NOT FIT TO BE CALLED LIT
Kathryn Robinson apparently has re- entered the real world via the feminist fantasy world of "chick lit" ["Why I * Chick Lit," Oct. 22]. Chick lit is basically pathologically personal, antimale sob- sister fare that is the female equivalent of male-oriented fare (i.e., action "thrillers"), and it says much about Robinson's personal politics that she attempts to elevate it to something other than what it is soap opera. And soap opera is not art, however you pathetically try to twist it.
Voltaire's Candide is only 100 pages or so, but its brutal satire can kick any one of the works from these cranky, narcissistic, self-absorbed authors of shibboleth to kingdom come. It's no good to haul in that tired feminist complaint of literary "paternalism"; the "classics" examine universal themes of human existence. One only needs to observe basic conceptualization to know the difference; for example, the term "brotherhood" has universal connotations in its most commonly used form, yet "sisterhood" is essentially an exclusionaryno boys allowedconcept.
The bottom line is that just because only a woman "understands" it doesn't imply a work of "literature." No one ought to be that arrogant (or insipid) to make such an inference. But, unfortunately, Robinson is back to undermine the notion of common sense and balance.
GODDEN DOESN'T GET IT
It's hard to know whether to laugh or scream, "What a clueless idiot!" when I read that Jean Godden wonders "if the times haven't passed that [renters] crusade by," referring to the continuing war of renters versus landlords ["Coup Without a Cause," Oct. 22]. Many affordable apartments in the Green Lake area, where I live, have been torn down to make way for condos and town houses. There continues to be an affordable rental-housing shortage.
If Godden would do some heavy lifting and acquaint herself with the issue of third-party billing, she might also know that the City Council has been involved with some heated debates over third- party billing of renters, which affects about 20,000 people in this city. Yes, many housing providers are "mom and pop" operations. But that doesn't excuse them from using out-of-state private companies as de facto public utilities.
Godden tried to defend her lack of homework at a recent forum by saying that "gossip columnist" is a sexist way of slamming women journalists or columnists. Not true. It is a way of positioning someone who feels her credentials to sit on the council are giving us tidbits on some visiting movie star. Godden is a nice person and capable writer. But she's woefully out of touch with what the average working man and woman is going through in Seattle.
ALTERNATIVES TO ANIMALS
I was pleased to read Philip Dawdy's balanced coverage of the animal researchers' conference ["Ban It of the Apes," Oct. 22]. The conference raised an important issue about possibly banning the future use of primates in research. Chimps are intelligent, social, sentient creatures similar to man and should not be subjected to painful, terrifying procedures or confinement in isolation cages. Research done on chimpanzees is often not even relevant to human health. Millions of dollars have been spent and hundreds of chimps tortured to try to develop treatments for AIDS, but the virus affects chimps differently from humans, so vaccines and meds from this research are useless for people. Most species react differently to medications, and huge amounts of money are wasted on useless animal work. For example, though obviously useful to humans, aspirin causes birth defects in mice, acetaminophen can be fatal to cats, and penicillin is fatal to guinea pigs. Thalidomide was tested on, and found to be safe for, mice, rats, and most monkeys, but it was later found to cause frequent, severe birth defects in people. Animal research might cause useful meds to be abandoned and dangerous ones to be pursued. In this day and age, alternative, reliable research tools are availablee.g. human tissue cultures, epidemiological data, cadavers, and computers. It is unethical and immoral to continue to needlessly subject intelligent, sensitive creatures to lives of daily pain and terror in the fruitless pursuit of treatments more accurately and cheaply developed through nonanimal research.
PUT THE PRESSURE ON
Thanks for the article on animal testing and animal rights ["Ban It of the Apes," Oct. 22]. Many people in research visualize the day when technology will replace animal testing. But how soon that day comes depends on whether there is a demand to invest in that technology. When people protest or boycott products due to their involvement in animal research, that pressures businesses to invest in the technology that will replace animal trials.
By vilifying animal-rights activists for opposing animal research, all the press does is prolong the day that reasonable alternatives are discovered. It doesn't have to be a question of research or animal rightsresearch will go on, just on more humane models that better represent the human physiology.
I appreciate the article for portraying animal-rights activists as caring, concerned people. We are not terrorists; we believe there are alternatives to torture.
GEOV STRIKES OUT
Geov Parrish's take on "The Rush on Drugs" [Oct. 22] misses the point. The issue isn't about drug dependency and our failed policies that contribute to the drug problem. The issue is the suffocating hypocrisy of the most influential and reactionary talk-show host on the air.
Rush Limbaugh is a man with 20 million politically engaged Neanderthals hanging on his every bigoted lie, who, short of Karl Rove, has done more to install our current right-wing fundamentalist plutocracy than anyone else. Now we see his reactionary attacks on drug abusers completely contradicted by his own actions. He's a hypocritical fraud not unlike so many of his own neocon icons.
Parrish asks why so many Americans are driven to drug abuse, while one of the men most responsible for those social conditions stands right in front of him as a drug offender himself! Parrish should try to keep his eyes on the ball! This one should be hit out of the park, but our liberal heavy hitters can't even find their bats!
Richard T. Lee
Andrew Engelson gives thanks for Washington Park Arboretum to the Olmstead (sic) Brothers, "who also gave the world Manhattan's Central Park and in the early 20th century left a legacy of green space sprinkled throughout this city" [2003 Best of Seattle, "Turf: Urban LivingCritics' Picks," Oct. 15].
It is true that John Olmsted presented the city of Seattle with a 1903 park plan that has been largely followed by the city. Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. and his stepbrother, John, made up the Olmsted Brothers firm's ownership. It is not true that they gave the world Central Park. That famous park was created many years before following the "Greensward" park design of Frederick Law Olmsted Sr. and Calvert Vaux. Central Park set the tone for large natural open-space parks throughout the U.S.
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