Letters to the Editor

(January 26, 2009)


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Price Gouging of Pet Food? Gilles d'Aymery's Blips #77

[ed. This is a response to an e-mail sent by Gilles d'Aymery on January 20, 2009. Full story in the current Blips #78.]

To the Editor (& Gilles d'Aymery):

In 26 years of business Rainbow has never been accused of price gouging, but let me assure you I feel your frustration. Perhaps President Obama can help us here by lowering taxes on small business, lowering the cost of providing health insurance to our staff, eliminating needless regulation, allowing my staff a more flexible work week etc., etc.

Our local store has no control over the size of the bag, or the cost of the bag. While it is true that we do control the retail markup, the market retail price is usually set by the big box stores. As a local store we must stay competitive. I checked this product and we are marking up this item 25%. Out of this markup we must cover the cost of our entire operation.

Unfortunately, the Natura company is not alone in this pricing strategy of decreasing the bag size and increas[ing] the price. We have experienced dramatic cost increases from almost every company we buy from. In fact this behavior caused us to bring in several other lines of pet food that are more competitively priced. Next time you are in the store, please ask one of our associates to help you select one.

My advice is vote with your wallet. Don't stop shopping at Rainbow, but perhaps choose a different brand we stock to feed your pets. Our staff can help you with this selection, but each consumer must measure the price to the value of the product supplied. By the way, I feed my dog Dixie a Nutura product called EVO and it costs over $72 for 30#; but she is worth it...... oh, and she only eats 1/2 cup per day.

Our suppliers feel it and notice it when sales decline and that effect multiplied by consumers throughout the nation may have a chance to influence the pricing strategy of manufacturers and suppliers.

Jim Mayfield
Owner of Rainbow Agricultural Services
Ukiah, California, USA - January 20, 2009


Nazim Hikmet Rehabilitated

To the Editor:

In these dark days, it's good at least to hear that Nazim Hikmet, Turkey's greatest poet, has been given back his birthright posthumously. "The crimes which forced the government to strip him of his citizenship at that time are no longer considered a crime," explained the Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Cicek, sounding like Alice in Wonderland.

Of course it's too little too late and a low-cost opportunity for Prime Minister Erdogan to boost his human rights credentials with the European Union. Ironically the moderate Islamist PM was thrown in prison in 1999 (for reading a poem!) by the same super patriots that incarcerated Nazim for much of his life. In any case Nazim can now return to his homeland as he wished:

Friends if it's not my lot to see the day
of independence
if I die before that day
-- and it seems I will --
bury me in a village graveyard in Anatolia
and if it's fitting
and a plane tree grows at my head,
then there's no need for a gravestone or anything else.

Still more irony. Nazim wasn't an Anatolian. His roots, like Ataturk's and Orhan Pamuk's, were deep in European Turkey, west of the Bosphorus. But his years of prison and exile, like his free verse in colloquial language, made him more representative of the whole of his country than the rabid nationalists who condemned him.

Peter Byrne
Lecce, Italy - January 12, 2009


PR 101: Perpetrators Accusing the Victims

To the Editor:

Dear me, don't we Anglo-Saxons love to repeat atrocity stories against our victi..., I mean enemies, told with smacking lips?

All the Freudian phrases of denial, projection and rationalisation spring to mind. This appears to be a particular problem here as any kind of wrong-doing and guilt by America and Western Liberals supporting it is denied. It is called Denial and Living in Denial.

This is the perpetrators accusing the victims.

The attack on Yugoslavia was a destabilisation and covert operation or Black Op., planned for many years before in Washington. The people being used and the petty states to be created meant that large numbers of people would be driven out. It became known as ethnic cleansing.

It was in the same area as the WWII massacres and carried out by the same people and movements in WWII, now working for the Americans. It was clear in the autumn of 1991 that if Bosnia-Herzegovina was destabilised what would happen.

Same with Kosovo where America had started its intrigue. Warren Zimmerman, the US ambassador immediately on appointment in February 1988 rushed there to hold an exhibition on Modern American architecture with every Albanian Nationalist he could find. The paramilitaries are accurately described as being created by the CIA, Islamic fundamentalists, and the Saudis.

As an American general said at a conference, "We made a policy mistake in 1944 and had to go back to correct it."

It's called a War of Aggression. The official definition of a war crime? "To carry into effect a war of aggression ....or conspiracy or Common Plan for the same."

It appears that there was an awful lot of Common Plan. Also a Joint Criminal Enterprise.

Amazingly, these denials still go on fourteen years after the event. But not really as these territories are still occupied by Western troops.

As someone said many years ago, "the world will only make progress when the Anglo-Saxons admit guilt."

Richard Roper
Sheffield, UK - January 13, 2009


Consumerism and Boycotts

Hey Monsieur d'Aymery,

You may be repulsed by American consumerism and materialism, among other endearing attractions of the American character, but you should come back to France, le cher pays de votre enfance. You'll find out that the Frenchies have espoused Americanism with a vengeance.

Boycotting Israel is easier said than done. How would you go about it?

Allez, bon vent. Hang in there.

Alouette Arouet
Paris, France - January 18, 2009

[ed. To find Israeli products one can boycott -- at least in the U.S. -- visit boycottisraeligoods.org. Or, ironically, visit buyisraelgoods.org. The latter is a site that promotes Israeli products by states, stores, and products in the U.S. It makes it much easier to boycott them! (There must be similar Web sites in France and in the EU.]


Religions and Contemporary Conditions: Scott Porter's Population Control

To the Editor:

Scott Porter wrote: "The major religions are against birth control. It is to their advantage in the short run to create as many potential Catholics as possible."

I support his first sentence but encourage him to refine his second one in future writings to be consistent with the first.

There is no more coercive religion on earth than fundamentalist Islam, nor one more suppressive of women, though the disenfranchised, recidivist "Mormons" of Arizona and Texas come close. These are cautionary tales for those who believe in a unified church and state.

On the other hand, Italy, long Catholic and home to Rome, has a below-replacement birth rate. It's been centuries since they were also a temporal power with the ability to enforce their pronouncements.

The complex interplay of government/"the state," history, culture, economics, and religion produce "shades" of each religion. I suggest that readers will be more receptive to Porter's otherwise well-written piece if it reflects contemporary conditions.


P. Matejcek
Santa Cruz, California, USA - January 17, 2009


Exception to So-called Gay Stars: Charles Marowitz's The Letters Of Noel Coward

To the Editor:

An interesting item, but I take exception to the listing of so-called gay stars. It may be that one or more of these men were indeed gay or bisexual, but it may be that some were not. Repetition does not make truth out of something inherently either false, or largely so. Also, if you read the book, Coward does not make these allusions, Barry Day does. Homosexual think, a kind of afterlife to Gestapo spank, has sort of taken over a twentieth century cultural history, especially with the advent of the Internet, and an awful lot of the Boze Hadleigh level of biographical history.

Barry Lane
Toronto, Canada - January 18, 2009


Don Quixote on the Bureau of Public Secrets Web site

Don Quixote Attacks the Windmills:

Miguel de Cervantes's Don Quixote is one of the most wonderful books in the world. A middle-aged country gentleman, brain addled by reading too many chivalric adventure stories, adopts the trappings of a medieval knight and sets out to rescue damsels in distress and otherwise right any wrongs he may come across. He convinces a naive but commonsensical neighboring peasant, Sancho Panza, to accompany him as his squire. Their conversations as they travel along are even more entertaining than their predictably amusing adventures. The novel may have started out as a mere satire of the already largely outmoded genre of chivalric romance, but Don Quixote and Sancho soon took on a life of their own and became two of the best-loved characters in world literature.

The new Web page presents the famous adventure of the windmills in the original Spanish along with four modern English translations.

The BPS Web site also includes Kenneth Rexroth's superb essay on the book.

"Many people, not all of them Spanish, are on record as believing that 'Don Quixote' is the greatest prose fiction ever produced in the Western world. Certainly it is one of the few books a genuinely international critic would dare to group with 'The Dream of the Red Chamber' or 'The Tale of Genji' or 'The Mahabharata'. It epitomizes the spiritual world of European man at mid-career as 'The Odyssey' and 'The Iliad' do at his beginnings and as 'The Brothers Karamazov' does in his decline. . . . Don Quixote starts on his quest with his head full of phantasm. What he finds is his own identity, but he finds it in communion with others. He discovers what Don Quixote is really like by discovering that other people are like himself and that he is like them. The mystery that is slowly unveiled in the course of his complicated adventures is the mystery of the facts of life. . . . Possibly all great fictions deal with self-realization, with the integration of the personality. This is, in a special way, the subject of 'Don Quixote'. Even more than in the wise reveries of Montaigne, Cervantes in this golden book gives us the purest expression of humanism -- not just its message, but its special wisdom that can be found only in adventure in the manifold, inexhaustibly eventful ways of men." (Rexroth)

Ken Knabb
"Making petrified conditions dance by singing them their own tune."
Berkeley, California, USA - January 21, 2009


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Published January 26, 2009
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