Letters to the Editor 

Couch Surfers

I enjoyed the article about couchsurfing.com (The Fly-by, August 28th issue). At first, I was a bit taken aback by the idea of a stranger coming to my home to crash on my couch, considering I had no idea who they were, where they were coming from, or any sort of connection to them. However, after some research, I found that there were only one or two complaints about couch surfers on the website — which allows the option of a meet-and-greet before both parties agree to commit to a couch-crashing arrangement.

My roommates and I threw a get-together at our home before the school semester started. One of our close friends had a chance encounter with some couch-surfing veterans — a Memphis man and two students from the U.K. who were meeting at a coffee shop. She overheard their conversation and invited them to the party. We had an incredible time with them. The Europeans told us that couchsurfing.com had allowed them to travel all summer, spending money only on transportation and food. They were lightly packed and ready for adventure. I envied them because of their bravery and spontaneity. The couch surfers led me to realize that I could do the same. I highly encourage those willing to try this experience!

Claudine Nayan

Memphis

Overton Park

I have been intimately involved with local plant populations for nearly 20 years. I have obtained food, medicine, oxygen, and sustenance for the soul from the plants of our region. I have watched in sorrow as their numbers, their diversity, and their habitat have all declined. Whether the rest of us realize it or not, all of life is dependent on the green world. Life on this planet would not be possible if not for plants. They even learned how to have sex before we did!

Where is it written that the preservation of animals is more important than the preservation of plants? There are germplasm and life forms in Overton Park that are unique to this area and can never be duplicated in any lab or any garden. Even the dirt is treasure-laden. We have plants from this bioregion that are made into cancer-fighting drugs (Mayapple into Etoposide, an FDA-approved cancer drug). Who knows what miraculous substances are yet undiscovered in our own native plants?

For the Memphis Zoo to disrupt this delicate balance in the name of "preservation" is a betrayal of a sacred trust. The zoo may "own" this land, but their responsibility is so much more than mere ownership. Change has always been part of the universal design, but what's going on in Overton Park is destruction.

Glinda Watts, American Herbalists Guild

Memphis

Sarah Palin

I was attending a party in Oxford before the Memphis/Ole Miss game at a house owned by the parents of a Tiger player. Steve Cohen dropped by and was asked what he thought about the Sarah Palin pick as Republican vice president. His reply was, "It is going to ensure a Democratic victory."

I wonder what Cohen thinks now after Palin's terrific speech at the G.O.P. convention, where she unified the base. And some polls now show her as more popular than Barack Obama.

Be careful what you and your liberal Democrat buddies wish for, Mr. Cohen. It might come back to haunt you with a McCain/Palin victory in November.

John Jacobs

Memphis

Holy Baked Alaskan, Batman. The folks on the right have really lost it this time. I thought after buying the lie about Iraq and its ties to al-Qaeda they would be a little more discerning. Looks like I was wrong again.

Republicans are now up in arms about the media because they are uncovering facts about Governor Sarah Palin. Such as: She believes God directed the U.S. to attack Iraq; she lied about turning down earmarks, when she lobbied for and got $24 million for Wasilla's 6,500 citizens; she was for the "Bridge to Nowhere"; and she was a great supporter of indicted Senator Ted Stevens.

Even her claim not to be a member of the "old boy network" was strained, because her oh-so-wonderful speech at the G.O.P. convention was written by none other than George W. Bush's speechwriter.     

Jack Bishop

Cordova

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