Changing the course
Dear Editors,
As we face the progressive destruction of our natural world for profit (e.g. cutting forests for housing, drilling for oil in pristine places), I recall my father’s comment that he wrote in 1971: “Many a person wondered how the Near East could have been the cradle of civilization and how great kingdoms could once have flourished in North Africa. These places have been forbidding deserts for centuries.
“They were not deserts when civilization was born. The Fertile Crescent, stretching from Egypt north and east through the Holy Land into Mesopotamia, was indeed fertile. One reason civilization grew where it did was because in the Near East and North Africa, nature smiled on man.
But man ruthlessly exploited nature, and the gardens became deserts. This is brought to mind by the remark of a witness testifying before a U.S. Senate committee investigating the overlogging of national forests. Dr. Robert Curry, an environmental geologist from the University of Montana, said: ‘The Greek and Roman axes doomed the Cedars of Lebanon and the great forests of Dalmatia,’ leaving wastelands for the generations that followed.
“It is not difficult as one looks around the United States to imagine history repeating itself. Can we change the course enough that the generations that follow will not one day view the American desert and wonder how the most advanced industrial civilization of all time could have flourished, even for two or three brief centuries, in so desolate a land?” – Charles F. Ransom, 1971
Still relevant.
– Sara Ransom, Durango

In the dark
Dear Editors:
Have we become a population of mushrooms?
If you have ever listened to a politician give a speech telling you how things are improving and then looked around and wondered what planet he or she was living on, don’t feel alone. You walk away wondering how they could stand there and lie so brazenly. Well, they are not actually lying to you … they are simply withholding some of the truth from you.
Let me explain. For my first example, I will look at the unemployment rate for a state chosen at random. As of July 2011, Oregon had an unemployment rate of 9.5 percent (not much higher than the national average). According to the statistics calculated and kept by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 188,829 unemployed Oregon citizens that month. What the government is not telling you is the whole truth. The whole truth is that there were 188,829 unemployed Oregon citizens collecting unemployment benefits in July of 2011.
Those Oregon citizens who had collected the maximum allowable unemployment benefits but still did not have a job simply dropped off the unemployment rolls and as far as the government is concerned, they ceased to exist. Now we must also add to those unemployed individuals who ceased to exist, all self-employed Oregon citizens who were unable to find work because of the economy. People like self-employed carpenters, builders, bricklayers, plumbers, electricians, painters, consultants of all types, mechanics, landscape specialists, etc. You see, self-employed individuals are not eligible to collect unemployment benefits to begin with, so they are not counted. As you can see, the unemployment figure provided by the government is not a lie; it is simply tilting the table in the government’s favor to make them appear that they are doing a better job for the citizen and taxpayer than they really are.
The next example we should look at is the cost of living as reported by the government. As you and I go grocery shopping, we notice the cost of our regular grocery list climbing week after week. Then we stop at the gas station to buy gas for our vehicle and find that the same thing is happening at the gas pump. Oh, we cannot forget the cost of heating our homes.
Regardless of which fuel you use, it is costing you far more to heat your home than it did a couple of years ago.
So how is it that the government claims that the cost of living has not gone up much at all? Once again, they are not out-and-out lying to you.
They are just not giving you all of the information. One such piece of key information is the fact that the government does not count food and fuel into their calculation for the Cost of Living. If you folks have figured a way to live without eating or using fuel, I wish you would share it with the rest of us because food and fuel certainly make up a big portion of what it costs me to live.
Washington feeds us lies by the shovelful while the truth is doled out with an eyedropper. Our government has viewed us as a cash crop for too many years. It seems clear to me that the government views us as so many mushrooms. They keep us in the dark and feed us B.S. just as if we were mushrooms. Maybe it is time to raise the price of B.S. and teach those in Washington exactly how it feels to be unemployed … but, that is just my opinion!
– Respectfully yours, Robert M. Collinsworth

Easy targets
To the Editors:
On Aug. 6, the U.S. lost 30 Special Forces troops, including 22 Navy SEALS in a helicopter shot down over Afghanistan.
These people were the elite of our military who have trained for these missions over many years.
Unfortunately, we have suffered similar losses in prior missions where helicopters loaded with military personnel have been shot down or crashed due to equipment problems. Helicopters are relatively slow-moving vehicles, especially the large Chinook helicopters, which operate in close proximity to the ground. They make easy targets for rocket propelled grenades and hand held missile systems. We need missile and rpg counter measure defensive systems to protect our vulnerable helicopters.
U.S. Special Forces should re-evaluate their operational plans to encompass minimizing casualties from helicopter operations. Instead of loading up 38 people in one helicopter, why not use more helicopters? Granted, using more helicopters is costly, and landing zones may not be able to handle multiple helicopter landings simultaneously, but these impediments can be overcome, and our casualties can probably be reduced.
We should also determine whether there could have been an intelligence leak by Afghan forces prior to the operation.
– Donald A. Moskowitz, via email

Twenty-one days
Dear Editors,
In just under 21 days, voters all across Colorado will start receiving their ballots for an election that will be conducted almost entirely by mail.
With each ballot, voters will be deciding whether to start reinvesting in education or, instead, allowing a fourth year of short-sighted, irresponsible cuts to Colorado’s schools, colleges and universities.
Around Oct. 14, Coloradans will start voting on Proposition 103.
Will they have all the information they need?  Will they know how critical it is to our kids that we put an end to education cuts that have resulted in huge class sizes, teacher layoffs, lost educational opportunities and skyrocketing tuition and fees?
Voters aren’t going to hear that message from TV or radio ads. This isn’t a multi-million dollar campaign. They need to get that message from their fellow parents, citizens and neighbors. That’s you.
Great Education Colorado Action has a goal: 21,000 volunteer calls and/or letters to targeted voters by Oct. 14. We’ve got less than six weeks to create a brighter future for every Colorado child.  Stage one is 21K in 21 days.
Together, we can do it.  
We’ve got to, because Colorado’s kids can’t wait.
– Sincerely, Lisa Weil, Great Education Colorado, via email

Nahoma and I walked hand in hand,
I, twenty-seven,
She, seven.
We walked far behind the other children,
Along the nature trail.

Nahoma was slower than her friends,
Her clubfoot dragging.
She said, “We’ll never catch up!”
I said, “No matter.”
She cried, “My leg hurts!”
I said, “Let’s rest.”
We pinched sagebrush and collected colored stones.
The sun was an early warm.
We were far behind the others,
But way out in front of the world.
– Burt Baldwin, Ignacio

Television as a second language
To the Editors:
Television is a technological medium of great importance in the lives of people, because it provides information, sports and entertainment among other things. However, it may be the main cause of school failure for many students. Here are some facts. In all surveys made on the children concluded that most children watch too much TV programs some appropriate to their age and other for adults. In research on the subject, says that when you watch TV too much and without control can produce a unit, called teleadicción with mental fatigue, especially in children.
Many families make their main meals in front of the TV, to use the time, to receive information or enjoying an entertainment program. But along with this also makes communication between people and usually all members of the family remain silent. In many cases, television is the means to fill the free time and where viewers watch movies, political gatherings, soccer, tennis and other fun programs.
This promotes sedentary lifestyles that harm health. As for children, help to lose the reading habit and therefore to increase the spelling mistakes, do little sport and have no hobbies. As television takes away a long time, end up falling in school failure.
Television also affected the formation of personality and loss habits. Television also affects the formation of personality and loss of habits. Watching TV falls into passivity and comfort and is incapable of the necessary effort required for the study.
After two or three hours watching television is hard to move from a passive to other active where the student must do everything to understand books, discuss ideas, relationships, expressing and remember. Finally, we can say that in the study room can never be a set TV on because the student can not see and understand both the screen and the book.
With all the above leads to the conclusion that TV is harmful? No, it is positive with proper use, but when we related to the study the consequences are never positive.
– Arthur Ramo, 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