Las Vegas has a unique heart and soul ["Winner Take All"]. They may be harder to see through all the glitz and glitter than they would be in a Vermont village but are there for the finding.
Beyond the Strip
Evidently J.R. Moehringer ["Winner Take All"] did not try very hard to really understand Las Vegas beyond the glitter, kitsch and sexual lure. He must not have visited such scenic destinations as Red Rock Canyon, Valley of Fire State Park, Mount Charleston or Hoover Dam. He would have seen the beauty of the desert and soaring red cliffs. Had he looked closely into life in the "exurban sprawl," he would have found families, schools, diverse places of worship, museums, parks and libraries. I hope he eventually found a library. The Las Vegas-Clark County Library District has 13 urban branches and 11 rural ones. The University of Nevada, Las Vegas has an outstanding lecture series featuring authors and scholars. As a 27-year resident of Las Vegas, I grow weary of journalists who hype only the glitz and bemoan the cultural desert of Las Vegas without exploring the facts.
Las Vegas, Nevada
There might be some misunderstanding about the food mentioned as "a watery egg custard with chicken and mushrooms" ["A Walk Through Old Japan"]. This dish is called chawan-mushi; it is a savory egg custard and not a dessert. Usually served as a soup course, it is silky and soft and should be somewhat watery. "Watery" to Americans often means not tasty, but the water in this dish is dashi, a flavorful broth traditionally made with fish. Chawan-mushi is a popular dish in Japan, and it is very soothing to a tired body. I also recommend gohei-mochi (rice cakes with miso sauce), another popular snack along the Kiso Road. It's a must-try.
Kanako I. Beringer
A Word, Please
Add my outrage to Ted Gup's in his humorous essay ["My Big Hang-Up"] about the corruption, perversion and degradation of the English language. I have informed my friends that I will not read any e-mail written with texting shorthand. I love the English language too much to accept its demise at the hands of anti-literate message writers who believe that "4 u 2 no" is equivalent to "For your information."
I love communications technology. I share ideas, plan events, have great conversations and sometimes even tweet about what I had for dinner (if it was a particularly exceptional meal). I have started an international organization through social media, shared an anti-suicide video with teens and recently set up a meeting with my peers on Twitter. Not everyone with his or her head down tapping away at a smartphone or personal digital assistant is spewing garbage.
Morristown, New Jersey
Kenneth C. Davis' essay "God and Country" included a number of historical events of which I was unaware. His point of view, however, spoiled an otherwise enlightening article. Davis seems to conflate a secular government, which the founding fathers sought to establish, with a secular society, which they clearly did not. Many founding fathers thought religion essential in order for society to regulate itself. They advocated separation of state from church precisely because that was the only way to ensure real religious freedom.
J. Phillip Martin
Anne Hutchinson rightly deserves recognition for living her religion according to her own conscience, which resulted in her expulsion from the Massachusetts Bay Colony. But let's not overlook the sacrifice made by Mary Dyer, Anne's dear friend. Dyer was hanged in 1660 for refusing to renounce her Quaker faith. She is thought to be the only woman in American history executed because of her religious beliefs.
Dorothy J. Schimmelpfennig