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July 2009
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Letters to the editor, July 2009

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 And, of course, anything marked not for publication is not for publication.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 2009.

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From: Peter
Date: 12 July 2009
Subj: How much is Ryan s Steak house

Hi,
How much is ryan s steak house?

I was thinking that your advice would be very helpful. I know you must be very busy so any pointers would be very much appreciated. Any info much appreciated.

Thank you so much. Sincerely,
Peter

I don't quite understand what it is that you want to know. For that matter, it isn't clear to me how I could help you. If there is nothing I can do, I will strive to give you the best nothing that I can produce.
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From: Peter Neilson
Date: 17 July 2009
Subj: Squid

The BBC have received news of giant squid near San Diego.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8155417.stm

The problem was addressed by D. Christine Benders some years ago with Squidsong #1, which I quote in part:

My Grandfather's Squid was too large for the shelf,
So it sat in a tub by the door.
It was larger, four times, than the whole room itself,
And it weighed a considerable bit more.

It was caught on the morn of the day that he was born.
It had four ships and their crews still inside,
And it ate the postman, a jogger and her dog,
When the Old Man died.

Ninety years unrepentant,
Plish, plosh, plish, plosh.
It ate his dependants,
Plish, plosh, plish, plosh,
And it ate the postman, a jogger and her dog,
When the Old Man died.

You will observe, perhaps, that singing the word "considerable" requires squishing five syllables into a space that can only hold three. This, Ms. Benders assured me, is deliberate. Apparently it represents the method for putting something (in this case a squid) into a container smaller than the item itself. The City of San Diego is hereby advised to take note, as this song may be their only hope.

I am under the impression (I use impressions as umbrellas on sunny days) that the squid in Benders' squidsong is the the giant squid whereas San Diego is infested with the smaller Humboldt squid. I am not sure that this matters for our purposes; then again, I am not sure what our purposes are. I do admire her ingenious methods for dealing with surplus syllables. I now see advantages in writing squid poems that had never occurred to me before.
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From: Brian Sallows
Date: 14 July 2009
Subj: Caliban's will

Hello,
I have tried to remember another logic puzzle called "The vicar and the bell-ringer. I wonder if you have come across it. Not particularly difficult but it defeats many people.

The vicar said to the bellringer, "There are three members of my congregation, the product of whose ages is 2450.

The sum of their ages is twice yours. Can you tell me their ages ?"

The bell-ringer thinks and says, "I haven't sufficient information."

The vicar replies: "It will suffice to say that I am older than any of you.

The bell-ringer then stated the three ages. What were they , along with with that of the vicar.

A member of my office was struggling with Caliban's Will around 1962 but left soon after, so I never found out if he solved it. Several times over the years I have unsuccessfully tried to find it , and today SUCCESS.

Thank you, I will now struggle with it.

Enjoy. I may have seen "The vicar and the bell-ringer" - it sounds like a puzzle that Dudeny would have propounded - but I don't recall it off hand. As you say, it isn't hard, but I can see why it would defeat people. I may use it on my puzzle page.
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From: Howard Sherman
Date: 8 July 2009
Subj: how do i email this quiz around to my friends?

(precisely nothing)

I dunno, which quiz are you talking about? I'm guessing that there is a quiz on one of my web pages that you would like to send to your friends. What you should do is copy the URL from the quiz page to the email you send to your friends.
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From: Chip Hitchcock
Date: 17 July 2009
Subj: from _Making Light_, in case you haven't kept up

What goes "Pieces of seven! Pieces of seven!"

A parity error.

Yecch, I bit on that.
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From: Kent Thompson
Date: 22 June 2009
Subj: Whatever

Saludos de Costa Rica!  My name is Kent Thompson, and I live and work in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica.  While browsing on the internet, I found your website, and was drawn to your poetry.  I fancy myself a writer, too, though an unpublished one, and am very interested in epic fantasy poetry.  I am completing a work right now along these lines, in fact.  More than anything, I just wanted to make contact with you, as I appreciate your style of writing, and your themes.  Drop me a line when you get the chance!

Thank you for writing. Telling me that you were drawn to my poetry is a good way to pique my interest. My modesty is proverbial as in "How like a grain of sand is the modesty of Harter".

I would be interested in looking at your completed work. The epic works on my site were somewhat of an accidental creation. I have a fourth work in progress in the Zhandivar cycle that has been waiting patiently for the poet to get back to it.

One of my belated thoughts on epic poetry is that it should be easy to memorize and easy to recite. I am given to understand that epic poetry originated as oral recitations recited by wandering bards.

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From: FreddaBatman46
Date: July/1/2009
Subj: 4 u bebe

hi honey i hope you enjoy these. come see me soon

(pictures deleted)

Thank you honey, but I think I have already seen more of you than I ever wanted to see.
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From: Michael Doyle
Date: 14 June 2009
Subj: Kult of Hamstur

I came across this post on your website.

From: Anielka Briggs
Date: 18 Jan 2009
Subj: Kult of Hamstur

Found you through Fatmouse Absolutely hilarious. Well done!

Thanks. A chap named Steve Witham found it for me, or else wrote it - I'm not sure which. According to Google there are only two copies of the Kult of Hamstur on the web, mine and one in the Tom's Hardware forum. The only connection that I can see is that I'm into software and Tom is into hardware. Make of it what you will. BTW, thanks for mentioning Fatmouse to me. That is the kind of page that makes the web worthwhile.

For what it's worth, I wrote all that nonsense a long time ago. It's amazing to me how long some things hang around on the web. I haven't written anything beyond Tails From the Gerbilnomicon (a collection of stories, rants and other KoH stupidity) which was published - in the loosest sense of the word - something like a hundred years ago. Or maybe it was about 20. Best seller that you can imagine it was, I still have more than a couple copies tucked away in boxes along with some T-Shirts, buttons and bumper stickers. The web site is gone, the AOL account is gone and, in fact, the only thing keeping the Kult alive is you (and Fatmouse, I guess). Well, and I annoy my online friends with it once in a while. For example, it's the name I'm using on Travian (online multi-player wargame) where I've been playing up the whole hamster thing to the hilt.

I did use the name for some electronic music I published on MP3.com quite a while back. Like many of my creative endeavors, it met with a resounding "meh" Shortly thereafter, MP3.com died. I still maintain there is no connection but beyond that I can't comment due to pending litigation.

I've got a really awesome picture of Hamstur drawn by a friend up on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/32994726@N08/3190154665/in/set-72157612466593436/

In any event, thanks for keeping the Kult alive and providing me with a little trip down memory lane.

Michael Doyle
(not really a hamster but I play one online)

Fascinating. I did a search and discovered that google claims that there are dozens of pages referencing "Kult of Hamstur". Apparently there is a trekkie who uses the pseudonym, Kult of Hamstur, in Star Trek fora. I don't know whether this is an independent invention on his part or whether he is a Kultist. I also see that there was an Avon paperback edition of "Tails From the Gerbilnomicon". I started to do a search on the availability of the Avon edition, but bad things happened. It is best not to mention exactly what they were.
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From: Devin Peterson
Date: 30 June 2009
Subj: Magazine

Hi, my name is Devin Peterson. I came across your site not too long ago and have been quite interested in most of your works. Recently I have been in the process of self publishing a magazine. In one section I would like to discuss some philosohpical and religious (or anti-religious) concepts. Some of your articles would make perfect fits in the section and I was wondering if you would consider allowing me to use your works, with full credit towards you of course.

If you would consider the possibility please contact me back. Thank you and I appreciate your time.

You are welcome to reprint articles containing some of my small thoughts. I do ask that you properly attribute them and include links to the originals. I don't know whether you are doing a e-magazine or a print magazine. If the former I would appreciate getting the URL's for issues in which my articles appear; if the latter a contributor's copy would be appreciated.
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From: Julie Vilsack, Secretary General U.S-Kentucky
Date: 27 June 2009
Subj: Do you want to live and work in the US?

USA Green Card Astor Station PO Box 231117 Boston , MA 02123-1117 USA

Case Number: USVC3921534069

USGLC American Green Card Program-2009/2010

Dear Winner.

We wish to inform you that you are among the lucky selected winners of the U S. Green Card Email Visa Lottery. The Lottery program was conducted under the terms and conditions of the 2004 U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services Act (USCIS). This includes all states. The main objective of the program is to give free visas to citizens of developing countries around the world who wish to travel and live in the U.S.A. with the view of working and bettering their lives.

To assure that your visa requirements is prepared correctly and submitted on time, USCIS charges a nominal fee to cover administrative and processing expenses incurred in conjunction with the careful preparation and submission of every application. The fee is $520 per single (unmarried person without children) or $1,250 per family (legally married couple with or without children. Your visa is valid for multiple entries and the duration is 10 years

You may use your visa to obtain further visas for your family (spouse, children, parents etc) for further details, including your application form and the requirements, please contact our representative in the Asia Regional processing center {Bangkok-Thailand} with below information:

District Director: Mr. Tom Osia Murray
Tel: +66 82636-2680
E-mail: usaprogram@mail-on.us

If it should be necessary to contact our District office by Telephone, you must always refer to your file Case Number exactly as they appear above. Your Case Number is clearly written in the upper left hand corner of your notification letter. All selected winners will need to act on their visa claim application quickly before the expiration of the visa claim deadline as extended (15th of July2009) Click the Green-Card-lottery link at your right to read about the program Green card lottery

Please read and follow all the enclosed instructions very carefully.

Sincerely yours
Mrs. Julie Vilsack,
Secretary General U.S-Kentucky

USA dot Gov - The U S Government's Official Web Portal

PRIVACY: This correspondence may contain confidential or legally privileged information or both. No confidentiality or privilege is waived or lost by any mistransmission. You have received this information in your mail box from U.S Department of state ( Kentucky )

For those of my readers who are illegal aliens, this is a scam.

I see that Victoria Hudson has been replaced by Julie Vilsack as Secretary General U.S-Kentucky, an office I can find no reference to other than in warnings about scams. I understand the office used to be Secretary -General- US -Consulate- Kentucky, and there are quite a few references to scam alerts using that title. A surprising number of non-existent people have held that title.

Although this scam email is charmingly dotty, it actually is rather nasty. There is such a thing as a green card lottery so it may sound plausible to its targets. Some scams merely target the greedy and the unthinkingly foolish. This one targets people who are likely to be both ignorant and desperate.

Incidentally for those who are wondering, country calling code 66 is Thailand. Could it be that Mr. Tom Osia Murray is a refugee from Kentucky who is desperate to hear voices from his home land?

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From: Anthony R. Lewis, PhD, F.N.
Date: 25 June 2009
Subj: New philosopher

Richard,

The philosopher Peter Unger was a Swarthmore with Dave Lewis. At Steffi's request I recently friended him on Facebook. You might be amused by looking at his brief Wikipedia entry http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Unger

Tony

I took a look at it. I vaguely recall hearing of him but the details escape. I am not much impressed with the Sorites as an argument. As is so common in these matters, a bad definition is used to produce a paradox. The fundamental problem is that terms like big and small, tall and short, etc, are not proper attributes - they do not satisfy the law of the excluded middle. Rather they satisfy the law of the included muddle.
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This page was last updated July 20, 2009.

Richard Harter's World
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July 2009
email