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Eugene Weekly : Letters : 11.12.09




TASER PRAISER

Thank God people are getting Tasered in Eugene, whether or not they deserve it, and not getting shot and killed, whether or not they deserve it.

Several years ago a young man was shot and killed by police at his parents’ home because he had a knife and was acting irrationally out of control. The police felt he was a threat, so they shot and killed him because they did not have access to Tasers. I also remember reading and hearing many more similar incidents.

I believe that the police have a very difficult and thankless job. Sure, the police overreact, but at least the victims or perpetrators are around later to say, “Wow, that really hurt.” Let’s all thank the Eugene Police Department for Tasering folks and not killing them or permanently disabling them. We should be focusing on the positive and not the negative in these latest incidents. 

I do not condone the police Tasering everyone they interact with or Tasering anyone at all. If there are going to be poor judgment calls by police, I would prefer them to involve a Taser gun rather than a lethal gun.

Matt Parker, Eugene



HELPING HANDS

I want to thank you for the cover story (10/22) “Foster Care Frustrations.” During this time of economic struggle, many of us are worried about paying our bills and keeping our jobs. These children are in a helpless situation through no fault of their own and rely on government funding and volunteers for survival. You can play an integral part in supplementing the depleted services offered by paid staff members due to lack of funding. By donating your time and skills to this very worthy cause, you will directly influence these children’s lives. Whether you’re transporting to and from appointments, locating resources, providing advocacy, tutoring, mentoring, child care or even office assistance … there is a need for YOU. Information can be found at www.oregon.gov/DHS/volunteer

Additionally, the members of our community should be made aware that there are organizations utilized by foster parents needing donations of used items (clothing of all sizes, toys, dishes, furniture, bedding, etc.) to provide support and resources to children in foster care programs affected by budget cuts and fund redistribution. This would be an easy alternative for those of us who already give to thrift stores. Please help the foster parents going through economic strife; give what you can to support our children. Sometimes it does take a village.

Donations of clothing and other various resources accepted at the following organizations:

CASA, Clothes Closet/Equipment, 984-3130; Springfield/Marcola Family Resource Centers, 744-6769 or 744-6769; and West Eugene Family Center Clothes Closet, 686-7722, ext. 272, 242 or 301

Kristi Gallagher, Eugene



EXPOSED

The controversy surrounding whether or not to immunize against the H1N1 virus seems to fall along ideological guidelines: proponents in favor of vaccination on the left and opponents on the right. (Remember fluoride?) My take on the ruckus is that if politically conservative zealots choose of their own free will to leave themselves exposed to a potentially fatal disease, who am I, at the other end of the spectrum, to argue with them?

Tom Arnold, Eugene



350 EXPLAINED

The 350 demonstrations were apparently fairly successful and something to focus around. But I wonder how many demonstrators understood that the number refers to 350 parts per million (ppm), by weight, of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere. (I find it difficult to think of gases by weight, but just consider it a relative number.) It’s presently at about 387 ppm. Getting down to 350 ppm, a little over the pre-industrial level, is thought to mean we’d no longer have to worry about global warming. That doesn’t mean ppm of “carbon” as often implied, which would most likely mean soot. Burning (combining oxygen with) 12 tons of carbon produces 44 tons of CO2. We often hear statements about millions of tons of CO2 going into the atmosphere, but not what that means in terms of CO2 ppm. We also don’t hear what CO2 ppm mean in terms of global heating, but that’s more complicated.

Three hundred fifty ppm of CO2 is the most distant possible climate goal. By choosing a distant goal, we can put off actually doing anything right away. The recession has apparently reduced our rate of CO2 emissions, maybe temporarily, but we should still be much more concerned about when CO2 ppm will stop increasing. Since rising temperatures cause increases in natural production of CO2, and methane, we may have passed the “tipping point” where we can reduce the level. It may continue to rise at least through this century and may never come back to what we consider normal.

Dan Robinson, Eugene



THE BIG PICTURE

Americans have lived very comfortable lives. Health insurance, automobiles and homes have all been taken for granted. Being 17 and just recently employed, my experience in the world is rather limited, but that only adds to the confusion. People have been living poor and under the poverty line since the beginning of any monetary organization, and now the world has plunged into a recession. 

Now I understand that as Americans we don’t see the poverty that rampages across the two largest continents in the world (as well as a few places in between) as a problem, but I’m a little tired of hearing the complaints, seeing that we haven’t done much but turn up our noses and spend frivolously. Is this recession not just a little bit of karma? I can only hope that the gap keeps shrinking because maybe when were all at level zero together we can truly try to start over again with more than just profit gain feeding our efforts.

Patrick Glang, Eugene



DOG PARK NOT FOR KIDS

They are called “dog” parks for a reason. While I feel sorry for the entire circumstance Renee Hart experienced that led her to form a petition for a small dog park (news briefs, 10/8), this story brings up another major issue at local Eugene dog parks: small children in the parks.

Parents may mean well bringing both their children and dogs to the park for a family activity, but it’s important for dog owners and parents to be aware that a dog park is not a playground for young children. While it may be difficult to imagine anything as horrific as what occurred to Lola occurring to a child, it very well could have been (and thankfully wasn’t) Hart’s 4-year-old mauled instead.

As the owner of a jovial 70-pound black lab, I’ve seen several examples of small children getting sideswiped or knocked over by dogs on accident. I’ve also seen small children chasing frightened dogs unfamiliar with the play of young children or petting animals that they cannot be sure are entirely friendly. I’ve also seen (small) dogs nip at children in the parks and generally distract parents from controlling their own dogs. My dog was attacked several years ago by another dog that was trying to protect his small family member, to whom my dog apparently roamed too close. That attack caused a trip to the emergency vet and 40 stitches.

Please keep small people out of dog parks, regardless of the size of canine allowed inside. While it would be wonderful to assume that all dogs in parks are in accordance with the ordinances posted, the mastiff was simply one instance of a dog owner who may not have fully recognized the ways in which any given dog will respond to different stimuli.

Karin Timmermans, Eugene



STOP BURNING STUFF

In response to the Oct. 15 letter “Save Your Energy,” the letter made two distinct points;

Photovoltaic power uses fossil fuels and precious metals and is not repairable or recyclable. The usage of biomass, gasification, solar thermal and wind are realistic replacements for fossil fuels. 

Anyone who has looked into what it means to go to green energy understands two basic concepts: We have to stop burning things, and we need energy that is sustainable.

What is truly green energy?

Burning anything releases gases into the atmosphere and produces waste, which results in environmental pollution. This makes biodiesel, biomass, gasification, clean coal (oxymoron) or any other burnable fuel a short sighted direction to pursue. Atomic energy produces radioactive waste that has a shelf life of 100,000 years, making it not sustainable. Hydrogen cells have a huge wasteful conversion cost to produce.

Geo-thermal, solar thermal, wind, hydro-electric, tidal and photovoltaic are all examples of clean renewable sustainable energy since they convert directly to electricity. 

We already have an electrical infra-structure that can be expanded to draw upon and distribute energy from sustainable sources. We have to build the electrical infrastructure/transportation system before we can fully utilize sustainable energy and not use fuels for transportation.

Solar panel recycling is in its infancy since the panels last for decades, but the industry is already starting to recycle in Europe. Cost is estimated to be a third less for making new PV panels out of recycled ones.

 

Joshua Bolton, Eugene



SCARY CROSSWALK

I am writing as a seriously annoyed River Road resident. On a beautiful fall day, I set out with my two young children and two dogs for a walk to Maurie Jacobs Park. We were waiting for traffic at the crosswalk on River Road by Knoop Street, and we watched car after car zoom by us without a glance. 

This is one of the new crosswalks put in on River Road the past year, and there is no light. Many times we are stuck in the middle of the road on the little median because cross traffic doesn’t stop. This time things went a little differently. One car stopped and waved us across, but the car coming in the next lane was zooming right along and wasn’t showing any signs of slowing. Suddenly the driver saw us and slammed on his brakes — almost causing an accident with several other cars right behind him. The driver directly behind screamed out his window at the guy — who got out of his car and screamed back — pointing out that there was a crosswalk. While I appreciate the fact that he did in fact stop, it was very scary to see the accident that almost happened.

Any crosswalk is better than none at all, but I wonder how long it will be before there is an accident.

Traffic lights cost money, but just having a painted crosswalk and signs stating to stop for pedestrians isn’t enough on a busy four-lane road by a residential neighborhood. Someone is going to get killed.

Joanna Birns, Eugene



MALARKEY ARGUMENTS

Regarding the Oct. 22 letter, “Foul Fetish Cover,” it’s not clear why a poorly written argument would be chosen for publication. I’m sure such a provocative paper such as yours could have chosen a recipient with more poignant arguments and maybe less tenacity for his disagreements. Maybe you thought his letter was a joke? I did.

Hardt seems to only give malarkey arguments. He claims EW has perverted unspoiled youth with the fetish cover story Oct. 8. I’m not sure which teens he thinks are so young and pure who are actually reading the paper. They are surely not in the bar or downstairs at Diablo’s. He goes on to insinuate the purity of the teens by claiming, “Now every child passing by your free box gets to make another difficult adult choice about sexuality, abuse, fairness, simple right and wrong.” No one is forcing sexuality on teens. They are perfectly capable of wanting to choose on their own. As for the subject matter, if they haven’t been thoroughly introduced to the world and all its aspects in logical and candid discussion by their parents, hopefully they’ll take it home and then the conversation may actually take place. Isn’t the purpose of reading to stimulate thought and conversation?

I read the fetish cover story with both some ghastly horror and amusement; it seemed to be apparent Hardt’s actual stigma was with his uncomfortability with taboo sexuality.

If he can’t handle variant lifestyles, he should move to a small town in Montana and stop trying to control the free will and exploration of life. We have this under conscious thought and control.

Michael Weitzel, Eugene



A CHANCE FOR PEACE

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been brought to America’s attention again lately. Is there a real chance at peace? Eugene residents may wonder what they can do to help the peace effort.

Israeli peace activist Gila Svirsky was in Eugene Sept. 30, and she gave the following advice: Join www.J-Street.org, which is an alternative political organization to AIPAC; write letters to editors and elected officials about how important peace is for Israel and Palestine; donate time or money to peace and humanitarian organizations; don’t boycott Israel as that is collective punishment and counterproductive as it will push the mainstream to the extreme, but do participate in selective boycott of companies and products that profit off the occupation of Palestine.

Amanda Olson, Eugene



SAVE THE RINK

The Ice Center in Eugene is the only one in Lane County — and there is a very real possibility that its days are numbered. Both its physical and financial health are in need of major interventions to keep it viable for the long term future. For a Northwestern city/county that is so fully committed to fitness, quality of life and recreational activities, it is hard to imagine that there might not be a single ice skating rink for its citizens and guests to enjoy.

The Ice Center is a unique, albeit underutilized, asset to this community, providing skating and entertainment opportunities for children, teens, adults and families including public skating, recreational hockey for all ages, UO Club hockey, Junior Hockey with the Generals, figure skating, speed skating and more. It is of particular value to our children and youth, offering a safe, fun and healthy physical activity and a positive first step toward a lifelong fitness lifestyle.

With new and energized leadership, increased public awareness and the support of the county commissioners and all those responsible for the Lane County Fairgrounds, this “hidden treasure” of Lane County can move to the next level of successful operation and service. Drop by for a skate, attend a hockey game or skating performance and express your support for The Ice Center’s presence in Eugene. We can all help keep ice skating in Lane County.

Keith McConnell, Eugene



FOSTERING HOPE

Although I am not a foster child, my best friend Anna and her family of (already) three have taken on four kids over the past few years (see cover story, 10/22). Watching them struggle for money, food and clothes has had an impact on everyone around them. The four children they took on range from 2 to 11 years old and luckily were all brothers and sisters. Their biological parents were meth-heads, and a couple of the children were unfortunately affected by the drugs when the mother was pregnant.

Sadly and obviously money is a restraint in the economy today. Bringing newcomers into an already jam-packed house definitely cuts the money like a pizza. I won’t go into specifics about my friend’s family, but it sounds very similar to the Hadley home. 

It’s apparent there’s not enough money going towards these foster homes when the only clothing comes from clothes drives or out-of-pocket cash that could be feeding them instead. All parents want is to treat their children to the best, but when they take in so many only so much can be done.

With the rise in unemployment, do you really think people will want to vote on higher taxes? I wholeheartedly agree with this article and wish to say I hope the recession will be lifted before the budget is decided again in 2011.

Ashlie Harper, Eugene



BALANCE BEAMS

People who speak of the urgency of balancing the budget are insane. Don’t they know that the entire economy is largely bankrolled by foreign states and corporate powers? There is no balance anymore. Likewise, this economy has now divided the wealthy from the poor as never before and is quickly dissolving that bastion of stability, the “middle class.” We may survive this recession, but it is time to quit being fooled by the opportunist argument that communism failed because of its flaws and capitalism flourishes because of its virtue.

Capitalism is likewise deeply flawed, and the increasing human population level is putting stress right at that fracture. How insane is it that we as a society can’t fund the very programs that are most important: programs that care for our children, that teach them; programs that protect our environment; programs that help us care for each other and care for our health? Yet we croak on and on about the importance of “balancing the budget.”

 We need to realize that the economy runs on psychology, and the basis of this particular frame of mind is fear and scarcity. It doesn’t have to be this way. The economy is artificial. There is no natural reason to subjugate ourselves to the free market. It is time to abandon this economy and revive compassion as our highest value.

Gavain U’Prichard, Eugene



CLASS SIZE MATTERS

To all of the people who claim that class size doesn’t matter: Try teaching a subject to a friend or peer who is interested in learning said material. You’ve got one hour to do it. Add 10 engaged students. Still got one hour. Add 10 people with no intrinsic motivation in the topic at hand and pique their interest. Add five more with learning disabilities, mental illnesses, behavioral issues, low self-esteem or a combination thereof. Add another five who receive little or no academic support from anyone else in their lives. Your pupils have one of several different learning styles. Tailor your lesson to each one of these styles and make time to work with each student individually. Compare your results.

Keep your head up when people tell you that you’re incompetent. Don’t worry about the very real possibility that next year you’ll have 50 minutes to accomplish the same task with five more students.

Ben Doidge, Eugene



TASER GOOFING

Surprise, surprise, a new Taser incident is to be investigated. Unfortunately, those who predicted Taser troubles for EPD and the cty of Eugene were ignored. Now the City Council has rushed to dilute the effectiveness of the Civilian Review Board by working to exclude the only effective members and stacking the committee with political zombies. Will there need to be a pile of smoking Tasered corpses before the council adds cameras to the Tasers or abandons the Taser “pilot project” altogether? How many deaths should the council ignore? Many cities have recently dumped the Tasers because they realized the Taser was oversold and overused by many officers. The Taser situation is a complicated one, and the media are informing you about Tasers and police oversight issues with all of the skill of a bunch of second graders. That is why the debate surrounding less lethal weapons is so murky and unproductive. 

Expect more deaths and multiplying unanswered questions. When I was shot with less-lethal weapons by the EPD SWAT team in 2003, the media could never get the story straight. Even with the incident captured on video, the media ignored it and parroted the lies from the police claiming they had acted in self-defense. Now the shooting can be viewed on YouTube. New weapons now, but the same old story of media incompetence keeps us moving quickly in all the wrong directions. I do not blame the police … I blame the elected officials and the slacker reporters who protect them by goofing off instead of investigating these complex issues.

Zachary Vishanoff, Eugene



STRANGER DANGER

You may have seen me walking downtown, but I couldn’t tell; you didn’t look up. You may have seen me walking with my dogs, but I couldn’t tell, since you said “hi” to them but not to me. We may have crossed paths on a local trail; I tried to make eye contact, but you didn’t. Another chance to connect missed. I saw you see me as I walked out my front door, and you passed my house at the same time, but I was ignored. We could be neighbors, but we may never know.

I am wondering how we are going to get anywhere as a community, a town, a country. In a place that is so forward-thinking, we can’t get past the simplest of barriers. “Stranger danger” is forever locked in our brains, and this isolates us from potential friends, neighbors and allies or pleasant interactions among members of a community. I am not your enemy. I don’t want your purse/wallet. I will not hurt you physically or otherwise.

I am making a promise to myself to try to connect with people when circumstances align and present me with an opportunity to reach out to someone. Try to figure out who I am. To be successful, you may have to look up from the sidewalk, ask me what kind of dogs I have or just wish me a good day. You never know: I may be the person you have been waiting to meet but were afraid to see.

Ray Cole, Eugene

 

 

FRESH AIR

It was a breath of fresh air to read that Rush Limbaugh, the "articulator" for the Republican Party, acknowledge that the GOP wasn't actually for anything, they are merely against Barack Obama. It invigorates me to hear family values expressed so succinctly. 

Go ye and do likewise.

James L. Whetstine, Eugene



DEADLY LACK

The Associated Press reported last week that more than 1,000 children die each year because they lack health insurance. If you are an uninsured, taxpaying citizen of this country, consider this: Charles Manson has better health care than you, and you're paying for it. How does that make you feel?

Dave Morgan, Eugene



PONZI ECONOMY

The economic crash of 2008, a catastrophe for millions, was a quaint, pipsqueak downturn compared to what could happen next. If our massive deficits from wars, stimulus spending and everything else cause our international creditors to dump dollars, or if OPEC changes the pricing of oil from dollars to a market basket of currencies, then we may enter a long-term worldwide crisis that no amount of stimulus spending will cure.

We currently have a trillion dollar annual deficit and a jobless recovery, despite Obama's best efforts. I hope he gets lucky. If our creditors dump dollars, and if the dollar drops precipitously, everything we buy overseas will become monstrously expensive. Our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq will have to cease as our deficit balloons into trillions and nobody loans us money. If it grows to hyperinflation, worthless dollars will wipe out debt and savings together, and the chaos will cause lending and investment to cease. The world economy could grind to a halt.

Our entire buy-now pay-later economy is a Ponzi scheme. The Chinese and OPEC are the current suckers, buying our debt to keep their exports high, while we keep our bloated lifestyles. The U.S. and Chinese are locked together in a sick, downward spiral. Neither side can disengage without committing economic suicide. It's scary and absurd.

If the dollar falls into a hole, a political power vacuum in Washington will open up. A third of our citizens are functionally illiterate, passive consumers. They are ripe for a populist orator to explain complex problems in simple, emotional terms, stirring passion against scapegoats (Muslims, immigrants, gays, Obama). It will be a leader who forges an uneasy alliance of spoiled illiterates and corporate elites — a leader who promises a return to American greatness, by punishing illegal immigrants and moral deviants at home, and by winning great military victories overseas.

I hope I'm wrong. There is still time to rein in the Wall Street speculators, finance a main street jobs recovery and then reduce the deficit by dismantling our war economy.

Rik Huhtanen, Veneta



FLYING MONKEYS

President Obama went to Dover Air Force Base to honor the return of 18 service men killed in Afghanistan. The plane arrived at midnight and the solemn ceremony lasted until 4 am. The flying monkeys of Liz Cheney and Fox News are sent out to mock and demean our president for doing so. The sad fact is that not once did Bush or Cheney bother to lose sleep by honoring the returning flag draped coffins in person. 

Dick Cheney shuffles out of his seclusion to heckle President Obama for "dithering" on his decision about sending more troops to their death in Afghanistan. The sad fact is that this is the same man who rushed to war in Iraq "with the army you have," sending our troops to their death in unarmored vehicles to keep the cost down. I would like to say shame on the Cheneys, but I fear it is something they do not have.

Michael T. Hinojosa, Drain



BIOPROSPECTING DANGERS

Research is ever increasing in the field of bioprospecting, thanks in part to the melting icecaps and glaciers of the arctic. For over a decade now scientists have been looking at the DNA of novel organisms all over the world in order to further our grasp on such topics as oil recovery, human disease food sciences and more. However, the impact on the environment and the populations being studied is unknown. The species being studied are usually endemic, meaning they don’t exist anywhere but the arctic. Prospecting techniques have little regulation which can lead to damage of the environment. And because damaging the arctic means more melting of icecaps and higher water levels, we are all affected.

These isolated populations could be affected through damage caused by bioprospecting, whether that be the drilling of bedrock, the reduction in population size associated with sampling, or perhaps just by disturbance of the locality. 

Being in international waters, much of the time there are no environmental laws regarding habitat preservation or species sampling. The fact is we don’t know everything that lives in the arctic and how it will be affected by a large scale company’s efforts to go gallivanting around disturbing their habitats. 

A couple of current projects include the drilling for and study of certain bacteria which seem to aggregate around crude oil deposits below the surface of the sea, as well as the study of the arctic squirrel, the only known animal whose body temperature can fall below zero degrees Celsius; antifreeze proteins in the squirrel brain are thought to hold clues to stroke treatment in humans. The goal of study in the oil bacteria is to use them to find more oil wells for drilling. 

So although there are potentially great benefits in the field of bioprospecting, the methods employed and the destruction it can cause need to be evaluated and regulated. We can’t morally just go destroy a habitat on a whim anymore.

Gary Hesedahl, Eugene