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Letters to the Editor, December 2004

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 And, of course, anything marked not for publication is not for publication.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 December 2004.

Some of it is a little ancient; I’m slowly catching up – very slowly.

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Other Correspondence Pages

From: Peter Neilson
Date: 12/13/2004
Subj: An interesting way to handle scams

Mr. Harter,

With regard to the “Brian Neilson” scam e-mail I continuously receive, I came across somebody whose hobby is scamming scampsters. Look at http://www.bustedupcowgirl.com/scampage.html

One can have a lot of fun with these scambraned idiots. Oceanside property in SD, too!

I love it. It’s a fun thing to do, scamming the scammers, but it’s time consuming. Maybe I should get some of that oceanside property; I’ve always wanted to take up surf-boarding.
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From: jdutton
Date: 12/14/2004
Subj: what the fuck is going on ?

you have last chance to return my money!

Sorry, I don’t have it. Check with Buffalo Bob – I hear he’s in the chips.

PS: You might clean the viruses out of your machine.

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From: Peter Neilson
Date: 12/7/2004
Subj: The quality of spam

Mr. Harter! When people write to you by mistake they tend to be (if your correspondence pages are any indication) rather entertaining. How do you accomplish that? When they write to me, all they want is to enhance my anatomy or to loan me money based on the property that I own in Lost Vegas. Look:

  I have an estimate of what I can do for 6156 STONE HOLLOW AVE dwelling.
  Physical: 6156 STONE HOLLOW AVE
  Int: 4.49
  Payout: $70,000
  Dues: $435
  Outline: above currently owed
  Escrow Date: December 18, 2004
  Since properties have risen at an unbelievable rate in LAS VEGAS. I
  have $70,000 in cash above current note for 6156 STONE HOLLOW AVE.
  This is based on the equity that has increased in 6156 STONE HOLLOW
  AVE dwelling only. Your personal credit does not play a major role.
  This is a special offer for LAS VEGAS dwellings only.
  [details for contacting this monetary outfit omitted]
Overlooking the minor difficulty that I’m not named Brian and that I actually own nothing west of maybe Ohio, this actually looks like a pretty good deal. I could sure use that $70,000.

–Peter (not Brian)

That one is not too bad in the entertaining spam category. You do wonder where they come up with this stuff. These days we live in an age of no electronic privacy whatsoever – one’s name and data is scattered everywhere across the electronic landscape. The thing is though, a significant fraction of this information is simply wrong. Winston Churchill once described socialism as National Policy based on information from forms filled out by village postmasters who put down anything they damn pleased. It hasn’t changed much.

The trick on insteresting spam is to keep an eye out for the entertainingly odd in the deluge of trash. I run my email through two phases. In the first phase I go through a webmail service. It removes all of the virus stuff fairly well. I look at the “from” and “subject” lines. One can recognize almost all of the 64 foot erection ads, the 98 DDD breast enhancement ads, the multi-million dollar Nigerian prisoner scams, and the dottery lottery scams pretty much on sight. Etc.

In the second phase I look at what survives my eccentric filter; my chances are fairly good that it is grist for the mill. Now if I could just get that equity loan on my place at 914 Gordon St…..

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From: Sarp Aksu
Date: 11/28/2004
Subj: The Religion of Darwinism by Harun Yahya

The goal of Darwinism is to get people to reject the obvious fact of Creation, which is clearly evident and assured, and to believe in the myth embodied in the theory of evolution. When someone falls under the spell of Darwinism, he also comes under the control of those who support the theory of evolution. Darwinism, and the theory of evolution, are incredible and illogical beliefs; they are like the proposition that black is a chance byproduct of the changes that white undergoes, over time. But over the past 150 years, countless individuals have adopted these ideas passionately, and nothing can convince them to give them up. All the scientific evidence and plain facts in the world haven’t been able to free them from this spell’s influence. It is as if they’ve been bewitched to believe that it is raining when the sun is out and to insist that they are getting wet.

The purpose of this book is to rescue people from Darwinism’s influence by revealing the exact ways in which it effects its persuasions and by uncovering the efforts that Darwinists make to prevent this illusion from losing its power. At the same time, it guides the reader to employ their own conscience and intelligence to consider—and understand—the self-evident fact of Creation.

Anyone who’s been rescued from the spell of Darwinism and grasps the reality of Creation will also understand that God, the Lord of all the Worlds, has created him as well. This fact is the greatest import, because the sole purpose for the world’s coming into existence is so that for people may come to know God and serve Him.

Er, well, yes. I suppose Christians are entitled to be pleased to see that creationist crackpottery is not restricted to Christians, and that their Muslim brethren have their own version of the disease.

That said, isn’t the notion of a deity that created humans to worship It, adore It, and serve It rather peculiar, if not downright sick?

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From: Abided B. Switchback
Date: 12/5/2004
Subj: Hi there!

Hey baby :)All that I am I owe to Jesus Christ, revealed to me in His divine Book. Whether you call my heart affectionate, or you call it womanish: I confess, that to my misfortune, it is soft.This book fills a much-needed gap.

If I would be happy, I would be a very bad ball player. With me, when I get mad, it puts energy in my body.

A land without ruins is a land without memories — a land without memories is a land without history.

My downfall raises me to infinite heights.

It is far better to be trusted and respected that it is to be liked.

Who never doubted, never half believed. Where doubt is, there truth is — it is her shadow.

Nothing that you have not given away will ever be really yours.Fear defeats more people than any other one thing in the world. A liberal is a conservative who has been arrested.

Breed is stronger than pasture.

Friendship is always a sweet responsibility, never an opportunity. The fewer the words, the better the prayer.

A man must serve his time to every trade save censure — critics all are ready made.

We, and all others who believe in freedom as deeply as we do, would rather die on our feet than live on our knees.

There are no eternal facts, as there are no absolute truths.

Cheerfulness and contentment are great beautifiers and are famous preservers of youthful looks.With affection beaming in one eye, and calculation shining out of the other. A store of grain, Oh king is the best of treasures. A gem put in your mouth will not support life.

It is good to rub and polish our brain against that of others.

My motto is: Contented with little, yet wishing for more.

Have friends. ‘Tis a second existence. Coalitions though successful have always found this, that their triumph has been brief.

Each year one vicious habit discarded, in time might make the worst of us good.


One of my objects in life is to bring small wisdom to small minds. I bow to a master.
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From: Punkrockhippie
Date: 12/5/2004
Subj: help

what is the girl’s name in “a cold eqation”??

Marilyn Lee Cross. She was born July 7, 2160. Her height was five feet, three inches, and her weight was 110 pounds. She was eighteen when she died. Her brother’s name was Gerry, and the pilot’s name was Barton. The cruiser commander’s name was Delhart.

The story’s title is “The Cold Equations”.

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From: Jim Willis
Date: 12/6/2004
Subj: The Morton Thompson Turkey – Pierre Berton

I was just looking around the net to find more information on the Morton Thompson Turkey as here in Canada an interesting authour died in the past week – Pierre Berton, according to the Globe and Mail he has promoted this turkey as “That was 33 years ago. At that point, Pierre Berton had been doing his turkey for 24 years, since 1947, recommending it >in newspaper columns and articles, and even demonstrating it once on TV.”



Join Pierre Berton’s Turkey Club

Thanks for the heads up. I see that there are some slight differences between my version and Berton’s version. It’s nice to see another copy of the recipe on the web.
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From: Karmstrong210
Date: 12/4/2004
Subj: survivor

How do you apply to be on survivor?

I dunno. I suggest you sign up for the CBS survivor newsletter. The URL is http://www.cbs.com/info/user_services/info_subscribe.shtml
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From: D Keith Dillon
Date: 11/27/2004
Subj: a quiz for who think they know everything

I just came across you answers to this quiz. #1 is wrong. In ice skating they do know the leader before the finish as each contestants scores are posted after they perform. The correct answer is boxing.

That would seem to be a better answer.
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From: Sylvia Hatfield
Date: 12/2/2004
Subj: Raven King

I bumped into your site when I seached for “Raven King”. Excellent poem! Did you write that? I’ve bookmarked your site for perusal tonight. I’m really looking forward to it.

Yes, I wrote it, and I thank you for the kind words. It is one of three epic poems set in the same fantasy setting. The other two are Zhandivar and The Keeper of Her Soul. I have a partially completed fourth poem in the group entitled The Troll Queen.
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From: Chip Hitchcock
Date: 12/1/2004
Subj: Dubious history

NYC is certainly not “unlivable for the middle class”; central Manhattan maybe, but I know the Nielsen Haydens are in Brooklyn, in what looks like a huge middle-class area. The problem may be more that NYC fandom has been subdivided for a long time, with different groups meeting at different homes (instead of in different rooms of a clubhouse, videt LASFS?), sometimes by invitation only; as homes moved the groups would re-coalesce or not, by impulse and chance. I haven’t been to Lunacon since 1999, but the move to NJ is hardly fatal — it was there by 1981, then in two locations in Westchester (separated by a year in Stamford CT, and note that both locations were farther from Manhattan than the NJ site was). I’ve heard suggestions that Lunacon may not survive much longer but it’s Not Dead Yet.

All moves to NJ are fatal; it merely remains to establish the schedule of the demise. I had heard that NYC was unlivable for the middle class; recent visits have not disabused me of that notion. Indeed it seems hardly livable for anyone. However Brooklyn may be an exception.

I am relieved to learn that Lunacon exists. Perhaps I shall attend one yet; at this late date I am uncertain as to whether I have ever attended one.

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From: Rev. Joseph Green
Date: 11/30/2004
Subj: Doing the Lord’s Work

Dear Richard,

You don’t know me, and I must apologize to you in advance for my presumption in writing to you. A number of our mutual acquaintances have suggested that I contact you, for they assure me that you are the very person I seek.

As you may know, I am a revivalist minister and have preached salvation and temperance for many years. During the last ten years my ministry has been made more effective by my invaluable assistant, “Crazy” Jack Williams.

Jack had once been a confirmed victim of the demon, Rum. It was in Memphis at a revival meeting that I was preaching at where he found Jesus in his heart and forswore the life of sin that he had been leading. It was at that time that he came to me, humbly asking what he could do to help the work of the Lord. At first I was hard pressed to answer him for his life of dissipation had so ruined him that he was scarcely fit for the ministry or, indeed, for any other work. At last, however, it occurred to me that he might serve very well as an assistant to bear witness to the evil of drink, to serve, so to speak as a bad example.

It was a work to which he was uniquely suited. Drink had done its work well on him. His faculties were not all that could have been, but he was amiable; I can see him now with his ever present vacuous grin. I have no doubt that the tremors were due to drink. I rather suspect that his habit of tuneless humming sprang from the same cause. However the thing that made him such a potent object lesson was the devastating effects of the various social diseases he had contracted upon his appearance. (I need only mention the way his left ear was eaten away and hung in tatters.) That, and his occasional habit of screaming and flailing away at imaginary snakes.

Despite the ruin that drink had worked on him Jack was an amiable and willing worker for the Lord. Recently, however, he finally succumbed to the ravages of tertiary syphilis and passed away. His loss is a hard one – his example on stage was so very effective – and I should very much like to replace him. This brings me to my question. Many of your acquaintances who are aware of my problem have suggested that you are a natural and obvious replacement for Crazy Jack – some even saying that you would much better in the post than he. It is my hope that you will see your way clear to do the Lord’s work and take this chance to redeem what little remains of your wasted life.

This letter did not immediately disturb me for I supposed it to be addressed to the wrong Richard Harter. However I began to worry when I showed it to a friend and he immediately started discussing how much money was brought in at revival meetings and what percentage of the cut I should ask for.
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This page was last updated December 16, 2004.

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December 2004 TOC
Archived letters
Index of Contributors