Letters: Yellow Jackets, Author, Amish Lessons

Scott Simon opens the mailbag (actually the e-mail folder) and reads letters from listeners. Comments cover a piece on how to get rid of a yellow-jacket nest, an interview with Alexander McCall Smith and the lessons of the Amish.

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SCOTT SIMON, host:

Time now for your letters. Several of you wrote to us after hearing our interview with biology Professor Chuck Holliday about the aggressive behavior of yellow jackets this time of year. Professor Holliday suggested that the best way to get rid of them is to buy a pint of EverClear, which is 95 percent alcohol, and pour it down a yellow jacket nest after dark.

David Bell(ph) thought we should give extra emphasis to the part about waiting until it's dark. Mr. Bell writes, If someone misses that step and tries pouring EverClear or even yellow jacket insecticide down a nest hole, they're sure to get attacked by all of the yellow jackets in the near vicinity. Waiting until nightfall, when all the insects are back home and tucked in bed, is essential.

But Tony Todd(ph) said the professor from Lafayette College should know better than to suggest that listeners go down to the liquor store and buy a pint of EverClear. If my recent undergraduate years at a rival school - Lehigh University, just down the road - taught me anything is that EverClear is banned in all of Pennsylvania, including Easton, and to obtain a bottle involves a short trip into New Jersey.

Now, several of you wrote to thank us for our interview with the Scottish novelist Alexander McCall Smith. Linda Foss(ph) is one of his readers. She was distressed to learn that some of the readers have urged Mr. McCall Smith to allow his character, Miss Dalhousie, a little happiness in the possibility of romantic attachment. It is the experience of myself and my friends and the friends of theirs, she writes, all of us about the age of Miss Dalhousie, that happiness consists of not having a man in one's life, at least not in the position to exert any control. Of course, it's nice to have an interesting companion to the symphony or a play, but that doesn't have to be male.

Finally, many of you wrote in after our essay last week on the murders of five Amish schoolgirls in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Grey Chevaliant(ph) has this to say: As a nation and a world, our response to violence committed against us is to seek revenge. As I listened to the way of the Amish, I was moved to tears thinking that the lesson they are giving our nation is a blessing in this time of anger, fear, revenge, and the violence it brings. May we not only comment and admire the lessons of the Amish, but begin to see how we can bring them into our personal lives and that of our country and the world.

We welcome your thoughts and comments. Please come to our Website at npr.org, then click on Contact Us. And please, tell us where you live and how to say your name.

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