But poetry won't pay the bills | Nov. 19
Teaching students practical skills
Martin Steele's problem is not unique to the current economic downturn. Few poets have ever made a living from their art. T.S. Eliot was a banker; Wallace Stevens was an insurance executive.
At the University of South Florida, we've found a way for students to excel in literature while building practical skills that beef up resumes and keep graduates out of the unemployment lines. The English department offers a major in writing and technology that allows students to study Shakespeare and Keats but also develop practical skills writing content for websites and social media, creating marketing material, and developing software documentation.
Students also complete a one-semester internship with a company in the Tampa Bay area. During the two years that I've coordinated the program, we've placed over 50 interns with two dozen companies. It's a good way for our university to understand the needs of the local business community. And it's one way that students like Steele, excited by writing, can get the tools necessary to find a job in the present tough marketplace.
Michael L. Shuman, Tampa
Romney slammed for remarks | Nov. 16
We worked for principles
I listened to Mitt Romney giving the excuse for losing the election that President Barack Obama handed out gifts for support. Well, Romney still has it wrong.
I worked in the Obama campaign for many months in my little area in Florida with hundreds of others. We were 99 percent volunteer. We gave our time making thousands of phone calls, walking hundreds of streets and ringing doorbells to promote the president. We donated our money — in small amounts — used our cellphones to make calls, used our gas to drive around neighborhoods to canvass and to take people to the polls, and we sat out in the sun for hours registering voters.
We did it all for free because we felt Obama was the person who had our back; we took responsibility and we had his back.
Everett Houghtalen, New Port Richey
Socialite not a fit for Tampa society | Nov. 18
Broadwell should be focus
I am continually amazed each day I open your paper that Jill Kelley and her sister are page one news. The first day or so was interesting, but come on. Shouldn't the story be about Paula Broadwell?
As far as we know, Jill Kelley did not have any affair with any general. That her sister is in debt and may or not be a nice person is not really relevant in my mind. Why are they the only focus of your paper?
Listen, I don't have a dog in this fight, but after continually reading the same things about the sisters in your paper, I am drawn to conclude that you just want to keep the issue "hot" until either something eventually does come out about them that is scandalous, or reporters can finally get some information on the real issue — the affair.
What involvement did Kelley have in the affair? None as far as you have reported, other than to have a "socialite" relationship with a lot of big names including David Petraeus and getting the "threatening" emails from Broadwell.
I'm confident that many civilians are involved in social events for our military all around the country. Is it really news that Jill Kelley name-drops, or embellishes her position? If you had cocktails with major players on the world scene, I suspect you would too. It's the moth to the flame theory — and not very worthy news.
Craig Kaelin, Tampa
Thank you to the journalists who have been exploring the Jill Kelley story. The professional way in which the reporters have collected and expressed their data is exceptional.
After listening to "talking heads" on television about the issue, it is refreshing to pick up a newspaper and read information directly from the reporters, not second-hand from CNN or Fox researchers who feed the "talking heads."
We search for the truth on the Internet but have difficulty finding it among the millions of opinions and half-truths that flood it. Long live the free press as expressed in the country's newspapers, our last bastion of intellectual freedom.
Gloria Beek, Largo
Medical insurer dispute grows | Nov. 2
Money is the issue
No wonder your news reporting largely ignores the battle between BayCare hospitals and UnitedHealthcare's Medicare Advantage insurance program; they both pay you to splatter pages of your newspaper with unverifiable "facts."
BayCare claims "your health is important to us." This is about as believable as "your call is important to us." From the standpoint of a user of hospital services, it seems more like "your money is important to us." We are held hostage to an effort to extort more money from one side to another.
Contract law, courts, judges and lawyers operate a system to work out these disputes. Let that system work.
John P. Fernsler, Oldsmar
Secession petitions spreading | Nov. 17
Today's Republicans are such sore losers. In days gone by, members of the losing party said to themselves, "Well, the other party's candidate won fair and square, so now we all have to get behind the new president and help him succeed."
But within 24 hours after Barack Obama being elected in 2008, Mitch McConnell and other top Republicans announced that their No. 1 objective would not be to improve the economy or end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but to see that Obama was a one-term president. And when Obama was re-elected this month, many Republicans signed petitions seeking secession from the union.
These people remind me of spoiled brats on a playground. If things don't go their way, they want to pick up their marbles and go home.
James Nelson, Largo
Girl, 13, is killed racing to her bus | Nov. 17
As a longtime Times reader and local hospice physician, I am profoundly disappointed in the choice of an opening sentence in this article: "Andrea Bower had perfect attendance, but on Friday she missed the bus."
This comment, leading a piece regarding the accidental death of a 13-year-old attempting to catch her school bus, demonstrates a startling lack of sensitivity.
Dorry Norris, St. Petersburg