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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?

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.

In case Mr. Richard, the letter writer, is more than merely curious but, like many of us, is seeking some authority for hope, he may appreciate knowing that in traditional Judaism among the blessings recited three times every day is one which acknowledges that God “brings the dead to life.” The Talmud (Sanhedrin 91a) also records the following exchange: To a skeptic who asked, “If even the living die, shall the dead live?” Rabbi Gebiha son of Pesisa replied, “If what did not live lives now, surely what lives now will live again.”

Gideon Rappaport

Duh, What?

This is a question concerning John Brizzolara’s article “I Feel My Liver Donor’s Presence” in the November 13 Reader. He’s talking about a liver-transplant patient, David Clark, and he quotes Mr. Clark on page 50, the second column, as saying, “I wasn’t real happy with the endgame part of the carrot on that particular episode.” It’s a very interesting story, but what does that sentence mean? Is it garbled or what? Would somebody please translate that?

Name Withheld

The sentence should have read, “I wasn’t real happy with the endgame on that particular episode.” — Editor

The Clinical-Trials People

Elizabeth Marro is to be congratulated on the candor and perceptiveness of her article about human clinical trials (“Hi, Connie. We’re Ready for You,” Cover Story, November 13). This article has filled in the missing link with some information from the point of view of the clinical-trial subject that simply is not usually available to the primary investigator in such matters.

I am a medical doctor and psychiatrist and have been primary investigator in a number of clinical trials over the past 20 years. I have been serving as the primary investigator of a clinical trial of a natural substance for San Diego.

When I ran clinical trials of psychotropic drugs for a large Midwestern university, I believed with all my heart that clinical trials were of benefit to the drug company for the collection of powerful data to improve treatments, as well as of benefit to the patient. As I truly believed with all my heart, we were simply making available treatments that were not yet commercially available to treatment-resistant patients who were suffering. I noticed even then that a large amount of the patients whom we recruited were the uninsured and those who probably could not afford any care other than the clinical trial. I felt I was giving them a wonderful chance. I always felt, as I do in my current work, that patient health is paramount, that a patient must be pulled from a clinical trial if another treatment would be better. I knew that when I did such things at least some people were unhappy because they wouldn’t receive the full compensation for completing the trial. I thought it was just a different viewpoint. What I could not see then is that we are developing a separate subpopulation of people who do clinical trials. These are people who need compensation to live — compensation which may be directly proportional to the risks, even risk of death, that may accompany a clinical trial. Once there were a few “creative” people who would get an occasional clinical-trials job to get out of a scrape or, in the more famous case of El Mariachi director Robert Rodriguez, to finance a movie.

Now there is a body of citizens who use the clinical trial to make a living. Many people are against using animals in clinical research because they consider this cruelty. Recent data eloquently presented in the Reader by Elizabeth Marro establishes correctly that recent trials locally involving blood products may have been responsible for higher death rates and that some recent clinical studies in the United Kingdom have caused Europeans to revisit clinical-trials criteria.

My recent clinical work has been far removed from either universities or pharmaceutical companies. I have been clinically studying natural substances. Nobody involved with any of my interests has enough money to compensate patients.

I have received countless telephone calls from would-be patients who hang up when they learn I can offer only a minimal compensation for mileage.

If research on animals is inhumane, then research on humans can only be worse. There seem to be plenty of people in America who are genuinely dependent upon money received from clinical trials. Usually the clinical-trial protocols aren’t equipped with controls to detect people who deceive in order to evade dismissal or prolong their participation and earn more money. We are foolish to trust the veracity of the scientific data they provide.

We are inhuman in terms of our own ethics. We simply cannot let this practice continue. The USA, once the first country to have workable social programs, now obviously has inadequate ones for these people to even exist. We have review boards that check the ethics of practices of human research. Their power is restricted to interpretation of a series of criteria in a meticulous way. It is time to do something about the criteria. They have not been examined in the light of current social realities.

There is an amazing amount of knowledge streaming from high-quality science endorsing natural and nondrug treatments.

We cannot permit the clinical-trials establishment to be a weak and poor substitute for inadequate social programs.

We must stop the human experiments right now. Review the human ethics. We know plenty about how to heal people. Let us simply heal the people, without exposing them to risks in the name of commercial profit. This may present a problem for large institutions, like universities, which have allowed thousands of trials — run now more often by commercial organizations — to pay them. The bias is evident, but it is removable. There is plenty of good human clinical science, perhaps some older or less flashy, to teach healers how to cure patients. Only by letting go immediately of the clinical-research-money bias can educational institutions win the faith of a questioning, angered public.

Stop human clinical research, at least until all ethical guidelines are reviewed.

We as doctor-healers must go back to our ancient roots.

Primum non nocere — first, do no harm.

Preserve and increase the quality of human life at all costs.

Estelle Toby Goldstein, M.D.
San Diego

Brass Tacks Needed

Poor Rico Gardiner (Letters, November 13). All he does is offer a bit of well-intended and constructive criticism of San Diego so that the poor sods unfortunate enough to live here might somehow better themselves and their benighted burg, and what does he get for his pains, naught but abuse. Sadly, such is often the lot of those of superior intellect who stoop to show lesser minds the errors of their ways. Hoping for a lively and elevated discussion, Rico instead has scorn and vituperation heaped upon him. But what else could he expect from witless troglodytes?

Perhaps part of this stems from Gardiner’s habit of denying city status to San Diego. Maybe if he were to explain to us what makes a real city such as San Francisco as opposed to an ersatz city like San Diego it would help to clarify matters. Unfortunately, Rico can only offer up vague generalities that leave little room for rebuttal since they are almost entirely lacking in substance. It would help if he got down to brass tacks.

He lauds his lone defender, attributing her higher intelligence to the fact that she hails from the Bay Area. I cannot argue with him there as I was also born and raised in the Bay Area.

San Francisco is indeed a great city. It is, however, not without its faults. For instance, the amount of litter and trash strewn up and down its streets is vastly greater than here in San Diego. The panhandlers are far more numerous and aggressive than here. And, finally, the homeless have a habit of constructing their cardboard wickiups right on Market Street in the heart of the financial district. But who knows, it may be that Rico regards such things as civic assets.

But one thing is certain, Mr. Mission Hills needs to be reminded that whining is the last refuge of the pathetic.

David Lathrap
Pacific Beach

What’s He Doing Here?

The letter submitted November 6, “Crasher Basher,” by Robert Lowth was so true, and it needed to be said. Robert is a very observant man. His profile of Josh Board was right on the money. Great job, Robert.

I have always been convinced that Josh B. and his “Crasher” column is beyond mundane. In fact, it wouldn’t even appeal to third graders. Also, I find it strange that Josh the party crasher is on this quest to find a party worth writing about. It is apparent he is void of creative writing skills. It’s very one-dimensional how he describes a party. There is no character to his storytelling. His way of writing is very generic and boring.

But on a more serious note, Josh Board appears to be a party predator who preys on innocent partygoers and criticizes the party in question, then writes about it in very poor taste. How deranged can you be? I can’t believe he gets paid to do this. How on earth is he employed by the Reader? Who would hire such a person?

However, I do recall Josh B., music critic for the Reader over half a decade ago. He wasn’t that bad until he interviewed two former members of local progressive metal band Psychotic Waltz in 2004. Josh could have written a nice story, but instead he caused some conflict based upon his lack of knowledge and history on what Psychotic Waltz has accomplished. Josh B. could have been sued for slander, but it never happened.

I understand why people are fed up with Josh and his sarcasm. I find it odd that there are those who enjoy his awful “Crasher” column and seem to defend him. In this day and age, I don’t know what to think, and I can’t believe he still works for the Reader. His occupation as the crasher is nothing to be proud of, especially when you are void of imagination, such as is the case with Josh Board.

The moral to this story is Josh Board is not a genuine writer, and it is unfortunate he stains the reputation within the Reader, and I know there are a thousand people out there that would agree. As a fan of the Reader for 25 years, my only concern is, I hope the Reader staff is aware of this situation. I can’t imagine Josh B. and the “Crasher” continuing on and on for years to come. That would be sinful.

Tony D. Metal
Spring Valley

Sign Man

On your October 16 cover you had a picture of Pavle Ikonic from Belgrade, Serbia (“Keep That Sign Moving”). He was very entertaining with his signboard. I would see him as I went by on the bus. I hope someone helped him get a better job because he took his job seriously. I hope he makes a good life for himself in America because the country needs people like him.

J. Warrington

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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)


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.


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.


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?


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?)




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.


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


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

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


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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