Readers Write: (July 28): The middle initial, bird hazards, employee-ownership, botched execution, marijuana on TV, automobile safety

  • Updated: July 25, 2014 - 7:15 PM

There’s plenty of room for confusion without it.


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With all due respect to Bruce Feiler of the New York Times — “R.(I.)P., the middle initial,” July 22 — he’s got it all wrong. The middle initial is alive and well and very much needed by people like my husband and me.

My name is Joan Johnson. Do you have any idea how many Joan Johnsons live in the town I am living in? There are at least eight, and one of them sees the same doctor I do. Get out and count the Joan Johnsons in our state, and you have around 350 of them.

My husband has the same problem. His name is Joel Johnson. I haven’t counted up how many there are in our town or state, but I do know that at one time we started getting another Joel Johnson’s charge account bills (which we straightened out) and later learned that Joel also belonged to our church (when notices started coming for meetings my husband wasn’t part of). In addition, in our major city there is a Joel Johnson Band, and my husband has often been asked if it is his band. It isn’t!

At one point I was doing my genealogy and ordered a lot of research books through the local library. They didn’t arrive, and finally I was told they had arrived but my name wasn’t on them. Instead, a Joan Johnson who lives several blocks away had her name on them. I called her and requested she give the library permission to give the books to me. Which she did.

Need I go on?

Joan M. Johnson, Bloomington


Glass is the least of the birds’ deadly worries

David Allen Sibley, perhaps America’s best-known bird lover, points out that windows (like those in the Vikings stadium that’s under construction) may kill as many as 1 billion birds in the United States — yearly. Our pet cats? Cats kill (for fun) an estimated 500 million birds yearly. More than 200 million birds are killed by high-tension communication wires. Another 100 million are killed by cars and pesticides.

Wind turbines? Wildly different estimates of between 40,000 to 400,000 birds — a tiny fraction of bird deaths.

There are 125,000 communication towers in America today, and 7,000 are added yearly. Are these towers being held accountable? Or cars and pesticides? No, not at all.

The Vikings recently refused to ante up $1.1 million to reduce the danger of that stadium glass littering the sidewalks with colorful dead birds. But much science also suggests that we change lighting on all towers, including wind towers. Alternative lights may reduce deaths by 50 percent. Other science suggests 4- to 6-megawatt wind towers are much safer than smaller, outdated wind towers.

Catch your breath and start reading the studies. Demand more corpse-counting near all towers — the only way to discern the real threat to our avian friends.

Last, be aware that carbon emissions from the continued use of fossil fuels likely will disrupt and kill countless millions of birds — indeed, extirpate many species. Be careful what you wish for.

Jim Davidson, St. Paul



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