Regarding "In Search of the Boise Mystique" (12/16/04): So. Cal transplants, houses built in 60 days, and gutting regulation? Hold on -- just hold on. This Spokane vs. Boise thing is crazy. I am no economist or regional planning wonk, but I do know that Spokane has gotten a lot better since I moved here in 1999. I'm out a lot and I'm meeting new young (under 35) bright people everyday, and a good number of them are from Spokane or from the surrounding area. We really have something great here: the river and a vast range of recreation opportunities right on the edge of the city. And it will all be destroyed if we start weakening regulations, promoting sprawling sub-divisions that are built in two months, and calling all the people in Southern California asking them to come on up with their freeway-strip mall lifestyles in tow.
At the same time, I have lost some really good friends (including a long-term girlfriend) to the "I can't stand Spokanistan disease," but it has more do to with how local government treats homeless people, how many of our fellow residents are bigots, and how most of the jobs here (and in Boise) are 9-to-5 make-someone-else-rich jobs, and less to do with living in a quickly manufactured house.
Furthermore, these people (my friends) are not running to Boise -- they're still running to Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, and New York. I might also add that these are people who are well educated and worked hard in meaningful careers here in Spokane as journalists, college instructors, and community activists.
The only thing I agree with in the whole series is that we need to hold the fort and remake this place for ourselves. I applaud the group of younger people out there who have invested their political, financial, and social capital to make this a much better place. And I challenge the young people who complain how bad Spokane is to go out and try to make it better, instead of running away.
I enjoyed your "Modern World" cartoon especially much last week (12/23/04). I can't think of anything more representative of what this red, white and blue American thinks of Christian fundamentalism than Tom Tomorrow's cartoon of the fundamentalist, Bill O'Reilly.
I know that Bill O'Reilly is about as Christian as a kosher turkey, because most true, humble Christians are not at all like him. He represents Christian drug addicts like Rush Limbaugh and fundamentally dishonest politicians like Tom Delay and, of course, sex addicts like O'Reilly himself. But what Bill and Rush and Tom do represent is what always happens when you give a Christian too much power. They always abuse it. O'Reilly represents the "Christian with too much power" to a tee: loud, angry, bullying, uncharitable, self-righteous, posturing, vainglorious, narrow-minded and stupid. To think of himself as representing Christianity is a picture of the ludicrous in man's clothing.
Bill also reminds us of why the framers of the Constitution wanted to make sure that government doesn't get in the business of religion. Imagine O'Reilly in the position of forcing his religion on the rest of us? What in heaven's name would restrain his excesses?
Finally, though, I want your readers to imagine what I frequently imagine. Imagine a world without Muslim, Christian and Jewish fundamentalists. Can you picture it? There, do you feel the peace settling over the globe? I do.
Cable Is Too Much
Comcast is way too costly to enjoy each month. Cable companies keep raising the monthly bill. The City Council just added to it. Most channels are not needed. Frankly, Comcast Cable is a waste of money. Personally, I've got 10 channels on TV to watch -- six channels to enjoy, two are just there, two more are religious, one of them an Adventist station that I wish I didn't have. It's all I ever need and a lot cheaper that way.
Byron D. Potter
Soy to the World
The past year has witnessed major national wins and losses. The Republicans won by retaining political power in the November elections. The Democrats won because they are not stuck with the losing battle for a democratic Iraq.
On the domestic front, we've been losing the battle for our health, with obesity assuming epidemic proportions. We've been losing the battle for our environment, with more animal wastes dumped in our water supplies. And we've been losing the battle for our soul, with more and more animals subjected to factory farm and slaughterhouse atrocities.
Amazingly, each of us can do a great deal to turn this around with one simple New Year's resolution: replace meat and dairy products in our diet with wholesome and delicious vegetables, fresh fruits, beans, and whole grains. With every supermarket featuring a large variety of soy-based veggie burgers and dogs, deli slices, ready-to-eat frozen dinners, ice cream, and soymilk, it's got to be the easiest resolution we will ever keep.