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Eugene Weekly : Letters : 3.29.07

REQUEST FROM MAYOR

I hear from many in this community about bicycle use. Sometimes it's the dangers of interfacing with automobiles. Sometimes it's cyclists' interactions with law enforcement. Sometimes it is the need to encourage more riding by keeping those lanes free of debris and well surfaced. Sometimes it's about safe storage or lock up sites. Sometimes it's how lucky we are to have such a wonderful bikepath system. The issues are myriad, but one thing for sure is that we do want to encourage this mode of transportation and recreation in our city. It is clean, sustainable and healthy.

Bicycling has historically been an important part of our city life, and right now we need to take another leap forward.

The city is seeking volunteers for pedestrian and bicycle plan focus groups on April 5, and I want to encourage participation. The purpose of the focus groups is to gain input from Eugene residents about what kinds of pedestrian and bicycle facilities are considered comfortable and safe as well as what tools might be used to encourage people to walk and bike more frequently. Lunch will be provided to those attending the focus group sessions.

Information collected from the focus groups will be included in the Pedestrian and Bicycle Strategic Plan. If you are interested or would like more information, go to www.eugene-or.gov/walkbikeor contact David Roth at 682-5727 or by email at david.f.roth@ci.eugene.or.us

Please be part of planning Eugene's future!

Mayor Kitty Piercy, Eugene

 

MOODS & LIBIDOS

If Lauren Angel (3/22) had actually bothered to read all of Dan Savage's column (3/15), she would have seen that he said nothing about women having to be "prostitutes." Instead, he said that a woman with a low libido isn't excused from having to reach out to her man from time to time, be it with a blow job, hand job or whatever. The man, meanwhile, needs to receive these gestures gratefully and with pleasure.

It's not about "pretend[ing] that they like it"; it's about being receptive to your partner's needs, and if someone is unwilling to do that, the relationship is in trouble. That's just human nature, and it's just as true when the woman is the one who wants sex more. I'm sure that, in some cases, sex is a shamanistic utopia where Michael Franti and Tret Fure serenade dreadlocked lovers in a sylvan glen, and that's great.

However, even loving and committed partners struggle with differing moods and libidos, and that's where Dan comes in. I suspect part of why "Savage Love" has drawn so much fire around here is because it shatters PC notions about what sex is "supposed" to be.

I may not always agree with Dan's advice, but he usually makes me laugh, and he always makes me think. Please keep him around.

Kris Bluth, Eugene

 

CENTERFOLD REQUEST

More and more while perusing the pages of EW, viewing articles and pictures that would make a porn star blush, I find myself referring to the cover, making sure it's a copy of EW and not Hustler magazine. How about if we stop the pretense and go ahead and have a centerfold while we're at it? I'm thinking of something like a naked woman hugging a tree? What do you think?

Dan Owen, Springfield

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is a great idea. Any models out there? Male or female or …? The possibilities are endless. Photo submissions welcome.

 

SKEWED ATTENTION

I find it interesting in a disturbing kind of way that in these days of ozone depletion, deforestation, climate change, corrupt government, unnecessary war, mass species extinction, religious righteousness, etc., that so many EW readers are fixated on Dan Savage's column. Is it perhaps because you feel so helpless when it comes to these larger, more life-threatening issues?

Sure, there is a letter here and there addressing these topics, but come on — what are we on, three, four weeks of Savage bashing or praising? It seems to me that is past time that we as a community come together to figure out how to really begin addressing how in the days, weeks and years ahead we will even have the luxury of debating what is or isn't appropriate for a free alternative paper.

It is time to wake up, people. Our planet is burning. Can you hear the fire alarm? Or are you all so caught up in our protected lives, so full of denial that you do not want to shatter the illusion? We are all living in a coal mine — and the canary ain't looking too good.

Indigo Ronlov, Eugene

 

UNWILLING TO LEARN

Four years ago, on the eve of the most recent U.S. assault on Iraq, I was part of a small group of alarmed citizens who tried to use our bodies in a last-ditch attempt to block the forward movement of war. Somehow it was clear to us (as it somehow wasn't to so many policy-makers — Sen. Clinton being just one example — who voted to invade) that the rationales provided by the administration to justify the war were fabricated and baseless. It was clear to us that an immense amount of human suffering, both here and over there, as well as an ungodly amount of precious resources, were about to be expended for no earthly good.

Perhaps one lesson there is that our decision makers in Washington should get their information from broader sources. And/or get spines. My little group tried to block the entrances to the (old) Federal Building. It was an admittedly Quixotian and symbolic attempt to shut down "business as usual" on the federal level, to send a message to our leaders that their plan was foolhardy, dangerous and just plain wrong. Ironically, my father had officially opened that same building many years before by cutting the ribbon along with Sen. Mark Hatfield.

Some people chose to ridicule and threaten us for our efforts that day. We displayed large close-up photos of awful human suffering caused by previous U.S. exploits in that part of the world. Americans continue to be insular, arrogant and dangerous. When will we ever learn?

Vip B. Short, Eugene

 

AN APOLOGY

Recently my letter (2/15) was published chiming in about the "Savage Love" controversy. I want to apologize for part of the content of my letter, which may have been inaccurately stated, i.e. my writing that reading "Savage Love" was like being at the "freak show." This was meant to say that the stories in the column represent what is "unusual" or out of the ordinary, but was in no way meant to suggest that they are particularly "wrong" or negative. I apologize if anyone's feelings were inadvertently hurt by the statement.

David A. Caruso, Eugene

 

RFK WRONG

Greetings to my favorite weekly newspaper, Eugene Weekly. This letter is an angered response to Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s lies he made in his speech at the UO (Viewpoint, 3/15). While he makes many good, accurate points, he is dead wrong about two things: that compulsory public education was created at the founding of our country and that it was done out of good will for our citizens. Except for a few public schools, compulsory education did not start until 1837 in Massachusetts, and it was so incredibly unpopular that the children had to be taken from their parents at gunpoint to go to school. It is not a device to level the playing field, but to tip the scales to the industrial and governmental elite by making us obedient and dependent. The fact that school is meant to assimilate children was freely admitted to by the central planners of schooling.

To trace this atrocity further back into history, you must research the kingdom of Prussia (Germany) during the 18th and 19th centuries. A key influence on the new system was Johann Gottlieb Fichte, who proclaimed, "The schools must fashion the person and fashion him in such a way that he simply cannot will otherwise than what you wish him to will."

Ben Hollingsworth, Eugene

 

NOTHING TO LOSE

I eat my meals off of the plastic lid of a mixing bowl. My guests have to use the bowl itself, and since that's the only one I own, when soup is on the menu, one of us has to eat out of the saucepan. All the better — less to wash. There's only one chair in my place, so we have to eat on the floor, Indian style. My now-empty moving boxes act as personal dining tables. My bed, if you want to call it that, is a sleeping pad and bag on the floor — but I do have a pillow. This is how I live. No plates, little furniture, few comforts.

I don't have a radio, a stereo or a boom box, but music is essential. So I listen to the pirated collection off my aging laptop. That's right: pirated. What are the Internet police gonna do? Take away the lid to my plastic bowl? If you've got nothing, you've got nothing to lose. When I get sick of the thousands of songs sitting on the hard drive, I stream a radio station off the 'Net — indie, reggae, '80s, '90s, alternative, rock, punk, blues, ska, world beat, whatever. It's all there. A smorgasbord of sound.

I don't own a car. Never intend to. Polluter of skies, paver of earth, instigator of war. I ride a bike. And I get $115 in food stamps every month. A friend of mine once asked if I felt guilty about it. "No, I'd rather the government spend their money feeding me than bombing the innocent men, women and children of Iraq." The way I look at it, every dollar I take from the government is one less dollar spent paving roads, damming rivers or killing people.

I don't like the current socio-politico-economic system, and I want to participate in it as little as possible. That means I don't work much — at least not in the sense that most people think. And when I do "work," I prefer jobs that are under the table and off the radar.

Sure, a bed would be nice, a desk, some chairs, a few plates, maybe a couch. But I'm not going to spend money on them. One fewer desk bought is one fewer tree chopped down in the Amazon. One fewer couch is one fewer batch of toxic foam rubber polluting the skies of Thailand.

Maybe I will buy something — a mirror. The next time someone judges me based on my lifestyle, thinks I'm lazy, cheap, selfish, unhappy or just plain crazy, I can hold a mirror up to their face. If you want to judge someone's actions based on the common good, maybe you should look at your own.

Wes Ecowright, Eugene

 

PEACE DIVIDEND

The U.S. Department of Justice estimates the ratio of cost of violence to cost of prevention to be 7-1. By my calculations, a U.S. economy based on violence prevention and peace-building could eventually realize an annual "peace dividend" of $1.2 trillion.

The Illinois Center for Violence Prevention estimates direct and indirect costs of interpersonal violence in the U.S. at $425 billion per year. The president's budget proposal (FY08) includes $666 billion in current military spending. $425 + $666 billion = $1.1 trillion. Using one eighth of that for prevention ($136 billion) could save the U.S. economy $955 billion. We would still have $530 billion for defense, over three times the combined military spending of Russia, China and the six "rogue" states.

The need for a huge military machine would decline rapidly as world desperation, the root cause of violent conflict, is regarded seriously. An annual investment for 10 years of $59 billion would provide shelter, health care, AIDS control and the elimination of starvation and malnutrition for everyone on the planet.

As the need for a military declines over many years, the interest on the national debt attributable to military spending and the costs of veteran benefits ($300 billion) can be added to the peace dividend, totalling $1.2 trillion annually.

It makes "cents" to establish a cabinet-level Department of Peace (HR 808). If Americans can risk complete incineration of the planet with thousands of nuclear weapons on hair trigger alert, certainly we can find the courage, and perhaps the sanity, to open our fist.

David Hazen, Eugene

 

WORK OF COLD HANDS

To sum up Jennifer Levin's nice long letter (3/8) dissing anti-"Savage Love" letter writers: PRUDERY is even worse than RUDERY. It is unfortunate that so many of our laws, secular and religious, are written and passed by the bony hands of prudes instead of by the warm hands of decent folk enlightened by natural and scientific reality. Sex is simply Nature's prime force for living progress, but it cannot work well with so many greedy folks destroying the natural and social environments.

Bob Saxton, Eugene

 

RING THEM BELLS

If nothing else is ever taught in our public school system, two particular subjects should come before anything else: democracy and fascism!

Having lived next to a neighbor who grew up in fascist Germany, I was impressed by his comparison of America today to Hitler's Germany during the 1930-40s. Before he died a few years ago, he told me he was alarmed by the movement from democracy to fascism that was taking place under the Bush administration.

If our public schools were to concentrate on democracy and fascism before anything else, perhaps our younger generation would be able to politically understand our nation is now teetering on brink of the same disaster that ultimately destroyed Germany in 1945! The alarm bells are ringing with little time to spare!

John Fluent, Eugene

 

CONTROL FREAKS

To all the readers who have written in to disparage Dan Savage and his nationally syndicated column "Savage Love," I want to ask you to please pull your heads out of your asses. Dan Savage is a rather conservative, albeit gay, columnist who has brought wide insight to brave discussion about otherwise taboo topics regarding sexuality. His writing is both comic and educational to those who would otherwise have nowhere to turn for advice. Dan has been in a committed relationship for a long time, and he and his spouse have adopted a child to raise as their own.

Ultimately, Savage's advice preaches respect between consenting adults. He lends a hand when it comes to advice regarding technique to those too dim to figure it out for themselves. To ask EW to censor itself because of this one column on the back page is ludicrous and bigoted. If you don't want to read about human sexuality, don't read his column. But to insinuate your prudish, conservative head-in-the-sand mentality on the rest of us is downright despicable and far dirtier than anything ever written in "Savage Love."

Perhaps you should try to control others less and learn more about niche sexual appetites without ridiculing them. As the Bible says somewhere, "Judge not, lest ye be judged."

Jonathan Seraphim, Eugene

 

PROJECT A GIFT

Feb. 8 was a great day for our community! I had the honor of participating in Project Homeless Connect, an all day event that overshadows all other attempts to reach our vulnerable population of homeless.

I was called to assist a man who was upset that he would have to wait five to six weeks to get glasses. English is his second language, and he had a stroke last fall, so it was difficult to understand his story, but he really wanted someone to listen. By the end of our time together, he had an initial eye exam and the offer for an opportunity for a free full exam as well as a voucher for free glasses. He left the event with a smile on his face and his dignity intact.

I sat down next to an elder in the entrance area; he was eating a muffin. I mentioned there was lunch ready for him inside. He said "Really?" I offered to show him where it was. Later that day I walked up to this gentleman and asked him how his day was going. He said great, and he asked if I wanted to hear a poem. I accepted his offer, and he recited one while we stood. It was a great poem. He asked if I wanted to hear a love poem. Of course I said yes. He prefaced each poem with philosophy on life and wisdom on the insight of human nature. His love poem "The winds of love" brought me to tears. We hugged. In his words, "I think we just made each other's day!" He was right: what a gift.

June Sedarbaum, Eugene

 

WILY ARCHDIOCESE

Recent bankruptcy court rulings imposing gag orders and drastically reducing potential settlements for sexual-abuse victims of predatory pedophile priests have rewarded the Portland Archdiocese conspiracy of silence.

Financial bankruptcy? Doubtful. Moral bankruptcy? Debatable. Wily strategy? Doubtless.

Jerome Garger, Yachats

 

SEX IS SACRED

In Response to "Savage Bonds," Beth Olson's (2/15) letter, I'd like to say I find this column harmful for children and adults. And yes, Beth, I do home school my children. I don't let them watch television, and I do decide which movies are appropriate for their age levels.

However, they are in no way "banned from social activities with the outside world." They get to experience the real world and become real people, not media controlled zombies who forget how to think for themselves. They are involved in positive activities that will shape them into being the beautiful, kind, loving beings we are all meant to be.

Sex is supposed to be a loving, sacred act. We can all agree that some of our most beautiful experiences have come through sexual acts. This society has lost all respect for sex and a lot of other things that are supposed to be important. Then we wonder why divorce rates are on the rise, teens are having babies they are not ready to raise, or why diseases are everywhere. Disrespectful, sleazy columns belong in sleazy magazines. EW should publish articles that enrich the community, not corrupt it.

JoAnne Berger,Vida

 

GREED = MESS

In light of the outrage over the recent vote by county commissioners to enact a new county income tax, perhaps it's worth asking the question: "How did we get into this mess?"

The simple answer is that we got greedy and squandered our inheritance. When the national forests were created 100 years ago, the federal government agreed to give a percentage of timber sales revenue to county governments to offset lost property taxes. Sustainably managed for timber, water, wildlife habitat and recreation, these forests should have met our needs in relative perpetuity. But we got greedy and logged too much, too fast.

In the '70s the Forest Service and BLM were told by researchers that the spotted owl needed old-growth habitat to survive. They ignored the data, hoping that the spotted owl problem would (literally) go away as they accelerated cut levels.

In the '80s the pro-business Reagan and Bush administrations authorized drastic increases to the annual cut levels on federal forestland.

In the '90s the Clinton administration inherited 25-plus years of overcutting and ignored science about old-growth forest systems. The FS and BLM were forced by the courts to obey the environmental laws that they had been willfully ignoring. The Clinton Forest Plan reduced the cut from 14 billion bd. ft. to 2 billion bd. ft., but it was too little, too late.

In the short term, many people benefited from the overcutting, but now we're stuck dealing with the consequences of our short-term greed — kinda sucks, doesn't it?

Loren Brower, Springfield

 

CHANGE NOW

I agree wholeheartedly with Shannon Wilson's letter (3/8) on ideas to help slow climate change. EWEB should invest $90 million into solar energy and conservation incentive programs rather than build a new facility. A year-round covered farmer's market instead of a parking garage. Common sense moves. How about expanding and merging the community garden and school garden projects so we could have community gardens in every school grounds in the summer when school is not in session? Or a "Star Light City Night" project to make it mandatory all unnecessary lights are turned out in public buildings after hours and in privately owned buildings as well? Lowering the speed limit would immediately save millions of pounds of carbon from being pumped into the atmosphere. Clearcut logging should cease.

We can't have a "business as usual" approach anymore, and we have to cut through the bureaucracy. There is money to be made in renewable energy, local farming, new innovations. Not only do we need to help slow climate change, we need to prepare for it. Local farming, energy production and conservation are key. We need leaders who aren't afraid of blazing new trails, not the too little, too late approach that is currently being promoted.

Pamela Driscoll, Dexter