What of moral responsibility?
It is apparent the Berkeley Public Library is not just about books anymore. There are no controls on "self check-out."
Along with their computer expansion, they are not taking into account the concerns of parents and others for youngsters. People under 18 are welcome to check out DVDs that are rated "R, NC 17 (no one under 17 allowed) and explicit content."
The library card has the power to exclude adults from computers meant for youngsters, so they could exclude youngsters from checking-out "adult" material meant for "adults only."
When the library carried Playboy magazine, a library assistant told me how embarrassing it was for her to hand over copies to teenage boys (when they couldn't even buy them in stores). Employees have heart, soul and moral standards, whereas the library, being an institution, does not.
The community, as a whole, must do something. Individual complaints do not work. Freedom of speech can exist in conjunction with moral responsibility.
Pipeline and Warren Buffett
The Times' recent comprehensive, informative, front-page article about Canadian tar sands oil transportation and the Keystone XL pipeline was very interesting.
But like so much of our left-wing media bias -- articles containing one-sided information and omissions -- it left out President Obama's friendship with Warren Buffett. If the pipeline is not passed, Canadian oil sands producers will have to ship their oil on Buffett's trains.
Buffett and his billionaire cronies have contributed untold millions to Obama and his cronies over the last six years; they are good friends. Great. This is a free country. Maybe?
There are more than 300,000 miles of assorted pipelines now existing in America. Why will this 2,000-mile pipeline ruin our environment?
If we don't want to refine crude oil, get our cars off the road!
They're not just matters of faith
I was saddened by the bitterness of John Hattam's June 14 letter, "Faith is basis of differing beliefs."
Of course, religion is a matter of faith, but we do not subject it to the kinds of testing that we do for scientific hypotheses. One holds a religious view until he decides not to, but the reasons are seldom based on rational inquiry. And why should they be?
In contrast, scientists don't "believe" in their research: They pose a hypothesis and investigate it, actually trying to weaken or disprove it. They know that if they don't, their colleagues will do so if the hypothesis is incorrect. That's the job of scientists.
Science is a matter of belief in only one sense: One agrees to assume at the outset that the world around us is real and governed by natural processes, not by supernatural intervention. On this basis scholars have inferred and deduced the principles and methods of modern science since the Renaissance. This is not about "creation," it is about how the world works.
But Hattam will not permit us to accept both views of the world. For him, the extreme creationist view must be true. And that means science is wrong if it disagrees with his own preferred interpretation of Scripture (thereby equally disrespecting those with different religious views).
He mocks "those folks who rely on their computers, strained opinions of archaeological digs and that first little creature that morphed into animals, then humans, nature, and everything else." How sad that he can't see the knowledge of science as an appreciation of what his Creator has done.
In addition to his misimpressions of science, he also doesn't understand that to accept Charles Darwin's ideas (and those of modern science in general) you don't have to be an atheist. Darwin himself was never an atheist. Like Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, and most of our Founding Fathers, Darwin was a Deist, which means that he accepted a higher power in the universe but did not anthropomorphize it into the venerable man with the flowing beard who walked through the Garden in the cool of the evening.
Through time, Darwin's disillusionment grew, principally with organized religion and then with the idea of Divine Providence, following the death of his 10-year-old daughter. In later life, the question ceased to interest him; he became "agnostic" (T.H. Huxley's term), but never an atheist.
And Darwin did not have a religious conversion on his deathbed. That myth was contrived by a notorious fortune-hunter, who dined out on it for the rest of her life.
The facts are in Darwin scholar James Moore's "The Darwin Legend" (1994). The creationist books, journals, and websites that Hattam obviously depends on have no interest in correcting this hoary lie.
Padian is a professor of Integrative Biology at UC Berkeley and past president of the National Center for Science Education.
Laura's Law is essential
I'm responding to Candy DeWitt's guest commentary, "We must treat mentally ill before a tragedy strikes." I thank DeWitt for her courageous fight on behalf of families such as ours.
I joined the DeWitts at a March hearing in Alameda County. I testified, as a mom whose son is also at Napa State Hospital through clinical and criminal neglect under current LPS laws in California.
Our families are united by our pain, commitment to our communities, and our sons, both named Daniel.
On June 3, the DeWitts joined me and other families for a Laura's Law briefing to Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors' Legislative Committee. Two supervisors ordered a "staff" report back to the county's Family and Human Services Committee within 120 days.
I fear that report will fail to balance the facts by excluding testimony from medical and legal experts on the value of Laura's Law. Like Alameda County, Contra Costa County must engage in a full and fair hearing of that law.
Please write to the supervisors of Alameda and Contra Costa counties, telling them we need treatment first -- to prevent the next tragedy and criminalization.
Laura's Law must be implemented to ensure public safety's realigned with fiscal responsibility and human decency.
August rally for cleaner air
Matthias Gafni's June 2 article in the Times, "No pipeline? No problem," exposed the current and planned processing of tar sands by our five local refineries.
What will be our legacy? Our acquiescence to greater local air and climate pollution? Or our debunking the myth that we need more oil, and our rejecting dirtier, more polluting fossil fuel?
Let's demonstrate how to save the Bay and the planet by transitioning to renewable energy and dramatically reducing Bay Area greenhouse gas emissions. There are many more local jobs in a renewable energy future than in tar.
We urge the Bay Area Air Quality Management District to pass John Avalos' No Keystone XL Pipeline resolution and the Bay Climate Action Plan resolution, and implement the Crude Slate Rule.
These measures will provide accountability, drastically cut emissions, and reject carbon-intensive fuels.
Join us Aug. 3 in Richmond at a major rally to show that tar sands already in the Bay Area are a grave concern for us and our children. It's our air. Petitions and information are available at www.350bayarea.org.
Wrobel is a member of 350 Bay Area Steering Committee Alameda.