Book festival was even better than the lastThe Baltimore...


October 07, 1997

Book festival was even better than the last

The Baltimore Office of Promotion deserves three cheers for another wonderful book festival. The first one last year was good. This year the fair was better.

There were more vendors with a larger variety of books for sale. The music at the main stage was mostly appropriate. It was fun seeing all the different book characters painted on faces.

The 10 (?) foot-high Cat in the Hat balloon behind the main stage was fabulous. Hope my picture with the Washington Monument as a backdrop develops properly. As a vendor who was there for 12 hours on Saturday and 8 on Sunday I really appreciated the flushable portable toilets.

The weekend will be a wonderful memory. Let's hope this becomes an annual event.

Ilene Kayne


An arms race against imaginary enemies

The Sun reports Oct. 3 that Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen has allowed the test firing of a laser beam at an Air Force satellite.

So the United States is off and running again in an arms race with no contenders. But be assured that by renewing the game of destruction we will make new enemies and find nations willing to join our insane contest.

The Pentagon justifies this offensive (in every sense of the term) action as a ''logical step'' against ''potential'' future enemies. This is rather like the scared kid who nightly throws bigger rocks into the cemetery to fend off bigger ghosts. The ghosts aren't there. Neither are the enemies. Still we throw away the nation's wealth because we fear our enemies, real and imagined, more than we love our children.

John Steinbruner of the Brookings Institution sees this latest mad militaristic move clearly, calling it ''an unbelievably foolish judgment.''

Frederick C. Ruof


Indefensible move on youth group homes

One wonders how the state of Maryland can afford to spend $64,590 to keep one troubled youth in a poorly staffed neighborhood group home but can't find the money to monitor the quality of care being provided.

According to the article ''Group homes raise doubts'' (Sept. 21), this penny-wise, pound-foolish approach to spending taxpayer dollars is exactly what's been happening in more than a few of the state's 164 homes for troubled youths, several of which have been forced to close or relocate because of poor supervision and problems with neighborhood residents.

The latest of these group homes to run into trouble is run by the nonprofit Martin Pollak Project, and the state's explanation for why it is paying almost $65,000 per child to this particular agency, when the average costs for such care are almost $20,000 less, is equally troubling. Apparently it is because Martin Pollak agreed to accept teens with the most serious problems, those deemed to be suicidal or assaultive, as well as sex offenders and delinquents.

But for the state to even consider placing teens with such severe problems in the middle of a residential neighborhood is highly questionable.

And to do so without the resources to oversee such placements is simply indefensible.

Howard Bluth


Orlinsky should have imitated Liddy, North

Your article about Walter S. Orlinsky was sad for a number of reasons. As Mr. Orlinsky said, it is a shame to waste talent and he clearly is a very talented man.

However, even more important is its reflection on our society, which actually values and even honors dishonesty if the dishonesty is on a grand scale and if the criminal exhibits a sufficient amount of chutzpah, even after being caught.

Mr. Orlinsky, as I recall, not only admitted his guilt in the matter, but apologized to the community for what he admitted was a wrongful deed.

Had he been G. Gordon Liddy or Oliver North, neither of whom seems to believe he did anything wrong, criminal convictions notwithstanding, Mr. Orlinsky might have been given a contract to be a talk show host and won prestigious broadcasting awards or a nomination to the U.S. Senate.

Unfortunately perhaps, Mr. Orlinsky practiced what both his religion and his community taught him, admitted his mistake and ''took his medicine like a man.'' The outcome tells much about the character of the man and more about the state of our society.

Alan L. Katz

Reisterstown The lead editorial of The Sun (Sept. 30), which lauds the mandatory auto emissions dynamometer tests that began Oct. 1 as benefiting ''all who breathe in the state,'' is as unconvincing in praise as it is naive in its support of the current auto test emissions program.

The fact that the dynamometer test is four times more effective than the traditional tailpipe method is not the issue. What is troublesome to myself and others who are technically oriented is that the present emissions test program, as an entity, does not deal adequately with the entire vehicle emissions issue.

I make the following two major points:

1) A test every two years for a vehicle driven, e.g., 24,000 miles per year can't be balanced against six vehicles driven 4,000 miles each per year.

The test results don't divulge how many months the failing auto has been driven in the failure mode and has been polluting the environment in excess of the acceptable criteria. I conclude that the high-mileage vehicle is more likely to be out of acceptable standards for the two-year span and pollute excessively more than the six vehicles driven 4,000 miles each per year. This is a fact not accounted for in the program.

2) Excluding trucks, buses and all diesel-engine vehicles from emissions testing is a big mistake. Although carbon monoxide emissions for diesels are minimal because of the elevated operating temperature of the engine, other carbon particulate matter and carbon dioxide emissions are disgustingly heavy in contrast to those from the auto.

Sy Steinberg


The writer is a retired engineer.

Pub Date: 10/07/97

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