Smartphones and the end of smarts | Nov. 13, commentary
Getting past blissful ignorance
Daniel Sarewitz ably discusses the modern obsession with instant information offered by smartphones. There is an inevitable caveat expressed by the happily cynical English poet Alexander Pope: "A little learning is a dangerous thing; drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring."
This brings us to the sobering question: Who is providing the instant information so grandly appreciated by all users? Sarewitz mentions the luxury of reading a condensed War and Peace, but someone read it and wrote the condensed version.
In the future, all smartphone users will be intellectually at the mercy of a small cadre of those with vast, rich knowledge and who therefore have the power to prevail.
Do we dare to risk that? It's all very well to enjoy the bliss of ignorance, of superficial knowledge. What of those who "drink deep" of the Pierian spring?
Abigail Ann Martin, Brandon
Dear President Obama: You lied Nov. 14, commentary
President Barack Obama clarified his "if you like your insurance, you can keep your insurance" statement during his news conference. The president said that his statement included the 95 percent who have insurance coverage issued by their employer. He considered that a percentage of the remainder would favor Affordable Care Act marketplace policies that would offer better insurance coverage. Leonard Pitts' blanket "lied" assertion is baseless and demeaning to Obama.
I am disgusted at all of the actual "lying" that currently passes for the truth. Since 2010 the ACA has made a positive impact on the population and slowed the annual increase in health policy costs, and yet we scream about the rollout. Be patient; the sun will shine again.
James Gregor, Brandon
Leonard Pitts' sadness on President Barack Obama's incorrect promise is instructive on two big ideas. First, Pitts insists the "rules" are different for this president. Second, Pitts is bothered that the injury of untruthfulness adds insult to the whiff of incompetency. Nowhere does Pitts question the shifting tectonic plates upon which the president's signature achievement — and mendacity — were constructed.
A president's exotic background is not a legitimate basis for enjoying different rules for competency and pragmatism. If the leader of the free world lacks certain skill sets, and screws up a lot, the "movement" is invited to try harder with a proven leader — and perhaps better ideas — next time.
As for pragmatic ideas, the Obamacare calamity offers an opportunity to re-examine our foundations of caring, fairness, liberty, authority and sanctity. I'm convinced America's center-right heart defines and balances these ideas better than progressive movement leaders. One party asking bureaucrats to take over one-sixth of the U.S. economy is wrongheaded. I join Pitts in profound sadness on flawed ideas — not flawed thinkers.
Gary Harrington, St. Petersburg
'GMA' reporter has cancer | Nov. 12
Healing and survival
ABC News correspondent Amy Robach's recent decision to undergo mastectomy and breast reconstruction after learning the results of a televised mammogram is a courageous act that highlights an important shift in our national dialogue on breast cancer.
In addition to screening and prevention, we are now experiencing a much-needed discussion of healing and survival. The empowerment of women from diagnosis to recovery is at the very heart of this conversation.
As the medical specialty responsible for thousands of breast reconstructions each year, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons emphasizes that breast cancer care includes, at minimum, a breast surgeon, oncologist, plastic surgeon, radiologist and gynecologist. A strong team approach presents women with all the options available, enabling them to take ownership of their treatment.
We are proud to have drafted and introduced the Breast Cancer Patient Education Act, bipartisan legislation that ensures all women know their breast reconstruction options at the time of breast cancer diagnosis. This year more than 200,000 women will be diagnosed with the disease. We have both a medical and moral obligation to make healing and survival a key part of our national dialogue.
We applaud Robach for lending her voice to the growing chorus of women championing a narrative of healing, survival and empowerment during the breast cancer journey.
Robert X. Murphy Jr., M.D., Bethlehem, Pa.
Kerry, Biden seek time to negotiate with Iran Nov. 14
Diplomacy yields progress
The success of U.S.-Iran negotiating efforts demonstrates that when our nations commit to serious diplomacy, historic progress is possible. The United States and Iran are in reach of a deal to guard against a nuclear-armed Iran and a devastating war. Congress should not sabotage this diplomatic victory with new sanctions and saber-rattling measures that would jeopardize the progress our diplomats have worked so hard to achieve.
I hope Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio vote against new sanctions and publicly support efforts toward a diplomatic resolution of the decadelong standoff over Iran's nuclear program.
Melissa Buhler, St. Petersburg
Braves eyeing new ballpark | Nov. 12
Gifts for the wealthiest
Our "peculiar institution" of governmental largess to professional sports teams seems to be the elephant in the room that almost all news publications ignore. I observed no squeals of indignation from you or other news sources when reporting on the Atlanta Braves' impending move from downtown Atlanta because they want a new stadium largely paid for by government.
The city has refused to provide an unneeded new stadium, so the team is taking its marbles to a new stadium to be paid for by Cobb County politicians. They have of course trotted out the idea that the people (government) will end up profiting in the long run. This proposition is demonstrably untrue. The only people to benefit are some of the already richest plutocratic members of our society, the team's owners. Make no mistake: This is not Green Bay where the citizens own the team.
Where are those staunch defenders of conservative values, the tea partiers, the Republican Party? Nowhere on this issue. They are busy holding down teachers' salaries. There's not enough money for new schools or new infrastructure, but enough for gifts to the wealthiest.
Michael McDaniel, St. Petersburg