Letters for December 5, 2002

Spaghetti scape
Re “Reno Scape” [ RN&R Cover, Nov. 21 ]:

Thank you for printing Michael Sion’s fascinating “Reno scape” essay and David Robert’s photographs. It was fun to read and browse. His essay served to further blur the fading distinction between Reno and Sparks which is the saliant point of this new geographical present.

When we speak of vernacular landscape we are speaking of landscape that is spoken of. So I was disappointed to find our Spaghetti Bowl omitted. Here is a place we all know without ever really knowing its location in a traditional way referenced to a street grid. Is it in Reno or Sparks? Yet, it’s central to all of our geographical conceptions.

The story of the Truckee River ditches is a complex one. Many of the ditches in West Reno are power ditches and are part of a network originally built to provide electricity for Virginia City’s mills. The Orr and Highland ditches were part of a network originally designed to irrigate Sun Valley and other North Reno valleys.

Of course, the irrigated land lost in the Truckee Meadows has been to the benefit of Pyramid Lake and the Paiute Indians. The Orr Ditch has been at the center of our Truckee River water disputes for decades. Had all the ditches foreseen by the Newlands Project been built, Pyramid Lake would have been destroyed in our lifetime.

Our remant ditches today serve primarily as nice places to walk, or to sit and read the RN&R.

Frank Patten

Non-smoking Nazis
I used to believe that what happened in California could never happen here, but I was wrong. The recent advisory question on smoking in “schools, government buildings, grocery stores (which by the way are basically non-smoking anyway) and (here it comes, the real issue) restaurants” showed public support. So did the veto on the train trench but we all know what’s going to happen there.

What frightens me is that I am increasingly becoming some sort of a criminal who needs to hide my dirty habit in unseen places. I’ve noticed an increased presence of the Washoe County Tobacco Prevention Coalition and had to speak up when I saw an almost full page ad on page 23 of the Nov. 21 issue of RN&R telling me that my smoking will kill 53,000 people next year! Wow, what a number! Of course, like all good advertisement statements, the source of that number wasn’t cited. Now, my intention is not to eliminate all non-smoking restaurants. I appreciate that there is a choice in dining for those who don’t smoke. In fact, there are quite a large number of places for non-smokers to choose from. I know because I don’t go to them. My concern is that their choice will eventually have to be my choice, by law.

Now, I know you Nazi non-smokers are screaming, “It’s killing us!” Of course, you would. That’s what you have been told and certain studies have showed increased risks, right? Well, there are plenty of studies being done. In The New England Journal of Medicine (March 25, 1999; Vol. 340, No. 12), John C. Bailar III, M.D., Ph.D. states: “The clear effects of active smoking on coronary heart disease give us good reason to think that passive smoking might have a similar but much smaller effect. … I regretfully conclude that we still do not know, with accuracy, how much or even whether exposure to environmental tobacco smoke increases the risk of coronary heart disease.”

We don’t need every restaurant to be smoke free. We don’t need a smoking section in every restaurant. What we all need is our basic freedoms. Non-smokers cheered when sick smokers sued the tobacco companies but I didn’t hear such a loud hoorah for the obese person suing the fast food places. It’s happening. How many people in retrospect looked at the early beginnings of the Third Reich and said, “I wish we’d stopped it then.” Smokers aren’t second-class citizens. What goes around, comes around.

Michelle Beck

Socialist slugs?
Re “You Socialist Slugs” [ RN&R Letters, Nov. 28 ]:

B.Wood is very sarcastic, but conservative sheep like him who follow the leader are the stupid ones. Where is the conservative utopia of trickle down economics when 95 percent of all welfare is for the rich? If 85 percent of my taxes go for welfare for the rich, who is the lazy slug? A corporate leader who won’t work for less than millions. Then these slugs lie, steal and donate money to politicians. We are on the brink of World War III because conservatives want to steal Iraqi oil. They have already murdered millions to do so. Conservative utopia? Where is it? Capitalism? It needs too much corporate welfare to work. If anybody would put Gloria Steinem in prison, it’s the conservatives. Women will never have power if they don’t vote in large blocs. The non-working millionaire slugs don’t have to vote because they can buy the election.

via e-mail