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How far will Mardi Gras crackdowns go?

Well, I see the thought police have been at it again, trampling on the First Amendment. I'm referring to the recent removal of the Facebook posting by some Poly students advocating the return of the most popular event in the city's history, Mardi Gras. We no longer enjoy Mardi Gras in SLO because of a disturbance that occurred near Cal Poly campus--nowhere near actual Mardi Gras events! Perhaps Cal Poly should be closed down rather than Mardi Gras--just a thought. Perhaps the actual cause of this disturbance was the policy of selective non-enforcement by the police over many years, as a means to end the celebration.

Now, I'm wondering if the SLO Swat Team will be called on to raid Farm Supply for having the temerity to advertise bare root roses of the Mardi Gras variety. Bare root Mardi Gras roses indeed! Who knows to what mischief this might lead?

Michael McGee

15th King, SLO Mardi Gras

San Luis Obispo




Show true courage in your next attack

I think we get the picture. Jerry James hates Bush (cartoon, Dec. 13). So what! These people put out all this anti-Bush stuff--fine, it's their right. But then we have to hear, if not the same folks, at least folks of their beliefs tell us how many rights we have lost. Does anyone really believe if so many civil liberties have been suspended or curtailed we would see the relentless attacks on this administration?

So pat yourself on the back, Jerry. Maybe you would like to go to Castro's Cuba, China, or North Korea and attack their administrations. Now that would be true courage.

Phillip Moffat

Morro Bay




Maybe my book can help

Suicide is all too familiar to me ("Putting the pieces together," Dec. 13). A dear loved one took her life about 10 years ago. And a friend, an ex-ASH psychiatric tech, killed himself a couple years ago.

I recently attended a suicide prevention program in Cambria, a town that was rocked by three suicides in a short period of time. (They had little in common, but it was alarming, and community response was encouraging). I don't recall that any of the professionals attending mentioned the issue of it possibly being "too nice to live here" for some, but based on your piece, it is something that needs to be examined closely.

I ran the Greener Pastures Institute, a nationwide rural relocation service, for many years. It was kind of an "on the job training" experience. My young family and I moved to Bend, Ore., in the early '80s. We did okay, started a business, and I worked part-time for the city. But I once wrote an essay titled "A Pauper in Paradise." That is no doubt how a lot of people who moved here and made inadequate plans to get established feel about themselves. In fact, when I first moved to the Central Coast, I couldn't afford to buy a house (and that was when housing was "cheap" in the early '90s), and I left for awhile. Believe me, there are much more affordable locales.

A lot of what I write/publish these days is to help people with limited finances. My book, Home Dreams for Hard Times, was given a lot of attention by New Times a few years ago. It reveals 20 strategies for home ownership or occupancy that are "out of the box." If it can help someone struggling, I want to make sure it gets to them. In the spirit of the holidays, I will donate copies to the first 25 people who e-mail me ([email protected]) with their physical addresses by the end of the month.

William Seavey





Get help if you need it

Thank you for last week's cover article ("Putting the pieces together") by Patrick Howe. This is such an important topic, since research shows 80 percent of us are likely to seriously consider suicide at some point in our lives. All the information about "what to know, what to do" can be summarized as "have trouble, get help." And keep getting help until you have the information or support that you need.

Knowing about depression is particularly important, since the majority--but not all--of the people who complete suicide have struggled with depression before considering suicide. Symptoms of depression for adults can include having a persistent sad or empty mood feeling hopeless, worthless, or guilty fatigue or loss of interest in once pleasurable activities and persistent physical symptoms or pains that do not respond to treatment. Adolescents with depression may have some of these symptoms, and may also have persistent unhappiness, negativity, irritability uncontrollable anger or outbursts of rage and preoccupation with death themes in literature, music, and drawings. They may speak of death repeatedly, and may have a fascination with guns or knives.

If you recognize yourself or a loved one in these descriptions, reach out. There's more great information and support out there, on the web, and in our community. Have trouble, get help!

Thank you again, Patrick and New Times.

Mary Kunz

Hospice of San Luis Obispo County

Dave Mayfield

County Mental Health

Mike Bossenberry





New Times fulfills its journalistic dictum

Whenever a letter to the editor with personal remarks against the author of a published letter ("A lack of understanding breeds fear," Nov. 8), in the same medium, is published, it is a journalistic requirement that a civil response, in defense, should be published.

New Times has not practiced this journalistic dictum by refusing to publish my letter in response, especially in view of the non-relevance of the personal remarks against me and to make matters worse by using an alias for my name.

Brahama D. Sharma at no time took sides as to whether Diablo Canyon nuclear plant is or is not a present danger to the residents of SLO County. Furthermore, Brahama D. Sharma never minimized the dangers of specific chemical spills. These are never a hazard for posterity as is the nuclear waste, and to chide Brahama D. Sharma in this regard was clearly the height of irrationality. Brahama D. Sharma as a physical chemistry student undertook extensive study of the subject of nuclear chemistry in addition to other advanced subjects that were directly related to the discipline of physics. Please note that Brahama D. Sharma is not devoid of understanding the various aspects as to how nuclear reactions are put to use in the technology to generate electrical energy.

Brahama D. Sharma

Pismo Beach




Sometimes, torture is necessary

Ken McCalips' diatribe on the war and torture lacks creditability ("An American Dark Age," Dec. 13). Let's get real. War is hell, and we are at war! It started on 9/11, not when we invaded Iraq! We are dealing with evil people who do not follow the rules of war!

Would the president have resorted to the torture of one man to stop the murder of all those citizens killed on 9/11? I would hope so--and if he doesn't have the will to do this to protect us, he shouldn't be president! How else are we going to handle religious fanatics who will torture you and take your head off, who are determined to use torture and suicide bombings as terrorist tactics?

The discretionary infliction of physical or mental stress as a means of coercion in gaining the truth from a conspirator or enemy who desires to murder innocents with the intention to terrorize is appropriate and necessary. Let's not play games with "politically correct" semantics. If torture or any form of physical and psychological coercion such as "water boarding" is required to learn the truth from a terrorist, then these techniques must be used.

Otis Page

Arroyo Grande




Allow me to inform you of cyclists' rights

I am writing to inform motorists of the rights of bicyclists. Many motorists believe that since they are bigger they should have the right-of-way. As an example, I was recently riding my bicycle up Marsh Street, going to Nipomo Street. About 100 yards before the Nipomo/Marsh intersection, I put my left arm out so I could get into the left lane. I looked back--no cars were approaching--and I moved into the far left lane so I could turn left on Nipomo.

California Vehicle Code states that bicyclists should stay to the far right of the road with one of many exceptions being when making a left turn. This is what I did, leaving two lanes for motorists to use. As I was riding along, a woman passed me, looked at me, and yelled "Get over!" Luckily, no one was in front of her because there could have been an accident with her taking her eyes off the road.

Next, a person behind me decided to honk his/her horn at me. When the driver was done trying to deafen me, he passed, giving me a gracious 2-inch clearance. I guess this was to remind me that he drives a weapon that weighs much more than my bike.

Richard Gentry

San Luis Obispo




Lead or get out of the way

Our government is a bully on the world playground that takes no responsibility for its actions. America's contribution to climate change affects every country on the planet. But we, as a nation, let our government hide from its responsibility to lessen the climate footprint we are making. Our "Bully Government" wants no quotas--they would not be "fair" to our economy. Our leaders point their finger at China and India, while America does nothing meaningful.

Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards of 35 MPI by 2020? A puny act by a puny government! At world climate negotiations in Bali, an environmental activist representing Papua New Guinea told the United States, to rousing cheers: "If you're not willing to lead, please get out of the way."

After two weeks, America agreed to work with the rest of the world. We claimed victory because the document contains no quotas. Our Bully Government pretends to negotiate, but holds out for exactly what it wants.

How can we stop our government from misrepresenting our beliefs to the world? We all want to save our planet for our children and our children's children. Scientists tell us what needs to be done. Al Gore has confronted the Bully and given us a road map to action.

We need say to our leaders, "If you drag your feet on global warming, we will leave you in the dust." We need to tell every candidate running for office, "Lead on the issue of climate change, or get out of the way!"

Gale McNeeley

Santa Maria




We need to stand by Israel

As Israel tries to make peace with its neighbors, let us not forget that this small democracy is under attack by terrorists every day. We must stand by Israel and not let the dictators of the Middle East vote it out of existence.


Wallace Schwam


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