Tunnel to Nowhere
One might get the impression from Professor Jonathan Bagger's letter (Oct. 8) that the scientific community is virtually unanimous in its support for the superconducting supercollider. This could not be further from the truth.
Thousands of researchers in all fields of science, whose own modest grant proposals are repeatedly rejected for lack of funds, look on in amazement, anger and dismay as the government continues to send half a billion dollars a year digging a 53-mile tunnel to nowhere through the rock beneath the Texas desert, in the name of scientific progress.
The extravagance of the 1980s is over. We must learn, as individuals and as a nation, to distinguish what we need from what we want.
Mr. Bagger may certainly want a superconducting supercollider, but the country just as certainly doesn't need one.
You do not run out and buy a new sports car when you don't have the money to buy the groceries and pay the rent. Similarly, the U.S. government should not be spending $13 billion (and climbing) chasing after Higgs Bosons (whatever they are) when we have 37 million people without health insurance, tens of thousands of homeless families and a $4 trillion national debt that is growing by almost a billion dollars a day.
Many scientists in other fields of research have had enough of the arrogance of high-energy physicists. They seem to feel that they have some form of divine right to stick their hands in the taxpayers' pockets whenever they please, while the rest of us should be content with whatever crumbs fall off the table.
Professor Bagger may feel that the search for Higgs Bosons is more urgent than the search for a cure for cancer. I doubt that many of my patients would agree.
If high-energy physicists want more support from their fellow scientists and from the general public, they should learn to have humility.
Robert J. Yaes
The writer is an assistant professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology at the University of Maryland Medical System.
The article, "Survival Tactics," in the People section Oct. 3 is a good, informative and personal presentation on breast cancer.
It takes highly trained radiologists to recognize the tiny light calcification spots on X-ray film which could be easily overlooked as dust spots or blend into the grain of the film itself.
The cover story photograph showing a mammogram displayed on a light box with a reflection of Venetian blinds on the mammogram is visually aesthetic but is a common example of a poor procedure.
The medical profession and public demand minimal radiation exposures for the patients' safety with just enough emission to produce a readable image. Reading areas for viewing films are often not conductive to making accurate diagnoses.
Currently, technology using automated light scanners to pick up true aberrations in light density are being tested to avoid the pitfalls of human visual interpretation.
In the meantime, films should be viewed in rooms without windows.
Robert L. Schwartz
The writer is a former mammography service engineer.
I regret that your Sept. 28 editorial, "Baltimore's Expanding Inner Harbor," did not mention the coming of the American Visionary Art Museum, which is to be located at the foot of Federal Hill on Key Highway at Covington Street.
Perhaps this is the best kept secret in the Inner Harbor, but groundbreaking for this uniquely designed and critically acclaimed building is scheduled for this November. Completion of the $6.25 million facility is anticipated in June, 1995.
AVAM has been designated by unanimous resolution of Congress as the national repository and education center for American visionary art. Visionary art is art by totally untrained artists who, following no established school of art, produce very extraordinary and highly moving works.
Because of its location and the unusual nature of the art, we believe that both art lovers and people who wouldn't get caught dead in a traditional museum will flock to see the permanent collection and periodic exhibits at AVAM.
Mikulski Becomes Sitting Duck of Criticism
I have supported Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., on a number of issues, but her recent attempts to safeguard the hunting of captive ducks makes her seem like a different person.
Ms. Mikulski has stood up for the rights of individuals. Her unexpectedly callous position in this case may well lose her some friends.
A money-making venture or not, offering up captive-reared ducks to be gunned down amounts to opening a zoo to hunters. Senator Mikulski should realize that.
I would like to commend you on your excellent Sept. 29 editorial. Thank you for courageously exposing Senator Mikulski's politically motivated interference with this serious biological issue.
Regulated shooting areas scattered along Maryland's Eastern Shore have become the privileged playgrounds of the rich and the elite; some of these shooting preserves are owned by the most powerful lobbyists in Washington, who regularly entertain congressmen and their high-priced escorts.
It is shocking that Senator Mikulski is playing political games with the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus, the National Rifle Association and other reckless pro-hunting groups.
She is evidently putting her political profits before the well-being animals and the environment.
Thank you for your well-researched editorial, "Mikulski's Misfire at Sitting Ducks," regarding Sen. Barbara Mikulski's report of the release of captive-reared mallard ducks on regulated shooting areas.
Ms. Mikulski has proven that she is yet another puppet for special interests, such as the National Rifle Association and other pro-hunting groups, and has no regard for the animals, the environment and all of her constituents who counted on her to value both.
Not only is the act of shooting ducks a cruel practice, but one which will be extremely costly for the environment.
Her amendment would risk the spreading of disease to wild ducks, hybridization between released captive-reared mallards and wild ducks and, as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has pointed out, the possible use of captive-reared mallards as illegal decoys for wild ducks.
Was this to be expected of Ms. Mikulski? I suppose so, when one realizes that she must feel somewhat indebted to the pro-hunting DUC-PAC from which she recently received a $1,000 contribution.
Many progressive women like myself voted to re-elect Sen. Barbara Mikulski in 1992 in response to our frustration with the behavior and politics of the "good old boys" in Congress.
Sadly, her recent actions in support of duck hunting suggest that she is behaving like a charter member of this clan.
How can any compassionate and self-respecting person be an advocate of an industry that engages in the release of captive-reared mallards for simple slaughter? What sport is there in shooting a tame mallard in a baited field?
When it comes to captive mallards, it appears that Ms. Mikulski is herself captive to special interests which have contributed to her campaign.
Ms. Mikulski's attempt to block the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from revising regulations governing the shooting of captive-reared mallards not only calls into question her concern for wildlife but also her commitment to legitimate campaign finance reform.