Don't Crack Those Textbooks?

The Learning section commentary "The Used-Textbook Game: Campus Stores Buy Low, Sell High" (Oct. 27) left me angry and frustrated, especially since I, as a professor, see the impact of his argument every day.

Students spend enormous amounts of money on texts, but never open these books, break their bindings, read them, highlight in them, or in short, use them - in the hope of maximizing their resale value at the end of the semester. Note the author's own description: "not a highlighted line or dog-earned corner anywhere in sight." Each semester at least one student asks whether I will be using the text again - an early sign that resale is important, and that I can assume the worst with regard to the educational value of the text. Unfortunately, since the economics of the situation is beyond my control, my only recourse is to vary the texts I adopt from semester to semester.

Diane Zahm

Blacksburg, Va.

Virginia Tech

Impeachment under the microscope

Regarding the editorial "Impeachment Tactics" (Nov. 6): Why are you assuming that what Starr has decided are impeachable offenses are, indeed, impeachable offenses? What, exactly, was the constitutional basis for his list? Why are 400 historians, and an even greater number of legal scholars, totally opposed to his conclusions?

What if it turns out that the committee wastes more time with its interrogatories, Starr testimony, secret Republican majority meetings, etc., and the committee subsequently finds that none of the offenses is, in fact, an impeachable offense under the Constitution? That is the obvious point of the Democrats' request, and it seems entirely reasonable and pragmatic to me.

Those who want this president out of office will continue to shove impeachment down our throats - whether or not there is a constitutional basis for it.

Bonnie Simrell

Niwot, Colo.

You still assert in your editorial "Impeachment Tactics" that the impeachment inquiry is not about the independent counsel or his conduct in that office, but about whether or not the president may be indicted by the House and impeached for perjury, obstruction of justice, or witness tampering. Notwithstanding that the evidential standard in the American criminal-justice system for indictment is a low "probable cause" that can be manipulated to focus most attention on the defendant, the fact is the process is always the issue, however much the public and the media would otherwise have it.

There is no examination of the charges or the purported evidence that cannot also examine, and, if necessary, sanction the conduct of the investigators or the prosecutors. In short, in our country, at least in theory, the process is as much on trial as the defendant.

Certainly, Congress does not have to follow established rules of criminal procedure, due to our Constitution's separation of powers provision. Nonetheless, such a failure to follow the spirit of the law, despite the license from not having to follow its letter, does nothing to redeem the present credibility of this process or its participants, or of the media incapable of recognizing the larger issues contained within.

Robert H. Brandon

Antioch, Tenn.

The Boston accent: Is 'bah' humbug?

Regarding the article on movie making in Massachusetts "In Bahston, the Accent Is on Attracting Moviemakers" (Oct. 23): Great article, but your headline is incorrect. It's pronounced "Baw-ston." "Bah" is how you say "bar." Lots of people make fun of Boston accents. I think they're great. But at least get it right; "Baw-ston" is "hahdly evah" pronounced "Bah-ston."

M. Donald

Natick, Mass.

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