Reader: I see that Bakersfield College has closed the Latinx gap ("Bakersfield College earns Student Success award," July 17). The article uses the term "Latinx," which I'm reading as "Lah-teenks." I think this ought to be explained to us. My guess is that the term is intended to replace the cumbersome Latino/a construction, but I think it's a solution in need of a problem.
The law of unintended consequences, a law that we always obey without being aware of it, says that this may lead to Chicanx, Gringx, and the like.
"Latinx" seems to be unpronounceable in Spanish, so it must have been invented by an English speaker. My main argument is this: English is bad enough already. Let's try to pass it on to the next generation in a form in which communication is still possible.
— Larry Dunn
Price: I am not confident in our ability as humans to modify language by decree or organized campaign but I understand the reasoning in this case. Why must so much in language — Spanish, English and others — default to the masculine form? The result is a very subtle type of paternalistic indoctrination.
So, "Latinx," which we took straight from a news release distributed by the Sacramento-based California Community Colleges office announcing BC's award, makes a certain amount of sense.
The -x ending feels forced, though. To me, a better neuterization would be, say, latini or latine or even just latin; those forms glide onto the ear with the appealing grace of that family of languages. Latinx sounds like a mid-sentence sneeze.
History has not been kind to organized language-management campaigns. Take the United States Board on Geographic Names' 1891 effort to standardize place names. Among its decrees: Drop the final -h in Pittsburgh and start calling the Pennsylvania city "Pittsburg." Most everybody thumbed their nose at the idea and in 1911 the old spelling was restored. (Not so in obedient California, though: The Bay Area city of Pittsburg still has no -h.)
Perhaps human language will evolve to a place of gender neutrality, but I believe it'll do so on its own, not because some enlightened individuals have distributed their own list of acceptable alternatives.
Let's all meet here again in 30 years and see if "Latinx" and its linguistic familix have taken root.
Reader: Just read Sam Morgen's article on the illegal alien rally that took place last week in Bakersfield ("Turnout exceeds expectations at local rally against inhumane conditions at immigrant detention facilities," July 13). Was wondering if he has toured the detention facilities? I take it he has by referring to them as "inhumane conditions." Maybe he can describe to me in detail what he saw that was so inhumane. I like how the Liberal Progressive Media calls these detention facilities "concentration camps" where more than 6 million humans, mostly Jews, were put in ovens, gassed with poison, etc.
— Barry Wallace
Price: Sam didn't characterize the camps as having "inhumane" conditions, or compare them to "concentration camps." A marcher at the rally did, and Sam quoted her. Surely you know the difference, Barry. Neither did Sam declare that the Trump administration is making every effort to maintain an orderly immigration system; a Trump supporter did, and Sam quoted him. Or do you want to hang that comment on Sam, too?
The "Liberal Progressive Media" is not calling these detention facilities "concentration camps," either — critics of the squalid conditions (no one is disagreeing about that characterization) are, and the media quotes them, just as it quotes hard-line, anti-asylum voices.
I will say this: The term "inhumane conditions," which appeared only in the headline, should have included quote marks around the word "inhumane."
Reader: I am totally confused, thanks to The Californian. All media says, "Stay out of our Killer Kern.” I say apologize to our Killer Kern. Look at your July 14 newspaper, Page A6. Enough said.
P.S. I don’t think this is your doing, so please share.
— Marie Garza
Reader: I was shocked to see to pictures in Sunday's paper of the people in the Kern River. We try and try to keep people out for their safety yet you show it as being the place to cool off. How about pictures of pools and spray parks?
— Linda Daniels
Price: Those photos, taken by our Alex Horvath, were snapped on the Lower Kern; drownings there are much more rare than on the Upper Kern, where fast-moving water combined with submerged obstacles make for a deadly combination. (One photo was from the city's McMurtrey Aquatic Center.) But that's not really my excuse.
Those photos of people frolicking in and near the water aren't endorsements, they're reflections of what is really happening here, in this city, right now. We don't publish late-night car wreck photos to dissuade people from drinking and driving (although we're happy if it has that effect); we publish them because they're illustrations of reality, harsh though it may be.
The people in Alex's photos could benefit from the life-jacket loaner program I've discussed in this space before. Such programs are working elsewhere, including Sacramento's American River.
Reader: A local radio/TV sports broadcaster went on and on about TBC and its high school sports coverage on the radio the other day. He first noted that the middle of July is of course a slow time for prep sports in Bakersfield. But then he put The Californian on blast for not having much prep content recently. And he is fearful about coverage in the future.
In the last week, I’ve seen an article about the Jernigan family returning to BHS. Also there have been two nice articles about Coach Mike Ornelaz and what he has meant to thousands of high school students here in Bakersfield. Lastly, on Tuesday, an article that details Trevor Horn’s top 50 players for the coming football season.
This seems quite good to me during a slow time for prep sports. Can’t wait to see what is next.
Price: I can't comment directly without knowing which sportscaster you're referring to, what he said, or what his tone might have been, but I'll say this: July is indeed, for obvious reasons, a tough time for prep sports coverage. But our guys are trying, and you've done a great job here, sir, of highlighting their work. I'll add kudos of my own: Trevor's story on Ceyontay Bell, who rose from a tough upbringing — his father, a member of the Country Boy Crips street gang, was gunned down when Ceyontay was 13 — to academic and athletic success.
We're all about local here at The Californian, and that applies very much to our high school sports coverage.
Reader: Terrific article, Price ("He didn't make it to the moon, but his expertise helped take us there," July 14). It was a great time of almost inconceivable accomplishment. I got a taste of that company-wide enthusiasm when making a sales call on North American Rockwell in Downey. Can you imagine working daily in that high-voltage atmosphere? Will Waddell, the Rockwell employee featured, has the look today of someone who remembers it well.
If you have time, subscribe to the announcements of SpaceX launches (www.spacex.com/webcast). Cheer them on like I do.
— Jim Hemminghaus
Price: Yes, it must have been an incredible time. Quite an undertaking, and under tremendous pressure. And Rockwell had only a piece of the Apollo project — the command-service module (not the lunar module, as I erroneously reported). I also credited Waddell with having worked in the Gemini program as well, but he didn't. Other than that I was perfect. Well, close.
Reader: I shared the frustration and anger of space technology advocates who were angered at President Obama’s cuts in support of NASA. Additionally, with two disastrous shuttle flights, maybe, by ending the shuttle program when he did, we dodged a bullet. That said, I find it ironic that the “socialist” Obama’s actions opened the gates for much private-enterprise, extraterrestrial-related technological development.
— Stephen A. Montgomery
Reader: Enjoy reading your column, however, after reading your recent Sound Off ("'Stay out of Oildale': Did that ugly, racist sign truly exist?," July 13), I wanted to clarify a few things from my memory.
I lived and was raised in the supposed “Westchester” area around Spruce and 21st streets. My parents moved there in the early 1930s to an adobe home built by Clarence Cullimore. I do not remember anyone referring to our area as “Westchester” but rather “Old/Central” Bakersfield. When the new homes were built north of 24th Street, it was referred to as the Westchester tract, from F Street to Oak and north of 24th.
Regarding the racist, "get-out-of-Oildale" sign posted on Chester Avenue at the Kern River, I do remember that very sign. Not sure when it was removed but it was definitely there during the late 1950s. I also remember a sign that was posted on the outskirts of Taft with a similar message.
From my recollection, it was not an actual printed sign. It looked to be painted/handmade by someone warning people of color to not be in Oildale after dark. Definitely a different era.
Thanks for an interesting column!
— Jackie Fabbri
Reader: Regarding this line from your July 11 story, "Prentice Foreman sentenced to 25 to life for 'brutal, calculated' 1979 murder: "DNA evidence surfaced from sperm collected from the victim in 2017, identifying Foreman."
I sort of doubt that the victim's body was exhumed in 2017 in order to collect evidence. Most likely, this is a case of very poor writing and should really be: "DNA evidence surfaced in 2017 from sperm collected from the victim."
— John Sweetser
Price: Most likely, that's how that sentence should have read.
Reader: I actually like the new format size. It is easy to hold and read. And when we are done reading, the paper fits perfect on the bottom of our birdcage. And if there happens to be a nice picture of Donald Trump, as there usually is, it provides a perfect target for our birds.
— Sonia McClure
Price: Glad to be of assistance.