Letters, calls and the roar of the crowd:
Mrs. Sonia Taich, Hampstead: If you ever leave The Sun, will you please let me know where you're going?
COMMENT: I'll be leaving The Sun today to go get an oil change for my car. I'll be going to the dealer because I had a bad experience with one of those quick-change places. Should be back tomorrow.
Bob Krasmansky, Ellicott City: The people of Baltimore, those who come like lemmings to Orioles games, those who get emotionally involved as if it were "their" team, should buy it!
If the people buy it now for $105 million they will not have to pay off God knows how much to whomever owns the team to stay in Baltimore rather than move to Podunk or Bora Bora when the new stadium lease runs out in 2003. The $105 million comes to $105 for 1 million people or 1 million shares at $105 each.
COMMENT: And that way, if we didn't like a manager, we could simply take a stockholders' vote and get rid of him.
Or say there are two outs in the bottom of the ninth, the O's have the tying run on second with Cal Ripken up next. The batter, with a three-and-two count, hits a line drive that bounces into shallow left. The left fielder, who has a pretty good arm for a left fielder, scoops it in on one hop. The runner, of course, was off with the pitch. But do you hold him at third? Or send him home? The stockholders could vote on it! This could lead to confusion, chaos and possibly mayhem at the ballpark.
Yep, I like the idea.
Carolyn Crittenden, Elkridge: Don't you just love it? The day your column on voice mail appeared, the telephone system in a tri-state area took a dive. For several glorious hours there was no voice anything via telephone.
COMMENT: I read the other day that "each of the problems, which have telecommunications experts scrambling for explanations, is linked to the same type of computer switch and software that allow phone companies to offer sophisticated services such as Caller ID."
In other words, the phone system is crashing all over America so that we can have over-hyped, way-too-expensive, paranoid-driven services like Caller ID. Given my choice, I think I'd just rather be able to pick up the phone and make a call.
Walton Windsor, Baltimore: I favor a national primary.
I favor a Baltimore City/Baltimore County/Harford County/Howard County/Anne Arundel County merger.
I favor removal of all dictators starting with Saddam Hussein.
I favor light rail.
I favor outlawing shooting wildlife for "sport."
I favor leaving the Block the hell alone. It's the only continuing bright spot in center city.
I favor abolishing political parties.
I favor Charles and Di for King and Queen now.
I favor forced recycling.
I favor very heavy gasoline taxes.
I favor Schmoke's legalization of illicit drugs for adults.
I favor abolishing the Electoral College.
COMMENT: Walton Windsor isn't running for anything, but wouldn't it be refreshing if all candidates for office were asked to prepare a list of 12 things they favored or didn't favor?
And that would be their entire campaign. No expensive commercials, no signs, no phony debates. Just a list. You can't tell me we would do any worse.
S. A. Kalinich, Arnold: When The Sun's Maritime Report listed the flag of the cable ship Long Lines as U.S. one day, American the next, I called to discover why. It seems American was inadvertently used by a substitute for the fellow who usually compiles the list. Curiously, all other ships' flags (except the United Arab Emirates) are listed by national adjective, e.g. Panamanian, Vanuatuan, Liberian. But the US (and UAE) are listed as nouns.
COMMENT: This has troubled me for a long time. Helen Bentley used to be in charge of this when she was at The Sun, but now she shirks her responsibility so that she can frolic in Congress and deal with much more trivial matters.
I am thinking of asking for a MacArthur Foundation grant to study this problem. But right now, American newspapers have a bigger task at hand. They must answer the real question of journalism in the last days of the 20th century:
Why does the ink have to come off on our fingers?
Robert S. Jones Jr., Baltimore: I'm sure you get so many letters that you many not even read this one. Your secretary may read it and just throw it in the wastebasket.
COMMENT: Hey, what the heck kind of guy do you think I am? You think I have become some kind of big shot who needs a secretary to insulate him from the people? No way, Bob. I throw the letters in the wastebasket myself.