Artificial Intelligence

Teach responsibility: Many of my friends in college use the "study aids" reported in your article ["High Scores," by Jennifer Mathieu, April 17]. These are the same kids that, in fourth grade, hoped for floods and hurricanes to force the cancellation of school. Face it: Most kids don't like class, but whose fault is that?

Maria Montessori, founder of the education system that bears her name, discovered that the inborn instinct to work becomes deviated by conventional education, influenced as it is by mankind's perception of work as a harsh necessity to gain wealth and power.

But work is meant to be a physical expression of will and intellect; and the purpose of a young person's work is the creation of a good human being. Perhaps if this ideology were respected, we wouldn't need forced labor in our schools (a.k.a. study hall) and students wouldn't need to artificially alter their neurotransmission to pay attention for more than 60 minutes at a time.

Youngsters are getting more and more power and accessibility. Isn't it time that education evolved to teach them more and more responsibility?

Ian Ragsdale

Sound minds: I read Jennifer Mathieu's article with great interest, but I was disappointed to find that the drugs being used were the stimulants Ritalin and Adderall. These stimulants in the long run do nothing for procedural and declarative memory.

If a person is really interested in true study drugs, they should try nootropics (for example, Propanolol, Phenytoin or Hydergine). These true smart drugs can be readily ordered over the Internet.

But if smart drugs are not to your liking, a longer but safer route to increase cerebral processing can be tried with the use of light and sound. The best I have found come from www.toolsforwellness.com. Its Hemi-Sync CDs and Muse mind machines are above the rest. Its free catalog is a must.

But be very careful in what you ask for, because even though my chess, mathematical and computer skills have improved, my "other" mundane and embarrassing moments of my life have been hard to forget.

Good luck!
Joe Muniz

A Story to Dig

Rest in peace: I found your article "Dead Wrong" [by Wendy Grossman, April 10] to be interesting and thought-provoking. Furthermore, I'm eager to read the results of the investigation of Hollywood Cemetery. Death is a subject that people don't like to talk about, but we must all recognize that the final steps in planning a deceased love one's funeral are painful for many. To complicate the fact of death, survivors should not be stressing over concerns of violations on the part of a cemetery.

I certainly hope that Hollywood Cemetery not only settles any disputes but rectifies any problems in its record-keeping. We've all heard of strange events with the final disposition of a deceased person.

Your article confirms that there is still suspicion from the community when dealing with death and funeral arrangements. I only hope that you follow up on the article.

Steven Johnson

HISD Special Interests?

Children come last: I read your article on T.H. Rogers ["Bend Over and Take One for the Team," by Margaret Downing, April 17], and I'd like to ask you a question (actually, two questions): What is going on in HISD, and why isn't anyone doing anything about it? I've been teaching at Attucks Middle School in HISD for 22 years, and I tell anyone who will listen that the district does not have the best interests of its children in mind.

I don't care about trustees taking credit for high test scores or low dropout rates, but I take serious issue with trumpeting "Children First" as a district motto and portraying yourself as some sort of child advocate when you sell out handicapped children to special interests.

I was attracted to teaching because of what I perceived to be the nobility of the profession. What greater way to contribute to society than by preparing young people for productive, successful lives? I had no idea the greatest obstacle to helping children would be a school board and superintendent (Billy Reagan to Kaye Stripling) consumed with delusions of grandeur.

I look forward to the Houston Press stories on HISD. I am grateful somebody holds the district accountable. Even though your coverage has not brought about much substantive change in the district, I can at least have a good laugh at the embarrassment you've caused.

Thanks again.
Thomas Iocca

Cry for Post Oak: Margaret Downing strikes out swinging in her third attempt at depicting the T.H. Rogers-Post Oak Baseball dispute. Exactly who got bent over, Ms. Downing? Post Oak's license agreement is by far the most restrictive of any similar agreement with other Houston-area Little Leagues and HISD. Post Oak has handed over to HISD more than $1 million in capital improvements since 1981 and will have to raise an additional $100,000 for future renovations that do nothing to enhance the baseball fields. The grounds will continue to be meticulously cared for year-round at no cost to HISD and at considerable expense to the leagues. In return, Post Oak gets only the right to play on HISD land after school hours under an agreement that can be revoked at any time, for any reason, by HISD.  

Talk about squeaky wheels getting the grease. A small group of parents weaves a well-designed propaganda campaign under the cloak of saving the handicapped children who attend T.H. Rogers who have been disadvantaged for decades by the rich and powerful Post Oak parents. Like Pavlov's dog coming to a dinner bell, the Houston Press and the Houston Chronicle greedily report the story verbatim. Never that it's based on lies and half-truths. And the result? HISD is forced to respond to the public outcry. And at the end of the day the parents get their way. Each and every wish list item of the group's "needs assessment" has been designed into a proposed plan that has nothing whatsoever to do with the original license agreement. But somehow in all of that Post Oak Baseball trounced the poor folks at T.H. Rogers.

Jeff Webb

Superb Burb

Booming Stafford: I am a City of Stafford employee and therefore may be somewhat prejudiced, but I would like to take exception to some of what was stated in your recent article ["All Duct Up," by Richard Connelly, March 13].

Stafford is no doubt considered by some to be "nondescript." But it does have significant businesses. It has the Fountains Shopping Center and many fine restaurants. It has new multimillion-dollar police and fire stations. It has a beautiful civic center and a new $20 million convention center and performing arts complex (Stafford Centre) next to the Houston Community College campus, which has the largest enrollment in the HCC System. It is the largest city in Texas that levies no property tax. It functions quite well on sales taxes and franchise taxes, thanks largely to a very healthy business community.

In light of this, your reference to a "sleepy commuter city" may not be entirely accurate. While 16,000 to 17,000 people do sleep (live) in Stafford, 50,000 to 60,000 work in Stafford.

Mayor Leonard Scarcella pointed out in his January address that it was extremely unlikely that Stafford would be the target of any terrorist act, but that since it is part of a large metropolitan area that is a likely target, it does not seem unreasonable for the mayor to want to try to prepare the people in the event of a disaster. I do feel that the reference to Osama bin Laden and "the infidels at Stafford" was smug, snide, uncalled for and a futile attempt to be cute.

Bill Springer

Speaking Out on CPS

Free-speech fan: Thank you for just having someone to listen to my problem with CPS ["Fostering Abuse," by Margaret Downing, March 27].

You have let others see the importance of speaking out. Exercising that right we have as Americans is how we grow. Yet it always takes someone to be sacrificed or to be used as an example. It is my honor to faithfully read your paper.

Ken Rogers
Damon, Texas

Layered Pork

Cut the HCCS brass: Regarding "Vietnam 1, Alief 0" [The Insider, by Tim Fleck, April 3], HCCS is still cutting. It's time they cut some of the layers of administration, not student services!

Name withheld by request

Berry Critical

Depths and heights: Houston deserves so much more than the few who run for mayor every few years [The Insider, by Tim Fleck, April 3]. In their capable hands, the art of pandering has risen to new heights.

It appears, however, that Michael Berry is a new breed. The man is nothing more than a political whore.

Ignacio Carrion

Awake at Last

Skaters' plea: We appreciated that you tried to help us out with the skate article ["Reeling from Wheeling," by Beth Gullett, March 20], but you didn't with all the misinformation.

You said that Justin said "heathens," but he doesn't even know what that means.

The article made it seem like it was only Philip, Justin, Jose and Jasper who wanted a place to skate. There are many, many more who yearn for a skate park. And as for the members of the council, I was at the meeting and they were listening -- they weren't just nodding off.  

Dustin Hunter

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