I truly enjoyed your selection of the best new inventions [Nov. 28]. I liked the ENV hydrogen-powered motorcycle and the Shift tricycle, whose rear wheels move closer together at higher speeds and separate for balance at slower ones. But I was most impressed by the LifeStraw [a drinking tube with powerful filters that can prevent waterborne infections, which kill millions of people in the developing world]. I've traveled to areas where clean water is not a given, so I can appreciate the LifeStraw's value. Thank you for opening eyes around the world to this wonderful device.
Gallup, New Mexico, U.S.
Congratulations on "The Most Amazing Inventions of 2005." Your package on new ideas, gadgets and gifts has become another eagerly anticipated feature, like your annual Person of the Year. Thanks for keeping TIME a leader.
Denver, Colorado, U.S.
Snuppy, the dog cloned by South Korean scientists, was a disturbing choice for TIME's Invention of the Year. The cloning of mammals has an extremely low success rate, and experience suggests that Snuppy may later suffer debilitating illness. The purpose of the Snuppy experiment is clearly to put a cuter, more approachable face on the use of cloning technologies in humans. While there are people who might approve of the use of more than 100 canine egg donors and 123 surrogate mother dogs to get one viable clone, I and many others consider this "invention" a cynical public relations stunt.
International Center for Technology Assessment
I was a bit unnerved by your referring to Snuppy as an invention. The cloning technique is remarkable, without a doubt, but it is wrong to classify a cloned creature as an invention. Doing so somehow implies that a clone is different from and inferior to other living creatures merely because the method of creation was changed. A clone is just another member of its species.
Folsom, California, U.S.
I was thrilled by Michelin's invention, the Tweel, a wheel that does not have an inflated tire. That is a milestone for the automobile industry and creates an incentive for giving a new look to various other components of the car. Automobiles can have a new, funky design, something different from the old-fashioned look they now have. The current styles have become too monotonous. Cars, like everything else, need frequent new approaches to exterior and engine design. I was excited to learn that the Tweel has been tested on a wheelchair and on military vehicles. I look forward to seeing Tweels on our cars as they zoom down the road.
Your list of inventions left me yawning. There weren't any great breakthroughs to dazzle the imagination or inspire hope, or new products that promise to move civilization to its next evolutionary rung. Many of the items were trivial or mere improvements on things already available. It's not TIME's fault that the year didn't see the introduction of something fantastic. From the standpoint of new technology, it was a very dull year.
Middlebury, Vermont, U.S.
The Jenkins Saga
TIME excerpted the autobiography of Charles Robert Jenkins, the U.S. Army sergeant who deserted while serving in South Korea and spent 40 years in North Korea until the Japanese government negotiated his departure in 2004 [Oct. 24]. I am a U.S. citizen living in Japan, and I don't understand why Jenkins' detractors, presumably patriotic Americans, who wrote letters to TIME [Nov. 21] would second-guess the U.S. Army's decision to allow Jenkins to live as a free man in Japan. Jenkins left North Korea believing that he would spend the rest of his life in an Army prison; he left to ensure his daughters' freedom. He did the right thing. Here in Japan, Jenkins is praised, since he was able to get his Japanese wife, an abductee, back to her home country. Copies of his memoir in Japanese can be found at any bookstore. His wife, Hitomi Soga, is a national hero, having survived 20 years of abduction mainly under his protection. Jenkins is a hero not because he has exonerated himself but because he did not let his past cowardice keep him from doing the brave thing for his family today. Americans should be demonstrating that vaunted "compassionate conservatism" we have heard so much about.
New Orleans Blues
"New Orleans Today: It's Worse than You Think" [Nov. 28] served as a much-needed wake-up call to Washington officials and the American people. The hurricane disasters on the Gulf Coast had a huge impact on the collective conscience of the nation when they occurred, but as we have become involved once again in our day-to-day tasks, the cleanup and sheer loss faced in Louisiana and elsewhere are old news. This busy holiday season, let's try to keep in our hearts all those who lost everything.
Frankfort, Illinois, U.S.
It is with a heavy heart that I say I am against rebuilding New Orleans. Having lived in southern Louisiana for eight years, I love the people, the culture, the traditions, the kookiness, the spirituality. I love it all. But I have come to believe, as cruel as it sounds, that the people of New Orleans and southern Louisiana need to take steps to get out of harm's way and head to higher land. To them I say, Spread your culture and traditions around the rest of Louisiana and the U.S. Please think of your great-grandchildren's well-being. Please, above all, be safe. Bad as it was, Katrina may not have been the Big One.
Leslie Olsen Sullivan
Huntington, New York, U.S.
People must not give in to hurricane fatigue. They must not focus primarily on the negative side of New Orleans. We want the town to revive and be healthier than it was before. Emphasizing gloom will discourage industrious citizens from returning, investors from building new enterprises, and hospitals, schools and other institutions from reopening. And it could keep the rest of the country from caring. Many New Orleanians are working extremely hard, most with no expectation of government help or aid from charities. Americans should open their eyes to the energy of the people who are working their tails off to renew the city of New Orleans.
I was feeling sorry for New Orleansuntil I read the first paragraph of your story, which told of booze flowing, men ogling strippers, and all the lewdness and debauchery of the city's carnival atmosphere. Shame on the people of New Orleans for their way of showing their thankfulness for being spared.
Saginaw, Michigan, U.S.
Like thousands of others, I lost my home, all my belongings and my job in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit. While I am extremely grateful to family, friends and strangers who have welcomed me and my granddaughter to a new life in the Southwest, I mourn my life in New Orleans. When I returned a few weekends ago to see whether I could salvage anything from home, I spent some time in the French Quarter, where I used to teach. As I walked by the Little Red Schoolhouse, I looked in the window of my classroom and could see my students' unfinished work still hanging inside. That is how I feel about our lives in New Orleans: so much is left unfinished. Let us all hope that America steps up to help the Gulf Coast area in its days, months and years of need.
Diane M. Black
Tucson, Arizona, U.S.
In another great American tragedy, the Dust Bowl migration of the 1930s, people didn't wait for government help to rebuild in an untenable environment. Instead they moved to places better suited for habitation. How much would it cost to build a reliable levee around New Orleans$25 billion? $50 billion? For $25 billion, we could build new $90,000 homes for 275,000 households displaced by Katrina. Simple economics says New Orleans should not be rebuilt.
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
I flew home to spend a marvelous weekend with my family in New Orleans. Amid the blue tarps over most roofs, the fallen trees on the front lawns and the mountains of trash, the live, positive spirit of New Orleans is strongly felt by every person who has returned home. What I gained from my visit was not a memory of disaster but a feeling of gratitude. The laughter and optimism reflected in the smiles of the people I met showed that no matter how much was lost, they are grateful to be alive.
Nain Martinez Jr.
Berkeley, California, U.S.
Only now do New Orleans residents seem to understand the foolishness of destroying the wetlands that once protected them and the need for strict building codes that would have lessened the effects of a disaster. I am truly sorry for the misfortune that has befallen New Orleans. But I just do not feel personally obligated to pay for it.
Craig M. Miller
Lakewood, Ohio, U.S.
Iraq, Past and Future
In "Think Twice about a Pullout" [Nov 28], columnist Joe Klein accurately presented both sides of the discussion of whether to keep American troops in Iraq or to cut our losses and get outand the possible consequences of each position. Klein also said that determining whether President Bush intentionally misled the country into war is "a waste of time." But Bush is the man who will make the call to get us out of the war. If we could not trust his honesty and integrity in getting us into this quagmire, what makes Klein think we can trust Bush and his cronies to get us out with dignity and honor and without a tremendous loss of life?
Hawthorn Woods, Illinois, U.S.
Klein is right. None of the blathering about being misled into war matters at all. What really counts is what would happen if we left Iraq before the new government was ready to take over all the duties we now perform. Would the Middle East situation worsen or not? Would the U.S. be seen as weak and thereby become more vulnerable to attack both at home and abroad? We must see our mission through in Iraq. And I say this as a father whose son will be entering the Army in 2007 and could go to Iraq before the war is over. We are making progress, despite what the spineless members of both parties in Congress want to acknowledge and in spite of the mass media that seem to be rooting for our failure. The consequences of pulling out too soon would be terrible, not only for Iraq but also for the U.S. Instead of talking about leaving, we need to go about winning.
Bristol, Tennessee, U.S.
The middle east is inherently unstable. An American pullout from Iraq would increase its instability. But so would a continued American presence there. And sending yet more troops to Iraqif there were more troops to sendwould only make things worse. We are seeing in retrospect that Saddam Hussein's brutal regime, crippled and contained in the aftermath of the first Gulf War, was the best of many bad scenarios. As for the future, we can pull out U.S. troops and watch things disintegrate, or we can stay in Iraq and watch things disintegrate. The only benefit to the first scenario is that Americans won't be the ones getting killed.
Allen B. Ury
Costa Mesa, California, U.S.
It seems clear that the U.S. needs to deploy additional troops in Iraq and that commanders have repeatedly asked for more manpower. Any military historian knows that a war cannot be won when the enemy is allowed either to rearm or to get money and additional troops on a regular basis. That situation is occurring in Iraq because the U.S. does not have enough troops to close the borders with Syria and Iran. We won't win in Iraq until we have more troops to close its borders.
Kirkland, Washington, U.S.
Good Night and Good Luck
Essayist Pamela Paul discussed the ongoing debate over the best way to get a baby to sleep [Nov. 28]. My wife and I resorted to Dr. Richard Ferber's "cry it out" technique with our first son so that we could get some well-deserved shut-eye. Our boy was gifted with an operatic set of lungs. On the second or third night, we were watching the clock and gnashing our teeth at our baby's megadecibel wails. Finally we dashed into his room to comfort him and found that one of his legs had become trapped at a painful angle in a crib railing. Oh, the remorse! We practically flagellated ourselves for our negligence. We reverted to getting up several times a night to comfort our infant Caruso. He is now a senior in high school, where he has won several awards for solo and chorus singing.
Tallahassee, Florida, U.S.
I am always astonished when smart, educated parents turn to cookie-cutter solutions for raising their children. Guess what? Just like adults, kids are unique individuals. What works for one may not work for another. My sister told me, "Listen to your daughter. She will show you how to raise her." That is the best advice for any parent.
The indictment of former media baron Conrad Black for criminal fraud [Nov. 28] was the latest chapter in a life filled with controversy. When Black published his autobiography 11 years ago, TIME assessed its author [Feb. 14, 1994]:
"In A Life in Progress, Black traces a career in mid-trajectory, dishing out vituperation by the spoonful. An iconoclast and conservative ideologue seemingly at birth, Black had a privileged Toronto upbringingson of a capitalist who headed a profitable brewerythat was 'honorable and unexceptionable, like so much of Canada' ... In the late '70s, Black found his true calling as a Toronto financier. He stitched his family holdings into a conglomerate with interests in mining, retailing and oil as well as journalism. He revels in the access he enjoyed to Canada's 'elites,' even as he gives some of his dinner companions the back of his hand. Former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, he says, turned Canada 'into a people of whining, politically conformist welfare addicts' ... He describes the late Robert Maxwell, kleptocratic owner of the Daily Mirror and the New York Daily News, as 'an endomorphic ... poseur, fugitive and confidence trickster' ... [Black] is uncharacteristically cryptic about the future of newspaper publishing, noting simply that 'literacy and the printed word are not as out of fashion as many have feared.'"
The Novelist Drifts Off
Writing books is a somewhat mysterious craft, one at which author John Fowles was immensely successful [MILESTONES, Nov. 21]. When The French Lieutenant's Woman was published 36 years ago, Fowles, who died last month at age 79, talked to TIME about how he became a novelist [Nov. 7, 1969]:
"'My mind is constantly wandering off,' he says. 'If they ever want to evolve a way of picking out the prospective novelists among children, this would be the aspect to go for, this drifting off' ... After attending [an English public] school, Fowles served in the British marines, which he hated. 'I also began to hate what I was becoming in lifea British Establishment young hopeful. I decided instead to become a sort of anarchist.' Toward this end, he turned to writing, supporting himself for 15 years with teaching jobs ... 'I'm a great believer in natural organic growth. You grow a lot of things for a long time, and eventually something flowers and bears fruit ... We ought to get used to the idea that the world of the imagination is a kind of landscape in which a writer can go wherever he likes' ... For Fowles, entertainment need not be art, but art should always be in some sense entertaining."