Letters to the Editor

Apparent laments

Dear Mr. Holman: I cannot thank you enough for your article ("The seven deadly sins of kid culture," Metro Times, July 11). My husband and I were astounded to find someone with the same views as ourselves. Though I'm not sure anything can make Dragon Tales much better, it can allow a good batch of pancakes to get made.

We often wonder how weird folks think we are when he gets out his fuzzy gaming dice or his Shakespeare book, or runs to the bike for a ride.

Anyway, we loved your article, thank you. —T.S. Lamb, Pontiac


Hold the helmet

Re: Your article about helmet laws for motorcyclists ("Heads up!" Metro Times, June 20), I'm writing from Colorado. Earlier this week I had to go out and buy a helmet because I find that I will have to travel to Michigan in the near future. Because I live in a free state, I, along with most riders in Colorado, have chosen to ride without a helmet.

As a new rider, I bought into the safety myth and did wear a helmet consistently for the first six or eight months after being licensed. Later, after studying the issue, I tossed it and have never looked back.

If you read the "data" published by NHTSA/DOT, IIHS and various and sundry organizations whose representatives claim to be concerned about rider safety, you might think that we have dead bikers littering the highways and byways across Colorado.

We don't. Neither do Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Wyoming or South Dakota, some of the free states in the vicinity of Colorado.

In fact, if you study the actual crash data and weigh the number of fatalities against the number of reported motorcycle accidents, you will find that the median number of deaths per one hundred accidents in both free and helmet states is about the same.

And this is why NHTSA/DOT, IIHS and other helmet law advocates will not state fatalities in terms of crash numbers.

Instead, in order to get the risk percentages they do, they only consider fatalities weighted against registration data or "per 100,000 vehicle miles" or "per million vehicle miles." The key here is that these methods assume that motorcycles in both free and helmet states are used, on average, the same. They aren't. As a result, these methods build in a bias that takes advantage of the dynamic that helmet laws actually do accomplish: Discouraging the use of motorcycles.

I am a former resident of Michigan. When I did a heads-up comparison between Colorado and Michigan, averaging annual fatality rates over a ten-year period, Colorado actually came out with a slightly lower fatality rate. Statistically, it was even. But if helmets were actually doing anything with regard to rider safety, wouldn't you think that Colorado should have a significantly higher fatality rate? —Jim Lowry, Arvada, Colo.


Right about Wine

I would like to commend Jack Lessenberry on his article, "Death of a hero" (Metro Times, July 25), about Rabbi Sherwin Wine's untimely and unfortunate death. I agree that he was quite a man.

I did not have the pleasure of knowing him as well as Jack, but I was nonetheless a fan. I often watched his classroom show on public access TV. Having been a history major myself, he reminded me of many of my favorite professors in college. His teaching style was engaging. The depth and breadth of his knowledge was absolutely amazing.

I did have the opportunity to meet him once. I recognized him in the parking lot of Somerset Mall one day and introduced myself. He was extremely gracious and friendly to a total stranger accosting him in public. What a wonderful man and such a loss to the community and academia.

Thank you for your fine tribute to a great guy. You were lucky to have known him so well. —David R. Walker, Bloomfield Twp.


Religion needs a god

To the Editor: It's not surprising that Jack Lessenberry reveres the late Sherwin Wine. What's really astonishing in Wine's feel-good philosophy is that he countenances a religion without a God.

To me, that's like having a philosophy without an idea. In the end, Rabbi Sherwin Wine's world is more of a dystopia than a utopia, Lessenberry's hagiography notwithstanding. —Martin Yanosek, St. Clair Shores


Saying Grace

Re: Coleman Young's quotes in "What the 'riot' meant" (Metro Times, (July 18), I always knew Young was smart. But if we're serious about changing Detroit for the better, we need to listen to Grace Boggs' ideas more seriously. Coleman Young was a great politician who was loved in Detroit. But Coleman is dead, and Grace Boggs is alive and alert. She's not just a saint who can see around corners sometimes. She has specific analysis and specific solutions to Detroit's problems. That's what we really need, instead of vague, wistful statements, we need analysis that leads to action. That's what she provides. —Richard Lewis, Southfield


Impeach them

Re: "Bush vs. America" (Metro Times, July 11), thanks to Jack Lessenberry for attempting to jar us out of our moral stupor. The true measure of the dilapidated state of our democracy isn't the fact that we have an ignorant group of arrogant thugs and moral morons running the country, it is the fact that unlike the time of Tricky Dick Nixon's Cambodia and Watergate attacks, we are now content as a nation to meekly accept a presidency that starts illegal wars, tortures, and abrogates fundamental constitutional rights, by keeping us fat, dumb and paranoid with its lies. We've established a new American standard for the 21st century. —Anthony Lorts, West Bloomfield

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