Noisy pizza 

I just read your review of the new U.S. Pizza in Hillcrest. Are we the only ones who long for the old funky gas station location? We have been loyal patrons of this restaurant since it opened years ago. Like everyone else, we were excited about the new location and decor. Having eaten there twice and having left once because of the intolerable din, our loyalty is waning. The first visit was tolerable, but noisy. The second, on a Monday night, was a bit better than tolerable because the place was not full. Last night the noise was so bad that we feared for our hearing and beat a path to the door. In addition, one must now wait to be seated, which is sometimes a long drawn-out procedure. Your review spoke of the “bustle.” It is, unfortunately, much more than that.

Susan S. Beland
Little Rock

Bravo, Les Mis

From the For What It's Worth Department: I attended the closing-night performance of “Les Miserables” at The Rep here in Little Rock. Having seen the musical during its inaugural English run in 1986 at the Palace Theatre in London, I was prepared for a less moving rendition here, but I was pleasantly surprised. As one of only 30 regional theaters issued licenses for this production in 2008, The Rep did not disappoint. (Several non-traditional technical decisions worked to its advantage in a small house.) All the leads were good, but Douglas Webster (as Jean Valjean) and Christopher Carl (as Javert) were great. Arkansans will want to remember Shelby Kirby's name; currently an honors freshman at Cabot Junior High South, she showed extraordinary natural ability in playing the young beggar boy Gavroche.

Alita Mantels
Little Rock

Protect the water

Protecting our drinking water from pollution as development rises around Lake Maumelle is assured by his proposed ordinance on subdivision regulations, according to Pulaski County Judge Buddy Villines, who seeks re-election.

However, his proposed ordinance is invalid, because the science he uses does not hold up under scrutiny of national experts.

This went into public record on April 2, in an ordinance review by Tetra Tech Inc., the consultants to our water utility, and the staff supporting creation of our Watershed Management Plan.

Tetra Tech concluded Table 1 conflicted with Table 2 in the Villines ordinance, to cite the technical detail. In plain terms, Villines flunked the science test.

In fact, the entire ordinance as a whole puts our drinking water at substantially greater risk than if the management plan is followed, Tetra Tech concluded.

Asked what science advisors he relied upon, Villines cited Wright Water Engineers, employed by Deltic Timber Company, the largest private property owner in the Watershed.

When you vote Oct. 20 thru Nov. 4 on the office of county judge, remember this.

Our drinking water is too precious to risk; Villines would risk it by taking the advice of developers rather than national consultants employed by our water utility.

Kathy Wells
Little Rock

Moral minimalism

Wendell Berry makes a compelling case in his recent article, “Faustian Economics: Hell Hath No Limits,” (Harper's Magazine, May 2008) that the current economic problems should cause us to think again “not only [about] prodigal extravagance but also an assumed limitlessness.” He continues: “However it came about, this credo of limitlessness clearly implies a principled wish not only for limitless possessions but also for limitless knowledge, limitless science, limitless technology, and limitless progress. ... The normalization of the doctrine of limitlessness has produced a sort of moral minimalism: the desire to be efficient at any cost, to be unencumbered by complexity.” He concludes: “We are, in short, coming under pressure to understand ourselves as limited creatures in a limited world.”

Berry's essay reminded me once again how the notion of limitlessness has led us to the conclusion that we can judge and execute people. The concept, as Berry states, brooks no complexity, no notion of the fallibility of human judgment. We need only consider the 130 exonerations of persons condemned to death to see how faulty that notion is.

We need a study of the way the death penalty is administered in this state. Is it fair? Is it applied equitably throughout the state? We need to assure ourselves that we, as a state, have not betrayed the trust of the governed as a consequence of the doctrine of limitlessness. Otherwise, as Berry suggest, we will continue to act on the basis that we can know the truth and cannot err, an arrogant assumption at best. We will engage the full power of moral minimalism where efficiency and simplicity are enshrined as ultimate values that run roughshod over respect, human values, complexity, and justice.

David L. Rickard, chair
Campaign for a Death Penalty Study Commission

Parents are the problem

It looks like the Little Rock School District is finally admitting, in an oblique manner, what I've tried to make plain for quite a long time.

Board president Dianne Curry tells us that parents who are either uneducated or just don't give a damn about it, are the reason kids don't excel in schools. Generally they are the poorer of the parents because of little education themselves.

Any fool could figure out that caring, involved parents would be willing and usually more financially able to transport their own kids to private or charter schools.

Yet the Republican attitude at the statewide paper persists in blaming the teachers' union for poor scoring by minorities. What sort of idiot believes any teacher can teach an unwilling, unmotivated kid what the well-reared and motivated child will make a good effort to learn?

There are bad teachers, just as there are bad editors, bad plumbers, bad preachers, etc. But the ratio of good to bad falls squarely on the side of more good than bad ones. When the FACTS are dealt with logically we'll quit throwing mountains of money at a problem that can ONLY be corrected by parents of school children. Scores will never be equalized short of equal effort expended by all involved in the issue — especially by the parents. And race is NOT the problem. Apathy and ignorance are.

Karl Hansen



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