Readers vs. Nass
In "Steve Nass vs. the UW" (9/28/07), Vikki Kratz asks if state Rep. Steve Nass wants to crush the university system or is he just fighting for good public policy. The answer is "neither."
What Steve Nass is really trying to do is lay down a smokescreen. Bashing agencies like the UW or the Department of Natural Resources presents the illusion of vigorously representing the public, but the actual purpose is to divert attention from the conduct of Rep. Nass and his cohorts.
Wisconsin has been in a constant budget crisis for at least 10 years because of a chronic gap between revenues and expenditures. This is a problem that is the responsibility of the Legislature to fix, but it doesn't and instead raids cash reserves and cooks the books to push the gap into the next session.
Rep. Nass has been in the majority party in the five previous legislative sessions, and the best, repeat, the best he's done is deliver a $1.5 billion shortfall. This year's Assembly budget has, under the most optimum of projections, a shortfall of more than three-quarters of a billion dollars.
According to Kratz, "Nass would rather focus on bringing accountability back to the UW." Really! In the last biennium, the former speaker of the Assembly, the former majority leader of the Assembly and the former assistant majority leader of the Assembly were all convicted of misconduct in office.
These were the people Rep. Nass voted to be his leaders, and who, when they got caught with their hands in the cookie jar, could count on Rep. Nass to raid the state treasury to pay off their lawyers.
Steve Nass is not interested in bringing accountability back to the UW - he's trying to avoid being called to account for his own conduct.
Michael L. Reichert
Many of us in Whitewater are appalled that newspapers continue to connect Steve Nass with Whitewater. Yes, his address in the Blue Book is Whitewater, but he does not live in the city of Whitewater or even the town of Whitewater. He built a house in the town of LaGrange to represent the 31st Assembly District after reapportionment following the 2000 Census.
Whitewater is in the 43rd Assembly District, and we are represented by Kim Hixson, whose attitudes about the university system are light-years away from those of Steve Nass.
Many of us think that he is the last person who should head the Assembly's Colleges and Universities Committee because of his longstanding animosity toward the UW System. We hate to think that your readers believe that we elected him.
Marion Burrows, Whitewater
I am part of the problem, according to Steve Nass, one of these "foreign-born professors" who "say things." But there is a problem: I honestly think that I am more in line with the Wisconsin tradition than Steve Nass is.
Historically, the state has been admirably supportive of its university. The University of Wisconsin has served the state and its citizens well. There was enlightenment in Wisconsin. Yes, there was.....
Jean-Pierre Rosay, professor, department of mathematics, UW-Madison
As I suspected, Steve Nass harbors resentments against the university that stem from his college years, grudges exacerbated by his own intolerance for viewpoints that deviate from his own.
Just because Nass is still angry about an "F" he received at the UW doesn't mean we should allow him to eviscerate our world-class institution.
We need a sea of red! If you are a UW grad, call your legislators (especially if he or she is Republican) and tell them that cutting $120 million more from the UW budget is not good public policy.
Vikki Kratz's otherwise excellent article continues a venerable Isthmus tradition of publishing untrue statements about me. Kratz writes that I "believe the U.S. government orchestrated the 9/11 attacks." For the millionth time, let me explain why this is not so.
The U.S. government is a sprawling, complex entity consisting of hundreds of thousands if not millions of individuals, more than 99% of whom had nothing to do with 9/11. In my view, the evidence suggests that 9/11 was a covert coup d'etat by a fairly small group of neoconservative Straussians and their allies in both government and the private sector.
The blueprint for the 9/11 coup d'etat may be found in leading neocon military strategist Edward Luttwak's 1968 book Coup d'Etat: A Practical Handbook, ably deconstructed in Maurizio Blondet's September 11th: A Coup d'Etat (Effedieffe, Milan, 2002). My summary of Blondet's analysis is available at mujca.com/luttwak.htm.
Kevin Barrett, Lone Rock
Vikki Kratz notes that Steve Nass' attacks on the UW "often seem rooted in a larger movement by conservatives to challenge the liberal university system." She's correct, and it's a movement led by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA), founded in 1995 by Sen. Joe Lieberman and Lynn Cheney, wife of the vice president.
ACTA is enmeshed within a network of right-wing foundations and influential neoconservatives. Much about Nass is expressive of ACTA, as with his need to quell statements he defines as "anti-American."
Following 9/11, many universities held seminars to discuss reasons for hatred toward us. ACTA reacted with publication of the 52-page "Defending Civilization: How Our Universities Are Failing America and What Can Be Done About It," in which it charged America's campuses with "moral relativism."
Some 115 examples of "unpatriotic" views were identified, some as innocuous as "[We should] build bridges and relationships, not just bombs and walls".
Bill Willers, emeritus professor of biology, UW-Oshkosh, Middleton
Bill Lueders: Thank you for your great feature on Farley Mowat, one of my favorite authors. While attending the UW- Stevens Point in the early '70s, I was fortunate to have a history professor, Dr. David Wrone, who had us read many of Mowat's books.
I've read Never Cry Wolf, People of the Deer, The Siberians and others, and actually had a book review of The Siberians published in The Capital Times in the early '80s. Mowat's books have left a lasting influence on my political views and environmental consciousness.
In these times of public plunder, your principled reporting and excellent writing are needed more than ever. Right now, I am reading Assault on Reason by Al Gore. Thanks to your article I will be reading more Mowat books!
Terry Testolin, Richland Center
Because I have lived three years in the far north as a graduate student in Fairbanks, gone to sea four years as an assistant engineer officer on an amphibious assault ship, and visited Newfoundland for a brief summer as a field assistant, I can say this: Genuine is Farley Mowat and his work.
Last month, I read The Snow Walker while camping in the Apostle Islands. My family began calling me Farley, despite the fact that "Snow Walker" has two gruesome meanings.
The copy of The Desperate People (1959) that I just finished includes a 1974 foreword by Farley Mowat in which he refers sadly to the continuing dire straits of the inland Eskimo and the criminal ineffectiveness of western democracy to help these people. "Genocide can be practiced in a wide variety of ways," he wrote.
Unwilling to be the butt of more "Farley" jokes from my family, I am now reading Jon Krakauer's Into the Wild. I can't help but think that the young man Chris McCandless might have survived the Stampede Trail had he also tucked into his backpack one or two Farley Mowat books about the Ihalmiut, the people of the deer.
Mark Sturnick, Hollandale
Gin for health
I enjoyed Anne Strainchamps' column on gin and tonics, which triggered similar memories of my childhood summers ("Home Is Where The Quinine Is," 9/14/07). My parents would let us take tiny sips of their G&Ts, and they occasionally would give us a glass of plain tonic, garnished with a lime, which made one feel so grown up.
My first drink in a bar was a G&T, bought by a young swain who told me that gin tasted like perfume, which was possibly the most romantic thing I'd ever heard. Later, I had a friend from Argentina, who told me that in his country, tonic is commonly referred to as "Indian water," an allusion to the British occupation of India that Strainchamps mentioned.
In addition to being delicious, G&Ts are quite healthy, with the tonic preventing malaria and the lime preventing scurvy. Since one never knows when these diseases might pop up here, it is better to be safe than sorry.
Also, a friend taught me to put two olives in a G&T: Everybody knows olive oil is good for you, plus the salt prevents dehydration (and adds a pleasurable mellowness to the taste.) So cheers - to your health!
Kathryn Schubert, Monona
In its attempt to jump on the "wrapped vehicle" advertising bandwagon, Madison Metro seems to have lost touch with reality ("Drinking and Riding," 8/10/07). I am referring to the city buses emblazoned with massive ads for beer and a local casino.
I am all in favor of adults having the freedom to drink alcohol and gamble. I do not, however, believe it is appropriate for adolescents to be picked up after school or at the mall by something resembling the Miller Lite Party Bus.
I know that minors are exposed to advertising on television, billboards, and even beer trucks, but beer trucks are not a form of public transportation frequently used by teens.
For those adults who would argue that ads have no effect on children's behavior I ask this: If these ads do not cause people to want to consume their product, why do advertisers spend millions on them?
The lakes and us
As both a downtown resident and an outdoors enthusiast, I relished reading the terrific work of David Mollenhoff ("Our City, Our Lakes," 7/20/07) and Marc Eisen ("Indifferent Stewards," 7/20/07) on the state of our lakes.
Yet a few disheartening sights have stuck with me since mid-July - choking weeds, excessive algae and litter on the water, to name a few.
We need more public policies to address these problems, but rather than wait for the policymaking process, we also need to tweak our daily and seasonal routines to create a sustainable relationship with our lakes.
Here's what individual homeowners can do. Limit runoff with rain gardens and rain buckets. Obviously, don't litter, and even pick up a piece here and there if it's not too disgusting.
If you boat, be cognizant of what you and your boat are putting in the water. Wash boats wisely, and don't let out wastes in or near the water. If your boat touches multiple surface waters, do your part to control invasive species.
Paul O. Ferguson
Grumpy old Sykes
I enjoy Charles Sykes' essays in Isthmus. But as a writer he has no more style than any other grumpy old man armed with the Internet and Bartlett's Familiar Quotations.
So, the battle of Waterloo was won at Eaton, as Mr. Sykes cites in the Sept. 14 issue? I find that quote in my Bartlett's (Little and Brown Co., 14th Edition, 1968). Where also is this from the Duke of Wellington: "[Our army] is composed of the scum of the earth - the mere scum of the earth."
Currently, I'm bogged down in reading the writings from the great dead men of ancient Western civilization; I don't have a lot of time to listen to Mr. Sykes chatter on WTMJ radio, which means his Isthmus dispatches are treasured, surreal missives from a true sophist.
For another viewpoint on Waterloo one might read Victor Hugo. My secondhand copy of Les Misérables offers this: "the sixty thousand men fallen on the field of Waterloo tranquilly moldered away, and something of their peace spread over the world."
Patrik Vander Velden, Monona
Thank you for Andy Moore's wonderful column about Art the Window Washer ("A Close Call With Art," 9/14/07). A follow-up story on his predecessor, Snowball, might be in order. Snowball was a State Street regular for many years, and almost seemed like part of the landscape. My mother told me stories of how he used to "make eyes" at the pretty girls. Your story of Art brought back memories of the many times I saw Snowball washing windows on the street.