Less population growth, more water
Regarding Russell Sticklor's Oct. 14 commentary, "How to avoid the next Mideast war – over water": I was puzzled by Mr. Sticklor's list of solutions for solving the future water shortages in the Middle East. He acknowledges that the region's population boom spells trouble, but he never recommends that these countries work to reduce fertility rates and stabilize their populations, as so many other nations have done. And in this respect, I feel he stands with a long list of environmental leaders who tiptoe around the population issue.
More to 'Heart of Darkness'
In his Oct. 21 review of the movie "Captain Phillips," film critic Peter Rainer makes a reference to Joseph Conrad's novel "Heart of Darkness" that might lead readers unfamiliar with Conrad's story astray. Mr. Rainer says he is "made a bit uncomfortable by the way the four [Somali] pirates ... seem at times a breed apart from the whites on board" the cargo ship they have taken hostage. "The film," Rainer says, "skirts perilously close to 'Heart of Darkness' territory – the enemy as Other."
"Heart of Darkness" is much more complex than "the enemy as Other," than any mere delineation of the meeting of civilized and primitive men. "Heart of Darkness" can even be read with that feeling of "We have met the enemy and he is us."
Woodland Hills, Calif.
Partisanship kills progress
I was drawn to Jim Kastama's Oct. 14 Common Ground, Common Good commentary, "Why I stepped over the party line to get results," on his budget battle in Washington State, where I grew up. Like the Founding Fathers, I see that excess partisanship is deadly to sensible progress in legislation. Does this phenomenon not explain why former Sen. Alan Simpson and former White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles's debt commission has essentially been excoriated by Congress?
Vincent J. Landis