Trains of thought
Larry Kaufmann proposes to craft transportation policy that the public wants (Opinion, 12/10/10). However, the public discussed by his column seems to consist only of drivers: His only measure of success is relief of traffic congestion.
But many people do not drive. Some are physically incapable, and others cannot afford cars. And most of us drivers are also pedestrians, bicyclists and/or bus riders at varying times.
What transportation system enables all these users to safely and cost-effectively reach desired destinations? A balanced system that provides transportation choices and is coordinated with land-use policies.
I suggest adding travel time and distance as other important metrics. Is someone who travels five miles in 20 minutes on a congested street worse off than someone who goes 10 miles in 30 minutes on less congested streets? The free flow of traffic, while generally a good thing, is an inadequate measure of success.
I hope Larry Kaufmann is more thorough in his economic consultant work, whatever that is, than with his transportation commentary.
"If we're stuck in traffic, waiting for the train to pass, we're not getting where we want as quickly as we would like," he asserts. Should we then prohibit automobile and pedestrian cross traffic?
Then there's the issue of safety. Commuter trains increase safety by keeping more cars off the road. And then we wouldn't have to wait so long for those darn cars to pass.
In the name of security
Why even ask Dane County Board members about TSA full body scans (Watch Out!, 12/10/10)? That Scott McDonell has an opinion that invokes Israel (I believe they use profiling and intense intelligence information as a security measure - you ready for that Scott?) and feels Dane County could try something different shows what's wrong with the pols like McDonell. He has no jurisdiction, and that is a great comfort. Leave TSA alone.
I can tell you from personal experience that the Israeli alternative to "scope or grope" that McDonell hopes TSA will check out is just racial profiling on steroids. If you are an Arab, Israeli citizen of Palestinian origin, or an Arab-American, Israel wants to talk to you. In a small room. For hours.
An American passport and an Arab-sounding name is a ticket to harassment, as Donna Shalala (yes, that Donna Shalala) found out when she was detained for hours past her flight because the "efficient" Israeli security couldn't "confirm" her identity.
Please: Let's not "learn" any more about assaulting human dignity from Fortress Israel than we already have.
Vet praised for quitting
As a physician concerned about the suffering of both humans and animals, I commend Dr. Richard Brown for speaking out about animal welfare concerns at the UW-Madison ("Campus Vet Quits, Faulting Animal Care," 12/17/10).
The university has been cited numerous times for animal welfare violations, but the facility continues to dismiss ethical concerns. Unfortunately, the animal abuse and neglect happening at the UW is not uncommon at research facilities across the nation. Oversight committees continue to approve duplicative animal research, ignore viable non-animal research methods and dismiss serious animal welfare concerns.
Speaking out about animal welfare problems will push researchers to improve their ethics - and to adopt modern, human-centered research methods that are scientifically and ethically superior.
Hope Ferdowsian, M.D., Director of Research Policy, Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine, Washington, D.C.
Didn't like restaurant
I usually enjoy Raphael Kadushin's restaurant critiques, but completely disagree with his review of the Underground Kitchen ("Where Food Is Fun," 12/17/10). Just about the entire experience I had there was, in a word, awkward.
Noise bouncing around forced me and my companion to sit right on the corners of the table to hear each other (please people - hire a professional interior designer who knows about sound buffering!). The seating - while adorably recycled - was literally a pain. The chairs are rickety and too small.
And the food! Everything looked great, but the duck soup had a bread covering that my companion had to cut with a knife. The polenta fries had a tough fried outer layer that defied cutting. The wild rice salad had three-inch-long sprouts!
Is intention ambitious? Yes. Is it enjoyable in practice? No.
Your feature "20 Years Ago" ("What's Wrong With Madison's Left," 12/17/10) effectively rips one point in my History and the New Left out of context. Sure, William Appleman Williams was bitterly critical of the New Left, so bitter he left town in a hurry. But the vast majority of the book's contributors, and the editor (me) as well, would describe the weight of arrogance as belonging to the university administration and city.
The vast majority of the student activists were more democratic, egalitarian and creative than the people in power ever acknowledged. And they played a larger role in the national antiwar movement than Madison's movers and shakers have ever wanted to admit.
Much more could be said, but consider this proposition: No antiwar movement, no Soglin Phenomenon, no cultural revolution in a certain staid Midwestern city, and precious little of the unique Madisonianism that we treasure and seek to preserve today.
Don't shrug racism off
The remark in "Week in Review" (11/19/10) in regard to hate crime at UW-Whitewater of "Um, does anyone remember that this is, like, 2010?" falsely alludes to the idea that because it is 2010, racism shouldn't be a problem anymore. Blatant acts of racism should be dealt with seriously and they should spur discussion of the more pervasive and prominent problem of institutional discrimination. These acts should not be shrugged off because it is 2010. Duh!
The news editor replies: The item referred to the spray-painting of "KKK" on black students' cars. Our point was that it's crazy for such a thing to happen in 2010, not that it shouldn't be taken seriously.
I just got a chance to read the Dec. 17 Isthmus. I picked up the paper, put it the back seat of my car by my 5-year old, with the back cover facing up. I now realize what was on the back cover: DRAWINGS OF NAKED WOMEN, INCLUDING THEIR BREASTS. This paper was in my car, in the back seat, back cover up, right BY MY 5-YEAR-OLD.
Please consider all your readers and be sensitive to readers with families when you choose which ads run in your paper. I am very disappointed. I have never looked twice at Isthmus before grabbing it and setting it out around our house, but I have never seen naked drawings of women in Isthmus either. Now I feel like I have to be very careful when doing so.
I was grabbing a local newspaper, not Maxim or Playboy. I didn't expect this at all.
Just wanted to thank you for putting together a great online and print publication. Isthmus is the source I use for eats and movies, and I never miss the weekly edition. You're an important part of what makes Madison...Madison.