Letters

NPR's Scott Simon reads letters from the Weekend Edition email inbox.

Copyright © 2008 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

SCOTT SIMON, host:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.

Coming up, American musicians defy the iron curtain and dazzle Soviet audiences.

But first...

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SIMON: ...your letters.

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SIMON: We got many e-mails after our interview with Larry Ashmead about his recent book, "Bertha Venation: And Hundreds of Other Funny Names of Real People."

Betsy Taggarth(ph) in Austin, Texas, writes: The book reminds me of two partners in my father's radiology group many years ago, Dr. Watts(ph) and Dr. Volts(ph). Winniford Newcome(ph) of Saint Paul, Minnesota, also attracts which she calls career names. The Boston Fire Department employee name Murash(ph), the former Massachusetts Racing Commissioner named Furlong(ph) and a former president of the fund for animals named Ferrell(ph). Chip Overclock(ph) of Denver, Colorado adds, I know a Park A. Studebaker(ph).

Finally, Kim Johnson(ph) of Old Town, Maine, writes: Was it only an interesting coincidence? At the same show featuring a book about funny names also included conversation about a book called "The Geography of Bliss" by Eric Weiner. Yes.

Now, our correction. My - I said last week about race and politics I said seven of the nine U.S. Supreme Court justices are Roman Catholic. That was wrong. There are actually five Catholics on the court, two are Protestant, two are Jewish.

Our conversation with Charlie Cook, editor and publisher of The Cook Political Report looking ahead at New Hampshire primaries prompted George Arnold(ph) of Nashville, to write: Mr. Cook made a not surprising but still disturbing observation, talking about Barack Obama's momentum coming out of Iowa. Mr. Simon asked if Obama might receive more scrutiny, Mr. Cook said, the news media loves a good story.

I appreciate the honesty, but I wonder about the apparent lack of concern of media-determined good stories; the amount of time and space devoted to them. Mr. Cook's uncritical acknowledgement of a self-appointed media role just might indicate that old news needs to be an ongoing good story.

Listeners criticized our conversation with John Carlisle of the National Legal on Policy Center about his group funding investigative journalism while U.S. media outlets are reducing the number of their investigative reporters.

Greg Masco(ph) of Sherman Oaks, California, writes: When your guest cast thinly veiled aspersions on similar efforts by liberal groups, we should call them out on it and I wish you'd pointed out that the dividing line between these efforts on either side and propaganda is a very slippery blurry one. Investigative reporting, the valuable service that traditional journalistic organizations can provide by playing gatekeeper against blatant propaganda and providing fact-checking and verification to what they choose to print.

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SIMON: Please write to us. You can go to our Web site, npr.org. Click on the link that says Contact Us and please tell us where you live and how to pronounce your name.

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