Second, there is constant allusion to the release of chromium, cadmium, lead, and other toxic metals into the atmosphere. Aside from inclusion into particulates, please explain how these metals can be sustained as ions even under the most extreme atmospheric conditions. (It cannot happen.)

Third, the support of the Sierra Club and other environmental organizations is constantly cited as proof that the claims of the Downwinders are valid. Is this a substitute for the tangible, analytical findings of the TNRCC? Is this the smoke-and-mirrors approach that activists constantly use when they cannot support their arguments with logic and technology?

Your reporter virtually admitted that the Downwinders lost their credibility in Midlothian. If they really want to be credible, they should forgo their hype and activist histrionics. Instead, they could easily set up a testing program of their own. It is possible that the results could be used to confront those of the TNRCC's. That would be not only credible, but innovative for a group of environmentalists. However, there is a major problem. What would happen if their results confirm those of the TNRCC's? What would it do to the Downwinders' rantings?

There is a natural marriage between environmentalism and tabloid journalism, environmentalism and political radicalism, and environmentalism and greedy crackpots. Ninety percent of the people who join such movements are frustrated individuals who hate themselves and their present surroundings. In order to break out of that mold, they become ardent believers in a mass movement who always see misery in an oppressive today and redemption in a utopian tomorrow. Such individuals are fanatics who will never be receptive to the evidence of logic, science, or just plain common sense.

Robert Warner

Contacting which gland?
I felt compelled to respond to the review of Contact by Observer reviewer Peter Rainer. ["To coldly go," July 10]. I felt that the review was harsh and hasty at best, almost as though the reviewer was not indeed paid to watch the movie, but rather, forced.

However, I feel that a certain respect should be given, or at least observed, for the concepts of the creator of the picture, Carl Sagan. Upon his passing, our culture, and our world, lost one of the greatest communicators and teachers of astronomy that we have ever known. As a liaison of science, and as an extension of that responsibility, this picture--based on Sagan's conservative and delicately poised explanation of the high probability of life beyond our earth--was executed perfectly.

I believe that if you approached this movie expecting to be entertained in the fashion of Die Hard, Independence Day, and Star Wars, you would be disappointed to find that this film about knowledge and the pursuit of it was really about learning, absorbing, and stimulation of the cerebral cortex, instead of the adrenal gland. Perhaps Rainer would judge the film differently from this perspective; perhaps not. I know that you are in the business of providing digestible information for a diverse demographic cross-section, and this probably limits your reviews to just that--digestible.

Julie Armstrong
Via Internet

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