Letters from our readers.
Jan. 30 1998 3:30 AM

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A Utilitarian Burial

In your "Egghead" column, it is stated that Jeremy Bentham's corpse was preserved according to his wishes. Unfortunately, as so often happens, his last wishes were not fulfilled in accordance with his will. His wish was to have his clothed skeleton displayed, not a dressed, mummified corpse. I attach herewith the.

--Robert BjorklandToronto

True Grits


In his "Dialogue" on population, Ben Wattenberg refers to something slicing through something else "like a laser through grits."

The metaphor is initially appealing, but on further examination it demands clarification from Engineer Wattenberg. A laser strikes one as a particularly infelicitous tool for grits-slicing. Awkwardness aside (we're not talking laser pen-pointers here; do we take the laser to the breakfast table or the grits to the laser?), at least two practical difficulties arise: As the slicing begins, some considerable quantity of steam should be produced, shielding the subject grits from our slicing instrument. Moreover, sliced grits show a disconcerting tendency toward self-healing. I'm reminded of thousands of Egyptian extras following Charlton Heston into the (temporarily) parted Red Sea. Will the grits stay sliced? I think not.

--Jonathan LundellHalf Moon Bay, Calif.

Why Couldn't He Be Kam Ho? Or Chin Fong?


From "Today's Papers" on Jan. 23: "Amidst all this, Jack Lord and his hair died. The obits fail to clear up an abiding mystery: Why did Kam Fong play 'Chin Ho'? Why couldn't he just be 'Kam Fong'?"

Sorry, but this is pretty offensive. Would Shuger ever have said: "Why did Irving Goldberg play 'Sol Bernstein'? Why couldn't he just be 'Irving Goldberg'?" or "Why did Luigi Santini play 'Giuseppi Romano'? Why couldn't he just be 'Luigi Santini'?" That boy needs an editor. Can't you pay somebody else to stay up all night to keep a lid on his, er, excesses?

--Gary Krist

Greed Goeth Before a Fall


Nancy Griffin writes in "Hollywood Strikes Back" that Michael Eisner extended an olive branch to former friend Mike Ovitz, but Ovitz declined to accept it. She then notes that Ovitz might be someone whose pride exceeds his greed.

This is an absurd statement. Ovitz didn't engineer a $90-million severance package because he was proud of leaving Disney or his brainchild, Creative Artists Agency. And now that he has more money than God (or, at least, Oral Roberts), he doesn't need Eisner's friendship. He can open a studio on his own and thumb his nose at everyone else.

--Brian HamburgWest Hills, Calif.

The Troubles


In "The Luck of the Irish," James Surowiecki makes statements that are flat-out false, and omits many issues that are at the real root of the problems.

The Irish Republican Army always notifies ahead of time when a bomb will be set off in a civilian area. There is an established code just for that. He omitted this fact. When Surowiecki calls the Irish Catholics a minority he should point out that they make up 45 percent of Northern Ireland. But only 5 percent of Irish Catholics have been accepted into the police force.

Further, there was no mention of the release of Robert "Basher" Bates. Bates, who took part in dozens of murders of Catholics, has spent less time in prison than Joe Doherty, who was convicted of one killing. (Bates' method was to beat the victims with hammers and then dismember them with butcher knives.)

Finally, the founding fathers of the United States promised to help free Ireland. On Oct. 4, 1778, Ben Franklin assured the Irish, who made up half of Washington's army, that he was "charged to assure you that means will be found by the Continental Congress to establish your freedom." On June 17, 1781, Franklin said of Ireland, "Now is the time for France and the United States to help secure her independence."

Had America kept its word, Surowiecki wouldn't have anything to lie about.

--M.G. McCormickGlen Oaks, N.Y.

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