From Our Listeners

Letters: Single in America; Catching a Predator

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Every Tuesday, host Neal Conan reads from listener e-mails. Today, topics include singles, how far people go to hide a purchase, and reaction to a TV show about catching sexual predators.


It's Tuesday, the day we read from your e-mails. A week ago, we invited the host of NBC Dateline's series, To Catch a Predator, along with supporters and critics to address some of the controversies surrounding that show. The program uses actors who pose as teenagers to lure older men into what they think will be sexual encounters.

Lana Matthews e-mailed from Denver, Colorado: (Reading) To ask why these predators exist in the first place, it seems that we've lost all sense of history and our knowledge of biology, she wrote. Once a girl reaches puberty, up until this century in almost every culture, she would be married and having children. It's only now that that's seen as unusual or sick for an older male to be attracted to and want a younger female. But if you take one look at history, marriage records, anthropology and cultural information, that all confirms this is a natural pattern. For us to advance, we have to confront our past as it impinges on our present, not simply label behavior and criminalize whatever we no longer accept.

Another listener, Joseph, e-mailed with a firsthand account. (Reading) I'm a 25-year-old male who's been convicted of possession of child pornography. I've been in sex offender therapy for three years. This show will not prevent the predators from offending but hopefully it will show parents how easy it is for their kids to become prey.

As for the question of why do they do this: (Reading) I've been in therapy for three years, and I spent the bulk of my time working on answering that question. These people have a problem they don't fully understand themselves, so they cannot answer that question.

And when a new analysis of census results last week showed that more American women now live without a husband than with one, 51 percent, for the first time in American history, we asked who's single now.

Renee e-mailed: (Reading) Many of us are choosing to stay unmarried because if we marry, we'll lose our medical benefits and social security. I'll be staying single unless my beau should become financially well off.

We also talked last week about how couples juggle their money in their households and just how far they'd go to hide those expensive new shoes or golf clubs.

Janey, a listener in Brooklyn, New York: (Reading) Up the ante, I often splurge on shopping trips at expensive boutiques without letting my partner know. The last purchase that I've hidden from him is not a tangible one. I purchased a vacation package to Belgium with a good travel buddy and I don't know how I'm going to hide this one.

As always, if you want to reach us with comments, questions, or corrections, the best way to do that is by e-mail. Our address is Be sure to let us know where you're writing from and give us some help on how to pronounce your name.

And if you're listening to this in Juneau, Alaska, we hope we'll be hearing from you. TALK OF THE NATION debuts this week on KTOO, or KTOO in Juneau. It's part of an expansion of news programming there. Juneau, of course, is the only state capital you cannot drive to. So to find out how people get in and out of Juno, we turn to Craig Locan(ph). He owns Alaska Seaplane Services, and it's nice to talk to you.

Mr. KRAIG LOCAN (Owner, Seaplane Services, Alaska Seaplane Services): Good morning.

CONAN: Of course there are cars and roads in Juneau itself, but if you want to get to the state capital from anywhere else, you really got only two choices.

Mr. LOCAN: Fly or take a boat.

CONAN: And you're the fly person.

Mr. LOCAN: Oh well, one of the many that operate out of Juneau.

CONAN: I understand if you're going from Anchorage or from Seattle, of course, you'd fly Alaska Air, one of the big airlines.

Mr. LOCAN: Correct.

CONAN: But your pilots do what?

Mr. LOCAN: Well, we operate lots more aircraft, seaplanes within about a 100-mile radius of Juneau. Alaska Airlines, on the other hand, operates, of course, large 737 jets. Anchorage is about 600 miles to the northwest and Seattle is about 900 miles to the southeast. So we kind of operate the whole segment between those two places.

CONAN: Found yourself a nice little niche. And as I understand it, even ferry service doesn't reach some of the islands out there.

Mr. LOCAN: Well, a lot of the smaller communities don't get ferry service at all. Some of the larger ones, of course, do. We serve one community out of the coast, little fishing community with about 90 people. If they're lucky, they may get one ferry a month. And then our largest destination is a community about 60 miles southeast here. It has maybe 500 or 600 people. They get one fairy a week. So that's what people have to rely on to get your stuff around and get to and from the doctors and the grocery stores.

CONAN: And that's so - a lot of your passengers are, people on the way to the grocery store or to the doctor?

Mr. LOCAN: Grocery stores, doctors, school kids coming in to compete with other schools for basketball games, anything people need has to get there by either boat or ferry.

CONAN: So when you're carrying the kids into a basketball game, do you paint the planes yellow like the buses?

Mr. LOCAN: Actually, they are.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. LOCAN: Yeah. Our airplanes are painted yellow, not because of the bus situation but well, probably because of the same reason: yellow is an easy color to see, especially in this country.

CONAN: And I understand you're not flying today.

Mr. LOCAN: No, no we're not. We had a beautiful day yesterday, real high overcast, and even some sunshine. Today, it's quite a bit lower with some snow. We picked up about six inches of snow last night. They are calling for another six inches today.

CONAN: Well, Craig Locan(ph), have a good time on the ground and get them flying as soon as you can.

Mr. LOCAN: You bet. We appreciate talking to you.

CONAN: Craig Locan runs Alaska's Seaplane Service in Juneau, Alaska, and can now listen to TALK OF THE NATION on KTOO, our news station in Alaska's state capital.

(Soundbite of music)

CONAN: I'm Neal Conan, NPR News, in Washington.

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