Editor: It's always around this time that I begin to notice the changes: the feral eyes, bared fangs, razor-sharp claws, the animal-like noises.
Who are these creatures and where do they come from? Surely, you know. Have you not seen them in the malls and shopping centers, hurrying to and fro, clubbing one another with huge bags of merchandise? Have you not seen them wounding each other with long javelins of wrapping paper?
Have you not seen them behind the wheels of automobiles, racing around crowded parking lots without the slightest regard for life, law or limb?
Have you not seen them on Christmas Eve with that desperate, half-mad look in their eyes as they search futilely for that one final offering to appease the holiday gods?
Editor: The payment of billions of dollars in increased oil prices to the speculators and Arabian princes is a scandal.
There is no oil shortage. We do not need the oil from Iraq and Kuwait to sustain our economy, a fact documented in recent congressional hearings. President Bush himself has stated that "there is no shortage of oil; there is a fear of future shortage that is driving speculation of higher prices."
There is only one answer to the speculators' greed: rationing. Yes, the dirty "R" word.
If we, Europe and the Japanese impose even a little rationing -- and conservation of electric energy produced by oil -- we can drive the price of gasoline down 30 percent a gallon within a month.
Editor: The Dec. 2 article, "Risk of infection in health care small," which accompanied reports about a doctor practicing at the Johns Hopkins Hospital who recently died of AIDS, contained erroneous and misleading statistics. The article said that, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control, "5.3 percent of U.S. health-care workers . . . have acquired immune deficiency syndrome," and that: "The 5.3-percent figure is comparable to the incidence of AIDS in the general population."
The correct statistic is that 5.3 percent of all reported AIDS cases have occurred in health-care workers. In Maryland, 4 percent of reported AIDS cases, 126 individuals, have occurred in health-care workers. These health-care workers with AIDS constitute less than one percent of licensed health-care workers in Maryland. In all except 10 of these cases, less than one percent, transmission of HIV is thought to have occurred outside of the health-care setting.
The Centers for Disease Control have recorded almost 155,000 cases of AIDS reported in the United States since the beginning of the epidemic. Again, this represents far less than one percent of all the population. The 3,099 cases of AIDS reported in Maryland represent also less than one percent of Maryland's population.
Certainly AIDS is a deadly epidemic. But we should focus our attention on preventing the spread of AIDS and treating those with the disease, instead of focusing on the very remote possibility of being infected from a health-care worker.
Robert B. Watts.
The writer is vice chairman of the Governor's Advisory Council on AIDS.
Beans and Bread
Editor: The Sun's Nov. 25 supplement titled, "The State of Giving," made no mention of Beans and Bread under meal programs for Baltimore City.
The Beans and Bread facility, located at 1621 Aliceanna Street one block west of Broadway, is operated by the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.
It serves one meal daily from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., except for Sunday and Wednesday, to between 150 and 200 people in a space that accommodates only 20 people at a time.
Nursing service is provided every Friday for 10 to 15 people and Beans and Bread serves as a mailing address for a few who are temporarily displaced.
When available, new and used clothing is provided to those with special needs.
Working conditions for the volunteer staff are crowded.
Beans and Bread is now looking for a building in the same area containing 4,000-5,000 square feet with one-third of the space on the first floor.
No New Taxes
Editor: Apparently Gov. William Donald Schaefer did not get the voters' message when he had to buy a hollow and shallow victory in the recent election by outspending his opponent 15 to 1. Spending, he knows.
The voters do not want better and bigger government services through the $800-million tax increase of the Linowes commission. Voters want better services through more efficient management existing revenues, necessities before niceties, and no new taxes.
Editor: While we are saddened about the recent losses of Aaron Copland and Leonard Bernstein, we also have lost a man of letters with the death of Norman Cousins.
Cousins set a standard in the field of publications through his years as editor of the Saturday Review which few have met. He was known for his joie de vivre, his rationality and reason. His understanding of the globality of our existence pre-dated current thoughts on the topic, and his contributions to the psychology of medicine and the holistic approach to healing were considerable.
One of his last accomplishments was serving as an adviser on the revision of the listing of Great Books of the Western World -- a continuation of emphasizing the best.
Mary P. Felter
Editor: A Business section item purported to calculate the total price of the items in the "Twelve Days of Christmas" to gauge inflation. The reporter seemed unaware that the most shocking aspect of the piece was its illustration of a dramatic slump in retail sales.
The 1990 gifts from "my true love" were listed as one partridge, two turtle doves, etc.
But lyrics imply that the same donor formerly gave 12 partridges, 22 doves, 30 hens, 36 birds, 40 rings, 42 geese, 42 swans, 40 maids, 36 ladies, 30 lords, 22 pipers and 12 drummers.
By skipping all gifts on the first 11 days of Christmas, "my true love" cuts this year's bill from $72,205 to the stated $15,231. The word recession comes to mind.