Letters for January 21, 2010

The overeating addiction

Re “Battle of the bulge” (Feature story, by Meredith J. Cooper, Jan. 14):

Kudos to Meredith Cooper for her honest article about her bariatric surgery and subsequent weight loss.

Like Oprah, she has come to realize that food, particularly sugary and fast foods, can be addictive.

Bearing that in mind, food addicts out there might consider checking out Overeaters Anonymous (OA), a 12-step program for food addicts that is analogous to Alcoholics Anonymous.

As Meredith pointed out, bariatric surgery is just a tool, and as with alcoholism, there is no cure for eating addictions. Members of AA and OA accept this and understand that they stand little chance of permanent recovery if they try to “go it alone,” no matter how many years of sobriety or pounds of weight loss they celebrate.

If you’re still suffering or trying to beat this addiction on your own, check out OA World Service, www.oa.org, or the local chapter, www.norig.oar2.org.

Caroline M.

Three takes on ‘death cab’

Re “The meter is always running in the death cab” (Essay, by Jaime O’Neill, Jan. 14):

This is such an important article. It gives me pause. In a few months I’ll be 68. Stroke is common in my family. I don’t want to die. I want to live.

But by living I mean all the things that make me appreciate the mystery of our being here: talks with my wife, walks with my grandkids, challenges associated with my work, discoveries of new restaurants, movies, and reading all sorts of things.

To lie comatose all day in a strange place—or even in my cottage—is not what I want.

And even if I did want that last shred of life, how could I ask for it, knowing that we simply cannot spend money for that person and also have resources left to nurture the young? As you say, this is not a system that benefits the sick or the masses. It is designed to enrich a few. We must stop it even if it means that all of us may lose a few additional months of “living.”

Thank you for illuminating this vital topic.

Murray Suid

Jaime O’Neill makes factual errors and attacks physicians with stereotypical opinions in his article.

Understand that doctors do not make society’s medical rules; we carry them out. The state of California requires physicians to use all reasonable measures to prolong life unless there is a legally valid document instructing them not to do so. It is important to have an advance directive and power of attorney in place before a relative becomes unable to sign one.

Hospitals require physicians to make daily visits, whether the physician thinks it necessary or not. VA hospital doctors are employees and not paid per visit; if they ticked a box, it would be to track their attendance, not for billing.

Very few physicians still have the “lavish lifestyle” the author describes. In Butte County most are like any other self-employed, middle-class business owner, struggling with rising costs and falling revenues and with the additional disadvantage of trying to pay back $100,000-$150,000 in student loans and having earned nothing for eight years while they study. I suspect many public-sector employees make more than physicians and certainly have better pensions and benefits.

So please lay off the gratuitous attacks, Mr. O’Neill.

Roy L. Bishop, MD

Ultimately, the family or power of medical attorney is responsible for the extent of health care that is provided in end-of-life decisions. The medical community is normally the one that is attempting to get the family to accept that there is little else to be done for a gravely ill person.

The sentence reading, “… being harvested by the system, his helplessness exploited in ways that benefited him not at all, but benefited the vultures who offered their tender mercies at very high prices,” seems to be the very angry view of a family member not involved in his loved one’s daily care and end-of-life decisions.

Rob Glatthaar

An alternate fantasy

Re “The audacity of kindness” (From the Edge, by Anthony Peyton Porter, Jan. 14):

I usually read Mr. Porter’s column while on the crapper—in addition to The Great American Bathroom Book (single-sitting summaries of all-time great books)—where I do most of my waxing philosophical.

That’s not a commentary on his writing. I get it 90 percent of the time. Irksome sometimes, mostly humorous—the head-shaking kind. The other 10 percent Mr. Porter should not take personally as a failure to communicate; rather, it’s my fault, a loose wire, I’m told.

While on the subject of fantasy, Mr. Porter writes that, if Mutallab were his son, he “would want Mutallab cared for compassionately and to get the help he needs.” I suppose as opposed to capping him between the eyes, like he deserves. Imagine, if you will, Mr. Porter enjoying his drink of choice, seated next to Mutallab on the flight, when suddenly his son ignites the crotch bomb and it explodes, sending the jet and passengers plummeting to seemingly certain oblivion. Perhaps Mr. Porter’s fleeting thought: Aw shit, the one friggin’ time the kid succeeds at something…

The captain miraculously lands the aircraft with only one fatality. Who would it be?

What a delicious irony to contemplate.


Ray Simmons

Why ‘medical’ marijuana?

Re “Supes tackle red-hot issue”(Newslines, by Robert Speer, Jan. 14):

The battle for legalizing pot is an uphill one, mostly because people are trying to cover it as “medical marijuana,” which only brings up the argument of its real medical use. And to most doctors in this country, something is only “medical” if it “cures” a “disease.”

But to that I ask: Why should I have to be sick to smoke pot? The most important medical benefits come from disease prevention, not cure. And beyond that, the whole notion of pot’s being illegal is just insane, especially in light of the fact that alcohol and cigarettes are both legal.

I think it’s pretty obvious by now that pot’s being illegal does more harm than good, and way, way more harm than pot itself. Because of its illegal status, people are able to charge thousands for something that grows like, well, a weed. And that in turn gives people motivation to break into homes of growers and rob their money and their pot.

Let’s get real, people: I don’t need someone’s approval to smoke pot; the Earth has already given it to me, and that’s all I need.

Steven Aquino

More to the story?

Re “It’s just common sense” (Editorial, Jan. 7):

Am I wrong here, or is everyone missing something? From an earlier article on this incident, [Gary] Tudesko’s mother was a leading opponent of [the Willows Unified School District’s] recent bond effort. The fact that other possible violations found in the vehicles of other student were dismissed or ignored tells me that this was used by the school administration as retaliation against the mother.

Mark Nyffeler
White Bear Lake, Minn.

Editor’s note: According to published reports, Mr. Nyffeler is correct that Gary’s mother, Susan Parisio, was a leading opponent of a recent, unsuccessful WUSD bond measure.

The Preamble’s limits

Re “The fifth element” (From This Corner, by Robert Speer, Jan. 7):

Unfortunately, the contents of the Preamble, however poignant, eloquent and inspiring, are not binding unless the Preamble is adopted specifically along with a resolution, motion, bill, etc, to which it is appended, either in the very beginning or at the end.

Yes, the U. S. Constitution should be viewed by U. S. citizens in the light of the Preamble, but the U. S. Supreme Court and the other branches of the government of the U. S. can do so only in spirit but not in any legal sense.

Brahama D. Sharma

Supes paying too much

It saddens me that it seems like the main thing the supervisors think will attract a new CAO to Butte County is cash. This ignores the county’s intrinsic attributes: Recreation, mountains nearby, lakes, streams, the river, Bidwell Park, charming communities and CSUC are all reasons why people move to Butte County. I took a 50 percent pay cut to move here.

This is one of the poorest counties in California, and our supervisors suggest we pay the new CAO more than the United States of America pays the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff! Moves like this make me think that the supervisors are not only out of touch with the citizens, but that they also don’t appreciate the intrinsic qualities of Butte County. How sad.

Charles Withuhn

A city in denial

In all likelihood the economy of Chico will suffer a devastating blow at the end of May, only four months away. The plan at Chico State seems to be to dramatically lower the student population and lay off significant numbers of staff and faculty. It’s already happening: Positions are not being filled as droves of people retire ahead of the tsunami. Many people not involved directly will have to abandon Chico for more industrial pastures.

Despite any thoughts to the contrary, Chico State created and maintains a high cultural level. Thousands come from all over the North State to see programs at Laxson Auditorium. Conferences of all kinds use the grounds of the campus. (And everyone agrees the campus is still a jewel, despite cuts in the maintenance staff. The rose garden is an absolute joy.) The academy is also a rallying place for the retired, for sports fans, not to mention the chance of an education for the kids from Gridley, Hamilton City, every small town in the territory.

Why the City Council, the churches of Chico, the business associations, and the faculty and the students have not banded together to raise a howl—”Save our university!”—I can’t imagine. It’s like everybody’s asleep, in denial of what this will mean.

Wayne Pease