The Human Infestation
Shoot to cull: I agree that sea lion overcrowding is a complex issue and certainly not merely the result of environmental protection laws or animal sanctuaries ["Infestation Explanation," Letters, 10/14]. However, one devolves into the same antihuman arguments that ironically only humans are capable of making when arguing that humans are an infestation. Those who make this argument never seem willing to volunteer to reduce the problem by offering themselves up as a sacrifice. Shouldn't they be doing their part by committing suicide? Their carcasses could be thrown to the starving sea lions for food.
But seriously: Major population growth is primarily occurring in Third World countries, where people have limited access to birth control (and health care in general) and have cultural and economic incentives to have many children in order to provide workers for family farms and a safety net for parents in their elder years.
If people are concerned about high human population growth, then they shouldn't preach to people in the U.S. or other developed countries who have small families, but rather get out there and help eliminate global poverty and hunger and increase educational and economic opportunities for people around the world.
As for sea lions, if their natural predators have been severely reduced, for whatever reasons, and the sea lions are now crowding each other out and competing for insufficient resources, which leads to high rates of disease and mass starvation — then it would seem that the quickest and most compassionate means of restoring the "natural balance" would be to permit limited hunting to thin the population. Or perhaps scientists could devise a means of contraception to prevent sea lions from having so many pups until the population stabilizes.
Diploma Mills vs. Universities
You say potato: So what is the big difference between what these colleges do to fleece students and what regular universities do ["Stimulus Wreckage," Matt Smith, Feature, 9/30]? Inferior or uninterested teachers? Just because someone has a Ph.D. in their field doesn't mean they can teach. I don't know about California colleges, but here in Kansas, the professors are evaluated on what they publish or research, so a lot of the tenured (and highest-paid) staff could care less if any of the 400 students in the mass lecture hall actually learn something or not.
Inflating job numbers? Universities often hide actual employment or income statistics in their fields, or downplay them with lofty ideas like "Pursue your dreams and the money will follow." Finally, I wonder if some of this pressure [to monitor the business practices of for-profit schools] is coming from the universities themselves, jealous of the competition?
Overland Park, Kan.
Matt Smith and Wesson
Concealed weapons, open contempt: I have lived in San Francisco on and off in my life. I have also lived in cities, towns, and rural areas, many of them in open and/or concealed-carry [weapons] states ["Bang Bang — Gun Control Is Dead," Matt Smith, Column, 10/14].
The assumption that somehow if people in San Francisco were allowed to keep and bear arms, the city will turn into the Wild West is ludicrous. It has not happened anywhere in this country, and I consider S.F. to be one of the more civilized cities on Earth.
To think that San Franciscans could not handle the responsibility is insulting. And Smith should be ashamed of himself, trying to scare people with hyperbole and rhetoric. It is rare that I can speak accurately with generalizations about an entire group of people, but every concealed-carry-permit holder I have ever known is utterly responsible when it comes to the handling and storage of firearms. I attribute this to the fact that most of them received training either associated with getting their permits, from their parents, or through the NRA, scouting, or some other such avenue.
Smith could probably benefit from such training. He might then overcome his fears and stop trying to frighten others.
In "Five Classical Music and Opera Events to See This Fall" [Chloe Veltman, Fall Arts Preview, 9/2], we mistakenly reported that New Century Orchestra would be performing Romanza in November. The violin concerto will premiere in May.