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Thursday, Oct. 7, 2004 11:42 pm

letters 10-7-04

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Send letters to: Letters, Illinois Times. P.O. Box 5256. Springfield, Illinois 62705. Fax: (217) 753-3958. E-mail: editor@illinoistimes.com

DO YOU FEEL A DRAFT?

Our military is overextended, and we need more folks to fight the war. If you follow the money, you will discover that the Pentagon is shifting more funds to Selective Service, that draft boards are quietly being formed, and that military bases in California and North Carolina are being refitted [see Connor Freff Cochran, "An ill wind," April 8, at www.illinoistimes.com]. The intent is to draft 18- to 26-year olds, and the bases are being retooled to become highly efficient boot camps. But there is one thing that is different about this draft.

Wars are fought primarily by persons of color and the poor and disadvantaged.

But the 2005 draft will be an equal-opportunity draft with no exemptions for college students. Why? Because today's modern military needs "literate" soldiers who can read manuals, use high-tech weapons, and program computers. Middle-class college students are essential.

Two days ago, I looked into the eyes of one of my college students, a young woman who is shipping out in 10 days for Iraq, and suddenly the face of war was very personal. We briefly negotiated how she would finish the class by e-mail. For the rest of this semester, I will remember those eyes, and every week I will be staring at her empty chair in the middle of my classroom. And I will be awaiting the next e-mail assignment that assures me she is still alive.

The reinstatement of the draft has been called the "January surprise." Well, I think moms and dads and college students across the country should have an "October preview." I'm voting for John Kerry and hoping that he can refill those empty seats in my classroom faster than the current administration, which is building 14 permanent bases in Iraq.

Hazel Rozema
Decatur

FAKE FOREHEADS WOULD BE AWESOME

I would hesitate to call what we do at New Midwest Wrestling fake [Todd Spivak, "Fancy moves," Sept. 30]. Is it entertainment? You betcha. Fake blood? Um, no. When you see someone bleed in a New Midwest Wrestling ring, that's real blood. When a chair smacks someone's forehead, it's a real chair and a real forehead. (Trust me, if we could find fake rubber chairs, we'd have a lot fewer problems . . . and fake foreheads would be awesome.)

However, our current lack of a home is 100 percent true -- and 100 percent the fault of Bradfordton Road residents and Sangamon County Board members who don't bother (or don't know how) to read. Pro wrestling is not rock & roll (but is just as bitchin', right?) and anyone with an arena should give us a call.

And although I speak on my behalf, and not on behalf of the entire company, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Southeast High School and the American Center for realizing that we are not the outlet for the devil's music that the Sangamon County Board thinks we are.

Doug Turner
Webmaster
NewMidwest.com

BIRDS THANK YOU FOR BEING LAZY

In the Sept. 23 gardening section, there are good suggestions on work that can be done now to avoid garden chores in the spring [Jennifer Fishburn, "Get busy now, do less next spring"]. However, for lazy folks who'd love an excuse to wait until spring, just think of the wildlife. A messy winter garden is a great place for the songbirds to find natural foods and shelter among the dried perennials and faded vegetable vines. There's nothing like looking out into the yard on a frosty winter morning to the sight of flocks of goldfinches and juncos (snowbirds) feasting on the standing seed heads from last summer's coneflowers! And more birds in the garden will mean more to enjoy at the bird feeders.

Of course, fallen sticks and items that must be cut can be stacked into a brush pile, which birds will use as cover to escape from predators and the elements.

Wade Kammin
Wild Birds Unlimited
Springfield

THEY'RE ATTRACTED TO NUTS!

A recent Illinois Times listed Springfield's top places ["Best of Springfield," Sept. 16]. Washington Park seemed to dominate several of the categories. A recently formed group, the Washington Park Neighborhood Awareness Group, is monitoring a growing problem that is dominating this fine neighborhood. The main problem that has been noted by WPNAG is the overpopulation of squirrels. Although the squirrels roaming Washington Park seem harmless, they are in fact a menace to residents.

I have spent countless hours monitoring the northern part of the park for suspicious activity. My neighbor does the same. Between the two of us, we see 75 percent of the activity going on in this part of the park. Recently we have noted the careless, reckless, and wanton activity of many of the squirrels in our neighborhood. The seemingly cute little furry creatures have began to store nuts and who knows what else in gardens in our vicinity. Although some may consider this natural and harmless, it is not! The squirrels carelessly chase each other in and out of traffic, entice dogs to chase them, create annoying chatter, drop nuts and other debris from high up in trees, and throw soil across planters and sidewalks, creating hazards to those who walk by on a daily basis.

These squirrels are getting accustomed to the hordes of humans who use the park for recreation. They are getting so brazen that they're not alarmed by the presence of human beings or dogs. It seems that one or two squirrels have ignored the acres and acres of trees that lie only feet away from our apartment complex. These rodents have climbed to the second-story porch and begun to use my neighbors' potted plants as a storage option. One menacing rodent did this while my neighbor was sitting on the porch only feet away. After my neighbor chased the squirrel away, the porch was left with potting soil thrown about. The same squirrel has been spotted on the opposite end of the porch in other residents' potted plants. Others have been spotted digging and foraging in the rose garden of another neighbor across the street. This could kill or stunt the growth of these cared-for plants.

This overpopulation of squirrels, many of which are creating havoc, needs to be addressed by some governing body. Maybe a special police unit could be created -- we could call them the Park Police.

Tom Locher
President and secretary
Washington Park Neighborhood Awareness Group
Springfield

A "PRESTIGIOUS HONOR" FOR US

On behalf of the National Park Service and in particular the Lincoln Home National Historic Site, we would like to express our appreciation at being selected the Best Place to Take Visitors ["Best of Springfield," Sept. 16]. It is indeed a prestigious honor to be selected in this category. We will strive to continue to provide the best interpretive programs and services to the visiting public.

Thank you again for acknowledging us as an Illinois Times' "Best of Springfield" 2004 award winner.

Richard A. Lusardi
Superintendent
Lincoln Home National Historic Site

TAKING THE LID OFF A "SECRET"

In your recent "Best of Springfield," Steak 'n Shake won for Best Shakes. The author mentioned that the shake was "hand-dipped ice cream." It is not the reported "real ice cream" that they are hand-dipping!

Steak 'n Shake has most people believing that "hand-dipped" means real ice cream -- that isn't so. They use a concoction called "shake base" that sounds like a mystery mix to me. To wit: We went to Steak 'n Shake and ordered a shake with real ice cream and were charged an extra 40 cents for "100 percent" -- that's what they call it when real ice cream is substituted for the regularly used shake base. The shakes with the real ice cream taste noticeably different. Try it sometime, and then you can correctly call it "real hand-dipped ice cream." Until then, it's mystery mix to us in the know.

I uncovered this industry secret when I was a "curbie" working for Steak 'n Shake many moons ago.

Tom Oxtoby
Rochester

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