Poison is us
RE The Dioxin in All Of Us (NOW, December 16-22). I moved to Toronto four years ago and was in good health when I arrived. Such is not the case now. I had every conceivable diagnostic test, including extensive viral testing. But the only detectable abnormality was "very elevated" levels of lead. The MD at a downtown hospital pain clinic asked if I had eaten any paint. I was baffled.
I'm not a smoker, eat only organic food, don't use cosmetics, don't have lead pipes and have never been exposed to chemicals in the workplace. I'm really good about not putting paint or vinyl blinds or other lead-rich goodies in my mouth.
The only lead-related "vice" I can identify is having been an avid cyclist in downtown T.O. in the days when I enjoyed enough muscle strength to do so. Auto exhaust is the only known source of lead I've encountered.
What would random lead tests of 100 downtown cyclists reveal? We saw news reports this summer chronicling the great number of smog deaths in this city.
Now that we've shown such impressive initiative in addressing cigarette smoke, perhaps we can turn our attention to the filthy air while we enjoy good enough health to do so.
No sex, please
Regarding your Sex Survey (NOW, December 16-22). You ask, "What general sexual category do you fit into?" I realize the point of your survey is to figure out what's going on among the people who are having sex, but couldn't something have been learned from the number of people who might reply that they aren't interested in sex?
RE Chain Reaction (NOW, December 16-22). Wayne Roberts writes on page 24 that "Of the top 10 mega-chains in Canada, five are American (including) Shopper's Drug Mart." On Page 48, your Beauty Tip is pushing Revlon (Canadian, I wonder?) Lip Gloss Palette, available at Shoppers Drug Mart. Practise what you preach.
Canada's Iraq contradictions
RE The UpFront item Globe's anti-Pacifist Pose Disgusts (NOW, December 16-22). The writer is disgusted with the Globe and Mail's attack on "peace hero" Jeremy Hinzman and says it's a source of national pride that Canada welcomes Americans who refuse to "serve in unjust wars." Since there is no draft, Hinzman did not have to serve; he could simply have not joined the Army. The writer also mentions "America's lust for oil." On a per capita basis, Canada is among the three highest consumers of energy resources in the world, higher even than the U.S.
Please spare us any more of this shallow holier-than-thou nonsense. We, too, have a lust for oil. Ask the Third World.
Feed and they will come
RE Winged Wonders (NOW, December 16-22). I would like to quiet the fears of letter-writer Marilyn Zavitz regarding the disappearance of birds in Toronto. My street has been inundated with starlings in flocks, some so large that the boulevards were black with them. Blue jays have made regular appearances this fall in my backyard. Flocks of pigeons sit on my next-door neighbour's TV antenna. Sparrows? I can't even begin to count them. If you feed them well and regularly, they will come.
No offence, but you suck
It has occurred to me over the past few months that the My Style section is a little, shall we say? well, it sucks. No offence, fellas, but if I have to read about one more pair of $400 boots that some tart has had "forever," I think I might redecorate my bathroom with vomit chic. Also, what's up with the bogus job descriptions? Actor/director/artist/entrepreneur/yoga instructor. Let's cut the crap and call a spade a spade: unemployed . Surely, in the most diverse city in Canada you can drum up some more stylish people than the pseudo-bohemians you seem to have in storage. It seems the feature is less concerned with showcasing a diverse culture than it is with name-dropping, labels and selling clothes. Kudos for the Love & Sex column, though. That shit's hot.
Getting the cops' attention
The chief of the Toronto goon squad has put his foot in it yet again, this time by railing against the need for more sensitivity training for his officers after a settlement in a civil suit won by lesbians following a bathhouse raid. It raises a fundamental question. When the police in Toronto or anywhere else in Canada screw up, which the Toronto force does on a regular basis, it is not the police officers who pay these enormous settlements. It is you and I, the taxpayers. The police get free legal counsel. If suspended, they're on full salary pending resolution of any legal problems. The officers get off scott free even if a civil judgment is rendered against them. They learn nothing and continue to violate people's civil rights with impunity.
Perhaps it's time they personally pay. It's the only way we can get them to change. Want to bet that will make the police wake up?
J. Kirby Inwood
"Toronto's not really a sightseeing type of town. Have you tried the CN Tower?" said the 50th person we came across as my friend and I despaired over what to do in our four-day stay in the city. So thanks to the staff of She Said Boom! on College who recommended the many wonderful sights and sounds of Kensington Market and Chinatown. A mention must also go to Kops Records on Queen for its collection of old-school hiphop and R&B/funk 45s.
To sum it up, I think it would be a huge task, bordering on impossible, to find a friendlier, more outgoing and more helpful city than Toronto.
Would also like to thank the Raptors for playing so woefully against the Seattle Sonics. It put the past couple of performances of my beloved football team, Arsenal, into perspective. You guys might want to draft your mascot into your starting lineup!
Letter writer Abdiwahid Isse sees red because Red Bull is legally available in Canada while khat is banned (NOW, December 16-22). He states that the opposite is true in Denmark.
Not quite. It is illegal to import khat into Denmark, and since the plant is not grown here, it is essentially banned. As is Red Bull, although the number of empty cans on the streets of Copenhagen on Sunday mornings testifies to the fact that the ban is not very effective.
Peace over democracy
RE To Send or Not To Send (NOW, December 9-15). Canada should not act as a gofer for American-imposed elections in Iraq, which at best would be an obscene joke. Neither Iraq nor Afghanistan needs democracy, but peace, and that can never occur until the American invaders leave.
O. G. Pamp
Jenny Yuen writes that a spokesperson for publisher Random House hung up the telephone when she asked for a comment on removal of Osama from bookshelves in Canada (NOW, November 25-December 1). Without commenting on the incident, I find it gratifying that people refuse to speak to journalists. As someone who has contacted reporters, I find many to be rude. This is odd, because so many journalists are indebted to the common people for interviews and information.
Thank you very much for publishing an article about food diversity, an important issue for humanity (NOW, November 25-December 1). We at Seeds of Diversity, Canada's only heritage seed saving organization, have as our mandate the preservation of diverse food crops. In 1984 we began as the Heritage Seed Programme, a committee of the Canadian Organic Growers. Since then, we have grown into a national organization with federal charitable status and more than 1,800 members coast to coast.
Our members grow over 1,500 varieties of vegetables, fruits, grains, flowers and herbs. Seeds of Diversity Canada is a registered charity. Contact us at www.seeds.ca, email@example.com, 1-866-509-7333 or PO Box 36, Station Q, Toronto ON M4T 2L7.
Seeds of Diversity Toronto
Respect creation, go vegan
The holiday season is my favourite time of the year. More than the gift-giving, decorative lights, holiday songs and specials on TV, I appreciate the spirit of compassion. However, there is nothing loving or compassionate about factory farms and slaughterhouses, where billions of animals live miserable lives and die violent, bloody deaths. God mandates kindness, mercy, compassion and love for all creatures.
When we sit down to eat, we can add to the level of violence, misery and death in the world, or we can respect creation with a vegetarian diet. Make it a happy holiday for the animals, too.