Webster's defines hypocrisy as "the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one's own behavior does not conform."

An alternative definition would be The Post and Courier's Dec. 29 editorial page, in which the newspaper, on the one hand, raises alarms about the environmental grades given the Carnival cruise ship whose home port is Charleston and, on the other, brushes aside issues surrounding the Keystone XL pipeline, essentially calling those concerns a bunch of hooey ginned up by environmentalists and a U.S. president with an axe to grind.

So are we to gather from this juxtaposition of opinions that whatever stinks up your backyard is of great import, but whatever potentially affects the Ogallala Aquifer, one of the nation's largest - and the source of fresh water for nearly one quarter of the nation's farmland - is to be dismissed because it's far enough away not to reach your readers' noses?

Perhaps if that aquifer was located under Charleston, your editors would take the time to do some actual research instead of merely mimicking the press releases from members of Congress whose pockets are lined by political contributions from the oil industry - which is itself now conceding Keystone XL will become a dead economic duck if oil prices continue to deteriorate due to a glut of world market supply amidst declining demand.

Like politics, all environmental issues are ultimately local. That being the case, why don't you folks limit your opining to environmental issues about which you actually know something?

Brett Phillips

Prince Street

Georgetown

Kirkpatrick Sale might have been a bit more specific in his recent column about General Sherman and modern warfare.

True, the elimination of slavery did not become the principal motivation of the North to continue the Civil War until late in the war. Preventing the spread of slavery into the territories and preservation of the Union were the North's initial motivations.

The motivation of the South, or most certainly South Carolina, was clearly stated from the outset of the war in the "Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union" (Dec. 24, 1860). The specific reasons cited:

The refusal of some Northern states to enforce the Fugitive Slave Law and clauses in the U.S. Constitution protecting slavery, and the perceived role of the federal government in attempting to abolish slavery.

There is no assertion of a "states' rights" motivation (other than the "right" to own other humans) popular with revisionist historians.

Confederate Col. John S. Mosby may have summed it up best:

"We went to war on account of the things we quarreled with the North about. I never heard of any other cause of quarrel than slavery. Men fight from sentiment. After the fight is over they invent some fanciful theory on which they imagine that they fought."

Rich Bennett

Winged Foot Court

Johns Island

In response to an excellent letter about smoking cessation, I would like to add another suggestion. My son, Tom, tried for years to quit to no avail but came up with an idea that worked for him.

Every time he had the urge to light up he looked around for something to divert his attention: "That picture was taken when I was so and so" or "I wonder how long that water tower has been there."

With his attention diverted, the urge went away. He repeated the practice until he lost the urge. Several of my friends who were trying to quit said it worked for them.

It's worth a try and is the cheapest solution I can think of.

Ed Ball

Eastlake Road

Mount Pleasant

So Iran will ship "much" of the material it could use to Russia. Does anybody in his right mind believe either one of these two tyrannies can ever be trusted? As much as I liked President Bush, he made a grave tactical error by saying he could "do business" with Putin.

Wrong.

Diplomats of today are as stupid as those of WWI and WWII. Their gullibility ran to the extreme side of idiocy. When will we get people with common sense to be diplomats with the courage to tell it like it is?

It will not be long before the Iranians and Russians do something else to create havoc for the free world.

Lewis Wade

Cottageville Highway

Cottageville

The South Carolina Department of Education's decision to use the ACT Aspire test to assess student performance in English and math in third and eighth grade this spring should be heralded. Taking timed standardized tests is a change that is long overdue.

South Carolina students, who are accustomed to the state's PACT and then PASS assessments, will have to adjust their test-taking skills in order to score well on the new test. No longer will they have all the time they require to answer questions.

Eighth graders in S.C. public schools who were applying to some selective high schools, public and private, in and out of state, were required to take the PSAT, SSAT or ACT Explore, since the PACT or PASS did not provide an adequate comparison to students outside of our state. A lack of familiarity with timed tests put them at a disadvantage.

Fortunately some schools provided the opportunity for students to take a nationally normed timed test (some requiring the student to pay a fee) in seventh and/or eighth grade.

Now all students will be developing the skills needed for a timed test format prior to high school. This is a step in the right direction for our state.

Marsha Moreland

Island Walk East

Mount Pleasant

I did not have a chance to respond to the Nov. 14 article, "Wolfman and the Pups" before the holidays. I am a nature lover, animal welfare advocate and activist, and I enjoyed reading about Rob Johnson, his passion and dedication to the red wolves.

Over the last two decades my family and I have enjoyed many trips to the barrier islands and to the Sewee Center.

The Sewee Center is very fortunate to have "Wolfman Rob" as volunteer caretaker for the wolves. I admire him and am even envious of him for his close interaction with these precious animals.

Not mentioned in the article was George Garris, who served as manager of Cape Romain Wildlife Refuge from 1974 until his retirement in 2003.

It was his efforts that brought about the construction of the visitors' center, and the red wolf captive breeding program began under his management. His legacy lives on out there.

Alison G. Harvey

East Carolina Avenue

Summerville

Most tourists come to Charleston to see the Battery with its incomparable views and to sit among the oaks in White Point Garden.

The recent tourism study makes some valid points at controlling the increasing traffic problems, but to restrict auto traffic south of Broad Street is ridiculous, as Brian Hicks wrote in his Dec. 28 column. His humorous comments reminded me of Mark Twain's.

Charleston needs to implement more sensible ideas to lessen the traffic-jammed narrow streets on the peninsula.

By the way, when is the restroom problem at the Battery going to be resolved? What's taking so long?

Bill Bryan

Joy Avenue

Charleston