Letters, calls and the roar of the crowd:
Ben Mitchell, Baltimore: You missed the point in your column about Hooters of Harborplace: Was the cheeseburger any good?
COMMENT: Who cares? People who claim they go to Hooters for the food are the same people who claim they read Playboy for the ads.
Philip A. Nathan, Leesburg, Va.: May I remind you that The University of Virginia has the Honor System and an unsullied, thriving athletics program. On the other hand, your dear alma mater -- the University of Illinois -- does not embrace an Honor System and in athletics, well, the '80s decade is public record. In brief, one Big Ten Conference probation (1981); three NCAA probations and sanctions (1984, 1988, 1990).
It's a sorry saga. History is not on the side of Illinois.
COMMENT: Well, they tried an honor system at Illinois, but they found out the teachers had the honor and the kids had the system.
And while I don't know whose side history is on, I do know that in last year's Citrus Bowl it was Illinois 31, The University of Virginia, 21.
Which might tell you something about the relative value of being "unsullied."
Sarah Almon, Columbia: Hi! I'm the (eight year old) you don't believe wrote the haiku for your poetry contest. I did write it! My mom and dad also entered.
COMMENT: In that case, I believe you. Because if your mom and dad had written a haiku that good, they would have kept it for themselves.
Mrs. Joseph L. Long Sr., Salisbury: In your column you mention a million-dollar idea -- a washer and dryer in one machine.
I had one in the 1950s that I purchased at Sears, Roebuck & Co. It was a dream come true. I loved it! I moved out of the house I was living in when I purchased the machine and left it there! I was sorry because they stopped making them. I had no problems with it and wish I could purchase another one.
COMMENT: They probably stopped making them because now they can sell you two machines instead of one. Just more proof that my parents were right: Life was better in the '50s.
Mrs. Helen Binnix, Baltimore: There is one commercial that I find most annoying. The one from Revco on which the young Olympics star, Mary Something-Or-Other, rushes in the store and all around the aisles gushing all the time. The mute button on my remote control is very handy whenever that commercial appears.
COMMENT: That's the famous Olympic Gold Medalist Mary Lou Retton, but I'm not surprised you don't recognize her. She has grown up and looks a little bit like Dick Butkus these days. Life can be tough for ex-gymnasts. Unlike Olympic boxers or even skaters, who can go on to lucrative careers, gymnasts often have the choice only of TV sportscasting or doing dumb commercials. But have a heart and go into Revco and buy something. Otherwise Mary Lou may end up on Baltimore Street asking for spare change.
William E. Dashiell, Glen Burnie: After reading your column [on gun control] I can't understand how people like you can keep your jobs or why intelligent people even bother to read the papers.
You speak of more gun laws. Don't you understand that gun violations are all committed by criminals and you propose more laws for the criminals to obey. That thinking is not even to a third grade level.
COMMENT: The thinking about the Brady bill is pretty simple: If we can have a national waiting period for the purchase of handguns, law enforcement agencies could have the opportunity of checking out the background of purchasers to see if they are felons, escaped mental patients, etc.
In Maryland, we already have such a waiting period, and state police find hundreds of such people every year and reject them.
The Brady bill, which passed committee but never came to a vote on the floor of the House last year, is a pretty mild bill. It doesn't ban guns. It doesn't keep anybody from getting a gun. It doesn't even require a police background check, just makes one possible. All the bill really says is: Let's wait a few days.
And it's hard to figure out why anybody would be against that. What's so important about a handgun that you have to buy one on your lunch hour?
A few years ago I interviewed Sgt. Robert Pepersack, the commander of the firearms licensing section of the Maryland State Police, who said: "I am a life member of the NRA and I am not anti-gun. But I think a seven-day waiting period to get a handgun is reasonable. I mean when 13-year-olds are getting shot in the schools, something has got to be done."
So it isn't my childish thinking that's the real problem, William. It's the fact that too many children are getting shot.