Comedic entertainmentEditor: On Jan. 22, 1995 a curious...

LETTERS

March 19, 1995

Comedic entertainment

Editor: On Jan. 22, 1995 a curious match between an article reviewing Tio Pepe and a letter to the editor criticizing a previous restaurant review was evident. A co-owner of Captain Harvey's complained that Elizabeth Large had unfairly and inaccurately reviewed the restaurant. Ms. Large noted that the staff at Tio Pepe had ignored her in spite of the fact that she thought they might recognize her as a restaurant critic and give her preferential treatment. Being an avid restaurant-goer and not being subject to Ms. Large's critique, I only regard her as a source of unintended comedic entertainment. Baltimore truly is home to excellent dining establishments in any price range that the consumer desires. Too bad that we do not yet have a local food critic who is up to the task of reviewing them.

Rick Howard

Baltimore

Taking Sides on Simians

Editor: The article "Amazing Apes?" by Tina Kelley [Jan. 22] was a fascinating piece of information for a meditative Sunday morning; however, one section of the article has almost ruined the rest of my week! The extraordinary illogic of several of the naysayers keeps haunting me. That such people receive even marginal credibility as scientists seems another indication of an age where supermarket tabloids and that Rush fellow are driving forces of public opinion.

One of the first was also unquestionably the worst. Thomas Sebeok states, "It's theoretically an impossibility." I would love to know which theory he has in mind. This is a case of circular reasoning if ever I saw one. I was taught that a theory is a proposition that is still very much open to testing and revision. I strongly suspect the problem here is a serious case of Homo Sapiens chauvinism.

Noam Chomsky is more indirect, but still shows a serious species bias. His argument that, if they had the capacity, chimps would have been signing/talking long ago is disingenuous on several counts. First is the assumption that nothing that chimps do in the wild would count as language. A second point to remember is that a systematic approach to sign language is a very recent development for humans.

Also, parallel argument could be made that humans can't really do math, because they couldn't even do simple calculus until one aberrant individual named Newton showed them how, and most of them still can't get it right. Finally, his comparison of signing chimps to flying humans would only be worth noting if he would care to demonstrate a somewhat closer genetic link between humans and bats.

Professor Terrace and Joel Wallman come much closer to a proper scientific discourse. I am very sorry that they didn't get the column space used by the other two to expand their arguments; however, I suspect that it would take several full editions of the Sun Magazine if they are going to try to prove that no chimp ever did anything that might be identified as "language." As the saying goes, it's awfully hard to prove a negative.

If Ms. Kelley's selection of critics of the Foutses' work is truly representative, it doesn't speak very highly of academia. It sounds like there are quite a few people who need to go back to undergraduate school for remedial Logic 101.

Charles Goedeke

Marriottsville

Tugging and Chug-a-lugging

Editor: Re: Drinking and Towing by Nancy Robson, Jan. 22, I would like to answer this lady's letter which disputed Mr. Alvarez's story about "A Thanksgiving Duck" [Nov. 20]. I worked on tugs in Baltimore Harbor and Philadelphia, both inland and ocean from 1940 until 1988, and I would like to inform her that she is so wrong about the drinking. She would be astounded at the drinking that went on while the men were on duty. I would also like to tell her that the story about the "Thanksgiving Duck" is at least 99 percent fact and 1 percent fiction. I have seen instances such as that happen more times than I care to count.

In the old days that she refers to, the tugboat men were hard-working and hard-drinking men. The tugboat men today cannot even come close to putting in a day's work compared to the "old-timers."

When I first started, most of Curtis Bay Towing's tugs were coal-fired, which meant hard, back-breaking work. We didn't have capstans and winches to pull the lines tight or heave the hawser. Incidentally, the hawser can be coiled fore and aft. The layout of the afterdeck dictates the way you coil the hawser. I have never seen a hawser stored below decks. It is usually stored on the second deck so it can be available in a hurry should the need arise. I think this lady needs to talk to some of the "old-timers" if she wants to express the opinions of tugboating. She is way off base.

In closing, I would like to thank Mr. Alvarez and compliment him on a story very well written and for bringing back to my memory the "Good Old Days of Tugboating."

Capt. Thomas L. Dunton, retired

Linthicum

Letters to the editor should include name, address and daytime phone number. They may be edited for space, grammar and clarity. Letters may be mailed or faxed. The address is Sun Magazine, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278; the fax number is (410) 783-2519.

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