Letters Sept. 16: Learning from wildfires; building's glass design questioned

What would Ignaz say about these wildfires?

In the mid-1800s, a Hungarian doctor named Ignaz Semmelweis tried to convince the Austrian surgeons he was working with to wash their hands before surgery and delivering babies to reduce the horrific number of deaths due to infection.

The Austrian doctors who would show up to surgery with blood on their smocks and dirty hands wouldn’t believe him despite him showing them documented evidence to support his contention that sterile operating rooms dramatically reduced infections.

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When he persisted, they hounded him out of the country and he returned to Hungary. He again tried to convince the Hungarian surgeons to wash their hands, but the reaction was the same.

The esteemed doctors could not accept that THEY might be responsible for these deaths.

Semmelweis eventually had a nervous breakdown, was put into an insane asylum and died 14 days later after being beaten by guards.

When science finally proved him correct, philosophers came up with the term “The Semmelweis Reflex”: a human behavioural tendency to stick to preexisting beliefs and to reject fresh ideas that contradict them (despite adequate evidence).

There are stories about the wildfires without a single mention that climatologists have been predicting these very climate catastrophes since the 1980s. What more evidence do we need before we can move beyond the Semmelweis effect and begin mobilizing to fight the climate crisis?

Jim Pine

Think of safety for the birds

The artist’s rendering of the proposed Telus Oceans building in downtown Victoria is not only an unsightly eyesore but a virtual death trap for birds.

Studies show that up to one billion birds die in the United States every year due to window collisions. If you’ve ever heard a bird hit a window, it is often a very loud collision as the bird is usually flying a top speed. Even if they seem to recover and fly away, there are often fatal head injuries.

If cities continue to insist on erecting these monstrosities, let’s hope the designers and city council will study efforts to use materials that can be used in a bird-friendly design to ensure our bird population remains safe when attempting to navigate their way through cities.

Jacquelyn Ross

The setting sun will tell the tale

When I first saw the drawing of the new Telus building planned for lower Douglas Street, I thought that it was beautiful and modern, but I think that when the setting sun hits the western face of the building, it is going to be blinding.

Alanna Wrean

Leave idealism out of rights question

Re: “Having a home is a basic human, right,” commentary, Sept. 12.

I disagree and take issue with both the headline and the content of this opinion piece.

The authors have arbitrarily expanded “human rights” to incorporate their idealistic social dreams, ignoring the very constrained and limited scope of the concept of “human rights.”

Human rights are universal; rights we have inherently as human beings. They are not supplied by some other benevolent body (the public purse/governments). The latter are simply local laws, based on some social contract between the governors and the governed.

Specifically, “Housing, adequate income, water and food” are manifestly not human rights. That they are desirable ends of a political manifesto is not the same as being human rights. They are counterfeit, and debase the real ones.

Having a home is desirable, but it is not a right. If it were so, you could pick it off the “home tree” where is grows, for free.

Similarly, in the later part of the piece, the authors do not seem to understand that homelessness is not a problem. It is a symptom of prior existing problems that must be addressed first: incapacitating mental illness, uncontrollable drug addiction, degrading hopelessness, and, yes, in some cases, sloth and criminality.

If you want to fix the problem you have to make sure you have the right problem in your sights. Otherwise, you are just tilting at windmills.

M.D. Hansen

Police officers deserve your support

Members of the Victoria Police Department put their lives on the line everyday to keep us safe. They are on the front lines dealing with the surge in crime related to the increased number of homeless encampments in the city as well as ongoing crime involving residents living in supportive housing in Gorge-Burnside hotels.

They’re the ones who have to disband jam-packed parties putting their own health at risk. It’s particularly challenging and dangerous during COVID-19.

After city council denied VicPD more funding for its 2019 budget, the department had to make cuts to its Crime Reduction Unit. Coun. Ben Isitt actually questioned Police Chief Del Manak about the feasibility of abolishing VicPD and replacing it with an alternative structure.

ACAB (an acronym for “All Cops Are Bastards) was included in a City of Victoria-sponsored mural. “More justice, more peace.” Why not send a card, letter, gift card to show your appreciation for our police officers? It would really help their morale.

Anita Colman

Make it mandatory to wear a mask

Mask wearing is one tool we have to protect us from COVID-19. I am still encountering many people not “masking” and refusing to wear a mask. Today I was told by a man that it is not mandatory so he won’t wear one.

When health-care workers, grocery clerks and other service providers spend entire days wearing masks, shields and even full hazmat gear, we can surely wear one in indoor public places for the short periods required.

Please Dr. Bonnie Henry, make mask wearing mandatory so the majority of us are protected from the indifference and callous disregard of some, for the health of us all. We, the compliant ones, deserve your help in this regard. Our patience is wearing thin.

Helen Smith

Need for masks is obvious

It would seem to make sense to have the mandatory wearing of masks in stores and public buildings, particularly grocery stores.

Many are failing to make this the case and old and young seem to be oblivious to the need.

With cases in B.C. rising and expected to continue, surely this is both obvious and necessary.

Ian Geddes

Rule applies to enclosed ferry deck only

With all the concern and angst I hear on talk shows and letters to the editor, is it not time to stress that the federal government’s decision to ban drivers in their vehicles from the lower enclosed over-height ferry decks is just that, and doesn’t apply to the open car decks above?

Iver Cameron

Seeing a needle disposal site

This is the first time I have seen a safe needle disposal site in Victoria. This one is front and centre near Wharf and Yates right downtown.

If you don’t know already, you do now, there is a serious drug problem in Victoria. What kind of a message does this send to tourists coming to our town? I have never seen so much chaos and I am truly ashamed and saddened.

Ann Nelms


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