I both laughed and cringed when I read that Camille Barnett was receiving uniformed police protection and daily transportation in a marked squad car ("Managing director given a guard," Wednesday). Nine months ago, an apparently homeless man yelled profanities as she walked her dogs. This was not a threat, but just life in the big city.
In a city where nurses wait for buses late at night and shift workers travel the El in the wee hours of the morning, Barnett is receiving extravagant pampering. Elitism, fear and power may have had more to do with her reporting this trivial event to the police commissioner than any genuine danger.
Jay A. McCalla
Re: "Facebook epidemic," Michael Smerconish, last Sunday:
As a parent of children ages 21, 20 and 17, I can tell you that they think it is "SO LAME" for older adults to have a Facebook profile, and, even worse, for anyone over 30, particularly a family friend or relative, to ask to be added as friend. One thing I did ask my children was: When did they plan to get rid of their Facebook profiles? A hard question, since it is their lifeline to about a zillion of their closest friends. Brows furrowed, they got very quiet, and, finally, could not offer an answer. And that, perhaps, is how it will someday be OK for adults to use Facebook!
Re: "Obama must abide by the law and punish torturers," commentary, last Sunday:
One thing Anthony D'Amato and Jordan J. Paust did not mention but should have stressed is that we should not simply find scapegoats to punish. We should go after those who not only allowed torture, but also supported the heinous actions of their underlings. It would not be fair to punish the little fish while the biggest fish swim free.
Faye Flam's commentary on greed ("Compelled to covet," last Sunday) offered an excellent take on keeping up with the Joneses. But greed and our natural instinct as social animals did not cause the current financial crisis that has left many Americans disillusioned.
While it is true that natural instincts drive an individual to compete for the fear of being left behind, we have a long history of social rules to keep greed in check and prevent us from succeeding at the expense of another. It is a lack of ethics that drives one to do the wrong thing. And that is why we have a government of laws to protect against such behavior.
John J. Pino
Getting rid of the Electoral College is about as good an idea as letting the federal government run the auto industry ("Electoral College is not a system for a democracy," last Sunday). Although Dick Polman describes the college as partly being a sop to slaveholding states, its inclusion in the Constitution was more basic. Much like the Senate in the bicameral legislature, the college was included to help prevent the tyranny of the majority.
Without these institutions, the country would very quickly find itself being run solely for the benefit of New York, California, and the other populous states. At the time when the federal government was largely disengaged from the everyday - as the Founders envisioned - this might be OK. Today, with the government involved in so much of our lives, it is absolutely unthinkable if you live outside an urban area.
I usually enjoy Lisa Scottoline's "Chick Wit" column, but last Sunday's ("Having a peppy puppy Christmas") gave me pause.
She mentioned the poor shape of the economy, and then discussed getting a puppy for Christmas, indicating she planned to purchase this package of "love." Hasn't she been watching the news? Due to the condition of the economy, shelters are full to capacity with discarded "love." And that means there is plenty of love waiting to be adopted. Taking home one pet makes room for the rescue of another, so in a sense two lives are saved. Isn't that better than supporting a breeder who plans litters to sell puppies at Christmas?