If a doctor cannot sign a death certificate until the heart has stopped beating, doesn't it make sense even by the simplest of this world's views that life should, at latest, start with the first heartbeat, which occurs late in the first trimester? I don't think the Supreme Court should have any difficulty in making a decision on partial-birth abortions ("High stakes at the High Court," Jan. 29). No matter how you try to cover it up or rename it, you are ending a life. That amounts to murder, premeditated because it is surely planned. - Peter E. Masti, Ravena, N.Y.
Regarding the statement from the "coalition of 850 liberal religious figures" (The No-Comment Zone, Jan. 29), what Bible do they use to glean conclusions not only for themselves but for "all faiths"? By opposing "unsustainable population growth" and "all forms of sexual oppression," they are trying to have it both ways. - Susan A. Ruggles, Grey Eagle, Minn.
As a systems analyst and programmer with over 20 years of experience, it is comforting to read that the need for computer technology experts will be exploding over the next 10 years ("A lot of help wanted," Jan. 29). Unfortunately, many of my colleagues and I who have recently completed Y2K projects are finding it difficult to get new jobs. Many companies are looking for people with the latest buzzwords on their resumé: C++, Java, Visual Basic, DHTML, Cold Fusion, etc. I have been unemployed for about 5 months and am teaching myself Java and HTML. Without experience, however, it will be difficult for me to get anywhere. We are on a technology treadmill with increasingly smaller time frames. - Bruce Gordon, Portland, Ore.
Bravo for "Taking stock" (Jan. 29). Hovering over the big board as Wall Street high-rollers manipulate my puny savings is not my idea of placing the kingdom of God first. The Lord is already taking good care of me and all those to whom I cheerfully give my worry-free "treasure." - Elsi Mayyasi, Sarasota, Fla.
A bull's eye
Marvin Olasky's piece on the subtle seduction of the recent stock market--induced prosperity is right on target. As someone who has benefited from this bull market, albeit modestly, I realize that it is only too easy for my soul to succumb to those distractions. - Andre Yee, Herndon, Va.
Squeeze 'em in
Thank you for the cartoon about Clinton moving Arizona to Washington because it's too environmentally sensitive (Jan. 29). In 1996 Mr. Clinton set aside over a million acres in my local area, and you could have added Utah, Nevada, Idaho, Montana, and several other states to the list. - Jackie Novotny, Escalante, Utah
Who in the world did the photo of the nurse ("A lot of help wanted," Jan. 29)? No self-respecting nurse would ever wear her stethoscope hanging straight down. Only MDs do that; nurses wear theirs over the back of their necks. Also, the last time I saw a nurse wearing a cap was about 1981, about the same year I last saw a nurse carrying a tray. And when has anyone seen a nurse with empty pockets? The minimum is several pens, a hemostat, bandage scissors, a roll of tape or two, some IV cards, and various notes. Plus, you need the photo-ID tag, with her last name taped over, so that she doesn't get harassed at home by crazy patients. And why, with this retro-look nurse, did you leave off the one retro thing I still really do like, I-length sleeves? Finally, the model looks miserable, which might be appropriate because nurses these days are probably the most overworked and underrespected people in our country today. - Ursula Smith, Chesterfield, Mo.
Leaving the herd
While Mr. Stamper was insightful to point out the irony of the Mac OS X kernel name of "Darwin" ("Intelligent designers," Jan. 29), some of his observations suggest that he may not be paying attention to public information concerning Apple's recent rebound. The stock has risen because Apple is a leader in technology. Though world market share of Macs may only be 5 percent, many iMac buyers are new to the Macintosh, perhaps preferring value, ease of use, and innovation over the "herd instinct" draw of the Windows-based PC system. - David Van Vliet, Rochester, Minn.
I read with great interest your article on Jane Fonda ("Citizen Jane," Jan. 29). I had heard the rumors but didn't give them any credence. It is good to know the "scoop" on Miss Fonda. I appreciate the tentativeness of your reporting for, as you said, until she goes on record we won't know how far she has come. - Kathy Parcells, Dayton, Ohio
Regarding the letter from the man who wrote, "Back in the 1930s ... I lay on the floor with my eyes closed [listening to The Lone Ranger]. Oh, how I'll miss that masked man, Clayton Moore" (Mailbag, Feb. 12). Mr. Moore never played the Lone Ranger on the radio. The radio role was played by several actors, most notably by the late Brace Beemer, who died in the mid-1960s. I, too, was a big Lone Ranger radio fan, listening to rebroadcasts in the '70s on WSB-Atlanta. - Joseph Slife, Athens, Ga.
We at Heritage Community Services were excited to see the articles on abstinence education ("You oughta know," Jan. 22). We are in our second year of teaching character-based abstinence education to students in our state, last year reaching over 12,000. We use the Medical Institute's STD slides and video in our classes and count Dr. Joe McIlhaney as a friend. We have been greatly encouraged by the students' responses, like the girl who wrote that she is a virgin and "I plan on staying this way. I learned a lot about sexually transmitted diseases and now have a better understanding of them. I recommend this course to everyone who never understood their middle school sex-ed classes that just tell you to take a pill and/or use a condom." - Carol Musselman, Charleston, S.C.
Concern for the born
Regarding "Roe 2000" (Jan. 22), I agree that we should make every effort to stop this horrible practice, and that it is important to save the unborn babies and provide a family for them. But we also need to be concerned with the children that have already been born. My youth pastor has adopted two children, and he says that we may not all be called to adopt, but we should consider opening our homes and our hearts to foster children who may never hear the gospel or experience Christ's love otherwise. - Melissa McGee, St. Louis, Mo.
Although I agree that the Plymouth brand hasn't meant much for a long time, and others can replace our Voyager minivan ("Coming and going," Jan. 29), the name still means a great deal to our family. The stylized sailing ship logo on the front of each vehicle was originally the brave little sailing vessel, the Mayflower, that landed at a rock the Pilgrims named Plymouth almost 400 years ago. Another brand of car won't be missed, but we will miss the reminder of what it stood for. - Jim Heggie, Camano Island, Wash.
Regarding "Don't have a cow" (Jan. 22), I take issue with the remark that vegetarianism is necessarily part of self-improvement "new commandments" that replace the old morality. Conservative Christians can be vegetarians, too. For me it is a working out of Christian convictions about our relationship to God's world. - Lois Huisman, Grand Rapids, Mich.
A worthy ministry
In what ways does the letter writer suggest the Plaintiff's Bar might be a ministry of Jesus Christ (Mailbag, Feb. 5)? Perhaps by encouraging prospective plaintiffs to talk face to face with the alleged wrongdoer prior to filing suit? Or by getting after their colleagues who monger vengefulness by advertising "Injured? Call ..."? Or by taking a stand against so-called pain and suffering award amounts that have ceased to amaze? Or by coming up with a variation on the "loser pays" theme to discourage unfounded suits before tens of thousands of dollars have been spent on defense preparations? How about by refuting the myth that has been promulgated upon our society declaring injury and death to be conjoined inseparably to blame, guilt, and penalty? These strike me as honorable, pure, just, and worthy of praise. - Patricia S. Melzer, Milford, Pa.
Thank you for Joel Belz's article pointing out that the things we see with our eyes and hear with our ears affect us morally and spiritually ("Simulated sin," Dec. 25/Jan. 1). My husband and I took a stand against R-rated movies a long time ago and have never suffered from lack of entertainment. - Lisa Nolan, Glastonbury, Conn.