Advance Notice

In reference to the Aug. 29 Metro in Brief item "District to Hold Housing Lottery":

It would have been nice if you had added a sentence or two to let folks know that prior registration was necessary to be eligible for the lottery. A contact name or number for information also would have been helpful. These few additional words would have saved myself, my 5-year-old granddaughter, my daughter, another friend and several hundred other ineligible people hoping for a chance at the American dream from rushing home from work to stand in line for more than an hour before discovering that prior registration was necessary.

Then again, that would have considerably shrunk the crowd for the follow-up story ["Abandoned Housing Is Now Hot Property," Real Estate, Sept. 1].

-- Barbara Goldberg

Wrong Ray

Molly Moore, in her article about the exhibit of Mayan artifacts, refers to "manta ray stingers" [Style, Sept. 8].

Mantas, in fact, have no stinger -- or anything else dangerous, for that matter, other than their sheer size. I have recently scuba dived among them in Hawaii, and they're as harmless as they are magnificent.

What Moore saw was more likely the business end of a stingray.

-- Tom Neven

Sightseeing in Hell

In order to evoke the aura of hell in the Valley of Hinnom, Edwin Black is forced to ignore some of the most impressive archaeological remains in Jerusalem ["Hell on Earth," Style, Aug. 29]. In the very pit of Gehenna, where Jewish taxi drivers would not take him and Arab drivers demanded extra payment, are the elegant tombs of Jerusalem's elite at the time of Jesus. Among these is the tomb of the high priest Annas (6-15 A.D.), mentioned several times in the Gospels and Acts. The large, richly decorated family tombs sit on some of ancient Jerusalem's prime real estate -- in full view of the Temple Mount.

Black is right about two things, however. (1) It is a little-known site not to be missed, and (2) it does stink -- not the bubbles of purgatory but the ordure of little boys relieving themselves in the burial caves. It is to be hoped that the tourism folks will better maintain the site for the millennium.

-- Hershel Shanks

It's Elementary

In a cursory read-through of your Sept. 5 edition, I was shocked and horrified to find not one but two instances of the contraction "it's" used incorrectly. Colbert King's op-ed column refers to "it's effect" (that of public reaction), while the Metro section's front-page article on thrift shops refers to "it's transience" (that of the Washington area).

If such elementary errors make it onto the editorial page (in the context of a discussion on teaching English, no less) and the Metro's front page, I hate to think what I would discover if I were to read the paper thoroughly for errors. But that's your job.

-- Kathleen Avvakumovits

No Ladies Allowed

I was surprised to read in the account of fugitive financier Martin's Frankel's arrest [news story, Sept. 6] that Frankel was accompanied by "a pair of ladies" and that previously his Connecticut mansion was "filled with young ladies."

There was no reference to Frankel as "the gentleman who was arrested."

Every other newspaper account that I checked on the Web referred to the "ladies" as "women" or as "females," as did CNN and other network news stories of the same event.

"Ladies" is an old stereotype that all but disappeared from newspapers, including yours, in the early 1970s.

Oh, well. At least writers David Segal and William Drozdiak didn't call them girls! (Sigh.)

-- Bernice R. Sandler

Time and Again

In her Sept. 4 Free for All letter, Sylvia L. Cash gets it part right. She says there is no such time as 12 a.m. but then offers "12 midnight or 12 noon" as correct terminology.

Both "12 midnight" and "12 noon" are redundant. As there is no "11:55 noon" or "1:07 midnight," "noon" and "midnight" stand alone. Otherwise, one would see movies called "High 12 Noon" and read books named "12 Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil."

-- William Carter

Pokemon Champion

After reading the Sept. 4 Free for All letter "Pokemon: The Dark Side," I have a few complaints. First, Pokemon do not kill each other in combat. They may weaken and make other Pokemon faint, but they are not murderers. Furthermore, they don't exist. You don't really go out and capture an "innocent free-roaming animal," you pretend you do. Finally, a little fire, water or ice isn't my definition of "brutal gladiatorial exhibitions." No blood is shed. At least Pokemon keep children away from watching Elmer Fudd blast the brains out of Daffy Duck.

-- Jonathan Nardolilli