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Letters to the Editor 

Letters from March 14, 2001

Go Nuts

Our game was poker; our grades sucked: My otherwise tedious trip to the laundromat was considerably brightened by Mark Athitakis' "Go Crazy" (Feb. 28). Despite my longtime love for strategy games, Go remained a mysterious pastime that the adults played in my childhood neighborhood, which was populated primarily by Japanese- and Chinese-American families. Now I wonder if SF Weekly has opened the door to another obsession (um, my wife may want a word with you).

Ernest Brown [who advocates teaching Go in schools] may be onto something. In high school, I delved into the world of strategy games; I discovered that my heretofore lackluster grades suddenly skyrocketed near the 4.0 mark. I suppose it could be a coincidence. Mr. Brown's idea may not be the salvation of our troubled educational system, but perhaps Go could help save a few high-risk students. Thanks for the great article.

Mark Smith

Never Been There, But We Love Rosicrucian Cuisine

Sounds like fun. We'll stick with poker.: The article about Rosicrucian Park was interesting ("Knowing Thyself in San Jose," Night Crawler, Feb. 28). I've been a Rosicrucian for many years. I began as a skeptic and stayed to be amazed at the great spiritual power and knowledge discovered in studying the monographs as presented by our beloved order. After all these years, [the person who] began as a skeptic seeker has evolved into a dedicated and devout member of the Ancient Mystical Order Rosae Crucis. My love for the order and its sacred teachings cannot be described by mere words, no more than the great knowledge and wisdom offered by the order can be described by words; they must be experienced. Thank you for the article, it was well written for someone observing from the outside.

Abbie Baker
Valdese, N.C.

An extremely perceptive reader writes: I just wanted to comment on the wonderful writing in that Rosae Crucis piece by Silke Tudor. It was structured so well, yet so fluid; the craft in the writing was completely transparent. It was a joy to read it, and yet it was still so full of information.

Allen Whipps
Grandville, Mich.

Home Economics

A decent plot, but no character arc: [Matt Smith] certainly lived up to [his] standards -- another piece full of stunning twists of logic and conservatism masquerading as concern for ordinary people ("A Primer on Housing," Feb. 28). I particularly liked the way you renamed the old Reagan-era favorite "trickle-down economy" (which, let's admit it, sounds like something you need Depends for) into a brave new "cascade effect." Love the logic, too: Only after we take care of all the needs of our neglected rich will our poor be truly saved! A lot of them might perish in the process, but hey, that's the price of revolutionary changes.

While we're on the subject, I would really, really like you to elaborate on the benefits of the control-free rental market. Write a human interest story -- say, about a modest- to low-income family living in an apartment not covered by rent control, and how the repeated monthly rent increases (of $500 to $800 each time) helped them truly understand the advantages of the free market. After getting evicted, they settle down under one of those highway overpasses you so touchingly describe in your article. However, they are happy, because they know it is the only right way, and that very soon, when all the rich people in the city have been comfortably accommodated, a cascade of wealth will pour down on them and, if they don't drown in it, they'll live happily ever after.

Name Withheld
Bernal Heights

Finally, genius is recognized: How refreshing it is to read such well-written articles about what is needed to solve the housing problems for our city. To anyone who has studied basic economics it seems so obvious. It's truly amazing how such economic ignorance as we see on display regarding this issue can still persist in this day and age.

Keep it up. There are some of us out here listening -- others will learn also!

Rick Womack

TICked off: You said, and may actually believe: "Consider, for example, the tenancy in common. In a typical tenancy-in-common arrangement, former renters band together to buy an apartment building. Tenancy-in-common conversions allow copy editors and bank secretaries to own their own homes, and escape the vagaries of the rental market."

I don't know whose public relations bullshit you've been duped by, because when I was looking to buy a house last year, TICs were the way, via the Ellis Act, to get around the rent control laws. Buy a three-unit building for $600K where the tenants have been there for years and between all of them won't even pay half the mortgage, let alone fix the leaky roof? No problem. Evict them all, sell the units for $400K each, and you make your money.

While in theory a group of people can get together and buy a building, in our last real estate frenzy that was not typical. TICs were (and still are) a way to get around both rent control and the condo conversion limits. Not that you would have noticed, smug as you are looking down your nose from your own rent-controlled apartment.

Name Withheld

Not so simple: For as simple as you make free-market, supply-and-demand economics appear, do you really think it works that easily, or that government never has a hand in meddling with the formula? I don't have an interest in debating your opinions. But I do suggest you step back a little and consider whether the playing field has truly been even through the last three-plus years of the development "boom." If not, as many contend, then stopgap measures like the live-work moratorium provide a little time to craft good planning and development policy. I think you'll find few supervisors or policy advocates who are against your suggestion of increasing housing supply. However, the questions of what housing, where, how, and for whom should be addressed. "Elementary economics" is too elementary of an analysis for a complicated issue.

Peter Cohen
Lower Haight

The boom is over? Why weren't we told?: So what's the deal with this Matt Smith dude? Pro-dot-com, anti-pot, pro-development, blah, blah, blah. Isn't his shtick getting a little tired? I know you think the city's demographics are changing and that you have to appeal to the SUV and tapas crowd, but haven't you noticed that the dot-com boom is a bust and that your target demographic will soon be pawning its IKEA furniture and moving back to live with its parents in Walnut Creek?

Wayne Caneen
Western Addition

This Bud's for You

Backhanded compliments gladly accepted: I am also a longtime proponent of cannabis legalization ("Burning Questions," Matt Smith, Feb. 21, on abuses at medical marijuana clinics). I smoke pot maybe once a week, and I voted for Proposition 215. I'm happy it passed because my friends with "back problems" and "insomnia" can get good weed very easily and share it with me (a perfectly healthy individual).

That said, I found myself thoroughly agreeing with you. My problems with the cannabis folks have always landed squarely on one principle -- they are focused only on pot. The facts are as cut-and-dried as a 2-foot bud crown: When you ban something that many people want (and some people need), they're just going to figure out another way to get it. Bang, organized crime. I don't blame the Cannabis Buyers Clubs: They're filling a need, nonviolently, participating in a federal disobedience. Good for them. The drug war is stupid and evil, and people should defy it.

The thing is, if I want to, I have the right to slam heroin, snort coke, and smoke PCP all at the same time. I have a right to indulge in sodomy and prostitution. I have a right to kill myself. I can do whatever I want with my own body.

Which is why, Matt Smith, you surprised me -- I did not figure that you, being the moderate Democrat and free-market booster I've taken you to be, would advocate the legalization and regulation of drugs, as opposed to the half-assed compromise decriminalization we have with pot now. I was pleasantly surprised to see that you were logical about the issue. No, everyone will not be drug addicts if drugs are legal. Not everyone wants to spend their whole lives watching Cheech and Chong movies and battling sexual dysfunction. Plus, unlike drug dealers (Philip Morris, Starbucks, and Anheuser-Busch included), if the government distributes the drugs, they are (at least in theory) accountable to us -- the citizenry. So, Matt Smith, I gotta hand it to you: You've got a little bit of heart amid the darkness.

Name Withheld

As bootlickers go, he is kinda cute: Don't you just love his public-mindedness, though, in defending the "progressive" public servant [Marin District Attorney Paula Kamena]? But let's not forget this "progressive" public servant is wasting valuable public resources prosecuting marijuana offenses. If she were truly progressive, she'd Just Say No to drug prosecutions; but, instead she's Just Doing Her Job.

Matt Smith can't see the obvious contradiction in either her attitude or his own. But that's all part of what makes him such an adorable little statist bootlicker. Grovel on, dude!

Name Withheld
San Jose


In last week's Free Will Astrology, the horoscopes for Libra and Pisces were mistakenly reversed. To see the correct versions, visit the Free Will Astrology Web site, then click on Horoscope Archives.

Also, in a Feb. 28 review of a CD from the band Spoon, the name of the group's lead singer was misspelled. He is Britt Daniel.


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