Big Brother may be farther from home

In response to your Dec. 12 article "US may be setting a snare in document war": With the uproar of privacy issues related to the collection of private information on Americans by Internet companies, it should be no surprise that some of the companies that have the most data on Americans are foreign-owned. While this might not be illegal in the strictest terms, it is a concern.

Foreign-owned companies might have the capability to glean information from their database that might be useful to foreign intelligence operations.

For example, a company collecting insurance or driver's license data might be able to use that information to gain insight into the economic or medical history of an American citizen.

While the restrictions on defense-related companies are pretty tough, these restrictions need to be expanded to include all companies that collect or access confidential information on American citizens. These companies include vendors who collect information for states, prisons, state hospitals, social services, and veterans' hospitals.

In an era of international economic espionage and the need for homeland security, it is vital now more than ever that these records be restricted as much as possible.
Mike Seigle
Norcross, Ga.

Folk music teaches worldliness

I thoroughly enjoyed Kristin H. Macomber's Dec. 9 essay "So much for instilling my taste in music" (Home Forum). Bravo for shielding her children from "dumb-downed ... do-re-mi pablum and corny kiddie sing-alongs."

I applaud not only her fine taste in music, but also for passing along the music of Ella Fitzgerald, Yo-Yo Ma, John Coltrane, and Broadway to her sons.

But no Raffi? What harm could come from "Day-O," "I've Been Workin' on the Railroad," "This Little Light of Mine," or "Take Me Out to the Ball Game"? Amid the cacophony of crude commercial assaults on children, Raffi offers a calm voice. He doesn't pander. He isn't overproduced. He sings simply and lets the material speak for itself.

My son grew up with Raffi, as well as music from the theater, movies, opera and classical genres. When his tastes began to emerge, he tended toward Simon & Garfunkel, the Beatles, Bob Dylan, REM, etc.

I write in defense of Raffi in particular and folk music in general. The music is pure culture, whatever your country, and the value of folk music in a child's repertoire is immeasurable - from giving them basic musical intervals to global understanding.
Caroline Johnson
Tulsa, Okla.

Law's belated departure

In your Dec. 16 editorial "A cardinal point" you write, "Rather, it was an intense love for children, and a deep desire to safeguard them and the hope they represent for a better future, that forced [Cardinal] Law to step down."

If this were the case, wouldn't he have stepped down about a year ago? Children, it seems, were a distant fourth to church management, personal power, and US law.
Brian Robinhold
Boulder, Colo.

In Tongass, consider horse-logging

Regarding your Dec. 16 article "In Alaska's Tongass forest, a new battle over logging": The way to safely remove large old-growth trees from watersheds without harming the environment is horse-logging.

My now-ancient gelding "Blaze" and I have hauled many a bolt of saw timber and pulpwood from my plot in Michigan's western Upper Peninsula without so much as crushing a seedling.

Was it profitable? Not unless we consider the immense environmental benefits.
Courtland Geib
Ironwood, Mich.

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Because of the volume of mail we receive, we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number.

Mail letters to 'Readers Write,' and opinion articles to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, or fax to 617-450-2317, or e-mail to

of 5 stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read 5 of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.