A real life-saver
Thank you very much for your article "Young and Sober" (4/11/2014). Please consider writing a weekly column on this topic. It not only raises awareness, it saves the lives of your readers and the lives of those who love them. There's so much more to say about recovery efforts in Madison and at the state level; please continue to lead that voice.
Anthony J. Ernst, Verona
Not green enough
Thank you for the article on Underhill House ("Our Dream Green House," 4/25/2014). It's a lovely home and showcases some great design ideas, as well as talented local artisans.
However, "green" homes like this suggest that the most environmentally sound way to live is to build a super-special house on your own land, out in the country. Nothing could be farther from the truth. For most people, living in a plain old house or apartment in a dense urban area is far greener than living in the country -- no matter how energy-efficient that country home is.
In our area, the average CO2 footprint of isthmus residents is about half that of suburbanites. For suburbanites, the greatest share of their CO2 emissions comes from transportation. That can't be fixed by straw-bale insulation or passive solar heating.
We need green design that works in our cities, not just out in the countryside. And we need to remember that even non-green design in a walkable urban neighborhood is environmentally superior to any home that forces you to use a car.
Pacia J. Harper
In "Don't Raise the Minimum Wage" (4/25/2014), Larry Kaufmann makes the false assumption that people working for minimum wage have only one job at that rate -- which is impossible for those supporting a family.
How should we decide what a "fair" minimum is? Taking 1956 as a starting point, today's minimum wage is now about seven and a half times higher, but congressional pay is almost 15 times higher. The solution is simple: Index the minimum wage to congressional salaries. If we did that, minimum wage today would be $15 an hour...or Congress would be paid about half its current rate.
No place for stereotypes
Regarding Jennifer Seifert's "Looking for Love Online" (5/9/2014), there are several offensive and harmful comments toward individuals with mental illnesses. The aforementioned remarks are:
"Fortunately, the Madison men I've met appear truthful, although I've never carried a measuring stick with me on dates to be sure. A handful of my interviewees haven't been as lucky; the most extreme surprises included a possible mental disability, an apparent psychological disorder and a certain crime record."
Not only do these statements imply online daters with these types of medical conditions are being dishonest, but it also suggests these persons are highly undesirable.
I have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder in the past, so does that mean I am a deceitful online dater if I do not disclose my disability right away? Despite my medical history, I have been very successful with online dating and, more generally speaking, in life. These statements propagate inaccurate stereotypes, and I insist that they be retracted. Credible journalists should be checking their facts and not publicizing laypersons' assumptions about medical labels for their disappointing dates. Everyone deserves to find love online, including individuals with mental health disorders.
Jessica M. Brooks
The day the music died
Sandy Tabachnick's article on Wisconsin Public Radio's axing of their live Sunday concerts from the Chazen Museum ("An Abrupt Finale for Sunday Afternoon Live from the Chazen," 5/16/2014) voices the dismay many of us feel at the sudden cancellation of this series. My wife and I were in the audience at the last concert on May 11, and at that time WPR's director of radio, Mike Crane, told us, contrary to reported comments by content director Michael Arnold, that the problem was not financial. This seems similar to what was told to the Chazen director, Dr. Russell Panczenko. It seems that WPR's management is contradicting itself in trying to cover the tracks of this arbitrary decision.
WPR is making a grave mistake in cutting off this vital series, which has created a unique musical community and a way for musicians around the state to reach a statewide audience. The series has featured world-class chamber musicians, including the Pro Arte Quartet, in a room with superb acoustics, and has been marked by a unique reciprocal energy between musicians and audience.
Apparently, Dr. Panczenko was told of the cancellation only a week before the fact. The audience was never consulted. If the problem was financial, many of us would gladly have paid a subscription fee or supported other fundraising activities. If WPR wants to cultivate statewide concert venues, it might have shortened the Madison season and had one or two months of concerts in other locations. The sudden termination of a longstanding and successful series shows a lack of imagination and smacks of arbitrary power plays.