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Eugene Weekly : Letters : 3.31.11


Ive admittedly been waiting to hear some wise palliatives from our favorite local nuclear expert, Art Robinson, recently revealed as a "helicopter-dad,” but Nolan Nelson beat him to it with an amazing piece (R-G Letters, 3/18) regarding Japan.

His initial statement: "As the nuclear events unfold in Japan, they not only fail to reveal a cascading crisis, but represent a favorable confirmation of the viability of nuclear power. Japan has just undergone once-in-a-millennium seismic events beneath the plants, with minimal consequences.” Causes one to wonder what he uses for a news source (even a week ago!?).

He concludes, after this amazing piece of divination with advice for future nuclear-plant construction: "Änuclear power plants do not explode like atomic weapons, but can only release proportionately infinitesimal amounts of alpha particles through explosions of hydrogen gas. The particles would be lethal in groundwater contamination, if containment and monitoring plans were not in place already for such unusual events.”

I trust he will be taking kids to Japan to demonstrate his comfort with a little radiation to publicly drink the tapwater in Tokyo, and partake of some delicious Japanese salads from local produce. In the meantime I hereby award him the "Art Robinson Nuclear Disaster Remote Divination” award. Clearly rebuilding in the Fukushima area and for miles inland will be enhanced by the nuclear waste available for foundations, etc.

Said Albert Einstein: "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and Im not sure about the universe.”

R. L. Thompson, Eugene


With the ongoing nuclear disaster in Japan, we must begin questioning the psychological state of those in power. No doubt, Japanese officials constantly assured the public that the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant was perfectly safe. Their counterparts in the U.S. and elsewhere will continue to do the same. Meanwhile, similarly ridiculous decisions are being made elsewhere:

People in the natural gas drilling industry feel that "hydraulic fracturing” of gas wells is a reasonable practice to achieve a short-lived increase in production even though it permanently poisons the ground water wherever it is done.

People working for British Petroleum felt that pouring millions of gallons of toxic "Corexit” dispersant into the Gulf of Mexico was a reasonable way to address the oil spill there even though it didnt make the oil go away but instead merely dispersed it, making it less visible.

Knowing that artillery projectiles made of hard, heavy metal are extremely effective at piercing armor, the U.S. military makes such weapons out of depleted uranium even though their use has poisoned military personnel and created countless radioactive waste sites in Iraq and Afghanistan.

If those making these crazy decisions didnt believe that their behavior was acceptable, they wouldnt make such decisions and they would be fired and replaced with someone else. Therefore, to progress in their careers, they must develop a strong degree of denial, delusion and/or sociopathy. Just as we would talk about an abusive alcoholic, we must begin talking about the psychological state of those in power.

Robert Bolman, Eugene


Betsy Ragland wrote a letter entitled "Where were you?” (3/24). I have to ask where was someone like her and the other kind people who helped the fallen man with the walker when, the very next day, March 11, I was walking along the very same Coburg Road near P. F. Changs.

I was enjoying a rare overhead blue sky and fluffy white clouds.Within a split second I was flat out on the sidewalk,scraped knees, broken glasses, blood on the shirt from a pinholelesion over one eye, a scuffed left hand, aswollen right hand, and a sore left arm that I couldnt seem to work. Tons of cars driving by, no one came to help or inquire, but then I suppose its not so unusual, an elderly man with a backpack sprawled out on the sidewalk. The old sot is sleeping it off. I did meet kind people, just not at that spot. I made my way back to Oakway Fitness Center and got my dear wife off the rowing machine to drive me to Eugene Urgent Care, intothe good hands of the wonderful medical personnel at that facility. Ragland and others like her are what keep the world turning.

Jim Wood, Eugene


I think its fitting that John Zerzans letter ran last week alongside those of Shannon Wilson and Don MacQueen. Zerzans point is irrefutable: Techno-industry must be undone. It will be undone at some point, the only question is how much damage it will do first. Concerns like Wilsons continue to advocate techno based, false green, mine reliant, short term solutions like heat pumps and, like MacQueens, concerned about the loss of capitalism and its potentially devastating impact that may have on us few privileged humans who benefit from it, bring us further away from a planet that can maintain life. Theres no time for such useless and privileged debate, how many species need to die off for people to recognize that? How many rivers, oceans, lakes and land areas will be declared dead zones before you stop worrying about heating your home and your ability to conduct business?

Jason Gonzales, Walton


In response to Tom Schnieders (3-17 letters "Bikes Help, ButĔ), I agree. But if EmX cuts through the bike path that goes through the city wetlands preserve between City View and Oak Patch, walking would take a serious hit, as well as biking. Who wants to walk or bike along West 11th? Not I. The bike path offers quiet and relatively non-polluting walking (except for the offending car-finishing place that lets fumes into the surrounding air) along the beautiful green wetlands and stream, with the many birds, and even sheep. To destroy this would be a serious mistake, not only for walkers and bikers, but also for those whose apartments border this area!

Joan Swift, Eugene


Some EmX opponents have argued that West 11th businesses are "autocentric,” oriented only towards shoppers with cars. This is incorrect. I recently rode a bus along West 11th and counted the businesses of various types.

Only about 30 percent require that shoppers come by car, for example, car repair, mini-storage, tool rental, veterinarian.

For the remaining 70 percent of businesses along West 11th, shoppers can easily travel and carry purchases by bus; for example, restaurants, banks, insurance agencies, grocery stores, beauty salons, and many others. A few businesses require truck deliveries; for example, furniture, mattresses, carpeting, whether shoppers come by car or bus.

The time when Americans can go shopping cheaply in personal cars is ending. Buying and repairing cars already costs too much for many individuals and families. And the cost of gasoline is soaring. Soon many more residents of Eugene and Lane County will be joining those who already do most of their shopping by bus.

Its surprising that West 11th businesses opposed to EmX cant see that their future depends on whether customers can travel quickly and cheaply to and from their stores. EmX is a modern, efficient bus rapid-transportation system that will be essential for many Eugene families as they do their shopping, and for the future prosperity of the West 11th business community.

Jack Meacham, Eugene


In my opinion the Fred Meyer proposal is the best all around solution for Civic Stadium. Less traffic congestion than an Ems game getting over. The Fred Meyer proposal will create jobs during construction for local workers, and once finished will provide many new jobs not only for the Fred Meyer, but also for the housing and other commercial businesses planned for the build. More local jobs and commerce will help stimulate our depressed economic climate here with this very popular retail outlet. This is an "if you build it, they will come” project. As a bonus this project is notdependentupon government funding tosucceed.

As an added bonus, the stadiums wooden grandstand would be taken apart and much of it reused in buildings throughout the development, including the store. "Certainly, the history of the site will be well documented in the Fred Meyer,” as quoted from Forrest, the regional real estate manager in charge of store development for Fred Meyer.

Plans also include a Civic Stadium-themed pub that features photos and memorabilia of the stadium that was built by the Works Progress Administration during the Depression.

Sometimes we have to make hard choices and sacrifices to bring about positive change in a time where money is tight and jobs are few. Saving this historical stadium would be a wonderful thing to do in opulent times. But with Eugenes 4J School District in dire straits, and jobs hard to find, I believe the Fred Meyer build to be of great benefit to our community. It would also give the residents of south Eugene and campus area a closer grocery/variety store to shop at.

I believe this will be a home run for our community, and all involved.

Mike Weber, Eugene


Would these people be against food for widows and orphans if that were the issue? Im talking about the handful of people outside Kelly Middle School a few weeks ago protesting the very modest, temporary and progressive tax that will be put before the voters in May. The tax intends to prevent the loss of a hundred or so teaching jobs, about a weeks worth of school closures, and an increased class sizes that would put us on par with schools in Mississippi.

It doesnt make sense to me. How is laying off 100 hardworking, taxpaying people a wise move? How much is a weeks worth of childcare going for nowadays? For one child or for two? Ever try controlling five kids? Now make it 35, and try teaching them.

One of the first questions asked by businesses thinking of locating in Eugene or any other city is, "How are the schools?” The old saying "penny wise dollar foolish” comes to mind.

Im a baby-boomer who characteristically got a good education. My parents wanted my brother and me to do better than they did. For them, supporting schools was a no brainer.

Ive heard the "adult” arguments against the tax. The most disingenuous one is, "Lets wait for the state to figure it out.” I wouldnt hold my breath on that one. It doesnt matter to me that my daughter is now in college. Lets not punish todays kids for our failure to step up to the plate.

Leslie Weinstein, Eugene


Kali Star ("Racist Opera” letter, 3/17) scorns the notion of a "teachable moment,” but I will attempt to do some teaching anyway.

The lyric "The n----- serenader/ And others of his race,” in the Gilbert & Sullivan play The Mikado, refers to a category of entertainer (known as "minstrel show men” in the U.S.) who were white musicians who performed in blackface.

By the time The Mikado premiered, the "n-word” was already a vulgar insult when applied to actual Africans or South Asians, but was considered an innocuous term when applied to blackface performers. It was clearly in the latter sense that the word was used in the operetta, and the class of lowbrow musician was clearly the "race” being slated for elimination.

Life goes on.

John M. Burt, Eugene


I found it interesting, in light of what is going on in Japan today, that you chose to announce Stewart Brands March 10 Corvallis lecture in EWs Activist Alert column without qualifying what the author of the Whole Earth Catalog is pushing these days.

In his latest book, Whole Earth Discipline: An Eco Pragmatist Manifesto, Brand is whole-heartedly advocating nuclear energy as "green” technology, and as the savior of the long-term future of our planet. He also describes bioengineering as a "green” technology, and while stopping short of assigning a color to "clean coal,” also would have us consider that energy source as a viable alternative to the consequences of our reliance on petroleum. While his voice, like all, should be heard, his conclusions are disturbing, to say the least.

Tom Agamenoni, Eugene


While referencing the nuclear catastrophe in Japan, an item in the Slant column (3/17) says that "like peace advocates, those with nuclear concerns in this country have no political party.”That statement is as infuriating as it is ignorant.

The Pacific Green Party of Oregon has been active in this state for 20 years.We are the local branch of an international political movement, which, in fact, was founded on its opposition to war and nuclear energy.

Independent political parties face numerous barriers in this country: a centralized and corporate-controlled media; discriminatory election laws; and corrupt campaign finance rules which favor Wall Street over Main Street ã to name a few.Another obstacle is the senseless and spineless attitude of publications like EW which claim to embrace progressive ideals yet continue to support lamestream politicians who encourage military madness and nuclear lunacy.You folks are part of the problem.

If the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the responses to the disasters in Japan and the Gulf of Mexico suit you just fine then, by all means, stick with the Democrats.However, for those who wish to be part of the solution, I encourage you to check out www.pacificgreens.org and become a Green Party member by registering online at www.oregonvotes.org

Blair Bobier, Corvallis

EDITORS NOTE: We meant to say "no major political party.” We like to cover the Greens. We just wrote about the Pacific Green Partys work with Move To Amend in our March 10 issue; and we put Winona LaDuke, a Green Party national candidate, on our cover Sept. 2 for her fight against tar sands mining.