table of contents
March 2001 TOC
Archived letters

Letters to the Editor, April 2001

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 And, of course, anything marked not for publication is not for publication.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 April 2001.

Index of contributors

Jim Turner
Dawn Cooper
Charles Hitchcock
Heather Medlock
Cpl Kuiper
Charles Hitchcock
Jesse Davis
Charles Hitchcock
Carol Femmer
Trina Pugh
Don Tosaw Jr.
Josh H.
Charles Hitchcock
Dale Kool
Sid Samaha
Philip K. Ronzone

Other Correspondence Pages

Archived Letters For 1996
Archived Letters For 1997
Master page for correspondence
January 2001 Letters
February 2001 Letters
March 2001 Letters

From: Jim Turner ([email protected])
Date: 4/9/2001

Thanks for the enjoyment. I’ve probably put in ten or more hours reading the material you’ve provided. There is one small point regarding your essay on Heinlein. In the fourth paragraph, the word you want is “led” rather than “lead.” Forgive me. Old editors never die, we just get crankier.

Ouch! If that were the only typo in that mass of illiteracy I would be delighted. That one, however, I immediately corrected upon reading your missive. I appreciate the correction.

In any event I thank you for the kind words and am pleased that I have afforded you some enjoyment.

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From: “Dawn Cooper” ([email protected])
Date: 4/18/2001
Subj: Teaching about The Bible

I am teaching year seven pupils about the Bible, more specifically about whether or not the Bible is true. Can you help?

That is not a simple matter; there is a lot of material in the Bible and much of it cannot be taken literally. For example most of the stories in Genesis are not historical fact; there was no global flood, no man named Noah who saved all the species of animals in the ark, no Adam and Eve, no Garden of Eden, and so on. One can take the view that these were myths or one can take the view that these were teaching stories, used to illustrate fundamental truths about human beings. Similarly the story of Job is considered by scholars to be a teaching story rather than a factual account about a man named Job.

I’m not sure that this is very helpful but in truth I don’t know what kind of help you want.

Return to index of contributors From: “Charles Hitchcock” ([email protected])
Date: 4/9/2001
Subj: car keys

Davey tells of a time when she was driving between college (Millersville PA) and Philadelphia and hearing a lot of chatter about a state policeman standing outside his cruiser. (This was at the fortunately-brief peak of CB activity.) After she saw him in _that_ recognizable pose and stopped laughing long enough to speak, she let everyone know he’d locked himself out.

H. Beam Piper would have plotzed….

Chortle. Too bad there is no memorial plaque – “On this site trooper X locked himself out of his cruiser”.
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From: “Heather Medlock” ([email protected])
Date: 4/19/2001
Subj: web site

I love your web site. A friend of mine pointed it out, and it’s the best fucking joke site on the net, and I especially love the one about ‘Correct Language’, which can be very useful. Sorry, but I don’t have any jokes, as I’m a bit slow at them. But if I ever get them, I’ll send you them. Keep up the damn good work

You’re welcome and thanks for the kind words. In the immortal words of SNL my site is a floor wax AND a dessert topping.
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From: Cpl Kuiper ([email protected] )
Date: 4/14/2001
Subj: A few good men and me

Mr. Harter,
I enjoyed your page…”A FEW GOOD MEN AND ME.” Semper Fi.
Cpl Kuiper

Thank you. I enjoyed browsing through your pages also.
Return to index of contributors From: “Charles Hitchcock” ([email protected])
Date: 4/9/2001
Subj: satellite watching

Have you looked at http://liftoff.msfc.nasa.gov/RealTime/JPass? The weather here seems to hate satellite watchers — 4 good passes this weekend (the first in ~3 weeks) and it’s been overcast every evening. (I did get to wave goodbye to Mir on its last dusk pass over this area — I’m not enough of a fanatic to get up for dawn passes.) At your distance from the ocean you might have more clear nights.

This is an excellent place for satellite watching and star watching generally. At the moment we’ve been having a series of spring storms passing through. These are timed to add to the snow melt. At the moment the prairie is filled with scattered pools of water.

It’s still a trifle cool for sky watching. In the summer, though, one spreads a blanket on the lawn and watches the bright lights in the very dark sky.

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From: Jack Daniels ([email protected])
Date: 4/11/2001
Subj: The Cold Equations (a reply to your article by Jesse Davis)

Hi, I’m a high school junior doing a report on this very subject, and just happen to run along your page. I’d have to say that I believe that it isn’t the government’s fault the girl ventured off into a clearly restricted area and suffered the consequences. This is a case in which (by today’s moral standards) the punishment clearly did not fit the crime. Taking into full consideration the ‘red button theory'(what is the most common response to a bright red button marked ‘Do not push the red button’?), I understand that there could have been more steps involved to prevent such an incident, but the government’s responsibility ends in clearly identifying the door as a restricted area. Anything beyond that is strictly a moral obligation felt by those who feel that the lack of anything further is cold-hearted, but despite those feelings, the responsibility (or the blame) doesn’t fall upon the whole of society for not going above and beyond the call of duty to prevent an incident that obviously wasn’t foreseen. Although it may not seem right for the incident to resolve in the way it did, but truth lies in that the young girl’s blood is on her own hands.

In three little words, you are wrong. That the girl bears responsibility for the consequencs of her own actions is true. That the government bears for responsibility for the the consequences of its actions is also true. Reread the article more carefully. Your argument is quite clearly addressed in the article.

… continued on next rock …

Well, I read thorugh your article again. Although you do make a good point, I just don’t see how the government is at fault for not stepping outside of its’ responsibility in doing what it had to.

Evidently you don’t see and that’s rather sad. Put it this way: The government has a problem with stowaways. It has an ineffectual and nearly worthless policy for preventing stowaways – putting up an uninformative sign – and a real policy for dealing with them – shooting them. The sign in the story is little more than a “cover your ass” gesture – a means for disclaiming responsibility.

The story is only a story and one not particularly well written at that. It points, however, to a sad truth of human nature – that many people feel that it is all right to do horrid things to other people as long as there is a gesture to place the blame upon the victims.

In short, in the story the government did not even come close to meeting its responsibility and didn’t even try.

Return to index of contributors From: “Charles Hitchcock” ([email protected])
Date: 4/9/2001
evolution picture (from March lettercol)

IIRC, the latest-but-one SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN had an article on redesigning the human body — not for fun (as per Jack Cohen’s talk) but for practicality. One of the first things they did was produce a less-erect posture because erect is difficult with a spine.

I saw the article but I’m skeptical as to whether that posture works. The fully upright posture (one assumed by preachers and politicians everywhere – assumed but not practiced) is very old. One infers that if the SA article worked our remote ancestors would have adopted it. Maybe I will raise the issue in the one of the newsgroups that I follow and see if one of the odd boffins has the wheres and whys.
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From: “Carol Femmer” ([email protected])
Date: 4/6/2001

I am curious about a book I have recently gotten, ” THE TESTIMONY OF THE ROCKS; OR GEOLOGY IN ITS BEARINGS ON THE TWO THEOLOGIES, NATURAL AND REVEALED.” by HUGH MILLER. After a little research I have come across your e-mail. I was wondering if you would know how to tell the publish date, as it has no reference to one and it sounds much like the book described in the article I have just read. Also, I am curious if you know what “THIRTY-SECOND THOUSAND” means on the title page? Any information you can give me would be quite helpful. Thank you for your time, C. Femmer

I can’t give you definite help. According to the article on my site “THE TESTIMONY OF THE ROCKS” was published in 1857. As far as I know there was only one edition. You might write Andrew MacRae who wrote the article; he can probably give you more information. His email address is on the page.
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From: “Paula-Jo” ([email protected])
Date: 3/20/2001
Subj: Wrong Dates

Can you tell me Richard if there are any interesting articles in your archives on the USS Constitution that I might use in my program? I have written quite a bit on Old Ironsides, but would love to have anything new. I wrote a bit on one her masters as well Mad Jack Percival, what a colorful character he was. I am the local Regent of the DAR chapter here in San Diego and our gavel is made from a plank of the old ship. It was presented to us in the world cruise in 1933. I am also the president of the local chapter of the daughters of the War of 1812, and that’s really why I give this program to promote our small organization. Thanks for your help

I’m sorry, I don’t have any info for you. I lived in Boston for many years and I’ve been on the USS Constitution but that’s about it. The two impressions that I have from my tour of the ship are (a) every is incredibly spic and span and (b) it must have been very cramped.

… continued on next rock …

My sentiments exactly. You should see the pictures of the ship before they restored it, oh my gosh. There is only about 10% of the orginal wood left. Once Congress tried to scrap it and Mad Jack Percival saved it, so when he presented the ship back to them in a-one condition, they made him the captain and he sailed it around the world. Another American Hero no ever hears about.

I didn’t realize that it was in such bad shape when it was saved. Apparently the “Eagle of the sea” was missing most of its tail feathers when the “harpies of the shore” tried to pluck it. Is there a web page somewhere describing the exploits of Mad Jack Percival?
Return to index of contributors From: “Trina Pugh” ([email protected])
Date: 4/2/2001
Subj: X-MEN 2!!!!!!!

BIRING ON X-MEN 2222222222222!!!!!!

I dunno – I’m likely to get still more mail send to my account by mistake.
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From: “Don Tosaw Jr.” ([email protected])
Date: 3/31/2001
Subj: Error on Page

Consequently, organisms which live on land have a much lower FP that organisms which live in shallow, near-shore marine environments.

Thanks. I will correct it.
By the way, I like your site and have had listed it on my links page for quite some time.
Don Tosaw http://www.evolutionhappens.net
Good page, good show.
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From: A.J.([email protected])
Date: 3/31/2001
Subj: Currently thinking about comming a Marine

I Read your story, made me think.. made me laugh. If you have any other sites you think I should look into, please let me know.

Not offhand. Have you looked at the official USMC page?
Return to index of contributors From: Josh H. ([email protected])
Date: 3/29/2001
Subj: wrt movies

I am writing a paper on the effects of radiation and i was just wondering… What can radiation do to people if their Mother was exposed to it in any way during pregnacy?

Can radiation cause mutation and to what extreme? Also, if you have these answers,great. If you dont, can you give me a reference page that can answer my questions. Thank you very much, Josh H.

Radiation during pregnancy can cause teratogenic damage, i.e., errors of development; however mutations occur in the parents gametes (sperm and eggs) before conception.

Radiation is a mutagen. As a general rule the amount of radiation required for inducing serious mutations is life threatening to the parent in its own right. There is no hard and fast rule here; exposure to radiation increases the likelihood of mutations.

Return to index of contributors From: “Charles Hitchcock” ([email protected])
Date: 3/26/2001
Subj: wrt movies

We’ve seen and enjoyed FLYING PEOPLE, HIDDEN WIRES (as one comic called it). CHOCOLAT is everywhere again because of the Oscars but we’ve been uncertain — local reviewers describe it as gooey. (De Lint raved over the book, but I wasn’t sure how much of my enjoyment was the way it accommodated my personal biases.)

FLYING PEOPLE, HIDDEN WIRES (I like that) is good. I was pleased to see that it and TRAFFIC did well in the oscars.

In my experience the Boston reviewers are quite unreliable. Whether or not one describes CHOCOLAT as gooey or sweet is, I suppose, a matter of taste.

You should look for STATE AND MAIN; it’s several kinds of surprise, starting with being a Mamet script with no foulmouthed characters and going on to be edged-funny rather than vicious or tragic.
I may make another run to civilization (to stretch the term) in the near future; if I do I will definitely check it out.
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From: “Dale Kool” ([email protected])
Date: 3/26/2001
Subj: Darwin Awardee

Yes, do you have a story about a man in Los Angeles who purchased Helium ballons at a army surplus store tied them to his lawn chair and went up 16,000 ft?

See http://www.tiac.net/users/cri/darwin97a.html
Return to index of contributors From: Sid Samaha ([email protected])
Date: 3/25/2001
Subj: “B” Co SDT Quantico, VA

Looking for Lloyd V. Evans! This is Sid Samaha, originally from FL, now in Manassas, VA USMC

Sorry, I can’t help you, unless Lloyd or somebody who knows him happens to read my letter column. I hope you find him.
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From: Philip K. Ronzone ([email protected])
Date: 3/26/2001
Subj: Interesting web site

I was explaining the love of my life how I was influenced in life by John W. Campbell, and stories like the Cold Equations. Google led me to your site.

Very very useful.

Thanks; I’m glad that it was useful. I like to think that I did a fairly good job of explaining what the story was about and the reactions to it.

Campbell influenced a lot of people, more so I think those who were exposed to him in his earlier years (I think that time eventually passed him by.) He was somewhat of a crank but he challenged you; more than that he induced his authors to challenge you. It is notable that the golden age SF survives. Many of the stories are clunky and dated; still they articulate themes that are bigger than their settings and the banalities of boy gets girl.

I intend to peruse your site more at leisure, but, I was wondering if you knew of a similar exposition for the SF short story “E For Effort”. Alas, Google hasn’t shown anything for it.
I don’t know of anything on the web. It recurs in books on SF but there isn’t a detailed look at the story that I know of. Maybe I’ll write one.
I also liked the USMC stuff. All four of brothers are ex-USMC, my father was a USMC Capt. (tanks), the led (??) the tail end of the Frozen Chosun retreat … Sempi Fi and Fuck the Birdy … Good night Chesty …
Advancing in a different direction. Wasn’t it Chesty Puller who, when informed that he was surrounded, said “Good. We can advance in any direction.”?
The national anthem of Cuba – “Row, row, row your boat …”.
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From: 94morgan ([email protected])
Date: 3/23/2001
Subj: Bagels

Hi – i would like to buy some bagel seeds off of you but firstly, could you tell me how i pay for them and how they are delivered.Also, what type of bagels are they.

As far as I know the only kind of bagel seeds that are commercially available are Kosher Bagel Seeds although I’ve heard rumors that one of the big seed companies is bringing out a line of non-kosher bagel seeds for gentiles.

I don’t sell Kosher Bagel Seeds myself any more – I went out of the business when I moved from Boston to South Dakota. My supplier was the Kosher Seed Company out of New Jersey. I’m sorry, but I don’t have their address any more. I’m sure that your rabbi would know though; check with him.

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From: “MARY B STUART” ([email protected])
Date: 3/20/2001
Subj: Religion in Literature

I surfed into your site and was reminded of a book I read recently. A fantasy book called “Saint Jack and Toad”. It’s by a guy named Philip Carraher. Really good. It’s like Stephen King but with depth to it. This guy (Jack) has to save the world from a growing evil. He does so at the very bequest of God. Book makes you think because it has thoughts in it that make the reader consider God and what’s going on in the world today. I found it at an online bookseller, 1stbooks.com.

For example., one part of the book talks about Heaven and God. It’s just a couple of paragraphs but it struck me. The book has an angel (the angel appears to the main character (Saint Jack) in the form of a rat in his basement) the angel tells Jack that God is not as he imagines God to be. (A bearded man in a painting). What’s God like then? The angel tells Jack that it’s not the human being that was made in the image of God but rather the entire world. That it’s Nature (all of Nature on Earth) that is a more apt representation of God (although Nature is not God).

I don’t think Carraher is saying Nature is God, but rather that Nature offers us a more apt representation of God’s nature then the old bearded man concept. I think that God remains ultimately unknown. But Carraher’s insight might still answer a lot of questions. For instance it might explain the Holy Trinity. Just as Nature is one thing that holds within it various forms of life, so can God be one thing Who holds within HIm various forms of HImself, i.e.. the Holy Spirit and Jesus. Just as each creature on Earth is a true manifestation of Nature, so Jesus can be a full manifestation of God (in human form).

This struck me as very good. All of a sudden all those concepts (God is one being, but holds everything within HIm) make sense! Just as Life on Earth holds all the animals and trees and people within it (in one Nature that enwraps the Earth) so God can hold everything within Him.

Other questions (such as “Why do bad things happen to good people?”) are addressed too. If you are interested in literature that combines successfully religious themes within it then you might want to investigate this book. C.S Lewis is not the only fantasy writer with religious themes in his work. This book by Carraher is very good.

Thank you for the suggestion. One of the conflicts in Christianity seems to have to do with two very different conceptions of God. There is the concept of God as the bearded father figure and the concept of God as the essentially alien being outside time and space. Much of the strength of Christianity lies in the emotional resonances of God as human, albeit on a large scale. God as the essentially alien being is a product of reason, a consequence of being an immanent all-powerful creator. The difficulty with this conception is that it voids the emotional resonances.

It is not immediately obvious to me that Carraher’s conception of God solves this problem; God as the template for Nature leaves God as an alien being.

There is another conception of God within Christianity (and in other religions, particularly the great Eastern religions), that of the mystical union with God. This is direct experience, apparently a direct relationship with the alien. Traditionally the Church has had an uneasy relationship with its mystics.

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This page was last updated April 19, 2001.

table of contents
March 2001 TOC
Archived letters