A Letter to the Editor (of The New York Times)

I can only wonder what people in Manhattan say when they get a letter like this one from Dallas, which appears in today's edition of The New York Times:

"Re 'What Will the License Plates Say?' (editorial, Aug. 11):

You say that Texas has named a state bat. Actually, the 74th Texas Legislature in 1995 designated a 'state flying mammal.' Since the list of flying mammals native to Texas is fairly short, the mammal chosen was the Mexican free-tailed bat.

At the same time, Texas lawmakers, for reasons known only to themselves, named two other official state mammals: a state small mammal (the armadillo), and a state large mammal (the longhorn).

Besides these and the usual state bird (mockingbird), tree (pecan) and flower (Lupinus texensis and any other variety of bluebonnet), we have 22 other official state symbols, including, but not limited to, a state dinosaur (Brachiosaur sauropod, Pleurocoelus), fiber and fabric (cotton), sport (rodeo), pepper (jalapeno), insect (monarch butterfly), folk dance (square dance), shrub (crape myrtle), vegetable (Texas sweet onion) and tartan (Texas bluebonnet).

We console ourselves with the thought that if lawmakers are spending their time on such relatively harmless silliness, they're not thinking up more ways to waste our tax money.

Mary G. Ramos Dallas, Aug. 11, 2006

The writer is emerita editor of Texas Almanac."

Ramos began at the Almanac, which is published by The Dallas Morning News, in 1985, became editor in 1994 and retired in 2003. And she is now my favorite columnist formerly employed by Dallas' Only Daily. --Robert Wilonsky

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