Robert Burnham
Hales Corners, Wisconsin

I was very happy to read Tony Ortega's article which brings closure, although a sad ending, to the life of Robert Burnham Jr. We had been hearing for years that Burnham was living the life of a homeless person on the California coast. I had asked Brian Skiff if he knew how to contact Burnham because it was thought that Burnham was living a destitute life and that Dover owed him a good amount of money for rights to his book, the bible of amateur astronomers everywhere.

Several years ago, my wife and I stayed a night at Skiff's cabin (which we now find out was Burnham's old residence). It was spartan to say the least, but that knowledge makes the stay more memorable.

Wayne P. Johnson
Mead Valley, California

Like so many astronomers, I just found out via New Times' article that Robert Burnham Jr. had died. One would think that someone who had written a book which thousands of us depend on would have done well. One would think such a prominent astronomer's life would have been known before. One needs to reflect next time one sees the vendors in the park.

Dave Hamilton
Lincoln, Nebraska

I enjoyed Tony Ortega's informative and poignant article about astronomer Robert Burnham Jr. I am one of those amateur astronomers who pored through Burnham's when it first appeared, and still uses it under Arizona skies night after night.

It is sad that such a knowledgeable author should spend a large part of his life concerned about money. How ironic that someone who knew the night sky so well was depressed and obsessed by material needs. It is unfortunate that Robert Burnham found it difficult to bring some of his energy into his down-to-Earth life.

Steve Coe

Butch, Butch, Butch
I would like to comment on M. V. Moorhead's review of the movie Butch Camp ("Swish Cheese," September 11), in which he asserts, "Very few gay people I have known have bothered much with political correctness." He must mean gay men, as opposed to gay people. Generalizations are always dangerous, but I would venture to say that the vast majority of gay women, the other half of the gay people to which he refers (otherwise and more correctly known as lesbians), do "bother" with political correctness, at least to some degree.

I also enjoyed Moorhead's article "Grazing in the Grass" (Cafe, September 11). It was very funny and informative, and I think there is hope for the world when there are men in it who are not afraid to say, in print, that they find squirrels "beguiling." Very few men I have known would even know what "beguiling" means.

Patricia Victour

Graham Stand
I'm responding to the various tirades against Barry Graham's coverage of the deaths of Princess Diana and Mother Teresa (Letters, September 25 and October 2). I'd like to suggest a one-word defense strategy: stop. Barry Graham making you angry? Stop reading him. When the circulation of New Times takes a dive, he'll be out on the streets.

Brian Fellows

Let's see if I've got this right. If you are a mother of two, and a hero to millions, and a person who raises, oh, a couple of hundred million dollars for charity, and you die in a car accident, Barry Graham will spew venom and hatred at your memory after your death.

If you are a Nobel Laureate who spends her life giving dignity to the poorest of the poor, and a person who voluntarily accepts a life of poverty and grinding labor, and you die of old age, Barry Graham will spew venom and hatred at your memory after your death. But if you are a dope fiend, and a thief, and HIV-positive at a time AIDS is entirely preventable, Barry Graham will spend his (admittedly limited) writing ability in your favor.

Graham is of a sort all too common in the alternative press: always seeking something or someone to rail against to justify his pathetic job and his equally pathetic existence. He obviously thinks that it is his duty to enlighten us poor ignorant fools about how things really are, because we can't see for ourselves that anything a majority of people enjoy, or like, or believe in, is automatically wrong.

Louis CasaBianca

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