A life's gift
Re "In death, a promise for the future," Aug. 29
Thomas Curwen's feature article absolutely captivated me. The subject was heart-wrenching, but I was moved even more by Curwen's ability to juxtapose the practical and real world of ALS, death and giving and the less-definable space of suffering, hope and future. Thank you for sharing with us this woman's powerful and significant life — and death — and promise.
Nancy Strow Sheley
What a treat to see a positive article about donating one's body to science on the front page of The Times.
I donated my body to the UCLA Donated Body Program a few years ago. I'm following the tradition of my grandmother, mother and aunt, who did it in Germany.
When I mention to friends here that I donated my body, all I get is a blank stare. I guess people are not aware of the program, a fact I hope your article will change.
Your treatment of the ravages of this horrific disease showed a knowledge and compassion few today could summon, and your mastery of the storytelling craft was just stunning.
The research needed to unravel the mystery of this dread disease has never been so beautifully and carefully articulated. Those involved owe you a sincere debt of gratitude; the rest of us are awed.
I knew someone who died from Lou Gehrig's disease in the 1980s, and I saw firsthand the devastation as he became a shadow of a person — first losing his ability to walk, then to eat, then to talk, then to move, then to breathe, then to even communicate with his eyes.
My friend was locked in his body, trapped in a hospital room, a machine breathing for him, without the ability to communicate. I recall thinking that with all the research money, scientists would soon unlock the key to this horrible disease.
However, it is 25 years later and there are still people like Elizabeth Uyehara whose lives end at the hand of ALS.
Race and the president
Re "Race matters," Opinion, Aug. 27
Does race matter? The question is to whom does it matter, where and when.
If a person needs a good auto mechanic — and one is black and the other white, and one is better than the other — the person will choose the better mechanic regardless of race. At a beach party attended mostly by one racial group, if another racial group shows up, race might matter.
For those to whom race matters, the real question is, do they matter. After all, nobody chooses his race.
Robert S. Rodgers
Race matters, just not the way the writer put it. President Obama went on "The View" to talk to the American electorate, not to champion his blackness.
The article would have been much more useful and relevant if it had discussed the effect of the racist vitriol being spewed out across America through cable TV and talk radio, and, like a virus, infecting and affecting race relations across the land.
It is easy to criticize the president. Everybody is doing it. It would be far more courageous for black commentators to speak to the dangers of the rhetoric of hate.
Mary Ann Greene
The fact that a big criticism of Obama's appearance on "The View" was that he "demeaned the office" demonstrates that far from botching up a discussion of race, he did not expose himself to the usual racial politicking of a well-oiled right-wing smear machine.
Discussion of race by this first black president, whether intended or not, will always be a trap requiring time and energy from which to extricate himself. He's got bigger fish to fry.
As far as Obama missing an opportunity for a "teachable moment," Erin Aubry Kaplan appears to have missed the forest for the trees. The Obama presidency is one of the most teachable moments in recent American history.
Race, much like marriage equality for "all," will continue to be a hot-button issue as long as we focus on our differences instead of celebrating our similarities.
I wholeheartedly disagree with Kaplan that "President Obama botched it again." To the contrary, I think that he struck just the right tone.
After reading this — and countless other — columns by Kaplan, I truly wonder if anything other than race matters to her.
16 laid-off janitors
Re "Treating people like garbage," Opinion, Aug. 28
Tim Rutten expresses noble sentiments describing the plight of 16 janitors dismissed from their Century Plaza employment. It is unfortunate that these people, through no fault of their own, find themselves out of work.
Perhaps they have a union fund to tide them over. Oh, I forgot, the union is the SEIU. But that's another story.
The real story here is that no business operating with a union contract has any obligation to its employees beyond the terms of its contract with that union. That's free enterprise, and as disheartening as the circumstances may be, especially in this particular situation, that's the way it is.
Louis H. Nevell