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Letters to the Editor Feb. 10

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Celebrating marriage Max Brantley’s column Jan. 27 reminded me of Valentine’s Day in 1946. We had been married during WWII, and my husband had come home from overseas in December 1945. By February he had finally found a job — a very small one — and we were still having to live with my parents. (I’m not sure whether jobs or housing were harder to come by.) I had a job, so we had a little income. On Feb. 14, Lyle came home from work — riding a Houston-Bigelow bus — and came in with a rather wilted little handful of violets in his hand. He presented them to me, apologizing for not having a better gift. He found he had 15 cents in his pocket after bus fare, and the flowers from a street vendor were all he could find. In later years he did do many nice things for me, and our marriage lasted for almost 54 years, until his death in 1998. You were right about the little things and the keep-on-keeping-on needed to make a marriage last and improve with time. Elizabeth Armstrong Little Rock In Max Brantley’s column “Celebrating Marriage,” he was sniping at the governor again, shamefully showing his personal dislike for him under the guise of belittling covenant marriage with the pretense of protecting taxpayers. Even so, I am glad he remains happily married, funnel and all. There are, however, many of us who once were happily married but now are not, regretting that covenant marriage was not available when we needed it. A couple saying traditional wedding vows promises to stay together in the worse times, the poorer times, and the times of sickness. Such times do come. Hurts ensue. Anger arises. In a foolish moment, absent covenant marriage, one files, and then divorce is almost inevitable. Their pains are the lawyer’s gains. The court can do little but grant a “general indignities” divorce. Example: Had Jesus married and lived in Arkansas, His wife could have divorced Him on the temple money-changers incident alone and His efforts to contest would have been totally quixotic. You wrote, “I’m just not sure making it harder to get out of an ill-considered commitment is the key to a better marriage.” Oxymoron: ill-considered covenant marriage. Couples having a covenant marriage may feel hurt, hate and anger at times, but they enter into it because of deep, abiding love. So, while not the key to a happy marriage, covenant marriage can prevent application of the permanent solution of divorce to the temporary problem of feelings gone awry and the savings in grief and anguish are incalculable. Carl W. Bird Little Rock Enter Hanke Regarding Kim Hanke’s recent entry into the news: [He hired Janet Huckabee, the first lady, to handle marketing for his siding company.] I recall the bitterly fought race between Nate Coulter and Mike Huckabee for lieutenant governor. A perhaps prescient letter to the editor in the Times at the time bemoaned the ferocious nature of both campaigns and expressed a desire for “nice young Kim Hanke” to enter the race. Charles R. Feild Little Rock Advice Goddess I enjoy your publication thoroughly with the exception of the Advice Goddess by Amy Alkon. My co-workers and I were appalled by her advice to a woman who had written to her about her difficulty losing her post-partum weight, further complicated by her husband’s purchases of clothing in her pre-pregnancy size. In her advice, Ms. Alkon compared this woman’s predicament in this way: “When a man buys a sports car, he doesn’t expect it to morph into a cargo van.” Harsh. The woman stated that she is 5’8” with a current weight of 163, which gives her a BMI of 24 (6 significant points below the obese baseline). In today’s society women are bombarded by images that are completely unrealistic and eating disorders are on the rise. While I agree with her advice about consulting a dietitian and am not totally offended by her suggestion to act sexier, the rest of her advice struck me as rubbish. I’m offended that Ms. Alkon dismissed the real issue. I beg of you to consider ripping Alkon from your pages and replacing her syndicated crap with someone more informed and better advised. Brianna Boyce Little Rock (The Times has discontinued the Advice Goddess — for reasons unrelated to this advice — and we are searching for a replacement. Suggestions are welcome.) Restaurant reviewers I hate it that the Cornerstone Grill in downtown NLR was not included in the Best Restaurants winners. I know that you base all the selections on votes, but hope that everyone will cross the river and try this wonderful eating establishment. They are developing quite a reputation for their great food and also great music. Their Philly cheese steak sandwich with sliced provolone cheese is so tender that it melts in your mouth and their portabello sandwich is the best that I have ever had. V.L. Cox North Little Rock I tried Whole Hog Barbecue yesterday. If that is No. 1 in Little Rock, Little Rock is in a lot of trouble. Ditto for Corky’s. Neither Whole Hog nor Corky’s meats have a hint of hickory flavor. I am retired after being in the barbecue business for 32 years. I owned such places as Casey’s, Smoky Joe’s, Hickory Joe’s and the Bar BQ Shack in the Little Rock area and the Shack in the Maumelle area. I still own the Shack name and therefore feel qualified in offering an opinion. The best barbecue in Arkansas in my opinion is or was Craig’s, the Shack, Johnson’s on Eighth Street (way before your time), Sims and H.B.’s. In your reviews you put too much emphasis on decor and not enough on the food they are serving. Speaking of decor, I congratulate Whole Hog for all those trophies displayed everywhere. I don’t see how they did it. Joe B. Finch Bigelow After reading your review of the new Saddle Creek Woodfired Grill in North Little Rock (Jan. 20), my wife and I decided to venture into their world of food and drink. I must say that we were not disappointed! We are quite picky when it comes to service in a restaurant. Living in Germany for the last three years has caused us to become even more critical about the quality of the food, the service and the overall experience. Now that you have a clue where we’re coming from, I need to rave about our experience and pass it along to others: The atmosphere — warm, rich, inviting, relaxing. The gas logs flickering in the fireplace and the soft, warm glow of the overhead lights on the rich wood furniture and architecture draw you into this almost “cozy” place. The service — excellent! Will, a combat veteran of the war in Iraq (with the help of his colleagues), attended to our every need. The food — excellent again! The fine folks at Saddle Creek certainly made an impression on this picky, hard-to-please, spoiled couple. Dining there is a true delight. Marc Lovelace North Little Rock Change assessments Actually, there is a good reason for assessing property in Arkansas in one year and paying the tax in the next. This procedure lets honest taxpayers have a chance to correct the often incompetent, dishonest tax assessments. For nearly 15 years I have been receiving commercial personal property assessment forms for my business and other assessment forms for businesses and property that aren’t mine. I have yet to find one that’s correct. Values are ludicrously overstated. Then there’s the real estate assessment. Dimensions increased by two or three feet each way. Garages were charged as living space. Neighbors’ improvements were added to my bill (they billed us both). Suddenly, a year isn’t enough time! And they do it year after year after year. Hours and hours every year are spent correcting the assessor’s mistakes. Try cramming trips to the assessor’s office, to the equalization board and to the county judge into 30 or 60 days. Nah, that would be as impossible as trying to get them to do things right the first time. Larry Hacker Mabelvale Church and state Recently, you published a letter explaining how Christians prefer to give money to their churches and then the churches distribute this largess to the unfortunates. Right. Trivial drivel indeed. The reason Christians prefer to do their “social work” through the church is because no one deducts their tithes from their paycheck, meaning they can allow as how they give 10 percent (or even more!) and then not give or give less. Also, giving through their church allows them not to give to those undeserving of their gifts, like the lazy poor and those who sin sexually. Christianity does not do any better job of distributing money to the needy than government does. The difference is that “Christians” don’t have to contribute to those they hate — excuse me, those whose sins they hate. If church tithes were deducted from paychecks and given out as Jesus suggested, church attendance would wither overnight. Faith-based initiatives are no better than what our government has done, but they do help churches get more money and converts. Churches are no better than governments and they are no more moral than governments. Both are made up of people. That’s a small fact that America seems to have forgotten. Daniel Coston Fayetteville SS solution Most Arkansans would agree that federal trade policies have gone amok. The following is a solution: Have a source-based, graduated sales tax. Possibly 1 to 2 percent Arkansas, 3 to 4 percent U.S. and 9 to 12 percent foreign. The actual taxes on each item could be adjusted every two to four years. The criteria for a product to be in a source category would be that it must have at least 60 percent of the man-hours needed to produce the product in that source category. This would promote realistic employment and wage increases, eliminate the need for manufacturer subsidies, cut relief rolls, enhance Social Security, enhance opportunities for future generations and favorably impact our foreign trade bottom line. Claude Clauson Hot Springs

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