Engineering in public schools is old hatAnne Haddad should...

LETTERS

January 21, 1996

Engineering in public schools is old hat

Anne Haddad should be lashed with a wet noodle (in the vernacular of Ann Landers) for her Dec. 26 article, "With an eye to the future, students in Carroll County focus on engineering." It is replete with inaccuracy.

The first time engineering courses moved into the high schools in Maryland was in 1885 in Baltimore City, not Carroll County in 1995. Baltimore Polytechnic Institute had engineering courses and two-period laboratory classes way before Anne Haddad was a gleam in her parents' eyes.

As a member of the Poly Class of 1938, I remember courses in drawing shop practice, surveying, heat engines, mechanics, mechanics of materials, as well as the sciences and mathematics through differential and integral calculus. Our mechanical laboratory, machine design laboratory and the other laboratories in the sciences were two periods long since the day we entered the first of four years of high school.

Upon graduation I got a job as a junior construction engineer and received credit for the first year of college -- not at all unusual then and now. At the time, our computer was our brain assisted by the slide rule and not the computer-aided design of today.

Edgar F. Muller Jr.

Baltimore

Bartlett's rotten environmental record

Many citizens were no doubt shocked to read that their congressman, Roscoe Bartlett, was cited by the Frederick County Department of Health for leaving the bodies of dead animals rotting and unburied on his property along the Monocacy River.

Perhaps if these readers knew what I know, they would not have been quite so surprised. What I know is that Mr. Bartlett has one of the worst voting records on environmental issues in Congress. And for this particular Congress, that is quite a distinction.

The only question I have is whether or not the voters will remember at the polls in November the disdain Mr. Bartlett has for our Earth and its creatures.

Nancy Davis

Clarksville

The writer is chairwoman of the Maryland Sierra Club.

Enough with the Jeep-bashing

After reading my second column by Mike Littwin involving Jeep owner-bashing ("You can bet we'll soon hoard all our bread to buy Jeeps"), it is time for at least one Jeep owner to respond.

Unfortunately, I am not privileged enough to work from my home as is Mr. Littwin, but I am deemed "critical personnel" by my employer, whose offices are 94 miles round trip from my house. I manage the direct deposit functions at a financial institution. In other words, Mike, I am trying to get to work so people have money in their accounts to buy the bread, milk, lottery tickets and Sun paper that they deem necessary to survive the weather.

I have owned Jeeps for the last 15 years, long before they became the "Yuppiemobiles" as depicted by Mr. Littwin.

They're a reliable means of transportation, and yes, as I've been able to afford it over the years, I have upgraded the model that I drive. No one but myself pays for that privilege. (Mike, if you're financing my car, you're behind in your share.) Any four-wheel-drive vehicle does not bring out the best in folks that have been cooped up in their homes and are now taking out that extra surge of testosterone on the rest of us.

But I have also noticed this in folks driving anything from Volkswagen Beetles to Mercedeses with the windows caked with ice so that they have no visibility, or they're riding on "baloney skin" tires or a combination of both. Poor judgment is poor judgment, no matter what someone has in their bank account.

So Mike, the next time you're running to the automated teller machine to get money to buy essentials, but there's no money in your account because your paycheck didn't make it, think of me.

Linda A. Collins

Hampstead

Capital fight over federal, local control

I'm getting scared during this government shutdown and budget impasse. But I'm not afraid of the shutdown. I'm afraid of the public reaction. I'm scared because it seems to me that the American people no longer want representative democracy.

This fight on Capitol Hill is a fine example of democracy in action. The freshman Republicans are doing exactly what they were sent to Washington to do. Their constituents, who voted them into office and whose views they represent, told them they wanted smaller government and a balanced budget.

But there is a more fundamental issue at stake: whether or not there should be a concentration of centralized power. It is a philosophical argument between those who think that the federal government should control and oversee programs on a national scale, and those who feel power should be concentrated at the local level.

The federalists would argue that centralized programs ensure fairness and equality. But federal oversight also allows the federal government to set the rules and intrude into local decisions and private lives, to the detriment, some feel, of creativity and responsiveness to local needs.

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