Helping small-town kids kick boredom (and drugs)

Regarding your article "Drugs take root in rural America" (April 4): One thing was not mentioned by any of your interview subjects as a probable cause for drug use: boredom.

Having lived in a small town (Big Bear Lake, population 8,000), I can attest to the sheer boredom of living in a place that offers nothing in the way of arts and culture other than bars and bowling. Kids taking drugs are attempting to alleviate the monotony of small-town life.

While it's well and good for community leaders to blame the Internet and the decline of the nuclear family, they should be looking at ways to get their kids involved in the community. Activity centers, volunteer projects - anything of the kind - are needed in order to give small-town kids viable alternatives that will stimulate their minds.

I'm surprised that while so many people are ready to come down on "that newfangled Internet," they seem to forget the adage: "Idle hands are the devil's playground."

Adam Rakunas Santa Monica, Calif.

That's 'Captain' to you

Regarding your March 31 article "A crack appears in the Navy's brass ceiling": Congratulations are in order to Kathleen McGrath. Command at sea is the highest honor bestowed on a naval officer. In your article you refer to her as Ms. McGrath, a title improper for a commanding officer. You did not list her rank, but frigates usually are commanded by senior time in grade, lt. commanders or full commanders. If she is a commander (a silver oak leaf) her title would be Commander McGrath. Since she is in command, she is also entitled to be called captain.

Junior grade officers such as ensigns, lieutenants, and lt. commanders are referred to as Mr. or Ms. If Kathleen McGrath is a lt. commander, as a commanding officer, she will be addressed as captain.

I say this to give Captain McGrath the respect she deserves to have attained the honored position of commanding "a fast ship going in harm's way."

Lorne R. Elliott Green Bay, Wis.

Let's not pat China's back just yet

I read your March 31 editorial "China in the trade club" with dismay. While improved economic conditions do improve the life and stability of peoples in developing countries, the despots ruling China have used the gains from international trade to further entrench themselves.

"No" to China for most-favored nation (MFN) status, and current entry into WTO. Should economic interests outweigh religious persecution and human rights issues on the scales of international trade? I contend that the answer is no.

I am not antibusiness. In fact, I am a strong advocate of the importance of international trade, recognizing that it is good for Washington State, the United States, and developing countries. But there are times when the importance of trade must take a back seat to the importance of taking a stand in support of the right to worship God freely.

Now is the time to increase pressure on the world's most populous nation to improve its record on human rights, religious freedom, and democracy. It's not the time to promote trade at the expense of continued pressure on human rights or champion China's admission to the World Trade Organization, an act that should be delayed until China shows some improvement in human rights.

Clayton R. Futrell Tacoma, Wash.

Movies centered on food

Regarding "A Thousand years of food" (April 5): Don't forget the Oscar-winning film by Luis Buuel, "The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie." The whole movie centered around eating, although no one got a bite!

Lynn Carey Raleigh, N.C.

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