Compassionate globalization?

Your April 17 edition reported preparations for a hemisphere-wide conference discussing a Free Trade Area of the Americas ("Bumps in the road for Bush's trade agenda"). Alongside was the story of a North Carolina town that had lost its only factory to "globalization." Common to both stories was the absence of government efforts to help workers, companies, and communities cope with adjustment emergencies in a rapidly changing world economy.

Absence of a coherent domestic-adjustment strategy impairs our prospects for negotiating a hemispheric free-trade pact, or even less-ambitious free-trade agreements. The fate of that North Carolina town symbolizes what concerns so many Americans in this rapidly changing world.

The "compassionate conservative" in the White House should be passionately compassionate about conserving standards of living wherever threatened by changing economic forces.

David J. Steinberg Alexandria, Va.

Different kinds of 'single'

As a 30-year-old single woman who enjoyed the movie "Bridget Jones's Diary," I was disappointed by your April 12 article, "Beyond 'Bridget,' a fuller view of single women." In reporting suggestions "that might help single women feel more secure in their singleness," the article confuses extremely different groups of women and societal movements: women who do not wish to marry and need more images of happily unmarried single women, and those of us who lead full lives as single women but long for companionship, marriage, and family life.

I wouldn't expect Bridget to resonate with the former, but her box office success is precisely because she so well captures the frustration and wistfulness of those millions of us with careers who fall through the nets of a society that has lost adequate mechanisms for matchmaking.

The article also missed a critical element of the movie, the revolutionary concept of "liking you just as you are."

Sarah Ross Seattle

India and Israel: a natural alliance

Regarding your April 19 "US and China dance with India": In fact, if you look at an expanded map of the Middle East, Israel and India are the only non-Muslim countries and the only democracies. In almost all Indo-Pakistan and Israeli wars, the Muslim countries have not only supported their Muslim brethren, but openly opposed both India and Israel. In a sense, India and Israel are natural allies in the Mideast.

China has consistently sided with the Muslim countries (and even supplied weapons to these countries), to the annoyance of India and Israel. So it is natural that India and the US, and India and Israel, form strategic alliances against Islamic fundamentalism and against Chinese regional hegemony.

Deapak Chomsky San Francisco

Microfilm still beats the bookworm

Regarding "The bonfire of books," Merle Rubin's April 5 review of Nicholson Baker's "Double Fold": As someone who works with and reveres old books and documents I sympathize with Mr. Baker's contention that the aesthetic and character of the document is lost in microfilming. At the same time, I must say that I would rather lose a brittle, deteriorating book or document to microfilm than lose the intellectual content forever. And that is, ultimately, the trade-off we are discussing.

The desirable solution would be to preserve the documents in their original format when possible, as well as producing microfilm. Sadly, this is not always possible if only one copy of the book exists.

Peter Carini South Hadley, Mass. Director of Archives and Special Collections, Mount Holyoke College

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