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Letters to the Editor, May 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 And, of course, anything marked not for publication is not for publication.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 May 1999.

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Other Correspondence Pages

From: Dan Ryles
Date: 5/8/99
Subj: Sounds

Hey. Just a thought. You should add a few sounds to your page. I guess I don’t have any suggestions offhand, but I’m sure you can think of something. You’re a pretty creative guy, as your page demonstrates. Did you know that diarrea is hereditary? Yeah, it runs in the jeans.

Runs in the jeans – boo, hiss!

Re sounds: Perhaps I should. I’m very conservative about my web page construction. For “conservative” read “lazy”; putting in razzamatazz is a lot of work. You’ll notice that I don’t do frames or a lot of fancy graphics – too much pain, not enough gain. Some one of these days, though, I may do some fancy experimental stuff just to wow the folks.

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From: TG
Date: 5/28/99
Subj: Chesterton

I just read you review of Chesterton’s “The Man Who Was Thursday,” just after reading the book itself. I thoroughly enjoyed both, but something in your review made me laugh. Not laugh out loud, or even slightly chuckle, but laugh inwardly, and something told me I should tell you about it.

Before I do, you should know that I am, like Chesterton, a Christian. I am, unlike Chesterton, not a convert, in the traditional sense of the word at least. That will possibly help what I have to say make a little more sense, though that may not be such a good thing. At any rate, this whole letter is leading up to one statement, and doing so quite circuitously, which was not my plan, and so I had better out and say it. Here goes…

You mention that “He was not… such a good Christian as he thought he was – his Christianity smelt of Faerie,” and when I read it, I did that slight, philosophical inward laugh I mentioned earlier. The thought crossed my mind that, instead of Chesterton’s Christianity smelling of Faerie, it is your idea of Faerie that smells a bit to much like Christianity. Christ is too big to be put into a box.

That’s an interesting comment although I’m not sure I agree. Traditionally Christianity (pre-Enlightenment) looked upon the pagan religions with suspicion. Christianity, at least institutionalized Christianity, has been littered with a number of dynamic tensions over the centuries.
There. I have now sent a roughly 200 word electronic letter to someone I do not know. Why? Also that, I do not know. I suppose it seemed to be the right thing to do at the time.
Perhaps you did it because it is a good thing to do. In due course your letter will appear in the correspondence pages and people will read what you have to say with interest.
(PS I noticed in your Reflections on C. S. Lewis that you only mention his fictional works. It would be wise of you, in order to get a picture of the whole man, to read his nonfiction, including Mere Christianity, The Abolition of Man, The Four Loves and many others, if you have not already.)
I have read some but not all of his nonfiction. It has been said that his apologetics are overly simple, albeit well written and appealing.
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From: jen
Date: 5/27/99
Subj: wellllllllll

someone sent me your ‘bowl of milk’…
very cute…
i will take my time going through the rest of it…

Enjoy, enjoy. There is more than one cute story to be found in that collection.
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From: Sunny Schnoo
Date: 5/25/99
Subj: Good job!

I think your site is the funniest thig I’ve ever seen. You keep my husband and I laughing our asses off! Keep up the great work.
Bob, and Sunny

Your judgement in this matter is, without a doubt, superlative. My theory in starting the site was that it would be devoted to my deep philosophical and literary theories. As it is, I go for the cheap laugh.
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From: Gpigmama19
Date: 5/25/99

I’m one of those people who also gets screws up trying to tell a story. I always get the priest mixed up with what the rabbi’s susposed to say and etc… Now I can print or e-mail funny stories to friends without flubbing up the story line… Thanks very much!!

You’re welcome. Re stories, it’s simple enough. Just remember that the rabbi is the one whose wick is trimmed and in service; the priest has the untrimmed wick that isn’t used.
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From: christian fischer
Date: 5/25/99
Subj: book topics

thanks for your amazing stories, i need some help.i`m desparetly lookin for a fairy tale which is called “broken coin”.its an old story about a love couple (or brother and sister?) which is divided early.they dont remember each other, the only thing which connects them are the two parts of a broken coin, which they are wearing as an u know the story? can u find it for me?

I don’t know it off hand. I browsed through my copy of Grimm and I didn’t see it there. I don’t think it is in Anderson although I can’t find my copy to check. I don’t have a copy of Perrault. I have a number of other books; unfortunately my library is a bit disorganized. If you find it, please let me know. It sounds very much like a story that I would like to read.

Thanks for the kind words about my stories.

love,christian from vienna,europe
Ps:visit my home
I have done so. Nice work.
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From: Vaerne Potter
Date: 5/6/99
Subj: Waiting For Godot

Have you any idea where I can get some serious secondary criticism about Samuel Beckett’s play Waiting For Godot?

I’m sorry but I can’t help you offhand. You might take a look at though.
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From: Geoffrey D. N. Tozer
Date: 5/q2/99
Subj: Deconstruction and Chomsky

Pretty good summary of the issues.

Thank you. I reread the commentary to make sure that I knew what I had said (which is quite different from knowing what I was talking about.) There is much that is not said. If I were to write more I would bring up the scandal of induction – I fancy the notion of Quine as the headmaster of the school for scandal.
Even a use of Zeno in a humorous way. But the use of Zeno vitiates Chomsky: at the limit we are all One and there are no distinctions between competence and performance, genotype and phenotype, and all the other distinctions that Chomsky believes in so confidently. And whoops, we just passed the limit, and damn there it goes again….
It’s all quantum mechanical – when you look at anything closely it gets all fuzzy.
The site on Mathegenesis was pretty hilarious. Most of what you’ve got here is probably publishable. I’m surprised you haven’t bothered.
I’m not wired into Academia. Much of what I do is suitable for publication in venues which I don’t visit. My understanding is that Mathegenesis has been published – I gave permission to reprint it to someone some years ago but I don’t recall where or by whom.
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From: D. KAVAL
Date: 5/4/99
Subj: (website)


Yes, I am. Oh, you mean the web page.
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From: Cecile
Date: 5/17/99
Subj: Makes me Laugh

You have one of the best personal web site i have ever visited!!!! Thanks to be so creative
Cecile (french-but live in australia)
I still have to finish to read everything and you would probably hearing of me again.

I’m glad that you enjoyed it. By the way, Cecile is a pretty name. It is well known that people named Cecile have excellent judgement and taste.

… continued on next rock …

It is quite strange that you know such a name. Indeed, here in Australia, they only know Cecil (for a man-as I am a woman 23) or Cecilia… I still haven’t finished to read your website as I use internet at work..and sometimes I have to work.

Given the size of my website it may well take some time to finish reading it.

My dictionary informs me that Cecilia is the patron saint of music whereas Sir William Cecil was an advisor to Queen Elizabeth. I have no idea of the derivation of Cecile; I would guess that it is the French version of Cecilia.

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From: JR . Inghram
Date: 5/7/99

Howdy :
I was just grazing along checking out all the cool corvid sights there are to see on the net when I came across this dark tale of raven trickery . I find it amazing that we set up scenarios in which corvid types need us humans dead in order to save their own starving masses . In fact the corvid corvus populations have been on the increase world wide for many years as a direct result of human population growth and humanities natural ability to create an over abundance of corvid foodstuffs in our overflowing dumps . It only stands to reason that some day there will probably be some type of massive human die off on a global scale . I have heard that to watch the raven and crow populations can be a good insight into just how soon massive numbers of deaths among deer herds in an area will occur . Could the same theory apply to corvid-human interactions ? Just wondering .

A friend of mine (well, a friend of a friend so we are probably in urban legend territory) was on a tour bus. Ahead of the bus by the side of the road was a squirrel. Just as the bus was about to pass a crow dive bombed the squirrel which ran out into the road and was squished by the bus. As the crow began to feast the bus driver commented to his passengers, “I feel so used.”

As you say, the ravens do not need to conspire; we, ourselves, are the corvid benefactors. The matter is simple. We are a mad species; the raven is one of the symbols whereby we know our madness.

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From: Lynne/Kevin Snyder
Date: 5/18/99
Subj: book topics

I really like the topics to look forward to (things you want to write about). I also plan to write about things, and I thought you had some great titles!

Thank you. It occurs to me that there is a danger in creating good titles beforehand. If the title is too good can the work support it?
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From: Tim & Debbie Macwilliam
Date: 5/21/99
Subj: Evolution

snip fundy-babble except for:
Likewise, contemporary counterfeit revivalist John Arnott says that “Darwin later renounced his theory of evolution and, as a born again Christian, died in peace in his retirement home in southern India.”
Now that has charm. I like the bit about “contemporary counterfeit revivalist” and the notion that Darwin died in peace in a retirement home in southern India (as a born again Christian, no less) is a lovely conceit.
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From: Ron Swink
Date: 5/14/99
Subj: Hi Richard

This is great…..thanx for taking the time

It would be immodest in me to agree with you. Fortunately modesty has never been one of my faults.
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From: David Pinkerton
Date: 5/17/99
Subj: humor

The other day I found a document listing 20 things you would like to hear said at meetings. (something about the romans’s killing people, etc) Did I find it on your site. If so, could you please send me the url as I can’t find it now.

I know the document you are referring to but I don’t think I have it on my site (I no longer know what is on my site – I rummage around every so often and am quite surprised some times by what I discover.)
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Date: 5/21/99
Piltdown – some reflections from rumors of an old paleontologist

I have not read much lately (Gould work specifically) but hear is what I remember of the late 1950’s early 60’s

1. TdC was a student of Boule who Woodward had critised severely and who was angry at the English;

“Angry at the English”? Not as far as I know. Gould suggested that TdC was playing a prank, a suggestion that really doesn’t hold up.
2. TdC had been working in Algeria where some of the non-hominid fossils may have come from;
True enough but this doesn’t mean too much. Access to the relevant fossils is very hard to pin down.
3. TdC is the only one on the other side who knew enough to provide some but not all of the “right” clues
Not true. Almost everyone involved was either an amateur or professional paleontologist or archaeologist.
4. TdC is the only one who could have known how to make the canine so that it would be accepted.
Also not true. See 3.
5. TdC found the canine
This is true.
6. TdC wanted to discredit the English for what they did to the French – I don’t blame him…I have felt the same way with some.
This is an ex post facto assignment of motive, i.e. we decide first whodunnit and then guess at a motive. In actuality we don’t know that TdC wanted to discredit the English and have no significant evidence to that effect.

This is par for the course in the Piltdown speculations – point a finger first and then speculate on motive. By insensible moves the speculation becomes established “fact”.

Tom Williams PhD UoCal, Berkeley, Member of the first Harvard team to east africa – 1963-65, Worked on first seasion of Kanapoi, Worked with L.Leakey 1964-65.
I am sincerely and intensely envious.
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This page was last updated May 29, 1999.
It was reformatted and moved December 16, 2004.

site home site map letters May 1999 email