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 Thanks for your patience.
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Great Article About the Chicken Little Hysteria on Guns

RECEIVED Thu., May 28, 2009

Dear Editor,
    Jordan Smith has once again proven herself one of the best reporters in Austin. "Gun Crazy!" [News, May 22] belongs in a basic journalism textbook as an example of how to write a levelheaded, evenhanded, nonjudgmental, and well-researched article about the Chicken Little hysteria surrounding a deeply polarizing issue. Most articles on contentious subjects head straight to the lunatics and jackasses for sensational quotes and present the moon bats of every side as if they were the mainstream. Ms. Smith found the loonies – hard to keep from tripping over them at this point – but also actively searched for clear heads and sensible opinions and let everyone speak for themselves. She also took the time to point out something that's underreported but really should be obvious: Most of the hysterical predictions of a gun-grabbing Obamapocalypse ignore the fact that the Democrats have probably figured out by now that the so-called "assault weapons" ban in 1994 tipped enough close races that it cost them control of Congress.
    Thank you, Jordan Smith, for yet another outstanding piece of journalism.
Jason Meador

How About Banning Cedar Trees?

RECEIVED Wed., May 27, 2009

Dear Editor,
    Now that the city is grappling with the grave menace of falling tree limbs at Barton Springs, I'd like to point out another hazard that regularly terrorizes many citizens in Austin: second-hand smoke from trees. I'm talking about the cedar that seasonally inundates the clean air of our fine city. It's been awhile since the city has banned anything. How about banning cedar trees? Get it out of your system by chopping those trees down instead of the beautiful trees at Barton Springs. Cedar trees are a lot more frightening to me than the one in a million chance that a tree limb might fall on me.
Ted Christopher

Disappointed With Hamburger Roundup

RECEIVED Wed., May 27, 2009

Dear Editor,
    Congratulations for the Austin hamburger roundup [“Burger Bonanza,” Food, May 22]. Keep in mind that there are many other places that serve wonderful burgers – perhaps better than all that you've reviewed. Fuddruckers still serves great hamburgers. Red Robin has expanded into Austin and San Marcos. Chili's, Applebee's, and even Mimis Cafe serve quality hamburgers. Burger King has a free Whopper coupon in every Valpak mailing. Whataburger is still a favorite – much better than about half of the places you reviewed, in my opinion.
    I was disappointed that Short Stop was neglected, as always. When I first saw these places located in parking lots, I thought they did film developing. Short Stop never seems to advertise or get reviewed, but the little shacks seem to be all over Austin. Isn't it time that Short Stop gets written up somewhere?
    As you may know, I'm a hamburger historian who found the first citations of the word "hamburger." The hamburger was not invented by Fletcher Davis of Athens, Texas, who opened a hamburger stand at the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis. I was cited on some popular blogs this month after Obama wanted some Dijon mustard on his cheeseburger – a Texas nonketchup tradition. I guess no one is interested in free, reliable food history these days from your friendly, local, penniless food historian. Overlooked, just like Short Stop!
Barry Popik
   [Food Editor Virginia B. Wood replies: Perhaps you overlooked the introduction of the burger feature where I explained the parameters of our list. For the purposes of this feature, we covered 12 new local or regional burger places that have opened in Austin within the last couple of years. None of the national or regional family restaurants that you've mentioned fit that criteria and neither do Fuddruckers or Short Stop. As always, I appreciate your efforts to broaden my horizons.]

Give Gamblers Another Listen

RECEIVED Wed., May 27, 2009

Dear Editor,
    I totally disagree with your assessment of Underneath the Owl [“SXSW Records,” Music, March 20]. This is the Riverboat Gamblers' best album to date. “Catastrophe,” “Alexandria,” “Pilgrims in an Unholy Land,” “Robots May Break Your Heart,” and “Victory Lap” are all part of my everyday playlist. Great reviews from Rolling Stone and Spin and their upcoming tour with Rise Against and Rancid will have you wanting more from this great punk rock bank from Austin via Denton. Maybe you should give Owl another listen before you dismiss some really great tunes.
John Pratt

Forgione Puff Piece

RECEIVED Tue., May 26, 2009

Dear Editor:
    In the May 22 Chronicle, Michael King sums up retiring Austin ISD superintendent Pat Forgione in glowing terms [“Point Austin,” News]. "He did the job he was hired to do, and on those standards, he's certainly been an enormous success." Some might feel that the ex-superintendent's major success was facilitating Austin's gentrification initiative with sometimes Machiavellian genius: disguising warehousing institutions as frontline schools in the battle against minority failure; claiming magnet schools to enhance at-risk students’ motivation when they often appear to have done just the opposite; applying zero-tolerance policy differently according to a school’s demographic. Mr. King might want to interview the Reverend Sterling Lands, head of the Eastside Social Action Coalition, and Susana Almanza, director of PODER, for their views of Forgione's tenure.
    A few years ago, an AISD official asked me to witness a new initiative for helping at-risk students. Before observing the special program, I asked to roam the hallways of the high school offering it. Less than a third of the students were on task. The rest played cards, listened to radios, talked. Those on task did fill-in-the-blank worksheets or other unchallenging seat-work. Teacher-student interaction was minimal. I observed no group work, lab work, or lectures. A month earlier I had observed classes at an AISD school serving an opposite demographic. Group work, lab work, and lectures were the norm. Tasks were challenging and off-task behavior discouraged. To bring these two schools to the same level might be difficult, but presenting the former as a success based on a special program serving two students and shortchanging hundreds hardly contributes to that end. And this suggests only the tip of the iceberg that deserves far better treatment than King's puff piece.
David Weiner
Professor of sociology

Water Leadership Encouraged

RECEIVED Tue., May 26, 2009

Dear Editor,
    Congratulations, Lee Leffingwell, on your recent election to mayor. As one of your local constituents, I urge you to take a strong stance on water conservation.
    Austin is one of the greenest cities in Texas, though we are falling short in certain areas. As a result, Barton Springs and Lake Travis, two of our most valuable natural areas, are drying up at alarming rates. They provide clean drinking water, wildlife habitats, and great swimming. But right now we’re suffering from the worst drought in 100 years - not to mention that Austin uses 21% more water per capita than San Antonio.
    The city needs to step up to the plate and increase funding for water conservation by one-third in order to preserve beautiful, pristine areas like Barton Springs and Lake Travis. Currently, the city only allocates 3% of the utilities budget to such programs.
    Austin must become a leader in water conservation. Right now we are falling short. That is unacceptable. We have a lot to lose.
Ryan Bartlett
Environment Texas

A Campus Full of Well-Armed Students?

RECEIVED Mon., May 25, 2009

Dear Editor,
    Re: Guns on campus – Senate Bill 1164 [“When Good Things Happen to Bad Bills – and Vice Versa,” News, May 22]: another hair-brained piece of legislation to address a nonproblem (include the Voter ID bill here).
    SB 1164 “(b) authorizes a license holder to carry a concealed handgun on or about the license holder's person while the license holder is on the campus of an institution of higher education or private or independent institution of higher education in this state.
    “To receive a license to carry a concealed handgun in Texas, a person must be a legal resident of Texas, at least 21 years of age …”
    Using the University of Texas at Austin as an example: UT enrolls 50,000 students each semester (give or take a few thousand). 60% are under the age of 21. Which means that only 40% of 50,000 could be eligible to carry a concealed handgun on the campus and in the classrooms. Oh, goody.
    So, parents of teenagers (in and outside Texas), do you want your kid to attend a university where the campus could be crawling with as many as 20,000 well-armed, very young (21 to 25 is still very young) students? How will we be able to tell if the armed person is a student?
    I would be looking for an affordable education out of state.
    Ah ha, this could be a way to address the “real” problem of overcrowded universities and shrinking state funds for higher education: Fewer students attracted to Texas’ state universities means fewer students enrolled, which means fewer state dollars needed for funding. Voilà! – problem solved.
Mary Patrick

Arm Up! Arm Up!

RECEIVED Mon., May 25, 2009

Dear Editor,
    Many Americans are rightly concerned about Mr. Obama's neo-left multicultural tendency to soft-shoe liberty-killing ideologies such as Marxist and Islamist terrorism – not to mention his domestic efforts to impose government control of every aspect of our lives.
    They can't be blamed for assuring their own self-defense by arming up!
Vance McDonald

My Burger is the Best

RECEIVED Sun., May 24, 2009

Dear Editor,
    I read your burger-joint reviews in last Friday's Chronicle [“Burger Bonanza,” Food, May 22]. I have been to several burger eateries throughout the years and even sampled one over the weekend that your reviewer seemed pleased with. Here's the thing: I contend that I can make a tastier burger myself at home than I have ever gotten at a burger joint. Maybe you'd like my burger; maybe you wouldn't. But just invite me over to one of your staff's kitchens, and I'll bring everything I need to turn out a great burger. I've never been in the food-service business, but if you really flip over my burger, maybe I'll start to think about opening a burger joint of my own.
Raymond Moran

Are the Same Sound Standards Going to be Applied to All?

RECEIVED Sun., May 24, 2009

Dear Editor,
    As a working sound-reinforcement guy who can now go to jail under our city's absurd "70 dB at the property line" noise ordinance, I wonder: Are we going to apply this standard to all of the motorcycles of the upcoming Republic of Texas Biker Rally in a couple of weeks?
    Come to think of it, I'm sure that UT football games regularly exceed 70 dB at the curb, too. Perhaps I'll get to meet Mack Brown in the pokey.
Randy Kirchhof

Some Kind of Trifecta?

RECEIVED Sat., May 23, 2009

Dear Editor,
    You finally did it, you devilish cabrones! You printed Michael King's face-licking of Pat Forgione [“Point Austin,” News, May 22], a candid quote by Nelson Linder and his NAACP insurance joint [“Quote of the Week”], and a photo of Nathaniel Sanders II's funeral [“Naked City”] on the same page. I'm calling on all the cowards in Austin to come forward to unscramble this unusual puzzle by The Austin Chronicle. What's missing is the Acevedo/Linder embrace at the Statesman's office a week ago.
Paul Aviña

The Unbiased and the Snide

RECEIVED Fri., May 22, 2009

Dear Editor,
    I was pleasantly surprised to actually read a well-informed and unbiased account of the gun-rights issues prevalent today from The Austin Chronicle [“Gun Crazy!,” News, May 22]. Thank you very much, Ms. Smith, for this "breath of fresh air" when other biased, misinformed, and insulting editorials run rampant in other news sources. You managed to present the issues without prejudice in either direction and with factual information. It is much appreciated.
    I can only hope the person(s) responsible for the snide jab related to Senate Bill 1164 (concealed firearms on campus) in the article "When Good Things Happen to Bad Bills – and Vice Versa" [News, May 22] can learn from your sterling example in factual reporting. As a college student and spouse to a law-enforcement officer, I am completely for concealed carry on campuses across the U.S., as is my husband, and we both heartily object to the author(s) blindly including us and friends in some blanket statement claiming we would be against such things. Hopefully the author(s) can come to terms with the fact that the NRA is not some faceless entity but is made up of people working at universities, students, law enforcement, mental-health officials, as well as thousands of other law-abiding U.S. citizens. One should not deal in absolutes and claim that all of these groups are completely against concealed carry on campuses.
Cassie Fulton

At Least He's Back to Guns N' Roses

RECEIVED Thu., May 21, 2009

Dear Editor,
    Re: Terminator Salvation [Film Listings, May 22]: John Connor's name is unique and unpredictable – granted, it sounds like some burned-out high school gym teacher, which only adds to the unexpected hero's success. McDirector McG does sound like an advertisement for McDonald's; this I do agree.
    The CGI in this film is, I daresay, better than the poor excuse for a Wolverine movie that was recently released in theatres, and at least the visuals had a more realistic effect than Spider-Man's high-rise web swing.
    What I was most disappointed with was Marcus Wright's face being half-terminator, half-human. The green-screen effect didn't seem to work out too well whenever he opened his mouth.
    At least John Connor is back to listening to Guns N' Roses instead of the emo craptacular music in The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
    For a summer blockbuster, I believe this action film is the best we can expect due to Hollywood's newfound obsession with over-CGI-ing and lack of research when remaking or sequeling a classic.
Yiskah Demure
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