LETTERS IN THE EDITOR'S MAILBAG.
A bridge worth crossing
Chris Kelsay (letters, July 21) can only see inefficient use of taxpayer dollars and political pork whenever she drives under the nearly completed Delta Ponds "bike" bridge near Valley River Center. Noting the nearby bridge to VRC, she questions whether this new span is an efficient use of taxpayer dollars.
Those of us who view the world other than through a windshield darkly can tell her that the Delta Ponds Bridge is a bicycle and pedestrian bridge, designed for families, children and adults who cannot or choose not to drive to nearby destinations. By contrast, the existing VRC bridge is congested and ill-designed for non-motorized use, making it largely inaccessible to some, such as those in wheelchairs, and a hazard for many, especially children who attend nearby Willagillespie School.
With the new bridge, motorists, such as Kelsay, will benefit from reduced bike and pedestrian traffic that now competes with cars for safe transit to and from VRC. Additionally, the Delta Ponds Pedestrian and Bike Bridge will reduce dependency on foreign oil, increase the opportunity to improve health through active transportation alternatives and cut air pollution, long-term benefits that all citizens can appreciate.
Once completed, we invite Kelsay and other naysayers to walk or bike the new bridge. From that vantage point, they can look below at the stream of cars and more clearly assess what is and is not an efficient use of taxpayer money.
Too loud for animals, too
We too are disappointed with our PK Park experience. Music before a pitch and other gimmicks are disruptive, but whether one approves or disapproves of this "entertainment," the Ems (and the University of Oregon) could do all fans a favor by turning down the volume. Those who dislike the gimmicks will be less irritated, and all fans will have a more enjoyable experience.
A March 2009 Bob Welch column complains of "pounding music" at a UO baseball game. A letter published this July describes PK Park's announcements as "just short of deafening," and another tells of the intrusion of PA noise and fireworks upon neighbors and pets. Will management listen? Is it deaf? This is a real danger. Hearing damage results from exposure to loud environments. Unfortunately for PK Park spectators, hearing loss does not show up until years later.
Consider also that PK Park is adjacent to the Whilamut Natural Area. River otter and fox live there - right in the city! A blue heron rookery is less than half a mile from PK Park. The significant increase in noise (fireworks included) will drive wildlife away. This is unnecessary and may conflict with the intent of Oregon's Statewide Planning Goal 5, which addresses wildlife habitat and riparian zones. We'd like to hear from city and county officials on this point.
To finish on a positive note: The Ems' mascot, Sluggo, is terrific. He's funny, lovable, and endearingly silent!
Page Dos Reis
LES DOS REIS
It's history, not racism
The notion that the inclusion of a paragraph from a 19th century book in congressional candidate Art Robinson's recommended books is racist (letters, July 21) is beyond ludicrous.
Here's what Art Robinson's Home Schooling Curriculum website says about Henty's books: (note the last sentence): "Henty wrote at a time when the teaching of a deep Christian faith, high moral character, sound ethical principles, a strong work ethic, simple personal humility and self-confidence based on real accomplishments were considered essential to the education of each young person. The Henty books provide training in history and in many of the highest aspects of human character, written by a master storyteller. American young people should read not a few Henty books, but all 99 of them. They constitute a superb course in history and an education in some of the highest aspects of human behavior in the heroes - and in some of the lowest aspects in the villains."
The successes of Robinson's six home-schooled children are testament to the teacher. Could we believe that parents who take the time to home-school their children would also take the time explain the relevance of the time period the books were written?
Insinuating that Robinson is racist over this is one of the lowest aspects of modern politics - a diversionary political tactic that is far too common today. How can we learn from history and mankind's faults when history is revised or erased? Let's talk issues. Bring on the Art Robinson-Peter DeFazio debates.
Republicans had an alternative
The July 21 front page story, "More jobless aid expected," is a classic example of one-sided reporting that can influence readers, whether intentionally or by design. The article totally ignores the fact that Republicans also had a solution and were not against more aid. Their idea was to actually pay for the extension with some of the approximately $400 billion still unspent stimulus funds instead of adding to the debt.
Senator Max Baucus said in the article that jobless aid helps support our fragile economic recovery, so this seems to me to be an excellent way to spend stimulus funds. Wasn't it the Democratic party that was pushing "pay go"?
Republicans know how to 'frame'
Thanks to Harold Titus for his July 21 letter about "framing" and the difference between Republican and Democratic language. The terminology is from the work of George Lakoff, a University of California, Berkeley, professor of linguistics and his 2004 book, "Don't Think of an Elephant."
Lakoff's central idea is that Democrats argue using facts while Republicans argue using ideological "frames" and that, in any debate, frames trump facts. It's an oversimplification, but it has some truth to it. Frames combined with facts work best of all, but facts alone, sent against frames alone, will lose every time.
Corporate-sponsored think tanks have understood this for decades with impressive results, which generally involve regular conservatives supporting big business against their own interests. "Liberals" are only beginning to grasp this dangerous tactic, as evidenced by their recent use of "progressive" to replace a word that implies wishy-washy and undisciplined.
In other words, by agreeing to refer to themselves as "liberals," they had accepted a Republican framing. Something similar happens every time anyone refers to the "right" and the "left." The word "right" obviously enjoys the association of "not wrong," while the word "left" carries baggage from the days of anti-Communism ("leftist" equals un-American) as well as biblical associations with the devil, and the simple fact that most people are right-handed. Just using this terminology lets Republicans start any race 10 paces ahead.
I recommend exploring Lakoff's ideas on YouTube. Whether you're conservative or progressive, you owe it to yourself to understand this subtle brainwashing.
Palin's linguistic role model?
Sarah Palin attempted to excuse using the word "refudiate" twice in recent days with a reminder: "Shakespeare liked to coin new words too. Got to celebrate it!" One wonders if she is familiar enough with the Bard's plays to know that he reserved the confusion of words for his comic characters and his clowns.