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Embrace English nuances

One thing Audrey Van Buskirk can tell her son, Luke, regarding phonetic inconsistencies in English spelling is that they represent the history of a wonderfully inclusive language (Does spelling matter?, Life with Children, Nov. 6).

The 'ph' in chlorophyll is from Greek. The 'f' in coniferous is from Latin. The many languages that have contributed to what we speak and write today have produced a nuanced tongue with a thrilling past. Its inconsistencies tell stories; embrace them, don't erase them.

Johanna Cummings

Southwest Portland

People eat fast food for taste, not health

We, as consumers, want to know the price of the Whopper, Big Mac or whatever (Menu-label law may be hard to swallow, Nov. 6).

As a general rule of thumb, if we are choosing to eat at a chain restaurant, it's because we know what the food is going to taste like, and it's what we want. How many grams of sugar, fat, calories and protein are in it is way down on our list of concerns. This law needs to be repealed.

Don K. Hogan

Hillsboro

Give customers all the nutrition facts

Personally, I think these menu changes are for the better (Menu-label law may be hard to swallow, Nov. 6).

Any moron knows that a Big Mac has a lot of calories, but it will let people make choices based on more complete information. It might help prevent eateries from marketing 'healthy' salads that surpass the fat content of hamburgers.

Restaurants display their prices so people know how much it will hit their wallet - and now people can see how much the food will hit their bodies. I don't see a problem with that.

Michael Caputo

Southwest Portland

Editorials should hold GOP feet to fire

Your editorial 'Democrats must not overreach' (Insight, Nov. 6) amused me.

Where have similar editorials been as the Republicans shredded our constitution and threw us so deeply in debt that our great-grandchildren still will be paying off President Bush's disasters?

With all the nifty tax cuts for the wealthy, they're pretty much exempted from this scenario, no?

The Portland Tribune endorsed Smith, who voted for more than 90 percent of Bush's abominations.

Sen. Gordon Smith tried to force his religious beliefs on Oregonians with his support of the flawed federal Defense of Marriage Act and had his meetings with Donald Rumsfeld to try to undercut our Death with Dignity law, among other things.

How about an editorial that examines the phony brand of 'conservatism' which the Republicans claim to own and how empty it has become?

With regard to your call for the current Congress to 'enact an economic-recovery plan' even before Barack Obama is sworn in, I'm sure Smith will step right up to the plate and work in a bipartisan manner on that, won't he?

If you believe that, I've got this bridge in Sellwood - it's in wonderful shape, want a great deal on it?

Michael Warner

Oak Grove

Custodians' plight shows unions' worth

It just stinks what the school district is doing to these custodians (Custodians fight recent layoffs, Oct. 30). Hang your heads in shame, whoever you are that is allowing this to go through.

Just remember, folks, that without the union these people would have been let go long ago.

This is more evidence as to why we need the unions in America, where $700 billion is handed to a bunch of bank executives, but selfish greed-mongers running our schools don't want to pay livable wages to people who keep the schools livable.

Al Margulies

Northwest Portland

Pikeminnows foul aquatic ecosystems

I fished the Rogue River several months ago and the pikeminnows are present there, too (Wanted, dead or alive: Pikeminnows, Oct. 16).

I caught a handful of 6-inchers from the faster water, but several guys said they had caught 12- to 16-inchers in the deeper holes.

I was told that these aliens entered via a breached Grants Pass pond during a flood back in the early '90s. This is troubling to me, since the Rogue is a river designated for more 'wild fish' restoration efforts, despite the changes in the water quality brought on by the dams, which is conducive to thriving populations of aliens.

So, how do we eliminate them?

Bill Hunt

Lebanon

Teach real meaning of 'share the road'

There is an unfortunate tendency for cyclists and motorists alike to assume that 'share the road' means that bicyclists should cower on the sidewalks and road shoulders, then dart out into traffic as a last resort.

The only way to correct this misperception will be through aggressive education and marketing. To this extent, I worry that Portland State University researcher Jennifer Dill's message may work against what the Bicycle Transportation Coalition is trying to accomplish (Bike lanes work, PSU professor says, Oct. 16).

I would love to get the ride-mode split in Washington County up to near the 15 percent number reported by various European cities.

In that case, Dill could follow up with another study to ascertain whether or not the cycling-specific infrastructure is more dangerous. That is a dilemma I would welcome with open arms.

D. Jason Penney

Washington County Bicycle Transportation Coalition chairman

Aloha

License tracking not possible in the '80s

The Portland Tribune story about the system that photographs license plates automatically as officers cruise Portland streets and links to a database to identify vehicle registration and stolen cars, downplays the 'big brother' implications (We could all be tracked, Oct. 9).

Perhaps that's the reason for an obvious misrepresentation in the story. The story reassuringly states that 'European law enforcement agencies have used the system since the mid-'80s.'

Technology for computers, GPS, digital cameras and the Internet was not sufficiently developed at that time to support the system described in the Tribune article.

Michael O'Rourke

Northeast Portland

Benson fills vital educational needs

As a junior at Benson High School, it angers me that the district wants to close Benson or even change it (Alumni rally for Benson, Oct. 9).

I feel that it shouldn't be changed, and the kids who want to major in a technical profession should apply to go there and then write an essay on why they want to go to Benson, as they have done in the past.

I think it would not only bring up the test scores and make Benson stronger, but also eliminate the students who go to Benson only because they don't want to go to their neighborhood school.

I'm hoping that the district reconsiders its decision to close Benson and that it will continue to stay open and teach future workers.

Matt Kienberger

Southeast Portland