Petting Zoo

"I’m 44, still a virgin (no—it can’t be so!), and I’m not dead yet!"

Learning Saves Lives

Thank you for Nina Shapiro's article on sex ed ["Petting Zoo," Jan. 17]. I wish she'd added that there's no credible evidence these abstinence-only-until-marriage curricula actually work! The most thorough analysis of the research literature found that they don't help teens delay first intercourse, whereas some programs that teach about both abstinence and contraception really do result in teens waiting.

Besides, teens from the abstinence-only classes, once they start having sex (and a recent analysis of the National Survey of Family Growth found that 95 percent of people will have premarital sex at some point), are less likely to use protection than teens who've had better sex ed. Why would they, when those programs disparage protection as useless? The speaker from SHARE cites a 20 percent failure rate for condoms. But the actual rate is 2–15 percent, depending upon how correctly a couple has learned to use them and whether they use them every time. "Learned" is the operative word; learning saves lives and prevents unintended pregnancy.

I think we'd all hope that teens wait at least until they were mature enough to talk with a partner and with their doctors before they had sex. We'd all prefer our children to be in a long-term, respectful, loving relationship first. Schools should be encouraging abstinence. But they ought to use lessons that actually work. And, for students who will have sex in high school or even in their 20s, schools ought to help students be ready for the responsibilities that go with it.

Joan Helmich

Center for Health Training/ CHT Resource Group, Seattle

Some Cats Like sauerkraut

One hallmark of nonscience is generalization, such as "No women are aroused by French kissing" ["Petting Zoo," Jan. 17].

Let's use housecats as an analogy. I have never met one who didn't like fish and chicken. I did have one who didn't like liver. I now have one who likes cheese, corn products, spicy food, and catnip, and another who ignores these things. On the other hand, I know of a cat who eats sauerkraut, another who ate Passover almond cake, and one who ate grapefruit.

And what is a 13-year-old girl to make of Cally Leighton's claims, if the girl discovers that French kissing does turn her on? That she needs to get gender reassignment surgery? That she is gay? That Ms. Leighton is full of bucolic end products?

Howard Heller


The joy of Celibacy

Thanks, Seattle Weekly, for sharing about SHARE ["Petting Zoo," Jan. 17], a wonderful organization that dares to follow the path less traveled and incorporates a wonderful abstinence curriculum.

I'm 44, still a virgin (no—it can't be so!), and I'm not dead yet! In fact, the celibate life is a very freeing lifestyle! I don't have to worry about disease, broken relationships, and the other baggage that goes along with a sexually promiscuous lifestyle. And, yes, I'm "normal," and can't wait to get married (if that should come my way) someday.

Emma O'Flanagan


The People have spoken

Who is Jim Kneeland trying to kid, saying, "If the people of Renton or Bellevue decide they want a facility, that should be their right"? ["Running Up the Score," Jan. 17]. Kneeland and the Sonics want tax dollars generated within the city of Seattle to build that facility. Are the Sonics running to the suburbs because they think that out there they can ignore the polls and the voters? Or run hat in hand to Senate Ways and Means Chair Margarita Prentice, who simply disses Seattle voters? Which do you think voters prefer, anywhere, a candidate for re-election who has sought out their views, sought comprehensive and accurate information on an issue, or a pro-sports team that ignores them, regardless whether they express their views at the ballot box or in a poll?

When will the Sonics, and Mike Seely, start listening to the people? When the poll or the vote is unanimous? When will they learn how to spell "No"?

What does Mike Seely say about the mayor of Bremerton, Cary Bozeman, lobbying for a NASCAR racetrack situated outside his city limits? That this is an inappropriate use of his office? Even though he believes it will pork revenue for Bremerton? Give me a break. Whether you agree or disagree—and in our opinion, Mayor Bozeman is completely wrong about the impact on Bremerton—it is a public issue, and to paraphrase a few newspaper editors around Seattle about I-91, if you inordinately tie the hands of elected officials, how the hell can you reasonably expect them to govern?

Chris Van Dyk

Co-Chair, Citizens for More Important Things, Seattle

Don't Waste Dues

How about digging into why in the hell SEIU Local 775 is spending the union dues of people who don't make nearly enough money on something that would seem so completely unrelated to the interests of their members ["Running Up the Score," Jan. 17]. Maybe they could spend it on, I don't know, working to get long-term care workers better pay and working conditions. Their continued spending on this matter, including the exorbitant sum they pay to Chris Van Dyk every month, looks to me like outright theft.

Andrew Monusko

The editor responds: Van Dyk tells us SEIU paid him $4,000 a month for three months last year for his work on I-91, but nothing since.

Reader Request

I have picked up your paper most weeks now for years. Recently, I see no notice of upcoming author and book events for the forthcoming week. As a bookish person, this is a major disappointment, and I can't imagine why a successful paper in Seattle would decide to ignore a basic part of the reading public. Please consider resuming this service.

Don Johnson


The editor responds: Depending on space constraints, we may occasionally list only a selection of author and book events in the print edition of the paper. But you can always find complete weekly listings for those, and other arts events, at

Gutter Fight!

Two letters to the editor last week took issue with Air America because it panders to the same lowbrow level that right-wing talk shows do. I say: Good! We progressives have been criticized as "pointy-headed liberals" precisely because we have isolated ourselves from the American mainstream. Our intellectualism—real or feigned—may be satisfying and even elevating for us, but it does not reach the Wal-Mart crowd. The inconvenient truth is that the American mainstream is not as educated or sophisticated as we progressives like to think we are. We need a left-wing pander to counter the right-wing pander. Let Air America and Fox duke it out in the gutter. Those who pine for more enlightened media should work to get NPR back on a progressive track.

Janice Van Cleve


Kudos to Crestin

I very rarely write newspapers on any topic. Writing about a horoscope column is not something I imagined I'd ever do. That being said, I do read your horoscope [Sign Language] because I subscribe to the notion that "there are more things in heaven and earth . . . than are dreamt of in [our philosophies]," and I enjoy Caeriel Crestin's writing style.

Crestin's prediction for my sign, Aries, last week was so eerily on the nose and borne out within 24 hours of my reading that I had to mention the fact. Bull's-eye. Thanks.

Rod Tipton


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