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Letters to the editor, November 2006

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 And, of course, anything marked not for publication is not for publication.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 November 2006.

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From: Peter Neilson
Date: 11/16/2006
Subj: I told you about this already, didn’t I?

Check out http://members.iglou.com/jtmajor/MarxObit.htm and see if it is worthy of mention somewhere in Harter’s World. I’ll send it to Joe Ross, too. I told him about it before, but I don’t think that’ll matter.

Joe sent me a copy of what you wrote. I don’t recall Julius Marx or, possibly, I recall reading about him but not well enough to have more than a vague sense of familiarity. However I will mention it somewhere.
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From: Lois Harter
Date: 11/11/2006
Subj: Spam Alert: At least get South Dakota correct!

Although you try to disclaim any responsibility for accuracy in your “How Does Your State Rate” reprint, surely you should have noted the error of South Dakota’s entry! According to www.dakotapathways.com FAQ’s:

“According to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources there have been many earthquakes in South Dakota. As of January 2004, South Dakota has had 79 recorded earthquakes.”

South Dakota has always been known as the land of movers and shakers…

South Dakota is indeed the land of the movers — people moving out of South Dakota, that is. As for shakers, I heard that the goat lady used to shake her boobies at a local bar, but that’s not the sort of thing that one should advertise.

As to this matter of earthquakes, what can I say? I could claim that SD earthquakes are faux earthquakes, but “faux” definitely isn’t an SD word. Come to think on it, budweiser definitely is an SD word, and faux beer is apt.

PS: Earthlink thinks that your email might be spam!

… continued on next rock …

Anna has been known to indulge in a Spam sandwich … that must be it.

It must be a very large Spam sandwich. I am sure I don’t want to know what people do in Spam sandwiches.
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From: Gina Geick
Date: 11/15/2006
Subj: Thank you!

Richard: By pure accident I came across “Back in the saddle again” because well, I am also getting back in the saddle again. What a delightful read, thank you very much! I have been able to postpone my work for a half hour or so and actually laughed out loud a couple of times. Isn’t this a rather cool time of the year to be taking up riding again, paticularly in Ontario? Thanks for writing – it’s always a pleasure to hear that people have enjoyed something I’ve written.

Isn’t this a rather cool time of the year to be taking up riding again, paticularly in Ontario? Thanks for writing – it’s always a pleasure to hear that people have enjoyed something I’ve written.
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From: unique pleasure
Date: 11/17/2006
Subj: stolen computer

3007302   8216402   114512         5             8773807   5026023
   6      1     7   0    0        8 4            4     1   5     7
   5      6     4   6    3       0   5           3     8   5     7
   5      6     2   137570      8     4          1     4   4257133
   6      5     8   7  8       470568146         1     6   1     8
   1      0     2   6   7      6       2   730   1     6   2     2
   3      7581757   4    6     2       6   005   4832486   5635677
And tora.08 to you too.
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From: Peter Neilson
Date: 11/9/2006
Subj: Tennessee exam answers

Your copy of my letter that you published somehow omitted number 5. I assume you found it objectionable.

Oh, well, if you insist. I put it back in.
Your link to the Tennessee Exam questions at the beginning of my letter about same turns out to point at https://richardhartersworld.com/cri/2006/let06nov.html which is your lettercol. Surely you intended https://richardhartersworld.com/cri/2006/tennessee.html instead.
You caught me. I was trying to sneak in some recursion.
PS: How did *you* do on the test?
According to the examining board I am officially certified.
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From: alena
Date: 11/9/2006
Subj: tera

chera be man email miferseti?

My apologies, but I don’t recognize the language you are using. Would it be Hindi? Please rephrase in English.
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From: Chris
Date: 11/2/2006
Subj: Chicago Style Pizza

I read your recipe for Chicago style deep dish on your site. Really looks good. I have been looking for some good pans for doing deep dish in and it seemed like you had a strong opinion about this. I was wondering if you had a brand you like to use, or even a website to order it off of.

Thanks for the help,

I wish I could help you more, but I don’t have a definite personal answer. However I can recommend the folks at “Someone’s in the Kitchen” in Rapid City, South Dakota. Their website is http://someonesinthekitchensd.com/ckshop.php.
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From: Peter Neilson
Date: 11/2/2006
Subj: Tennessee exam answers

Richard, here are some answers. They may not be true, but they are certainly accurate.

  1. About 3/8 inch.
  2. B. — Billy Mac, the former owner, drove it to Minnesota and lived in it there for about five years around 1979. Salt got to it.
  3. Don’t use no car radiators. Too much lead. Use high-quality copper tubing stolen from the air-conditioner plant south of Nashville. Got about 200 feet extra if you want to buy it.
  4. Any fool knows you can’t get decent work done while drinking. Stick to water. Drink later and you won’t have to feel like you should limit yourself.
  5. There would be no effect on anybody in the State of Tennessee.
  6. Y’all ain’t seen how a porch goes about collapsing. Y’all must be city folk. Goes down easy, nobody gets hurt.
  7. Need a lot of cinder block with that slope! Four will live there. Little Junior (he’s the oldest), he won’t want to. He’s still trying to hide from the sheriff over that backhoe he stole.
  8. That’s a 40-ton coal truck, not a 2-ton. It’s loaded to 56 tons. It will strike four pickups and a 1967 Impala. There will be sufficient mufflers for all vehicles, but not necessarily the right size. They will mostly be piled in the bed of the smallest pickup, a 1987 Mitsubishi Dodge D-50, on the way to Joe’s Shadetree Service Center. The Mitsubishi will land in the trees and its driver will survive. The mufflers will all be junk, but they were before, so who cares?
  9. Average one cigarette per worker, only half of them unfiltered Camels. Figure only about three packs. There’s a lot less smoking going on now.
  10. Country-Western singers are not bred. They are raised natural-like in county jails. You were thinking of banjo players.
Excellent answers. There is a place for you in the Tennessee Highway Department. I understand they are looking for people to hold up those signs that say stop on one side and slow on the other.
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From: Steve Block
Date: 10/31/2006
Subj: Geezer Quiz

No! No! No!

It was the Mills Brothers who had a hit with Cab Driver, not the Inkspots. You can check this on the internet or ask any real geezer. You are busted!

Real geezers don’t remember Cab Driver. In fact real geezers don’t remember much of anything.
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From: Peter Neilson
Date: 11/1/2006
Subj: missing robbers html

The file https://richardhartersworld.com/~cri/2006/robbers.html is absent. Examination shows that it is simply not in that directory at all, not even under some different name.

Do you cause errors such as this in order to annoy me, or in the mistaken belief that I have nothing better to do than to find your literary lacunae? Neither George Flynn nor the daemon acting in his name seem to have returned from their unauthorised leaves of absence. I really cannot do all your preefrooding singlehandedly.

No matter. There is a suitable replacement for the missing material at http://www.progress.demon.co.uk/Fun/Bank-Robbers.html and perhaps it is fully the text that you are lacking. It was published in the Old Farmer’s Almanac for 1987, and thus may be considered both antiquated and a copyright violation.

Additionally, there is the story of the robber who wrote his note on a deposit slip from the bank across the street. The teller refused to accept the note, and told him he had to rob the other bank instead. He dutifully left, crossed the street, and was arrested in the second bank.

That works for me – I’m an antiquated copyright violation.

The file is there now; however you shall have to perform whatever arcane ceremony you need to perform to invoke that daemon.

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From: linda15
Date: 10/31/2006
Subj: dead

President Bush DEAD! Read attached file!

I dunno. I opine that if I read that file it’s my machine that would be dead.

Nice try though. Please write again and tell me how many you catch.

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From: Chip Hitchcock
Date: 10/12/2006
Subj: on heartbeats

… I had written …

I wrote what I recalled but my recollection is always likely to be at fault. However the numbers depend upon assumptions. Let’s recap.

# of minutes in a day = 1440 # of minutes in a year ~= 365.2425*1440 = 525949.2

Here things depend on the assumptions; If we assume a potential life span of 70 years and a pulse rate of 60 hbpm then the total # of heatbeats is ~2.2 billion; if we assume a life span of 110 years and a pulse rate of 70 hbpm the total # of heartbeats is ~ 4.0 billion. If the statement is about potential lifespan and we take into account that pulse rate rises during intense activity then an average of 70 may be about right. So, I’ll stand by the four billion. I don’t know about the two billion for most animals though.

This still seems high; it’s not clear how much intense exercise the long-lived had (or how much this balances against the third of a lifetime spent unconscious, with pulse lowered by do-you-know-how-much), and I wonder whether the info on lab animals covers the really extreme cases (which is what I’d call a 110-year lifespan — especially considering the suggestion that many of the allegedly superannuated Georgians(?) may have lied about their ages to avoid military service). I’d love to see some harder data on this, but damfino where to look profitably.
I don’t put much faith in those Georgians or in the Hunza. However there are well documented cases of people living into the 110’s and even the 120’s. Like you, I would want some hard data on this.
OTOH, you could suggest we’re already longevitous from a different angle: are there any other mammals that live so long after the end of female fertility?
I don’t know what data there is on this, though I can ask. The general evolutionary argument is that there is selection for being healthy while young and not when old. As they say in the real estate business, get lots while you are young. Reproduce early and often – you might not get a chance later. Fertility in the old is less valuable than fertility in the young. Etc.

An argument for humans is the grandmother effect. That is, even after you cease producing offspring you can help take care of your grandchildren. (Social insects carry this sort of thing to an extreme.) I haven’t the foggiest how solid this argument is.

Maybe I will do some research.

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From: Jon Dichter
Date: 10/16/2006
Subj: Piltdown Man

Don’t know if your email on this page is still active, but if so, wonder if you happen to know a source for purchasing a bust of the Piltdown Man fake. Could be simply skull, or proposed ‘whole man’; and if skull, ‘reconstructed’ with skin, or without.

Need this for a project, after which I’d love to display in my office.

cheers, and thanks for a wonderful site!

The good news is that the page is still active. The bad news is that I don’t know of a source for a bust of Piltdown Man. If I did, I think I might get one for myself.

… continued on next rock …

Thanks, Richard.

I’m involved in a project where we just may have to make one! And after it’s done, that badboy (man) will go on my desk, with cigar in mouth.

Must say, there’s something both sad, funny and fascinating about the rise and fall of the story of Piltdown Man…and the careers attached to it.

Thanks for writing back.

I wish I could help you on this one. I would appreciate a picture of old Pilty with a cigar in his mouth when he takes up residence on your desk.
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From: Mark Owings
Date: 10/18/2006
Subj: (Philip) Jack Grill

You were asking who he was. I can kind of give a partial answer. He was (obviously) a Lovecraft collector, but also someone who collected weird and supernatural fiction in general. (As well as mild literary pornography, but that’s another story.)

He was at it for I don’t know how long — there were things in there which he must have picked up in at least the early 1950s, and I suspect he was in contact with book dealers until the day he died. I placed an ad in George Bibby’s FANTASY COLLECTOR in 1964 or so listing books I was looking for, including Arthur Machen’s big collection from Knopf, Tales of Horror and the Supernatural. I got a letter from Grill offering to sell me an autographed set of Machen, and I took it. (It took me many more years to actually find the Knopf collection, by which time I had read everything in it.)

When Binkin and I went through the boxes of books, we found I think two more sets of Machen, as well as three copies of Jack’s HPL biblio — this last was interesting since the noly person, Jack said, who got more than a single copy of it was John Vetter, then running a thing called Kadath Books, dealing only in HPL, as a way of building up his own collection. So Grill got at least two of the five that Vetter took.

He is also the person referred to in the Arkham Shuttered Room as Jack *Gill.* I probably knew more about him at one time, but it has been almost 35 years now…

Thanks very much for writing. I would have written you in advance but I didn’t have an snail mail address or an email address for you. Indeed, I wasn’t sure whether you were still alive. It has been quite some time after all. Too many of us are already dead.

I know more now than I did – Grill had a first name. He also was more of a presence in the collecting community than I had gathered from what Jack said.

Was there any possibility that Grill knew Lovecraft personally or that he was part of the Lovecraft circle, either at first hand or later on? If Grill was in his sixties when he died he would have been around when H.P. was alive and writing.

If there are any errors of fact in the article please let me know – I like to get these things right when I get a chance.

… continued on next rock …

No evidence of their meeting that I know of. The oldest dated item in the collection either from or to Grill was about ten years after HPL died. I don’t really know Grill was even in contact with Samuel Loveman, who was alive until the 1970s and lived across the river in Manhattan.

I would guess not. If Grill was virtually unknown in the Lovecraft collecting world, he probably wasn’t interested in social contacts.
Interestingly, Irving Binkin thought he remembered Lovecraft as a customer.

I got an email from Binkin’s son about 1990, asking for information or reminisences about his father. I knew Binkin was divorced, but he never mentioned any children, so I gather they had almost no contact. (Actually I heard more about his ex-wife from other used book dealers than I did from Binkin.)

By all accounts Binkin was quite a character.
No factual errors that I spotted. I assume that you have around the issue of Dick Geis’s ALIEN CRITIC that reprints Jack’s article about Binkin and the collection. I remember that Jack was unhappy Binkin got hold of a photocopy of the piece.
I don’t think I had that copy of ALIEN CRITIC – I wrote the piece from memory from what Jack had told me. Sadly enough my fanzine collection from that era was destroyed in a basement flood.
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From: sallie fellowes
Date: 10/24/2006
Subj: your diary

i am writing a screnplay which starts in 1941 and finshes in the present day. i was wanting a thirteen-year-old girl to be given a five-year diary as a xmas present but wasn’t sure if such things existed then. i was very pleased to learn that, just a few years later, you had received one at a similar age. you’d be surprised how even the simplest of entries in your diary can reveal so much about the life and times of an era. imagine children today being happy to play endless games of monopoly! mine rarely play it as they end up fighting and seem to prefer more solitary games that they can play on computers/playstations.

thanks for putting your entry on the web.

p.s. i wonder if your diary had a key and padlock. i remember we all had diaries at (boarding) school in the seventies and many were kept locked for fear of someone stumbling on your secrets!

Thanks for writing. It hadn’t previously occurred to me that there must be a first date for five year diaries. They were a commonplace when I was a child and must have been widely available – after all in the 1940’s South Dakota was out on far end of the distribution chain. (That hasn’t changed much in the last sixty years.) Diaries are quite old of course; I have the impression that everyone of consequence in England in the 1600’s, the 1700’s, and the 1800’s kept a diary. However the five year diary is rather special. My guess is that it was a thing for school children and that very few were ever completed.

The old diaries, particularly those of children (adults are more adept at deception and concealment), do reveal much about the times. In particular they say much about the simple things that nobody ever thought important enough to record.

My diary didn’t have a lock. The bit about boarding school sounds right to me. I have the impression, perhaps unfounded, that adolescent girls are big into secrets.

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From: Anthony R. Lewis, PhD, FN
Date: 10/24/2006
Subj: Sign on I-90

Here is the famous sign on I-90 West. Is there a similar sign on I-90 East in South Dakota?

Thank you for the sign. As far as I know there isn’t a similar sign on I-90 East. There certainly ought to be if there is not. They are having an election for governor (the Democrat is named Billions, which is quite appropriate for a Democrat) so I will raise the question in their debates if I get a chance.

Note for the reader: The sign is in the Berkshires in Massachusetts.

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From: (Rev.) Paul A. Schweitzer, S.J.
Date: 10/20/2006
Subj: Teilhard’s theories are not considered ‘heretical’ by the Catholic Church

I have just been reading your interesting page on the Piltdown hoax, and in the section “Who the players were” one reads about Pierre Teilhard de Chardin:

He is popular for his theological theories which are considered heretical by the Catholic church.

Like Fr. Teilhard de Chardin, I am a Jesuit Catholic priest and scientist. I am a fan of Teilhard’s theories, and hence I am distressed by the erroneous statement that Teilhard’s theological theories “are considered heretical by the Catholic Church.” This affirmation is simply false. It is true that Teilhard has been criticized for not giving more attention to the doctrine of Original Sin, but that is an enormous distance from saying that his theories are heretical. I hope that you will correct the mistaken statement that Teilhard’s theological theories are considered heretical.

I believe that Teilhard’s ideas will receive more and more support in the future, but that is only my expectation.


(Rev.) Paul A. Schweitzer, S.J.

Thank you for writing. You, of course, would know much more than I about the Teilhard’s theories and the reactions of the Catholic Church to those theories. I quite agree that it isn’t correct to imply that his theories were declared heretical by the Church; accordingly I will modify the page in question.

However it seems to me that it is stretching things a bit to just say that he was criticized for not giving more attention to the doctrine of Original Sin. If the Wikipedia is to be trusted (always open to question) the matter is much more extensive than that. I quote:

This was the first of a series of condemnations by certain church officials that would continue until long after Teilhard’s death. The climax of these condemnations was a 1962 monitum of the Holy Office denouncing his works. From the monitum: “The above-mentioned works abound in such ambiguities and indeed even serious errors, as to offend Catholic doctrine… For this reason, the most eminent and most revered Fathers of the Holy Office exhort all Ordinaries as well as the superiors of Religious institutes, rectors of seminaries and presidents of universities, effectively to protect the minds, particularly of the youth, against the dangers presented by the works of Fr. Teilhard de Chardin and of his followers.”
Isn’t that still the official policy of the Church? If so, wouldn’t it be better to use the term “erroneous” rather than “heretical”?
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From: Anthony R. Lewis, PhD, FN
Date: 10/19/2006
Subj: http://www.snopes.com/humor/letters/marines.asp

You might want to link to http://www.snopes.com/humor/letters/marines.asp

This is sort of interesting. It turns out that I have the original version of the story on my website, or at least the oldest one than snopes knows about. The URL is https://richardhartersworld.com/~cri/2002/zeb.html.

The story has mutated a bit over time. In the original story it was the army; in the later version it is the Marine Corps. In the original it was a son writing; in the later version son has been replaced by daughter.

A new paragraph has been added about unarmed combat, and the PS about shooting craps has been deleted.

Other than these changes the two versions are the same, word for word.

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This page was last updated November 17, 2006.
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 2006!