Reader responses to our September issue

From the Editors Readers were eager to add their own nominations to our 21st-Century Life List of the world’s newest wonders. “I want to go to Middle Earth (New Zealand),” Jerry Wagner wrote on Facebook. George Clark of Eureka, California, suggested that seeking paradise closer to home would preserve the environment: “Finding pleasure in the simple things is ...a prerequisite for humanity’s future.” Others reveled in the bucket list that CBS News praised as “out of the ordinary” and the Los Angeles Times said “crackles with energy.” But some questioned how accessible the destinations were. “Ninety-nine percent of us can’t afford even one location,” Linda Gonzales said. Readers were also inspired by the tale of Margee Ensign, the American educator creating a refuge for young Nigerian women who have escaped from the terrorist group Boko Haram. “Ensign is my hero,” wrote Sarah Cox Huffaker.

Lessons of Katrina

Having served on the Urban Land Institute team that made recommendations aimed at rebuilding New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, I fully understand the disillusionment that Douglas Brinkley expresses [“Broken Promise”]. The breaking of the levees caused a natural disaster that was made worse by human error. One of my concerns is that racial bias would play a part in the city’s recovery process. The broken promise impacted the entire city of New Orleans, but most especially African-American residents. Yet it is still not too late to complete the difficult recovery process using the principles of inclusion and equity.

Philip S. Hart, Los Angeles, California

Green Carpet

As a Southerner, I enjoyed Bill Finch’s coverage of kudzu [“Legend of the Green Monster”]. I recall marveling at the vines devouring slopes north of my small hometown in Arkansas, and I had always partaken in the “unstoppable” myth of kudzu’s growth. May I suggest, as further reading, the short horror story by Karl Edward Wagner titled, “Where the Summer Ends.” The possibilities of what’s hidden under that green carpet are sure to send a shiver down one’s spine.

Lee Burks, Facebook

Invasive plants, fish and insects brought here to do something great—stop erosion, provide food or eat another insect—always seem to turn the tables in a few years, and they become the problem.

Jackie Fillmore, Facebook

Rare Bears

Something needs to save the rainforest [“The Spirit Bear”]. Glad it is that magnificent bear.

Kathleen M. Lynch, Facebook

Discoveries at Jamestown

It always amazes me, reading of early settlers’ strength and courage [“Four Funerals and a Wedding”]. Yet they experienced the same infighting and plotting we see today.

Sherry Smith Myers, Facebook

Here they’re thinking they’ve got their “eternal” resting place, only to have some archaeologists digging them up a few centuries later. Is nothing sacred?

David Jewett, Facebook

Caving In

As a former caver with the Cave Research Foundation, I thoroughly enjoyed your brief, but misleadingly titled article, “The Longest Cave,” about Hang Son Doong, Vietnam. Although the cave’s vestibule does appear enormous by volume, it does not come close to Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave cave system, which now exceeds 400 continuous miles of mapped passage.

Ken Carstens, Professor Emeritus, Murray State University


Indeed, Vietnam’s Hang Son Doong is not the world’s longest cave, though it is frequently described as the largest.

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