Letters for June 22, 2006

It’ll take a tech fix

Re “Driving and dialing” (SN&R Editorial, June 8):

Your support of Senate Bill 1613’s ban of hand-held cell-phone use in vehicles is laudable, but the law will be about as effective as our 65-mph speed limit. “Hands free” use is likely just as dangerous as hand-held use, so we can’t win for losing.

I also think S.B. 1613 is fatally flawed because it fails to recognize that Americans now zealously insist that the right to use a cell phone anywhere and anytime they like must be written somewhere in the Constitution. “You’ll get my cell phone when you pry it out of my cold, dead hands” will be the battle cry against S.B. 1613 and any legislation like it.

May I suggest an electronic alternative that would take free will out of the equation?

Require that all vehicles and cell phones produced after some future date be equipped with computer chips that completely prevent cell-phone use in any vehicle where the key is in the ignition, but keep “911” (and other emergency numbers) available to the driver even if the vehicle is running. The driver’s cell-use “dead zone” would cover a radius of three or four feet from the ignition, thus allowing passengers to dial at will, yet ensuring the driver could not bypass the system even if a phone was dialed outside the “dead zone” and handed to the driver. Thereafter, drivers would have to pull over, stop and pull out their keys if they wanted to have a chat with their friends or family.

That, or some solution like it, should solve the problem almost completely. Yes, techies will devise ways to beat the system, and pre-ban phones will likely sell for a fortune, but in the long haul, the problem will fade into automotive history, and we’ll all adapt easily to the new reality.

Michael Kelley

That ‘quick fix’ is big business

Re “Say ‘no’ to a quick fix” (SN&R Guest Comment, June 8):

Kudos to 10th-grader Dylan Byrd for exposing the dangers of forcing Ritalin and other psychiatric drugs on children. Clearly, any drug that restricts blood flow to the brain, especially to a child’s still-growing brain over a long period of time, can’t be good.

I once knew a woman who’d been given Ritalin as a child, and both her physical and mental growth had been permanently stunted. Unfortunately, many doctors don’t fully warn parents of all the dangers involved. Worse, some doctors, and schools, actually bully parents into giving their child Ritalin or similar drugs.

Psychiatric drugs for children aren’t just a quick fix; they’re also big business. For more information on this subject, I highly recommend the book Talking Back to Ritalin: What Doctors Aren’t Telling You About Stimulants and ADHD by Dr. Peter R. Breggin and Dick Scruggs.

Liz Purcell

At least he’s got time to write

Re “Dey’s end” by Eugene Alexander Dey (SN&R Essay, June 8) and “Crossing the line” by R.V. Scheide (SN&R News, June 8):

So, Eugene Alexander Dey’s got a college education, and he’s still stupid.

The only pity I have is for the taxpayers and the cost we’ll pay for Dey’s room and board, though it’s still cheap at the price. I just hope that any proceeds from his “memoir” are required to repay the state, since he’ll obviously have a lot more to write about in the years to come.

As for the immigrants in “Crossing the line,” it has nothing to do with the color of skin. It has to do with breaking the law—a common thread with causes SN&R seems to support.

Enter this country legally, as so many people of various color have done for generations, and they will have no problems. There will be no reason for demonstrations.

Law-breakers have no rights to demand anything in this country! Of course, learning to speak English would be a good idea, since they could blend in like so many other immigrants of generations past did; they were accepted and welcomed.

R. Gagnon

Freedom doesn’t come from Chevron

Re “Tapped out” by Ralph Brave (SN&R News, June 8):

Professor David Goodstein, the famous physicist, thinks that civilization depends on fossil fuels.

Does ancient Greece suffice to disprove this prejudice? How about the Amish? Or have we only become civilized, if that’s what we are, by acquiring the appropriate set of labor-saving, energy-consuming appliances? I can see how much labor we have saved by the amount of leisure we enjoy.

He thinks that nuclear power can help us “bridge” the gap between oil and the Holy Grail of the perfect fuel. I say, why wait? Since we will have to depend on the perfect fuel eventually, we might as well start using it now.

You are undoubtedly surprised to hear that it already exists. But you have probably already seen it in action without recognizing it. It’s called No-Fuel.

The potential of No-Fuel may seem insignificant, but that is actually the source of its promise. The benefits of not using fuel are virtually unlimited and include not driving to work; not buying packaged, preserved foods that are highly processed and trucked long distances; not needing to go to the gym, because you do garden-yoga most days; not worrying about whether someone is breaking into your house or abusing your kid while you’re all at the office; not enduring airport security; not needing to make so much money; and not using leaf blowers.

Of course, everybody’s different, so the best ways to use No-Fuel will vary among individuals.

As addictive fuel use is reduced in one’s personal life, space appears for other, more wholesome, aspects of life, such as breathing fresh air, biking or riding a horse to the store, cooking locally grown healthy food for friends and family, relearning traditional crafts and trades, raising your own children and minimizing the taxes owed to a government that is using most of them to buy weapons to protect our oil addiction.

Some say Chevron fuels your freedom. I say only No-Fuel can make us truly free. So, on Independence Day, try not using any fossil energy. Increase your freedom from oil addiction one day at a time. And don’t let the inevitable relapses derail your commitment to traditional ways and an economy based on community well-being rather than immoral corporate profits.

Muriel Strand
via e-mail

Guilt-free Escher

Re “Dutch lasters” by Jonathan Kiefer (SN&R Arts&Culture, June 8):

With its tiny box reviews, SN&R has only pretended to cover the local fine-art scene for the last 10 years. So, thanks for Jonathan Kiefer’s big article on the M.C. Escher show at Crocker. Jeez, it’s about time!

But after trudging through Kiefer’s verbose explanations (here’s a writer who never met a comma he didn’t like), I felt the need to clarify his main point that Escher remains the outsider in an otherwise snobbish art world; a “guilty pleasure” as he puts it.

Firstly, without exhibitions going on, nobody turns up much in art magazines. Escher gets plenty of coverage for a guy who has been dead for 34 years.

Secondly, Escher was primarily a graphic (commercial) artist. Nevertheless, his inclusion in some art-history books, college courses and museum collections (the National Gallery has 426 works) puts him in a select category with other graphic artists like Honoré Daumier, Aubrey Beardsley, Alphonse Mucha and Norman Rockwell. I show several Escher works in my art-history courses at American River College.

Thirdly, why does Kiefer declare that the two best books on Escher were written by mathematicians? Is he a book critic too? Are these books better than what Escher wrote about himself? Check out Alibris (www.alibris.com), and you’ll find many good Escher books written by non-mathematicians.

Escher has not been dismissed or ignored by a discriminating clique of art critics. This assertion is bogus. It just so happens that Escher had a deliberate math-oriented style of art. So did Paolo Uccello, Piet Mondrian and Brigid Riley for that matter. Math is not antithetical to the art world. So, everyone please take pleasure in viewing Escher’s incredible images at the Crocker absolutely free from guilt.

Ken Magri

Oy vey, enough already

Re “Meet Joe baby” by David Riedel (SN&R Scene&Heard, June 8):

I believe in tolerance. I despise self-righteous, judgmental attitudes. I’d like to think the writers of SN&R do, too, but I’m skeptical. I read a lot of talk about tolerance but see hypocrisy between the lines. In particular, I am tired of the stereotyping and ridicule of those with Christian beliefs.

In “Meet Joe baby,” Mr. Riedel laments the influence of pop-culture and MTV on society. So do I. But had the offending musician (the lead singer of P.O.D.) not been a Christian, I doubt this article would have been written.

If Sonny Sandoval was a “born again” Buddhist who named his daughter a uniquely inspired name with spiritual meaning, I don’t think it would have been P.C. to make fun of him, the name of his band and the lyrics to his song.

Is this really what SN&R is about? Celebrate diversity but laugh at people with outdated belief systems? Oy vey, enough already.

Bronwyn Schweigerdt
via e-mail