Military is alternative for young. Convenient.

The other day, I read a downright frightening financial news article that makes me believe that any economic recovery boasted of by wealthy policymakers in Washington and St. Paul is still years away, if it happens at all.

The story dealt with several young adults as they struggled to pay student loan debts well into their 30s. It went into great detail about the limited financial and economic activities in which these people would participate as a result. Indeed, many of the folks profiled were having considerable trouble just supporting themselves.

The story also conveniently mentioned substantial loan payoff benefits for doing public service (read: a stint in the military).

In our current environment of foreign military adventurism, someone please tell me with a straight face that the central planners haven't set up a back-door conscription system.


* * *

Eating issues

Don't let self-control get lost in the debate

When I read the "we may be overmatched in our war on weight" and "funny what a diet will do ..." articles under the banner headline "Food for thought" on the April 18 Opinion Exchange page, I started to think: What is happening here?

There is an abundance of "junk" food out there, yes. And I don't pretend to know all the ins and outs of what the government is doing with its subsidizing. But I do know this: Products are created and readily available because of demand -- not the other way around.

Now we have all these studies about humans being hard-wired to "devour and store fat." We "can't refuse calories" because we "may need them later." Really?

What do these studies have to say about all the "humans" who exhibit self-control and decent (if not excellent) eating habits? Did they just get certain correct genes or something?

No -- they walk the walk and experience the positive benefits of being at the correct weight: eating good, tasty food; getting good exercise, and, yes, having that piece of chocolate now and then. It's about balance. It's called moderation.

Oh, my ... are we all victims here? Yes, eating is not like alcohol or smoking, where you can just go cold-turkey. And, no, we should not be judging anyone; we all struggle with something.

But you can go cold-turkey from overeating. And we can consume more and more of the good stuff (and there is a lot of "good" stuff). Then maybe the prices will come down.

The markets are giving us what we want -- what we demand. Let's stop whining and start making good choices. Then maybe we will start seeing the right changes in the food offerings and supply.


* * *

The Holocaust

Civil War prisons offer no comparison

The April 17 Letter of the Day about the sinking of the riverboat Sultana after the Civil War compared the Andersonville prison in Georgia and the Cahaba prison in Alabama to Auschwitz.

Auschwitz was part of a deliberate, systematic effort to kill off Europe's "undesirables" -- Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, etc. The Confederate prisons were low in resources and, to some extent, indifferent to the fate of those imprisoned (probably not much different than the Union POW camps). There was, however, no systematic effort to torture, maim, or kill the prisoners.

The comparison was, to say the least, unfortunate.


* * *

The Theater scene

Responses on Guthrie and Pillsbury House

My wife and I have had season tickets to the Guthrie for about 30 years. The current discussion about Guthrie diversity and the April 20 Letter of the Day about the sliding quality of its productions are simply off the mark. On Tuesday evening, we attended the current production of "Time Stands Still" -- it has a great script with a clear edge, wonderful staging and simply outstanding acting. The female lead, Sarah Agnew, is as fine an actress as you can find. Over the years, not all the productions have been top-shelf, but "Time Stands Still" certainly is, and in the end that's what counts.

After the play, I came home and pulled out my father's copy of Life magazine's World War II photo collection and began thinking about how photojournalism has shaped my world view and belief structure. On my bulletin board is a photo from July 22, 2009, of a young student named Nada dying on the streets of Tehran. Time stopped for her, but her death lingers in that photo, and there is a message in her eyes. There is also a message in "Time Stands Still" that should not be missed.

Personally, I look forward to another great season at the Guthrie.


• • •

Our theater, Pillsbury House Theatre, is mentioned in an April 19 article ("Guthrie lineup starts diversity debate") as an example of a theater, like Mixed Blood and Penumbra, with a specific mission around diversity.

We believe it is important to note the distinction that our mission does not say anything about diversity. Our mission is to "create challenging theatre to inspire choice, change, and connection."

We perform plays from a diverse lineup of playwrights; directed by men and women; performed by people of all different colors, and supported by a culturally diverse staff because this reflects the Minneapolis neighborhood that nurtures us and helps us to fulfill our mission.

We also know that this diversity of perspectives helps us achieve the high level of artistic quality that lands Pillsbury House Theatre productions on "best of" lists around the Twin Cities every year.

Our mission doesn't require it; it just works.