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Praise for guest

Kudos to the editors of the Arkansas Times for running the guest column penned by Gila Svirsky (“A Letter to the President,” Oct. 15, 2009), the Israeli peace activist, whose most compelling argument went thusly: “Therefore, Mr. President [Obama], I … appeal to you to use your good offices to be a true friend to Israel by telling Netanyahu the truth: Occupation is not compatible with peace. Settlements are not compatible with a two-state solution.” Of special note in the text is her refusal to refer to Netanyahu as Prime Minister. No doubt she will be called a self-hating Jew. Kudos are also due to Ernie Dumas, the dean of Arkansas journalists, for his column on Ms. Svirsky's speech at a LR Methodist church.

You'd think that the Arkansas Democrat Gazette would have run a story, editorial, or commentary in the religion section. So much for fair and balanced reporting in the state's largest paper.

Raouf J. Halaby

Arkadelphia

Remembering Ira

Back in the late seventies, when the Arkansas Times was a monthly magazine and published poetry and fiction as well as feature articles, you offered a special $5 subscription rate. In the 1978-79 school year I was a senior at Hendrix College, and was lured in. From my drafty second-floor apartment in an old house on Front Street in Conway, I sent a five-dollar bill and a note that said I hoped you weren't too sophisticated to accept cash.

A few days later I got a receipt — a handwritten note about the size of a large index card. The writer of the note thanked me for my subscription and said something like “here is your sophisticated, computer-generated receipt for your subscription payment to the Arkansas Times.” That note provided a small but not insignificant boost to my spirits. I was majoring in physics, and even though I love the subject, studying it in an academic environment sends me into a depression.

I can't find the note in my old cardboard-box correspondence archive, and I don't recall who wrote it. The evidence, however, now points to Ira Hocut, your production manager who died in early October at the age of 54. Reading Alan Leveritt's remembrance of Mr. Hocut in your Oct. 8 issue, I gained some insight into what Ira was like: When his young daughter, Joy, was visiting the office and he needed her to come to his desk, he would say on the intercom, “Joy, report to your battle station.” There's the sense of humor that I recall from my long-ago subscription receipt. Also, Ira's insistence on timeliness and his attention to detail would be a good fit for someone who'd send out a handwritten receipt in the return mail.

But Ira was the production manager, which brings in some reasonable doubt as to whether he wrote the note. Bill Terry, the editor at that time (who also died this year, but was 24 years older than Mr. Hocut) or Alan Leveritt (who I hope is in good health) would seem to be the more likely culprits. However, in looking at the 30-year-old copies of the Times in the Pine Bluff library, I see that up until your September 1979 issue (your fifth anniversary issue) Mr. Hocut was production and circulation manager.

I offer my condolences to the Times staff on the loss of your longtime friend and coworker. I'm sending along my subscription renewal for next year, in the form of a personal check. No receipt needed.

David Trulock 

Pine Bluff

Rankled

The next time you get one of your entertainment guys to write a blurb about an upcoming show (Murder Junkies @ Juanitas), get him to do his homework dammit! The mid '90's barroom heavyweights he was referring to were actually called BIG BOSS LINE, not Big Boss. Yes it makes a difference. The Legalize Heroin and Murder T-shirts we sold were, for all intents and purposes, a joke. I mean, who in their right mind would want to legalize heroin and murder? It was meant to be funny. So associating us with an absolute moron like GG Allin, well, that kind of rankles. Maybe your writer's dad told him about us!

Brian Hirrel

Little Rock

Health care

This country needs health care reform. The big question is this:

“Can we trust our elected representatives and senators to lay aside their own vested interests in getting re-elected and resist the influence and money from lobbyists for insurance companies and others in the medical professions and thereby devise the best plan for all of the people, especially those who otherwise could not be assured of receiving good health care?”

Without reform this country's economy is going to be in worse shape than it is now because of the increasing cost of health care.

While I know that we have to find ways of paying for this kind of care without laying more debt on our children and grandchildren, I believe that can be done and still truly reform the system.

Sally Stockley Johnson

Little Rock

 

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