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Letters: Illinois Mascot; Tiny Preemie; and Bowling

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Letters: Illinois Mascot; Tiny Preemie; and Bowling

From Our Listeners

Letters: Illinois Mascot; Tiny Preemie; and Bowling

Letters: Illinois Mascot; Tiny Preemie; and Bowling

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Melissa Block and Robert Siegel read from listeners' letters. Among this week's topics: our story on the retirement of the University of Illinois' mascot, Chief Illiniwek; also, our interview with a doctor who cared for Amillia Taylor, possibly the tiniest premature baby ever to survive; and a correction about a SoundClip that came from Windsor, Ontario.


Discussion of Dolly the cloned sheep leads us to another sheep-related item that we heard about on yesterday's program.


We were talking about the new polyester caps that pro baseball players will be wearing this season. After assuring us than the caps will look the same and not pick up as much sweat and odor as the old wool caps, a vice president from Major League Baseball said this.

(Soundbite of previous ALL THINGS CONSIDERED broadcast)

Mr. STEVE ARMISS (Vice President, Major League Baseball): I suppose there will be some happy sheep.

BLOCK: Well not so, according to listener Ben Krikoski(ph) of Pittsburgh. He writes: I can assure you that the opposite is true. On warm spring days, our sheep sag under the weight of their wool, and they are relieved to be rid of it. It hurts no more than a haircut.

SIEGEL: And it is Thursday, so we're going to continue reading from your e-mail. The Detroit area was well represented in our inbox thanks to an error that we made on Monday.

BLOCK: While introducing one of our SoundClips, we said we were going north of the U.S.-Canada border.

SIEGEL: The problem was, and we corrected this for later feeds of our program, the SoundClip was from Windsor, Ontario.

BLOCK: And as Scott Gerstenberger(ph) of Ann Arbor, Michael Richard(ph) of Ypsilanti, Peter Williams(ph) of Detroit, and many, many more listeners point out, Detroit is actually north of Windsor.

SIEGEL: That's right. Peter Williams writes: As WDET listeners learned in fifth-grade Michigan history class, from Detroit we enjoy a vantage point from which we can look south into Canada.

BLOCK: Okay, we're headed southwest from Detroit now.

SIEGEL: And we did check it out, it is indeed southwest.

BLOCK: That's right. We're headed to Illinois, where last night at Assembly Hall the University of Illinois' mascot, Chief Illiniwek, performed for the last time. The university retired him after a long controversy and sanctions from the NCAA.

SIEGEL: We spoke with a former student who used to portray the chief at halftime shows. He was, of course, sad to see the tradition end.

BLOCK: Judy Roar(ph) of Syracuse, New York, was unhappy with that interview. Ridiculously one-sided is how she describes it. And she continues, was there any consideration with speaking with one of the many Indians and others who've been protesting the disrespectful, inhumane mascot for decades? Is the retirement of the chief not a time to finally hear their voices rather than amplify nostalgic bigotry?

SIEGEL: Other listeners reacted differently. Dave Kanser(ph) of Oak Brook, Illinois, writes this. As a graduate of the accountancy program at the University of Illinois, I'm not generally prone to excess displays of emotion. However, when you played Chief Illiniwek's theme song at the end of your fine, balanced story about the university retiring the chief, I confess my eyes welled up with tears. I was fine until the music played, and then it hit me that neither I nor my children will ever see the chief do his famous dance again. A sad day to be an alumnus of the U of I.

BLOCK: Finally, our story on Amillia Taylor, possibly the most premature baby on record to survive, brought in several responses with people who have personal experience with premature birth.

Karen Heiss(ph) of Buena Vista, Colorado, writes: I was born three months premature, weighing one pound, four ounces. Thanks to the heroic efforts of the attending doctor in Hempstead, Texas, and the fantastic staff at St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital in Houston, I too survived great odds. It seems to me that Amillia's case is a stark reminder that the age of viability is really, in the end, up to God.

SIEGEL: We'd like to know what you think of the program. You can write to us by going to and click on Contact Us at the top of the page.

BLOCK: This is NPR, National Public Radio.

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