, the above solves your problem, eval the set of Bernstein polynomials at random t. Note, there are some trivial algorithms for evaluating these numbers without actually developing the polynomials, etc. A simple loop does the trick.

Thanks for writing. I hadn't looked at Bernstein polynomials since well into the last millennium and only vaguely recall using Bezier splines. NURBS curves were a total mystery to me - my mind has been illuminated thanks to the web. Thanks for bringing them to my attention.

I'm afraid that this is a case where we are both wrong. Using the Bernstein polynomials doesn't work because all it does is give you a random point on an arc in N space. What we want is a random point from the subspace defined by the constraints. I took a look at my little article and I find it to be superficial and lacking insight.

If one thinks about it a bit, constraint (1) gives us the unit hyper-cube in N space. Constraint (2) specifies a subspace in N-1 space. What is that subspace? Well the corners of hypercube satisfying (1,0,0,...),(0,1,0...),(0,0,1,...)... are boundary points in this subspace. For n=2 it is a straight line from (1,0) to (0,1), for n=3 it is a triangle with vertices at (1,0,0), (0,1,0) and (0,0,1), for n=4 it is a tetrahedron, and for n>4 it is, for lack of a better term, a hyperhedron.

So the issue really is, select a point from the interior of a hyperhedron with uniform selection probability. This is the sort of problem that has a pretty solution but I don't know what it is off hand. I will have to think about it.

Return to index of contributors

From: eddie
Date: 3/3/2006
Subj: (nothing)

BOUNDARY_OUTLOOK

Interior inlook.

I do hope we're not on the same page.

Return to index of contributors

From: Peter Neilson
Date: 3/2/2006
Subj: [Fwd: Your cooperation is highly needed.]

Richard Harter wrote:
> be quite rich shortly. The thirteenth million I shall use to endow
> the George Flynn School of Proof Reading.

This school--where is it? I know hundreds, yea thousands, who desperately need to attend it.

Where is it? Why in Flynnmark, of course. I applied there once but couldn't get in - my PFAT (Proof Reading Aptitude Test) score was too low.
Return to index of contributors

From: Roberta Welden
Date: 3/4/2006
Subj: Spelling Water

Sorry I just didn't get this one. Could you please explain it so that an ordinary Okie can understand?

Sure. Don't feel bad - I didn't get it myself when I first read it and then it cracked me up. Our hero needed to spell water. What is water? Chemically it's H2O, pronounced 'H' to 'O'. So our hero spelled water HIJKLMNO which are the letters from 'H' to 'O'.
Return to index of contributors

From: Stefan Wöhrmann
Date: 2/28/2006
Subj: mental arithmetic thanks for your information on your website

Dear Sir,

I want to thank you for your information about mental calculation.

I try to study and to understand this multiplication or three digit numbers licj 345 times 562

I am teaching deaf students here in Germany.

I am looking for all kind of materials to feed their bright minds and to give them support in order to overcome prejudice and unfriendly competition in oral language skills.

They are on a wonderful way and your trick with this mental arithmetic may enrich our maths program.

In case you are interested you will find more information on my website  www.gebaerdenschrift.de   

I have a great interest to support my deaf students  so in case you can suggest any other mental arithmetic tricks and methods I really would appriciate that very much.

Thanks again and have a wonderful Wednesday

Thank you for writing. I wish you the best in your teaching efforts. Here is a trick used by stage mentalists. You ask someone to think of a two digit number and tell you what its fifth power is. You immediately tell them what their number is. To do the trick you need to know what the fifth powers of the nine non-zero digits are. You also need to know that the last digit of the fifth power of a number from 0 to 9 is the same as the number.
The fifth powers of the digits are:
    0       0
    1       1
    2      32
    3     243
    4    1024
    5    3125
    6    7776
    7   16807
    8   32768
    9   59049
Memorize this table. When the subject gives you their fifth power of their number you get the last digit from the fifth power. Then you strip off the last five digits and compare it with the table of powers. That gives you the first digit. For example, suppose the fifth power of the unknown number is 69343957. You know the last digit of his number is 7. Strip off the last five digits to get 693. This is between 243 and 1024 so the first digit is 3. Ergo his number was 37.
Return to index of contributors

From: Peter Neilson
Date: 2/20/2006
Subj: [Fwd: Your cooperation is highly needed.]

Richard, I received the following Highly Important Missive, and believe that you alone would benefit from my commentary on it.

This doctor of unknown degree, who cannot even spell his own name, invites me to participate in an illegal scheme justified only by his and my greed and by the reduced moral status enjoyed by Mr. Hussein. He represents himself and the bank manager to be a pair of crooks of unsurpassed audacity, and seems to take me for one of the same. I am not, and I have no use for him, so I thought I would pass him along to you.

FROM THE DESK OF
DR. WALTER COLLUMBUS,
MANAGER, ACCOUNTS AND OPERATIONS,
FIRSTRAND BANK JOHANNESBURG. SOUTH AFRICA.
E MAIL;collumbuswalter16@yahoo.com
Tel: +874-7635-94445,
Fax: +874-7635-97889
RE: TRANSFER OF US$56.559 MILLION TO YOUR ACCOUNT.
[snip text of offer]

I do thank you. As it chances I am engaged in negotiations with 207 similar accounts involving a total of 4,372 millions of dollars. My share of this, sans expenses, is 522 millions of dollars. I have not yet actually seen any of this money, but I expect I shall be quite rich shortly. The thirteenth million I shall use to endow the George Flynn School of Proof Reading.
Return to index of contributors

From: 2cjb1
Date: 2/14/2006
Subj: Genetic mutation

Hi, I have two more questions which I have attempted to answer myself. To what extent are my anwers correct?

1) Why is it harmful for humans to be exposed to large doses of radiation? Is it because, due to the interconectedness of cell systems, that mutations are likely to be harmful rather than helpful. Radiation exposure for humans must in some way be harmful because radiation treatments always aim to limit exposure.

Generally speaking, you are right. By far the major effect of radiation is to disrupt the functioning of cells; in a small percentage of cases the effect is to alter the cell's DNA.
2) What are the possibilities that, exposed to a massive dose of radiation, two members of a breeding species could produce an offspring that was not of the same species? To me this seems highly unlikely, because to create another species the genes of the new organism would have to be different from those of the parent, and the large amount of genetic mutations in the parent germ line would mostly have to be beneficial. Mutation would rather cause perhaps some few beneficial changes but mostly harful changes in the germline. To me it would seem that the only viable way a new organism can be created is, instead of by complete chance mutations, only by chance mutations acting under the editiing affect of the environment over many generations. Thus, a new species cannot be created by two organisms of another species unless some environmental selecting factor is present.
There isn't a single simple answer to your question. There are single event scenarios for speciation. These typically involve genome duplication, either of a single chromosome or of the entire genome. This is most common in plants, though it also can happen in animals and fungi. An alternative that sometimes happens is a simple change in the reproductive system that creates reproductive isolation between the offspring and the parental population. There is a species of fruit fly that originated this way under laboratory conditions.

However the vast majority of speciations occur over many generations as a consequence of diverging populations. You do seem have a bit of confusion on one point: The accumulating changes do not have to be beneficial; it suffices that they are different provided only that they reduce the likelihood that the diverging populations can interbreed.

Return to index of contributors

From: Anthony R. Lewis, PhD, FN
Date: 2/27/2006
Subj: SD moves back

Well Richard,

I see that the South Dakota state legislature is attempting to move the state backwards in time with its anti-abortion bill. How difficult is it to move back? Will an opposite reaction throw North Dakota into the future? Can this actually be happening in the same states as the June Harter Wildfowl Sanctuary?

You misapprehend, Monsieur. South Dakota is and always has been approximately fifty years behind the rest of the country. Ergo Roe v. Wade has not happened here yet. Conservation movements, on the other hand, long pre-date the RVW, and thus are quite alright.

Let's do the time warp again.

I am officially on Social Security. People still working are now supporting me through the government-approved Ponzi scheme.
It's hard to think of you as being on social security. I suppose it had to happen. The trouble with being in the future is that all one's friends have aged dreadfully, and their place has been taken by a multitude of irreverant young whippersnappers. (Such a good word, whippersnapper.)

... continued on next rock ...

I guess we'll go to Kalaallit Nunaat or Antarctica rather than South Dakota.

I would recommend either - the climate is better.
We will revert to the old method: rich women go elsewhere and get an abortion; poor women must accept the consequences of daring to be not rich.
I've always admired those who have the courage to dare not to be rich.
Were you aware that Oxford University Press will be publishing Brave New Words: The Oxford Dictionary of Science Fiction. Mark Olson and I are on the editorial board. They wanted to be able to say that the book was "NESFA Approved."
I'm impressed. When you were young did you ever imagine that you would be a source of credentials?
Return to index of contributors

From: Peter Neilson
Date: 2/20/2006
Subj: flynnd's gasket

Poor flynnd has just busted a gasket. Fortunately it's a virtual gasket, and no harm was done. Here's how it happened.

While slogging through the mathematical backwaters of your website, flynnd hit upon http://richardhartersworld.com/cri/1997/weiner.html

Not only is this page full of misspellings of Norbert Wiener's name, but the web page address is misspelled as well. The page should be at http://richardhartersworld.com/cri/1997/wiener.html

Unfortuately, if you fix it you'll break links that others have so painstakingly constructed. There are several ways around this dilemma, all of which you already know.

There are indeed; doing nothing is one of them. You should be honored to learn that in the almost ten years that that page has been on the web you are the only person to have noticed, or, to be more precise, flynnd is the only "person" to have noticed.

You may be sure that I will do something about it in the fullness of time.

Bad Richard.

Return to index of contributors

From: Manny
Date: 2/17/2006
Subj: I'd Love To Have Your Site On My Favorites Page

Hello. My name is Manny, and I would like to have your site listed on my "Favorite Websites And Resources" page. My site www.humanemousetrap.info offers a free instructional ebook that shows you how to make a humane mouse trap from a cola bottle (I know, I need to get a life)

You do need to get a life, but then you knew that.
But if you approve of my site and would like to add your listing to my favorites page, [snip instructions]
Done. I heartily approve of your page. A reference to it will appear some where on my web site.
Return to index of contributors

From: Peter Neilson
Date: 2/28/2006
Subj: (website)

Your version of the Densa Quiz asks about the animals Moses took on the ark, and then proclaims in the answers (http://richardhartersworld.com/cri/1999/densa1.html) that Moses didn't have an ark.

Well, Noah and Moses each had an ark. Moses had the Ark of the Covenant, known occasionally as the Ark of the Convenient (googlize it). Are you interested in speculating about the kinds and numbers of animals it might have contained?

Everybody knows about the Ark of the Covenant - Harrison Ford got it away from the Nazis, who got it back and then made the mistake of opening it. According to the documentary (it was a documentary, wasn't it) the only thing inside was some dust and some spectral creatures. I don't think there could have been much inside in the line of animal life inside, though there might have been some dust mites.

The besides of which, what are they doing, calling it the Ark of the Covenant, anyway? It's pretty clear that it was some kind of box, and not a boat at all, though I guess that arks aren't boats according to the purists.

Return to index of contributors

From: Doug Riddle
Date: 2/23/2006
Subj: Something Broke, Something Worked, and as Expected, the Utility Bill Arrrived.

Hello Again Richard.

I dropped by your site again, and decided to drop a line. I'm about due I think. I was reading your latest editorials and was reminded of some recent events and a small crystal coalesced. What did happen to the future? As you said, it came, and will still.

As I will have said, "We're living in the future; it just isn't the one that we were expecting."
I had the misfortune to take a bad fall in Early December and fracture my shoulder. It hampered my activity and generally irritated me. My rotator cuff wasn’t torn, so I just had to wear a sling and tuff it out. The first week in January, going the opposite direction past the very same obstacle, I fell again. Since I was in a sling, my shoulder did not suffer a great deal, but my humerus suffered a spiral fracture and shared its suffering liberally with me.
There may be a lesson in there but I'll be damned if I know what it might be. Be that as it may, I hope you heal up and that you don't break anything else. It would be a good plan.
In the midst of my hampered comings and goings to work, I managed to stay in touch, albeit not as well, with life and friends. A friend lost a parent, another friend had a child diagnosed with a potentially fatal disease. I had experienced both and they turned to me. I saw them grappling with the mundane with difficulty. They could be rocks for those who needed them, but could not quite grasp why the world was still spinning. I knew that feeling. If the world knew, the world would care, but it would still spin. It was about then that I caught my kids growing up.
I suppose we've all had that feeling - it's not just that life is pleasant or unpleasant; sometimes it's incomprehensible.
My middle daughter, an adult now – newly minted, solved her own problems, major money and car problems. I even wasn’t called. My oldest daughter set the date for her wedding. I wasn’t consulted. I wasn’t asked for money. I was asked, obliquely, both times, for approval. I gave it of course, but this time, I didn’t send money.
What a good daughter you have.
I have been considering reenlisting in the Military, the National Guard. I had to get out because I was a single parent about a decade and a half ago. I have about six or seven years to go to retire. I always thought of it as unfinished business. I saw a kid in uniform yesterday. I’m allowed to call him a kid - no rank yet, no hair, no miles on the tires, but a soldier all the same. I asked him what unit he was in. It was a good one. I’ve been checking, and I knew some of the guys running it. There might be ten guys that knew me when that are still in uniform.

Once I get out of this device they clamped around my shoulder and arm, I think I will try to finish up that twenty I started. The kids are doing OK. The world is still spinning, and there are a lot of tomorrows left in the future. I’d like to feel like I contributed a bit more to them. Besides, I look good in uniform, damn good.

I suppose, if they let you get away with it, it might be nice to finish your twenty. On the other hand you might find yourself some place in the middle east. Not good.

Over the years I thought about re-enlisting. After all, if I had stayed in I could have been out in fifty recently. Given my track record for getting into trouble while I was in, I could have been the only fifty year private in the history of the Corps.

It's good to hear from you again. Write again in another few years - sooner would be better.

Return to index of contributors

From: Peter Neilson
Date: 2/15/2006
Subj: Returning from Italy and Flynnmark

You have returned from Italy without having been poisoned. The flynnd has returned from Flynnmark, and has an announcement for you: THERE IS AN ERROR. Specifically, you wrote entrepeneurship where you intended entrepreneurship in your most recent editorial. If you had George's knowledge of French, there would have been no problem.

This isn't quite right. I intended "entrepeneurship"; I ought to have intended "entrepreneurship". Bad Richard. My knowledge of French is limited to the observations that the last syllable of French words is pronounced "wah" and the "h" phoneme cannot be pronounced in French unless one's adenoids have been removed. The flip side is that French cannot be pronounced at all unless one's adenoids are inflamed.
Return to index of contributors

From: ajprod
Date: 1/15/2006
Subj: hey, dude

If u need cheep oem software just mail me back.

What I say is that cheep software is for the birds. What I want to know is when I'm going to get my money back.
Return to index of contributors


This page was last updated March 22, 2006.

home
Site map
March 2006 TOC
Archived letters
email