Letters to the Editor

September 19-25, 2007

Vaz Iz ‘Meeting Mode’?

Last night I read your article on cell-phone/text-messaging addiction (“Crack 2.0,” Sept. 12). There were some things in it that I didn’t know, but I wasn’t surprised when I read about them. I currently work in a Verizon Wireless store and have heard about people who send up to 600 text messages a month. It seems we can’t control appetites. I also remember seeing a fender-bender where a guy in a van tried to make a right turn in the center lane and hit a pickup truck in the right lane. He was talking on his cell phone at the time. I also notice that some people still drive while holding a cell phone, despite the new law against it. Is it any wonder there are bumper stickers reading, “Hang up and drive”? One simple way to avoid being distracted is set your phone to meeting mode—that way you won’t be distracted at work.

John B., San Jose

Phone Porn

Thanks for the very real laugh on p17 of the Sept. 12 issue. In the middle of the article “Crack 2.0” was a full-page ad for Verizon smart phones, ready to do for the consumer what the article had discussed. Was that meant to be porn for the gadget lover or was it like placing a beer ad in the middle of an article about alcoholism?

Michael Hazen, Cotati

You gave us a very real laugh, because, regrettably, the brains in editorial never even noticed this until you pointed it out.


I am so tired of hearing the lies coming out of Washington. When are we going to wake up? How many more young men and women need to die?

Jimmy Newell, Glen Ellen

An ill system

Have you needed the services of a hospital? No one seems to plan to, if they can help it. The fact the medical care in our culture has become a corporate endeavor is at the root of the problems facing healthcare. I imagine my fellow nurses being heartsick over the idea of a Sutter strike, yet languishing in increasingly difficult positions: being legally responsible for untrained or poorly trained unlicensed staff, for instance; and working in positions hazardous to their own and their patient’s health with not enough staff—not to mention doing work family members would not even do for their own—at wages not keeping up with the economy. I have seen the changes over 30 years and can attest to the fact that, since medicine became corporate, quality of care has deteriorated. If you want to change the system, take informed action. Watch the documentary The Corporation, not to mention Sicko, take a hanky to catch your tears and write our senators.

Pamela Lewis, RN Sebastopol

Sociology 101

Good work on “Stand Up Time” (The Bigotry Tour, Aug. 29), but why are articles like this still necessary? Don’t we all know that racism, classism, ethnicism, homophobia and sexism are wrong?

I suggest two reasons for the persistence of those attitudes. First, suspicion of and aversion to the “other” are deeply programmed into all animals. “They” may be trying to move in on “us” and take what is “ours,” so “they” must be resisted.

Secondly, and particular to humans, certain members of “us” owe their relatively high status to the prevalence of definitions of “them” as inherently inferior and unworthy, fit only to be exploited. These members work relentlessly to inculcate and keep current negative stereotyping about “them.” This is actually fairly easy to do, just ask a Latino or an Asian person what terms come to mind when thinking of black people, generally.

Of course, this is all Sociology 101, because the principles have been around for such a very long time. And why is that? Because we mightily resist the lesson they present. Why again? Because negative stereotyping answers so many interaction questions so easily. The need for reflection, for thinking, is minimized. Can’t get much better than that.

Don MacQueen, Santa Rosa