The More Things Change ...

I am sure the absurdity of the headline "Female-Male Earnings Gap Narrows -- Gains in '80s Finally Put Women's Pay Ahead of Biblical Calculation" {Aug. 27} was not lost on working women in the D.C. area.

Why wasn't there a front-page article headlined "A Decade Later, Female-Male Earning Gap Closes Only 5%"? But, gee, that would have acknowledged the importance of the fact that women are being paid only 65 percent of what their male counterparts earn for the same job.

Your decision to place that article (which had a distinctly patronizing tone) on the Federal Page instead of the front page underscores how little the world's view of women has changed since biblical times.

-- Karen L. Glooch


As a reporter with the Consumer News and Business Channel, who only on occasion uses a blow-dryer, I'm getting a little tired of reading articles that refer to TV reporters as "blow-dried." The term -- as used in Richard Harwood's Aug. 26 Ombudsman column ("Sam Donaldson, blow-dried and righteous") -- is an unoriginal, silly and meaningless attempt at pejorative comment.

There's plenty of ground on which to criticize TV reporters. But please, print people, come up with something better than "blow-dried." I suppose the term originated with the perception that TV reporters are more concerned about their hair than about their reporting.

But does Harwood really think that's the case with Sam Donaldson? If so, he either hasn't listened to Donaldson's reporting or looked at his hair. Donaldson doesn't have enough hair to blow-dry.

-- Alec Sirken

Nose for News

In the midst of the Gulf crisis, it is shameful that you chose to devote front-page space {Aug. 28} to a lengthy report about scientists identifying the main ingredient in underarm odor.

This kind of journalism stinks. Without getting into a sweat about the issue, I nevertheless think it's the pits.

-- Herman Stein

Alternative Spelling

So "The Other Dr. Bettleheim" {Outlook, Aug. 26} was Dr. Bruno Bettelheim.

On reading Charles Pekow's article, I got the impression that instead of checking on the correct spelling of the name, the copy editor offered a choice: Bettleheim (14 times) or Bettelheim (30 times).

-- Amalia F. Cabib

Besmirched and Belittled

I was shocked by the reference to people who "welsh on debt" in a story about student loan defaults {Aug. 28}.

Surely you realize that such a term has root in one group's impulse to besmirch and belittle another with a negative stereotype. Examples abound: "Dutch treat" for no treat at all, "French leave" for going AWOL, "Indian summer" for a false summer, etc. Sadly, the list is endless as the human urge to deprecate -- an urge we are all obliged to at least attempt to transcend.

While to "welsh" may seem a tame term to some, to me, it is decidedly not. Luckily, as my family motto has it, I am transfixus sed non mortus -- wounded, but not mortally. -- Edward Joshua Welsh

Stones and Glass Houses (Cont'd.)

As a former English teacher, a long-time evaluator of student essays and a reader concerned with at least coherent, if not flawlessly "correct," use of the language, may I suggest that before John O. Redmond {"Stones and Glass Houses," Free for All, Aug. 25} throws his stone, he should be sure of his position.

He quoted from a previous Free for All writer {"The It's-Its Distinction," Aug. 18}, "the sad state of our educational system and the illiteracy it has generated is once again apparent on the pages of your newspaper," saying that the verb "is" should have been the plural, "are." Clearly the subject of the sentence is the word "state," followed by the preposition "of" with its objects "systems" and "illiteracy."

I have no objection to judicious use of colloquialisms and slang, but I do object to "corrections" of the correct.

-- Betty Bullock

Multiple Mistake

Paul Burke is wrong in his statement that the square root of 17 can be positive or negative {op-ed, Aug. 28}. True, there are two numbers x such that x =17, but only the positive number is called the square root of 17.

-- Paul Slepian The writer is a Howard University professor of mathematics, emeritus.