Letters for the week of February 15-21, 2006 

Orthodox Christians ate less, and Jesus lived in eternity. Do you have a musical background, or do ya simply rip records apart?

"Live, Fast, Die Old," Feature, 1/18

Revisiting the Biblical diet (but beware of inquisitions)
Dietary restriction is found in almost all cultures, especially when people moved away from the tropics and encountered seasonal extremes of food availability. The Orthodox Christian rules are monastic -- forty days in Great Lent with no eggs, dairy, or meat, etc. ... and only fish and wine allowed on Sunday. The more modern foods -- sugars, coffee, tea, and chocolate -- fall in with alcohol to be limited. No food addictions here!

Besides Great Lent, there is Christmas Lent [also forty days], Apostles' Lent, Mary's Lent [both about two weeks], and almost every Wednesday and Friday. Since the laity are not contemplative monks, the rules are there to be followed as much as one is able and always bearing in mind the spiritual practice behind the sacrificing. It works out to about half the year.

It made sense to have Lent in late winter in the Northern hemisphere, but is as out of kilter as Christmas in the summer in the Southern one. Combine the Lents and fast days with the Mediterranean diet of the early church, and good health must have been a wonderful benefit of being a Christian, except for the persecutions.
Linus Hollis, Piedmont

They tend to get crabby
Your article on calorie restriction was well written and interesting. However, rather than interviewing the CR aficionados themselves, try interviewing their spouses, dates, children, and colleagues. A disarming comment such as "I tend to get crabby" from the crabby person himself will just be the starting point when the perspective is from someone else!

When you find someone whose non-CR partner is gung-ho, let me know. I've been there and done that. It's more likely that the significant other has already moved on, or disengaged from the relationship altogether.

Eat light, and eat right, but severe CR is for the birds. Don't try to live forever -- you won't succeed.
A.J. Shaka, chemistry department,
University of California, Irvine

The problem was childhood
I'm surprised that a scientist as brilliant as Dr. Ames continues to express the mistaken idea that people in the old days only lived to be forty. A hundred years ago, you might expect to live into your sixties if you made it past your teenage years. Life expectancy from birth was low because so many people died in childhood, not because people expected to live to be about forty.
Kevin Ahern, Oakland

Editor's note
Ames' quote is: "For most of human history, forty years old was an old man." It's pretty clear he's talking about human life expectancy over the last several thousand years, not the last hundred years, and life expectancy was indeed much shorter back then.

"Nice Nanostuff, But Is It Safe?," Cityside, 1/25

Down with blue
I loved your article! Hopefully it will keep people from fearing the new technologies out of ignorance, and inspire them to learn more about the field. However, I do think that legislation is needed to control things that are blue. Talk about an environmental catastrophe waiting to happen!!!
Alison Rini, New York City

"Wounded Warriors," Feature, 12/14

Timeless virtues
Congratulations on an honest and intimate report on the Richmond Steelers. Amidst all their personal problems, somehow they manage to accomplish what the timeless gospel song acknowledged: He looked past my faults and saw my needs. Thank you for making this visible to us.
Lasana Taylor, Palo Alto

"Identity Theft," Feature, 1/25

A derogatory headline
I found the cover of the January 25 Express terribly offensive and disturbing. The blatant racism that seems acceptable in the phrase "Indian Giver" is not even considered for its derogatory nature, when I, as a native person, was incensed upon seeing it and so was the family member that I shared it with. I feel confident that your publication would not use a cover with the headline "N***er Rigged" and a caricature of an African-American person, and yet you feel fine exploiting the shock value of similar prejudicial language toward indigenous people. I feel that reassessing your values in that area, and an apology to the people that you (hopefully inadvertently) offended with your carelessness is in order.
Angel Adeyoha-Levi, Oakland

Ryan Adams, 29, Hearsay, 1/11

It's music, not software
Jesus, what a lazy review. It reads like the reviewer was just too tired to review "yet another" Adams CD. I was left wondering if they had even listened to it. And if Adams were a "business," the Microsoft references would have been interesting, but he ain't a business. And for that, we should be doffing our hats. You know what: Why don't you pod the CD, take a drive in the country, and then write a real review?
James Porteous, Toronto

Give the man credit
Honestly, I partially agree with you on Ryan Adams' new record, but I don't think you're giving the man enough credit. Musically, it's brilliant. Do you have a musical background, or do you just review records and rip them apart?
John Moralis, Allentown, Pennsylvania

Our February 8 feature about Afghan-American journalist Fariba Nawa ("Far from Home") incorrectly identified the member of Nawa's family who participated in Afghanistan's first constitutional convention. It was her grandfather, not her godfather. We also misstated the role of the bathhouse in Afghan life; it is a place where women wash themselves, not their laundry.

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