Letters 08-31-2000

Spaced Out, We Were So Wrong, Woe to the 'Stros

Spaced Out

Trailblazer to the beyond: Your compelling article on Transhab and NASA's famous Constance Adams was very exciting to read ["Science Friction," by Lauren Kern, August 10]. Her revolutionary spirit is just what America needs to blaze future trails in space!

Given your interest in "space architecture," please check out the new space station Web site: www.bluestarlive.com.

Doug Michels
Houston

First, my thanks to the academy: I am sure many of my colleagues appreciate the candor of Lauren Kern's discussion of the challenges the Transhab program has overcome and those it has yet to overcome. However, I would very much like to correct the image she conveys of maverick individuals working solo. Many, many people were left out of this story who by rights should come far ahead of myself in terms of their contributions, their dedication and their newsworthiness.

The idea that I "designed" Transhab is terribly inaccurate. I count myself extremely fortunate to have been able to participate with the most dynamic work team I have ever known. Everyone on that team "designed" Transhab. Certainly my esteemed architecture colleague Kriss Kennedy should be mentioned up front; and David Fitts also oversaw much of my design work. Then there were the innovations of the Transhab structural engineers, a highly motivated team.

Although we all understand that it is never possible to tell the whole story, these people and their teams are the real story. Without our teammates, none of us could even consider undertaking the tasks that lie before us; it is only as a team that our predecessors succeeded in reaching the moon, and only with the ceaseless questioning and challenges of our colleagues that we will manage to face the challenges of the further conquest of space.

Constance Adams
Houston

By design: Thanks for Lauren Kern's article on NASA's Transhab project. It is a model of clarity and conciseness. I hope the Press will continue publishing such informative reports on the politics of design in Houston. This is a much more pertinent and provocative subject than wrestling.

Stephen Fox
Houston

We Were So Wrong

We got the wrong guy: The Houston Pressshould not allow Richard Connelly [News Hostage, August 24] to lace his commentary with fiction. It's such an unattractive trait in a media critic. Connelly's "rumor" about me in his item on the Democratic national convention is wholly without foundation. Let me be specific:

1. I have never "squabbled" with John Henry about anything, including expenses -- neither in my former post as bureau chief nor in my current job as a columnist. The cell phone twist is especially ludicrous and hurtful, as my supposedly "ailing" father has been dead for 28 years.

2. I have never, in 28 years at the Chronicle, threatened to quit, neither seriously nor in the offhand manner fabricated by Connelly. Ergo, "cooler heads" did not need to prevail.

Cragg Hines
Washington, D.C.

Editor's note: Cragg Hines is right. We made a mistake and hereby retract it. As Richard Connelly explains in his News Hostage column today, he matched the circumstances with the wrongChronicle reporter. It was not Hines. We regret the error.

Carlos the Jackal

No sweat: Thank you for giving us such a great article about Carlos Sosa's dirty activities ["Livin' Large at the Port," by Steve McVicker, July 20]. Being Hispanic, I can feel no less than ashamed that people like him belong to our community. The Latino people who have come from abroad to this country to work, work hard. However, not all of our people are eager to sweat to make an honest living. This is a clear example.

I hope your brilliant work helps to put this guy where he belongs: behind bars.

Salvador Medina-Saucedo
Houston

Woe to the 'Stros

Muzzle Milo: Cute piece ["We'll Pay the Filing Fee," by George Flynn, August 17]; I'll gladly take part in this class action.

I must say, as a transplanted Tiger fan for lo these past 19 (goddamn!) years, it has been extra tough becoming an Astros fan. Lord knows I've tried.

But it's the little things that drive me nuts. I've seen Mike Cubbage wave more players to their doom this year than the angel of death. Bagwell's stance is a greater threat to the youth of this country than Joe Camel ever was.

Then there's Milo, that insufferable homer. He must be added as a defendant (or perhaps be subject to a more serious charge involving the FCC: felony awful broadcasting). I grew up with Ernie Harwell; try to imagine my pain!

Anyway, good work. I laughed out loud.

Mark Sterling
Houston

Mediocrity's fine: Keep in mind that the Astros have been playing above the .500 won-lost mark since the All-Star break, that they've lost five key players (a No. 1 pitcher, second baseman, third baseman, center fielder, closer) among others and are very young. The win-loss record of the team is certainly not owing to lack of effort, and as fans we should encourage rather than deride and ridicule them.

Khaldoon B. Sakkal
Houston

Highways Closed

Return to sender: I read your article concerning the Texas Monthly dispute ["CanCell That Subscription," by John Suval, August 10] with the only segment of a literate society with enough time on their hands to pursue those vapid pages for any suggestion of intelligent life. I am referring, of course, to those inmates incarcerated by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

Apparently someone at TDCJ read your piece as well and became concerned that other slick publications might find their way into the penal population and, somehow, foment even more discord among the unwashed. On August 7 I mailed a magazine to an inmate locked up in a facility on Ransom Road in Richmond. It was returned to me August 14 with "REFUSED" and "CONTRABAND" boldly stamped all over the envelope.

On its face, the magazine appears innocuous enough: Texas Highways. The masthead proudly proclaims it is published by the Texas Department of Transportation Commission, Governor George W. Bush and Transportation Commissioner John W. Johnson. Contraband? I suppose the Sunday Magazine from last week's New York Times will be returned later in the week. I do hope it's the thought that counts. It appears that will have to suffice for now.

Don Hendrix
Houston

Conned by cons: I am at least partially responsible for the Texas Monthly ban on prison subscriptions. We are a small company whose roots began with advertising in TM in 1986.

I have a file that we built titled Jail Mail, all attributable to TM. For years I just opened the letters, read them for their humor and discarded them. Then a few years ago an inmate accused my company of keeping money he had sent me, saying he had never received what he ordered.

This elaborate hoax was a nightmare for my company; he pursued a letter-writing campaign to the BBB, the mayor of Austin and others. Days were spent trying to straighten this out with the BBB, and I believe this complaint still shows on my BBB record. This is one story of many.

Being in the jewelry business, I consider all correspondence with inmates a security risk. I also take every letter we receive much more seriously. Since TM stopped the prison subscriptions, our inmate requests have gone to almost zero. The very few I receive come from their family members. I obviously applaud Mike Levy's ban and consider my store safer because of it.

C. Kirk Root
Austin

Trick or Teat?

The scarlet letter: John Suval's recent article regarding tax abatements by the City of Houston and Harris County was well researched and right on the money ["Tax Lean," August 3].

It is appalling that a small handful of corporate leeches will stoop to political blackmail when they have no intention of moving elsewhere and the tax abatements they are to receive are but a pittance compared to their total costs of operation.

In the meantime, the vast majority of area companies go on about their good-citizen ways of furnishing jobs and other stimuli to the local economy, without sucking at the public teat. The abatement leeches and the politicians who support them should all be required to wear a big red Hester Prynne "A." You can draw your own conclusion as to what the letter stands for.

Bob Lemer
Houston

Shammy Tammy

A different perspective: I too remember Tammy Faye -- a nut, a crook, a phony, a liar and a thief. I suffer not from the nostalgia you seem to glorify ["Makeup Remover," by Luke Y. Thompson, August 10].

Susan Craig
Houston

Dishing Up Decibels

Ear me out: George Alexander's article ["Oh, the Noise, Noise, Noise," August 10] suggests that the Houston Press could perform a public service by further rating restaurants by noise level as it does for location, price and food. Readers could then vote with their money whether they want to enjoy a meal with their sweetie in a quiet location or try to lip-read a woman with blood coming out of her ears.

John D. Griffith
Houston

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