Stick With Fractions

Eric Hayot [Free for All, Aug. 21] leaps from the frying pan into the fire. After chiding your paper for failing to quantify the "fraction" (as Elizabeth Dole's lesser campaign expenditure than either George W. Bush's or Steve Forbes's), he suggests that she spent eight times less than one competing candidate and four times less than the other.

Let's assume that the winner of the Iowa straw poll spent $2 million. What expenditure would have been eight times (or four times) less than that sum? The illogical answer that I am expecting would be better described as a fraction, in one case one-eighth, in the other, one-quarter.

Incidentally, Post writers are not immune from describing sums as "X times less than (a base)." In some spare moment, try applying an arithmetic process to such a statement. After the degree of the reduction exceeds one-time less, you find yourself in negative territory.

-- Edward Karpoff

Fruits of My Ambition

In "The Fruits (and Frets) of Ambition" [op-ed, Aug. 18], Robert J. Samuelson blames the "oppression" of ambition on the middle-class lust for things material. Perhaps. But nowhere in his essay does he mention the increasing burden of taxes on middle-class wage earners.

Because of my "ambition" to make more money and my "obsession" with things material, I paid my way through night school (I am not eligible for any of the aid that I provide through my tax dollars for people less "ambitious" than I), which allowed me to land a new job and a $10,500 a year raise. What was the reward for my years of toil and sacrifice? Upon looking at my first paycheck at my new job I saw that 40 percent of my raise went to taxes!

Samuelson should reconsider the cause of my malaise.

-- John D. Lyon Jr.

Senators and Also-Rans

In the Aug. 7 Sports section in connection with the articles about Tony Gwynn's having made his 3,000th hit, a list was printed of others who had almost, but not quite, made it.

For some reason you neglected to mention our own Sam Rice, who finished his career with 2,987 hits and a lifetime batting average of .322. I have heard that Senators owner Clark Griffith tried to persuade him to come back for a few more games in the '35 season in order to amass records, but Rice was not interested in records. In fact, at the age of 44, old "Man of War" was probably tired of running around Griffith Stadium after fly balls!

Two other Washington players who came close were Goose Goslin with 2,735 hits and a lifetime batting average of .316 and Heinie Manush with 2,534 hits and a lifetime batting average of .330. Surely these three men are worthy of mention in a tabulation in your paper.

-- Alvin R. Schwab

Made in America

On Aug. 19, a Style story about Beanie Babies began, "In the country that gave us Ninja Turtles, Sailor Moon, Hello Kitty and, of course, the Pokemon `pocket monsters,' scores of Japanese teens and adults lined up in the basement of the Ginza's Sony building Tuesday morning to buy Beanie Babies."

"Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" began as a self-published comic book by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, of Northampton, Mass. -- just about as far away from Japan as it is geographically possible to be. Moreover, since they published it themselves and retained all ownership rights, all versions of the characters in various media and toys have been controlled by them. The Turtles have, in all of their incarnations, operated primarily in New York City. It's possible the TV cartoon show was animated in Japan -- but nearly all cartoon TV shows these days have the actual animation work done in Asia.

-- J. Stephen Bolhafner