Letters for September 9, 2010

You are what you eat

Re “The myth of the BPA-free Diet” (Feature story, Dec. 3, 2009):

Awesome story. I’ve been on a BPA- and genetically modified organism-free diet for about a month now. But I started thinking about butcher paper and the lids of glass jars this morning. I haven’t been eating the top four GMO crops, which are corn, cotton, canola and soy. Take that and BPA out of your diet and you don’t have much left to eat. I’ve been eating Dave’s Killer Bread and almond butter and Costco organic jelly sandwiches. Looking for some grass-fed beef. Guess I just have to get skinny until the spring when I can eat what comes from the dirt in the backyard—the only way you can avoid packaging and not knowing if it’s GMO. Thanks for all the info.

Skye Kilbury
Gig Harbor, Wash.

We want the money?

Re “Good year to die” (Notes from the Neon Babylon, Sept. 2):

Even though I’m pretty sure the writer used a sense of satire in his comments about the relatives of rich people forgetting to give the required medications, it is insulting to paint the potential heirs of the rich in such a manner. It would have been interesting to read his justification of such high inheritance taxes. Keep in mind that this money has already been taxed as income in a variety of ways over the years. Yet Congress has decided to tax an inheritance at 55 percent next year just because a person dies. What could be the justification for such a tax?

Fred Speckmann

Sensitive treatment

Re “Ankh and you shall receive” (Arts & Culture, Aug. 26):

It is mostly good to see articles like the one by Nicole Seaton about artist Christopher Parkins. This story seems to me to demonstrate the essence of good journalism: It is based on a lengthy interview with the person written about, and it contains several direct quotations from him, as well as some background information. The abundance of quotes makes me think that the story is presenting an essentially fair and accurate description of the person being written about. I think the article provides a realistic depiction of what life is like for some people with this kind of disability, but not for all. It is kind of a personal issue for me, because in a way I am part of the larger group being referred to here, but in another way I am not.

One thing kind of misleading about the article is that it seems to imply that a diagnosis of schizophrenia is inextricably linked with hearing voices that aren’t really there, or some other kind of hallucination, and I don’t believe that is always the case. For example, a person can be diagnosed as schizophrenic on the basis of having disorganized speech and delusions. Wikipedia says schizophrenia is “characterized by a disintegration of the process of thinking and emotional responsiveness”—that may include hallucinations, but it doesn’t have to. You should also know that not everyone with these kinds of diagnoses is comfortable using the word “illness” in this context (as in “mental illness”), although obviously some are. Others might prefer to say that they experience extreme states of mental distress, or that they are a mental health consumer, or a psychiatric survivor. Although this article was very respectful, if it had been about someone who wanted to use different language to describe themselves, it would’ve been disrespectful to ignore their preferences and to use terminology that they found offensive.

Overall, this article was one of the best I have seen in the popular media about this kind of disability. It is better than most because it lets the person being written about speak for himself, it describes his talents and unique abilities, and it doesn’t use sensationalism to present him as some kind of “other.” That is more than a lot of supposedly professional journalists are willing to do when writing about people with psychiatric labels. Giving a voice to people who have relatively little power is a big part of what journalism is supposed to be all about, isn’t it? (By the way, more true stories of personal experiences of people with these kinds of labels can be read online at www.mindfreedom.org/personal-stories.)

Name withheld

Religion ¤ politics

Re “Burning god” (Filet of Soul, Sept. 2):

I thought your column was insightful and thought-provoking.

One of the problems with religion is that we let religion get colored by our politics and assert religious arguments to do what we want to do politically (or emotionally).

Further, there is a heck of a lot of misconstruing not only theology but also political theory going on.

You really can’t take a God of grace where “Christian” leaders have taken the cross so many times and remain true to core Christianity.

Anyway, thanks for the read.

Ruth Stacy

Soul searching

Re “Burning god” (Filet of Soul, Sept. 2):

Religion should lead to enlightenment and that is the knowledge of the soul, which knows health, happiness, and the best path for us to take because the knowledge comes from within the person it is guiding. Burning Man can be a spiritual experience that leads to the soul, so I agree with the article.

John Kuykendall

Gimme money

Re “GOP aids Reid” (Upfront, Sept. 2):

Opposition to Yucca is neither based in science nor in Nevadans’ economic best interests. Ever since Three Mile Island, environmentalists and other special interests have wildly exaggerated the dangers of nuclear energy and fear mongering luddites like Harry Reid have capitalized for their political gain at the expense of society’s. Solar and wind cannot provide the electrical baseload necessary if we want to get off coal and gas. More and more environmentalists are coming to this conclusion, but not the 70-year-old senator trying to hold on to his little power. Even with reprocessing, nuclear waste will still need long term storage. Yucca is as safe as any place in the country and could actually benefit the state in terms of jobs, and with 14 percent unemployment, we know that’s not Reid’s forte.

Matt Motherway

It’s gambling

Re “Suicide: We’re No. 2!”(Upfront, Sept. 2):

In the last year, I have personally known of one, and heard of several others, who committed suicide because they were pathological gamblers who could not stop even when they got help. I have known several others who tried to commit suicide to stop their gambling, which was ruining their relationships, jobs and lives. If somewhere between 4 and 7 percent of gamblers fall into the pathological category, as I have heard, then it seems almost inevitable that there will be suicides among the people who lose way too much, and perhaps especially among those with fixed incomes who migrated to Nevada to retire and “play.” Gaming is a great word, sounds like fun, but it hides the fact that for a minority, it consists of putting their lives on the betting line, not just their money.

Abe Van Luik
Las Vegas