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Inappropriate standards fail society

Thank you so much for printing Judy Neuhauser's opinion piece regarding No Child Left Behind ("Dear Speaker Nancy Pelosi," Nov. 15). She's absolutely right. As long as we continue to use developmentally inappropriate standards, continue to assume all kids are the same and should be the same, continue to base everything on multiple-choice tests, and continue to enforce a system that prefers punishment over praise, we're not only failing our students, we're failing society.

Charlie Perryess

Los Osos




Ethanol is a great answer

Regarding the anti-ethanol letter by Bob Blair in the Nov. 15 issue ("Ethanol is not the answer"), the writer seems to have missed some dots in trying to construct his anti-ethanol position:

First, I do agree that more diesel cars makes a lot of sense despite their bad reputation left over from the '80s. It may take 20 years before we get to the EU percentage of diesel cars. In the meantime, we send over oil money to the people who have declared war on us.

The statement that the United States is the only major nation looking at ethanol forgets that China, India, much of the EU, Russia, the Middle East (yes, the people we send our dollars to) along with Cuba, southeast Asia, Brazil, Nigeria, Canada, Mexico, and others are all ramping up ethanol production or planning to. California bought ethanol from China last year.

Ethanol is the stuff in drinks. It does clean metal and is used to clean hospitals. The statement that it is hard on modern materials (used in current cars) is wrong. Gasoline will also dissolve many materials. It also ran fine in Henry Ford's Model A, but lost to cheap oil. Oil is no longer cheap.

Ethanol has been distributed since the Civil War. Today, it is distributed by rail, truck, barge, and ship--and a billion gallons a year are blended in California gasoline and shipped to every station in the state. Economics will probably support adding dedicated alcohol pipelines in the near future.

Ethanol is good, it is here, and the writer is using some now.

David E. Baskett

American Ethanol president

Santa Maria




Health commentary was eye opening

I want to thank Mr. Duenow for his very cogent commentary on the opinion page in the Nov. 8 edition ("Why not socialized medicine?"). What he had to say should open many eyes to the facts regarding our medical care and costs in the United States. We as a people do not want to spend money on our infrastructure (but we want it all: roads, policemen, fire protection, etc.) to be there for us.

Yet we spend so much on health coverage (or medical care, if we cannot afford the insurance) for inferior care and only worry about the term "socialized medicine," which has become derogatory due (mostly to insurance companies'?) bad publicity.

Myrtle Stowitts

Santa Maria




Your health is at risk when you vote

California must show leadership nationwide by solving the health care crisis that is proving to be so burdensome on individuals and families. The nation will follow California's lead, but it won't be done by our state legislators who are deep into the pockets of our current health care providers.

Insurance companies should never have been allowed to provide health care coverage in the first place. It's a conflict of interest. Their profit is at the insured's expense. Insurers are in the business to make money, and they do it by increasing premiums, cutting benefits, or by dropping those people at risk!

The governor's plan, along with the combined Nunez-Peralta plan, are, at best, "Medicare" for the insurance industry. The people won't benefit from either. Only Senator Kuel's SB840 (SB840.com)--"One Care Now"--will provide full universal health care for all Californians.

Californians can put the insurance industry out of the health care business once and for all, but it can only be done by their votes when SB840 is on the ballot in 2008. It will be a life-and-death battle, costing millions of insurance dollars in fighting change, but it can be done. Vote wisely, then, and intelligently. Your good health will be at risk.

George Dailey

Santa Maria




A police state is on the way

In New Times' article "Medical marijuana to your doorstep" (Nov. 8) it was stated that Sgt. Rick Neufeld of the SLO County Sheriff's narcotics unit said he isn't concerned with lowering the cost of weed for patients. "For him, everything came back to his stance that medical marijuana and everything associated with it is illegal."

Did he not swear to uphold all the laws of California? Does he think he can pick which ones he will enforce? Do we need police who only enforce laws they agree with? Is he not violating the law himself at this point, by word and intent? Who will police the police?

When the police become a law unto themselves, they no longer serve the people who elected them and pay their wages. This is one step toward the abuses of a police state. I think his supervisors should look into his statements, attitude, and actions. Perhaps he could be a firefighter.

Arwyn Evenstar

Arroyo Grande




Med spa ad was misleading

Dr. Scott Greaves and myself, Dr. Joseph Bettencourt, own M.D. Spa and Laser Inc. in Paso Robles. In addition, we are both family physicians operating full practices in Templeton.

On behalf of ourselves and other qualified conscientious "med spa" owners, we would like to respond to the ad placed by Bradley Kurgis, D.O. on Nov. 1. His advertisement has an inflammatory comment in small writing at the top of the ad about non-dermatologists offering "med spa" services: "Don't be fooled by Med Spa's & Skin Clinics. Most of these places in SLO are operated by Gynecologists, Anesthesiologists or Family Practitioners with NO residency training in Dermatology."

Frankly, we find these comments offensive.

None of the services offered in a medical spa environment require or need specialized dermatology training. We are not aware that education and training in BOTOX, injectibles, and laser services are routinely offered as part of any residency training program. For example, BOTOX was cleared by the FDA in 2002 for facial applications--how could a dermatology residency, or any specialty training program before 2002, offer instruction in BOTOX injections? Furthermore, when speaking about services offered in a medical spa environment, let it be known that good outcomes are afforded by good physicians--it has very little to do with a physician's specialty training. We would ask the public, more appropriately, "Don't be fooled into believing that good outcomes are only afforded by dermatologists."

The reality is that undertaking procedures in a medical spa setting can be done well by dermatologists, non-dermatologists, and in some cases by non-physicians, as long as each provider is conscientious, well trained, and meets the standard of care.

Kurgis, D.O.'s comments are misleading, unnecessary, and contradictory. There are other ways to compete than to make outrageous and bitter comments in a public forum. We hope our comments on this issue set the record straight for consumers of San Luis Obispo County.

Joseph Bettencourt, M.D.

Scott Greaves, M.D.

M.D. Spa and Laser, Inc.

Paso Robles




Candidates don't understand how teachers work

The Democratic presidential candidates are discussing merit pay for teachers on TV right at this moment. But apparently none has ever been a teacher. For if they had, they would know that principals and superintendents play favorites. To them, the best teacher is not the one who best motivates their charges, but the one who does every non-teaching task administration wants with enthusiasm. That is a teacher who kisses rears and makes no waves, who is trying new approaches to teaching.

For instance, the eight years I taught, I regretted not being able to use Teacher Days to prepare material for teaching. Yes, administrators found ways to take up our time with boring lectures and games, like we were dolts. And administration hired these so-called education specialists at a high salary to put on these stupid events.

Why does administration do this? My guess is that they get special grants from the state and federal government to do it. And that looks good to the school boards.

All these useless meetings and politicking is what finally drove me to resigning.

Roy Berger

Arroyo Grande




Wal-Mart doesn't get it

For almost two years, the residents of Atascadero have been exposed to partisan discussion over land use and economic development. Since Wal-Mart arrived, the town has been divided and lacks consensus on an economic vision for the future.

I am opposed to the Wal-Mart Supercenter. You can change the size, but a Supercenter is still a Supercenter. A 150,000-square-foot store would be the largest in the entire county--it is out of scale and must be blocked.

The Supercenter has been proposed as a gift the community cannot refuse. The only gift that comes to mind is the "Trojan Horse." Inside are the same d estructive forces that independent and academic studies have revealed over the last decade. The economic, environmental, and community impacts of a Supercenter would be disastrous. Wal-Mart has a history of predatory practices in many other communities. Profits would be siphoned from the city of Atascadero to the corporate coffers of Wal-Mart. The proposed "increase" in sales tax revenue is not additional--it would merely shift from the cash registers of downsized or closed locally owned businesses. Traffic, noise, and pollution from store operation is unacceptable. This L.A.-style urbanization will erode the small-town character of Atascadero.

From the first public workshop to "just listening," many new ideas for the use of the property were recorded. I believe the City Council should wait before processing any Wal-Mart application to allow a real conversation to occur between the residents and the city.

Victor Larsen





Take a tip from Beowulf

Just a movie? The original Anglo-Saxon story--written 700 A.D., author unknown, one copy found (!)--is a treasure as great as all the artifacts unearthed at King Tut's tomb.

Beowulf is allegory in a reversal of the song by Kris Kristofferson: partly true and mostly fiction. Beowulf was the birthing story for Tolkien's Lord of the Rings.

Beowulf is a Viking tale of war and peace, of battle because battle is what was called for. Reminds me of World War II and Hitler creating his Germanic mythology using Wagner Norse operas for emphasis. Spilling blood is part of the warrior game. (Read Jung, or see the new World War II documentary by Ken Burns.)

When the Nazis tried to kill Britain over the English Channel, Beowulfs and their Spitfire airplanes grappled with the dragon Messerschmidts. War is not the best answer, but at times it is the course that must be waged for dragons to be slain.

Dragons still exist: "Then a powerful demon, a prowler in the dark, nursed a hard grievance ... [He was] a fiend out of hell and worked his evil on the world."

Beowulf is a depiction of the awful (full of awe), primal instincts humans still grapple with.

I don't recommend war, but I do recommend seeing Beowulf.

David Sweetland

San Luis Obispo

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