Finally, the whole argument of genetic and cultural survival is specious. Genetics relies upon change, not sameness. We all have unique characteristics to offer, but offering means accepting as well. It's a two-way street. The interaction of the races can enrich us all, not take away from one or the other.

Brian Behnken
via Internet

Magnificent Seven
In reading S. Whitmarsh's letter it was apparent that she or he did not understand genetics or culture. In terms of genetics, each race does not have what Whitmarsh describes as "unique characteristics and qualities, manifested not only on the obvious physical level, but spiritually as well."

On the physical level, Whitmarsh seems to be focusing only on skin color. What is the cutoff point where one race begins and other one ends? Race is a socially constructed concept because we decide what traits are important for categorization and we do it for political, social, economic and historical reasons.

The writer confuses genetics with social and cultural inheritance. The person assumes that behavioral differences are genetically based when there is no evidence for that conclusion. People of many different backgrounds, including African-Americans and Maoris, are great opera singers. But not too many whites are great jazz singers. Who is the biologically challenged? The issue is really cultural and behavioral, and not biological.

All cultures are continually changing. Interactions between the Serbs and Albanians will not reduce biodiversity and cause cultural extinction. Rather, they will increase such diversity and promote cultural exchange and hopefully understanding.

Janis F. Hutchinson, Tim Petersen, Dan King, Rebecca Storey, Toni Hill-Kennedy, Tracy Smith, Duy Dinh

Department of Anthropology
University of Houston

Niche Job
I'd like to congratulate Russell Contreras for finding his niche in the world of journalism (and the Press for being that niche). I have been reading his work since I arrived at UH. His infuriating, incendiary rhetoric on the Daily Cougar was partially what prompted me to become a columnist.

However, since he became a regular at the Houston Press, I have found his writing to be more insightful, informative and convincing than I have ever seen him before. I actually look forward to his writing!

Keep up the good work! Both of you.
R. Alex Whitlock
via Internet

Box Office Bomb?
Regarding the Idle Hands film review ["Hands Up," by Glenn Gaslin, April 29] Have you heard about the horror in Littleton?

Linda Ryan
via Internet

Chucked Up
Thanks for your column [News Hostage, by Richard Connelly]. I thought I was the only person who threw up every morning. I like to watch the Today show, and so I am a captive viewer of Channel 2's "news" and, worst of all, Chuck George's weather and adenoidal voice. The pensive looks, the feigned concern, the stupid jokes and forced laughter. I hate them all. Have they never heard of CNN?

Michael Davis
via Internet

Post Haste
You asked in your column [News Hostage, by Richard Connelly, April 22] whether there ever has been a taxpayer prosecuted because his return was postmarked April 16.

Late filing is not a criminal offense, but it is subject to penalties and interest. The IRS has indeed penalized taxpayers for late filing. A case reported in the Journal of Accountancy in May 1997 may give you a better understanding of the reason most CPAs advise their clients to use certified mail for returns and extensions.

Judy Gray Johnson, CPA
via Internet

Roots of Learning
The question posed in Linda Skiles's letter to Superintendent Paige, as quoted in your column on the proposed relocation of the Houston School for the Performing and Visual Arts ["Cutting Class," by Margaret Downing, April 15], is right on the mark:

"Why teach elementary school children about the environment, when in high school you teach them it's okay to tear down a forest if someone gives you enough money to do it?"

The principles of composition and esthetics, as well as an understanding of the humanities as taught to musicians and artists, are germane to environmental preservation and sound community planning. Gutting the pristine forest on West 11th Street to build a school that would be much better off in a performance district or museum district would only reproduce the worst features of what teachers and students of the arts so often criticize.

Laurie Waller
via Internet

Pay Up or Else
Margaret Downing's column about the school site (not park) owned by HISD in Timbergrove was as weak and whining an article as has ever been in the Press. HISD would prefer to build the new school closer to the arts district but does not have a site.

If the tight-ass residents of Timbergrove do not want a school on the school site, buy it! Assuming the site is worth $10 a square foot, this would only cost each of the 1,234 households of Timbergrove $40 per month. Dave Dyer and his wife, Lorraine Cherry-Dyer, should spend their efforts trying to get their community association to buy the land and not asking that HISD taxpayers give it to them. I don't believe Timbergrove residents will pay, and they should not ask the rest of us to do it for them.

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