Richard Harter’s World
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June 2009

Letters to the editor, June 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 And, of course, anything marked not for publication is not for publication.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 June 2009.

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From: Peter Neilson
Date: 4 June 2009
Subj: 404

When clicking on the link to your June lettercol …

I reach something unexpected …

The directory listing suggests that you have yet to finish messing with let09jun.html and are even still doing things to let09may.html …

Index of /cri_c/letters/2009
Name                    Last modified       Size  Description
  Parent Directory        02-Jan-2009 13:59      -
  let09apr.html           09-Apr-2009 12:41    19k
  let09feb.html           22-Feb-2009 03:21    17k
  let09jan.html           17-Jan-2009 13:07    28k
  let09mar.html           05-Mar-2009 16:41    13k
  let09may.html           02-Jun-2009 00:56    18k
My dear, dear, Peter,

You have no idea how delighted I am to have received your letter. It is with great concern that I had been waiting impatiently for it to appear. It should have been here on the 1st of June. I know you wrote it on the 4th but it should have been here on the 1st. Your letter was part of the correspondence published on the 1st. Reality has been bent yet again as so often happens in these environs.

No matter (and no energy either). The missing page will have been published on the 1st and reality is restored to its usual semblence of order. There remains a minor anomaly in the dating, but that will disappear in due course and all will be well.

Richard Harter

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From: Alexander Parkinson
Date: 21 May 2009
Subj: Subscription

I want to receive e-mail.

Any subscription suggestions?

I don’t do subscriptions or a mailing list. What I do is public, free, and overpriced.
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From: Louise J.
Date: 31 May 2009
Subj: Do poker players need true friends or do they just want to be left alone?


I’ve read your story about poker. You seem to have touched this realm well enough to be able to answer my question or to at least give me some pointers.

Here’s the thing. I have a colleague who is a serious poker tournament player (age 25 – acts like 35). At work, he is flawless, well spoken, well poised and very professional. However, I’m very intuitive, and can sense that there is some kind of well burried but well present frustration.

If he’s a pro? Hmmm… I wish I knew. There is NO WAY of getting any personal information on this guy. He’ll get to know everything about YOU, but will never end up saying anything about HIM. He keeps his habits a secret and lives in an apartment with a male roomate.

Last girlfriend he’s had was 5 years ago. And judging by the levels of testosterone guys have in the twenties, I presume it’s uncommon for him not to have a girlfriend. He is tall and handsome. Likes sports (hockey and golf, the very latest). Very confident. Arrogant over others but never brags. Humble about himself, but laughs alot at other people (such as their IQ – which is what I hate the most about him). He says he’s better off without women, but it’s like he NEEDS ONE at the same time. He does observe pretty women so my guess is that his life with Poker has something to do with his staying single. A comment that often comes out of him is that in order to love something, he has to be good at it. He’s a bad loser.

I think I’m the total opposite of a poker player who will calculate to get something. I am free-spirited and when I want something, I just ask for it regardless of timing and if I get “No” for an answer, it’s okay. Life for me, regardless of obstacles is just plain fun all the time. But I’m not one of the brightest persons. My strength lays in unconditional love and intuition which almost never fails me. So underneath his layers of ironie, and carelessness about other people, I see a very passionate, sensitive and fun man.

So to come back to the intellectual side, as poker read body language and minds, I think he must have seen how I feel about him. Over time, only always refering to business subjects, we became closer and closer in a non tangible way. It was like there was no need to speak. The intellectual sized the intuitive one and vice versa. I know it sounds crazy, but this also happened in a work environment, with no possible way of being direct either.

One day, I decided to drop by his apt to get a document. On his doorstep he kept the hand on the door knob so it would stay shut. Then I saw his face: all swolen. He had been beaten by 12-13 guys the night before. I thought I would implode!! He told me not to worry. That this it was because he went in a bad place and that he had taken a drink too many. At this point, I did not pass judgement cause the only thing that mattered was that he was ALIVE!

So, you see, he didn’t let me in his apt, but he did, that one time, let me inside of him. And I really like what I saw. He didn’t even try to cover it. I could see his hurt, his deception. He was transparent. No layers. Just him: a man who cares darely about me. But then his roomate started pacing, so he closed the subject by saying that it was a very good lesson for him.

The next day at work, I hid a baby seal (stuffed animal) with a plaster on the forhead in his desk and wrote “PHOQUE!” (baby seal in French is pronounced “fuck”). When he saw it he was SO PLEASED and couldn’t stop himself from laughing (not a mocking laugh though and amazed and happy laugh). It was like I was his SOLE friend and he appreciated it.

But as the days passed, the transparency slowly disappeared and the layers came back. Then, it was like there were a few layers MORE – so much that I can almost not gauge him anymore… so much that it’s even like I became the most annoying person around whereas I was taking to him after more and more distant times. Today, I can still not relate his mood swings to anything. One day, wide opened and happy. The next day – back to the burried oyster.

Is there a way to get closer to poker players? I guess that’s one of my questions. Do they need true friends like me or do they just want to go about their business and not have anything to do with anyone? Are they ever able to let someone in their life at some point? Or is the best thing to do is not mind their own business (in other words : CARE)?

There is little that I can say with certainty without knowing your young man, and even if I knew him, it quite likely wouldn’t help. Still, I can’t help but feel that your cause is hopeless.

It isn’t a matter of getting close to poker players. When they are away from the game, some players have quite normal social lives. In truth, though, many really serious players don’t, at least not when they are young. To put it baldly,

Poker is better than sex.
Well, not really, they aren’t the same thing. However poker, or any game, can be addictive, as over powering, as mind possessing as hard drugs. This is particularly true of the young. I wrote a poem once on the subject. It may not be a very good poem, but it is apropos.
The gambler sat at cards all night
And quit his game by morning light.
When his mind by sleep was dimmed
He dreamed of suckers he had trimmed.

To that man that game is life,
Child and home, parent and wife.
When his backword day is done
He reckons life by what he’s won.
I don’t think that is him, but I suspect that there may be an element of that in him. For one thing, he appears to have his work life in hand. One thing that concerns me in your account is that he appears to be hustling private games. I am reminded of a scene in the movie, The Hustler. Paul Newman plays a pool hustler. At one point after beating a couple of marks he shows off and lets them know how really good at pool he is. They break his fingers. If you have never seen the movie, rent it. It is a very good movie, and I think you will find it enlightening.

One other thought. When poker players study body language and “get to know people” it is a very specific kind of knowledge they seek. It is all about the game. Example: do you love opera? A poker player might want to know that, not because he cares about opera or about your loving opera, but because it gives him a handle on you.

I appreciate that I am not being very encouraging. The time may come when your friend is open to a serious relationship, but I opine that time is not now. He is too young and too much in the thrall of his demon goddess. I think that in your heart of hearts you know this and feel it to be so.

I may well be wrong, but you have asked, and I must tell you what I think.

My best wishes to you, and I hope that all goes well with you.

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From: Peter Neilson
Date: 17 May 2009
Subj: Missing Harters

Your web page that links to various members of the Harter Clan now contains more bad links than good. Only about four of them connect to anything clearly real, if you include your link to yourself.

If you whine that you do not have enough time to attend to your website, I shall retort that time is Nature’s way of keeping everything from happening at once.

By the way, the photo of (probably) somewhere in South Dakota that appears on your site’s home page looks remarkable like it might be somewhere in Italy. The wonders of South Dakotan Geography never cease!

Italy is part of Richard Harter’s world. The photo is a picture of a cafe in Sorrento. I fear that it is time to remove the Harter page. It was a good idea in 1996 when (a) there were far fewer Harters on the web, and (b) I didn’t have as many hair brained projects going.

Speaking of that, how is it that one can conceive of hair brained projects when one has no hair on the top of his head?

… continued on next rock …

I believe the expression is “hare-brained”. As in “Silly rabbit!”

Have you noticed in any corners of your world that squirrels are selecting for straight ahead instead of zigzag? We saw it in New England over 30 years ago, and I’ve noticed it here in NC. The reason is of course that the automobile is the major predator, and a zig-zag course that would outfox a fox brings the prey right back under the rubber fangs of the rolling behemoth.

I mentioned this years ago to an acquaintance, and he said that it was impossible, because selection works over centuries or millennia, not years or decades. Apparently he was wrong.

Quite wrong. The whole inheritance system is trickier than people first thought. It is indeed true that changing a populations collective genotype can take many generations. However we inherit more than genes from our parents; we also inherit gene settings, i.e., which genes are turned on and which are turned off.

The advantage of this scheme is that settings can be altered in response to environmental conditions. It as though mama can pass onto junior the benefit of her experience. It is a very limited form of inheritance of acquired traits. Unlike genetic inheritance you are not stuck with an unchangable gene.

I rather fancy that squirrels are brighter than rabbits. The alley behind Our Lady’s back yard is infested with rabbits. They want to run straight down the road in front of your car. They prefer almost any action in preference to getting out of your way.

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From: ABDN Support Desk
Date: 25 May 2009
Subj: Please update your ABDN E-mail Account

Dear ABDN Web-Mail User,

We wish to inform you that we are undergoing slight maintenance and upgrading of our webmail service. Also we are having congestions due to the anonymous registration of accounts. And we are also using this medium in shutting down some accounts and your account was among those to be shut down.

We are sending you this email to you so that you can verify and let us know if you still want to use this account. If you are still interested please confirm your account details below, and you are required to send your account details for verification:



Date Of Birth(DOB):

DISCLAIMER!!! Account owner that refuse to send this information after One week of receiving this warning will lose his/her ABDN Web-mail account permanently.

Warning!!! it very important you update your email account within One Week of this update notification, we are sorry for any inconvenience we might have caused you. Expect our new mail features.

ABDN Support Desk (IT Help-Desk)

University of Aberdeen

Dear respectable persons

I am quite surprised to learn that I have an email account at the University of Aberdeen. I realize that I have a few lapses of memory in these, my senior years, but I really am quite certain that I never attended the University of Aberdeen. Indeed the only Aberdeen I have ever been in is Aberdeen, South Dakota, which, I am reliably informed, is not in the United Kingdom. If it chances that I do have an email address, perhaps you could let me know what it is and what the password might be. Having such an email address would be a delight.

I notice that the reply address is not the same as the originating address. Ordinarily this would be a clue that this is a phishing email. If it is, you have neglected to include the URL of a bogus website. Please correct this in your future efforts. As a long time user of the internet I expect the very best in Nigerian scams, bogus lottery winnings, and bank account phishing expeditions. So, if you are phishing, please upgrade your effort. If not, you have my deepest apologies.

Oh yes, June 29, 1935.

Richard Harter

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This page was last updated June 1, 2009.

Richard Harter’s World
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June 2009