It is unfortunate for us that the Scandinavian influence in Seattle is in decline. Their contributions in making this a high-quality city are of the



Victimized Vikings

It is unfortunate for us that the Scandinavian influence in Seattle is in decline. Their contributions in making this a high-quality city are of the sort that you don't notice until they begin to disappear and it's too late to stop the loss (Quick & Dirty, "Vikings, Then and Now," 11/5).

They prepared and improved the civic soil, planted the civic fruit trees, and took good care of them for 100 years. Then beginning in the 1970s, yuppies discovered Seattle. They immigrated en masse from the East and California and they harvested and enjoyed the civic fruit. They also made the town much more lively. The children of the Scandinavians came to prefer the style of the newcomers to the drab reserved style of their parents.

But they are here only for the harvest. When they have picked the trees and vines bare and have eaten the last oyster on the beach, they will move away. Some other town will tickle their fancy, and they will leave Seattle, overpicked and picked over, milked dry, burnt out, and exhausted.

Seattle, once a vigilant little Viking settlement, is now being looted & pillaged by non-Vikings. They are doing it at a leisurely pace, because they know damned well the guards are sound asleep. Where are the big guys with the horned helmets when we need them?

M.G. Murphy


Scandie dissing

It appears Eric Scigliano has found yet another use for Kennewick man: dissing Scandinavian-Americans (Quick & Dirty, "Vikings, Then and Now," 11/5). To imply that there is any connection between the lack of Scandinavian restaurants in post-modern Seattle and reverence for 9,000-year-old North American human remains by the Asatru Folk Assembly is absurd. I cannot imagine many Scandinavian Americans obsessing about any genealogical links with Kennewick man. The Scandinavian languages did not even begin to emerge until about 2,000 years ago. Who is to say who the inhabitants were of Norway or Sweden in the first couple of thousand years after the end of the Great Ice Age? Nor did Scandinavia end its cultural existence with the end of the period of great immigration to the United States and the closing of Seattle's last distinctly Scandinavian restaurant. Scandinavia has never been a particularly restaurant-rich culture. The well-known, but often misunderstood Swedish sm�sbord, for example, probably emerged out of village potlucks.

There are abundant examples of how great the interest in modern Scandinavia remains in the Seattle area. I prefer to focus my attention on the more typically Scandinavian virtues of egalitarianism, social service, and love of the outdoors than obsession about race. Those, and many other interests, are what connect the members of the Swedish Cultural Center, where I coordinate the Swedish language program. Many of our students are not of Nordic heritage, and some of them have not been white.

Randy Nelson


Eric Scigliano replies: I intended no dis, just an observation on a cycle of assimilation that's hardly unique to Scandinavian Americans. I've also greatly admired the Scandinavian virtues Randy Nelson cites. And I really liked the food in Sweden, Denmark, and Finland.

Kennewick conniption

Where did Roger Downey get a mouth full of sour grapes? He takes an entire half page to lead us to believe that there is something worthwhile to read in his article "Something Kennewicked This Way Comes" (11/5). Why is it important for us to know that he was present for the arrival of Kennewick man's remains and that the concerned archeologists from Tri-Cities weren't? Downey himself says nothing happened. Does the author bother to mention that perhaps the archeologists were on the departing end of the journey? My, how biased and incomplete. Secondly, he uses this forum to yet again impugn the scientists and their findings. Downey doesn't seem to believe that DNA tests are of any relevance to the age of Kennewick man. Does the author believe that perhaps some duffer, a relative maybe, was casually walking along the banks of the Columbia and was impaled by a 9,000-year-old spear tip? Or Perhaps Kennewick man himself was wounded after death and the bones miraculously healed over? Hey Downey, get your facts straight and quit wasting our time!

Jeff Elf

via e-mail

A vote for Parrish

As its title suggests, Geov Parrish's Impolitic column on "Post-partisan Depression" (11/5) was depressing. Yet, it was also somehow comforting to hear the lamentations of another isolated critic in a one-party city that would rather tolerate abuse than rupture that sacred process-oriented facade that keeps Seattle America's most livable city (in real estate circles).

Parrish's complaints about "corporate hijacking of our local and national public policies" and "taxation without representation" ring far truer than the lame-brained campaign platforms that jettisoned yet another crop of political deadheads into office. Has anyone noted the similarity between Patty Murray's re-election and the incompetent principals who get promoted into Seattle Schools' central bureaucracy?

Speaking of which, what politician would dare repeat Parrish's description of the Seattle School Board as an institution "which writes the book on fear and loathing of the public"?

By coincidence, I attended a school "bored" meeting the night before the November 5 Weekly hit the stands. The small, meek audience was evidence of the public apathy Parrish disparaged. Corporate hijacking? You should have heard school board stockbroker Don Nielsen speaking callously of the "market share" (kids) that surprisingly hasn't mushroomed in our newly minted schools.

I haven't forgotten that Parrish, while writing for The Stranger, was the first Seattle journalist to dismiss John Stanford as a "clueless, authoritarian idiot." In fairness, it was a common-sense observation. But in "Soviet-style" Seattle, it brands Parrish as a visionary.

If Parrish ever decides to hit the campaign trail, he has my vote!

David Blomstrom

via e-mail

All wet

Your "Dire Strait" article by Eric Scigliano (10/22) quotes Fred Felleman, leader of Ocean Advocates, on the subject of the US Maritime Administration's (MARAD) report on the suitability of the tug Encounter Bay for use as a rescue tug in the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Mr. Felleman reportedly is skeptical of the report because MARAD (a part of the US Department of Transportation) in his view "exists to promote the maritime industry." In addition, Mr. Felleman criticizes the report for relying too heavily on data obtained from the US Coast Guard.

As the US maritime administrator, I must correct the suggestion that my organization's goals are limited to promotion of the maritime industry. In fact, MARAD has many duties, among them 1) maintaining the ships and overseeing the program that provides our military with sealift capability in times of national emergency; 2) administering programs to rehabilitate and modernize ports, intermodal facilities, and infrastructure; 3) aiding the nation's shipbuilding industry.

Quite apart from being wrong about MARAD, what is offensive about Mr. Felleman's words is the implication that MARAD manipulated the report to come to a desired conclusion. This is untrue and unfair. MARAD personnel were sent to inspect the Encounter Bay with no other objective than to assess the tug's suitability for the demanding work in the strait. The report was reviewed to ensure that the result was fair and complete. Any suggestion to the contrary has no basis in fact and is an insult to the men and women of MARAD and the Department of Transportation.

Clyde J. Hart Jr.

Maritime Administrator

Eating for you

I appreciate Claire Dederer's fresh pregnancy perspective on food & nutrition ("Eating by the Book," 10/22.) My pregnancy advice: Ignore all advice, listen to your instincts, and above all refuse to reveal you child's name to anyone until after the birth certificate is signed and dated.

That said, I personally disregarded the "What to Expect" series (too conservative, too patronizing, and tailored for married mothers). Dr. Spock is more useful, more liberal, and less patronizing.

As for nutrition, I approached that from the perspective of what made health sense for me, with or without child in womb. During my pregnancy I sought spicy food, "moderated" my caffeine-sugar-alcohol intake, ran or walked every day, would have had sex if I weren't single and ignored my doctor, and bought my first bikini in 15 years. My kid turned out great.

P.S. The what-to-expect-after-they're-born books are even worse. Throw them out.

Erin Gould

via e-mail

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