Fishing in the Sea of LifeThis is...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Fishing in the Sea of Life

This is a fish story. No, this is not a story about the one that got away or the one you took home for supper last night. This is a story about some of the fish that swim in the "sea of life" and some of the people who champion them. There are the "halo fish," "political fish," "tax fish," "doomsday fish" and "reality fish."

"Halo fish," supported by the Michael Oleskers of the world, aimlessly splash around in their school trying to hold their halo high for all to see. The tremendous energy they expend, constantly adjusting their halos, trying to convince everyone to believe what they espouse. This causes them to develop deformed spines and they swim so erratically that they become known as "dodger fish."

"Political fish" happily swim in their school, willing to do or say anything to get re-elected, thereby maintaining the status quo, enabling them to collect their perks and steal more for their retirement.

"Political" fish are also known as "liar fish." They sometimes dodge military drafts, traffic tickets and restaurant bills by issuing overdrafts that they ignore or deny that they wrote.

"Tax fish" are the constant companions of the "political fish" and they always support them by their Sun polls, editorials, commentaries and other means so as not to upset the apple cart.

The "reality fish," usually supported by the silent majority, drive the above named fish into the school of "doomsday fish," where they are destined to finish their lives not knowing that the death switch has already been thrown, but they just haven't received the fatal dose.

William Cox

Bel Air

No Sympathy

An article in The Sun about the city's economic problems struck a real nerve.

An incident in Fells Point on a recent Saturday makes it difficult for me to have any sympathy.

As a resident of Columbia, my wife and I decided to have dinner in Fells Point after a theater matinee because we had not been there for several years.

After a long search, I finally found a parking space in a legal spot but a sign covered the parking meter and stated the meter was jammed. I considered this to be a lucky break and parked.

After a very enjoyable dinner, imagine my disgust when I found a ticket on my car with the notation that it is illegal to park in a spot with a defective meter.

I asked two nearby city policemen about the law. They said they had never heard of it and suggested I "fight it." I don't intend to ask for a trial because the cost of time off the job and parking downtown would be more than the $17 fine.

But I am at a loss to understand the logic of such a law.

The city is not losing any revenue because the meter would not accept coins.

And it's certainly not my fault that the meter would not work.

If the city is interested in attracting suburbanites for an evening's entertainment, it sure is going about it a strange way.

Bill Vinson

Columbia

Testy Tester

As a teacher in a public school, I have just completed five totally unrewarding and frustrating days administering the Maryland School Assessment Program testing instruments. If I am frustrated, the frustration level of the children must be tenfold.

One of the first things we as teachers are told is not to require children to stay put for long periods of time, and yet testing times are in segments of over 60 minutes. The children get tired and extremely bored. They bang down their pencils and quit or give a half-hearted effort at best.

Somehow, this does not strike me as a fair testing practice but then I haven't heard too many real people call this assessment fair, equitable or useful.

To add insult to injury, those who must administer the test are asked to do so with little or no knowledge of how best to do so. Test givers are distributed materials 10 minutes before testing and expected to do the job well. Sort of like putting a neophyte in the cockpit of a Boeing 747 jet and saying "you're flying this plane out of here in 10 minutes."

The cost of this test, especially in these times of recession, is frivolous. Children do not need to be tested to distraction in order to improve. They need sensible programs, well prepared people in the schools and -- sorry, America -- discipline.

Gordon Barker

Baltimore

The Stadium and Its Fans

Congratulations to Baltimore for Oriole Park at Camden Yards. What a magnificent example of architecture for the people it is, with its promenade in front of the ballpark, its spacious walkways and seating inside, and its great views.

How pleasant it is to go to a ball game and then, afterward, to be able to stroll through downtown Baltimore and enjoy its restaurants, bars and shops. I intend to do it often.

This "people place" and its related developments, such as the light rail line, restore faith in the idea that the downtowns of our cities can be vibrant, stimulating and fun places to visit.

Alfred S. Sharlip

Columbia

____________

It's been more than a month since the new Oriole Park opened and all we've heard so far is praise. Glowing comments come largely from privileged visitors to the facility, i.e. special guests of management, dignitaries, sky box elite, sports writers and radio commentators and the like. All of these people are treated royally and have no reason to find fault.

It's a different story when you're just an ordinary fan sitting in the stands with the untitled nobodies who make up the mass of Orioles attendance, and contribute the most to the team's wealth.

Here are a few things I've noticed after seeing four Orioles games at Camden Yards:

* The men's rooms are not nearly as accommodating as those at Memorial Stadium, although I understand there is an improvement for the ladies (my wife verified the latter).

* Food lines are longer than ever and bump into those coming from the opposite side of the main concourse. Prices are up, but that probably would have been so if the team hadn't moved.

* Longtime 13-game plan season ticket holders have been pushed to the darkest corners of the lower stands to make room for new ticket-holders who purchased more frequent seating in large multiples.

* In the last few rows of the terrace boxes it is impossible to see the scoreboard or the trajectory of a fly ball. To those who believe "there isn't a bad seat in the park," I recommend sitting in the upper right field stands.

* And finally, they have added more program vendors now that they are not needed after a disastrous opening week's games when they were needed and didn't have enough.

I think these negatives are important to note, and hopefully others will add to the list. Otherwise, management will think they've done all they can for the unwashed masses. We all know they've done everything that can be done for the privileged visitors.

Donald Klein

Baltimore

Whose Fault?

Well, another month, another march. There goes the mayor again, on his knees to Washington, alternately begging and berating George Bush to come bail out the City of Baltimore.

It's a sight we've all grown used to, along with the annual pilgrimage to Annapolis, wearing out the knees of the trousers both ways.

When did we become so helpless? When did we decide that only intervention by God or the federal government could solve our problems?

Most of us can remember the early 1960s when Baltimore got virtually no federal aid of any sort and yet the city was richer and safer than it is today.

The poorest areas of the city were safer then than Charles Street is today. We had fewer kids born out of wedlock and more high school graduates; who wouldn't trade what we have today for what we had then?

Is this George Bush's fault? The federal government has spent tens of millions of dollars to make West Baltimore look like East Berlin; is this what we're pleading for? Is this why the mayor is weeping on the sidewalks of Washington, D.C.? Does he want to build more slums?

Somehow we used to get by with zero from Washington. We didn't have all this neat public housing with chain link balconies, but we did have a middle class downtown.

So we didn't need federal dollars to build more housing, to build more jails, to hire more civil servants so we could scream for more dollars. Now the federal dollars roll in and the derelicts roll in and the middle class rolls out.

That's not George Bush's fault. Save the limo fare; Baltimore's future -- if it has one -- is in Baltimore.

Let me put it to you this way. Pittsburgh is a city about the same size, with about the same mix of race and class that we have. In 1990 Baltimore had 384 murders. Pittsburgh had 67.

What magic thing did George Bush do in Pittsburgh that he didn't do here? How did George Bush turn Pittsburgh around?

Think about it.

John Heasley

Ellicott City

Settlements

Your repeated characterization (most recently in your editorial of May 13) of Israeli settlements on the West Bank as "obstacles to peace" is at best disingenuous.

These "settlements" are, in fact, nothing more than groups of Jews who have bought land in territory whose final status remains unclear under international law.

These settlements are obstacles only if your idea of "peace" includes yet another Middle Eastern state in which Jews are, because of their religious beliefs, forbidden to own property.

The real obstacles to peace in the Middle East include the following: the PLO's continued commitment (expressly called for in the Palestinian National Covenant) to the destruction of Israel; the refusal of Arab states (other than Egypt) to recognize Israel; the transfer of American military equipment from Saudi Arabia to Syria; the continuing attacks by Arab terrorist groups on Jewish civilian targets throughout the world; and the ongoing support of terrorism by, for example, Syria and Iran.

Sandra and Eliot Shimoff

Baltimore

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