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 [email protected]. Thanks for your patience.
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Boycott Shark Fin Soup

RECEIVED Wed., March 27, 2013

Dear Editor,
    I recently read your article “Bill of the Week: Save the Sharks” [Newsdesk blog, March 3] This article was of great interest to me. Sharks stopped being an evil menace once I was introduced to Bruce from Finding Nemo. I’m sure this is true for many others. I have grown to appreciate sharks, therefore your article stuck out to me. Learning about the evil practice of shark finning disgusted me. I cannot believe that some people cut the fins off sharks, and then throw them right back into the ocean. Do they understand that the shark may still be alive and suffering? How could they let an innocent creature starve, or drown for the sake of soup? I’m sure vegetable soup would be just as satisfying. I think this article needs to be pushed more into the public eye. The people who enjoy shark fin soup need to learn about the practice that takes place in order for them to feel full. Hopefully then they will boycott this practice and stop demanding shark fin soup.
    I am proud of the Texas Legislature for having high moral standards and trying to put a stop to this awful practice. I hope that House Bill 852 gets passed! Thank you for informing the public of this issue.
Rachel Francis

No on Project Duration Ordinance

RECEIVED Wed., March 27, 2013

Dear Editor,
    Contact the mayor and Council today and ask them to vote no on grandfathering or not complying with established city ordinances.
    It was bad enough that the ridge over Barton Creek suffered the grandfathering that allowed the development of office space and parking garages there, as a result of a legislative overturning of Austin's historic Save Our Springs Ordinance.
    It would be a crime to nullify in one vote the work that produced the Heritage Tree Ordinance, the McMansion Ordinance, new zoning classifications, Great Streets Program, the Imagine Austin comprehensive plan, the latest water quality protection measures, historic preservation measures, and Town Lake Corridor protections.
    The 2012 decision by the majority of voters to enfranchise the remainder of the city, based on neighborhood representation, must direct this Council to leave the discussion of this Project Duration Ordinance to the 10-1 Austin City Council! No decisions of this magnitude should rest with a City Council on the verge of evolving into a new 10-1 system.
    There are many citizen entrepreneurs, all people that see the healthy potential of Austin and recognize the need for new direction and priorities. The protection of forests, prairies, rivers, and creek ecosystems directly translates into the vitality of our local economy and ecology; healthy people, healthy planet, healthy economy.
    No one on the City Council could deny the health of all citizens as being more important than using the city as a commodity. Respect must be given to protect the integrity of community planning by committee, which produced the local regulations currently in practice by neighborhoods citywide. The people of Austin have the right and responsibility to lead and not be led.
William Stout

More Walking, Less Driving

RECEIVED Wed., March 27, 2013

Dear Editor,
    Thanks for the article "Neighborhood Watch" [News, March 22]. It's odd that some people oppose decent walking space in a city. Everyone needs to walk. The more densely populated an area is, the more it needs wide sidewalks, bikeable streets, and pocket parks. The biggest cities, such as New York, are busily turning car space into walking, biking, and sitting space.
    Twenty-eight pedestrians were killed by motor vehicles in Austin last year. That's a record number. It's getting deadlier to walk here. Most of Austin's streets lack sidewalks. Every day, I walk on streets full of people with dogs and baby carriages, bicycles, and speeding cars. Whenever there's a crash on the highway, the highway traffic pours through the neighborhood streets, among the dog- and baby-walkers. Not having sidewalks lets everyone know that important people stay in cars, and that it's all right to kill people on foot. Car drivers who kill pedestrians usually go unpunished.
    Lack of sidewalks cost us money. It raises public health costs. It means that most people drive even tiny distances, polluting the air and needing lots of space to park their cars. Yet year after year Austin fails to build sidewalks.
    It isn't only children who need sidewalks and parks. Single people in their 20s don't spend all their time drinking and driving. They, too, like to walk, bicycle, and visit parks.
    While big cities nationwide are working to become more walkable, Austin is slow to move in this direction. That's why it's becoming meaner, dirtier, and more clogged with cars. Sidewalks are people-friendly, not just child-friendly. Let's make Austin more friendly to people, including people on foot.
Yours truly,
Amy Babich

What About Drivin' n' Cryin'?

RECEIVED Tue., March 26, 2013

Dear Editor,
    I was surprised that Tim Stegall did not even mention Drivin' n' Cryin' in his review of the True Believers reunion at the Continental Club on March 17 [“Alejandro Escovedo's SXSW Closing,” Music, March 22]. Drivin' n' Cryin' is a rock band from Atlanta. They have been making records and touring since the Eighties. Kevn Kinney (guitarist/singer/songwriter for DnC) is a blue-collar Bob Dylan and one of the most prolific songwriters alive. Their show at the Continental Club was awesome! Their second-to-last song was a tribute to R.E.M. that brought the house down. This was soon followed by Peter Buck and Mike Mills joining them onstage to sing the Drivin' n' Cryin' anthem "Straight to Hell.” Did Mr. Stegall step outside for a long smoke break or what? Wake up, pal. If you are going to review a show, you want to at least mention the best band that played that night.
Bobby Lanier

The Impact of Drug Addiction

RECEIVED Tue., March 26, 2013

Dear Editor,
    “Miss Sunshine Takes Another Bow” really hit home [“Letters at 3am,” March 22]. On Sunday, my friend of 24 years, Debbie, died in St. David's South Austin Medical Center from a cocaine-related heart attack. She was 53 years old. Thirty-eight years of heroin, cocaine, and pills had taken their toll. She always thought it was OK to do those things as long as she was honest about it. She never denied being an addict, even to her family, and in her mind somehow that made it OK.
    For a while I used those same drugs myself. I was lucky. A sense of self-worth, a dose of shame for the pain it was causing my family, and disgust mixed with anger with who I had become all combined to give me the strength to walk away. I tried to bring Debbie with me but she always slipped back. In spite of this, I always tried to stay a friend to her.
    As I helped her daughter go through her things and empty out her tiny apartment, Carla kept saying, "How can one person's life come down to this?" A few boxes and bags of things to drop off at Goodwill, and six trash bags full of things few people would want?
    Friday evening we held a memorial for her at Fiesta Beach. Of the dozen or so of her friends who showed up, all but a couple of them had hollow faces, sunken in and wrinkled beyond their years, reflecting the pain of their choices. Most of these people had skeletal bodies beneath their sagging clothes.
    Carla told me afterward that it was all she could do not to scream out at them, "Wake up! Look at what you're doing! How can you put your family through such pain? Can't you see what Debbie did to herself? To her family? To me? I'm too young to have to deal with this! "
    She said she felt like, in their current mental state, none of them would have understood what she was trying to say. As someone who had been there, I knew she was right.
    Some say drugs are a personal choice. Maybe on some desert island to someone with no family and no friends, but for everyone else? The effects of heroin and cocaine impact so many more people than just the person using them.
Delwin Goss

Kudos to the Bag Ban

RECEIVED Mon., March 25, 2013

Dear Editor,
    In Amy Smith’s article “Then There’s This: In the Bag” [News, March 1], it was thrilling to see Texans implementing sustainable practices. Trash pollution is a major problem both on land and in the oceans. The bag ban not only helps Texas, but it helps the Gulf Coast. Plastics travel throughout the land and the oceans by wind, ocean currents, and gyres. Plastics do not biodegrade and are therefore one of the biggest threats to the oceans. A lot of the trash used on land travels to the world’s oceans and harms marine ecosystems and marine animals. Thousands of seabirds and marine mammals die each year from ingesting trash or becoming entangled in plastic. Reusable, biodegradable bags are a big step in the right direction. After hundreds of uses out of a biodegradable bag, it breaks down naturally and doesn't leave harmful chemicals behind. Texas’ effort is a great start to implementing sustainable practices and provides the stepping-stones toward a better environment.
Kelley Savage

The Value of Water

RECEIVED Mon., March 25, 2013

Dear Editor,
    I appreciated your article “Water: Rising to the Surface” [News, Dec. 14, 2012] for bringing an important issue to light. As a native Austinite, I have grown up used to the scorching summer days and water restrictions, but I found this article very disturbing as it outlined the precarious situation. I did not realize that our Legislature still has not come up with a better solution for our water supply. Recently in my marine science class at the University of Texas, we discussed the economic value of the ecosystem and putting value on nature’s “free” services. I hope that our local government can come to an agreement on what they perceive the total economic value of our water is, and not simply the direct costs of using water. Thank you for informing the public about how important it is to correctly value services such as water because we ultimately depend on it for our livelihoods.
Brianna Muniz

Critiquing the Critique

RECEIVED Mon., March 25, 2013

Dear Louis Black,
    I get excited about movies, not unlike your Tree of Life-loving self. So please know that my critique of the critique is nothing personal toward Kimberley Jones, so much as my having a deep and abiding appreciation for what I saw yesterday. Mind you, a shoot-'em-up, leave-'em-for-dead genre that I normally avoid, except for the fact that Colin Farrell was teamed up with Noomi Rapace and Terrence Howard.
    Now ,given that you've chosen to get back into your writing game by doing movie reviews, do us all a favor and go see Dead Man Down. Then try and defend this statement by Jones: "The Danish director Niels Arden Oplev, who filmed the original Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and makes his English-language debut here, doesn't share the same affinity for nuance or depth of character" [Dead Man Down, Film Listings, March 15].
    I may not have sold any movie scripts yet, but I've seen enough movies and I have learned and studied enough about acting to know that this was anything but what was described by Jones. To her credit, however, there wasn't a passive-aggressive bent to her review – as she shot Oplev dead in her opening paragraph by declaring her preference that another director should have helmed Dead Man Down. No small wonder that she went on to bash the director.
    But please, when you take even just one the films micro-moments – Armand Assante's character laying down the law to Howard – do not pretend that Assante's measured performance did not give the film the perfect amount of gravitas at a critical moment. Add the manner in which the Dane layered Farrell's friendship with the sidekick, and delivered the climatic ending. Have I mentioned the onscreen chemistry between Farrell and Rapace that jumps right out and grabs you the moment they are shown eyeballing each other from their respective terraces?
    The arcs of Farrell and Rapace's characters didn't just happen; it was layered bit by bit with the "nuance" and "depth of character" that Jones accused the film of lacking. See it for yourself if you don't believe me. Plug in a superbly shot film with a perfect blend of close-ups thrown into a well-executed mix on top of the climactic twisting at the end – come on, give a Danish director a break.
    Here's an idea: Given Jones also came clean about her disgust with shoot-'em-up dead and deader films and her seeing Hitchcock everywhere, you might want to steer her clear of the former and keep her focused on the latter.
Charles Ponzio

Don't Snuff Out Adult Fun

RECEIVED Sun., March 24, 2013

Dear Editor,
    I live in North Austin in the Wooten Park neighborhood near Burnet Road and Anderson Lane, and I can assure you that there's no shortage of children no matter where you go, particularly unsupervised ones playing in the street near apartment complexes [“Neighborhood Watch,” News, March 22]. So, what earthly good is that for sustainability? The real problem that exists for North Austin is that there are too many of these diaper sniffers meddling into adults' affairs, ostensibly "for the children,” who will have no future if this is people's idea of diversity. It's bad enough that these professional yuppie parents ruin all spontaneity for their children, but now they want to ruin it for adults trying to have fun as well. Hell, you can't even have a beer at Genuine Joe Coffeehouse because it's too close to a day care center! And now these dork daddies and moronic mommies want to prevent cool digs like Little Woodrow's from opening up in North Austin?! Your children don't need protection from adults who like to party, drink, and have fun … they need protection from overbearing and overprotective parents like yourselves who like to eradicate what makes life worth living in the first place!
Shane Matthews

Cover Issues That Face the Planet

RECEIVED Fri., March 22, 2013

Dear Editor,
    Having read Marjorie Baumgarten’s film review of Chasing Ice [Film Listings, Feb. 15], I was surprised to find that the article didn’t seem to quite capture the necessary urgency that this topic demands. In fact, I was even more disheartened to find that it was one of the few articles that even addressed this global problem at all. As the capital of Texas, Austin – a beacon of environmental consciousness – promotes the further development of green energy practices to help individuals take better care of their city. However, newspapers in the surrounding area provide very little coverage about the oceans and other coastal problems, due to Austin’s distance from the coast.
    I think it would benefit the people of Austin and those who subscribe to this newspaper to be more exposed to the central issue of the film: global warming and its increasing effect on glaciers. Due to the fact that those who inhabit this beautiful area of Texas are so environmentally friendly, the messages wouldn’t be lost on the audience. Not to mention, a large portion of the population are students. Besides, issues on the coast don’t just affect those who live there, as we’ve seen with Hurricane Sandy this past year.
    Film communicates information so strongly, and the fact that filmmakers are taking advantage of this portal to inspire awareness among people all over the world about the threat that plagues the oceans and glaciers is a step in the right direction. Since, if left unchecked, global warming will only increase in the coming years, I believe that popular newspapers such as The Austin Chronicle should participate in spreading the knowledge of the adverse conditions that our planet, not just our city, is currently facing.
Alyssa Bonefas
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