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Contact us via voice mail at (714) 825-8432, or by e-mail: letters@ocweekly.com. Or write to Letters to the Editor, OC Weekly, P.O. Box 10788, Costa Mesa, CA 92627. Or fax: (714) 708-8410. Letters may be edited for clarity and length. All correspondence must include your home city or service provider and a daytime phone number.THE NESTEA PLUNGEI got a great laugh out of Buddy Seigal's profile of singer Joey Racano ("Our Pal Joey," Sept. 24). That bit about him pissing in [Congressman Dana] Rohrabacher's sun tea was a real hoot, and it inspired me: next time [Congresswoman] Loretta Sanchez has a fund-raiser, I'm going to sneak in and flavor the punch with a pint or two of dog piss-maybe throw in some butt cheese for good measure.Incidentally, that's a real handsome guitar he plays. But I wonder if our Earth-worshiping troubadour has pondered that someone had to cut down a tree to make it-probably at the expense of some poor critter that called it home. And someone had to build and market tools and machines to craft the wood into a body and neck. Some evil chemical had to make the glue that holds it together and the varnish that protects it and gives it its nice luster. Some greedy industrialist had to tear up the Earth to mine ore for the metal parts in the tuning mechanism and for the strings-all of which were produced by machines made and marketed by still more evil profiteers. Then, someone had to bring the finished guitars to market in trucks with smog-spewing internal-combustion engines built and sold by rapacious businessmen who count their profits while raping Mother Earth.But what's really important is that nitwits like Racano can have a nice, custom-built guitar to belt out shallow songs about evil, greedy industrialists and their equally evil and greedy Republican supporters.-Ken Williams
Times OC
Costa Mesa

WHATSAMATTA UI commend Cornel Bonca for his research and explication of several less-than-ideal realities within our higher-education system, but he hasn't presented the "whole story" ("Welcome to Virtual U," Sept. 4). In essence, Bonca says online education is a cost-saving strategy devised by anal, myopic administrators and that it is a highly inferior educational experience compared to the "traditional" college classroom (which is especially interesting when you consider his introduction to the article, which paints such a clear and horrifying picture of the typical "non-customer-service-oriented" campus environment).Though I understand his nostalgia, Bonca's reminiscences of Claremont represent an elitist college experience. He fails to acknowledge the large, rapidly expanding "non-traditional" student body who will never have the opportunity to attend college in the "traditional" sense. These working-adult students find it extremely difficult and often impossible to attend "traditional" classes on campus. Typically, these students quit their jobs for two years to complete graduate degrees, keep their jobs and spend six years completing degrees that should only require two, or put their educations on hold indefinitely. As Bonca says, "There must be an easier way."There is no indication that any students enrolled in online programs or the faculties that teach them were interviewed for this article. Thus, a significant voice in this discussion has been silenced. Bonca makes a common mistake by assuming that online education is meant to replace the traditional classroom; however, the reality is that the ability to create "virtual classrooms" increases our options and provides greater access to education for everyone. He makes the case himself when he so clearly describes the anticipated effect of "Tidal Wave II," the "Echo Boom Generation," upon an already maxed-out higher-ed. system with no resources to build 10 new campuses the size of UCLA. I think you should make certain your readers have a chance to hear the other side of this story. It is certain that a growing percentage of them will make use of the online option in the years to come.-Annemarie Boyer
Instructional designer for Internet Programs
Center for Mediated Instruction and Distance Learning
Cal State Dominguez Hills

Cornel Bonca responds: I appreciate your careful reading and thoughtful comments. As for presenting the "whole story," though, I make no claims. As for failing to acknowledge the non-traditional student's plight, I actually spend a good paragraph talking about it. I also note that cyber education is touted-mostly by corporate giants and remote administrators who can't keep their eyes off the bottom line-as an augmentation rather than as a replacement for traditional classes. But who can believe them, given the extraordinary online startup costs and with projected demographics as they are? The future promises to be substantially online for everyone but the elite, not because it'll be more convenient-apologists for new technologies always push convenience and "consumer choice"-but because we've decided, as a society, not to fund education for this generation the way we did for the boomers. (More prisons and low property taxes? Yes! A vital college educational experience for our kids? Um, nah. . . .) As for interviewing students for this article, I did, I did, but their responses either recapitulated what others said or were too embarrassing to put in there. Here's a sample from my notes: "Why did you decide to take courses online instead of in a classroom?" "Because I really don't wanna be around a lot of other people."

 
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