Letters for May 15, 2008

Letter of the week
Ten percent by 2010

The Sacramento region has officially declared that “May is Bike Month.” For the 2,500 or so individuals who have registered to log their cycling miles on www.mayisbikemonth.com, this is the designated time of year to fix any flats from last year, get some exercise, engage in office competitions and participate in regional bicycling events and rides.

For those of us who have personally declared every month as bike month, it’s easy to forget that switching from four wheels to two wheels can be just as daunting as the three wheel to two wheel transition was as a child. Once we finally made the switch, we were left with a sense of independence, accomplishment and a new definition of fun—but we needed some help along the way.

I’m occasionally reminded that bicycling is really quite foreign to many people. We have traditionally framed the conversation that there are good reasons to bicycle: environmental, economic, health, safety. We all know these reasons. However, we are at a cultural point where we need to ask ourselves, “Why are we not bicycling?” Half of our total trips are less than three miles in length. Cars absolutely have a purpose for those Saturdays spent at IKEA, but for short trips, try to re-think how you could get there.

We live in a community where dedicated organizations and individuals provide countless resources to make your transition to a bicycle enjoyable and effective. In the spirit of Sacramento’s regional effort to promote bicycling, I proclaim a “10 percent by 2010” challenge to every individual in the Sacramento area.

While you may think it sounds unrealistic to achieve a 10 percent bicycling transportation share by 2010, how unrealistic is it for you to personally dedicate one out of every 10 trips you take to using a bicycle? In an effort to help you make the four wheel to two wheel transition, I created a blog which compiles all the resources you need to start making more and safer trips by bike. Check out the five-step program on www.mycycle-sac.blogspot.com to start making bicycling part of your lifestyle!

Lauren Hilliard

Awesome godfather

Re “The gay godfather” by Matt Coker (SN&R Feature, May 8):

Excellent article. Words cannot describe the joy one gets when reading a positive biographical sketch about a gay person who has done so much for and given so much to the community at large.

How refreshing it was to read “The gay godfather,” an insightful and honest account about the accomplishments of a gay person who is rightfully respected and whose work is valued. The article is well-timed; it comes amid all the unjust, biased criticism leveled by the prejudicial, uninformed religious wackos who are routinely covered in the media.

Richard Carol

Borrowing is a choice

Re “New vets, new G.I. bill” (SN&R Letter of the Week, May 8):

Should Congress do everything possible to enhance the benefits for those people who served in the armed forces? You bet.

While I agree with Matt Kantack’s premise that Congress should pass the new G.I. bill, I find his whining to be irritating. He was a member of the all-volunteer force; he was not drafted. He knew what the benefits were going in. He made a choice. Where is it written that he is entitled to go to school full-time when he gets out of the service and gets to do so with no debt?

People are dealt many different hands in life. Some get to go to college right out of high school and have their parents pay for it, and some do not. That is just the way it is.

I was in the service in the late 1960s and early 1970s. During Vietnam, there was a draft (I joined right before I got drafted). I used the existing (at that time) G.I. Bill to help get me through college after four years in the service. The G.I. Bill I received was hardly enough to live on and go to school full-time, but I was very thankful to have anything at all.

I chose to forego debt, work full-time during the day and to attend college at night: four years at American River College and three years at Sac State (14 straight semesters, continuous). It was not easy at times, but I made it. I used the G.I. Bill to help defray living expenses. I am not complaining, just stating the facts.

Again, we are all dealt a different hand in life. The trick is to play the cards that you are dealt and do it with dignity. One should be thankful for what they have received, not whine about what they think they are entitled to in life.

Dennis Johnson
via e-mail

Dinosaurs in the wrong district

Re “Land of the lost” by R.V. Scheide (SN&R Race to the Bottom, May 8):

I’m sure the differences between these guys are fascinating and the choice between them will determine the fate of the planet, but when I vote for someone to represent my district, I want them to be from my district. Who are we, New York? Arkansas? West Virginia? Let these guys run in their own districts.

Embarrassing though it may be sometimes, I’m a lifelong Republican. If either of these guys gets the nomination and fills the “R” slot on my ballot, I’m checking the “D.” At least Charlie Brown lives with those of us here in “Open Districtland.” We don’t need more carpetbagger “decider” wannabes. We need a representative from District 4.

Joe Pendleton
El Dorado Hills

Trouble with translation

Re “Trouble with T-shirts” by Kel Munger (SN&R Frontlines, May 8):

[Are these students] so ignorant that they don’t realize that the word “homosexual” quoted from 1 Corinthians on the hate shirt is totally bogus?

The term “homosexual” was first coined a little [more than] 100 years ago by scientists who started to study human sexology rationally. How did this scientific term from the 19th century get into Paul’s mouth 1,900 years before it existed? The answer to that is easy.

The original Greek word malakoi (or the Latin effetus) literally means “soft.” But these words were too ambiguous in an early church that needed scapegoats (apparently the Jews were not enough). So they changed them to “effeminate,” and when this also became too ambiguous (what about all those macho gays, like Richard the Lionheart?), they used the phrase, “men who lay with men,” and finally, “homosexual.”

All this cynical biblical revisionism from so-called “Christians” who have very little to do with the love of Jesus and are all about justifying their own diabolical brand of hate and evil.

Joe Bruno

Web divide is widening

Re “Save the Web” (SN&R Editorial, May 8):

Vilifying the investors in America’s broadband architecture won’t help anyone solve the impending bandwidth crunch that our nation faces.

For African-Americans in the 21st century, there are few things more paramount than economic empowerment and equal access to skill-building technologies like broadband. The percent of U.S. households subscribing to high-speed Internet has surpassed 50 percent because we’ve developed a fertile ground of competition, investment, limited regulations and exciting new online content.

Rather than litigate and regulate as SN&R suggests, we need industries to work together to address Internet applications like peer-to-peer (P2P) that risk monopolizing available space on the information superhighway and degrading the experience for the rest of us. That would result in a widening digital divide—a fact that advocacy groups too often fail to acknowledge.

It’s a shame that Washington lobbyists have distorted the reality of the broadband marketplace and engaged in hyperbolic fearmongering. And it’s a symbol of the lamentable trend in politics that today’s presidential candidates have decried with such eloquence and around which Americans are united in the need for change.

H. Alexander Robinson
National Black Justice Coalition

Washington, D.C.

Don’t celebrate just yet

Re “After the catastrophe” by R.V. Scheide (SN&R Race to the Bottom, May 1);

Kudos to R.V. Scheide for “After the catastrophe,” an important article about al Nakba and the ongoing occupation of Palestine.

Regarding the comment that “there is much to celebrate [about Israel],” the only things that can be celebrated now are the survival and resilience of the Palestinians and the courage of those inside Israel/Palestine and around the world who are trying to end Israeli apartheid and Israel’s occupation, abuse and torture of the people of Palestine. When this is accomplished and the Palestinian people and residents of Israel can live together in peace in a secular democracy that respects the rights of all ethnic and religious groups, then there really will be cause for celebration.

Maggie Coulter

Is all politics local?

Re “Bad company” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Bites, May 1):

I hate to let facts get in the way of a good story, but allow me to provide a few in response to the lame attempt to ding me for teaming up with some state Capitol colleagues with different political stripes in supporting Kevin Johnson’s mayoral bid.

Just in the same way the Sac Metro Chamber and Sacramento Labor Council have put aside their differences and teamed up to support Kevin Johnson, I’m working with (gasp) some Republican friends as well as many more Democrats to help Kevin get elected. I’ve been in the state Capitol for about eight years now, and I’ve seen Fresno’s and Los Angeles’ mayors more than I’ve seen Heather Fargo. She’s been MIA—except when it came to standing alongside Schwarzenegger at a time when just about every other Democratic elected official was siding with teachers, firefighters and nurses against him.

One of the unique features of Kevin Johnson’s candidacy is that he is bringing people together. He can light up a room with enthusiasm, has the connections to make things happen and has demonstrated his commitment to putting Sacramento on the map. What does it say about Fargo that two of her city council colleagues have flipped and now oppose her, that the city’s business establishment—along with progressive labor—wants her out and that both firefighters and police officer unions are working around the clock to send her packing? I’ve been in politics a long time, and can’t remember such a broad coalition wanting to dump a two-term incumbent mayor.

Sacramento’s challenges are neither Republican problems nor Democratic problems. They’re challenges that need someone that shows leadership. Most of my friends and colleagues—no matter what party or philosophy—think it’s time for a change in City Hall, and that’s why we’re supporting Kevin Johnson.

Steven Maviglio

Fantastic review, fantastic film

Re “Dislocated souls” by Jonathan Kiefer (SN&R Film, May 1):

I read Jonathan Kiefer’s review of The Visitor on Friday, May 2. I saw the movie the next day, then reread his review. He nailed it. I’d like to thank him for his skill—and probably a lot of hard work, too.

I rely on the reviews in SN&R for the few outings I make to the movies or theater. At age 67, I’m very fussy about how I spend my money and time. I want more than just idle amusement. I expect some measure of enrichment. The Visitor delivered.

When he writes, “…only to deliver one gently genuine moment after another,” that is how I will remember this movie and how I would summarize the value of it to friends that haven’t seen it.

Mike Ferrick