I must take issue with several statements in Lisa Tozzi's generally worthy article, "Kaplan Crunch," [Vol.17, No.15]. She raises the concern that Austin Community College may be "changing its mission from a strong academic two-year program to a vocational school producing workers..." This is a false dichotomy which we at ACC work hard to avoid. For one thing, by state decree, we serve many constituencies as evidenced by our multi-faceted mission statement. Transfer education and the students it serves are as important to us as any other aspect of our work, which also includes developmental education, workforce education, and continuing education. To set up a false dichotomy of "worker bees" on the one hand and "great thinkers" on the other ignores the realities of today's workplace and the global "knowledge economy" we are all part of. Most people need to earn their living, preferably in a rewarding career, and most jobs require both "doing" and "thinking" skills. That's why graduates of our associate degree program in workforce education take general education such as speech, economics, English composition, government, and history -- to assure that they possess the well-rounded education they need to succeed in a workplace where teamwork, critical thinking, and communications skills are essential. In the same way, graduates of our transfer programs and courses have the full intention of having a fruitful career after transferring their ACC credits to and graduating from a four-year institution. The fact that so many universities and colleges are also attempting to be more responsive to the career aspirations of today's students is further proof that the "worker/thinker" dichotomy raised in the article is a false one. Lisa raises this specter once again when she expresses a concern that ACC's transfer students will be "lost in the land of higher academia if ACC concentrates its energies on simply preparing a future workforce..." Fear not, Lisa. We have a strong commitment to transfer students. Two-thirds (67%) of our Fall 1997 enrollments were in transfer classes. But we also have a commitment to helping those who want to start a technical career to achieve success. Our business community, the source of jobs in Austin, has asked for that commitment. Our community leaders have asked for that commitment. And our students, including those in our journalism program who someday might be working for the Chronicle, appreciate that commitment. Again, our mission is broad, but it can be summarized simply: "ACC is committed to serving the diverse needs of the Greater Austin community."
Richard Fonte, President
Austin Community College
Most Historians Agree
It is too bad wise sage H.L. Mencken is not alive to appreciate the comical fundamentalist Marvin Olasky. As it is, Mencken's spirit rolls in its revered space, saddened at missing a chance to roast the likes of another Gantry-esque figure, but at least he left the curious plenty of quotes that still echo with truth. Perhaps the best is his definition of a demogogue, which is "a man who tells what he knows to be lies to people he knows to be idiots...."
On the other side of the coin, Mencken would applaud the recent uttering of Canada's United Church leader Rev. Bill Phipps, who's in hot water amongst his peers for declaring that he didn't believe Jesus Christ was God but instead, a human being. Christ "did not reveal nor represent" all of God, but rather a "window to God." Hope for mankind?
I sincerely appreciate Olasky's right to free speech; he is his own worst enemy preaching to the converted. If he is of open mind, I suggest he trot down to the local bookstore and fetch a copy of the recently re-issued Mencken classic, Treatise on the Gods. It remains nothing short of an Agnostic's Bible. He could pick it up for a late X-mas gift, I suppose, but wait... wasn't Jesus actually born in the spring, as most historians agree?
Linda "Maytag" Curtis
Great story on Linda Curtis["Inside Agitator," Vol.17, No.15]! She is a rare and precious breed of political activist that plays an invaluable role in balancing the scales of social justice. She gives liberals and conservatives fits because she says what they know to be true, but are unwilling to say. Her words and actions expose their failure to speak out and act.
While Linda is criticized for her "tactics" and "style," the real issue for her opponents is her substance. Her reforms threaten the comfortable and self-serving roles that many movers and shakers have established for themselves. Linda is a threat because she is effective in advocating for those reforms.
As is typical of liberals and conservatives alike, they often attack the messenger instead of the message. Brigid Shea's comment that Linda loses sight because she is too "passionate" is no different than lobbyists for polluters claiming that concerned mothers are too "emotional" to understand the issue. Such comments are aimed at discrediting and marginalizing the person whose position they disagree with.
People like Linda are not interested in labels or credentials. For her, being correct is more important than being politically correct. People who hold true to the issues, regardless of the fall-out, act as the conscience of our political system. Just look in the history books at all those social reformers we now revere. Most were labeled as "radical," "extreme," and "too passionate" in their time.
With so many people asleep at the wheel, we need more passion in the political arena. Activists like Linda won't allow problems to be ignored. She shakes things up and makes things happen. Too many politicians, bureaucrats, and public interest advocates are playing it safe -- and compromising away their principles and our rights. Society needs more "agitators" like Linda Curtis. Remember, the agitator is the part of the washing machine that gets the dirt out.
Texans United Education Fund
Learn From Seattle!
The people here that are against I-130 being built should go visit Seattle! I lived in Seattle from 1989 to 1995. Seattle is close to the same population as Austin, and has very environmentally concerned people as we do here. It also has an Interstate 5 freeway that runs right through the center of the city! Interstate 5 runs from the Mexico border to the Canadian border. The congestion of traffic is bumper to bumper (and at a standstill) during rush hours from Olympia, WA. (WA.'s capital city) to Seattle, which is about the same distance as we are from San Antonio. (Actually it is more then twice the distance if you say from Olympia to Bremerton, WA.) While I lived there, I used to watch their city meetings on TV ( as I do here). I always heard how the city had so much regret not building the interstate farther away from their downtown. I would bet money on if you asked the people there if they had the chance (or possible Land) to build an expressway or freeway (whatever you choose to call it!) to relieve traffic off of Interstate 5, 99.9% would say yes!!! I believe the main reason that Kirk Watson got elected as mayor was because he advertised to help get I-130 built! And that a lot of Democrats as well as Republicans voted for him! I know that I did! And I'm an environmentally concerned (democratic) person!
Dana Andrew Kiger
To the Editors:
I'd like to thank Arthur Bradford and the Chronicle for the thoughtful and timely feature story on Lars Eighner ("The Rest of His Days," Vol.17, No.12). Bradford expressed an intelligent sense of Lars' complicated and human situation, without special pleading, but with a real sense of a writer's importance to a community with a claim to an artistic tradition.
I would like to correct the impression apparently shared by a few readers (to judge from the "Postmarks" department) that Lars is somehow completely responsible for his difficult circumstances, and has done nothing to help himself. That is simply not true. He has continued to work hard at his freelance writing (which unfortunately doesn't pay consistently or much) and he has tried other kinds of (mostly computer-related) work. His health is too poor to allow most ordinary jobs (like most writers, he has no insurance), and has prevented him from maintaining a base income that most of us take for granted to keep us one disaster from the streets. He needs help -- and his friends and readers have given it, without apology or blame.
Setting his immediate circumstances aside, Lars Eighner has written several good books and one extraordinary one (Travels with Lizbeth) that is among other things as fine a portrait of Austin, from the bottom up, as exists in our literature. We owe it to ourselves to honor that work, and to do what little we can to sustain it.
Thanks in part to the piece in the Chronicle and other news reports, a group of Austinites and others, mostly fellow writers, have put together enough money (working through The Texas Observer) to pay Lars' rent through January (we're hoping to collect at least one more month's worth). Others have generously volunteered medical expenses, still others are covering Lizbeth's vet bills. Lars is now back at his keyboard, and he intends to get his income going again, while we explore the possibility of some form of disability assistance.
Again, thanks to Art Bradford and the Chronicle for covering Lars' story, and to the generous readers who have contributed to his aid.
The Texas Observer
P.S. I'd also like to thank Lee Nichols for his generous recent plug for the Observer.
I have to disagree somewhat with Robert Faires' review of Joe York's holiday show at the Zach ["Exhibitonism," Vol.17, No.15]. In York's favor -- he has a tremendous voice. If I had gone to his performance with my eyes closed and heard only the songs, it would have been one of the finest shows I'd ever heard. Unfortunately, items unrelated to the music intervened and detracted from the show.
One quibble I had was with his song selection. What he performed, he performed flawlessly. But aside from what seemed to be a small set of Christmas tunes, the majority of the show had nothing at all to do with the holiday. My Jewish father would have been spinning in his grave had he known I attended a Christmas show. Luckily, he can rest in peace because York's show had about as much to do with Christmas as the Peanuts Halloween special. Additionally, his witty asides seemed overly rehearsed. Yes, they were cute, but I detected an undercurrent of "I've only told this 12 times today."
Finally, I have to comment about York's wardrobe. Yes, he has a great physique -- and I would enjoy looking at it more closely any other time -- but during a Christmas show? Despite his great build, York seems a smidgen too old to be wearing exhibitionistic "club kid" shirts. The mood of a romantic ballad was broken by a person near me muttering "Is that his nipple?" York admitted that by wearing one particular shirt, he proved he was either a real man or completely without shame. I'm not sure what he was trying to prove, but I would have rather he not tried during a holiday show.
Don't worry, I'll still buy his CD. It'll be a while, though, before I check out another show in person.
I appreciate any kind of incorporation of the Spanish language into a story ["Noché de la Tárantula," Vol.17, No.16], but get the grammar right. The word "noche" does not have an accent. Pronounce the word. If a word ends in a vowel, -n, or -s, then the natural stress is on the penultimate (next to last) syllable. The natural stress in "noche" is on the "o." An exception to this rule would require a written accent mark. A good example is the word "mamá." Any Spanish 1, day 9 student can figure this out and I hope all of mine did.
Regarding your article about the U.S. Army's School of the Americas (SOA) ["Military Hospitality," Vol.17, No.14], I think some points should be added to prevent the issue from being trivialized. First: Graduates of this U.S. tax-paid institution are responsible for murdering hundreds of thousands of people in Latin America. Even apologists for the school do not argue this fact; they say that butchering civilians was a necessary part of the "Cold War." Many believe that the CIA, tied to the school, has tremendously exaggerated the Communist threat in Guatamala, El Salvador, Honduras, and other countries devastated by soldiers we have been training. Critics point out that the CIA supports the agenda of arms manufacturers making obscene profits for the shed of so much blood.
Now this military school for Latin American soldiers is defended as a line of defense against drug trafficking. How ludicrous! Studies show that the militaries in Latin America usually run the drugs! And as for the smooth-talking SOA Public Relations Officier, the only time he's ever spent in Latin America was a short hiking trip. He doesn't even speak Spanish. Of course he's comfortable with the script he's been hired to memorized. If he passed by a class in which torture was being taught or drug deals were being discussed, he wouldn't understand a word. Even a former instructor for the SOA, Major Joseph Blair, became disgusted when he saw soldiers arriving at Fort Benning, Georgia (site of the school) with suitcases filled with cash from the sale of drugs. Now an outspoken critic of the school, his remarks can be found on the School of Americas Watch website: http://www.soaw.org/.
As a North Carolinian I should be angry at UT for taking Coach Brown away from us, but after all is said and done, I cannot. While not from Texas, I have been a Longhorn fan since childhood and the Coach Royal days. I wish nothing but the best for the UT football program. In the end, UT didn't take Coach Brown away, he left us.
For Coach Brown I have nothing but scorn and derision. He betrayed UNC, he betrayed his players and he betrayed Tarheel fans. Worse than that he lied to his players when he told them he was happy at UNC and would stay. Less than two days later he was UT's head football coach.
I do not know Coach Brown's reasons for leaving, he has never adequately expained them in public. Maybe it was the money or maybe he just never felt he could get a national championship at UNC (always a bridesmaid to Bobby Bowden's bride). Whatever the reason, always watch your back with Coach Brown. If he thinks for a second that there are greener pastures elsewhere, he will betray you as well.
People are saying that those of us here in North Carolina are getting too worked up about this. I think that UT football fans will understand how we feel, as they are just as dedicated to their program. Having said that, best wishes for UT football and HOOK'EM HORNS!
Lonnie R. Bristol
And the First...?
The Chronicle has made its second mistake.
Your listing of newspapers omitted The Austin Tribune, established in 1938 to promote the administration of Governer W. Lee O'Daniel, the only Governer in Texas history who could not vote for himself, and the only politician who always won against Lyndon Johnson.
Kids Say the Darndest Things
Mother's Day was on the way. The kids and I went shopping downtown for mom. I was browsing at the perfume counter when Jose, eight, asked, "How come the wise men brought perfume to baby Jesus? What kind of present is that for a little baby?"
Before I could answer, Martha, nine, stepped in. "Have you ever smelled a manger?" she asked him. "With all those animals around, you need something to freshen the air."
A joyous holidays to the folks at the Chronicle.
Moses P. Saldaña, Sr.
To the Editor:
As debates about global warming heat up, evidence about the ill effects of the sun surface. According to "Nature's messengers," research from Oregon State University links increased UVB rays to death and deformity in amphibians worldwide.
The destruction of habitat and thinning of the ozone layer are the culprits. As stewards of the earth, we have an obligation to protect wildlife from destruction -- for its own sake. But we don't live in a vacuum. Humanity depends upon a healthy environment. When will we realize that we are not exceptions to ecological rules?
Our political leaders must resist attempts to weaken the Endangered Species Act. Senators need to vote against the Kempthorne Bill. Representatives need to enact the Miller Bill. As citizens, it is our responsibility to do the right thing. If you don't speak your voice, the timber and mining companies will do it for you -- they've already contributed over 25 million dollars. Call the Capital switchboard at 888/723-5246.
Don't Mock Me
You may not have the answer, but I hope someone out there does. Why has the commercial for that silly "Unruly" perfume resurfaced? Am I the only one who can't stand it? Isn't it bad enough that corporate America has labeled the twenty-something crowd as Generation X? Now they feel the need to further mock us with this... this... this crap? Seriously. They purposely crammed everything they claim to be marketable in a bottle of stinky perfume and used a clever alterna-drum & bass-punk track with liberal lyrics to push it through. Do they think that a guy holding up a poster board with "open-minded" scrawled on it is going to help their sinking ship stay afloat?
Thanks for listening to me vent.
Help My Kitties
I need the help of your readers!
I take in stray, starving, diseased animals, mostly feral cats in the town of New Ulm, Texas, about an hour east of Austin.
The citizens in this town have no comprehension of what a starving animal is going through -- they eat their pets in this area -- and take target practice on a passing cat or dog!
The only person who purchased food and kitty litter for my 38 cats, two dogs, and one rabbit passed away November 10, 1997.
I am on S.S. disability and receive no other income. I am unable to purchase food and kitty litter for the animals. And I don't know what to do except to write to your readers for help.
My veterinary bill averages $600, but the vet allows me to pay $100 a month in payments (all my animals are "fixed," wormed, given the necessary antibiotics, etc., as needed).
My animals are not allowed to run loose -- I have 13 in the house and the rest live in numerous cat houses I had built years ago.
I am interested in finding any person/persons interested in forming an animal sanctuary where deceased individuals have willed their beloved pets to live out the rest of their lives in peace and in a loving environment near Austin. I am willing to sell my property and use 100% of the profits towards opening an animal sanctuary near Austin, and I am willing to work for nothing for the rest of my life for these animals.
Please call me in New Ulm at 409/992-3973 or write me at P.O. Box 104, New Ulm, TX 78950.
Thank you for any help you can give these animals.
I feel that it is my duty and responsibility to help them in any way possible. I have never had to ask for help before but the time has come where I have no choice.
What the Hell Is He Talking About?
D'Oh! We were out of beer. So I said to Marge, "Where did my beer go?" She didn't answer. So I got in my hunk of junk and went to Joe's bar. Barney was there like always. It seemed like he never left. Once when I asked him where the exit was he said "What exit?" I told Joe that I was out of beer money. So we made a deal. I distracted Barney while the evening beer delivery was made. Suddenly these big green-headed things appeared in mob clothes. hey started to break up the place and the leader said "Ha! Now we've destroyed your beer. You knew that there was a ban on beer." Then Joe said "You stupids, the ban was vetoed in 1954!" The guy looked puzzled. He said "Isn't this 1929? Kronos beam us up!" Of course we paid no attention to all of this. After I finished my nine beers I left. Bernie and Bertha were watching Farty and Tooty. That's what happens when you suddenly find that dreaded refrigerator with no beer inside it.
As told by Andrew Byrnes to Richard Byrnes