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Hold On To Your Seats

Safety, security, literary and other measures.

5.10.02

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NEW JERSEY SAFETY
Re: Lawrence Henry's Another Law for Crash-Test Dummies:

Mr. Henry scores a bulls-eye with his column on New Jersey's new car seat laws. I would like to expand a couple of his points, however.

First, the real reason for car seats is that children are not properly protected by standard seat belts. The general reason for this is not weight, but height, more specifically, torso height. (Infants also have some flexibility issues that require 5-point restraint.) A 10-year-old who weighs 70 pounds but is almost 5 feet tall is much better protected by a standard seat belt than a 7-year-old who weighs 80 pounds but is only 4 feet tall. Age and weight are commonly used in lieu of height measurements, but in today's obese society, 6 year olds can easily weigh 80 pounds. Here in San Antonio, it is not uncommon to see kids who gain 20 pounds for every year of age. That's right. We have 100 pound 5-year-olds. In a car crash, your weight doesn't really matter. Everyone turns into a rag doll. So in other words, this is a half-empty (or half-full) gesture. A much better and environmentally friendly solution would be to have adjustable seat belts for school-age kids.

Second, car seats are to be replaced at least every 5 years because the plastic weakens over time. This means that you will have to buy several car seats over the life of a family. And yes, car seats do take up room. But I guess New Jersey has plenty of landfills.

And third, any safety measure has to be used properly in order for it to work. Car seats are hassles, but they do save lives and misery. Every state in the Union has mandated child safety seat laws for kids less than 4 years old, but I often see toddlers and infants ejected from cars during accidents. Do people really want to save lives? Then enforce the laws already on the books.
-- Andrew J. Macfadyen, M.D.
Assistant Professor
Pediatric Critical Care
U. of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio

ARAFAT IN TROUBLE (AGAIN)
Re: Jed Babbin's Delusional Diplomacy:

Jed Babbin's proposal that both Messrs. Sharon and Arafat renounce terrorism seems eminently reasonable. Without this precondition, there can logically be no common interest in peace.

But Mr. Babbin's earlier comments, in which he states that Secretary of State Powell is publicly demanding that Sharon negotiate with Arafat, became moot Sunday morning when Mr. Powell appeared on NBC's "Meet the Press." Perhaps Mr. Babbin missed that program.

Mr. Sharon has made his position very clear. To him, Mr. Arafat is an "enemy." Mr. Arafat, obviously sensing that he's in trouble, has condemned further terrorism in the wake of Tuesday's suicide bombing at a pool hall in Israel.

Whither negotiations now?
-- Paul Kellogg
New York, NY

Jed Babbin replies: Mr. Kellogg seems to take Mr. Arafat's statement condemning terror at face value. There is nothing about Mr. Arafat that can be taken this way. He has never lived up to his word, and will not do so now.

Negotiations cannot be had with Arafat -- period. He is not the master of his own fate. The Palestinians are mere pawns in the larger game, being conducted by nations including Syria, Iran, Iraq and Libya -- to destroy Israel. Any negotiation without the heads of state of those nations (and Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan, the supposed moderates) is simply incapable of reaching any peace because those who are making war won't be at the table.

I still do not have faith in any of Mr. Powell's approach to this matter. If we learned anything in 1991, it is that the Arab nations are not allies, and cannot be looked to for help in these matters. Negotiating with Arafat is simply denying that fact. It's delusional.

ENQUIRING MINDS
Re: The Prowler's Ya Got Trouble Right Here in River City:

Regarding the notion that the Enquirer planted the question in order to pressure Mayor Luken into inviting Clinton: The Enquirer is Republican to the bone. It would be difficult to find a paper that more deeply despises Clinton. More likely this was about getting a scoop. Remarkably, for a city its size, Cincinnati still has two papers. That, or the opportunity to muddy the waters for Democrat Luken, whom they've never cared for -- particularly since the riots.
-- Michael R. Lively

TWIST AGAIN
Re: Reader Mail's Affections and Elections:

A Note to T. Lett in Wichita:

"The Artful Dodger" that George Neumayr was referring to is a character in the Charles Dickens story of Oliver Twist. He is a slippery teenage criminal that always manages to get away. But he did finally get what he deserved.

"The Artful Dodger" is not to be confused with Roger "The Dodger" Staubach. Get your story straight and breathe easier: the insult never happened.

Also a fan of Roger "The Dodger,"
-- Steve Currence
Denver, CO

TREATING THE DUTCH
Re: Wlady Pleszczynski's Keller Wails:

Did you notice how the account the assassination of Brother Fortuyn (about whom I admit I know next to nothing) in the Netherlands was page seven news in most American newspapers? In most TV news shows I saw the item was near the end of the program (right before the cute piece on the roller skating horse). No hand-wringing segments on what a bunch of course, violent brutes the Dutch are. Wonder how different the coverage would have been if Fortuyn had been a lefty?
-- Larry Thornberry
Tampa, FL

MORE ABOUT CHAD SHRUM
Re: Mark Goldblatt's Shrum Rap:

Should Al Gore decide to run for president again in 2004, he'll need a new campaign manager. Donna Brazile, Mr. Gore's outspoken presidential campaign manager in 2000, told us at the annual White House Correspondents' Association dinner she would consider it a privilege to work on the campaign of the Democratic presidential nominee in 2004.

Yet she had a one-word reply when asked if she intended to work for the former vice president again: "Never." We won't soon forget Miss Brazile's closing statement once the dust of the 2000 presidential race settled, words that rang similar to former Soviet dictator Josef Stalin's observation: "The people who vote decide nothing. The people who count the vote decide everything."

Or as Miss Brazile preferred: "Al Gore won the popular vote. I did my job. I did get that vote out. Unfortunately, I didn't get to count it." Like you said, it's "votes" that count. They never will give up, will they?
-- Bob Johnson
Bedford, TX

CROSS FIRE
Re: The Prowler's Major Shakeout at CNN:

One of the founding hosts of "Crossfire" and the creator of "The Capitol Gang," Novak is said ...

Somebody needs to check their research. Tom Braden and Pat Buchanan were the founding hosts of "Crossfire." Novak was little more than a vacation sub for a long time.
-- Fred Quinnelly

LANDSCAPE BEAUTIFICATION
Re: George Neumayr's Gray Extremism:

Excellent article. I wish it could be posted on a freeway billboard.
-- A Californian

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