Letters for the week of September 19-26


“The best use of my money would be if we never needed it,” she says. That’s exactly our position — we decided to bank the cord blood for our first son eight years ago, when my sister suggested it, since our son would be multiracial. We also did it for our younger son. I asked my husband a few years ago if we should continue to pay the annual fee, and he said that if we never have to use it, that would be worth it to him. Although cord blood isn’t used very often, my fear was always that we would need it, and we hadn’t banked it.
Cindy Harris, Novato

I am just stunned after reading your article. I am the lobbyist for the sponsoring organization for AB 34; hence, I have been working on this issue for a while. The public/private cord blood bank debate is very nuanced and complex and you captured that beautifully.

Your research was fantastic. Often when I read an article about a subject with which I am familiar, I find multiple errors. From my perspective, your article was extremely accurate. The only nuance I would add is that with an optimal national inventory of publicly banked cord blood — perhaps at the 300,000-unit level — at that point we should be able to have virtually everyone matched. That is why Assemblyman Portantino’s AB 34, designed to increase the inventory from the current 50,000 units, should be supported. Also, the more the inventory comes from Californians, the easier it should be for Californians to find a match. Please relay to your editors that someone immersed in this issue was absolutely blown away by the depth, breadth, detail, perspective, and nuance you brought to this article. Thank you for your excellent reporting.
Shannon Smith-Crowley, Sacramento

Thank you for such an informative article. I often get questions about cord blood registries, and we do not have a hospital site (yet) in Sacramento that offers easy public collection of cord blood. I hope that in the future, there will be more of a concerted effort to offer this option to pregnant women.
Vicki Wolfe, Granite Bay


I was very impressed with Leonardo DiCaprio’s powerful documentary The 11th Hour. The film depicts the devastating effects of global warming, including droughts, hurricanes, and flooding of coastal areas. It features interviews with the brightest minds on our planet about the causes of this environmental crisis and possible solutions. A powerful solution was suggested last November in a report by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. The report found that meat production accounts for 18 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming. That’s more than the percentage of emissions from automobiles. Carbon dioxide, the chief greenhouse gas, is emitted by burning forests to create animal pastures and by combustion of fossil fuels to operate farm machinery, trucks, refrigeration equipment, factory farms, and slaughterhouses. The much-more-damaging methane and nitrous oxide gases are released from the digestive tracts of cattle and from animal waste cesspools, respectively. The good news is that each of us can do our part to reduce global warming on our next trip to the supermarket. More details are available at www.CoolYourDiet.org.
Evan Teller, Emeryville

[Regarding Kelly Vance’s review of Chris Gorak’s Right at Your Door]: There was a film called Testament that came out in the mid-’80s with exactly the same premise, but set in a Bay Area suburb, in which Jane Alexander gets to watch the world around her crumble after nuclear detonations destroy San Francisco (and presumably every other major city in the world). Her suburb devolves into chaos and death, and ends after the last person dies of radiation poisoning. It’s an amazing look at the truly final nature of total war and destruction, but its premise was based on the Cold War, not the terrorist “dirty bomb.” Gorak is not so original on this, but it does sound like he did it well.
Bert Green, Los Angeles


I was disappointed to see that the discussion linking cellphone usage to the decline of honey bees went unmentioned. According to a bee study done at Landau University in Germany, cellphone usage has much to do with the decline in bee population.

I commute to and from San Francisco daily and experience more and more lethargy and brain fog, which I attribute to electromagnetic energy and the incredible amount of cellphone usage in our time. (This doesn’t even consider the electromagnetic waves and hot brain pain I experience after using a cellphone.) Who’s to think these tiny creatures that navigate by antennae are any different? They may be even thousands of times more vulnerable to these waves.

I understand there is more than one theory out there, and there could be more than one reason, but this one really hits home for me.

Please view this research study. I would love to see a follow-up on this article with cellphones included. I see dead bees daily on my running path. A wasp just died on my balcony thirty minutes ago in front of my eyes, and it’s not even cold yet. No wonder bees are not making it back to their hives; they’re dying en route. (I think it’s not just honey bees.) Electromagnetic waves and microwaves are real: visit www.theecologist.org.

Thanks for the focus on these important little creatures. Humans have a lot to think about in regards to their effects on the world they live in. Perhaps we should go back to pay phones and land lines.

Kathryn Fairbanks, Oakland


As a dyke who lives in the Havenscourt, about five minutes away from Velvet, I wholeheartedly support the bar and its owners … although I empathize with Page Hodel’s predicament. For one thing, it just makes economic sense to support the bar. Businesses go bust around here every day, and we need some economic development. Seriously, if the bar fails, when is the next time a bank will be willing to float a loan for another dyke bar in East Oakland? Ten years from now? Twenty? I encourage the women in this area to work with what’s here, and give Adam, Bob, and Stephanie the chance to make good. If you have a problem with the way they run the bar, talk to them. They are open to suggestions and are incredibly nice people.
Anonymous, Oakland

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