More on monkeys
To say we shouldn't test drugs on monkeys because 92% of drugs that pass nonhuman primate studies fail in clinical trials (Letters, 5/29/09) is specious because the occurrence of adverse side-effects allowed for a human drug is so extremely low. Human clinical trials involve dozens, hundreds, then thousands of people. If, for instance, 0.5% of them have heart attacks, this is unacceptable but wouldn't have been detected in a study of a dozen monkeys.
The only alternative would be to take drugs only tested in vitro or in mice and put them straight into humans, which I don't think is acceptable. The vast majority of people reading this have benefited from modern drugs and other therapies at some point in their lives, and all have been tested in animal models.
Yes, a monkey is not the same as a human, nor is a mouse. But given our existing technology, no amount of testing in vitro can replicate the fantastic complexity of a live creature. Scientists are not sadists out to torture the maximum number of animals. We are workers with limited budgets and humans with hearts.
I am writing in response to Jason Joyce's Opinion piece, "Meadowood Should Mellow Out" (6/5/09). After reading this, one would think the only problems facing Meadowood or other southwest Madison neighborhoods are a few loud teenagers.
In fact, the southwest neighborhoods have for years been struggling with serious issues: negligent landlords, drug dealing, gangs, murders, excessive trash, loitering, harassment, vandalism and theft. Recently police held a press conference on Hammersley Road in response to incidents including a drive-by shooting, a police chase allegedly involving someone with a weapon, and an alleged gang-related shooting near the Meadowood Shopping Center.
I also want to clarify that while there was an effort to change the curfew, it was never seen as an absolute solution, just one small tool the police were hoping they could use as part of a broader strategy. I'm very happy with the Meadowood Neighborhood Center and agree with Joyce it is a much better way to engage the youth.
Much more work needs to be done to help stabilize our neighborhoods and promote safety and quality of life. The last thing I tell my neighbors is to "mellow out," as Joyce put it. Actually, it's quite the opposite - we need to be more vigilant and vocal.
Nicky Morris, president, Prairie Hills Neighborhood Association
I read Jason Joyce's column with interest, as he was writing about the neighborhood where I was raised. His money statement puts us in the awkward position of seeing kids in the back seat of squad cars offering statements like, "I have nowhere else to go."
Sorry, Jason; I'm not buying it. I agree that groups should talk together, but kids should first listen. The "old guard" has much to teach these kids.
The dialogue could begin by noting that yelling profanities is assault and challenging the ability of others to use public roads is intimidation. However, that is a conversation I would not want my mother to make.
My mom is sad about our old "hood" and made a powerful statement the other day: "In the past, good people walked the streets and bad people were behind bars. Now good people lock themselves up at night while bad people walk the streets."
Hope you feel mellow behind your locked doors, "homeboy," though I can see why others wouldn't.
While the Meadowood Center can be a strong source of education, Jason Joyce's analysis of the Meadowood problem largely misses his own point. The problem isn't teens walking around - it's loud and rude teens walking around.
Despite Joyce's characterization, the police are an effective teaching resource that ensures the community isn't held hostage to bad manners. The police can leave a valuable impression. Loud, disruptive behavior is a citable offense. Putting kids in the back of a squad car and taking them home sends a clear message to teens and their parents where the boundaries of acceptable behavior lie.
Jacob Burris, Fitchburg
I'm hoping that news of the first murder of 2009 in Madison occurring in Meadowood prompts you to issue either a mea culpa or a retraction of Joyce's opinion piece. It was disingenuous, filled with overgeneralizations and mischaracterizations and, with the rise in criminal activity in this area (I wish it was just wayward youth), frankly irresponsible.
I hope you take action to avoid further embarrassment for the sake of Isthmus and my neighborhood.
Jason Joyce has it exactly right in his column about a few neighbors complaining about youth. The tyranny of power tools is fine, but how dare black kids walk down their street after dark?
These haters should get a push lawnmower; maybe they'd be too tired to carp at the end of the day.
He's also right that the Community Center is a great place to bring this up. The organizers there are excellent. Thank goodness these kinds of people outnumber the types who try to block diversity.
Sashe Mishur, McFarland
Didn't like the story
What were you thinking when you chose to run "Class Con" (6/5/09)? What did you hope your readers would learn - that people from middle- and upper-class homes can be sociopaths in spite of attending private Catholic school? Duh!
Were you exploiting the schadenfreude of parents whose kids took a different path, like becoming a rocket scientist or busing tables at the Great Dane? Or did author Terry McCoy simply want a clip from something other than the Iowa Gazette?
Did it occur to you that Geoff Oyler's long-suffering mother didn't need the community reminded of his failures again? Shame on you for rubbing salt in the family's wounds.
The news editor replies: Geoff Oyler and his mother were supportive of the story and actively involved in its preparation.
Claim that composer
The article on David Sánchez ("The New Bop," 6/5/09) cites Antonio Carlos Jobim as an Argentinian composer. I am from Argentina and, as much as I would like to claim him as a compatriot, he was from Brazil.
A lot of Brazilians would be quite upset at giving Jobim a different citizenship. He always will be the embodiment of that land and wrote some of the most beautiful music ever.
Leo Tato, Milwaukee
What's in a name
In his review of Terminator Salvation (5/22/09), Marc Savlov takes issue with the name given to the key character of "John Connor" in the series, denigrating James Cameron, the series originator, for his "saddling of the potential savior of all mankind with the brown-envelope-bland moniker." I would like to defend the director for his thoughtful name choices.
John means "the Lord graciously giveth" and Connor means "high desire" or "wise aid." His mother is named Sarah Connor because Sarah means "noble." And "Kyle Reece" (the human soldier who comes back in time to rescue Sarah) is so named because Kyle means "from the strait" and Reece is a variant of the name Rhys, meaning "rash, ardent."
Inmate essay leaves reader cold
I can understand how prisons fail in rehabilitating inmates, and I can feel a certain degree of empathy for most of those behind bars. However, after reading Brannon J. Prisk's essay ("A Rebirth Behind Bars," 6/12/09), I cannot bring myself to feel any trust for him.
By Prisk's own admission he stole from his employer, broke promises to his daughter and failed his family, loved ones, society and himself. To top it off, he violently attacked someone over some words that were spoken.
Maybe he feels better about himself and things are better for him thanks to religious foundations. But these are his own claims, and he is still behind bars - very far from the realities of the free world.
I'm sorry, but I would rather trust someone whose path of self-realization and change started not from a violent act, as Prisk confesses, but from a peaceful one.
I certainly hope that if Prisk ever gets out, he will stay far, far away from Madison. We need to be safe from career criminals.