El Nino y La Nina

Your paper incorrectly described both the nature and the behavior of the El Nino weather phenomenon in the Dec. 2 Science Notebook.

El Nino is not characterized simply by a warming of the equatorial waters in the Pacific Ocean. During an El Nino event, waters in the southeastern Pacific become unusually warm, and the Pacific coasts of the Americas experience heavy rainfalls. In the western Pacific Ocean, the opposite occurs. El Nino has a complementary phenomenon, called La Nina, in which the conditions in the eastern and western Pacific are reversed. The switch between the two occurs every four to seven years and is called the Southern Oscillation. The El Nino Southern Oscillation can be credited with heavy storms, forest fires and famine.

Many scientists believe that climate change may further intensify this powerful cycle and cause even greater effects.

-- Dave Haffner

Don't Forget

Al Sharpton

Your Dec. 3 editorial on Sen. John Kerry's candidacy for the presidency stated that he is the second Democrat to throw his hat into the ring, Gov. Howard Dean of Vermont being the other candidate. This is incorrect. The Rev. Al Sharpton also is a declared candidate. In fact, your paper reported on Nov. 29 that Sharpton had more support than Dean. Why are you ignoring Sharpton?

-- Barry Molefsky

Can't Blame the Pentagon

Your Dec. 2 obituary of retired Navy Capt. Edward Beach reminded us of his distinguished careers as a submarine captain and a best-selling author. Yet the article was marred by a historical error.

The article said that Beach was critical of the "failure of the Pentagon to send warnings" to Pearl Harbor about a possible Japanese attack.

There was no Pentagon in December 1941. There was no Defense Department until after the war. Any warnings would have come from the War or Navy departments.

-- Ed Scherr

A Form of Greed

I was disgusted by the "Wish-O-Matic" coupon printed in KidsPost on Nov. 26. Why would your paper publish such a greed-oriented "form" for children to fill out. Basically the coupon tells kids that they should promise to do honorable things only if they get a gift in return. But shouldn't they be doing things like homework and "being nice" to a brother or sister out of human decency in the first place? Why does there have to be a gift involved for doing what is right? Why does greed have to be their impetus to be good people?

Whoever came up with this idea and those who approved it for publication should rethink their motivation for such pieces in the future. This was neither cute nor funny.

-- Patricia Duffy-Raguindin

Location, Location

As my parents were longtime editorial staff members at the New Yorker magazine when it was located on West 43rd Street, I was delighted to read your Nov. 20 Escapes article about the 100th anniversary of New York's Algonquin Hotel, with its mention of the famous Round Table that attracted so many noted writers and editors from that literary magazine.

But I was chagrined to see that you placed the Algonquin five blocks north of its actual location, 59 W. 44th St., just several steps from the north entrance of the former New Yorker offices, which are now marked by a historical plaque.

-- Harvey Walden

Olympic Oversight

Your Dec. 1 front-page article regarding the Olympic Games stated: "It was in Athens that the first Olympics were staged in about 776 B.C."

Wrong.

The first Olympic Games were held in the Valley of Olympia -- whence the Games take their name -- in 776 B.C. and continued until at least A.D. 391, when the Roman emperor Theodosius I banned all pagan festivals. Olympia is located in the northwestern Peloponnesus, some 120 miles west of Athens and 25 miles south of the ancient city of Elis. It was the people of Elis -- not the people of Athens -- who managed the Olympic Games for most of their ancient history.

-- Anthony F. Milavic