Letters: Boys and Danger, and William Peters

John Ydstie reads letters from listeners, including responses to our interview with the authors of The Dangerous Book for Boys, and our remembrance of journalist William Peters.

Copyright © 2007 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

JOHN YDSTIE, host:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm John Ydstie.

(Soundbite of typewriter)

Time now for your mail. We received this correction from Sue Frankowitz(ph), who noticed that reporter Guy Raz used the phrase - white elephant in the room - in his story last Saturday about Defense Secretary Robert Gates' trip to China.

(Reading) What? I believe the phrase he wanted was the elephant in the room, a concept that originated in the recovery movement to refer to the thing that the dysfunctional family saw every day but refused to acknowledge - usually daddy's or mommy's alcohol abuse. The white elephant in the room makes no sense at all. Where were the editors?

We also received several letters in response to my essay last week on American exceptionalism.

Allen Barlow(ph) of Seattle had this response.

(Reading) I awoke still groggy to John Ydstie's gentle morality lecture. I reflect on my own public education from 1948 through the 1950s, and I see now that I was being deftly guided into a kind of chauvinistic patriotism that would justify any behavior by my government. My patriotic fervor was no better than the German or Japanese chauvinism we had recently repelled. My country, right or wrong, is just another way of saying America doesn't make mistakes. Look where it has got us.

Scott Simon's report on a new book that calls for bringing a freewheeling spirit back to child's play brought this response from Lulu Fristet(ph) of New York City.

(Reading) I enjoyed your segment on "The Dangerous Book for Boys" and the idea of getting boys away from PlayStations and into go-karts is terrific and timely. However, as a woman who works with machines and technology for a living, I've spent a lot of my adult life playing catch up with the men because I rarely dealt with machines or tools as a kid. I wished that the authors could have had it in their hearts to write "The Dangerous Book for Boys and Girls."

Our report on the death of a journalist who've brought world attention to a groundbreaking study on race elicited a very personal response from Gretchen Peters(ph) of Nashville who wrote:

(Reading) WEEKEND EDITION did a story on my father, William Peters, last Saturday. As it happened, my family was gathered that day to spread his ashes in Colorado. We, of course, were all aware of his work but perhaps not quite as aware of the impact it had on the world at large. The story came at a most appropriate time as we were all gathered to remember him, and we listened to it together.

And finally this, Orlando Salazar(ph) of Kaneohe, Hawaii, wrote after hearing our interview with Greg Fisher, one of the semi-finalists in the Van Cliburn Foundation's fifth annual competition for amateurs. Mr. Fisher is a blue-collared glass worker who had served time in prison. Mr. Ydstie's interview with Greg Fisher left me with the reassurance that music is one of the greatest gifts a human can receive and enjoy. Certainly, Mr. Fisher's story is not only human but also very special.

Here's an excerpt from the performance that won Mr. Fisher a spot in the semi-finals.

(Soundbite of music)

YDSTIE: Alas, Mr. Fisher did not advance beyond the semi-finals but there's always next year.

We welcome your comments and your corrections. Just go to our Web site, npr.org and click on Contact Us, and please tell us where you live, and how to say your name.

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