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Letters are posted as we receive them during the week, and before they are printed in the paper, so check back frequently to see new letters. If you'd like to send a letter to the editor, use this postmarks submission form, or email your letter directly to mail@austinchronicle.com. Thanks for your patience.
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What About 'Global Warming'?

RECEIVED Wed., March 15, 2006

Dear Mr. Black,
    Your March 3 editorial [“Page Two”] decried the right's alternate reality, saying it shunned history, economics, and science. I assume that you would include "global warming." (I use the term loosely.) In a letter from the December 2005 issue of Discover, a reader complained that one article quoted an older scientist that "human-induced global warming is a conclusion arrived at by those who 'don't know anything about how the atmosphere functions,'" and another article saying that "few scientists of any persuasion question the reality of human-induced global warming." The editor responded without insults or name-calling, instead promising to assess what is actually known. "Most scientists" don't know enough about specific scientific fields, like meteorology, to have legitimate opinions, and they know it. (In a past article on nuclear weapons, you quoted a scientist from the Union of Concerned Scientists admitting his own lack of knowledge on the subject – how refreshing!) However, history has also shown that older scientists can all be wrong. (The ether wind theory is an example.) The issue just isn't that clear-cut, yet you say that any one who questions "global warming" is crazy. You too don't let "real numbers, figures, and facts" get in the way. There are real grounds to question much of what people claim is true, right and left. (I realize all too well that Bush denies "global warming" only so he can enact policies benefiting his financial supporters. That is the political reality of both parties.) Could it be that we are so nasty today precisely because we are so unsure of ourselves?
Byron F. Hinderer III
Cedar Park
   [Louis Black responds: Thanks for staking out my position on "global warming" for me, but actually I didn't include it on purpose. I trust neither the left nor the right on this, both confuse politics with science and anecdotal evidence with serious systematic research. So you are dealing with conclusions I did not offer, because I don't have them.]

Sending the Wrong Message

RECEIVED Wed., March 15, 2006

Dear Editor,
    I'm sorry, what I meant to say was there were people from both sides of the aisle in the U.S. Senate who were complaining the security measures taken post 9/11 were basically racist in nature [“Postmarks Online,” March 9]. Now, those same senators, from both sides of the aisle, are screaming about the now-defunct "port deal,” claiming that it was wrong to give control of some of our seaports to "Arabs with ties to terrorists.” Since 9/11, Dubai has worked closely with the U.S. in the campaign against terrorism. They've earned the right to be granted the presumption of innocence, and I thought we should have allowed them to do it. The company doing it now is British, and all the 7/7 bombers were in fact born in England. Should we cut ties with the UK?
    I asked it if could all be politics, and I meant it. President Bush is not running for office; Congress and the Senate are, and they have to think of their own political careers well beyond 2008. The way the issue was framed in the media, that we were "turning over control of our nations seaports to terrorist sympathizers," polarized the issue from the start, and the knee-jerk reaction of the public brought the predictable "outcry" from our soon to be re-elected representatives.
    We need to stop being run by knee-jerk reactions to issues; we need to be a lot more deliberative if we're going to find real solutions instead of addressing problems. I happen to agree with Bush that the deal should have been allowed to go through, and I think we did end up "sending the wrong message.”
    Thank you for your time and consideration.
Carl Swanson

The Statue of Liberty Is Gone

RECEIVED Wed., March 15, 2006

Dear Editor,
    The Statue of Liberty is gone.
    On the 2400 block of East Martin Luther King, there is a slightly eccentric but well-tended 1960s-modernist house. For as long as I've been in Austin the house has had a small memorial garden facing the street with an eight-foot-tall Statue of Liberty. Now the garden and statue are gone, and minor construction on the house is in progress.
    I have no idea who the statue's owner was or why he erected it. And I certainly don't know what he intended it to mean. But I know what it meant to me and I'll miss it. I thought its passing should be noted.
David B. Miller

So Many Faults to Choose From ...

RECEIVED Tue., March 14, 2006

Dear Editor,
    Sure takes a lot to embarrass some folks. I know that because I still see lots of "W '04" bumper stickers around. If I had voted for somebody who has shown himself to be a liar and a criminal, I'd have long ago gone out, probably in the dead of night, and scraped that "W '04" sticker off my behemoth SUV or dualie pickup.
    Next time I get a chance to talk to one of those guys, I'd like to ask him what he most appreciates about "W.” Is it the illegal war, the torture, the increased risk of terrorist attacks, the vast damage to our economy, domestic spying, or some other shortcoming of this administration? Hey, there are so many faults to choose from.
    I'll bet he won't have an answer for me. But there are times when the proper response is to be embarrassed.
Ben Hogue

Alcohol More Harmful Than Marijuana

RECEIVED Tue., March 14, 2006

Dear Editor,
    On the streets, we know the truth: Alcohol, tobacco, and pharmaceuticals are definitely more harmful, both to the user and to society, than marijuana, and it does not make sense to punish an individual more harshly for using the
   less harmful substance.
    Alcohol use makes domestic violence eight times more likely ... marijuana use does not. This is based on a 2003 study by addiction researchers at the State University of New York at Buffalo.
    Drinking by college students, ages 18 to 24, contributes to an estimated 1,400 student deaths, 500,000 injuries, and 70,000 cases of sexual assaults or date rapes each year, according to a 2002 study commissioned by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Task Force on College Drinking.
    Many in enforcement have been wounded or killed in the violence triggered by the drug war. In recent history, Austin, Texas, police shot Daniel Rocha in the back! Witnesses say he was on the ground defenseless. Daniel smoked
   marijuana sometime in the last month before he died. In Sunrise, Fla., police seized two ounces of marijuana at the home of Anthony Diotaiuto after shooting him 10 times. This is insanity.
    Leaders responsible for the current quagmire will have to answer to a higher power for their crimes against humanity. It's time to end the terror by changing our intrusive, big-bully policies, both foreign and domestic. The monetary costs are staggering and the human suffering unconscionable.
Colleen Minter
aka Bonnie Colleen McCool

Acosta Nails Another One

RECEIVED Tue., March 14, 2006

Hi Ms. Belinda Acosta,
    I often enjoy your column, but this week's effort was really superb [“TV Eye,” Screens, March 10]. You hit the nail on the head, and I wish most media critics and assorted Hollywood gas bags were half as perceptive or respectful. It's sad but it's hardly surprising that they can't see much of anything beyond "$50 meeellion dollarz!"
    Hell, even I, as a "sensitive liberal" dumbass white guy who enjoys Chappelle's brand of humor could figure out what was bugging him after reading just that one Time Magazine article. When the humor of the irony of the racist humor starts to take a backseat to the racist humor itself, then, yeah, I could see where he'd have a big problem with that. And that's a danger he flirted with all the time. He doesn't sound crazy to me. He sounds like a guy with his head screwed on right.
    He said something in the interview about making sure that he was dancing, not shuckin' and jivin'. I think I understand what he means, and I sure hope he decides to start dancing again soon.
    Anyhow, thanks for the great article. Keep up the good work!
Sincerely,
Adam Gravois

Correcting Ventura, Passing Judgment

RECEIVED Mon., March 13, 2006

Dear Editor,
    Michael Ventura writes, "Since humanity is a product of Nature, anything we create or do is a further product of Nature. We are Nature doing something to itself" [“Letters @ 3am,” March 3].
    While this is more or less true, we might do well to review the types of plants and animals found in nature. There are those that are predatory, those that are parasitic, and those that are symbiotic.
    While much of the balance of nature is kept by relationships of predator and prey (with the predator often the prey of something else), this is a largely violent affair. The prospect of "civilization" has much to do with womankind elevating herself from certain, but not all, predatory behaviors.
    So, if we look at man's effect on the earth, in which of these categories does he fall? Are we "a storm," or are we conscious, voracious parasites, and is either really a good or natural thing?
    Ventura also notes, "[we speak of] God the Father, God the Great Mother, Mother Earth – beautiful concepts in many ways, but these metaphors reject complexity."
    Rather than assign God a gender or think of God as an It, I like to think God is inclusive of both genders. The concept of hermaphrodite is repulsive to most, however, and either gender will do. As for the earth and nature, I prefer to think that the most appropriate gender assignment is female.
    To paraphrase Vonnegut from his latest set of essays: When we've killed the last living thing on the planet, Earth, in a voice perhaps hovering over the Grand Canyon, might say, "Forgive them, they know not what they do." The irony is we know what we are doing.
Sincerely,
Kenney C. Kennedy

Geographical Distinction

RECEIVED Mon., March 13, 2006

Dear Editor,
    Unless you drove beyond Sudbury, your friends' island cottage would be in the northern part of Southern Ontario [“Page Two,” March 10]. Northern Ontario is a whole nother place.
    Your assessment of Canadians' passion for Neil Young is quite accurate.
John Hillerup

Diamond Lanes and Increased Gas Prices Fairer Than Tolls

RECEIVED Mon., March 13, 2006

To the editor,
    I might be persuaded to support toll roads if they had an option to reward folks who carpool. Say, give them a credit for three or more adults during rush hour and no toll for two or more adults during rush hour or three or more adults during nonrush hours. I would also give a credit for cars that get more than 40 mpg, no toll for cars that get 30-40 mpg, regular toll for cars that get 20-30 mpg, double the toll for cars and trucks that get 15-20 mpg and quadruple tolls for vehicles that get less than 15 mpg. Oh well, it would probably be much easier to just add $1.20 per gallon gas tax phased in at 5 cents per gallon per month for the next two years. That way the folks who waste fuel would start to pay part of the true cost of increased road construction, maintenance, crowding, etc. Toll roads seem to me to be a way to keep the poor folk from cluttering up the roads for the wealthy. Diamond lanes and an increased gas tax seem a lot fairer.
Yours truly,
Lawrence Lawver

Wit and Wisdom From One Without Either

RECEIVED Mon., March 13, 2006

“Postmarks” and editors,
    Boy, you know it's a slow news day when the Austin American-Statesman [March 12] publishes a front-page full-color mug shot of a mud fence growing hair. (Or losing hair as the case may be.) At first I thought it was a front-page obit for one of the infamous Lee brothers, Home and Ug. Louis Black looks like he's pondering the choice of a salt-water enema or a shot of Milk of Magnesia.
Kurt Standiford

Why They Hate Louis Black

RECEIVED Mon., March 13, 2006

Dear Mr. Black and blue,
    They don't necessarily hate you Louis for what you stand for – they hate you for what you don't stand for; those that cherish individual rights and the freedoms that come with them. But what really has pushed this to a feverish pitch is quite simple; they have the power and are no longer just the opposition party – which is when they are actually more effective. And they no longer can pin the blame on the donkey.
Eddy Ames

Banking Problems

RECEIVED Mon., March 13, 2006

Dear Editor,
    I was reading your article "Don't Bank on It" [News, March 3] about David Wheeler's problems with Bank of America and missing deposits, and I would just like to say I have had the same thing happen to me with Bank of America on two separate occasions. And, on both occasions the bank refused to take credit for any wrongdoing. It was the same situation where I swore, and I know, I put the deposits in correctly and yet they refused to appear. The outcome was horrible because it put my account into almost negative $600, and I couldn't do anything about it but slowly pay it off. It angers me to know that the same thing happened to someone else. I just thought I would share that Mr. Wheeler is not the only person being screwed by Bank of America.
Carolina Norman

Keep on Rockin' LZ Love

RECEIVED Mon., March 13, 2006

Dear Editor,
    Re: LZ Love [“Picks 2 Click,” Music, March 3]: I own and operate Vivid Image Photo here in Houston, and I have not only had the pleasure of hearing this incredible woman's searing vocals but also have had the distinct honor of being the first pro-photog to capture her incessant sexuality and beautiful form on film. Two shows at Dan Electro's, two fantastic sessions.
    Keep 'em rockin', L baby.
Frank Brown
Houston

Doesn't Get It

RECEIVED Fri., March 10, 2006

Dear Editor,
    I was just checking out the Texas Department of Public Safety's Web site and noticed something odd.
    Gov. Perry has signed unilateral agreements (for concealed handgun permits) with 15 states. (We have reciprocal agreements with 22 states.)
    I'd like to know why our governor is allowing citizens from other states to carry concealed weapons in Texas, while not securing those same rights for Texans.
    Is he our governor, or not? Shouldn't he be looking out for Texans?
    I don't get it.
Kealapono Wrobel

We Are Conscious Observers

RECEIVED Fri., March 10, 2006

Dear Editor,
    I only wish to give praise and thanks on your wonderful selection in March 3's “Letters @ 3am” and to the author, whom now I'd love to meet – Michael Ventura. Quite an amazing article, logical, and well-written, opening myself and perhaps others to a new dynamic in the understanding of world issues.
    With regards to the interactivity and consciousness of nature, I disagree and say it is somewhat provable. Take the examples that can be found in reading Gary Zukav's The Dancing Wu Li Masters or by watching What the #$*!, we interact and effect our environment daily simply by being the observer. Two scientists can perform a subatomic experiment under the same exact same specifications and yield different results. Think of Schrodinger's cat. We directly effect our environment by being a conscious observer and interacting with it. I am the conscious observer within this body; I am of nature. Therefore, by the arguments you set forth, nature is conscious!
Nick DiCenzo

Drastic Misdunderstanding of Conservative Thought

RECEIVED Fri., March 10, 2006

Dear Editor,
    It's clear from Louis Black's March 3 "Page Two" that he continues to possess a drastic misunderstanding of conservative thought. I have few quibbles with the politics of Mr. Black or the Chronicle and agree more often than I disagree, but this is irrelevant to your continuing inability to regard conservatives as educated citizens who merely share a different opinion.
    If you honestly feel that the conservative argument holds that "citizens require neither study, learning, nor specialized knowledge" and that "detail, rational argument, and logic are all the tools of the devil and secular humanists, used by liberals to try and obscure the Truth" suffices as a summary of the conservative perspective, then I fear you too far gone in the grip of righteous frustration to understand your opponents.
    The continuing use of "Page Two" to depict Republicans as willfully ignorant, zealous in their dedication to subverting social justice and democracy, misses the point and furthers the same kind of bile and polarization that's an impediment to any kind of real political dialogue in this country. You have to realize, Mr. Black, that you are dealing with people, many not unintelligent and unethical on their own merits, who truly believe in what they advocate and honestly feel it's best for America. Please don't lose sight of that. We're dealing with fellow citizens here, not Snidely Whiplash.
Respectfully,
Patrick Caldwell
   [Louis Black responds: Conservative thought along political and ideological lines is one thing. "Conservative" actions, as we are experiencing them now, are quite different and seem to have way too little to do with the former. I really don't want to vilify anyone because it is counter-productive and anti-democratic. But if you can explain to me how the invasion of Iraq, wild government spending coupled with just as wild tax cuts, the vilification and trivialization of the judiciary, the disregard for individual rights, the attempt to undo the separation of church and state, the endless presssuring of Republican politicians to be in lock-step with the party, DeLay's carving up of Texas electoral districts, the amount of pork processed through the budget, the all out assault on the Democratic Party (by gerrymandering, targeting, ignoring precedent, and disenfranchising lobbyists) have anything to do with conservative thought or even the constitutional vision, I'd love to know. Please don't offer the playground retort that the Democrats are no better. I couldn't agree with you more, but that doesn't allow the Republicans a pass, and they are in power. Again, when it comes to conservative thought, I don't believe "citizens require neither study, learning, nor specialized knowledge" and that "detail, rational argument, and logic are all the tools of the devil and secular humanists, used by liberals to try and obscure the Truth." But when on right-wing radio, in letters, from political leaders and by pundits, I constantly hear that the "original intent of the Constitution being trampled by the Supreme Court," which is criticized for "making decisions that most Americans don't agree with," or the vicious attacks on Democrats, especially when it comes to expressing unpopular ideas. When legitimate legislative tools are threatened because they slow down the imposition of the vision of the ruling party (which is exactly what they are intended to do), or "majority rules," or "the Founding Fathers didn't mean to take God out of government." When I hear, the most hated, "I believe in Freedom of Speech but ..." or " I believe in Freedom of the Press but ... ." When it is said that "expressing ideas that disagree with the government is treason." Well then I think either the speakers are willfully ignoring, or else not bothering to consult, the very documents, laws, and ideas they say they are defending. ]

Jesse Taylor, One of the Family, 'Lived a Hundred Centuries of Nighttimes'

RECEIVED Thu., March 9, 2006

Dear Editor,
    Jesse Taylor died last night [“TCB,” Music, March 10]. Bukka (Allen, my son) called and told us about an hour after he passed. I called Lloyd (Maines); Joe (Ely), who was sitting on a plane in San Diego; and Davis (McLarty). Had a long talk later with Lloyd about what a true heart Jesse was. Lloyd said, "All these politicians with their Ivy League educations, their big money and power schemes, all put together don't have as much soul as Jesse did in his little finger." We joked thinking about him and Stubb (C.B. Stubblefield) sitting up there together again and laughing their asses off at all of us dumbasses down below. Music and barbecue in heaven! Finally! Then Jo Harvey (my wife) and I had a Jesse Night. Whiskey and beer and watching him grin and roar playing all through Lubbock Lights, then listened to Smokin' the Dummy, where he plays like a wild electric Panhandle banshee on everything. And his flat-picking on “Flatland Farmer” – a blistering account of himself and the first time he ever played on any of my records. No way I can think of him “gone” when he's so much “here” on the music he left. He went too early, but I keep thinking about Danny Parish (a friend I had who died in 1973 when he was 33). When at the funeral, his mother said, "Yes, he died too young, but he stayed up late. That counts for something." In Jesse's case that counted for everything. He lived a hundred centuries of nighttimes. You knew it when he played. I'll miss that great blues-monster guitar and his big goofy grin very much. Lot of miles and a million memories. He was one of the family, and I loved him.
Terry Allen

The Cover, How Sexist!

RECEIVED Thu., March 9, 2006

Dear Chronicle,
    I don't mind a few dead cats or a crotch Bible (and I suspect Mohammed should be caricatured regularly by the free press), but a ménage à sept?! And how come the girls are on the front row away from the backrest? How sexist! And why does the Negro get the teddy bear and the good eye make-up? How racist-sexist-black-supremacist-gay-cowboy! You pigs! (Tee hee.)
Love,
Tina Mack

The Knee-Jerk Response of the Week Award Goes To ...

RECEIVED Thu., March 9, 2006

Dear Editor,
    And the knee-jerk response of the week award goes to ... let me see the envelope, Louis Black! Who mentioned either political party [“Postmarks Online,” March 6]? Not me, so why did you, Louis? Lots of people on both sides of the aisle were bitching about “racial profiling,” and now they, on both sides, are the same ones bitching about the port deal. So desperate to make it a partisan thing eh, Louis? Why? Says a lot about you, amigo.
Carl Swanson
   [Louis Black responds: Let's see, Mr. Swanson wrote "Odd, aint it ... the same people, mostly, who were screaming about 'unjust racial profiling' of Arabs post-9/11 are, at least in the U.S. Senate, the same people who now are complaining about the 'port deal' with the UAE." I responded, "Many Republicans who said nothing about profiling have complained about this deal ..." I'm not sure where the "Gotcha!" is. Maybe Swanson's convoluted wording has confused both of us, or at least me.]

Wrong for Country and Humanity

RECEIVED Thu., March 9, 2006

Dear Editor,
    Moral relativism, my ass! Mr. Vance McDonald [“Postmarks Online,” March 6] is no more an arbiter of truth than is Mr. Black or anyone else. Nothing we humans do should be about right or left; it should all be about right or wrong, and that is something most people can identify by the age of 6 years. Anything that harms others is wrong. The so-called right and left are both wrong most of the time – wrong for our country and wrong for humanity.
Max Minor

Moments of True Clarity

RECEIVED Thu., March 9, 2006

Dear Editor,
    Modern, natural life offers so few moments of true clarity. I have just added Michael Ventura's Nature's Delight to my list [“Letters @ 3am,” March 3].
    That is rare air previously occupied by Ayn Rand, Ray Carver, and Shel Silverstein.
Brad Hill

'Carrascolendas' Remembered

RECEIVED Thu., March 9, 2006

Dear Editor,
    Re: Carrascolendas article by Belinda Acosta [“Have You Ever Been to Carrascolendas?,” Screens, July 4, 2003]: Wow! Thanks so much for this article! I was doing some surfing on the Net looking to see if I could acquire one of their episodes, but it seems apparently not.
    This article, however, was very informative, and I saw that there was a book written on Carrascolendas as well.
    Yep – now at the age of 44, it's the childhood memories that give me some serenity – ha ha.
Patricia (White) Esparza
Chicago, Ill.
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