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Letters to the Editor 

Week of April 17, 2002

Language Barrier

How do you say "Dream on" in Esperanto?: I read Mark Athitakis' April 3 article on Esperanto with interest ("Slow Movement," Bay View). Please remind him that there are plenty of languages with fewer speakers (a number of them in California, in fact), so he could build a career writing articles making fun of them!

In his glee, he did manage to paint a rather misleading picture -- all those ancient books gathering dust or falling apart, for example. In reality, new books (including quite a respectable original literature) appear in Esperanto all the time, and the Internet has created a rebirth of interest in the language, as any search engine will quickly reveal. Then there are the shortwave broadcasts from various countries, the scores of international meetings with attendance reaching into the thousands, and so on, all of which suggest a rather different state of affairs.

But then again, one can't let the truth get in the way of a good story.

D. Gary Grady
Durham, N.C.

Blame the media: The media, especially in the U.S., seem unable to discuss Esperanto in a normal, objective, matter-of-fact tone. They have to make fun of it. How would anybody want to get information on something that is presented as essentially not serious, or as a failure? Esperanto is not a failure.

Isn't it strange that although there are speakers of Esperanto in most cities of the world, the huge majority of the public doesn't know that such is the case, or even that the language exists and works perfectly? What does it reveal, if not that there is something rotten in the realm of information?

Claude Gabriel Piron
Gland, Switzerland

Our Debt to the Mouse Community

Thank a rodent -- boink someone: I take exception to Matt Smith's representation of biomedical animal research in "Now That's Amore" (April 3). Smith portrays researchers as perversely intending to use a study on "mouse wieners" to "turn a rodent Bob Dole into a raging Lorenzo La-mouse." He elaborated, "Technically speaking, this [research study] is known as an S/M fantasy made real."

On the contrary, animal research forms the basis for understanding and treating human disease and suffering. The knowledge gained from this mouse study could help doctors treat sexual dysfunctions. Common causes of sexual dysfunctions include illnesses like diabetes, substance abuse, and side effects of medications such as antidepressants. Sexual dysfunctions can strain relationships. Moreover, when depressed patients attribute sexual dysfunctions to medications, they may become noncompliant with treatment and experience a worsening of their psychiatric symptoms. Further research could result in more treatment options and even prevention.

The medical profession has made great advances in part due to animal research. Therefore, we are indebted to the researchers and their subjects.

Michael Menaster, M.D.
Pacific Heights

Gender Bender

Judge and jury: In the case of the contest that was the subject of your article "Bondage and Discrimination" (Dog Bites, April 3, on a dispute over a beauty pageant at "Bondage A Go-Go"), I was asked to be a judge. These are the facts: There were over 30 contestants. [Three judges] were charged with picking five finalists. The audience then chose the winner by applause. No one was told to overlook Camille [Dunham] based on her [trans]gender status. But it was clear that Camille was outraged that she didn't make the cut. She confronted me very upset afterward (never mentioning anything about it being related to her gender status, which no one considered an issue). She definitely thought she deserved to have been picked.

It is a sad day when someone besmirches an institution in its ninth year of providing a safe and fun haven for people of all orientations just because they didn't win a silly contest. I know there was no discrimination, just a bunch of sour grapes.

Name Withheld

Killer Review

Well-wisher: Lower Haight neighbors welcome Bloo to balance the ethnic diversity of eating places where one can sit down and have a quiet meal ("Singing the Bloos," Eat, March 20). I live in the block with Bloo, have dined there three times, and agree their food is uneven. I, however, like Bloo. I wish Bloo well. As we all know, one bad review can kill a restaurant. I hope you haven't killed Bloo.

Maria Graham
Lower Haight


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