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Letters to the editor, September 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 And, of course, anything marked not for publication is not for publication.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 September 2006.

Index of contributors

Other Correspondence Pages


From: Morris Keesan
Date: 9/5/2006
Subj: Misspelling

In Don Crowder's letter to you of 7/23/2006, he says, "Not only was I able to correct some spelling errors but, following the trail of how he got to my site lead me to your site ... ."

In this sentence, the word "led" is misspelled.

But sir, the word "led" does not appear in the material you quote. I dare say it should have, but the simple fact is that it didn't, either correctly or incorrectly spelled. I concede that the word "lead" does appear, but that is not a matter of misspelling. Rather it is merely a grammatical monstrosity.
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From: Tammy
Date: 9/1/2006
Subj: saint seiya help!

Im writin to you because a couple of years ago i read a fanfiction series u made with SAINT SEIYA . its started with the resurrection series then cry wolf,windlash,wildcard (i know i've forgotten one coz i can't remember he title,sorry!) and i was wondering if u could send me some information on the continuation of the series or an address where i could read it again. If i remeember correctly your series introduced to the world of fiction and since my favorite anime/manga series was saint seiya it was perfect! any help would be greatly appreciated,

I'm afraid it wasn't me. I believe the person you want is Sea Wasp. I've published some stuff by him which may account for the mixup. His email address is seawasp@thorn.wzvax.net (remove the thorn for his correct address.) You might also check out http://www.geocities.com/tokyo/flats/1763/fanfind.htm which lists much Saint Seiya fanfic.
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From: Morris Keesan
Date: 9/5/2006
Subj: Statistical Frizzles

One would hope that both mathematicians, even if Theoretical, would have known that what they were providing were the odds AGAINST "something like that happening".

But, but, but, ... those were the odds for something like that happening. The mathematicians were named Murphy. See http://richardhartersworld.com/~cri/2000/murphy.html.
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From: Sam Hine
Date: 9/4/2006
Subj: Obesity in a World of Hunger

Please consider publishing this commentary in Richard Harter's World. Johann Christoph Arnold is a leading social critic and the author of ten books. If you have further questions, I can be reached at 724-329-1100. Let me know if you decide to publish this piece.

[snip article]

I will probably publish it with the usual caveat that I will follow it up with my comments. I will let you know when and if it appears.
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From: ian dumbrell
Date: September/1/2006
Subj: Hi

Hello, I read with interest an article on your site about the lyrics to the song "How much is that doggy in the window" I dont suppose you known who sang the song ? Please email me if known. Many Thanks.

Patti Page in 1953. Be warned that the real lyrics are considerably blander than mine.
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From: Sage7
Date: 8/19/2006
Subj: A driving force behind Political Correctness

I hope you can use this... Sage7

A driving force behind Political Correctness

[snip article]

I'm easy, I'm willing to use it with a caveat. With this sort of thing I often disagree in part or in whole with the thesis. I reserve the right to use a point/counterpoint format in which I first present your material and then my response. If this is not okay with you let me know. Otherwise I'll go ahead and run it. Thanks for the contribution.
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From: David Gill
Date: 8/14/2006
Subj: mathematical puzzles

I have enjoyed your offerings on a regular basis. The statistical frizzle reminded me of an old story that I remember imperfectly, but is possibly appropriate for our times. You may recall it, or could spruce it up and use it in the future for your humor section. It went something like the following. Two colleagues met at a statistician's convention and were discussing their transportation arrangements. The first relayed that he had traveled by train. The second replied that he had flown to the event. Upon hearing this, the first allowed that he had calculated the odds of someone having a bomb on the plane at three hundred to one and that he was not willing to take such a risk. The second asked if the first had calculated the odds of two people having a bomb on the plane. The first had made such a calculation and reported the odds at three and a half million to one. The second said that he agreed with the calculation and that he had found those odds to be acceptable. So he said, just to be safe, he took a bomb on the plane himself. Regards and appreciation for your efforts.

It's an old story and a good one, though as you say it needs a bit of dressing up. (The numbers aren't quite in agreement.) The real challenge is to explain exactly what is wrong with the "reasoning". I'll keep it mind for a challenge question.
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From: James Smith
Date: September/1/2006
Subj: Beneficiary

Dear Beneficiary,

I write to inform you that the management of the RoyaL Security Finance Firm,London, has been mandated by the Central Bank of Nigeria,to effect your long outstanding inheritance funds payment of US$9,546,000.65 to you,without further delay. Please advice when you shall be in London to pick up your draft.

Sincerely,
James Smith
Head/CEO RSFF,London

It's so sad, but I do believe that you have the wrong Richard Harter. Still, it's good of you to write, and I do hope the wife and children are doing well.
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From: Dennis O'Keefe
Date: 8/20/2006
Subj: Whatever

While looking for something using google.

I don't know if you have either of these but they deserve to be in your collection. The kitto.doc story is true.

Enjoy.

I don't reckon I'll use the kitto.doc story, but I like the "Why Engineers should not be parents......." story and will use it. By the way, it's not really cool to send doc files as attachments. Those of us who are paranoid about viruses and word macros never open word documents from strangers. I read them with a text editor that doesn't understand word macros. Send plain text in the future.
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From: Webmaster
Date: 8/252006
Subj: Linkback request

Could you please provide a link to my site on your site.

url: http://paybacksrhell.com

Description:

How many times have you asked yourself? I wish there was a way to get back at someone without getting caught and in trouble. Just to exact a little payback for the Hell they have put me through. Well there are ways to do this, We have probed and scoured the internet and made a collection of helpful ideas, tools, and stories ready to help you get a little payback and let these individuals know exactly what you think of them.

I dunno, you're presenting me with a moral dilemma. Your site is one of those things that is a great idea provided you don't actually do it. I don't approve, but on the other hand it will amuse some of my readers. I guess you get the usual, that being an appearance in the correspondence column.
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From: Vernon
Date: 8/24/2006
Subj: Whatever

hello how are u

I r fyne, r u fyne 2?
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From: Murray C Bay
Date: 8/25/2006
Subj: Dumb

You sound very dumb

I dare say that you are right, for I have no doubt but that you are an expert on sounding very dumb.
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From: Michel Durinx
Date: 8/20/2006
Subj: Death & Elections

A possible compromise approach exists between the elections-as-a-snapshot and the almost quantummechanical vision mr. Neilson proposes:

as there are plenty of death clock / life expectancy calculators, each vote at the moment of casting can be assigned a probability that the voter will make it through the entire term of those s/he votes for. Or a sequence of probabilities of making it through each coming month.

As the population is large enough to keep statistical fluctuations at bay, this is a valid approach. Also, no privacy problems from the linking of a specific vote to a specific (ex) voter.

The same shadow bureaucrazy can start developing but on a firmer basis: it is very thinkable that a candidate is expected to gain a majority after say 15months of his opponent reigning. These expected values are known just after the election, so no uncertainty will hold sway as with the first proposal (and less wasted effort/public money).

However, it will still create extra jobs (the winning shadow-offices need to prepare, and some applied mathematicians can run the statistics), money for BigBlue (new election calculators), and extra winners (marginal wins have an initial and a later winner, possibly).

A slight issue is that (for a 4year term like the presidency) anyone of 14-year-and-up will have to be all interrogated about the probabilities that they would vote in any of the future 48months, and for which candidate. These answers must then be convoluted with the probabilities that said teenagers told the truth and perceived their own personalities correctly.

Hope it helps,
Marvin the Martian

This is an excellent proposal, one that any right-minded thinker will find completely without fault. I do have one small reservation, and that has to do with who will implement the voting system. The current vendor of choice predicates its security measures on the happy thought that the average corrupt politician is somewhat less bright and somewhat less computer literate than a less than average fourteen year old. There is much evidence for this view. In your proposal brighter than average teenagers would have both access to and motivation to hack the voting system. The results might well be better than the current system but I shudder to contemplate them.
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From: liddy
Date: 8/15/2006
Subj: its important

hi my name is liddy and i am 17 years old and i was wounduring if a girl is on birth control and she thinks she is pregnent could she still be staring her period reg. if taking birth control ?

Hi liddy.
If she thinks she might be pregnant she should take a pregnancy test. If she is getting her period and is on birth control then she most likely isn't pregnant. However funny things happen, so she should check. What she really should do is talk to her doctor or her school nurse.

By the way, I don't know how you got my email address, but it probably isn't a good idea to ask random strangers on the internet about intimate personal medical problems.

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From: larry
Date: 8/22/2006
Subj: humor?

Hello,

I read and enjoyed your webpages frequently until they seemed to have disappeared a few years ago. I just ran across a link recently and have started reading again.

The home page URL changed. Ownership of the tiac.net customer base moved from one company to another until it ended up with Earthlink. They changed the naming rules.
You never really know what a person is like from the internet, but I agree with a lot of your writings and think your humor is funny. That is until I ran across "South Dakota News Bulletin" http://richardhartersworld.com/cri/2006/sdnews.html. I recall reading about the blizzard but do not claim to be familiar with all the details. I am much more familiar with the effects of Katrina as I am originally from New Orleans and still have relatives in the area. So I can fairly confidently state that this bulletin is pretty much all bullshit. Unfortunately I am well aware that many people do not have any trouble believing the sentiments expressed.
Hmmm. Chip Hitchcock and I exchanged a series of letters on this very topic. You might take a look at them at
http://richardhartersworld.com/cri/2006/let06apr.html#chip3
http://richardhartersworld.com/cri/2006/let06May.html#chip1
You might also look at a letter from a local rancher's wife
http://richardhartersworld.com/cri/2006/let06May.html#Wendi

You might confidently state that the bulletin is pretty much all bullshit but you would be hard pressed to back it up. The only thing in it that is open to question as an issue of fact is the "Weather Event" of "Biblical Proportions". Well, the "amusing" is open to question. Yes, I know your hackles are raised by the "affirmative action" sentence but it isn't factually in error. (Granted it's rank reactionary political rhetoric, but all it says is "we" aren't those blankety blanks - it doesn't actually say that anybody else is.)

I imagine you feel that the "bulletin" is saying that the Katrina disaster was over rated and not that big a deal and besides it's their own fault. Does that about cover it? Well really, that's so much rubbish. It's not about that at all. What it is about is people being invisible and perceiving that their disasters simply don't count. And they're right. They are invisible along with their disasters. What do you do when you're invisible? You joke about it and make the best of it.

And yes, they will have a touch of resentment in their humor because they also know that some people will condescend to them. Not you, of course, and not me, but some people.

Yes, no one is all good or all bad, but, my, what feet of clay.
True enough, but don't feel bad about those feet of yours. I'm sure they are made of the finest clay.
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From: Lee R. Piazza
Date: 8/18/2006
Subj: Three wishes

Loved three wishes. Perhaps the genies should wish for a dictionary though; the past tense of hang, as a shirt on a hook or a picture on a wall, is "hung"; the past tense of hang, as a person by the neck until dead, is "hanged" . Also there are no (spendable at least) $1000 dollar bills.

Ha! You forgot that these were blonde genies.
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This page was last updated September 8, 2006.
It was moved January 9, 2008

home
Site map
September 2006 TOC
Archived letters
email
Hyde County, South Dakota is the Pin Tail Duck Capital of the world. Visit scenic Highmore, SD in 2006!