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Incendiary phrases

EDITOR: On Wednesday, as I read about the "ice bag incident," I could not help but feel disappointed and frustrated ("School proactive in addressing fan behavior"). Not only has this incident humiliated my school, but it has also generated a terrible reputation for students, families and players who attend our athletic events. Rumors have spread like wildfire, and each one twists and turns the story to satisfy personal bias and amplify dramatic effect. I won't pretend I haven't done this myself.

However, when the newspaper uses the phrase "a collision under the basket" to describe the foul that occurred during the last second of the basketball game and "hurled" to describe the manner in which the ice was thrown at the Carrillo High School player, the fires are only fed and spread to a larger audience. I am not, in any way, defending the actions taken by the Santa Rosa High parent, nor am I blaming anyone for the conflict that inspired these actions. I merely ask that the reputation of a wonderful school isn't sacrificed for an exciting story.

MELISSA LOPEZ

Santa Rosa

Obama's 'fairy tale'

EDITOR: The national debt is $16.5 trillion. America isn't just broke, we are seriously in debt. President Barack Obama loves to tell people what they want to hear; it would be refreshing to hear the truth. How can he stand before the American public with a straight face and never once tell us how we are going to pay for his fairy tale without including business?

THEODORE CARL SODERBERG

San Francisco

Cutting fuel consumption

EDITOR: I read with interest the Feb. 10 Close to Home column by Joey Smith ("Divest from fossil-fuel companies"). I got excited because if this catches on, it would provide an excellent investment opportunity for those of us who love to invest in growing, profit-making companies. The petroleum industry will be profitable for decades to come, and mass divestiture would result in low stock prices for us.

I have a better idea to achieve the goal of using one-fifth of the known oil reserves to keep from destroying the planet. Begin by demonstrating the viability of this by using one-fifth of any petroleum-based product per day from here on out. That means everything including gasoline and more than 60 oil-based products commonly used in everyday life. Don't forget anything that is in the house or business that arrived by the fossil-fuel based global transportation system (aircraft, ocean-going freighter, trains, trucks). Also any electricity that is generated with fossil fuels — no more than one-fifth of what you use today. Remind your customers to do the same.

Once you demonstrate this successfully, it will be far more effective than divestiture.

DAN BERGMEN

Ukiah

Testing for bias

EDITOR: Biases — a lot of people have them. It's not much of a surprise. As a teenager constantly surrounded by the media, I notice many biases: thinner people are more likely to be accepted as are white people, and the non-disabled. Young is better, and African Americans are unfairly associated with danger more than white Europeans.

Melinda Henneberger's column ("Beware 'mindbugs' that infect us all with prejudices," Feb. 8) concerning Harvard University's Project Implicit leads one to believe that everyone leans toward the biases installed by the media. I took the test after reading her column. I know my biases and received what I expected.

I took another test and another. Soon I was scoring on the completely other end of results. Why? I got the hang of clicking. My biases were not taken into consideration; instead, my subconscious biases were created by the order and structure of the questions.

What the media deems more desirable was at first paired with good connotations, then abruptly swapped for the negative, making me — and others, no doubt — slower to click and categorize.

We all have biases, but Project Implicit doesn't gauge them; it gauges the period in which we adjust to change.

VANESSA GUZMAN

Santa Rosa