Kudos for the article about Amazon.com's spamming partnership arrangements ["Spamazon.com," Dec. 18]. What Frank Catalano has encountered is the future of spam, perfectly legal and, indeed, legally mandated (if the Direct Marketing Association gets their way). These kind of partnership or "affiliate" spam arrangements will eventually take over your inbox. The DMA wants to ensure that their big-bucks membership has unfettered access to your eyeballs. You may think that you own your own mailbox or mail server, but soon it will belong to corporate America.
Frank can tell his ISP to block all e-mail from Digital Impact (who have no legitimate business in anyone's inbox anyways), and that spam, at least, will stop.
SIMS AND ORWELL
Ron Sims has way too much power, and nowhere is that more apparent than up here in Snohomish County [Mossback, "The Sims," Dec. 18]. Sims has turned the Brightwater sewage plant into a fiasco and a poster child for what happens when the administrative cohort within government is loosed upon the public with eminent domain authority.
To those of us who have been studying this situation, putting in time to make sense of it, and going to all the meetings, something way more disturbing than a sewer plant is being born here. We are seeing a Strong Bureaucracy form of government come into being, led by PR people who seem happy to use George Orwell's works as training manuals and who are running a "public process" that effectively shuts off all relevant public debate and citizen access to decision making by government.
Right on! You did a pretty good job of dissecting the affable, huggable Ron Sims from the politician whose spark has gone out [Mossback, "The Sims," Dec. 18]. His dirty tricks to undermine the monorail, instead of taking a high moral ground to debate the issue openly, were particularly galling.
Janice Van Cleve
TRUE TO THE FELLOWSHIP
I just read Brian Miller's review of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers ["More Than Middle-ing," Dec. 18]. I believe he's not read the trilogy; is that correct? In the books, there are no superhuman feats, except that all the members of the Fellowship are expert with their weapons and, maybe, a bit more intelligent than the average human, elf, dwarf, hobbit, etc. I haven't seen the second movie yet, but I am pretty sure the second will be true to the book, as was the first. The books were long and dark and comical (at times). Please remember that Peter Jackson didn't write the story. He just put in the movie all he could to keep it flowing naturally; in the book the reader had to keep up with three subplots the whole time. Sounds to me like Jackson did a pretty good job of it.
BUCA DESERVES BETTER
I think you were a bit unfair in the review of Buca di Beppo ["The Italian Thing," Dec. 18]. The Olive Garden is shit, I agree. OK, Buca is shtick, with all the photos (I still get a kick out of some of them) and bad music, and the noise level can get a bit overwhelming, but damn it, the food is good. And don't stand in the rain; go into the bar and order that bottle of wine you're going to drink with dinner. That's what we do, and we don't fret about waiting 45 minutes for a table.
My wife and I haven't tried everything on the menu. In fact, we tend to keep ordering the same thing when we go, which is a couple of times a year after our hearing has recovered from the last visit. We can't resist the roasted peppers with olive oil and garlic, and we always get an order of anchovies to go with them. We usually get an order of escarole saut饤 with garlic, and either pasta with clams or sometimes pasta with sausage, white beans, cheese, loads of garlic, and parsley. Add a bottle of decent red wine (it's overpriced in almost all restaurants), and I defy anyone to tell me that's not Italian. My wife is Italian, and we've eaten in Italian restaurants up and down the coast, and this Disneyland-like joint is good food.
Yeah, those stupid meatballs I see go by are ridiculous, and there are probably some other things that are more Italian-American than true Italian, but it's an OK place with some good food if you order the right things. Would I rather eat at Sostanza, Il Terazzo, or Serafina? Sure, but I won't get out of there as cheaply as Buca, and I won't have all that great leftover pasta to make a frittata for breakfast the next day.
Michael E. Davis
Boy, did Roger Downey's column about his mother's holiday cooking bring back wonderful memories of my own childhood [Gift Guide 3, "Christmas in the Poorhouse: In the Sweet Kitchen," Dec. 11]. Peanut brittle (with raw peanuts), check. Divinity wrapped in, as he says, waxed paper. Our "chess pie" was cinnamon rolls dripping with frosting, and streusel cakes with crumbly butter/flour/ almond topping. And oh, to sink my teeth into a homemade popcorn ball!
Downey really conveyed the "secret ingredient" perfectly: the love that went into their goodies. Thanks for the warm memories.
BLOOD AND LIBERTY
In praising the activism of high-school students ["Cynicism Skips School," Dec. 11], Geov Parrish says: "Perhaps students, whose experience of the world comes out of the contrast between the evening news and their civics textbooks, have learned something the rest of us have forgotten."
Well, maybe. Perhaps it is equally true that the students have yet to learn a lesson that people in my parents' generation remember all too well: There are occasions when freedom can be maintained only at the terrible price of war. This naﶥt頩s epitomized by one student whom Geov quotes as saying, "This is America! We are free! No war!"
If, after studying civics textbooks, that student learned that freedom can only be maintained by the absence of war, the curriculum seriously needs revision if this country is to avoid spawning a generation of what Lenin called "useful fools": people whose untutored idealism unwittingly aided and abetted totalitarianism.
Perhaps the students would do well to temper their uncritical enthusiasm for peace with the tragic wisdom of that great cynic Thomas Jefferson: "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."
James R. Cowles
CLEANING UP OIL WAR
I am a freshman at the Center High School and regularly read your paper. In the Dec. 11 issue, two articles caught my eye. Knute Berger's article on Seward Park, its wildlife, and those who make the park less enjoyable than it should be inspired and moved me [Mossback, "Jackass on a Jet Ski"]. Though Knute may lack the Jet Ski to be able to stop the testosterone-fueled bird abuse performed by some macho idiot, he has something more powerful: his column. I predict there will be Jet Skiers who claim that they don't hurt the environment, but Jet Skis can only do harm and create unnecessary noise.
The other article I noticed was Geov Parrish's piece on the student peace march ["Cynicism Skips School"]. Unmentioned were the students at the Center School, who also walked out of class to participate. I'm upset that many newspapers failed to give good coverage of the march against war in Iraq. If the march did not yield much progress, it was in futility. We are the adults who will be affected tomorrow by this oil war, not a group of deviant kids trying to find an excuse to skip school.
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