A Bad Spell
Mark Miester's brilliantly sophisticated and well-researched article on absinthe ("A Second Round of Absinthe," Dec. 17) is only cosmetically defaced by his mischievous instinct for inflicting mayhem on famous names. He has changed Edgar Allan Poe to Allen and Wm. M. Thackeray's last name to Thackery (perhaps to make a rhyme of Hickory, Dickery, Thackery) and has turned Victor Herbert into a Frenchman by changing his last name to Hebert. And in his sidebar on thujone, Miester decided he'd had enough of Pernod, which he repeatedly spelled correctly in his treatise on absinthe, and changed it to Pernot, which could've resulted from drinking besides just writing it.
The same problem afflicts Tim Lyman's very timely and important piece on tennis great Nehemiah Atkinson ("Jumping the Net," Dec. 10), in which Lyman refers to Philippe Adams as Philip Adam and to Phil's father as Louis Adam, a shame, since they both, like Atkinson, have done much for local tennis. Getting the names wrong in otherwise fine pieces of writing -- such as the aforementioned two articles -- is the literary analog to painting a moustache on the Mona Lisa.
Lyman's article also leaves the wrong impression that Arthur Ashe beat Nikki Pilic to win the final of the Sugar Bowl Junior Tennis Championships here. Both Ashe and Pilic were in their twenties then, and it was the men's event, which sadly was discontinued decades ago after the advent of open tennis in 1968, though the junior event is still held.
--Joseph B. Stahl
Editor's note: Gambit Weekly regrets the errors and concedes all of Stahl's points but one: the spelling of "Pernot" in the sidebar "The Thujone Connection." The Emile Pernot distillery is distinct from Henri-Louis Pernod's distillery.
Fueling Further Debate
The syndicated Molly Ivins column appearing in your publication contained some inaccurate and misleading information about the oil and gas industry ("The New Fascism," Dec. 3). While we do not wish to get into a debate with Ms. Ivins over her own political views, we felt compelled to correct the inaccuracies included in her column.
She claims that there is some great scheme to keep the country in cheap oil indefinitely. She then goes on to promote the use of renewable resources and concludes by claiming that the oil industry is the beneficiary of "innumerable tax breaks, loopholes and support programs."
The oil and gas industry is not opposed to the development of renewable resources. Many companies are spending large sums on research and development on this very issue. Everyone does want affordable energy, and for too many years the energy policy of this nation under both Republican and Democratic administrations has been to maintain an adequate supply of energy as cheaply as possible. Unfortunately, such a policy has not been in the best interest of the domestic oil and gas industry. In fact, efforts to promote domestic development have been thwarted by Republicans and Democrats alike over the past years. That has resulted in many areas being put off-limits to domestic exploration and production. However, the demand for oil continues to increase.
Our dependence upon imports is a result of the demand of the people. The industry does not oppose the concept of greater gas mileage and more fuel-efficient vehicles. However, many people in this country have exercised their freedom of choice by driving SUVs and other similar vehicles. The industry is only working to meet the energy demands of the people. If domestic oil is not available, imports are the only answer. Alternate energy sources may someday replace or more likely supplement oil and gas -- but not any time soon. Thus it is vital for the country to preserve, maintain and protect its foreign sources of crude oil.
Finally, there are no massive tax breaks, loopholes and support programs. There are and have been some incentive programs at the state and national level to encourage the use of new technology or to develop unproven or difficult areas. In return, the people have seen an increased domestic energy supply, jobs and economic investment.
This country does not like higher energy prices. If the price of oil increases globally and the price of gasoline increases accordingly, there are generally protests and charges of oil conspiracy and price fixing, which have always proved to be unfounded.
Finally, when looking at renewable energy resources, the emphasis is always on fuel -- alternatives to gasoline, wind power for electricity, etc. However, there is more to oil and gas than use as a fuel. Oil and gas are the building blocks of this country. Virtually every consumer product, from the computer on Ms. Ivins' desk to bubble gum, is dependent on oil and gas.
Ms. Ivins is entitled to her opinions, but she should get her facts straight.
--B. Jim Porter
Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association
The Miracle of Marijuana
I want to thank you for your recent editorial highlighting the necessity of medical marijuana policy reform ("Legalize Medical Marijuana," Nov. 12). My best friend and co-author George McMahon is one of only six patients in the entire United States who receives medical marijuana from the federal government. He has smoked 10 joints a day for 12 years to treat the pain, spasms and nausea associated with a rare genetic condition called Nail Patella Syndrome. Prior to being admitted to the federal marijuana program, George had been through 19 major surgeries and was taking 17 pharmaceutical substances on a daily basis. Since smoking the federal marijuana, he has not had one surgery or hospitalization, and he has stopped taking all pharmaceuticals. Cannabis literally saved his life. George's story will be chronicled in our book, The Green Path: A Journey to Uncle Sam's Marijuana Garden due for release this May.
Thanks again for speaking out on behalf of sick and dying people.