Letters to the Editor

| June 26, 2008

John Ford Did Good Things

After reading John Branston's usually excellent column (City Beat, June 5th issue) and various articles written recently by Jackson Baker about former state senator John Ford, I'm wondering if his laudable record of legislative achievements has somehow been forgotten.

As the executive in charge of government relations for my former employer (at the time, one of the largest manufacturing companies in the Mid-South) and a volunteer chairman of the governent affairs committee for the largest pro-business advocacy and lobbying organization in Tennessee, I had fairly frequent dealings with Senator Ford. I found him to be an extraordinarily capable legislative leader, who acted honorably and capably on behalf of Memphis and its citizens. He was unfailingly a man of his word and delivered key votes and leadership on a great many issues that benefited our city and state.

It was no accident that he earned the friendship and respect of a great many business executives over the years. Ford's reputation and the results he delivered made him the legitimate "go-to guy" when a knowledgeable voice in state government was essential. It is a shame that Ford's great work on behalf of the people seems to have been largely forgotten now that he has been convicted in a corruption case that I still find hard to believe he was truly guilty of commiting.

Lewis Nolan


It's Not the War, Stupid

Cheri DelBrocco's latest liberal diatribe, "It Was the War, Stupid" (Viewpoint, June 12th issue), recycles all the usual tripe pushed by those who can't see that the war in Iraq has begun to reconfigure the Mideast in a positive manner. It's true, President Bush did not take the "easy way." He had the vision to see that Saddam Hussein's presence in the region and his continued provocative acts and his development of weapons (yes) of mass destruction would destabilize the region for decades to come. He made a difficult and controversial decision, but history will prove he was right.

The "surge" is finally bearing fruit, and Iraq is beginning to stabilize. It was the war, Cheri, and it wasn't "stupid." It was the right thing to do.

Mac Fitzgerald


All the News

I recently canceled my subscription to The Commercial Appeal. A woman called to ask why, and I said it was because the CA had laid off 55 more people ("Bad News," the Fly-by, June 5th issue) and was transferring jobs to India. I said that was un-American.

A week later, a man phoned and asked what he could do to get me to renew my subscription. I explained again why I had canceled. He said: "You'll be happy to know I am not in India. I'm calling from New Jersey."

Ray Berthiaume


Rachel Hurley's suggestion to change the format of WUMR 91.7 ("Bright Ideas," June 12th issue) would be a disservice to local jazz fans and effectively eliminate the representation of a major music genre on Memphis radio. U 92 is the only radio station in the Mid-South with a jazz format and therefore fills a unique niche. It is almost entirely staffed by University of Memphis students and dedicated community volunteers. Many of these on-air personalities have hosted their programs for many years and have amassed a loyal fan base.

Another issue is the idea that the station should have an "eclectic" format. Turn your radio dial slightly to the left, and you will find a radio station that is doing just that. WEVL 89.9, also with a volunteer format, does an excellent job promoting musical genres not ordinarily heard on commercial radio. I'm not sure what genres Hurley is referring to, but I can tell you that WEVL is very thorough in informing listeners about what is out there on the Memphis music scene.

Two "eclectic" radio stations sitting nearly side by side on the radio dial would ultimately result in the demise of one of them and fragment the audience. I doubt that this would do anything to improve the Memphis music scene.

Laurie Snyder


The Flyer long has been a bastion of resistance to those who degrade the English language, which made the sub-headline on Bianca Phillips' Fly-by column in the June 19th issue ("Local crime experts argue the data is skewed") doubly disconcerting.

"Data" is the plural of "datum." Proper usage thus demands a plural verb — "are" not "is."

E.W. "Bill" Brody


Comments (2)

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According to the American Heritage Dictionary: The word data is the plural of Latin datum, "something given," but it is not always treated as a plural noun in English. The plural usage is still common, as this headline from the New York Times attests: "Data Are Elusive on the Homeless." Sometimes scientists think of data as plural, as in These data do not support the conclusions. But more often scientists and researchers think of data as a singular mass entity like information, and most people now follow this in general usage. Sixty percent of the Usage Panel accepts the use of data with a singular verb and pronoun in the sentence Once the data is in, we can begin to analyze it. A still larger number, 77 percent, accepts the sentence We have very little data on the efficacy of such programs, where the quantifier very little, which is not used with similar plural nouns such as facts and results, implies that data here is indeed singular. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/data

Posted by William Webb on 07/02/2008 at 4:44 PM

Data is a plural of datum, which is originally a Latin noun meaning “something given.” Today, data is used in English both as a plural noun meaning “facts or pieces of information” (These data are described more fully elsewhere) and as a singular mass noun meaning “information”: Not much data is available on flood control in Brazil. It is almost always treated as a plural in scientific and academic writing. In other types of writing it is either singular or plural. The singular datum meaning “a piece of information” is now rare in all types of writing. In surveying and civil engineering, where datum has specialized senses, the plural form is datums. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/data

Posted by William Webb on 07/02/2008 at 4:47 PM
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