Letters to the Editor

(June 29, 2009)


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Ah, the Power of Bread: Graham Lea's "French Bread: The Baguette Versus Pain de Campagne."

To the Editor:

I was mesmerized by colleague Graham Lea's long francophiliac riff, "French Bread: the Baguette Versus Pain de Campagne." A pity he didn't mention, among the flûtes and ficelles, that black sheep, le bâtard. Every student of French is energized by learning that Le boulanger fait des bâtards. But something else troubled me. Graham says, "mercifully, domestic bread-making machines are virtually unknown in France," and then that "mechanical mixers" are used to make baguettes, which two out of three Frenchmen seem to be eating. Are machines bad in the home but good in the back room of the bakery? Or is there some special virtue in kneading by hand that would correspond to grand-mère's rubbing a washboard in the lavoir municipal? I must declare my interest. Some unthinking in-law has presented my wife with a neat little, very domestic bread-making machine. Should I banish it from the house? It goes on kneading like a cat with hiccoughs into the small hours. In the morning the bread is there hot, as good as the flour you put into it. You can also cut the whole process short, take out the kneaded dough at midnight, and make pizza in your gas or electric oven. (An exhaustive, drunken poll of Neapolitan pizza makers convinced me that the wood-fire rigmarole was strictly window dressing.) All this deprives me of that healthful stroll to the village bakery. But I find that a two-minute jog on my balcony cures my hangover and amuses the neighbors. Vive la France.

Peter Byrne
Lecce, Italy - June 17, 2009

[ed. Graham Lea also missed what in this editor's opinion is the best and tastiest French bread, the little-known pain plié made in Bretagne (Brittany). Pain plié is to bread what the saucissons de Lacaune are to sausages -- simply the very best! In addition to their famous crêpes, which the city of Morlaix epitomizes, les bretons with their pains pliés beat Poilâne ten to one. If anyone reads this and happens to live in Bretagne, please contact this editor. Exiled in a dreaded non-bread country (among many other dreaded impediments) he wished he could taste a slice of pain plié once again before his earthly demise.]


Rap and Sound: Raju Peddada's The Sputtering Volume: The irreversible fade of pop music

To the Editor:

He is great! I have been writing about this issue of rap and sound, and its effect on consciousness and the brain, etc. His is the first article I have found, accidentally even, that deals with this topic. Wonderful piece, wonderful writer. Great source. Thanks.

Deborah Hart
Ph.D. Psychologist
Dayton, Ohio, USA - June 27, 2009


U.S. Health Care Crisis getting bigger than Life: Gilles d'Aymery's American Sick Care Vs. Wellness

To the Editor:

Americans are Crumbling Under Excessive Health Care & Premium Costs

Is it too late to help Americans? Is the damage done?

According to a report by Families USA, April 2009, it is urgent that health care must be made more affordable for all families, regardless of income.

The diagnosis from the report outlines a dismal view of the current health care system:
Long before the current economic crisis began, Americans were already straining under the burden of two related trends: shrinking coverage and rising health care costs. Over the last decade, millions of Americans have joined the ranks of the uninsured, and millions more have become underinsured as the value of their coverage has declined. At the same time, health insurance premiums and out-of-pocket costs have risen steadily, and the number of families who are facing unmanageably high health care costs has grown. Left unchecked, health care costs will keep going up, forcing more and more American families into debt -- and even into bankruptcy and foreclosure.

To better understand the magnitude of the health care cost crisis, Families USA commissioned The Lewin Group to analyze data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Census Bureau that reveal how many Americans face very high health care costs. This analysis allowed us to determine how many non-elderly people are in families that will spend more than 10 percent of their pre-tax income, and more than 25 percent of their pre-tax income, on health care in 2009.

Our analysis paints a stark picture: Nearly one in four Americans under the age of 65 -- some 64.4 million people -- will spend more than 10 percent of their family income on health care in 2009. The vast majority of these people (82.6 percent) have health insurance. And 18.7 million non-elderly Americans -- more than three-quarters of whom have health insurance -- are in families that will spend more than 25 percent of their income on health care in 2009.
To read more about this report and its findings, see:

The amazing, if not disgusting, point is that health care premiums have risen more than 6 times faster than wages. Add to that the increasing number of unemployed Americans and also companies who have stopped or cut-back on covering their employees and you have a major contagion of an escalating number of Americans who 1) are not insured, 2) can no longer afford to maintain their coverage and 3) are paying up to 30 percent of their pre-taxed income to keep their family insured.

You don't have to be Einstein to determine that the negative forces have cancelled the worth and success of our health care system and that another more affordable health care system is needed. While the Obama administration tries to work with the medical and health care professions, wealthy lobbies, unions, and other related entities, there is resistance to positive change and resentment of government "interference"; however, it has been years since any voluntary reforms have been made to the ailing system.

Will lawmakers and the health care industry learn quickly enough, or will we soon have a similar meltdown as occurred within the financial sector, another decay of one of our infrastructures? What happens to private insurance when the government must provide alternative health care services to all those Americans to whom the current antiquated health care system crumbles to the Earth in a pile of dust?

Apparently, Americans will not have to wait too long to find out.

Peter Stern
Driftwood, Texas, USA - June 17, 2009


Nuclear first strike to fatten the bank accounts of the few; and the influence of the Jewish Lobby in British Columbia

To the Editor:

The winners define reality so why would they want to change what works for them? Nothing changes as long as those who make policy think that Capitalism or Socialism is the answer to the ills of the world. The elite forces in every society define the policy and when that happens we get more of the same where might makes right. We need to pick ideas that work rather than political ideology that has predetermined outcomes. We will never transform the world when the image of that world is created by those who define winning by their bank accounts. These so-called winners shape the forces around us that continue to endanger the masses with policies that will grow their bank accounts at the cost of environmental and social policy that has created a small elite group of winners and humanity the losers. The losers have become the victims, complacent in their thinking that they can join the winners club. With this kind of thinking you can't make revolutionaries out of victims. Using old ways to solve modern problems will just simply recycle old conflicts and create new ones. The U.S. and NATO, as this article indicates ("NATO Must Prepare For Nuclear First Strike, Report Urges," by Bill Van Auken, WSWS.org, January 24, 2008), want the Western view of reality to transform the world. Where will that take us, a nuclear war first strike option to steal resources and eliminate potential world economic leaders and challengers? This thinking endangers us and we need to rid our world of rigid winner mentality policy planners, be they on the provincial, national, or international level. I think Hegel was right. Ideas should shape world social order whether these ideas come from computer geeks or think tanks or buskers in the street. Let the test of these ideas meet the challenge of other ideas and see which ones meet the reality that works for the majority.

On another note, the government of B.C. just knuckled under the Jewish lobby and eliminated a multiple choice question from a government test bank for History 12 student. Part of the test consists of multiple choice questions to test recall. The question "They have been fighting to regain a homeland since they were driven out in 1948. Some have lived their entire lives in refugee camps. Forty years later, Israel still refuses to recognize their right to exist as a nation. The correct answer out of four possible choices is Palestinians. The 1948 war expelled (ethnically cleansed) close to a million of Palestinians, disposed them of their land and homes, and relegated them to live as refugees in Jordan, Syria, and other Middle Eastern nation creating breeding grounds for terrorism. This is a fact but the winners of that war don't see that as a reality for their aims so they used their international lobby clout to force the minister of Education in B.C. to eliminate this question. I wonder if this would be eliminated if the answer was Israelis.

Walter Trkla
Kamkoops, B.C., Canada - June 26, 2009


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Published June 29, 2009
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