Our readers talk back.
Mold Is Not a Cash Crop
Thanks for the article on Melinda Ballard vs. Farmers Insurance about Ballard's moldy mansion ["The 'Mold Queen' Fights Back," March 21]. I haven't personally had mold, but I know people that have, and they certainly aren't enjoying it, didn't cause it, and aren't profiting from it. Thanks for pointing out what hardly any reporters have -- that Ballard has still not collected and that the award was reduced. Thanks also for printing Ballard's statement that most people would never be able to afford to pursue a case. That's absolutely true. I have seen dozens of homeowners lose thousands of dollars and some lose their homes due to construction defects and sometimes mold. The media has sensationalized mold and made it appear as if "mold is gold," as some have said. This is totally misleading. Thank you for printing the truth about the Ballard case and the unlikelihood of regular middle-class folks ever being able to take this to court, let alone prevail.
'Lizard' Sound Snafu Explained
Thanks so much for your review of my film in the Chronicle ["Sending Off SXSW 2003: Lizard Times Twenty," March 21].
I wanted to clear up something about the sound, however. I'm guessing that you saw the film at the Paramount screening. When the film started, the sound was in stereo and at the correct volume. About two minutes into the film (during the little sequence at KGSR) the sound became garbled for a few seconds ... then it cleared up. From then on the volume was much lower, and unfortunately mono! (I did not realize that that is what happened until after the Q&A when a friend told me that sound had stopped coming out of the correct speakers.) I was a bit nervous at the time ... I sent word to raise the volume, and they did a bit ... but it never returned to stereo.
The worst part of all this is that the sound is excellent on the film. The Lizards and I went to great lengths to get good sound. Larry Seyer recorded excellent tracks that he and Conrad remixed specifically for the film. The real stereo sound is as good as any live concert album you've ever heard.
We are hoping to release a DVD of the film and we would love to have people get excited about it. This is a true low-budget project and we need to get the word out. Now, unfortunately, they will have the view that the film sound is flawed when, in fact, the presentation of the sound at the venue was wrong.
I was overjoyed to read your outstanding March 21 edition of the Chronicle. The analysis of the Bush War on Rights and Oil Grab ["Page Two"] were precise and insightful. It gave me much hope that we might yet find our way.
Wonderful work! Yet these are the identical views that Alex Jones and Mike Hanson (of ACAC Infowars and Infowars.com) have been doggedly warning us about for years. Your publication has consistently ridiculed these two dedicated individuals, and unfairly so.
Will you now find it in your hearts to offer a sincere apology? Patriotism should breed solidarity, for that solidarity is what we are going to need if things are ever going to change.
Kudos to you all.
Ventura's Thomas Paine Act
Michael Ventura is now officially the smartest guy in his own little world. And Jason Stout was trying to make President Bush look like ... Adolf Hitler, right? ["Letters @ 3AM," March 21] Brilliant! These two enlightened humanitarians need to get some sleep. Ventura's Thomas Paine act is wearing thin. I guess he'll flee to France now, be toasted and made an honorary citizen of the Republic, get elected to the legislative assembly, and then be jailed as an enemy of the state. This, of course, is a brief summary of Paine's "middle years," which when applied to Michael Ventura is what I call the "Well-Intentioned but Otherwise Misguided and Paranoid Pamphleteer Barbecue Scenario." Forgive me for not being as subtle as Jason Stout's rendition of President Bush in goon gear.
Ventura Nails It
Michael Ventura's assessment of what Bush has done to protect us against future terrorist acts ["Letters @ 3AM," March 21] is right on the money, or lack of it. So we invade Iraq and galvanize thousands of terrorists. Terry Gilliam saw it all coming in Brazil. Bravo, Michael for speaking from your belly as always.
Bowing to Terrorist Pressure
People all over the world have been declaring that it is Americans who are terrorists. There is certainly evidence of this. I read with dismay in the Chronicle that someone threatened to blow up the Eiffel Tower from in front of Dreyfus Antiques ["War Drums," Feb.21]. What is that but an act of terrorism, right in our own fair city?
I regret that the owner, George Dreyfus, did not have the resources to resist. This would have required, at the very least, some sort of community support, and I can't blame him for wanting to protect his property or avoid inciting anyone in this time of tension. No wonder he bowed to terrorist pressure.
Hey, let's really do things right and go blow up the Statue of Liberty. After all, that came from France too.
The interesting thing about the Internet is the ability to respond quickly with local and international expertise to the obscuration of facts and the truth. On reviewing my son's comment on journalistic input into local Austin Chronicle input and reviews of music, I noted Mr. Peak's response ["Postmarks," March 21] to Ms. Parmesan's rambling and irrational and biased comments about professor Lomborg's work ["We've Got Climate Change," March 7]. For those who really care about the facts of CO2 and "global warming," please take a moment out of your life by checking out the facts massively indexed and reported at Web site www.co2science.org. Examination of the data will show what an erroneous "witch hunt" the whole Kyoto campaign and "politically correct" supporters are engaged in.
Looking for your reply,
Miguel Verde, M.S., M.D.
A Grae Area
To Christopher Coletti and the Chronicle editors,
It was amazing to see NYC MC Jean Grae on the cover of your paper [SXSW Daily Issue, March 15], and I can appreciate the intent of the article which seems to assert that Jean is a strong artist that pulled through her show with ease, conviction, and humor. Jean is all that and it's good to see it in print, but there is a sad irony in this piece which seems to attempt to squash the stereotypes that we see a lot of in popular music with machismo men dominating and women winning over the audience with bare skin and flash. The writer addresses these sad realities but then makes a startling slap in the face of rising above usual constricting parameters of mainstream mentality by labeling her a "thug bitch." No woman who works incredibly hard to move past ignorance and negativity would feel propped by being called such a thing. It seems obvious the writer probably meant no harm as the rest of the article is beyond glowing and the fact that he brings up so much relating to gender makes it seem as though he's trying to be on a conscious route -- I just think a man referring to a woman right now and in the hip-hop community should not call her "thug" or "bitch" if that is the path he is on. I assume he has reverence for her and women in general and it needs to be pointed out that those two words do not convey this well.
Jean Grae's publicist
Owner, Biz 3 Publicity
Ironic Right Wing Strikes Again
As far as this war goes, the right wing in America seem to be masters of irony. For example:
Isn't it ironic how the people who criticized Clinton were just exercising free speech, while those who bash Bush are un-American?
Isn't it ironic that the people who support sending troops into combat in Iraq say they support the troops more than those who don't want to send troops into combat?
Isn't it ironic that Bush is mad at the Russians for selling arms to Iraq, the same Russians who lost so many men fighting American-armed Afghan terrorists?
Isn't it ironic that Bush says Iraq needs to follow the Geneva Convention but hasn't been exactly following it in the handling of POWs from the Afghan war and the war on terror?
Isn't it ironic that the administration states it will prosecute Iraqis who mistreat POWs as war criminals, even though international legal experts declare this war is a violation of international law?
Isn't it ironic how the right wingers have railed against Hollywood for hosting the annual Academy Awards but haven't said anything about Bush taking the weekend off to head to Camp David?
Well, the list goes on, but the real irony is that the GOP probably doesn't understand the irony of their words/actions.
Protesters' Naive Tantrums
I am tired of being accosted by media coverage of peacenik demonstrators and mouthy celebrities. Their lack of an intellectual basis for their protests is appalling. When these grandstanding pacifists offer real and thoughtful solutions for dealing with threats to our freedom instigated by the likes of Iraq, Korea, and al Qaeda, I will take them more seriously. "Impeach the Pentagon" and "No Blood for Oil" are not solutions but merely vapid slogans to support their naive pacifist tantrums.
Raymond J. Trapp
Free Speech and Rabid Citizens
Wow. There are people actually using tractors to destroy Dixie Chicks CDs, on top of the scattered radio boycotts of their music. Everyone has a different opinion and (I think) the right to state it. They did not show support for terrorists or Saddam by "bashing" our most beloved, moral, well-intentioned, and righteous president! Our social climate seems to be getting a bit more hateful by the day. People, please wipe the foam off your mouths and understand that you only know what you are told. All you who spend the day arguing with each other and pointing fingers seem to be under the impression that you know everything that is happening! OK, so the Chicks are "un-American." They oughta go play a concert in Baghdad. Nice hard-on. I don't feel like arguing anymore, OK?
God bless Tommy X Hancock ["Postmarks," March 21]!
Musician, native Austinite
Conservation District Is Best Idea
Randy Robinson asks us to vote down our local Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District on Saturday, May 3. His alternatives are: 1) an aquifer authority similar to our river authorities; 2) a free market system where each property owner is granted a water right equal to the recharge their property provides; and 3) desalination of sea water.
Three years ago, when writing the enabling legislation, former state Rep. Rick Green (with help from Judge Powers and Commissioner Molenaar) weakened our local HTGCD by prohibiting authority that nearly 90 other local conservation districts were given. Now the impression Randy projects is an HTGCD water Gestapo running wild over the rights of well owners. Nothing is further from the truth.
Local voters must approve our local HTGCD and any proposed change in its authority. Randy acknowledges "we will have a shortage of groundwater in this area" but doesn't view "HTGCD the solution." To make his case against the HTGCD, he uses unproven data and confuses "recharge rate" with "sustainable yield." The sustainable yield -- and not recharge -- is the pumpage from our Trinity Aquifer that can occur without seriously affecting future groundwater levels in our wells, or the flow of springs and streams in our region.
Is Randy serious about doing nothing to manage our groundwater supply? Does he expect us to view his alternative proposals as realistic? How would an outside authority "similar to our river authorities" manage our local water use more effectively than our local HTGCD? Desalination of seawater is far fetched. His "free market system" is designed to give developers carte blanche to suck our residential wells dry.
For someone who professes to believe less government is best, why would Randy propose such impractical and government-rich alternatives to our local conservation district staffed with local citizens elected by local voters? On May 3 I intend to vote Yes for our HTGCD, and for a candidate who supports HTGCD.
Candidates I know who support the HTGCD are: Charles Thrash, District 1; Al Broun, District 2; Andrew Backus, District 3; Lewis Bullard, District 4; and Jack Hollon, District 5. Candidates such as Randy Robinson seem intent on dismantling our local HTGCD to benefit outside special interests.
Dripping Springs ETJ
The Lesser of Two Evils
Some say a casino doesn't belong in Austin, that Austin is special and would be tainted, that gambling is exploitative and regressive. True enough, I suppose.
Looking around, though, I see a more insidious negative element already moving here and ask myself, how could a casino be more devastating to a city's soul than Pentagon contractor DynCorp, merging downtown with CSC?
Because of what DynCorp is and does (let the Googling begin), I wish there could be a citywide, either-or vote. If so, would Austinites prefer DynCorp, or approve of even Austin's long-established corporate and educational entities already helping wreak bloody havoc on the world?
Or would we bet on the lesser evil, a casino, which would employ lots of people, fix lots of streets, and fund lots of teachers and social services? Which way would you personally rather "roll them bones"? Maybe the local and professional alarmist Stratfor Inc. could spy a solution and help us determine our axis, though I'd give you odds we'll need more pawn shops either way.
And if Austin's too wholesome for a casino, then how is it we've been able to tolerate the presence of such odious state government, right in our faces, all these years? Have we already bagged our limit of evil?
Smart Growth, not Smart Bombs,
Throw-Down Weapons and War
"We found no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq." -- Hans Blix, chief UN weapons inspector, March 18
"Weapons of mass destruction" will be found in Iraq. Just like bad cops carry a "throw-down" weapon to plant on the victim in case they kill an unarmed person, Bush and company will be carrying "throw-down" weapons of mass destruction into Iraq with the troops and plant the arms among the charred bodies. It reminds me of the Bill Hicks routine about the Jack Palance character in Shane. After throwing him a gun and then gunning down the innocent sheep rancher, Palance utters: "See, I told you he had a gun!"
Do you remember when the arms inspectors found missiles that actually reached 9 miles beyond the legal limit? The reason the missiles reached beyond the limit is they were tested without the payload! Sure, a missile without the weight of warheads will go a little farther, but you never heard this little detail in the compliant, corporate-dominated American press. The press won't arrive on-site until after the smoke has cleared. So, what you will see on the TV screen will be orchestrated scenes of illegal weapons being uncovered. And Bush will be able to crow "I told you so!"
Although, doesn't it seem that when you wag the dog so hard, at least some of the fleas would fall off?
Liberation Will Give Iraq Hope
I read with anticipation the article about the "Faces of the Enemy" [Dec. 27]. While I am disheartened when little children are hurt or killed, I am not wary of what many have been through under Hussein's tyranny. Yes, mistakes we have made, and they are many. For these sins we shall pay and continue to pay as a nation because justice will be meted out. I do believe, however, that the cause of liberation as we see now is one where we are risking many young lives to be overly cautious and not harm innocent civilians. It is a slippery slope.
War is hell, but hopefully on the other side of this, we shall at least see a glimpse of heaven and peace for those in Iraq. Nobody wants them to suffer.
Buskers Are Appreciated
Austin is a unique city because of the diversity of cultures, but primarily due to the variety of musical influences. I play music as an amateur street musician, a "street busker," playing button accordion with my very gifted musical partner, Pete Nalda. While professional musicians are welcomed in Austin, as nonprofessionals we are met with mixed reviews; not from our audiences, but mainly from the Austin City Police Department.
We frequent the downtown area and play "world" music as "Street Squeeze" to an appreciative audience of tourists and local folk. Unfortunately, and seemingly arbitrarily, the uniformed patrolmen either applaud or roust us with no consistency, citing noise, disruption of pedestrian traffic, playing amplified (which we do not), and a myriad of unfounded and seemingly nebulous ordinances. We provide impromptu entertainment and add to the atmosphere. Professionals may be the main course, but we are the spice and the dessert! We add color and flavor and would like to continue with the blessing and endorsement of the city of Austin.
Many cities throughout the USA and Europe actively promote street artists and "buskers." In culture-rich Canada and Europe there are weeklong street musician (busker) festivals, and we believe Austin could be the first in the U.S. to provide an event of this type, further adding to its distinction as the "Live Music Capital of the World," contributing additional revenue to the city.
It is our proposal that Austin not look at street musicians as uncontrollable and a nuisance to law enforcement, but instead capitalize on the talent of our many and varied musicians and performers. We propose licensing the street artists and musicians. Instead of trying to eradicate the weeds, nourish the flowers. You might even be contributing to the future success and rise to professionalism of today's unknown artist.
Love It or Leave It
Dear Mr. Black:
I thank God that I am still free to write this letter without being censored by a dictatorship government.
I have watched protesters chanting their hatred for our president. If this were any other country, they would have been arrested and thrown into prison, tortured, and possibly put to death for speaking out against the government. I served my country proudly, and wish I were young enough to be able to re-enlist to help protect America against those who will do everything to destroy her. I see these young protesters, many of whom aren't even old enough to remember the Vietnam War, know nothing about the Korean War, and the only thing they know about World War II is what they have seen in movies.
No one likes war, but when it comes to protecting freedom, we must do everything possible to protect every man, woman, child, and infant in America against tyranny. No one should have to suffer like those who died under Hitler. Let's not forget if it weren't for America liberating France, not once but twice, French people would be speaking German. America gave France $10 billion after World War II to rebuild, but as of this date France has refused to repay one penny. We must not forget that Stalin, and Mussolini, tortured and murdered millions of their own people. And everyone knows that Saddam murdered thousands of his own people. Let's not forget those brave souls who died fleeing their homelands to come to America so they could enjoy the same freedoms as you and I. To all those American haters and war protesters I have only this to say to you, "You hate America and freedom so much, by all means you are free to leave the last remaining free country left in the world, and I dare you to spend six months in another country, but I doubt very much if they would let you in."
Mr. Black, I want to thank you for allowing me the chance to write to you expressing my feelings. I thank God I can sleep at night knowing I live in the greatest country in the world. God bless America, God bless our president, and God bless those brave men and women who have been called to protect you and I from slavery and tyranny.
Helen Blanton Allen
Natalie's the Real Texan
Let's not be embarrassed because President Bush is from Texas. Be embarrassed for the human race that any one person can show such an ongoing lack of compassion and respect for his fellow man. The shame is his for holding himself out to be a Texan -- part of the merchandising scheme for greedy and reckless cowboy politics. "Ivy League brat" would be more appropriate. A cowboy hat and a loud mouth do not a Texan make, Mr. Bush. Real Texans show compassion and respect for their neighbors -- and they speak their minds like Natalie Maines -- and nobody owes you, or anyone else, and apology for that.
Alan "Doc" White
Farewell, Evil Cat Hater
Dear Cecil Adams,
It is with regret that I must bid farewell to your column. I own four of the "The Straight Dope" compilation books and have followed your syndicated column fervently (and clipped many for reference) since it began appearing in The Austin Chronicle. It is normally a font of wisdom and humor. However, I am extremely displeased and offended by remarks in the column printed locally March 21 ("Milky Myths"). You wrote, gratuitously and in a mean spirit, "As for cats, who cares what's bad for them?"
I care, and so do 20 million or so cat owners in the USA alone. Have you followed the newspapers in recent years? Item: A friendly local cat is shot, skinned, and beheaded just for kicks in Waco by a group of student athletes. Item: A kitten is thrown alive (but not for long) onto a barbecue grill in St. Louis by a man who doesn't think cats matter. Item: Kittens are dropped to their deaths for sport from freeway overpasses in Austin and pet cats in the northwest suburbs are found killed and mutilated. Wake up, Cecil. There are already too many people who seem to think that it's open season on cats and that it is jolly good fun to torture and kill them, and your words do nothing but encourage these appalling atrocities. This is very irresponsible of you and insulting to many of your readers.
The Chronicle has said in the past year that your column (like several others) could be axed, and once, I would have protested this. Now, it will not matter to me, because I simply refuse to read "The Straight Dope" any longer. Sorry to say goodbye, but you've crossed a line that I will not tolerate, even in this new age of soullessness. So long, and get better soon.
Losing Our Independence
Now that lives are being lost, I can only hope that the arrogant and politically ignorant American population realizes that this war is proof of a lack of ability of this country's government, industry, and more importantly, its people, to address the issue of energy independence. Instead of spending billions on defense and war, we should have a tax code that gives incentives to drive fuel-efficient vehicles (instead it actually encourages small businesses to buy SUVs!); a government focused on conservation (instead of consumption); oil and gas pipelines from western Canadian fields to California (instead of allowing Bush, Lay, and Enron to rape California and sink them in debt); and help for the Russians to pump oil from their reserves. Although the war is "going good" today (as I write this we are on the outskirts of Baghdad), I fear we are going to get bogged down in a colossal quagmire, with the associated loss of life. Of course the consequence of our actions is almost total isolation on the world stage. Not only are traditional Cold War foes such as Russia and China directly opposed to us, even the peoples of our old allies such as Spain, Italy, France, and Germany are solidly against us. I will quote Sen. John Kerry in a speech a few weeks back: "The best way to be secure is to have a lot of friends." This is true whether you are in kindergarten, an adult, or a country. The U.S. no longer has any friends! I refuse to count England, as we fought a war against that country for our independence, which we seem to have to forget every July 4. We fought for our independence against an imperialistic and colonial power. Well guess what? The U.S. has turned into England, and we can blame the descendents of British aristocracy, the Bushes, for making this so. How ironic that Britain turned out to have won the war of 1776 (it just took them 200+ years to figure out how to do it).
What Freedom of Speech Is About
I would like to thank Mr. Roy Max Perrin ["Postmarks," March 21] for threatening us with the consequences of treasonous speech. Now, if I were running the country, I might find radical right-wing talk treasonous and whoop up some consequences to bring down on him. And that's what the First Amendment protection of free speech is about. It protects Roy Max and me from suffering repercussions because of someone else's lame-ass opinion. It also allows you to call people names, however unfounded, like "Hollywood trash," without legal consequences. That's rude, but not illegal. I bet Mr. Perrin doesn't want me defining that "perfectly drawn line" between free speech and treason for him, and I know I don't want him defining it for me.
And what was Ms. Maines' treasonous pronouncement? That she's ashamed that George Bush is from Texas. Big flippin' deal. So, criticism of a president is treason? What if our president were Adolf Hitler? Would it still be treason to criticize? I'll make it easier. What if Bill Clinton were president? If memory serves, Clinton had more than a few vocal critics, even when he was bombing Iraq. How angry were you at those critics of the president, Mr. Perrin?
Natalie, you go girl!
Robert L. Blau
Retaliation Is Justified
Terrorists don't fly bombers, nor do they fire cruise missiles (also, they don't wear uniforms and they kill civilians intentionally). Just because we can't see their attack coming doesn't mean America isn't under attack. We are. This is the message that anti-war protesters [and] liberals in general just aren't getting. The delivery system used by terrorists (suitcases and rented cars) may be slower, but they can be more deadly than anything we are throwing at the Iraqis. George Bush has chosen to take this battle to the enemy, not wait to confront them on our borders and in our cities. He is going after the sources of WMD. His choice is the only sane way to conduct this war.
Dictators who harbor terrorists are complicitous in the war on America and already you can see signs that they are taking notice of our actions. Pakistan's efforts against al Qaeda have been more successful since six aircraft carriers arrived in the gulf. I just read where a Norwegian diplomatic envoy (or some such) returned from Korea with a message that they are anxious to negotiate with us. This three days after the Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein disappeared in the rubble of his $150 million bunker.
So the next time someone says this war is unjust, ask them if they think we are under attack! Chances are they will say "no."
To those who cringe, balk, sneer, or just plain get their panties in a wad every time they hear about another anti-war/Bush protest, think about this: I, and all other Americans, have the right to protest because soldiers have fought and even died for the freedoms we have in the U.S. Protesting is not disrespectful to our nation nor our troops, it is exactly the opposite. There is absolutely no higher honor that Americans could possibly give to our armed forces than to use the right to protest, thereby proving that the freedoms they fought for are being cherished and used. So the next time there is an anti-war/Bush protest, don't whine and complain about it, we are just doing our part to support our country. After all, this is America, not some fascist country where dissidents and differently thinking people are made to shut up, watch what they say, and always, always tow the party line. Or is it?
Thank God for Michael Ventura
Thank God for Michael Ventura, and thanks to the Chronicle for having the continued good taste and courage to run his "Letters at 3AM" column. He's consistently insightful and eloquent -- it's so refreshing to read something about current events written by someone with a brain who's not afraid to use it.
Commuters Destroy Air Quality
Air pollution undeniably affects our health and we all contribute in some way to this serious health issue. Ground-level ozone, the main constituent of smog, is a lung irritant that can decrease the lungs' working ability and can cause suffering at levels recorded in Central Texas. With continued regional population growth and road building, the health threat from air pollution to children, those with existing lung disease, and the elderly has increased.
The most effective strategies in our region to improve air quality involve participation in programs to reduce the number of commuters driving alone to work. However, without widespread participation, strategies such as commute reduction programs do not reach their full potential. Commute Solutions strategies such as car pooling, vanpooling, teleworking, and riding the bus offer the public the opportunity to participate in reducing pollution levels that will help us maintain compliance of federal air quality standards. However, since many midsize and larger employers have not focused the necessary resources toward offering commute options, air quality and traffic congestion remain huge challenges. I am certain the time is now for companies to be proactive, since Central Texas has violated the federal ozone standard for six consecutive years.
Central Texas firms that choose to participate in the Commute Solutions Program or the Clean Air Partners Program can potentially save money on taxes, office space, and parking while increasing worker morale and reducing sick-day usage all while receiving recognition for improving air quality. Information on these programs can be found by calling 974-6051 or online at www.commutesolutions.com or www.cleanairpartnerstx.org.
Company leaders and their employees who say they want to help improve air quality should let their actions speak for themselves by reducing emissions from their vehicles by not driving alone to work. Please be part of the solution to improve the community's health.
Saddam Is a Monster
I was quite surprised at your statement of your impression that the left has had "a lack of making it clear that Hussein is a monster" ["Page Two," March 21], since to my recollection every leader, every spokesperson has made a point of stating that they despise Saddam, but believe that this method of dealing with him is wrong. I can't help but wonder what would have to be done to make that message clear. I'm serious. What do you (and other people) want?
UT Students Deserve Their Texana
As a former curator of anthropology at Texas Memorial Museum now living out of state, I was outraged to learn recently of the plans for removing all of the TMM cultural collections and exhibits ["Only Natural," Feb. 21].
Many of those fine specimens were acquired prior to the opening of the museum during the Texas Centennial of 1936. Some were moved from the former campus Anthropology Museum in the old Pearce Hall to TMM in the 1960s. Others were acquired through the years by active efforts of TMM staff and by donations from Texas citizens.
In recent years, we have seen the interest in anthropology at TMM reduced, with no staff engaged in research or available to keep the exhibits from being reduced and now eliminated.
An exchange of e-mails with TMM Director Dr. Edward C. Theriot has informed me of his sincere and professional interest, I believe, in changing TMM to a focused, and hopefully superior, museum devoted to natural sciences. Unlike many natural history museums, that focus no longer includes anthropology.
The historical Texana collections will have a new home on the UT campus, as they probably should have had long ago, but the anthropology collections, acquired during the past seven decades, will be dispersed and possibly even sold. That is a discredit to the citizens of Texas, who deserve to have those collections and exhibits continue to be available to students and to the interested public.
Other major universities, such as Harvard, Yale, Pennsylvania, Arizona, New Mexico, and the University of California-Berkeley, have long-standing and highly successful anthropology and archaeology museums. Why not the University of Texas?
Dr. Dudley M. Varner
One Nation, Indivisible
Though it feels a lot like an act of utter futility, I find I can't help myself from sending this reaction to the letter printed in your March 21 edition by a Roy Max Perrin of Plano (which you reasonably entitled "Freedom of Speech Forbids Free Speech"). When Bush Jr. won the presidential election, there was a great deal of talk in the media about this question: Has the U.S. essentially become two countries? Maps of the U.S. were shown with voting patterns that were very polarized -- urban vs. rural, etc. It seems to me that everything that has transpired in this country since that time brings me to unfortunately answer the question in the affirmative. One cannot reason with the slogan-parroting, hateful, and violent Perrins of this country. One cannot bring them to see the selfish hypocrisy (or short-sightedness) of their anti-constitutional rhetoric. Men like this will never acknowledge the difference between loyalty to the principles of this country versus loyalty to any temporary leader who appears to have complete disdain for those principles. Perrin talks of "loyalty and respect." I ask him -- where is his loyalty and respect to the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the idea of what it means to be a citizen in a democracy? The heavy burden of that? Do you want to see treason? It looks a lot like the CEO/trust-fund baby-financed "vast right wing conspiracy" waged to unseat our last president by any means necessary (chronicled with frightening detail by David Brock in his book Blinded by the Right). We are polarized as a nation like never before, and I don't see how to bridge that gap. You end your letter with a violent threat, Mr. Perrin. I'll end mine with a suggestion -- Singapore has very clean streets, low crime, and no dissent. Check it out.
To all of you who desire war, two pertinent questions:
1) Will your bloodlust for 9/11 revenge be satisfied by killing Saddam, or if not, what will make you feel like you've gotten even? World dominion?
2) Is spending your grandchildren's inheritance worth getting revenge on someone who merely looks like the culprit?
Or, perhaps in your outrage you've forgotten to ask such questions?
'Proud to Be an American'
I recently read about an incident at the Houston Rodeo where a man was spit upon and assaulted for not standing during the country-western song "Proud to Be an American." Unfortunately, the assailant appears to be from Austin. I believe that is a story that should be heavily reported in Austin, both as a warning of what can happen when nationalism runs amok and as a statement to the world that this kind of behavior is not condoned by the Austin community.
Great SXSW Coverage
This year your paper really did a great job covering [SXSW] and letting folks know everything there is to know. Thanks, and anytime you are in Tampa, look up our radio station, WMNF, community radio.
Here's Your Freedom of Speech, Now Shut Up
I just drove past a front-lawn sign that read: "Americans died a long time ago so you could spew your rhetoric at 'peace' protests."
Does the creator of this sign believe that, because Americans in the past died for the right to "spew rhetoric," peace protesters should think twice about voicing their opinion, as it is disrespectful to those who have died or will die for the right to voice it? This person appears to think the protesters should feel guilty about voicing their dissent, yet at the same time proclaims the protesters' rights for this dissension. It seems to me it would be disrespectful to the memory of those courageous Americans who fought for this right to suggest this dissension is disrespectful, considering that they died for it.
Taking a stand regarding the subject matter of what protesters "spew" is one thing, a matter of opinion or taste; but to call protesters anti-American, as many voices in the media and society in general (you know who you are) have done lately, is, well, anti-American, since Americans in the past died for that right. Common sense would dictate that they did not die for that right to be conditional.
This lawn sign represents but a microcosm of the arguments maintained by the warmongers in their rush to war with Iraq. If you delve a little, you begin to find huge gaps in their entire body of "logic."
Bush Presidency Is a Disaster
There are many of us who believe that democracy was thwarted when Bush was appointed by the Supreme Court as president. For our country, it's been a disaster, educationally, environmentally, and economically. And now this administration is exporting this peculiar brand of "democracy" to the rest of the world via military might. It's a sad day when my country deals with potential and longtime allies with threats and bribery rather than statesmanship. Bush's policies are creating a huge potential for terrorist backlash. The rest of the world is right to not support this misguided policy. And the economics of it make no sense at all, not for the United States and not for the world. If we were really taking our responsibilities as world leaders seriously, we would promote the activities that reduce terrorism and war, namely working toward well-fed people who are well educated with a healthy environment and a thriving economy.
Destroy Everything French
People who approve the removal of a replica of the Eiffel Tower here in Austin because of their feelings toward France's opposition to the war, should urge our government to dismantle the Statue of Liberty -- France's gift to us (said with tongue in cheek).