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Letters to the Editor

Sunday's letters: Racial preferences provoke questions

White doubts reserved for black professionals | Jan. 1, Bill Maxwell column

Preferences provoke questions

I found Bill Maxwell's column extremely offensive. His characterization as racist of Carol Cook's interest in a teacher hiring policy based upon qualifications rather than on color demonstrates his refusal to acknowledge the dynamics at play in America.

Americans are by nature a fair and ethical people who respect accomplishment when viewed as being earned. Maxwell accuses white America of questioning the qualifications of blacks and attributes it to racism. Rather, one's professional qualifications for a job only become an issue if the appointment is perceived to be due to factors other than superior skill. As long as blacks are recipients of affirmative action, preferential treatment in hiring, contracts or college admissions, there will always be a question of whether the best person is being rewarded.

If Maxwell wants to know when whites will stop questioning the qualifications of black people, the answer is obvious. It is when everyone is willing to play by the same rules, and preferences are no longer prevailing policy.

George Post, Clearwater

White doubts reserved for black professionals | Jan. 1, Bill Maxwell column

It's about qualifications

Although I am always pained when hearing of racial discrimination cases, I do not believe School Board member Carol Cook's concern for always hiring the most qualified teachers is inherently racially demeaning or similarly motivated. When I read the article, I reacted exactly as she did. And I, too, simply want the most qualified teachers to be hired for the benefit of my grandchildren.

I see no reason why a black candidate for a teaching position in Pinellas County who feels unjustly passed over for reasons other than qualifications can't appeal the decision, thereby forcing the decisionmaker to prove the superiority of the new hire.

Anita M. Knapp, St. Petersburg

Maddening silence in the lonely universe Jan. 2, commentary

Distances simply too vast

Charles Krauthammer wonders why we have not found any signs of other intelligent species in the universe, and speculates on reasons why there may be few other technological civilizations out there. But taking into account the vast distances in our galaxy, and the limitation of the speed of light, there may well be many other sentient beings sharing our galaxy.

The main thing that the lack of contact with other intelligent creatures indicates is that the speed of light is indeed the universal speed limit. There are no "wormholes" or "warp drives" or Galactic Federation star fleets plying the spacelanes. There are more than 200 billion stars in our galaxy. So if one in a million had a planet with intelligent life, there would be 200,000 other civilizations in the Milky Way.

Yet the closest civilizations would still likely be separated by a thousand light years, so it would take a thousand years for a one-way communication. A new civilization would appear in the galaxy only about once in 10,000 years, so no one would be looking for us to arise. Long-lasting civilizations are likely conserving their resources, so are unlikely to be radiating large quantities of energy for us to detect.

Arthur Volbert, St. Petersburg

Tampa Bay Times

The more things change …

Sometimes there's a comfort in staying the same. Change brings its baggage of uncertainty along with the excitement of something new and different.

What's in a name? A name defines who we are, what we do and what we believe. Change is like a moving train: sometimes slow where you can hardly see the movement; but other times fast, in the blink of eye. Change, like aging, cannot be stopped.

These days, the only change I want is to change into my pajamas and read a good newspaper.

Bill Coleman, Dunedin

Sister act steers circus | Jan. 4

Stop circus cruelty

As the Times reported, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus' very first performance of the year in Tampa was met with a protest, and for good reason.

When not performing, wild animals in circuses spend the majority of their time either confined to a small cage or chained. The training tools — which include bullhooks, whips and electric shocking devices — and cruel methods used to force wild animals to do unnatural stunts could land you in jail if similarly used on dogs and cats. The complex needs of wild animals simply cannot be met under the harsh conditions in a traveling circus.

The House of Representatives is considering a bill to protect wild animals by banning their use in traveling circuses. Please take a moment to write to your member of Congress and ask him or her to support HR 3359, the Traveling Exotic Animal Protection Act.

Matt Rossell, Los Angeles

Cellphones and texting

Fines get drivers' attention

No handheld device should be used while driving. It's plain dangerous. But as long as "everyone's doing it," then everyone will do it.

Thirty-five states have shown the wisdom to ban use of handheld devices while driving. Let's follow suit to save lives and insurance costs. Besides, it's impossible for law enforcement to pinpoint whether a person was texting or just holding their cellphone.

I often visit the Seattle area. Despite the heavy population, the traffic is well controlled. There is a $180 fine for driving with any handheld device and a $150 fine for no seat belt. You have to get people's attention so they behave in an acceptably safe manner; that's what speed limit signs and stoplights are all about.

Susan Schubert, Tampa

Cold snap

Canada returns the favor

Every time a cold air mass sweeps down over the Sunshine State, the local media makes reference to "cold Canadian air."

Truth be known, this cold air mass sweeps down from western Canada, with trajectory southwards across the continental United States, at times reaching the Deep South. However, this same cold air mass arrives in western Canada from Alaska. Being good neighbors, we (in Canada) return it to you.

Perhaps the media should say, "Cold air from Alaska, via Canada, is headed our way."

Phil McLaughlin, Dunedin

Sunday's letters: Racial preferences provoke questions 01/07/12 Sunday's letters: Racial preferences provoke questions 01/07/12 [Last modified: Saturday, January 7, 2012 3:30am]

    

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Letters to the Editor

Sunday's letters: Racial preferences provoke questions

White doubts reserved for black professionals | Jan. 1, Bill Maxwell column

Preferences provoke questions

I found Bill Maxwell's column extremely offensive. His characterization as racist of Carol Cook's interest in a teacher hiring policy based upon qualifications rather than on color demonstrates his refusal to acknowledge the dynamics at play in America.

Americans are by nature a fair and ethical people who respect accomplishment when viewed as being earned. Maxwell accuses white America of questioning the qualifications of blacks and attributes it to racism. Rather, one's professional qualifications for a job only become an issue if the appointment is perceived to be due to factors other than superior skill. As long as blacks are recipients of affirmative action, preferential treatment in hiring, contracts or college admissions, there will always be a question of whether the best person is being rewarded.

If Maxwell wants to know when whites will stop questioning the qualifications of black people, the answer is obvious. It is when everyone is willing to play by the same rules, and preferences are no longer prevailing policy.

George Post, Clearwater

White doubts reserved for black professionals | Jan. 1, Bill Maxwell column

It's about qualifications

Although I am always pained when hearing of racial discrimination cases, I do not believe School Board member Carol Cook's concern for always hiring the most qualified teachers is inherently racially demeaning or similarly motivated. When I read the article, I reacted exactly as she did. And I, too, simply want the most qualified teachers to be hired for the benefit of my grandchildren.

I see no reason why a black candidate for a teaching position in Pinellas County who feels unjustly passed over for reasons other than qualifications can't appeal the decision, thereby forcing the decisionmaker to prove the superiority of the new hire.

Anita M. Knapp, St. Petersburg

Maddening silence in the lonely universe Jan. 2, commentary

Distances simply too vast

Charles Krauthammer wonders why we have not found any signs of other intelligent species in the universe, and speculates on reasons why there may be few other technological civilizations out there. But taking into account the vast distances in our galaxy, and the limitation of the speed of light, there may well be many other sentient beings sharing our galaxy.

The main thing that the lack of contact with other intelligent creatures indicates is that the speed of light is indeed the universal speed limit. There are no "wormholes" or "warp drives" or Galactic Federation star fleets plying the spacelanes. There are more than 200 billion stars in our galaxy. So if one in a million had a planet with intelligent life, there would be 200,000 other civilizations in the Milky Way.

Yet the closest civilizations would still likely be separated by a thousand light years, so it would take a thousand years for a one-way communication. A new civilization would appear in the galaxy only about once in 10,000 years, so no one would be looking for us to arise. Long-lasting civilizations are likely conserving their resources, so are unlikely to be radiating large quantities of energy for us to detect.

Arthur Volbert, St. Petersburg

Tampa Bay Times

The more things change …

Sometimes there's a comfort in staying the same. Change brings its baggage of uncertainty along with the excitement of something new and different.

What's in a name? A name defines who we are, what we do and what we believe. Change is like a moving train: sometimes slow where you can hardly see the movement; but other times fast, in the blink of eye. Change, like aging, cannot be stopped.

These days, the only change I want is to change into my pajamas and read a good newspaper.

Bill Coleman, Dunedin

Sister act steers circus | Jan. 4

Stop circus cruelty

As the Times reported, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus' very first performance of the year in Tampa was met with a protest, and for good reason.

When not performing, wild animals in circuses spend the majority of their time either confined to a small cage or chained. The training tools — which include bullhooks, whips and electric shocking devices — and cruel methods used to force wild animals to do unnatural stunts could land you in jail if similarly used on dogs and cats. The complex needs of wild animals simply cannot be met under the harsh conditions in a traveling circus.

The House of Representatives is considering a bill to protect wild animals by banning their use in traveling circuses. Please take a moment to write to your member of Congress and ask him or her to support HR 3359, the Traveling Exotic Animal Protection Act.

Matt Rossell, Los Angeles

Cellphones and texting

Fines get drivers' attention

No handheld device should be used while driving. It's plain dangerous. But as long as "everyone's doing it," then everyone will do it.

Thirty-five states have shown the wisdom to ban use of handheld devices while driving. Let's follow suit to save lives and insurance costs. Besides, it's impossible for law enforcement to pinpoint whether a person was texting or just holding their cellphone.

I often visit the Seattle area. Despite the heavy population, the traffic is well controlled. There is a $180 fine for driving with any handheld device and a $150 fine for no seat belt. You have to get people's attention so they behave in an acceptably safe manner; that's what speed limit signs and stoplights are all about.

Susan Schubert, Tampa

Cold snap

Canada returns the favor

Every time a cold air mass sweeps down over the Sunshine State, the local media makes reference to "cold Canadian air."

Truth be known, this cold air mass sweeps down from western Canada, with trajectory southwards across the continental United States, at times reaching the Deep South. However, this same cold air mass arrives in western Canada from Alaska. Being good neighbors, we (in Canada) return it to you.

Perhaps the media should say, "Cold air from Alaska, via Canada, is headed our way."

Phil McLaughlin, Dunedin

Sunday's letters: Racial preferences provoke questions 01/07/12 Sunday's letters: Racial preferences provoke questions 01/07/12 [Last modified: Saturday, January 7, 2012 3:30am]

    

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