Letters to the Editor

Schoolyard cowboys don't know guns aren't toys; don't let a man (even Updike) pick the best romances.

Published June 8, 1999 4:00PM (EDT)

Schoolyard cowboys


My sympathies are with the schoolyard children who, upon finding a gun, knew no
better than to treat it as a toy. Some 20 years ago, while I was working in a restaurant, I opened the wine refrigerator,
pulled out the tray of carafes and discovered what I believed to be a toy gun
sitting on the tray. I remember being a bit surprised by how
authentic-looking a toy it was -- it was covered with tiny beads of
moisture, not like plastic would be, but the way a metallic object would be
after spending a night in my wine refrigerator, and when lifted, it was
very, very heavy. It was also awfully large; most toy guns are smaller to
fit children's hands.

There was an explanation: The previous night, the manager
was held up at gunpoint after closing, and the gunman must have panicked and
stashed the gun. We were not told of the holdup because the manager didn't
want to alarm us. After the police had finished questioning me, they took
the gun and departed. Then the kitchen crew cornered me and lashed out at
me for calling the police; they said they could have gotten a really good price for the gun.

-- Kathleen H. Langan

How chilling that Lisa Moskowitz wonders at the end of her article that
gun violence and the attention the media gives it could increase home
schooling. Especially when one considers that many of the people who
advocate home schooling are also those who insist on the unfettered
privilege to own guns. I sincerely hope it is merely my own paranoia
that senses a commonality between these issues and others like murderous
pro-lifers and unicultural school prayer advocates. May it please be
only my fancy that a hidden war is developing within America, one waged
by people with an Us/Them morality who embrace alienation and seem to
believe righteousness, authority and violent resolution are analogous.

-- Howard Kistler

Moskowitz sounds like she is resigned to the fact that guns are a
permanent fixture of American culture and the American way of life. She
is trying to psychoanalyze children's fascination with the weapon.
The fact remains that guns are killing America's children and not enough
is being done to stop the use of guns. Drastic measures must be taken
and they are not.

Enough analysis. Save the children by getting rid of weapons.

-- Allan Bernstein

Thornhill, Ontario

Updike in love



How ludicrous to choose a man to pick the five greatest romance novels!
According to Updike, these include only dreary tales of misery
and sexual escapades among the jaded and degenerate. From the 18th
century onward, it has been women -- both as writers and audience -- who have
cultivated and cherished the true classic romance story. From Jane Austen and
the Bronte sisters to Margaret Mitchell and modern-day writers of pop
paperback Harlequins, millions of women have enshrined the positive,
empowered, values-based novels of strong women and men forming lifelong bonds
against all odds. To call Updike's list of tragedies and horrors "romance" is
to use the most technical of literary terms while missing the cultural
phenomenon that is and always has been considered the classic tradition of
love stories.

-- Deborah Smith

Is meat sexy?



Dawn MacKeen suggested that vegetarians are more likely to
suffer from low sex drive due to a lack of zinc in their diets. Oh, low

Every dietary style has its advantages and disadvantages. According to the
American Dietetic Association, vegetarian diets holds up pretty well compared to others. Vegetarians tend to have
less heart disease, hypertension and diabetes, as well as less of some
cancers. There are many nutrients that they tend to get more of than
omnivores, including folate, antioxidants and other phytonutrients that are
getting so much good press these days.

There are nutrients to which vegetarians should pay attention. Some of
these are B-12, vitamin D, calcium(if they don't drink milk) and, yes,
zinc. Except for B-12 and D, you can get these from plant foods. You can
get the two vitamins from inexpensive supplements and of course you can get
vitamin D from the sun. In regards to zinc specifically, the article itself mentioned that whole
grains, beans, lentils and peas are sources. For many vegetarians, these
foods are staples -- the "meat and potatoes" of their diets. Those folks
probably get enough zinc. I won't go into the nutrients to which omnivores need pay attention.
Suffice it to say the list would at least be as long as that for vegetarians.

And speaking of sex drive, clogged arteries and anti-cholesterol drugs are
less than sterling contributors to increased sex drive.

-- Peter Loney

Is MacKeen talking about vegetarians who eat cooked vegetables
and cooked food? If so, this is a very poor diet in general: When one raises the temperature of food over 118 degrees the food
is essentially destroyed.

Also, vegetables are only 10 percent assimilable by the human body, while fruit is 90 percent assimilable. Man
is designed as a frugivore not a vegetarian; a vegetarian diet is not at all the optimum diet for man.

It is also well to remember that what one may think of as "normal" sexual
activity may be sexual hyperactivity brought on by a junk-food (read that
as cooked, refined and processed foods) diet. Your author should take the
time to learn the true laws of nutrition and health.

-- Alfred Morrissette

Under the volcano


David Lazarus' article about the Japanese economy barely touched on
several unavoidable realities that Americans seem to be unable to
accept. First, the Japanese population is shrinking so rapidly that the
economy absolutely must contract for the foreseeable future -- for decades
maybe. Young people are the ones who buy the goods that keep the economy
pumping -- as well as the ones who produce the goods. With drastically
fewer young people Japan simply cannot grow economically.

Second, the Japanese don't play the American game -- they play by their own rules.
These rules include the possibility of a zero-growth, stable economy.
They did it before in the centuries before Perry opened the nation up
to Western influence, and they're prepared to do it again.

Third, Japan is still a socially cohesive nation. Despite the pressures, in a crisis
you will find that the Japanese will work together and help each other,
not escape into drugs, political extremism or fundamentalist
Christian cults like Americans. When and if the American bubble bursts, that's when you will see a nightmare.

-- Andy Walsh

Three strikes and you're in


Anthony York quotes California Gov. Gray Davis' spokesman, Michael Bustamante, as
saying, "The alternative [to building another prison] would be to
release prisoners early, and that is absolutely, unequivocally
unacceptable to Gov. Davis." Why not, I'd like to ask? Even the
CCPOA (the prison guards' union) admits that thanks to "Three Strikes"
legislation, record numbers of nonviolent offenders are serving long
sentences. Releasing someone early whose crime was possession of a
controlled substance or shoplifting isn't weak or cowardly; it's just
common sense and good arithmetic. The least that it costs the state to
imprison a felon is $20,000 annually; it strikes me that many cheaper
alternatives could be found. No, don't build another prison; it only
encourages legislators to pass stupid laws.

-- Michael Treece

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