Our readers talk back.
From Deep in the Heart of TexasDear Editor,
The Gambrinus Company, owner of the Spoetzl Brewery Texas' oldest independent brewery and the Shiner family of beers, in no way sanctioned, approved, or authorized recent advertising in The Other Paper in Columbus, Ohio ("Naked City," News, Sept. 15).
Born in Shiner and raised in Austin, Shiner beers, throughout its nearly centurylong brewing history, has always embodied and been committed to the people and pride that is Texas. Preserving and protecting that strong Texas heritage is a priority for the Gambrinus Company and for the 53 dedicated employees at the Spoetzl Brewery deep in the heart of Texas.
Shiner brand team
Limmer's Agenda QuestionableDear Editor,
The Austin Chronicle has been dilligent in outlining the dubious exploits of Williamson County Commissioner Frankie Limmer over the years ["What's Best for Frankie?," News, Sept. 15]. He is at it again over the Hutto wastewater treatment plant struggle with the Walther family.
Commissioner Limmer has raised eyebrows over contracting practices with the county. He has made certain that a road that is redirected to a property he owns is included in the county bond package. Now, he is using his influence to site a sewage treatment facility that will directly impact his property for development at the expense of the Walther family and the Norman's Crossing community. One irony is that Mr. Limmer and the Walthers were close friends for many years (but you know what they say, you can always use a friend).
The other irony is that LCRA would even consider consulting with Commissioner Limmer given his reputation for playing fast and loose with things like ... ethics. LCRA can ill afford to be hobnobbing around with the ilk of Commissioner Limmer if LCRA wants to maintain a decent reputation.
Biblical InterpretationsDear Editor,
I just read the first couple of paragraphs of Michael Ventura's June 6 "Letters @ 3AM" and gave up because he can't even get the most basic facts right. In paragraph two he says, "complete manuscripts of the New Testament Gospels date to around 300[CE]."
Even a neophyte in this area knows that's wrong. For example: The famous Papyrus P66 is dated at 200CE and contains John's Gospel!
Matthew Thiele[Michael Ventura responds: Dear Mr. Thiele: As you may know, the Anchor Bible Dictionary is universally recognized as a scholarly authority in such matters. Vol. 1, p.766, says that Papyrus P66 contains John 1:1-21:9, leaving it 16 verses short of complete. Also, the Anchor dates this papyrus at "II/III Century." Vol. 5, p.143: "The chronology of the Christian texts presents a formidable problem, owing to the uncertainties of palaeographic dating. ... Most datings are very approximate." If you have a more definite source I'd enjoy learning of it.]
'Cokehead' Lowers DiscourseMichael King,
Thanks for elevating the level of political discourse with your gratuitous "cokehead" slam against Kinky Friedman ["Point Austin," News, Sept. 15]. No matter what you think about him, that's wading a little deep in the muck, isn't it? I wonder if you read the excellent Michael Ventura essay about good journalism in the very same issue ["Letters @ 3am," Sept. 15]. You should.
Can't wait to see what you write about Ann Richards. Or maybe not.
What a slime job.
David Kendall[Michael King responds: Wading, actually, no just an offhand and unmoralistic reference to Friedman's own acknowledgment (as recently as last week) of his long-ago cocaine use. As he told the Houston Chronicle, "I'm not saying this moralistically. I know how I was. I know the effect cocaine and many of these drugs have on your willpower and your dreams. They distance you from your better angels." In context, my simple point being, much better a "cokehead" than a "Minuteman." QED.]
Voting Machine WorriesDear Editor,
Congrats on your anniversary ["An Austin Chronicle," Sept. 8], by the way. Here's the deal. The secretary of state had a press conference last Tuesday to announce their VoTexas campaign, which is all about the "great" new computerized voting systems. They invited the general public, and a few VR people e-mailed or called to get an invite and showed up at the Bob Bullock Museum/dance hall and were told they could not stay there because it was a "private" function. A photographer was bumped by one SOS representative and the troopers escorted the photographer out of the building. There was no unruliness on their part or any other problem with their behavior; the SOS just did not want them there to voice what would be their contrary opinion. I don't know about you guys, but the episode makes me just a little bit angry. Can you imagine what would have happened if the photog had bumped into one of their people?
The episode shows the arrogance of the secretary of state and his underlings, who are acting like bullies, and you know what's going on inside a bully's head. It's fear, and they're afraid their vote scam is going to get found out.
Who's the Coward?Dear Editor,
Say what you will about Kinky Friedman, but two things the man is not: a liar nor a coward.
If he said scheduling conflicts prevented his appearance, then they did. Kinky's entire career has involved controversy at some point or another; he would hardly run from a few misinterpreted words.
Your article says the IAF rules were that candidates cannot "disparage their opponents" ["IAF: The Promised Land Visits the Hilton," News, Sept. 15]. Yet Chris Bell did just that and, in typical fashion, at a moment when they were not there to defend themselves.
Who's the real coward?
Dallas[Editor's note: As the article reported, Chris Bell's remarks about his opponents were made following his appearance at the conference, in response to press questions.]
Ann Was a Joyous VisionDear Editor,
Ann Richards had a vision, but let us never forget that she undoubtedly was a vision every entrance a joyous burst of energy. And so, I remember her best as the glorious, silver-white cloud that sat down in the seat in front of me at Sex, Lies, and Videotape, laughing out loud with us all, bodyguards at her sides. I couldn't see much of the movie, but I'll never forget it!
Texas PantheonDear Editor,
This morning when I read that Gov. Richards had died, I was overcome with sadness. I felt as though we'd lost not only a great political voice, but a connection to a period of time when Texas seemed on the verge of something radically new. As we know, it ended too soon, and her loss to gubernatorial challenger George W. Bush ushered in a very different era for Texas and our nation.
Richards' passing also spurred my Texas pride and made me think of other cool Texas women who came and went before her: Barbara Jordan, Katherine Anne Porter, Babe Didrickson, Sippie Wallace, Janis Joplin, and so many others.
Gov. Richards, you now join this proud pantheon of Texas women. Seventy-three years was too short a time for you to be here, but we are so grateful that you graced our world with your dazzling personality and enormous heart. You had style. You had class. You had chutzpah. You had us at "Poor George."
You will always make me proud to be a Texan.
(by way of Dallas)
Planning Is So ImportantDear Chronicle
I applaud Kimberly Reeves tying together the numerous planning efforts in Central Texas ["Naked City," News, Sept. 15].
Austin seems destined to double in population every 20 years. Working off a current base of 1.2 million people in Central Texas, that now means we're talking about accommodating another very large city.
Among the variety of critical issues we'll have to face as a result health care, affordability, education, the environment mobility and the nature of our built environment seem as pressing as any and equally daunting to resolve.
Planned properly, State Highway 130 offers Central Texas the chance to let growth actually be an asset for future generations my kids among them. It has the potential to draw growth off the aquifer. We can avoid the mistake of allowing unplanned growth to span 130's length see I-35 as an example of what not to do. Highway 130 also has the chance to work in conjunction with commuter rail lines connecting Austin to Georgetown, Round Rock, Pflugerville, Manor, Elgin, and even San Antonio. These can also be connected to major activity centers Downtown, the state office complex, UT, and Mueller by a streetcar circulator.
With respect to planning for 130, the elected officials and agency heads that have invested considerable time and effort in the SH 130 task force are to be applauded.
We have a chance to avoid the mistakes of the past, and we have regional leaders working hard to do so. Their efforts in that regard deserve our support.
'Health' InaccuraciesDear Editor,
Re: "To Your Health" [Sept. 8]: You have some incorrect information on your answer to the 17-year-old that has vitiligo. People with vitiligo do not have an increased risk of developing skin cancer. Also, UV rays such as the sun are good for repigmentation, so an SPF of 30 on vitiligo patches is not necessarily recommended. Please go to www.vitiligosupport.org for correct information. It would be a wise idea to recommend this Web site to the 17-year-old, as well.
Michelle Chipman[James Heffley responds: You are correct about vitiligo and skin cancer, although there is apparently some controversy about the effect of PUVA treatment (commonly used for vitiligo) on cancer incidence.]
Wants Ventura to BelieveMr. Ventura,
Thank you for your insightful columns over the years. They are typically one of my first destinations.
Regarding your less-than-insightful last column ["Letters @ 3am," Sept. 15], you should have more faith in your own ability to evaluate evidence presented in 9/11 "conspiracy theories." By now you have developed an intuitive understanding of how gravity affects physical bodies, even if you are unable to express it in mathematical terms. I implore you to actually watch the collapse of WTC 7, the building that was not hit by a plane. Surely you have trusted sources for unaltered video footage.
I'll tell you what I see a building collapse that exactly mimics buildings "pulled" in controlled demolitions. The roof line falls all the way down at near free-fall acceleration, the same rate as a ball falling the same distance unimpeded. The fact that there was such symmetry in the collapse indicates that all of the supporting steel columns failed nearly simultaneously and completely, and that the upper floors encountered no resistance as they dropped straight down. There is no precedent.
Stephen Jones, a physicist at Brigham Young University (he's real enough to be captured by C-SPAN cameras) was disturbed enough after viewing the WTC 7 collapse to launch his own investigation. He found byproducts of thermate explosives, molten iron, and sulfur at the site of all three collapsed WTC buildings. (The NIST investigation curiously didn't test for explosives residue. On their Web site they explain that "many thousands of pounds of thermite [less efficient than thermate] would need to have been placed inconspicuously ahead of time," supposedly ruling out the possibility of a controlled demolition.)
You ask, "Does it matter which cabal of murderous madmen was responsible?" Are you shitting me? Have the lizard men taken over your brain, too?
Richards Was Truly GreatDear Editor,
Ann Richards was a great lady! Even though I'm a Republican, I was in awe of her and remember well her famous speech at the Democratic National Convention. I feel that Texas has lost a great citizen, a marvelous hunter, a fantastic mother, a good governor, and a great role model to all women who aspire to become more and to achieve their very best! My deepest sympathy to the great state of Texas in its loss and to her family. She was a fabulous lady and will be deeply missed by all. Sometimes all of us have a silver foot in our mouths! God bless.
On Conspiracy TheoriesDear Editor,
I agree with Michael Ventura that 9/11 conspiracy theories should be taken with a grain of salt until a team of unbiased experts has taken a hard look at the facts ["Letters @ 3am," Sept. 15]. But who knows what the facts are? The Bush administration's opaque information-sharing policy in the weeks after 9/11 has fed conspiracy theorists' imaginations. This does not validate conspiracy theories, but until the experts are made privy to all the information available, the nutcases have just as much right to their opinions as anyone else. Also, Mr. Ventura (like Walter Sobchak) reminds us that "the more complex a plan, the more it is vulnerable to mistake and accident." But it is also true that the more complex a plan, the less likely the skeptic community will be to believe it once the plot is uncovered. Let's not be duped by our own confidence in the odds.
Two GreatsDear Editor,
As a native New Yorker now living in Houston, I just want to say thank you, Texas, for giving America two incredible women: Barbara Jordan and Ann Richards. Now that Ann has been called home, I just know somewhere up there she and Barbara are still running things, with a wink and a smile. Rest in peace, Ann. We'll miss you.