site home site map letters July 1999 email

Letters to the Editor, July 1999

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 And, of course, anything marked not for publication is not for publication.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 July 1999.

Index of contributors

Other Correspondence Pages

From: RapunzlA51
Date: 7/19/99
Subj: Warped food

You’re missing 2 staples that my Dad always uses to “rattle” an overly friendly waitress! The first is a sandwich: peanut butter and sardines on raisin bread. The second is dessert: chicken fudge ripple ice cream. If you can say either one quickly and with a straight face I can guarantee that your waitress will begin to write it on her pad before it registers! Runner up (New York area only) Taylor Pork roll and grape jelly on a bagel.
Love your website!

Thank you. These are definitely winners and I will add to the list of warped foods.
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From: Morton F. Kaplon
Date: 7/14/99
Subj: Your page

I was roaming around some sites returned from a search on “The Anthropic Principle” and came up with yours.

I take it you came across the “Completely Radical Anthropic Principle”. Some one of these days I will have to go back and list the references properly.
You have some very funny stories (at least to me)
A lot of people seem to think so.
Some of the anthropic sites are interesting, albeit delusional. People have to learn that throwing around quotes from famous people is a rather silly thing to do and many of the presumed “serious” anthropic sites are subject to that criticism, as well as to plain factual misstatements.
Using quotations from famous people is a rhetorical device which is very popular with creationists. (People doing crackpot science generally don’t buttress their work with quotations; in fact, they seldom reference anything outside of their own babble.) Heavy use of quotations is a standard technique in formal debates and in oratory; that may be where people pick up the trick. Be that as it may there are a host of pseudo-fact resources that provide quotes that are used and re-used. I do wonder who gathered these things to begin with.

Have you read Barrow and Tipler’s book, The Anthropic Cosmological Principle?

I have a suspicion Galileo would have an interesting reaction to that principle.
Oh, my, yes indeedy.
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From: Jim Harper
Date: 7/15/99
Subj: Just Praise

I have spent many an evening roaming through your page, just thought I’d take a second and tell you how much i’ve enjoyed it. Keep up the great page.
I’ll be back.

You and Schwarznegger. Maybe I should call the site Terminator III.
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From: Joe Emt
Date: 7/1/99
Subj: I hope you don’t mind

I’m a firefighter and we love reading the Darwin awards at the station. We see these people as those who keep us employed! As we enconter new possible Darwin award nominees on a regular basis. Any how I hope you don’t mind but I added your website link to my homepage, please check it out.

I’m glad you like them. My customers are your customers, so to speak. People are amazingly stupid sometimes. My ex brother-in-law is a doctor. Once, when he was in the military, he got a call from one of the military families. The woman on the other end said:

“I was at the store today and bought some fish which didn’t smell too good. When I cooked the fish it turned black and it smelled really bad. Now that we’ve eaten it what should we do?”

He never said what his answer was. Does she sound like one of yours?

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From: Sean Gould ([email protected])
Date: 7/1/99
Subj: Web Pages

I am not sure who you are, but you seem ‘up-to-date’ and knowledgeable on the web. I am trying to popularize my own pages, perhaps you could assist me.

My pages are;

Human behavior:




I have joined some web rings, but no luck getting onto “”, or Matt Pitt’s Paleo Ring. I am very happy to change my page content, presentation, etc. in response to any criticism. I just want exposure, debate, and feedback for my ideas.

Could you please give me some advise?

Thanks Richard. As I said, I am very happy to change anything to make my ideas clearer, more presentable, or more appropriate to the forum.
Sean Gould

The great advantage of the web is that it allows you to publish your thoughts freely, conveniently, and cheaply. Unfortunately there is no guarantee that anybody will read them. As a rule, web pages go unread unless there is some specific reason for people to look at them.

I will suggest that you turn to the newsgroups for discussion of your ideas. In particular the newsgroup seems appropriate for your material. What I would do if I were you would be to create short summary articles presenting your ideas and post them. People will probably comment on them. This will serve two purposes. The first is that it will provide some publicity and interest in your ideas. The second is that it will provide feedback. You should participate in the discussion that your articles trigger. There is no guarantee that people will respond but response is likely enough.

A newsgroup is not a particularly high level forum (although some newsgroups are) and the number of people contributing to a particular group is limited, although the readership is often wider than you might suppose.

This business of popularizing a web site is an interesting and tricky business. As it turns out I have a modestly popular site – I get upwards of a million hits a year. The vast majority of these hits are in the “darwin awards” section and the “humor” section. The humor section (which is a large collection of jokes) is found principally by word of mouth. The darwin awards section is listed in various places that list darwin awards pages and is also picked up by word of mouth – it is surprisingly popular. While the site popularity for this reason is gratifying to me this isn’t relevant to you.

I also have (it is a large site) many pages of essays, poetry, fiction, and sundry odds and ends. In particular I have a number of pages which are serious pages on matters evolutionary. Several of these draw substantial numbers of readers albeit far fewer than the humor pages. Of these, the one that draws the most hits is the Piltdown Man home page. It draws 10-15000 hits a year; the mirrored copy in the archive draws a similar number. Why does it draw hits (and is widely linked)? The reason is that it is a resource. Likewise other pages in this category that draw hits do so because they are resources; they supply information on some specific category.

Resource pages get hits because they supply specific information that somebody wants. Essays of opinion and theory don’t meet this criterion unless that opinion or that theory is something that people are already interested in knowing about. To get your ideas read you have to go beyond passively presenting them in a web page format; you have to, so to speak, market them, i.e., you must actively present them in various forums.

I hope these thoughts are of some help.

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From: greg gillock
Date: 7/3/99
Subj: A Few Good Men And Me

I found your web page by seeing the war dead counts in all wars in the american war library.

I noticed that he did not list the 38 marines killed in trying to save the crew of the mayuquez (spellling not correct as of right now still searching) on an island of the coast of cambodia. At least as I remember there were 38 marines killed there.

It was the Mayaguez. See for an account of the incident. According to the article 18 marines were killed during the action; 23 others were killed in a helicopter crash en route from Hakhon Phanom to U Tapao.
Anyways, when I saw the link to “A few good men and me” I just had to laugh because I knew what that web page was all about and was correct after reading it. That phrase does say alot to some of us.
Doesn’t it indeed. I expect that the expression “in the crotch” is still used.
My experiences in the corps were of course different from yours in detail but very much the same in spirit.

I joined in 69, went to San Diego (pfc out of boot camp and can prove it), given 0311 mos, on to training san onefre(?), then tent city at camp horno(?), then to vietnam, albany georgia for 1 month, hawaii for 2 years, back to camp pendleton, then out as a sergeant. (?=memory is failing me a little)

You want to write these things down. It’s amazing how much you forget over the years. There are you, quaffing a cool one, and you want to BS about your best friend, old what-was-his-name-anyway back in where-was-that-place, and it just doesn’t come to you. Damn good thing, too. Nobody wanted to hear the story in the first place.
Semper Fi.
Semper Fi
Richard Harter
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From: Geoffry Landis
Date: 6/26/99
Subj: So Where Are They?

It’s also recently been a though of mine that the reason that the Earth hasn’t been colonized is the tremendous concentration of poisonous oxygen in our atmosphere.

Chortle. Now that’s a thought I don’t think I’ve seen. On Earth multi-cellular life only really took off after oxygen levels in the atmosphere climbed. It is sort of a standard assumption that atmospheric oxygen is essential.

Maybe it’s the other way around. On most worlds which develop life the oxygen burial (similar to carbon burial) cycle that works; presumably it failed on Earth because Earth is anomalously oxygen rich. As a result intelligent life is anaerobic almost everywhere. The aliens checked out Earth and said, “Oops. Runaway photosynthesis. Scratch this one.”

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From: Steve Hayes
Date: 6/25/99
Links and C.S. Lewis

I read your essay on C.S. Lewis, and wuold like to put a link to it from one of mine – hope you don’t mind.

If you want to read mine, it’s at:

If you feel link putting a link back, that’s OK too 🙂

You’re more than welcome to add a link to my little essay. I ambled through some of your pages and some of the links with great pleasure. At least one link to your pages will appear in my site (in the correspondence pages) and maybe more. (My site is, er, large.)
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This page was last updated July 16, 1999.
It was reformatted and moved December 16, 2004.

site home site map letters July 1999 email