Bill Lueders deserves an award for reading my thoughts and for so eloquently describing the UW athletic department's 'godlike sculpture of Barry Alvarez' and its further disregard for faithful season ticket holders (60 years in our case) by levying hefty price hikes ('Enough Already: Cheap Shot Awards,' 12/29/06).
I am appalled at Julaine Appling of the Wisconsin Family Research Institute for helping pass a state constitutional amendment banning civil unions and same-sex marriages. She is mean-spirited and just as bad as the Republican lawmakers who wrote discrimination into the state constitution. She ought to be ashamed.
Wow, your usual anti-Christian bigotry is hard enough to stomach, but you've set a new standard with your year-end ruminations.
Paul Schultz, Edgerton
Thank you for honoring Bishop Morlino and Pro-Life Wisconsin with two of your awards. This just proves that they are doing what they are supposed to do: Bishop Morlino in expecting his priests to obey and teach Catholic doctrine and Pro-Life Wisconsin for continuing to stand up for all life, embryonic, pre-born, born and the elderly. May God continue to bless all of them!
Christine VanderBloemen, Brookfield
Mr. Lueders: I challenge you to argue with the Most Reverend Bishop Morlino your positions on the issues of the essence of truth, the marriage amendment, embryonic stem cell research, the sacrament of Holy Orders and the authority of a Roman Catholic bishop. However, I do suggest that you first find yourself a very tight corner and then practice falling down.
Therese Cuccia, Lodi
Church and state
It was funny to read the article (Watch Out! 12/22/06) about an anti-abortion group urging the Catholic Church to excommunicate Gov. Jim Doyle for his 'open advocacy for abortion, birth control and embryonic stem-cell research.' They obviously forgot about separation of church and state in this country.
Jason Shepard's Talking Out of School column ('Replacing Rainwater,' 1/12/07)) quotes me as saying that I worry that West High School's heterogeneously grouped core classes could make attendance at West a 'colossal waste of time' for academically advanced students.
Because this quote is placed after a sentence which says that some parents 'continue to fret about the effect on high achievers, who studies say do better in classes of like-minded peers,' it may appear to readers that I am opposed to West's efforts to create richer and more equal learning environments for all its students.
I am not opposed to such efforts. But to be successful they must be well designed, and teachers must be extensively trained in how to effectively teach in such classrooms. I fear that the necessary training is unlikely in today's budgetary context.
My concern, arising out of my experience as a Madison parent, is that academically advanced students in heterogeneously grouped classes may be unchallenged and deeply bored, with the predictable result that they become alienated from school-based learning.
Michael Olneck, Professor of educational policy studies and sociology UW-Madison
David Medaris raises a number of intriguing what-if questions in his You Are Here column concerning the vast parking lots surrounding shopping malls and big-box stores ('A Christmas Reverie,' 12/29/06). Here's another: What if those endless expanses of impermeable blacktop were to double as solar-electricity generators?
Rows of photovoltaic panels could be suspended high enough for customers to park under. The solar radiation that usually turns cars into Easy-Bake ovens could instead be used to satisfy part of the enormous energy demands of these consumer meccas, with the fringe benefit of shaded parking spaces.
One more what-if: What if one of these retailers saw the public relations value of becoming something more than gigantic consumers of energy and space?
I very much enjoyed reading about fellow Madison museums and the wealth of art treasures in the city ('Most Valuable Paintings,' 1/12/07). However, I would like to bring to your attention another small but valuable Madison art collection that resides in the Wisconsin Historical Museum.
The WHS began its collection in the mid-1850s by asking artist Thomas Sully to create a painting for the citizens of Wisconsin. The result is a portrait of George Washington, based on the famous work by Gilbert Stuart. That painting is part of a 400-piece collection that includes works of art by such well-known names as George Caleb Bingham, John Singer Sargent, George Catlin, Aaron Bohrod, Eastman Johnson, and the prolific duo of Brookes and Stevenson.
These paintings, together with information about the artist, can be viewed at www.wisconsinhistory.org (click on 'Online Collections').
The paintings are hung on all floors of the Wisconsin Historical Society's Headquarters Building at 816 State St., some in the permanent exhibits at the museum on the Capitol Square, and others are on display in legislative offices in the State Capitol.
Ann L. Koski, Director, Wisconsin Historical Museum
I can quickly and easily explain to the baffled Phil Gadke (Letters, 12/29/06) why everyone thinks the Parking Utility and the city are crooks: paying $4 for 'special event' parking to get into an empty garage. This happened to me late last year. I paid my $4, then quickly found a spot on the first level, and there were practically no cars on the level above. So my $4 went to pay for...what? Yep, it's baffling all right.