Letters of the week

Readers reflect on Sarah Palin, health insurance, birth control and more.

Published August 30, 2008 8:23AM (EDT)

Read the story "We drive as we live"
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I would disagree with Berger's pooh-poohing of the effects of urban sprawl on worsening traffic problems. It's been well-studied, documented and written about in the popular press too. I don't think that it's an either/or issue, but rather that they complement and amplify each other's effects on traffic.

However, I can certainly relate to how drivers can't "see" things they don't expect. I take mass transit every day to work. I must walk about 3 blocks along a major thoroughfare and cross two corners of a wide, busy intersection in order to get to my bus stop in the morning. Careless moms in minivans and thick-necked guys in work trucks and tattooed guys smoking cigarettes in sport cars and businessmen in fancy Lexuses are constantly ignoring me or looking the other direction when I have the “walk” signals, not even bothering to check if anyone is in the intersection before making a right turn before whipping around the corner or looking for oncoming traffic in the other direction and hitting the gas before looking.

They may not notice me beforehand, but they sure do after they cut me off with inches to spare or put me in some such danger, because usually I am swearing loudly and utilizing various obscene gestures to get their attention and glare at them in the eye. Idiots.

Or what about how there is zero consideration of when it comes to maintenance or design? In some areas of my neighborhood in Denver, particularly the wealthy ones, there are hardly any sidewalks. Even if there are, they are never plowed when it snows, but rather accept the snow, slush and runoff from the streets and parking lots. This then freezes solid overnight into concrete-like ice mountains that can be four or five feet high, completely blocking the sidewalk. These force pedestrians to risk life and limb by walking into traffic in the street in order to make their way, or possibly taking painful tumble when trying to climb over them. I am relatively young and able bodied and this is often difficult for ME. I've seen elderly and handicapped people have a much harder and more dangerous time than myself. Meanwhile, the streets are usually dry and ice free.

I think the idea that Vanderbilt describes, that traffic engineering has traditionally failed to take into account the limitations and nature of human beings is a valid one and needs to be discussed and considered much more than it is. The dominant paradigm of developing urban spaces exclusively for cars and not for human beings has got to change.

-- spacekase

Read the story "The emerging abortion underground"
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I remember a study designed to find out how birds knew where worms were. Turns out that when you're that close to dirt, you can see the worms. It's obvious why women are choosing to self abort: abortion is legal, but it's not available.

If researchers simply examined the cost of getting an abortion, even in cities where one is relatively affordable and easily available, versus the income of most women who need them they'd find that even $200 is a huge amount to someone who makes minimum wage or who is hiding from parents. Counting the number of doctors who perform abortions and the number and location of clinics or hospitals which perform abortions would show how few there are. Adding up the number of steps required by inhibitive, byzantine laws in several states plus the lack of any abortion or birth control provider is many others and you can create an equation that shows a huge discrepancy between the number of women who want abortions and the number of abortions that can be safely provided.

Without even considering the insulting attitude of the current administration and certain politicians that women are incapable of making decisions, that women do not have value systems and their own moral compass, it's easy to see how, at ground level, women have to fend for themselves.

-- MCM

Read the story "Get your Mac on!"
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Marge Simpson said it best

"People don't want to think of me when they reach for their birth control"

-- Al Bania

Read the story "Who is Sarah Palin?"
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"The mother of Bristol, Piper, Track, Willow, and Trig." Alas, where is young Spraynerd?

-- mynamehere

Read the story "Dr. Feelbad"
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I'd like to come in and give you a pep talk, Doc, but I don't have health insurance, so I can't afford to walk into your office. It seems the only people happy with our health care system are HMO executives and stockholders.

In the movie Sicko, we hear tapes of Nixon and Haldeman discussing Henry Kaiser's new health organization plan. Haldeman explains how all the incentives are against providing care to patients. Nixon says "nice," admiring the devious nature of the scheme. We then see film of Nixon endorsing the plan the next day, saying it will provide Americans with the best health care in the world.

-- btdenver

By Salon Staff

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