November 29-December 5, 2006

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Letters to the Editor

The Greek goes on

In his letter, "Beware of Greeks?" (Nov. 22), Christian Kallen makes a valuable point about how small interest groups can affect the public's access to information. Very true, but thankfully he admits to taking the matter personally, because ultimately, his anecdote is off the point of the letters he addresses.

The letters responding to Alastair Bland's "Mythic Journey" (Oct. 18) didn't come off as antagonistic spam at all. In fact, they offered a real critique of the article's shortcomings. One of these is an oversimplification/misreading of Homer's story itself. This is excusable--even arguable--but the letter on which Kallen focuses, Remy Wallace's, points to a more serious issue that isn't about Greeks, Greece or special interest groups. Wallace's letter was, in general terms, about "the American in the world." The letter exposes specific examples in Bland's writing that are hallmarks of an increasingly audacious sense of entitlement and superiority as the U.S. projects its imperialistic values globally. The clever idea of Bland's "Mythic Journey" may seem harmless enough in itself, but, as Wallace points out, his assumptions are indicative of a larger problem.

It may be that Bland simply chose the wrong text for his intellectual explorations. A more apt Homeric blueprint for how to be an American in the world today would have been the Iliad. That story is about a nation that has followed two powerful men across the sea to remove one person from one city; in the end, as the area's resources are at stake, they find themselves embroiled in a bloodbath for many years. So, which of these cultures is the archaic one?

Shaun Bond, Santa Rosa

Tangled up in blue

At the end of Patricia Lynn Henley's excellent report ("The High Price of Low-Cost Meth," Nov. 15), she quotes "Catherine," who was victimized by a meth user: "Why are people choosing this drug? Why are people choosing this lifestyle?" Insightfully, Catherine suggests that we need to get at meth use "from the root."

I'll offer this: Much research indicates that the root here, as well as with excessive alcohol, marijuana, cocaine and heroin use, choking highs and the like, is disconnection. People who get into these life-ways may hang out with other people (after all, "Brandy" had three kids and various boyfriends), but not people who care much about them. Methods that are effective in changing these folks' lives invariably are based on intense group involvement: 12-step programs, religious redemption programs, etc.

Americans have a love-hate attitude toward such involvement. We can see the value in belonging to some sort of caring network, while at the same time we don't like being "tied down" to such networks. Freedom, we demand.

Well, freedom often means, as Janis Joplin once sang, having "nothing left to lose." I think many meth users feel that they have nothing left to lose. Experience has taught them not to put much value on their lives, and no one is arguing with them about this assessment.

Don MacQueen, Santa Rosa

To catch a thief

Your latest article on ID theft was very interesting. I am glad that the victim "Catherine" was able to pursue and recover her stolen articles. Maybe the police should set up some sting operations where such offenses happen.

Moreover, I congratulate "Catherine" on being able to beat the crap out of the thief.

Walt Schivo, Novato

A generation's duty

I couldn't shake one questions from my mind last Sunday night: "Where are the young people?" Daniel Ellsberg was speaking! In a time of an illegal and now unpopular war, where were the kids the age of the majority of the soldiers over there? Where were the friends, siblings, spouses and peers of the young people serving America?

Mr. Ellsberg warned us of the replication of lies, cover-ups and the mismanagement of information that is currently occurring. Many of the events are strikingly similar to those that happened during the Vietnam War, his area of expertise. "Do not think that the war is over," he cautioned us. Just because the Democrats are back in the picture doesn't promise the end of military missions in Iraq.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed my evening with the hearty, silver-haired wine drinkers of the community. I gathered an abundance of opinions, life stories and motivational bits of advice. But I felt apologetic as the youngest person there. During the Vietnam War, it was the younger generation that was a catalyst in the antiwar movement.

At age 24, I feel it is my generation's duty to at least be present and paying attention. The duplication of the America government lying to the American people about our own war needs to be halted by those who are brave enough to tell the truth.

Sylvia C. Frain, Sebastopol

Dept. of Corrections

In our hard-hitting gift-guide feature on buying presents for crafters, we managed two major boo-boos. First, we must apologize mightily to the elegant Ms. Adela Kras for bungling her Christian name. Secondly, we bow to the good folks at Atelier Marin. More logical than we, their hours are actually long in the winter, short in the spring and summer.

The Ed., All I Can Do With My Hands is Type

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