Letters for November 17, 2011

Letter of the week

Where there’s a Will

Re “Anonymous” by Jonathan Kiefer (SN&R Clips, November 3):

In 1564, when the traditional Shakespeare of Stratford was less than a year old, Queen Elizabeth took a leisurely tour of the country, staying at various noblemen’s and gentlemen’s houses. At one house, she saw a play which bothered her conscience with digs at the late queen, her less-than-beloved half-sister Mary. Elizabeth called for her torchbearers (“Lights! Lights! Lights!”) to accompany her, and left the players in the dark. At least two Shakespeare scholars find possible foreshadowing of Hamlet’s play-within-a-play in this incident—but how would little Will have heard of it?

We do know that young Edward de Vere, the playwriting Earl of Oxford, was along on the tour.

It’s disheartening to see reviewer Jonathan Kiefer, whose political heart is surely in the right place, do the bidding of the Shakespeare establishment and slam the rollicking costume drama Anonymous. Yes, the “birther” plot element connecting Elizabeth and Edward draws on the wilder surmises of some—not most—of the so-called Oxfordians. Yes, the scheming father-and-son prime ministers, the Cecils, are portrayed with too much mustache-twirling, mwah-ha-ha sinisterosity. But take it for all in all, this film’s an entertainment, with spicy twists (the Essex Rebellion made to allude to the Arab Spring?).

Could it be the real Shakespeare’s life, spun as a veritable Shakespeare play? Certainly the actors (Rhys Ifans, Vanessa Redgrave, David Thewlis, Sebastian Armesto) do their utmost to convince us that Oxf—er, Shakespeare, really meant what he said: The players are the abstract and brief chronicles of the time. Did we get the chronicle wrong?

Searching for an answer doesn’t make snobs of Oxfordians; most of the ones I know are left-of-center. But we hate seeing anyone—even a rich earl turned poor in the service of the theater—dispossessed of what’s rightfully his.

Thomas Goff

Any change is good on K

Re “Cruising on K” by Hugh Biggar (SN&R Frontlines, November 10):

Just like successful shopping centers need an anchor tenant, K Street needs to have the variety of shops, food and entertainment to keep people around. If I can get everything in one location, bring my family shopping, have dinner together and watch a movie afterward, I would change my usual places and put up with the parking.

Opening this road to vehicles does allow street frontage, which will entice more retail shops and hopefully attract more people. It may take some time, but it’s definitely a start!

Julie Flichtbeil
Plumas Lake

Good on you, Jeff

Re “Our third river” by Jeff Ewing (SN&R Feature, November 3):

This article is so informative. I used it and forwarded a copy to the Queensland Water Commission of Australia. I am not sure if very many people here in Northern California were aware of the great floods of January and February of this year. They had torrential rains for a period of two weeks, and all of their back-country rivers and tributaries flooded to historic levels. I watched this through the Internet and imagined I was looking at my own areas. This concerned me so much, I was in the process of putting together writings and maps to send to the commission. But this article is so good.

Thank you Jeff, for your great piece of work. I have offered an invitation to the members and colleagues of the QWC that if they are in Northern California, that I, we, will show them around our fair city and show them some of our water facilities. Again, great work!

Mark Valenzuela

Acclaim for Ewing

Re “Our third river” by Jeff Ewing (SN&R Feature, November 3):

Hardly a “letter,” but I wish to laud Jeff Ewing’s article on our Delta’s water distribution—of which 90 percent of Sacramento residents know naught.

Owen McGowan

There’s got to be a better way

Re “Road diet for Freeport?” by Amanda Branham (SN&R Frontlines, November 3):

This stretch of Freeport [Boulevard] is already congested with traffic at certain times of day and is heavy with traffic all day. Perhaps more people, especially students, may start using bikes instead of cars, but that certainly is not going to lessen the nightmare of extreme traffic congestion that will occur if this single-lane plan goes through.

Have the people coming up with this idea ever actually used this road? This plan will cause more traffic chaos than it’s worth. How about widening the sidewalks? There’s got to be a better way to give the bikers a safer ride.

Bill Markson

Keep ’em wild

Re “Repping the rainforest” by Jonathan Mendick (SN&R Eco-Hit, October 27):

Promoting the Sacramento Reptile Show in the Eco-Hit section of SN&R would have bordered on laughably absurd if the trade in reptiles was not such a serious environmental- and animal-welfare issue.

The U.S. is a major importer of live reptiles for the exotic-pet trade. Hundreds of reptile species are imported from all over the world. Wild-caught reptiles or reptiles that are offspring from wild-caught parents make up the majority of reptiles held in private hands.

The lack of comprehensive information on the biology and population status for most traded species make it impossible to reliably set scientifically determinable “harvest quotas,” i.e., the number of animals that can ostensibly be removed without negatively impacting the population. Moreover, presently there are no reliable marking systems that distinguish legal from illegally captured reptiles.

While the animal-welfare concerns surrounding trade in wild-caught reptiles whether legal or illegal is obvious to most, few people are aware of the cruelty inherent in captive breeding of reptiles for the pet trade.

Reptile-breeding facilities typically house and stack reptiles in small to mid-sized barren aquariums or clear plastic containers. While such housing may be standard in the reptile industry, it is hardly capable of accommodating and/or facilitating natural reptile behavior. To propagate a species only to relinquish it to an environment in such stark contrast to the habitat to which it is adapted is not humane.

I imagine that many of the children who saw these exotic reptiles at the show did not go home and ask their parents how they could protect these animals in the wild—they probably asked if they could have one of their own. I hope for the sake of the kids, and the reptiles, their parents told them that wild animals belong in the wild.

Monica Engebretson
senior program associate
Born Free USA