Video-chat technology; government’s role in the economy; cleaning up California


Fan of technology

Re “Makeover! Video chats go professional,” Business, Aug. 26

I’m amused by one professional’s description of video chats being used primarily by the “under 35-year-old” set. I’m a grandmother who’s been using Skype for almost two years to talk to family members in Hong Kong.

We’ve watched the grandchildren open our Christmas presents and gotten a firsthand look at their new apartment.

I’ve praised this technology to a number of friends my age. You don’t have to be a tech geek to use it, either.

Sarah E. Adams

Rancho Palos Verdes

Defining looting

Re “They shoot looters, don’t they?” Opinion, Aug.29

Rebecca Solnit has gone to the heart of the skewed value system that far too many Americans embrace: the elevation of property “rights” over human life.

Let’s face it, the measure of success in our culture is how much money and property you own. Under that way of thinking, you can understand why the authorities would authorize the shooting of looters. The sight of someone stealing anything that doesn’t belong to them (including food) is indeed a capital offense to many.

The day that our culture puts more importance on saving human lives in lieu of property during a natural disaster will indeed be a great step forward in our attempt to truly be that shining city on the hill.

Bob Teigan

Santa Susana

More “inflammatory” than the word looting is someone “foraging” or “requisitioning” a flat-screen TV or cases of booze to feed, clothe and medicate loved ones.

It is indeed the minority who loot during disasters, natural and otherwise. But determining who is a benign victim in need of someone else’s goods and who is taking advantage of a chaotic situation is not easy for the authorities.

Neil Proffitt

Redondo Beach

Solnit tries to assure us that nothing other than food, water, medicine and baby-care products are looted by well-meaning and truly needy people during a natural catastrophe. Clearly — and as was well documented in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina — nothing is further from the truth.

Electronics, luxury goods and nonessentials were plundered, and images of the people doing so appeared widely on the news and on websites. Were the store owners and companies repaid for their losses by the looters?

Perhaps it would be OK if people were to “visit” Solnit’s home after the next big disaster and “appropriate” some of her property. I doubt she would approve.

Douglas Hughes


How to fix the economy

Re “As bad data pile up, options wane,” Aug. 27

There are other options. Our dysfunctional Congress and administration just lack the political will to enact them.

There is no such thing as a “jobless recovery.” We need a massive jobs program such as the WPA to put people to work. When the private sector doesn’t do it, only the federal government is big enough to take up the slack.

It was the massive spending of World War II that finally ended the Depression.

I’m not suggesting that we spend more on war; we should spend it on our crumbling infrastructure, education and aid to the states, which must balance their budgets.

Joan Mortenson

Huntington Beach

The removal from consideration of any fiscal policy option such as massive jobs programs to rebuild the U.S. infrastructure and put millions of unemployed Americans back to work because Republicans question the impact on the deficit is laughable, an example of collective forgetting of what we know would work, and work for the American people.

I suppose President Obama and the Democrats need the same reminder to get them in action to save this country from another round of economic hardship.

Julian DelGaudio

Long Beach

Your article is misleading. The economy is sinking again, but there are options.

Were it not for paralysis in the White House, and Republicans who want the president to fail, something could be done.

Businesses won’t spend from their pile of profits until they are confident that demand will expand. And tax cuts have been a flop as job creators in the last decade.

To cut the misery of jobless Americans and to propel recovery, government needs to spend in order to create jobs, in government positions and in the private sector.

Do we have the money? Businesses have plenty, but if we won’t take it from them, the feds need to borrow. Deficit spending during World War II solved the Depression. Deficit spending on job creation will ease the current recession.

The best way to cut deficits is to promote growth and create more tax payers.

Frank Stricker


Stem cells could be key

Re “The pair behind the stem cell suit,” Aug. 25

I find it hard to believe that anyone would want to delay the advancement of a potential cure for so many illnesses, including possibly diabetes, pancreatic cancer, Alzheimer’s, etc.

With this new ruling that may prohibit federal funding of research involving human embryonic stem cells, any promising research may have to be scrapped because of these two. Welcome to the past.

I’d be curious to know if either one of them had ever had a close family member afflicted with dementia or cancer. Maybe then they’d think twice.

Miyoko Henderson

Long Beach

Environmental problems

Re “Bacteria doing a good job on gulf oil cleanup,” Aug. 26

I think it’s great that we are seeing some progress in the cleanup in the Gulf of Mexico.

Individually we may not be able to directly help with the cleanup there, but we can still take action to keep our oceans clean.

For example, the island of trash made of our plastic bags and garbage that has been swept out into our Pacific is greatly damaging our environment. Maybe it’s time we took responsibility for what we are doing to our environment and make some lifestyle changes.

Denna Taherzadeh

Thousand Oaks

I recently relocated to what I thought was going to be beautiful, sunny Southern California. I quickly learned that it isn’t as beautiful as I thought.

I went to the beach my first week and was shocked at how much trash is everywhere.

I think California needs to do what it does best, leading the nation in banning plastic bags and Styrofoam containers.

Desirae Alcala

Los Angeles

No legal luck, and no sympathy

Re “Billionaire’s kids lose court battle,” Aug. 27

Shame on Jennifer Gold for using her children as a meal ticket. I hope her children will find a way to make something of themselves.

Sumalee Johnson

Laguna Woods

After Gold’s comments regarding Donald Bren’s testimony about the child support, I’m shocked she managed to blow through millions of dollars with apparently nary a penny saved.

However, she did have time to “dabble” in sculpting, which from what I hear is a burgeoning business and a huge moneymaker.

Great job looking out for the kids’ future.

Steve Owen

San Diego