To the Editor:
First, there was Charles D'Ambrosio's article "Dead Whales, Bad Thoughts" [Nov 5, 1998], which went in-depth on Charles' fixation with pissing in the ocean and his longing to nibble on a whale burger (witty!). Now, we get your sex columnist and your TV columnist piping in ["That's Good Eatin'," by Dan Savage; I Love Television, by Wm. Steven Humphrey, both May 27] with their equally irrelevant snippets about how to kill and eat whales. Tee-hee! Aren't we funny?I am writing from Bellingham and I am, indeed, a stoned hippie. Still, I doubt any of your readers learned much from your vapid coverage of this story. Apparently, killing whales (ha ha ha) is just too danged funny to warrant serious reporting. You folks occasionally do smart, informative, and balanced articles on environmental issues. The way you giggled through the whale hunt, however, seemed like umm... a harsh toke. Bummer, dudes.

Alex McLean


To the Makah:
Here's a suggestion that will mimic the tradition so closely adhered to in the taking of the Gray Whale and yet allow you to maintain your high work ethic standards. To take more than one whale at a time without so much work, string an extension cord out to a pod of whales. Then, when the time is just right, throw one of the TVs (that would have otherwise been gracing your front yards) into the water. If the TV doesn't work, how about an old washer or dryer? I counted not less than five TV sets discarded on the lawns of your proud people.
The litter and filth that you "proud people" live in is one of the most dirty, sorry, and embarrassing places in Washington state. I'm sorry, I forgot that you were sticking to tradition by the use of power boats and anti-tank guns. I'd like to bring back a tradition that white people have long since discarded (as we had seen the errors of our ways): the tradition of sharing our blankets with you. I have a couple, especially for those in the canoe who gleefully called on their cell phones after killing the whale--just like your ancient fathers before you. Don't mind the itching. It will go away, just as soon as the fever sets in. Go to hell!

Ray Thomas


To the Editor:
Now that they've brought back whaling, I wonder if I might be allowed to indulge in a few of my ancestral pleasures, such as slavery. After all, it was a tradition, and we're all for tradition. Explore your forgotten past, and see what Great Grandpa used to regard as one of the simple pleasures in life. Perhaps we can get the whole country involved as we explore our imperial roots. Let's invade... oh, that's right, we never stopped that one.

Gregory Christiansin
via e-mail

P.S. I prefer whale fondue.


To the Editor:
It's curious that Samantha Shapiro takes organized labor in general (and WashTech in particular) to task for not formally participating in the Vizcaino v. Microsoft lawsuit ["Temporary Victory," May 27]. While unions certainly organize around issues that are tied to benefits litigation, they are generally not parties to class action lawsuits that aim to force companies to comply with existing benefits law.
The Vizcaino case revolves around whether long-term, full-time Microsoft contractors are, in fact, common-law employees of Microsoft, and therefore entitled to the same employee benefits accorded to other full-time Microsoft employees. That is, fundamentally, a question for the courts to decide.

While not a party to the suit, WashTech is actively organizing around a number of issues directly related to the case. These include sub-par benefits offered to permatemps, one-sided agency contracts, and full disclosure of agency mark-up rates.

Regarding the temp-industry-sponsored legislation HR 1891, which attempted to legalize the practice of laundering full-time workers through temp agencies to avoid paying them benefits, it was WashTech that first alerted the law firm to the bill. We also used our mailing list to generate several hundred citizen letters to members of this state's congressional delegation. We did not lobby heavily in D.C. at the time, because we were an all-volunteer organization with no budget.

Mike Blain Washington Alliance of Technology Workers (WashTech)


To the Editor:
In her article on the recent victory of Microsoft's temporary workers, Samantha Shapiro asked, "Where was organized labor?" Shapiro notes with interest that the major kick in the pants to corporate America has come with virtually no formal participation by organized labor. Does this mean, as she suggests, that unions are "out of the loop and irrelevant"? Or does it rather suggest flabby organized labor, incapable of performing for the American worker?
Where was organized labor? Asleep at the wheel. After the AFL and CIO merged in 1955, organized labor became a sleepy monopoly. This sleepy monopoly emerged under the direction of national officers who never face opposing candidates, and never face members in direct democratic elections. While there are leadership changeovers in local unions, there are rarely changeovers at the top. The leadership of today's unions is overweight, slow, and brain-dead.

Initiative 702, the Union Members' Bill of Rights Initiative, will give union members in Washington state the tools they need to put strong leaders at the helm. I-702 guarantees union members the right to fair, open, and direct elections of all officers. Furthermore, since incumbent officers control access to the official union publications, I-702 creates new means for opposing candidates to bring their message to the membership.

When union members can elect the best and the brightest to lead them, organized labor can once again assume the fight for all workers.

Jamie Newman
Johnny Jackson
Friends of Freedom Committee, I-702


To Ben Jacklet:
As your article points out ["A Risky Tweak," May 20], City Council member Nick Licata is in a difficult position because of the Parks Enhanced Code Enforcement Ordinance. Folks who look out for the homeless don't want to ban "troublemakers," and folks in the neighborhood want to control access. Can we find a compromise? Of course we can!
Might I suggest killing park rule violators? That way, no one is actually banned, and repeat violations aren't a problem either. This is such an obvious idea--I can't believe it hasn't already been suggested. Can we get Mark Sidran on this?

Don Davis
North Bend


I share your feelings of disgust for the Lilith Fair auditions ["Pretty Voices, Empty Heads," Kathleen Wilson, May 27]. But what could we expect from anything related to Lilith Fair? It was probably a joke that I was chosen to try out. I certainly did not fit into that string of paper dolls. Obviously, a lot of these women think that being an artist means reading The Artist's Way and reciting their diaries in public. I, however, think that being an artist is about bleeding, sweating, coughing, shedding, and fighting to find the glimmer of a gum wrapper in a pile of shit.
In addition to the lack of any genuine creativity, there was also a lack of rebellious or warrior-like spirit. In order to overthrow the "cookie-cutter Sarah McLachlans and whiny, strummy Jewels," some rebellion must transpire. However, I think your expectations of the 21 women at the Lilith Fair auditions were a little high. I didn't expect half of those women to have a clue about who they are and what they want to represent. Furthermore, I was surprised that you did not comment on the "few" artists who did make a positive or noteworthy impression. If you are sincere in your desire to "champion" women's artistic expressions, then it is your responsibility to bring examples of righteous women artists to light.