As the owner of Fair Trade Coffee House, I must respond to "In Search of a Good (Small) Cup" (11/30/07). First, if you didn't get the drink you ordered, mea culpa. We work with our staff to ensure that all customers are satisfied.
If a staff person is making a drink to exact specifications, we've instructed our staff to ask the customer if it meets their expectations. If not, we make another with pleasure. It seems that was not your experience. We can do better.
That said, I must inform you that we train our staff to prepare a cappuccino in the style that Americans demand. In our nearly four years of operation, no one has requested a cappuccino made in the European style. (Not even the Europeans!)
In fact, with inspiration from our European travels, we added Maple Macchiato to our menu. It is served in nearly the exact style that you described, but with a small amount of maple syrup. Customers are often surprised by its petite size, and they let us know that they prefer a larger 12- or 16-ounce drink.
Let's face it, American coffee/espresso tastes are quite distinct from the traditional (and yes, lovely) European fare.
Lori Henn, proprietor, Fair Trade Coffee House
I agree that many Madison coffee houses fail to distinguish between traditional beverages made from espresso. It is why you must order a latte without foam - because lattes are not cappuccinos or macchiatos.
I would point out that EVP does have a firm understanding of how to make espresso-based drinks. I would also ask: Did you really think you could get a proper cappuccino at a Starbucks? This is like expecting a really good hamburger at Burger King.
Eric Bauman, Middleton
Iowa: Not a cesspool
Iowa is hardly the politically backwards cesspool that Ruth Conniff describes in "Wisconsin Would Do It Better" (11/30/07). Look at President Bush's approval ratings: In recent polls he actually has had a slightly lower approval rating in Iowa than in Wisconsin.
Conniff rightly touts progressive Wisconsin politicians like Russ Feingold and adds that even Wisconsin Republicans are "culturally congenial." But she conveniently forgets to mention the rabidly anti-immigrant U.S. Rep. James Sensenbrenner from suburban Milwaukee.
She also calls Iowa "too white," but if you don't count heavily segregated Milwaukee, Wisconsin is hardly a hotbed of diversity either.
Indeed, her Iowa bashing is a poor substitute for serious discussion of election reform. Having grown up in Iowa and resided in Wisconsin for a number of years, I can tell you there are far more political similarities between these two very Midwestern states than differences.
I'd like to take this opportunity to be hyper-sensitive and be offended by Ruth Conniff's racist remark about Iowa being "too white" for her tastes.
Had someone opined about, say, the South Side of Chicago being "too black," people would be shrieking like banshees about the author's racism and hate-mongering intolerance. Could someone please explain why one is acceptable and the other is not?
Scott Sallstrom, Fitchburg
Because I consider Isthmus to be one of the more enlightened newspapers in the state, I must say I'm concerned that the balanced and intelligent story on Ed Gein was headlined with the stigma-producing word "psycho" ("Our Psycho," 11/30/07).
That word, which really doesn't describe serious mental illness accurately or fairly, ought to be relegated to the ash heap of dead usage.
Because our society has advanced dramatically since the 1950s when Ed Gein committed horrible crimes, isn't it time to use accurate language to describe people who live with brain disorders?
The stigma produced by such words as "psycho" too often prevents recovery from mental illness. Recovery is not only possible, but often probable with proper treatment.
Frank Ryan, former president, National Alliance on Mental Illness - Wisconsin
I am appalled at the blurred photo of Ed Gein on the cover of Isthmus! Do you people ever take into consideration the potential reactions of the victims/survivors when you decide to publish this rubbish?
I know from personal experience what it means to have these horrors dug up one more time and splashed across the front page. This kind of sensationalism should be beneath you! And for goodness' sake, think a minute about the family and friends of the murdered person(s) before you print this stuff.
Pat Kippert, Sun Prairie
Regarding Bill Lueders' Watch Out! item (11/30/07) on the Central Library not allowing homeless men to fall asleep in the library: I suggest that the homeless find a snow bank like Teresa McGovern did and die there. Then we can bemoan what a shame it is and wonder why they didn't have enough sense to rest in the library.
The Watch Out! item really got me hot under the collar. The writer seems to know nothing about the problems of the homeless in Madison.
The reason the Central Library limits the size of bundles is that when the men's shelter sends them out in the early morning the homeless men must take all their possessions with them.
Poor women have access to more permanent housing than poor men do - the YWCA has single room occupancies for poor women, and women have access to other SROs as well.
Kettle and pot
I was intrigued by Jason Shepard's analysis of television news ("The Problem With TV News," 11/16/07). Though severely critical, he did make a few valid points. How ironic that at the end of his numerous bashings of local TV networks for their shameless plugs of their own web channels, the article concludes with a sidebar shamelessly plugging Isthmus' own Daily Page web channel. Now that's journalistic balance!
Ed Porter, Sun Prairie
Executive editor Marc Eisen replies: Mr. Porter makes a good point. We should have not connected a promotional announcement to an analytical story.
Your comments regarding Charter cable adding faith channels made it sound like it was the most disgusting thing in the world (Watchdog, 8/03/07). I can think of worse things I have read in your newspaper - for example, your half- and full-page ads showing half-naked women with words such as "full nude" and "alcohol." Talk about degrading and demeaning.
I also fail to understand why you find it acceptable to constantly demean President Bush, God and Christians. It is offensive and tiring, just as it would be offensive to any other group.
In fact, if you bashed women, African Americans, Muslims, Jews and gays the way that you bash Christians, like Brian Strassburg's Mad City cartoon did concerning the renaming of the Capitol Christmas tree (11/30/07), I don't think that it would be accepted. Yet it seems acceptable to bash people who are not all the same (as you seem to clump us together) and who basically are not out to harm others.
God's blessings and guidance be upon you and the work that you do.
Any movie reviewer who describes Hannah and Her Sisters as "Woody in his prime" has his taste stored where the sun don't shine ("Thank You, Lord, for This Programming," 11/23/07). Kent Williams reminds me of those drab souls left in the UW film society who in the early '60s, after being abandoned by Marshall Brickman, who went off to New York to seek his fortune, would insist, year after year, on showing Ingmar Bergman movies.
Come on, Kent, either pick Annie Hall and Manhattan (if you insist on being the intellectual) or Take the Money and Run and Sleeper if you will admit to being a Three Stooges fan as I do, but please don't tell us Hannah and Her Sisters is Woody Allen at his best. Feh!!!
Joel Black, Blue Mounds
Regarding your article about toy safety and toxic lead finishes (Kids & Parents, 12/7/07): The author missed one local toymaker making child safe toys. I buy my wood finishes at the grocery store (walnut and sunflower oil) and guarantee my wooden toys for my lifetime.
John Michael Linck, www.woodentoy.com