Postmarks

Balcones Responds

To The Husband of Annie Black,

Editor:

For the record:

1. Balcones recycles only clean paper from commercial sites. We have built the company as a provider of high-grade, clean, raw material for fancy, de-inking mills whose elaborate equipment must have a heavy dose of clean supply. If we shipped wet paper, dirty paper, or garbage-contaminated paper, we'd be out of business.

2. We have never in our 22 years of business sought to recycle the curbside collections from any city where we operate. We wouldn't take the business if you gave it to us.

3. The former owners, Georgia Pacific, operated seven 18-wheelers and a fleet of support vehicles. We have one 18-wheeler and two 24-foot trucks. They used 20+ railcars a month. We will use between five and 10.

4. The shareholders and employees of Balcones applaud the Planning Commission's announced intention to provide an orderly, comprehensive study of the East Austin industrial area's impact on neighborhoods and want our site included in such a study. We deplore the "spot" zoning the Planning Commission has initiated on our site and believe it to be unwarranted, unfair, irrational, and probably illegal.

Should your reporter wish for a reference on our company, I refer him to "Page Two" by Louis Black on 9/23/94 [Vol. 14, No. 4] on the occasion of your paper beginning a recycling program with Balcones. May I quote? "After years of filing garbage bags with envelopes, faxes, mailers, and boxes, it has been satisfying to send it all to a proper recycling facility."

Finally, on a personal note: I believe my husband's (or in Chronicle language, the man married to the wife of Ted Whatley) "perceived" environmental record to be real, as is his uncommon public service and personal integrity.

The Wife of Ted Whatley

[Ed. Response: In last week's "Council Watch" [Vol. 16, No. 13] the Chronicle referred to the owner of the Balcones Recycling Plant as the "wife of Ted Whatley," but should have printed her full name: Melba Whatley. The Chronicle deeply regrets the error. For the record, reporter Alex de Marban had sought comment from the plant's site president, Todd Parsons, who would neither confirm nor deny that Balcones Recycling was seeking the city's recycling business. Thank you for setting the record straight.]


Healthcare & Oranges

Editor:

After reading your articles on the evils of privatized medicine [Vol. 16, No. 12] and how the "paying customers" health care dollars must continue to be held hostage to subsidize the ones who "can't afford it" (socialism); I have a few suggestions I think we should all ponder. How about the government skimming the funds from "paying customers" for other things I can't afford like:

1) Microbrewed Beer -- I love the selection at Whole Foods but I have to settle for Lone Star at HEB; I can't afford $5-6 six-packs.

2) Restaurants -- The wife and I don't get out to Chuy's as much as we used to with two kids and all; we can't afford it.

3) Automobiles -- The old '87 Ford F-150 ain't what she used to be. We need a minivan, "rich people" have them; we can't afford it. It's just not fair.

You see how this works? Once your money is taken to pay for my lifestyle choices, free enterprise breaks down because you lose your incentive to produce (for me). Not to mention that I lose my incentive to produce (for me) because I know the government will take from you to give to me. Everyone has to be accountable (i.e. pay) for their own basic medical care. My wife and I pay $85 per month for a Foundation HMO plan for our two boys. Can we afford it? No! There are 10,000 other things we would prefer to use the money for. Do we pay it anyway? Yes! Why? God put these guys under our care, it's our responsibility -- no one else's. Get real Chronicle -- tell the truth! Affordability is a matter of priority and choice.

Allen Butler


Try This Angle

To the Editor:

This is a belated thank you for Chris Walters' excellent, thought-provoking piece on The Texas Triangle ("Strangled Triangle" [Vol. 16, No. 12]). He poignantly captured the adventure and the hardship of producing a regional weekly alternative publication -- especially one targeting the lesbian/gay market.

We also would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the Austinites who have steadfastly supported the paper in a year marked by attack (the American Family Assn. of Texas) and turmoil. With continued support from readers and advertisers, we look forward to continued growth in our hometown of Austin.

Sincerely,

Kay Longcope

Editor/Publisher

The Texas Triangle


Lots of Indies

Dear Austin Chronicle:

As the manager and part owner of the Austin-owned FringeWare Bookstore, it is with frustration that I read your article in the November 29 issue titled "Chain Reaction" [Vol. 16, No. 13]. The article states that Congress Avenue Booksellers and Book People are the two remaining "independent general bookstores" in the Austin area. I beg to differ. FringeWare has been filling the void left by the closing of Europa and Deep Eddy since opening at our new location at 2716 Guadalupe on June 15. The store was, incidentally, recognized with a 1996 Austin Chronicle "Best of Austin" bookstore category.

I've enclosed the press release about the store's opening, which was originally faxed to the Chronicle in July. I simply mention this to emphasize that I have made a reasonable effort to get the store known to the Chronicle staff. I must also point out that the omissions in the article were not limited to my store. The article states that "Houston has no independent general bookseller" and "Taylor's, the last indie general bookstore in Dallas, closed the last of its 10 stores." As a matter of fact, I know of several "independent general bookstores" in the Houston and Dallas areas, Brazos Bookstore and Forbidden books to name but two.

Sadly, the Chronicle has missed an opportunity to highlight Austin's locally owned bookstores (which might, I would guess, actually combat the effects described). It seems rather ironic that Europa Books, a failed business, has had more references to it in the Chronicle since its demise than it ever had while it was open. FringeWare seems destined to receive similar treatment. Somehow the irony of this has left a bitter taste in my mouth.

Patrick Deese

FringeWare, Inc.


Roger & Books

Editor:

Concerning the issue of censorship in Karl Pallmeyer's article, "Chain Reaction" [Vol. 16, No. 11] readers may be interested in the column by Michael Moore, director of Roger and Me, in a recent issue of The Nation (December 2, 1996). According to Moore, his tour of Borders bookstores to promote his book, Downsize This! Random Threats From an Unarmed American, became increasingly contentious following his appearance at the Borders in Philadelphia where he refused to cross a picket line set up to protest the firing of an employee who had attempted to organize a union at the store. Moore relates other events in New York and Des Moines with increasing interference from company officials, ending with the cancellation of his appearance at the Fort Lauderdale Borders. All this retaliation from the chain whose, in Moore's words, "`liberal' views have earned it the reputation as the `Ben & Jerry's of the book chains.'"

James South


Dish Us Some Ink

Dear Editor:

I must say that I got a great deal of satisfaction seeing 101X's true colors regarding their complete lack of support for Austin music revealed in the pages of The Austin Chronicle ("Dancing About Architecture," [Vol. 16, No. 13]), especially since the Chronicle, admittedly a true champion of our local scene, inexplicably goes on and on about 101X every week while completely ignoring our efforts here at KLBJ, where local music can be heard or heard about every single day in almost every single daypart. Our playlist features an extensive selection of Austin music from Ian Moore to Soulhat to Storyville to Pushmonkey to Vallejo, etc., etc. We have two weekly features dedicated solely to Austin music ("Local Licks" and "All Access"), and to my knowledge no local band has ever had to take any of us to lunch or anywhere else in order to be included. With the exception of Andy, 101X obviously could give a shit less about this city's music or heritage, which is especially shameful being under the same roof as KGSR, yet you guys seem to dish more ink out to them than any other station in town. We've been supporting Austin's music scene for 25 years and will continue to do so, not for ratings, not for lunch, but because without Austin music, Austin would simply not be Austin.

By the way, I agree with Dale regarding your cinema reviews.

My 2cents,

Chris Mosser

Evenings, KLBJ-FM


Taking It Personally

Dear Unworthy Gossip-mongers:

I like gossip. I like it tongue-in-cheek, with a grain of salt, read between the lines, or just downright catty. Hell, I don't even care whether it's true! So I always turn to "Dancing About Architecture" just to catch up on the things my friends, acquaintances, or otherwise are up to, things they might even know about. Isn't that great!

Now, Junior Brown is firmly out there in left field and some of those untold stories are real #1 prime. But just because the guy can't appreciate playing pal for the day with a well-documented cool music "scribe," is it essential to print such puerile I'll show that "jerk" Junior story [Vol. 16, No. 12]? Come on kids, let's not start making this stuff personal. You'll take all the fun out of it.

Sincerely,

Bart Willis


Das Boot!

To the Editor:

Ken Lieck's article "Two Javelin Boots" [Vol. 16, No. 13] was a hoot! I'm thrilled that the Chronicle recognizes that there's a thriving local pop scene. Javelin Boot has produced some of the best original pop music (live and recorded) in Austin over the last decade and this recognition is long overdue.

Unfortunately, I can't say that I'm as enthusiastic about Raoul Hernandez's review of the Boot's latest effort, Fundamentally Sound. The review was... odd. It appeared that he liked the CD and, yet, only grudgingly gave it two-and-a-half stars. Nothing in Mr. Hernandez's previous reviews suggests that he's a great fan of pop, so why he chose to review Fundamentally Sound rather than assign it to another Chron staffer is puzzling.

Sincerely,

Catherine Collins


Lieck Gets the Boot

Dear Chronsters,

Thanks so much to Ken Lieck for his recent article on Javelin Boot ["Two Javelin Boots," Vol. 16, No. 13]. I was pleased when I found out that he'd be interviewing us, not only because he can write, but also because he doesn't seem to go into a story armed with an agenda. I especially appreciate the accuracy of the quotes, although he incorrectly attributed a particularly amusing line to me, rather than our juggler of drums, vocals, and one-liners, Mr. David Mider (the funniest man in show business). While I was also pleased that music editor, Raoul Hernandez, recognized our "quirky melodies, perfect harmonies, and crisp hooks," it would seem appropriate to have someone with a greater appreciation of the genre review pop albums. Although our city is widely known for blues, alternative country, and the Butthole Surfers, we are blessed with an amazing number of great, and somewhat undiscovered, pop bands. I hope that the Chronicle will continue its efforts to cover (and uncover) all of this hidden talent and perhaps bring on a writer or two with a real love for "good pop music." Just don't bring back Mindy "this band makes me wet" LaBernz!

Sincere thanks,

Dan O'Neill

Javelin Boot


Parenthetically Yours

Dear Editor:

Your (music, movies, art, food) reviewer (Baumgarten, Lieck, Williams, Faires, etc.) really blew it with (his, her) review of the (book, concert, recording, movie, exhibit, restaurant) [Insert title here] last issue. I (saw, heard, read, dined at) (event or location) and it's obvious that your reviewer knows nothing about (film noir, industrial rock, neosurrealism, Czechuan cuisine, etc.). Instead (he, she) ranted and raved about (sexism, corruption, injustice, MSG), which had nothing to do with the review, and contained an incessant hero worship of (Norman Mailer, Rolling Stones, Quentin Tarantino, Julia Child) while taking yet another cheap shot at (John Grisham, David Bowie, Steven Spielberg, Paul Prudhomme). But comparing (himself, herself) to (Faulkner, Jagger, Scorcese) was really too much.

Michael Simpson


Circuit Is No Party

Dear Editor:

I would like to respond to your feature article in last week's issue about the party circuit for musicians in Austin ["The Party Circuit," Vol. 16, No. 13]. Your article was informative and pretty accurate, but I want to verbalize some observations.

It is a dream come true for a working band to be booked through talent agencies and playing parties is easy money. But, the article made it sound like any band in town can do this and if they don't, they just ain't hip. That's not the case. The band I front is one of the few zydeco bands in Austin and we do a lot of parties through the agencies such as Popular Talent, Gary Smeltzer, BBA Management, and Emerald Entertainment. These agents, as well as others, are very particular about the bands they send out to jobs, and they should be, it's their living. In order to work through a talent agent, the band must be established, extremely professional, able to handle any situation effectively and act as a representative of the agency. So, you might make the big money, but the work is more of a compromise than what you might find in a club setting. The people calling the agent usually don't know exactly what they want, specifics are quite vague, including directions to the gig, and the agent will take up to 20% for your work. A lot of the agents' clients will pay with a check, or will mail your check to who knows where or may not pay you at all at the end of the gig. So, there's a lot to be thought out when working through an agency.

That article also gave the impression that this is a way to exist and make a decent living in the music scene here. Most of the bands mentioned also supplement their agency work with club dates, which brings to light an entirely different situation. Once a band is booked through the agencies, it's difficult for the agent to justify their prices to clients if that same band regularly plays Sixth Street for tips and a percentage of the bar. As a working musician, that puts us in a precarious position. You want to work and need to work and the agencies don't necessarily have enough work for your band to live on all the time, and you can't really go back to playing for tips and beer. What do you do then?

My point being that even though it's a wonderful thing to be booked through agencies for parties around town, it's not necessarily the musical gravy train that this article made it out to be. But thanks for making the public aware.

Sincerely,

Joyce Anderson

Third Degree


The Maine Line

From an Austin lover in Maine:

Like anyone who ever heard Jim Montgomery play and sing I was saddened to hear of his passing. Like all who knew and loved him as a man, his passing leaves a hole in our lives which will be filled only by time and the remembrance of the joy and love Jim shared with the world. Austin in the early Eighties was a new and exciting experience for me, one which was broadened and enriched by the friendship of Jim and his brother Joe. With the relish and zest of a child, Jim showed me that the fabled allure of Austin was indeed as rich and as real as I was led to believe. The scene, from Antone's to Zilker, from Stevie Ray and Marcia Ball to Robert Earl Keene, from Sixth Street to Dripping Springs, from the Drag to the Hill Country, was made all the more special by having Jim Montgomery as my guide. I`ll miss you, Jim; but I`ll play your tapes and try to keep the quest alive.

Joel Marino

Grand Lake Stream, Maine


Cheesy Plug

Editor:

While it has always been a goal of mine for my band to make the "Recommended" section of the Chronicle, and while I appreciate your Recommending us [Vol. 16, No. 12], I must say I'm a little baffled.

Your reviewer said that fans could look forward to hearing us do Cyndi Lauper, Tom Jones, Risky Business, and Corey Hart (and specifically "Sunglasses at Night"). This is all fine and good, except for the fact that we've never played any of that stuff.

And beyond listing stuff we don't play, there's absolutely no mention of any of the stuff we do play. (This despite the fact that we have a huge list of nearly 60 songs we play from, plus probably another 60 or so that we've faked our way through when people requested them at shows. With well over 100 performed songs, it's not like there wasn't a lot to choose from to list in your article.)

I like to think that some of the things that make King Cheese shows special are Lightning Lee's dead-on (and hysterical) vocal impersonations, the costumes, the fact that we'll play stuff we don't really know when it's requested, our stage humor, audience members joining us onstage to sing songs, and unlikely song pairs like John Denver followed by Mötley Crüe, or Seals & Crofts followed by Michael Jackson. But your reviewer didn't mention any of these things, either.

So again, while I'm grateful for the plug, I have to wonder how we can make "Recommended" without the reviewer ever actually seeing our show?

Michael Bluejay

King Cheese


Rattling the Chains

Letter to the Editor:

This past weekend I was watching the national news and all that I heard was "AIDS -- AIDS and more AIDS." When the national news ended and the local news came on, all that I heard was more "AIDS and more AIDS."

When are the people of this world going to realize that AIDS is not a badge of honor, that the only entity that is honored by AIDS is the "Devil" himself?

When do we come to understand that the people who suffer from AIDS have asked for it? They have asked for it by defying all the laws of a loving "God," by promiscuous sleeping around or using drugs. They then in turn spread this dread disease to people that they profess to love, wives, and even unborn children.

They carelessly infect themselves and then feel nothing when the rest of the world pays for it in physical suffering and monetary costs. Why is there more money spent in research on AIDS than there is for cancer research?

It is true that in this world man has free agency to do as he will; however he must understand that his actions have consequences that must be borne by every other living soul.

The spreading of AIDS should carry criminal penalties. I am not a smoker, however, how can we justify the laws and penalties against smoking and allow a crime such as AIDS go unpunished? Death is as certain from AIDS as it is from a gunshot, and is certainly more painful in that it carries so much more suffering.

I will pray for you all, but I will not honor your actions.

Yours truly,

W. H. "Bill" Wiggins


The Numbers Crunch

Dear Editors:

At 3:52 this morning I awoke composing this letter about the faculty meeting I had attended the previous afternoon. We had a presentation from four teachers who had returned from visiting a private school in Boston to tell us of new strategies to use to accommodate different learning styles. They told of the creativity of master teachers, the clever "hands-on" learning, the lap-top computers at every desk. We were all impressed with the modifications of learning and were encouraged to try these methods until we learned that these master teachers were teaching classes with only seven students in them and saw no more than 35 students per day.

The next part of the agenda of our faculty meeting was choosing a new schedule for our school. All options would require each teacher to see 180 students per day.

Does the irony not strike anyone? Educational leaders talk of the wonderful, even magical new strategies of education, but the cold reality of public education means 180 students a day. The appearance -- we want to improve math, science, and writing skills. The reality -- 180 students.

I couldn't sleep. Can you?

Rita Williams


Hitting the Books

Dear Editors,

At a time when in-depth book-industry reporting is often mystifyingly absent from publications which aim to cover the arts, Karl Pallmeyer's piece on the bookstore wars ["Chain Reaction," Vol. 16, No. 13] is welcome and long overdue.

As the first national literary agent to hang a shingle in Austin, I have personal experience with the current market's frequent inhospitality toward authors who do not personally constitute measurable slices of GDP. Writers whose books aren't staples on the bestseller lists, whose work sells in, oh, the 3,000- to 30,000-copy range, seem to be finding ever fewer rewards in New York.

But this is not only a consequence of the bookselling climate, but of the new nature of corporate ownership of today's publishers. It's old news but very pertinent to Pallmeyer's thesis that Bertelsmann is a synonym for Bantam, Doubleday, Dell and numerous other familiar imprints. Newhouse's Advance Communications counts Random House, Knopf, Ballantine, and Pantheon among its major publishing entities. Only a few publishers retain the old-world independence and sensibility that once characterized the industry, W.W. Norton, I suppose, foremost among them. (One of the last independent hold-outs, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, was last year absorbed by large, if so far benign, corporate ownership.)

Five years ago, when I was an editor at HarperCollins, when it was still called Harper & Row, a collegial old place not yet fully incorporated into Rupert Murdoch's global media offensive, management held editors to acquisitions goals which assigned books "letter grades," A through D, with coveted A books having estimated first printings of 50,000 copies or more. There was an explicit rule that hardcover books whose first-year sales were projected below 15,000 copies would not be acquired by the firm, unless they were likely to win a major literary prize (prestige being its own bottom line, and fully depreciable under the straight-line accounting method). Editors at certain publishers (Villard and Crown come immediately to mind) have told me that they won't consider a book that won't likely advance at least 50,000 copies, and become the basis for a segment of 60 Minutes along the way.

These imperatives surely don't help the average working author in his quest to build a career writing books. They have changed the venues he must sometimes pursue to see his work into print, abetting Barnes & Noble's rapid, bestseller-driven growth. But to go so far as to argue, as Pallmeyer does, that our "access to literature may indeed be in danger" -- whether because of chain bookstores' mammoth market presence or because of publishers' commercial priorities -- is unsophisticated, and more than a little hyperbolic. It's like saying that our access to fine food may indeed be in danger because of the extensive reach of McDonald's, Pizza Hut, and KFC. No. One may need to shop elsewhere to find delectable fare -- Threadgill's, www.amazon.com, what have you -- but good books, I believe, will always be there for the serious reader, if not always published by the commercial New York houses. University presses are expanding their non-academic offerings, even publishing some fiction. Smaller presses such as Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill are rising to the challenging of publishing the unconventional or merely worthy.

As was aptly observed by Pallmeyer's source, sales rep Michael Donahue (who I would guess does more business with Andrews & McMeel and Workman than with "Andrews McNeil" and "Wertman"), the most relevant concern surrounds the tiny but powerful cabal of national buyers at the chains who issue the make-or-break purchasing decisions on individual titles. What this comes down to is the question of the concentration of capital -- publishing capital and bookselling capital alike. In this light it is odd that Pallmeyer should hold forth BookPeople as the paragon of the virtuous independent bookseller. With its Brobdingnagian physical proportions and formidable amalgamation of economic resources, capitalized by a number of wealthy regional investors, the store severely restricts opportunities for smaller, mom-and-pop general bookstores to open and flourish in the downtown area. Who has a chance against four floors of inventory and hundreds of thousands of titles? As much as I enjoy shopping at BookPeople (and at Borders and B & N for that matter), it bears a stronger resemblance to Barnes & Noble than to its old incarnation at Brodie Oaks. Of course, it is thereby competing rationally in a cutthroat market via the only means it can: Beating the chains, in the Austin market at least, at their own game.

Ultimately, the threat to our access to literature arises from the purchasing decisions of readers, not of corporate purchasers. Though their channels of distribution may change, only when good books stop getting bought at the cash register will they indeed be in danger.

Jim Hornfischer

The Literary Group International


America Is $, Not Art

Postmarks:

Yes, that title "America Is an Artist," [Vol. 16, No. 12] set me off before I even read Michael Ventura's latest piece. I admit it. I knew I was going to be very hard to convince. And when he rounded out his opinion with a quote from Nietzsche, troping Nietzsche's adjective "all-too-human" by standing it on its head, I knew that a response was in order, and I knew how to frame it.

Mr. Ventura's more-than-apparent goodwill, his willingness to speak from the heart, and his penchant for grand subject matter has taken him a long way, and I was impressed by his first three or four articles for the Chronicle -- articles where, for whatever reason, both his prose and his polemics were more disciplined. It must be difficult to be truly incisive week in, week out, but the sloppy thinking in this latest article cannot be passed over as a slow night's work. It is more than cosmetic. When writing about the X-Files or Las Vegas, it is enough to be entertaining. But if you are going to milk my sacred cow, you best know where the udders are.

To gloss the central thesis: America is the most inventive country in the history of the world. Artists are also inventive. America must be an artist. Some of us, too weak to fully embrace the artist within, react politically. This is understandable, though "small-minded." That's it. Beautifully reductive. Clear and quick-moving. With lots of examples and references and famous people's names. And false, false, false. Ventura makes no attempt to differentiate between inventive, original, creative, and artistic. He elides from inventor to scientist to artist, slurring all distinctions. There is no discussion of the quality of creativity of inventiveness involved in various actions. And there is no mention of the value of these actions. His goggled-eyed amazement in the face of capital-N Novelty, undifferentiated, is sorely distressing. I expect such asinine horn-tooting from the advertisers and boosters of the world, selling us on our pathetic selves. But not here. Ventura needs sobering up, and I recommend Wendell Berry's prose as just the tonic.

I suggest that, as far as quantity goes, 20th century America is most inventive for purely statistical reasons. We have the most people with the most free time. But his is no reason, in and of itself, for backslapping. Very little of what we now do is memorable. The scientific advance since the time of Newton, really, is miraculous, but this does not make America or anyone else an artist. Define art a little more narrowly, and it becomes clear that most of America's art legacy is not in creativity or construction, but in deconstruction. Ventura does not mention that the novel, the short story, the poem, the easel painting, the free-standing sculpture, the art object in general, have all been deconstructed by us. Nor does he note that most of the artists he names fled the U.S. in search of an artistic milieu, hated America, and are now treated only as artifacts. Poe and Eliot may have invented the modern short story and poem, for example, but the contemporary short story and poem are far-removed, nearly debtless little beasts. Popular music and film are quite healthy, and some of the output might be called artistic, but no one could accuse these media of being top-heavy.

There are brilliant people in this country and wonderful things are being done, but in general, America is most emphatically not an artist. America is a business, where some creative output is merchandised as entertainment. All else is obsolescent or obsolete. Even on the fringes, outside the markets, America is an artist only by the most generous of definitions. America is a self-indulgent, unrefined artist, sciolistic and presumptuous. Our shallow political character is not a reaction to our artistic depth. They are two sides of a one-sided coin. Inundated by information and analysis, our left brains now have a thousand ways of saying, of intiming, nothing -- with three or four more discovered each week; while our Ids, grounded only in last week's news and a few misty quasi-Freudian memories of our pre-television selves, subsist bulimicaly on the spiritual equivalent of Dexatrim and Diet Coke.

Ventura might have addressed the degenerate state of modern American creativity, a state that Nietzsche was good enough to all but predict for us, a state more frightening than any episode of the X-Files or even Millenium, because true. But his would have meant taking on the highly original bunch who get their stroking from the Chronicle, and who no doubt do not want to hear it.

Miles Mathis


Home Testing

Dear Editors:

I submitted the following letter to the American-Statesman on October 29 and they have not contacted me or run the letter. I hope you will see fit to print it. An appendix supporting my claims is included [Ed. note: We have not included the appendix here].

The recent Knight-Ridder article "Home Medical Testing Popular, but Not Perfect" (Austin American-Statesman, Oct. 29, p. A1) failed to mention one of the most potentially devastating implications of the home medical testing craze. Contrary to the "everyone is at risk" propaganda, the prevalence of AIDS and HIV among drug-free heterosexuals is much, much lower than among promiscuous gay men, IV drug users, and the other risk-behavioral groups.

Because no biomedical test is perfectly specific, whenever a very low-risk population is tested for a medical condition, the ratio of false positives to true positives is considerably higher than for a high-risk population. For HIV testing, this ratio can be greater than 1:1. That is, if you get a positive test result, it may actually be more likely to be wrong than right, even if the test is more than 99% "accurate" (specific). Space rules out showing the calculations here, but readers may ask their doctor or pharmacist about it, check the Web sites given below, or as a last resort, send me e-mail.

Poorly researched drug combinations with questionable clinical benefits and unknown long-term effects are being prescribed for asymptomatic "HIV infection" merely on the basis of a single positive result. (Note that in the article's sidebar, having an asymptomatic HIV infection is referred to as being "actually sick.") In the continuing climate of AIDS hysteria, with its tendency to ignore or suppress inconvenient but (to clinicians) well-known facts, this questionable medical practice occurs even in response to positive medical-office tests. As more and more members of the low-risk population self-administer HIV tests at home, the prevalence of false-positive results, with all their medical, psychological, and financial consequences, can only rise unless people inform themselves.

For extensive, scientifically valid criticism of AIDS orthodoxy, see the following Internet sites:

http://www.aidsauthority.org:80/main.html

http://www.xs4all.nl:80/~raido

http://www.geocities.com:80/SunsetStrip/2587/aidswork.html

Sincerely,

Gregg Roberts

groberts@tpoint.net

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

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