Not My Kind of Birthday

Sally Quinn's warning to be prepared in case of a local terrorist attack [Close Home, Sept. 18] inspired my wife.

The other day, for my birthday, instead of taking me out for a juicy steak or promising me a romantic fall weekend in the country, my wife gave me a year's supply of water purification tablets; a wind-up, battery-free flashlight; and the now-fashionable N95 respirator. Thanks a lot, Sally.

-- Sanford Horwitt

Arlington

Comic Inertia? It seems that the world is running out of everything, from gasoline to gags. What are the odds that two comic strips ("Sherman's Lagoon" and "The Wizard of Id") would have the same gag (deviled eggs are offensive to religion) on the same day, Sept. 19?

-- George Southern

Falls Church

Still Off the Map

Hurricane Katrina has belatedly put race and class disparities at the forefront of public discussion ["Wiped Off the Map, and Belatedly Put Back on It," Sept. 19, Style]. So it's disconcerting to see the disparity in The Post's reporting of two shooting deaths that occurred within 45 minutes of each other last Saturday night. The fatality in now-tony Mount Pleasant garners 21 paragraphs in a front-page feature of the Sept. 19 Metro section, while the crime committed across the Anacostia River gets three sentences inside. In reporting on the untimely deaths of two young men in our one city, this can't be good enough.

-- Dana Holland

Washington

Greek Hypocrisy

The Sept. 14 obituary for promethium discoverer Jacob Marinsky concluded with: "The team named the element for Prometheus of Greek mythology, who stole fire from heaven for mankind. He signed a petition against dropping the atomic bomb on Japan in 1945 and favored disarmament during the arms race."

This is just the sort of hypocrisy that we have, sadly, come to expect from public figures: If Prometheus didn't want us to have nuclear weapons, he shouldn't have given us fire in the first place.

-- Michael Fransella

Arlington

Cooking While Bombing

The bomb attacks in Baghdad that killed 160 people on Sept. 14 serve as a reminder that the U.S. occupation has failed to bring security to Iraq. How comforting to learn from The Post's Food section on the same day that L. Paul Bremer, who oversaw Iraq's decline into chaos, did not entirely waste his time there. Bremer, a professionally trained chef, discovered that when you're preparing Fontainebleau and your corner store in Ramadi is out of raspberry coulis, pomegranate molasses is an acceptable substitute.

A French chef as administrator of Iraq, and a former official of an Arabian horse breeders association to head the Federal Emergency Management Agency. What next?

-- Sarah Anderson

Washington

The writer is director of the global economy program at the Institute for Policy Studies.

Higher Standards for Schools

Your paper's Sept. 16 front-page article on the Charles County school board has such a negative tone regarding anyone who is religious or home-schooled. Who would your editors rather their children turn out to be more like: the Rev. Billy Graham or Tommy Lee?

-- Ann LeBarron

La Plata