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Playing with pain in the NFL

Re "Depression? Just shake it off," Opinion, Sept. 21

The story of NFL player Vince Young's struggle with depression is a glaring example of the mental health crisis among men. They are lonely and misunderstood by everyone, and most of all, themselves. Their precarious notions of manliness are being challenged every day by the highly competitive business world and by women who want connection in modern relationships.

Corporations, like professional sports franchises, don't respect vulnerabilities -- particularly emotional ones. Men were not raised to be emotionally connected or expressive, especially when they hurt. They were taught that success has only one yardstick: material wealth.

As a psychologist, I see more men than ever in my practice with depression and anxiety because of these stresses. But you'd never know it: The man sitting next to you won't tell you that he needs help or that he is getting it.

Let's give men a chance to trade in their shame for self-healing before it's too late. Evelyn Kohan

Calabasas

I found Zirin's comparison of the NFL to a chest-bumping, music-blaring frat party to be an analogy fraught with contradictions. According to Zirin, the NFL refuses to acknowledge depression as a league issue because it damages the image of its iron-made players, who champion an organization built only for the strongest men. This very portrayal challenges Zirin's carefree frat-party illustration.

What's more, suggesting that ardent football enthusiasts -- I count myself among them -- cannot be bothered with such human emotions as depression because they interfere with the NFL's testosterone-driven image paints a distorted picture of detached and indifferent fans. Following players' stories makes most people care even more about a player, human flaws and all.

Samantha Ann Perez

Van Nuys

Speaking of assimilation

Re "Speaks volumes," editorial, Sept. 24 and "Census study finds a greater blend," Sept. 23

The editorial on Spanish speakers and the news stories that preceded it is a classic case of news that should not be news, at least for those acquainted with American history.

The tale of how, within three generations, Spanish speakers tend to go from almost exclusively Spanish to English fluency and often forget the language of their ancestors has had a long history in this country. It is a common immigration experience. Germans, Poles, Italians, Chinese, Japanese and many other immigrant groups have all had it.

Complaints about language and culture have been common every time a major new group arrives here in large numbers. Recall the complaints about the Irish -- most of whom spoke English. Or Ben Franklin's fear that the colony of Pennsylvania would be overrun by all those Germans, altering good English language and culture. This too will pass.

David Hudson

Fresno

You must not venture east of Westwood very often! Where I live, every laundromat is called a lavanderia. Almost every TV set and radio is set to a Spanish-speaking channel. One only needs to read the Nielsen ratings to see how many Spanish-speaking channels are near the top.

Drive to the end of the Long Beach Freeway toward Alhambra, turn east on Valley Boulevard and look in amazement at the stores and signs that go for miles and miles in one foreign language or another. Not to mention Little Saigon in Orange County.

If the people who do these reports call this assimilation, then they must be the same ones who still believe there were weapons of mass destruction. I'm not buying it.

David Price

Bell Gardens

Thumbs-up for second choices

Re " 'Instant runoff' voting sought," Sept. 24

"Instant runoff" voting (IRV) does more than save taxpayer dollars and increase voter participation. By allowing voters to rank their first, second and third choices, it frees people to vote for the candidates they actually like, not just the lesser of two evils.

The spoiler effect was present in the 1992 and 2000 presidential elections, when third-party candidates took votes from George H.W. Bush and Al Gore, respectively. With IRV, voters won't have to worry about harming their second-choice candidate, because their second choice will be counted if their first choice is eliminated.

IRV allows people to vote with their conscience, not just the majority. It also encourages more positive campaigning by candidates who want to be the second choice of other candidates' supporters. It's an important way to end wedge politics and negative campaigning. We've seen positive results in other major cities.

In a city as diverse as Los Angeles, voters should be able to vote for their favorite candidates. IRV creates an environment that gives a real voice to every voter.

Kathay Feng

Los Angeles

The writer is the executive director of California Common Cause.

The rabbit hole

Re "America can still run with the bulls," Opinion, Sept. 24

As I read Max Boot's alternate-universe view of reality, I glanced up several times to see if a white rabbit was running by holding a watch, screaming that he was late.

If you wish to believe Boot's rosy view of America's future economic prospects, all you have to do is simply ignore everything that doesn't fit into his ideology. This list includes, but is not limited to: record federal budget deficits, grave state budget shortfalls, the worst trade deficit in history, record consumer debt levels, an unnecessary war with no end in sight, an entire American city decimated by a natural disaster, the worst housing crisis in a century, a weakened currency, rising unemployment and the full-scale collapse of multiple major financial institutions requiring perhaps more than $1 trillion in bailout money.

Other than that, yeah, we're doing just great!

Gary Garshfield

Irvine

Double standard

Re "Palin's Big Oil infatuation," Opinion, Sept. 24

For all of Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s sound and fury about how Big Oil is ruining the planet and how evil Sarah Palin is for supporting it, I noticed that Kennedy started off his article recalling a water-skiing trip he and his children took.

Unless Kennedy has some superhuman speed-rowing ability we aren't privy to, water-skiing involves hours of using a boat with an engine -- an engine that requires, yes, gasoline and oil.

Seems to me that elite environmental alarmists like Kennedy who preach oil abstinence are more than a bit hypocritical when they pollute waterways with their pleasure boats, as well as polluting the skies with their private planes as they jet back and forth to their next anti-oil speaking engagement. You can't have it both ways.

Greg Wolfe

Los Angeles

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