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Minding Your Pints and Quarts

Re: “P’s and Q’s” [October 2]:

Besides this article missing the point of etiquette -- which as a superficial act is nearly worthless, but as a reflection of love and respect for one another is very much worthwhile -- I think Roy Esaki has an incorrect origin for the phrase “mind your p’s and q’s.” Though there are apparently competing hypotheses as to its origin, most of the credible sources I’ve found say that it comes from keeping bar tabs in Pints and Quarts back in English pubs.

Adrian Bischoff ’03

[LTE]Finding “Something Lost”[body]
My first reaction to the piece “Something Lost, Something Gained?” by Ken Nesmith [October 2] was that the author should take a cold shower. “orgasm of mourning?” “The twin towers in New York as phallic symbols?” Talking about one of the targets of the terrorist attack that killed thousands and the resulting grief in such oversexed terms strikes me as somewhat inappropriate. However, if this article had only been an example of how hormones mess with a young writer’s ability to express himself, it’d be briefly annoying before turning the page to read the funnies.
No, what makes this op-ed piece offensive enough to warrant a response is what comes down the page. “Why, then, was there a sudden and dramatic reaction to a comparatively small loss of life?” Mr. Nesmith asks, if “35,000 children have starved to death on every day since September 11.” Maybe, I dare to submit, because it happened to fellow people in this country, with whom, even though we might not have known any of them personally, we shared values, hopes, and ideals. Is it not natural to be affected more by what happens to people closer to us? Mr. Nesmith misses the point: it is precisely because we do share these values, and because we are willing to protect them, that our country is targeted (these values also, by the way, have -- consistently rather than “sudden[ly] and dramatical[ly]” -- made Americans the world leaders in donations to charities, giving a total of $175 billion last year alone). To belittle the death of 6,000 in the terrorist attacks as a “comparatively small loss of life” is a slap in the face of those grieving over what they and this country lost on September 11.
Maximilian Riesenhuber PhD ’00

Ken Nesmith’s most recent column, “Something Lost, Something Gained,” [October 2] contains far too many obvious naÏve assertions and ridiculous condemnations of America for me to address, so I will focus on his only serious argument, that we Americans are wrong to intensely mourn our dead from the September 11 terrorist attack and not equally intensely mourn the innocent children around the world who have died of starvation.
Who are these children and why did they die? You will not find any famine among the democracies of this world. All the starving people are ruled by corrupt, tyrannical governments. Did they die because we did not make enough food available? No, they died because we couldn’t get food to them because their governments take most of the aid we give and use it for things like weapons to prop up their police states and luxuries to satiate their leaders’ greed (think Saddam’s palaces and chemical weapons plants). What could we have done to prevent these innocent childrens’ deaths? Nothing short of military occupation of every corrupt regime in the world would suffice. Are we capable of doing this? No. Would the common people of these corrupt regimes welcome our authority for the good of their children? No, they have national pride, just like us.
It is not our duty to rid the world of evil. Our duty is to protect our own. But we are righteous: Out of our generosity we send wheat to Afghanistan even while its government support terrorists groups that have promised to destroy us. Out of the goodness of our hearts we allow Iraq to sell some of its oil, in the hope that just a tiny fraction of the proceeds will go the people who need it and not to Iraq’s military. These are just two examples; out of our benevolence we send aid to every corner of the world, even to our sworn enemies. And from World War II, through the Cold War, to this new war against terrorism, we have sacrificed and will sacrifice the lives of our young men to seriously reduce the evil in the world, hoping that as a result more people might have a chance to experience freedom, which is the key to prosperity. We are far more righteous than blindly anti-American zealots like Nesmith think.
Dave Milovich ’04[sig]