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Racism Is the Issue

Mr. Griffis presents a lucid argument in his explanation of the how's and why's of Southern white desertion of the Democratic regime ("Dead In Dixie?" Jan. 21). Particularly relevant is his finding that at least some Southern whites vote based largely on race. Republicans have been using the old fear tactic ever since Truman and it has served them well to this day. The litany of other reasons don't add up to a molehill in my opinion. Sure, a few people vote on the less big government and pro-life agenda but it's the fear of lots of minorities becoming more wealthy than them that drives the deep-seated resentment of most Southern whites. Let's be honest here, a significant amount of whites just don't like minorities period, especially blacks. Why? Because we used to be slaves and they liked it that way.

-- George Thompson, Charlotte

Left Isn't Right

You left-wing zealots (CL staff), just don't get it. One of the problems conservatives have with the left is their self-created feeling of superiority. Your article proves this point time and time again. When the interviewed residents give their opinion, you are baffled as to why they have the opinions they do and attack them by citing your tired left-wing drivel about Halliburton, healthcare and Iraq. What most people want is more freedom to do what they need do with their own money to provide for their families.

I want the ability to make more decisions for the individual while you prefer to try and make decisions from a group, societal angle. Most Southerners have traditional/conservative values, and in this day and age, these items are not being supported by the Democratic Party.

-- Michael Merck, Atlanta

Defining High Definition

Shannon Reichley's "Plasma Envy" column (Jan. 21) contained so many errors of fact that I felt required to supply some accurate information about digital television and HDTV.

1. Networks are not required to produce all their programs in high definition by 2006. They are free to use any of the 18 digital broadcast standards available (only six of which apply to high definition pictures). All broadcast will be digital by 2006, but they will never be all high definition.

2. "It will be years before HDTV sets become the norm." In 2003 alone, over 4,000,000 HDTV sets were sold. By 2007, that will grow to 16.2 million per year. Color TV didn't sell that many sets that quickly.

3. "You're buying a set and waiting for HD programs to show up." All local channels, including PBS, offer digital and HDTV channels. Almost all network primetime programming is in High Definition, ditto major sports telecasts, and there are more shows, specials, and cable channels arriving every week!

4. "Seinfeld reruns will still be in their same old square format." A Red Herring. All widescreen hi-def sets can convert square, old-format pictures to widescreen and they double the resolution (sharpness) as well! Everything looks better on a digital set.

C'mon, your eyes!

-- Gary Ludwick, Huntersville

Shannon Reichley replies: There is no arguing that HDTV signals look great, but I still contend that broadcasters are not producing enough programming to justify the expense RIGHT NOW. "Four million sets sold" sounds great, but Americans own over 275 million sets -- the fact is that people are not leaping to own these sets. Mr. Ludwick's point that 4 by 3 (square) current programs look good in 16 by 9 format is simply not so. "Stretched" images of faces and graphics on say, Charlotte newscasts, look awful. As for a lot of digital, HDTV programming being on the air now, HDTV signals are often labeled "digital" by broadcasters and local channels, but are NOT. Broadcasters realized that the same technology could be used to send several television programs in their one DTV channel instead of a single HDTV signal. This is how satellite companies like DirecTV and EchoStar do it. They can make more money sending out four shows through one channel/conduit instead of one real high-definition one. Will broadcasters offer true (not split) high-def programs over their DTV channels? With some exceptions, such as PBS, HBO, and some growing sports offerings, the answer is "not yet." Currently, you are seeing your same old standard TV programs "up-converted" (as TV engineers call it), or rebroadcast in the DTV channel -- not a real high-resolution version. Again, with the majority of TV shows still NOT in an HDTV signal, why not wait?

Another Worst Thing

While I appreciate a good sense of humor and off-beat irony, listing Jerry Richardson's wife in the NFC post-game show as one of the 10 worst things to happen to the Panthers (Jan. 28) was classless. Mrs. Richardson was spontaneous, charming and most of all graceful in the face of unexpected victory. While the Charlotte Disturber covers the tacky fans in Philadelphia, Loafing managed to stoop even lower. Mrs. Richardson made Charlotte proud. Jerry should be so lucky that his team at home is as cool as his team on the field. The Loaf could be so fortunate as to know such dignity.

-- Byron J. Miller, Charlotte

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