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talkback...

Emergency contraception at the WCC

I want to commend the Bay Guardian for publishing an article about the new policy allowing trained pharmacists to dispense emergency contraception to women who have had unprotected intercourse within 72 hours ["The Other Birth Control Pill," 3/27/02]. Unfortunately, most people do not know about this policy and think that they need to go to their medical provider in order to obtain E.C.

As a volunteer member of the Women's Community Clinic, the only free women's health clinic in San Francisco, I have spoken with many women who were unable to get emergency contraception within 72 hours of unprotected sex . The WCC offers evening and occasional Saturday hours, times when most other clinics are closed, in order to meet the needs of women who work during the day. At the WCC, whenever women call for information about emergency contraception, we inform them of their option to either come to the clinic or to go to any Walgreens, where many pharmacists are already trained to give out EC. Hopefully, this topic will receive more press, and we can spread the word throughout our community so that women have the information they need to make health decisions.

Shelly Makleff San Francisco

Dirty transfer

I'm thrilled to see "Great Wall of Mistrust" in the Guardian [3/27/02]. We need some major media muscle to put the brakes on the Navy and the city's idiotic and deadly "dirty transfer" plan for the Hunters Point Shipyard. Without this exposure, the shipyard's parcels A and B would be slipped under the table in the next few months to Lennar, the nation's largest and perhaps most notorious home builder, an unconscionable privatization and giveaway of what will be, once it is cleaned of extensive toxic and radioactive contamination, some of the most valuable real estate on the planet.

With the Guardian's publication of Ahimsa Sumchai's appeal for sanity, our Board of Supervisors and members of Congress will feel compelled to scrutinize and stop the "dirty transfer" plan and demand instead that the Navy do its duty and thoroughly clean the entire shipyard before any part of it is developed. The health and the very lives of the people of Hunters Point depend on it.

Mary Ratcliff San Francisco

A.I. is P.U.

I think the hype around robotics is overblown ["You, Robot," 3/27/02]. My first exposure to the ideas of artificial intelligence came from my college boyfriend, an MIT grad who (a) was convinced that everything in the human mind could be encoded as a digital algorithm, (b) called his start-up company Machine Evolution, (c) said he had never met anyone as smart as himself, and (d) was a demonic, abusive, sick fuck. But, as a student at MIT, I also sat in on some A.I. lectures myself. My overall impression was that the A.I. geeks were so in love with their theories of intelligence that they ignored anything that didn't fit – little inconsequential nuisances like the capacity for metaphor, say, or desire. In the case of my boyfriend, he had trouble accepting anything in himself (or me) that could not be reduced to a rationalization. The pursuit of the robot didn't offer him transcendence: it just reinforced his psychosis.

I recall, over the years, hearing two different definitions of intelligence in people. One is that intelligence is the ability to make both fine distinctions and broad generalizations. The other is that intelligence is the ability to perform well in varied and unanticipated situations. The thought of applying either of these two criteria to a Sony singing doll or even an industrial assembly machine is pretty ludicrous. I'd love to see how such robots perform when exposed to a crying baby, or a burning sofa. And what if the clever engineers at Sony actually thought to preprogram a special response to the sound of a baby's cry? Well, that would reinforce my point.

Rob Costin San Francisco

For the record

In our Feb. 13 issue, in "Battle of the Network Stars," we misstated the policy of the board of directors of the San Francisco Community Television Corp. on board members' disagreement with board decisions. The board does not have a written policy preventing board members from speaking out against board decisions.

In our March 27 issue there was a misprint in the letter "Library Secrecy" (Letters to the Editor). The next to last sentence should have read, "The final version was issued literally a few minutes before the meeting – which is when I was given a copy."