"An aging group of hippies ... grandmothers with arthritis ... Hare Krishnas ... long-haired, bandanna-wearing ... eccentrics and idealists ... a sad relic from a different era" {Style, Feb. 4}: Who are these pathetic people? Of course, they are the fools who have the audacity to oppose this country's engagement in a simple, violent solution to a complex problem.

What is your responsibility with respect to reportorial objectivity and in the cultivation of reasoned dialogue on the most serious issue our country has faced in a long time? Such writing reinforces stereotypes and discredits dissenting opinion. It frightens me as much as Pentagon censorship. -- Carol M. Waser

Worthless WitnessOn Feb. 8, you ran a front-page story that disputed the U.S. military's claim that a supposed infant formula factory was involved with biological warfare. However, the report confused biological and chemical weapons. The article quoted a person from the company that built the factory as saying, "It would have been impossible to transform this ... into the making of chemical products." That's nice, but that's not the question. The question is whether the plant could make biological weapons.

The article also cited a dairy-engineering technician who had seen the factory. "There was no way you could make chemical warfare with the plant I saw," he said. Again, "chemical warfare" was not the question.

Therefore, the two primary sources used for the article made worthless statements. Maybe your reporters and editors should review their sixth-grade science.

-- Alec A. Des Roches

'Civilizationally Impaired'Let's stop using words that reinforce the negative self-image of people like Saddam Hussein. It's so insensitive to segregate them into old-fashioned categories like "madman," "butcher" and "despot."

Even if they do have developmental handicaps, we should respect their feelings. Saddam is not a tyrant, he is "civilizationally impaired" or "ethically challenged." By shifting our perspective, we can thus accord him his place in our modern society. -- Mitchell R. Carter

Whine, Whine, WhineI'm wearying of complaints you publish about the efficiency, or alleged lack thereof, of the D.C. government, particularly motor vehicle services {Close to Home, Feb. 3}.

My license-renewal notice told me of the new office, with parking, in Northeast and clearly told me that the hours were 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. However, I decided to go to the Municipal Center at 3:30 p.m. one Thursday afternoon and found only one person ahead of me. I was out in 10 minutes. My auto-tag renewal notices come on time every year, and my neighborhood parking stickers arrive in the mail within days of my ordering them.

People who cannot keep track of when their tags or parking permits expire deserve whatever the fates bring.

-- D. J. Jones

Lost in Space (Cont'd.)Robert M. Weiss and Richard C. Banks {"Still Lost in Space," Free for All, Feb. 2} almost explained a light year. Light from a blue-shifted quasar travels much farther toward the Earth in a year than light from a red quasar. Police will be proving this with their new laser speed traps.

A good laser operates on only one coherent frequency out of the 320 trillion electromagnetic frequencies in the spectrum of white light. From a car closing at 55 mph, the laser gets back a higher frequency than it transmits, because the reflected signal from a car travels 55 mph faster than the speed of light in air. Most distant quasars have a radial motion toward or away from the Earth much faster than cars can travel. -- John W. Ecklin

Word of a Difference Martha Sherrill asked why military pilots risk all when most of us "can't take the shuttle to La Guardia without experiencing paralyzing anxiety" {Style, Jan. 31}. Her answer: "ego."

That was an insult. The obvious answer is "courage."

First, Sherrill's conclusion that ego supplied our pilots' motivation in this war was probably sexist. Would she have given ego as the reason female military truck drivers serve in Saudi Arabia? Further, ego has become an inherently pejorative term that presumes selfishness and arrogance.

Sherrill ignored the distinction between facing death for an honorable reason and facing death for ignoble reasons. In her terms, U.S. pilots and Saddam Hussein both display ego, but don't expect anyone who knows our pilots to swallow that. Our pilots aren't egotists. They're heroes. -- Scott Walter

Too Many Legs To Stand on If there are indeed only three camels in the front-page picture of Feb. 4, as noted in the caption, then one of them has eight legs.

Surely this is unusual?

-- Lila Collamore