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Shameless Abe Lover

Dear Ollie, What is this morbid obsession you have with Abe Lincoln? (“Remote Control King.”) You have mentioned him randomly in your last three columns. Have you ever asked yourself why it is that you are thinking about Ol’ Abe? Could it be his stovepipe hat? His long, fluffy beard? Or his enormously long legs? Do you in the back of your head want to tie your hair up in pigtails, put on your spandex tights (the ones with the glittery stars), and ride Dear Ol’ Abe all the way back to Kentucky? Sort of like the tall man on Everybody Loves Raymond. See any connection? See ya next time you’re in the corral, Ollie. Yee-haw!

M. Tarantino

via email

Mountain Discovery

Jerry Schad writes in the “Outdoors” section (“Calendar: Local Events,” December 13) that views are especially good in December. I just noticed that I now see mountains in the far distance, looking north-northwest from Torrey Pines Road in La Jolla. What are the mountains I have suddenly discovered? The Channel or San Clemente Islands? Or could they be the Santa Monica Mountains?

Howard Goldman

via email

Jerry Schad responds: An exceptionally cold, dry, clear mass of air was positioned over Southern California during the period December 22 to 27. The “mountain range” Mr. Goldman refers to is almost certainly Santa Catalina Island — its near end, about 70 miles northwest of La Jolla. Sharp-eyed observers all over San Diego County in that period of time probably also detected San Clemente Island, about 70 miles due west of La Jolla. While I was traveling on Interstate 5 in North County on December 27, both islands were consistently in view. Super-clear episodes like this are becoming increasingly rare. Air polluted by desert dust and coal-burning in China is being lofted across the Pacific Ocean on upper-level winds and is frequently diminishing the clarity of the atmosphere over the entire western United States.

The Book Disappeared

This is in reference to the “Sheep and Goats” about Islam (December 27). I think that Dr. Mattson would do well to read the book that is a research report on the Qur’an by Robert Morey. It’s called Islamic Invasion. Two different libraries I called said the book had disappeared. I just want to say it’s quite informative.

Name Withheld

Enlightened On Islam

Thank you, Mr. Lickona, for your enlightened article on Islam (“Sheep and Goats,” December 27). Americans need to hear more about average Muslims and to be educated about Islamic beliefs. Too often our thinking is based on fear and ignorance rather than knowledge and, as the president of the Islamic Society of North America says in your article, empathy for humanity at large.

Name Withheld


Are you a spoiled brat that is selfish? Or can you live and let live? I grew up in Vermont. We all loved the holidays (“Does Christmas Offend You?” Cover Story, December 20). My best friend and neighbors were Jewish. Spending our holidays together, we shared all the fun. I celebrated Hanukkah with Marcia, and she celebrated Christmas with my family. I attended synagogue celebrations and joined in their dance of the Torah. Neither of us was very religious; we just loved each other and shared our heritages.

I had a wonderful Norman Rockwell–style childhood. We went from house to house with our gift of song — we sang “Silent Night.” California is different! You are so critical, acting superior and intellectual. It is fashionable to be offended instead of being grateful we have such prosperity. What can you do that will help people feel good about and respect each other’s heritage?

News and media encourage conflict and fear. You are setting the tone every day. People feel anxious and untrusting! Get them before they attack you! Do you realize what you are doing to humanity?

Your question offends me. I am not a born-again, just a family person. Please try to change and encourage kindness and respect for my heritage.

Brenda Viana

Little Italy

Teetered At The Edge Of Fanning

I am a long-time reader of your Reader, and after looking at your December 20 issue, I have some concerns. I’m referring to your article “Does Christmas Offend You?” (Cover Story). I went to read the article expecting either a rant against Christmas commercialism or a balanced presentation of views of all the religious minority groups living in the San Diego area about the Christmas holiday. But that’s not what I found. Instead, the discussion was only between two individuals who were labeled repeatedly as “Jew” or “Christian,” as if they were being pitted against each other. I wondered why all the other major religions — Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, etc. — weren’t included.

The discussion between the two men was headlined and subtitled on several pages in such a way that, in my opinion, it teetered just at the edge of fanning the flames of anti-Semitism.

It reminded me of the cover story of the December 21 edition of your paper last year. It was titled “It’s Not a Race Thing…It’s Style.” Your cover was full of “definitions,” using words offensive to a large segment of the minority population. It was presented as if it were “educating the public,” but the sensationalistic cover made me wonder about the possible underlying motivation. I gave the Reader the benefit of the doubt in that case, but seeing how the December 20, 2007 article pushed the envelope to the edge, I really question if what you’re doing is intentionally racist or if you’re merely trying to be “provocative.” I sincerely hope it’s the latter and that future presentations of highly charged issues will be done in a less sensationalized and more balanced manner.

Renata Chase

Chula Vista

What’s The Joke?

I’m going crazy after reading the cover article in this week’s issue (“Does Christmas Offend You?” December 20). In it Gideon Rappaport says, “As an old punch line went, ‘What’s a Jew doing on a horse?’ ” So, as a lover of old jokes, I went to Google to look up the joke. The only reference to the punch line given is to your story!

Please, what’s the joke?

Al Weiss

via email

Gideon Rappaport responds: The painter Paul Brach told the story that, though he’d grown up in Jewish upper-middle-class New York, he’d spent time in Arizona working on a ranch and had studied at the University of Iowa, among other places. When he was drafted into the Army during WWII, they put him into a horse regiment in Texas. The first day, the sergeant, thinking to use someone as a bad example of riding so he could then whip the group into shape, asked Brach to do something on horseback. He did it. Then he was asked to do something much harder. He did it. The sergeant was not only stymied in his plan for the new recruit to set a bad example but surprised at what this particular recruit could do. When he found out who the recruit was, “What’s a Jew doing on a horse?” was his response.

Why Not A Variety?

In the old days of the Reader, when it was three sections, the “Weekly Puzzle” used to vary in theme. Once a picture puzzle, another a hidden picture, sometimes, rarely, a crossword.

These days, we get a crossword every week. Not only that, but it’s a puzzle that would rank at N.Y. Times Wednesday level at best. Why don’t you run a Saturday-level puzzle once in a while and see how many entrants enter and answer correctly. That number would be informative.

Or, better yet, why not a variety of puzzles?

Rudy Stegmann

via email

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VanjaJames Jan. 2, 2008 @ 5:22 p.m.

Can you ask people about christmas who can't afford to buy presents and stuff next year? I'd like to read something about that.


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