Heiser Christmas Letter 1987

Missile Treaty

The INF Treaty will make us safer. But I have some problems with it. Since the Soviets will destroy twice as many missiles as we do, we seem to be gaining a military advantage as well.

We should be making symmetrical disarmament deals, rather than seeking military advantage.

If the Senate doesn't ratify the treaty, chaos is predicted. The Republicans seem to have mistakenly assumed that our anti-Soviet feelings are anti-treaty too.

Nonetheless, some US Senators disapprove, think it's too risky or not a good deal. It looks like we're bullying and bluffing our way in the world, without

Disarmament is a confidence building process.

We started out demanding on-site verification measures. This had the effect of exciting Russian touchiness about being inspected, and we could bask in our perception that “we want peace but they can't be trusted.” Gorbachev has countered with a warm, friendly reply. We mutter old remarks about Communism and world domination. Gorbacheb stops testing for 18? months. The Natural Resources Defense Council installs seismometers at the Soviet nuclear test site. The Soviets agree to on-site inspections for INF disarmament. We changed our story on inspection. We're afraid to let the Soviet inspectors in. From demanding inspection, we're refusing it. It worked on us like ju-jitsu; we never expected “yes“ for an answer.

I wonder what was in the minds of the INF treaty negotiators, what instructions they had received. Max Kempelman is more important (and as unacceptareactionary as) Robert Bork

In the past we have demanded verification as a tricky way to prevent a deal. Now, with nuclear testing, we can't take “Yes” for an answer.


Some of the language of the INF treaty is hard to understand. Other items are simply surprises. Imagine: up to 100 missiles can be removed by firing them on test ranges. A fireworks fiesta brought to you by whom and for what?

Imagine: both sides are allowed to build new GLBM missiles (Article VI para 2.).

Anti-aircraft and Star Wars missiles will be exempted/excepted (Article VII para 3.) because they are not aimed at targets “on the surface of the earth.” Are naval vessels located “on the surface of the earth?”


We'll intercept thousands of ICBMs in flight but we can't stop an individual Exocet or Silkworm.

Catholic Worker

I'm falling more and more in love with the people at the Los Angeles Catholic Worker. They're committed to nonviolent antinuclearism as well as to helping the homeless.

The October earthquake caused more than $100,000 in damage to the Hospitality Kitchen in skid row. Until the building can be repaired, we are serving meals in the parking lot behind the building.

In November, we had a Catholic Worker get-together in Las Vegas and demonstration at the Nuclear Test Site. Union organizer Cesar Chavez and Archbishop Dom Helder Camara spoke to us. I was arrested again, but charges were dropped.


David Collins gave me a copy of The Path of Least Resistance by Robert Fritz. It recommends a creative rather than a reactive attitude, and asks “What do you want?” A hard question! “Awareness and service” has been my answer, but I'm looking for a new one.

Loretta's News

Loretta has been exploring careers, and is developing a seminar to enhance creativity. She's also giving cello lessons, school and church cello performances and organizing a chamber group.


Loretta and I are lucky to be living in a loving extended family relationship with Mary Lou, Bennett and Dorothy, and we know it. They give us a lot of emotional feedback and support.

Bennett has been developing new job skills, and I'm copying his career strategy: combine skills and be alert. He's adding flight instruction and aircraft mechanics to his experience as an attorney.


This was a year of backsliding after the Great Peace March, but recently I've stopped smoking and started running. We're healthy and happy.

I have an electronic meter to measure my blood sugar level. I'm eager to “model” my blood sugar: how long can I wait to eat (or how far can I run) without an insulin reaction? How much will a piece of fruit raise my blood sugar?


This fall, I wrote a “dynamite” manual for Business Sense, an accounting program for the Macintosh. I've also been consulting with users, and plan to develop a train-the-trainers course and to write more software manuals.

I'm almost ready to begin writing a book called Drawing on the Right Side of your Computer. It'll be about expert drawing techniques for programs like Adobe Illustrator, CricketDraw and AutoCAD. I want to emphasize style, productivity and refinement. Using these programs is hard; notice the lack of illustrations in this newsletter! I'm dissatisfied with my own pictures so far!

In February, I'll also be teaching Introduction to Data Communications, a short course for Integrated Computer Systems.

Learning Peace

We know so little about the Soviets and have been told so many frightening things about them! The INF treaty inspired me to review my Russian, after 25 years. I'm getting lots of feedback and suggestions about exchange visits, peace marches, Russian-speaking friends, and joint ventures.

I've been told there are Muscovites who have personal computers and electronic mail accounts, and I'm interested in “electronic pen pals.” But why not just write letters? What's important to say? How should we behave? Terry Waite showed how to use respectful understanding rather than trickery in dealing with people.

Automatic Translation

Few of us speak Russian, and the vocabulary is difficult. In 1985, I tried to modify a modem encoder into a cheap English-Russian text translator, but the encoder worked just a little bit wrong since it was designed for a completely different purpose. It would have translated electronic mail and on-line dialog like a mechanical dictionary. Software would work much better than hardware. My inspiration has been the conviction that translation doesn't have to be good, just fast.

How about a translator that works like a spelling checker? It would echo color so without knowing the other language, you can see whether the translator is having trouble . Preview your text before sending it, and edit it in English to remove ambiguities. Received text could be understood on a do-it-yourself basis with access to a foreign language thesaurus; click on “character” to see “letter/trait/ reputation.” Anybody interested?

Happy New Year!

I got a fascinating Christmas newsletter from Eric Stacey. It must have been created from Hypertext, weaving general and specific statements into a semi-custom letter. Eric is a talented writer and computerist, but the letter is eerily quasi-personal. It gave me a crazy feeling, like finding personal messages in the Los Angeles Times. Maybe this will help me understand other people's reactions to computers.

This newsletter, like the one before it, had a hard time getting out the door. It could have been perfect if I had waited forever.

We hope you have a happy Christmas and New Year, and hope to see you in the coming year!

Peace and love!

Dick and Loretta