Experiential Wisdom

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[Re: Pop Culture, “Be a God,” Dec. 11-17] I’m getting tired of Ben Radford, apparently the Alibi’s skeptic-in-residence. He seems to be fixated on the concept of "religious hypocrisy." We Buddhists would recommend he let go of the concept and try to relax. Sure, there is religious hypocrisy, but truly spiritual beliefs feed, clothe and shelter a lot of people in the world.

Maybe Ben’s next "game" could have all the pieces be men in suits, some with nuclear weapons (military contractors), some with foreclosure notices or pink slips (Wall Street hustlers and bankers). Talk about playing God with people’s lives.

Letters American Muscle

In response to Thomas Schifani’s letter regarding the auto industry bailout [ “Balls-Out Bailout,” Dec. 11-17], I would like to make it clear that these companies are asking for a loan , not a bailout. The collapse of the auto industry would remove hundreds of thousands of jobs in the short term and the trickle down effect would remove even more in the long run. Such a failure could possibly spark a worldwide depression. Schifani’s opinion seems to be crafted from hearsay and conspiracy theory-like ramblings.

I drive a 2003 Ford Escort ZX2 and fully expect it to last for 200k miles. As a general rule, larger engines wear out faster because they have more moving parts and undergo more stress. U.S. auto makers have traditionally used more large engines than foreign companies, causing the average life expectancy of a U.S. built car to be shorter. The idea that these companies are profiting from creating an inferior product is simply irrational. Yes, these companies have found themselves in this position because of short-sighted, irresponsible, profit-driven behavior, but that is to be expected in the unregulated market environment the U.S. government has created.

Please become educated on these issues. That is the only way we can hope to move in the right direction. Stop browsing MySpace all day and go to pbs.org or another reliable, non-corporate news source.

Letters Thank You Note

Even if it weren’t the holiday season, I would still feel inclined to stay pleasant and cheerful in the tone of this letter to the car stereo thief of Dec. 10, 2008. My parents instilled me with a philosophy at a young age, and I try to live by it. Simply put, it goes like this: "Greet with a smile even the uninvited guests at the door."

So, let me begin: Dear Car Stereo Thief, thank you for not removing from my pickup the few personal items I’d yet to put in their appropriate places—the license plate and tags I’d purchased the day of your break in, my Disneyland travel mug and the dust-gathered Halloween card from my mom.

Secondly, I appreciate the first, but surely not the last, experience of being, as they call it on television, "robbed." I was not ecstatic at seeing a perfectly good manual control window shattered across the floor and seats, but it was during the ride home—on a brisk, teeth-chattering night after work—that I came to truly appreciate the basic, until then overlooked, function of that single pane of glass. As the cranked heater tried and failed to compete with the bone-chilling gusts of wind coming through the gaping hole in the passenger door, I realized not just that I was cold, but that I had until that moment failed to ever give thanks for the most basic function of that window. You opened my eyes, and having shards of this once intact pane now creating a tinge in my seat, I realized how I had taken for granted the beauties of automotive life. I have you to thank, so thank you.

And lastly, the stereo. That is, after all, what you were after when you violated the once sound structure of a helpless windowpane. I realize now that the stereo, too, had lived a life of underappreciation. It had served me well for a while, but I cannot say whether it was a Sony, Pioneer or Samsung. "Gone" is the only name I’ve put to it in recent days.

Since your hard knocking at my door, dear car stereo thief, I’ve come to see how devoid of gratefulness I’ve been with regard to my personal possessions. The uninvited guest could be someone who brings unexpected wisdom or condolence, as some of life’s surprises do. But he or she could also be one who robs the smiley-faced host of those hard-worked-for "things." Either way, I’ve been taught to accept it and grow from it.

Indeed, you have taught me something, and while I do not look forward to window shopping for a replacement on this 11-year-old truck, I do wish you the best of luck in trying to sell, to pawn shops I assume, the shiny, button-clad—and for two years now—completely functionless, mute and, in a word, "broken," stereo you dislocated from my console.

Merry Christmas,

Letters To Protect And Serve?

[Re: Civil Rights, “Protester Loses Civil Rights Fight,” Dec. 18-24] In a city filled with aggressive police officers, this kind of scenario happens frequently. You constantly hear police defend their violence by saying things like, "They were acting erratically." Capt. Gonzales probably did see hate in their eyes, but I’d bet that it was after the police started using tear gas and pepper spray. Also, when did it become legal to incarcerate someone without reading them their Miranda rights? I understand that police officers have to catch the "bad guy." I understand the danger and stress they face every day. What I don’t understand is how they can consider unarmed college students peacefully protesting dangerous. I guess what I want to say to the police is, "Remember, we are civilians. Exercise as much restraint as possible at all times. Your job is to protect and serve. By violating our civil rights and using unnecessary force, you’re only encouraging greater civil unrest. By treating all of us like criminals, you ruin our trust and faith in you. This unconcerned, heavy-handed treatment of civilians is unacceptable. The only message you sent to us that day is that you can’t be trusted to protect our civil rights and freedoms. Remember, trust is earned."

Letters should be sent with the writer’s name, address and daytime phone number via e-mail to letters@alibi.com. They can also be faxed to (505) 256-9651. Letters may be edited for length and clarity, and may be published in any medium; we regret that owing to the volume of correspondence we cannot reply to every letter. Word count limit for letters is 300 words.

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