DeWitty Center Helpful
In reference to your article on job search training centers, you mentioned that the DeWitty Center is ineffective and invisible. I respectfully request that you amend your statement.
I recently completed a free eight-week Microsoft Word course at the DeWitty Center and was pleased with the ease of entry into this course (no hoops to jump through), wide choice of times for the courses offered, and my extremely competent and compassionate instructor.
The DeWitty staff was always kind and helpful. Totally free anything is hard to find. Please do all you can to help keep this center open.
Linda G. Pendergras
Mr. Edwards was not the only one puzzled by Oppel's comment about diversity in his newsroom ["Postmarks," Vol.16, No.47]. I am a former Austin-American Statesman journalist and a founding member of the Austin affiliate of the National Association of Black Journalists. In the nearly four years since my departure, I have watched the number of African Americans and Hispanics in the newsroom drop significantly. And they are not being replaced with blacks and Latinos. So I, too, am puzzled by his claim that the newsroom is diverse and becoming more so. I certainly give Cox credit for hiring Oppel; he is the best news person and the strongest editorial voice the paper has had in a least 14 years. But his ability to gather news will be dependent on the quality of his staff. In an increasingly diverse community, his staff must be able to cover all communities. He has a long way to go on that front!
To the Letters Editor:
Now Write It in French
FAREWELL, LES AMIS: AN ODE
Oh! Thou font of hair rampant,
of coffee divine.
Of roast beef sandwich and
yon unbound bosom, yon
pretty-good apple pie.
Wouldst thou close?
"Fie!" say I.
Wherefore now, more rice
and black'd bean, mingl'd with
elastic, stringly cheese-on-chin?
Wherefore now, non-Mexican Spanish
phrase and sentence listened
over shoulder, slacker vulgarity
over t'other, wafting high?
Thou wouldst close?
"Fie!" ... and again
"Fie!!" say I.
Nevermore, yon sorority
goddess, straight-hair crowned,
T-shirt, shorts, astride youthful
tan'd sneaker'd treadmill-legs,
from sidewalk cast nervous/curious
glance into shadowy cove,
where the unconvention'd rove.
Bereft am I. Thou art closed.
I crie: "Fie!"
and again, "Fie!!". And softly:
"fie", say I.
Does Size Matter?
Sorry, but I'm just curious and a bit subject to letter-length envy. I found what appeared to be at least 600+ words on the "Bats" and "She Don't Like Mike" letters in "Postmarks," but a few weeks back, I was over the acceptable 300 words max by 175 or 180 words and was asked to pare it down. I was glad to oblige the request albeit at the risk of giving it a more static rhythm; which it did.
What's the trick to getting a massive 800-1,000-word letter published unedited? Not sending via e-mail? Being Bill Bunch? Being Senator Gonzalo Barrientos?
Literally discriminated in Austin,
[The 300-word length is ideal in terms of the number of letters we can print in an issue. Sometimes we let letters run long because they are a legitimate response, sometimes because they are interesting, sometimes by accident, but we try to get most letters at the 300-word length -- Ed.]
Dear Austin Chronicle,
Ratings Scandal Exposed
Over the years my husband and I have followed your movie reviews with a kind of wide-eyed awe. Puzzling over your ratings, we began to realize that your reviewers must have some serious impairment. Now, we feel we have identified this impairment and humbly ask you this: Please, only allow the sighted to review movies for the Chronicle.
Recently, your reviews have reached new heights of lunacy. Female Perversions, whose heavyhanded vacuousness sent me home in a hideous black mood, receives 4 stars. (Who really believes a woman in line for a judgeship wears a translucent blouse, with a black bra underneath, to work? And spare me the would-be-deep cross/swimming pool/goddess-breast-slash crap.) The Fifth Element, with good graphics but a terminally feeble plot, 31/2 stars. Men In Black (lightweight but fun), only 21/2 stars. The bastardization of Hercules, 31/2 stars. (He has a pet horse Pegasus? Hera was his mother? Next, we'll hear Moses was really the Queen's son.)
Then, the one movie so far this summer with actual content, character development, and plot, Contact, receives a non-committal 3 stars.
What's going on here?
Maybe we should only see those movies you give bad or non-committal ratings to. Maybe we'll only use your paper to look up movie times. Maybe if I want to see a movie I'll just stand outside the theatre and see whatever movie has an alluring title. Maybe we should use the method that seems most favored by your reviewers and have a guide dog choose the film for us. Perhaps by these arcane methods we'll avoid seeing films that repulse or bore us in their attempts to be cool, and see something worth watching. Or, maybe you can redeem yourselves by hiring someone gifted with sight to write your reviews.
Thanking and Eating
My compliments to Virginia B. Wood for some of the more informed food reporting I've seen in months, no years, in Austin. I actually felt like I wanted to brave a restaurant in midsummer after reading about Suzi's China Grill. Nay, I'm e'en emboldened to take my mom when she comes to town. My mother has extremely bad luck with food here [in Austin], usually gets poisoning or some extremely awful place.
P.S. -- The "Monument" cafe was named after a tombstone builder that had the spot. Stick to the steak and pies, because these folks can cook hunks of meat but have none of the labor-intensive feminine down-home dishes and Texana licked. A lot of kids in my child's school have never eaten in a Mexican restaurant outside of Taco Bell.
Thanks, Ms. Wood, on Veggie Planet review, Brio (an old friend), and Roscoe's (another acquaintance). Keep that gentle spirit and balance going!
(cook and eater)
You presented a shallow and outdated analysis of "the pulse of reggae" ["Pressure Drop," Vol.16, No.44]. The efforts of former reggae promoter Louis Meyers go without mention; but in all honesty, his contribution to Austin reggae in the Eighties ended with the Eighties. You left conspicuously absent dozens of local groups. In the past two years alone there've been at least seven full-length releases by area artists and most all of them are receiving regular airplay in major U.S. cities (including Austin), many have gone worldwide. Several are the second or third such productions by these bands. I don't consider it a discredit (as Meyers suggests) that artists may play with each other's bands, rather a testimony to the co-operative, respectful relationships that they share.
Reggae's audience is as varied as its musical influences. On any given night the crowd is by no means all-white or "dead-head." There's a mix of cultures, ages, and occupations represented, and though this may confuse marketers, it does wonders for the music. To say that someone is "too old," too white, etc... to be involved in the music (as an artist or fan) is completely absurd.
Most shameful is your eerily paternalistic armchair musicology... you state that the music "came about by accident" and that "[Jamaicans] got the accent wrong." To say that a culture of people with such a strong musical history and over 400 years of experience in the Caribbean simply "got the beat wrong" is embarrassingly ignorant. It's disturbing that as educated people you would perpetuate the use of such offensive, racist language as the article is littered with: "caveman primitive," "in the bush," "native noise," references to "King Kong extras," and a "clot" of anything.
It is your responsibility to provide an honest and unbiased report; you did neither. The pulse of reggae is stronger than ever.
Innocents in the Midst
There has been of late a hair-raising story floating around of a woman named Sonia Cacy, at present completing her fifth year of a 99-year prison sentence at Gatesville for the arson murder of her uncle in the town of Fort Stockton, in 1991. As detailed in a huge comprehensive exegesis occupying the entire Column One and more in the July 22 edition of the Wall Street Journal, this conviction, with the hard work and passionate pro bono effort of a number of eminent people, from Austin and elsewhere, has been completely discredited. Ms. Cacy has been vindicated and proven to be entirely innocent, to everybody except the courts. She remains in prison, God help us.
The circumstances of her conviction were that the extensive scientific forensic evidence presented by prosecution experts was not energetically opposed by the poor forces of the defense. Even though the forensic work of the prosecution was apparently not too careful, the court-appointed opposition was able to show but little or no resistance, and everything was accepted down the line, one two three. Cacy now awaits an uncertain future.
With careful study it has become apparent that Cacy's situation is all too common -- far more commonplace today than in the historical past, when it would instantly have been isolated as the gross anomaly that it is. An ironic example is the fact that Susie Mowbray, Cacy's cellmate in the prison, has also been discovered to be innocent and has been exonerated. What good times those two must have had in the cell together.
Something must be done.
Immigrants Ruin Everything
Each Earth Day brings us closer to environmental catastrophe, as homo stupidiens continues to avoid the politically incorrect, underlying issue of over population/Third World migration -- while briskly separating garbage and putting bricks into toilets. However well-meaning, focusing on palliatives creates a climate of complacency, delaying the inevitable day of reckoning.
Recycling, pollution control, energy conservation -- all are cancelled out by exponential growth that has been exploding for only 200 years -- since the industrial revolution invented technology to slow death rates without curtailing birthrates to balance. It took three million years, until 1850, for world population to reach one billion. By 1950 there were two billion. In 1975, four billion. Eight billion is looming! Yet eco-biologists put optimal sustainable population at approximately two billion!
As population doubles again in the next 50 years, all of today's problems (congestion, pollution, resource depletion, etc.) will also double. It's time to stop frantically bailing out our sinking ecoship and plug the population hole. U.S. immigration policy fuels world overpopulation by removing the incentive to live within limits. Because we enable them, many alien women here have more children than compatriots in their countries of origin. Therefore: 1) Immigration must end; 2) Tax breaks must be given to non-breeders and one-child families only; 3) Mandatory birth control for all welfare recipients.
The U.S. is at nearly twice the 150 million believed to be sustainable. Even with the most stringent measures, we still face a future of rationed resources and dwindling wilderness. Each year in the U.S., an area the size of Delaware is destroyed to accommodate over 3 million more people, nearly 2/3 of whom are immigrants "yearning to `breed' free." My grandchildren will be lucky to bathe regularly. If there are any elephants and tigers left, they'll probably be in zoos.
And that's why I am no longer an Earth First!-er because I am sick of hearing them and their ilk blame Austin's problems on white people moving here from California (which is 1/4 foreign born), while denying that overpopulation and Third World immigration are any longer problems -- we'll just live stacked up in high-rise housing developments, they say!
There are 20,000 illegals working in Austin, mostly in construction, pushing down wages. The Day Labor site is 80% illegals (from a Chronicle feature story). And now we're a "sanctuary" city, thanks to Gus Garcia, acting at the behest of a certain former Brown Beret of "Azthan."
It's immigration, stupid.
Angus, You Moral Agnostic
Angus Tilney's diatribe ["Postmarks," Vol.16, No.48] on the "Christian" (although those involved certainly do not speak on behalf of Christianity) reaction to Chinese persecution is shocking. The issue of debate is whether China is oppressing Christians or not; Angus does not challenge this, but instead proclaims the alleged tyrannies to be nothing more than "Chinese policies."
The premise behind Tilney's rant is: Who are we to judge? However, moral agnosticism is not a virtue. If one doesn't distinguish between good and evil, who gains? Evil. It's one's duty as a rational being to pronounce moral judgement. Have those who denied China moral sanction judged incorrectly? Blank out. Is it wrong to oppress? Blank out. All Angus does is justify any oppression, should it exist, on the basis of past tyrannies executed by certain Christians. There is no such thing as collective guilt; there is no original sin. If we can put Christianity on trial, why not condemn us all for the evils of certain men? The truth is that if China is oppressive, it is wrong and should be denounced, regardless of Christianity's besmirched name.
Angus, Read Up!
Angus Tilney wants Christians to "stop whining" about religious persecution in China ["Postmarks," Vol.16, No.48]. Because Chinese culture predates our own by centuries, the reasoning goes, we are not to criticize their treatment of religious minorities. Let's just send the subsidies and keep our mouths shut, I guess.
Tilney relies, presumably, on the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to support his rather interesting take on separation of church and state. The amendment reads, in relevant part, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." One would be hard pressed to find a legal scholar who interprets these words to mean that people, by virtue of their religious faith, forfeit the right to speak out against religious persecution or to lobby Congress on that or any other matter.
I suggest that Mr. Tilney read the First Amendment in its entirety (I will gladly give him a copy), especially the parts about freedom of speech and the right of the people to petition the government for a redress of grievances. Nowhere do I read an exception for Christians.
Stop whining, Mr. Tilney. Everyone has the right to an opinion, even you.
One Freedom Among Many
Before we create yet another chapter of American History with the media ink pen, I would like to mention that Che Guevera wrote several books concerning his endeavors. Of course his writings were banned in our brave new country for quite some time due to the content. Freedom? Well... our kind of freedom. Before anyone embraces an extreme right or left rendition of this revolutionary, I would suggest reading his writings to form one's own opinions as to the nature of Che's goals. Otherwise, here's my two cents.
Che was a doctor, an educated man, and I believe he knew what lay in store for Latin America and its indigenous people. The clash of cultures which has occurred in the Americas over the last several hundred years, due to the influx of Europeans and their sick sense of manifest destiny, has left its natives scrambling to work for less than minimum wage. It is no secret that Che was against the spread of the capitalist United States. Che embraced the communist Soviet Union as an act of defense, it was his only means of deterring the spread of a system which systematically rewarded the hard work of only one culture. No? A brief look at the history of "our" United States clarifies my point. Slavery, the confinement of native Americans to reservations, anti-Asian work laws, Japanese concentration camps, Jim Crow laws (...I'll stop) were all legal examples of racism in the U.S.; all of which have contributed to the "equalness" and distribution of wealth (land, money, education, etc.) of today's United States. Freedom? Well... our kind of freedom.
Che was a freedom fighter, fighting to preserve the culture of an indigenous people through their own participation. He abandoned his wealth and security to fight against a system he felt was biased and unjust from the get-go. Although all systems of government from communism to capitalism will eventually sell out to greed, in the case of the U.S., not all contemporary Americans were considered part of "We the People..." when the constitution was written. Not all cultures believe in "In God we trust." Is this not a form of greed? The desecration of so many cultures in the name of the almighty dollar has left our society and those cultures in shambles. And yet, with NAFTA, we will soon "bless" another continent rich in culture and beauty with our Darwinian-magic-economic-wand.
Latin America is not a perfect society, there is no such thing. However, should it not decide its own fate? Its new tide of capital comes with many consequences. It is one thing to provide jobs for the impoverished Latin Americans and pay them a decent wage so they can provide for their families and send their children to school. On the other hand, it is a complete disgrace for American companies to exploit the culture and work force of Latin America to finance condos in Aspen, beach-houses in Malibu, or even lakefront property in Westlake. I believe Che would have participated in our form of democracy and would have fought against the inequality of such institutions as the Citadel, the Texaco Corporation, or even many Latin American political systems. We are left to wonder whether or not he would have participated in our form of capitalism. Our CIA resolved that situation for us. What does our biased government have to do with acquiring wealth and the spread of big business? No Assets For The Aztecs.
Freedom? Well... our kind of freedom.