The homelessEveryone has seen the homeless panhandlers...

The homeless

Everyone has seen the homeless panhandlers on the streets of Baltimore. The point to be made is that over the past decade the incidence of homelessness has continued to escalate.


If the homeless had not been invisible to the majority of the population, maybe we would be further along toward a solution or prevention of homelessness.

The Downtown Partnership of Baltimore is upset and annoyed by the homeless. Legislation has been introduced in City Council to prevent aggressive panhandling.


It would be more appropriate if the city agencies charged with the care of the disenfranchised were held accountable. Has there has been any effort to interview or engage the homeless to determine their needs?

Services for homeless are woefully inadequate. I doubt passing legislation will mask the real needs in our society.

Esther R. Reaves


Kevorkian's critics

Responding to Timothy Quill's article "On trial -- how we die" (Sept. 28), I am completely dismayed by the stands taken regarding Jack Kevorkian, the law and health care.

Among many other rights, Americans should have the right to commit suicide if they so desire. And if they don't possess the means to do so, why shouldn't someone be able to help them?

If a man's life is made miserable due to an accident or a terminal illness, can't Dr. Kevorkian be considered merciful by catering to the patient's free will and relieving his suffering?


The law of this country should be on trial. People should have the option to discontinue their lives, and our government should not force those who have no method of committing suicide to live unwillingly.

The reason Dr. Kevorkian is able to perform doctor-assisted suicides "without doubt or personal struggle" is because he remains emotionally detached from patients. This is why he barely knows his patients, as Mr. Quill criticizes.

As for Mr. Quill's attacks on health care, it is not the medical system that leaves patients so desperate.

The current health care system is not to blame for those who develop or contract illnesses that are incurable. The system can only provide a means of relief to such patients, who may opt to relieve their suffering through doctor-assisted suicide.

Allison Hoover



Mail call

If you have mailed a letter in a street mailbox lately, you must have observed that they are a disgrace.

The three mailboxes I recently used were more like trash bins than letter boxes. Rusty, dirty, some with little or no paint and no post office lettering.

Certainly the post office can afford someone and some paint to spruce up its image.

Before they raise the rates, how about raising their image?

Philip E. Cvach



Dollar diplomacy

It is ironic that Saddam Hussein played a major role in "the day of history and hope."

It is scary that the economic incentives resulting from the war with Iraq, and not a substantive change in beliefs, led to the Israeli-PLO peace agreement.

May the results be more than a handshake!

Frederick W. Derrick



In English, there's method to the madness

I am writing in response to Edward Rondthaler's Sept. 30 letter "English should be spelled the way it sounds." Far too many children and adults have difficulty learning to read and write. But changing our writing system so that words are spelled "logically and systematically 'as they sound' " is not the solution to the problem.

The suggestion is not new. Attempts to introduce phonetic writing systems date back more than 100 years.

Perhaps the best known effort in recent times is the "initial teaching alphabet" that had a unique symbol to correspond to each of the 40-odd phonemes (speech sounds) in our language (in contrast to the 26 letters in standard English orthography, many of which correspond to more than one sound).

Evaluations of instructional programs using the ITA provided no evidence that children got off to a better start in reading.


Moreover, it had disadvantages in that parents who were unfamiliar with the system were unable to assist their children with their homework.

In addition, few books were written in the special orthography, so children did not have opportunities to read widely, which is so important to literacy learning.

There is a logical and systematic basis for many of the supposed irregularities in our spelling system: The system is designed to preserve the underlying root meanings of words.

Consider, for example, the word health. If we were to spell that the way it sounds, it would be "helth." Now consider the word heal. There is a common meaning to heal and health currently reflected in the common spelling pattern that would be lost if we were to change the system.

Another example comes from word endings. In English, we indicate that something happened in the past by adding the suffix "ed" to regular verbs.

Thus, for cook we have "cooked." If we were to spell "cooked" as it sounded, our spelling would be cookt. Again, the common root meaning of "in the past" would be lost.


All of the shifts in pronunciation that characterize our current system are in fact based on a system of rules.

What makes more sense than throwing out what we now have is PTC to modify instructional methods to make the rule-based nature of our system more apparent to students.

Linda Baker

Ellicott City

The writer is a professor of psychology at UMBC and a principal investigator at the National Reading Research Center.

Humane Shalala?


This letter is in response to the article "Social Security might close some offices" (Sept. 28).

I am a disabled elderly American. I worked very hard for the Clinton campaign to elect a president "for a change in America." Then he appointed Donna E. Shalala as secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.

I don't doubt the fine qualifications of Shalala, but I do question her attitude toward the disabled and the elderly. She has spent most of her life as an educational administrator rather than as a social work administrator.

One simply cannot apply the principles of educational administration to the problems of the disabled and the elderly. Where are the humane feelings that Clinton once promised, or is he changing his mind again?

I applaud the fine, hard-working Social Security officers who have been more than amicable with me -- I hope that it remains the same.

Elizabeth H. Corey