Feeling good with Edgar
Thank you so much for your EDGAR THE HERO piece ["Batman," 7/6]. Leave it to the new WEEKLY to put things in perspective. Truly, this man's astounding ability to hit a baseball with a bat is all we Seattleites need to feel good about ourselves. I think a statue is a great idea. Let's put it right in front of Niketown, kitty-corner from the giant bronze teddy bear at F.A.O. Schwarz, and just down the street from the bronze Warner Bros. cartoon character idols. Then our beautiful downtown will be complete. Baseball, toys, and cartoons: Everything we need to be happy. Maybe later we could even add a golden SUV. One thing though. Let's make sure it's no more than 10 or 12 feet tall. That way the lips of passing shoe-worshiping consumers will be able to reach his ass. It will be Seattle's Blarney Stone!
Interesting story on Edgar ["Batman," 7/6], who does seem nice, but you got one thing very wrong: He does NOT live in Sammamish (the Pine Lake Plateau), but many of us do. He has a mansion in Kittitas County (see The Seattle Times, 7/10, page A10) and another in Kirkland. He bought land in Sammamish, which he is developing into yet another overpriced, high- density project that will cause yet more crowding in our (not his) schools and on our (not his) roads. In the process, Edgar is literally destroying one of the last Kokanee salmon runs in our (not his) area. That is the story you really should be working on, as it has all of the drama that a baseball game lacks.
Is Slade Gorton feinting to the left [see "Softening Slade," 7/6]? Not when it comes to equipping the Colombian military, the biggest human rights violator in the Americas, with modern helicopters and other counterinsurgency (read: counterdemocracy) weapons. There, he's taking a lead role as a principled conservative, recently offering an amendment to cut the aid package by 90 percent. "At this time," he says, " I am not convinced that military assistance will do much beyond involving us in internal Colombian affairs."
I would have said more, pointing out that Colombia's military still operates hand in glove with paramilitary death squads and is itself heavily involved in the drug trade. Gorton's silence in these matters should not be held against him, though; he did the right thing on an issue that matters to only a handful of voters in Washington state and to a handful of warmongers capable of being very generous at election time.
Voters who appreciate a senator's standing up to the arms builders can also do the right thing. Let Slade Gorton and Patty Murray (who also voted against the aid package, though she authored no amendments) know that you appreciate their stand. They're going to need some encouragement: The aid bill passed, and Colombia is well on its way to becoming our next Vietnam.
This issue of the Weekly was the first that I didn't read from front to back. Ms. Shapiro's apology for Slade Gorton turned my stomach [see "Softening Slade," 7/6]. "Is Senator Slade Gorton's interest in education and the environment more than election-year politics?" Ms. Shapiro, if you would do a little research you could answer this question yourself. Senator Gorton has endorsed policies that destroyed the environment from Reagan to the present. The deforestation in the Pacific Northwest in the '80s made Brazil look like the Sierra Club. If you need to propagandize for Gorton, please put some facts in the article. And just say Slade is sorry for all the destruction he has done.
Slade and salmon
Senator Gorton's reprehensible stand on dam removal does not stand up to scrutiny [see "Softening Slade," 7/6]. Look at the Elwha and Glines Canyon Dams on the Elwha River. The power generated by these dams is currently used is by just one customer, the Daishowa American Paper Mill in Port Angeles. Removing the dams will provide economic benefit through increased recreation and tourism, which will exceed the cost of removing the dams. The National Park Service estimated that with the dams gone, the number of visitor nights in Clallam County would increase by more than 734,000, generating business expenditures of $28.5 million annually.
Slade Gorton has blocked funding for the removal of these dams, and in doing so hinders the economic development of Clallam County and prevents the restoration of a magnificent river. Before the dams were constructed, all seven species of salmonids were found in the Elwha. Now all are gone or in serious decline. Before the dams, the Elwha supported 380,000 salmon; today about 3,000 fish return to spawn. While Slade plays politics, the salmon runs on the Elwha are going extinct.
When the history of the decline of salmon in the Northwest is written, Senator Gorton will be known as the one person who could have prevented the extinction of salmon on the Elwha and decided to let them go. It'll be the crowning achievement of a career devoted to the environmental impoverishment of the Northwest. Slade has decided for all of us that we cannot live with salmon on the Elwha. We are all poorer for it.
Weekly swings right?
First we have one "Michael Hood" presenting a kinder-gentler version of Don Benton, contender for Washington state GOP leader ["Blowhard or death blow?" 6/22]. Now we have one "Nina Shapiro" doing the same for Senator Slade Gorton ["Softening Slade," 7/6].
What gives? Is this what many of us expected when the Weekly ownership was transferred to a corporation several months ago, a gradual transition to soft-soaping the heavily tarnished images of the local reactionaries?
Slade Gorton, we must all remember, was the one who last fall, the day after Mayor Paul Schell unilaterally suspended the US Constitution from a large area of downtown Seattle by declaring any demonstrations or political decorations "off-limits" and who proscribed the private ownership/use of gas masks (a totally defensive device), commented that the mayor "should have done this a day earlier."
I could go on and on about Gorton's anti-democratic, anti-environment, pro-military record. I must ask, is this the repression-minded person we want to continue to represent us in the US Senate?
ISO gypsy moth
Thank you so much for spreading the word about the dangers of Btk use [see "The moths' revenge?" 7/6]. One reason this information has not been widely known is that few labs test for Bt. Severe illnesses have been attributed to B. Cereus that eventually proved to be Bt. Another interesting point is that a federal publication announced last July that the matching funds for Asian Gypsy Moth control programs would end if no more moths were found by the end of the year. WSDA deployed 20,000 traps last year. These moths have been coming here for decades without becoming established, but there's always a few new arrivals—if you put out enough traps you can find one. That's what they found—one.
Wyn Hilty misses an important aspect of Fox's copyright enforcements ("Flaming the fans," 6/29). True enough, Fox and the WB may own the copyright, but that is not the end-all of the story. Fox and the WB of course have entered into contracts with the people that create Buffy and the other shows, and many of these contracts entail collective bargaining with labor unions (the Screen Actors Guild, to name one). Those contracts specify royalties to be paid to the creators by the WB and Fox based on the number of exhibitions of the copyrighted work. Years ago, this was easy: You would count the number of times the network plays the "ep" and multiply that by the rate in the contract, and you cut a check to the director, actor, or writer. When it comes to the Internet and checks to Sarah Michelle Gellar et al. in the 21st century, it isn't that simple. If someone plays a .wav of a particularly snappy line from an "ep," is that an exhibition and a royalty payable? How about the entire "ep" in digital format downloaded to a server at Micro$oft, where hundreds of people may watch it?
Many of the people who worked hard to create Buffy or any TV show are relying on the royalties for compensation for their work. A note to history—the original Star Trek cast makes little or no royalties from their work on the 1960s series, even though the shows are played endlessly in syndication all over Earth. The contracts then simply didn't provide for royalties or residuals.
Since the copyright owner has the right to enforce the copyright against infringers, you can imagine the result when an actor or screenwriter is told by a mega-corp like Fox "we aren't going to play any more reruns on the network—the eps are all available on the Internet anyway, and no one wants to have to watch commercials." Fox has been put on notice by its contracting parties that there are to be royalties payable on these "bootleg" exhibitions, and Fox is responding in a predictable way: When it finds out about these sites, it can either have them shut down by enforcing the copyright, a simple an inexpensive proposition, or it can pay a royalty for each "exhibition," something hard to determine, and worse, expensive.
However, as Hilty points out, the goodwill of the viewer is worth something too. Not an easy situation for Fox, contrary to what your article states.
I chuckled at parent Rob Shepherd's take on Dan Barton's efforts at Gatewood Elementary: "It appears that the principal there is doing all sorts of bizarre stuff" ["Principal problem," 6/29]. His comments are consistent with much of the anti-intellectualism that characterizes the criticism of improvement efforts in the public schools. Cooperative learning, critical thinking, the use of technology, and the inclusion of students with disabilities into the mainstream of school life are hardly "bizarre" practices. They are each based upon years of sound research and successful practice in many schools throughout the country. We in public education do a good job of educating students; we're not always so successful in our efforts to educate the public. Keep up the great work, Dan.
Thoughts about geoducks? Write to Letters Editor, Seattle Weekly, 1008 Western Avenue, Suite 300, Seattle, WA 98104; fax to 206-467-4377; or e-mail to email@example.com. Please include name, location, and telephone number. Letters may be edited.