Readers Respond to Our May Issue

Your feedback on our coverage of gene therapy and hobos

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Our cover story in May upended conventional wisdom on Neanderthals, whom our species has looked down upon for centuries. Kelsie Spears Johnson welcomed new research that is revealing “they had a lot more to offer than we realized. I’m so excited to see more information pushing against those Neanderthal norms!” Diane Alexander of Buena Vista, California, called the piece “eye-opening,” noting that it “prompted me to think of just how ancient the us-versus-them mentality is that it still exists on our planet. Why must we be so judgmental and disdainful toward people who aren’t exactly like ourselves?” Terry Phelan disagreed with our Prologue graphic on recreating a ninth-century monastery, which noted that the church towers had no practical purpose: “In an era before road maps, highways and GPS, those towers would have been essential for travelers to locate the monastery.”

Hobo History

The Last of the Great American Hobos” is some of the most lyrical and interesting writing I’ve seen in ages. Jeff MacGregor really captures the feel of a world and group of people most Americans will never know. Great work, Jeff.

— Doug Verdier | Minneapolis, Minnesota

Jeff MacGregor’s profile of hobo culture is as satisfying a piece of journalism as anything you’ll read east or west of Britt. The opening and closing paragraphs are lyrical without being maudlin. The reportage in between is evocative, alive, perfectly measured.

— Mark Wilson Kimble | York, Maine

Though his article is well written and engaging, Jeff MacGregor doesn’t get any props for glorifying the hobo lifestyle. If it wasn’t for those pesky little things called personal accountability and bills, not to mention taxes and family, I’d probably enjoy being carefree and bereft of responsibilities too.

— Douglas J. Gladstone | Wilton, New York

Unlike Britt, Iowa, residents, folks in my hometown of Jamestown, North Dakota, didn’t welcome hobos. My dad, two brothers and I worked for the Northern Pacific and knew Frank, the NP yard bull [security officer]. Despite the fact that Jamestown was the birthplace of the western author Louis L’Amour, a world-famous hobo, residents rarely provided hobos food, clothing, shelter or medical assistance. Sad.

— Robert Brake | Ocean Park, Washington

No Pain, Yes Gain

The potential for gene therapy is enormous for those with ongoing, debilitating pain (“A Mystery in the Family”). The family members who provided their genome information and the scientists working on this project are to be commended for their persistence in finding an answer for those with life-altering chronic pain.

— Carol Chisholm | Nanaimo, British Columbia

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