Pixel Protocol

I'm curious about the use of the Reuters photo with the Sept. 16 In the Loop column. Reuters has admitted to "enhancing" the picture via Photoshop to make it more legible. Does this procedure meet The Post's journalistic standards? Shouldn't a disclaimer or notice appear with news photos that have been altered, even if the alteration only clarifies the original picture?

-- John Burpo


Grammatical Latitude

Maida Tryon [Free for All, Sept. 17] was right in condemning the Sept. 12 Metro headline "Number of D.C. Affordable Housing Units Plunge." Indeed, the singular noun "Number" as subject required its verb to be in the third-person singular, "Plunges."

Yet Tryon erred in suggesting that this sort of syntactical agreement is ironclad. As I recall from Resurrection School, something called "the rule of the collective noun" requires the verb to be in the third-person plural if the things that the number represents are more significant than the number itself.

For example: "The fire marshal said that the number of people allowed inside the night club is 197." However, "A number of increasingly impatient people are waiting outside." I'm sure that the nuns would be proud of me for correcting the correction.

-- Timothy Hutchens


Deconstructing Dylan

Ann Hornaday's Sept. 26 Style review of Martin Scorsese's Bob Dylan documentary, "No Direction Home," is elitist, overwritten tripe. Words such as "encomium," "zeitgeist," "hagiographic deconstruction" and "leitmotif" do not belong in an article about Bob Dylan. Dylan would have puked.

-- John Robbins

Flint Hill, Va.

Don't Blame Immigrants

The facts do not support Robert J. Samuelson's claim [op-ed, Sept. 21] that a primary reason for persistent poverty in the United States is immigration.

Samuelson uses Hispanic origin as an imperfect proxy for immigration that masks the economic success most immigrants achieve. Since 1993, the foreign-born population of the United States has increased by 13.4 million, yet the proportion falling below the federal poverty line has fallen from 23 percent to 17.1 percent. Looking at only those foreign-born who are not U.S. citizens is even more telling. Despite an overall increase of 6.1 million since 1993, the number below the poverty line has increased by a mere 200,000 -- amounting to a decline in their poverty rate of more than 6 percentage points. Immigrants come to this country willing to work hard, and most are successful. The roots of poverty in the United States lie elsewhere.

-- Ben Johnson


The writer is director of the Immigration Policy Center.

Condensed Confusion

The danger of condensing news into "McNuggets" was humorously on display in the Sept. 21 Metro in Brief column. The headline "Montgomery Dogs Must Be Leashed" reported the passage of two laws, one requiring dogs to be leashed outdoors and the other banning "urinating in public." At first read, I thought that after years of exhorting my two pups, Chase and Maddy, to "do your business outside," I now had to re-train them to urinate in the privacy of my living room. And the warning that "violators can be fined up to $500" had me thinking I ought to increase the balance in their checking accounts.

-- Lenne P. Miller


Cleanse Your Palette

A Sept. 14 news story said that "the . . . devastation makes New Orleans an irresistible palate for urban planners." Gee, what does this mean -- Creole cooking, Cajun? Are the urban planners going to eat? Are their palates involved here, or maybe your paper meant "plates"?

No, after considering the article as a whole, I see that the writer meant "palette," a board for holding paints to be applied to a painting. Ah, spelling -- it can be so tricky for Post writers. And, by the way, is New Orleans a palette or, more likely, a canvas or sheet of paper?

-- Susan Cochran