Letters for January 11, 2007

Worse days ahead

Re “Better days ahead” (SN&R Editorial, December 28, 2006):

While you see better days ahead in 2007 because you state two-thirds of Americans now see global warming as a serious subject, I see something different. I see worse days ahead because more American students are failing the grade in school.

Global warming, the environment and higher education are tied together. Yet more students are dropping out or are more interested in being a hip-hop gangster criminal or a Paris Hilton wannabe. Being smart is considered nerdy and white. Young teens are saturated with corporate messages from the music and television industry, parading low-life, violent, ignorant gangsters and skanky alcoholic bimbos as something to aspire to. Many young people are being brainwashed to believe you have to be this to be cool and popular.

The problem is that a desire to become famous and party has replaced getting a good education. To fix global warming and other growing environmental problems, we are going to need an educated populace. I see a future of more drive-bys and violent crime, something SN&R should write about.

Jose Mora

Hell no!

Re “Rethink the draft” (SN&R Guest Comment, December 28, 2006):

John C. Reiger of the Peace and Freedom Party, with his idea to “rethink the draft,” is an imbecile—along with Congressman Charles Rangel and anyone else in America who supports a return to the draft in any way, shape or form. This dribble—that if some draft was reinstated in the future then everyone would be required to serve, thus creating a built-in national protest against the war—is homicidal lunacy.

To end war, you don’t start with a draft. You start with the national premise that no one goes. If the Democrats in Congress had a spine, we wouldn’t be in Iraq and there wouldn’t be any mention of a draft. Any idea of reinstating the draft will, in the end, only send more American teenagers to their deaths in some other useless oil war.

I’m a Vietnam vet (U.S. Marine Corps) with a Purple Heart. Two draftees from my hometown, Gary and Louis, aged 19 and 20, were sent to their deaths in Vietnam by their own government. The draft is slavery; its only purpose is to funnel warm bodies into the pit.

It might be sweet to think of some citizen service corps of draftees tending gardens in our national parks, but the reality always will include the deaths of innocents in numbers that only the “fat, placid generals” will determine. Give the military the chance at more bodies and these unjust wars will only go on longer. The realities of the Vietnam slaughter helped end the draft—an actual benefit of that debacle. Let’s keep it that way.

There are thousands and thousands of Americans protesting Bush’s ego trip in Iraq. Didn’t several million Americans just vote for the Democrats in the hope of ending this nightmare as soon as possible? We don’t need a draft to make our voices heard. We need the newly elected—and so far, gutless—Democrats in Congress to stand up like Congressman John Murtha and say, “Hell no! No more.”

William J. Hughes

Don’t be naive about the draft

Re “Rethink the draft” (SN&R Guest Comment, December 28, 2006):

While I share some of the idealism of guest author John C. Reiger, I must part company on his proposed new Citizen Service Corp. For me, it is an example of liberal big-brotherism to think a compulsory term of civilian service for those who opt not to go in the military will create, as he states, “the beginning of a renewed sense of community involvement in this country, with a recommitment to the progressive ideals of community involvement, equality, compassion and democracy.” The commitment to these ideals comes from the goodness of the heart and not from forcing young people to spend two years, more or less, of their lives in do-good work at probably what would be minimum wage. It could have an opposite effect of alienation and resentment toward his progressive ideals.

His statement that there must be no deferments is hopelessly naive. That is not the way the political system works. Of course there would be deferments and exemptions for certain classes of young people. For those of us who are opposed to a draft, we should keep our efforts focused on the task and not be distracted by side issues.

James G. Updegraff III

Good laughs from ‘Good riddance’

Re “Good riddance” by Robert Berry (SN&R Arts&Culture, December 28, 2006):

I took a look at Robert Berry’s “Good riddance” today. It has to be one of the best pieces ever to appear in SN&R. It’s not often that one can get a laugh from the paper, but he evoked a number of chuckles. Let’s see more of his stuff.

William Mueller

Sac’s secret restaurant history

Re “Covert eats” by Kate Washington (SN&R Dish, December 28, 2006):

My mouth watered at Kate Washington’s review of the Hidden Kitchen’s fare. What a welcome adventure for Sacramento diners!

But underground restaurants are not an entirely new concept in this city. Ms. Washington identified herself as the youngest person at the Hidden Kitchen table, other than a college student, so it’s unlikely she’d remember another venture launched by four food-loving, energetic women out of a bungalow in Curtis Park in the mid 1970s called Word of Mouth. They took their inspiration from the story of a family that sold home-cooked food out of their Oak Park home to make ends meet during the Great Depression.

A monthly mailing was sent on logo stationery with the motto “No tax, no tip, no tell” to a small list of people inviting reservations for the once-a-month dinner. Those on the list invariably brought along other guests, so it evolved to three seatings per night of 40 persons each—always sold out. The food was tasty, plentiful and ethnic, served for a suggested donation of $7. The diners varied from Curtis Park neighbors to staffers from Governor Jerry Brown’s office.

One brought-along guest, a member of the Board of Equalization, joked with the host, asking, “Suppose I elect not to make a donation?” She replied, “That’s just fine—you go right on ahead and enjoy your meal, then all you gotta do is make it from here to the front door through 39 other people who paid.”

Connie Fanos

More alcohol won’t cure hangover

Re “The morning after” by Kate Washington (SN&R Corner Table, December 28, 2006):

Kate Washington’s advice for hangover, even if it is from her favorite bartender of her favorite bar, is an old wife’s tale.

Take it from this retired chemistry professor: The hangover is the result of your liver’s inability to metabolize a mix of drinks containing ethanol in various proportions.

Have you heard of embalming fluid? There is another, higher-up cousin of embalming fluid that contains one more carbon with two hydrogen atoms inserted in the chain (named acetaldehyde) that gives you the hangover. Ordinarily the ethanol should be metabolized further than acetaldehyde to acetic acid, the component of vinegar, which may cause stomach problems less annoying than the hangover.

Drinking more of the same (or the “hair-of-the-dog-that-bit-you” approach) simply dulls your brain to the point at which it no longer discerns the hangover. It’s like a pain killer that simply deceives your brain cells to ignore the messages transmitted by the neurons from the cause of the pain. The disease or the illness is there, but the patient might be dead—or at least deadened.

Brahama D. Sharma

Bravo, beaver!

Re “Bye bye old world” by Jackson Griffith (SN&R Trust Your Ears, December 21, 2006):

Suffering through a summer of Molly the Bear was worth it, if Rusty gets to bring a home a little beaver.

Kudos for being the only printed journal in town observant enough to tune into the finest of comics, Mark Trail. This Modern World and Griffith’s Trust Your Ears are two solid bookmarks on Thursday. Thanks!

Jack K.
the Spillit Quikkers

Scheide’s balanced

Re “Signs of the times” by R.V. Scheide (SN&R News, November 30, 2006):

I would like to thank R.V. Scheide for his article about Benjamin Creme and Maitreya. It was thoughtful, well researched and balanced.

I was interviewed by Mr. Scheide that day and I feared he might portray the Maitreya phenomenon in a negative light somehow. However, he seemed to maintain some objectivity. Thank you for that, Mr. Scheide. You have done us all a great service in your reporting of this.

James Morin


In our “This I Believe” essay on December 28, 2006, writer Michael Donnelly spoke of his experiences at the Regional Fire Academy. Because his training site was not fully identified as the Modesto Regional Fire Academy, some readers were confused and believed that he was describing experiences at the Sacramento Regional Fire Academy. This has been fixed on the Web site.