Our letters section and your opportunity to weigh in and be heard. Send us your thoughts and profundities. You can contact us here.

Relief from the straight pipes

Dear Editors,

How many of you folks enjoyed your walks in downtown Aztec, Farmington and Durango this winter? Sure is nice without all the loud motorcycle “Penis Envy Exhaust Systems” (PEES). Modern Swedish psychology reports that most men who run loud, open-header motorcycle exhausts are unable to please women or get a date for that matter. The frustrated male then takes delight in scaring women and children by rattling downtown buildings with his open-header Harley. Many of these men are so desperate for attention that they wear earplugs to protect their hearing while damaging others.’ Pretty pathetic, don’t ya think? Let’s dive a little deeper in this noise issue … .

The first question I have to ask is: How loud is LOUD? Noise laws vary from place to place, but I’m pretty sure an open-piped Harley is illegal just about everywhere from a decibel-count standpoint. Ever notice how Newton’s third law undergoes a subtle change in traffic? “For every action, there is an opposite reaction, but it ain’t always equal.”

For the moto-commuter, another factor comes into play: the neighbors. How well-liked are you going to be in your neighborhood when you kick your vintage straight-piped Norton to life at 5 a.m. on Monday morning for your ride to work? Here’s a clue … this is how noise ordinances are created and tightened up.

But let’s get back to the bumper-sticker issue here. Do loud pipes actually save lives? Personally, I don’t think so. The basic assumption about exhaust noise, that the sound will tell a motorist where you are even if they don’t see you, is faulty. Have you ever heard of echoes? We ride in the city, we ride through the forests and we ride in the canyons where sound waves bounce all over the place.

Here’s a scenario: I’m on a twisty mountain road, on my loud motorbike, when I run up rapidly on the back of a slow-moving camper. My exhaust exits on the right side of my bike, which is where the rock wall is. As I whack the throttle to pass, the tourist swerves left, right into me – running me off the road and over the cliff. What does he tell the investigating officer? “I heard this guy coming up on my right, so I moved over to give him room!” The very echo of our loud exhausts just may be the cause of our own demise.

So, how do we solve this? I think the solution is elegantly simple. Build an exhaust system that is efficient, yielding the best mileage and performance and yet is pleasing to the ear. If you can hear what your motor is doing, you feel better about your ride. But you don’t have to force it on everyone else within a mile radius. That’s just anti-social. If you’re looking for attention, wear a sign asking for a hug.

– Dan Baldwinson, Aztec, N.M.

The state of modern politics

Dear Editors,

“If you ever injected truth into politics you’d have no politics.” -Will Rogers, July 15, 1923

It seems to many people that the political climate in this country evokes in most citizens a feeling of discouragement, disdain or apathy. This is largely due to the fact that the issues that affect us all are derived from the stormy clash of incommensurable values. These values seem to be parted in the loose categories of liberal and conservative postures. It seems that the liberals neurotically fear the erosion of civil liberties on one hand, and the conservatives, moral values on the other. The left moves to protect the permissive while the right pompously moves to protect the traditional status quo. As people move farther from common goals in the political arena, there seems to be a psychic contraction which moves the public away from important, understated goals that benefit all of society.

Politics, like science, in the modern world is still caught up in deciding matters in that old reductionist mathematical sense. Even cultural issues such as discrimination and affirmative action are being dismissed under the guise of so-called failed policies of the Great Society. Who determines political correctness? Where such matters are ordained by their presentation to become inflexible, they are usually dismissed because they fire the emotion. A prime example is shown when gridlock takes place because politicians are so bound by various types of favoritism. This has been compounded by the failure of government to limit special interests even on the local level. This creates terrible dilemmas and moral conflicts for the growth of reform. For example, when politicians are put on notice for their actions or are accused of graft, they usually give a petulant response. Politics as a science is believed by some to be the propagandist vehicle mouthed by puppets who serve “the behind the scene” masters of “Fortune 500” greed. This is a sophomoric approach to the problem. It must be remembered that elected officials are people who have a sense of morality, but power, influence and greed can be powerful sirens also. The electorate has the responsibility to be politically and legislatively vigilant in order for democracy to thrive.

In our ever-growing technocratic society, the political process undoubtedly becomes clouded by secret resentments, twisted ego drives and mundane critical instruments. Each party seems to have the noblest aspirations but neither seems to effectively be able to derive substantive legislation with fair-mindedness to their constituents. Today, politicians are not even quite sure what their party represents. Instead of re-evaluating ideologies, self-evaluating their roles and emphasizing the virtues of their political credo, they opt for the expedient. Neither do they regenerate or revitalize the workable aspects of their political heritage but instead embrace the pretentious obscurantism of a newer political postured ideal. Undeniably, we are all seduced by the mystification of change created by a winner and having faith in a better tomorrow, but only the political elite have the ability and power to ennoble the office. Here lies the rub, possibly the tragic paradox of modern democracy is when we begin to see self-cannibalization of the elective office as an imperative over the greater struggle to honor the constituency and their pursuit of happiness within the realm of dignity, justice and foremost, accountability.

For effective government to take place, we must hold those individuals that represent us accountable for their actions. We must focus on programs that effect positive change at the most basic levels of economic, political and social organization. How can this be done? Presently, the majority of our leaders in government are from the top 10 percent of the economic elite. They have their self-interests and know ways to subtly redesign policies and manipulate revenue systems. In most cases, they wash their hands of corruption by vaguely laying the blame for any “misuse” on technicians, bureaucrats or the State itself. With this in mind, it may be time that we abandon those questionable public officials and elect those who are concerned with the responsibility of statesmanship and have true compassion for their constituents and greater democratic ideals. For most of us, it is a real task to keep the skin stretched over our bones, maybe it is time we are represented by those who master that daily task. Where is Will Rogers when you need him?

–Burt Baldwin, Ignacio

The Environmental Attack Agency

Dear Editors,

The name Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is rather ironic considering the EPA’s history of regulating in favor of the interests of big business. The agency should instead be labeled the EAA (Environmental Attack Agency). In its latest attack on the environment, the American public will have access to much less information about local pollution due to the EPA’s new reporting rules. For the past 20 years, industrial plants that released more than 500 pounds of a toxic substance were required to provide a Toxics Release Inventory. This is no longer the case. The EPA recently quadrupled the amount of toxic substances that can be emitted before the plants have to submit a report. The EPA applauds their new reporting standards, stating that this will save the government agency $6 million dollars in paperwork costs. For those of us in the Four Corners, it will mean less information about the amount of pollution being spewed from the power plants that are putting a haze on our beautiful skylines while simultaneously harming our health and well-being. Instead of increasing the number of pounds of toxins that can be released without reporting, maybe the EPA should charge the industries themselves for the costs of their regulation. It is high time for the EPA to end corporate welfare and promote the protection of the environment as it name implies.

– Shannon M. Soignier, via e-mail

On behalf of the RVers

Dear Editors,

On behalf of the tens of thousands of RVers out here, please let me assure you that we will not bother your town. You might be amazed to know that a LOT of RVers carry bicycles with them, that they visit museums, cultural centers, donate time to national parks and wildlife centers, and spend an amazing amount of money in towns that they visit. But since we don’t all fit the mold of what you think is the appropriate guest, we will do our best to stay as far away as possible.

– Barbara O’Keeffe, Full-time RVer

Offensive to RV owners

Dear Editors,

An April 12 article, “The visitors,” by Will Sands was brought to my attention, and I found it to be offensive to Durango visitors in general and RV owners in particular. Over the past four years, I have spent 652 nights in my RV and 15 of those nights were at Wal-Mart. In May of 2006, I spent three days in Durango and all were at the United Campground.

We in Virginia Beach depend heavily on the tourist economy and our complaints about the tourists are confined to the increased traffic and congestion. I have never read an editorial in the local paper criticizing our tourists. Why would your paper write an editorial like the one written by Will Sands? Is the tourist industry in Durango so good you can afford to insult a few of your visitors? As a visitor and RVer, it certainly doesn’t make me feel welcome.

– Douglas Simpson, Virginia Beach, VA

Happy to have never visited

Dear Editors,

If Will Smith (sic) is a reflection of folks and attitudes/prejudices in Durango, I am certainly glad I have never had the misfortune to be a visitor there, and will be sure to avoid making that mistake in the future!

– Paul Rider, full-time RVer, former resident of Colorado

Editors’ reply: With many RVs getting as little as 7 miles to the gallon and emitting a disproportionate amount of carbon into the atmosphere, we do hope the age of the motorhome is coming to an end. That said, we’re sorry if any motorhome owners were upset by last week’s tongue-in-cheek editorial (though it is heartening to know that the Durango Telegraph is now widely read nationwide within the RV community). We’re also sorry to hear that you three won’t be visiting anytime soon. Luckily, Hank and Vera (Will’s distant relations) have generously offered to step in and take over your hook-ups. Maybe Will Smith can take a break from filming and also pick up some of the slack.

An ever-changing art world

Dear Editors,

The Art Department at Fort Lewis College has recently implemented several changes to our curriculum, inspiring a letter to the editor in The Telegraph (Dehumanizing the Humanities, 4/5/07), and perhaps some confusion in the Durango community. We would like to offer a few points to clarify the new additions to our program.

In response to student interest and the growing importance of digital media, next year the department is expanding our program by adding classes such as graphic design, web design and digital image manipulation, as a part of a new major option in graphic design. We are excited about these new courses, which promise to keep our program vibrant and relevant for many years to come.

Additionally, we are maintaining a focus on traditional media as well. Courses such as ceramics, crafts, drawing, painting, photography, printmaking and sculpture will all be offered on a regular basis and will still comprise the bulk of our program. Similarly, course offerings in art history will remain nearly unchanged.

The Art Department continues to be a very popular department at Fort Lewis College with well over 200 majors. These new additions augment our current program and ensure we remain successful and dynamic, serving the needs of our students in an ever-changing art world, and the liberal arts mission of Fort Lewis College.

– Fort Lewis College Art Department.

Celebrate the natural world

Dear Editors,

Celebrating the natural world we live in is critical. Earth Day is coming up. The Earth Day Fair is Sat., April 21, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at N. College and Florida Road. Those of us who have been to the lectures, written their representatives and changed their personal living habits deserve a reward. The day will be filled with entertainment by Solar Bear, The San Juan String Band, the Catch -It-Quick Jugglers, the Crow Women, and the Matahola Moon Dancers. We’ll have a chance to share our tips and tricks with fellow like-minded Durangoans. Community members are invited to share in panel discussions, and learn about volunteer opportunities, alternative 4energy, habitat preservation and restoration. The event is free to all who love and respect our planet. Ride Durango Transit, bike or hike on down and join the celebration. For more information, call Timmie at 259-5906.

– Timmie Ann Schramm, Durango

Don’t take Don Imus personally

Dear Editors, I would like to make an observation on Don Imus’ words from a different perspective. I would not take his words personally, what he said does not reflect on us women, men, of all races, what it reflects is that Mr. Imus has a serious problem with anger/ self control that he projected in this particular situation. I am sure he has done it many times in different ways. So what do we do – paradox – we do not take his words personally, and at the same time Mr. Imus needs to know that what he said crosses boundaries, that his behavior is abusive, so maybe he will reflect on his behavior and take appropriate action. So, yes let’s be compassionate for ourselves and for Mr. Imus.

– Halina Koperniak, Vallecito

Back on the chopping block

Dear Editors,

The Bush Administration’s proposed budget for 2008 includes plans to sell USFS and BLM lands (i.e. our land) for the second time in as many years. The current proposal is to sell over 300,000 acres of national forest lands. In Colorado, more than 21,000 acres are on the chopping block.

No criteria have been provided on how the land was selected, and the quantity of acreage and speed of selection allowed little time for review of identified parcels. These are lands that were set aside “for the greatest good of the greatest number for the longest time,” as Gifford Pinchot, first director of the United States Forest Service, said.

In a neat bit of circular reasoning, the Bush Administration is proposing to sell parts of America’s national forests in order to “save” them. Because the Forest Service’s budget is too thin to manage its lands and maintain its programs (thanks to the administration’s budget cuts), the president’s answer to the problem, rather than increasing the Forest Service’s budget, is to cut it further and pay for programs with proceeds from the sale of forest land.

The national forest system was created for many uses – hunting, hiking, camping, angling and others. But it was never intended to be a cash cow that would pay the price for bad budgeting. President Theodore Roosevelt once said: “Shortsighted persons, or persons blinded to the future to make money in every way out of the present, sometimes speak as if no great damage would be done by the reckless destruction of our forests.” So it is today.

By trying to sell off our public lands to developers, the Bush administration is turning its back on the legacy of Teddy Roosevelt, a fellow Republican, and on America’s hunters, hikers, anglers, climbers and other outdoorsmen and women. Public lands sold today constitute a public loss forever.

– David A. Lien, via e-mail

In this week's issue...

July 18, 2024
Rebuilding Craig

Agreement helps carve a path forward for town long dependent on coal

July 11, 2024
Reining it in

Amid rise in complaints, City embarks on renewed campaign to educate dog owners

July 11, 2024
Rolling retro

Vintage bikes get their day to shine with upcoming swap and sale