Thank you for the in-depth piece ["Off Line," by Bob Burtman, March 20] on the strange metamorphosis of the Houston Post into the Daily News into Houston Today. It is a great loss for all citizens of Houston that this latest venture has unraveled thus far. May that "second coming" of the Houston Post actually materialize someday, somehow.
He's a Believer
Let me compliment you on the article regarding the death of the Houston Daily News. I would, however, like to clear up a few misconceptions.
Denise Caruso must spend most of her time on the print side of the New York Times, not the Internet side. I would refer her to the March 20 article from Reuters on the CNN Internet edition stating, "Yahoo to pay Netscape $5 million plus in ad revenues." It went on to say, "Yahoo, which will sell advertising on the new site, has agreed to pay Netscape a minimum $10 million in the first year of the deal and $15 million in the second year from advertising revenues," and that "Netscape Guide by Yahoo will help the fledgling Internet advertising market to grow from $300 million to $1 billion by helping to attract big consumer advertisers to the medium."
Ellen Jones of NeoSoft must be referring to Paul Allen in her quote regarding "clueless idiots and lamers." Most of the staff members at Houston Daily News were experienced reporters.
Paul Allen had the right idea regarding an on-line paper. His only mistake was to assume that the Daily News, to make its payroll, could sell and collect over $50,000 in advertising monthly within the first two months of operation. A first-year marketing person would know that wouldn't happen.
Burtman's comment that "it's the same bunch that ran the Houston Daily News into the ground" is somewhat misleading. Paul Allen was the one who insisted the money was there. What Paul didn't tell anyone was that he expected that the money would come from advertising revenue.
Finally, the statement that "some of those journalists say they'd consider returning to the fold if and when the money comes in" says a lot for the people who were connected with the Houston Daily News. These are gutsy people who believe in the concept of the only exclusive daily Internet newspaper in the world.
I think the article needed to be written and was about 85 percent correct. I just needed to clear a few things up.
W. Kent Wilbraham
Sales manager, Houston Today
Look Out for Bunny Foo-Foo
It seems to me that if you have a newspaper on the Net and you want advertisers to buy space on your newspaper, the advertisers would also have to have a web page. Then the advertisers would have links from the paper directly to their web site. That would seem to complete the purpose of an electronic newspaper. Was there even a subscription for this rag, or was it free? If free ... big mistake.
My company has been down a similar road, too. However, sensing and confirming that we were also working with "a bunch of lamers," we pulled out.
The problem was, a particular company was out to acquire established businesses with the intent of providing a consolidated Internet service. Getting a hardware company and a software training company seemed like they were traveling down the right road. Then they started courting companies not even closely related to computers or the Internet. Somehow they lost or never had any kind of focus. I liken them to Little Bunny Foo-Foo: Swoopin' 'em up and boppin' 'em on the head.
My advice to those approached by big or small talkers hawking fortunes via the Internet: Publish your own web page first -- see if it's worth it. There ain't no big bucks in this unless you know what you're doing.
Ezekiel on Exhibit
I found Shaila Dewan's cover story on Ezekiel Gibbs ["Ezekiel's Trust," March 6] to be thorough, enlightening and engaging. However, Dewan might have mentioned that Houstonians will have the chance to see the exhibition she mentioned, "Spirited Journeys: Self-Taught Artists of the 20th Century" (curated by Lynne Adele of Aus-tin's Huntington Art Gallery and including Gibbs's work), when it opens next summer at the University of Houston's Blaffer Gallery. Just thought your readers would like to know.
Director and chief curator, Blaffer Gallery
Fooling with Home Schooling
I enjoyed and was intrigued by Brian Wallstin's "Basic Ballard" [March 13]. Finally, someone is not afraid of the Christian Coalition.
What's tied to this [movement] is the money from vouchers for home schoolers, who do not want to answer to any accountability of any kind. Ask any home schoolers and they will give you their lawyer's name and number, in case anyone wants to check out their home school or enter their property. But they all want to be paid by the state for home schooling their children. Home schooling would be okay if it had to meet the same criteria as the public schools -- integration of all children by race and abilities, and the same test. This is why Mrs. Ballard is now anti-TAAS. If the test is put out, then home schoolers will never have to have accountability.
Try talking to any of Mrs. Ballard's supporters. They all have a script and cannot answer questions when they don't have access to their script. It is obvious some of them even memorize their scripted an-swers (I guess God wrote the script for them, therefore they do not have to think as individuals).
Positions by social conservatives on the Texas Board of Education are confounding. Donna Ballard has promoted local control, parents' rights, abstinence-only sex education, condemnation of homosexuality, private school vouchers and elimination of the Texas Education Agency and the U.S. Department of Education. Now she says she prefers nationally standardized tests? To do that would require agreement on what constitutes a public education.
Recently, I skimmed a textbook labeled Earth Science from Bob Jones Universi-ty used in a local Christian school. Each section referenced Bible passages and was written simplistically, with sparse vocabulary.
The first pages declared scientific theories to be true provided they substantiate Bible passages and support belief in the Creator, the Curse and the Great Flood. These Bible stories reflect the beliefs of some tribes in Asia Minor two to three millennia ago, hardly the theistically neutral scientific knowledge of today.
The text contained a disclaimer that not all Bible literalists understand or agree on the supernatural mechanisms used by the Creator, but that their explanations were all acceptable because they support the predetermined outcome. Diverse mechanisms of evolution proposed by scientists are condemned outright.
The Big Bang Theory of the origin of the universe was condemned because scientists cannot explain the origin of the basic components. The text omitted explanation of the origin of the Creator, however.
Evolution -- the unifying scientific theory of biology substantiated by natural evidence -- was misapplied to the origin of the universe. This term is usually condemned for contradicting the biblical concept of special creation of human beings and dominance of man over woman. Thanks to Mel and Norma Gabler, the term evolution has been expunged from non-theistic science books used in public schools.
Before public money is spent on vouchers for private or parochial schools, textbooks that purport to teach non-theistic subjects such as science and math would have to be examined to determine whether they teach or indoctrinate. Tax money should never, ever be used to teach theistic science or mathematics.
I believe that readers' adverse comments about columnist Tim Fleck in your [Feb-ruary 27] issue were unwarranted. I enjoy his column and find his information and comments accurate. I have personal-ly heard Mr. Fleck speak in person and was impressed.
Please, Mr. Fleck, don't be distracted by those whose tootsies you might step on. Much of the behind-the-scenes news never sees the light in a city where most of the media is controlled and manipulated by big business and wealthy interests.
We need more Tim Flecks and Houston Presses.
SOS from 1960
You are doing a great job, but you need more coverage on the north-side/FM 1960 area. There are restaurants aplenty out here, most of which we've never tried because we just do not know anything about them. Please help!
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Jeff S. Mayes
Hobart Rowland's characterization of me as a "diehard [Trish] Murphy hater" [Static, April 10] does great and painful disservice to the illicit, and by obvious necessity, secret love that the talented Trish and I have shared for more years, I daresay, than Hobart's been following the Goo Goo Dolls -- a love within which I, for one, continue to discover seemingly endless stores of tenderness and, yes, delight.
And watch who you're calling a pup, junior.
Editor's reply: Thanks for clearing that up. We always thought you were carrying the torch for Darin.