Oil driving us loopy
Re Let Pump Prices Soar (NOW, September 22-28). It seems the developed world's reliance on non-renewable oil has become so entrenched that it's no longer subject to the free market laws of supply and demand. There's no longer a price point at which buying will stop. Indeed, as events in Toronto show, we will line up for hours in the middle of the night to pay twice as much as we did six months ago. In some cases, we'll get into fistfights over the chance to do so. These are insane reactions to insane cultural demands.
The individual consumer's choice has been trumped by our cultural choices, such as sprawl-inducing corporate-driven urban planning (requiring the average commuter to spend a month of every year behind the wheel), as well as the acceptance of total market globalization. (Mangoes from Mexico in the middle of winter are common, while produce from our own province is now a specialty.)
Market influence on resource consumption has become a positive feedback loop: the more we consume, the more we are dependent on it.
The more we are dependent on it, the less sensitive we are to price. The less sensitive we are to price, the more we will consume.
a Wayne Roberts's Let Pump Prices Soar is a crock. Those of us who live at the margins of this society will suffer disproportionately. SUV drivers can buy hybrids. On the other hand, high fuel prices will make TTC fares and food products more expensive. For the poor, there is no hybrid solution.
John A. Matheson
Eco crusade not whites-only
Although the article by Mike Smith covering my Toronto appearance was fair (NOW, September 22-28), I would like to comment on his observation that there were no non-white people there. There is a general belief in North America that the environmental and conservation movement is a whites-only movement. Perhaps it's for a cultural reason that African and Hispanic Americans are not attracted to the conservation movement. Both groups in America tend to be more religious and thus more anthropocentric than their brethren in Africa or Latin America.
The point is that the conservation, environmental and animal rights movements are not exclusionary.
I'll be damned if I'll respond like some sort of eco Jehovah's Witness, banging on doors to convert unbelievers to the cause. That's what we'd be doing if we responded to the criticism that we direct resources and efforts to "outreaching." I am not a missionary, and I have no intention of being one.
Captain Paul Watson
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society - Friday Harbour, Washington
Fuelling a culture of self-pity
I was appalled a to read Bairu Sium's article about "Jamal" (When Jail Beats School, NOW September 22-28). Sium seems satisfied with the explanation that what Jamal is going through is "payback time for the earlier abuses, putdowns and letdowns" he has received. As an educator, Sium should hopefully understand that dealing drugs is no substitute for attaining an education.
Sium seems to think Jamal has a virtual right (or at least an excuse) to sell drugs, carry a pistol and conduct armed robbery. Such an attitude not only demeans Jamal and his clear intellectual potential but also ignores the galaxy of noteworthy black Canadians who have come before him: Elijah McCoy, Nathaniel Dett, Mary Anne Chambers, Lennox Farrell, Sarah-Jane (Saje) Mathieu, Claire Alleyne and Afua Cooper, to name but a few.
Sium fuels a dangerous culture of self-pity that furnishes everyone with an excuse. Jamal could just as easily get a real job instead of glorifying the culture of "do rags" and "wave caps."
It's an inarguable fact that large bureaucratic educational systems are constantly evolving and need reform. But to excuse the illegal, anti-social and narcissistic dalliances of Jamal, a man clearly able to perform in school, is ridiculous and an insult to all the youth of colour who bust their asses at school and at legitimate jobs in order to ameliorate their situation.
Streaming students' choice
Bairu Sium claims that "once students are assigned a level, they may at their own request be moved down a stream, but moving up is impossible unless they're willing to spend years catching up. There is no second chance for late bloomers or those who want to change course." While it might be true that a teacher will encourage a student to pursue Applied level courses if his or her average is less than 65 per cent, it is ultimately the student's choice.
A teacher might recommend a such a student to Applied because marks well above 65 are a requirement for entrance to most universities.
According the the article, Jamal currently excels in the Applied stream, and therefore I can't see why his average should be a stumbling block to his choosing the Academic stream. This is entirely his choice. That he is in the Applied stream and finding it boring is and has always been his choice.
I hope someone at the school has made him aware of that fact, since Sium clearly wouldn't have.
Knock on CBC listeners
Andrew Cash's column knocking CBC listeners for their apathy (NOW, September 22-28) felt like a downright personal insult. I don't know anybody who is apathetic. I've written to the prime minister twice. (This is a national threat equal to Quebec separation.) To [Heritage Minister Liza] Frulla twice. To [Labour and Housing Minister] Joe Fontana. The CBC is not a widget factory and doesn't belong in his ministry. To my MP. I've sent copies to Shelagh Rogers's Caravan and to Friends of CBC. You call this apathy?
Regarding Jason Richards's review of the Red Menace's record release (NOW, September 22-28) and his claim that Notes to Self "illustrate hiphop's latest crisis." If Notes' seemingly effortless performance at Revival suggests to Richards that "anyone can do it," then it's a testament to the trio's experience and talent as emcees.
Their style may be casual, but Notes' energy and clever rhymes can't be duplicated. It's clear that any crew who have a track about pooping don't take themselves too seriously (a refreshing notion in this game), and haters like Richards should follow Notes to Self's lead.
Think positive for a change
Reading NOW on a regular basis, one could become convinced that Toronto is full of bad cops and worse politicians. The level of cynicism is balanced only by the arts and lifestyle section. This is why I was so happy to read Albert Nerenberg's These Cops All The Rave (NOW, September 15-21). It was a refreshing reminder that there is good left in this city and that not all cops are bad. While I think it's an important function of NOW to tell the stories that other papers don't, please make it a habit to show the positive side of the city, outside of its fashionable watering holes.
Reason to be negative
I got pulled over by two cops in Allan Gardens this morning at 8 am for riding my bike on the paved pathway. There were few people in the park and nobody was on the pathway except for the two cops and me, riding my bicycle to work. What kind of city bitches about green-friendly transportation and then won't allow you to ride your bicycle in a park? Toronto sucks. If Toronto wants to be an asshole about riding a bike in a park, then I may as well return the courtesy. As of today I will no longer recycle. It isn't done in high-rise buildings, so why the hell am I wasting my time?
I will idle my car. Cabs do it all the time. I have even seen a police car or two running their motor while parked. If it's good enough for our fine officers, then it's good enough for me. Charity begins at home, so no more free handouts. Fuck you, Toronto.
Where's the love?
NOW should consider changing the name of the Love & Sex column to Hot Sex. Your guest writers don't seem to know the difference. Take Verna M. Wilson's Is Love Fire Or Ice? (NOW, September 1-7). She uses wonderfully sensual language to describe the connections between using the tongue to taste food and to eat pussy. But Wilson seems more in love with herself than her lover, who exists only to facilitate her orgasm: he knows how to ply her with food that stimulates her juices, asks sexy questions about her lingerie and buys her sex toys.
He's also very good with his finger and his tongue, but where is his cock exactly? Does he even have one? She never tells us. More important, what qualities or sensibility does her lover possess that turn her on? That doesn't interest her either. So is Wilson in love or is she simply a great fuck?
Lullaby for a summer gone
In all of our worlds, 'tis the saddest song, summer's last cricket sings, still, no others sing along.
Gregory Alan Elliott