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The flame still burns

Re A Blow To Olympic Spirit (front page, Dec. 29): Your sentence "And she kept going" says it all about torchbearer Cortney Hansen's character. Her pluck, grit and determination are inspiring and symbolic of Olympic ideals.

Ed Shannon, Toronto

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Still up in the air

The latest attempt to subvert Western democracy has brought to the forefront one of the most sacrosanct entitlements: the right to complain about everything. It's understandable that letter writers ( Up In The Air - Dec. 29) feel frustration at new restrictions that will make air travel even more annoying than it already was. But is it asking too much for us to stop ridiculing security officials for the seemingly sensible decisions they've made in these difficult times? Doesn't the blame lie with those trying to kill us?

Before heaping scorn on the people trying to save our lives, ask yourself this: How would you feel if a plane went down because onerous and irritating security measures were not put in place?

Gord McGuire, Toronto

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Letter writer Colin Proudman (Dec. 29) calls for profiling to bolster airline security. Is that really the way to go? There were so many red flags surrounding the latest air terror incident that it seems incredible the accused bomber made it onto the Detroit-bound plane. He bought a one-way ticket, and paid for it in cash. He was refused a renewed student visa to Britain in May and barred from re-entering that country. U.S. officials say he was placed on an American watch list of half-a-million names after his father, a prominent Nigerian banker, reported his concerns about his son to the U.S. embassy in Nigeria. So why was he allowed on the plane?

Manuel Matas, Winnipeg

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It might be useful for Canadians if the Minister of Transport, the forceful John Baird ( Carry-On Bags Banned To Alleviate Long Delays - Dec. 29), could show us how he connects the dots between a perp's underwear and the need to control, check and limit carry-on baggage.

Peter van der Jagt, Ottawa

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I'd be less concerned about the carry-on ban if items I take aboard planes didn't have a history of disappearing from my checked luggage.

Elliotte Friedman, Toronto

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Perhaps in the hour before arrival, us older passengers should be given adult diapers instead of the traditional peanuts. Mind you, I'm not sure they still give you peanuts.

Stephen Salkovitch, Thornhill, Ont.

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Since we have a far greater chance of drowning in our bathtubs than of succumbing to a terrorist attack, isn't it high time the government installed security guards in every family bathroom?

Dirk L. Schaeffer, Vancouver

Dry drunks

Lynn Crosbie's column Here's My Prescription For 2010: Sanity And Sobriety (Review, Dec. 29) largely misses the root correlation between artists and their use of drugs. Because the practice of an art form requires artists to plumb feelings that others may never experience, they're also forced to feel deep insults to their essence that they may have suffered in their past. Addictive substances trick all of us to some degree into believing we can cap the pain of these wounds.

"The truth about our childhood is stored up in our body, and although we can repress it, we can never alter it," Swiss psychologist Alice Miller says. "Our intellect can be deceived, our feelings manipulated, our perceptions confused, and our body tricked by medication. But, some day, the body will present its bill ... and it will not stop tormenting us until we stop evading the truth."

Because religions teach us to be good rather than human and our consumer culture feeds addictions from birth to old age, there's little permission to seek the courage to journey into the desert of our own souls. Yet, if we don't live out this journey, we will act it out.

If we will ourselves into giving up our addictive substance of choice but fail to do our soul work, we become dry drunks. Historical proof of the harm dry drunks can inflict can be seen in every discipline, including the arts.

Susan Schellenberg, artist, Toronto

Wet blankets

It was with great amusement I read Margaret Wente's OMG, How Obsolete Am I? (Dec. 26). Why are so many people so worried about the pace of technological change? Is it because the speed to keep up can be incredibly overwhelming? I have friends in their 50s and 60s who find the pace to be just right, and friends in their 30s who won't use e-mail.

Perhaps the fear of being obsolete is less a generation gap and more an issue of not using a full 24 hours in a day to their maximum potential. After all, the faster information is transmitted, the faster we must assimilate it.

For the record, I'm 35 and typing this letter from my iPhone. Some of the so-called important things we'll lose to progress (cursive writing, snail mail and time-consuming activities that can be replaced with virtual options such as real-world shopping versus online shopping) are meant to become relics of a less sophisticated time.

Life changes. It's our responsibility to keep pace.

Daniel Thompson, Toronto

A moral beacon?

So Preston Manning would have us praise Prime Minister Stephen Harper for the forthrightness of his position at the failed Copenhagen climate summit ( Honesty Is The Best Policy - Dec. 29). And he would have us honour the PM for having the courage to say that, weighed against the fortunes of his supporters in the oil patch, he honestly doesn't care about the environment. If the standard of public service in this country has fallen so low that we don't care what leaders do as long as they tell us the truth about it, then climate change may be the least of our problems.

Richard Littlemore, Nanaimo, B.C.

The perfect party?

I'm astounded that you could publish an article such as Do Party Math (Life, Dec. 28) on how to throw a perfect party. Recommending that your New Year's Eve cocktail party for 12 people include six bottles of wine, six bottles of champagne, 24 bottles of beer, and a bottle each of vodka, gin, rye, Scotch and rum borders on the irresponsible.

No doubt, most folks reading your over-the-top article would not take it seriously, but how about those hosts who lack experience in planning such an event? Could you live with the consequences of any readers who followed your advice and ended up with some of their guests in jail for drunk driving or in the hospital with alcohol poisoning?

For shame!

Doug Towers, Toronto

The perfect dish?

Contrary to what letter writer Donald Ward ( The Fat Connection - Dec. 28) believes - that 16 tablespoons of fat in chef Rob Feenie's recipe for roast game hen with choucroute and mashed potatoes ( My Sister's Best Recipe: Comfort Foot - Dec. 23) are too much - I disagree that these sorts of dishes are causing the obesity epidemic. As a chef and cooking instructor, I teach balance, sustainability and, most important, cooking from scratch in addition to knowing the integrity of your ingredients.

The dish Chef Feenie prepared is for a special occasion and, as a result, is not one that anyone would consume on a regular basis. I believe the problem is our dependence on packaged, prepared foods. When you start using tinned soups and cook and heat pot roasts and other culinary abominations, you surrender all control over your fat, sodium and additive intake. It's not difficult to cook healthy, well-balanced meals and still maintain a busy lifestyle.

Instead of taking on a single chef and small business owner, why not tackle the food giants that are pushing a diet of convenience at the expense of our health.

Bruce Wood, chef/owner, Bruce's Kitchen, Salt Spring Island, B.C.

Tallyho

Gordon Pitts's excellent interview with former Bank of Montreal CEO Matthew Barrett ( His Story Is Still Being Written - Report on Business, Dec. 28) perfectly caught his subject's bemused candour on issues that might matter to Canadians. Rather like hearing the Duke of Edinburgh's opinions on fox hunting.

Bernard Gifford, Burnaby, B.C.

Sugarboarding

Re Holiday Sugar Crash (Life, Dec. 29): Is this another idea for the torture brain trust at the CIA? Force-feeding terror suspects with mounds of surplus Xmas sweets?

Roderick Taylor, Ottawa

All Rhoads led to roam

I don't know if they were the Rhoads less travelled referred to by Robert Frost ( Couple Stranded After GPS Leads Them Astray - online, Dec. 29), but I'm sure the Nevada couple snowed in on a remote Oregon forest road ended their journey with a sigh, as in the last lines of Frost's poem The Road Not Taken:

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -

I took the one less travelled by,

And that has made all the difference.

Ken DeLuca, Arnprior, Ont.

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