Consider alternatives to animal dissection

Regarding your June 8 article "A second look at the biology lab": As a physician, I believe that dissection of animals in the classroom is unnecessary and may be emotionally traumatic to the students it is intended to educate and inspire.

Many nonanimal alternatives to dissection are available, including interactive computer programs, anatomic models, and videotapes. These options are excellent teaching tools and are less costly than dissection. Other programs allow interested students to observe surgery in hospitals and veterinary medical schools.

A compassionate approach to medical and science education is a warranted and far superior option.
Daran Haber, MD
Red Bank, N.J.

Establishing homeland security

Jeff McCrehan's June 8 book review of "On Paradise Drive"by David Brookswas intriguing and well written. There are now millions of Americans who challenge the American Dream. One discrete example is the cohousing movement imported from Denmark. With 75 such communities already built in America and 100 or more in the works, we begin to see evidence that paradise is what you make it.

In "Superbia! 31 Ways to Create Sustainable Neighborhoods," coauthor Dan Chiras and I suggest that many of the community building techniques used in cohousing could also be used in typical suburban and urban neighborhoods. Why shouldn't neighbors create community gardens, form discussion groups, have regularly scheduled potlucks, and even invest cooperatively in a "common house" where a guest room, workshop, dining room, office space, childcare facility, and big-screen TV room offer opportunities for neighbors to begin to know and trust each other? Isn't this what "homeland security" should really be about?
David Wann
Golden, Colo.

Baseball logic not a basis for legislation

In response to your June 8 editorial "Adjusting 'Three Strikes' Law," I would like to pose the question: Should our legislative branch be passing laws based on baseball logic? Our national pastime is a great escape from the pressures of society, but we should not look to its rulebook for advice on criminal law.

This "three strikes" mentality propagates the perception that two strikes are fine as long as one doesn't strike out. But imagine that strike one was rape and strike two was stealing your retirement fund and ask yourself if this batter should see another pitch.

Innocent people are not statistics in a game. We don't track victims, monetary loss, and psychological damage as we would home runs and stolen bases. Reform should come in the form of being strict with felonies from the start and rethinking what constitutes a felony and a misdemeanor.
Michael Geller
Los Angeles

Partisanship hampers real discussion

Kudos on Richard Harwood's June 10 Opinion piece "Stop the spread of America's red-vs.-blue political stain." More should be said about this. It's a disturbing trend that serves to divide us and distorts the truth in doing so.

It seems that we've lost the ability to have rational discussions, and we are often reduced to ad hominem attacks. One has to watch only a few episodes of Fox News' nightly debate program "Hannity and Colmes" to see this type of tactic used frequently in both directions. Both sides are reduced to attacking each other rather than having productive and rational discussions about the issues at hand. To me, that's a dangerous standard to set for political discussion.
Ken Finger
Leesburg, Va.

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