Readers Write: (Dec. 26): Diversity, climate change, television news, military pensions

  • December 25, 2013 - 2:00 PM


We won’t have progress without conversation

Seeing people, particularly young people, without racial prejudice is indeed worthy of celebration (“The future of diversity: Just stop labeling race,” Letter of the Day, Dec. 22), but it would be folly to believe that we arrived at the present state (still far from perfect) without talking about race. Quite the opposite. It was with incredible effort that race was brought into the public consciousness, and it would be a titanic loss if it were to be muted at this time of continuing progress.

Further, ending racial/ethnic prejudice doesn’t entail making ourselves blind to the differences between us but instead asks that we recognize and accept them. Our racial and ethnic backgrounds are a lens through which we view the world, and understanding more races/ethnicities can lead to a more clear view of the world and of ourselves.

JIM LAHEY, Minneapolis


My experience with polar sea ice

A recent letter about former Vice President Al Gore’s prediction in December 2008 that the “entire north polar ice cap will be gone in five years” requires further scrutiny (“Another prediction of doom bites the ice,” Dec. 23). It is true that the Arctic Ocean ice has been gradually thinning and retreating in area in the past decade or so, with journalists and others failing to check with scientists who monitor the situation in order to achieve factual headlines. Tour vessels that traveled the Northwest Passage in the past few years through Arctic Canada report little if any ice that presents a challenge.

As the letter writer states, one can still visit the North Pole by joining the Navy and traveling there via nuclear submarine. This started with the USS Skate, which sailed beneath the ice and surfaced at the pole in 1959. Many submarines have done the same since, but as a civilian it is possible to visit the North Pole on an icebreaker, most commonly nuclear-powered, from a Russian fleet of icebreakers. This began with Arktika in 1977, and as of October 2013, there had been 101 trips to the North Pole on icebreakers, nearly all carrying tourists. I was employed as a staff lecturer on some of those.

My visits to the pole have shown less ice each year, but nowhere near the disappearance predicted by Gore. Scientists estimate that summer ice will probably be gone in this century, perhaps as early as 2020, but winter ice will prevail depending on its location and the movement of oceanic gyres.



Less appeal still for a new generation

When I ask my students at Minneapolis Community and Technical College to tell me what story in the news interests them, they routinely tell me they don’t watch the news because it is too depressing. So, I will add an addendum to Don Shelby’s pronouncement that, sadly, “Anchorman 2” is not only funny but true: Worse yet, even insipid stories about squirrels stuck in drain pipes are not apt to lure new fans to TV news (“An anchorman’s take on ‘Anchorman 2,’ ” Dec. 23). Millennials get their “news” from the Internet, where there is no anchor man, no director and no producer. They themselves make the selection of what is newsworthy from the contributions of millions of reporters. Some of these reporters actually work for news mediums like NPR, Slate or the New York Times, but others share their stories on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. So, if viewers in this demographic happen to like seeing squirrels rescued from drain pipes, they can make a day of watching one endearing animal video after another.

We can’t blame a commercial industry for making decisions calculated to prolong its relevance, but as someone tired of heartwarming local stories winning disproportionate airtime when Gaza is under water and Ukraine is in revolt, I can’t help wondering if local news stations might be underestimating the worldliness of those of us still inclined to watch the local news and their real life anchormen/women.



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Please give us intelligent, thoughtful stories that make us think and question. Raise the level of news reporting to people who are older than 12. Inform us, teach us, push us. Ask tough questions and use descriptive language after a story is reported. There are more words to describe a story than “interesting.”

We are an educated public, and we are craving depth. Challenge us with factual, research-based stories. We can handle it.



My husband’s career supports ‘perspective’

I agree totally with the Dec. 21 commentary “Military pension cut, in perspective.” My husband retired at the end of 20 years of service in the U.S. Air Force and began receiving his pension immediately. Before he reached 65, he had retired from two more careers. Of course, no one is anxious to have cuts in income, but the budget deal’s plan to reduce cost-of-living increases by 1 percentage point is small and reasonable, especially if the numbers are right as to future savings for this country’s taxpayers. Once again, politicians are using a popular group (mothers, apple pie makers) to guilt voters.


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