Safer for walkers off streets
Alan Young's desire to protect street sex workers is admirable (NOW, April 5-11), but he forgets to mention that some workers at risk are underage. In addition, legal protection means legal regulation, which means incorporation, taxes, permits, visas, benefit plans and a host of similar expenses that many sex workers can't afford (and many pimps aren't interested in paying).
Ultimately, the dangers of the industry don't come from its working conditions; they come from customers' attitude that it's acceptable to treat a person's body as a commercial object to be bought, used and forgotten.
Las Vegas and Amsterdam have all the laws Young advocates, yet street workers still get killed with distressing frequency. Isn't it better to fight for safety and security by getting people out of this inherently unsafe and dehumanizing trade in the first place?
Stephen J. Barringer
Fuel for foolishness
RE No textbook crime (now, april 5-11). I want to thank Sheila Cavanagh for reinforcing the idea that sex with youths is not a crime, but rather fuel for our fantasies. Thank you, Sheila! I don't know what I was thinking!
Comparing the situation at A.C. Boylen to Cate Blanchett's Notes On A Scandal was an exceptionally great way to reinforce your point. Heck, if it's true in the movies, it's gotta be true in real life, doesn't it?
Perhaps the same can be said about young girls who sleep with their male teachers or is it only true for female dominators who are, hmmm, how was it put in NOW? Oh yes, "hot teachers"?
Of all the feedback we've gotten regarding our Easter egg hunt, Ashley Walters's (NOW, April 5-11) was the most hilariously awful. To suggest we replace plastic eggs with real chicken eggs is, frankly, absurd.
Walters thinks it would have been better to ship chickens by truck to an abusive factory farm, alternatively feed and starve the chickens to force them into a laying cycle, then ship the eggs to Toronto, boil them all, and hide them on Bloor Street. Walters wants us to boil 5,000 eggs. Seriously.
She must not be familiar with what "waste" really is. Nay, we would consider a free, public, fun activity for children and children-at-heart to be a perfect use for this plastic.
We consider groups of people coming together to be community, not conformity. Happy Easter!
NOW's hip culture faux pas
The limits of newmindspace's approach have been made amply clear in the past, but I can't let Ashley Walters's snide comment about inconsistent politics slide. Who's representing the mindless consumption of hip culture? I can certainly find more insipid spreads of outrageously priced, fleetingly fashionable crap, but only in NOW do they share space with articles about poverty and environmentalism. You still expect to be taken seriously?
Walls around Wal-Mart
Like many who have jumped on the anti-Wal-Mart bandwagon, including politicians looking for an easy target, letter-writer Cat Davis (NOW, April 5-11) is misinformed.
Wal-Mart is no different or worse than any other big chain in Canada. In the U.S., Wal-Mart pays its full-time employees an average of $10.51 an hour. And, unlike the Bay, Canadian Tire, Zellers and Sears Canada, they continue to hire full-time sales staff.
In fact, the Bay and Zellers have now taken to asking their few full-time sales and sales-support staff to relinquish their full-time status in favour of "flex hours." Check into it, Cat.
While Wal-Mart shouldn't be winning any awards, I'd also be interested in knowing what downtown stores are boarded up because of its arrival.
Skyscrapers preying on birds
Thanks for mentioning consilium Place in Faulty Towers' Fatal Light (NOW, April 5-11). Consilium is a bird-killing machine. You didn't mention that the 2006 death count at Consilium omits the many songbirds that are never found because they are quickly eaten by gulls.
Consilium Place is owned by the OMERS government employees pension plan through Oxford Properties.
While OMERS claims to promote the Ceres Principles for environmentally sound business practices, every year it spends more on Christmas decorations than on stopping the slaughter.
Clearly, government pensions are more important than the natural world around us. Thanks again.
Trailer Park trash
Don't get me wrong. I love the Sopranos. My beef is why your alternative magazine would hop on the mainstream media bandwagon to promote its season premiere (NOW, April 5-11) while completely ignoring that of a truly alternative Canadian TV series, Trailer Park Boys. Why turn your back on a homegrown hit and plug a multi-million-dollar hit American show that doesn't need more publicity? Even the National Post gave TPB some ink.
The wheel deal
Regarding the various plans to green up Toronto's air quality (NOW, April 5-11). The TTC's overweening $6 billion light rail vision has about as much chance of happening as a baby moving a glacier with its pinky. The long-promised and equally long-delayed bike lane system admittedly won't move as many people as a new subway or LRT line, but its cost would be minimal: a lick of paint, signage, and a few right-wing councillors' noses out of joint.
We could get Rob Ford or Case Ootes to cut the ribbon.
Back to Babylonia
I read your article about the last Jew in Afghanistan (NOW, March 29-April 4) with great interest. I have been sending Passover packages to Zebulon Simintov for the past five years. I am an Afghan Jew and president of the sole Afghan synagogue outside of Israel.
Jews have been in Afghanistan for more than 2,000 years. We were there when Alexander the Great conquered the country and when it was known as Bachtiya and Ariyana. There was a strong Jewish presence in Afghanistan before and after the Moslem conquest. Many were lost during the Moslem wars and Gingis Khan.
Mr. Simintov is the last Jew out of hundreds of thousands who once lived in the country, a line that very possibly goes back to the first Babylonian exile.
Queens, New York
In your alt-health column, you cite results of a NOW poll that 30 per cent of Torontonians consult a naturopath (NOW, March 29-April 4). Isn't it unfair that allopathic medicine, which funnels obscene profits to the pharmaceutical industry, is covered by OHIP, while the gentle healing arts that "do no harm" are not covered for those of us who choose them?
I suspect that many more Torontonians would consult naturopaths if they were covered by OHIP. This would save OHIP money by cutting out the greedy profiteering of Big Pharma.
Chip on Harkness's shoulder
Regarding John Harkness's review of The Lookout (NOW, March 29-April 4). His "Bergs" comment left me wondering: is it cool to have a chip on your shoulder about Jews in Hollywood? If he has some issue with Jewish directors, let him write a frank article.
This racist insinuation passed off as a chippy aside is not cool.
Sharkwater's sinking feeling
Does anyone else find it ironic that Sharkwater's so-called "strong conservationist message" (NOW, March 22-28) is being promoted locally by a big-ass truck pulling a 15-foot fibreglass shark?
Maybe Rob Stewart should spend less time frolicking with Greenpeace activists and more time learning about the environmental problems that ultimately cause the demise of ocean biodiversity.
TTC on a thread
RE diary of a mad knitter (now, March 29-April 4). Super article. As a mad knitter myself, I can so relate to starting a project, working on it, then changing the pattern as I go along, since I am a devoted circular knitter. I love getting on the TTC, pulling out my knitting and watching the looks I get, interestingly enough mostly from older people. Today's young people seem far less judgmental.