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Letters for January 12

Readers sound off on goats, our movie reviews, and Berkeley libraries.


"Keeping Goats in Oakland," News, 12/29

Spare the Kids

There have also been an increasing number of stray goats turning up at the Oakland Animal Shelter in the past two years. Please consider whether a goat is really right for you before bringing one home.

This article also does not mention that the ONLY way a goat will produce milk is if she is pregnant, or has recently given birth (also true for cows, or humans). This raises the question of what you plan to do with a new calf each year. Those interviewed in this article clearly chose to eat their new calf. Goats can live eight to sixteen years — killing a six-month-old baby is not a "good life," any way you slice it.

You might consider almond milk, rice milk, or soy milk instead — cholesterol- and lactose-free, and no animals died to produce the milk. You can make these inexpensively at home.

Anne Martin, Oakland

"The Ten Best Movies of 2010," Feature, 12/29

Worst Movie of the Year

I read "10 Best Movies of 2010" by Kelly Vance, in which he raves about True Grit (and doesn't mention The King's Speech, a far superior movie).

I think your readers might appreciate an alternate view, as it might save them an admissions fee and wasting two hours.

True Grit is one of the 10 Worst Movies of 2010. One has to listen to two hours of a fake, unnatural, stilted dialogue that is spoken by every single character. Why the Coen brothers thought this might be amusing or interesting is beyond me, but I found the speech annoying and irritating.

Secondly, the talents of Matt Damon and Josh Brolin are totally wasted. Neither character is in the least bit interesting.

There is no purpose to the entire story. No point. There's no reason to tell this story. It's not about justice, at most about revenge, so none of the characters is sympathetic or appealing. One is a self-described fat, drunken, one-eyed, demi-criminal that enjoys killing people, and kicking Indian children, and the young girl is a self-righteous blood-thirsty prig.

I found nothing in the movie that was funny, scary, exciting, sad, interesting, or joyful, just boring.

David Weitzman, Berkeley

"The Dude, Not the Duke," Movies, 12/29

Truth About Grit

I can overlook a couple of the factual errors in this piece, though a couple bear mention. The pious townspeople Vance cites are not residents of Yell County; that's where Hattie hails from, and it's where the bodies of her father (and later, Cogburn) go, but we never see the place onscreen. Likewise, Chaney is the "head bad guy" only in that he's the primary antagonist of the film; the man nominally in charge of his gang is Lucky Ned.

But anyone in possession of even a thirty-year-old film reference (and I would hope Katz' The Film Encyclopedia sits on every professional reviewer's shelf) should be able to confirm that True Grit was not John Wayne's next-to last movie. He made ten more films (eleven if one includes his cameo in Cancel My Reservation), with Rooster Cogburn, the sequel to True Grit, being the penultimate appearance.As you were.

Thor Klippert, Berkeley

Kelly Vance Responds

The Yell County reference is to Mattie's people in general; not strictly a factual error. The Chaney reference is open to interpretation; again, not a factual error, just an opinion.And we made the correction about John Wayne in last week's letters section.

"Berkeley Settles Library Fight," News, 12/22

Bonds Aren't Free Money

The fundamental issue in the dispute over Berkeley's Measure FF branch library bonds is that the Board of Library Trustees (BOLT) is attempting to use bond money for an unauthorized purpose — completely demolishing two of Berkeley's four branch libraries, and constructing new buildings instead.

Measure FF, approved in 2008 by Berkeley voters, did not propose demolition and/or new construction. Instead, it was specifically and solely intended to "renovate, expand, and make seismic and access improvements at four neighborhood branch libraries."

The library leadership now appears to be arguing that either it has had a change of heart, or that it really intended all along to demolish and rebuild half the branches.

If that is the case, the measure could have easily been written to include "demolish," "rebuild," "replace," or similar terminology.

It wasn't, and probably for good reason. If Berkeley voters had been told the library would have leeway to demolish cherished branch buildings, it's quite possible Measure FF wouldn't have passed.

The Board of Library Trustees chose to make the chances of passage better by excluding demolition and new buildings from both the bond measure wording and the campaign for the bonds.

A bond measure isn't a no-strings-attached gift to the city. It is a contract with the voters. We authorize increasing taxes, in exchange for the promise that those taxes will be used for a specific purpose.

If the recipient of the money can later change the purpose without consequences, as BOLT is attempting to do, then no bond measure wording really means anything. That is the key issue at stake in the lawsuit against the Berkeley Public Library.

Steven Finacom, Berkeley

"A Safer Place to Break the Law?" News, 12/22

Slippery Slope

Does anyone think youth tempted by the rewards of burglary are any less savvy than graffiti vandals? City Hall has made Oakland an experiment in how few police you can have before daily life becomes totally unlivable.

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