Thanks for Printing Hoffman's Alternative-Reality Blather
Thank you for the essay on Obama bumper stickers by Jonathan Hoffman (Guest Commentary, July 30). It's refreshing to get my fix of delusional alternative-reality blather somewhere besides the trolls infesting Salon's letters columns.
I live in a boring, predictable world in which it would be impossible to vote for any currently conceivable Republican presidential candidate unless the opposition was a whiny zombie back-stabber (and, let's face it, I don't think Joe Lieberman is going to get that far), and in which Barack Obama is disappointing to anyone who believes in the rule of law and habeas corpus, but is nevertheless far preferable to the other choices.
It's invigorating to imagine a universe in which the right-wingers have not alienated every portion of the electorate, except angry bigoted white hate-mongers; in which Mitt Romney possesses wisdom, charm and competence; and in which, as a result of disillusionment with their candidate, U.S. citizens will (any minute now) suddenly swing wholesale Republican.
Though I am but a puny liberal, I do share a contempt for the display of commercial labels, and a distaste for bumper stickers. It's true that the bumper stickers I don't like have more to do with admonitions to honk if I love Jesus, or presumptive questions like WWJD? Hoffman somehow doesn't mention these offenses. I'm sure he just overlooked them, though, and I would like to offer him my counter-strategies: Fight bumper stickers with bumper stickers, so I have created one that reads, "Shut up if you aren't Jesus," and another that reads JWDW?, which, translated, is "Jesus would do what?"
And in closing: Boegle! PORE (Fiction 84, July 30)! For crying out loud, you edit a paper! Were you judging the microstories, or eating them for breakfast with syrup?
'The Hurt Locker' Kinda Sucked
After seeing the movie The Hurt Locker, which is about young men disarming bombs in one of the American war zones, I wondered why so many reviews touted the film as "good" (Film Clips, Aug. 6). It's a horrible film with repetitive, gory scenes and weak characterization. My wife kept checking her watch to see how much longer we would have to sit until the end. One review said it was low-budget. Obviously. 84 Charlie MoPic, from 1989, is a low-budget icon of the frugal-war-movie genre.
Tucsonans Should Come Together to Develop a Community Science Center
In "Got Stars" (Currents, July 30), you mentioned that "no one has surfaced publicly to champion or condemn Flandrau's closing."
I write you to add my voice, not to champion or condemn the closing of Flandrau, nor solely to wax nostalgically about the passing of this Tucson institution. Rather, I write to lament the declining richness of our community that this closing represents and to ask if there can be some alternative to the crumbling plans that now lay in ruin around us. And I do mean "us," not the university, or the city, or Rio Nuevo. It is we, the community as a whole, which is poorer without a place like Flandrau in it.
For 35 years, through good times and bad, Flandrau provided this community with some measure of wonder, a place where one could come face to face with phenomena and see the beauty of the sky explained in vivid detail. How many tens of thousands of school children have been captivated by Flandrau's marvelous dome? How many of us have seen the rings of Saturn in its telescope, been tickled by the motion of chaotic pendulums or been made dizzy by exhibits that helped us, not only learn scientific principles, but feel them for ourselves? It is indeed sad for our community, a step backward to be sure, that we will no longer have this place in which to wander. Now, because of one kind of folly or another, perhaps a full generation of school kids will go without the opportunity to play with pendulums or feel the repulsive force of strong magnets. Must we, as a community, wait three, five or perhaps 10 years before for the university's conception of a science center finally opens those doors again?
Though we have long been married to the idea that the university must be the driving force behind any science-related activity, this does not necessarily have to be the case. Very few science centers around the country are in any way connected with a college or university. There is, in fact, a private nonprofit group called the Physics Factory that has been providing informal science education all around this community for the last several years. They are just an example of what is possible when dedicated people work together toward a goal.
I would like to propose a "citizen science center," a place put together by people who care about life and living in this community, with the needs of this community in mind, a place that is filled with the spirit that makes Tucson unique. It doesn't need to be in a fancy new building; Tucson is currently filled with many empty spaces which could be inexpensively adapted. It need not take 5 or 10 years to get going. With a modest level of community support, we could have a small, exploratory space opened within a year, and expand as needed.
We can do this together. It is not rocket science. Small groups come together every year in communities all across the country to do this very same thing. Tucson needs a place that we can all wander in, a place where we can make discoveries, not just about the world we live in, but about ourselves.
Former associate director, Flandrau Science Center
Former interim executive director, Tucson Children's Museum