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Date: Tue, 7 May 2002 08:47:14 -0700 (PDT)
From: Jerry Friedman 
Subject: Re: (urth) Lupine Humor: A Challenge

--- "Roy C. Lackey"  wrote:
> Blattid wrote:
> >> "Do you know, I read just today that open fires don't actually heat a
> >> building? It seems they draw in more cold air than they warm; just
> think
> >> of all those ignorant people who froze themselves to death, and never
> >> realized it, for thousands of years."
> >
> >Huh. And I took it as more of a dig at Lisa -- because she's right as
> >far as she goes, but Wolfe is enough of an engineer to know that "they
> >draw in more cold air than they warm" is actually true for a house with
> >any kind of central heating ... having an open fire in one room of the
> >house can actually way raise your heating bill.
> That reminds me of the professor who, about thirty years ago, _proved_
> mathematically that the Apollo moon landings were a physical
> impossibility.
> :-)
> Ann Schindler was cold and wet. As she and Wrangler drove to the
> "rambling
> fieldstone building" where Lisa and the girls stayed, she imagined a
> "red-hot pot-bellied stove in a bunkhouse". When she entered the house,
> what
> she found instead was "a wide rustic room, one wall of which was mostly
> fireplace; it held a bigger, redder, hotter fire than Ann could ever
> have
> imagined". Ann said she wanted to sit by the fireplace, which is when
> Lisa
> made her comment.
> I have no doubt whatsoever that Wolfe was ridiculing the author of the
> assertion Lisa read about. I doubt seriously that that ranch house had
> any
> sort of central heating; and I know for a fact that all those "ignorant
> people who froze themselves to death, and never realized it, for
> thousands
> of years" didn't. For uncounted generations all that kept people from
> freezing to death in the winter _were_ the "open fires" in the hearths
> of
> their homes. I am even more certain of that than I am of Neil Armstrong.

Right, but that's totally consistent with the statement that open
fires cause a net loss of heat in otherwise heated buildings.  Of
course it's far better, when you're cold, to come into a building
with a fire in the fireplace than an unheated building, but the
building would be warmer (physically if not emotionally) if it had
a stove instead.  And of course, Ann is right that the area around
the fireplace is the warmest part.

Jerry Friedman

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