x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Old tunes are the best

A reader welcomes the return, in a new Muppet film, of songs from the puppet troupe's old TV show. Other letters topics: withdrawal from Iraq, thinking by students, Filipino disaster relief, Vaclav Havel and Cesaria Evora.

A reader says she enjoyed a story about the music from the old television Muppet Show, some of which is heard again in the latest big-screen Muppet movie. Scott Garfield / Disney
A reader says she enjoyed a story about the music from the old television Muppet Show, some of which is heard again in the latest big-screen Muppet movie. Scott Garfield / Disney

I disagree with the letter to the editor US withdrawal complicates Iraq (December 18).

American (and British and other foreign) soldiers who served in Iraq have no reason whatsoever to hang their heads. They have in general served honourably and selflessly and I, for one, am proud and grateful for their service.

The verdict is still out on the politicians and career diplomats. They are the cultural misfits who turned us down this one-way street while not having a clue of where it would lead - getting out was never going to be easy.

If this withdrawal fails, they are the ones who should hang their heads.

Donald Allen. US

Keeping the arms business going

The opinion column US-made tear gas becomes fatal ingredient of protests (December 18) makes me think that the military industry must be grateful to George W Bush and Osama bin Laden; the two have succeeded in keeping that industry going.

Fayez Chergui, Canada

Student must be taught to think

Reform in schools to cut rate of dropouts (December 13) and other stories about schooling do not reflect the point that thinking is more than a set of skills students must be taught.

I really felt the genuine need for more emphasis on thinking during my recent interactions with parents and senior students at the school where I am vice principal.

Helping students to become effective thinkers should be one of the fundamental purposes of a good education system.

India's former president Dr APJ Abdul Kalam said it well: "The human mind is a unique gift. Thinking should become our capital asset, no matter whatever ups and downs we come across in our lives. Thinking is progress. Thinking leads to action. Knowledge without action is useless and irrelevant. Knowledge with action brings prosperity."

Let's initiate steps to include thinking skills in the school curriculum and provide enough opportunities for the students to become effective thinkers.

Abraham Mathew, Sharjah

Cesaria Evora's music will endure

I was saddened to hear of the passing of one of my favourite singers (The 'Barefoot Diva' Cesaria Evora dies, December 19).

I was introduced to her music a decade ago, by a friend, and have loved it ever since. Simple, soulful, soothing and gentle, it always lifts my spirits even while it calms me. I had the opportunity to see her perform once in Europe, and will cherish her memory and music.

James Meannie, Dubai

Mahna Mahna! Mahna Mahna!

Ben East's article The musical stylings of the Muppets live on (December 19) was a delight.

As an "early adopter" of The Muppet Show, I remember telling sceptical friends how great it was, and eventually many of them came around.

I'll have to see the new movie, if only for Mahna Mahna, which has been playing endlessly in my head ever since I read the title in that article.

I never knew how the title was spelt; I always thought the song was about the capital of Bahrain.

Janet Waters, Dubai

Filipinos find ways to stick together

My Filipino friends - I am lucky enough to have a few - are taking what actions they can to help the people in their homeland who lost their homes, and loved ones, to the typhoon this week.

I am impressed with how close Filipinos seem to be as a community. Your report Filipinos rally for storm victims (December 19) demonstrates again just how well this community works together.

As it happens I know of some other expatriate groups that do not work together so well. We can all learn something from the Filipinos, it seems to me.

Name withheld by request

Havel was not an ordinary politician

The death of Vaclav Havel and your fine obituary (Philosopher king of the Czechs is dead at 75, December 19) really made me think.

This man wandered into politics without planning to, but used power wisely and with restraint.

Some say one problem with democracies is that they are overrun with career politicians who have no convictions. Havel stood for something important, and so he helped to change his country, and other countries too.

He was the right man for the times. I wish Europe had more like him today.

Ernst Richter, Dubai