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Write On

Posted 2/14/2007

Thanks for "The End of U" (Feature, Feb. 7). It was almost as satisfying as hearing the news of Stephen Dixon's retirement in person in his dark hallway on the north wing of Gilman Hall. I went back there frequently as a student of his, and for those first three years never knew he was famous. I was that clueless and he was just that humble, but this arrangement works well. It means that every now and then I find out that several thousand more people admire someone I know only as a friend. He will be missed.

Lionel Foster

The Colin Factor

Thank you, Russ Smith, for saying what I have said for years about Jesse "Pampers" Jackson and Al "Of No Use" Sharpton (Right Field, Feb. 7). How dare Joe Biden call them to apologize for telling the truth as white male political America sees it!

Now onto explaining why Barack Obama's rise to "celebrity" has to do more with the "Colin factor" than his qualifications to be president. Years ago my brother's white girlfriend and I discussed why white people love Colin Powell. She said it's as much about him looking "half-white" and making them feel comfortable as it is his intelligence and qualifications. I'm surprised how many friends have called during the recent governor's election laughing about finally seeing the Colin factor. Martin O'Malley didn't think we wouldn't notice how his running mate looked like Obama, and most of The Sun's candidate predictions had the Colin factor. Sorry, Hillary Clinton, but I don't see dolls in your future!

I personally don't think loving Oprah Winfrey and trying to quit smoking qualifies Obama to be president, but if these are his only faults and he's not chasing interns and humiliating his family (or this country), then let the Colin factor carry on.

Sharon Wright

Smoke and Dagger

Please allow me to summarize the underlying argument smokers are using to continue with smoking in bars ("Kicking Against The Pricks [and Creeps]," The Mail, Jan. 31): "We were here first." Sound familiar? It should, especially to third-graders. No matter the sophistry used by smokers and those who stand to profit from their business, this simple statement highlights the elementary-school logic being used to continue the unwanted pulmonary assault on nonsmokers who wish to be social and/or earn a living wage at a bar.

Arguments of revenue loss have been proven false time and time again, not only in our own country but in various European countries as well. Consider the once permissible use of lead in paint and asbestos in insulation. Hindsight has shown us the detriment caused by these agents such that their use is no longer permitted in places of human habitation. As with smoking, these things were once thought harmless, but years of research have demonstrated that this is clearly not the case.

Arguments whining about the loss of a smoker's freedom to inflict their personal, repugnant habit and its health implications on bystanders only hearken back to the "I-was-here-first-so-my-point-is-correct" assertion. Sure, it sucks to have liberties taken away, but I will not sympathize with smokers who have nothing more to their argument than a child has on a dodge-ball court.

Sulk as you may, it is only matter of time before I, as a nonsmoker, will wake up after a night of socializing with friends and strangers that will not result in my hacking up a lung in the shower.

Nick Valentine

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