Cloister to Chaos
With condescension dripping off each word, Peter Jessop
eloquently defends as a "good business decision" the speaking
of Spanish by employees (Letters, 3/06).
Apparently the cloistered environs of New England have yet to
devolve into the unmitigated chaos that now defines south Texas
and other border areas. Wage scales have been in regression for
years, safety stats are in the toilet, insurance and tax rates
(for those who bother with them) are confiscatory, and
substandard workmanship is the norm on many, if not most,
To ignore the common thread binding this mess —
unrestricted immigration — is to show a haughty disregard
for the work ethic and patriotism of countless hard-working,
tax-paying Americans forced out of once-well-
paying jobs so that short-sighted profiteers can increase their
sacrosanct bottom line.
"Offended" doesn't come close to what I feel as I struggle to
keep a legitimate business viable during the wholesale sellout
of an industry by arrogant opportunists coddling uninvited
"friends and neighbors" who threaten our social, economic,
legal, political, and cultural order.
Hire who you wish, Peter. That chicken will flap home soon
enough. Meanwhile, don't insult my intelligence by euphemizing
avarice as the "reality of the marketplace."
La Porte, Texas
Cost of Day Laborers
I agree with Mr. Rose (Letters, 4/06) about day laborers. The
biased press won't tell the whole story of illegal
Here in Arizona, where the federal government is determined to
place the gateway for unhindered illegal immigration and its
associated flood of drugs and crime, we are invaded by hundreds
of thousands of illegals each year. The courts and politicians
have forced us to spend hundreds of millions of dollars
annually to provide them with education, hospitalization, and
even work centers.
Our communities struggle with crime committed by illegals. We
have the highest auto theft in the nation; stolen cars are
taken into Mexico to be resold or used in drug smuggling.
Nationally, illegal aliens add to federal prison populations.
Violent gangs from Mexico and South America have taken over
whole sections of cities and suburbs. There is money and power
in illegal immigration; it has corrupted our politics and our
Many profit from low wages; others pay for it dearly. Is cheap
labor really cheap? What are the real costs?
Queen Valley, Ariz.
The article "Detailing Rain-Screen Siding" (3/06) certainly
shows how to provide great protection for the vertical face of
the house sheathing.
But what about the bottom edge? The destructive capillary
action the authors describe would be a factor here, especially
in the situation shown, with its "low clearance to grade."
Primer and paint will provide only temporary protection. I
would think — and in fact have experienced — that
this is the Achilles heel of an otherwise well-thought-out
Old Orchard Beach, Maine
Guardrail Codes Vary
In the article "Making Guardrails Look Good," (Design, 5/06)
the author refers to a contemporary cable rail.
I've tried to use this type of horizontal design several times,
both as shown in the article and in a welded spiral staircase.
Building inspectors have always frowned upon it because of the
"ladder" it creates, making it too easy for young children to
climb up and fall over the railing.
Editor Don Jackson responds: The 2000 International
Residential Code states that "guards shall not be constructed
with horizontal rails or other ornamental pattern that results
in a ladder effect" (R316.2).
This phrase has been dropped from the 2003 and 2006 IRC, which
opens the way for use of cable railings (as well as other
traditional railings that might be interpreted by the code
official to create a "ladder") in jurisdictions that have
adopted these newer editions of the IRC.
In Massachusetts, however, the state building code, as posted
at www.mass.gov/bbrs/code.htm, still contains
a phrase forbidding "an ornamental pattern that would provide a
ladder effect" in a guardrail (780 CMR 1021.3).
Theft an Increasing
Like other builders, I'm interested in protecting my job sites
from theft. Lumber has walked off the job for years, as have
windows, doors, appliances, and hvac units.
But only recently have I heard of contractors losing copper
wiring and plumbing after it has been roughed in.
High material prices have given felons even more incentive to
target job sites. Property insurance is high enough, and most
people I know usually don't file a claim unless it is
Police aren't interested, either, because they have bigger fish
to fry or just can't help due to the limited evidence from a
An article on job-site cameras designed to deter theft —
especially during rough-in stages when there is no permanent
power — would be beneficial to all of us.
Kansas City, Mo.
A while ago I built a wood-siding sunburst over a front entry
door; recently I was asked to add one to my latest remodel, a
Is it possible to do a sunburst in vinyl? Are there any
The editors respond: Here is a method that uses ordinary
vinyl trim and coil stock. It was published in 1992 in a
supplement to JLC.