1. Letters to the Editor

Sunday's letters: Gutenberg's giant contribution

Published Nov. 8, 2013

Paper or pixels? | Nov. 3, Perspective

Gutenberg's giant contribution

The article on the continuing and evolving significance of paper in communication did not accurately represent Johannes Gutenberg's contribution to printing. It was far greater than the invention of a printing press. His development of moveable type was a much bigger event in the dissemination of information.

Prior to the Gutenberg Bible, pages in books were copied in their entirety. A letter in a page stayed in that page. All the work that went into creating it, served only once.

Individual carvings of letters created by Gutenberg could be used over and over in the same and other books, which reduced the cost of reproducing any book to a tiny fraction of its former cost.

It had an impact similar to the development of an alphabet that made it possible to write many words with the same elements as opposed to learning hundreds or thousands of different hieroglyphics or characters.

The result was to wrest control of information from church and state, giving the masses access to information.

In the words of Thomas Carlyle, the Scottish historian and philosopher, "He who first shortened the labor of copyists by device of movable types was disbanding hired armies, and cashiering most kings and senates, and creating a whole new democratic world: he had invented the art of printing."

David Cadogan, Gulfport

Decisive win | Nov. 6

Too many stayed away

Why has nobody pointed out that, in a city of a quarter-million people, only 53,000 voted in the mayoral election? The new mayor rode into power with the votes of a whopping 12 percent of the citizenry.

I like Rick Kriseman. I voted for him and I wish him well. But the real winner in this election was, "Who Cares?"

James Barrens, St. Petersburg

Forcing pledge broke rules | Nov. 6

Pledge isn't too much to ask

I read with sadness about a teacher in the Spring Hill area who received a five-day suspension without pay for requiring a child to say the Pledge of Allegiance. Isn't our country fractured enough, or do we need to compound the fracture by making it a "no-no" to expect honor and respect for America and her flag?

Innumerable benefits are made available to virtually anyone for whom our country provides harbor, and countless numbers give absolutely nothing of value in return.

Since we are a kind people, the least we could ask for is that those not inclined to recognize our flag and the customs associated with it to step out of the room while we show our honor and allegiance to America.

Jerry Cristina, Valrico

State asked about child deaths | Nov. 6

Florida's horrible toll

I was stunned to read that more then 40 children are known to have died between January and July of this year while in the care of Florida's child welfare system.

Even more shocking is the report that between Jan. 1 and Oct. 31, 365 children have also died because of abuse. This is a scandal of epic proportions that should be reported on the front page of every newspaper in the state, not buried on Page 5B.

John Waitman, Palm Harbor

Best practices for care

The Florida Department of Children and Families has argued for years in support of its policy of keeping troubled families together. In the wake of the deaths of 25 children known by DCF potentially to be at harm, some have called the policy flawed.

There is no doubt that DCF needs desperately to revamp its child protection system, as there is no excuse for a single death of a child where there are red flags known to DCF investigators. However, the best practice is to always try to keep children in their homes if it can be done so safely.

DCF's interim Secretary Esther Jacobo has agreed that its current risk assessment instrument, used to determine which children are truly at risk, is flawed. Further, there is little evidence in many of the recent deaths that DCF and its community partners implemented protective services, including intensive case management.

With appropriate help and support, many families will be able to safely care for their children when they are watched closely to see if such services address the problems. For others, the risk may be too high and these children must immediately be protected and placed in the supervision of DCF and its community partners.

However, let's not forget that just over 10 years ago, some 50,000 children were in DCF's care. Some children were being harmed by physical and sexual abuse in an overcrowded, dysfunctional foster system. Other children were stuck in this system for many years and endured the permanent scars of emotional neglect.

Somewhere between the family and "the system" there must be a workable solution — appropriately funded by Florida's Legislature — where children are protected and the state of Florida does not become the parent to 50,000 children that it cannot care for without neglecting or re-abusing them.

Howard M. Talenfeld, president, Florida's Children First, Fort Lauderdale

Expert describes what tore hurricane predictions for 2013 apart | Nov. 6

Crystal ball cracked

The comments of "one of the country's top experts" — "We're good at explaining things after the fact," and "Ask me again in five years and I'll definitely be able to tell you" — show that even they have very little confidence in hurricane prognostication.

In August, NOAA announced the season was "shaping up to be above normal." Halfway through, they were still talking about a "big season."

Bill Gray of Colorado State University, after badly missing the mark at the beginning of the season, said at the halfway point, "The second half will be more active."

It is evident that all the crystal balls were in the shop this year. What is the point of these often very wrong predictions? I hope our tax dollars are not being used in these "scientific" seances.

Another article I read said, "Experts don't have a full understanding of hurricane prediction." That about sums it up.

James Woodrow, Bradenton