Korean Goodies

I enjoyed Moss Gropen’s article on the Korean spirit soju (“Our Favorite Drinks and Where We Drink Them,” Cover Story, April 23). I was introduced to the stuff by my friend and his Korean in-laws. I love it! Especially the variety made from sweet potatoes and green tea. Just a few suggestions, however. Go to the Zion Market in Kearny Mesa. It is a Korean supermarket and devotes an entire section to the elixir. While I enjoy going to upscale Mitsuwa for uniquely Japanese items, Zion carries everything Korean and is less expensive than its counterpart down the street.

Soju, in my opinion, is best complemented by the Korean beer Hite (pronounced “hee-tay”).

Gun bae!

Tom Farrell
via email

Five Stars? All Stairs!

When Naomi Wise first started doing her reviews for the Reader, I wrote to thank her for intermittently including information concerning wheelchair/handicapped access to the restaurants that she reviewed. Inclusion of this information has been spotty at best but much appreciated when included.

It is astounding to now see that she has awarded her highest rating ever to El Bizcocho, a facility that is one of the least handicapped-friendly in the area (Restaurant Review, April 23). Prior to the most recent renovation, wheelchair users had to enter via the trash-and-storage area of the restaurant. There was no way to enter the main dining area, so then — as apparently now — chair users are segregated, and the only accessible restroom was approximately a half-mile away via an uncovered walkway. We discovered the preceding information when we attempted to eat at El Bizcocho based on a prior review.

We were informed by the management that all of these problems would be solved by their remodel and that they would like to comp a return visit. We simply wanted to eat a wonderful meal in the same area as all the other patrons and to use the same facilities, so we simply waited and returned unannounced after the renovations. We were unpleasantly surprised that there was still no access to the dining area via the main entrance, and the restroom near the restaurant was still inaccessible. I take it from the comments in the “need to know” box that wheelchair users are still segregated and require special valet assistance for entrance. As usual, there is no comment in the review about the restroom facility accessibility.

The Michelin criteria for that much-coveted third star include a restaurant that is worth a special trip just to eat there. It’s hardly worth a special trip when you require special assistance to enter the place, are forced to eat in a special area, and have no convenient toilet. No matter how wonderful the food is, all of the other inconveniences leave a bad taste in your mouth. Perhaps Ms. Wise should rethink her five-star selection or there should be a separate category for food.

Needless to say, my socks are still on, and we probably couldn’t even hear the music in the “special” accessible section, let alone face it and dance.

Dr. Bill Casper
via email

My Hero

I, for one, feel safer knowing that Mr. Xtreme is out there (“San Diego’s Superhero,” Cover Story, April 16). Thanks for the story and the way it was written. The description, for example, of the 30-plus-year-old nocturnal skateboarder riding through downtown, oblivious to our hero, evoked a comic book feel. Well done.

Keith Vertrees
via email

Goodman Good, Coe No

Re “Blurt” — “Long hair can’t cover my red neck” (April 16). It was Steve Goodman, not David Allan Coe, who wrote the ultimate country song, “You Never Even Called Me by My Name.”

Eric Reichard
via email

Too Old, Too Out-There

First of all, I would like to thank the Reader for publishing great articles that affect San Diegans. Mr. Varela responded on April 16 to one of my letters, and now I would like to respond back.

I’m glad that someone out there has been paying attention. I welcome the response to my views. Mr. Varela must have spent many sleepless nights to write to the Reader. His letter was filled with outdated information and lacked any form of reality. He obviously doesn’t understand the threat to the United States from what he calls “a few isolated criminal incidents.” I won’t bother giving all the examples of violence the drug war brings. All you need to know is that people are getting brutally murdered, kidnapped, and raped very close to the United States. Without our borders being protected by military forces, it opens the door to violence and terrorism.

I would agree that enlistment numbers are somewhat up. But after speaking with a few recruiters, they attribute this to the bad economy and fewer jobs for young adults rather than to bonuses, as Mr. Varela states. The true number of active military personnel is not known to the general public. The low-intensity conflict you speak of from the ’70s to the ’90s did not have the manpower or the technology of today. Ever heard of the Predator?? Yes, the U.S. is not perfect. They have tried many things that ultimately failed. Ever heard of the Vietnam War? For the same reason we failed in Vietnam, we will fail in border security.

We need to go full force at it or not at all. Yes, it will be expensive, but I’d rather spend my tax dollars on that than bailing out Wall Street, the banks, etc. Joint Task Force 6 failed because there was no political will to make it succeed. This time I’m talking about the same type of effort as in Desert Storm. Let the Border Patrol conduct operations within the country and not on the borders. No need to resurrect Alexander the Great. If it meant the preservation of our safety, culture, and mankind, I would pay the $5 for produce. That’s the difference, Mr. Varela, between you and me. I’m willing to pay the price for freedom. You would rather enslave people that have no legal right to be here. And your rant about the 90 percent of guns in Mexico coming from the U.S., when it’s actually 17? Yep, the good old Department of Homeland Security put out that number, and Fox News put the actual number at 17. I see how trustworthy the Department of Homeland Security is. Putting our veterans, people that oppose illegal aliens, and those that don’t agree with the president on radical watch lists. Very credible.

via email

On March 17, 2009, representatives of the Drug Enforcement Administration and Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms testified before Congress that “90 percent of the weapons that could be traced were determined to have originated from various sources within the U.S.” (emphasis ours). Fox News calculated that the weapons traceable to the United States constituted only 17 percent of the total weapons found at Mexican crime scenes. — Editor

1 Across: Appreciation

Thank you so much for offering these challenging crossword puzzles each week in the Reader, and especially thank you for the newly designed and very trendy T-shirt you sent me.

For the past many years that I have participated in the weekly puzzle, I have won three or four times, and I was thrilled with the plain white shirt with the red Reader.com. All my family members wear them proudly during a special occasion.

I will continue to be an avid participant, and I read all the articles. My favorites are “City Lights,” Don Bauder, Stringers, and, of course, the feature article.

Keep up the good work, and I will try to do mine.

Elenore Stephens

Why Transit’s Troubled

It is easy to criticize transit in San Diego, so no special credit to Ollie for his March 5 cover story “Waste time. Save money. Ride the bus!” It is more difficult to defend it, so a tip of the hat to Robert K. Johnston for his letter in the April 2 issue, “Master-Planned Bad Transit.”

But the problem is that so few understand transit in San Diego and why it will never be greatly successful. To be a success, transit needs two basic elements: a dense concentration of potential riders and financial support beyond just those who ride the systems.

San Diego has too little density, and what we do have is broken up by canyons, valleys, mountains, and water bodies. Look at a map of the Metropolitan Transit System or North County Transit District and see how long some of the routes are. Successful transit attracts a high number of riders for each mile it operates. It is easy to see that most routes here do not and cannot meet that measure.

To the best of my knowledge, no public transit system in the U.S. pays its own way; some level of subsidy is required. A subsidy is the difference between operating costs and operating revenues — fares, to you and me. San Diego has an unusually low level of subsidy support. Most of what is generated by sales tax that goes to transportation is utilized for capital expenditures: building roads and buying trolleys and buses. Very little is available for paying drivers, maintenance, and fuel.

This is why the MTS and NCTD cannot afford to provide a level and distribution of service that would be attractive to a much larger percentage of our population.

If this bothers you, discuss it with your elected officials.

Tim Price
via email

The Doctor Is Out

The January 22 Reader carried an article titled “Deadly Mosquitoes Breed in Our Urban Drool.”

On page 37, there is this statement attributed to Dr. Lieu: “Wherever it has peaked, and then the number of cases has started to go down, the virus has never circled back. If you look at New England and New York, where they had a whole bunch of cases seven or eight years ago, in the past couple of years, they hardly had any.” Data I obtained from the Centers for Disease Control website (cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/ westnile/) demonstrate that the data is inconsistent with the statement just quoted. (In the years 1999 through 2008, the number of cases was 62, 14, 15, 82, 71, 10, 38, 24, 22, 46, respectively.)

On page 38, there is this statement attributed to Dr. Lieu: “And that starts about three to seven days after the bite.” The CDC website, (cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/ westnile/clinicians/clindesc. htm#fever), states, “The incubation period for WNV infection is thought to range from about 2 to 14 days, although longer incubation periods have been documented in immunosuppressed persons.”

Also on page 38, there is this statement attributed to Dr. Lieu: “But about 1 in 100 people who get infected develops encephalitis.” On the CDC website in 2004, there was this statement: “Approximately 1 in 150 infections will result in severe neurological disease.” There is a difference between severe neurological disease and encephalitis. The CDC website states, “About 60% to 75% of people with neuroinvasive WNV infection reportedly have encephalitis or meningoencephalitis, which is characterized by altered mental status or focal neurologic findings.” Both encephalitis and meningitis have varying degrees of severity.

It seems to me that it is important to be as exact as possible when printing information such as is in the article referenced. I do not know if Dr. Lieu was quoted accurately. It seems to me that a reporter should check figures quoted by someone he/she interviews with some authoritative source, and if discrepancies are discovered between information stated by one interviewed and sources considered authoritative, such as the CDC, then the reporter should contact the person interviewed and present the discrepancies prior to any publication so that inaccurate information is not disseminated.

Roger Bitar, M.D., M.P.H.

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