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Letters to the editor, July 2007

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 And, of course, anything marked not for publication is not for publication.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 July 2007.

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From: Dr Kendall St.Clair
Date: 6/29/2007
Subj: Lit. Crit.

If you are going to do Lit. Crit. at least get your spelling right! 'It is not meet' (i.e. 'suitable'), not 'it is not Mete' . Mete means `measured out' - it's archaic anyway.

"Cemetery" NOT cemetary.

I presume you're an American?

Oh well. Keep trying.

Thank you writing and calling my attention to my little lapses. "Cemetary" is a typo; I have a gremlin service that keeps me well stocked with typoes. Just for you I will correct it.

Your criticism of "mete" is a bit off the mark. Of course it is not "meet" - that's ridiculous. What was written was I intended to write. You are right that it isn't the right word, but is not all that far off. "Mete" originally comes from the Greek medesthai "to be mindful of". As I am sure you are aware, the archaic usage is measure whilst the modern usage is to give out by measure. I'm not sure what word would be better - words such as "apropriate" and "suitable" are so blah. Perhaps you have some suggestions.

I do thank you for your corrections. They are very much appreciated. In turn you may appreciate a few suggestions in turn. Thus:

If you are going to quote "cemetary" you should also quote "cemetery".

Including the title "Dr" in casual communications is often perceived as being pretentious.

It is an ordinary requirement of scholarship to give references. The first reaction that I had to your communication was "What in the hell is he babbling about?" After doing a computer search I deduced that you were probably referring to an article that I had written about Chesterton's "The Man who was Thursday."

Finally the sentence "I presume you're an American?" is not properly a question and in any event is overly long; it should be truncated to "I presume."

Again I do want to thank you for writing. I always appreciate these little communications.

... continued on next rock ...

Dear Mr Harter,

I was DELIGHTED to get your response to my lit. crit. I did not expect it!

I answer most of my email sooner or later, except for those from chaps who promise me riches whilst emptying my wallet
(I had written)
Including the title "Dr" in casual communications is often perceived as being pretentious.
Um. You have a point, but I do so in order that whomsoever I am addressing knows that I DO have some pretensions to academic scholarship without having to cite publications and all that codswallop. You got me on a bad day when I was feeling stroppy. Sorry about that.
Stroppy - I like that word. I see your point but I'm not sure that it works. In the intellectual slum (and slum is a kind description) that is the internet there is a multitude of persons who are the equivalent of the chap who believes that his degree in mechanical engineering and his years in Sunday School makes him an authority on evolution.
(I had written)
It is an ordinary requirement of scholarship to give references.
Indeed. Absolutely! With knobs on! But putting references in an email is not amusing if one is trying to do it properly as footnotes. Of course if you are a Science person, and not Arts, then you will be used to bunging them within the text. (An aside: You can get to say all sorts of interesting things in footnotes which are not proper in a text. At least, you can if you don't belong to the school of thought that believes footnotes should be bibliographic references and nothing more).
Ah, I should be more clear while being snarky. The problem is that my web site has several thousand pages of rather varied material. No one knows what is in it, not even me. A lot of these pages have email links. If a letter of comment does not have a reference to the page being commented upon I have to guess from context which page it might be.

BTW I gather that you were reading the review of "The Man Who Was Thursday". How on earth did you happen to stumble across it?

(I had written)
The first reaction that I had to your communication was "What in the hell is he babbling about?"
Er . . . you have here an unjustified assumption. Tsk! I am female. (Verb. sap.)
Mea culpa. I have been hoist with my own petard. (And, yes, I do know what a petard is.)
Finally the sentence "I presume you're an American?"
Are you though - you didn't say? I'm Australian now, ex Sydney University - though I was a Pommie once.
I am indeed American, although when travelling in Europe I tell people that I am from Baja Canada.
And I would like to say again, how very pleased I am to have heard from you: it was so unexpected - especially since my original communication was a bit tart. Sorry about that.
Quite alright. It was a pleasure to hear from you. I shall warn you that one of the features of the web site is a correspondence column. There are disclaimers on the site stating that all correspondence is assumed to be for publication. Most people don't notice disclaimers and don't care that their immortal words have been immortalized; if you would prefer not to be published send me a note.
(Stella St. Clair-Kendall)

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From: Miroslav Provod
Date: July/1/2007
Subj: Hypo therapy

Hypo therapy is a well known cure method, which has positive results, especially illnesses of the nerve system. The cure is done when a person is in contact with a horse, whereby the person undergoes a curing process. Many hypothesis describe this phenomenon, but arent persuasive enough. I think it is a similar phenomenon, which I describe in many different cases at www.miroslavprovod.com. It is the transport of cosmic energy by the contact of auras. The matter of the horse is a greater energetic source than the source of the matter of humans. Therefore, the rule is that the energy potential between the sources equalises - the man receives energy from the horse, which is shown by the increase of the electric potential on the cellular membranes.

The way hypo therapy is done is not perfect; the time for the transport of energy is too short. Hours are needed for the equalisation of the energetic levels of both sources (the horse and the man). An optimal solution would be to place the bed of the ill person into the aura of the horse (about one metre from the horse), where the patient would sleep the number of nights required. It would be more efficient to place the bed between two horses.

The cure by staying in the aura of greater energetic sources is nothing new, similar examples are found in ancient and later history. All megalithic structures worked in the same way. King David was cured by sleeping between two young women overnight. In the ancient times, cure was done by sleeping inside temples. On the website stated above I describe more cases where energy is transferred between various sources.

The test of the curing process of hypo therapy that I recommend doesn't require anything complicated, one bed with a wooden (not metal) railing, so that there isn't a contact between the cured and the horse. Everyone that is interested in hypo therapy could easily examine the results of the long stay in the horses' aura.

This being a family newsgroup I shan't enquire as to exactly what ailment King David had, but I dare say the cure was both effective and popular.

The hypo cure explains why cowboys are so vigorous. Just imagine the impact on your aura that comes from sitting on a horse all day.

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From: Derek Detjen
Date: 6/17/2007
Subj: Diabetes and a dumb answer

Richard: About five years ago, I was diagnosed as being a borderline Type II diabetic. Fortunately, my diabetes has been successfully controlled by simply dieting, counting carbs and taking frequent glucose level readings with my trusty little meter. Not too long ago, I began to experience loss of feeling in my lower legs and feet in the evenings, normally an indicator of circulatory problems, common for folks with diabetes. I took advantage of a local Lifeline Screening session and discovered much to my surprise that my circulation was better in my lower legs that it was in my lower arms; ergo the problem was pinpointed as being neuropathic in nature, i.e., nerve related. Being somewhat concerned about this, during my next visit to the hospital, I asked a doctor "is neuropathy irreversible?" His answer was classic, and probably typical when he said "it could be!" I thought to myself "thank's a lot, for nothing!" So this is what one goes to medical school for???

I dunno, it seems pretty reasonable to me. Doctors aren't God. Hell, they aren't even minor deities.
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From: Don Crowder
Date: 6/27/2007
Subj: This made me think of you

Hello Richard. I hope all is well with you. I spotted something today that gave me a laugh and made me think of you as well. No, no, the association isn't between you and laughing although you can be a funny guy...um, well anyway...

I wrote them so it may get corrected before you see it, consequently I've uploaded a copy of the image to my website for you to view. Check out the language on this ad image.

http://www.don-guitar.com/photos/seagate.jpg

What do you think? Were they trying to say "you're on" or "your own"?

This is only a guess on my part but I rather doubt that Seagate is an American company. What say?

This is a little puzzling - Seagate is an American company, er, make that a Californian company that does storage devices. I doubt that that they are going to "correct" their ad. Whoever is doing their ad campaign seems quite attached to "your on".

At first I thought it might be a British thing - britslang uses "on" and "off" for in vogue and out of vogue. However I decided that that they mean it just like it reads. When you are on[1] the internet you are on[2]. Their storage devices let you be in your own internet environment any time, any place. They provide your own personal on[3].

[1] "on" in a virtual place
[2] "on" in the happening world
[3] "on" device that lets you be on

The moral of the story is that those who thought that technology would freeze language drift had it all wrong.

What is particularly puzzling to me is that Free Agent is a usenet news reader. How does Seagate get away with trade marking FreeAgent?

... continued on next rock ...

Don't take it all so seriously my friend. A reality of advertising is that John Q. Public enjoys spiffy little word-plays and the good ones become fixtures in the language. The product association eventually fades from public memory but not for a couple of decades. The best recent example of this is "Got milk?". I'm sure you've seen some of the spin-offs and there seem to be more every day. The milk industry should get a couple more decades of mileage from that one and with a few moments of reflection you can probably remember one or two such slogans from your childhood. Seagate's advertising staff took a shot. Sadly their aim was off. It becomes our responsibility to tease them mercilessly thereby enabling the advertising industry to evolve. :)

Point taken. Now that our duty is settled all that is left how to put our campaign into force. How about "Got bugs? Use your off on your on."
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From: Anthony R. Lewis, PhD, FN. SMOF
Date: 6/23/2007
Subj: Divers subjects

"The Cold Equations"--I thought that topic was done to death years ago. Hal Clement felt that if a society built an EDS like that, most of their star cruisers would probably fail in some spectacular manner. I think it was Damon Knight who used internal evidence in the story to show that one could find the necessary weight to jettison. For example, the stowaway hid in a closet with a door--out they go. Dump the radio, etc. Given the level of engineering competence there must be a tool kit--get rid of it. Both people get an enema... Etc.

You would think so but apparently not. My page on the story gets a surprising number of hits - I have the ugly suspicion that it is used as course material in some university. Academic standards have fallen badly over the years.
Gravestones: I went to read some blogs on this topic. Almost everyone was in favor of using the Wiccan symbol--argument was basically if someone dies for his/her country that country ought to have the decency to recognize it. What I found fascinating was an argument in a number of postings; it went rather like this "...any soldier who dies for his country, be he Wiccan or Jewish or Christian or Catholic..."
Snicker. Some folks are pagan, and some are buddhist, and some islamic, and some jewish, and some christian, and some catholic, but we all believe in Jesus.
Sheep: that website was sent through SMOFs, for what reason I do not wish to speculate.
Speaks the only author to write a story about SF fans and sheep dip.
I went to my high school 50th reunion last week (the first one I've ever attended). I thought at first I was in the wrong place--it was full of old people. It's rather like an SF relaxacon--you get a badge and bullshit for a weekend. The major activity was eating. People thought Suford was my trophy wife--a number of people thought she was in her 40s--she ain't. Actually, she won't have changed much when she reaches her 80s. I'm trying to find actuarial tables to see if we're average or ahead of the curve--most of the class was born in 1939. Once again I learned--pass this on to your readers--never, ever drive on the Cross-Bronx Expressway (sic) no matter what the time of day.
I did the same thing (went to your high school 50th reunion) a few years ago. I noticed the same thing - so many old people. One of the striking things was the difference between the people who stayed here for the rest of their lives, and those who went on to live somewhere else.
Today was the first full day of Summer--temperature in the 60s with chilling rain. It is expected to be in the 90s tomorrow (probably followed by snow). New England weather.
Sounds familiar. Here March was in the 70's and 80's and April in the 30's and 40's. In May and June it rained a lot. It does that every 50 years or so.
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From: adam mahmood
Date: 6/19/2007
Subj: 'The Ugly American In France'

When are you lot going to realize that when you cross a boarder, things are not American.

It's a joke, son. (I assume you are referring to http://richardhartersworld.com/cri/1998/france.html.) There is a little clue that it might be a joke - it's linked to the humor section. There is another clue - the whole thing is a wild exaggeration of stereotypes about American tourists.

The odd thing is that your comment sounds just like something from someone who knows nothing about Americans but who believes in all of the stereotypes.

You wouldn't be putting me on, would you?

... continued on next rock ...

I lived in America, Went to an American school in the Netherlands, Hence - I know Americans, and believe me, although your comments may have been a joke, they are in fact, very American.

Actually they aren't my comments. The article in question is one of those things that circulated (and probably still circulates) in email and xeroxed copies. I put it up on my web site because I thought it was amusing.

You being an expert on being American and all that, you naturally understand some Americans find the foibles of their fellow citizens amusing. It occurs to me that when you say "your comments may have been a joke, they are in fact, very American" you may have meant that that particular style of national self-deprecating humor is very American. If that is what you meant, it is an interesting observation.

Perhaps you could expand upon that. For example, do people in the Netherlands indulge in self-deprecating humor about people in the Netherlands? If they do, do they have some special style of their very own? Would an American be able to recognize it, or is it one of those things that only those born and bred on the continent would be able to recognize?

Oh, by the way, it's "border" and not "boarder".

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From: ftong
Date: 6/25/2007
Subj: website puzzles

thanks for your website puzzles

You're welcome. I try to provide a service for those of us who are not so savant.
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From: Michael Wiles
Date: 6/15/2007
Subj: about' the cold equations

Hi Richard. . . Uhmm I don't listen to radio. . so maybe I'm missing out. Sometimes I do read American Renaissance, an online newsmagazine, well I don't subscribe, I just read the crazy comments.

Ah, that would account for it. American Renaissance is the sort of outfit that would see reaction to them in terms of PC Nazis. They aren't quite as gamey as Stormfront, but they're fairly high on the Oinkometer.
Actually, when I mentioned earlier. . not knowing about workplace injuries. . and suggesting everything is made in china. . I think I didn't go far enough. . That's my great failing. . never going far enough.
I'm sure that many have said that.
While pointing out everything is made in China. . and discussing. . workplace injuries. . ,p> It's interesting that here in the USA at least. . people who have the best jobs. . laborers who work for Boeing, Ford, GE, are the ones most suspicious of their employers/disloyal. They have less loyalty than those who work for small companies. Small companies offer lower wages, less benefits and are many many times more likely to pollute or have toxic or unsafe work environments.
I rather doubt that "people who have the best jobs .. laborers who work for Boeing, Ford, GE, are the ones most suspicious of their employers/disloyal." The most disloyal employees that I am aware of are the employees of casual dining establishments.
This attitude is more a relic from the 'enlightened' past maybe, but this attitude's never gone away really. It's an attitude that's just a given by now I suppose. Something we're constantly exposed to. Is it a surprise work is done overseas now? (sometimes I am glad the dirty and hard jobs have gone overseas). Actually, corporate-hate, seems to be increasing. I hear it now even from the right or at least from those pretending to be on the right. Seems like a case of tearing down the best option. Wages, benefits, safe work environments. . are just the beginning of why corporations are better than small business. I do believe we need things like a 'maximum wage'. I realize too, just plain money, and how to do things the cheapest/most efficiant is a big part a modern economy. The bottom line is a big part of the business world I'm sure. Still, I'd rather work for a large corporation and it would be a good idea if we could help them hire more people right here in our own countries.
Someone, J.K. Galbraith I believe, said that the corporations that are heralded as corporate citizens with enlightened policies are the same ones that are the regular targets of monopoly power investigations by the Department of Justice.
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From: Peter Neilson
Date: 6/22/2007
Subj: [Fwd: bond ballyhoo coverlet]

Richard, I hope that this letter finds you in good health, as you are going to need it to weather the enclosed junk. I think that the "bagpipe capillary" is the crucial part of it, but the crook debris might give us clues about the originator.

From: "Paulette Hicks"
Date: 2007/06/22 Fri PM 12:29:32 EDT To: "neilson"
Subject: bond ballyhoo coverlet

ahoy barnard, attitudinal combatted chorus, crook debris. bordeaux apex compete annul apache cur cramp. automate disrupt carcinogen annulus corrosive array boorish bullseye bagpipe capillary curl chinatown. adelaide camelopard belate clitoris courage cornflower crosslink

I will see you bagpipe capillary and raise you a diatomic christmas. I fancy that Paulette Hicks and Rosalyn Smart are both bator alumnae where they studied assyriology. Smart ladies both, with an audible balkan dharma, but ladies who have acquired a drug habit (whence the bagpipe capillaries) and have fallen into a life of crime debris.

From: "Rosalyn Smart"
To: "cri"
Subject: antiquary daedalus crackpot

chandler dignity, choice diary digit, bator alumnae. diatomic christmas concision accent audible balkan dharma. actuate assiduity dash disembowel detest anorthosite acerbity assyriology different confederacy besmirch bestseller. client craze bud apices asiatic aaas chevy

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This page was last updated July 5, 2007.
It was moved January 9, 2008

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Hyde County, South Dakota is the Pin Tail Duck Capital of the world. Visit scenic Highmore, SD in 2007!