Remembering Elmer G. Worthley
Editor: The recent death of renowned botanist Elmer G. Worthley leaves our community impoverished not so much from the passing of an individual of his notable accomplishments as ++ from the disappearance of a walking natural history encyclopedia who was both a resource for and an inspiration to those who would take advantage of his unending willingness to instruct, to stimulate interest and curiousity about nature and its balances.
"The Prof," as his students affectionately called him, had a truly remarkable talent for running what amounted to a one-room schoolhouse, holding each student to the appropriate standard of accomplishment for his or her own personal capacity.
By the broad standard of this transitory life he was a success because he had the courage to be himself, to resist the temptations of intellectual fashion, without losing his inspirational teaching qualities.
His spirit lives on in our world of natural history observation and understanding, in the hearts and minds of former students whose names may not be familiar now, but will be in the next generation.
Roger D. Redden.
Baltimore. Editor: With regard to the July 20 Opinion * Commentary article by Don C. Forester, "Black Widow of the Hill," which compared Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski and Rep. Helen Delich Bentley, I offer the following comments.
Tom Kuchar is an immature individual who can't decide whether he wants to be a zoologist or a politician.
The Sun was irresponsible for printing this sexist article. Did The Sun find it acceptable because its analogy compared two women?
Rosemarie T. Weber.
Editor: The July 10 editorial "Keeping Schaefer Time" is full of inaccurate statements, specious arguments and wrong conclusions.
It is yet another example of the irresponsible way in which The Sun has reported this issue all along.
It replays the Schaefer administration propaganda without bothering to check the realities of the situation.
The assertion that the increase in the work week will save the state money is patently absurd. Yet this assertion, first put forth by the Schaefer administration in the early stages of this misinformation campaign, is brought out of the closet yet again in your editorial.
Even the administration no longer cites this, or any other figure for that matter, when trying to proclaim the savings potential of this move.
If the amount of the state payroll will be the same next week as it was last week, how can the administration claim to have saved money?
To suggest that some state workers work different hours for the same rate of pay is totally irresponsible. Yes, some state workers now work a 40-hour week, but people doing the same job work the same hours for the same rate for their labors.
To say that "most of America's work force operates on a 40-hour work week and has managed to adjust" is simply an inflammatory statement designed to set the bulk of the working public against the state worker by making it seem as though they are getting away with something. But when compared to their counterparts in the private sector, state employees work for substantially less, a situation that this move will exacerbate considerably.
The statement that "one of his other options last December was to cut 10,000 people from the state payroll" (to balance the budget) is another example of hyperbole of which the governor is fond. To try to balance the budget solely through layoffs is no option at all.
Many state offices are already understaffed, and to lay off 10,000 workers would surely bring about the collapse of the system of state services that we all depend on in so many ways.
It is my belief that the writer of this editorial and the average citizen may change his/her attitude if they were to try this little exercise in imagination. Imagine:
You have a job. You work hard. Your boss says to you, "Times are tough, you will get no raise this year." Your boss takes a big raise for himself. He says he deserves it.
Sometime later, your boss says to you, "Times are really tough, though you must now work 4 1/2 hours more per week for no increase in salary, and by the way you probably won't get a raise next year. But I am going to keep my raise, I deserve it."
$ How would you react?
Editor: I am not against testing health care workers for the AIDS virus. But I am for protecting them.
Patients cannot be tested without their consent, even if there has been an accidental needle puncture to the care giver. Everyone needs additional protection in these trying times.
At the Pratt
Editor: Richard Fogg (Letters to the Editor, July 15) should realize that a "free" library system is not free of cost to run. In this day of diminishing services and closing libraries, the Pratt should be trying to find more ways to augment its budget, not reducing the few means it has.
He has two complaints. The first is that the cost of photocopies went up a nickel. I remember a day when photocopy machines weren't even heard of -- if we wanted information from a book we sat with pencil and paper and took notes. I doubt that there are more book vandals because of the 20-cents rate than because of the 15-cents rate. Ignorance isn't sold for a nickel.
Perhaps the Pratt should make itself less accessible to its patrons, a la the New York Library main branch. When I lived in New York I avoided it like the plague because it was so intimidating, with supercilious employees who made one feel like an idiot for asking questions. I recently had to do some research there and found that the situation had, if anything, gotten worse -- collection rooms closed while the rest of the library was open, and the nastiest people of all (librarians and clerks alike) were at the main information desk.
The Pratt, on the other hand, is very accessible for a research library, and the employees are all extremely generous with their time and advice.
But New York's security system beats the Pratt's. Nothing is on open shelves. Slips have to be filled out with name and address, and ID has to be shown. It would be easy to track down the vandals this way. Actually, they probably wouldn't even bother coming -- not a good way to encourage a reading populace. But
the remaining patrons probably wouldn't balk at the extra nickel.
Editor: The Sun's July 14 editorial, "Boost for Columbus Center," was no surprise. It would have been a surprise if you had come out in opposition to such a waste.
The biotechnology industry is laughing all the way to the bank while the "establishment" promotes the religion/cult of biotech.
The industry is, of course, the deity. The message is that whatever problem we face, biotech will save us. Do we need to find the ever-elusive (and non-existent) miracle "cure" for cancer while we ignore the basic health care of the people? Biotech will save us.
Do we need to know how to exploit and plunder the planet and make it all come out clean while the real situation deteriorates every day? Biotech will save us.
So we need a better way to waste more food while "a thousand points of light" don't even make a dent in the population of starving people in the U.S.? Biotech will save us.
Do we need to develop a more elitist economy based on minimum wage "jobs" that are impossible to live on? Biotech will save us.
The religion is already present in society and, like most religions, the requirements for blind faith and suppression of the facts don't seem to faze anyone.
But then again, as the author Hans Ruesch wrote, "Faith, once ingrained, is largely impervious to logic." No surprises here, either.
Mark E. Rifkin.
Editor: I am profoundly worried about your July 21 article about "hate programming."
I feel sorry for people like Herbert Poinsett who are so blindly programmed to hate, but I feel desperately angry that he and others like John Metzger are now programming others to hate as groundlessly as they do.
Dr. Fletcher Blanchard of Smith College is right to believe that "regular people" speaking out and working to abolish racism is an essential first step in society's healing process.
However, racism is not just a "white folks' problem," it is everybody's problem, and everybody needs to work to solve it.
What I have found to be true, growing up in a predominantly white section of society, is that white people can ignore the problem, they can believe they are not effected by it, and sometimes they don't realize that racism is a problem that they need to confront.
Lastly, the article asserts that public access is "protected by federal law from censorship unless it is obscene."
Webster's New World Dictionary defines "obscene" as follows: "1. offensive to one's feelings, or to prevailing notions, of modesty or decency; lewd 2. disgusting; repulsive." I wonder how many people might agree with me in finding televised hate programs to be obscene.
Cameron Ashley Shultz.