Answered Prayer Rug

I saw the cover on the rug that was found in the Dumpster (Cover Story, January 20). Well, that actually happened to me. I was working on a jobsite by University and 805, and someone actually threw an Afghani Baluch pray rug into the Dumpster. When we pulled it out, I thought it was a Persian rug. About a week later I took it to La Jolla Rugs and got it cleaned and appraised. They told me that it was probably made in the 1940s and probably took someone a year to make. It was appraised at $950.

El Cajon

No Cover-age

My husband reads your paper. My job on Thursdays is to stop by and get it, because he’s one of the crossword puzzle wizards who always sends in all the right answers. What caught my eye was “That Rug You Found in a Dumpster Is Worth $125,000” (Cover Story, January 20). Now, really, it’s an Indian rug, and I really wanted to read the article, even though I never read your paper. I read the whole god-darned boring article about that guy trying to get on the Antiques Roadshow and never did find the article about… My God, the woman’s on the cover, for crying out loud! You couldn’t have put some little thing in there?

You devote a cover to somebody, sweetheart, you should have them in the book.

Diane Hootman
via voice mail

Jay Allen Sanford responds: The woman on the cover was part of the San Diego 2010 Antiques Roadshow taping. Behind her is an asmalyk rug from Turkmenistan, circa 1900. The Turkoman nomads wove asmalyks for both utilitarian and ceremonial purposes, and examples from this time period are extremely rare. Rescued from a Dumpster, the rug was valued by a Roadshow volunteer at $125,000 to $150,000.

Other San Diego 2010 high-ticket items included a 1907 portrait of one guest’s aristocratic grandmother, painted by Ashcan School artist Robert Henri, valued at $250,000 to $350,000, and an original Hortus Eystettensis book, a groundbreaking collection of oversize botanical illustrations published in 1613, valued at $250,000 to $300,000.

Don’t Cross Me

Re “A Bloody Sunrise,” “SD on the QT,” January 20.

The power of wit to cut through an issue to make a profound point is no better illustrated than in this short satire. Its writer, Walter Mencken, suggests that we solve this church-state standoff by rebranding the Latin cross back to its pre-Christian meaning, which was a warning of the gruesome consequences to any who would challenge the power of the Roman Empire.

Atheists really don’t have problems with religion in itself but only when it becomes entangled with government. And what could be more so than this cross on Soledad Mountain, which now is not only on federal property but is controlled by the Department of Defense.

This Latin cross only became widely associated with Christianity when Constantine saw the symbiotic benefit of merging empire and church to advance his goal of national aggrandizement. He was onto something, as seen by the avid defense of such an alliance by those with such a nationalistic militaristic bent to this very day.

The satire concluded with words that could have been expanded upon by academicians steeped in the history of religion and of empires, but not as succinctly as printed, “Trust us — it’s not about Jesus.”

Al Rodbell
via email

Cheapskate Caught

I am very disappointed that the Reader saw fit to reward a member of Village Woods for admitting that he doesn’t pay dues and that he wants to be noisy (“I Live in Linda Vista,” Feature Story, January 20). We are a small, low-income condo. We live very closely in small units and need to enforce quiet. As well, we are struggling to pay our bills, with many members who do not pay dues and are foreclosing. It’s good that you flushed out one source of his income, which we will go after, but it’s questionable whether you should be rewarding people for admitting they break rules and cause havoc in our community.

As well, I would like to make a correction to Walter Mencken’s column in which he intimated that Sunrise Powerlink is a green energy project (“SD on the QT,” January 20). It is a greenwash project that will increase fossil fuels and global warming by shipping liquefied natural gas from Indonesia across the ocean in fossil-fuel-emitting vessels, which are unregulated, bypassing our ports and jobs to a Mexican port, and bypassing our clean air laws to produce the power in Mexico. As well, it will greatly increase our fire danger. Many, many people came down to the board of supervisors meeting against the Sunrise Powerlink and filled the room to overflowing when it was heard. What we want as an alternative is a solar roof project by SDG&E to outfit all of our homes with solar roofs. We are willing to pay monthly for that but not for increased fire danger and increased global warming, which will eventually destroy our food and water supply.

Name Withheld by Request
via email

Dislocated Hip

What happened to “Straight From the Hip”?!!! The column, written by Matthew Alice, has always been the place I turn to first when I see the Reader (and it’s the reason I make an effort to find a copy of the Reader). It is humorous, entertaining, and edifying. But the last time I saw it published was January 5 of this year! Why does it frequently disappear for weeks at a time??? It should be in every issue!

Vincent Andrunas
via email

Matthew Alice responds: The research elves wandered off, and it took us a week to find them — would you believe — drinking mojitos at the Hotel Del. After that, Grandma grounded them for a week. But now we’re back on schedule.

Two Swans A-Swimming

Is there more than one movie named Black Swan? There must be because the scathingly negative review that David Elliott wrote surely couldn’t have been about the movie that I saw. While I wouldn’t put it in a top-five list, I thought this story of a career-obsessed young woman, still an emotional child, descending into the depths of her own personal hell, driven there by her also obsessed mother and the demanding choreographer (in my opinion, played perfectly by Vincent Cassel) was well told. I have always enjoyed Natalie Portman’s performances, from her early days in The Professional through adolescence in Beautiful Girls to her more recent adult roles such as The Other Boleyn Girl, and to demean her performance in Black Swan is way off the mark. Sorry, David, I couldn’t disagree more with you on this one.

via email

Let’s Hear It For Biotech

Don Bauder’s recent article in the Reader is a one-sided, inaccurate depiction of biotech in San Diego and a number of legendary scientists who have been involved in breakthroughs in medicine (“Full Disclosure: Yeah, Sure,” “City Lights,” January 13). Mr. Bauder attempts to display the well-recognized risk in biotech drug development as unethical. Pharmaceutical development of drugs takes an average of 20 years and millions in investments. According to the Mayo Clinic, only 27.5 percent of drugs in phase three are successful. The risks of such drug development are well known and always transparent in financial filings. However, Mr. Bauder attempts to paint a picture that disgruntled investors are unaware of such risks. In addition, the article appears to defame some of the greatest scientific icons from San Diego, including Dr. Jonas Salk, Dr. Dennis Carlo, and Dr. Maurizio Zanetti.

A few facts that Mr. Bauder fails to mention. Dr. Salk developed the first effective polio vaccine. Dr. Carlo was a leader of Hybritech, San Diego’s first successful biotech company. Dr. Zanetti is an accomplished oncology professor at UCSD. Mr. Bauder fails to mention a fairly important fact that the investor action against Immune Response Corporation was led by Bill Lerach. According to the Wall Street Journal, March 7, 2009, “Once the undisputed king of class-action securities suits, Lerach was convicted of conspiracy and jailed last year for his role in a kickback scheme. Long suspected of filing suits to benefit himself rather than investors, Lerach had indeed been secretly bribing people to serve as lead plaintiffs. The support of these ‘plaintiffs’ was critical in convincing judges to authorize Lerach to represent millions of other investors he’d never met. This in turn gave him the leverage to beat settlements out of companies, often resulting in millions for Lerach and his firm, and pennies on the dollar for each of the actual investors.”

It would be helpful if Mr. Bauder did some objective research for his articles in order to achieve “full disclosure.” Yeah, sure, I guess the Union-Tribune got tired of such unbalanced journalism. By the way, Dr. Salk’s polio vaccine, although approved in other countries, took 51 years to get approved in the United States (the Sabin was used), but his research alone saved generations from a previously deadly disease.

How about some full disclosure, Mr. Bauder?

Name Withheld

Hit The Road, John

Re “Your Week and Welcome to It,” January 13. The description of “John and Juan: A History of the Golden State” of a “native Californian and a Mexican immigrant” gave me a chuckle, considering the only native Californians are the Mexicans. So who’s the immigrant? I know I am. I figure anybody named John is too. But thanks for letting me stay. John, however, you can kick out anytime.

via email

Courteous Radical

Allen Stanko wrote in his letter of January 13 about bicyclists riding “too far out in the lane.” Allen, you probably have never been doored, which is when an idiot opens a car door without looking. Being doored can result in a catastrophic injury. In addition, the streets of San Diego are in horrendous shape in certain areas. We have smaller wheels than you. Sometimes we have to avoid crumbling asphalt or broken glass that usually ends up where we ride. I personally have no problem passing bicycles; in fact, I’ve passed motorcycles, cars, and even Mack trucks in my Tercel. I would suggest if you cannot pass a bicycle, you should not be driving at all. I am a Critical Mass bike rider; however, I will be attending all future rides with a sign that says “Radical CMers Suck.” I try to ride with courtesy, but if you hit me with your car in an attempt to save a few seconds you will be sued, and I will spend every penny trying to bring you down. My life is worth more than your few seconds. Please just take a little time to pass us with courtesy and some concern for safety. That is all I ask.

Doren Garcia
via email

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Well said Doreen. What is about the phrase, "share the road," that drivers of autos do not understand. Maybe when gasoline is over five dollars a gallon and these automobile drivers are searching for alternative transportation and buy a bicycle or motorcycle they will understand the word empathy.

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