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Mike Luckovich | Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Lisa Benson | Washington Post Writers Group

Saturday's letters: Proceed with caution on electronic learning

Thank you for publishing Nicholas Carr's cautions about e-books. Before spending precious education dollars for e-books, we need to further evaluate their advantages and disadvantages. In particular, will students learn more or less with e-books?

Research will be helpful here. Carr summarizes a smattering of recent studies confirming what many would guess: Learning is reduced with e-books. More studies are sure to become available over the next few years.

Why might electronic displays be deficient? One reason is that the display "pulses" about one hundred times a second. We don't see this refresh process because our brain smooths out the signal before we consciously experience the display. Nevertheless, this requires some unconscious work by our brain, and it may affect learning.

Also, as Carr learned from his reading, the processes of localizing and navigating that are so natural with conventional books can be absent with e-books.

I am not against technology; indeed, e-books open up possibilities, and I do much reading on the computer. However, we must be careful with developing minds. Wisdom says think (and do research) before spending. For e-books, the jury hasn't returned yet.

Thomas Sanocki, Ph.D., professor of psychology, USF, Tampa

Paper beats plastic

I agree with the opinion piece that stated that e-readers are not without their shortcomings.

I would also opine that a paper book has a soul, while an e-reader book is a sterile, antiseptic experience at best.

A paper book has character. The rough feel of the pages of a mystery pulp magazine from the '40s, the heady aroma of the pages from a well-thumbed comic book from the '60s, the automatic falling open of a book to the pages most often turned to by the reader — a paper book provides a tactile experience, a leisurely visit with an old friend. An e-reader book is a meeting with a business acquaintance.

Tom Takach, St. Petersburg


Watch out for coyotes

I have read numerous reports of coyotes in south St. Petersburg but had never seen one until last week. I was exiting I-275 at 54th Avenue S around 8:45 a.m. in fairly heavy traffic and a very large and very healthy coyote ran in front of me across the ramp.

I have owned a cabin in Arizona and seen numerous coyotes, but never one this big and healthy. I am positive it was a coyote; he (males are usually larger) must be feeding on trash from the restaurants on 34th Street S. I would estimate his weight to be around 40 pounds. From the way he timed running through traffic, he is very city-savvy.

Anyone in this part of town should be careful about letting small pets out unattended. A cat or small dog would be easy prey for this skilled hunter that apparently is able to survive in almost any environment.

Scott Nelms, St. Petersburg

Dress code

Disrespectful appearance

I am a Catholic in my 80s. I have never witnessed such disrespectful dress in church, especially from men, as now. They come to the house of God on Sunday as if they were in a supermarket. Many Catholic men dress better on the golf course than they do going to Mass. This insult to God in his house of prayer is absolutely uncalled for.

Some will say, "God does not care how you dress as long as you go to Mass." That is hogwash. It shows lack of respect for his house of prayer. These men who choose to dress like that would never be allowed in any Protestant church. Protestants have more respect for the house of God than many Catholics. I have even seen some men on the altar in shorts. If that is not disrespectful, I don't know what is.

Russell Montminy, Spring Hill

Of course it's ugly, but government is working | Aug. 15, commentary

The corporate state

According to Charles Krauthammer, our government is working fine. I'm sure it is for Krauthammer. He has been a leading voice for turning the government for the people and by the people into a corporate state.

Is it a healthy government that allows corporations to be granted personhood through the Supreme Court, letting them flood our political system with money and influence? Is it a healthy government to have vast armies of lobbyists that scour Washington to water down or change and rewrite major legislation?

And then he points to the debt deal as evidence that our system is working. Because of the tea party, this country almost defaulted on its bills. That's a sign that our government is working? I guess it is for Krauthammer because he and his wealthy think-tank members didn't have to make any financial sacrifices. Those will be for those of us who will rely on Social Security and Medicare.

Scott Shoup, Tampa

Life, after threats, can turn around | Aug. 19

A refreshing view

I congratulate the Times on this article. It took a fresh, and refreshing, angle on a too-familiar scenario. Moreover, it offers some needed encouragement to folks who work in the justice system with hopes that our actions may sometimes, eventually, alter the course of young lives for the better.

Jack Day, Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court judge, St. Petersburg

Rep. Nugent town hall

On the government payroll

I recently attended a town hall meeting by U.S. Rep. Richard Nugent, R-Spring Hill, and learned some interesting things about him.

He had been a police officer, a noble profession, for 37 years. Therefore, the taxpayer has been a source of his income for a very long time. I wonder if he has ever held a position in the private sector that created jobs. He made complimentary comments regarding his wife, an educator, also a noble profession. However, each of these occupations is supported by the taxpaying public.

One wonders how Nugent can be so opposed to taxes when they provided his income for most of his adult life. I also found his understanding of the complex interrelationships of business, finance and economics to be very shallow. He seems to be unwilling or unable to grasp the role that taxes play in maintaining a civil society.

Bob Bucklin, Zephyrhills

Get your security dodges down pat | Aug. 14

Invasive screenings

I am a few years short of retirement age and have had a hip and knee replacement. Every time I fly, I am singled out for an invasive patdown. Even though my doctor has issued me official cards for my replaced parts, the Transportation Security Administration refuses to acknowledge them.

It seems the only people being grabbed are the elderly and the handicapped. I consider this a form of discrimination.

Nancy Gorski, Madeira Beach

Improve oversight, save lives Aug. 14, editorial

Dignity for all Floridians

A million thanks to the St. Petersburg Times and Miami Herald for publicizing the dirty secret of elder abuse and neglect by the for-profit industry.

It is sincerely hoped that the appointment of Sens. Mike Fasano and Ronda Storms, both dedicated and caring legislators, to an oversight committee will bring much-needed attention and action resulting in compassionate and decent treatment of Florida's elders in assisted living facilities.

As a civilized society, we have an ethical and moral obligation to care for our elderly and frail citizenry. All Floridians deserve dignity and respect, not abuse and neglect.

Austin R. Curry, executive director, Elder Care Advocacy of Florida, Tampa

Saturday's letters: Proceed with caution on electronic learning 08/19/11 [Last modified: Friday, August 19, 2011 2:09pm]
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