Swans Commentary: Letters to the Editor - letter185



Letters to the Editor

(February 22, 2010)


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Voice Above the General Din: Femi Akomolafe's Nigeria: A Nation in Custody

Dear Editors:

Some months ago I read a book review in a London daily. It was titled "How to write about Africa -- don't." The reviewer explained that "Africa" was a western invention that led westerners into penning crass generalizations. For there were nearly fifty sub-Saharan countries differing one from another like Canada from Mexico. That's exactly why I feel Femi Akomolafe's articles are so rare and valuable. He writes about one country at a time. He reports on the spot and knows that one spot on the continent is not another. He gives us what Swans does best, a voice that rises above the general din.

Peter Byrne
Lecce, Italy - February 8, 2010


The Beauty of Gay Love: Art Shay's Mutatis Mutandis (Vignette on J.D. Salinger)

To the Editor:

I have often taken my father's advice. But I must, in this case, disagree with his advice via the adage he cites in his short story, "Mutatis Mutandis."

Art Shay writes, "The goddam elastic adage, like a piece of David Copperfield crap, goes: anyone with a sensitive stomach is ill advised to observe the making of sausage, politics, gay love, or books."

While I have not seen the following in real life, my imagination suggests that observing gay love might be quite pleasant, were the two women involved reasonably attractive.

Steve Shay
Seattle, Washington - February 9, 2010


A Situation in Need of a Correction: Martin Murie's Tejon Rancho

To the Editor:

Concerning your Martin Murie's article Tejon Rancho I have this to say:

My name is Clinton J. Guidry and I have evidence that a Rancho Line has been moved, involving the Baldwin Homestead Patent, Santa Ysabel Indian Reservation, the Santa Ysabel Township, and the Matauguay Boy Scouts Camp. The Title and Deed of the Baldwin Homestead Patent is no longer where it was originally set down in 1884 by Hanson and in 1887 by Monito Surveys. What is currently being used as the "Rancho Line" does not match the Baldwin Title & Deed. The original Homestead Patent in 1939 totals 160 Acres. Now, according to San Diego County Tax Assessor, it totals 149.55 Acres.

Who do I contact to have this situation corrected?

You can contact me via this e-mail (scarlettoferret AT cox.net) or call me at (760) 782-xxxx

Clinton J. Guidry
Santa Ysabel, California, USA - February 13, 2010
Martin Murie responds:

I haven't seen the land in question, but I can forward a couple of phone numbers to you.

You no doubt have heard of the huge ranch in southern California that is targeted by developers for a set of houses and associated infrastructure for people who can afford to live inside a wilderness that happens to be in Condor territory. The Center for Biological Diversity was the only enviro outfit to stick to principles; all the others made do with compromises.

The Center is a reliable organization, concentrating on saving endangered species. Their headquarters are in Tucson, AZ, the executive director is Kieran Suckling. Phone: 1-866-357-3349

A former student, Frank Maurer, is in charge of Quail Ridge Nature Conservancy, a tract several thousand acres in extent, in Napa County, California. He is well up on conservation easements. His phone: 530-758-1387

I write a column in the Canyon County Zephyr that is now on-line. This is another reliable enviro outfit. (They are few and far between these days!!!). cczephyr@gmail.com

If you would rather contact these organizations by snail mail please feel free to contact me.

I am sorry I can't be more helpful.

Sincerely yours,

Martin Murie


The NYT Versus The New York Times: An issue of numbering matters in the J.D. Salinger Vignettes.

To Gilles d'Aymery,

I finally have to say you're wrong about something, Gilles. I didn't use NYT as a "word" for the paper's name. I used it as a wholly independent word-phrase-one-single-word entity -- reviewer's call. If I wanted to spell out the arrhythmic full name of the paper you love to loathe, or LOL at, I would have so done! What next, exorcising Salinger/Holden's mangling of "goddamn"? Changing Lincoln's 87 to four score and seven? FYI -- as "BLT" is used in most restaurants. In London, LT is the word-phrase often used to identify the paper. (As the day-late on-strike Manchester Guardian said, "Atlee Defeats Winnie" - LT) No graceless word game should be used as a club over a discrete 200-word piece. Set in real tombstone concrete in a prescribed box -- NYT would fit for space and meaning. Stretching it out because of a stretch in YOUR interpretation (over-riding common usage -- if not Swans) means you're abrogating the challenging rule of 200 you set up. You can't expect others to accept a violation in the form of your square, perhaps Gallic-Frisco-area interpretation as a mind-reading violation by hip me. NIMBY. Admit it ASAP. You're wrong. Restore my title ASAP.

Give Art back his magic 200 -- TSMLS (Toots Sweet Mistress of Library Science)

Art Shay ESQ.
Chairman of [the] Fighting 200 Committee [of one]
Deerfield, Illinois, USA - January 31, 2010

[ed. This is a tough spot: Both the publisher and the editor, who bear the same hat, agreed that according to the publication's guidelines, NYT should be spelled out in full. Tough indeed. Publishers do carry the day, however.]


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Published February 22, 2010
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