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October 2007 TOC
Archived letters

Letters to the editor, October 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 And, of course, anything marked not for publication is not for publication.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 October 2007.

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From: KGpanzer
Date: 9/6/2007
Subj: woodships and iron men

Is this fact or not about woodship and iron men? Naval History — Wooden Ships and Iron Men if that is fact where is based on or an urban story?

My apologies for not answering sooner; I mislaid your email. The story is is an utter fabrication, but it may actually have been printed in “Oceanographic Ships, Fore and Aft”. Then again that may be part of the story.
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From: Kristi Ritson
Date: 5/31/2007

What’s up! God, how ya doin? How’s Darrell….

What’s up – the price of almost everything.
God, how ya doing – just fine, thank you.
How’s Darrell – damned if I know, haven’t
heard from him in years.

It’s nice to know that you love me, but maybe
you should try to find a nice Jewish boy.

BTW, I hope you won’t be offended but I haven’t
the slightest idea who you are.

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From: Stan Hudson
Date: 10/17/200
Subj: A compliment from a creationist

I wanted to thank you for the excellent article entitled Changing Views of the Earth’s History at “The TalkOrigins Archive.”

You have done a marvelous work recording the time line (no pun intended!) of changing views of earth’s time line (history). It is quite comprehensive and full of excellent material. I found it engaging thoroughly.

Though I’m a creationist (who sometimes speaks on such things), I found precious little to argue about! Thank you again for your work–

Thanks for the kind words. I went back and reread the article and was quite impressed. I hadn’t recalled that I had put so much effort into it nor that it had turned out so well. One of the things that I tried to communicate was a sense of how the change came about. Few people have any sense of the history of science or intellectual thought in general. Without history all sorts of misunderstandings become plausible. Or so it seems to me.
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From: Michael Petrovich
Date: 0/17/2007
Subj: Not sure

I stumbled across your site even without the scotch. I noticed that you had a bit of a Fred Figworth yourself. I read your marriage statistics and noticed something interesting. This was a statistic I saw written about in 2005. The exact same number and the almost the same quote in a forum dated 09/27/2005. How interesting that the same number would appear for the year 2006 also. Anyway, I am a poor man and I will head to my vodka and tonic. Good night.

Well, you understand how it is, or at least you will after another vodka and tonic or two. They say that truth is stranger than fiction, but the truth is that truth is a fiction. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
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From: A J READ
Date: 1/27/2007
Subj: How old is Grandma

I would suggest that anyone who believes that life EVER resembled this takes a course in social history.

You may suggest anything you like. Your suggestions will receive all the attention they deserve.
If Grandma was older than rock music, television, xeroxes, marijuana etc she would have to have been born before 1947-long before.
Indeed. However the point of the “puzzle” is not the actual invention of these various things, but their presence in American culture.
Even if she’d been born in 1497, she’d have been around for yoghurt, marijuana and mean in earrings.

What a load of drivel.

Indignation may be good for the soul but it is hard on the arteries. Consider giving your arteries a break.

— Note: the date appears to correct. Hotmail is sometimes a trifle slow in delivering email.

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From: Caitlin Gratias
Date: 10/17/2007
Subj: Spelling

You might want to check the spelling on a few of those I only know about 4 of them and 3 are spelt wrong, Emma (Edda), Sense and sensibility (Fence and Fencibility), and Pride and Prejudice (Pride and Precipice). Sorry to contradict.

Caitlin Gratias

I may be wrong but I rather fancy that you were looking at the Calamity Jane Austin bibliography page. Jane Austen (notice that the last name is spelled with an e) wrote Sense and Sensibility. Calamity Jane Austin (notice that the last name is spelled with an i) wrote “Fence and Fencibility”. (Actually she didn’t because there is no such person; however if there were such a person she would have written it.)
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From: Peter Neilson
Date: 10/12/2007
Subj: Re: Errors in “The Hansons Come to South Dakota” (sent “regular”)”

Richard Harter wrote:

In any event, if I should get to Copenhagen I will pronounce it just as though it were a brand of chewing tobacco. On the other hand I suspect I wouldn’t be understand if I tried to pronounce Göteborg as Yerterberry.
I fear that you just might. Observe the IPA phonology shown in Wikipedia: /jœte’b?rj/. Wikipedia even has a symbol indicating that you can click to hear the spoken sound. My computer’s sound devices, however, were built by Harpo Marx. I’ve not heard it.

Swedish is not intended for foreign use, but is not half as weird as Danish. (Linguists who have nothing better to do often try to compare the occurance of the Danish glottal stop [stød, pronounced stø’] with the Swedish and Norwegian use of tones.) If you are afraid of trying Yerterberry, simply say Gothenburg, which is more or less the standard in English. According to my grandfather, and likely yours, too, the stød came about from Copenhagen Danes trying to imitate the sound of the German language. Notice, for example, that the German “Apfel” is actually pronounced ‘Apfel, that is, with a puff of air emerging from a closed glottis, unlike the English word apple. The English word that best illustrates the glottal stop is “Uh-oh.” North Jutland (Jylland) Danes spoke (and perhaps still speak) a dialect called Thy, which is reputed to have once been mutually intelligible with Yorkshire English. It lacks the stød.

Copenhagen is a brand of snuff (“dip” around here in NC) not chaw. Gothenburg is neither. It seems to be, in music, a brand for something called melodic death metal instead. My interpretation of that phrase, taking a bell cast of lead, chilling it in liquid nitrogen, and then ringing it, is probably not what was intended by the Gothenburgistas.

I hadn’t known you were so heavily into Scandanavian languages. The prairie states were largely settled by immigrants from northern Europe. Instead of preserving their native speech they mostly invented their own variety of English. I have a theory that the reason that the speech in the midwest is so flat is because the land is so flat. Likewise the speech in Scandanavia has so many irregular noises is because the topography is so irregular. I don’t think that this accounts for Denmark, but then, nothing really accounts for Denmark.

I think you are right about Copenhagen as a brand of snuff. As I understand these matters there are two kinds of snuff, that which you dip and that which you sniff. I tried the sniffing type once because so much was made of snuff in Georgette Heyer novels. I opine that pepper is more reliable and has much the same effect.

I like the notion of melodic death metal. Although your interpretation is probably correct, my immediate reaction was that death metal would be a particularly heavy kind of heavy metal, which leaves melodic death metal as a contradiction in terms, much like Vogon poetry.

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From: blair
Date: 10/16/20077
Subj: A joke for you

A man was sitting in a bar wearing a stetson hat, faded bule jeans and cowboy boots. A woman sits down next to him.

“I’m curious,” she says. Are you a real cowboy?”

“Sure am ma’am,” he says. “I ride the range tending cattle, make cattle drives and help with branding the critters.”

“I’ll be damn,” she says. “I’ve never met a real cowboy before.”

“And what are you?” he ask the young lady.

“Well, believe it or not, I’m a lesbian. I think about women day and night. I dream about beautiful women. You might say I’m obsessed with women.”

“I’ll be damn,” the cowboy says.

Later that night a young couple sits down by the man.

“Are you a real cowboy,” the woman asks.

“Well ma’am, I thought I was. Now I think I might be a lesbian…..”

Thanks for the story. I have seen it before and thought I had it on the web site but apparently I don’t. I will add it – thanks again for writing.
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From: Peter Neilson
Date: 10/12/2007
Subj: Errors in “The Hansons Come to South Dakota”

Your report on your ancestors contains slight errors.

1. Goteborg actually has two dots over the o, like a German umlaut. But the Swedes certainly wouldn’t want to think of it as German, so please put on a Swedish umlaut instead. My grandmother came from Göteborg.

2. There is no Arhaus. That is a German-sounding misspelling of Aarhus which has become altogether too common in English-language web pages. The modern Danish spelling would have the funny-looking little ring over the A instead of the double A, but the double A has been retained in Aarhus, much in the spirit of Newton Centre. Please send the Germans back home. The Danes have done so on several occasions.

The Viborg area is not far from my grandfather’s village of Vesterby (West Town, I believe) near Limfjord in Thisted. Because of limited travel, everyone there would be related. Indeed, because photos of Scandinavians all seem to resemble the uncles and aunts at our family Christmas parties of 60 years ago, I think that ALL Scandinavians are closely related. You are thus a cousin of mine, not so far removed as you might wish.

Of course, South Dakota (or any Dakota) is pretty far removed from lots of places. In contradiction of the statement on the Hyde County web page, Highmore really isn’t centrally located, except in the sense that China was the “Middle Kingdom,” with civilization (“us”) right “here” and barbarians (“them”) in the far surroundings.

Have you ever wondered how to pronounce Göteborg and Aarhus? Yerterberry and Oar-hiuss are no further off than any other mispronunciation. Danes apparently prefer the English pronunciation of Danish to the German versions. If you try to be polite and say Copenhagen as Copen-hah-gen, you’ll sound too German. You’ll never manage the actual Danish pronunciation, which sounds like you swallowed a fishbone while eating potato. Just say Copen-hay-gen.

I’ve made the changes; I certainly wouldn’t want to offend my Swedish readers. I’m not sure that I’m ready to come to terms with the thought that we are cousins, albeit ones removed by 2000 miles. It is odd that our grandfathers were born within a few miles of each other. Perhaps there is a lesson here; a too close attention to genealogy can reveal things that man was not meant to know.

I must disagree with you about Highmore being centrally located. It is located near the center of the North American continent. There is a plaque some few dozens of miles from here that claims to be the geographical center of the continent. Of course there are several such plaques at various other locations, all equally well removed from the lights and delights of civilization, but that is alright – compared to North Carolina Highmore is near all of them.

More importantly, one must not confuse convenience and centrality. Just because Highmore is centrally located does not mean that it is conveniently located. China was the Middle Kingdom because civilization was in the middle with barbarians in the periphery. In America, civilization is in the periphery and the barbarians are in the center.

In any event, if I should get to Copenhagen I will pronounce it just as though it were a brand of chewing tobacco. On the other hand I suspect I wouldn’t be understand if I tried to pronounce Göteborg as Yerterberry.

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From: Scotty Galvan
Date: 10/12/2007
Subj: A hard bondage to become.

The boss of one of the biggest popup serving companies in America 24/7 Real Media. So far more than a million people in the UK have decided that is reason enough to.

It’s always nice to hear what our British cousins are up to, even if it isn’t quite clear what that might be. I’m guessing that in your first sentence “America” should have been followed by “is”. On the other hand, maybe it is one of those little contests where you get a prize for the cleverest choice of verbs to add to the sentence.
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From: Lois Harter
Date: 10/10/2007
Subj: Famous Brother

Got back last night from a few days enjoying the fall colors in the Northern CA mountains and got your messages. Checked out the South Dakota Magazine article (http://www.southdakotamagazine.com/) that featured you – we have a famous brother! Although some might argue you were already famous for being related to such wonderful sisters… not argue successfully, but at least argue.

Of course you may argue that. On the other hand one could argue that my sisters are famous for being related to such a wonderful brother. I wouldn’t argue that myself, being much too modest to do so, so I will leave that to my admiring fans, there being such a multitude of them.

Your ever modest brother,

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From: Lynn Saint James
Date: 10/10/2007
Subj: Famous Brother

I looked at the pix and article on Sunday – what a cool deal! The picture is wonderful! Your fame is spreading Bro.

Better my fame than my fanny. .
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From: Bill Campbell
Date: 10/6/2007
Subj: whatever

Richard, saw Bernie’s article in the South Dakota Magazine site. I am from Carthage, SD, retired, residing in Henderson, NV.

Your site looks interesting. I plan to read though it as time permits.

A close friend of our family, Tim Volz, went to high school in Highmore and worked for the state of SD with my father doing highway maintenance in the 1950’s. Perhaps you know him or his family.

Finally, here is a Carthage site that may interest you: www.strawbalemus.com and another I do volunteer work for in our community: www.anthemfc.com (go to archive for photos).

Congratulations on your conservation efforts. Keep up the good work.

Thanks for writing. Reading through the whole site is a daunting project – there currently are about four thousand files. However if you poke around a bit you should find something interesting.

I might or might not have known Tim Volz – he was a few years older than me. The family name is familiar; however there aren’t any Volz’s here now. His folks are dead and Tim and his sister moved away.

I haven’t been to the straw bale museum in Carthage, mostly because I’ve never visited Carthage. Clearly I’ve been remiss.

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From: Doug Wiken
Date: 10/6/2007
Subj: your site added to SDBLOGLAND list

Thanks to Bernie Hunhoff’s site, I stumbled onto your site.

Looks like you were a few years ahead of the curve on building something perhaps “tepidly” bloglike or perhaps pre-blog like..

Anyway, blog or not, I plugged it into the bloglist I am patching together now.

Thanks for the listing. Some people refer to it as an antediluvian blog. You’re right that it is hand coded with the caveat that much of the boilerplate is generated by scripts that I hand coded. It’s not exactly unknown – projecting 1.8 million visitors for 2007. However that’s really because (a) there are some scholarly articles here and there that are standard references, and (b) there are articles such as the recipe for whole roast camel that are recurring favorites.
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From: Jim Pollock
Date: 10/7/2007
Subj: Bernie’s Blog (Oct 5, 2007)

Read about your Slum City of the Mind World and followed the link from Bernie’s South Dakota Magazine blog. I put a bookmark here and will be checking back into the pool of words scattered all over the place.

Jim Pollock, Pierre

A pool of words scattered all over the place – I like that. I hope you find some that coalesced into interesting patterns. I emjoyed browsing through your website.
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From: Lois Harter
Date: 9/3/2007
Subj: Kitchen; White Rabbits

The kitchen photos were astonishing – what a transformation! The kitchen looks just stunning. You did a great job. Enjoy….

Thank you. Someone, I mention no names but she has a large black dog, was stunned that I actually completed the job. Now if I could just get the rest of things done …
Now, about those white rabbits… This is an old English tale. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rabbit_rabbit. The white rabbits entered our lives when I was in Jr. High and our teacher, Mr. Nichols, shared the tale. He’d learned it when he was stationed in England during WWII. And the white rabbits have been hopping out of our mouths at the beginning of every month ever since. Our version is a simple one – say “white rabbits” as your first spoken words on the first day of the month and you’ll have good luck for the entire month. There has been some debate over the years whether you actually had to say it to someone for the good luck to occur (and do cats count???), whether saying it on January 1st gives you good luck for the whole year, etc. While these finer points remain unresolved, the resolve to maintain this fine tradition remains strong.
I see. My theory, the one I shall adopt, is that if you say “white rabbit” at least once in your life you shall have good luck for the rest of your life. BTW, I had Mr. Nichols as an English teacher when I was in high school.
And a belated “White Rabbits” to you. – Your wise (and lucky) sister, L.
And the same to you, I’m sure.
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From: Peter Neilson
Date: 9/2/2007
Subj: The weirdness of automation

I sent Peter an email advising him that my reply to him had been blocked. Here is what he had to say:
Mr. Harter, ex-USMC:
I’m afraid that you must have violated all of the restrictions. I do not have any of them set up on my end. Who is this “our” anyway who owns the Spam Firewall? Is it tiac? Can they not distinguish you from their elbow?

By the way, the current message, to which I am replying, actually got through and was not blocked. Perhaps you mended your ways, in the eyes of tptb@tiac.

What is truly bizarre is that [email protected] has no problems with delivering such messages to my mailbox. I’m not quite sure who the “our” is myself, except that it is not myself. According to their notice they will evaluate the message; if they are telling the truth, something I very much doubt, you will get the original when some human actually looks at it. Since the non-truthfulness of the message is evident (the message they blocked meets none of their listed criteria) I rather doubt it.
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From: Chip Hitchcock
Date: 9/12/2007
Subj: The Great August Flood

should be considered a suitable response to your snarky remark about getting six whole flakes of snow when your former home was frozen and snowed under.

Snarky!!?? How can you say such a thing. It was merely my modest contribution to meteorological science. Modesty – it’s what I do, it’s who I am.
It also explains where our rain went; Massachusetts just finished its second-driest August on record. (~.66 inches; the record was ~.39, the average is 3.37.)
I assume that in September the rains in MA returned to normal; they certainly did in SD.

… continued on next rock …

> By and large they did not; we’ve had spatters and one ~day, but mostly still dry. The tiny patch of grass that we call the front yard looks like it will go directly from dormant-dry to dormant-cold.

Odd. My recollection is that gardening was a pleasure in MA because the water table was always high and there always was enough rain. Perhaps I’ve been away too long and memory has acquired the rosy glow of distance. Oh well, we can always blame global warming.
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From: Erick Clements
Date: 9/29/2007
Subj: cheap painter

To whom it may concern,

Would you please consider removing this article: https://richardhartersworld.com/cri/2002/repaint.html

I run a successful painting franchise on the West Coast of the USA, and this link, although funny, is becoming detrimental to our business.

Thank You for your help

Erick Clements
President TCP Franchise LLC

Dear Sir,

I have to say that this is one of the more peculiar requests I have received. The anecdote in question is an old one, probably originally from Joe Miller’s Joke Book, first edition. The anecdote appears one quite a number of sites. Google doesn’t report any links to the page nor does it seem to get much traffic. Beyond that you have given no particular reason for believing that it might be detrimental to your business. The only possible reason that I can see that you might even think that is that a google search on “the cheap painter” currently turns up that page in the number three slot. Why on earth they should do that is quite beyond me.

In any event you have not provided any tangible or even plausible reason for pulling the page. If you are hoping to get everyone except yourself to stop using the phrase “The Cheap Painter” you have a very long road ahead of you. Be all of that as it may, far be it from me to put a spoke in the wheels of American Enterprise, so I will change the title of the page.

Trusting that this meets your rquirements, I remain
Your Obt Servant,
Richard Harter

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From: Peter Neilson
Date: 9/28/2007
Subj: [Fwd: Greetings]

Richard, I am sending you only the faintest sliver of this latest assault on my meager savings. I intersperse my comments to cut back on the boredom.

Yes, he says “Greetings”. The Draft Board used to say the very same thing. One must be circumspect.
Indeed. Though I sometimes do the same, though I prefer “Greetings and Salutations”. It’s more respectful.
I am Mr. Charles Brown, a Canadian Attorney based in Manchester, United Kingdom
Hmmpf. I would have said “England” but what do I know? Perhaps the Canadians know better. Or the Niagrans. I thought Charles Brown’s Locus was elsewhere. He’s an impostor, too.
The last time I saw Charles Brown he had turned into a white haired gnome riding around in a motorized cart. He must have move his locus to Canada.
and the personal Attorney to Late Mr. Mark Michelle.
Why does this dead turkey have a girl’s first name as his last name. Strikes me as odd. Queer, even. No, strike that. Just odd. Strike the word strike, too.
Consider it stricken.
… no avail. My client made a deposit in a bank at Manchester valued presently at US$18,000,000.00 (Eighteen Million United States Dollars) and the
These intestate guys are popping off to /dev/null like proverbials, and leaving vast sums untended.
The thing is, intestate guys don’t have families so they have nothing to do with their money but let it pile up.
bank has issued me an official notification to provide his next of kin or beneficiary by will, otherwise the account will be confiscated within the next sixty (60) working days.
And they all, to a man, have these inept banks or governments that seize the assets, but leave the distribution of same up to a turkey lawyer who trusts all of the misplaced millions to someone he found on the Internet!
You underestimate these lawyers. They know what you and I don’t, namely that the only way to find a truly honest person is to conduct mass mailings on the internet. The trouble is that they have some secret that they’re not sharing with you and me.
Since I have been unsuccessful to locate any of my late client’s relatives for over three (3) years …
And all larcenous.

Ineptly, –Peter

That’s your problem, you’re living in Eptly. That’s as bad as South Dakota.
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From: Email Filtering Service
Date: 10/2/2007
Subj: **Message you sent was quarantined**


Your message to: ******** was quarantined by our Spam Firewall.
The email you sent with the following subject has NOT BEEN DELIVERED and is awaiting evaluation by the system administrator:

Subject: Re: [Fwd: Greetings]

What happened: Your message was not sent due to one of the following reasons:
1. You tried to connect to the mail server more than 50 times in 30 minutes
2. You sent to more than 200 recipients in 1 Email
3. The message you sent was larger than 20MB
4. Your connection is being blocked due to an abuse complaint
5. The person or domain you are sending to has been banned due to an abuse complaint

How do you fix it: Make sure you have not violated the above listed rules. If your message is still being blocked, contact your Internet Service Provider for assistance.

The line of stars is in the message is Peter Neilson’s email address. As it happens, none of the cited reasons apply. What happened is that the automated spam filter apparently picked up on Nigerian scam keywords and isn’t quite bright enough to figure out that it wasn’t the real thing.

It’s nice that the powers that be are out there protecting us. It’s a pity that stupidity is our first line of defense.

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From: Dona Powell
Date: 9/26/2007
Subj: diary

I went online to try to find a “Five Year Diary” to purchase, because like you, I received one for Christmas 1947 and began keeping it the first of the year of l948. However, I kept it up faithfully right up to the present.

The last time I needed a new diary I had trouble finding one. I did finally find a place which had 2 which I purchased. Now I am on the 10th year of the second one and am starting to panic. I certainly do not want to quit something which I’ve done for 60 years!

My search brought me to your entries. I also was a 12 year old, only a girl, living in Michigan, and my entries are a bit more expansive than yours, however just about as mundane. But it has settled many an argument over the years!

I did find one on eBay a couple months ago, but it has a few entries made in it (which I can probably erase) but I intend to keep looking. Seems there would be someone out there who would have one lying around!

But I found quite interesting our circumstances of receiving a diary at 12 years of age in l947 !

Thanks for writing. I’m not surprised that you were better at filling in your diary than I was. I opine that girls are better at keeping their thoughts in a diary than boys are.

Every once in a while someone writes asking me where they can find one. A google search turns quite a few English and European suppliers, but American ones are harder to find. I did turn up http://www.artkrafts.com/index.asp; you might take a look at them.

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From: Pat O’Neil
Date: 9/23/2007
Subj: One Sunday Morning

Hi Dick,

I just read your article about my experience “One Sunday Morning”. Very well done, mostly, but I would suggest a few changes.

(1) I wasn’t at a University. I had just finished my Senior Year at Mineola High School, and these friends were classmates, two of whom had a job that was calling them in at 8:00 AM on Sunday morning (hard to believe, but that’s why we had to wake up so early — I would have taken the bus to Rockville Centre much later if I’d had a choice of sleeping longer).

(2) In the fourth paragraph at the beginning, “…it was a bright Sunday morning with absolutely absolutely nobody around,” I would add, “no-one walking, not even any passing cars for the entire mile- long walk.” I know this sounds ridiculous, surely someone would be out to go to a pancake place for breakfast, but seemingly not at 7:00 AM in the sleepy town of Mineola on a Sunday morning.

(3) End of second to last sentence in paragraph four: “bush stop” –> “bus stop” Keep up the good work!

Thanks for the comments and corrections. Somehow I had always been under the impression that you were at the University. If I recall correctly the drinking age in NY in those days was 18. It’s a good thing; otherwise I would have to turn you in for underage drinking.
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From: Ilaf Scheikh Elard
Date: 9/11/2007
Subj: Request for reprint permission

Dear Mr Harter,

I am the editor of VOX – The Journal of Philosophy, Politics and Economics, an academic journal at the University of York, England. Our next issue deals with the overarching topic “games” which will include articles on game theory in connection with ethics, economics, politics, philosophy, biology and every day life reasoning. We found that your essay “A GAME THEORETIC APPROACH TO THE TOILET SEAT PROBLEM” would fit in nicely and highlight one (humorous) application of game theory.


We are a non-profit academic journal that is made by students.

We would highly appreciate it, if you gave us permission to reprint your article. Of course, we will give reference and credit to you, and will send you a hard copy of the magazine.

I am looking forward to hear from you.

PS: I contacted The Science Quarterly first, and they forwarded me to you.

Certainly, go ahead. I would appreciate a hard copy of the magazine. My mailing address is:

PO Box 612,
Highmore SD 57345

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This page was last updated October 21, 2007.
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 !