Letters: SCHIP, Elizabeth Edwards, Laptops

Michele Norris and Robert Siegel read from listeners' letters and e-mails. This round features the vetoed children's health — or SCHIP — legislation, an Elizabeth Edwards interview, the annoying click-click of a computer keyboard, Sputnik and the melodious keys of Thelonius Monk.

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MICHELE NORRIS, Host:

Thursday is the day we read from your e-mail.

ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:

And many of you wrote to praise my interview with White House counselor Ed Gillespie. We had him on to discuss President Bush's veto of the bill to expand the State Children's Health Insurance Program, known as SCHIP.

NORRIS: Bravo, writes Jessica Irvine(ph) of San Francisco. I was pleasantly surprised to hear Mr. Siegel question the logical and factual underpinnings of Gillespie's talking points, and separate the inaccuracies from the truth. He did all this in a respectful and thoughtful manner and did not prod his guest into needless bluster, but he also did not let him off easily.

SIEGEL: Jonathan Block(ph) was pleased that we fact-checked the claims Gillespie made after the interview. He writes, the 20 seconds or so of airtime required made the segment infinitely more informative and an infinitely greater contribution to the public debate than it would otherwise have been.

NORRIS: Still, Christine Natress(ph) of New Haven, Connecticut thought Robert could have been tougher. She sent this. When the counselor to the president gets on the air and fills time with talking points, I expect your reporters to interrupt him and ask hardball questions. The minor correction after the rants were aired was not enough.

SIEGEL: Well, some listeners thought Michele was too tough during her interview with Elizabeth Edwards, wife of presidential candidate John Edwards.

NORRIS: Barbara Pauley(ph) of Lexington, Kentucky is among them. She was upset by my final question about Mrs. Edwards's cancer and its potential impact if her husband won the presidency. She called the question clumsy, insensitive and unnecessary. And she continues, asking this cancer survivor a question that assumes a gloom and doom future was irrelevant. It would've been enough to ask how Mrs. Edwards was feeling and leave it at that.

SIEGEL: Erin Kessler(ph) of Boonville, New York was pleased with the interview. She writes, I just finished listening. And I find myself all of a sudden choked up, not because of the Edwards family tragedies, but because the interview was so dignified and Elizabeth's response is so full of truth. I think that Elizabeth is doing an incredible job representing John in his campaign. And after listening to the interview, she has become an inspiration for me.

NORRIS: Professor Daniel Coyne's effort to keep laptops out of his law school classroom was an inspiration for a number of you, who are likewise familiar with the click-click-click of keyboards during lectures.

SIEGEL: Terry Stillup(ph) of Seattle writes, like the professor, I've had the experience of sitting there at the back of the class and watching my fellow students surfing and IM-ing while the instructor is trying to impart knowledge. At the same time, I know how much more complete and useable my notes are when they're typed during a lecture. Seems one straightforward way to solve this problem would be to cut off wireless Internet access to the classroom during a lecture.

NORRIS: Jeff Jackson(ph) is currently in law school in Phoenix. He sent this. I take cleaner, more complete notes, can combine notes from reading and lectures, cut and paste case and statutory language and keep everything organized and labeled in its own little folder. And while I understand Professor Coyne's frustration about other uses of laptops in class, there is a bright side. It does give me the motivation to get a better grade than the guy in front of me who reads ESPN.com in class everyday.

SIEGEL: Well, many of you are write to say that you were pleased with my remembrance of the year 1957.

NORRIS: And many write to add your own memories. Michael Hudson(ph) of Putney, Vermont says Sputnik Shmutnik, you want icons? I'll give you icons, Beaver Cleaver, Eddie Haskell, Clarence "Lumpy" Rutherford.

SIEGEL: Well, finally, while we're on the subject of icons, we'll have some praise for our piece on the 90th anniversary of Thelonious Monk's birth. We heard about his Southern roots.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, writes listener Lisa Rose(ph). He is my hands- down favorite composer in the area of American music and maybe music in general, and what a musician. I was thrilled to hear the story.

NORRIS: Thrilled or otherwise, we want to know what you think of our show. Write to us. Go to our Web site, npr.org and click on Contact Us at the top of the page.

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