Questions of Life

Parents have the priority: I have known the Millers for many years, and to this day, I continue to have a hard time with the issues in this story ["Child Support," by Brian Wallstin, May 2]. I do think Mark and Karla Miller had their fundamental rights as parents stripped away by a hospital staff that overstepped its bounds, all in the name of scientific experimentation. At what point does a parent's right to make a decision regarding their child start?

Apparently to this hospital, it's never.


Letters For the Week of 05-23

I know Mark and Karla will absolutely always take the best care possible of Sidney. The ultimate responsibility facing them is ensuring funds will be available to meet her needs, not only throughout a possibly normal span of life, but more important, after her parents are gone.

Beth Perry Sewell

Bad science: However complex the legal and moral issues surrounding this case are, they cannot subrogate the parents' right to decide what is best for their offspring. We are here today because for the last 500,000 years, parental rights were never compromised. This is simply forgotten when the modern medical-miracle machine is thrust upon parents at their most vulnerable moment. Parents want healthy babies, but instinct takes over reason at that moment of life-or-death decisions.

We do not bemoan the destiny of the runt of the litter in animals, because it improves the chance of survival of siblings. Why have we forgotten this? We should never circumvent nature.

Sidney Miller is crippled by well-intentioned medical demigods espousing their diatribe on all laypersons. The questions I have for them are these: What life is worth saving if the life is not worth living? Who wants to switch places with Sidney? Who would give their first-born to medical experimentation?

No modern human can allow science to circumvent decency and perpetuate such travesties.

Name withheld by request

Bottom of the heap: I have just gotten to know Mark Miller recently since he purchased a home next to me. Mark and his family are incredible and have such a lovely family.

I have heard and seen much of what you have covered, but your article enlightened me on several points. The most powerful one you got across to your audience very well is that the Millers did not want Sidney to die, but they certainly did not want her to be kept from a natural death that would spare her a life that had little potential for joy.

I appreciate the varying points you presented and the reflections of each side. Your fairness was complete. Corporate and bureaucratic management of the U.S. health care system has put the United States at the bottom of the heap when it comes to health care among the modern industrial world. I hate to say this, but it is cases like this that can break the current system and allow us to move to a system that has greater potential for working.

John Dalton

Reich and wrong: I find it hard to believe that people in the United States can allow a doctor or hospital to experiment with the life of a child, against the wishes of the parents, without being jailed. The Nazis experimented with people's children and were tried as war criminals. We are not at war, but it seems morally criminal. Adults must give their permission and consent when experimental treatments or drugs are used, but this innocent child was subjected to experimental treatment with nothing more or less than the authority of a for-profit entity. Too bad there's no death penalty for the corporations involved.

Ken Wenzel

Bravo from Beantown

Sound research: I simply wanted to say you did a terrific job ["Rock-a-Baby Bye-Bye," by Wendy Grossman, April 25]. I was a reporter with The Boston Globe for more than 20 years before switching careers, and have read few stories -- particularly on this subject -- that were as well researched, thought out and presented. Keep up the good work.

Adam Pertman, executive director
Adoption Nation Education Initiative
Newton, Massachusetts

Chronicle Changes

Hoping for better: Goodness knows, the Houston Chronicle could do with some shaking up [News Hostage, by Richard Connelly, May 9]. Although I no longer live in Texas, it has continued to bother me that the nation's fourth-largest city has such a lousy newspaper. Dallas, Fort Worth and Austin all have better papers, even though the stories in Houston are always better! I hope that the installation of the new editor will give Houston the paper it deserves.

Stephanie Falktoft
New York, New York

Down on the Mattress

Mac gripes: I think that you're the one who doesn't know Mac ["You Don't Know Mac," by Richard Connelly, May 2]. I can't believe that you've written an article glorifying this creep. He's made his millions by lending to high-risk borrowers. As soon as they miss a payment, Gallery Furniture vans are ready to pull the furniture right out of the home.

He is a businessman who takes advantage of lower-income people. I've heard so many stories about Mac making employees work Christmas night and other special holidays when they should have been at home with their families. He's a money-hungry maniac. Mac never does anything for this city unless it will benefit him financially. Just because the Galleryfurniture.com Bowl didn't make him any money doesn't mean he wasn't looking out for himself.

This article is just one more advertisement to fuel his money-making schemes.

Name withheld by request

Jim's a dandy: Richard Connelly's recent article was completely off base. In the ten years I have been in Houston, I know of no person who has done more for the city than Jim McIngvale. Houston residents should be grateful to Jim. I found the article uncharacteristic of the well-researched, thought-provoking and often controversial articles I've come to expect from the Press. To pass judgment on a man for a few tongue-in-cheek commercials and a name for a bowl is absurd and unprofessional (don't you remember that the Bluebonnet lost its sponsorship?).

Jim is tireless in his work for Houston and never has refused to open his checkbook to a cause benefiting the city. For example, when Kraft decided to pull out of women's tennis, Jim was there; when the Rockets had us coined "Choke City" in 1994, Jim promoted "Clutch City"; when Calvin Murphy's "Marching Thunder" needed uniforms, Jim stepped up, etc., etc. I have known him to drive 200 miles round-trip after work to speak to Scouts or a community group. I think Richard was unfair not to point out that a great businessman is one who is a product of his education, experiences, successes and failures. I find him intelligent, candid, hardworking, respectful, polite and engaging.

Maybe there are questionable actions, experiences or bad things to be said about all public people, but to not point out the good in Jim and the benefit he is to Houston was uncharacteristically unfair. You should apologize.

Rick Farace

Be thankful? Richard Connelly's entertaining article about Jim McIngvale's book quotes from the advance copy of uncorrected proofs: "Throughout my life, I have been praised for keeping promises." An instance of Mattress Mac's failure to honor his commitment made me lose all respect for him. He had promised to be the speaker at our May 1996 luncheon of the Exxon retirees' club in the Memorial area, which was attended by several hundred retirees, spouses and guests. Instead of showing up, Mattress Mac decided he'd rather go to an out-of-town Rockets game. He sent a Gallery Furniture employee to be the speaker at our luncheon.

Harriet Lore Seymour

High Drama?

Spider-Man hokey? Nah! I found Gregory Weinkauf's review of Spider-Man satisfactory ["World Wide Web," May 2], but I disagree with his relatively glowing remarks. I found it far too hokey in quite a few places. Some of them are:

•Peter's spider sense disappeared for the majority of the movie (Spider-Man was surprised far too often)

•The Green Goblin's absolutely horrendous and downright embarrassing costume (it must have been borrowed from the set of Power Rangers)

•Peter's organic webbing (in the canonical books, Peter used his scientific prowess to create artificial web-slingers because he had no such natural web-spinning ability)

•Peter not covering the cut that subsequently gave him away (it's just sitting there oozing? Dude, get a Band-Aid!)

•After what happened at school, no one could deduce Spider-Man's identity -- especially if everyone was "freaked out"

All in all, there were good things with the movie, but far too many coincidences. They certainly can do better and be more faithful to the books.

Jonathan Davis

Woody's Girls

Age of consent: As a die-hard Woody Allen fan myself, I found your opinions regarding the age disparity between Allen's characters and the "leading women" to be unwarranted and hopelessly judgmental ["Ol' Dirty Bastard," by Andy Klein, May 2].

What difference does it make if Allen's characters prefer younger women? Since when is this a crime? The only female character in any of his movies who is even close to underage is Mariel Hemingway's 17-year-old character in Manhattan.

What is so disturbing about age- disparity romances? My best friend's married parents have a 15-year age difference. Anyone who has seen Wild Man's Blues can see the chemistry and depth of feeling between Allen and his of-age wife, Soon-Yi.

Pedophilia is self-evidently disturbing, but the female characters in his movies are all of age. I don't see this as a feature of his films. You have simply asserted that age-disparity romances are disturbing without explaining why they disturb you. In the future, either justify your judgments or refrain from making them.

Daniel Goldberg


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