National Geographic : 2013 Jun
LETTERS I have a greater appreciation and respect for the incredible determination of the Kyrgyz people to not only survive but thrive in an extremely harsh living environment. Thank you for the insight. JaMes a. schwarTZ Philadelphia, Pennsylvania River Otters In an otherwise delightful article your captions will raise the hackles of Shetlanders anywhere in the world. For the better part of the 1980s I was the chief executive of the Shetland Islands Council. people may be polite to avoid offending an incomer, but in truth “the Shetlands” is an un- forgivable solecism, which they may let pass but will not forget. Shetland is the name they favor, and Shetland is the name that should be used whenever their homeland is mentioned in conversation or in writing. MiKe GerrarD warwickshire, england Soccer So much déjà vu. In South America our mothers helped us make balls by stuffing and sewing socks. They flew like comets. eDGarD arolas vancouver, British columbia NEXT: Ocean Currents The ocean currents picture reminded me of van Gogh’s “Starry night.” Watching the video on my Kindle made me imagine his paintings in motion. pretty cool. Tina roy canterbury, connecticut Healing Venom As a type 2 diabetic, I found a friend in the Gila monster several years ago. My endo- crinologist suggested I try a new medicine derived from the saliva of this reptile. The results have been very positive. My blood sugar is tightly controlled, and I’ve had some weight loss. As Jennifer Holland’s story shows, we benefit from the molecular gifts of toxic animals in the fight against a host of debilitating diseases. We owe a lot to the researchers who are creating these gifts. MarTin sorensen lakewood, colorado For more than a quarter of a century I have been unhappily and regularly injected with venom from spiders in my portland, Maine, garden. The work of their venom goes on sometimes for months, slowly dissolving flesh, creating a tunnel through tissues. I never considered that this irritating process might actually benefit someone. I will stop ranting at my spiders and thank them instead. Jacqueline MasT Portland, Maine Bill Haast, founder of the Miami Serpentarium and a longtime friend of our family’s, was a great believer in the healing power of snake venom. Bill regularly injected himself with venom; he had survived count- less bites of poisonous snakes before his death in 2011 at the age of 100. He once offered to give my grandmother cobra venom shots to alleviate her severe arthritis. She declined. ellen D. MurPhy Portland, Maine Wakhan Corridor I commented to my wife as I started reading, “I bet they won’t explain how the Kyrgyz keep car batteries and cell phones charged on the ‘roof of the world.’ ” JacK PolanD Fort collins, colorado The article mentions that the Kyrgyz use solar panels to charge the car batteries that charge their cell phones but doesn’t explain how. Single panels are placed on the roofs of mud houses, and wires are run from the solar panel into the house—often through a cracked window, according to photographer Matthieu Paley—to a car battery inside. The article reads: “He’s diminutive too, no more than five feet seven.” The average height for a male in the U.S . is only five feet ten, in Iran five feet three, in India five feet five. I hardly think that five feet seven could in any way be seen as diminutive. John lucas seattle, washington as a type 2 diabetic, i found a friend in the Gila monster several years ago.