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HEY: One of my favorite routines is to go to the Big Time Brewery and pick up the new Stranger every Wednesday night. It takes me a couple of pints to read it through, and I'm a bit buzzed by the time I reach the last page. There's nothing funnier at this point than Drinky Crow and Uncle Gabby. Your staff dressed as superheroes: kind of funny, but also infuriating because it's in the Maakies space. Please bring Maakies back. It's one of the best-drawn, original, and hilarious comic strips ever.
Chris NywallAND 'UNDERWORLD'
EDITOR: After eating the shit that is The Stranger, Maakies and Underworld are the star at the bottom of the bowl. Please don't take away my star.
Jeff WeedmanWE SHOULD NOT REBUILD
EDITOR: A visit to the new Olympic Sculpture Park gives us a taste of the possibilities for Seattle's waterfront. Imagine the spirit of that park stretching all along the downtown shoreline. Our waterfront is Seattle's front yard and one of our region's greatest treasures. Removing the Alaskan Way Viaduct presents us with a golden opportunity to lift Seattle to its amazing potential as one of the finest cities of the world. The Olympic Sculpture Park is a perfect beginning for great things to come.
Jim OlsonWE MUST NOT
ERICA C. BARNETT: Good article ["False Choice," Jan 25]. Building a new viaduct would permanently relegate Seattle to a second-class city. It would be a huge mistake and a waste of a potentially wonderful thriving waterfront. I live downtown and I cannot tell you how disappointed we are with Gregoire, Licata, and Chopp. I hope you continue to follow and write more on this.
Peter Arthur, Esq.WE'RE INSANE IF WE DO
DEAR EDITOR: The very idea that we are about to rebuild the viaduct on Seattle's waterfront is insane. The viaduct is a relic of the era of cheap oil, and worse, it's a relic of the type of urban planning that gave us life based on automobile transportation, transforming our cities into sprawling strip malls, and destroying the countryside, to say nothing of the atmosphere.
There is still a chance that enlightenment may suddenly strike Seattle's notoriously shortsighted voters. It didn't happen during the decades of turning down votes to build a rapid-transit system. These efforts started in the '70s. Now we are finally building the beginnings of such a system at a cost many times what it would have been were it not for the terror of having to pay for a better environment and city.
Of course, this is the rub. Gregoire knows perfectly well that our electorate fails these kinds of improvement projects. If the vote goes the usual way, the five-story concrete monstrosity will be reconstructed and the chance to transform the waterfront will be lost for many decades to come, perhaps forever.
The present site of the viaduct should be a grand boulevard and park, and would be if this were, say, Bilbao, Spain, or for that matter, Portland, Oregon, whose voters have shown far more wisdom over the years than Seattle's have.
Hans NelsenA HILL OF BEANS
EDITOR: As an economist who studies coffee farmers in Latin America, I would like to correct some of the factual errors in Cienna Madrid's article comparing fair-trade certification with "direct" trade in coffee ["Direct Challenge," Jan 25]. In that article, Geoff Watts asserts that fair trade does not provide incentives for quality because of the fixed price offered in fair-trade certified contracts. I'm sure he knows that there is, in fact, no fixed price but rather only a price floor meant to represent a living wage for members of coffee cooperatives. Co-ops do not get contracts if they do not produce high-quality coffee, and producers of the best coffees receive significantly over the fair-trade floor price. If you produce higher-quality coffee, you get a higher price. That sounds like an incentive to me.
I'm also quite uncomfortable with the suggestion that we should just trust Intelligentsia's assertion that it is doing right by the producers of the coffee.Intelligentsia, Starbucks, Caffe Vita, Cafe Vivace, and Victrola make similar claims to consumers: Trust us. Most of them undoubtedly have good intentions when they visit coffee farms. But apart from the obvious incentive issues—roasters have strong incentives to convince you that the people who produce their coffee are treated fairly—it is much harder than most people realize to sort out what is actually going on on the ground when you are only there for a few days each year. I've seen plantation owners who can gussy things up real nice for the visiting, socially conscious gringos. Fair-trade certification is done by independent, third-party inspectors who have no stake in the outcome of their inspection; a system of roasters certifying themselves obviously doesn't have this quality.
DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS: In the January 25 article "Sight Reading" we misspelled Henry McComas's last name.