Hemp can save the planet
Wayne Roberts's Gore's Convenient Untruths (NOW, March 1-7) asks, "How much more ethically impaired can you get than using prime farmland to grow crops to feed cars, when one person in seven around the world is chronically hungry and the world population heads from 6 to 9 billion?"
This is a good point, though it has a simple solution: use hemp for ethyl-alcohol.
The unusually deep taproot of the plant actually reverses soil erosion and creates usable land.
Whiny lefties we're not
Jenny Yuen's Push Smog, Fight Cancer (NOW, March 1-7) was right on the money.
But the child in me says, "Hey, not fair ! You mentioned their contest and not ours."
Streets Are for People! were not out freezing our butts off to "register our dismay" but rather to announce our own contest, the You Can Quit Driving Challenge.
We're giving away bikes and TTC passes to those who quit driving for one month. We've drafted a booklet with info on the car as a threat to public health and helpful tips on how to quit driving.
The whole point is that we're offering a constructive alternative.
The activist community already has a bad rep for being a bunch of whiny lefties.
I feel it's only right that when we actually do something constructive, somebody in the media might give it a mention.
Michael Louis Johnson
Streets Are for People
Regarding your article Whale Wars On High Seas (NOW, March 1-7), I don't know what else to say other than a most heartfelt thank you. Bob Hunter would be very proud indeed.
M. Michelle Nadon
Cool Cole run-ins
Hats off to Susan G. Cole for putting aside her political differences with Chris Bearchell to offer a fine tribute to an even finer queer activist (NOW, March 1-7).
Cole, by the way, has her own lesser-known history of working with gay men. I remember back in the late 80s when Cole came to Kingston, Ontario, to debate Gwen Landolt, then leader of R.E.A.L. Women.
During the debate's question period, as I tried out my new activist voice, Landolt kept interrupting me.
Cole intervened on my behalf, demanding forcefully, "Let him speak!" I've wished on occasion I could tell Cole how much that little moment meant to me. Now I have.
At the gates of hellraisers
RE Gated Stairway To Heaven (NOW, March 1-7). Dear righteous humanist sympathizers of NOW:
How about inviting whoever feels like it to piss, shit, suck, fuck, smoke, snort and shoot up on your office doorstep on any given evening?
For the most part, your fine weekly magazine is a welcome and invigorating part of this city's life, but every once in a while you're just really fucking ridiculous. Silly, silly people.
Stephen Michael O'Grady
Now, we understand that Mark Ruffalo (or is that Buffalo?) sells magazines and ads (NOW, March 1-7). But maybe somebody still cares about what's really going on in this city.
We don't have an $80 million budget. We don't have Robert Downey Jr. in a supporting role. We don't have the director of Fight Club trying to make a comeback. So I guess we don't stand a chance.
We do have a zero budget, and that's why we thought you'd care. Because, as we look around our great city, we can't find anyone who is doing what we've done: completed, on our own time and budget, a feature-length film. How many of those do you turn down in a typical afternoon?
We cordially invite you to attend the first screening of The Real Baby 2 at Celts Pub (2872 Dundas West) on Saturday (March 10).
Adam and Luke Madigan
Who's selling war?
Regarding Paul Weinberg's Hawks Get Bucks To Sell War (NOW, February 22-28).
It's understandable that a new research institute seeking a public profile in the controversial area of defence and security would present itself as the underdog competing against deeply flawed yet highly favoured "establishment" institutes.
To state, however, that the Security and Defence Forum centres "get bucks to sell war" because they receive some funding from the Department of National Defence is insulting.
The SDF centres (a Trudeau initiative) provide research that is not simply in-house. The centres are academic, not advocacy groups - a distinction that, if not absolute, should not be overlooked.
They examine diverse issues from multiple perspectives. If there seems to be a very broadly defined consistency of viewpoint (a vague claim), it is probably less due to funding than to the fact that most members are drawn from mainstream military history, security studies and international relations.
Suggesting base motives for honest disagreement is shabby.
Centre for Military and Strategic Studies, University of Calgary
I'd like to thank NOW for its socially responsible Love & Sex cover (NOW, February 8-14). The porn industry does such a great job making sex into an mechanical, mindless act that a cover featuring a couple embracing with a kiss is refreshing, and a great message to everyone who sees it.
Should children be exposed to it, we know at least a positive expression of human sexuality will be good for them. If we have a problem, it should be over the messages about sex, not sex itself.
Matt Dobson of the Vinyl Siding Institute writes that PVC is "recognized for its environmentally friendly benefits" (NOW, February 22-28).
My experience with PVC is based on more than 15 years working as a window cleaner.
PVC that is exposed to direct sunlight loses the chemicals that block UV and add sheen after about eight years.
After that, the PV decomposes and leaches into the air and soil with every rainfall. Imagine, every single new home built over the past 25 years from Burlington to Whitby slowly leaching PVC.
I truly dread working on windows of these buildings. I can feel the chloride burning my hands as the water becomes milky white with PVC dust.
There should be an environmental assessment that considers the impact of PVC use in the building industry. The provincial government should simply ban PVC windows and siding.
I hope Jack Layton takes all this into consideration. When he advocates for a retrofit subsidy, he is actually saying we should subsidize Big Oil.
Styrene passes safety test
I'm responding to Foam Here To Eternity (NOW, February 8-14).
Polystyrene has been used for decades in food-contact applications with no validated evidence that it poses health concerns.
Extensive studies in styrene-related industries show that exposure doesn't increase the risk of developing any ill-health effects.
Polystyrene represents a small percentage of municipal waste.
Innovative developments in biodegradables are recognized.
However, these products need to be certified to ensure that they'll degrade as intended and in the required time frame.
Contrary to popular opinion, waste materials do not biodegrade significantly in a landfill.
In fact, because biodegradation can lead to the release of harmful methane gas (a greenhouse gas 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide) or leachate (which can contaminate groundwater), modern landfills are designed to discourage biodegradation by blocking oxygen, sunlight and water.
Recycled plastic from food packaging has replaced the need for virgin plastic material in new applications like office supplies and automobile accessories. There is a market for recycled polystyrene, and this is why the Canadian Polystyrene Recycling Association is working with Toronto to get polystyrene recycled.
VP Environment, Health & Safety
Canadian Plastics Industry Association
Ban styrene now
Thanks for Foam Here To Eternity. Someday, hopefully, Toronto will join the 24 U.S. cities that have already banned styrofoam.
Though the article was great, we wish it had included the link to our website (www.naturopack. org), where people can actually take action and sign the petition online.
We launched this campaign to mobilize everyone in Toronto to start caring about this issue.
Hate your site
I just spent 15 minutes scouring your website trying to figure out what's playing on a Friday night. I couldn't. Your website design completely sucks. How about making it user-friendly, please?
Comedy coverage a joke
Just wanted to drop a line to say thanks for revamping your comedy listings by day of the week as opposed to just by venue. Not only does it make the listings much easier to read, but now someone who has a free night and wants to watch some live comedy will have an easier time finding something new to see.
Having said that, I would still love to see more coverage of the local comedy scene in your paper. While I concede that Toronto's comedy scene isn't nearly as large as its music scene (or even the regular theatre scene), I still think NOW could spare at least a page per month for more comedy coverage.
As a sketch and improv performer, I can attest to how difficult it is for a new performer/comedy night/show to get coverage and build an audience. The comedy scene in this town is booming. It's time to start getting the word out to people who wouldn't ordinarily see a live comedy show.