Another cell phone annoyance
In response to “Why cell phone talkers are annoying” (SN: 10/9/10, p. 13), I contend that these researchers are only addressing half of the problem with their “halfalogue” hypothesis. Years ago, I was struck by how irritating it was to walk near people talking on cell phones and wondered if I was simply biased against this new technology. I concluded that, no, they really are far more annoying than people talking face-to-face because cell phone users speak so much more loudly. A halfalogue delivered at twice the volume of a face-to-face conversation is doubly annoying to other people and downright dangerous to a driver. Drivers on cell phones are distracted not only by the content of their conversations, but also by the difficulty of hearing their caller over traffic noise, and by their need to speak more loudly and clearly than usual.
Teresa Audesirk, Steamboat Springs, Colo.

Defining Neandertals
Please clarify the terminology now employed to distinguish between modern humans and Neandertals. Not long ago one spoke of Homo sapiens sapiens and Homo sapiens neandertalis, clearly indicating that Neandertals were viewed as human beings. Yet Bruce  Bower (“Neandertals taken out by volcanoes,” SN: 10/23/10, p. 12) refers to Neandertals as “these humanlike hominids,” continuing the recent trend to distinguish not between modern humans and Neandertals but between humans and Neandertals. Are Neandertals no longer viewed as human beings by the scientific community?
Bill Sugrue, Falls Church, Va.

Many paleoanthropologists regard Neandertals as a separate species, Homo neandertalensis, that nonetheless shared many anatomical and
cognitive features with Homo sapiens. Others take a “Neandertals are us” stance, classifying these Stone Age hominids as a subspecies of
H. sapiens or simply as illustrations of the anatomical variation that existed within ancient H. sapiens. The popularity of these views has waxed and waned for more than a century. Bruce Bower