Letters

Giving Credit Where Proper Credit Is Due
Matt Zoller Seitz's "Cyberdreams" [News, December 1] is a well-written and pretty darn thorough history of the making of No Resistance.

One thing worth noting, however: in addition to directing, cowriting, shooting and editing the project, Tim Thomson -- not me -- was also its producer. Likewise, I think he deserves to be credited as such.

Michael H. Schneider Jr.
Coproducer, No Resistance
Houston

Smoking Out That Dunce Dunnington
In response to Mr. Wilson [News, "Hard Habit to Break," by D.J. Wilson, December 1], Dr. Dunnington is aptly named. He has been dunning the researchers at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center for years concerning the Council for Tobacco Research, simply because the money that funds basic research comes from the tobacco companies. In truth, the Council for Tobacco Research in no way seeks to influence the results of basic research, nor do they suppress the results. It is a constant wonder that the tobacco companies continue to deny the proven detrimental effects of tobacco on health, but how many times have studies and statistics been used erroneously to justify a position? If we banned research on the basis of our fears that the information might be misconstrued or misused, the atom bomb, for example, would be nothing but a twinkle in Einstein's eye, but positive uses of atomic science would not exist and not much research would be done.

Why has Dr. Dunnington zeroed in on the Council for Tobacco Research? Other nonprofit organizations that support research have tobacco company funding, including the Council for Indoor Air Research in Maryland and private foundations funded through the personal fortunes of such tobacco families as R.J. Reynolds. I am sure that the Research Triangle in North Carolina would not exist in its present world class form without tobacco money.

The truth is that research dollars are dwindling. For the first time in decades, the amount of research funding available from the federal government is declining. Private sources of funding are vital to the future of basic research in this country, research that has helped make America the foremost center for scientific and medical expertise in the world.

I am at a loss to understand the attitude of people like Dr. Dunnington. If the tobacco companies are the death-breathing dragons that he proclaims they are, why should they not be allowed to fund research that may help save the lives of their victims? Nay, they should be allowed to fund research to combat the harm they have caused, whether they admit it or not.

Corporate philanthropy is always based on enlightened self-interest. The only reason any corporation gives money away is to generate positive publicity and to convince the public that they are great guys, even if they laid off Uncle Jim while giving all the fat cat executives multimillion-dollar bonuses. If we disqualified philanthropy on the basis of self-interest, it would all but disappear.

It is a shame that the energy and intelligence of Dr. Dunnington is misguided. If he directed all of his fervor to a cause that made a positive contribution to the lives of people, what a difference he could make in the world.

Anne Oldroyd
Houston

Call Out the Kindergarten Cops, It's Carded Kids
California's Proposition 187 [News, "The Proposition," by Claudia Kolker, November 24] is an oddly shaped Pandorian box lined in prejudgment and curiously colored nationalism. Such measures frighten me. My fears are not for the world today but rather for the world of our children.

My thoughts are of my four-year-old niece Carmen. Will her future career be crushed by the cost of spending $6 billion to register all Social Security card holders? Only adding to the misery of a federal institution moving with velocity toward bankruptcy?

Perhaps the additional cost can be offset by even more repressive payroll taxes. Taxes she will most assuredly curse each and every payday.

The logic of issuing identity cards to toddlers eludes me. To whom will she be required to show her identification before entering the preschool sandbox? Will Social Security cards summarily replace hall passes?

As a young scholar myself, I lost my Green Hornet and Kato lunchbox time without number. I am concerned as to how Carmen will keep track of a hologram emblazoned Social Security card. Mostly my apprehension is for all children beginning life as digits on a page. The above being one role, in one passion play, I wish them to avoid.

Proposition 187 will, at best, create a new currency of identity cards to counterfeit, and, at worst, bind us all tightly in numerical dehumanization.

Neil M. Brady
Houston

What We Say is, Bra, Humbug
Let's get something straight here. "Wonderbras" are as popular to men as toupees are to women [Letters, "Boy Toy," December 1]. Both are trying to sell you a bill of goods. It's just another psychic hoodwink from Madison Avenue. Just say grow.

Layton Payne
Houston

Editor's note: We're not sure what Mr. Payne's experience is, but here we've noticed that we garner much more attention when we wear our Wonderbras than when we wear our toupees. But then again, maybe it's

just us.

 
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