Letters for January 12, 2006

Yet another Sacramento

Re “On the road to Sacramento” by Jeffrey M. Barker (SN&R Feature story, December 29):

I enjoyed the travel report about visiting the “other” Sacramentos.

While visiting South America last year, I took a side trip from Buenos Aires, Argentina, to Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay, for pretty much the same reason the author made his own journey. The name said “Sacramento,” so I just had to see it.

Sacramento, Uruguay, is a pleasant place to visit. Like our own Sacramento, it is located on a river. In this case, it is the Rio Plata, which forms the border with Argentina and is so wide at this point that a high-speed catamaran ferry takes nearly an hour to make the crossing. The historic district of the town, founded by the Portuguese and dating back to the late 17th century, is full of colorful houses and shops linked by windy cobblestone streets. This Uruguayan version of “Old Sacramento” was named a United Nations World Heritage site in 1995. While walking through the town, you almost feel as if you’ve stepped back in time.

The town can easily be visited in one day from Buenos Aires but really merits a couple of days to soak up the tranquil atmosphere. From Colonia del Sacramento, there are easy connections by bus to the capital of Uruguay, Montevideo, or onward to the beach resorts of Punta del Este.

Paul Weber

He’s a myth buster

Re “Five arena myths” (SN&R Editorial, December 29):

The statements in this editorial are mostly full of half-truths at best.

The most glaring is the second half of Myth No. 4, which is totally untrue. The L.A. Clippers never played a season of home games at the Pond. Their former home arena was the L.A. Sports Arena, a very old venue. Yes, the Clippers did play a few “one-off” games at the Pond during the time Staples was being built, but it was not their home arena.

If a new arena was to be built with whoever’s money, that would mean (at the very least) more ticket tax monies to the city. Arco would most likely become a venue for other types of sports and other entertainment events currently not feasible because of scheduling conflicts/availabilities, which again would provide more tax revenue to the city. The basic design of Arco does not warrant trying to “fix”/remodel (using even 20 percent of your $400 million figure) a structure that was cheaply built.

The only real myth is that a new arena venue would only benefit the Kings/Maloofs.

Please do your readers a favor and check your facts before you print an editorial that only feeds the fire of people with your social and political views.

Doug Pumphrey
via e-mail

SN&R responds: Mr. Pumphrey is correct in pointing out the Clippers never played a full season of home games at the Pond in Anaheim, but then our editorial did not claim that they did. We mentioned that the Clippers, which played 41 “home” games at the Pond between 1993 and 1999 (while playing the remainder at the Sports Arena) opted to share the Staples Center with the Lakers rather than continue playing games at the Pond.

All about the definition

Re “Watch who you’re calling a Christian!” (SN&R Letters, December 29):

Let’s define the word “Christian.”

Anyone can say they are a “Christian”; thus, the word lost its true meaning. Jehovah, Jesus Christ and the person only know the truth. And it is based on living by God’s word in truth and action (John 4:23, 17:3), not by what one feels or believes is right. For we are all sinners; therefore, Jesus left us a model while here on Earth (1 Peter 2:21). Jehovah’s Witnesses, though imperfect, at least try to follow his footsteps. That’s what being a Christian is all about.

I can only think that because Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t believe what the writer believes in, his opinion is that we are not Christians. I believe he has a vendetta against Jehovah’s Witnesses, more so now that his daughter has become one. Now he wants to paint a bad picture out of ignorance of what Jehovah’s Witnesses believe.

Belief and action are two different things that should be joined together after accurate knowledge, hence a Christian. One model Jesus left us is to sanctify his father’s name and to pray for the kingdom in which he will rule as king and is sitting on the right side of his father until that time comes (Psalms 110:1; Matthew 6:9-10; Daniel 2:44, 7:13-14; and Revelation 11:15).

Jesus did not celebrate his birth while on Earth and did not encourage his followers to do so either, but encouraged his followers to stay separate from the world and not to do the things of the world (1 John 2:15-17). However, the letter writer celebrates Christmas. Hmm … and he is a Christian?

T. Anderson

Fun with numbers

Re “High-risk retailers” by Chrisanne Beckner (SN&R News, December 29):

This article, about the source of guns used in violent crimes, is interesting to read and raises some provocative questions. Unfortunately, the figures cited in it are wonky as hell.

The article claims, “In 1988, about 1 percent of licensed gun retailers provided almost 60 percent of the crime guns traced” by the [Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives].

In the next paragraph, the article goes on to explain that a recent research program at UC Davis looked at 421 licensed gun retailers in California, and that “of those, 47 retailers sold a disproportionately high number of crime guns. This 1 percent sold almost 40 percent of the guns used in violent crimes.”

There are several confusing points here, among them the discrepancy between the 60-percent and 40-percent figures. But the most blatantly obvious error is that 47 retailers out of a total of 421 is not 1 percent; it’s a fraction over 11 percent. Looks to me like somebody misplaced a decimal point.

The difference between 11 percent and 1 percent, in this context, is enormous. An error of this magnitude is sufficient to severely damage the credibility of the entire article. It’s a shame, because it’s clear that a lot of hard work went into the research and the writing.

Perhaps it would be worthwhile for SN&R to be a bit more careful about double-checking the accuracy of the figures cited in its stories.

Dave Urman

Chrisanne Beckner responds: Our facts were right, but we should have explained them more clearly. The “1 percent” referred not to 1 percent of the 421 high-volume gun retailers in the study, but to about 1 percent of all 3,611 licensed gun retailers in the state. The discrepancy between the 60-percent and 40-percent figures had to do with the scope of the most recent study. Unlike its predecessor, the new study looked only at those retailers that sold the highest volume of guns.

Make your own list—it’s easy!

Re “100 things I hate about you” by Robert Berry (SN&R Arts&culture, December 29):

Kudos to Robert Berry!

Laughing out loud while at work (working hard), I found his “most annoying things” list inspiring. Though I wonder why Gwen Stefani didn’t make No. 1. Nor did Paris Hilton. When will they go away—and now one is breeding. Good grief.

I could not agree with you more.

Thanks for counting down your 100 most annoying things. I’m gonna do my own list on air!

M.C. Muldozer
The Cheese and Crackers Show, 101.5 KDRT LPFM, Davis

Smiley popcorn for Munich

Re “Munich” by Jonathan Kiefer (SN&R Clips, December 29):

Jonathan Kiefer is one of SN&R’s very best writers, and it’s a shame he doesn’t write more film reviews.

That said, I thought his review of Munich was a tad harsh. Yeah, it beats you over the head with its message, but the film is a pretty tight thriller, and it had my heart pounding more than once.

A squished popcorn box for Munich? I thought it at least deserved a smiley popcorn box.

Chad Jones

Reject cynicism— and the death penalty

Re “Tookie and the prize” by Jill Stewart (SN&R Capitol punishment, December 22):

Stewart made a point: Being nominated for a Nobel Prize does not make you a hero or a genius.

I agree that Tookie’s nine books to discourage youths from joining gangs are not literary works on the level of John Steinbeck or Pablo Neruda. But their truth resonates to at-risk youths in South Central Los Angeles, New Jersey, Johannesburg—and from personal knowledge, I can add Sacramento. They show on page after page that Tookie felt true remorse and responsibility to stop the violence of the gangs he regretted starting. Nobel Prize or not, his was a real contribution to a more peaceful society.

Tookie didn’t want to be remembered for the harm he had caused; he wanted to give a positive message to youths everywhere, so that they would be part of the solution, not fall into the trap of blaming their surroundings for giving less than their best.

During our candlelight vigil for Tookie, we prayed for all the victims of violence and their families. Several cars went by, their riders shouting with glee, “Die, Tookie, die!” It was an excuse to let out all their dark feelings on a scapegoat and feel justified.

The cynical ask, “If Tookie did so much good, why are there still gangs in Los Angeles?” I answer in Tookie’s words: “If the death penalty is such a deterrent, why are there 650 people on death row?”

Marilyn Winter