The VCR is at Grandma's house

Regarding the article ``At the center of home and hearth is the VCR,'' Oct. 24: I am opposed to a VCR in my home and am ogre-like when it comes to regulating my children's TV viewing. We do watch TV, some of which is excellent, and I agree with some of the pro-VCR arguments. Yet in all the blather about ``mastering one's viewing time'' and ``video campfires,'' a central fact is being ignored: In the few leisure moments available to modern schoolchildren, if they are watching TV (made easier than ever by the VCR), they are not doing something else, specifically the all-important activity - reading.

Any adult who does not realize that the weight of the world's riches is still found in books should be left to watch ``Kramer vs. Kramer'' in peace. For my children I can still hope. I plead with them daily to dip into this treasury of information, wisdom, and pleasure developed over centuries. I want them to learn the rewards of exercising that special muscle - the imagination - left virtually untouched by video. They must be given time to do this, and even without a VCR in the house, there's precious little of it to give.

Once the difficult-to-acquire reading habit has been implanted they may decide for themselves whether video will be an occasional diversion or ``the only thing to do.'' But until their eyes have been opened to the alternatives, I'd rather keep this powerful competitor out of the house. It's bad enough that Grandma has one. Kevin Siepel, Angola, N.Y.

Political public relations Regarding the series ``Palestinian Americans: pulled between home and homeland,'' Oct. 7, 14, 21, 28: It is an oft-repeated complaint of Western journalists assigned to cover the Middle East that Arabs do not know how to present themselves in a sympathetic way; they do not have the public-relations skills of the Israelis, and consequently news coverage tends to reflect Israeli views.

This series shows that top-notch journalism doesn't rely on slick public relations but, rather, delves into the lives and contexts which are producing the Palestinian uprising.

I hope to read more Monitor articles about the Middle East and Arab communities in the US from a similarly unbiased perspective. Kiera Benidettino, Capitola, Calif.

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