Thanks to Jeffrey Shaffer for his March 5 Opinion piece "90 million people can dull a cutting edge." Finally, someone speaks for the millions of us who do not think it's compulsory to watch the Super Bowl, or "The Sopranos," or the supposed "reality" shows. Some of us don't even find it necessary to sit in front of the TV at all. And we prefer to consider life's many offerings and decide for ourselves what is worthwhile, instead of merely soaking up the canned, predictable diet of sex, violence, moral self-righteousness, and phony patriotism offered by most of the media. I propose that everyone try at least a month without TV.
New Milford, N.J.
Your March 3 article "Is the US safer now?" holds many crucial questions. Besides the much discussed dangers of materials that could be used for weapons coming across our borders, we must look at our policies that may stir antagonism toward our nation, and thus incite terrorism.
Muslim terrorists attacked us on 9/11 and took more than 3,000 lives. Our wars on two Muslim countries, Afghanistan and Iraq, have taken more than 10,000 lives; destroyed much of their infrastructure; provoked bedlam in Iraq; and left Afghanistan in a sorry state with warlords rising, drugs returning, and many women still oppressed.
Are our latest wars going to win friends for us and make us safer? Already, US soldiers are attacked routinely in Iraq, and Iraqi citizens are targeted because they are trying to work with our coalition forces. Because of the Bush administration's policies, the Middle East has seen disaster and increased terrorism, and we are hardly safer.
Jackie Taylor Wattenburg
Regarding your March 3 article "Easy on the eyes and the environment": "Green building" is an exciting and positive step toward striking a balance between our need to live in the natural environment and our responsibility to preserve it for future generations. However, it's important to go forward with our eyes open - aware that "going green" should be tempered with an appreciation for basic public health consequences.
I was concerned to read that the fundamental public health need of water sanitation and disinfection was compromised by one of the article's recommendations. The suggested replacement of chlorine with sodium chloride (salt) in pool-water treatment to "keep the water clean" is a secondary substitute that could increase health risks.
Backyard swimming pools can be a source of healthy living or a public health hazard if not treated responsibly. Proper chlorination helps ensure that pool water is disinfected for bacteria, viruses, and other microbes. Chlorine still is a safe and effective answer.
Sanford M. Brown
Professor Emeritus, Department of Health Science, California State University
Regarding your March 4 article "Stark contrasts for a fall classic": I question the thesis that the country is divided into "red" and "blue" states, and that the presidential election will rest on a few marginal states. John Kerry is not a traditional liberal any more than George W. Bush is a traditional Republican, and the campaign has barely begun. Kerry needs to complete his pre- convention tour, we need to have the conventions and then wait two weeks for it all to settle down before we can have a reliable sense of how this will play out. Then the real campaign will begin.
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