Letters for June 26, 2003

Kill all the HDTVs
I wish to complement Josh Indar for his well-researched and factual article on HDTV [“The high-definition wasteland,” cover story, June 19].

While I’m usually a proponent of new technology, HDTV isn’t one of them. The simple fact is that the HDTV signal doesn’t handle being broadcast over varying terrain and atmospheric conditions very well, and unlike our current analog NTSC TV signal, you can’t watch a weak TV signal through “snow” and still get a picture and sound. So, forget “rabbit ears.” The HDTV signal consists of digital bits, 1’s and 0’s, and while it can handle error correction up to a point, beyond that point it fails completely, and the picture scrambles. HDTV works better on closed-circuit and satellite, where the signal isn’t affected by the vagaries of terrain and atmospherics.

The real reason for the 2006 deadline is that Congress wants to take away some of the current TV channel spectra and auction them off to the highest bidders, like they did for wireless cell phone companies. When that happens to broadcast TV as we know it now, and people lose their channels unless they buy $2,000 to $3,000 TV sets, I predict the public backlash will be quite strong.

Anthony Watts

Pity the reviewer
Re: Jason Cassidy’s lazy review of Birdcage Theater’s production of A Thousand Clowns [“Stilted clowns,” Fine Arts, June 19]. As a cast member, I found nothing to offend me personally in the few words actually dedicated to the production rather than to the script itself, but I was moved to pity by the image it brought to mind of so refined a reviewer sitting sourly amid the laughter of hayseeds so unsophisticated that they don’t realize the play they are enjoying is “out of style.”

For this is the meat of Mr. Cassidy’s review, isn’t it? The play is unfashionable. The pacing of these old plays, he says, is “unnatural.” Of course, as anyone familiar with the theatrical history of the last 50 years knows, the plays of the ‘50s and early ‘60s, including this one, tend to be far more naturalistic than those written today. What Mr. Cassidy meant to say was that the pacing was unfamiliar. It required too great a stretch of the mind to embrace an aesthetic outside of the current vogue.

He makes it clear that he believes that his laughing companions in the theater that night were his cultural inferiors, unaware or unaccepting of the cutting edge of theater, but in doing so he reveals only how sad and narrow his own aesthetic world is.

I hope that Mr. Cassidy will one day be able to let go of the currently conventional obsession with what is or is not “in style” and begin to ask himself the simpler, but infinitely more rewarding question: What is good?

And for those News & Review readers who want a genuine, if perhaps uncool, laugh, may I recommend A Thousand Clowns, closing this Sunday, July 29, in sleepy old Oroville.

Bret Lawson

Domino effect
Gov. Gray Davis is the only barrier left standing between the takeover of California by George W. Bush and his puppet master Karl Rove.

Iraqi oil was the goal when Bush and his brain trust launched an unjustified war on a defenseless nation.

Politically, California is now the last obstacle for a minority president to solidify his hold on the nation. The victory of Gov. Davis in 2002 marred an otherwise clean sweep for Bush, Rove and company. The recall of California’s governor, only a year after his re-election, will give clear sailing to a number of Republican enterprises in our state.

Bush already has given orders to triple the cut of old-growth timber in California’s national forests, in the guise of fire protection. Think of what he can do with a new Republican governor here.

Now is the time for Californians to say “enough.” We’ll keep our governor and our independence as a sovereign state.

Robert Woods
Forest Ranch

Real recall reasons
Granted, the campaign to recall Gov. Gray Davis has been helped immensely by an infusion of cash from maverick Republican Congressman Darrel Issa, but you couldn’t be more wrong about what’s driving the recall ["The rot behind the recall,” Editorial, June 19]. What’s driving the recall effort is widespread, deep-seated antipathy toward a money-grubbing, career politician whose concern for his own job security at the expense of sound policy and planning has all but run this state into the ground.

If fact, the recall effort has everything to do with Davis’s chronic mismanagement of the state, which is well documented, and has little or nothing to do with “dirty politics,” as you suggest. It is revealing that a great many Republican insiders would prefer to see a wounded Davis stumble through the rest of his second term, setting their party up to win the gubernatorial election in 2006.

The problem is, of course, that neither Democrats nor Republicans can afford another three and a half years of Mr. Davis’ non-leadership. He has given away the store to public employees (see last year’s prison guard raise of 34 percent over five years), badly mishandled a catastrophic energy crisis and lied to Californians, at least initially, about the size of the state’s crippling budget deficit. Not surprisingly, his latest budget proposal relies on gimmickry to paper over the deficit and leaves meaningful, structural reform to future administrations.

By swallowing the Democratic Party line about a “sour grapes” recall effort, you are missing the point completely and displaying an astonishing lack of political acumen. I suggest you get out there and talk to the citizens of California—you’ll soon learn that the disenchantment with Gov. Davis runs deep and is bipartisan in nature.

David Reynolds

World gone mad
If I were younger I would have joined the other protesters in Sacramento this week outside the U.S.-sponsored international conference to further the globalization of industrial agriculture and biotechnology.

I would have been there because I don’t believe that the food agribusiness is selling to Safeway and other big supermarkets is safe. It has been grown in soil that has been fertilized with sewer sludge and nuclear-contaminated nutrients and sprayed with poisonous pesticides and herbicides.

I also would have protested on behalf of small family farmers who have been ruined by agribusiness, on behalf of farm workers who have been poisoned by chemical sprays, on behalf of farm animals treated cruelly and wildlife gone extinct.

Thank goodness we have places in Chico to buy locally grown, tastes-good and good-for-you organic food. And thanks to all the local Chico activists who went to Sacramento on behalf of all of us.

Renee Renaud