Letters for December 7, 2000

Bushite bites back

Re “Bushwhacked” (SN&R Capital Bites, Nov. 30):

The author seems to regard himself as a trenchant, meritorious critic of Bush supporters, but to me, he’s all bark and no bite. If he were able to bite, it would be only with the aid of false teeth. With execrable piles of heedless, puerile vitriol, he comes close to characterizing their campaign to stop Gore’s marginally sanctioned vote-siphoning as a Nazi-sponsored operation. Perhaps he, too, believes that every vote should be counted, every vote coming from select Democrat counties, every vote that cannot be traced to the military, every vote that is indecipherable through any objectively standardized process and therefore a vote for Gore.

Bruce L. Thiessen

Letterman-like letter

Re: “This is Royalty” by Michelle Olsen (SN&R, Nov.16):

Here are the top-10 lessons in life that the Kings’ dance team instructor could teach Ms. Anglin and Ms. Aquino if they would just listen. They should thank the team leader, not revile her.

10. Form and substance don’t matter. Appearances matter. Perceptions are reality.

9. It’s nice to be well-grounded in the rudiments of dance, but marketing is more important.

8. Lying is a valuable talent. A practiced liar can hide the truth.

7. The first casualty in any dispute is the truth.

6. One fringe benefit of working with young people is messing with their minds, jerking them around, watching them squirm in self-doubt, feeding their insecurities.

5. Most people will endure an interminable stream of verbal abuse and keep coming back for more. The fear of change holds them.

4. Intimidators almost always win.

3. Singling out one or two “troublemakers” gives the rest of the group someone to loathe, a basic human need.

2. Brains and talent aren’t enough to get ahead.

And the No. 1 lesson the instructor teaches anyone who will listen is:

To get ahead in life, you need to be a jerk.

Name withheld by request

It’s all about looks, baby

Re “This is Royalty?” by Michelle Olsen (SN&R, Nov. 16):

I danced professionally for a well-respected entertainment company. I was not allowed to change my looks in any way without permission. I was weighed in each week, told what I could and could not wear at rehearsals and was expected to look and behave in a manner that represented the company in a good light. Yes, I perform because I love it. But when I sign a contract and get paid, it becomes a job—a job I take seriously. The entertainment business does rely on talent as well as attitude and looks.

I have had the pleasure to work with Ms. Cabrera-Co for more than 12 years. She is extremely talented, intelligent, admired and well-liked by members of the community. I have seen her in action. She is an outstanding teacher, and her students thrive because of her non-stop energy and concern for their well-being. Her personality may very well be more strict with the dance team than it is with nonprofessional students, but the result speaks for itself. The Kings’ dance team is nationally recognized as one of the best in the NBA.

I am glad to hear that the women who did not make the team again have found other avenues to enjoy their talents. I feel, as with anyone, they came on as members of the dance team already [carrying] personal issues that came to light under certain pressures. However, true professionals leave their jobs with dignity and respect, not pointing fingers.

Kat Ashley

Finding the cause before the cure

Re “Saving Lives, Fostering Hope” by Amy Yannello (SN&R, Nov.16):

I’m curious how a doctor could determine that Jeorge Logan and JoAnn Asaro’s symptoms were caused by chemical imbalances in the brain. What lab tests were done to determine chemical concentrations? What chemicals were out of balance? What are the normal ranges for these chemicals?

In 1982, the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that of 215 consecutive patients admitted to a San Francisco hospital with mental problems, 41 percent had physical disorders that were misdiagnosed as psychiatric disorders. A 1983 article in Schizophrenia Bulletin concluded that 83 percent of people diagnosed with schizophrenia actually have physical problems, not psychiatric problems.

The funds from AB 34 should be used to provide the best possible care. That entails getting to the real cause of any pathological condition and taking the actions necessary to cure it. Psychotropic drugs only mask the underlying condition; they don’t cure anything.

Paul Mullinger

Amy Yannello responds:

We ran Paul Mullinger’s concerns by Dr. John Paul, medical director for El Hogar Mental Health and Community Service Center, who said that while the writer was correct in that there are no routine tests performed to detect chemical imbalances in the brain, numerous studies using new scanning technology now show there are physical changes in the brain in those people with mental illness. Unlike the practice of cardiology, where heart problems and the heart’s response to medication can be detected in changes in an EKG, biological brain disorders—mental illnesses—are characterized by alterations in thinking, mood or behavior. Overwhelming scientific evidence has shown that the changes seen in the brain are likely to be responsible for changes in behavior seen in people with mental illness. Although most people diagnosed with a mental illness are not subjected to such testing, doctors can tell when a person with a mental illness is responding to medication that targets the various neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, in the brain.

Georgetown Divided

As I read your article by R.V. Scheide on the Georgetown Divide ("Life and Death in a Foothills Town,” SN&R, Nov. 9) I could not help but be offended by the slipshod journalism exhibited in this article. Mr. Scheide appears to have driven up to Georgetown with a preconceived idea as to who populated the divide. If I were to go to Sacramento and look for a seedy bar, interview the patrons and let them be my guide, I could come up with a very different picture of Sacramento.

Such was the case with Mr. Scheide. He went to the Miners Club, bypassing Sisters Coffee House just a few doors away, to seek out those who inhabit the divide. Sisters has more customers in the first two hours each day of business than the Miners Club has all week, and yet he spent no time in Sisters.

This article is a poor example of objective reporting. It is a black eye for the SN&R if it wishes to truly become respected for quality reporting. Mr. Scheide has taken a small sampling of less than 1 percent of the population of the divide and made them our spokesmen. If I had not lived on the divide as I have for more than 27 years, I would get a very different impression of the Georgetown Divide from this article than what the community truly is: A population of more than 7,000 that is very diverse. There have been only rare incidents in recent years of drug labs or plantations. The late ‘70s and early ‘80s were the heyday of plantations and meth factories for the divide. The [Sacramento] Valley has far more problems with labs than the divide.

There is no mention of the schools in the area, which are very good. No mention at all of another successful music series, the American River Folk Society, which has been drawing Sacramento people to the divide for the last year and a half, presenting many top acts touring the West Coast.

[The article] did make a passing reference to the excellent divide classical music series. The reason for the fewer logging trucks on the road is less merchantable timber in the area. Much of the upcountry was over cut in the ‘80s. Also, I have never seen a tree come out of the El Dorado National Forest that was 12 feet in diameter. You would have needed an escort to transport such a large tree. [A] truck is only 8-and-a-half feet wide measured from the outside of each mirror.

Maybe I should invite Mr. Scheide to an American River Folk Society concert; he would see a very different group of people that inhabit the divide, some who have lived here longer than I.

Bruce Hayden
Garden Valley

It’s not Miller time

Re “Top Educator Needs an A” by Bernard Schur (SN&R Guest Comment, Nov. 22):

“Doctor” Bernard Schur couldn’t be more wrong when he suggests that candidates for State Superintendent of Public Instruction should have a laundry list of insider qualifications. His list omits the most important qualification of all—parent.

Public education has become, first and foremost, a source of permanent employment for teachers who, after their first year, can’t be fired except for criminal activities such as child molestation. As for administrators, in their hubris (most of them will probably have to look up the word), these “professional educators” assume that children have nothing to learn from their parents. During the middle and high school years, all of a child’s useful hours are taken up by studying algebra and chemistry, memorizing the sanitized history of American genocide and imperialism and deconstructing pre-1970s “literature"—none of which has any relevance to the lives of 90 percent of the students.

By promoting interscholastic athletics, especially football, professional educators implicitly promote alcohol use among our young. Professional football, the pinnacle of the game, besides being controlled by mobsters (e.g. San Francisco 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo, who pleaded guilty to bribery), also lures young people into the culture of drinking. Literally all the Budweiser and Miller commercials that air during football games are clearly aimed at adolescent (or younger) males.

By means of mandatory attendance at school and compulsory homework, the state exerts its control over children for upwards of 10 hours a day. This leaves little time for parents to teach their children their own values and way of life.

Perhaps, as under so many totalitarian systems, that’s the intent.

Raymond Cushing
West Sacramento