Letters to the Editor

(July 13, 2009)


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Conspiracy Theory, Really? Michael Barker's Buying The Environment To Save Capitalism

To the Editor:

Michael Barker's writing (http://www.swans.com/library/art15/barker23.html) is a truly bizarre example of conspiracy theory. While some might argue that his article is libellous, it is in fact so unbelievably wide of the mark, that it can only benefit the very people and organisations he appears to be trying to discredit. I would suggest that if he wants to criticise effectively, he really needs to have a much better understanding of what really goes on within the world of conservation -- where the fact that there are relatively few organisations operating means most of them, and the individuals working within them, will almost certainly be connected in one way or other. I could find much better connections and create a significantly better conspiracy theory if I wanted to, and was prepared to distort reality and the truth to the same level!

My main question to Barker remains unanswered. What does he propose as an alternative? We at the World Land Trust have actually made some fairly radical changes to the traditional approaches to conservation (clearly not radical enough for some people), but I really would like to know what further changes should be made, and how they could be effective. As I have written, being critical, and inventing conspiracy theories is very easy indeed. Doing something constructive is difficult. I would welcome Barker's suggestions.

Yours sincerely,

John Burton
CEO, World Land Trust
Halesworth, Suffolk, United Kingdom - June 30, 2009


More Bread: Follow-up on Graham Lea's "French Bread: The Baguette Versus Pain de Campagne" and Peter Byrne's letter.

To the Editor:

Peter Byrne (Swans letters, 29 June 2009) mentions the bâtard (not un enfant adultérin, or love child if you will), but the loaf that looks like a baguette but may be properly made in the traditional way. (1) One could have gone on at book length about French bread, and even mentioned Gilles's splendid pain plié (which I have sampled in Port-Royale on Belle Île, off the south coast of Bretagne) -- and gone on at length about perhaps a hundred or more varieties.

Lionel Poilâne produced a most interesting map of La France des pains, which illustrates around ten different kinds of bread in Bretagne alone. (2)

Bâtard-Montrachet Grand Cru is however something else: a magnificent white wine from the Côte de Beaune that should be kept for about seven years before drinking -- now that is a bastard...

As for bread-making machines -- well, chaqu'un à son goût at home. Actually, I do not make bread, since there is a former nuclear physicist who makes most excellent bread for our local market: his olive bread is the stuff of legends. My particular scorn is for the Choroleywood method of making industrial bread, where machines massacre the dough -- one of the evils the Brits have contributed to food manufacture I'm afraid -- rather than the use of mechanical mixers per se. However, to cut short fermentation is to cut out the flavour. Felicity Lawrence elaborates (3), but it is well worth reading her book Not on the label: what really goes into the food on your plate (Penguin). So far as wood-fired ovens are concerned, of course it depends on the wood: old packing cases are terrible, and even Poilâne's wood chips are not as good as oak or old vine wood, in my (arrogant) view.

Peter didn't mention (nor did I) the supposed claim of Marie Antoinette that those without bread should eat cake (actually qu'ils mangent de la brioche). It seems that it may not have been a facetious remark (although it did appear to avoid the issue of poverty), since the price of brioche, a form of bread with egg and butter, was at the time the same as that of bread, by law.

I confess I am personally uninformed about pizza, but I do have a friend who had met somebody who had once eaten a pizza, although I do not know if it affected his health...

(1) A bâtard is pictured here: shutterstock.com/pic-1750054.html
(2) strangemaps.wordpress.com/2007/03/27/94-gastronomic-cartography-the-france-of-breads/
(3) Felicity Lawrence: "Our daily bread." The Guardian, 3 May 2004.

Graham Lea
in la France profonde
Ariège, France - July 7, 2009


Avoiding environmental destruction and global warming while eliminating poverty

To the Editor:

Is it possible that this suggested restructuring of property rights law will guarantee full and equal rights to all as we all are seeking?

Preparing for a 1-hour presentation at the UN General Assembly Hall, March 5, 2009, we brought our thesis for full and equal economic rights down to 170 words plus supports before and after:

We were stunned that the above linked thesis was understood by almost everybody, the same people who had always been unreachable. Analyzing the wasted energy, labor and resources exposed by this work tells us we can avoid global warming and destruction of the ecosystem even as poverty disappears. The savings from elimination of war, one of our leading causes, is on top of that.

Please use as you see fit. We place our work in the public domain but do appreciate acknowledgments.

The books cited in that thesis are up on the Web for all to read. But, if they feel they will be useful, we do send copies to progressive groups such as yours.

Three video producers thought enough of it they are putting this thesis into their video formats. We will notify you if and when they come out. Thank you.


J.W. Smith
Institute for Economic democracy
Sun City, Arizona, USA - July 6, 2009


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Published July 13, 2009
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