November 22-28, 2006

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Letters to the Editor

Beware of greeks?

I had to laugh, albeit bitterly, at Remy Wallace's plaint about the "belittling and insulting" article about Greece by Alastair Bland (Letters, Nov. 8). As your response indicated, you were as surprised at the sensitivity of the reader as I'm sure Bland was. It strikes close to home for me. Until a couple months ago, I worked at Yahoo on a travel website that did monthly series on global adventures: Panama, Thailand, Rwanda and others. All went swimmingly until we did a series on Macedonia, and apparently were too enamored of the former Balkan republic that sits on Greece's northern border (across from a Grecian province, which they insist is the "true" Macedonia).

Our site's comments section was deluged with inflammatory anti-Macedonian arguments from Greek supporters, who felt their country unduly injured. We hardly mentioned Greece--which must have been the problem. To suggest that another country in antiquity might have had a role in the spread of Mediterranean culture (after all, Alexander the Great's father was Philip, king of Macedonia) was apparently equivalent to heresy. At first, we laughed it off, then the spammers turned their aim at the sponsor, and forced them to withdraw their ads. Apparently, they've kept up their antagonistic (a Greek word, by the way, along with "sarcasm" and "archaic") barrage to the point that Yahoo is considering taking down the site at, with its wealth of media and articles on travel, because the Greeks complain.

Even though this "border dispute" between Greece and Macedonia is about 2,400 years old, it's apparently still fresh enough for a special-interest group to pressure an international news site to withdraw a series of stories from publication. Is this funny? I have no way of knowing if the half-dozen women letter writers you refer to from San Rafael who were upset by imagined slights to Greece may or may not be part of the same group that's pressured Yahoo, but I do know that "paranoia" is a Greek word, too.

Christian Kallen, Healdsburg

Mock not the Mock

This Thanksgiving, President Bush will pardon a turkey as a promotional gimmick for the turkey industry. This Thanksgiving, each of us has the same power to pardon a turkey, but as an act of kindness, compassion and giving thanks for life, health and happiness.

The 300 million turkeys abused and slaughtered in the United States each year have nothing to give thanks for. They breathe toxic fumes in crowded sheds. Their beaks and toes are severed. At the slaughterhouse, workers cut their throats and dump them into boiling water, sometimes still conscious.

The turkeys do get their revenge. Their flesh is laced with cholesterol and saturated fats that elevate the risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer. Careful adherence to government warning labels is required to avoid food poisoning. Any day now, they will be bringing us bird flu.

This Thanksgiving, I won't be reading the warning labels or calling the Poultry Hot Line. I won't be staying awake at night wondering how that turkey lived and died. I will be joining millions of other Americans in observing this joyful family holiday with nonviolent delicious products of the harvest: vegetables, fruits and grains.

My holiday meal may include a mock turkey made from soy, lentil or nut roast, stuffed squash, corn chowder or chestnut soup, candied yams, cranberry sauce, pumpkin or pecan pie and carrot cake. An Internet search on vegetarian Thanksgiving will provide more mail-order items and recipes than I'll ever need.

Steven Alderson, Santa Rosa

Kudos to Imagination

How lucky Healdsburg is to have the Imagination Foundation! Last night, we drove across the mountains to catch an encore performance of the Living Theater Project at the Sonoma Country Day School. It was well worth the travel for myself and my two daughters, ages six and four. Very few companies (and I wonder how many community theaters) could produce a homegrown play that appeals strongly to adults and kids with complex themes, addressing difficult issues while interweaving lighthearted stage antics.

The play was so well-executed that both of my kids stayed awake in rapt attention for the whole thing, even though the directors avoided commercial sing-song and Disney imagery. I was especially impressed when, during a particularly engaging scene, I noticed my four-year-old had a rapt look on her face. She couldn't understand the nuances, yet recognized an emotional shift had occurred. That is good theater and that is what builds community.

Although we have a nice theater company in Chico, we will definitely send our kids to Healdsburg in the summer for the IF's acting classes. What a resource for the community! A hearty thank you to all the actors, young and old. Most especially, thank you to the Imagination Foundation for creating such a unique theater. If Healdsburg can't understand what an amazing resource you provide, Chico will welcome you with open arms.

Russell Shapiro, Chico

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