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Letters: Wild Harvest, Kindergarten Punks

Bill Radke

Shirley Shin

I lived in Los Angeles and found a sulphur shelf mushroom in Studio City near a good neighborhood restaurant. I took it home and cooked it and it was amazing. Also, I took wild fennel, which grew everywhere. I don't get to taste all the wild wonders where I live now, but I do forage here. "Hunting the Wild Asparagus" is a great first book to get! Now, I am hungry.

Cary Brief
Raleigh, N.C.

***

I agree with the Good/Bad/No panelists about the child that was expelled from school because his haircut caused a distraction. However, they all missed the boat when they failed to address the fact that school district policy has become so rigid that it disregards common sense. Expulsion in this case is an overreaction. The parent should have been called, told to pick up the child, change the child's hairstyle and return the child to school when accomplished. Alternatively, the child could have sat in the principal's office until a parent could address the situation, which would remove the distraction from the classroom. One can't help but wonder what "lesson" the child learned from this.

Sarah Stowers
Sioux Falls, S.D.

***

I have just, in the last 10 minutes, been subjected to what is almost certainly the most pathetic attempt at humor that I have ever heard broadcast across a public radio station's airwaves. The decision to create, let alone broadcast, imagined phone messages by presidential candidates was a production disaster on par with Geraldo Rivera's live TV opening of Al Capone's (empty) "Secret Vault," except that Geraldo's bit was funny. How two of the six writers of "Scary Movie" ever got a gig writing a sketch for a public radio program, I'll never know.

But here's the deal. I listen to public radio because its programming is intelligent, informed, and frequently peppered with gems of truly inspired humor. Portraying Sen. McCain as pandering to divergent electorates is not inspired. Playing Sen. Obama as shallowly self absorbed is not intelligent or funny. And portraying Sen. Clinton as a blubbering, desperate crybaby is not informed, not intelligent, and not funny. Your portrayal of Sen. Clinton was, quite frankly, the most offensive piece of lowbrow drivel I have ever heard on the radio -- and I listen to "Car Talk" regularly. My advice? Aim for a level of humor better than "Meet the Spartans." If I want to have my intelligence insulted and my sensibilities violated, I can turn off my radio and flip the TV over to C-SPAN, thank you very much.

Yours in bewildered shock,
John Hassett
Ann Arbor, Mich.

***

Once, when I was applying for a government job, I used Mapquest to get directions to the hotel where the various rigorous government tests were to take place. As this was the government, I was required to be hideously punctual. Unfortunately, as I was driving along the highway, I noticed the exit Mapquest had directed me to take. It was still in the process of being built. I took the next exit and tried my best, but needless to say, I was late and hence missed my chance to be injected, inspected, detected, infected, neglected and selected. Fortunately, as this was the government, all I had to do was go back the next time the tests were offered.

Gabe Heller
Minneapolis, Minn.

***

Regarding Bill Radke's report on manners, I think he missed a very important point. There is no baseline for good manners. What is polite in one culture may be highly rude in another. The best example that comes to mind is "elbows on the table." While in Anglo cultures this is considered very rude, it's perfectly fine in Germany. But whatever you do, don't let either of your hands go below the dining table in Germany because that would be considered extremely rude.

Stuart Merrill
Minneapolis, Minn.

***

The reason that it is impolite to put your elbows on the table is because tables were originally just flat pieces of wood placed on top of items to hold them up. If you put your elbows on the table it was likely that you would over-balance the flat surface causing it to fall over and placing everyone's meals on the floor. Keeping your elbows off the table was, thus, a very considerate thing to do.

Renee Benjamin
Florissant, Mo.

  • Music Bridge:
    Bag's Groove
    Artist: Ron Carter
    CD: Dear Miles, (Blue Note)
More stories from our Letters series

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