Letters for May 31, 2001

Uncle Jack is back

Your May 24 cover photo ("Armando’s Last Ride") certainly caught my eye. The photo of two motorcyclists after a race resembled so many others I used to look at flipping through my dad’s old scrapbooks.

And no wonder it looked familiar. Next to Armando Magri on cycle No.2 is my uncle, Jack Cottrell, astride his famous No. 21—a number he chose to keep even after becoming national champion and entitled to No.1.

Jack was held together with baling wire and had broken more bones than Evel Knievel. But what a life for him, Magri and others. We should all live with such gusto.

I know the article was about Armando Magri, but thanks for running my uncle’s photo on your cover, grasping, with Magri, a handsome little trophy.

Steve Cottrell
Nevada City

Charlie’s angel

Re “Death Valley Daze” by R.V. Scheide (SN&R Arts & Culture, May 17):

It’s pathetic that R.V. Scheide chooses to recycle decades-old myths in his search to “distinguish between … fantasy and reality.”

If the author truly is looking for the truth regarding Manson, why regurgitate the same old paranoid lies concerning supernatural powers, Satanism/Scientology and the long-disputed “helter skelter” race war apocalypse theories? Even prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi has admitted in recent years that there is certainly more to the story than was originally believed in the more naive 1970s. Scheide is encouraged to check out the “Truth about the lies” section of the Web site www.atwa.com, which perhaps can help clear up his confusion in these matters.

Maybe then his fantasy-filled recurring nightmares will end and that Family-styled X on his forehead will become the accidental, superficial scratch that it surely is.

Robert James

Sunny side up

Re “Summer Sucks!” by Amy Yannello (SN&R Essay, May 17):

There are those of us in Sacramento who enjoy the heat. We see it not as a trial to be endured, but as a joy to be savored. My “joie de vivre” comes from the heat. I will love it, despite the naysayers and curmudgeons. Newscasters are among the worst in the latter category. They seem to feel that any temperature over 100 degrees requires a derogatory comment.

When the temperature soars, so do my spirits. For the 17 years that I owned a bookstore just a block from Vic’s Ice Cream on Riverside Boulevard, I would enter Vic’s each hot summer day with a broad smile. Such behavior elicited strange looks and comments concerning my sanity, but I persevered.

I once placed an ad in the newspaper because I felt so alone in my love of the heat. “Love the heat? Call … “ No one responded. I realize that I am in the minority, but that does not diminish my enjoyment of temperatures well over 100 degrees. I begin to perspire at 110 degrees, but perspiration never killed anyone. According to Amy, my love for heat may stem partially from my profession: I am a college French professor and thus am gifted with an involuntary, unpaid vacation for two months every summer. My opinion is that I was just born with a love for sunlight and hot asphalt. “Vive la chaleur!”

Genevieve Flett
via e-mail

Apple gore

A few points not considered in “Bad Apples” by Richard Ehisen, (SN&R News, May 17):

Administrators, not teachers, hire teachers. Why should teachers be involved in reversing an administrator’s choice?

Most administrators hesitate to do anything that makes waves that might wash over their career paths.

The Legislature changed tenure probation from three to two years without good reason.

Why are poor teachers kept? What is the definition of a poor teacher anyway? Example: a person who teaches and coaches will be forgiven shortcomings in the classroom for a satisfactory record on the field. Poor teachers are less likely to complain about class assignments. If there’s a group beloved by the front office in any business it’s the one that doesn’t complain.

Administrators who have neither tenure nor talent are at least as difficult to remove as their classroom associates. Large administrative apparats make teacher organizations look like amateurs at CYA.

T.F. Naas

The feminine side of Bush

Re “Reagan’s Back” (SN&R Capital Bites, May 17):

In the media coverage of President Bush’s first 100 days, little attention was paid to his attack on women’s rights and abortion rights. In fact, newspapers repeated Bush’s own assertion that attacking abortion and/or women’s rights is not a White House “priority.” But his actions have proven otherwise, and his actions have shown us that “W” is definitely not for women.

From the start, Bush surrounded himself with other anti-abortion advocates. He appointed John Ashcroft, who opposes abortion even in the case of rape or incest, as U.S. attorney general. He named Tommy Thompson, a former governor with an anti-abortion voting record, as secretary of health and human services. Thompson indicated that he might call for a review on the new abortion drug Mifepristone. Bush’s budget included a short paragraph, in the appendix, proposing the elimination of contraceptive coverage for 1.2 million female employees and their dependants covered under the federal employees health benefits plan.

The fate of abortion rights for American women for the next 25 years hinges on the next U.S. Supreme Court justice nominated by Mr. Bush. If stripping away reproductive rights was not a “priority” during these first 100 days, I fear to see what Mr. Bush will do in the next 100.

In your article you address the economic factors of the GWB plan, and compare it to that of the Reaganomics plan, but your writer failed to confront the women’s rights issue. Not having been of reproductive age during the Reagan years, I have taken the rights that I’ve been given for granted. It is now time for us to keep the topic of reproductive health on the forefront. Thank you for bringing our attention to the horror that is yet to be unless we make our voices heard. God forbid we relive the Reagan years!

Britta Guerrero

Chips ahoy

Re “Qualifying Heat” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Power, May 17):

It’s a shame that the utility company buyers of biomass-fueled electric power can’t pay, and have idled these renewable-fuel power plants. The state should step in to keep these plants on-line as a multipurpose priority.

Here’s why: Acute forest fire hazard compels thinning out smaller conifers and hardwood species from our forests, which have become choked with short and thin trees, jungle-like and very flammable—Smokey the Bear has been too successful for his own good. Our esthetic desire for forests of tall, robust, spaced-out trees will be fulfilled by the same thinning, which frees water, light and nutrients for the best trees. Then the biggest trees will grow bigger much faster, and take more CO2 greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere than if no thinning was done. They will be safer from both low fire and catastrophic fire.

But what of the cuttings? The scrap will either be burned in the woods or dangerously left to decay, unless chipped on-site and hauled away for biomass fuel to help relieve power shortages. Hauling out the cuttings for biomass fuel leaves a cleaner, stronger, fire-resistant forest, and helps relieve our electric power shortage as well.

Charles O. Greenlaw

Stands to reason

Re “True Nonbelievers” by Ching Lee (SN&R News, May 3):

The article was entertaining and fairly objective, but I think Ching Lee missed a crucial point.

Atheists don’t believe, the same as scientists don’t believe. A concept must be demonstrated, with its predictions tested and proven, in order to be accepted. Every theory is constantly open to revision, if new evidence alters old conclusions. This is the key difference between atheism and religious thinking.

The article mentioned belief, disbelief and faith numerous times. Significantly, the article did not contain any mention of objective evidence, double blind experimentation, reasoning, logic, critical thinking or conclusions leading to contradictions or fallacies. These are the tools atheists, similar to scientists, use to weigh the merits of competing hypotheses which are being postulated to explain our universe.

Belief and faith lead to unchecked human folly, like human sacrifice to appease bloodthirsty Mayan gods, the Inquisition, totalitarian theocracies, Jonestown, Heaven’s Gate and perpetual religious wars. Reason and the scientific method, as opposed to belief and faith, are the tools leading humanity out of the quagmires of mythology, superstition and religion.

Paul Storey
via e-mail