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It is disappointing that the Nov. 10 article about Alcoa Power Generating Inc.’s stewardship of the Yadkin River focuses largely on attacks from those pushing for a government takeover of our property [“Something in the water; by Keith T. Barber]. APGI has a solid track record of environmental protection, often going beyond legal requirements, and the relicensing agreement for the Yadkin Project includes a host of additional environmental benefits, including land protection and improved water quality.

In response to the unfounded allegations from an anonymous employee, I want to assure your readers that APGI takes its environmental responsibility very seriously. Alcoa has taken appropriate action to address environmental and health issues, working closely with regulators and the community to do so. We place a high priority on open and honest communication in our internal communications, with regulatory bodies and to the general public. We encourage all of our employees to be forthright in expressing their concerns to leaders and managers.”

Sincerely, Ray Barham Yadkin Relicensing Manager Alcoa Power Generating Inc.


I just got through reading your column, “A hard rain’s a-gonna fall.” [Nov. 3, 2010; by Keith T. Barber]. It was the most astute observation about voter anger and the midterm elections, as well as the dire economic problems we face today as a nation, that I have read in print anywhere!

I have been unemployed since the recession began in 2007, and Congress is about to let my unemployment benefits expire at the end of this month. I, too, voted for change in 2008!

Bill Leavy, Winston-Salem

The political wags were calling it “the year of the anti-incumbent,” and Election Day 2010 lived up to that billing. There will be more than 80 new members of the House, more than 60 of them Republicans who defeated incumbent Democrats in a wave that swept across the nation.

This is one incumbent who was reelected to office this year, and for that I wish to thank the citizens of the 6 th District. I was gratified and humbled to receive 75 percent of the vote in a year when it was not fashionable to be an incumbent. This is the 14 th time that the people of the district have placed this vote of confidence in me. Our offices throughout the district will remain committed to serving everyone who has concerns with the federal government.

There was one sour vote on a wonderful Election Day. I contracted a severe upper respiratory ailment, which forced me to cancel my long-standing tradition of visiting all six counties on Election Day. I missed the interaction with voters as they went in and out of the various polling places. In the past, I have even enjoyed talking with those who said that they were voting against me!

Time will tell if I renew the tradition for a 15 th time in 2012. Thank you again for giving me the opportunity to serve the 6 th District for another two years.

Sincerely, Rep. Howard Coble


I agree with the concept of some sort of “issue awareness” testing for voters (and in English, right?), although such a test would undoubtedly deprive vast hoards of Obama supporters of their franchise, which I am sure Jim Longworth does not intend [“We need a voter education exam”; Nov. 16, 2010]. I object, though, to his very selective determination of just who, in America, is “stupid.”

Clearly anyone who voted for Republican candidates and/or conservative issues qualifies, according to Longworth, as “stupid.” Well, I voted exactly that way, as did all of my friends and family, and I personally will gladly match my education and my knowledge of foreign and domestic issues with Longworth any time and place he would like. And in whichever of several languages he might prefer.

To my thinking, the absolute pinnacle of stupidity is demonstrated by an electorate (and media) which chose as president a totally unknown, secretive individual, the only knowledge of whom came from his own two precocious autobiographies, who has chosen to keep hidden every significant fact about his life, his finances, his school and college records, his radical-left associations, his privatre travels, his religious affinities and so on.

I would suggest to Longworth that the real “stupidity” in this country is found precisely among his own liberal voters and their running-dog media, not in the tea party and other conservative voters.

Donald M. Miller, Winston-Salem


Mark Burger’s review of Zhang Yimou’s A Woman, A Gun, And A Noodleshop [Nov. 16, 2010] makes a freshman error concerning Chinese naming conventions, one that I’d hoped the Western media had outgrown in the last decade, as it’s been at least that long since Leonard Maltin, the New York Times or even USA Today made the mistake of referring to Chow Yun-Fat as “Yun-Fat” (or, as in Mr. Burger’s case, to Zhang Yimou as “Yimou”).

In Chinese, as in other Asian languages, the surname or family name traditionally comes first. Zhang Yimou would be addressed as “Mr. Zhang” in a business letter, simply “Zhang” in a journalistic piece, and “Yimou” only by someone who knew him on a familiar basis. Calling him the last is the equivalent of calling the director of Psycho “Alfred.”

These days, some Chinese directors and actors adopt a Western naming order when referred to themselves in English, as some Japanese have long done (in his native country, the director of The Seven Samurai is known as Kurosawa Akira). Hence Zhang Ziyi now goes by Ziyi Zhang in the Western press. But if one were to ask her for her autograph, the polite way to address her would still be “Ms. Zhang,” and only if one were lucky enough to be on a first-name basis with her would one call her “Ziyi.”

Regardless of the order, with Chinese it’s usually to figure out which is the surname. It’s almost always the single syllable one, with the personal name being Romanized as either a two-syllable word or a hyphenated one. Hence Mao Zedong was “Chairman Mao.” The pulp writer Sax Rohmer was always careful to have his Imperialist heroes call the criminal mastermind Fu Manchu either “Fu” or “Dr. Fu,” as they weren’t eactly friendly enough with him to address him as “Manchu.” And if a pulp novelist writing arguably racist adventure stories in the 1930s can get Chinese naming convetions right, it probably behooves the rest of us to do so.

Sincerely if pedantically, Ian McDowell, Greensboro