"Getting to No," by Jim Schutze, February 12
Blame Uncle Sammy
As a native and resident of New Orleans who lost everything in Hurricane Katrina, I was mortified to see comments by your columnist Jim Schutze. He made disparaging, false comments about New Orleans while discussing a project which is not related to our city at all. He wrote "...officials from the Corps gave legally correct answers to the effect that local officials in New Orleans were responsible for the condition of the levees that failed..." This statement is categorically false. The levees in New Orleans are a federal project, by law, as a result of the Flood Control Act of 1965. Prior to 1965, the state of Louisiana designed and built its flood protection through its levee boards. After Hurricane Betsy, Congress gave control of the flood protection to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in this act, which called for a flood protection system to protect south Louisiana from the worst storms characteristic of the region.
When authorized (1965), this mandate was projected to take 13 years to complete. When Katrina struck in 2005, the project was between 60 to 90 percent complete, and the projected date of completion was estimated to be 2015. Thirteen years?
Local officials do not have authority over the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. They are a federal agency, and their negligence and incompetence in the design and construction of our levees is under only their control.
It is indeed disturbing to see that this level of ignorance and misinformation continues to circulate concerning our city and the devastation we experienced following Hurricane Katrina—disturbing especially when it is published by a high-profile and (previously) respected publication.
Claudia J. D'Aquin, New Orleans
I'm not saying that we don't have some of our own local "morons," pols and officials like those in Dallas that Mr. Schutze alludes to, but it is my understanding that the design and construction of the flood protection in metro New Orleans that failed during Katrina belongs solely to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as mandated by the Flood Control Act of 1965. Do let us know if you have facts to the contrary.
David Schumacher, New Orleans
Editor's note: Schutze says he has plenty of facts to the contrary. To read more of his reply, visit blogs.dallasobserver.com/unfairpark.
"Eat less, Live Longer," by Elaine Liner, February 19
I really enjoyed the article about a reduced calorie diet, as it pointed out (in an implied way) the middle ground between the extremes of an American Denny's/Mickey D/KFC diet that leaves people with 40 pounds of fat hanging over their belts versus the other view where the raw food person believes that he can live forever if he eats the right food. He should look around, because nothing in this universe lives forever.
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The middle ground of good nutrition and good exercise (i.e., walking, yoga and other low-impact activities) can lead a person to a healthy weight without resorting to extreme measures that may lead to problems later in life.
America is the land of extremes, and this article did a good job of showing the extreme opposite of popular-culture and offsetting those ideas with those Dr. Austad put forward stating that there is no science behind these beliefs. However, we should praise the people who step forward with these counter-culture ideas, as they are a good offset to the popular-culture ideas that imply we should simply eat everything we can until our emotions are satisfied by the fat and sugar we consume. As that will surely make our lives better—right, Ronald M.? The middle ground of eating a lot of fruits and vegetables and moderate amounts of meat (no 8-ounce steaks for dinner) can reduce body fat while keeping your muscle mass in place.
One can never know how long they will live, as genetics plays a major role in this equation. However, if we simply want to live a good life and perhaps be lucky enough to die in our sleep in our own bed in our own home and not in a nursing home when the time comes, then pay attention to what is being said in this article and others like it. Find the middle path in all things.
Stephen Potter, Rowlett