I would like to echo the sentiments of Robert Johnson in his Oct. 7 Opinion piece, "Libraries, please keep your books." As a fairly recent graduate from university, I think the value of book learning is being lost.
As Mr. Johnson noted, there is great value in having access to the kind of information that cannot be stored on paper and is readily accessible on the Internet, but it is a very different experience than having the patience and diligence to read an entire book.
I well remember a psychology professor questioning my class about how many students had read a book in the last few months that wasn't required reading for a class; about 10 percent of the class raised their hands.
This professor then engaged us in an extra assignment: to read a book (not an article) by a great psychologist. I took on that assignment and found that it gave greater depth to my learning.
In university learning a student can memorize a few facts from a textbook or even gain some insight from a recent journal article, but reading good books (beyond textbooks) can give the serious learner a sense of history that cannot be discovered any other way.
Too often university students are able to learn some facts but are unable to put them into proper context.
Nova Scotia, Canada
Regarding the Sept. 22 article, "Next phase in protecting species: living with them": Predator populations today are "large" only in a relative, and relatively meaningless, sense. While certain species may have increased in certain places for certain reasons, predators on the whole are not on the verge of taking over the continent. Neither have we reached the pinnacle of "healthy biodiversity" that warrants limiting these populations.
The reality is that more and more people work, live, and recreate in habitat occupied by predators and their prey, which will only result in fewer predators and, ironically, continued public safety issues.
If we want to keep both people and predators safe and healthy, we need to stay out of what is left of the wilderness, and those who choose to venture in on foot and unarmed will just have to take their chances.
As an ethical issue, the way we treat predators is emblematic of how we treat nature in general. As the globe heats up as a result of human activities, and the storms and droughts only get worse, we will no doubt wish we had treated the atmosphere, as well as cougars and wolves and bears, with the respect they deserve.
The Oct. 5 article, "More and more, dads teach kids to cook," brought a flood of memories and a few tears.
In 1960 I went to live with my father (my parents were separated) and learned the basics of cooking from him. One of his precepts was that anything good probably has an onion in it.
Today, a basket of onions stands on the corner of the chopping block in our kitchen. Its contents frequently perfume the house as I sauté them in butter or olive oil preparing the evening meals. (Since I like to cook more than my wife does, I usually prepare the evening meal while she grades papers.)
My grown daughter has a basket of onions on her kitchen counter now. As the old hymn goes, "may the circle be unbroken."
Charles H. Wilson
Whale Gulch, Calif.
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