Up and up on downers
Matt Mernagh abruptly stops taking a drug that affects his brain chemistry and he's surprised at the effect this has on his body (NOW, January 27-February 2)? He indicates that he's an educated consumer and has an excellent dialogue with his doctor, yet he also says that "I" decided it was time to stop taking the medication. I wonder if he discussed this with his doctor.
Abruptly stopping any regularly used drug, be it Effexor, cocaine or even caffeine, will have side effects.
Why not polygamy?
It's a strange feeling, as a gay man, to find myself agreeing with Stephen Harper (NOW, January 27-February 2). Changing the definition of marriage could (rightly, I think) open up the public debate for a radical redefinition of marriage to include polygamy. And why not?
Polygamy isn't all that radical. It has enjoyed support throughout history and across the religious and sociological spectrum. Despite the squeamishness of some, there are those who would choose this form of family and who do so already without the blessing of the state. And why shouldn't they?
The state has no business in either the bedrooms or the wedding chapels of the nation, although I doubt that that cloying and self-referential gay wedding crowd and the other so-called equality groups like EGALE (which are essentially conservative in nature) will be getting on this bandwagon any time soon.
Homeless not helpless
Hormoz Nabili's Give Them E-mail and Phones (NOW, January 27-February 2) is written with all the utopian idealism and lack of knowledge of a teenager. Heating devices and reading lights? Come on now, really.
Most homeless people have problems finding jobs because of serious mental health, abuse and addiction issues.
Don't get me wrong. Not having the simple things most of us take for granted, like a phone number, makes it very difficult for homeless people to make a better life for themselves. For a brief two-month period (twice, actually), I was one of those homeless people wandering the streets, sleeping in parks and getting the odd meal at the Good Shepherd.
But there are, in fact, places that provide phone answering services, e-mail accounts and even showers for the homeless. St. Stephen's is one I personally used.
Knocking the Stuffco out
Jered Stuffco's review of maps of the Night with Frank Atom and the Sally Fields at the Cameron House (NOW, January 20-26) was fucked for so many reasons.
But calling Scott Gray's alcohol-and-suicide-drenched lyrics "cutesy" indicates that Stuffco was probably busier thinking up clever shit to write like, "Oh yeah, I'm gonna say he sounds like Lisa Loeb! Burn!" than actually listening to the show.
Damned if I don't feel like the next time I get off the train in Toronto I'd like to plow Stuffco in the mouth.
That's just not Birthright
Hey, Now, what gives? In the second time in as many months, I've noticed, in a newspaper that supposedly supports women's rights, an ad for Birthright (NOW, January 27-February 2)! Birthright has tirelessly striven to undermine the legislation making abortion safe and legal.
The group uses pressure tactics and misinformation. It has remained consistently silent regarding violence perpetuated by other anti-choice groups against abortion providers. How do you think your women readers feel seeing these ads?
Pol not the one mixed up
As a homeowner on Sixteenth Street trying to stop the Toronto Redi-Mix concrete batching development in south Etobicoke, I was disappointed by your decision to focus on our councillor (NOW, January 20-26) instead of on the real issues at hand: cement batching and road salt distribution a mere 100 metres from a beautiful residential neighbourhood - and the fact that Toronto Redi-Mix decided to build first and get its permits later.
An archaic zoning bylaw that fell through the cracks when Etobicoke was swallowed up by the megacity and the attitude of big business have caused the problem, not our councillor's lack of action.
I agree with Izida Zorde that Western democracies prefer election outcomes that favour pro-Western forces (NOW, January 20-26). But I don't see why she's troubled by the impact of Western observers in Ukraine. The first two rounds of the elections had been unfair and fraudulent.
I'm also troubled by Zorde's placement of "freedom" in quotes. Ukrainians in the Soviet period may have had a more certain economic and social system. They were, however, subject to arrest and imprisonment for their political views. (Dissidents died in camps as late as the mid-1980s.) They were lied to about the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, and their children were marched through the nuclear dust on May Day parades five days after the explosion.
Tsunami by the numbers
David Morley of Doctors Without Borders Canada correctly points out that the world's generosity in response to the tsunami disaster far exceeds the response for similar death tolls resulting from AIDS or wars in Africa (NOW, January 6-12).
The reason for this is purely media-based. Like the 9/11 attacks, the disaster in Asia saw an unusually quick and massive loss of life brought into living rooms around the world with shocking images and video. Spread the deaths out a little and take away the pictures and barely anyone would notice them.
She's no nipple-flasher
For the past two weeks i've been following the situation between Jutta Mason, a volunteer and Web site editor with Dufferin Grove Park, and Erika Ross, a nursing mother (Breast-feeding Frenzy, NOW, January 20-26).
I had hoped that everyone would work out their differences and the issue would resolve itself without escalating further. I hoped that a simple apology could be made, and that we could all learn from this incident.
NOW's article makes Ross out to be a nipple-flashing heathen. I've never once seen a breast-feeding woman flash her breasts in front of a crowded room. Most women I know, especially after weight changes from childbirth, are too self-conscious to go around flashing teenage boys.
The real issue is that Ross's rights were violated during the incident. Why, then, is this still an issue?
Monte's hall of mirrors
re: Denial on the Beat (now, de cember 30-January 6). Community Safety Minister Monte Kwinter recently endorsed the use of taser guns, the electric-shock weapon that is implicated in the deaths of nine people in Canada.
He talks up "favourable" reports and a list of "benefits" that could easily have come from a Taser Inc. brochure.
I wonder if the minister has read or is willing to acknowledge a damning report from Amnesty International (www.amnesty.ca) about the use of tasers in Canada.
Such force by police in these circumstances "contravenes international standards prohibiting torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment."
Most disturbingly, the only medical studies prior to the marketing of these new-generation tasers were tests on animals commissioned by the company.
Amnesty International, Toronto
Zenya Sirant's Life and Style piece on tea (NOW, January 27-February 2) was OK, but I was disappointed to see that not one of your selections was the creation of a local ceramist.
Our city (and province!) is so full of talented craftspeople creating inspiring objects. NOW should be encouraging readers to check them out!
Nothing expresses our individuality and tastes or fulfills our everyday rituals like beautifully crafted objects handmade by local artists!
Ontario Crafts Council, Toronto
Just curious, Hal
Is it just me or did Hal Niedzviecki call Jews greedy and inferior (NOW, January 20-26)? I know what he (probably) meant to say, but he didn't. Just curious.