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Letters to the editor, May 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 And, of course, anything marked not for publication is not for publication.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 May 2007.

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From: Melinda Walsh
Date: 5/22/2007
Subj: LOVE THIS SITE...

...AND have passed it along to many Got a good one for ya tho'...HOW DO PEOPLE/ENGINEERS change the light bulbs on the highest structures/buildings????

Have a great week and thanks for replying IF YA DO, lol

How do engineers (who may be people despite the evidence to the contrary) change light bulbs on the highest structures? This is a difficult question.

The obvious answer is to rotate the structure. However there is more to it than that. Consider an engineer E on the top floor of a skyscraper S holding a lightbulb L in a fixture F. As S is rotated E and F rotate with S since they are in the same reference frame. The light bulb remains unchanged.

The correct answer is that the engineer E is mounted on a gyroscopically controlled platform G that maintains the same orientation as S is rotated. This is a particularly elegant solutions since S will be rotated in one direction to unscrew L and in the other to screw it back in, resulting in no net change in angular momentumum in G.

I hope this helps.

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From: Peter Neilson
Date: 5/00/2007
Subj: Dating Wendi Rinehart

Mr. Harter!

Your letter from Wendi is dated 5/0/2007. This suggests to me that there is a bug in your calendar program. Did you write it in San? Perhaps you should think about respecifying San to eliminate any chance of committing fencepost errors.

There are, of course, other possibilities. Wendi might live in a universe where May 0 is a genuine day. Or perhaps she's using a "store-and-backward" messaging system. Or maybe perhaps she sent the message when Mars (or is that Venus?) was retrograde.

Would you care to speculate even more possibilities? like whether she's involved with time-travel or FTL projects, or might be a spy sent by Charles Forte?

I must say, sir, that it is quite improper on your part to ask about dating Wendi Rinehart. She is a married lady and is the mother of three small children. (One of the three small children is six foot seven and weighs three hundred pounds, mostly muscle.) I shall have to report you to some authority. Since I am an authority of sorts, consider yourself as having been reported.

That said, I regret to say the error in the date was merely an instance of fat fingering on my part. I would much rather that it were one of your more exotic speculations.

There should be a May 0, of course. As anyone familiar with computer science knows, zero based indexing offers a number of advantages over one based indexing. Just consider the confusion created by the 1 AD, 1 BC mess. Clearly when those highest of life forms, computer programmers, take their rightful place in society the calendar will be reformed and months will start with 0. I can only think that my subconscious was foreseeing that day and jumped the gun a bit.

Quite a bit, actually, since the actual date of the letter was May 9, but, then, I have a very active subconscious.

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From: Lars Geisler
Date: 5/16/2007
Subj: Hello from a passing visitor

Hi - I came across your page because I'm reading 'The mote in God's eye'. Back in the 70's I was an avid SF fan, and in all those years I have kept my SF collection on a shelf (against my wife's protests), and once in a while I pick one, and reread it. Nowadays (?) I often google whatever takes my fancy: film, tv authors etc. just to see what otrher peoples opinon might be or has been. So I found your review. I think the book is completely outdated, and represents a very naive view of how humans will interact with another sepcies - The old fashioned British naval traditions, reminds me of 'Master and Commander', and the whole idea that some military ship should be used and a number of officers and other military personal sent to interact with a new species, is
rediculeous (?)
But still it has a basic interesting plot, so it is worth while, but Arthur C. Clarkes Rama stories is a lot better (IMHO)

Please excuse the spelling, I live in Denmark in the city of Aalborg.

Thanks for writing an interesting letter. If you kept your SF to a single shelf you are a better man than I am, Lars Geisler. My mine occupies 20 or 30. I justify this on the grounds that i have friends whose SF collections are much larger than mine.

Your spelling is good - perhaps better than mine. You had a few typos, again quite all right. I have a few typos here and there myself. I inherited them from an eccentric great uncle who kept a chest of them under his bed. He left them to me with strict instructions to only use them in case of emergency. So far it seems that every day is an emergency.

BTW, "ridiculous".

I will divide your critique into two parts, (a) that it is outdated, and (b) that it is naive and ridiculous. On the latter point I disagree. Pournelle wrote a very interesting defense of the sociology and politics of the society in the story. A simplified version of his thesis is that the impulses to autocracy, aristocracy, militarism, and empire are endemic and reassert themselves in proper circumstances. Nothing that people have done in the past is ever truly passe. The thesis is arguable, but it shouldn't be dismissed on the grounds that it is not acceptable within current day political mores.

Further, Star Trek has continued on with the same "some military ship should be used and a number of officers and other military personal sent to interact with a new species" for the past several decades.

The objection that it is outdated is more interesting. I think that it is outdated in the sense that this is not the kind of story that is being written these days and not the kind of story that sells. I'm not sure of this - I don't keep track of the field that closely any more. However my impression is that it is fantasy that is written and fantasy that sells. Much of the SF that is sold are Star Trek and Star Wars novels. Old fashioned SF is becoming an archaism. Or so I have said and so I believe. I expect that someone will write me and inform me that I am wrong.

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From: Philip Tyson
Date: 5/2/2007
Subj: My Grandpa is my Hero by Stephany Tyson

Dear Friends,

There is a man I will always respect and admire. He isn’t a movie star. He isn’t the President of the United States. He didn’t win a Nobel Prize and he wasn’t awarded any purple hearts. No, he is just a missionary, but he is also even more than that. He is my grandpa.

Bob Tyson was born in a small town called Villa Rica, Georgia. He was a preacher’s son, but he was always the “redneck” of the family. He liked to race cars and blow up dynamite, so he was always a tough guy. He got married with a seventeen year old girl named Joan Costlow. They settled down in Villa Rica with their own house, land, and cars, all paid for, and both with good jobs. They had everything they could ever want or need, but God had other plans.

In 1964, my grandpa was called to be a missionary. He and my grandma sold everything they had and went to Tennessee Temple University. After three years and a half of studying the Bible, they were off for the mission field in Honduras and Nicaragua. And that’s where they’ve been ever since. Now Good Samaritan Baptist Missions is bigger than they could ever have dreamed, all because of the leadership of Bob Tyson. He gave his whole life to the mission field. Many times he risked his life for the Lord’s work. He did what was right and nobody could back him down. He didn’t care what people thought about him; he just cared what God thought. He has been called a “fireball preacher” many times because when he preached, he never did beat around the bush. He told the people straight in their faces what they were doing wrong. In the tent meetings, cowboys on horses armed with guns would come up around the tent to listen, but Grandpa never hesitated. My grandma, however, could just “feel” the bullets coming by.

Yes, Bob Tyson was a born leader and strong and tough and very stubborn, but he was also very compassionate. He would always try to help anybody in need. He not only worried about their spiritual needs, but their physicals needs too. People that knew him feared him, but they all loved and respected him. He kept things under control and going right, and if things didn’t go his way, then someone was in trouble.

My grandpa’s health started going bad a few years back and now he’s not able to work anymore. Our family doctor, a few years ago, said to Grandpa “Bob, you’ve worn your body out for the Lord”. And that’s exactly what he did. He gave his whole heart and soul to the ministry and his body just wore out. He and his leadership are missed by everyone in the mission, and sometimes it might seem like we can’t do it anymore without him. But God’s not through with this mission. He has kept it going over five years now without Grandpa, and I don’t have a shadow of a doubt that He will keep it going even longer. There will never be another Bob Tyson, but there will always be God, and Grandpa would’ve wanted us to put our total trust in Him.

Like I said at the beginning, Grandpa didn’t win a Nobel Prize and wasn’t given any purple hearts. But I can assure you that he will get crowns and awards in Heaven. And that can’t even compare to any awards he could get here. Like to many others, Bob Tyson is my hero. He always will be, and when the Lord calls him home, it will never be the same. But his spirit will always be with us, because he loved his family and the ministry too much to leave us. If anyone deserves a crown in Heaven, Bob Tyson does. He is a man of faith, courage, bravery, and a born-leader. But most of all, he is a man of God, and there will never, ever be another man like him, the redneck missionary, the fireball preacher, the loving grandpa, the man of God, Bob Tyson.

By Stephany Tyson,
Granddaughter of Bob Tyson

Thank you for writing. I'm not sure why I am getting this, but it is always a pleasure to see a granddaughter loving her grandfather.
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From: Robert Eggleton
Date: 5/13/2007
Subj: "Rarity from the Hollow"

Mr. Harter,

I just wanted to share the most recent (5th) review of Rarity from the Hollow.

Robert Eggleton

--------

"Give yourself a treat with something different next time you're ready to read. Try Rarity from the Hollow. It is one of the most unusual novels I've read in a great while. Look in on a dysfunctional family, poverty, child abuse, and the thought processes of a young girl turning the corner from childhood to adolescence, then put them all together in a surreal setting that looks at our society from a distinctly different viewpoint. You'll enjoy the ride with Lacy Dawn and friends and family, but don't expect the ride to be without bumps and enough food for thought to last you a long time."

-- Darrell Bain -- 2005 Fictionwise eBook Author of the Year

Thank you for passing this on. Darrell Bain certainly seems to think that it is an exceptional novel.
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From: Menu Cosmin
Date: 5/13/2007
Subj: Hello

My name is Menu Cosmin. what is your name? i find new friends. my mail is [deleted] and my yahoo messenger id is [deleted] . pls add for new friend. thanks

Sorry, I'm not that desperate for new friends.
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From: Rosalind Sexner
Date: 5/11/2007
Subj: bagel seeds

Please tell me if you really do sell bagel seeds?thank you

Not really. Maybe I should take it up as an internet business. I hear you can sell anything on eBay.
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From: Wendi Rinehart
Date: 5/0/2007
Subj: this sounds like you Richard! :-)

"Political Correctness is a doctrine fostered by a delusional, illogical minority, and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end."

The trick is to pick it up with a single square of toilet paper.
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From: Jhavie07
Date: 5/8/2007
Subj: Hello where is this city talked about in the page before, Has it been created, or has it been written about through the ways that stories are heard. write back tell me more. be bliss with your stories.

I'm glad you like my stories, but it would help if you mention which story the city appears in.
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From: Erin Moore
Date: 4/29/2007
Subj: http://richardhartersworld.com/~cri/2003/observant_ans.html

Hi,
This is for Mr. Harter and Rose M Porter who had requested information about William Knight. The web site below has some information about William Knight being commissioned as a Saling Master by Thomas Jefferson. I am a 4th great niece of William and a grand-daughter of his brother John (who was a Life Guard for Gen. George Washington).

I also have a copy of John, The Knight Who Came to Stockport by Lucille P. Howell copyrighted 1982. That has the information about the Commission of William Knight, Sailing Master by Thomas Jefferson on the Second of October, 1799. He was then ordered to the USS Augusta. My William was born in 1775 so I'm not sure if they are the same William Knight as Mrs. Porter is referring - he would have only been 15 at the time that she is thinking her William Knight was commissioned. If the two Williams are the same then Mrs. Porter and I would be cousins. (William died without issue and the only other of their siblings died in infancy.) He also was on the USS Philadelphia, USS George Washington, and USS President; I do not have any sources so far that link him to the USS Constitution.

However, if my information might help either of them, please forward to them my E-Mail address. Mr. Harter's specific question was not listed that I saw, so I do not know if I'm even on the right track with him.

http://www.knight-france.com/geneal/legacy/234.htm

Thanks very much for writing. I will pass this on to Rose M. Porter. I expect that you she will be very pleased to hear from you.
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From: Lois Harter or Anna Cross
Date: 5/6/2007
Subj: Wine and Other Things

The good news is that we picked up your wine. The bad news is you now owe us $83 for the wine and items we bought which we wouldn't have purchased if we hadn't had such a lovely time picking up your wine and visiting other wineries in the area...

That isn't a problem. I have arranged for you to receive $83 in vouchers for corn and bean chowder on the Wessington Springs Centennial wagon train trip. Just show up. (PS: Don't wear your high heels.)
By the way, your coverage statistics of Highmore would probably be vastly increased if, instead of the tag line "Visit Scenic Highmore, SD in 2007," you changed it to "Visit Scenic Highmore, SD - Tour Stop of the Famous Buck Zumhofe Rock 'N Roll Wrestling Midget Wrestling! Who could resist following that link??
Seems reasonable to me. Maybe I will add it to the main page banner.
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From: Daren
Date: 4/29/2007
Subj: http://richardhartersworld.com/~cri/2003/observant_ans.html

The lowest number on a US FM dial could also be 87.9.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FM_broadcasting

I needed to know that. There are so many things I need to know. I will schedule a correction. It will appear shortly after I make the correction.
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From: Marlena Morgan
Date: 5/2/2007
Subj: E-mail

Sent. Like your site. Using it in Theory of Knowledge class---you are now mildly famous in West Vancouver.

Excellent. Now if I can just figure out how to become mildly famous in East Vancouver I will have it made.

... continued on next rock ...

LOL....being mildly famous in East Vancouver is not a problem....we East Vancouverites are tolerant folks (I bring my East Vancouver earthiness to the posh people of West Vancouver)...i will now dub thee an honourary mildly famous East Vancouverite...cheers!

I think I will cite that on my resume -- Richard Harter, obscure internet personality, mildly famous in both East and West Vancouver, and sundry other places not numerous enough to mention.
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From: Bruce C. Miller
Date: 5/1/2007
Subj: How to find you...

Thought you'd be interested in knowing that you came up #8 in the results from a Google search for the comic strip "Out of the Gene Pool." The Darwin Awards came up as #4 in the same search. I've sent your link to a few friends who need to know.

Thanks for the info and thanks for passing the word on. The more the merrier I always say. My site (which is an appalling sprawling mess) gets a lot traffic. Accoding to Earthlink it had 141,540 visitors in April. I have next to no clue as to where they all come from. My friends all say that I need a clue or two, so every data point is welcome.
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From: Nicole Criswell
Date: 4/13/2007
Subj: Face on the Bar Room Floor

I am writing to tell you how pleased I was of your site. I have two postcards of this "Face of the Bar Room Floor" I finally talked my mother out of them- She had previously gotten them from someone else. I was moved by this story a long time ago and just decided to see if I found anything. I'm sure there are more than one story behind this picture. Any way, to get to the point I was wondering if you knew where I could find a painting, more postcards (the one I have is old and yellow) or anything I could display in my home. It would be very much appreciated.

I don't have anything specific offhand. However you might contact the Rouge restaurant in the Central City Teller House (not to be confused with the Silverton Teller House). The "Face Bar" in the Teller House is the bar with a face upon the floor. They probably have postcards of the face for sale; if not they can probably point you in a good direction. Their address is:

Rouge at the Teller House,
120 Eureka Street, Central City, CO 80427

I'm glad that you enjoyed the site.

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From: Michel Durinx
Date: 4/23/2007
Subj: Unknow (Ancient) Geometry -- I am a spammer!

Circles are ancient, you know, at least that is true. I hope they have plotters on Orkney, otherwise the drudgery of endlessly drawing circles might get to the locals... [It does help pass the winter, though.]

Funny thing: I asked Mathematica to draw me

A = {};
For[ i = -8, i ˜ 8,
  	For[j = -8, j ˜ 8,
    		For[k = 1, k ˜ 3, A = Insert[ A,
                    {Thickness[.0002], Circle[{0 + i/2*Sqrt[3] +
Sqrt[3]*j, 0 + i*3/2}, k],
                                                      Circle[{0 +
i/2*Sqrt[3] + Sqrt[3]*j, 1 + i*3/2}, k]}, 1]; k++]; j++]; i++]
Export["circlestuff.eps", Graphics[A], "eps"];
and it gave me a file with the same drawing! Well, nearly --- it didn't match the imprecision, and it didn't give the nice circle-y cutout. So I persuaded LaTeX to look into the business, and in reply to
\documentclass[a4paper]{article}
\usepackage[left=5mm, right=5mm, top=5mm, bottom=5mm]{geometry}
\usepackage{pstricks,graphicx}
%
\begin{document}
%
\begin{pspicture}(0,0)(10,20)
   	\begin{psclip}{\pscircle[linewidth=0mm](9,9){9}}
   		\includegraphics[width=190mm, clip=true, trim=40mm 18mm 40mm 18mm]%
			{circlestuff}
	\end{psclip}
\end{pspicture}
\end{document}
it gave the desired result (with a variation of Random[Real,{-.02,.02}] added to each coordinate)!

Given the sacred nature of this ancient geometry, should I now worship my computer? Or am I a god, having overthrown this ancient and therefore having dominion over circle-y thingses great and small (especially corn crops)?

Confusedly yours,

Well you should be confused; you have tampered with that that man is not meant to know. Actually what has happened is that you have imbued your computer with holiness. This does not mean that it is nicer. It will still continue to do perverse things; such is the nature of computers. However it will do so serenely.
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From: Michael Hall
Date: May/1/2007
Subj: Link Exchange

Dear Sirs.

We represent the adult dating sites SexDatePersonals.com and HornyMatches.com.

We took a look at your site recently and we are interested in a link exchange.

Our offer is quite interesting, a 3 way link as opposed to a reciprocal link. You link to HornyMatches.com and we link to you on SexDatePersonals.com. We offer the best type of link exchange there is and urge you not to pass this opportunity up.

Also, SexDatePersonals has a very nice directory that we have been building so you are sure to find a category there for your site. If not, please just make your suggestion to us.

Last thing is we would like our link to look like this:

Adult Dating [hyperlink]
www.hornymatches.com [website address]
Adult Dating [description]

Have a great day and we look forward to doing business with you in the very near future,

I don't quite know what these gentlemen found in my web site that would give them the impression that a link exchange would be appropriate. Whatever it might be, I do hope that no one will point it out to me. There are things that Richard is not meant to know, and that includes what lies lie half forgotten in the dusty corners of his web site.

Though perhaps I have jumped to conclusions. After all, horny matches might be matches made out of horn. Likewise SexDatePersonals might be about determining the sex of various fruits that appear in personal ads. Sexing dates might be almost as difficult as sexing fruit flies.

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From: Sam Hine
Date: 4/19/2007
Subj: Will Virginia Tech shootings change anything?

Johann Christoph Arnold is an author, speaker and founder of Breaking the Cycle, which teaches nonviolent conflict resolution in high schools and universities. His books include Seeking Peace, Why Forgive?, Escape Routes, and Be Not Afraid. You have his permission to publish this commentary on the Virginia Tech shootings. Please let me know if you plan to use it.

Yes, I will use it for the May issue. As usual, I will do it in point-counter-point format. Thank you for passing this on.
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From: Babyrose
Date: 4/22/2007
Subj: ???

this is the most awesome thing i have ever heard.. ...
and yes, this is a chick.

It is definitely good to know that it is a chick, whatever it might be. I'll keep that in mind.
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From: christa taylor
Date: 4/18/2007
Subj: Can You Help!

Can you give me step by step directions on how to make a tyranosaurous for a movie? i`m only 11 so i need words to understand. P.S.Can you tell me the jarassic park site?

There are three basic ways to do it. They are stop/go clay models, animatronics, and computer graphics. In the clay model technique, you make a clay model of the dinosaur. You set it up in its starting position and take a picture of it with your movie camera. Then you move it just a little bit and take another picture. You keep doing this for picture frame after picture frame. When you get all done you splice them together and you have an action sequence. It's very slow and very tedious. That's what they used in the original King Kong. They didn't use it in Jurassic Park.

In animatronics you build a model that has machinery inside it to move it around. They built a full sized model of the T-rex that they used in Jurassic Park. They also built a full sized model of a Triceratops.

The third way that they do it is to do it all inside computers. They have special software that lets you create pictures of dinosaurs (or other animals) and move them around. Nowadays they use computers a lot.

There is a wonderful video called "The Making of Jurassic Park" that shows how they did everything in the first Jurassic Park movie. If you can get a copy it will answer a lot of questions for you.

Finally, the Jurassic Park website is www.jurassicpark.com. It's a lot of fun.

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This page was last updated May 24, 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!