I just read your article about Mexico ("Please Come to Mexico!" May 21). I guess I am not the typical gringo, because I travel all over Mexico all of the time.
My girlfriend is from Mexico City, and I am with her every month there. I was there when the swine flu hit. I found that it was serious but definitely over-hyped by the press.
As far as the gun battles go, I guess that most people from the United States forget about the violence at home—drive-by shootings in gangland America, the mass shootings at our schools and workplaces, and the mob hits of our professional criminals—when they shoot off their mouths about the violence in and around Mexico. I have never had a problem with crime in Mexico in all of the years I have been going there. This is an observation on my part: If you do stupid things, hang out in dark places or deal with questionable people, you are going to find trouble.
The only thing I have to say to fellow gringo travelers is this: Cross the border with your head on the outside of your butt; treat the people from the country you are visiting as though you are invited to their home (because you are)—with respect—and you will not find trouble. Don't go acting like some pompous ass-American.
As they tell me in Mexico City, "We are Americans, too, and the two cultures are intertwined."
After reading and re-reading Tom Higgins' letter ("A Letter From Someone Who Has Issues With Arizona Public Media," Mailbag, May 21), I am reminded of some of my many reflections on so-called public media in this country:
• It is a lie to use "public" in the name when the following are considered: many funding sources which are corporate and private; unequal individual access limits; funding structures and contributor relationships; organizational structure; and fiscal secrecy.
• Just who are the dictators of the digital technology being imposed on us, in which no viewer or listener has had a say? How will the future quality of programming be able to keep up with this complex technology?
• Rarely in my experience does "public media" content inspire; rather, it is constantly taking the life-breath out of anyone exposed, especially to the video. A major example of this is children's programming, which will ruin a child's health with even moderate chronic exposure. One important reality check on this is the book The Sense of Wonder by Rachel Carson. Just who decides how many hours each day KUAT Channel 6 broadcasts child programming and thus takes away from public health and individual wisdom?
• Whereas healthy communities have a diversified control of information, "public electronic media" concentrate this control with a few people who are unknown to most residents. With this misuse of electromagnetic communication systems, and without a change in our thinking, "Thus we drift toward unparalleled catastrophe" (as Einstein said of atomic-weapons systems). It is a constant threat to the well-being of residents that very complex electromagnetic systems are used by mostly publicly funded large institutions to chronically beg for resources. With the recent mass-distrust of our false national economies, have more people become aware of the great destructive power of electronic media systems?
• It is particularly unhealthy in a democracy that allows debate, critical questioning, careful examination and due process that there is very little of any of this in the history of U.S. public media since the beginning in 1967. Almost no consumers of these "noncommercial" electronic media know where to go for balanced reviews of systemic performance, which failed everyone especially between 2000 and 2008. See the references in note 53, Pages 230 and 231, on public radio and television in Communication Revolution by Robert W. McChesney, 2007. Also see www.freepress.net and www.fair.org for further self-education and possible appropriate action.
This letter is written with the intent of positively empowering any interested media consumers to be more aware of growing dangers. There is no expectation of influencing any media producers.
Guy McPherson's Guest Commentary (May 14) is a hysterical rant that does disservice to those of us who believe that the world would be better off without burning up all the oil. He claims that the International Energy Agency (IEA) forecasts a 9.1 percent decline per year in the crude-oil supply. The actual IEA facts can be obtained at www.worldenergyoutlook.org/docs/weo2008/fact_sheets_08.pdf. Therein, it states that, "Proven reserves of close to 1.3 trillion barrels equal more than 40 years of output at current rates; remaining recoverable resources of conventional oil alone are almost twice as big."
The real problem, according to the IEA report, is greenhouse-gas emissions, which will rise by 45 percent by 2030.
There is plenty to worry about, but trying to scare people with bogus information is not helpful; nor is moving to your rural paradise, a luxury that few of us can afford.