So many devils in all of those details

You want to spy on us all.


You see through PRISM darkly. If you need some extra assistance, just go to the experts in HUMINT, who once provided security for East Germany and the Soviet Union, namely the Stasi and the KGB.

You were supposed to be a state secret. But media blabbermouths can’t keep a secret, can they?

You are doing a great job winning the battle against terrorists and democrats, too.

Just think of all the valuable data you’re going to be privy to. You could alert remedial English teachers about my last sentence ending in “to.” It is a preposition and function word, and it always has an object, which is usually a noun or pronoun. You see, instead of turning myself in, I consulted a primer, Harbrace College Handbook, 7th ed., which informs me that a preposition (i.e., “to,” “at,” “by,” “for,” “from,” etc.) with its object and any modifiers is called a prepositional phrase, i.e, “to the republic,” “by the people,” “for the people” and, to quote my source, the primer’s authors, Hodges and Whitten, “Byron expressed with great force his love of liberty.”

Consider the constitutional grammar of law and Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, with its adroit use of three prepositional phrases: Of the people, by the people and for the people.

On that note, maybe congratulations to our intelligence-gathering agencies are a bit premature.

David Kleppe, Plymouth

• • •

Dear NSA,

Now that I understand that my government has all the information about its citizens’ cellphone use, I am greatly relieved. I am writing you concerning the whereabouts of an old Nokia I lost last year on a BWCA canoe trip. Also, our son has been seeing a girl we have repeatedly told him not to talk to. He knows very well that we will ground him if he continues the relationship. Please send us his phone records for the period from Feb. 24, 2012, to the present. Oh, and knowing that you feds are on the job, please, oh please, arrest the telemarketers plaguing us night and day about our credit card debt. We don’t have credit card debt, as you probably know.

Terry Faust, Minneapolis

• • •

Some of the complaints about the government’s recording of phone calls and electronic communications are so typical. Too many Americans want government services and protection but don’t want to pay the price. In this case, it means accepting some recordkeeping. I really couldn’t care less if the authorities record the phone numbers I call or e-mail addresses I contact. (Have at it, bureaucrats, even if you want to dig deeper. A little boredom can actually be relaxing.) They’re never going to have time to do anything with the basic information anyway, unless there’s reason to suspect it might help in an investigation of possible criminal activity. The point is they now have the option to do it to someone else who might be a threat to me or others. Use of such recordings has already prevented at least one terrorist attack. It works. There are terroristic individuals out there. The world has changed, and we must adapt.

A local radio commentator recently observed that since terroristic acts seem to have lessened, maybe we don’t need all this data storage. Apparently it hadn’t dawned on her why the number of acts seem to be down in the first place. Maybe, just maybe, it has something to do with the data storage.

Let’s get more real and less paranoid.

Jim Bartos, Brooklyn Park

* * *



Some things can’t be learned in college

I am responding to recent criticism of the Teach for America program. Many people think that education classes are what turn people into teachers. I disagree. Teaching is an art, not a science. A good teacher is an artist. You cannot teach artistry. Either you have artistic ability, or teaching ability, or you don’t. I have taken plenty of education classes. They were gobbledygook and not the slightest help when I was a teacher. Give TFA a chance.

David Wiljamaa, Minneapolis

* * *



Philanthropy comes in many forms

Though I’m often disappointed in the quality and sometimes misleading headlines describing Star Tribune stories about African-Americans, I was beyond delighted to read the June 7 headline for the obituary of Richard Estes, founder and director of Estes Funeral Home in north Minneapolis. The headline, “Philanthropic lion of the North Side,” could not have been more fitting and appropriate for a man who gave so much to so many for more than five decades.

In the lore of traditional Minnesota philanthropy, people like Richard Estes are seldom mentioned. But, true to the rich history and tradition of African-American philanthropy, Estes believed in contributing his time, talent and treasure, and he did so at the darkest of moments for many in the African-American community. Let his life and legacy be a reminder to us all that philanthropy comes in many forms and is not the exclusive territory of any one racial or ethnic group. Look around you, there may be a philanthropist next door — a caring, giving soul with or without tremendous wealth but motivated by a generous heart.

Thank you, Mr. Estes, for your life and legacy of philanthropy. May your soul rest in eternal peace!

Karen Kelley-Ariwoola, Minneapolis