Letters to the editor, February 2007
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 And, of course, anything marked not for publication is not for publication.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 2007.
From: Chip Hitchcock
Where does the “Eric Sosman” in the discussion post from? (Yes, I’m too something to find and pitchfork through an entire Usenet discussion.) In that context it might be someone I knew a ways back, from work and chorus (IIRC the only person who’s made that pair of connections). He subsequently had a solo career, including playing the title role in Sondheim’s _Sweeney Todd_; definitely not your stereotypical geek….
I don’t have much info for you. He works for Sun Microsystems and posts using a sun.com address. Beyond that, who knows. Certainly not me.Return to index of contributors
From: Peter Neilson
Received another message from Burkina Faso, this time from Dr. Arouna Amed. I refuse to send it to you unless you have a plan for proper use of his (or her?) ill-gotten money. Half of it would be for me, of course. Dr. Amed asks that I keep the whole thing top secret (I wonder how he qualified for his clearance), so I’m only telling you, and trust you not to reveal his plan to the World at Large, or to anyone in Absentia, Iowa or in Effigy, North Dakota.
I shan’t tell a soul. Well, I will mention it on my web site, but no reads the site, so it’s perfectly safe.Return to index of contributors
From: E. Campbell
I received my cycle 5 days earlier than I should’ve. My LMP was 1.12.07. I calculated my days and my projected ovulation date was 1.26.07 and I did have sex that day. It wasn’t like a normal cycle. The consistency was different. The color stayed the same. Oddly it didn’t have the same odor as usual – unless it’s just me. I bled for 2 days and spotted the rest which ended early yesterday. I took two pregnancy tests this week – they came out negative. But these are the symptoms that I still have:
Lack of taste for the foods I usually eat – I only want to eat Chinese Food, chocolate ice cream and drink Pineapple Soda
Breast get sensitive here and there
Minor lower back pains
Short Term Memory is way bad right now
My body feels as if it’s preparing itself for another cycle (My scheduled one was for 2.9.07), but nothing is happening – just all of the symptoms I’m going through. What do you think? I’ve contacted my doctor, but they just keep telling me my body is changing now that I’ve turned 26. Maybe I’m just irritated but can you provide your input? Thanks.
First let me say that I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV. I suspect that you reached through a link somewhere that was a bit misleading. That said, I will give you a layman’s advice.Return to index of contributors
From: Allen Strike
I first cooked this turkey around 1962! It was from a recipe, in the Toronto Star, written by Pierre Berton. He was a columnist and writer, of some note, at the time and continued to be so. He died in 2004. On that Christmas Day, in 1962, I cooked the turkey and later phoned Pierre to tell him how good it was. Since then I have cooked it only twice more. It is a lot of work.
I kept the old recipe glued on cards but it was beginning to look tired and I decided to type it out again. On a whim, I entered “Thompson’s Turkey” in Google and came up with your version. It was a surprise and I regretted all of my earlier typing efforts.
At the end of my original Pierre says the following:
When you remove the turkey it will be a dead black. You will think, “My God! I have ruined it!” Be calm. Take tweezers and pry loose the paste coating. It will come off readily. Beneath this burnt, harmless, now worthless shell, the bird will be golden and dark brown, succulent, giddy making with wild aroma, crisp and crunchable and crackling.
The meat beneath this crazy panorama of lip-wetting skin will be wet, juice will spurt from it in tiny fountains high as the handle of the fork plunged into it; the meat will be white, crammed with mocking flavor, delirious with things that rush over your palate and are drowned and gone as fast as you can swallow; cut a little of it with a spoon, it will spread on bread as eagerly and readily as soft wurst.
You do not have to be a carver to eat this turkey; speak harshly to it and it will fall apart.
This is the end of it. All but the dressing. No pen, unless it were filled with Thompson’s gravy, can describe Thompson’s dressing, and there is not paper enough in the world to contain the thoughts and adjectives it would set down, and not marble enough to serve for its monuments.
You have done me a favor; I read Berton’s paean long ago and forgot it. Those of my readers who hesitate about undertaking preparing a Thompson Turkey need to be reminded of how great the rewards are.Return to index of contributors
From: Chip Hitchcock
did it matter to either of you what the Phillies thought? You were as much of an adult as you ever were, Tony was habitually obstreperous, and the Phillies always seemed to me to be too much of a prig to be a convincing Master of the Universe — or even someone capable of calling down any effective destruction. Would he have … exposed … you? If so, could you not have told him that no respectable physicist could expect to observe an operation without affecting it?
You misapprehend. Watching Phillies explode was a fitting climax to the whole affair. Continuing the scam would have been anti-climactic. The besides of which, the gaff had been blown and the marks had wised up.wrt your correspondence: no, you were not singing in the shower. I don’t know what it was, but (having attempted to conduct you) I assure you it was not singing. It is possible the local fauna thought it was _sprechstimme_ and ran in fear of _Pierrot Lunaire_, but unless you can prevent some of the vaunted pintail ducks from failing prey to hunters and interrogate them, I’m afraid we’ll never know.
Now that’s just cruel. I feel no qualms in claiming that my, ah, singing is quite as good as that of some of the participants in American Idol.Return to index of contributors
From: Bill Conner
… Bill is commenting on my request to reprint an article that he posted in talk.origins.
Well you really did add my excellent article to your site. I kinda thought you were putting me on, I probably would’ve. I know you’ve been posting to T.O. for at least as long as me so we’ve argued about stuff for years. I’m always right of course since no one there ever agrees with me.
Hmmm. Now that you mention it, I do recognize your name. I don’t recall what we argued about, but I have every confidence that your contributions then have the same excellence and reliability as this one.Your web site is pretty extensive but the layout needs some attention. I’m a big fan of lots of whitespace and low to no contract in any color I use. It’s all entirely subjective of course. Anyway, good site overall. Mine is much less interesting, http://billconner.com but I got to use my very own name, just like AT&T; and IBM. Surely that’s worth something.
Well, yes, the layout is more functional than artistic. The page layouts are generated by scripts and use nuts and bolts HTML. Downloads are fast over a dial up line. Etc.
… continued on next rock
We used to encounter each other from time to time on T.O. I was always right of course, but but I was the only who thought so. I was busy doing other stuff for several years so I quit posting. I only dropped in to see if anything new was happening but, alas, T.O. is still the same. I think I only post to get my mind off my work (I’m a computer guy) but then I get hooked for a while.
If anything it’s gone down hill since you were last there.Don’t misunderstand, your site is fine. It’s functional and easy to navigate and that’s more than most websites can say. My website has been mostly a place to point people to my resume so it’s not terribly coherent.
Functional and easy to navigate – words to live by. Most people’s sites are much like yours. This makes sense – few sane people have all that much time to invest in constructing web sites.Return to index of contributors
From: Bryce Wirzba
Hello, I was wondering for that “mother of all rejection slips” quote, do
you know where I could exactly cite that quote in the Financial Times.
Sorry, I can’t help you. I first saw it somewhere between 30 and 40 years ago and used it in a fanzine. I no longer remember whether I got it as a bit of xeroxed trivia circulating in an office or if I read it somewhere. One of my failings is that I don’t carefully document the origin of all of the things I read and pass on.Return to index of contributors
I have studied and collected “rocks” from a clay rich ancient seabed. I believe there are two “waves” of fossils. I am not taken seriosly, my friends try to destroy examples and rock shop owners scoff even faster. I have found “death beads” and bones of an ancient people in thick clay(high point from water), as well as thier stone tools. It took a long time, but I am convinced now that I can easily identify the heads and parts of animals that were not eaten. Not sure if thrown in water or buried. the snake skin is so vivid, tortise feet are also easy. The most amazing fossils(I believe)are the ones that were just eaten when the host died of whatever cause of death(ash). these “rocks” are so smooth and colorfull, and if not broken down are complete. when the dirt was moved(new development) the rain left behind some of the most amazing dirt clods-I have even smelled the rotting remains of the newly exposed tissue. I have several examples of mothers with young or eggs. I
have identified a sponge that existed in 300 ft. of water and bird and insect remains in the same pile of dirt. I believe all life could not stand to breath from ash, so they stuck thier head into the ground-I find feet and heads-the bodies rotted away and the buried portions are fossilized.
AM I CRAZY-OR IS ANY OF THIS POSSIBLE? THANK YOU, KENNY Q ( IN VANCOUVER WASHINGTON )
I’m sorry Kenny, but I realy can’t help you much. You aren’t crazy but I suspect that you misinterpreting your finds. This is very easy to do. I wouldn’t put much stock in what your friends say; on the other hand rock shop owners are a little more likely to recognize valid fossils than your average gummy bear. Have you considered taking any of your finds to a museum or to a local university with a paleontology department and asking for an opinion. If you do you ought to provide a good provenance for your find. That is, you should carefully document exactly where you found it, the methods you used to extract it, and what you did to clean and preserve it. It is good practice to take pictures before, during, and after the extraction.Return to index of contributors
From: Maggie Fisher
Came across you and your site totally by accident, was looking to search for books by Larry Fats Goldberg and you popped up saying he died….how can I get to your piece about Larry? I tried a couple places and apparently am doing nothing right, which is not too difficult for me at times. Thanks for your help.
I’m not much of an authority on Larry Fats Goldberg. The only information I have on his death is from a letter someone wrote. According to the letter he died of Alzheimers in February 2003. The URL is < href=”https://richardhartersworld.com/cri/1998/pizza.html”>https://richardhartersworld.com/~cri_c/letters/2003/let03jun.html#Scott.Return to index of contributors
From: Juanita ‘Wiland’ Hunter
I TOO HAVE BEEN FACINATED BY THIS POEM. I WAS 7 WHEN MY FATHER FIRST READ IT TO ME. I HAVE MEMORIZED IT ALSO AND RECITED IT FOR MANY PEOPLE. IN FACT, I WILL AGAIN TODAY AT MY HAIR-DRESSERS.
I LOVE THIS POEM! IT TELLS A VERY HEART BREAKING STORY.
I’M 76 YEARS OLD, SO I’VE BEEN RECITING THIS POEM FOR THE PAST 68 YEARS.
I TOO WRITE POETRY AND THIS POEM HAS BEEN MY INSPIRATION.
JUST THOUGHT YOU’D LIKE TO KNOW!
Thanks for writing. I have recited it many times, but never at a hair dressers. Once when I was reciting it at a dinner party at a restaurant in Deadwood SD I was interrupted in mid recitation when the waiter came around and took some orders. The guests were quite impressed when I picked up the recitation from where I left off!Return to index of contributors
From: Peter Neilson
Your list of links to various Harters needs attention from some kind and loving Harterophilic person. Roughly half of them 404ify into some non-Harter space. That is to say, there is no 404, but no Harter either, in the location targets ultimately locatiated..
Is it my fault that various persons have let their websites lapse? Don’t answer that. I will look into the matter and see what I can do. At least you aren’t complaining about a surplus of Harters.Return to index of contributors
From: Amy Seagram
I enjoyed The Three Stones very much! I was looking up something else and came across your page, started to read and couldn’t stop until I finished. Exceptional and intriguing!
Thanks for writing and for reminding me of the story – I had to go back and reread it. It is one of my favorite efforts. Some others you might like includeReturn to index of contributors
From: Susan Risdal
This was written by Bruce Cameron…
Thanks for the information.Return to index of contributors
From: Peter Neilson
McCarthy’s algorithm is still not out of trouble. Look at the tag for
app1, and see if you can discern any space between
If there is any, it’s remarkably small, and ineffective as well.
I shall refrain from speculating on your motive for leaving bugs in your writing if you’ll refrain from thinking about my motive for finding them.
A repair has been made. At some time in the future it shall be uploaded. There are no crimes without motives, and no motives without crimes.Return to index of contributors
Hi There, I’m Becky and i’ve been on this website!!! Its sooo cool! I had to do some homework and I found this! I had a read and really enjoyed it.. Well i didn’t like the swear word so much so I would like it if you can take it out! Thanks, Becky
Hi Becky,Return to index of contributors
From: Shane Parnell
You should take down that creationists page it gives good Christians a bad name.
Not so. What it does is give bad Christians a bad name.Return to index of contributors
From: Peter Neilson
I fear that I cannot find the item in your Februrary area that should be schoen.html. It’s not there under any other name, either. I’ve not searched Annex D, however, as I thought that the Creationists might enjoy finding it when they weren’t looking for it, sort of like an embarrassing fossil. It’s the thing that’s supposed to be McCarthy’s algorithm.
It’s up now. I was still fiddling with it. Better than people think that it’s a broken link than see an under construction sign.Oh, now I get it! It’s his algorithm for playing Insanity!
You are a very bad man.I was over at the virtual MITSFS the other day and glanced at their criteria for membership. It appears that they allow anyone to join on condition of paying the dues, but suggest that it’s pointless if you’re not physically in the vicinity, because the only benefit is borrowing books from the library. When I was around there in the 1970s one was also required to be a “member of the MIT Community.” Fortunately that status was easily acquired by joining the MITSFS, and the rules were applied retroactively, rather than Catch-22ly.
Indeed. That is how I became a member of the MIT community. The great advantage of joining the community through the back door is that one doesn’t get letters from the alumni association. One doesn’t have to attend classes either, though you can be a full time student and still do that.While there I also read some meeting minutes. Minutes from the past decade are fully indistinguishable from those of 30, 40, or 50 years ago, in spirit and in terminology. A Banana Motion is still logically equivalent to a Miller Motion. There are more committees than members to fill them. Few committees if any make sense. One would think that some advances in technology would have filtered into the business meetings, like new computer algorithms or something. But apparently all the necessary MITSFS algorithms were discovered during the Founding Days, and they are now maintained as mere ceremony. Fortunately a crop of fresh frosh arrive every year to be delighted by the ancient traditions, and to work at maintaining the Library, which is the main point of it all.
Hmmmm. It hadn’t occurred to google on MITSFS. I guess my internet reflexes are not all that they should be. The true web dweeb googles on everything and thereby acquires a reputation for vast and spurious scholarship. Somehow I have managed to acquire that anyway.Return to index of contributors
I stumbled across your FAQ and thought it was a brilliant way to reveal Creationism for the ridiculous hokus-pokus it is. I have to admit that I’d never thought of trying to shine the light of reason on a topic by taking a position and then offering an incredibly lame defense for it. Well done!
Thank you. It’s an old but dangerous technique, one that got Galileo in a lot of trouble with the Church.Return to index of contributors
From: Reinhard Meier
Dear Mr. Harter,
there is a mistake in the calculation of the storage in your algorithm. A single number sum(a[i]^k) already requires storage of O(log(N)*K). So if you have K numbers of that type, you need O(log(N)*K^2) storage for that numbers and additional O(log(K)*K^2) for the numbers sum(i^k). So the storage is not OK, sorry: not O(K), but more than O(K^2).
Yes and no. The difficulty is that the unit of storage is not specified. This is a very common issue in complexity analysis; units are not specified. For example, it is commonly said that the cost of a comparison sort is O(n*log(n)). However this presumes that the cost of a comparison is O(1), i.e., the unit of measurement in O() is a comparison. If, however, we consider the number of bit level operations the cost of a comparison is O(log(n)) and the time cost of a comparison sort is O(n*log(n)^2).Return to index of contributors
I have a medical problem and I don’t know what it can be. I asked my cousin because she is in nursing school and she says it could be a bladder infection or an urinary tract infection. I doubt it is a UTI because I wipe correctly. But my symtoms are a pain (not burning) when I urinate, at the end of the stream. My period was late. I did have a little blood come from the canal but it seem to be dead blood like dark burgundy. Send e-mail ASAP.
Your cousin is probably right. However you should not rely on her advice nor should you write to strangers on the internet asking for medical advice. You should definitely consult a physician. Although it probably is a minor infection it could be something serious.Return to index of contributors
From: David Gill
You may enjoy a Google of Noah S. “Soggy” Sweat, Jr., late of Mississippi Regards, David Gill
My, my, my. I shall definitely have to replace the text with Soggy’s magnificent bit of double talk. Thanks for drawing my attention to it.Return to index of contributors
From: Jay Heinrichs
Your takeoff on argument is hilarious, and makes me think you might be interested in this: www.thankyouforarguing.com.
It is an excellent site. The takeoff on argument isn’t mine – it’s one of the many things I’ve received in circulating email over the years. Thanks anyway.Return to index of contributors
From: Peter Neilson
Richard Harter wrote:
I have the suspicion that I might have elaborated a bit when I penned the proclamation. This, by the way, is one of the those little points of usage that I rely upon you to illuminate. If one does not do the actual composition, the authoring if there were such a word, but simply puts pen to paper like a scribe producing an illuminated manuscript, then what is the proper term?Several terms leap from mind: Scribe, Letterer, Illustrator, Calliopist, Writer, Whore. I think that the choice depends in part upon the words written and upon whether or not one gets paid.
I take it that the difference between prostituting one’s art and artistic prostitution lies in whether one has a publisher’s contract or not.Return to index of contributors
From: Robert Hayes
Helped make lots of kraut while growing up in Pa. The next best kraut is “silver floss” and “meeters” brands, but I can’t find any in the Tucson, Phoenix, Az area. To your knowledge, are any of these brands available there.
I wish I could help you. People ask me about Meeters every so often. (I’m the kind of person of whom people ask that sort of question.) I’ve tried to track down their distribution chain a few times without any real luck. Maybe it’s time to try again. If anybody writes me with information I’ll let you know.Return to index of contributors
From: Peter Neilson
On reconsideration of my previous note, wherein I forwarded a communication from Ougadougou, I have decided to take up entertaining atoms of fear. This will be my new profession.
If you personally have any atoms of fear that are overcome with boredom, or if you know of any lurking about any South Dakota county (including the Moon), please send them to me. I shall play the piano for them. My repertoire is limited, and my execution execrable. If they don’t like it, I shall take up the violin. They’ll pay to return to boredom, and I shall be rich.
Now that is a truly excellent plan, far better than your previous one. I regret that I can’t send any atoms of fear your way. You are right in supposing that they lurk in South Dakota counties. However I was singing in the shower one evening and that apparently spooked them. None have been seen within a forty mile radius ever since then.Return to index of contributors
From: Peter Neilson
Esteamed Mr. Harter, Sir!
I usually do not send you any of these things, because I am sure you have a goodly supply. But this one caught my interest because of its scientific bent. The author asks that I “NOT ENTERTAIN ANY ATOM OF FEAR”.
Well, I actually have several atoms of fear. Indeed, I have many of them, none related to living across the river from the Harris Nuclear Power Plant. Furthermore, I do indeed entertain these atoms from time to time, especially when I receive letters written in ALL CAPS.
Notice how the writer repeats himself. The whole missive is done twice. One gets the idea that in Farofflandia (purportedly Burkina Faso, but the email reply is in France) not a single soul is capable of writing good, solid English. Moreover they believe that doubling the lack of quality improves it.
Do you think there is some way we could get rich by skimming money off the take that these guys get from their evil schemes? My farm, and yours too, sorely needs some of that money that isn’t going to make it all the way to Burkina Faso anyway. (I’m not talking about the fictional millions from the dead guy, but the sucker money.) Why not some for us?
Chorily (Lo! Farming calls!),
You are quite right that I get a goodly number of these things. I think that the all caps thing dates back to the teletype days. Either that or the scammers are all Fortran 66 programmers. Isn’t France the centre of duplicity? I’m actually you sent me this thing; I hadn’t previously realized that Upper Volta had been renamed Burkina Faso nor had I been acquainted with the political career of Blaise Compaoré. Twenty years go by so quickly.
Scam letter follows
From: “ayo tanimo8”
This page was last updated February 12, 2007.