Sense and Sensibility
So the rumors are true! After 9-11, irony is dead! Heavy-handed speculations about J. K. Rowling's secret motivations and political leanings, based on her awkward replies to earnest interviewers, miss the point that Rowling, in the tradition of Jane Austen and other English writers, uses words to convey a meaning opposite to the literal meaning (The Byrne Report, Aug. 18 and 29, Letters et al).
Describing an elitist and plutocratic society, she is sympathetic to the struggles of the individuals within that society. Enjoying the perfect pitch of her emotional ear, I have never been under the impression that she was providing any kind of ideal blueprint for anyone to follow. Her wry description of the original statue in the Ministry of Magic in The Order of the Phoenix was so glorious! So pompous! So silly! In the last book, it was replaced by a more sinister statue that blatantly expressed the goals of some wizards, but I saw this as confirmation that the author's goals were not the goals of her wizards. Finally, when all was resolved in the tradition of great comedies, with marriages all around, I was fully convinced that she was mocking those who insist they know what is good for others, whether wizards or aristocrats.
Silly me! I'd best just get back to seeing if Jane Austen has any more advice to help me catch a rich, white husband. As for Mr. Byrne and his critics, I'm sure that a nice pot of tea and a Monty Python DVD would vastly improve their moods.
Carol Kraemer Windsor
Vegetarians Make Less Gas
I was very impressed with Leonardo DiCaprio's powerful documentary The 11th Hour ("Time's Up," Aug. 29). The film depicts the devastating impacts of global warming, including droughts, hurricanes and flooding of coastal areas. It features interviews with the brightest minds on our planet about the causes of this man-made environmental crisis and possible solutions.
A powerful solution was suggested last November in a report by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. The report found that meat production accounts for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming. That's more than automobiles!
Carbon dioxide, the chief greenhouse gas, is emitted by burning forests to create animal pastures and combustion of fossil fuels to operate farm machinery, trucks, refrigeration equipment, factory farms and slaughterhouses. Much more damaging methane and nitrous oxide are released from digestive tracts of cattle and from animal waste cesspools, respectively.
The good news is that each of us can do our part to reduce global warming on our next trip to the supermarket. More details are available at www.CoolYourDiet.org.
Steven Alderson Santa Rosa
Spare us the Sob Stories
I'm in my 50s and have always lived in California, except for six and a half years in Oregon, and about a year elsewhere in the Navy. I remember California as a good place to live. It no longer is. I remember Santa Rosa in the early 1970s at a third of its present population; 55,000 was an ideal size for Santa Rosa. Much open space existed between Cotati and the SSU campus. Now it's solid development. No criminal gangs operated in Santa Rosa, and Highway 101 was never congested. This isn't "good old days" reminiscing.
Approximately 10 million people living in this state are foreign-born, according to the Center for Immigration Studies. Immigration is by far the biggest contributor to this area's, and to this state's, population explosion. Immigrants and their offspring will continue to swell California's population. I feel that the massive influx of Third World immigrants is trashing California.
On one of KPFA radio's immigrant-oriented programs, the narrator was eager for the day when California would become a Latino-majority state. Don't worry, it will soon happen. Meanwhile, spare us the sob stories about the alleged abuse of illegal immigrants' rights ("The Bigotry Tour," Aug. 29).
Philip Ratcliff Cloverdale
Dept. of Forehead Slapping, Pt. II
Our Fall Arts listings ("Fall into Arts," Aug. 22) have proven to be tarry duds, a shameful state for which we continue ye olde apologia. This week's revelation is that the Redwood Arts Council begins its new season Sept. 28 with the Kronos Quartet, not whatever pablum we may have printed (OK, we printed last year's pablum). We regret and then some.
The Ed. Anonymous