The Present Craziness

Thanks for the optimistic article “Can We Create New Life?” (Feature Story, November 26). One has to be suspicious of any government policy being fast-tracked, especially one as revolutionary as genetic-engineering promotion. From a rational perspective, such a mysterious business requires more caution than normal, not less. To express the problem/risk as simply as possible requires an analogy:

Think of GIGO — garbage in, garbage out — as used in information processing. The “mal-ware,” such as viruses, etc., which can damage computers, are created to appear to be normal information. In this way the computer is tricked and absorbs these programs into the computer software as if they are beneficial. Only later does the damage appear. But by then it is too late; your work is garbage, or lost altogether.

Science often regards humanity’s existence as depending on a delicate balance of forces in nature. These forces evolved this balance over a long time with perhaps trillions of iterations of trial and error in genetic combinations to get to us and our environment now.

With this in mind, think of the information that we must absorb in order for our life programs to exist, to continue, to improve. Food is not just energy that we consume to keep the machine going. Food contains genetic information that our bodies have evolved with since our beginnings. When we eat, we accept and integrate that information via our messenger RNA into our own DNA and are so modified. Genetic engineering tricks our cells into accepting new, unnatural information as if it were the familiar natural information.

Possible dangerous consequences may not appear right away, or even in the present lifetime of the unwitting victim, unlike the genetic damage caused by nuclear radiation, which seems to be limited to existent life. This makes genetically engineered products ingested by living beings even more dangerous than radiation poisoning. Why? Because once our DNA integrates the new information as if it were natural, the new characteristics will be passed on to the next generation and the next and the next. This is because it is not recognized as damaging and does not trigger the disabling of the germs of reproduction.

Bottom line: the closed testing of genetic engineering, before introduction into the environment, requires at least a couple of generations of experimentally reproduced human subjects. This is only rational. The present course is therefore irrational. I hope that nature somehow provides some remedy to our progeny to reverse or repair the results of our present craziness.

Pat Palmer
Normal Heights

A Lungfull

I was very alarmed to read your cover story on marijuana (“Shopping at Weedmart,” November 20). What your story did not say is that, yeah, marijuana has medicinal benefits; no, marijuana is not safe. That’s why the medical profession does not use it. If you’re going to smoke anything into your lungs, you’re going to get bronchitis or cancer. The human body is not fit for smoking. You’ve got to have your head up your a** to think that it is. The people you talked to who have medical issues have better alternatives, such as Chinese medicine, ayurvedic medicine, or acupuncture. Those things have been proven safe and effective.

Paul Lang
San Carlos

Pop Crop

The group that advocates legalization, or decriminalization, of marijuana in the U.S. is aiming at the wrong target (“Shopping at Weedmart,” Cover Story, November 20). Times are tough here, but a majority of citizens still won’t support relaxing laws against pot. The crisis south of the border is much more dire than it is here. All of the main sources of revenue in Mexico are dwindling. Money from oil, tourism, and remittances from abroad are all down. They desperately need another source of revenue. Legalizing marijuana would solve those problems. The drug wars would become unnecessary. Tourists would return in greater numbers. Mexican farmers would have a very popular crop to grow. The farmers could produce different kinds and potencies of pot. The idea may sound strange, but what is the better alternative — legalizing the happy weed or chaos?

deuelwoodwardjr
via email

Weed Limit

In the opening paragraph of this story (“Shopping at Weedmart,” Cover Story, November 20), Joseph O’Brien writes, “Colleen Daley lives on a sunburnt patch of overzoned Chula Vista real estate. She is besieged by the odoriferous crosscurrents of wafting grease and the crackling bark of drive-in order speakers — her one-bedroom ranch is surrounded by fast-food joints. And that’s where she thinks her problems as a marijuana farmer started.”

Considering that she suffers from multiple sclerosis and might benefit medically from using cannabis, I suppose it would be churlish of me to suggest that her problems as a marijuana farmer started when she decided to grow a crop the cultivation of which over a certain limit and, despite the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, remains a prosecutable offense under federal law.

Conway Redding
via email

There’s No Nothingness

I found misleading Rabbi Leonard Rosenthal’s response to the question “What happens when we die?” quoted by Matthew Lickona in the October 30 Letters column (“Answer, Rabbi”).

It is true, as Rabbi Rosenthal says, that “Judaism has a range of beliefs,” but “once you’re dead, you’re dead, and there’s nothing afterwards” is not one of them. No doubt there are Jews who have departed so far from traditional Judaism as to believe this. However, it has not been one of Judaism’s “range of beliefs” since ancient times when that opinion of the Sadducees was repudiated (Talmud, Sanhedrin 90a-91b).

The rabbi’s “simple answer” (“we don’t know”) is correct so far as the details of the afterlife are concerned, which in any religion must be imagined based on faith rather than knowledge. But missing from his response was any mention of Judaism’s unwavering assertion that all things, including the condition of our souls in the afterlife, lie in God’s hands. Whatever particular images of life after death Judaism does have — resurrection, purgation, temporary hell, reincarnation, the world to come — Judaism teaches that we, like everything in the universe, exist within the will of the Creator. Hence, it cannot be that even in death we could fall into total nothingness out of the mind of God, which, being eternal, must hold us eternally if it holds us now. “There’s nothing afterward” is therefore not a possibility that Judaism (as distinct from doubting individuals) admits.

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Comments

Josh Board Dec. 3, 2008 @ 3:12 p.m.

Hey Metal Man, first, thanks for your kind words regarding my music reviews/write ups in the past. Although you are completely wrong on Pyschotic Waltz. My boss asked me to write the piece, and if memory serves, one member didn't want to talk to me, and said it was because he had some falling out with another band member. Nothing else in that story was negative. I was simply putting the comments in from the band, as to what they were doing "now". I know one dude was mad about the story (I think it was the cat that owned Blue Meanie Records), but I'm not even sure why. If you could print, or tell me, what was negative about the story, I'd love to hear it. I didn't do one bit of editorializing on it (ie "this heavy metal band has music that sucks...it's like Spinal Tap without the humor). It was simply a "where are they now?" piece, since the band appeared on the cover of the Reader 25 years ago, or some such thing.

Regarding my Crasher column, sorry you aren't fond of it. I've seen in the past, you've written many letters to the editor. Sometimes you're on point, other times you sound like an idiotic know-it-all that gets facts wrong. Maybe it's you, that wishes you were a writer, and someone "important" instead of someone that merely comments on what others write. Your letters are always welcome. From what I remember in some, you do have a knowledge of music.

And, in regards to my "quest to find a party worth writing about." I've never said, or even implied, that's the case. I once heard from people that had a company beach party in O'side. They said, "Wow, you made our party sound fun and exciting." The party was in fact, a bit on the slow side. Nobody really had a lot to say, not many activities going, just some BBQ. But the few events that did occur (tug of war, frisbee), I wrote about, and tried my best to make it funny.

But just for you, I'll try to be a little less mundane in my writing style.

(by the way, if Metal isn't your real last name...it was a goofy nom de plume)

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towelheadedcameljockey Dec. 4, 2008 @ 6:40 p.m.

I started reading the Reader because of the Crasher column. I was at a party that Josh wrote about. Prior to that, I never heard of his column. Although I really didn't get a chance to speak with him much, when I saw the write up I really liked how he put everything together and have been checking back on the Reader website ever since.

I'm glad I got reeled in. I enjoy all the standard weekly columns and think the staff writers are damn talented. The best part is they all have a totally different writing style. It's obvious many people out there like the Crasher column and his writing style. I'm guessing that's why he keeps getting invited to these parties, where people are excited to have him.

What's unfortunate is when they don't write the column how they want, they then write in letters stating "his writing is lame". Just because a business isn't plugged, or we hear about how someone totally went banana's, or we hear his take on what he did, instead of about what the person who's complaining did.

After noticing that the recent few letters which have been published over the last few weeks regarding the Crasher are either from people who didn't like the way their party was written up, or from someone who's friends band wasn't represented exactly how they wanted, I thought I'd post my opinion as a reader who is a fan, and knows many fans of the Crasher column.

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Fred Williams Dec. 5, 2008 @ 6:14 a.m.

Josh slams down a pint of whiskey and thows the empty bottle out the window to shatter on the street. Cutting off a minivan filled with children, he pulls the boardmobile into a modest residential neighborhood. Cruising the quiet streets, he scans up and down looking for the tell-tale signs. "What innocent soul can I malign and slander in my amazingly important Reader column..??

"Ah, there's a party right here!"

Josh double parks the boardmobile in front of a fire hydrant, brushes past the blood and hair encrusted bumper, still sporting hopeful McCain/Palin stickers, and presents himself at the front door.

Music thumps behind closed doors. A cluster of overweight teenagers wearing black t-shirts gape at new arrival and marvel at his costume.

"It's Josh Board, the Party Predator," fat boy whispers to chunky friends. Josh smiles down on them, and they glimpse the tips of his fangs. He raises a finger, and flicks it in their direction. The kids scatter, falling down on the lawn, butt cracks showing as they scramble down the street howling.

The door opens.

"Welcome to the P...uh, wait, NO!"

The hostess tries to slam the door shut, but Josh has his foot in the door.

"I'm from the Reader. There's nothing you can do to stop me!" Josh raises his digital camera and, in a bright flash, steals the woman's soul.

"I've got you now. You're property of Jim Holman and his demonic cohorts. Potter and Bauder'll roast your shanks, carve them up, and serve them with nachos and chili-fries to homeless drug addicts at Mayor Sander's home in Kensington...Bwaaa Haaaa Haaaa!"

Robert and Tony arrive to protect justice, truth, and freedom. Josh turns from his innocent victim, sees the two vigilantes jogging his way, and bares his fangs.

"How dare you disturb my EVIL!"

Your knees would shake, but the intrepid fighters for truth and the American way stand firm.

"You should be nice." Says Robert.

"Yeah, and don't ever write embarrassing stuff about people." Says Tony.

"And don't criticize people's parties, man." Robert continues.

Josh's eyes widen, and he steps back with one arm raised to fend off the brutal attacks. The vigilantes press their advantage.

"You're like, not even a good writer too."

"You've got poor taste."

Josh stumbles to his knees, and begins crawling, gasping for breath, heading for the boardmobile as he is pursued, step by agonizing step, by his righteous tormenters.

"You stain the reputation of the Reader."

"Void of creative writing skills, nah, nah, neh-nah, nah!"

Josh pulls himself into his black, dented, rusting heap.

Tony and Robert turn to the hostess, and are met with a glare.

"You mean, you wanted Josh to write about your party?"

"Duh. I invited him. I love his stuff."

"Oh. Ahhhhh."

"Yeah. Hmmmmm."

"Hey, Josh! Josh! Come back!"

"Yeah. We're sorry, dude."

"Oh, dang it. Now he's gone."

"Whoops. My bad."

Tony and Robert slink away.

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jfeala Dec. 5, 2008 @ 6:42 p.m.

Hey Fred_Williams, that was good, would you mind standing in for the Crasher once in a while?

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Fred Williams Dec. 6, 2008 @ 9:51 a.m.

The Reader's writers are top-notch, jfeala.

I've considered submitting stories, but...well, I'd rather just make stuff up. Honestly, I'm simply too lazy to do real research and reporting and fact checking and re-writing.

It's too much like W-O-R-K. I already do that stuff in the IT industry for more money, so it would take something different to attract my interest.

Now if they have an opening for a lazy guy who writes weird stuff that makes little sense, I'm the man.

But when it comes to the hard work of reporting on light topics through the Party Crasher, I'll let Josh put in all the effort and endure all the insults. Surely, he's not paid enough for all the crap he takes online.

When it comes to REAL reporting, Don Bauder and Matt Potter have forgotten more than I could ever hope to learn. Dorian Hargrove's work on neighborhood issues is something I really admire too. There's a lot of talent available every Thursday for free in the Reader, and I'm grateful for what the Reader does.

Why do people whine so much?

Those who criticize Josh Board are kinda missing the whole point. His articles are light entertainment, not a permanent record of "The Truth", but one guys take on what he experiences at various places. He writes with his readers in mind, and that's going to take him places that Burl Stiff would never go.

If you just want candy coated "it was such a cool party and I love everyone", then don't read Josh's articles. Try the UT's "Society Columnist" Burl Stiff...(uh, yeah...I know, but it's his real name. He's a "buddy" of David's, you know?)

Now, If you really love reading nonsensical crap like I put out, then please send multiple letters to the Reader requesting that they publish me regularly...please be sure to mention that they ought to pay me gobs and gobs of money too, okay? I'm sure the advertisers are all just waiting on tippy-toes to buy big spreads nearby anything I'd write.

Get writing those letters!

(By the way, jfeala. It's stunning how very attractive you are online, and how fresh your breath is. Did I mention that I really like what you've done with your hair? Don't tell MsGrant or JulieParrots that we're seeing each other, okay?)

:-)

Fred

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MsGrant Dec. 6, 2008 @ 10:37 a.m.

Ooooohh, boy, now you've done it! This is not Big Love, Fred. I will sweep up the scraps of my dignity and move forward with my comment.

If people do not like Josh Board's column, pray tell, why does he keep getting invited to parties? I'm going to invite him to my next party. And I am not going to go all apes*** if he doesn't make it sound like the Burl Stiff fete of the century. So there.

Fred, you have some splainin to do.

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Fred Williams Dec. 6, 2008 @ 11:03 a.m.

It was just an innocent blog comment, honey!

Don't blow it up all out of proportion. Sure, jfeala and I were necking on the couch at that party Josh was invited to, but I was drunk, and so was she...at least I hope jfeala is a she...

I'm sorry, MsGrant. I'll make it up to you.

Tell you what. Since I'm a traditionalist, I'll go find some severed plant genitals bound together with a rubber band. Would that work?

Fred the Filanderer

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JulieParrots Dec. 6, 2008 @ 11:35 a.m.

Ahhh...(stretching out her wings) You know Reverend Williams, there is always room for one more...

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MsGrant Dec. 6, 2008 @ 2:09 p.m.

Mmmph. You will have to do better than that. I think you know what that means. I will provide the rubber bands.

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