What gives?

I used to think “depleted uranium” meant “waste” from nuclear reactors, after the radiation level decreased to the point it wasn’t effective in creating enough heat for generating electricity.

But the name “depleted” is a misnomer. Depleted uranium means Uranium 238; the most common isotope, but it’s not fissionable. The nuclear industry is primarily interested in Uranium 235, as it is fissionable with slow neutrons and capable of sustaining a chain reaction when there is a critical mass.

Rather than being “spent,” Uranium 238 is found in the ore when mining for Uranium 235, thus had to be “separated” and then, of course, other uses of this heavy metal needed to be found.

But it is a heavy metal, denser than lead and used to increase the hardness of bullets and make armor less penetrable.

Though our government claims the radioactive effects of Uranium 238 are negligible, they have never studied what happens if high quantities are ingested in the water, or breathed in the air, or the effects of a person’s age. (But we know that young children and infants are much more susceptible to lead poisoning than adults.)

We rightly are concerned about the lead from car batteries and house paint that is polluting the water in New Orleans after the hurricane flood. But where is our concern for the heavy metal poisonings caused by our use of Uranium 238 in Iraq, and why does our government still claim it is not a poison?

Robert Wittry

You’re kidding, right?

“Crimebo (bro) the Clown!” (“Killer ride,” Aug. 3).

Why don’t these people just put up a real tar baby?

This is a real insult to the black community! What is the meaning of this disgraceful representation, PW?

Halimah Allah

Just a shame

I sent the following letter to the mayor and City Council and I urge anyone else who values reusing grand old buildings rather than maximizing profit to share their thoughts, too:

Dear Mayor and City Council Members,

I had the pleasure of staffing a table at the Earth Day event in Memorial Park recently. Despite the cool, damp weather, there was a large crowd enjoying the band, the food and all the booths and other activities.

Raymond Avenue was closed, serving as a racetrack for solar-powered model cars and as a canvas for chalk drawings. The Armory buzzed with arts-and-crafts activities. But the once-majestic Raymond Theatre stood next door shrouded in gray as if awaiting burial.

With so much ugly architecture in blighted areas practically begging to be torn down and replaced with something useful to the community, it is so tragic that the Raymond Theatre is being gutted for just another condo project.

There is a growing awareness of the value of historic properties, for the owners and the general public.

Please revisit this issue and step in to save a wonderful old building that could be restored to provide both a needed venue for dance, music and theater and an architectural view of a simpler time when the intrinsic beauty of a structure brought joy to its neighborhood.

Sharon And
Bill Weisman

Special education

Social programs in America are an attempt to paint the termite-infested house of society. All the bright colors, wallpaper and aluminum siding won’t change the fact that the foundation is being eaten from within.

The termites, in my opinion, are the horrible education system in America today. It is amazing how we as citizens allow for education to always be the first head on the spending-cuts chopping block — especially when funding a solid education system is an investment in the future of our society.

When a child receives a truly good education they learn how to cope with life after high school, and many get inspired to go on to higher education. Our children will become more productive members of our society.

I believe that many older Americans don’t appreciate how much the American educational system has fallen, so they are willing to let politicians continue to steal money away from schools. These same Americans then get surprised by the low test scores coming from our scholastic system. Children today seem to learn too much about pop culture and commercialism from their peers in school as opposed to history, mathematics and how to think for themselves.

Children must be reached early to develop a love of learning and an interest and curiosity in the world around them. Until the education system is truly appreciated, society will never solve ills such as homeless young adults.

For the record, I do not work in education.

Robert Skiena

Good Sam for kids

I found your articles (“Throwaway Kids,” a series that ran from June 22 through July 20) to be very interesting. Not enjoyable, of course, but thought-provoking.

There was one thing you did not mention that works against these kids. That is our legal system. Not the criminal system, but our civil system — the tort bar, especially.

These kids need all the breaks they can get, yet our love for litigation and our lawsuit-lottery mentality all work against them.

Take employers. If an employer takes a chance and hires a kid with a record and that kid is the one percent or so who is really damaged and goes postal, rapes a customer, harasses a fellow employee or whatever, that kind-hearted employer can kiss his business and probably his future goodbye.

Most small employers — those who will take a chance on hiring such kids — can’t afford the type of insurance needed to protect themselves against such claims.

Now take landlords. What if that same kid is the one percent who robs, rapes or does worse to another tenant, guest, neighbor, etc.? Same thing: major lawsuit. Kind-hearted landlord is ruined and sharky lawyer makes out big and buys a vacation home in Aspen.

We need legislation giving employers and landlords some short-term immunity from lawsuits when they are helping these foster kids get a start — sort of like a Good Sam law. But

I can’t see either party going for it.

Not the Republicans, of course, because they only care about big business, big money and fetuses. And since the Democrats are practically opiated from all the money they get from the tort bar, you wouldn’t get any interest from them.

Oh, well, it was just an idea.

Thanks for a good series.

Jayne Mazziotti
Via Email