We applaud technology, as we should. Though sometimes we go too far.
Let's take the virtual school. Many more are enrolling in virtual school, where they stay home and work on the computer, speaking to a teacher. I believe this is taking the fun out of being a kid.
Going to school in the '60s and '70s, even the '80s, was exciting. Remember lying in bed hearing your mother yell for you to get up and get ready for school? You enter the kitchen all groggy; your mom in her housedress fixes you breakfast. Then you walk out the door with your cartoon character lunch box. You meet your friends and take that hike to school on foot.
You line up in the schoolyard waiting to enter the four-story brick building with the smell of the lunchroom throughout. You start class at 9 a.m., go to lunch at noon, go to gym at 1 p.m. and exercise for 40 minutes. The bell rings at 3 p.m. on the nose. You gather your books and run out of the school as happy as can be.
Now with the virtual school taking over, all the fun will be gone. Kids are going to get more obese than they are now. I can see them now: Kids sitting in their room, on their computer taking school lessons and having a bag of potato chips, a can of soda next to them for the entire session.
Does virtual school have you do exercise? Is anyone there to supervise you? They say it saves money, and they say they are making money.
I say keep the kids in real schools, where they can learn and exercise.
Steve Pappas, Spring Hill
Scientology dissent from within | Jan. 4
Vendetta against the church
Like a trout rising to the fly, the Times cannot help itself in seizing on the lies and exaggerations of anyone critical of Scientology to continue its vendetta against our church.
Surely, the Times jests in terming Debbie Cook's claims "one of the most significant challenges" for the church. Cook's unique interpretation of church doctrine and ecclesiastical policy is a reflection of her association with other apostates and heretics and is not shared by church parishioners.
If these false claims warranted front-page coverage, then where was the front-page story on our new church right in Tampa, funded through parishioner support and opened on the centennial of our founder? Where were the cover stories on the new Ideal Churches opened from Moscow to Washington and most recently in Inglewood, Calif. — each the result of grants of millions of dollars from the International Association of Scientologists and its U.S. affiliate?
And where were the headline articles on all the church has done to further disseminate Scientology and its scripture, including the establishment of state-of-the-art publishing facilities and a 185,000-square-foot Dissemination Center multiplying the production and distribution of the materials supporting our humanitarian programs tenfold for virtually the same cost? The only "challenge" is how next will the Times choose to ignore the church's ongoing expansion, funded by the generous contributions of its parishioners.
Of course, it would not be a Times editorial without the mindless, reflexive attack on Scientology's tax-exempt status.
This latest Times piece may represent a new low for arrogance and hypocrisy. Through more than 35 years of coverage, the Times has never missed an opportunity to denigrate the church's religious belief system, to ridicule its leaders and members, or to belittle or ignore its many accomplishments. For a newspaper to now campaign against the personal choice of parishioners to support their religion reeks of duplicity and superciliousness. At least your readers may feel confident that nothing has changed in the "new" Tampa Bay Times.
Karin Pouw, Church of Scientology International, Los Angeles
Romney wins momentum | Jan. 11
Whole quote tells story
In the article about Mitt Romney's win in New Hampshire, you tried to be neutral but your left-wing brain prevented it. In paragraph 10, the article says: "Critics seized on a comment Romney made Monday, which was taken out of context, about consumers choosing their own health insurance providers: 'I like being able to fire people who provide me services.' "
By not providing the full remark, you managed to leave his statement (above ) out of context.
The entire remark was: "That means the insurance company will have an incentive to keep you healthy. It also means that if you don't like what they do, you could fire them. I like being able to fire people who provide services to me. You know, if someone isn't giving the good service, I want to say, I'm going to go get someone else to provide this service."
All of us fire some person or some company that doesn't provide the service we pay for, whether it's the guy who mows the lawn, or sells us a product he won't stand behind, or a doctor who doesn't show interest in your medications before ordering another one that reacts with the ones you are taking.
Sal Reale, Seminole
What about the uninsured?
In listening to Mitt Romney's victory speech in New Hampshire, and to the other candidates competing for the highest office in the nation, I hear that one of the first things they plan to do, if elected, is to eliminate Obamacare.
More than 40 million Americans lack health insurance. In a recent article, it was stated that "21 percent of Floridians and 13 percent of all children have no health care coverage." What will become of these citizens? What, where and how will they have any type of medical coverage?
Leonora Bucci, Zephyrhills
Where are the liberals? | Jan. 11, commentary
Money changes everything
I greatly respect and admire David Brooks, but I must call attention to a critical omission in his lament about the relative silence of liberals.
Success in American politics is commonly related to the size of the funding with which the candidate can buy "public relations" and advertising. Hypnotic media facilitate shrewd, misleading and often deliberately dishonest messages that lead too many good American people to vote against their own interests.
Need I ask which political and social spectrum enjoys more of the staff of (political) life?
Seymour S. Bluestone, Clearwater
Why is Americans Elect the most important development in our electoral process since the Voting Rights Act of 1965? As a nation, we have allowed wealthy special interests and corporations a free hand in determining our federally elected representatives. Using the Internet, Americans Elect will consolidate our voices and votes using a reasonable debate approach to find reasonable candidates.
Americans Elect is not a third party; it is a process by which Americans shape political debate. One person with a great idea now has a platform from which he or she can influence other Americans in an open and transparent debate. Voters give candidates the platform issues, rather than accepting whatever platform the candidate might choose to offer. There is no requirement for candidates to leave their existing party.
With Americans Elect, individuals debate and select a candidate without the need to spend millions of dollars. Candidates are not required to be wealthy, sign special interest pledges, or continue pay-to-play politics. It's about time for this change.
Paul Amato, St. Petersburg
Poll shows narrow casino bill support Jan. 11
Get Florida in the game
The Quinnipiac University poll shows Floridians approve of commercial casinos, 48 to 43 percent. Sixty-one percent think casinos will improve the state's economy. Nevertheless, there is considerable doubt that the mega-casinos — employing many thousands directly and indirectly in supporting services — will be approved.
It is time for the Florida Legislature to reconvene and resume their love-fest with the 19th century. Unfortunately for Florida, they don't have the time for their usual horseplay regarding casino gambling.
None of the twenty-six states that host American Indian or commercial casinos intends to revoke gaming. In fact, some intend to expand it. There is only so much investment money. Our weather is most appealing, but plans are also coming into focus for the industry to devote its energies on increasing foreign tourism to Las Vegas and building more casinos in Asia.
Who needs multibillion-dollar destination casinos when we have hole-in-the-wall Internet cafes in depressed neighborhoods? Oh well, book yourselves one heck of a vacation out West!
Gail Smith, Lutz