Smart tags' won't improve consumers' lives

The vision of the future as offered by MIT in your March 20 article "Smart tags: shopping will never be the same" was truly frightening.

A world of product interaction of that magnitude certainly benefits corporate interests, from streamlining shelf stocking to consumer data collection, but the only consumer benefit that can possibly be claimed is convenience. Yet we know from the myriad technological advances we live with today, that the free time technological convenience is supposed to give us rarely materializes. Are our lives any less busy since the advent of faxes and e-mail?

In the end, business may run much more smoothly due to these and other technological advances, but will our lives be improved?

Noah Scalin Hoboken, N.J.

Osprey purchase questionable

The picture of the V-22 Osprey in your March 28 article "Spate of military mishaps puts scrutiny on aircraft" shows an aircraft cum helicopter with short stubby wings that support heavy tilt rotor engines mounted on its wing tips - wings that may or may not have sufficient lift to allow it to fly like a conventional aircraft on one engine without it yawing uncontrollably.

Worse, when wing-tip engines are tilted vertically for lift-off or landing, any uneven lift will quickly roll it on its side unless they are synchronized precisely. Obviously this hybrid cannot be controlled even by the most experienced pilot in the event of any hydraulic or engine failure.

Furthermore, pilots of helicopters have to adjust their rate of descent to avoid the unstable air made by their rotors, called "ring vortex." This is especially true for the Osprey as both wing-tip rotors need stable air to grip. Any unpredictable, uneven lift by either rotor within a few seconds of landing doesn't leave a pilot sufficient time to prevent the crash of a $40 million Osprey with 24 Marines aboard.

In view of its crash history and the obvious problems of its design, I don't understand why the Marine Corps is so anxious to spend $14.4 billion of taxpayers money to buy 360 Ospreys unless they anticipate using them to secure a beachhead.

Paul Brailsford Ipswich, Mass.

Internationalize Mideast peace talks?

Your March 29 editorial "Stepping aside in the Mideast" was far too soft on the instigators of current Mideast violence.

Any "protection" the Palestinians might need is from their own leaders, who view violence as negotiations by other means. President Bush rightly called on Arafat, in vain it seems, to stop the violence. Bravo, too, for that brave US veto. Any UN observer force would only abet, not abate, Palestinian aggression.

The 1967 Security Council Resolution 242 posited no particular solution, such as the oft falsely claimed "total return to the status quo ante," but a process - negotiations leading to "secure and recognized boundaries."

For years the US has tried to facilitate that. To internationalize the peace process is inevitably to "Palestinianize" it. The Israelis, and thankfully, the new administration, are not about to go along with that.

Richard D. Wilkins Syracuse, N.Y.

Targeting current racial discrimination

Regarding your March 29 article "Affirmative action in jeopardy": The term "redress past discrimination" tends to divert attention from the other more important use of affirmative action, namely, to redress current discrimination.

Terry Zaccone Saratoga, Calif.

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(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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