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16:15 UK time, Monday, 15 September 2008

Another story about misusing the 999 emergency number (also see here, here, here). But, yet again, no information on exactly what is an emergency. These tales just cast unnecessary doubt in people's minds. My local pet shop has a sign outside saying "in case of emergency, call 999" - when I asked why they'd put it up, they said it was because when their store was recently burgled, passers-by notified the local police who came four hours later, giving the thieves ample time to get away.
Jinja, Edinburgh

Martin asked Americans to explain "hockey moms", as Sarah Palin describes herself (Friday letters). Hockey mom = mother of boy(s) who play competitive ice hockey. An incredibly expensive "sport" indulged in by middle class white families. Fights on & off the ice between players & among parents are both encouraged & common.
Margaret Welch, Westborough MA, US

I'm not American but am a Brit who has lived in US now for 22 years and I think I can answer your question. A "hockey mom" ("soccer mom" is very common too) is a manager, a person who can multi-task. As Mom she's running the family, holding down a job of her own, doing the shopping, picking up the kids, getting them to hockey practice after school and then getting them home, fed and into bed (interestingly Dads don't feature in this scenario). She's busy and she's organised. The implication is that if she can do all this at her own house, she can manage the White House as competently.
Martin Pearson, Upstate NY, US

Here in the US the power of voting blocks is unquestioned. We have the usual class distinctions, as well as several others. The Democrats usually have the support of the African-Americans, called the Black vote. Republicans usually have the support of the white Southerners, called the red-neck vote. Politicians in the past noticed that there was a hitherto unnoticed group of suburban mothers, with kids still in middle school and the kids all played football, known over here as soccer. The moms became known as "soccer moms" and were seen as a decisive voting block in several states. The pols took it all very seriously and vied for the good opinion of the block. A "hockey mom" is of this ilk, only with a different sport. And yes, the lines of these blocks are fuzzy things, so you could easily have a voter in several of them at any one time. I am a white chorus Dad who fishes but doesn't hunt, owns several pets and is currently employed...
Bill, Belgrade, Maine

So Noel, if I follow what you are doing (Edmonds begins TV licence boycott) and get caught, could you please pay the fine on behalf of me? Thanks.
Helen, Leicester

Creation museum curator Ross Rosevear "insists the evidence presented in the displays could convince even non-believers of the 'fatal flaws' in Darwin's theory of evolution". Surely if he is displaying facts purporting to the creationist theory in a scientific way then there is no need to "convince" anyone. It should just enable others to examine the facts and whether they are relevant to the proof or disproof of a purported hypothesis. "Convincing" someone based on selected facts would surely be more like "brainwashing" someone as mentioned earlier in the article, no?
Tom Webb, Epsom, UK

Re Why are there so few female conductors? "25 years ago there were no female presenters on the news..." says cultural commentator Norman Lebrecht." He can't be very old, or he'd remember Angela Rippon, who was presenting the news a lot longer than 25 years ago.
Rob, London, UK

MJ from Ingatestone (Friday letters) - worrying about the fuel bill 'bad maths'. If the £910m package were shared equally among the £61m people in the UK they would receive about £15 each, not the £1m each proposed. Spin it may be but accusations of bad maths should be left to others...
Tom, Southampton

If you're not allowed to be drunk in public, how do you get home from the pub of a Friday night?
Stuart, Croydon

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