.From The Editor

ednote stevePlus Letters To the Editor

Could Mark Zuckerberg be the next Oprah Winfrey? I thought it was crazy to hear those two names in the same sentence, too, when Wendy Lochtefeld-Mayer first told me people were beginning to compare them. But her cover story this week explains why—at least in the book world—it isn’t such a stretch. With Zuckerberg suddenly using his considerable cultural capital to promote books, he may give reading the same huge boost that Winfrey has.

But there’s a lot more to discover in Lochtefeld-Mayer’s examination of book clubs, as well. Their history as a cornerstone of the women’s rights movement is fascinating, and the story also breaks down the paradox at the heart of the book club itself: how did the solitary experience of reading become a social phenomenon? Give it a read—it just might inspire you to join or start a group yourself, and if you do, you’ll find her guide to the care and feeding of book clubs a great primer.


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Student Shuffle

Thanks to GT reporter Michelle Fitzsimmons for the informative article “School Daze” (GT, 2/25) on UCSC’s current enrollment issues. We need more articles such as this one to better understand the impact of UCSC growth on our community.

Only one fact needs correcting, and it is an important one. The 2008 settlement agreement between the city and UCSC did not result in UCSC being required to house 67 percent of its students if it grows, as was reported in the article. The settlement agreement states that UCSC must house 67 percent of new students, not all students. UCSC houses approximately 46 percent of students on campus. That percentage has been a constant for decades, rising or falling by only 1 or 2 percent each year.

Put in human terms, you can’t force students to live on campus. After their first year, most students opt to live off-campus for more freedom and somewhat lower rents. Therein lies the dilemma for our community. There are now approximately 9,000 students competing with local families and workers for a tight rental housing market. Students often outbid others looking for rental housing and by cramming more bodies into a shared space, can better afford the outrageous rents that have become the norm in Santa Cruz. Some people are making a killing out of this inflated rental market. To make matters worse, when the University does build more housing in response to taking in more students, the building costs must be shared by all students living on campus as per state mandate. Since it is expensive to build on campus due to topography and soils, new on-campus housing results in hefty annual rent increases for all students living on campus. Off-campus landlords adjust their rents accordingly. It is fair to say that UCSC growth is a big driver of the high rents in Santa Cruz.

Gillian Greensite, Santa Cruz

Oh Say, Can You Seed?

Thanks so much for printing the article about organic and GMO farming/labeling! I’d like to add that seed stock diversity is vital to ensure productivity under widely varied and changeable climate conditions that occur worldwide. Low-income people can starve if all the farmers in one place grow GMO crops and those crops fail for some reason, or if the farmers can’t afford Monsanto’s expensive fertilizers and herbicides required for a GMO crop (think developing countries). GMO therefore has the potential to backfire and reduce food availability for the most vulnerable. (And anyway, why would anyone want to eat “food” laced with toxic herbicides?)

Sharon Took-Zozaya, Santa Cruz


re: Drone On

I love drones, I even have one, and I will probably attend this conference. But the thought of aerial buzzards commuting over “the hill” seems more of a noise pollution nightmare than a future utopian vision. If they’re going to fly overhead in large numbers, someone needs to figure out how to make them silent as well as safe.

-Jay Wilson

re: Crop Circles

Why is no one concerned about medications and pharmaceuticals from the international drug companies that are made using GM bacteria or contain GM products?  
-Uncle Bill

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A WALK IN THE (AMUSEMENT) PARK Scene from a sunset stroll at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk. Photograph by Bani Khalsa.


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The Monarch butterflies have arrived in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of Mexico, and there are more of them than expected, perhaps due to better weather. The orange-and-black butterflies—the same species that rests through the winter in groves like Natural Bridges State Park—took up 70 percent more forest this year, NPR reported last week. That’s encouraging, especially since 2013 was the worst year for Monarchs on record. It’s unclear why their numbers have declined; pesticides or pollution may be to blame.


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There were five reported cases of Lyme disease in Santa Cruz County last year, and the county’s Mosquito Abatement and Vector Control program is currently getting the word out about how to avoid ticks. When hiking, stay in the middle of trails, a recent release warns. Avoid logs, tree trunks, trail margins, brush and grassy areas. Wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts, and use repellent l
abeled for ticks. Inspect yourself, loved ones and animals for ticks. Shower off and launder your clothes after leaving tick habitat.



“Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.” — P.J. O’Rourke



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