"Christians And The Internet" newsletter
CATI, Vol. 4 No. 12:  December 30, 2003



The latest revision of this issue of "CATI" can be accessed
on-line at http://traver.org/cati/archives/cati89.htm.  The
Web page edition makes it especially easy to visit the links.

Unless otherwise indicated, all material in this newsletter is
Copyright (C) 2003 by Barry Traver, All Rights Reserved.  See
the end of this issue for more information on "CATI."


Except for me (I haven't read any Harry Potter books, although
I did see the first film), people seem to hold very strong
opinions about Harry Potter.  I run the risk of alienating
people on both sides by not joining up with one side or the
other.  My personal opinion is that J.K. Rowling will not
stand the test of time as have C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien,
but that she has gotten a bad reputation not really entirely

For example, you may have seen a copy of one or the other of
two hoax emails that are circulating concerning Ms. Rowling
and Harry Potter.  One of them claims that she has admitted
to being an avowed Satanist and the other claims to describe
the radically evil effects her books have had on the lives
of kids who are Harry Potter fans.  Both emails are hoaxes.

You'll find the details on the TruthOrFiction.com Web site,
a good site to consult when there are questions about the
truthfulness of emails we are sent.  Here is the eRumor as
the TruthOrFiction.com site describes it:

"A publication titled Post Mortem interviewed J.K. Rowling,
the author of the popular Harry Potter series.  In the
interview, Rowlings allegedly admits that she is an avowed
Satanist....  She is also quoted as saying that her books
are designed to corrupt young minds and that she is only now
revealing her Satanic allegiances."

And here is the truth of the matter:

"Discerning readers will detect that this is satirically
written.  It is from a satire feature titled Post Morten from
the Canadian website National Post at www.nationalpost.com....
The story is not true.  J.K. Rowlings has denied that she is
a Satanist or that her books are designed to promote anything
dark.  She was also the subject of an eRumor last year from
another satire site on the Internet."

As Joseph Bayly learned years (decades) ago when he wrote
The Gospel Blimp, it appears that many Christians do not
know how to interpret satire.  Someone recently sent me
a satirical piece, and I wrote a note back, saying this:

"Unfortunately, when you use satire, you need to inform many
of your Christian readers of that fact so (1) that they know
it's satire and (2) that they know that you know that it's
satire. <grin>....  Since some of your readers may take the
list seriously (thinking that the list is a serious expression
of officially approved 21st century principles of Biblical
interpretation) rather than satirically (very rightly poking
fun at the fact that "liberal" seminaries have their own
dogmatisms), should you not have informed them that the list
was not a real one but fake?  (You are so serious about some
issues that some people might take you seriously on this as

To my note, I received this reply:

"Barry, you are right on all counts. Many readers accepted
the list as a news report, since reality is so preposterous
these days. The usefulness of satire is almost over."

And yet satire is a significant element in the Bible.  You
cannot take Elijah's taunts to the prophets of Baal in 1
Kings 18:27 as intended literally:  "Perhaps he [the god
Baal] is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling.  Maybe he
is sleeping and must be awakened."  What Elijah said and
what he meant were two different things, and the prophets
of Baal knew that very well.

Of course, "CATI" readers know how to understand and to
appreciate satire.  So I trust that you would not have been
taken seriously the comments, which went like this:

"J.K. Rowling was not at all like I had expected she'd be:
She was warm, she was funny and she readily admitted she is
an avowed Satanist! 'It's true,' she told me. 'I worship the
Devil, Beelzebub, Satan, Lucifer -- in all his unholy forms.
And I owe all my success, all my glory, all my power, to my
sweet, beautiful Lucifer.
"Munching on a cucumber sandwich finger, Rowling explained
that her devotion to the Prince of Darkness was forged when
she was a single mother on welfare.
"Rowling -- or, as she shall henceforth be referred to and
credited as, Mrs. J.K. Satan -- said that as she sat in a
coffee shop one grey day, wondering what to do with her empty,
aimless life, it hit her: 'I'll give myself, body and soul,
to the Dark Master. And in return, he will give me absurd
wealth and power over the weak and pitiful of the world. And
he did!'"

Or how could anyone take this literally?:

"Rowling then graciously offered me tea and shortbread cookies
and wearily discussed the progress of the fifth Potter novel,
which is taking so long 'because my sweet, beautiful Lucifer
suddenly fancies himself an editor, and every night he sends
up some deformed minion with a bunch of notes like, "Are you
sure Ron Weasely would say that?" and "I'm thinking subplot
with a love interest here!" I mean, do I tell him how to
harvest souls?'"

The TruthOrFiction.com Web site also describes another eRumor
that is currently circulating via email:

"This [email] describes alarming effects in the lives of kids
who are Harry Potter fans.  It says the ranks of satanic
temples are filling with children and quotes a 9-year-old girl
as saying, 'I used to believe in what they taught us at Sunday
School...but the Harry Potter books showed me that magic is
real, something I can learn and use right now, and that the
Bible is nothing but boring lies.'  It also quotes Harry
Potter author J.K. Rowling as saying, 'These books guide
children to an understanding that the weak, idiotic Son Of
God is a living hoax who will be humiliated when the rain of
fire comes,...while we, [the Dark Lord's] faithful servants,
laugh and cavort in victory."

And here again is the truth:

"This email is fiction.  The alarming quotes and sensational
stories are from an article on the Internet humor/satire site
www.theonion.com.  That site features tongue-in-cheek stories
based on current news and events and the Harry Potter story
was intentionally written in an exaggerated and inflammatory
way.  None of it is true.  Some people have either read or
been forwarded the original article and apparently not
recognized the satire."

I think more than a misunderstanding of satire is involved
here.  I think there may also be a willingness to believe
the worst of someone we perceive (rightly or wrongly) as
being on "the other side."  But there is a serious danger
here:  a zealousness for "the right side" may lead to
the making of serious allegations that are untrue, which
is another way of saying "bearing false witness," which is
simply disobedience to the Ninth Commandment.

Now, maybe J.K. Rowlings' books are more bad than good, but
however righteous the cause, Christians cannot resort to
slander and libel in their attack upon those they regard as
their enemies.  1 Cor. 6:10 in fact includes "slanderers"
as among those who will not inherit the kingdom of God!

Let's go beyond the bogus emails to a much more profitable
discussion of J.K. Rowling and the Harry Potter books.  An
interesting place to begin (and hopefully a useful one) is
with a Christianity Today article by Tim Olsen, "Opinion
Roundup: Positive About Potter":

"Christians hate the Harry Potter books. It's undeniable. Just
look at the media reports about how Christian parents around
the country are trying to get the book banned from libraries
and schools....  But here's the problem with painting with
such a broad brush: It's just not true. In fact, as far as
I can tell, while no major Christian leader has come out to
condemn J.K. Rowling's series, many have given it the
thumbs-up. If our readers know of any major Christian leader
who has actually told Christians not to read the books, I'd
be happy to know about it; but in my research, even those
Christians known for criticizing all that is popular culture
have been pretty positive about Potter."

And that is one of the problems I have had in writing this
article.  Not having strong opinions on the Harry Potter
books myself, my original plan was to give equal time to
both sides of the issue.  But the surprise has been that
it's easier to find intelligent, informed spokesmen on the
"pro" side than the "con" side (although not as difficult
as Olsen makes it out to be).

Olsen's article cites Charles Colson as a strong supporter
of the Harry Potter books:

"...Colson...noted that Harry and his friends 'develop
courage, loyalty, and a willingness to sacrifice for one
another—even at the risk of their lives. Not bad lessons in
a self-centered world.' Colson dismisses the magic and sorcery
in the books as 'purely mechanical, as opposed to occultic.
That is, Harry and his friends cast spells, read crystal
balls, and turn themselves into animals—but they don't make
contact with a supernatural world. … [It's not] the kind of
real-life witchcraft the Bible condemns.'" More recently,
however, Colson has become less supportive.  For example,
see the following essay:

Charles Colson:  Fantasy, Fiction, and Faith:  The Harry
    Potter Question

Focus on the Family and World Magazine were more mixed in
their Christian critique of the Harry Potter books, but
both offered positive comments as well as negative.  Roy
Maynard, for example, in World Magazine, dismissed the
typical criticisms in this way:  "Rowling … keeps it safe,
inoffensive, and non-occult. This is the realm of Gandalf
and the Wizard of Id, not witchcraft. There is a fairy-tale
order to it all in which, as Chesterton and Tolkien pointed
out, magic must have rules, and good does not--cannot--
mix with bad."

Having taught a college course in "Christian Fantasy" for a
number of years at a Christian college (a course which
included books by C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien), I do not
see it as immediately obvious that the presence of "magic"
automatically disqualifies a book as "literature" or even
"children's literature."  There is "magic" in both Lewis
and Tolkien, but people do not ordinarily see a problem in

But I haven't read J.K. Rowling, so I shouldn't be offering
an opinion on the Harry Potter books.  What I have read is
attempts at Christian critiques of the series, and that is
what I'll share with you for the rest of the article.  Even
though many of the articles are primarily positive, a decent
case against the J.K. Rowling books can be offered as well,
as you will see:


CBN:  Welcome to the Harry Potter Debate
An excellent resource.  Here you can "Get varying views
of the J.K. Rowlings book series, all from a Christian
perspective."  An attempt at balance.

Apologetics Index:  The Harry Potter Debate
Some good links to critical material, pro and con.

Barbara's Entourage:  Harry Potter - The Controversy
Some thoughtful comments plus many good links, pro and con
(but more con than pro).


Charles Colson:  Witches and Wizards:  The Harry Potter
Here's Colson's defense of the Harry Potter books (although
he may have retreated somewhat from what is said here).

World Magazine:  Books:  Kiddy Lit by Roy Maynard
Here are some positive comments on Harry Potter before World
Magazine decided to reconsider its position.  (You may have
to register with World before you can access the archives.)

National Review: Deconstructing Rowling by Dave Kopel
"K. Rowling is an Inkling. That's the well-argued thesis
of John Granger's fine book The Hidden Key to Harry Potter.
Granger demonstrates the absurdity of the claim that Harry
Potter is anti-Christian."

Michael G. Maudlin:  Why We Like Harry Potter
Pro comments by the Executive Director for Christianity

Connie Neal:  Harry Potter:  Part 1:  What's a Concerned
    Parent to Do?
Connie Neal:  Harry Potter:  Part 2:  Protecting Our Kids
    from Spiritual Forces of Evil

First Things:  Harry Potter's Magic by Alan Jacobs
A defense by a Professor of English at Wheaton College.

Anne Morse:  The Potter Magic:  Teaching Discernment of
    Good and Evil
"In that sense, the Potter books teach children a great
lesson: They, too, must develop moral discernment about
real-life technologies--such as the Internet--along with
the character to exploit them in ways pleasing to God.
If the Potter books can teach kids to harness technology
for good instead of evil, then I say more power--
scientifically speaking, of course--to Harry Potter and
his wizard friends."

Virginia Groff:  Harry Potter, Christianity and the Internet.
Comments, mostly pro, from a Christian librarian.

Apologetics Index:  Finding the Spiritual Power of Harry
A positive approach to the Harry Potter books.

dmoz:  Harry Potter - Parents' and Teachers' Guides
Links to "guides," primarily positive toward Rowling.


ChristianAnswers.Net:  Is "Harry Potter" Harmless?
A criticism of Harry Potter, emphasizing the role of the
occult.  Also links to other articles critical of Harry

TownHall.com:  Harry Potter and the Tyranny of the Urgent
Critical comments by Marvin Olasky.

Christian Parent's Network:  The Wicked World of Harry Potter
"Far from being a harmless voyage into a child's imaginary
world, Harry Potter's world is the demonic realm of the

Kjos Ministries:  Harry Potter Lures Kids to Witchcraft
Here you'll find the case against Harry Potter, including a
detailed reply to Tim Olsen's Christianity Today article.

World Magazine:  More Clay than Potter
Compares J.K. Rowling with C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien.
A case against Rowling is presented here.

InPlainSite.com:  Harry Potter - "Fantasy or the Face of Evil
    Subtly Disguised?
Based on the Richard Abanes critical book Harry Potter and the
Bible, but part of an attractive and interesting Web site.

dmoz:  Harry Potter - Opposing Views
Links to articles "opposing" the Harry Potter series.


DecentFilms.com:  "Harry Potter vs. Gandalf:  An in-depth
    analysis of the literary use of magic in the works of
    J.K. Rowling, J.R.R. Tolkien, and C.S. Lewis" by
    Steven Greydanus
"By now it should be clear that I am neither an enthusiastic
pro-Harry cheerleader nor a vehemently anti-Harry polemicist.
I embrace neither the view that parents must ban the Harry
Potter books from their houses, nor the view these books
ought to be welcomed and read — though I have no quarrel
with parents who follow either course of action."  This
is a helpful essay to be read in its entirety, giving
special attention to the Practical Conclusions at the


See if you can guess the author of the following quote:

"So what is a Christian to think? Should Christian kids read
the books and see the movie, or not?
"A Christian expert on Potter-mania says, 'It depends.'
"Connie Neal, a veteran youth pastor and mother of three, has
just written a book called WHAT'S A CHRISTIAN TO DO WITH
HARRY POTTER? Neal says parents must use great discernment
in deciding whether to allow their kids to read Harry Potter.
For example, kids with an unhealthy interest in the occult
should probably not read these books. At the same time, other
parents have prayerfully decided that their kids would benefit
from the moral lessons the Potter books teach.
"Now personally, I don't recommend the Harry Potter books or
the movie, but kids are going to see it and certainly hear
others talk about it no matter what we say. So teach them to
be discerning, to be like Daniel. And Neal's book may be one
resource that will help you sort out the issues and give your
kids reasons they need to be careful -- how they should avoid
the pitfalls of the Potter craze."

Who personally doesn't recommend the Harry Potter books?  Give
up?  None other than Charles Colson, the strong supporter of
Harry Potter, the same Charles Colson who "noted that Harry
and his friends 'develop courage, loyalty, and a willingness
to sacrifice for one another--even at the risk of their lives.
Not bad lessons in a self-centered world.'..."

Is an interest in fairy-tale magic necessarily a spiritual
threat?  In certain cases, it may be, but I have a son who
wrote a story "Merlin's Malevolence" (about the magician
Merlin of King Arthur's time), a story that was published
in a magazine called "Merlyn's Pen."  That son went on to
graduate "with high honors" from Westminster Theological
Seminary, and there is no evidence of spiritual harm as a
result of that interest in magic and magicians.  I myself
have a considerable interest in magic (parlor and stage
magic, not the supernatural kind), and I revealed that
interest in a previous article in "CATI":


I do not see that as inconsistent with my Christian faith.
A "sense of wonder" is a positive thing when it points us to
the God who is truly wonder-working and truly wonder-full.

Children are different, parents are different, and thus the
same Biblical truth may be implemented in different ways,
because - although the Bible is the same - people are not.
(See Rom. 12 and 1 Cor. 12 on how not all members of the
body are the same.)  Parents need to know their children
in all their uniqueness and thus make the best decisions
for them.

And if as parents we sometimes make different decisions,
that isn't necessarily wrong (any more than it is wrong
for not all people to attend the same school or purchase
the same car).  Some children have a gift for moral
discernment in what they read; others are still in the
process of developing that gift.  What is important is
that we respect the integrity of one another's decisions.

So decide what you ought to do about Harry Potter and
try to maintain respect for those who may have come to a
different decision in their own circumstances.  (I know,
it's time to get off the soapbox, and let you go on to
reading those interesting articles, since I expect you
may enjoy the ones you don't agree with as much as the
ones you do!)


Have you ever printed out a Web page, only to discover later
that part of the right side is missing?  The purpose of this
article is to tell how to print out the page so that none of
it is missing.

First, before you print out the page, do the following:
Click on "File" on the top menu of your Web browser, and
then click on "Print Preview."   This should show you how
the printout will actually look.  If the preview is all
right, then the printout should be all right also.

But suppose the printout is NOT all right.  What can you do
to print out the Web page so that part of it is not missing?

One thing you can do is this:  Click on "File" on the top
menu of your Web browser, and then click on "Page Setup."
You should be able to change the "Orientation" of the
printout from "Portrait" to "Landscape."

Quick definitions:  "Portrait" means that the printout
page will be taller than it is wide (as is true of most
portraits).  "Landscape" means that the printout page will
be wider than it is tall (as is true of most landscapes).
For most people, "portrait" will be 8 1/2" wide, while
"landscape" will be 11" wide.

Then use "Print Preview" to confirm that part of the
right side will not be missing on the printout.

A second thing you can do is check what size you have your
display font set for.  Click on "View" on the top menu,
and then click on "Text Size."  With Internet Explorer,
the printout will be affected by this setting.  (The same
is NOT true for Netscape Navigator.)  In some cases, if
you change the setting from, say, "Largest" to "Medium"
or from "Medium" to "Smallest," that will make the
difference between the Web page not fitting or fitting
the sheet when you print it out.  (But, as earlier, use
"Print Preview" to check it out before printing it out.)

A third approach is more complicated, but the most flexible.
Click someplace on the Web page (but NOT on a link), release
the mouse button, hold down the CTRL key, press and release
the "A" key, hold down the CTRL key, press and release the
"C" key.  (The CTRL-A selects "All" the Web page, and the
CTRL-C copies the Web page to the Windows clipboard, whose
existence you may have to take by faith.)  Minimize your
Web browser.

Load in your favorite Word processor (such as Microsoft
Word).  Click on a blank document, and then hold down the
CTRL key and press and release the "V" key.  (The CTRL-V
will paste into the blank document what you earlier
placed in the Windows clipboard.)  You can then use all
of the normal resources of your word processor to edit
what you have so that what you print out is exactly
what you want to print out.

The third approach is useful in many situations, and not
only useful when you want to print out a Web page so that
part of it is not missing.  You may, for instance, want
part to be missing!  With your word processor, you can
eliminate paragraphs, get rid of graphics, or make
other useful changes.

If you use "Print Preview" and these three approaches
(particularly the first and third), you will find that you
waste less paper.  It was once thought that the computer
would introduce us to a paperless world, but the opposite
seems to have taken place.  But if you are going to print
out Web pages on paper, at least you can do it in such a
way as to be a good steward and waste as little paper as

I hope that this article has contributed toward your
accomplishment of that goal.


Do you like "old-time movies"?  The ones that were made when
sex, violence, bad language, etc. were still rare?  Warning:
when I say "old-time," I really mean "old-time, not only
black-and-white films, but sometimes silent films as well.

At a computer show I recently picked up "50 Family Classics"
on DVD for $25, which means I was paying 50 cents a movie,
most of which were full-length.  I couldn't find the same
price for you on the Internet, but I did find a couple of
places where you can get the 12-DVD collection for about $30
(plus shipping), or about 60 to 70 cents a movie, and that's
still a bargain.

Here are the "50 Family Classics" included in the collection:

'Til the Clouds Roll By (Judy Garland)
The Medicine Man (Jack Benny)
Life with Father (William Powell)
The Three Stooges Festival (The Three Stooges)

Jack and the Beanstalk (Abbott & Costello)
Let's Get Tough (East Side Kids)
The Last Time I Saw Paris (Elizabeth Taylor)
Jane Eyre (Virginia Bruce)

A Star Is Born (Janet Gaynor)
The Racketeer (Carole Lombard)
The Jungle Book (Sabu)
Gulliver's Travels (animated)

The General (Buster Keaton)
The Kid (Charlie Chaplin)
Long John Silver (Robert Newton)
The Scarlet Letter (Coleen Moore)

The Inspector General (Danny Kaye)
The Paleface (Buster Keaton)
That Gang of Mine (East Side Kids)
Son of Monte Cristo (Louis Haywood)
Captain Kidd (Charles Laughton)

The Time of Your Life (James Cagney)
A Farewell to Arms (Gary Cooper)
The Scarlet Pimpernel (Leslie Howard)
The Black Pirate (Douglas Fairbanks, Sr.)

Little Lord Faunteroy (Mickey Rooney)
The Eagle (Rudolph Valentino)
The Great Dan Patch (Dennis O'Keefe)
My Dear Secretary (Kirk Douglas)

Royal Wedding (Fred Astaire)
At War with the Army (Jerry Lewis)
Our Town (William Holden)
The Little Princess (Shirley Temple)

My Favorite Brunette (Bob Hope)
The Pied Piper of Hamelin (Van Johnson)
The Big Trees (Kirk Douglas)
Beyond Tomorrow (Harry Carey)

The Flying Scotsman (Ray Milland)
Flying Deuces (Laurel & Hardy))
The Blacksmith (Buster Keaton)
Africa Screams (Abbott & Costello)
The Magic Sword (Basil Rathbone)

Father's Little Dividend (Spencer Tracy)
Utopia (Laurel & Hardy)
The Big Chance (Mickey Rooney)
Kid Dynamite (East Side Kids)

The Iron Mask (Doublas Fairbank, Sr.)
The Lost World (Wallace Beery)
W.C. Fields Festival (W.C. Fields)
The Road to Hollywood (Bing Crosby)

Most or all of the films are "unrated," but but my guess
would be that all or almost all would be suitable for
viewing by the entire family.  Why are the films so
inexpensive?  I suspect part of the reason is their age
(i.e., copyright may have expired on many or all of them).

Here's where you can get them online for $29.95 plus

CrazyApe.com:  50 family classics (shipping $4.50)

ShopNBC.com:  50 family classics (shipping $6.95)

I haven't dealt with either company, but I note that "Crazy
Ape" has a toll-free number for order status and customer
service (888-577-0666).  Unless you're superstitious about
the last three digits of the phone number, I'd go with them.
ShopNBC also has toll-free numbers for orders and customer
service, but they charge slightly more for shipping and
handling.  Both also have U.S. Postal address with street
addresses and not just a P.O. box number.

Incidentally, when I order something online and do not
know anything about the company, in general I only order
when the company has a toll-free phone number and a real
street address.  The latter gives you some assurance that
it's not a fly-by-night operation, and the former allows
you to pester them if anything goes wrong until it is
made right.

Important:  I do NOT endorse or commend anything else
sold on these two sites.  The other offerings may or
may not be worthwhile.  The only one I will mention is
another set of DVD's by TreeLine Films:  "100 Classic
TV Episodes," which may be of possible interest to
those who get nostalgic about old television shows:

CrazyApe.com:  100 Classic TV Episodes

ShopNBC.com:  100 Classic TV Episodes

This collection of 9 DVD's includes episodes from the
following TV series:

Andy Griffith
Beverly Hillbillies
Burns and Allen Show
Crime Stories (various)
Dangerous Assignment
Flash Gordon
Four Star Playhouse
Life with Elizabeth
Lone Ranger
Mr. and Mrs. North
One Sep Beyond
Ozzie and Harriet
Racket Squad
Red Skelton Show
Trouble with Father
You Bet Your Life

For each show, there are six 30-minute episodes (except for
three 30-minute episodes of Flash Gordon and One Step Beyond,
seven 30-minute episodes of Mr. and Mrs. North, and three
full-hour episodes of Bonanza).  The cost for this set is
also $29.95 plus shipping and handling for old-time programs
that in general lack the sex, violence, and bad language
that is so characteristic of modern TV shows.

Getting back to "50 Family Classics," one of my favorite
films of all time is Buster Keaton's The General.  It has
adventure, romance, and humor.  It's a silent feature film
(my wife and I both played ragtime when we showed the film
at church decades ago) and a film that is recognized by
film critics internationally as one of the great films of
all time, so that's not just my own opinion.  And The
General is one of the films included in the set (along
with Buster Keaton's The Blacksmith, one of his shorter
comedies,, plus The Paleface).

My own personal opinion is that Buster Keaton was superior
to Charlie Chaplin in the silent era, but if you like
Chaplin, his The Kid is also included among the films.

IMPORTANT:  The 50 classic films and 100 classic TV episodes
are not particularly "Christian," but many of them (not all)
exhibit a wholesomeness that is lacking in contemporary
movies and television shows more often than not.

Families can benefit from seeing some films or TV shows made
when Christian values (even if in a somewhat secularized
fashion) had more of an influence upon cinema and certain
other forms of entertainment than they do in general today.

The influence was more in setting limits (and ruling some
things as "out of bounds") than in any positive statement
of the Christian faith, but the results (as in the case of
Buster Keaton's The General) have generally stood the test
of time quite well (even when restricted to black-and-white
and totally lacking in sound).

Incidentally, here's the Web site for TreeLine Films:

TreeLine Films



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newsletter and I intend it to stay such) provides no financial
income, so what keeps me going with this personal endeavor is
knowing that people are finding it to be helpful, instructive,
and enjoyable.  (Comments from readers are always welcome, so
let me hear from you!)

Unless otherwise indicated, all material in this newsletter is
Copyright (C) 2003 by Barry Traver, All Rights Reserved.