Reader: I'm an avid consumer of your newspaper, both print and digital, and my only gripe is missing the New York Times bestseller list. This letter is, however, in response to the latest issue about Kern County oil and the state's apparent plans to shut down, eventually, its production.

You asked readers to find what everyday consumer products come from petroleum. Well, I did, and the list is endless. Way too long to list here. Just a few include plastics, ink, paint, shoe polish, nylons, roof shingles, cosmetics, and on and on.

Thanks for the challenge.

— Susan Billings

Reader: Last week, you asked if anyone has a list of some of the estimated 6,000 products made from the oil produced in Kern County. Forget all fuels except jet fuel, which may be the most important on anyone's list — not only commercially but for our defense.

The following is just a few items: toilet seats, bathtubs, showers, plumbing, piping, caulking, aspirin, medicines (such as cortisone and antihistamines), candles, waxes, dyes, ink, asphalt, detergents, lubricants, synthetic fibers (such as nylon), electronics and a few thousand more.

And let's not forget the many thousands of jobs from oil production.

— Ronal Reynier

Reader: Go to “products made from petroleum” with your favorite search engine. They're all listed. Looked it up years ago. Your home would essentially be empty without them.

— Janene Flad

Price: It's instructive and even, in some cases, amusing to consider all of the products that are manufactured with petroleum distillates, but the question I posed in last week's Sound Off, at the suggestion of reader Karene R. Williams, had a serious purpose. California can turn away, or try, from oil and natural gas as fuels for industry and its 14 million cars (an additional 340,000 zero-emission vehicles are on the state's highways as well), but what about all of these products that require petroleum? 

Nylon doesn't emit greenhouse gases, and neither does your toilet seat, but the extraction and manufacturing processes that create them certainly do.

Californians who really, truly want to cap off all of the state's wells may have to make some philosophical concessions. Or try to do without.


Reader: I don't know if David Abbasi is a danger to himself, or others, but if he is then maybe taking his guns away makes sense ("Abbasi's inexperience in the courtroom showing as gun hearing drags," Aug. 17). By the old adage, in representing himself he certainly has a fool for a client.

However, the description of his "arsenal" and, oh my, he had over 200 rounds of ammo, is laughably ridiculous. Five guns is not an "arsenal" and 200 rounds of ammo is basically being out of ammo, for anyone who is an avid shooter. I competed in shooting sports for years and during that period I would rarely have less than 20,000 rounds.

This overhype about weapons and ammunition is what causes so much angst in the know-nothing, anti-gun crowd, and this kind of sensationalism in news reporting is really beneath The Californian.

— Kenton Miller

Price: Tell that to the Bakersfield officer who testified that he was sufficiently alarmed by Abbasi's behavior and available firepower to take action. "Arsenal" was his word.

Steven Mayer, who wrote the article, clarifies further:

"The FN Five-seven pistol, one of five firearms Abbasi possessed, is of particular concern to police. It has the ability to penetrate body armor when using cartridge types possessed by Abbasi. In fact, local police tested it at their local range and verified the weapon's capability to penetrate police-issued body armor.

"A sixth gun, a Ruger Precision Rifle that Abbasi attempted to acquire, is a sniper rifle capable of firing accurately to 1,000 yards, the length of 10 football fields. He also purchased 200 rounds of ammunition for the Ruger.

"The purchase was made April 26, but two days later, Abbasi found himself in hot water after he pulled a loaded, concealed handgun on a 15-year-old during a physical altercation. Abbasi did not have a permit to carry a concealed gun. He subsequently asked for and received a refund on the purchase without taking delivery of the rifle.

"BPD Sgt. Ted King, an expert witness on homeland security and emergency management, and an anti-terrorism liaison with local, state and national law enforcement agencies, testified Aug. 9, that Abbasi was attempting to 'create an arsenal that can go from very close quarters to long-range, sniper-style capabilities.'"

Three percent of U.S. adults own a collective 133 million guns, half of America’s total gun stock. These owners have, on average, 17 guns each. So, in that context, I'd have to agree with you: Five guns? Big whoop. Yep, that's the world we live in.


Reader: In your online story commenting, why is the word “hell” blocked from use but it’s OK to use the pejorative term “libtards”?

— Stephen A. Montgomery

Price: Silly, I know. Whoever established our list of banned words — I assume it was the designers of our content management system — apparently opted for a more sensitive setting that excludes words like "hell." And perhaps they had never heard the relatively recent coinage, "libtard." We could manually add that term of derision to our list of banned words, but new, creative insults are born daily and sometimes they stick. It's like playing linguistic whack-a-mole.


Reader: I guess local small town newspapers are dead because they just can’t keep up with Facebook, the internet and television news, nor my driving past a major fire that went unreported by the newspaper. An important personage in the development of mental health services since 1974, who passed away suddenly, was not reported on at all! Kathy Ritter, Ed.D.

— Jay Fisher

Price: We're simply not going to be able to report on every single fire, and we did note Ms. Ritter's passing, albeit not in the traditional, full-blown obituary she deserved ("CSUB training clinic offers low-cost counseling to Bakersfield area," Aug. 19).

Clinic director Richard Zamora, reporter Ema Sasic noted, is determined "to continue the legacy founder Kathleen Ritter started in 1988. Ritter died Aug. 9, and Zamora said she was dedicated to helping students and others. Her obituary states, 'On her last day in this world, she counseled a client and consulted with a colleague.' She was even scheduled to supervise students this year despite retiring in 2016."


Reader: Regarding Price's Aug. 21 column, "'I exist': Immigration detainees have friends in this group": It often dismays me how much of a "bleeding heart" we seem to have for those outside of our own country and culture while not doing anything for those who already belong to us.

— ISpy

Price: It often dismays me how short a memory readers can have when it suits them. Three days before I wrote about Jeannie Parent's group, KWESI, which regularly visits asylum seekers housed at the Mesa Verde ICE facility in Bakersfield, I wrote about Shari Rightmer's Shar-On Corp., which seeks to feed and humanize the homeless population of Taft. Rarely does a week go by that The Californian doesn't have a story about a group of legal residents who are somehow struggling in "our own country and culture." Give me a break.

Reader: Why was there no touching story about those who recently became U.S. citizens in this county? I am sure each of those individuals had stories of their own that to me are much more noteworthy than the column about the ICE detainees.

— Cgga

Price: Great idea. In fact, such a great idea, we did it last week. We covered a naturalization ceremony a week ago Friday at the Beale Library and published a nice selection of photos on our front page and on our website. I personally have written about newly naturalized citizens more than once over the years and the stories are indeed inspiring, even humbling.

There are surely detainees at Mesa Verde who ought to be deported, and many will be. But many of them are asylum seekers with horrific stories who have gone about the process precisely as U.S. law prescribes: They presented themselves on U.S. soil to border officials at a legal port of entry. Don't some of their stories merit our attention?


Reader: Will there be an issue of The Californian listing the local guys who are playing for NFL teams? Also, same for college teams?

We enjoy watching games and rooting for our local boys. We know there are quarterbacks Cody Kessler (Philadelphia Eagles) and Derek Carr (Oakland Raiders) for sure. Hopefully more again this year.

The paper did this last year for the NFL and we would like to see college included, too.

— Carl and Jean

Price: The Sports staff informs me that, yes, we will be reacquainting readers with local players in the NFL sometime before the season opener Sept. 5, and we will eventually update you with news of local players in prominent college programs as well.

Hopefully, Kessler will be there when we check in. He is coming off a concussion suffered in the Eagles' second preseason game and has new competition in camp for the team's backup quarterback spot. Carr, however, seems poised for a big year.


Reader: You have the patience of a saint, as my mother likes to say. Same names consistently writing in with unfounded complaints. Now it's how the "new" format is smaller which, as you proved, is not true.

You would think by now they at least would learn to ask whether or not something is so before making false accusations. The irony is they say you write "fake news."

Anyhow, always a pleasure reading your responses. Thanks!

— Lee Altmar

The Californian’s Robert Price answers your questions and takes your complaints about our news coverage in this weekly feedback forum. Questions may be edited for space and clarity. To offer your input by phone, call 661-395-7649 and leave your comments in a voicemail message or email us at Include your name and phone number; they won’t be published.

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