Richard Harter’s World
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January 2011

Letters to the editor, January 2011

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 And, of course, anything marked not for publication is not for publication.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 January 2011.

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From: kristy hansen
Date: 9 January 2011
Subj: haha

You’re funny! I might try those arguing techniques quite soon. Thanks for those.

The key point is that if you drink enough you’ll be certain you won the argument. However your date won’t go out with you anymore.
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From: Peter Neilson
Date: 9 January 2011
Subj: One Year Later and the HFCS pipeline

Back in 2003 you ranted ( that you had lost weight, and carefully pointed out the consequences of partaking of Fa(s)t Food.

Since that time I have arrested my own slight excursion into the Larger Lands, and would like to contribute my own discovery: High Fructose Corn Syrup. It’s in just about every non-diet soft drink and lots of other commercially generated foods. A little-known part of the human anatomy is the HFCS pipeline, which connects directly to the Blubber Gland.

In the course of providing horseback riding for infants on weekends I have noticed that some of my clients’ children are spherical. Establishing one of them atop an equally round pony is like trying to balance one beachball on another. Some of the spherical children arrive at my pony wheel holding a can of Coke, which they have to set down in order to ride. Five years old, consuming probably ten cans or more of caffeine plus HFCS a day, exercising only the hyperactive blubber gland, those kids are doomed. I want to lecture their parents on nutrition. Instead I bite my tongue. Perhaps riding will inspire the child to self improvement. I bite my tongue but I do not hold my breath.

For a slightly more formal discussion of HFCS you might look at my December 2009 editorial,, in the section called Sugar: The bitter truth. For the real scoop check out the UCTV youtube video by that title.

The ninety minute version is There is a short version at

The long version goes through all of the biochemistry that pipelines fructose directly to the blubber gland.

As you may suspect, I’ve become a believer. I check the contents labels religiously.

Your resident food fascist,
Richard Harter

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From: David Marans
Date: 20 December 2010
Subj: Curious new Logic book

My recent Logic effort fits (I believe) with your site, especially your "Logic 101".

Here is the link, and then click “Preview” beneath the cover image.


David Marans

It’s an intriguing book. If one looks at the intellectual history of logic as a grand narrative, there is a real advantage to knowing who the characters in the story are.

I’m not sure that our two rednecks belong within its pages though.

Richard Harter

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From: Jules Mars
Date: 15 December 2011
Subj: Jules Mars


I had a comment from Your website is funny! I liked that you included the Jean Paul Sartre cookbook- a philsophy student favorite!

One more thing, are you interested in adding a link to one of my online education sites offering literature programs? The link will be on one of your pages and you’ll receive a payment for the link.

Let me know if you are interested and I can follow up with an email or a phone call.

As it happens, my web site is non-commercial. Worse, I don’t have a PayPal account, which is odd because I keep getting notices that my account has been frozen. I will tell you what I will do, though. Send me the link that would like to add and I will see if I can find a place for it.
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From: Jennifer R. Pournelle
Date: 9 December 2011
Subj: Outies (The Mote in God’s Eye)

Dear Richard,

I’ve just read your 30-year-old review of The Mote In God’s Eye (, which I must say that I, too still find as salient now as back in the day.

I found the same things about that book wonderful and troubling as you did — and that stuck with me for so long, that I finally wrote a sequel just to try to address some of the criticisms.

It’s now approved & published, and if you are so inclined, I’d like your opinion of it. It’s available from the link below. If you do not have a Kindle, there’s a free Kindle Reader download for PC/Mac/etc. Once you do that, you can even download a big chunk for free.


J.R. Pournelle (yes, I’m his daughter)

My apologies for not answering sooner. December was somewhat of a hectic madhouse – I have fallen behind on all sorts of things including my email. As it chances I received a kindle as a xmas present. I’m still just playing with it and am not yet buying books. However I did download and read the free chunk of your book. I do have a few comments on what I have read.

One thing that struck me was that we get the thoughts and feelings of the “lesser castes”. It had not occurred to me before, but both in Mote in God’s Eye and in The gripping Hand, the only motie castes that have speaking lines are the masters, the mediators, and to a much lesser extent, the engineers. In short we hear from the politically powerful, the intellectual communicators, and the technologists.

The other castes are spear carriers – literally in the case of warriors. They are, to use that phrase made famous by a BP president, the little people. All of which suggests that the novel is a “within society” novel rather than a “above society” novel, or perhaps both since Blaine and Renner are part of the cast. A “within society” novel is one which portrays the lives of people within a society whereas a “above society” novel is one which details the actions of people who are making decisions for society.

Another thought that occurred to me was that apparently irrelevant prolog material is a useful device for creating the hooks for a sequel. Thus the New Chicago material in Mote sets the stage for Gripping Hand and the initial scenes in Gripping Hand sets the stage for Outies. Usually one thinks of the ending as the place where hooks for sequels are placed. Just a thought.

I expect I will probably get the kindle book just to see what I can make out of it.

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From: Keith Goodman
Date: 6 January 2011
Subj: Ascending minima algorithm

Your ascending minima algorithm is great. What license is the code distributed under? I’d like to including it in my bottleneck package after converting it to cython:

I would include a notice in the code, something like:

Original C code:
Copyright Richard Harter 20XX
Released under a XXX license

Adapted for Bottleneck:
Copyright Keith Goodman 2011
Released under the Bottleneck license

Bottleneck, BTW, has a Simplified BSD license.

Thank you for the kind words. I like the algorithm; it’s a simple and elegant solution for a common task.

I’m not sure how to answer your request because I thought of the C code as illustrative code rather than as code distributed under a license. The article as a whole is copyright by me 2009.

I would prefer to simply declare the code to be public domain. It turns out, however, that many jurisdictions do not recognize the right of authors to place their work in public domain. Apparently it is easier all around if one has a simplified BSD license. I do have one I use so I am releasing it under that. So go ahead and and make the XXX “Simplified BSD”.

It seems I should go through my various algorithm articles and put in license notices so that people can use my code without getting in trouble with their legal departments. Sniff.

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From: john travis
Date: 1 December 2010
Subj: john-travis-tractor-deals

Looking for a good and cheap tractor? You may not have looked at right place. We have competitive prices, including transport. No hidden fees, fast and secure. We deliver anywhere in the U.S. and CA.

When you refer to the U.S. and CA, does the CA stand for Canada or California?

I regret to say that I’m not in the market for a tractor at the moment. However I do appreciate your letter and I want you to know that I’m pulling for you.

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From: Lee R. Piazza
Date: 30 November 2010

How can you update something publish(-ed, -ing, will be – Which you should only with checks-if that? I suspect you’ Which makes suspect your claim that it is not precise enough(missing by hundreds of years)when I politely requested to use it to visit Paris in 1793.

Piffle and likewise horncobs. Shirley you know the difference between a time machine and a time tablet. The technique is simple enough. I view next month’s letter column in the time tablet and down load it into this month.

Alas, my time tablet went out of adjustment and started showing next month’s political news. The poor thing burnt out in a puff of smoke. I have it in the shop but the prospects aren’t too good. The repairman says he needs a new part and won’t be able to get it until next month.

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From: Lee R. Piazza
Date: 14 December 2010

This reminds me of all the stories in A. C. Clark’s “Tales from the White Hearth” where the wondrous contraption was always destroyed before the end of the tale.

It was “Tales from the White Hart” if memory does not fail me. (My memory has greatly improved since wikipedia came to be.) It isn’t quite that simple. Clark never told the whole story. The wondrous contraptions were shipped to Warehouse 13 which, as I expect you are well aware, is located in South Dakota.

I get a loaner now and then.

P.S. What is a horncob?
That, perhaps, is a question you should not ask. For the purposes of discussion a horncob is a Mexican parrot with brilliant lapis lazuli and grass green feathers. The horncob has been extinct for some time. Legend has it that it was a side dish in Aztec ceremonial feasts.
P.P.S. Why not get in the time machine and bring it back from next month?
That’s the plan. It goes into effect … next month.
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From: Lee R. Piazza<
Date: 12 December 2010

You are right. It has been a long time since I read it. I fact I didn’t know “HART” was a word
a male deer, commonly of the red deer, Cervus elaphus, esp. after its fifth year.
So it’s a white red deer, hopefully it is not pink! P.S. GORDON NOSEWORTHY. This is a tip-off to ignore the whole story. It was obviously made up by a bored UPI editor.

I opine that a white hart would be an albino red deer. Commonly albinos have pink eyes and ears so that they are always under suspicion of being socialist animals.

I am somewhat curious about the origin of the noseworthy patronym and what the heraldic device might be. I have high hopes that one of our readers might enlighten us on this matter.

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From: Bill Trenton
Date: 16 Decenber 2010
Subj: Order

Good Day,
    Am Bill Trenton from California CA  and i will like to know if you do carry Pizza Pan in stock. If yes get back to me with the types and their corresponding prices

Sorry Bill, this isn’t a pizza pan shop. Please try again elsewhere.
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This page was last updated January 1, 2011.

Richard Harter’s World
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January 2011