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

The road warrior

Dear Editors,

Wow. So I’m riding my bike on E. Third Avenue (near 31st Street) at about 5 p.m. on Tues., April 12. I see a fellow cyclist riding toward me on a road bike, in full gear.A guy in a Subaru passes him, then slams on his brakes and comes to a stop right there, in the middle of the street. His tires even kind of squealed a little. Like in the movies.

The door flies open. The driver jumps out, runs up to Road Bike Guy and begins screaming, cursing, getting right in his face. Yelling obscenities that you can’t print here for about five minutes. Seriously ranting about how the cyclist had cut the guy off. I’m pretty sure I saw spit flying.

I was so shocked, I simply stopped my bike, got off and just stood there watching. I wanted to make sure Angry Subaru Guy knew there were witnesses.Road Bike Guy, to his credit, kept his cool.

After about three minutes of yelling, cursing and claiming “champion cyclist” status (“I’m a cyclist, too!”), Angry Subaru Man turned and started to get back in his car.

Road Bike Guy asked, in a respectful tone, if Angry Subaru Man had seen the stop sign. Angry Subaru Man gets BACK out of his car, goes BACK up to Road Bike Guy, and starts yelling again.Meanwhile, no fewer than seven cars are stopped in traffic. I counted.

Road Bike Guy, thanks for keeping your cool.Angry Subaru Man, if you really ARE a cyclist, couldn’t you think of a better way to address the issue with Road Bike Guy? Do you think that R.B.G. somehow agrees with you now?4

Were you worked up about something else? Lose your job? Going through a divorce? Times truly are tough right now. We’re all hurting, in one way or another. We live in community. We’ve got to cut each other some slack from time to time.

I’m pretty sure that any children who were in the seven vehicles you stopped were watching you, learning one (less than ideal) way to deal with conflict. You were teaching by example, intentionally or not.

Thanks for the reminder that I’m teaching by example, as well. Next time I’m in my car and frustrated with a cyclist, or on my bike and frustrated with the driver of a vehicle, I’ll think of you.  

– Tim Birchard, Durango

The brotherhood

Dear Community,

This past semester I was enrolled in the Gender Women Studies 101 class at Fort Lewis College. I was introduced to subject matters that I knew a little something about, but was left with a great deal to contemplate. The class was assigned to write a letter about something we had learned in order to raise consciousness and also help generate social change. I feel that I can help to create social change by addressing the practices of fraternities.

Though people have become more socially and consciously aware of the violence against women that is promoted through discrimination, sexism, rape, and spousal and sexual abuse through patriarchal systems, it is still occurring insidiously. Often, these ideologies encourage women to accept violence as either harmless or deserved. Violence is not just an act of individual men against individual women but is created and maintained by social institutions. These hierarchal systems that promote power and control over women speak the loudest through organizations such as fraternities. What happens in these structured systems of living is, seldom if ever, brought to the public’s attention. The environments of these organizations, members they recruit and practices they engage in are not overseen by any of the local authorities. Because of this lack of representation, violence is promoted through these social constructions of masculinity. Members of these organizations go along with a narrow view of masculinity that stresses competition, athletics, dominance, winning, aggression, wealth, excessive drinking and sexual prowess. The members of these organizations are usually clean cut, well dressed, conformists, socially skilled, have engaging personalities, and are very savvy with young women. They contribute heavily to the coercive and often violent behavior of men through sexual force. These young men communally live with the same sex, same age peers, and their maturity and judgment is often corrupted. Their conception of women is often distorted, which enhances exploitation, promotes the value of men over women and usually has leadership tendencies that will coerce the other members into using criminal behavior.

This type of masculine behavior is quietly accepted, and in order to affect change, this issue should be discussed openly, honestly and frequently. Most recently reported by the media, Yale University has been under investigation for sexual harassment by fraternities for fostering many of the above mentioned behaviors. This brotherhood blatantly paraded through the campus at the Yale University holding signs that said, “No Means Yes!” ABSOLUTELY INSANE BEHAVIOR to be happening in this day and age. This is not the only university accused of promoting violence through fraternity practices. Colleges that do not have fraternities can still promote this type of dangerous behavior which can cause young women to be victims of violence and rape. My biggest fear is that unless fraternity structures and practices change in fundamental ways, young women will continue to be sexual prey on campus. I believe that this is an issue that should be in the forefront of our social awareness, and these kinds of residencies should be reformed or banished, in order to protect all young women, who have the right to attend college in an environment of equality, security and freedom from sexual harassment.

– Respectfully, Laurel Baldwin, GWS 101 Class

A solar stickler

Dear Editors,

It’s unfortunate that last week’s otherwise very nice article about solar energy (“A Solar Renaissance”) pictured a solar hot water system when the article itself only discussed solar electric.  

There are two fundamentally different types of solar energy systems:  Photo Voltaic (PV - electric) and Solar Thermal (hot water). PV panels generate DC current which is passed through an inverter to become AC current, which is then fed to the grid through the electric company’s meter spinning it backwards. Solar Thermal utilizes an antifreeze solution in the collectors to generate upwards of 200 degree propylene glycol which is then passed through a heat exchanger to heat up a domestic hot water tank, a radiant heating storage tank, or both.  

One of the challenges faced by modern solar thermal installers is the bad reputation left over from the 1980s of huge, hulking, jacked-up collector arrays on people’s rooftops similar to the one pictured in your article. Modern solar thermal collectors can be flush mounted to the roof, or even integrated into the roof like skylights, and still generate the same amount of energy as large, steeply racked collectors.  

With a little bit of digging, I think you will be able4

to find a more aesthetic photo of a solar system (either PV or thermal) for your next article which will not scare people off with its obtrusiveness.

– Paul Iverson, Mancos

Factory farmed food for thought

To the Editors:

I always enjoy Rep. Brown’s civics essays on his work at the Capitol. He never fails to show infinite wisdom, and I’m so glad he is always praying that things turn out all right.  

I’d love to discuss a few of the things he said. “Many government and private entities have depended on federal grants.” Yes, that would be HIM, most of his life, living off the public sector funds and subsidies he then campaigned against. Total hypocrite.

“American agriculture provides safe, abundant and affordable food and fiber ... .”  OK, that is correct if you consider food saturated with chemicals, GMOs and other toxic residues safe. They are affordable. You get what you pay for. These foods are making people sick.

“Americans spend a smaller percentage of their income on food than any country in the world ... .”  Once again, this shows total ignorance and hypocrisy. The reason these foods are cheap for one reason is the huge government subsidies farmers receive (thanks to pressure from huge agribusiness companies like Cargill and Monsanto) that, once again, Brown holds his hand out for and campaigns against. I would rather pay more, frankly, and have better food quality and a guarantee my foods would not be contaminated with chemical and GMO residues that I do NOT want to eat.

“That evening, Debbie and I will be attending the La Plata-Archuleta Cattlemen’s annual banquet ... .” There Brown and his wife will no doubt dine on exquisite feedlot beef. These cows will have been finished in pens and stuffed to sickness and oblivion on GMO corn and soy to the point where they are obese and sick. Sounds appetizing, right?

Brown must be a one-termer. This is way too embarrassing for me.

– Julie Meadows, Durango

Dithering & dathering in Libya

To the Editors:

The Libyan people rose up against their dictatorial and murderous president and asked for world help to overthrow the tyrant and establish a democracy in Libya. But the world, including the U.S., delayed taking any action. The western world wanted to study the situation.

Finally, about a month later, the U.N. agreed to impose sanctions, including a no fly zone around Libya, and coalition missiles and planes attacked Gadhafi’s military forces. They were able to halt Gadhafi’s drive to retake Bengazi and eastern Libya. The opposition forces in the east were saved from annihilation, but unfortunately Gadhafi’s forces had penetrated many cities and had the opposition on the run.

The dithering and dathering by the U.N., including the U.S., inhibited the momentum of the rebel forces, and it has resulted in a potentially long, drawn-out stalemate in Libya. The stalemate might be broken if we employ helicopter gun ships against Gandhafi’s military in and around the cities and provide the rebels with anti-tank weapons.

The U.S. finally acted to avert a humanitarian disaster in Libya, and we continued our quest to promote democracy in the region. We also might have contributed to the establishment of some stability in the Middle East, which is necessary to calm fears of disruption to the flow of oil, and the impact on world oil prices.

It is our duty to provide leadership to countries and populations in the world who cry out for help when they are threatened by the dark forces of totalitarianism.

– Donald A. Moskowitz, via email



In this week's issue...

January 25, 2024
Bagging it

State plastic bag ban is in full effect, but enforcement varies

January 26, 2024
Paper chase

The Sneer is back – and no we’re not talking about Billy Idol’s comeback tour.

January 11, 2024
High and dry

New state climate report projects continued warming, declining streamflows