Inspection is discriminatory

Tenants in El Cerrito have their residences inspected every two years by a third party.

Tenants are being treated differently than homeowners. Owners of rental property pay excessive fees for the inspections and associated paperwork.

Eliminate the inspections or lengthen the period to five years. The city wants to put on the ballot a measure to increase sale taxes to fund city positions. Yet, the city is funding a program manager for oversight of this unnecessary, discriminatory program.

If a tenant finds a safety issue that the property owner won't resolve, the tenant should request the El Cerrito building inspector's involvement.

This mandatory, every two-year inspection is a violation of our civil liberties and an expense to tenants and rental property owners who take good care of our residences. If there is a safety issue from either the tenant or rental property owner's view, then either or both of them can request a city inspection.

Eliminate this two-year, discriminatory inspection. Let's treat all El Cerrito residents equally.

Shelly Marie

El Cerrito

Windows XP doomsday

Where is the outrage that Microsoft is abandoning XP and leaving it vulnerable to malware attacks?

According to Brandon Bailey's recent article in the Times, NetMarketShare estimates that XP powers nearly 30 percent of all personal computers worldwide, and others estimate 200 million or more XP users.

Locally, many senior centers and libraries make computers using XP available to the public. Apparently, the best option is to buy a new computer (though files will be difficult or impossible to transfer).

Imagine the expense to consumers, the profits Microsoft will make and the electronic waste that will be generated. If Microsoft would charge a nominal amount for support, I would be willing to pay.

Patricia Schwarz

El Cerrito

'Invasions' not comparable

I am referring to the March 31 column in the Times by Charles Krauthammer, "Obama vs. Putin: So far, it has been a big mismatch." Krauthammer really needs something more substantial to bluster about.

Those with long memories rightly recall Soviet invasions to suppress freedom in Hungary and Czechoslovakia. But to equate those to the Crimean incident -- in which, as Putin sarcastically remarked, the "invading" forces suffered not so much as a sprained ankle -- is as disrespectful of the memory of those past events as it is to the people of Crimea, who, Kalashnikovs notwithstanding, gave separation what the BBC called "a genuine overwhelming yes."

In fact, very little has changed. Anyone who wishes to understand the Russian position can find it in the excellent speech by Putin, unrecognizable in Krauthammer's account (it is at eng.kremlin.ru/transcripts/6889). Putin's historical references help us appreciate that the "loss" of Ukraine to the West is at least as hurtful to Putin as for President Obama would be the secession of Northern California -- which by the way, is long overdue.

Mike Bloxham

Kensington

TV show makes losers of us all

The latest season of the Biggest Loser TV game show ended with a major controversy recently -- a controversy that I'm surprised no one saw coming.

The newly crowned winner, Rachel Frederickson, lost 66 percent of her body weight for a final weigh-in of 105 pounds.

Viewers' sentiments matched those of trainer Jillian Michaels, who looked noticeably shocked and concerned. This spiraled into a Twitter storm of criticism that railed on Frederickson's "unhealthy" weight. I put unhealthy in quotes out of caution; I am not her doctor, therefore I cannot know whether Frederickson is in fact healthy or not.

I did, however, plug Frederickson's weight and her 5-foot, 5-inch height into a Body Mass Index calculator for a BMI of 17.5. That's a whole BMI point below what's considered the bottom threshold of a healthy weight (18.5).

Let's stop talking about the numbers for a moment and get to the real root of the problem: Weight does not always correlate with health. Yes, to my eyes, Frederickson looks dangerously skinny -- almost skeletal -- but there is no way for me to judge her health by sight alone.

That said, 105 pounds is not a weight that should be celebrated, let alone a weight that should be awarded $250,000.

Isn't it obvious how messed up a message this sends? Lose weight and you win; gain weight and you lose. That's one seriously screwed up equation.

I don't want my TV to tell me that I'm a failure for an inability to lose weight. But when TV turns weight loss into a game show, what else am I supposed to think?

Shows such as the Biggest Loser blur the line between health and weight. I know plenty of people who are considered healthy in strictly medical terms but don't necessarily appear thin in plain sight.

The Biggest Loser celebrates weight loss, not health. And when we put the numbers and the contest above everything else, we all end up losing.

Michelle Robertson

Berkeley

Robertson is a sophomore at UC Berkeley.

A dictator or a weakling?

From time to time, one of your readers will remind us that President Barack Obama is a dictator, acting like Adolph Hitler or Josef Stalin.

These same people also sometimes suggest that Obama's weakness and incompetence encourage other powerful people like Vladimir Putin of Russia to act aggressively.

So, Obama is an all-powerful dictator who is trying to steal our guns -- while preparing secret concentration camps in the desert staffed by FEMA-indoctrinated Obama Youth -- and whose weakness and incompetence has encouraged others to run amok in the world.

OK, I think I got it. For some of your readers this is a no-brainer. For the rest of us this view, unfortunately, is brainless.

Michael Steinberg

Berkeley

Constitution is on its deathbed

Four years of Obamacare and it still has not been rendered unconstitutional, even though it places an undue burden on the people. Rob Peter to pay Paul?

The Obama administration, along with some of the nine U.S. Supreme Court Justices, are sucking the life out of our U.S. Constitution. It's languishing on its deathbed, having been injected with the poison of an asp. It will take a supernatural miracle to breathe new life into its original intent.

Anna Koepke

El Sobrante