Letters for February 17, 2005

That’s just Rickie Lee
This is in regard to the letter from Paul Fisher, of Paradise, who was disappointed in the Rickie Lee Jones concert [“Ricky Lee Wasted,” Letters, Feb 10]. All I can say is, Hello! Have you ever heard Rickie Lee before? Have you ever heard her singing style? Of course she mumbled her words! That’s the way she sings!

As for her “erratic” behavior, were you aware that Rickie Lee is painfully shy? She has always been a very private person and has terrible stage fright. Perhaps she was just extremely nervous.

When I first saw that she was playing in Paradise, I was somewhat perplexed at the decision to play there rather than in Chico, but hey, at least she’s in this area of California instead of San Francisco or L.A.! Now, after reading Mr. Fisher’s commentary, I feel that she wasted her time going to Paradise, as she obviously wasn’t appreciated.

Why does Mr. Fisher assume that Jones was on drugs just because she has a different singing style than, say, Norah Jones or Joni Mitchell? But I suppose he doesn’t like the way they sing, either. Oh, well. I guess I have to realize that some people just don’t recognize or appreciate talent when they hear it.

Diane Culpepper

Rice farm realities
Your recent editorial on farm subsidies raises the larger question of the economic situation of the California valleys [“Fear of farm subsidies cuts,” Feb. 10]. Someone who grew up in Iowa, as I did, recently was a guest editorialist in the New York Times. He tried to get at Iowa’s troubles, and it strikes me they may be similar to the troubles in the California valleys.

Both places have suffered decades of social erosion. Iowa’s present problems were precisely its great solutions of two to three generations ago—the whole-hearted and uncritical embrace of industrial agriculture, which has depopulated the countryside and destroyed the economic and social texture of small towns. Most entry-level jobs in agriculture now go to recent immigrants. All of Iowa business’s ideas to spur economic development leave the paradigm of industrial agriculture intact. That means a few families living amid vast tracts of factory agriculture.

It isn’t Wal-Mart but a relentless agricultural industrialization that keeps shaking family farmers loose, consolidating land holdings and decreasing rural populations and lively small towns and their cultures.

We need to get over the current mystifications about farming in America. We need to face the fact that industrial agriculture is not the family farm. We need to admit that huge percentages of government supports go to the few, not the many—an extraordinary welfare scheme in which everyone who receives it and arranges for it votes Republican while decrying government hand-outs to others. We need to open our eyes and wonder whether the California valleys are being turned into vast plantations run by the few, for the few.

Donald Heinz

Ultrasound abuse
I am dismayed by the news of the new, elective ultrasound business in town and the misinformation implicit in the owner’s statement that “ultrasound is safe” [“Super mega ultrasound,” Everybody’s business, Feb. 10].

Ultrasound technology was developed during WWII to detect enemy submarines and then was used by the steel industry to detect metals in rock. In the 1960s it first was used on living tissue.

Ultra-high-frequency sound waves that vibrate at 10 to 20 million cycles per second are emitted by a transducer, and a picture of the tissue builds up from the “echo” waves that return. The longer the ultrasound lasts, the more your baby is exposed to these waves. The newer, “fancier” machines give your baby much higher doses of exposure than was used in the past.

Ultrasound heats up the areas being “displayed” by about 1 degree Celsius. Cell damage occurs if tissue is heated by 2.5 degrees. It also causes cavitation, a process in which small pockets of gas that exist in mammalian tissue vibrate and then collapse. Studies on human babies have shown possible adverse effects, including pre-term labor or miscarriage, low birth weight, poorer condition at birth, dyslexia and delayed speech development. The medical journal Epidemiology has warned, “There may be a relation between prenatal ultrasound exposure and adverse outcome.”

Ultrasound should remain a diagnostic tool to be used when the benefits outweigh the risks, should be provided by an operator with a high level of experience and should be done for the shortest time possible, to limit exposure.

Dena Moes, CNM
Sacred Ways Midwifery

Think that’s funny?
Made-in-China “Support the Troops” ribbons are giving you a good laugh [“Support the troops,” Inside view, Jan. 27]

Here are a few other things that should give you a good laugh. As the war goes on our corporate run government is cutting VA health care. Maybe you find that funny as well. Bush needs $82 billion more of our tax money for the war. That is money that will not be going to schools, health care, police, or first responders here in our America. That may give you a good giggle, also.

Several large corporations in California will receive over 6 million in tax refunds this year; even though they paid no tax at all. That is good for a chuckle.

When it comes to being made in China, just try not to buy made-in-China stuff for a week. You’re laughing already.

America no longer has the best-paid workers and best benefits in the world. Find that funny? America under this corporate, right-wing government has fallen to third place. Still snickering? Perhaps the last laugh may come from Europe. Our dollar is now worth about 72 cents there. Now that’s funny.

So let’s wave our made-in-China flags, support the war for oil profit, cut Social Security, cheer the big corporate owned “free” press, cut the health care to the veterans coming home and chuckle as right-wing corporations crush our democracy. Put a Chinese-made “Support the Troops” ribbon sticker on your company car and keep laughing. The war goes on.

Charles Finlay

Join us common folk
Our senators and members of Congress do not pay into Social Security. They have a special benefit plan when they retire, and they continue to draw the same pay until they die—except it may increase for cost-of-living adjustments. They do not pay anything into this plan. You and I, the taxpayers, pick up the tab for this. The retirement funds come directly from the general fund. This should be changed, and they should be put into the same Social Security plan with the rest of us.

Lloyd Johnson