Letters for February 19, 2009

Blogging the Tour
Keep up with James Raia as he reports for SN&R on the road from the eight stages of the Amgen Tour of California. Find him blogging at www.newsreview.com/amgen.

Letter of the week
Kids are the victims

Re “Brawl in the family” by R.V. Scheide (SN&R Feature, February 5):

This was a very dramatic article, and I’m sure plenty of readers will get their knickers in a knot over the injustices perpetrated by this highly inefficient and possibly even corrupt system. It needs a complete overhaul, there’s no question.

But as to the plight of these particular people, I’m not feelin’ it. They are exhibiting textbook cases of insanity: continuing to do the same thing and expecting a different result. Losing a million dollars? At some point might this guy have thought, “Gee, this doesn’t seem to be working. Maybe I should actually talk to my ex and see if we can work this out.”

There was not a single mention of any other recourse besides the court system in this article. You can DIY [using materials from] Nolo Press, look for pro bono legal help or get divorce mediation. It costs in the hundreds or thousands of dollars. Not flashy, but the kids are far better off than if they were in a protracted legal battle.

Isn’t that what these people profess as their goal?

The fact is that the majority of people settle their divorces and custody cases out of court, knowing that even though they will not end up with everything they had before they were divorced, they will still have their dignity and their children’s best interests will be served. Not flashy reading, but it did deserve at least a mention in this silly article. These people are not the victims; their children are.

Liz Stevenson

Hemp stimulus

Re “Buzz kill” by R.V. Scheide (SN&R Race to the Bottom, February 12):

As a longtime reader of SN&R, I have to say that the level of journalism is at a low point in regards to this article. Mr. Scheide comes off like he’s making fun of the patients that find benefit in using medical marijuana, saying he’s “suffering from hope famine.” Maybe he’s referring to his dwindling emotions on his abilities to write an article worthy of SN&R.

Couldn’t Mr. Scheide have simply stated that the benefits from marijuana/hemp could help President [Barack] Obama with the “worst hand ever dealt” to an incoming president? [There’s] the fact that in European countries factories are being built with hemp blocks, that the introduction of hemp as a new market would help reduce the mass deficit the country is now enduring, the fact that marijuana has been in use as a medical treatment for hundreds of afflictions since the ancient Chinese, [and] the fact that California’s state law on use of medical marijuana has set trends on this issue that 11 other states have followed in similar fashion.

I have no doubt that the current administration will do what is expected, which in this case will be to stop federal raids on cannabis dispensaries.

Give Obama a chance. He’s the best shot we had in the last election, period.

Brent Bomia
via e-mail

He says PAS exists

Re “Brawl in the family” by R.V. Scheide (SN&R Feature, February 5):

I am a psychiatrist with a very active practice, teach at two medical schools, and am a distinguished fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. Parental alienation syndrome exists, and clinicians everywhere see all too much of it. It is not only scientifically solid but very apparent to clinicians everywhere.

Arnold Robbins, M.D.
Cambridge, Mass.

Custody battles lead to ‘unsavory tactics’

Re “Brawl in the family” by R.V. Scheide (SN&R Feature, February 5):

Having read your recent article critical of parental alienation syndrome (PAS), I’d suggest that the truth is somewhere in the middle.

Parents battling over child custody are given free rein to engage all the unsavory tactics spawned by family law [and] sometimes make false claims to discredit the other parent. However, sometimes one parent—and maybe even both—engage [in] behaviors linked to parental alienation.

Please don’t insist that this slate of unbecoming behaviors either does not exist or is made up.

R. Scott MacDonald
via e-mail

Put patients in charge of info

Re “Healthy balance” by Matt Perry (SN&R Frontlines, February 5):

Hospital electronic-records systems are primitive (20- to 30-year-old technologies) and poorly designed, so that instead of keeping out the thousands and thousands of staff who should never, ever have access to your record, these systems give all staff master keys to see hundreds of thousands of patient records!

Role-based access is only a minor improvement that still permits thousands of staff to see everything—for example, all doctors and nurses can see all the hundreds of thousands of patient records.

These systems are retroactive. They require IT staff to search for needles in a haystack: Which of the hundreds or thousands of staff peeks at your records should not have happened? Good luck being sure that your neighbor or your ex-spouse didn’t look at your records.

This poor design is why so many Hollywood stars’ records have been sold. Despite making it a crime to snoop, as long as the records are open to thousands of staff members, the snooping, theft, sale, identity theft and fraud that result from these abysmal dinosaur technologies will continue.

All should be locked out of your records, except those who directly work to carry out your doctor’s orders. That way, maybe 50 staff members who take care of you can see your electronic records and the other 6,950 on staff can never get in.

Tell your members of Congress today: Do not pass the health IT stimulus bill unless patients are put back in charge of who can see their electronic health records.

Deborah C. Peel, M.D.
Patient Privacy Rights

There’s plenty funny ’bout Obama

Re “The war on humor” by Christopher Arnott (SN&R Frontlines, February 5):

If satirists, comic writers, etc., cannot find any potential for humor in a man who plays basketball with a tucked-in shirt, bowled a 34, created his own faux presidential seal while still on the campaign trail, gives Chris Matthews thrills in unusual places, has been compared favorably with Jesus by Hollywood celebrities and recently tried to enter a room through a window, they really aren’t trying that hard, are they?

I think the problem is that so many people have forgotten that derogatory humor doesn’t have to be nasty or mean-spirited. In fact, it not only doesn’t help, it can hurt. Too many satirists on the left hated George W. Bush and it came across in their jokes, making them far less funny.

As a conservative who enjoys a good Dick Cheney-equals-Darth Vader joke as much as any liberal, I beg you to see the humor in your own politicians. It’s not healthy not to.

Josh Speaks

… but liberals can’t see it

Re “The war on humor” by Christopher Arnott (SN&R Frontlines, February 5):

Lack of things for cartoons? You’ve got to be kidding.

How about all his lame choices for administration; the way Obama is for international abortions, but his [Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships] is against them; and how he lies about such things as “transparency,” for a start?

Oh yeah, they won’t put in these cartoons because they are typically liberal rags.

Steve Holmes

Give Darwin credit

Re “Darwin’s 200th” by Kel Munger (SN&R Sacreligious! February 5):

In current event magazines this month, there has been a lot of hype about what Darwin got wrong. This birthday boy deserves some credit! I want to thank Kel Munger for sharing the facts with the general public.

Too often, Darwin’s theory of natural selection becomes misinterpreted. From Nazi eugenics and social Darwinism to the iconoclastic rerun of Homer Simpson morphing from a chimpanzee, it’s no wonder why there are so many attacks on evolution and natural selection. Yet, are there any among us who deny sexual selection?

So what does this really have to do with religion anyway? Are we to believe that it took a week to create the heavens, the Earth and all the creatures of this planet? Come on. Are we that oblivious to geological time?

Perhaps, if we change our thinking and stop viewing the Bible as pure fact, we can change our perspective. The Bible is full of myth. I’m not discrediting it, but I am saying that it is not the same as scientific observation. Science and religion are on different planes of understanding.

Sara Neault

Hooked on Josh

Re “Is B.L. Kennedy dying?” by Josh Fernandez (SN&R Arts&Culture, February 5):

I just read yet another piece by Josh Fernandez, “Is B.L. Kennedy dying?”

I am hooked on SN&R because of this young journalist. He is an asset to the magazine. Thank you so much for one amazing story after another. Never before have I been so eager to pick up the next copy in search of the writings of the talented Josh Fernandez.

Sharon Torres
via e-mail

So much for unity

Re “What price Catholic unity?” by Anne Gonzales (SN&R Sacreligious! February 12):

In the name of religious tolerance, let’s all do our best to forget the fact that the Catholic Church formerly acknowledged Hitler’s birthday and instructed its flock to pray for the Führer’s good health.

Also, let us forget the countless dead Palestinians (one probably shouldn’t mention the likely mythical Midianites and presumably unaffected ancient Egyptian firstborn) at the business end of a blue-and-white-painted [high-explosive] round.

Were it not for the millions of dead innocent children, one would almost find it funny to observe a group of hypocrites accusing each other of the same crime. It’s similarly hilarious to listen to them yammer about who’s repented the most (least).

What’s next? I’m thinking an evangelical convention in Tehran to discuss the finer points of abortion-clinic bombing.

Keep me updated, Anne Gonzales.

Mike Krebsbach