Driver distractions: The only form of transport you missed was a monkey riding a dog ["The Cannonball Run," by Michael Serazio, February 17].
Regarding the fact that not too many people noticed your experiment, those urban assault vehicles are pretty tricked out. With so many in-vehicle options -- watching a DVD, prank-calling OnStar, reading the Houston Press online or watching the gas gauge move ever closer to "E" -- you can't expect them to watch the road.
A bath on the math: I'm always amazed at an article that takes five times as long to read as the length of the event chronicled -- congratulations.
You either made a significant error or just phrased your explanation incorrectly on one fact. You said: "...TranStar recorded more than 3.4 million hours of annual congestion -- or roughly the equivalent of being forced to watch Alexander 19,429 times."
Was the movie Alexander 175 hours long? That is what is required to stretch 19,429 viewings across 3.4 million hours. The accurate number -- 1,179,191 viewings -- is much more impressive than the number mistakenly run. Still stupid, though.
Note to the editor: You should "fact" check your reporters' numbers. It is great sport, not unlike shooting wildlife from a helicopter. I discovered this as an editor in 1975 -- the offending reporter completely misinterpreted some precinct election results. Now she is a producer for CBS News (I kid you not!).
BTW, Do you have the guts to do the same "Cannonball Run" against the trolley that Metro calls a train? I once outran it downtown, and I am a pathetic runner.
Hats Off, Panties On
Understanding parents: Hats off to you for "The Canons of Courting," [by Michael Serazio, January 27]! Now, much of the public can begin to understand why we parents (especially home schooling parents) choose to do what we do. Our children are priceless gifts. They should be handled with much prayer and care.
Sexist pigs: Courting involves both genders, but you choose to depict a naked female teenager -- covered in tape. In all the sarcasm I can muster, thanks for once again lending to this male-chauvinistic world by objectifying women as sex objects so you can push your newspaper.
So if there is parity in this country, where is the close-up of the bulge in the near naked male-crotch shot?
Oh, are men more than penises? Well, women are more than vaginas that are "off-limits" until marriage.
Juli "parity is wonderful" Boone
(P.S.: If parents are attempting to instill morals rather than utilize this crass quid pro quo world of ours, shame on you for making fun of them and denigrating their religious beliefs.)
I was disappointed to see that not once during John Nova Lomax's radio orgy ["Radio Daze," February 10] did he stop on Houston's remaining classical music station, KUHF (88.7FM). It would have been nice to read something like:
3:01 p.m. -- KUHF is starting their program The Front Row. A local classical pianist is going to play in studio and there are a couple of taped interviews with art gallery curators. This is a great venue for support of the local arts scene.
9:35 p.m. -- Horns lay down a brass blanket of sound and an orchestra's string section sweeps over it in full flight. Wow. It's nice to have a reminder that sometimes a symphony can move mountains while other music just bangs on rocks.
10:13 a.m. -- Ugh. Classical music so light it doesn't break the surface tension of water. KUHF can't avoid the trap that says classical music stations have to provide aural wallpaper for the workplace.
Any one of these potential entries or the like could have appeared in Lomax's article. KUHF isn't perfect but they're the only game in town dedicated to playing classical music. This significant spot on the dial should not have been missed.
Coma toast: Although the results of the exercise you undertook were utterly predictable, I nonetheless appreciate your effort. While you and others have ranted for some time about the barren wasteland that is Houston radio, thanks for documenting what turned out to be a 24-hour slice of shit, save for 610, KPFT and KTRU.
As a frustrated channel surfer, I would take this a step further by personally calling out anybody who has the guts to fess up to actually thinking the likes of the Arrow, KRBE, the Buzz, etc., is anything but the crap it is: suck-ass radio for brain-dead zombies.
That's the problem we'll probably never overcome as long as these ignoramuses who think they like music are content to be spoon-fed bile from ClearChannel, MTV and Sony. I could program a station better while in a coma.
Student inmates: As one of Katy Zero Tolerance's "400 white Republicans," thanks for your column ["Mind Reading," by Margaret Downing, February 17]. It highlights the concerns of our group and parents throughout the state.
My only comment is that we're missing some of the issues here! I truly believe that there should be more interventions and solutions within the school. Highlight today: the young man in Spring Branch ISD who wrote a "hit list" and had suspected bomb makings at his home. You will probably find that he was a victim of bullying by his peers, and/or he felt that he was being unfairly treated by his teachers, and felt helpless against the system!
The school system needs to address these issues. Bring respect back into the equation, for teachers and students alike. Are we more interested in teachers as potential prison guards, with students as inmates? Sounds silly, I know; however, with the rush to punish, Zero Tolerance can be compared to a shark net that catches mostly minnows! Let's put reason back into our schools!
Not so Swift: I read the letters to the editor with apprehension [Letters, "Raining Cats and Dogs," February 17]. I feared that the name of one or more of my former senior English students would appear at the end of them. I breathed a sigh of relief when I recognized none of the senders.
I like to think that my former students read the articles ["The Fido Solution," by Richard Connelly; "Canine Cuisine," by Robb Walsh; and "Cats: The Other White Meat," by Anon E. Mouse, February 3] and said, "Wow! That's just like that guy we studied in English class who wanted to eat the babies!"
I guess many of your letter writers, expressing their outrage, must have slept through the Jonathon Swift lesson. Too bad. They could have finally answered the oft-asked student to teacher question, "How are we going to use this later in life?" with a "so people are still writing satire these days."
Russell J. Sanders
A proud shootist: Fear not, Mr./Ms. Mouse, I too have capped cats with a similar single-cock pistola. It was for the good of everyone involved. We must not be ashamed to stand up and be counted! Huzzah!
Down for the Count
Swank's a champ: I really enjoyed the movie Million Dollar Baby ["A Few Dollars Left," by Bill Gallo, January 6]. It was about redemption, second chances and belonging. Hillary Swank is brilliant -- and in such a demanding role. She really becomes the character. As for Mr. Freeman and Clint Eastwood, they just do what they do, and very well, I might add.
If you plan to see it, and you should, be prepared for the ending. I wasn't, and like one of Ms. Swank's punches, it floored me. I give it two fists up.
Pressing on in New York
Big Apple angst: I moved to New York state a year ago and tried to like Village Voice, which is supposed to be similar to the Houston Press.
I really cannot explain it well, but articles in the Houston Press are much more interesting than those in the Village Voice. To me, NYC must be the most interesting exciting city in the whole world, but now I really don't think so. I miss Houston and the Press as well -- you are the best.
Houston is my hometown in the U.S. (I am from Japan) and the Houston Press had been my English textbook. Thank you for your great job and please keep on doing that. I am reading your articles in New York and I still need your help to improve my English.
For Christ's Sake
Motivations: I feel I must answer some of the points brought up by the anonymous letter writer [Letters, "Cross Ways," December 9] regarding my previous letter about Matt Groening's Life in Hell cartoon. My intent was to show how Groening and others were led by the nose by those exit polls regarding the whole "moral values" issue and blew it out of proportion.
By no means was I indicting all of Islam by the actions of those killing in that name, any more than you should indict Christianity for the actions of those who have harmed others in the name of Christianity. Killing or harming in the name of Christianity does not equate with acting according to the teachings of Christianity. Yes, I have studied heinous things perpetrated by those claiming to be Christians, but I will say that they acted despite their Christian beliefs, not because of them.
I am sorry for those things that have been done "in God's name", but if you take the bad, you must in all fairness take the good. Look up people who range from William Wilberforce (abolition) to Florence Nightingale (nursing) to Martin Luther King, Jr. -- the list is endless. All Christians. Peace, charity, kindness, helping the poor and weak, despising wealth and power and ambition, these are the teachings I and most Christians strive daily to live by.
I have been reading the Houston Press for years, as well as heartily expose myself to diverse opinions/viewpoints. I know exactly what I am in for. Are you suggesting that your letter in response to mine was written for a totally different reason than that my opinion didn't match yours?
Turning the Dial
Metal megawatts: Nice article, but about that shaking up thing that you said 97.5 needs [Racket, by John Nova Lomax, February 10]: What about a teenager as a radio jock, a teenager who listens to Zeppelin, Metallica, Megadeth, Sabbath, AC/DC and many other bands?
How about letting somebody who actually listens to the radio and old songs, songs that don't get that much attention, like "Holy Diver" by Dio? Songs that are great but only listened to by metalheads.
How about getting somebody other than the radio jocks that are already popular like Outlaw Dave, but getting somebody who is willing to do this for free on weekends and every god-giving extra second of their lives, just to do it for the love of the music. They should get me as a radio jock, somebody who was walking the streets for free just to get a petition ready to get a new rock station in Houston.
But who the hell am I kidding -- no radio station will give a true metal fan a chance to try to let other metalheads and rock admirers get a chance to have a taste of songs they'll probably never hear.
No female victims: Although I always appreciate critical reviews of my work in the Press, I feel that I need to clarify some factual information in "The Art of Sex" [February 17]. Keith Plocek writes that my artwork in the DiverseWorks show "is a lot more palatable than some of what he was showing during the Art Crawl, where elfish figures strangled and molested nude women." After reading this, I wondered whose studio he visited during the Art Crawl.
I have never painted an elfish figure in my life and no female characters are ever "strangled and molested" in my work. My female characters may actively instigate trouble but they are never the recipients of any unsavory act; they are victors, not victims.
Editor's note: Plocek based his description on Burns's own YHWH, pictured above. The person hoisting the female "victor" is actually a scout. The Press deeply regrets the error.
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The February 24 feature "The Dead Zone" erred in two references to legislation known as the 2003 Texas Residential Construction Commission Act:
A spokesperson for Texans for Lawsuit Reform says that rather than endorsing the bill, the group took no position on that legislation.
Richard Weekley, the group's founder, and home builder Bob Perry observed debates on some bills in general from a section of the legislature's gallery known as the "Owners' Box." They did not specifically view the debate over this legislation from that location.
The Press regrets the errors.