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Brushing Up on Alien Lore

I just finished reading humor columnist Jeffrey Shaffer's "The UFO Draw: Earth's Got Best Candy" (Oct. 30). The author poses questions with what appears to be a complete lack of knowledge on his part. Even the most inexperienced UFO enthusiast knows these answers.

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He writes: "First, why do so many alien abductions occur in forests, farmlands, or lonely swamps? I have never read about anyone being plucked from an inner-city housing project It's curious that aliens apparently don't target humans on the lower end of the socio-economic ladder. Or, are neighborhoods like the South Bronx protected by a special cloaking device?"

Response: Let me see. I am visiting another planet and don't want to be seen, so maybe I won't go near the cities? Even so, there have been documented sightings by hundreds (and even thousands, if you count Mexico) of people in large cities.

He writes: "Also, it seems reasonable to assume that if superior entities were intent on world domination, they would target influential political leaders instead of motorists driving alone on deserted roads. And while numerous victims claim to have been floated out of cabins in the forest, the saucer people have never snatched anyone from the Lincoln bedroom or an office at the Pentagon."

Response: (1) If I were visiting an alien world and didn't want to immediately start a war, would I kidnap a peasant or the leader (or a high-ranking official) of the most powerful country? (2) Also, let's pretend that our government is very stupid and really does not know that aliens are visiting our planet. The aliens don't want to be noticed because: They don't want to cause a panic; they are going to kill us all and want to be sneaky about it; or they are shy and don't want a lot of publicity.

Think for a second about what civilizations have done for centuries. When you first discover another civilization you always do some investigation before opening up any kind of communication and introducing yourself. Besides, who said aliens were bent on world domination?

Shaffer also writes: "If I sound wearily dubious, it's because I've flown over this territory before."

Response: Doesn't sound like it. Sorry.

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John Clements


Vandalism-cum-attempted murder

The article "Violence Escalates in the Name of Environmentalism" (Oct. 26) left an erroneous impression of the nature of "tree spiking."

The article stated, "While fringe groups have long made their point with a tree spike or a can of paint thrown on a fur coat, some of the latest incidents here and around the world represent a new level of boldness and belligerence.... Certainly, environmental protests are nothing new. When it comes to saving forests, activists have chained themselves to trees, sabotaged bulldozers, and 'spiked' trees with metal and ceramic to destroy loggers' chainsaws."

The phrasing of the article makes it sound as if tree spiking were merely an act of vandalism against property. But when a chainsaw blade strikes a metal spike imbedded in a tree, the chain breaks and the saw spews shrapnel at the lumberjack. Tree spiking is attempted murder.

Mark O'Bannon

New Orleans

Farewell to Newt

I was interested in the positive aspects of your editorial "The Gingrich Era" (Nov. 9). What a pity that the Monitor and other media didn't do more to report on the Speaker's better qualities before the announcement that he was leaving office.

John J. Johnson Jr.

Evanston, Ill.

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Mail letters to 'Readers Write,' and opinion articles to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, or fax to 617-450-2317, or e-mail to

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