Our readers talk back.
Fri., March 4, 2005
'Chronicle,' Allow More DiversityDear Editor,
I will attempt to keep this criticism as constructive as possible regarding your columnist Ms. Baumgarten and her review of what I thought was a great film [Diary of a Mad Black Woman, Film Listings, Feb. 25]. We are all entitled to our opinions, but there are times when culture brings about a huge difference in the ways we perceive things. I think that this is definitely one of these instances.
I encourage your critics to not be so quick to dismiss future pictures with lines like "yet another black woman ... gets her groove back." I am a black woman who never tires of seeing something that I can relate to and that is factual to my life. It's no different than people who enjoy movies that relate more to a specific audience and culture simply because they understand it better.
I think the big picture here is understanding someone, something, or a way of life that is not like your own. Which in turn means most people who haven't gone through, witnessed, or even been around a broader spectrum of persons simply can't understand. I hate to say that Marjorie just doesn't get it, but she did make the comment that it targets urban black women (although I saw plenty of nonurban men and women alike enjoying and singing its praises). Maybe you would need to be an urban black woman or just a bit more up on what differences we all face to really get it.
I have not lost faith in the Chronicle or in Austin for that matter, even though in what is supposed to be one of the most diversified and cultured cities in Texas, I see little to no interest in the black community. Just please, please (if you even care and want to keep and gain a wide variety of readers) allow a more diversified array of writers', columnists', and critics' views to grace the pages of your paper. Thank you for your time.
Ordinances Not WorkingDear Editor,
Re: "Business as Usual at the LCRA" [News, Feb. 25]. The quote by Bill McCann of the LCRA that the NPS ordinances currently in place "have been doing their job and will continue to do their job" is absolutely not true, and he and the LCRA know it. Lick Creek is their poster child for bad BMPs and one of the primary reasons that the NPS Ordinances are being reviewed for strengthening. Please, readers, don't forget us and don't forget that the Hill Country is getting ready to change forever. The Hill Country Alliance as well as the Guardians of Lick Creek are working feverishly to do what we can to preserve our water quality, our creeks, and the rural character we all love (except politicians and developers). Lick Creek is absolutely awful you wouldn't believe the "before & now" without being appalled.
Vice-president, the Guardians of Lick Creek
Full Equity PartnersDear Editor,
We're writing in reference to your story on the proposals to redevelop the old Seaholm Power Plant ["Beside the Point: Council Ponders Seaholm," News, Feb. 25]. We appreciate the kudos but also want to emphasize that we are not "potential partners," but full equity partners in this venture with Stratus Properties and Trammell Crow. We're fully invested in this effort and couldn't be more excited about the opportunity to create a new home for KLRU, Austin City Limits, and the Texas Music Hall of Fame, and build a world-class outdoor live music venue right in the heart of Austin.
More of Tribute to Hunter S. ThompsonDear Mr. Black,
I cannot believe that The Austin Chronicle gave such short shrift to the passing of Hunter S. Thompson ["Page Two," Feb. 25]. You indicated that any tribute (obituary) to him would be "obvious." Well, then state the obvious and allow something to be published. Spare us your meandering "tribute" (she's still alive) to Nanci Griffith ["There's a Light Beyond These Woods," Music, Feb. 25]. Nanci is a wonderful songwriter, but even I can read her lyrics on the CD. Obviously.
Texans Should Do It RightDear Editor,
In regard to Family Protective Services: Young and old people are being abused. Young and old are dying unnecessarily. We haven't provided enough competent caseworkers to handle their needs. Each of our caseworkers is now assigned approximately 74 cases. Our best caseworkers don't have a chance to do an efficient job. To meet national child welfare accreditation standards the caseload would be limited to between 12 and 15 cases. The national average is 20 cases. Our immediate goal should be to assign fewer than 20 cases to our caseworkers. Texans want to be better than average!
Many young and older citizens are sick and lack the health insurance needed to see a doctor. Every Texan should have health insurance, allowing preventive medicine and medical advice. Every Texan living in poverty should have access to a doctor provided through the state.
In regard to public education: The Robin Hood system for redistributing wealth solved many of the inequities and is approved by a majority of Texans. There should be some simple basic changes to make it constitutional. Another alternate solution is to adopt a simple state income tax where every family and business could pay their fair share. Most of the leading states use this taxing method. Texas should be the leader! Do not be hesitant about putting this to a vote. Let us drop the mantra "no new taxes" and adopt "Texans do it right."
Don't start with a limited amount of funding for these programs. Find out what's needed, and find the money to do it right.
In the end, let it be said by everyone that you were selfless and did everything possible to help and protect the sick and needy as well as planning good things for our youth and the future of Texas.
'I Don't Like (Insert Band)'Dear Editor,
I don't have anything for or against Cruiserweight (I've never even heard 'em), but I'm fairly certain the Chronicle has featured other bands I don't particularly like ["Cruiserweight: Armed and Ready," Music, Feb. 18]. If I don't like a band, I'm pretty sure no one else likes them either no one who knows what they're talking about, anyway and people who do like them need to be told why they shouldn't.
Imagine my joy upon discovering a fellow arbiter of taste in "Postmarks," Feb. 25. Mr. Burnam's letter has inspired me to act.
In an effort to save valuable "Postmarks" real estate (along with some ink, and maybe a small part of a tree), I'd like to provide the following template for use by other equally verbose letter-writers with similar complaints:
"I don't like (insert band name), the band featured in your latest issue. Anyone with even the slightest bit of musical knowledge and/or taste will surely recognize their obvious lack of talent; if you actually do like them, I guess you're just too stupid to know any better. (Band name again), and all bands like them, should shut up and go away. In the future, you should only feature artists that I deem worthy, such as: (list of bands that meet the author's lofty standards)."
See how easy it can be to eliminate a couple of column inches' worth of pointless, overwrought blather?
Thank you for your cooperation.
Should Not Be in ConstitutionDear Editor,
Two competing versions of the Anti-Gay-Marriage Amendment HJR 6 and HJR 19 have already been referred to the Texas House Committee on State Affairs. These proposed amendments would write discrimination for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Texans into our Constitution by banning marriage for same-sex couples. We have a tremendous opportunity to defeat these amendments now, before they have a chance to get on the ballot in November. Contact the legislative offices of the State Affairs Committee members below and urge them to vote no to keep unequal treatment for gay and lesbian Texans out of our Constitution. Or fax your legislators from the Web site www.saveourconstitution.org.
The committee members are: David Swinford (chair), 463-0470; Sid Miller (vice-chair), 463-0628; Dan Gattis, 463-0309; Byron Cook, 463-0730; Jessica Farrar, 463-0620; Jim Keffer, 463-0656; Trey Martinez Fischer, 463 0616; Mike Villarreal, 463-0532; and Martha Wong, 463-0389. Your call will help the LGBT community of Texas have a voice in the legislative process. Use some of the following talking points and share your own story about how these amendments will personally affect you and your loved ones.
These amendments would put unequal treatment for gay and lesbian Texans into our Constitution! The Constitution should never be used to single out a group of people for discrimination, but that's exactly what these amendments would do. The Anti-Gay-Marriage Amendments would hurt real Texans in real ways. It would deny many Texas families and children access to health care, inheritance rights, and the ability to make life-saving medical decisions. No one wants the children of gay or lesbian parents to be put at risk because of the absence of strong legal foundations. Our Constitution is supposed to protect people, not hurt them. There are more than a thousand rights, protections, and responsibilities that come with marriage and that the Anti-Gay-Marriage Amendments would deny to gay and lesbian couples. We may disagree about marriage, but those disagreements do not belong in our Constitution.
'News of the Weird'Dear Editor,
So, two years later, "Ms. Doe" wants to sue the makers of the adolescent cyber-game "boob show" for agreeing to photograph her brand-spanking-new, store-bought implants ["Block Those Cyber-Boobs! Flasher Sues Game Makers," News, Feb. 25]? Guess she wanted some sort of photo-baseline for future sag documentation hope the doc that did the job had a disclaimer for gravity.
Well, first off, her parents can't be depended upon for good judgment since they bought the pair for her as a gift, so why should little Ms. Doe be considered any more reliable? I mean, whatever happened with getting her a used car for her 18th birthday?
Jeez, what is it that this family seems to think that everyone else should be responsible for their bad judgment and then actually talk themselves into thinking this was a good idea?
What were the parents thinking little Ms. Doe would do with her store-bought boobs at Padre Island during spring break? Hide 'em? Wrap 'em up? Take a dip in the wading pool to see if they float?
This is "News of the Weird" material.
And We've Gotten Better Letters From KidsDear Editor,
"Romeo" was the best ["The 13th Annual 'Austin Chronicle' Short Story Contest," Books, Feb. 18]?! What a piece of shit. I've read better from elementary school kids.
Thanks for Griffith CoverageDear Editor,
I just read Louis Black's article about Nanci Griffith and the influence of her music ["There's a Light Beyond These Woods," Music, Feb. 25] (living in Wisconsin, I read the piece in the online version of the Chronicle).
I met my wife through our mutual interest in Nanci's music, and my involvement in an e-mail discussion list known as the NanciNet has introduced me to many good friends I would otherwise never have known.
Thank you for the cover article, and for Louis Black's fine fan letter. He said it much better than I could have done.
Against Toll RoadsDear Editor,
The Austin Toll Party has been maligned and misunderstood by both the American-Statesman and the Chronicle. Although I live in Elgin and don't dislike Mayor Wynn per se, I hoped their effort would make the mayor and other CAMPO board members see that citizens have power and won't take abuse without a fight. In a public countywide referendum, CAMPO's plan to tax already-built roads would have easily lost.
Commuters inside and outside Travis County and Austinites will pay dearly to drive through the "toll moat" around Austin. This expense, plus increases in costs of goods and services, will break some families, who can't even scrape up enough money for health care or car insurance, let alone $60 to $80 more per month per car in each household. Look at a good map and you will be appalled at the toll tax network CAMPO is trying to force on us.
This trend of governments to "sock it to the public" with new toll roads seems to be happening in many places in the civilized world, and is being fought against in other states and even in other nations by grassroots organizations like the Toll Party.
CAMPO wants to toll almost every local highway. It's an economic threat to many and will create as many traffic problems as it solves. CAMPO has ignored and continues to snub the public's opinion and is bullying us into an excessive network of toll roads.
Galiza Is a Celtic NationDear Editor,
As a Galego, I feel compelled to explain the presence of "incongruous Celtic" music that can be heard in the movie The Sea Inside [Film Listings, Feb. 25]. Galiza is a Celtic nation (www.celticnationsworld.com), and Galego is spoken by more people than those speaking Euskera. Not to mention that walking along Galician streets gives you the opportunity to hear some nice bagpiping.
I hope this helps to clarify the "incongruity" of the music.
Welcome Air AmericaDear Editor,
Air America came to Maryland, D.C., and parts of Virginia only a few months ago. I think most people are surprised at the enthusiastic reception it received. I hear from so many people how much they enjoy it because it is so completely different from what has been offered to them. We need to hear lots of points of view on the big issues of the day, and liberal talk radio can give just that: another way of looking at things to help all of us decide which makes sense to us. Congratulations, Austin!
Silver Spring, Md.
Spoiler Alert!Dear Editor,
In regards to Million Dollar Baby: If you have not seen this movie do not read this letter! I do not want to spoil the plot for anyone, but am I the only person in the world who has noticed this glaring inconsistency? By any boxing association standards in the world, WBA, WBC, whatever, this girl would have been awarded this fight victory. While laying paralyzed in the hospital she would have had the world championship belt, as some small consolation, to look at. I was very moved by this film and the deeper issues that are addressed beyond the boxing movie, but the girl won the fight, so give her the damn belt!
Bush LanguageDear Editor,
Re: Bush's trip to Europe. I found myself laughing out loud imagining the look of utter consternation and bewilderment on the faces of the translators/interpreters as they struggled to process Bush's words (I cannot use the words "thoughts" or "sentences" here).
Leave Boy Scouts AloneDear Editor,
When in 2000 the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Boy Scouts of America, my hope was the Scouts could put their legal battles behind them and get on with the pressing mission of preparing boys for service to God and country. But the harassment continues. The Boy Scouts have been booed at the Democratic National Convention, stripped of United Way funding in some parts, and sometimes denied the opportunity to use school facilities for their meetings.
As a former Scout and airman I am deeply troubled by this slap against the BSA. Scouting teaches the basic virtues of discipline, industry, courage, and integrity, and Scouts do not deserve harassment. They are simply standing firm for what they know is right.
The left's crusade against the Boy Scouts is errant. This nation was founded on the "Laws of Nature and of Nature's God," for God the creator is the source of our unalienable rights. George Washington, who probably understood the First Amendment better than does the ACLU, declared in a National Day of Thanksgiving Proclamation in 1789 that "it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor."
In the year 2000 the U.S. Department of Interior sought information on whether federal agencies that work with the Boy Scouts violate the Clinton administration's executive order banning discrimination against homosexuals by federal agencies. In response, on Aug. 31, the governor of Texas declared he was troubled that the memo appeared to suggest the administration would sever the federal government's relationship with the BSA. "I hope that President Clinton and Vice-President Gore respect the role the Boy Scouts play in our society and will not allow them to be shut out of federal funds."
We may hope the former governor, now commander in chief of the Armed Forces, will remember the wisdom of these words.
As a Colorado citizen who voted for Amendment 20 allowing people to use cannabis medicinally in my state, I agree with HB 658 ["Weed Watch," News, Feb. 25], protecting humans from attacks by the federal government. The government would like citizens to think cannabis is a chemical weapon of mass destruction; in reality, Coloradoans use the plant cannabis medicinally, following state law simultaneously, and it works: cannabis use has not increased, and the sky hasn't fallen.
It is also biblically correct to relegalize cannabis (kaneh bosm, before the King James Bible ). The Bible indicates God created all the seed-bearing plants and said they were all good, on literally the very first page in Genesis 1:11-12 and 29-30. The only Biblical restriction placed on cannabis is that we use it with thanksgiving see 1 Timothy 4:1-5, where it even describes who will promote its prohibition as those who have fallen away from the faith.
Swanson Answers His Own Question but Not the One AskedMax [Minor],
I'd love to answer your question ["Postmarks," Feb. 25]. Actually, Bush, and Clinton before him, listed several reasons for action in Iraq, including 1) continued and vicious human rights abuses, 2) refusal to comply with the 1991 cease-fire agreements, 3) refusal to comply with 17 U.N. resolutions demanding specific actions and clearly warning of action if he continued to refuse, 4) firing on coalition aircraft patrolling the U.N., not the U.S., but U.N. no-fly zones. As for the WMD, I suggest anyone really interested read Hans Blix's report to the U.N. in January of 2003, just weeks before the war, in which he unequivocally stated that Iraq did in fact have "thousands of chemical rockets unaccounted for." Hans Blix was the chief U.N. arms inspector who was actually on the ground, in Iraq, inventorying weapons and overseeing their destruction prior to 1998. He said they were there as well, so perhaps your question might encompass more than just President Bush? Thanks for asking.
Clarifying the QuestionDear Editor,
Actually, Mr. Editor, Max [Minor] asked a question that was based on something that never happened ... the case for war was built on many things, not simply WMD ["Postmarks Online," Feb. 25]. But hey, I understand your need to denigrate anyone who doesn't agree with your own myopic personal view of the world. Sorry.
Carl Swanson[Ed.'s note: Let me help here by clarifying the question by adding: How do you think "... the U.S. Congress and the American public [would] have reacted if Bush had truthfully built the case for his Iraq war by saying we want to spend a few hundred billion dollars and expend thousands of lives just so Iraq can hold democratic elections?"]