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Contrary to Franklin Schneider’s “Rabies ‘R’ Us” article (12/14), raccoons are not members of the bear family. Raccoons are members of the family Procyonidae, which also includes coatis and kinkajous. Despite the similarities in physical appearance, raccoons and the rest of the procyonids are genetically far closer to badgers or skunks than they are to bears, who are a distant branch of the caniform branch of carnivores—so distant, in fact, that most scientists believe that raccoons diverged from bears further in the past than they did from even such unlikely relatives as seals and walruses.

David Vacca
Southwest

Babbit Run

My first reaction to Angela Valdez’ Tony Cord piece (“‘No One’s Gonna Stop Me,’” 12/7) was “Icky! Appallingly embarrassing hetero white guy mid-life crisis!” Later, I realized that there are small cadres of fellows like Tony in every major city. Rex Mottram-like characters, they are the self-anointed fixers, rainmakers, and connectors who, sometimes for all the wrong motives, do lubricate the machinery of urban charity and philanthropy to some good end. My hope for Mr. Cord is that once the silliness of the mid-life crisis has passed, he will turn his considerable talents toward raising money for organizations like Whitman-Walker Clinic and Bread for the City.

Tom Base
Silver Spring