Our readers talk back.
Thoughtful Discussion NeededDear Editor,
Re: Letter to the editor by Greg Solcher, "Ventura Wrong on Immigration" ["Postmarks," June 23]: The issue of immigration is so hugely complex that I believe it does us a disservice to reduce it to being about money, or even "the law." Whether we like it or not, illegal immigrants are part of our society. The food we eat, the pavement under our feet, the roof that shelters us all of these and more are touched by someone who arrived here illegally. Most of the people who crossed into our country illegally want the same things as the rest of us (whose ancestors arrived sometime earlier): a job, dignity, health, a better world for their children.
My argument comes down to both realism and compassion. No, I don't support "breaking the law" as a rule. Nor do I support seeing the world in black and white: lawbreakers vs. the rest of us. But I think that reverting to the discussion-stopping argument that illegal immigrants are lawbreakers, period, is facile and designed to portray them in black and white (just like the dehumanizing term "illegals"). People come here by and large because the lives they live elsewhere have become unlivable, and we must remind ourselves "There but for the grace of God go I."
Finally, we must consider the children of immigrants, many of whom have never known a home other than the U.S. I favor legislation that would protect these children and their families.
So I end this letter by saying that while you may dismiss an argument or its proponent as being full of shit, I urge you not to dismiss decent human beings as money-siphoning "illegals," no matter what river they crossed in their desire to improve their lives. In another set of circumstances, that could be you and me.
Staying Which Course?Dear Editor,
Michael King interpreted Wesley Clark's speech to editors in Little Rock as "In other words, Bush was wrong, but we still have to stay the course" ["Point Austin," News, June 23].
Clark has never advocated "staying the course" in Iraq. He was one of the first if not the first to oppose the invasion and he has since advocated diplomacy to get out of our involvement as intelligently and responsibly as possible.
Apparently King wants an immediate withdrawal and maybe he's right but he falsely characterized Clark's position.
Roses Prichard[Michael King responds: I'm sorry Roses Prichard doesn't care for my reporting of Wesley Clark's position on the war, but I simply listened to his speech and wrote down what he said. Clark also said: "What we've got to do is try to get a C-, D+ solution. It might work. It's too early to say it can't happen, therefore we've got to maintain our military commitment." If that sounds to Prichard like actual opposition to Bush's war, rather than "staying the course," maybe she hears at different frequencies than I do.]
Not 'Must' but 'Want to' CarryDear Editor,
My thanks to Belinda Acosta for shedding some light on LAT TV in her June 23 article "Joined in Progress" [Screens]. However, I would like to make one clarification.
The story stated that our new Spanish-language station is seeking "must carry" status so that we can be seen on cable. Since KVAT 17 is a low-power broadcast station, "must carry" would not apply to us. That status only applies to full-power stations, which cable companies are required to carry on their system. Since we have no plans for being full power, we would not fall under that category.
LAT TV is in the "want to carry" status, meaning that we expect that as the popularity of our quality programming grows, the cable carriers and satellite providers will want to add us to their lineup.
But for now, you do need to hook up a set-top or rooftop antenna to tune us in. But not to worry. By plugging it into an auxiliary input like most new TVs have, or using an inexpensive A/B switch, you can watch some of the best family-friendly Spanish-language programming on the air without disconnecting your cable, and free of charge. Tune in and let us know what you think.
Director of Community Affairs
LAT TV KVAT Channel 17 Austin
Dammit, Where Are the Hot Pictures?Dear Editor,
I appreciate your coverage of the Tamara Hoover incident ["Hoover: Caught in the Flash," News, June 23]. I'm not an art or constitutional-law expert but I know prurient, naughty pictures of hot lesbians when I see them. Now dammit, where are they?
Lake Charles, La.
Recently, you published a letter ["Postmarks," June 23] from an individual who had problems with Michael Ventura's take on the immigration issue ["Letters @ 3am," May 26]. To support his argument, he provided some statistics. To use the language of that letter-writer, he is full of shit. I've had this argument with other immigrant-phobes and they tend to use the same inaccurate numbers. Moreover, the writer seems offended by the belief that racism might be coloring their views. Frankly, I'm offended that the letter-writer is willing to take some clearly outrageous figures at face value without doing any fact-checking and/or misuse statistics to exaggerate his case. Unfortunately, though the writer can throw out wild figures without context, correcting his falsehoods would take more words that this format allows.
I can provide an example, however, of his disingenuousness. His first statistic: "According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, 28% of the inmates are illegals." What does that mean? How many inmates? Even though that statistic sounds terribly frightening, in actual numbers it means something a lot less, to wit (2004 statistics):
91,789 noncitizens were in federal and state prisons that included 34,000-plus federal. Translate this to a percentage and we get roughly 4.5% of state and federal inmates were noncitizens in 2004 (91,781 of a population of 1,900,000-plus). Present-day numbers reflect the same percentages.
All the letter-writer's figures can be similarly deconstructed. However, it's easy to throw bombs and much harder to fix the misconceptions created.
No Demand ForDear Editor,
So Mayor Wynn wants to develop Austin as "a vibrant and walkable city" ["Downtown's Tall Orders," News, June 23]. Excellent, and I agree. Just one problem: There's no demand. Where will the new 20,000 people that the real estate hypesters predict want to move to Downtown come from? I live Downtown and can tell you that outside of the nighttime entertainment areas, it's deadsville. I constantly promote the advantages of the "X-Auto" downtown lifestyle to my suburban friends and get nothing but a blank stare. The average area resident has always lived in the burbs and just doesn't appreciate the urban lifestyle.
With interest rates rising and general demand for housing falling, I just don't see any big condo boom arriving Downtown anytime soon. The "Build It and They Will Come" strategy is strictly speculation.
Bless 'Soccer Watch'!Dear Editor,
Thank you for this article ["Soccer Watch," June 16]. The World Cup is such an amazing global event that it is a shame the U.S. in general is not more into it. However, after going to many of the places you mentioned here, there seems to be a bigger soccer fan base than I thought. Thanks for the pointers!
Were Teacher's Actions Illegal?Dear Editor,
I realize some may find what teacher Tamara Hoover did to be wrong, but is it illegal ["Hoover: Caught in the Flash," News, June 23]? If Ms. Hoover should lose her job, then maybe every teacher that gets a speeding ticket should lose their job also; strip those lawbreakers of their teaching certificates, for they truly are lawbreakers. When there are no teachers left that will be your problem, and it will be your children who suffer.
What Standard of Conduct?Dear Editor,
So let me get this straight. Tamara Hoover, AHS's art teacher, may be removed from her job because of the district's "standards of professional conduct" for pictures that were taken of her in the privacy of her own home and placed on her partner's Web site ["Hoover: Caught in the Flash," News, June 23]? What about the "standards of professional conduct" of Gayle Andrews? She was in a snit, enlisted the help of a student in order to "... get Hoover in trouble." Andrews actions could ruin Hoover's chance to work in the public school system again, basically keeping her from making a living. So let's see, Hoover gets canned for being an artist and doing artsy things, and Andrews teaches her students that if you have a disagreement with another person, you don't talk it out with that person, you just underhandedly try to ruin them. A wonderful standard of conduct. I'm curious if Andrews was really pissed about the kiln or if there was a larger issue perhaps Hoover's open sexual orientation? Just a thought.
Not Giving Up on BikingDear Editor,
I have been walking and biking in Austin for nearly 30 years, and I am not giving up. I'm certainly not going to sit in traffic jams in a smelly car and risk killing someone every time I go anywhere. It's just not dignified. And it's not very safe to drive cars, either.
It's true that many of Austin's motorists are unskilled and careless. But there are ways of dealing with incompetent motorists. Walkers and bikers can take deliberate measures to avoid being hit. Here are a few of the precautions I take:
1) My bicycle is very, very conspicuous. Its large cargo boxes and my helmet are covered in reflective plastic. I have safety flags, mirrors to keep me informed, headlights, taillights, and even turn signals. I also signal my turns manually. 2) I usually ride in the center of the right-hand lane (unless I am turning left). I obey traffic laws and ride predictably. 3) I am aware that cars often zoom through stoplights and that some motorists are extremely observant. So I ride slowly, I watch the cars and their drivers, and when I have a weird feeling about a car, I avoid moving in front of it. 4) I make transportation a major factor in deciding where to live and work. 5) I have taken bicycle-safety classes to learn more about what options I have in traffic. I read books on bike safety.
Biking and walking are much more fun than driving cars. Cars are destructive and depressing. I'll stick with human-powered transportation.
What Are AISD's Values?Dear Editor,
I find it ironic that not only, as Ms. Hoover states, an AISD school chose to reprimand her for the publicity that has come of personal photographs that she never shared with students, but also that the board chose to reward the actions of fellow teacher Gayle Andrews ["Hoover: Caught in the Flash," News, June 23].
Freedom of expression, right to privacy, and honesty; or malice, petty vindication, and the desire for retribution? I'd hope our students today follow the teachers who exemplify the former values, and not those promoted by the AISD school board.
Why No 'Chronicle' Coverage?Dear Editor,
Hi, and thanks for reading my e-mail. I want to vent a little; please bear with me. I love Austin's live music scene and attend live shows two-to-five times a month. I have been going to the Barfield shows at the Continental Club for close to two years now. I must say ... there is absolutely no live show in Austin with as much energy as that one. Every single musician, from Mike Flanigin on the B-3, to Johnny Moeller on the guitar, to Mike Barfield's voice ... simply unreal. My musician friends leave their shows speechless. In fact, Beck wouldn't even take the stage for a set after Barfield last Tuesday; Beck's band played without him. And yet ... nothing from the Chronicle. What's going on with that? Please go see their show and see for yourself. Thanks.
As the Fix290 Coalition's webmaster, I wanted to direct readers to our Web site, www.fix290.org, to get more information about the Fix290 alternative and its benefits ["'Y' Can't We Be Friends?," News, June 16]. On our Web site is TxDOT's animation of their plan, obtained through the Texas Freedom of Information Act. I recommend that people watch TxDOT's own eye-popping animation of TxDOT's proposed tollway plan to see the scope and extent of the TxDOT plan impacts on our local community. Compare that with Fix290's [plan] and readers will see just how Fix290's alternative will be both cheaper and faster to build, with fewer impacts on the environment and on Oak Hill's character, all while solving the traffic problems at the "Y."
Ms. Dung Le
No One Else's Damned BusinessDear Editor,
To the former mayor, keep your opinion off of my head. I ride a motorcycle, and if I want to wear a helmet, I will, and if I don't, I won't, and that's none of your damned business ["Shall We Bike," News, May 26]. I've been riding since 1972, and the one accident I did have, four years ago, would have, had I been wearing a helmet, either left me dead or a quadriplegic. As it was, I broke my leg. People who ride bikes without helmets have insurance to cover "the cost to society", and if Mayor Todd wants to really do something far more significant, he'll do something to stop drunken driving. Far more people drown in backyard pools; let's outlaw them, "for our own good." I am sick to death of people trying to "protect me from myself." People can swim in Lake Travis, but not Town Lake, why? "For our own good, we're far too stupid to choose for ourselves." I'm 51 years old; I don't need former mayors trying to adopt me and tell me what they think I should do "for my own good." You want to wear a helmet, go for it, dude. You don't get to tell me what to do, sorry. Maybe you should make insurance mandatory for bicycle riders; they are constantly involved in accidents, think of "the cost to society" of that. Politicians work for me; they don't lord over me, and lest they forget, they can be replaced. Thank you for your time and consideration.
World Cup Has It All Over Super BowlDear Editor,
I am a girl so I could be biased, but let me state the obvious: Soccer players are way hotter than American football players.
When watching American football people get excited if someone makes a 50-80 yard dash. With soccer, these men run up and down a field, for many, many yards for an entire game. Constantly. No time-outs, no huddles, no commercial breaks. In American football these men are huge, yet they are padded to the point of no return, and if you touch the helmet on their head, that's a foul (and go to commercial). There are no helmets or pads in soccer; you play hard and you may get hurt. If you do, they cart you off of the field, and the game goes on. They don't go to commercial break while everyone huddles and rests.
And speaking of commercials, the Super Bowl is the Holy Grail of American football, and people actually watch it for the commercials. There are always huge write-ups in the news about them, they are all online, the money paid for the ad space during the game is astronomical, and people can't wait to see them. In soccer, the World Cup happens only every four years, and there are no commercials except during halftime, the only break the players get.
Don't get me wrong, I'll probably go sit in a bar with my husband and watch playoffs of some sort and drink beer. I'll probably attend some Super Bowl party like I always do; just keep in mind that I am probably only there to be supportive and to drink your beer.
Follow the MoneyDear Editor,
Re: "Crude Awakening, Indeed" ("Postmarks," June 23): An interesting take on the Iraq war is provided by Greg Palast in Armed Madhouse. The war was not about simply grabbing Iraqi oil. Rather, the occupation strategy (designed by big oil/OPEC cartel) was to make sure that Iraqi oil production was controlled and stifled in order to ensure reduced world supply and drive up prices (notice the price of gas since 2003?). Per Palast: "... please don't slander Mother Earth and say she's run out of oil when it's man-made mischief to blame. Evil, not geology, has a chokehold on energy; nature is ready to give us crude at $12 a barrel where it was just a few short years ago" (p.114). Peak oil is a convenient myth designed by big oil to scare the public into accepting artifically inevitable price hikes. When you think about peak oil, consider the source and follow the money.