Your Letters: George Washington; 'Triumph Of The City'

Host Scott Simon reads listeners' letters about his essay and other elements of last week's show.

Copyright © 2011 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

SCOTT SIMON, host:

Time now for Your Letters.

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SIMON: We got many notes about my essay last week on George Washington's refusal to run for a third term, and the precedent it set.

Ann Megowan of Corvallis, Oregon, writes: One of his greatest actions was in allowing our fledgling republic to begin its journey, to test whether we could, as a nation, live up to our Declaration of Independence and Constitution. George Washington enabled America to begin growing up. No wonder we call him the father of his country.

Last week, we interviewed Harvard professor Edward Glaeser, who says in his new book, Triumph of the City, that cities are the most environmentally responsible way to live, as well as being dynamic and exciting.

But Eric Burnette of Louisville, Kentucky, writes: I take issue with Glaeser's dismissive attitude toward living among the trees. Concrete jungles are depressing, which is partly why people move out of cities in the first place. What we really want is energy-efficient, dense living in a literally green urban environment, full of grass and gardens and, yes, trees.

I also spoke last week with novelist Stephen Amidon, his brother Thomas, a cardiologist, about their new book, "The Sublime Engine: A Biography of the Human Heart."

Mr. AMIDON: Perhaps there'll be a day when we no longer touch our chest and kind of nod and people understand we're talking about qualities that can't be explained by medicine, we're talking about courage or devotion or inspiration.

SIMON: Richard Kitaeff of Edmonds, Washington, writes: I recently discovered that I require surgery for a congenitally narrowed aortic heart valve. In our interview with the surgeon, he handed my wife and me the pig's valve that he would sew into my heart. It was a simple flapper that allowed the blood to move in only one direction. To reassure us, he explained with a big smile that he would be doing just a plumbing job. The same week, the sewer line on our office property required replacement of a deteriorated valve. The plumbing contractor showed us the replacement valve. Sure enough, it was the same simple flapper. I can't help thinking that the universe is sending us an encouraging message that the internal cardiac plumbing can be fixed as simply as the external sewage line.

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SIMON: Yeah. But who says, bless your external sewage line?

We welcome your comments. Go to npr.org and click on the Contact Us Link. We're also on Facebook and Twitter at NPRWeekend. You can send me a tweet at nprscottsimon.

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