table of contents
February 2001 TOC
Archived letters

Letters to the Editor, February 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 And, of course, anything marked not for publication is not for publication.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 February 2001.

Index of contributors

Derek Green
Bob Wombacher
Morris M. Keesan
Jodie Matthews
c.e. davidson
LA Kelley
Rod Case
Irma Goodwin
Norman Levitt
Joanne Alden
Ray H.

Other Correspondence Pages

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

From: “Derek Green” ([email protected])
Date: 2/26/2001
Subj: Hugh Miller

Please may we express our thanks to you for having a web page about hugh miller. Hugh is my mums great great great uncle as my mums name was miller before she married.

Please keep up the good work and we hope that you may be able to add to this at some time.

You’re welcome. It’s possible that I will add more pages but it is not likely. The person to thank is Andrew MacRae who located and transcribed Hugh Miller’s work.
Return to index of contributors From: Bob Wombacher ([email protected])
Date: 2/22/2001
our recipe for beef stew…..

At 10:47 AM 02/22/2001 -0700, you wrote: Hi, Richard. We accidentally ventured into your website while searching for a recipe for a good beef stew yesterday. We followed your directions pretty faithfully, omitting the dill weed, putting a can of corn in the mix, etc. It turned out so delicious that we had it for dinner last evening, for breakfast this morning, and then another bowl or two for a mid-morning snack!

I’m originally from Proctor, just outside Duluth, MN. My lady-friend, Chris, is originally from London, England. We live in a little burg called Page, Arizona, just at the border with Utah. I had a sales office in Sioux Falls in the late ’50s. We sold Compact vacuum cleaners. As I remember, our office was on E. 10th, across the street from a school for the deaf. Thanks for a great recipe. We enjoyed some of your poetry, too.

Bob Wombacher

Bashful Bob’s, huh. If I’m ever in Page I will have to stay there. I know where your office was but I don’t know what’s there now.

The beef stew recipe is a wonder. As long as you stay within the basic framework you can vary a lot on what you put in it and how much. I’ve never thought of putting corn in it; I’ll have to give that a try. In any case, I’m glad that you liked it.

So you’re the guy that was reading the poetry! It turns out that there are quite a few people reading it, much to my surprise.

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From: “Morris M. Keesan” ([email protected])
Date: 2/21/2001
Subj: Garden Path Sentences

I was amused, while reading the introduction to the Garden Path Sentences at http://www.tiac.net/users/cri/garpath1.html , to see the sentence “For most people the following sentences look as though they incorrect.” To me, that sentence looks as though it incorrect.

And you are right. Perhaps you remember, Alphonse, my gentleman’s gremlin of typos. He’s retired now (rumors that he is writing security software for Microsoft are only rumors) but his place has been ably taken by his nephew Albert. Much as I appreciate Albert’s cleverness in this instance I fear I shall have to make a correction.
I started to disagree with your interpretation of the last sentence, “The tycoon sold the offshore oil tracts for a lot of money wanted to kill JR,” because I misread the answer to “which tycoon?” as “the one who sold the oil tracts,” but while typing this I realized that “the one who was sold the tracts” means “the one to whom the tracts were sold”, and I see that this is a valid reading. I believe that I have another reading which is equally valid: The tycoon sold the offshore oil tracts for a lot of money, and this money was wanted for the purpose of killing JR. (Perhaps the tycoon was going to drown JR in a huge vat of coins resembling the vault which Scrooge McDuck swam in. I think it more likely that a lot of money was wanted to hire a hitman.)
I’ll have to add a note mentioning that reading.

Good to hear from you. I should be at Minicon; I will see you there if you are there also.

… continued on next rock …

Alas, attending Minicon is just too much trouble, except in those infrequent years when Easter and Passover diverge (and in those years, there’s the Minicon vs. Eastercon dilemma). Travelling in general is also much more work now than it used to be — while you’ve been enjoying living a “small life”, my life has gotten rather large in the past year. If you’ve noticed my .signature, you understand why.

http://world.std.com/~keesan/ — newest baby pictures added 2001-02-13

Congratulations. Offspring does change things. I expect that Joseph will become a fandom rug rat in due course.

I will probably make it to next year’s Boskone. I should see you there.

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From: G S ([email protected])
Date: 2/19/2001
Subj: e mail

why cant i seend these jokes to friends i dont see no restricted access

I’m sorry, I can’t help you. The mail field is set up to send mail to me (Richard Harter, the site webmaster). You can change the “to” field in the mail form to the person you want to send the jokes. You also have to fill in the message area. On a computer you would cut and paste the joke; I don’t know how you would do that on webtv.
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From: MatteoMan86 ([email protected])
Date: 2/3/2001
Subj: mutant?

hello? You haven’t even updated your site in like, ages. Are you possibly letting your mutant hunting skills dip? Perhaps mutants shoudl rule the earth!

Not my web site, old bean. It’s the X-men movie promo site and it is old news.

(I guess the old fishing hole isn’t completely played out.)

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From: “Matthews, Jodie” ([email protected])
Date: 2/19/2001
Subj: Thank you for your hard work and effort into this site

What a fantastic site – I have had a very long read – I had never heard of the Piltdown hoax before – being schooled in NZ and not taking any sciences beyond 5th form would possibly account for my ignorance (I will ask fellow workmates and friends if they know of it). Your site is extremely informative and very interesting – I couldn’t stop reading. Will direct others to it.

Thank you so much

from a (now) more informed New Zealander

I’m glad that you enjoyed it. My intent was to create an informative reference site which was also readable. Piltdown Man appears regularly in American creationist sites as an example of evil evolutionists doing bad things; one of the motives for the page was to get the facts (such as are known) available. Another motive is that the Piltdown Man hoax is one of the great whodunnits of real life.
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From: “cedavidson” ([email protected])
Date: 2/8/2001
Subj: visiting

I visited your web site and found it very interesting. I was a Marine from 93-97. I got out a sergeant. I really loved my time in the corps and hated to get out. There is no greater bond than that of marines who have been in combat together. I saw combat in Somalia, Haiti and Liberia. I was also in Panama. We did drug interdicition on the canal for 3 months. I was in Gitmo Bay, Cuba gaurding refugees. Its good to hear storys from the “Old Corps”. I was stationed on Camp Lejune, NC. I am currently a undercover narcotics police officer in North Carolina. It would be hard to tell I was a marine from the beard and long except for the USMC I got tattooed on both arms.Thanks for your storys. Semper Fi. Aaron Davidson

Thanks for writing. There’s always an Old Corp. When I was in the Old Corps were the guys who were in World War II and the Old Old Corps were the guys who were in the Corps during the thirties. When I was in boot camp they did the Queen Anne’s drill (if I remember correctly). This had eight man marching squads with some very complex maneuvers. I think that revival only lasted for a short time though.

I suspect that being an undercover narcotics officer would be very tough because you are operating in a subculture that is the antithesis of what you really stand for.

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From: “LA Kelley” ([email protected])
Date: 2/9/2001
Subj: …while in the momentum of laughter

a mere peek at Theological Engineering and I can’t wait to get on with mining the rest!

thanks, Leslie (Liberal Studies 3rd yr middle aged Scholarly Mystic)

You’re welcome. There’s some strange things buried in the scrap pile.
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From: Rod Case ([email protected])
Date: 2/3/2001
Subj: Where Is He Now?

Very interesting site. Was wondering just where the original forged scull is now?

If you are talking about the Piltdown bones, they are still in the British Museum under lock and key. They are still valuable historic artifacts.
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From: Barry ([email protected])
Date: 1/15/2001
Subj: Waiting for Godot

Hello people at this website. I am a student currently reading (or is it reading me?) Waiting for Godot. I found your page very funny on the different atitudes,you just summerised all my teacher has said over the past year and a half (which is not difficult,I might add!).

I was just wondering if any of you kind,clever people would like to send me some essays as I have not been able to find any elsewhere.

I’m afraid that the people at this website are mostly just me. There are a few essays on the site that take,uh, a different slant on things. In particular you might look at:

A Christmas Carol revisited which suggests that that famous short story is a disguised tract against socialism.


Swords, Rings, and The Lord of the Rings which is a wild Freudian deconstruction of Tolkien’s classic.

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From: Irma Goodwin ([email protected])
Date: 2/3/2001
Subj: looking for email address

i’ve added a link to your page on my great homepages. keep up the good work. love your site


irma’s home page:

I’m pleased that you like it; thank you for the kind words. I browsed through site which is interesting and very pretty. Good show. As a trivial bit I was struck by the way everything seemed to float above the background in your homepages page.

… continued on next rock …

Well, Richard, you would be welcome to use that cool blue 3-d graphic for a background of your own, but naw, it would not fit in with your page. By the way, the reason I use so much dark background is that it views much better that way on the telly. But I must tell you that your site also views great on webtv because you have the bufferred colors and nice size text.

I may use it in the reincarnation game. It’s good to know that my site is compatible with webtv. As you may have noticed my site is graphics lite. This is because I am lazy (my brand of laziness sometimes involves a lot of work.) I use templates to generate pages in standardized styles.
I just read your small life this morning. I do hope you do not get too lonesome. I love where I live. Someday I’ll say something about that on my page.
One of the glories (and pitfalls) of the internet is that one can have a very broad life in some respects; one never need suffer from mind rot. The down side is that it short on simple human contact. It turns out that living here is a schizophrenic experience; I live in two quite distinct cultures – that of small-town rural America and that of a much wider world.

Do write about where you live; people talking about their own lives is always interesting.

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From: Norman Levitt ([email protected])
Date: 1/29/2001
Subj: Review of FN

I just caught up with your review of Sokal/Bricmont. I think you have the right idea, but strive overmuch to appear judicious.

Kind words are always appreciated. It’s been a while since I’ve FN, HS, and SW so please bear with me; I may recall a point or two incorrectly.
A minor point: Your reproof of S/B over the use of the term “logistic equation” verges on the captious. In the context of diff. eq., everyone (mathematical) knows what the term means, and use of the definite artricle is standard. When I teach the thing in elementary diff. eq., as I do perennially, I refer to the beast as THE logistic equation. If I were clearly talking about discrete dynamical systems, bifurcation of attractor sets, Feigenbaum cascades, and all that, I would naturally use “the logistic equation” to refer to that iterative process. (Similarly, in a diff. eq. class, the Euler equation means something quite different from exp(pi*i) = -1 .) So far as that dim bastard Virilio goes, to the extent that he was talking about anything mathematical at all, he was talking about diff. eq’s., so S/B can’t be blamed for not detouring into a discussion of strange attractors for the discrete logistic process.
I think I have to agree with you that the criticism of S/B’s comments re the logistic equation is off base; on the other hand I do feel that the presentation of chaos et al in the said interlude is also a bit off, the difficulty being that the mere recognition in the past of failure of prediction in systems is quite a different matter from much the sharper analysis present in chaos theory and catastrophe theory; S/B is claiming too much here.
Of more direct concern to me is your passing praise of Roger Hart. To the extent that this soi-disant “historian of mathematics” did “yeoman work”, it was the work of besmearing himself with the muck of his own damned lies. Especially in regard to Ross’s silly book “Strange Weather,” Hart was guilty of “quote mining” of the most tendentious and misleading sort. As for his remarks on Shapin/Schaffer, his fawning over that piece of hokum permanently undoes any claim to being a serious historian of mathematics. The book is extremely dishonest–much more so than we alleged in “Higher Superstition”–and Hart enrolls himself among the guilty in shamelessly parroting its claims and its methodology.
I haven’t read “Strange Weather” and have no intention of doing so; judging from what I read by him in “Science Wars” I suspect that he can write no other than silly books. My comments re Roger Hart were with respect to his essay in “Science Wars”. Unfortunately my copy has strayed somewhere and I can’t lay my hands on it; my library is in somewhat of a state of disorganization due to a recent move. I can’t judge the quality of his historical commentary; I simply don’t have the requisite knowledge of the field. In the context of “Science Wars” his essay, whether or not it is well founded, stands well above most of the rest of that work.

If you like I can add a note to the effect that you take strong exception to Hart’s essay and that the second edition of HS has a brief rebuttal. (I have the first edition.)

A brief rebuttal to Hart forms part of the Foreword to the second (paperbound) edition of “Higher Superstition”. Long ago, I posted a more detailed rebuttal to some discussion groups, where you can still probably find it. If you’d like (and still give a good goddam at this point) I can unearth it from my archives and sent it to you.
It’s been a while since I’ve looked at this particular controversy. At one point I had planned to do reviews of HS and SW – I still have the working notes in my files. I may well return to them when time becomes free.
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From: Joanne Alden ([email protected])
Date: 1/23/2001
Subj: looking for email address

Hello. I am looking for an email address for Dolly Parton. Can you help me? , Mendocino, CA.

I’m sorry but I don’t have it. However the following URL should help:


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From: Ray H. ([email protected])
Date: 1/28/2001
Subj: Interesting site

I am interested and entertainede by your many poems and opinions. check out my site: www.staticvision.com My e-mail is: [email protected]

feel free to mail me your comments on the site, and if you have any material you would like to contribute.

Thank you for the kind words about my site and its contents. I took a look at your site. I browsed through your site and sampled some of the pages. I had mixed feelings about the graphics; sometimes I said to myself, “Self, this is too busy and cluttered,” and sometimes I said, “Self, this is beautiful.” Self didn’t reply. I like what you are trying to do. I particularly liked http://www.staticvision.com/realtv/projects.htm

As a general rule I don’t make any effort to get my stuff published elsewhere. If there is anything in my pages that you would like to reprint please let me know.

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This page was last updated February 26, 2001.

table of contents
February 2001 TOC
Archived letters