Why bother reporting? on meaningless polls?

I would like to complain about voter polls. I think they stink. In the last month or so, I have received and responded to 16 requests from voter surveying organizations via phone, Internet and mail. They all seemed to boil down to a question like: "Who are you going to vote for (A) Jones, (B) Smith or (C) other?" Except for the top of the ticket, I have no idea what Smith or Jones really stand for, and my response "other" must have meant nothing to them. So my response to the poll was really meaningless.

None of the polls asks me about any major issue. Such as, "Do you favor reducing the military bases in all of those foreign countries?" For me, that is an important issue. One did ask, "Do you favor reforming Social Security?" Now that is an important issue to me. But when I asked the pollster, "What do you mean by reform?" the pollster had no idea what I was talking about.

My question to the news media, and to The Buffalo News in particular, is why do you keep reporting on poll results without questioning the real-world meaning of what you are reporting?

Philip J. Kintner



Biden's buffoonery? isn't worthy of office

An important consideration in the November election is this: Do you really want the buffoon Joe Biden to be a heartbeat away from the presidency? I don't!

Dick Mauer



NFTA could learn? from other cities

There are bound to be problems with the subway, reports the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, it's about 40 years old. Forty years old? It's a newcomer in underground transportation. The system in London was built in 1863; Boston, 1895; Paris, 1900; New York City, 1904; Cleveland, 1943; and Toronto, 1954. All are going strong transporting people across their urban areas.

Perhaps the problem is with the authority, which does not seem to understand that the reason for its existence is the transportation of people both above and below ground. Perhaps preventative maintenance could be a number one priority for the NFTA, correcting small problems before they disrupt transportation.

Anne Beiter



Study linking DNA ?to behavior is telling

There is an ongoing argument over whether homosexual or heterosexual behavior is genetically determined or is a matter of choice. Recent scientific findings have shed light on this discussion. The science called epigenetics studies how reactions switch genes on and off at appropriate times and in appropriate locations to regulate an organism's proper development. For example, switching on fingernail genes to grow on toes would be entirely inappropriate, but appropriate on fingers. Until recently, however, epigenetics has never been shown to determine social behavior. That has changed.

Very recently scientists have demonstrated that a single, tiny difference in a bee's DNA determines whether it will develop into a nurse, the "stay-at-home moms" of the bee world, feeding and cleaning the hive's larvae, or will become a forager that adventurously leaves the hive in search of new food sources or hive locations. Even more remarkably, the researchers were able to reverse this behavior, turning nurses into foragers and vice versa, by reversing that one small change in the bee's DNA. This is the first time that a small and reversible change in an organism's DNA has been shown to influence its social behavior.

Obviously, bees and humans aren't the same, but this important finding sheds light on a key aspect of how DNA works and demonstrates that the social behavior of bees, at least, is determined by tiny but important differences in their DNA. This indicates that the tendency to develop with male or female tendencies is also likely to be genetically determined in human beings and is probably not a simple matter of choice. Human epigenetic studies investigating this important question will surely follow.

Frank J. Dinan

Chemistry Professor, Emeritus, Canisius College



Parental support is key ?to educational success

Today's news in all available media brought us information of the severe deficiencies of the Buffalo Public School system. Embarrassingly, we had to hear it from a "special consultant" from out of town.

It doesn't take special studies to see the problem. Simply compare performance in all areas with private and diocesan schools in the same areas. Inner-city Catholic schools have a 100 percent graduation rate and they do it on extremely low budgets. No super modern technical assistance, old buildings, combination gym and cafeterias, poorly staffed libraries and not many special programs. Although the teachers are great, their salaries are lower than in the public schools.

Here's the answer for our out-of-town consultant: Parental support is lacking and is not actively being pursued. Private school parents in the focus areas have the same problems as public school parents. They are also unemployed, on various benefits, have medical issues, etc., but it seems they show more dedication and responsibility to the simple rules of student success: get them to school and make them stay there, make sure they do their homework, attend the various meetings and most definitely support the efforts of the school staff.

So how about using some of the almost $1 billion school budget to do something with the parents or guardians to enforce their responsibilities?

Carmen A. Oliveri



Licensing of cats ?is long overdue

I agree with Council Member Darius G. Pridgen's suggestion to license cats. I believe it is long overdue. It may not curb the cat population, but it could help to defray the expense of neutering and spaying cats that roam our yards, using them as a litter box. I was a dog owner in the '70s and '80s and had to pay an "extra license fee" because my dog was not neutered, even though he always was on a leash. Off-duty police officers would go to each home with a dog and give the owners a notice and application to comply.

There also should be a limit to the number of cats in any one household, and each one should have a license. This applies to dogs also. I'm not a cat lover, as you may have guessed, but euthanizing is a humane way of dealing with cat overpopulation if nobody lays claim to them or adopts them. It seems better than having them roam the streets and risk getting hit by a car, attacked by another animal or become malnourished and infected because of lack of good food and nutrition.

Grace McGee

Town of Tonawanda