Letters for February 4, 2010

No guns at school

Re “Teen hunter vindicated” (Downstroke, Jan. 28):

Regardless of what a slew of high-paid NRA lawyers may think, I still find it a bit reckless that a high-school teenager should set off for school, on a school day, with two shotguns and fresh ammunition in his automobile, regardless of how far his automobile was parked from the school grounds.

School officials should not have been placed in the position of determining what was right or wrong with this teen’s decision. This was squarely the responsibility of the student’s parents (and the parents of his friend, who was apparently using that second shotgun during the two students’ early-morning hunting trip).

It is my fervent hope, as a high-school teacher myself, that the vast majority of the more responsible parents from the North State would draw the line on allowing their high-school-age students to bring guns and live ammo to school on a school day. Those munitions need to be left in the security of the students’ homes.

Mark S. Gailey

Water is the new oil

Re “The boiling point” (Newslines, by Christine G.K. LaPado, Jan. 28):

Everyone should be fighting this. Watch the movies Tapped and Blue Gold to learn about the insidious nature of these bottling plants. Water is going to be the oil of the future, and privatization of water is happening already all over the world.

Some citizens are fighting back, and winning, so don’t assume this is inevitable. Be very afraid, and act on that fear.

Janet Thew

Where are the family docs?

Re “A bigger health-care issue” (Guest comment, Jan. 28):

Thank you to Dr. Amy Dolinar for addressing the issue of physician shortages in her commentary. It is a story being told locally and across the nation. Increasingly, primary-care doctors are finding it difficult to remain financially viable. Facing $150,000-$200,000 in student loan debts, medical-school graduates are avoiding primary care. Since 1997 the number of students entering into primary care has fallen 51 percent. The American Academy of Family Practice has predicted a shortage of 40,000 primary-care doctors by 2020.

A CNN poll revealed nearly half of primary-care physicians are considering leaving the field. Many factors contribute to this trend. A recent article from the medical journal Lancet found physician burnout related to the struggles of working in a broken, dehumanized and unjust system of health care.

Aldebra Schroll M.D.

Better school lunches

Re “Bite by bite” (Newslines, by Christine G.K. LaPado, Jan. 14):

Recently, first lady Michelle Obama called on the U.S. Conference of Mayors to help her fight the national scourge of childhood obesity. She noted that one-third of all children are overweight or obese. She proposed more-healthful school-lunch fares, increased physical activity, and nutrition education.

Traditionally, the National School Lunch Program has served as a dumping ground for USDA’s surplus meat and dairy commodities. Not surprisingly, USDA’s own surveys indicate that 90 percent of American children consume excessive amounts of fat, and only 15 percent eat the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables. Their early dietary flaws become lifelong addictions, raising their risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

In the past few years, several state legislatures have asked their schools to offer daily vegetarian options. According to the School Nutrition Association, 52 percent of U.S. school districts now do so. Last fall, the Baltimore public school system became the first in the United States to offer its 80,000 students a complete weekly break from meat.

Parents and others who care about our children’s health should demand healthful plant-based school meals, snacks, and vending-machine items. Additional information is available at schoolmeals.nal.usda.gov, schoolnutrition.org, healthyschoollunches.org and choiceusa.net.

Carson Marides

Mr. Dogg’s deep wisdom

Re “Rap’s top dogg” (Music, by Christine G.K. LaPado, Jan. 21):

It isn’t every day that mere Butte County mortals get exposure to authentic geniuses who are smarter than Napoleon and Bill Clinton, so it was with a real sense of privilege that I soaked up the wisdom of Snoop Dogg in those words he offered to your correspondent via e-mail.

I’m sure that when the great ideas of Western man are brought up to date, they will include such brilliant insights as those Mr. Dogg shared in his ruminations, along with the profundity we find in the lyrics of his raps. What, for instance, could be more insightful than “Rollin’ down the street smokin’ endo/ sipping on gin and juice/ (Laid back) with my mind on my money and money on my mind.”

Eat your heart out Plato, Shakespeare, and all lesser lights.

Want genius? According to Snoop, the best he’s got to offer on his latest CD is a “song” called “2 Minute Warning” because “it’s some real gangsta shit.”

You honky boys and girls out there in Butte land need to suck up this “gangsta shit” from an authentic genius who lives in Beverly Hills, fairly far from the gangsta shit he advocates you take up. He’s there. You’re here. That makes him a helluva lot smarter than you are, especially since you’re the one shelling out the money for his profound insights on things.

Jaime O’Neill

Alone on Facebook

Re “Facebook” (From the Edge, by Anthony Peyton Porter, Jan. 28):

Thank you, Anthony. Your “Facebook” essay was a pleasant surprise. I, too, have experienced some of the same thoughts and feelings that you spoke of. Once I even decided it would be better to get off the forum rather than offend someone. I have also felt a sense of guilt or something for not keeping up. Once again I come to the conclusion that I am not alone!

Jim Adams

Read this book

I had just finished reading Tracy Kidder’s Mountains Beyond Mountains and extolling its value to my friends and book group when Haiti’s devastating earthquake hit.

Anybody who has read this book will appreciate why now, more than ever, this book is a must-read, surely on the level with Three Cups of Tea and The Soloist. This is a book about Dr. Paul Farmer’s (still active) work in effecting cures for drug-resistant diseases. Drug- resistant TB was his initial primary focus in Haiti, but it has expanded to malaria, and also HIV. The book makes clear difficult concepts—what drug-resistant disease is, how it works, why it’s important to combat it in the poorest and sometimes most reviled populations—all in a historical context that also educates readers about the history of Haiti right here in our own hemisphere.

It is a very important book, and I wish everyone would read it in order better to understand both drug-resistant diseases’ potential for devastating pandemics and also that poverty is a breeding ground for such devastation. The challenge is to fight both.

Read the book.

Maria Phillips

Watch out for script thieves

Script hijacking in Hollywood has reached epic proportions. With the release of Avatar and its resemblance to “Call Me Joe” (a short story by Paul Anderson) and several other sci-fi writings, a re-interst in Hollywood script ripoff will be ignited.

For those writers seeking government protection: You’re out of luck. All a thief has to do is make cosmetic changes in the script. A visit to various Web sites on script theft in Hollywood will display numerous recent movies that have been the subject of copyright infringement.

Write your congressman to close the loopholes in American copyright law. American literature is drowning in a vat of celluloid.

Michael M. Peters