Graphic novels are easier reads, but don't foster understanding

Regarding the Aug. 16 article, " 'Tweens' curl up with graphic novels": The idea of providing graphic novels seems to be repeating itself. As a retired US Army officer, I saw the reading and comprehension level of our new recruits drop drastically.

Many of the new recruits were high school dropouts and could not read technical maintenance manuals correctly. The Army's response was to change the presentation concept to graphic novels for easier reading and understanding. The results were evident: maintenance mechanics who could "read" a comic book, but did not comprehend what they were doing with reading-related comprehension. They could repeat what they saw, but didn't understand why.
Franklin Martin
Nice, France

Spell check can't replace understanding

Regarding the Aug. 18 article, "The tyranny of the squiggly lines": I have used Microsoft Word's spell and grammar checks. Sometimes the "spell check" does not like the way I spell a variety of words, and it tells me about a "correction." Word's corrections were misspellings. Grammar check was even more terrible. For example, numerous times there were agreement errors between subject and predicate. Yet we have a whole generation that is being taught these errors.
William Drezdzon
Des Plaines, Ill.

Democrats need new approach to war

James Norton's Aug. 15 Opinion piece, "Democrats don't need a new plan, or more big ideas," makes a lot of sense. However, as a campaign tool, this view suffers from the problem that the Democrats have had all along of addressing the administration's major vulnerability. They find it hard to forcefully attack the president's foreign policy because he is avidly following the "make the world safe for democracy" vision the Democratic presidents pursued in World War I, World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, as well as endorsing the adventure in Iraq. The new Democratic leader, when and if he or she appears, must have the courage to disavow this policy and advocate the pragmatic, sovereignty-recognizing approach Mr. Norton mentions. It will require a consistently strong military backing.
John Hughes
La Mesa, Calif.

Airline executives deserve a pay cut

In the Aug. 2 article, "For large airliners, America's skies getting friendlier," it mentions everything the airliners have cut to become profitable again. One glaring omission to the list is a cut in top executives' salaries and pensions. When are we going to demand that the top brass suffer along with union members?
Adele Breech
Portales, N.M.

Some foods kids shouldn't try

I found it distressing to read the headline of the July 21 article, "Pass the pâté..." One of the ideas of the article was that it is important for kids to be exposed to as many foods as possible – one perhaps being pâté de foie gras. Foie gras is often produced by force-feeding ducks and geese with a large metal tube inserted down their throats two or three times a day to enlarge their livers to about 10 times their normal size. Some birds explode from these force feedings, and veterinarians document that the birds experience pain and suffering.

Fifteen nations have outlawed the force-feeding of birds for foie gras. More than 75 American restaurants have removed foie gras from their menus, and the sale of foie gras in Chicago is now prohibited.
Lou E. Burmeister
El Paso, Texas

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