BY JOHN ARTHUR Californian Executive Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
We have some short, snappy questions this week from folks who occasionally seem ready to snap at someone -- like me.
The Californian welcomes your comments and suggestions. To offer your input by phone, please call 661-395-7649 and leave your comments in a voice-mail message or send an email to email@example.com. Please include your name and phone number. Phone numbers and addresses won't be published.
READER: To say that Mars looks like the Mojave Desert is stupid and ignorant. The Mojave Desert has plants all over it, there are no plants on mars. What a bunch of BS. Do you people really check anything out before you print it, I think not?
ARTHUR: Hey -- don't blame the messenger!
That reference in our coverage of the Mars Curiosity mission came not from us but from one of the project scientists, John Grotzinger, in a press briefing.
"You would really be forgiven for thinking that NASA was trying to pull a fast one on you, and we actually put a rover out in the Mojave Desert and took a picture --- a little L.A. smog coming in there."
Grotzinger added that the familiar ground "kind of makes you feel at home."
His remarks were widely reported. We didn't make that up.
READER: Doesn't Bakersfield already have a bad enough reputation around the country? Why give our critics even more ammunition by demonstrating on the front page of our paper in great big printing a total inability to use proper English grammar in a four word sentence? I should think our newspaper staff is educated enough to know how to use "who" and "whom" properly to avoid such an embarrassing blunder.
Harold J. Baer, M.D.
ARTHUR: This was in reference to our July 20 cover story speculating on Mitt Romney's choices for vice president on the Republican ticket. Copy Chief Christine LaCombe responds:
“‘Whom’ is one of those words that’s slipping out of common usage, but technically the reader is correct.
“We used ‘who’ in this instance because we strive for a more conversational tone in our headlines.”
ARTHUR: And now a nice note. Steven Mayer's special three-page report Monday, with photos by Henry Barrios, described how the traditions of the holy month of Ramadan influence Kern County's large Muslim community.
Emad Meerza, the amir of the Islamic Center of San Joaquin Valley, wrote, in part:
"What can I say Steven, it brought tears to my eyes, pride to my family and joy and happiness to the members of my community....
"You and Henry did an amazing job and your editors were most kind and generous with space for words and the pictures that told the story. Beautiful writing and wonderful pictures touching us all, I pray it is received well by the greater community....
"On behalf of the Muslims of Bakersfield and Kern County,
Amir, Muslims of Bakersfield
President, Islamic Shoura Council of Bakersfield" This feedback forum is designed to give readers a way to voice criticisms
and compliments or ask questions about news coverage. Your questions --
which may be edited for space -- are answered each Sunday by Executive
Editor John Arthur. Follow John Arthur on Twitter @BakoEditor READER: I have to agree with Ray (in the Aug. 5 Sound Off column) about "Cul de Sac". It isn't even funny. I travel a lot and haven't seen it in any other paper. Where is the large following and who decides which comics will be used? It amazes me when I see how many other good ones are out there.
ARTHUR: The Universal syndicate, which distributes the column, told me the strip is in more than 300 papers, including major ones such as the San Jose Mercury News, Seattle Times, Houston Chronicle, Salt Lake Tribune, Los Angeles Daily News, Las Vegas Review Journal, Boston Globe, Washington Post, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Knoxville News-Sentinel, Corpus Christi Caller-Times, Memphis Commercial-Appeal, Cleveland Plain-Dealer, and Miami Herald.
I've noted before that editors here choose the comics for The Californian. We chose Cul de Sac in part because of its obvious popularity.
However, the syndicate announced on Friday that comic will be discontinued in late September. The author, Richard Thompson, must step down because is suffering from Parkinson's disease.
Michael Cavna, a Washington Post blogger on the comics, wrote Friday:
"This is the news I never wanted to write, but last year feared I'd have to all too soon.
"Richard Thompson, widely acclaimed among his peers as the best all-around comic-strip creator working today, won't still be wearing that crown in six weeks. That's because Thompson has decided to stop working as a comic-strip creator: He will end his beloved strip "Cul de Sac" on Sept. 23.
"The Kansas City-based syndicate is informing newspaper editors in a letter that reads: 'The last year has been a struggle for Richard. Parkinson's disease, first diagnosed in 2009, has so weakened him that he is unable to meet the demands of a comic strip. For a time, he worked with another artist, but the deadlines became too much of a task.'
"Of the Parkinson's, Thompson, 54, says in a comment released by his syndicate: "At first it didn't affect my drawing, but that's gradually changed. Last winter, I got an excellent cartoonist, Stacy Curtis, to ink my roughs, which was a great help. But now I've gotten too unreliable to produce a daily strip."
"'Cul de Sac'" debuted as a weekly feature in 2004, in the Valentine's Day issue of The Washington Post Magazine. Thompson had previously launched his weekly comic "Richard's Poor Almanac" in 1997 in The Post's Style section.
"Universal rolled out "Cul de Sac" as a daily strip in 2007." Thompson said through his syndicate: "I'm thankful for all the newspapers who took a chance on 'Cul De Sac.' " 'Cul de Sac' comic passes too quickly through Bakersfield