Letters for the week of March 20 

Criticizing Jerry Brown's flippance in "Red Star Rising". Applauding the progress behind "Wellness War."

Chop that child in half
When asked to explain why he is not eager to run the Red Star Yeast factory, which has been befouling West Oakland's air with noxious, carcinogenic compounds for over 100 years, out of town, Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown offered the following Solomonic observation ("Red Star Rising," February 20): "This is an industrial neighborhood, and there are people living off these industries as well as people dying from them." Hmm, living as well as dying? Who knew? Thank goodness we have the astute Mayor Brown to put West Oakland's elevated rates of cancer and asthma into perspective for us. Please, Councilwoman Nadel and other concerned citizens, call off your tired old alarmism; the mayor has assured us that people are actually living in West Oakland. I mean, really, there's no sense getting exercised about a little extra morbidity and mortality when there are still quite a few inhabitants of West Oakland who have not dropped dead yet. Dubya couldn't have misenunciated it better.
Rich Ganis, Berkeley

Now it all makes sense
I remember first reading your paper when it used to be at Talk of the Town restaurant ("Planet Clair," February 27). They used to have all the newspapers there, and I really miss being able to go there at lunchtime. I used to kick back and read your paper while having the best burritos in town!

My friends and I have not been able to find another place that can really make up for the loss of Talk of the Town. It's too bad that the new owners didn't try to preserve it and, instead, went and changed everything. One of the best things was the "old feeling" from the atmosphere you could get hanging out in the bar. You just knew the bar had been there for generations of families.

Susan Uecker should be sued for destroying an Oakland landmark! Maybe all of us citizens could file a class-action lawsuit against her for what she did -- now that we all know the truth about what really happened -- and picket the Aloha Club bar! Now it all makes sense!
Name withheld by request, Oakland

Haven't we moved beyond that?
I was deeply involved with the Network Chiropractic community from 1986-1996, and on the staff of Network chiropractic for a number of years. The issues involved in this ongoing debate ("Wellness War," March 6) are the same as they were ten years ago. The question, in fact, is not whether Network Chiropractic, or Network Spinal Analysis as it is now named, is a cult or a viable chiropractic technique at all. The issue is much greater and more encompassing, involving a paradigm shift that is now touching the biological sciences as it has already touched other systems. Do we have cellular memory? What role does emotional trauma play in the disease process? To what extent is soma related to psyche? Are we a series of closed biological systems, or does each system influence the other, and how? And the bigger questions are: Is there an energetic field, in which we live and breathe and have our being? Is there a creative life force that somehow unifies us? The relationship of multiple systems to each other can only hope to expand our knowledge base. While cutting-edge physicians are examining very profound questions about the nature of healing and disease, it is rather amusing and sad that chiropractors are still infighting and attempting to gain some acceptance from the mainstream medical establishment.
Lorrie Eaton, DC, Oakland

What science can't measure
I am delighted to know that a light touch chiropractic method is taking root ("Wellness War," Mar. 6). The old snap-crackle-and-pop chiropractic of my youth was truly addictive. We felt very good for a while, and then it let us down and we had to go back for another fix. Its roughness was appropriate to America's Puritanical notion of "No Pain, No Gain." It also fit well with our traditions of gross physicalness -- one-pound hamburgers and three hundred-pound linebackers.

Even I, at the tender age of 75, still jump right in to help when someone says, "Help me move this fridge" or "Give me a hand carrying these heavy boxes out to the truck." Gross physical activity is so tangible, obvious, and satisfying. Yet we are beginning to open up to the intangible ... even to the ineffable.

Some dozen or more years ago, I took a workshop with Moshe Feldenkrais. There was an elderly man with a severe widow's hump on the right side, like a one-side hunchback. Moshe had him sit down, rest his cheek on the table, cross his arms above his head on the table, and relax. He touched the man's arm and shoulder in various spots and asked him to make small and apparently insignificant movements. Finally, he put his fingers under the right buttock and said, "Lift your buttock." The hump disappeared completely!

How does one make sense of this? Feldenkrais intimated a major problem in both the practice and the legitimization of subtle work by turning to those of his students attending the workshop and commenting: "Some of you are dumb enough to think every time you see a widow's hump, you will be able to fix it by lifting a buttock." In my experience, the deeper and more subtle the discipline, the less it is accessible by rote learning. I think the people who most successfully learn to practice subtle healing methods do not really learn at all. What they do is recreate in themselves the attitudes and sensitivities of the master who developed the method. Traditional scientific proof is unprepared to evaluate such work. It is pointless for me to come to you and say, "Tell me exactly what you did, and I will attempt the same." Even if I said, "Tell me exactly who you are when you do this work," how would I evaluate the answer?

Particle physicists have known for a long time that the act of observation influences certain experiments. But they never experienced different individuals producing opposite results. The implications of this happening challenge the very foundations of the scientific method. Meanwhile, public attitudes are changing. Even though many in the scientific community condemn etheric, unreasonable disciplines, you and I can respect and appreciate the amazing, life-altering results produced by "alternative" practitioners.

By the way, if it is okay with you, send me some healing energy. My back hurts from sitting at my computer and writing.
Rev. Pondurenga Das, Berkeley

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