Thanks, but no thanks Your cover story Aug. 11 was written to inform people how easy it was to have your private information viewed on the Internet. For people not as Internet savvy, this article was a virtual “How To” manual on getting this information. For a clever thief, they now have a handbook on how to get any personal information they need to be able to steal an identity. The article closes with the line that says, “Keep telling yourself that you are not that interesting.” It is exactly these non-interesting people that thieves would want to target. Identity thieves everywhere thank you Times. Michael Bell Little Rock Genius I have just finished reading David Koon’s Aug. 18 column on Democrat-Gazette columnist Jay Grelen’s death fetish and I have but one word: Genius. Some folks might say “funny,” but hell, there are lots of funny people. His stuff was genius, pure genius, pure genius distilled down to its most basic form where it was melted down to form printer’s ink and poured out so as to match the typesetting for the column. I laughed out loud while reading a newspaper column and I’m honestly not sure if that’s ever happened, certainly to quite such a degree, before — and I’m no spring chicken. Seriously, if I had a mule I’d of slapped it. His column was just that good. Alex Kienlen Conway Important points Here are a half-dozen items that I feel pretty strongly about that I wish to comment on: • Mike Wilson is entirely correct and his lawsuit to stop the illegal “pork” is entirely appropriate. • Jim Guy Tucker, sadly, will never be remembered for what he really was ... a great governor. • Little Rock must stop fooling itself. Case in point: Take Hindman Golf Course. PLEASE. Fix it up or shut it down and develop it into a nice subdivision. The entrance is ugly, even scary. And we expect our visitors to go out there for golf? It’s better than it was a year ago, but still a long way from being up to par. Bet nobody on the City Board would ever send a friend or relative out to the end of 65th for Hindman. • Wake up, Arkansas. Term limits was, and is, a bad thing. And, just who is disadvantaged the most? THE PEOPLE who are represented by the House. • The more I observe North Little Rock, the more impressed I am with Patrick Henry Hays. Way to go, mayor. Run for governor, either ticket, and you’ll have my support. The people of Little Rock and Pulaski County should feel so indebted to the voters of North Little Rock that they will try to shop and buy as much as they can in that city during the next two years. Congratulations NLR leadership and voters. William B. Brady Little Rock No camp In response to Mr. Duke’s letter about Arkansas Governor’s School — please, please don’t call it a summer camp. It’s been 10 years since I attended AGS so things may have changed, but I never made a lanyard while I was there and I didn’t sing campfire songs. I think the only word to describe it is “experience.” Although I agree not all films are appropriate for that environment, “Angels in America” probably would have led to some interesting discussions in the classroom. I think that’s an important part of AGS — being around kids with all kinds of different views. I know it shaped me as a person in a very positive way. I hope it continues to encourage free thinking for the young people of Arkansas. Candice Criswell From the Internet No beacon The proposed “Beacon of Peace and Hope” described in the article Aug. 11 sounds well intended. How could anyone object to Peace or to Hope? Not me! But I object strongly to the plans for mounting on the tower powerful spotlights to shine into the nighttime sky. There are at least three things wrong with this very bad idea: 1) The electricity required to operate the spotlights would represent a colossal waste of our increasingly costly energy resources, 2) The bright illumination would render astronomy impossible for miles around, and 3) The stationary beams of light would trap birds migrating in the hours of darkness and result in death for hundreds or thousands of them. I am reminded of the architect who, several decades ago, designed a U.S. embassy for India featuring an ornate outdoor screen made of brick. It looked very attractive in the architect’s drawings. Unfortunately, neither the architect nor the State Department realized that the screen would create unlimited nest sites for house sparrows or other urban birds. The result was a big mess, and it didn’t take people long to realize their mistake. Similarly, if we want the rats, raccoons, dogs, and stray cats of downtown North Little Rock to be gorging at daybreak on the carcasses of dead native birds, then by all means we should build these beacons and turn them on. Bill Shepherd Little Rock Medical costs The proposed federal law to cut medical reimbursements that would especially affect the poor was opposed by the AARP, senior organizations and other groups. It was defeated in Congress. What was not explained was where money will come from in the future to cover skyrocketing medical costs. We have a Catch 22 here — control costs or cut recipients off the medical rolls to meet the budget. The proposed law wanted to keep all recipients on the rolls, but had to reduce benefits. Now there is nothing but a bombshell ready to explode in the near future to meet financial needs. We shouldn’t pat ourselves on the back for defeating the unpopular law, but should come up with solid recommendations on how to solve this problem, especially for the neediest. We better be prepared to pay more personal taxes if an equitable solution is not found. Santo D. Formica Sherwood Arkansas drivers It would be difficult to imagine worse motorists than those from the sterile state of Arkansas. All drivers exceed speed limits, tailgate, cut corners, overtake at precisely the most inappropriate times and fail to signal when turning. Furthermore, none of them adapt their driving to the prevailing weather conditions and, horror of horrors, some even drive at night without lights. All display a cavalier contempt for the law. Gross stupidity, utter selfishness and a wanton disregard for the safety of others are at the root of the problem, but so, too, is the fact that nobody in Arkansas is ever taught how to drive. Indeed, so far as I know, there is no mandatory driving instruction requirement in the state. Thus, the official Arkansas driving test is a farce. Half a dozen questions and a quick trip around the town square are simply not sufficient to assess a person’s competence to drive. As if all this were not enough, we now have to contend with the growing menace of moronic cell phone users, mostly women, who spend entire journeys exchanging mindless drivel with their equally half-witted relatives and friends. In more civilized countries, it is illegal to operate cell phones whilst a vehicle is in motion and that is exactly how it should be everywhere. It is high time that Arkansas and this entire nation adopted a far tougher attitude toward dangerous driving of any kind. William G. Carlyle North Little Rock Pension peeve Last January on “60 Minutes” Mike Wallace told the outgoing Sen. Ernest Hollings, D-S.C., that his pension would be $124,000 a year. Sen. Hollings neither confirmed nor denied this. A conservative estimate based on information I obtained from the National Taxpayers’ Union website two years ago is that the former members of the House and Senate draw a yearly pension of $75,000. Let’s look at two ex-presidents, assuming they draw the same amount. Carter has been out of office since 1981, Ford since 1977. Now multiply $75,000 by 24 and 28 and you’ll get the picture. If these benefits were voted into law they can be voted out. Have not union members been asked and have they not given back concessions they won at the bargaining table? Have we not been made aware of people losing pensions that they paid into because the company they worked so long for went bankrupt? According to the Almanac of American Politics 2002, the junior senator from the state of Washington and the senior senator from the state of New Jersey were self-made millionaires before they took office. Millionaires getting a generous pension plan funded by taxpayer dollars while veterans and old people do without? If individuals, including veterans and AARP, contact their representatives, something can be done. We have every right to say no to future largess. Mike Ward Fort Smith

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