¡Que Viva!

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I enjoy reading your humorous and thought-provoking column, “¡Ask a Mexican!" I feel it promotes cultural understanding between New Mexicans and "Old" Mexicans. Gracias.

The Really Real Side

Is there any “real” reason for Jim Scarantino’s weekly diatribe in the Alibi ? He seems to want to be Albuquerque’s very own local, talking head in the same vein as Rush, Hannity or O’Reilly. They share a dialogue with no “real” intelligent alternatives to the issues they love to pontificate about. It seems that whenever I bother to read I always come to the same conclusion: What’s the point? The Alibi needs to realize that although the obligatory footnote (at the bottom of each of Mr. Scarantino’s editorials) claims that his editorial reflects the opinion of only the author, the Alibi is really the lead supporter of his self-absorbed rancor. Recently, I took a look at Mr. Scarantino’s so-called blog, and guess what I found? Nothing! That’s right, a blog with only one participant, Jimmy himself. So get on the ball, Alibi , stop providing this little fish with a big pond audience. Don’t we have better things to read?

Castigation Nation

I wish to castigate your editorial staff for failing to properly control what you publish.

While this is still the land of the free and people are entitled to their own opinions, they do not have the right to spew outright anti-Semitism. A few weeks ago, Eric Griego attacked Israel and now Jim Scarantino said, and I quote, “state sponsored terrorism it practiced” and his remark “Israel’s devastation of Lebanon.”

What would they do if someone stuck a finger in their eye?

The Israelis were careful to warn civilians in Lebanon of the targets, which allowed Hezbollah a chance to escape in the same manner our own troops are telegraphing the intentions in Iraq.

I suggest in the future you be more circumspect in what you print. While I don’t condone censorship, discretion is the key.

Don't Let Zealots Fly Planes

The end is near. After five years of increasingly intrusive security procedures, we are fast approaching the ultimate conclusion of airline mania. Soon there will be no carry-on luggage.

At such a time, it is important to consider the state of your existence. Can you live without your laptop? Without contact solution? Without toothpaste? Have you the inner peace to meditate calmly for six hours while occupying a space smaller and less comfortable than a coffin? What if you’re next to a screaming baby? What if, perchance, that baby is your own and not inclined to endure its deprivations as stoically as yourself?

It is important, in these times, to recall why we do things, to remember what it’s all for. It is important at times like these to remember that we suffer each delay, each inconvenience, each indignity for … no reason at all.

That’s right, there is no meaning or purpose to airline security. The scans, searches and restrictions are but empty rituals; you take your shoes off for your own spiritual benefit.

Think about it. Deep down you know it’s true. The point of airline security is not to keep some zealot from killing everyone on the plane. That would be the height of idiocy, since it is far easier to kill people by bombing a theater or an overpass or even the airport security line. The purpose of airport security was supposed to be to prevent zealots from turning passenger planes into guided missiles, but this goal is very easily accomplished: Don’t let zealots fly planes.

To prevent unwanted aviators we need only take a minimum of precautions: Seal the cockpit doors and disallow equipment and substances capable of opening them without disabling the plane. This does not require impounding sewing scissors, baby formula or even swiss army knives. For a fraction of the expense we have incurred on completely irrelevant security procedures, we might have refitted every plane’s cockpit door to withstand a substantial assault. In the future, we could do even better; it is a relatively simple engineering problem to redesign airplanes so that the cockpit and the cabin are separated by an unbroken wall more robust than the surrounding airplane. A terrorist might still blow up such a plane, but why bother? It’s so much easier to sabotage a rail line.

But man was made to suffer, and such rational solutions were never meant to be. I have no doubt we will continue to waste everyone’s time and money in a desperate effort to achieve not safety, but the illusion of safety. If airport security serves any purpose at all it is as an opiate to the masses. It is a foul and distasteful drug that causes much discomfort, but one which we seem ever to become more strongly addicted to.

So the next time you’re being patted up for your belt buckle, remember to stop and smell the roses. These are the good old days. Someday, someday soon, you’ll be called upon to cast your worldly possessions to the exigencies of the check baggage system. And then where will you be?


CORRECTION: In our Oct. 12-18 Commentary, “It’s What’s For Dinner,” we wrote that fecal coliform levels in the portion of the Rio Grande that runs through Albuquerque are 20 to 30 times the federal standard on an average day. The figure should have been attributed to Steven Glass, chair of the Ciudad Soil and Water Conservation District, who reported the numbers in a 2005 interview with the Alibi . Furthermore, a 2005 New Mexico Environment Department water quality report shows that, on an average day, fecal coliform levels in that section of the river do not surpass state requirements.

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.

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