Caught in the net: I want to thank you for the incisive article you did on the state of the city Housing Authority and its relationship to my wife's federal bribery conviction ("The Great Minnow Hunt," Dec. 6). You were under no obligation to do the article, but you went far beyond the call of duty to bring into public view what has been tolerated with insidious winks and nods within the bowels of the city's power elite.
This entire process has been very much surreal for Pat and me. Nevertheless, I must say, your hard-hitting piece really gave us a much-needed shot in the arm. I have friends from around the country that are reading the article on the Internet. This has spurred many of them to write a letter to the judge. From what I understand, Pat's attorney has received upward of 100 letters. I believe the article is raising quite a few eyebrows around town. Thanks again.
Pastor Michael S. Williams
A Critic Gets Panned
Help! Gina's trapped in a paper bag ...: I just had to let you know how much I adored your Gina Arnold piece (Pop Philosophy, Dec. 6, by Dan Strachota). Man, if there's anything worse than a self-important rock critic, it's a self-important rock critic turned half-assed "cultural commentator."
I don't usually enjoy intramural alternative press pissing contests, but this one is wholly warranted. The sad thing is, I'm sure she won't even read it. Or she'd just dismiss it as jealousy if she did -- "You just hate me because I'm friends with Greil Marcus!" I don't usually write and compliment people, but this piece was so spot-on that I had to let you know.
... and can't write her way out: Thank you! I was excited to notice that someone cares that bad journalism is just that, bad journalism. As a local musician who felt the pain of losing rehearsal space and places to play, I was outraged at her calling me a whiner and that where I moved from (Modesto) was a suburb of San Francisco! Does she need geography lessons, too? Modesto sucks. That's why we, the people, come here, or in my case move back here.
Well, hats off to you, Dan, for noticing that some of us know a lot more about our own scene than someone we both know who writes about it.
We don't need new experiences. We have cable.: It is Dan Strachota, not Gina Arnold, who gives rock critics a bad name when he can think of nothing better to write about than criticizing other critics. The boundaries of his "measly little world" (to steal a phrase from Jimi Hendrix) are obviously carefully circumscribed. Strachota finds fault with Arnold because she has lived somewhere else besides San Francisco and has experienced and wants to write about things beyond the music world. But those things help make her a great writer and music critic. Strachota's interpretation of Arnold's writing was shallow and petty. Perhaps he should consider leaving town for a while and experiencing something new. The change in perspective might do him some good.
If We Were Psychic We Would Have Known That
We'll ask you: What's with Koppel's hair?: I read with interest your article "The View From Here" (Night Crawler, Dec. 6), about the U.S. government's remote-viewing program [which tried to train psychic spies]. You have a major factual error: You say [Prudence] Calabrese [a remote- viewing teacher] "saw a Nightline special with Ted Koppel interviewing former SRI project monitor and analyst retired Major Ed Dames."
I was a physicist with the Stanford Research Institute remote-viewing project since 1976 and its director since 1985. Major Dames was never interviewed on that Nightline program. I was the person on that program with the director of the CIA, Robert Gates, and a CIA person identified as Norm.
The U.S. government spent $20-plus million over approximately 20 years. I was the director of research when the project was at SRI and at Science Applications International Corp. I presided over 70 percent of the total project funding and was responsible for 85 percent of the project's data.
Among many things, we were asked to see if remote viewing (now called anomalous cognition) could be trained. The short answer is "no," I am sorry to say. Undaunted, a number of former non-scientist personnel have gone out on their own offering remote-viewing training programs -- most of which were initially developed by one of the SRI people. Testing of this procedure showed some interesting insight into possible psychological processes, but we were not able to confirm even statistical learning.
Edwin C. May, Ph.D.
The Laboratories for Fundamental Research
For the record: Great article by Silke Tudor. She did a great job in her story about the history of remote viewing, Prudence Calabrese, and Silke's own Berkeley experience. She hit it on the nose about what we all went through in that workshop. It was very intense, and that was only the beginning class. However, in the story, the city of Oakland will never be able to figure out who I was because I worked for the county of Alameda. Just thought I'd clarify that for your readers.
Man's Best Friend
At least a few are polishing their résumés: In the old days I picked up the Bay Guardian each week. Then along came SF Weekly. Then I discovered Dog Bites, and that's what I head for now every week. It's all I need to survive happily in the city. I barely look at the Chron these days. Keep on with your snide comments (deserved) about the Fangx, and let me know what they're doing staff-wise at the Chron. Haven't seen many bylines from the old Ex in the so-called new Chron -- maybe six or seven. Supposedly they added 230 or so staffers from the old Ex. What are they doing -- writing obits and hanging out at the water cooler?
It's All Over But the Name-Calling
Wilted Greens: Looking at the slew of misguided idealists (still!) coming to Ralph Nader's defense, it's apparent that virtual reality is not monopolized by South of Market dot-coms ("Advise and Resent," Nov. 29, in which Matt Smith answered readers' mail about Ralph Nader). There's something sickly amusing about people who eagerly fall on their pens for Saint Ralph, whose single notable achievement in this last election was to help hand control of all three branches of the federal government to the decidedly unprogressive Republican Party. If anything, Matt Smith has performed a valuable public service. At least one of the alternative weeklies in this town ought to have the honesty to expose Ralph Nader for the fatal hypocrite he has become.
Someone's laughing about the election: I've never seen anything as funny in SF Weekly as Matt Smith's column. I read it on the bus going home and couldn't suppress the laughs. People were looking at me as if I was doing something really gauche, like using my cell phone. Undeterred, I read on -- and missed my stop by about a mile.
Your approach is funny, surprising, fresh -- offensive in the most civilized way. Keep letting us have it. We're definitely asking for it!