Stem Cells Debated

Slow death: As a victim of Wegener's granulomatosis, an auto-immune disease, I applaud your stem cell article ["Westward Whoa!" by Josh Harkinson, May 19]. Untreated, Wegener's kills in a year, but it has been held at bay till stem cell researchers find a cure, by chemotherapy and steroids, with the usual nausea, diarrhea, incontinence and pain. Ten years ago the steroids killed my hips, putting me on crutches. Last year Wegener's took my kidneys, and I now spend three days a week on dialysis.

I'm saddened by Amy Boswell's decision not to let her son Riley be cured of diabetes by stem cells, since most of my fellow dialysis patients are there because of diabetes.

Saddest of all was young Riley's mantra, "You have to kill babies." Several diabetes patients have lost their legs as an alternative to a horrible death from gangrene. And there was a million times more life in each one of those amputated legs than in the handful of cells in those petri dishes.

Richard Sohn

Hate Mail

A good guy: The letter from Matt Landry attacking Jim McIngvale was so hateful that I suspect there are other motives involved [Letters, May 19]. I first met Mac in the late '80s, when he agreed to address a group of junior high kids at an academic contest early on a Saturday morning. Since then I have encountered him on only a couple of occasions, and to my surprise he recognized me each time and recalled details of that first meeting.

I have bought furniture from his store twice, and when there was a problem, he personally saw to it that it was remedied at once to my satisfaction. I could tell he was not pleased that others had not already taken care of me. He models the energy, enthusiasm and dedication to customer service he expects from his employees, and does not tolerate laziness, disrespect or incompetence among them. Perhaps if more businesses were led by individuals with similar expectations, they would enjoy the same success Mac has achieved over the years. Finally, the criticism of Mac's considerable contributions of time, talent and money to charitable organizations was just plain sad. Houston is a better place because of Mac, and I am glad he's here.

Roger Woest

Still Smoldering

Snuffed out: You're still falling for the cigarette company propaganda that smoking is cool, aren't you ["Got a Light?" by Keith Plocek, May 12]?

It isn't.

Steve Read
Denver, Colorado

Spreading a scam: Good article; way too late. While a few common-sense citizens challenged the "supreme council" and its health maven with stats and facts debunking the "ban smoking" scam, the local media kept its mouth shut.

Now we have neighboring cities such as Kemah declaring intentions to mime the City of Houston's smoke ban, claiming it wouldn't be fair to take a commercial advantage by permitting business owners to set their policies.

Enough of this tripe. The Houston City Council spends $2.5 billion per year, but all we discuss (after the fact) are nonsense diversions like the smoke ban.

L. Lane

The price of puffing: I found your article to be possibly one of the most ignorant pieces of print I have laid eyes on. Regardless of the facts that smoking does not make you cool (as we parents are so desperately trying to teach our children) and secondhand smoke does claim the lives of many people each year, there is one thing you forgot to mention about you so-called cool, thin, happy-go-lucky smokers:

When you have finally become old and ill, and you have no money left (spent it all trying to be cool and buying $4-a-pack cigarettes), it is the so-called antismokers who will be paying your medical bills through our tax dollars. You can smoke arsenic for all I care; I and most others just want to save our money from going toward smokers' inevitable medical bills. That will add up to more than the money lost by the poor restaurant industry.

Lanette Cook

Smoking Economics 101: The bottom line is the bottom line. Math does not lie. Most restaurants are in business to maximize profits. For every Lisa and Todd who walk out of a smoke-free restaurant, there are at least six nonsmokers walking out of a smoky restaurant.

A silver lining can be found in any activity including smoking. How many death row inmates became born-again Christians after creating havoc in other people's lives? Would Mr. Plocek promote criminality?

If a smoke-free ordinance is passed, of course some restaurants will fail. Many more restaurants will prosper. Nonsmokers are more educated and therefore the assumption is that they have a higher amount of disposable income. Health care costs and absenteeism would be down for all employees including those who smoke. Secondhand smoke hits nonsmokers harder than smokers, and the damage is cumulative and irreversible.

Michael V. Jozwiak

A choker weighs in: My first issue comes with your example of the guy being made fun of by the two women. First, I do that. I do the choking thing when a smoker is smoking next to me, and I'm inhaling the fumes that just escaped his deteriorating body. If he wants to go smoke, fine. Go smoke away from those of us who'd like to live a healthy life. I drink, I don't smoke, and I have a good time.

How can you say that smokers have more fun than nonsmokers? Should I take up smoking because James Bond and Franklin Roosevelt did it? Better do it before I become the next Hitler, right? Your examples were the most ridiculous I've ever seen in an argument. You can't deny that smoking kills. You can't deny that it is for the weak-minded fools who aren't strong enough to provide themselves with the strength and cool to run their lives in a calm and effective manner. I see smokers of cigarettes as no different from smokers of weed. They feel they need it to calm down or to relax. Too weak to do it on their own, I guess.

Carl Westburn

Out of bounds: I loved this article! I am a smoker sometimes, but I always side with the smokers because they have a better case than nonsmokers. I do agree that City Council overstepped its bounds with this ban. I lived in Atlanta for eight years and worked in bars part-time and full-time. I smoked for four, and I quit for four. I agree with the waiters in your article that the smokers are much more likely to spend more money, buy high-dollar wine or liquor (or actually have alcohol with their meals, as opposed to the nonsmokers), they tip better, and they are much more jovial and congenial than nonsmokers. I always thought this was my little theory, but it is actually true. I work with a woman who is five months pregnant and still smoking at work, and I don't agree with that, but who am I to tell her that her baby will come out with three heads?

Dusky Evans

Devin the Dude

Local talent: I have been reading the Press for years now, and I have finally seen the article that made me smile: Devin the Dude ["Mellow, Chilled-Out Fellow," by John Nova Lomax, May 19]. I can remember back in the day, when I was still a pup I popped in an ol' Screw tape to hear someone singing the medley "I'll Be in the Bathroom Bo-Bo'in." I did some research on it, and to my surprise found the trackmaster to be someone named Devin the Dude. In a way, I am glad that Devin has yet to make it into the mainstream. I like the fact that he has remained really and truly a local artist. It almost gives you the sense that you know you can always count on him to drop some shit that is real.

Christopher Garza


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