Steve Jobs was brilliant, innovative, a visionary, a genius in the field of technology. He died too young.

That said, I am puzzled by the weird, over-the top response to his death. It’s like a deification of the man.

Candles are lit; flowers, notes and apples with a bite out of them are left at Apple stores throughout the world. It harkens back to the extreme outpouring of emotion when Princess Diana died.

He was a flawed human being like the rest of us. He was arrogant, demanding and unpleasant to his peers. Despite the billions of dollars generated by his company, he never had a philanthropic program.

Technology has done much to improve the world, but it is not a panacea. We have not even begun to understand or come to terms with its far-reaching implications. It is a two-edged sword.

So may he rest in peace, and may those who seem lost without him start dealing with the real problems of the world.

Barbara Doughty

Portland

U.S. backs Israel without regard for the Palestinians

In his recent address on USM’s Portland campus, former Sen. George Mitchell presented America as an honest broker in the Middle East. Recent and historical facts suggest otherwise.

President Obama is unwilling to press Israel to freeze, even temporarily, the building and expansion of illegal West Bank and East Jerusalem Jews-only settlements.

In a 14-1 U.N. Security Council vote earlier this year on a resolution condemning Israel’s settlements as illegal, the U.S. cast the one veto vote. The U.S. has similarly protected Israel at the U.N. at least four dozen times since 1970, in each case dismissing Palestinian rights.

Hidden costs aside, America has given Israel, a prosperous nation of under 6 million, more foreign aid than we’ve given all nations combined in sub-Saharan Africa, South America and Central America, with a combined population of over 1 billion and much staggering poverty.

The U.S. will accept no Palestinian government that includes Hamas because Hamas doesn’t accept Israel’s right to exist (in part because Israel will not declare its own borders, or claims that all of Palestine belongs to Jews), yet we support an Israeli coalition government whose dominant parties (Likud, Yisrael Beitenu and Shas) all have platforms claiming a Palestinian state has no right to exist.

Honest broker? Hardly. Clearly the U.S. is Israel’s bosom buddy. Two powerhouses against a people without a state, an army, navy or air force. No wonder the Palestinians no longer trust the “peace process” and have gone to the U.N. instead.

Robert Schaible

Chair, Maine Voices for Palestinian Rights

Buxton

Too many opinion writers fail to provide the truth

The late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan is reported to have said, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”

Many authors of letters to the editor, postings on a social network or chain emails count on the reader to blindly accept their opinion as fact. Today, the line between fact and opinion is further blurred by “info-tainment” programs that many consider to be fact-based analysis of our world’s events.

Contributors (paid) as well as guests whose credentials are rarely in sync with the subject, are not held accountable for their opinions that they present as fact, unless the opinion doesn’t line up with the show’s host’s point of view.

A concept is driven home repeatedly, until the audience believes it to be true. It’s a historical problem that is not limited to any political, social or religious debate. Where is Joe Friday when we need him most? (“Just the facts, ma’am.”)

Be a critical thinker when you read or hear people expressing “facts,” especially before forwarding them as your own.

Jeffrey C. Lunt

Cape Elizabeth

Columnist’s postal posturing hides his own lack of effort

I want to respond to Cal Thomas’ column of Sept. 29, “We pay dead people lots of money.” Should we fire all 600,000 postal workers to save the money that 170,666 of them received for stand-by time? Great idea, do wonders for the economy.

How much standby time does Thomas receive? How long does it take to sit at a keyboard spouting inane, whiny drivel, citing some special interest website about government waste?

My guess is two hours to move his lips over The Washington Post, find a website, have lunch, and type — meaning 38 hours a week standby assuming a normal work week.

I know, I know, he’s not a postal worker. In fact, he’s not really a worker at all, is he? So what is he, and at what cost, and to whom? What does Thomas’ syndicate pay to run his sorrowful musings of governmental injustice and ineptitude, created between naps and sandwich bites? What does his standby time cost his employer? What are they or society in general, getting in return for the space, time and air he costs?

Subsidies? Really? A solar panel company goes out of business and the Red hordes are coming for our women and children? Is the problem that they didn’t stick around to bilk the taxpayers? Is that what fluffs his dander and stirs him to gird his loins to hyperbolic drivel?

He offers us a great whine (vintage 1981, I believe) about millions wasted, yet offers nothing on the billions in pharmaceutical, oil, ethanol, corn or industrial agriculture subsidies? His pedantic pandering to the fading caste is old and tiresome.

He should move on to something demanding of thought and solution rather than droning on like an impetuous brat. Better yet, retire, we’ll keep track and when he’s done we’ll notify his pension people.

I suspect, though, that one other proof of Ronald Reagan’s “eternal life for governmental agencies” theory is his knee-jerk ponderings about them.

Paul Farrell

Portland

Too much being spent for far too little return

I am 100 percent in favor of taking care of our environment — but Congress appropriating $20 million to study Lake Champlain?

I believe that should be put on hold until we take care of more urgent financial needs. Anyone else agree?

Eileen Reynolds

Brunswick