Letters, calls and the roar of the crowd:
Keith B. Levy, Severna Park: I have subscribed to The Sun for several years and each month I am billed $12.95 for the privilege.
In January, which has 31 days, it is $12.95.
In September, which has only 30 days, it is $12.95.
Last February, which had only 28 days, it was $12.95.
I don't have a problem with that and, when you write an especially good column, I even try to pay the bill on time.
However, I just received my bill for this February and the bill contains a surcharge of 25 cents because it is a Leap Year.
What do you make of all this?
COMMENT: Stick with me on this one, Keith: Let's say you subscribed to the Diamond-A-Day Club, which delivered a nice, shiny diamond to your door every day of the year.
At the end of the year, you would have 365 diamonds. But, as a convenience, the club would bill you in 12 equal installments, even though in some months you would get more diamonds and some months you would get fewer diamonds.
In Leap Years, however, you would get 366 diamonds and, naturally, the club would expect you to pay for that extra diamond.
Now think of The Sun as a diamond. (Actually, I think newspapers are better than diamonds because you cannot roll up diamonds and swat silverfish with them.) Does it all become clear to you now, Keith?
In any case, I don't want any of my readers to be dissatisfied. So if you will send me a self-addressed envelope, I will send you 25 cents. Just be sure to enclose a 29-cent stamp.
* Susan C. Healy, Baltimore: Margaret, the lesbian and former teacher you interviewed, missed the point.
Teachers influence impressionable young children's minds far beyond math or reading facts. Children learn attitudes, and, yes, values from their teachers.
This teacher thinks homosexuality is OK. But most of us parents know in our hearts that homosexuality is wrong. It is a sin. Anybody ever heard that word before?
COMMENT: Margaret replies:
"Different religions have different concepts of what is a sin. But it is true that values are taught in schools. Values like honesty, truth, respect, decency, working hard, simplicity, etc. Gay is what you are. It is not a value. You don't teach anyone to be gay. Nobody taught me."
* Carol M. McGowan, Attorney at Law, Annapolis: My husband gave me a book titled The Complete Book of Bread, with an entreaty that I bake bread.
Now, three-and-one-half weeks and $200 later, I have a cupboard full of pans, five kinds of flour, three dead batches of sourdough ++ starter and numerous ingredients like potato flakes, dry milk and wheat germ.
The score is Cookbook 8, Carol 1.
By the time I give up and buy the bread-making machine you wrote about, $249 will seem cheap. I'm thinking of billing my husband my hourly rate for time invested.
COMMENT: This lawyer dies and goes to heaven, see? And he gets to the Pearly Gates and St. Peter checks off his name but then shakes his head and says, "You can't be the right person. We have you down as being 246 years old."
"But that's ridiculous!" the lawyer says. "I'm only 67!"
"Oh, we don't go by years," St. Peter says. "We go by the hours you billed!"
* Art Heyapter, Baltimore: Once upon a time, The Sun was a great paper, consistently ranked in the top 10 in America. . . . Now, it is a secondhand rag.
Why should I be surprised that a commentary column whose subjects range from foreign affairs to dog vomit has been found worthy of the top of the second page?
Sadly, it's a sign of the fact that The Sun has the newspaper version of Alzheimer's disease. It's getting so painful for those of us who remembered what she used to be that we may soon do what family members do: stop visiting and wait to mourn at the funeral.
COMMENT: It's going to be a long wait. The Sun is in solid financial shape due to excellent management and the fact we stick everybody an extra quarter in Leap Years.
And just to set the record straight, Art, I have never written about dog vomit. Presidential vomit, yes. Dog vomit, no.
I have some standards.