Stick to what you know
In reviewing Jyoti-Bihanga on Aug. 20, Mina Riazi ["One Lucky Spoon"] strayed from her field of expertise (restaurants) into areas where she seems ill-informed or misled by tainted sources. Sri Chinmoy was a kind and noble soul who always acted ethically and lawfully. He never did anything to provoke controversy and could only be considered controversial in the narrow sense that some people find Barack Obama a controversial president: because others have tried to paint controversy around him.
Why people circulate misinformation about minority spiritual figures is a complex issue. Scholars have noted how anti-cult groups and apostate accounts tend to dominate the media, creating a false picture.
Sri Chinmoy offered genuine spiritual alternatives and made those alternatives respectable through his own exemplary conduct. He spread peace and joy through his meditations and concerts. This he did innocently, but some people view it as threatening to the status quo, so they circulate hate material as a social-control measure to close off that pathway.
Sri Chinmoy was a sincere teacher who never victimized anyone, but only tried to be of service to those who expressed a longing for some deeper wisdom beyond the bread and circuses that dominate our culture. In this way, he empowered the lives of thousands of men and women.
CityBeat writers should write about subjects they know or have carefully researched themselves, steering clear of monkey-see, monkey-do journalism. Just because a competitor published something nasty and libelous is no reason for CityBeat to ditto it. I'd hoped to see more progress since I last complained in 2005:
Every few years, some cub reporter gets the "hot scoop" that a respected spiritual figure is something other than he seems. Please, guys and gals, show a little more maturity and try not to be used by interest groups with a social-control agenda. Thereís no reason why a restaurant review should gratuitously talk trash about Sri Chinmoy, who was a deeply good and decent person.
Michael Howard, New York City
Two great stories
This refers to another fine article by Kelly Davis, in your Sept. 3 edition, titled "A tale of two cities": Melbourne, Australia, has a minimum wage that is now $19 (U.S.) per hour (which varies depending upon the currency exchange rate when measured in U.S. dollars), and the extra money floating around has meant full employment, with most fast-food workers buying new homes and cars. Plus, their prices for a sandwich such as a Big Mac are lower than here. Greed is the only reason why the U.S. has the lowest minimum wage of all the wealthy developed nations. And, we pay for that greed via a poor economy.
Also, "The struggle to fix things" by Kelly Davis ["News," Oct. 15] is one of the best, truest and boldest stories I've seen in CityBeat. Yes, we do not help folks unless they become a problem, like being arrested, and then we blame them for the problems they caused. I especially admire the willingness to tackle the religious right, and I write about the same in the latest (Oct. 20) edition of my newsletter, San Diego Homeless News. Keep up the greatness.
John Kitchin, Tijuana
Recruits taking advantage
I read with interest your Oct. 10 news article, "The ambulance service you have," but it raised a few questions in my mind, which I thought I'd share with you, because if you find simpatico with them, then maybe CityBeat could have another article on this topic.
I am confused: The city contracts with Rural / Metro for ambulance services and yet all fire stations are manned with EMT-qualified personnel. Does the San Diego Fire Department pass patients over to Rural / Metro when the fire-department EMT personnel determine the patient needs to be taken to a hospital emergency room?
Very recently, I heard from the city Auditor that only 2 to 3 percent of calls to a fire station are to fight a fire, with just about all the remainder being medical-assistance calls of one kind or another. Think about that: We are paying (not counting benefits) fire-department personnel an average of $106,000 a year, yet those fire-fighting skills are used very infrequently. On the surface, this doesn't seem balanced.
Here is another factoid that is mind-boggling: A fire-department recruit attends the San Diego fire academy and is paid $30,000 a year while enrolled. Yet when a recruit graduates, he or she is not bound to become part of the San Diego Fire Department. They can go anywhere, and if they do, they do not have to reimburse the city that $30,000.
We taxpayers are being taken advantage of big-time with this. Those trainees should be required to sign a contract that says if they go to work in another city, they are contractually required to repay San Diego taxpayers that $30,000, either from their own resources or from the jurisdiction that hires them.
Lou Cumming, La Jolla
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