Letters to the Editor
Readers write about the debate over the use of corn ethanol, the need for young journalists at daily newspapers, watching "The Simpsons" with children, dog-fighting stereotypes, and Barry Bonds's impending home-run record.
How to frame the debate over the use of corn ethanolSkip to next paragraph
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In regard to the July 27 Opinion article, "The unintended consequences of the ethanol quick fix," the author did what many others continue to do, which is to miss some major points. There are two underlying questions that seem to frame the debate on corn ethanol. Before speaking to a group of farmers and rural development professionals in Canada this past spring, I already knew two questions that would be raised: one of food versus fuel and the other of the energy balance in producing ethanol. The real question is: How can we maximize the current ethanol boom to promote local food production and renewable fuels at the same time? We can do this by growing healthy, local food that can be used by local consumers, while also supporting an agricultural commodity-based industrial products vision. These can, and should, fit together perfectly. It is not sustainable to import petroleum to ship vegetables across the country. It is sustainable to ship renewable fuels such as ethanol that can then fuel the transportation of local vegetables to local consumers.
Whether corn is the long-term answer or not is irrelevant. The point is to invest heavily in the first wave of our future global hope in the conversion of plants into food, fuel, and thousands of other products, and watch them become more and more efficient as the wonders of technology improve.
Young journalists and the dailies
In response to the July 26 Opinion article, "Hungry for younger readers, newspapers should embrace their voices," opening up print journalism to young voices is a pretty good idea, so long as the new writers stick to English and do not drop into instant messenger-speak. It will take more than a few token changes, however, to produce an upturn in the doleful prospects of our good old dailies. Newspaper leadership and staffing will have to get radically younger, and what are the chances of that happening?
Watching 'The Simpsons' with children
While I agree with much of the July 27 Opinion article, " 'The Simpsons': Better than you think," about the most intelligently written sit-com ever, including the headline's conclusion that it is good for kids, I would not and do not allow my kids to watch it unattended. Scholars and philosophers still have far more important work than to comment on "The Simpsons."
Still, the show achieves its social satire while goading all political views. Where else could you have an episode where Marge expresses herself through a production of "A Streetcar Named Desire," while Homer learns how he could be a better husband, with references to Ayn Rand, all within a series where the parents remain faithful to each other and attend church regularly? Alongside its positive messages, "The Simpsons" raises the right questions; answering them is the parents' job. Let the 8-year-olds watch it, but help them understand it.
In the June 27 article, "Dogfighting case triggers public outrage," Brian Luke was quoted as saying that part of the public outrage directed at Michael Vick was because dogfighting is associated with black men. As endemic as racism is in our society, I believe Mr. Luke knows little about animal lovers and others who are deeply offended by such cruelty towards animals. If dogfighting were a "sport" solely supported by wealthy white women, public outrage would be no less.
Still poetry in baseball
After reading the July 25 Opinion article, "Bonds may break the poetry of baseball stats," about Barry Bonds's impending ascension to home-run king, the article suggests that baseball statistics will be rendered meaningless. I suppose that only a writer who sees poetry in the Baseball Encyclopedia could follow the Bonds saga, even if only cursorily, and fail to see poetry.
The article fails to see poetry when steroids still exist in the popular mind as some magic home-run potion despite the arrest of one pitcher and suspensions for numerous others. How does he fail to see poetry when one disagreeable athlete among many hard workers contribute to the game.
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