Letters for the Week of November 21, 2012

Readers sound off on mind uploading, Jane Brunner, and sex work.

The Immortality Machine,” Feature, 11/7

Psuedo-Scientific Twaddle

I love the Express and I am very appreciative of the quality of the reporting, the arts coverage, and the writing. Usually. But the recent article about “mind storage” was the most ridiculous bunch of pseudo-scientific twaddle I’ve seen in your pages. If you wanted to cover it with a humorous slant, I could understand and appreciate it.
But the “science” they’re talking about is quite likely impossible in any century — and certainly in this one. Please get back to real journalism and we’ll pretend this one just didn’t happen, okay?

Jay Cloidt, Oakland

Breaking Bad,” Seven Days, 11/7

Brunner’s Not All Bad

I was disappointed to read Robert Gammon’s article dissing Jane Brunner; if she’s leaves public life with no other comments, it would be very unfortunate.

Three years ago, a group of us took up the challenge when the City of Oakland cut its tree crew from forty to nine and mostly stopped the planting of new street trees. When Jane Brunner heard about our work in late 2010, she directed to our use a fund she had established in 2005 from some unused political donations to plant street trees in Oakland, not just in District 1, but anywhere. City staff had used the fund for several years to reimburse tree acquisition costs, and we have now used those funds since January 2011 to plant more than 250 trees with all-volunteer labor (no paid staff except the concrete cutter). Eighty percent of our trees have been planted below 580 and west of Shattuck.

We are grateful for her generosity and will miss her when she leaves office in a month; it’s been a privilege to work with such a selfless funder.

P.S. Nobody connected to her solicited me to write this note.

Arthur R. Boone

Tree team lead, Sierra Club SF Bay Chapter

The Death of Down and Dirty

Good to see that most of the electorate did not buy the Tramutola down-and-dirty campaigns. Parker, Kaplan, and newcomer Dan Kalb deserve our respect and support. On a lesser note, I’m sorry to see the Express keep implying that the zoo is run by some kind of corporate types, and that this is not a public institution worthy of support.

Pamela Drake, Oakland

Redefining Sex Work,” Election 2012, 10/17

The Exploitation Dilemma

I totally agree with all of the sex-positive, empowering comments about sex work. I am also actively engaged in prevention and aftercare efforts to heal commercially sexually exploited children (CSEC) in Oakland. In response to some of the discussion about just targeting those who buy and sell underage people for sex, I am interested to know your thoughts on separating out this issue. 

Many people exploiting children are using the same tools (Redbook, Craigslist, etc.) and working in the same area (International Boulevard, Richmond, Sacramento) as people who are buying and selling sex consensually. Other than eliminating poverty so that people have economic options; improving our education system (overall, and specifically by improving sexual health and healthy relationship skills for youth); addressing our broken foster care system; and improving services for homeless youth, how can this population really be singled out? Particularly for the exploiters? How do we only reach exploiters who go after children? 

The way I see it, there is a demand for sex work, and children are extremely vulnerable to being brought in to meet that demand. This can happen through kidnapping or manipulation, or a child may choose to be involved in sex work for the money, or as a coping mechanism to abuse he or she experienced in the home, or because the media has made it seem cool. Many people who are involved in sex work started before they were eighteen, for various reasons. I think people have a right to be involved in sex work, and I also think that the industry does not support the protection of children — it thrives on their vulnerability in order to meet the demand. Would legalizing sex work solve these problems? Could the legalization be linked to the prevention of children becoming CSEC? Would sex workers support efforts to protect children? 

I also did not support 35 because I am hoping that we can come up with a more meaningful way to discourage exploiters of children than by putting them in a cell. Exploitation will always exist as long as there is capitalism, and the prison industrial complex is our convenient way of putting people aside who get in the way. It does not solve anything.

Jackie Espana, Oakland


Our November 14 music story, “Gone to the Dark Side,” misspelled the name of The Soft Moon’s new album, Zeros.


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