Letters for February 21, 2008
Having a cow over editorial
Re: “Don’t have a cow” (Editorial, CN&R, Feb. 14):
I cannot let this editorial slide by unchallenged. It is apparent that you don’t regularly socialize with farmers or ranchers and that you get your “facts” from sources whose agendas run counter to commercial agriculture.
Your argument shows alarming ignorance and elitism.
Chicken, pork and dairy products are indeed produced by the factory farm method you abhor and discourage, yet most regular people like and buy the inexpensive and wholesome product. Conversely, if you even casually observed the countryside just outside of Chico, you might have seen that beef cattle spend 90 percent of their lives eating grasses from native rangelands.
Then you specifically demonize beef and ask us to eat a dairy product (cheese)?
I thank my teachers and professors for encouraging critical analysis. This allows me to interpret your anti-beef rant as: “I want us all to worship at the alter of veganism, but I can’t articulate a reason so I’ll invent a pretext.”
If you really want to do something about global warming, throw away your car keys. I’ll bet you won’t.
You purport to argue for stopping global warming, but you’re really mounting another assault on the American standard of living.
Sure, farm animals generate methane. Ruminant digestion of cellulose is the source of the methane they emit. But what about the ruminant wildlife that dominated the world until scarcely a century ago: American bison, African antelope, Eurasian bovines and cervids?
The combined body mass of Pleistocene wild ruminants was a substantial multiple of today’s domesticated versions, and they produced a corresponding multiple of the methane emitted by today’s livestock. This is another of the umpteen variables ignored by global-warming scaremongers.
As for vegetarianism, a word of caution: Ever more essential human nutrients are being identified that cannot be obtained from any combination of vegetable sources. The human digestive system is virtually identical to that of a cat in both anatomy and enzymology. Until the advent of agriculture 11,000 years ago, the human diet was at least 85 percent meat.
He’s just a kid!
Re: “Monster in the making?” (Newslines, by Robert Speer, CN&R, Feb. 14):
I am writing this letter in regard to the Las Plumas High School student who was sentenced to 22 years in prison for taking a gun to school and holding some of his classmates hostage over a relationship with his girlfriend gone bad. His mother is now seeking to have his sentence overturned and get a new trial. I sure hope she gets her wish!
What kind of society do we live in where we lock up a hormonal teenager for more than 20 years over a stupid mistake he made while mourning the loss of his girlfriend? How many of us, as adults, have looked back at our teenage years and thought, Boy, was I stupid back then! when realizing the mistakes we made when we experienced our first break-up?
Yes, I realize a weapon was involved, but no one was harmed (not to mention the fact that weapons in our society are too easily attained by minors). This teen simply overreacted and belongs in a mental institution, not in prison! I hope to see him walk free.
Origin of the specious
Re: “Dueling dissents on Darwinism” (Letters, by Gary Rayome and Larry Carmichael, CN&R, Feb. 14):
I was dismayed to read two letters that were responses to your previous week’s editorial “Giving Darwin his due.” I have read your editorial online and commend you for it.
I wonder, though, are those two anti-evolution letters the only ones your editorial elicited? If so, this nation’s intellectual life is in more trouble than I thought.
Both letter-writers trot out standard creationist and intelligent-design arguments that are not only very old, but also easily refuted and have often been refuted by popular-science writers. However, the creationists who continue to perpetuate their ideas are absolutely dependent on a scientifically illiterate public for their “credibility.”
We desperately need to support good science education in this country, which existed for a few years in response to Sputnik but has since regressed.
Editor’s note: Those were the only responses we received, but they’ve drawn a handful of others, including those below. (Dare we say the discussion has evolved?)
Larry Carmichael makes several emphatic assertions that, he claims, justify his refusal to accept Darwinian evolution despite the overwhelming evidence supporting it. As he provides no citations or supporting evidence, I doubt that many readers found his claims convincing. However, in case the strength of his conviction has anyone concerned that their genome is shrinking, you can relax.
Carmichael claims it is not possible for the information in DNA to increase and, worse, that our genome is losing information each generation. In fact, DNA sequences change in complexity all the time through duplication and deletion. A search of the PubMed database for articles about gene duplication returns more than 5,600 articles with examples of genes being duplicated and then evolving new functions, increasing the complexity of the genome.
As to the bizarre claim that our genomes are shrinking, the process of meiosis and sexual reproduction is very effective at making sure that the next generation gets as much genetic material as the parents. I can find no evidence in the PubMed database that any generation of humans has less DNA than any other generation.
Believers in the pseudo-science of intelligent design reject evolution because they think that if they cannot imagine how evolution can produce something, then it must not be possible. This fails because evolution is much more powerful than their imagination.
In science, the idea that “we’re all entitled to our beliefs” is not true and is not going to be true no matter how much nonsense fanatical, intelligent-designer Christians (or politically correct New Age crackpots) come up with. At Barnes & Noble, in what supposedly is the science section, one can find books on “the mechanical intricacy of flagella,” another absolutely baseless argument in favor of a creator.
Scientists are in agreement about force, mass, gravitational attraction as well as evolution by natural selection, which John Searle has called the “observer independent” reality.
Those 700 Ph.D. scientists who signed what they claim to be “A Scientific Dissent From Darwinism” have no respect for science. Scientists, professors and teachers who do not accept and thus misrepresent Darwin should be fired, because they spread the false idea that the world is what you believe it to be.
Here’s another thought: While today evolution is actually a family of theories that includes room for theism, when it appeared in the 19th century its supporters claimed it invalidated religious belief. Subsequently, Nietzsche and others proclaimed the “death of God” and the end of traditional morals and ethics.
But the carnage of World War I (1914-18) shattered the secular assumption that a humanity without God was indeed such a positive evolution. This is what motivated William Jennings Bryan in the Scopes Trial of 1925, not the bigoted caricature presented in the play/movie Inherit the Wind.
Subsequently, creation science arose largely as a reaction from conservative Christians who felt besieged, not so much from modern science per se, but from arrogant atheists attempting to destroy the very foundation of life itself as they understood it.
Pax humana on display
It seems clear that human history can be characterized as a dance or contest between two quite different tendencies: the fearful, paranoiac need to find, or invent, enemies to destroy; and a quieter but no less forceful spiritual impulse toward community and reconciliation.
So here’s a big thanks to North Valley chapter of Fellowship of Reconciliation, as well as the wonderful women of Chico Peace Endeavor and our Chico Branch Library, for the uplifting display of books and other materials on nonviolence and pacifism.
The Chico City Council has proclaimed this “a season for nonviolence,” so this is an appropriate time for people, especially our younger people, to be reminded that there are alternatives to militarism, the scourge of democracy and civil society.
I started off my day by looking at the news online and was abruptly awakened by the news of a young woman’s body being found in Reno. This hit me hard because I had seen a missing-persons flier posted on the door of a local business I frequent, just days before.
I unfortunately scrolled down to comments made online concerning the news article. I say unfortunately because there were statements such as, “She probably had it coming because she was leading a man on.” Thankfully, not all comments were as twisted as this, but knowing that someone actually thinks this way was extremely upsetting.
I have nothing further to say. I am simply just deeply saddened and truly blown away.
W. Jeff Straub
Short and sweet
We are opposed to any more Wal-Marts.
Re: “Chico subdivision shines” (EarthWatch, CN&R, Feb. 7): SunPower Corp. e-mailed to correct some of the information it provided about Shastan Homes’ development off Glenwood Avenue. The subdivision will have 58 homes, and the solar system will use SunPower’s all-black panels mounted on top of roofing materials, not integrated into tiles as shown in the photo. We have made these corrections online.