Letters for February 11 

Readers sound off on plug-in hybrids, the Oakland riots, and security contractors in Iraq.

Page 4 of 4

Can someone, perhaps a CAS Staff Scientist or maybe a Nobel Laureate Statistician, please tell me and my children what the carbon footprint for the construction of the "living roof" was, and could you put it in readily accessible laypersons terms (you know, like how many as-yet-unidentified-tropical-rainforest-species were forced to the brink of extinction)? And how might it ever be possible for a "C-O-M-P-L-E-X" such as the New Academy of Sciences, a space that promotes the corporate food-court experience/entertainment model over a comprehensive understanding of the basic food-web and it's fundamental interplay with the planet's biospheres to possibly pay that concealed collective debt back, EVER?! For the love of the earth what are we doing here?

Yes, we've been there. Done that.

Andrew Carothers-Liske, Oakland

Don't Be Sheep

In light of the recent troubles what I write here is in many ways trivial, at least in a current context. I'll send it all the same, as it's an issue worthy of at least a momentary glimmer of illumination.

I've ridden BART for so long the application of the yellow pimpled strips along the edge of the platform seems a distant memory. Many riders likely assume the strips, and the black "Board Here" indicators resident therein have existed since the construction of the system. They haven't, but in the time following their pasting I've observed with sadness and frustration the pathologic behavior the black mark seems to evoke.

You know what I'm talking about. Late at night or on Sundays it's chilling to see riders lined up at the marks, waiting for stretches to board what is with certainty going to be an empty train. On workday mornings and afternoons the pathology is more manifest and simultaneously more troublesome.  Certainly, the train will be fuller; in fact, the seats will probably already all be taken. But it is never so full that there's no room for any of the hapless queued to board. And yet the line stretches from platform edge to the other side, complicating passage and blocking escalators. Woe to the poor soul who seeks to off-board Powell Street at 5 p.m.

By my measure, it seems no less than three-quarters of the passengers at the platform toe the mark or the back of the person before them. Are they sheep? Do they live in sheep-fear that a train will arrive too densely packed to allow them entry? Or are they simply Rule Abiding Citizens who have interpreted the mark to be their unbending instruction and consciously heed the command? Or, as dangerously, are they opportunists, living in a cramped dog-eat-dog zero-sum world where the only rule for survival is take, lest you be taken from?

Whatever the explanation, it reflects darkly on Bay Area society. To those milling about the structural columns or leaning near the elevators — take up your standard! Disrupt the queues! Perhaps by so doing the veil will fall from their eyes, and the line-standers will come to understand that there's room on the train for everybody and maybe if they weren't in such a fearful frantic hyper-protective rush they might actually enjoy living a bit more.

Which sure as shooting would make them more pleasant to be around.

Markus Niebanck, Oakland

Extend Shop Hours

Am I the only one frustrated by the 10-6 hours the East Bay? I appreciate our community's relaxed spirit, it's a lot of why I chose to locate here, but why do so many businesses operate on schedules that only serve these highly flexible people?

I work a regular 9-5 job, and have the disposable income to show for it. I want to buy local. Yet I can't even hope to patron a lot of stores around my neighborhood because they're closed when I leave for work and shut when I return. Even the Alameda County Food Bank is booked for any time I might be able to volunteer during the next two months.

Even in a recession, these establishments apparently don't want my money or my help.

Ruth Miller, Oakland


In our October 8 art review ("Bush, Unbashed") we incorrectly spelled Tony Huynh's last name.

In our February 4 CD review of Go Home, we mistakenly listed the album as released by Cryptogramophone. The album was self-released.

In our January 28 story about the Oakland Unified School District's failure to provide heat for many of its students ("Too School for School"), we misquoted International School Principal Carmelita Reyes. She said "we're all running a school district as leanly as we can" — not "we're all running a school district as lamely as we can."

And in our January 28 article about the Best Sex Writing 2009 ("Return of the Lusty Lady"), we misquoted anthology editor Rachel Kramer Bussell. She said it's now acceptable for women to attend "Chippendale"-style strip clubs, not "Chip and Dale"-style strip clubs.

Q-Tips will be issued to our reporting staff at the next weekly editorial meeting.


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