Letters

Readers Respond to the January Issue

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What a great story ("1908"), but why did author Jim Rasenberger end it by dwelling on the negative consequences of the technologies first developed then? I won't buy into that state of mind. I, for one, would much prefer living in 2008 and I expect great things for the future. This is an imperfect world and country, but let's shelve the doom and gloom.
John F. Runion
Binghamton, New York

Defending Norman Mailer
First, a disclosure: I am Norman Mailer's authorized biographer. When Lance Morrow speaks about Mailer's works ("Sound and Fury"), he is disingenuous, at best. Morrow says that Mailer's masterpiece, The Executioner's Song, was assembled from interviews with convicted murderer Gary Gilmore by Lawrence Schiller. True, but Mailer also did hundreds of interviews and spent six months in Utah and dug through court records and psychiatric reports and the like. Shame, shame, Morrow for throwing trashy half-truths on the grave of one of our greatest writers. Irreplaceable and unprecedented, Mailer will long be remembered as the chronicler of the American Century.
J. Michael Lennon
Provincetown, Massachusetts

Lance Morrow's essay gave a well-grounded, brilliant analysis of Mailer. I agree with him that, as time goes by, Mailer's works will have an almost total irrelevance.
Beverly Fowler-Conner
Camp Hill, Pennsylvania

Bragging Rights
I've been lucky to have seen or been to all of the places you chose in "28 Places to See Before You Die." To round out your selections, I would add the Cappadocia region of Turkey and what for me is the most beautiful place on earth, Vietnam's Halong Bay in the Gulf of Tonkin.
Margaret Gampell
Palo Alto, California

I much enjoyed the article about places to see before you die, and I understand that all such lists generate suggestions and complaints. However, I did notice that the number of man-made locations (19) far exceeded the natural (9). I was disappointed not to see Mounts McKinley or Everest, Victoria Falls, Lake Baikal, the Red Sea, the polar ice caps, the Nile River and other natural attractions that, to my mind, surpass any constructed places.
Jimmy Thomas
Jonesboro, Arkansas

Due to the accelerated degradation of earth's environment, future articles about places to see before you die might more realistically be titled, "Before They Die."
Douglas W. Benoit
Winthrop, Maine

Metric Persuasion
As a retired science teacher, I was amazed to read "The Coldest Place" and find all the temperatures given in degrees Fahrenheit. Chemists, physicists and other scientists, not to mention the rest of the world that relies on the metric system, measure temperatures using the Celsius (centigrade) or Kelvin scale. Only the United States retains "English" units. Join the modern world!
John Farnsworth
Canandaigua, New York

Corrections:
The ships pictured on page 44 were not part of the Great White Fleet of 1908, as described. They were cruisers and gunboats from an earlier period.
The Turkish ruins shown on page 91 are not Ephesus, but, rather, the Temple of Trajan at Pergamon.

The temperature chart on page 21 should have listed that water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit and that the moon's daytime surface reaches 253 degrees above zero.

"Among the Spires" lost track of time: prior to the standardization of time in England in the 19th century, when it was 9:05 p.m. in Greenwich it was 9 p.m. in Oxford. We regret the errors. —Ed.

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