Blinded by bad medicine
At one time I would have applauded Naomi Klein's excellent My White Privilege (NOW, December 14-20) without question, but that was before the Canadian health care system left me to go completely blind over a torturous four-year period. No doctor would do the little extra required to accommodate my disability.
It's obvious that the Canadian fee structure discourages going the extra mile when required. We have "one size fits all" medicine. If it doesn't fit, you don't get it. Sounds like discrimination to me just a different type from in the U.S.
The American system encourages expertise, creativity, open-mindedness and innovation. We don't mind riding on its back to take advantage of its discoveries (when it suits us). Why not spend some time unearthing the horror stories we have right here at home, Naomi Klein?
Jeers for Al Jazeera
RE Al Jazeera's no foe (NOW, December 21-27). Frankly, Glenn Wheeler's and NOW's ongoing mad-ons for Israel and Jewish groups are getting more than tired - they're ridiculous.
Hasn't Al Jazeera helpfully featured coded messages from al Qaeda, and news serials on Holocaust deniers and anti-Semitic hoax The Protocols Of Zion?
Funny how neither the illustrious Tony Burman [CBC's news editor-in-chief) nor NOW seems to recognize that Canadian law prohibits the public broadcast of hatred and genocide targeting identifiable groups.
Rather than whining about the CRTC's decision and CJC's intervention (in an era of escalating hate crimes against Jewish institutions and individuals), perhaps Wheeler, NOW and Burman might offer their services to monitor Al Jazeera 24/7 to prevent the broadcast of illegal anti-Semitic genocidal hatred, or to personally sponsor Al Jazeera's and cable companies' huge future legal costs if such messages are broadcast on Canadian television.
Next stop, Autopia
RE TTC eyes towers at stations (NOW, December 21-27). City parking policies discourage transit-oriented development at subway stations, forcing all developers to construct a set proportion of parking spaces. Unlike Portland or Chicago, we won't lower these rates based on the availability of transit.
Building an abundance of parking above subway stations is not only expensive but unnecessary. TTC and GO also expect developers to replace their ever-expanding number of commuter parking spaces in any proposed development.
While you may not feel sorry for developers, these costs are passed on to future occupants, whether they drive or not. We talk about a transit city, but policies steer us toward autopia.
Spy cams for all
In spies among us (NOW, December 28-January 3), letter writer Terry Dobin worries about loss of privacy because of police spy cameras.
Has anyone considered the possibility of making spy cams public? Consider the option of posting the cameras' pictures directly on the Internet where anyone can see them, eliminating the need for expensive monitoring crews.
Lots of eyes on the screens might catch things that a few weary ones might not.
And if the cameras, including the ones in police stations, were run by the city rather than the police force, those pesky outages just when something curious is going down might be a lot less frequent. And so, therefore, might the curious events.
Why don't we try debating public cameras rather than police cameras?
Panning Pan's Labryinth
I generally trust John Harkness's reviews, but beg to differ with his and nearly all of the critics' enthusiasm for Pan's Labyrinth (NOW, December 21-27). I found this movie to be a vicious, brutal mess. I liken it to having your face pushed into slime and feces for a protracted period of time. I do not consider it entertaining to witness, for example, a man sewing up his face. Nor do I consider it art. Sure, the monster was good, but a good monster does not a good movie make.
The particular frisson created by brutality can blind you to the truth. In this case, the truth is that Pan is not a very good film at all. Take out the brutality and it would be boring.
I want to warn any parents who are considering taking their children to please go alone if they cannot help but be curious.
Lord, where art thou?
I enjoyed reading your year-end roundup (NOW, December 28-January 3) and was interested to see that you made no mention (good or bad) of The Lord Of The Rings. When the show opened, you were the only Toronto publication to give the show a fair and honest review, unlike the other newspapers, the Toronto Star in particular, which couldn't wait to rip it apart. When the closing was announced, the knives came out again, as they did last week.
You missed one actor who deserves a mention for his performance in LOTR, Michael Therriault. His was 2006's best performance in Toronto, for which he won a Dora Award for the second year running.
Derek J. Waite
Better safe than stoned
You often run letters about the pros and cons of legalizing marijuana. I'd like to know if the people for legalization toke responsibly, and how much they promote it.
I enjoy drinking, which is legal. But I have to be morally and legally responsible. I cannot drink and drive! Police can check for blood alcohol and take your keys away. What test, if any, is out there for marijuana? How many accidents have occurred because of drivers being high?
You can't tell me that someone high on marijuana is any more alert than someone who's had too much to drink. How many joints does it take to be impaired, and do the people in favour of legal marijuana care? If marijuana is legalized, who would control its use and how would this be done?
I have no problem with legalizing [pot], but please, toke responsibly.
Perhaps letter writer A.C. Regev (Hidden Sausage, NOW, December 21-27) was nursing a bad hangover (fermented wheat-grass wine, perhaps?) when she unknowingly began cramming sausages into her face at Café Vert. If a smiling server slid a steaming bowl of shit onto her plate, would she dig in without so much as a glance? All diners, regardless of diet, should inspect their food before consuming it. It's common sense.
What rubbed me the wrong way about Regev was not her indignation, but rather her complete lack of sensitivity for others. She seemed to have no consideration for how difficult it can be for chefs and servers to accurately manage orders (with substitutions!) during the brunch rush; and her flippant reference to bulemia makes light of what many consider to be a women's health epidemic.
For educational purposes, I feel I should point out that there's no such thing as "vegetarian sausage." Sausage, from the Latin "salsus," literally means salted meat.
A little help from our friends
With all due respect to [NOW's] attempt to condense an animated 15-minute conversation into a few paragraphs (NOW, December 21-27), the Kensington Festival Of Lights itself does not receive sponsorship, but Red Pepper receives operating support from the Toronto and Ontario Arts Councils, and we also receive project support from various social service agencies - plus hundreds of participating artists, community members and volunteers who contribute immeasurable time and talent far beyond the reaches of the festival's relatively small budget.
The festival was passed on to us by its creator, Ida Carnevali, nearly 10 years ago. We have worked to expand the community of collaborating artists by inviting participants from other communities, including (among others) Regent Park and Rexdale. We are proud and honoured to build relationships in these communities and to share this cosmic Kensington celebration with them.
It is critical that these funding and creative partnerships are represented properly. These are relations to which we, the Festival Of Lights and Red Pepper Spectacle Arts, owe our existance.
Andy Moro and Gabriella Caruso
Directors, Red Pepper Spectacle Arts and Kensington Market Festival Of Lights, Toronto
White as snow
RE year-end staff photo (now, December 28-January 3). After 25 years, one would hope that NOW's ratio of white to non-white staff would have improved somewhat. Alas, such is not the case. I wrote NOW a similar plaint 10 years ago.
This glaring contradiction between what you spew and practise is one of the main reasons no one takes so-called radical viewpoints seriously any longer and why the planet is irrevocably sliding into hell. For an organization such as NOW, or for any institution of consequence, a contradiction such as this is fatal. Maybe not to your pocketbook, but you have made yourselves redundant.