Letters for June 11, 2015

On rice and vocabulary

Re “Outlaw rice production, save water” (Guest comment, by Jim Elfers, June 4):

The article suggesting rice not be grown in our region is shortsighted, to say the least.

California rice farmers are highly efficient with water. Rice is grown in only 5 inches of water and it takes about the same amount of water to grow a serving of rice as it does oranges or broccoli. California rice farming is highly sophisticated, including leveling fields through GPS technology. Rice is highly important to our local and state economies, providing a $5 billion annual impact and 25,000 jobs.

One also must consider how rice benefits the Pacific Flyway, providing food and a resting place for millions of birds. No crop does more for the environment than California rice.

Good points to remember the next time you enjoy sushi or a rice bowl.

Jim Morris

Editor’s note: Mr. Morris is a spokesman for the California Rice Commission.

I’m tired of seeing the word “factoid” used incorrectly. I read it recently in the article about growing rice in the valley. Basically, the author of the article said his facts were fabricated! Full definition of factoid from the dictionary: 1) an invented fact believed to be true because it appears in print; and 2) a briefly stated and usually trivial fact.

Joan McWilliams

Good questions

Re “Hasta la vista, lawns” (Newsline, by Ernesto Rivera, June 4):

I live in a large Chico apartment complex where many children live, grow and play. We don’t have a lot of lawn, but the lawn we have is heavily used by the kids—fathers throwing balls with their kids, impromptu wrestling matches, tag, Simon Says, hide and seek, etc. The lawn areas are very important to the lives of these kids and their families, so their potential loss is a matter of concern. My question for your landscapist is, what, other than very expensive padding and artificial turf, can replace the lawn, be used as safely as real lawn, be low maintenance, attractive and need very little water?

Tom Sartwell

Cal Water said they would send me a letter explaining the changes in store for its customers. I never received that. I did go online and look at the resolution that allows Cal Water to set limits and impose fines.

I’m 100 percent for living within the means and limits of natural systems, but I find the approach taken by Cal Water and the California Public Utilities Commission vague and capricious in many ways. I may be killing my garden to meet the limits, just to turn around and buy the same produce that took a much larger water footprint to grow and deliver.

Randy Abbott

Commentary comeback

Re “The downside to unearned fortunes” (Guest comment, by Nathan Esplanade, May 28):

Sounds like more “Get the gov’ment’s hands off my Medicare.” Complain about government programs in one breath and propose other, more onerous programs with the next.

My bet is that murder for insurance is statistically miniscule. Mr. Esplanade needs to watch Dateline and Fox “News” for the entertainment programs they are, and not base his conjectures on stuff meant for entertainment.

Social Security is easily “fixed” by removing the cap on income subject to withholding. Our failing medical system costs twice what most developed nations’ medical systems do with results that are not as good, but “Obamacare” is a good first step.

By the way, any government investment “expert” you could find would say, like most economists, in this time of cheap money (banks borrowing at 0 percent interest) we should be deficit spending on our crumbling railroads, roads and bridges. Doing so would create thousands of good-paying jobs.

Rich Meyers

Speaking of which …

Re “Still spinning” (Guest comment, by Patricia Kelley, June 4):

Patricia Kelley misconstrued my Guest comment. I wasn’t arguing America’s retirement security is being threatened by Social Security. Rather, private embezzlement from the fund is undermining it.

Nathan Esplanade

Goading the guru

Chico got a visit from Bill McKibben—founder of 350.org, the most high-profile organization fighting climate change. McKibben presented a call to protest, punctuated with photographs of 350.org rallies. He’s a believer in “big solutions”: let’s deconstruct the fossil fuel industry and build a solar-paneled future.

As expected, McKibben effectively demonized the fossil fuel industry, but failed to call out affluent “environmentalists” on our eco-disaster lifestyles: eating from the trough of animal food misery, booking recreational flights, etc.—aka, drive a Prius and get a free pass.

The path of “big solutions” has led McKibben to agnosticism on the responsibility of the individual to make any radical sacrifice—or to organize around the goal of common sacrifice. McKibben is lost in the delusion that by manufacturing enough solar panels, we can avoid fundamental change.

During the Q&A, I initiated a confrontational/protest exchange with McKibben. The guru-infatuated audience began to boo. True believers sidled up and suggested I take a hike; I gladly complied. I’d rather be at a Walmart—at least there’s no one gushing about heirloom pork gravy or eco-friendly seven-night cruises on the Seine.

Patrick Newman

More on this exchange

Re “Choosing nonaction” (Guest comment, by Patrick Newman, May 21):

I recently saw a show in which a character exemplified most of us during this climate crisis we are in. We’re like addicts with a gambling addiction and when caught, we yell, “Don’t you judge me!”

Patrick Newman sounds the clarion call, but most of us are too comfortable in our lifestyles and don’t appreciate being taken to task to change societal or cultural norms. But I will try to take his advice and not compliment someone on their material gains and give thanks to those who are making choices such as not having children or buying brand new cars.

Recently, Newman confronted Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org, on his lifestyle choices. I was dismayed that the audience booed Newman out of the building. I believe in noncensorship; let’s try to hear many viewpoints during these mythological times we live in. Despite this confrontation, I found their messages have similarities: Be mindful and aware of our actions on behalf of our beloved planet and the future of our home by either taking the path of nonaction or taking to the streets en masse and, if you’re an elder, taking the risk of getting arrested. Hopefully there is still time to make these choices.

Diane Suzuki-Brobeck

Editor’s note: For more on Mr. McKibben’s visit to Chico, see Newslines, page 9.

Less criticism, more education

The clouds opened just in time for our high school graduates and the message was to look past the occasional sprinkles because sunshine soon arrives. The same message should be said for staff. To all who work in Chico Unified School District, shouldn’t you treat your administrators as you would your students?

Instead of the negativity toward the administration, focus now on improvement and remediation rather than hostility. When students fail a math test, good teachers reteach concepts for mastery. You don’t ridicule poor performers.

I would suggest assisting Superintendent Kelly Staley and her administration the same way, instead of attacking them. The Chico Police Department helps its leaders with trainings. Business leaders address deficiencies to better themselves. Athletes still have coaching to improve their skills. Board members get training for their new positions.

Education, more than others, should be the model for personal improvement.

We are fortunate to live adjacent a university. Wouldn’t it make sense to provide Ms. Staley with exactly what could help? The university has business classes in finance, education classes in curriculum and administration, public speaking, even employee relations.

Instead of attacks and criticism, provide helpful classes and mentors. Educators should model that more than anyone!

Tony Steadman