Our readers talk back.
Confusing Coverage of Barton Springs
You are correct that the Statesman reporting of the Barton waters is confusing and misleading, but so is reporting by the Chronicle and others ["Toxic agenda taints Barton report," Jan. 24]. Media and environmental organizations often use the terms Barton Springs, Barton Creek, and Barton Springs' swimming pool interchangeably. They are not the same and are not the same water we drink. Each has different sources and the contamination of one does not necessarily affect all others. The recent coverage by the media provides absolutely no evidence that the Barton Springs water, which comes from the Edwards Aquifer, is contaminated. Although the Statesman implied the springs and aquifer are contaminated, they presented no test results from Barton Springs' water. It is important to determine the condition of each of these waters and, if degraded, to determine the source. The city claims the Barton Springs swimming pool water is safe. This may indicate the springs are not contaminated and, therefore, that the aquifer may not be. However, even if the Barton pool water is contaminated, it does not necessarily indicate the springs or aquifer are contaminated because the pool may contain flow from Barton Creek.
Sound solutions require the isolation of specific problems and sources in a structured way with good science. The issues should not be treated as one confusing problem. The city and media should present citizens a clear understanding as to the condition of: 1) the springs and aquifer water; 2) the swimming-pool water and sediment; 3) the creek water and sediment at several key locations; and 4) the known and suspected sources of contamination. The recent, poorly organized and incomplete test results and reporting can only lead to continued confusion and speculation.
Now More Than Ever, Again
Thank you, Chronicle, for your balanced coverage of the recent media attention on pollution of Barton Springs and the infamous unnamed tributary above Barton Creek ["Toxic agenda taints Barton report," Jan. 24].
Will there come a time when Barton Springs is closed for swimming forever? If the 30-year trend of speculative real estate deals and with them endless road building, water and sewer pipeline extensions, subdivisions, and golf courses over the Barton Springs watershed continues, yes, Barton Springs will be too polluted for all swimmers.
And the saddest part, should that day come, will be how much money we -- the taxpayers of Austin, Travis, and Hays counties and Texas -- will have spent financing the infrastructure necessary to build the sprawl that is polluting Barton Springs more and more, to say nothing of the hundreds of millions of tax dollars used to bail out failed developments in the Barton Springs Watershed.
It's far cheaper to save Barton Springs than to continue paving the Barton Springs Watershed. Almost none of our elected officials understand this. It will take an active citizenry committed to clean water, open space, and living with less dependence on the automobile to make the politicians who control the purse strings understand and alter our destructive public-spending habits.
We invite and encourage all Chronicle readers to join us in our efforts to clean up existing pollution and prevent new sources of pollution from being created. It's been said before, but the price of Barton Springs is eternal vigilance. We thank the Chronicle for its vigilance and ask the community at large to become more engaged; we need you now more than ever, again.
Save Our Springs Alliance
Credit Where Credit Is Due
I read with considerable interest your article in the Jan. 24 edition of The Austin Chronicle regarding the Austin airport ["Shadows Over Bergstrom"]. It was a very good and thoughtful article not only describing Austin Bergstrom's difficulties, but many other airports as well.
Your article does, however, incorrectly credit Mr. Larry Speck as being the designer of the Barbara Jordan terminal. The design architects were in fact the Gensler architectural firm located in Houston and Los Angeles. Gensler was responsible for the building shape, size, function, and operational characteristics, working closely with Page Southerland Page, the executive architects. Mr. Speck was the design architect responsible for adding the Austin image through finishes and materials.
In any case, the success of the new Austin airport is due to the hard work and diligence of many individuals, not just those discussed above.
Richard C. Maxwell,
'Dangerous' Date Debacle
You recently recommended a film titled Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. You bestowed an "AC Pick" on this film. How dare you?!! Stinky, stinky! The film overwhelms the viewer like a pile of fetid, rotting garbage. I hold you fools personally responsible for the 12 bucks I wasted on my and my date's tickets. She hated it, too. And that means no action for yours truly.
Heartland Voters See the Truth
What is it with today's Democrats and their assessment of risk when they refuse to allow working Americans to freely choose to invest a small portion of their Social Security contributions in equity markets, but willingly insist that we risk our collective security by trusting the good intentions of a madman like Saddam Hussein?
This kind of risk-management approach may play well to West Coast Hollywood types and East Coast paternalistic intelligentsia, but in the heartland and among independent voters I suspect the reaction is much more like the character in the Tom Cruise film Risky Business when he said, "Sometimes you just have to say 'What the f___?'"
R. Barry Crook
Reynold's 'Tesla' Score Deserves Praise
I saw Rude Mech's Requiem for Tesla in 2001, and this year's revised production is even better!
I am pleased with the great review that it got in the Chronicle ["Exhibitionism," Jan. 31], and I think that Robert Faires was on the mark with his wonderful review of the electrifying event. Unfortunately, he forgot to mention a critical component of Tesla -- the hauntingly beautiful score composed by Graham Reynolds of the Golden Arm Trio. Reynolds' composition carries Tesla on a wave of emotion, at times eerily melancholy, at times frantic, and at other times nostalgic. It is an integral part of the play and worth recognizing. I agree that Blair Bovbjerg's skill with the theremin is amazing, however, he is playing music by Reynolds, who also performs expertly in Tesla on drums and piano/synthesizer. In essence, Bovbjerg would not be able to provide the "eerie keening" mentioned in the Faires' review had it not been for Reynolds' brilliant composition. Of course, I am not disparaging Bovbjerg (he is my husband after all, and a very talented performer), but I felt that I had to set the record straight in the reviewer's oversight.
Thank you for your ear, and if you haven't seen Requiem for Tesla, you still have until Feb. 9.
'Strangelove' Timeline Wrong
Children of the Seventies need to check their facts when writing about the Sixties ["The Case Against Kissinger," Jan. 24]. Stanley Kubrick made the great Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb in 1964, when it was nominated for four Academy Awards. That it was made at all is remarkable, and time hasn't diminished its wicked humor.
The Dr. Strangelove character (one of four played by Peter Sellers, who will be honored by the Oscars this year) was clearly modeled on some widely known German scientists working in the U.S. in the virulently anti-Communist fervor of the times. Dr. Wernher Von Braun built Hitler's rockets before turning himself, and fellow scientists, over to the Americans in 1945. Dr. Von Braun had a major role in designing and building the American space program, serving as director of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center for 20 years.
Another German-trained physicist, Dr. Edward Teller, worked on the Manhattan Project, headed Lawrence Livermore Laboratories in the Sixties, and was a great proponent of our atomic buildup as a countermeasure to the Russian threat. Dr. Teller and his wife were able to leave Germany in the 1930s through the efforts of the Jewish Rescue Committee, first going to London before arriving in the U.S. and later becoming citizens in 1941.
Dr. Henry Kissinger was another Jewish refuge from Germany who came to the U.S. as a teenager in 1938 and went on to become a professor of government at Harvard in 1962. He first splashed across the American political stage during the Nixon administration when he served as a national security advisor, and then as the first Jewish secretary of state from 1973 until 1977. This was almost a decade after Dr. Strangelove was released.
Right Sentiment, Wrong Protest
Brandon Darby, in his letter of Jan. 31 ["Postmarks"], was critical of the "obedient" nature of Tuesday's protest. I was also at the protest, and I stepped out into the road, but soon felt like an idiot for disrupting the commute of people that seemed to agree with us. Sorry, even making all the commuters have a miserable day won't change Bush's mind. A large, diverse turnout like Tuesday does show how widespread opposition to the war is. People do have to be willing to put their asses on the line, but that demo just wasn't the right place, and I think most people knew that.
Tom Joseph Cuddy
Yea for 'Too Much Coffee Man'!
I have to say that "Too Much Coffee Man" has been nailing it for the past few weeks about copyright and other intellectual-property laws. In the one on Jan. 17, he gets charged a nickel for saying "I had a weird dream" because someone else had "trademarked" the phrase. In the Jan. 24 issue, the same guy takes a copyright on the copyright symbol and Too Much Coffee Man mutters that he hates the guy who did that, wishing he had thought of it first. That's about how copyright and trademark, especially copyright, laws seem to have become. Before long, there will be a copyright or a trademark on just about everything, and we'll have to pay someone a "royalty" for the "privilege" of saying it or looking at it. That's rather odd because the last time I read the U.S. Constitution, it said that no titles of nobility shall be granted. And on "licensing" of copyrighted materials, like the FBI warning that includes "This movie is licensed for home use," that's printed on every VHS and DVD movie, I say this: I sure as hell don't remember having to apply for and obtain a license and then showing such license at a store in order to buy a movie or having to enter it into the DVD player or VCR to watch it.
Don't Waste Innocent Lives
When I saw a picture of an Iraqi girl who had lost an arm to a U.S. bomb, I felt so ashamed that America, that humanity, could allow such things to happen.
After the 9/11 tragedy, I remember thinking that I wouldn't sacrifice one innocent soldier to get revenge on Osama bin Laden. The U.S. government then proceeded to bomb the innocents of Afghanistan.
Now our government prepares for war saying we must get Saddam for the wrongs he's done and may do. The ridiculous bottom line here, for me, is that I wouldn't give one child's arm for Saddam's ass.
It's very likely that in a war with Iraq Saddam and his buddies will escape or be permitted exile in some horrible place like Paris while the common people of Iraq and our own young men and women soldiers take the brunt of our vengeance.
My distaste for U.S. government policy is, to me, in harmony with my love of the United States. We must stop playing God with our military force and let the real Higher Powers administer justice.
Let the bad guys not be us. Let's start no war. Osama and Saddam! Allah will get you for that!
Tommy X Hancock
Would Jesus Bomb Iraq?
After reading the Jan. 31 "Page Two," I was once again reminded of what my grandfather told me when I was a kid. He said when faced with a tough decision, I should ask, "What would Jesus do?" Perhaps our elected officials in Washington should ask that very question before unleashing 3,000 precision-guided bombs, 500 Air Force planes, and hundreds of thousands of our troops on the citizens of Iraq to accomplish a "regime change." They might decide that Jesus wouldn't kill innocent men, women, and children so they could have a government that doesn't kill innocent men, women, and children.
Time for Action
As long as rogue nations continue to house and support terrorists, Americans will have to live under the threat of instant annihilation at any time of the day or night. As you and your loved ones eat, sleep, watch a movie, or even read this letter, your next moment could be your last. That said, even the most sophisticated terrorist organization cannot develop nuclear weaponry nor a significant biological threat without the kind of money and facilities that only a sovereign state can provide. The only way to stop nuclear and biological terrorism is to use Saddam Hussein as an example to the leaders of these countries of what their fate will be, should they too support terrorism.
In the past, Hussein has supported Hezbollah and Hamas, and there is ample evidence to show he is involved with al Qaeda. Nuclear weapons and smallpox can be delivered without a signature. There is no place in this world and should be no mercy for any leader who directly or indirectly supports mass murderers and suicide bombers. He need not receive the benefit of the doubt. Regardless of what is said, what weapons are found in Iraq, or how negotiations play out, the best thing that could happen to Mother Earth is for Saddam and his ilk to be disposed of unceremoniously. Our leaders must stand firm against those who defy progress and further suffering in the name of power. Someone must stand tall, and the world is lucky that Americans are the ones who will. Now is a time for action, not words.
War Is Not the Answer
Though UN inspectors have found no evidence of existing weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the Bush administration is proceeding headlong toward an unprovoked attack. While President Bush cites the uncertainties of the inspection process, he omits the tremendous uncertainties of war. What will be the cost in human life?
A recently leaked UN report warns that fighting in Iraq's cities may cause 500,000 serious injuries. The physicians' group Medact estimates the conflict will cause between 48,000 and 260,000 deaths, mostly civilians. The aftermath of famine, disease, and refugees could bring the toll to half a million.
Another risk is escalation. If Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction, an attack will give him every incentive to use them, as CIA Director George Tenet warned Congress. A pre-emptive attack would also create an explosion of hate that would recruit a new generation of anti-American terrorists.
We all must make our voices heard in Washington to stem this rush to war.
Follow Your Conscience
Dear Conscientious Citizens:
Bush's focus on an unjust, insane war instead of on the U.S. economy is hurting millions of Americans, including thousands here in Austin. I have been looking for work for several months, but because of the economic slowdown, I have not found anything, even though I have a college degree and 32 years of administrative experience. As you know, jobs are being cut because of lack of funding -- a situation that is going to get much worse if we spend over $200 billion on Bush's evil plans.
Please do whatever you can to stop this war that may have catastrophic effects on the Middle East and America. For the future of our children, let your conscience be your guide and become proactive. Practice civil disobedience, write letters, etc. Let's end the U.S. government's vicious cycle of hatred, violence, and greed and its crimes against humanity -- all toward its goal of world domination!
Shiniest Tool Might Not Work
I would like to thank Louis Black for putting into words what many Americans have been thinking ["Page Two," Jan. 31]. Yes, we have this immense military machine; but just because that's the shiniest tool in the toolbox doesn't mean that it's the one that will fix what's wrong.
Life's a Gamble
Odds are: These foolish men, they play a high stakes game. The ante is your life, the pot is your soul, no one will be short, this is their goal.
Caesars Palace Big Board:
Number of casualties during the 43rd presidential term of George W. Bush and Co.:
0-1,000 1,000 to 1
1,000-5,000 750 to 1
5,000-10,000 500 to 1
10,000-20,000 250 to 1
20,000-50,000 100 to 1
50,000-80,000 50 to 1
80,000-100,000 25 to 1
100,000-150,000 10 to 1
150,000-200,000 5 to 1
200,000-250,000 2 to 1
Susannah Alabama Ohltorf
Dissent Is Not Disloyalty
This is a request for all artists who are against the war on Iraq to speak out at their gigs -- just dedicate one song to peace in Iraq, for example. Theatrical or dance performers could make a brief statement in their printed programs or before a performance. Writers could mention it before their readings. Painters or sculptors could post a one-sentence statement at their shows.
Artists are the forefront of society, showing less imaginative or creative people new and positive ways of thinking. Their audiences respect them, and will be braver to speak out themselves if artists show them it can be done.
If enough people speak out against this impending tragedy, the power of their opinions will become too obvious for the mainstream media and the Bush administration to ignore.
It would also be great if the Chronicle had a separate listing for peace-protest events, so everyone who wants to protest could easily find out when and where.
I saw a good slogan recently: Dissent is not disloyalty. The more knowledge is shared and truth comes to the surface, the more dissent will grow. By speaking out, artists (and everyone else) can help this dissent gain momentum.
Aleta "Fancy" Fairchild
P.S. Thanks so much to those artists and individuals who are already speaking out.
Let Mother Nature Heal
As overheard by many people, long before ecology and environmental concerns were fashionable, a "river expert" said this: Rivers are like living organisms in that they have many different mechanisms to keep themselves healthy. You can dump sludge into a river, and, up to a point, the river can detoxify itself and remain in good health. For example, turbulence in a river mixes water with oxygen, a powerful purifier and germicide, as is ultraviolet light from the sun. Also, many of the plants that grow in rivers, both algae and higher plants, can remove contaminants from water. But if you keep dumping sludge, at some point you will exceed a critical level where natural purification mechanisms become overwhelmed and break down. Plants and beneficial microorganisms die, flow patterns change, the river becomes sick. Furthermore, a river that appears hopelessly polluted is not beyond help. If you will simply stop putting bad substances into it, eventually the levels of contaminants will drop to a point where the natural healing mechanisms revive, oxygenation increases, sunlight penetrates to deeper levels, beneficial organisms return, and the river cleans itself up. The Native American warned the invaders to please not mess up Mother Earth and its many rivers! You'll be sorry later.
Moses P. Saldana Sr.
Time to Jump Ship
Captain Bush and his band of smarmy Republican pirates have been pillaging the ship of state for a few years now. They've raped the environment, slashed the throats of the working class, and keelhauled those who didn't help fill their coffers through campaign contributions. Now they must see a frigate on the horizon as they are hurrying their debauchery. Bush's new economic plan is clearly meant to sink the ship before help can arrive and reclaim the ship. It seems odd that these pirates, who just a few years ago screamed "reduce the deficit" as they attacked Captain Clinton's vessel, now seem to believe they can ignore the ramifications of a growing deficit as they empty the vaults on the ship of state (to pay off their benefactors). Let us pray that a few of the pirates suddenly listen to their conscience long enough for help to arrive in 2004.
A Message in a Bottle
Please could you help me find my pen pal of many years? Her name is/was Christy Hakes, last known to me in Austin. She would be approximately 34 now. I live in the UK, and often wonder what she is doing now; maybe she is married now. My maiden name was Watkins, and when we lost touch I lived in a town called Coalville in Leicester, UK.
19 Kerrial Gardens
New Parks Estate
Leicester, LE3 6LT, England
No One Has to Listen
Many who suffer liberal psychosis are under the false impression that their First Amendment rights include a caring audience on demand. War protester and letter writer Brandon Darby ["Postmarks" Jan. 31] might think the full moon would fear the barking dog, but such is not the case. Howl as you might, the government (as Darby truthfully states) knows some people are against a war, and they do not care. Here's a little word to the quidnuncs and the quasi-wise: Don't let your alligator mouth outrun your mosquito ass. No matter what delusions of government control Darby and his minions may have, you can't do much from a jail cell except bark at the moon like a dog with the mange. You can do even less pushing up daisies, your spread-the-guilt trip notwithstanding.
Kurt (The Shill) Standiford
P.S. How much do shills ["Postmarks" Jan. 31] make these days? I'm due some serious overtime pay ...