Our readers talk back.
Benefits From Teaching Hospitals
In a Sept. 10 article ["Is There a Doctor in the House," News] regarding the possibility of a medical school in Austin, the reporter quotes Anne Dunkleberg who incorrectly states Austin is not served by a teaching hospital. In addition to hosting students from UT's nursing and pharmacy schools, Brackenridge Hospital, Children's Hospital of Austin, and Seton Shoal Creek Hospital are the main sites for Austin Medical Education Programs, Austin's only medical residency program. With more than 117 resident physicians in seven fields, AMEP is comparable in size to many university-based programs.
As Dunkleberg points out, communities often benefit from the presence of a teaching hospital, and Austin is certainly no exception. Beyond short-term benefits such as providing indigent and charity care, many former AMEP residents choose to stay in Austin and practice after their training. AMEP has also established a close affiliation with the UT Medical Branch at Galveston. Many of their third-year students receive training here on a year-round basis. In fact, part of what makes Austin attractive to UTMB as a location for a second campus is the presence of an already-established, thriving residency program.
In addition, this past year, Brackenridge Hospital was recognized as one of the top 100 teaching hospitals in the country for the third year in a row. Austin should be proud of this resource, which benefits so many in the community.
Just a quick remark to Dr. James Heffley regarding his reply in the column "To Your Health," July 23. He says, "Gelatin is made from cow hooves and skin." When in fact gelatin is defined in United States Pharmacopoeia 1 as "a product obtained by the partial hydrolysis of collagen derived from the skin, white connective tissue, and bones of animals." Contrary to popular belief, gelatin never has been, and cannot be derived from the horns, hoofs, and other noncollagen parts of animals. I think the doctor should do a little research before answering these questions. This is 2004, time to quit guessing and get it right!
Thank you for your time,
Great Lakes Gelatin Company
[James Heffley responds: In the 1800s, when Jell-O was invented, hooves (cow, sheep, horse, etc.) as well as skins were made into gelatin. Kraft, the maker of Jell-O, says that hooves do not contain enough collagen and therefore are not used in the production of Jell-O today. It is not that gelatin cannot be derived from hooves, it is just not worth it compared to skin.]
More on Drug Provision Reform
Thanks for the mention of our efforts to repeal the Higher Education Act drug provision ["More DOJ Med-Mari Busts," News, Sept. 17]. A slight correction for your story might be in order: The Senate is about to reconsider reauthorizing the Office of National Drug Control Policy (the bill number is S. 1860). The bill would, in part, reform the Higher Education Act "drug provision" so only students who commit their drug offense while in school would lose their aid in the future (this improves existing law but doesn't go far enough). The bill does not "renew the Higher Education Act," as you said in your piece. The Higher Education Act is responsible for providing billions of dollars for federal student loans and grants, as well as universities. The drug provision, which is a very small section of the Higher Education Act, is the part of the law that is responsible for people losing their aid for drug convictions. Only the Higher Education Act drug provision is being considered in S. 1860, in addition to lots of stuff related to the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
Coalition for Higher Education Act Reform
Don't Validate Nader
The Ralph Nader article is incomplete and bogus ["Nader Loses Ballot Fight, Uses F-Word," News, Sept. 10]. Nader has no electoral votes. Nader had no electoral votes in 2000, none, zilch, nada. Nader spoiled the last election because a Nader vote is voided. Why is it not mentioned in this silly story that no man becomes president without a majority victory of electoral votes in the Electoral College? Hello, what part of this do you Nader people not understand? No electoral votes, no president. It doesn't matter what Nader thinks or what the Democrats do, he can never, ever be president. Why not write a valid article on how stupid it is to vote for this stupid spoiler? He ruined the last election and now we will get Dubya again because stupid people vote for a spoiler with no electoral votes.
Nader Needs to Give Up Bid
I completely agree with the gentleman who wrote the letter titled "Don't Validate Nader" [see above letter, published online Sept. 16]. Mr. Nader has always been a hero of mine. He has always worked tirelessly for the good of the American people on issues such as automobile safety and other important things. I think that he'd make a wonderful Environmental Protection Agency director, and if I were Mr. Kerry I would be offering this to him in return for his support. Maybe Kerry has, I don't know, but I do know one thing: Ralph needs to give up his presidential bid and steer his support to Kerry if he really wants to serve the greater good of us Americans as he has in the past. Is he really egotistical enough to stay in the race or just living in another world? I sure wish that he would wake up quick and help us defeat this incumbent, sorry excuse for an administration that we have now.
Webb's Resistance Brave
The anti-war movement owes a huge debt of gratitude to Carl Webb for his resistance to the war in Iraq ["Webb Fails to Report," News, Sept. 10]. In spite of the government surveillance and repression of anti-war activists in general, by going AWOL Carl is risking far more than most of us. If he should request help, those of us opposed to the war owe it to Carl to help in whatever way we possibly can.
This war, like all wars, is waged for the benefit of business, not the people of the U.S. or Iraq. War always serves the interests of those who control industry, never the needs of those whose labor built our economy. The war in Iraq and the so-called war on terror serve not only as a direct transfer of wealth from workers to the owners of industry, but also as an excuse to step up attacks on the rights and power of workers here in the United States. We must oppose these wars not only because we care about the lives of residents of the Middle East, but also because we care about people right here in America.
Austin Industrial Workers of the World
Don't Blame the Libertarians
In response to a letter by Jean Harper on Sept. 10 ["Postmarks"], Mike Clark-Madison replies, "As with most of our Austin Toll Party friends, this writer makes claims that are simply untrue: Nowhere in the CTRMA plan is there one foot of "existing" highway that is, lane miles that people drive on right now that is 'paid for' that is being converted to a toll road. Not one foot."
The section of Highway 183 between Highway 290 East and Loyola is, and has been for 20 years, open freeway. The section between Techni Center and Montopolis is also a freeway. That's about 21,120 feet of paid-for freeway that "people drive on right now." It will cost motorists $1.50 to use these miles if CTRMA's plan is effected. (That's $900 per year for a commuter.) The alternative will be to drive on the frontage roads and stop at every light. This wastes gas and creates pollution.
Mike continues, "If 93% of the respondents are wrong about that basic fact, then they are wrong, period, no matter how loud and nasty they get." Mike is wrong. He should apologize to Jean and the 93% of Austinites who are right. (At least he didn't call them "asshole(s)" as he did recently with another prominent person.)
CTRMA has the power to use tolls collected from motorists to build sewage lines into pristine areas of Barton Creek. My question to Mike is this: Who are you going to blame when that happens? Don't blame the Libertarian Party. Republicans created CTRMA and Democrats like Dawnna Dukes, Gonzalo Barrientos, and Sam Biscoe nurture it. Not one of them cares about poor people on the Eastside.
Vincent J May
Recycle, Don't Trash
I was having a meal at Hilbert's hamburger place this afternoon (Sept. 9), when a fellow came in with a bunch of new Chronicles for the Chronicle stand. He picked up the old Chronicles from the stand (there were a good dozen of them), and dumped them into the Hilbert's trash can, without so much as a "how do you do." What about recycling, not to mention whether arrangements had been made with Hilbert's to use their trash can for your trash? (According to someone who worked there, such arrangements had not been made.)
In any case, if all the Chronicles at establishments get dumped into the establishments' trash cans, that's a lot of newspaper not getting recycled. Just wanted to bring this up. Thanks.
[Circulation Director Dan Hardick responds: It is absolutely not our policy to throw unused papers in the trash. Drivers are very explicitly instructed to bring the papers back to our warehouse and put them in our recycling Dumpster.]
Volunteering for 31 Days
I've always been a big fan of how the Chronicle supports the Austin scene. Without a doubt, Austin is a better place because of you. So I, along with several other readers, was disappointed with Darcie Stevens' "31 Nights" article [Music, Sept. 10]. What was a great opportunity to shine a little light on the gems laying miles off the overly beaten path of Red River and Sixth became, well, something different. But I've read enough Darcie-bashing letters to the editor. So as opposed to offering another critique, I offer myself. I'm in love with the bizarre nights surrounded by the circus stylings of the Carousel Lounge, eating mole enchiladas while watching Cornell Hurd play Texas swing at Jovita's, sipping martinis while listening to every kind of good jazz at the Elephant Room, watching the sun go down from the garden at Cafe Mundi, and dancing myself sweaty at the sweet hole that is Trophy's. And I believe that Slim Richey and Awesome Cool Dudes are blessings to our fair town. If the Chronicle is up for it, I'll take the challenge: 31 venues in 31 days. And I'll report back on all the goodness and godsends I find.
Get Over It
I have a couple of comments about this week's issue. First of all, tell Michael King that Gov. Rick Perry was the first in his family to go to college, thus his remarks that King tried to disparage likely had some personal significance for the governor ["Naked City," Sept. 17]. Second, Texas voted overwhelmingly for Bush/Cheney in 2000, in spite of central and South Austin revisionist history. Get over it. That election is over, there's a new one in November.
Finally, MoveOn.org and other DNC-supported 527 organizations have been attacking Bush for three years. Kerry headlined a DNC fundraiser where speakers called Bush a thug, killer, and other profanities. Thus, the Chronicle's indignation over the Swift Boat ads is disingenuous at best. Bush is going to beat Kerry for the same reasons Truman beat Dewey in 1948. Thanks for the opportunity to comment.
Samuel M. Smith
ACL Needs More Space
I tend to agree with Corky [Michael Corcoran] (a music writer at the other paper) that the ACL Fest was far more successful than anything planned, and that I had a great time, but more space is needed, as in acreage. The only problem was that all the people got in my way like 75,000 of them. Our experience went like this: beer, band, pee, and optional taco, which took about two to three hours a shift. This became rather burdensome after a while. By the time the Neville Brothers came on (Saturday) we were maxed out we couldn't even get over to the stage because of all the peeps. Thanks to everyone (including the Chron), but next time could we have a little more "room to move"?
Not a Post-ACL Concert
Shame on Stubb's and ACL promoters for falsely advertising Saturday's Wilco/Calexico gig as an official aftershow. Leaving the festival an hour early to get a jump on the crowds, I arrived at Stubb's will-call to pick up my ticket only to find I'd missed a substantial portion of the show. Unfortunately, so had many other weary festivalgoers, several of whom were still arriving as the show was wrapping up. Promoters and Stubb's never indicated the true starting time of the show, leaving many to assume that the show was indeed a true festival "aftershow." Patrons deserve better than being tricked into believing they can see both the festival and an aftershow, when the promoters know in reality that they can't. We demand our money back.
ACL Fest Was Perfect!
Coming from a perfectionist, this is hard to write, but the ACL Festival was perfect! Plenty of well-timed music, great food, plenty of facilities, and best of all, volunteers that didn't get postal for every little thing (ô la the last days of Aqua Fest). I saw 12 shows in three days. My biggest surprises were bands I wasn't even planning to see. First day winner: Rosanne Cash; day two: Big Head Todd and the Gourds (tie); and day three's No. 1 pick: North Mississippi Allstars. Kudos to the folks who mixed the SBC stage; the engineers at the Verizon stage should take notes.
I suppose this is common knowledge to you, others in the industry, and those who travel all the time, but it blew me away when I discovered it while staying at a motel in Atlanta (Fairfield Inn).
I went up to my room, threw my bag down, clicked on the TV, and the Fox News channel appeared. I muttered something under my breath disparaging the character of the person who last stayed in the room and surfed on to a football game or something. I later turned off the TV and left. When I came back and turned the TV back on, Fox News came back on. I immediately changed channels and later went to sleep. When I awoke the next morning and snapped on the TV, guess what Fox News reappeared.
I don't know how the TV at your house works, but at mine when I turn it on it comes on the channel I was last watching. Apparently, according to a manager on duty, that is not the case at Marriott/Fairfield Inn. All of their TVs are programmed to start on Fox News "company policy, you are free to change channels if you like." People are kind of lazy, they may change channels in their room, but how many get up and change it in the breakfast room?
If it was not propaganda, why would this be happening? How widespread is this practice? Do other motel chains have this policy? What about restaurants and bars? How about airports? It seems like anywhere there is a public TV there is a good chance Fox News is on. I always figured whoever first turned it on was a dumbass, but perhaps they are just a victim. Does anybody care they are being manipulated?
'31 Nights' a Waste
Your recent article on 31 days of clubbing by your roving reporter was a total waste of money on your part, waste of space in your paper, and very offensive to a lot of great South Austin musicians and businesses ["31 Nights," Music, Sept. 10].
Stevens Allergic to Good Music?
My first impression of "31 Nights" [Music, Sept. 10] was that I was hoping to learn about live music in Austin, not Darcie [Stevens'] perspiration, snot, or swollen glands. As I continued to read, however, it began to dawn on me that Darcie was providing readers with valuable information that could help us consider the source (of the article).
Indeed it became obvious that just about everything (not just Shelley King's beautiful voice and her obvious but beautiful pregnancy) seemed to irritate Darcie's allergies. In the end I was glad the author was so honest and transparent.
By the time Darcie finally concluded the article (much to my relief) by admitting that smoke, sweat, and piss smelled sweet to her at Emo's and that pure noise with no rhythm, no patterns, no words was music to her ears, I knew everything I needed to about the author of the article.
Darcie Stevens is not only allergic to pollen, but apparently allergic to good music as well.
Thanks to this article, I also learned Shelley King sings at Artz Ribhouse (indoors) on Wednesday evenings, not just at the Taco XPress outdoor patio on Sunday mornings, a fact which is indeed music to my ears, since I too am allergic to pollen (but not good music).
I'll spare you the gross details of what would happen to my glands or nasal passages if I tried to enjoy the usual good food and good music at Taco XPress while the ragweed pollen count is high. Allergies would make me a miserable mess incapable of enjoying good music or good food.
Which is why I empathize with Darcie's allergy problems and why I would like to suggest she consult a good ear, nose, and throat specialist before she attempts to critique music in Austin again.
Opposes Lifestyle Taxes
Sadly, my letter in the previous edition of The Austin Chronicle (Society Benefits From Toll Roads) was somehow taken to be an endorsement of toll roads ["Postmarks," Sept. 17]. Perhaps it is my own failure in making myself clear. My intent was to express my opposition to taxing individuals based on their lifestyle. For example, vehicle drivers financing the construction of things that benefit society as a whole. We all benefit from a transportation infrastructure just as we all benefit from a public school system or the availability of emergency services, and we should all share in their costs. Drivers, even SUV drivers, are not the only ones who benefit from roads and should not be the only ones paying for them by means of a lifestyle toll. Almost everybody benefits from goods and services moved by our roads. If we take the lifestyle taxation further should not proposed bicycle-only routes in Austin be financed with bike tolls or a mandatory bicycle registration fee? Perhaps a tax upon bike purchases earmarked for the bike roads?