Letters for September 8, 2011

Follow Christ, not Paul

Re “Passion for compassion” by Kel Munger (SN&R Frontlines, September 1):

As a straight—not narrow—50-something male with friends and family in the GLBT family, it is interesting to me that many people who are homophobic are “cured” when a friend, family member or other loved one comes out.

I know from personal experience that nothing I loved and valued about these people changed. They were, and still are, honest, hard-working, principled individuals. The “straight” world places far too much emphasis on sexual orientation, which is, after all, only a small part of who we are and how we are in the world, no matter our orientation.

It also comes as no surprise that the meddling of churches in the affairs of governments produces the kind of results, in places like Uganda, which is why I prefer to be “Christ-like” rather than “Christian.” If “Christians” will check their red-letter Bibles, the one with their master’s words in red, they will find not one word of condemnation toward homosexuals.

Indeed, the most oft-quoted passages used by “Christians” to defend their stance on GLBT folk were uttered by the apostle Paul, who also had some choice words about women and their role in the church and in the world. Christ taught love and forgiveness, not hatred and murder. So are you a “Christian” or a “Paulian”?

Robert J. Ludgate

There are pension fixes

Re “Public enemies” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Feature, September 1):

I am a firefighter in Colorado, and if more states followed Colorado’s lead, they would not have the problems that California has.

Here, the statewide fire and police pension is funded by 9 percent contribution by the employee and 9 percent by the employer (percentage based on base pay only). At retirement, the employee gets a percentage of the average of his last three years pay. To prevent the kind of abuses found in other places, overtime pay, incentive pay, bonuses, etc., are not included in the calculations. While a member can “retire” at any time, their benefits are cut in half if they retire before the age of 55.

It would do CalPERS and California public employees some good to look at how other states manage their pensions.

Bob Free
Colorado Springs, Colo.

Keep your data

Re “Facebook fatigue” by Adrianne Jeffries and Ted Cox (SN&R Feature, August 25):

I too have become disenchanted with Facebook, mainly because of its invasiveness and attitude that “all your data are belong to us.” This concern also certainly applies to Google+.

Fortunately, there is a distributed, open-source alternative to the complete control that these centralized, corporate social networks have over your personal data: Diaspora. Do yourself and your privacy a favor and check it out at http://diasp.org.

Paul Racko
Nevada City

She Tumbles

Re “Facebook fatigue” by Adrianne Jeffries and Ted Cox (SN&R Feature, August 25):

My take is that Facebook is like a high-school reunion, LinkedIn is like an oppressive chamber of commerce meeting, and Google+ is like trying to personalize a dorm room.

That’s why I Tumblr. It’s the best of blogging and social networking, without all the need to surrender personal information or create “circles” or “lists.” It also has the capability of sending all of your posts through Twitter to Google+ and Facebook, so it’s still possible to maintain a presence there, if you want to do so.

Jan Kline

One for Amazon

Re “Don’t sign it” (SN&R Editorial, August 25):

I just wanted to let you know that I will continue buying from Amazon and sign their petition if given the opportunity. Most people that criticize the company offer no response to their argument against collecting sales tax, and your editorial staff continued the trend.

Taxes pay for government services, but if Amazon has no presence in California, and uses few to none of those services as a result, why should the company—or rather its customers—pay for them?

The state may need more revenue, but the state always needs more revenue. Frankly, advocates of the new tax should think up a better justification for shellacking Amazon’s customers with higher prices.

Cameron English

Ageism in cannabis industry

Re “Women of compassion” by Buddy Peeler (SN&R The 420, August 25):

This was a fine article and it was great to see that the medical-cannabis industry is not just a man’s world.

The industry’s embrace of feminist entrepreneurship is laudable, but it is far from [being] free of prejudice and bias. I refer to the rampant ageism that exists within the industry. How many employees do you know that work in the industry who are over 40? Let me answer for you: Very few—probably none. If you see gray hair in a dispensary, it will be the “director.” Everyone else will be under 35. Write an article about that.

Don Black

Where’s the world love?

Re “Sammies turns 20” (SN&R Music, August 25):

With “Nearly 1,000 local musicians, some 250 groups or bands,” there’s not one world music group, or category to place thereof?

Time magazine got it wrong? Please say it isn’t so; that SN&R doesn’t care about world music in my hometown.

Jason Jong
via email

Nick Miller replies: World Hood, nominated for Best New Artist, is world music. We’re always happy to take more suggestions.

Rail ideology

Re “Rail debate’s on wrong track” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Bites, August 18):

Since Cosmo Garvin invites “honest comparison” of costs for high-speed rail, let’s start with the California High-Speed Rail Authority’s comparison with “3,000 miles of new highway lanes” (not to mention new runways and gates).

As the discussion concerns the cost of, essentially, a single transportation link between Northern and Southern California, they seem to be positing that the alternative to a single train line is four or five new lanes in each direction on [Interstate 5]. Even with your previously reported implausibly high estimate of 40 million rail link passengers per year, a single new lane each way would suffice to handle the additional traffic. That’s 600 to 800 new highway lane miles, not 3,000.

Using the estimates of lane-construction cost you provided, that would put the alternative cost down to the order of one-quarter to one-third the cost of the rail link. Perhaps it is not [Sacramento Bee columnist Dan] Walters who is driven by ideology?

D.D. Freund

Yet another rail option

Re “Rail debate’s on wrong track” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Bites, August 18):

You write about the dated, costly, and somewhat dangerous high-speed rail system being proposed for California and nothing about a more advanced, cheaper to build and operate transportation system, like the proposed Terra Stations Transportation and Infrastructure System with ET3 Transport Technology.

Please take a moment to view and feel free to share the following limited information in regards to our hyper-speed (350 mph local to 4,000+ mph national and international) transport infrastructure proposal. This undertaking will create mass employment and many other benefits to the economics of California, the nation and citizens of each state, since this system may be built simultaneously in each state.

Please understand that we are open to meeting and discussing further the advantages of our system to the proposed high-speed rail system for California and anywhere in the USA.

J. “Yon” Friedmann
managing director
ET3 Aqua=Terra Projects

Just stay home

Re “Rail debate’s on the wrong track” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Bites, August 18):

People lived just fine for millennia without high-speed rail, not to mention cars, air conditioning and plastic.

I don’t understand why we need to be rushing all over the place to survive. We need clean air and water, healthy food, snug shelter and plenty of sleep. These things do not require lots of people traveling far and fast, hither and yon.

If you don’t build it, they’ll stay home and tend their gardens.

Muriel Strand

More dual-flush toilets!

Re “Dual-flush toilets!” (SN&R Letters, August 18) and “Wake up call” by Hugh Biggar and Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Feature, August 4):

I have seen and used (in Davis) the type of dual-flush toilet mentioned by reader George Paganelis in his letter. It’s certainly just as easy to use as the conventional type of toilet, and it appears to do the job just as well. I agree that converting over to dual-flush makes a lot of sense.

Obviously, that alone will not solve all our water issues. But every little bit helps, and maybe this bit isn’t so little. I know that I take a leak at least half a dozen times a day, often more. That’s probably true of a good many of us weak-bladdered oldsters. Younger folks don’t need to pee quite so often, but for an overall population average I think four times a day is probably a very conservative estimate.

If (as Paganelis says) each half-flush saves almost three-quarters of gallon of water, that comes to about three gallons per day per person. The current population of California is about 40 million. If every toilet in California was converted to dual-flush, we could be saving about 120 million gallons of water per day.

That’s not a huge percentage of our daily water usage, but it ain’t chump change, either. And as Paganelis points out, it’s a savings that can be achieved very painlessly. I’d say dual-flush toilets are an idea whose time has come.

Dave “the Math Tutor” U.

Bravo for teacher

Re “Head of the class” by Andrew Phillips (SN&R 15 Minutes, August 18):

I love this article! I was lucky enough to know Mr. [John] Eick when he first came to Natomas High School. He is an inspiring person, and I’m very grateful for knowing him. This man helped shape the lives of many kids at that school and is continuing to do so. Rock on, Mr. Eick!

Ashley Teeter

Resident lesbian

Re “On the books” by Kel Munger (SN&R Cut&Paste, August 11):

Is SN&R a local news rag, or an excuse for Kel [Munger] to rant about gay rights every week? News flash, Kel: There are plenty of groups discriminated against, but all we hear about is yours. Once in a while is fine, but SN&R should show all points of view, not just that of the resident lesbian.

William Varn


Re “Public enemies” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Feature, September 1):

In last week’s cover story, we mistakenly lumped the California State Teachers Retirement System in with other public-pension systems that offered “payment holidays” during better economic times. In fact, CalSTRS didn’t engage in that practice. Our apologies for the error. This has been corrected online.