Letters: Acronyms Ban, 'Coach,' Tribute to Salihee

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Host Scott Simon reads from listeners' mail weighing in on stories on a proposed acronyms ban, criticism and the effects on students' self-esteem and a tribute to physician-turned-journalist Dr. Yasser Salihee.


Time now for your letters.

(Soundbite of typing; music)

SIMON: A couple of weeks ago we talked to John Gioia about his campaign to discourage acronyms in the official business of the Contra Costa County, California, Board of Supervisors. Mr. Gioia is on that board. He told us that NPR, KFC and FBI, for example, would be all right to use in meetings and in board documents, but several of you wrote to clarify the distinction between acronyms and initials.

Chris Hanson of Milwaukee writes, `FBI, KFC, NPR are just initials. An acronym is a word made from combining the first letters of words. The result needs to be a word that uses the sounds the letters make, such as FEMA, LASER(ph), SWAT, not a mere recitation of the letters themselves, to be an acronym.'

In our conversation with Michael Lewis about his book "Coach" last month, Mr. Lewis said parents are increasingly worried that criticism from teachers at school or coaches on the playing field might result in a loss of self-esteem for students. The conversation prompted one listener, a teacher in Oregon who wants to withhold his name, to write, `In the past five years, I have had students pulled out of my class, transferred to other schools, been questioned about my policy to deduct points from assignments, and threatened with loss of job or physical violence if I criticized their student. I have taught for more than 20 years, and even though I am not tired or burned out, I will probably retire soon because of parents who believe that self-esteem is a finite number that cannot be increased by achievement. The parents who want and appreciate standards for their students are becoming fewer each year. Their support is invaluable to my sanity.'

Last Saturday, NPR's Jacki Lyden presented a tribute to her interpreter and friend, Dr. Yasser Salihee. Dr. Salihee was a Sunni physician who became a journalist in Iraq and was killed at a US checkpoint. Many of you sent condolences to his family. Ann Papst(ph) of Wilmington, North Carolina, wrote, `Putting a face and name, a family, and a life so well and generously lived will hopefully make us all more cognizant of the tremendous cost that Iraqi civilians are incurring. We should know how many Iraqi civilians die in this war. To not report this information is to say, in some fundamental way, that it is unimportant.'

Finally last week, Chappy Hardy(ph), our man from HUNGER, who's taking an eating tour of the South, recommended a restaurant in Alabama called Mama Lou's. Leann Davenport(ph) from Greensboro, North Carolina, wrote in with another suggestion. She says, `If Mr. Hardy is still in Alabama and still hungry, he might want to head up I-65 toward Montgomery and visit DJ's at the Pintlala/Hope Hull exit. Fine, fine catfish, barbecue, fried green tomatoes--you get the picture. It's family-owned and operated; fast, friendly service and great country food.

We welcome your dining suggestions and all other reflections. You can come to the NPR Web site, find WEEKEND EDITION SATURDAY, and send us an e-mail. And please tell us where you live and how to pronounce your name.

It's 22 minutes before the hour.

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