Richard Harter’s World
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April 2009

Letters to the editor, April 2009

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 And, of course, anything marked not for publication is not for publication.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 April 2009.

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From: Anthony R. Lewis, PhD, FN
Date: 8 April 2009
Subj: Cardiopathy

You may be put on amiodarone and/or “given” a pacemaker. I’m in that situation. Actually, a pacemaker implant is relatively simple–mine took about 45 minutes from hospital bed and back. It’s done under a local with mild sedation. If done early in the morning, you might go home that evening. Impressive–heart surgery on an outpatient basis.

Consider yourself lucky to have been put out before the cardioversion. When I went into the ER they panicked and defibbed me while I was conscious–it hurt! The cardioversion didn’t take.

Just think of it as step one on the road to becoming a cyborg.

At present I’m living with the rat poison. They tell me that I have a natural affinity for rat poison. They don’t put it quite that way – they say something about easy dosage regulation – but I know what they mean.

I dare say I will end up with something else eventually. Right now my pulse rate is within rational bounds but who knows what will happen next. It’s not just becoming a cyborg, you know – the plan is to convert me into a cyborg rat.

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From: Erik
Date: 7 April 2009
Subj: Array rotation revisited


I read your very interesting document at]. But the last piece of code looks somewhat strange in the inner loop. The condition is “until index .ge. nk”. I interpret this as “until index ≥ nk”. So the loop should run until index becomes large enough (since nk is a constant). But index is never incremented, only decremented. So it will never be large enough. Maybe you mean that index must be a modular type that wraps around to a large (out of range) value when it becomes < 0?

I tried to implement it, but I had to negate that condition to make it work. So I have “until index < nk” (actually “while index ≥ nk” since it is C++). And then it seems to work!

Then I saw a bit strange language:
has two runs of length one, one run length of two, one run of length three.
maybe you meant this:
has two runs of length one, one run of length two, one run of length three.

And then this one:
maybe you meant this:
of lengths

Thank you very much for writing. The test that you are asking about in the final piece of code is a typo. The test should be “index .lt. nk” – i.e., your change was correct. There were a few other typos besides the ones you spotted, e.g., “shouuld” and “convient”. I’ve eliminated all that I’ve found (hopefully all of them) and posted the corrected page. If you run into any other problems please let me know.

Although the final algorithm is optimal in terms of data moves and loop tests, it isn’t necessarily optimal in actual execution time in modern computers. The problem is that it is cache unfriendly, i.e., memory accesses potentially have a large stride. In contrast, in the triple reversal algorithm the stride is 1. Some one of these days I may revisit the problem and see if there is a good way to deal with the stride issue.

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From: Lee R Piazza
Date: 2 April 2009

Well late again. I guess that recent cold snap sent, in Robert Frost’s words, “the frozen ground-swell under it.” “It” in this case being a fence instead of a wall. So you’re out repairing fences. When you get done, please do putout the April edition.

To avoid being called cruel(April being the cruellest month)I will omit the Santa Cruz weather report.

I can’t even find the damn fences; they’re buried under snow drifts. The issue will appear in a day or two. It all depends on how much shoveling I have to do.
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From: (Mr.) Takao Tsutsumi
Date: 31 March 2009
Subj: Asking for Your Permission

Dear Webmaster,

(Please forward this mail to a section/person relevant to this matter.)

We, Kairyudo, are a well-established textbook publishing house with a history of over 80 years. We specialize in authorized textbooks for elementary, junior and senior high schools in Japan.

We are now compiling an authorized textbook of English for senior high schools to be used from April, 2004 to March, 2007. We have a plan to make some citation in the textbook from a story appeared on your website and to make its recording, which is indispensable to a language textbook. This is to apply for your permission.

You are more than welcome to use it. However I am not the author of the story; it is one of those things that has circulated on the web over the years. The earliest reference I can find on googol is a search result page at According to them it appeared in the New Straits Times, a Malaysian English Language Newspaper in January of 1998. I suspect that it is not original with them, but I do suggest that you contact them.

(I gather they use a different calendar in Japan.)

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From: Mr Odor
Date: 1 April 2009
Subj: That Stinks!

I was inspired to send you this right after smelling my husband’s feet!!! I sprayed his stinky socks with my favorite odor eliminator spray and thought I would share the love

You get a free bottle of spray that will remove odor forever – or your money back!!! If you get a chance check it out – unless you like smelly feet!

Ma’am I don’t know why you are smelling your husband’s feet. That sort of thing sounds a bit too kinky for my website. We’re very much a family rated web site around here.
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From: Ray Hanson
Date: 23 January 2009
Subj: Alaskan Clydesdale

Moose picture Only in Alaska……. This guy raised an abandoned moose calf with his Horses, and believe it or not, he has trained it for lumber removal and Other hauling tasks. Given the 2,000 pounds of robust muscle, and the Splayed, grippy hooves, he claims it is the best work animal he has. He says the secret to keeping the moose around is a sweet salt lick, Although, during the rut he disappears for a couple of weeks, but always comes home…. Impressive !!

Bound to be someone out there that will raise some issues with this treatment of a wild animal. To them I say. “If the Moose keeps coming back,what’s the problem?”

They sure do have peculiar looking horses in Alaska.

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From: Anthony R. Lewis, PhD, FN
Date: 21 March 2009
Subj: South Dakota

The Channel Formerly Known as SciFi will be airing a program this summer called Warehouse 13. This is a secret government facility that stores all the objects you thought were at Area 51 and the “Ark” stoage facility. This warehouse is located in South Dakota. If I interpreted the trailer correctly, I think it is in the neighborhood of Highmore. Are you going to investigate this or are you in on the plot?

Naturally I can’t say anything about this and cannot admit to knowing anything about any such project. However I will mention that I have applied for an interesting position as a caretaker at a local establishment. Incidentally, don’t be alarmed if some men in black come around and start asking questions. It’s nothing to worry about; you probably won’t even remember their visit.
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From: Peter Neilson
Date: 6 March 2009
Subj: Threaded INTERCAL

My Dear Harter:
It has come to my attention that my lurid and wacky suggestion of coding San in INTERCAL is more on target than I had imagined. The language is admirably suited to the task. I mean the tasks, if we are considering each task to occupy a separate thread.

Threading is pre-done, using a property of the COME FROM statement, videlicet:

Yr Obt Svt (that’ll be Your Obtuse Servlet) & all that

I’m glad that you called this to my attention; I had not previously been aware of threaded INTERCAL. I fear that San is far too prosaic to take full advantage of the aforesaid brilliant innovations.

The ingenious use of the COME FROM construct reminds me of another project of mine, which unfortunately will have been on the back burner for some years, to wit, a time traveling language under the code name INGSOC. The concept really is quite simple. The record of the past is part of the current state of the process. By altering the record of the past we have the potential of altering the future. In other words we replace

S(future) = F(S(present),S(past))


S(future) = F(S(present),G(big brother,S(past)))

I anticipate that it will have a natural market in the political arena.

Yr Obt Svt,
Richard Harter

… continued on next rock

I regret to inform you of the existence of a new language, LOLCODE. There is no spec, but it has been shown to be Turing complete, and several interpreters already exist. It can be understood even by non-programmers, which can hardly be a blessing. Fortunately threading has not been addressed.

LOLCODE is pushing the borders.

If I am not mistaken, in the old days we had spooling without threads. Then again, Adam had no threads, and if it was good enough for Adam it’s good enough for me.

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From: Anand
Date: 20 March 2009
Subj: Quiz for people who know everything!

Hi there

Good day. A friend of mine sent me an email with the questions from your website ( Well, i am not the kind of person who thinks knows everything but its quite interesting. tried to answer without surfing through search engines and i did answered, which i think is correct but she denies it as its not in your answers list. Anyways, so i need a second opinion here coz i can’t just take it so easy. so here i am;

#1. Of all vegetables, only two can live to produce on their own for several growing seasons. All other vegetables must be replanted every year. What are the two perennial vegetables? Ans: Potato, onion, plantain (although plantain is considered as both fruit and vegetable) Reason: as potato, onion and plantain are perennial crops, doesn’t need to be cultivated and can regenerate all by itself for years and years from tubers and rhizomes.

Tubers and rhizomes are a special case. While is it is true that the plants regenerate naturally, they must be replanted if they are harvested. If they aren’t harvested they aren’t edible. Fruits are traditionally distinguished from other vegetables, so plantains don’t count.

To be fair, there can be different answers to this question depending on which definition of “vegetable” one uses. However, in the ordinary sense of harvested garden vegetables, the quiz answer is good.

#2. What fruit has its seeds on the outside? Ans: Cashew nuts. here is a picture . it has seed or nut outside the plum or fruit.
This isn’t right. See the wikipedia article on the cashew. The cashew apple is a false fruit. The true fruit is the drupe, and the cashew seed is within the drupe. See
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From: Suford
Date: 19 March 2009
Subj: Whatever

There is also some math and formal language humor…

Just my sort of thing. I rely on people like you to find these things for me.
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From: Office of Parliamentary Counsel
Date: 17 March 2009
Subj: Where’s My Refund ?


Sorry old chap, but I’d be an idiot to click on that link. The besides of which I don’t know where your refund is. Are you sure that you haven’t thrown it out with the rest of the junk mail?
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From: Wendi Rinehart
Date: 23 March 2009
Subj: Sleepless in Seattle

In a Seattle Washington college ( Note: a College! ) classroom, they were discussing the qualifications to be President of the United States. It was pretty simple – the candidate must be a natural-born citizen of at least 35 years of age.

However, one girl in the class immediately started in on how unfair was the requirement to be a natural-born citizen… In short, her opinion was that this requirement prevented many capable individuals from becoming president. The class was taking it in and letting her rant, but everyone’s jaw hit the floor when she wrapped up her argument by stating, “What makes a natural-born citizen any more qualified to lead this country than one born by C-section?”

Yep, these are the 18-year-olds that just voted..

I dunno, this sounds like one of those urban legend things that circulate. However it doesn’t show up on Snopes – at least not yet, and there are people out there who are confused. Are you sure she wasn’t on JayWalking?
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From: Michael Leeper
Date: 17 March 2009
Subj: Marsupials refute evolution

What about the Wombat? That is a land dwelling Marsupial with a backwards facing pouch. It is a burrowing creature whose pouch faces backwards so it doesn’t throw dirt on its young.

What about wombats? The same principle applies whether we are talking about swimming through water or burrowing through dirt. After all, one can think of burrowing as swimming through dirt.
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This page was last updated April 9, 2009.

Richard Harter’s World
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April 2009