Unsensitive Subject

I was saddened to read of Payne Stewart's death and disappointed to read the obituary by Bart Barnes [Metro, Oct. 26]. At a time when the articles on the front page and in the Sports section focused on Stewart's strength of character, charitable contributions to his community and his enormous successes in the game, why was it necessary for the obituary to include comments about Stewart's father receiving a technical foul when Stewart played basketball in junior high school and about Stewart himself receiving a warning as a spectator at his son's game?

Perhaps the writer felt such comments would help explain Stewart's competitive nature, but they were insensitive and unnecessary to the announcement.

--Robert P. Plimpton

Critical Commentary

Your unfriendly piece on Palestinian Edward Said ["Origin of an Outspoken Palestinian," Style, Oct. 26] cited Commentary magazine's hatchet job of him so often you might well have included the original article in its entirety to avoid any confusion. If you had done so, you might have had to point out that Commentary, sponsored by the American Jewish Committee and a self-described defender of Israel, is hardly an unbiased source on Palestinians.

--Philip M. Giraldi

Who Wants to Know?

Why did your paper feel it necessary to print the results of the "Jeopardy" program featuring local contestant Eddie Timanus ["1st Blind Player Wins Big on 'Jeopardy,' " Metro, Oct. 24]? Couldn't you wait another week? You ruined for many of us the thrill of watching the program. I know Eddie and had done everything possible to keep from learning the outcome. Your paper robbed me (and others, I'm sure) of the capacity to be surprised.

--Creg Smith

Insufferable Spin

The lead of the Oct. 29 front-page story about the House vote to approve a bill that would overturn Oregon's assisted suicide law was disappointingly opinionated. "The Republican-controlled House," your reporter wrote, had voted to "turn back a fledgling social movement aimed at ending the suffering of terminally ill patients."

What spin! This "fledgling" (which means vulnerable youngster) was being threatened by those mean-spirited Republicans. Why, those folks in Oregon just wanted to end the suffering of folks who are dying anyway. Please. This is below your standards of objectivity.

--Andy Saylor

Origin of a Motto

In "Ready for the Big Leagues?" [op-ed, Oct. 24], George Will writes, "The rhetoric that fueled the Republican capture of the House of Representatives was Jeffersonian: that government is best that governs least, and so on."

The Cato Institute has at least twice pelted me with a direct-mail pitch emblazoned with the same words and also attributed to Jefferson. Jefferson often thought so and said so, but never expressed the thought so well. It was Henry David Thoreau who wrote this phrase in "Civil Disobedience," but he said he was referring to "a motto," which he owed to John L. O'Sullivan. Thoreau improved O'Sullivan's original phrase, which read, "The best government is that which governs least."

--Budd Whitebook

Everest Estimates

The Oct. 21 Century in The Post article that excerpts a 1921 report on George Mallory's Mount Everest expedition contains flawed information. The reprint states that the climbers encountered "a col of about 34,600 feet."

A col, which is defined as a mountain pass or a depression in a ridge, would be well below the peak of the mountain. Either the height of Everest--29,028 feet--was unknown in 1921, or this was a misprint, repeated later when the article mentions "reaching the col about 33,000 feet."

While the exact height of Everest has been a matter of controversy over the years (the figure cited above has been accepted only since 1954), the magnitude of the miscalculation in your paper in 1921 is surprising.

--Anthony B. Mauger