Herblock, admired for his biting wit and superb drawing skill, has, alas, violated a basic law of physics -- the conservation of linear momentum.

When an aircraft releases its bombs, as in his cartoon of Jan. 18, the bomb's motion through the air has a vertical and a horizontal component. Neither component affects the other. The vertical movement downward increases in speed with time under the force of gravity. The horizontal movement stays constant, equal to the speed of the aircraft, for the horizontal momentum of a bomb just after release is equal to that while still within the aircraft. The drag of the air is weak and does not substantially affect either motion during a low-altitude drop.

As a result, at low altitudes, a train of bombs and the aircraft are arrayed in common along a substantially vertical axis, which moves along with the aircraft.

This is shown in Herblock's cartoon, but the bombs are being launched backward (with the fins in front). They are not shown as tumbling or straightening out, such as would come as a consequence of their momentum from right to left, acquired from the aircraft.

Using paste pot and shears, I have inexpertly rectified the discrepancy by reversing the aircraft's heading. I find the result comforting in these bleak times. -- H. K. Saalbach

Says Who?

By what, or whose, measure are the Iraqi Republican Guards an "elite" or "crack" force? By virtue of having defeated a bunch of Iranian teenagers? Your persistent use of these modifiers has never been explained.

-- Ken Burton

Party Politics

In his op-ed column "Unconditional Surrender -- An Extravagant Demand" {Jan. 23}, Edwin M. Yoder Jr. referred to Abraham Lincoln as "the shrewd, practical Whig politician" -- a reminder that the man most of us remember as the nation's first Republican president wasn't always a Republican.

The Republican party had formed only six years before Lincoln's 1860 election, primarily in response to the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, which called for popular sovereignty in the territories on whether they would allow slavery. The Republican platform was "Free Soil," meaning no expansion of slavery into the territories.

The Whig party, however, was where Lincoln began his political career. The party began in the mid-1830s as opposition to President Andrew Jackson. The name referred to the Whig party in Great Britain, which opposed the policies of the king of England. Likewise, American Whigs opposed "King" Andrew, whom they considered a despot. In 1840 and 1848, Whig candidates won the presidential election, but 1856 was the last election in which a Whig candidate ran for office (the only state Millard Fillmore won was Maryland), and by 1860 the party had disintegrated.

-- Joshua Adler

Low Blow

Hobart Rowen's Jan. 20 op-ed column "Democrats Gave Up Responsibilities on Gulf Deployment" contained the most mean-spirited and irresponsible cheap shot that I have ever seen published in your paper. Rowen intimated that President Bush changed the nature of the military involvement in the Gulf to an offensive force after the November elections for partisan purposes and his own political gain due to -- "some speculate" -- a "need to restore his image or ego."

This swipe implied that the motives of the president were other than in the best interests of the country. And who are these nameless speculators? Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-Minn.) or Rep. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), perhaps? Clearly, Rowen falls within this group. These outrageous charges of partisan politics represent the height of hypocrisy. -- William S. Fralin

Word to the Wise

In your Jan. 25 editorial about Jermaine Daniel, you referred to him as a "streetwise kid." Kids who hang out on the street, mess with drugs and settle arguments with guns are streetstupid. When are you going to wise up?

-- William Hoffman