Too Much Tyra?

Lisa de Moraes's comments about Tyra Banks's weight [" 'Bachelor' Thrashes the Thong Show," Style, Nov. 22] added nothing substantive to her article but did manage to reinforce our distorted image of the ideal female figure.

According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, about 8 million Americans suffer from anorexia, bulimia and related eating disorders. Young women (the majority of people struggling with these disorders) are bombarded with pictures of unhealthy, rail-thin models, and instead of recognizing this body type as an exception, they embrace it as a paradigm of feminine beauty. De Moraes should have used her medium to promote a healthier perception of the female body.

Unfortunately, she resorted to catty remarks that compared Banks to a Clydesdale and derided the supposed 15 to 20 pounds she has "on her much slimmer colleagues." Comments like this serve to perpetuate this dangerous "ideal" and hamper efforts to curtail eating disorders.

-- Elizabeth L. Dixon

Profanity, No; Obscenity, Yes?

I find it hard to believe that your paper is so desperate for ad revenue that it would accept advertising in the Weekend section for a play called "7 Blowjobs." What ever happened to the concept of standards of taste and decency in a putatively family newspaper? Is this another "legacy" of Bill Clinton?

When I called to complain, I was told that the title was run in a much-smaller-than-usual typeface and that, short of a "cussword," it was not the paper's role to pass judgment. But I seem to recall that your paper discontinued the Sunday edition of the comic strip "B.C." because its avowedly Christian creator, Johnny Hart, twice a year, at Christmas and Easter, gives the strip a strong Christian theme. That was said to be "offensive" to some readers.

So a Christian cartoon is sufficiently offensive to warrant censoring, but "7 Blowjobs" is not? What does that say about the philosophy and mind-set at your paper? Bring back "B.C."

-- Joseph Parisi

Detected But Not Seen

The Nov. 20 news story on the discovery of co-orbiting black holes was quite informative ["Binary Black Holes Found in Nearby Galaxy"].

But the caption for the accompanying photograph from the Chandra Observatory claiming to show these black holes is in error. One cannot see a black hole any more than one can see the wind, no matter what part of the electromagnetic spectrum is used. One can only detect the effects of the black hole, just as one can only see the effects of the wind.

-- Thomas J. Kleespies

How to Tell Them Apart

In the story about women turning 21 ["Old Enough to Drink Better," Style, Nov. 25], Jenna and Barbara Bush are referred to as "blond twins." As everyone knows, and as the photo accompanying the story shows, Barbara Bush (the daughter) is a brunette.

-- David C. Stokes

Parliament Talk Funny

In his rebuke of Tom Toles for linking "Congress" with a plural verb [Free For All, Nov. 2], Bruce G. Kauffmann flirts with both ignorance and insularity.

Toles may choose to mark the plurality of Congress's members rather than the singularity of the legislative body. In Britain, "Parliament are now in session." When they play in the World Cup, "England fare poorly." The list of examples is endless.

To insist on a singular verb with such nouns is to rob us of a nuance: "Congress has decided" suggests unanimity; "Congress have decided" suggests a majority vote. Similarly, "The team is playing well," because it functions as a cohesive unit; but "The team are playing badly," because they are a bunch of selfish individuals.

"A bunch" is also a singular collective noun; but surely not even Kauffmann would say, "A bunch of friends is coming over later."

-- Peter Brodie