Letters for March 20, 2008
Friends, Romans, countrymen: uh-oh
Re: “Five years and counting” (Cover story, by Evan Tuchinsky, CN&R, March 13):
The forum was refreshingly ambiguous, acknowledging the complexity of the Iraq War. However, most discussions of Iraq and Afghanistan, and broader conflict with radical Islam, are flawed in assuming the United States has such a large degree of control. That is, if we militarily withdraw from the Middle East, reduce our use of foreign oil, accept a reduced economy and rely on negotiation and peaceful co-existence, our adversaries will respond in kind.
From my study of Islam and international politics, such hopes are naive.
The core of Islamic doctrine in the Quran, Hadith and Sharia is violently expansionist, totalitarian and intolerant. Russia, newly awash in oil wealth, and China are fierce competitors whose perceived self-interests are contradictory to ours. Human nature being what it is, all these adversaries will press their advantage at our expense to the fullest at any opportunity.
Still, the cost is heavy. The billions spent are not dollars that could otherwise be used domestically, but deficit spending—money we do not have. Our military is stretched thin, and our economy is in serious trouble. Indeed, we as a nation are in serious trouble—I see parallels with the late-fourth-century Roman Empire a few decades before its collapse.
As suggested in the panel, there are probably no good choices, save the least of an array of evils for which future generations will continue paying the price.
Regardless of who gets elected in November, there will be no end in sight to the occupation of Iraq. The U.S. government has built huge permanent bases in Iraq and has the largest embassy in the world in Baghdad.
Your Iraq roundtable was interesting, but let’s remember the stark truth: Lying, murderous criminals run our country, and they sure don’t give a damn what anyone in Chico, Calif., thinks about their foreign policy.
After five years of illegal, preemptive war, I occasionally use the rhetorical device of mentioning the possibility of the destruction of cities and the deaths of millions here in the U.S. I make significant efforts not to participate in violence itself, but when I talk that way, people say, “You’re a terrible person; I refuse to listen to this.”
The same people tacitly condone, and profit from, those things happening in places like Iraq. We import 70 percent of our oil from places where we seriously interfere with the lives of millions.
If we are free citizens of this republic, we have individual responsibility for the actions of our government. Also, we have responsibility for how we spend our money. If our money goes to mass murderers, destroyers of nations, and enemies of government by the people, who’s the terrible person?
Eye-opener for artists
Re: “Put safety, potholes first” (Downstroke, CN&R, March 13):
Where are our “No. 10 Best Small Art Towns in America” supporters? With the release of the city survey, it’s clear that there is a big disconnect between the non-arts community and the arts community in Chico. When 70 percent of those surveyed feel city-sponsored art programs should be cut, I think artists, arts advocates and arts commissioners should realize there is a huge problem.
Maybe some of the issues that created this problem are the poor uses of funding. Let’s review the $250,000 chess area in the City Plaza. Has anyone seen a chess player at those tables lately?
Or maybe we should take a look at the $50,000 a year given to Friends of the Arts for the one-month Artoberfest (just last week, FOA came before the Arts Commission asking for extended funding). If you don’t remember the event, wait another seven months and you’ll be hearing about it again.
And then there’s the COBA project … oh, wait, skip that—the only public art project to get major support from the community and involve the community in voting decisions was cut by the Arts Commission and city arts coordinator.
I think the city arts program needs a major overhaul, starting with the people in charge of the projects and the funding. If something isn’t done, Chicoans and artists will be heading to Paradise and Oroville to enjoy public art.
‘Bait and switch?’
Re: “Supes cool to state park plan” (Newslines, by Robert Speer, CN&R, March 13):
The new Bidwell-Sacramento River State Park campground plan is worth analyzing carefully.
The Nature Conservancy initially acquired the site and stated its intention to create restored natural habitat—not disclosing these development plans with the State Parks Department, nor the potential for extra law-enforcement demands, degradation of neighboring agriculture or human activity nuisances. Bait and switch?
The state’s draft EIR does not address creek flooding east of the campground (three times this season), yet [park officials] are planning to close the Woodson Bridge campground because it floods.
The park touts its proximity to the river, but the campground is not on the river. None of the new trails take you to the river bank; that is DFG land, where the issue of hunting is not addressed. The campground will take out prime agricultural land in Chico (food, people!) and take out more of our county tax base while adding costs.
The concerns of neighboring property owners are not being properly addressed. My property rights, property values, and quality of life will be reduced without compensation by this state incursion all made possible by the hefty “benevolence” of TNC.
Gold—gold, I tell ya!
Re: “Gold rush in Dry Creek” (Newslines, by Robert Speer, CN&R, March 6):
It should be no surprise that the New Era (actually quite old) Mine is open and working. At $1,000 per ounce, we may soon see lots of mines reopening—maybe even the one at the Empire Mine State Park.
Dry Creek, which parallels Messilla Valley Road, was a very active mining area. There are old “diggings” both above (Lyte, Blum) and below New Era. There’s still lots of gold in “them thar’ hills.”
(Editor’s note: “Parents’ rights"—the March 6 installment of From The Edge, by Anthony Peyton Porter—has drawn additional letters, beyond the rebukes from last week addressed in this week’s column. Here is one with a different take.)
The article was unpleasant and unpalatable, but there were some bits of truth to it. The truth is not pretty.
I don’t believe anyone has the right to harm their children. I believe they are not really our children but rather children of God. Parents are the caretakers. That is our job.
Porter’s opinion is just that, an opinion, and I can appreciate it for its utter disregard for political correctness, which is rampantly out of control these days. In that respect alone it was refreshing.
He is not condoning killing one’s children; rather he is stating, among other things, that, in his opinion, punishing parents who kill their children is ineffective. That may or may not be true. If Porter were condoning infanticide or any other -cide, I think he would not be a free member of society, let alone have a job as a writer, in which he has shown consistency and responsibility.
Re: “Darwin debate goes on” (Letters, CN&R, March 6):
Thank you, thank you, Charles F. Urbanowicz. Too many times, Darwin’s own words are overlooked. It’s still all a theory.
The assertion of Larry Carmichael —"I understand Darwin. I also understand the difference between scientific theory and scientific proof. Darwin and his apologists fail to sway me. The answer lies elsewhere."—impels the following observation:
If one understands Darwin, what is the need to demand to add “creationism” or “intelligent design” to science classes? If one understands the difference between “scientific theory” and “scientific proof,” why demand that “a scientific theory” need sway anyone? “Scientific theory” is either supported or contested by “scientific method"; only “scientific claims” need “scientific proof.”
Brahama D. Sharma
Thank you, Larry Carmichael, for reiterating my point that scientists, professors and teachers who do not accept Darwin should be fired. Similarly, all students who answer the question “Did Darwin get it right?” [Streetalk, CN&R, March 6] with “no” or “yes, but” should not be allowed to graduate. In psychology, this is called operant conditioning, a type of learning in which future probability of a behavior is affected by its consequences.
Glad for his creation
(Editor’s note: This letter seems a fitting coda to our readers’ discussion of evolution.)
As a teenager, I lived on a farm near Denver. In the fields, I found rocks filled with the fossilized shells of clams, oysters and scallops. We lived nearly a mile above sea level and a good thousand miles from any ocean.
So how did they get there? My biology teacher’s explanation of plate tectonics made much more sense than my minister’s theory that they were washed there in the great flood. As I looked around, I became very aware that it was physically and scientifically impossible to cover the whole Earth with water, even to the spot where I stood, let alone to the crest of an almost 17,000-foot mountain. There wasn’t enough water in the whole world.
It was then I realized that many of the stories in the Bible were allegories, similar to Christ’s parables in the New Testament. As with many fables and stories passed down through many generations of telling, they retain at least a grain of truth.
So have I become an atheist or even an agnostic? No. My question for the pure evolutionists is this: If there isn’t some kind of creator to enjoy it, of what use is life itself? Are we simply an interesting but useless series of chemical reactions?
I don’t know who or what my creator is. I have no idea how he did it or how long it took. I don’t know for sure if there is anything beyond this life, and I don’t really care. I’m simply grateful that I have had this time on Earth.
Re: “Church offers addicts a home and hope” (Newslines, by Toni Scott, CN&R, Feb. 28):
I am 17. I go to the Orchard Church, and I know how it impacts the lives of those around. If it weren’t for Jim Culp, I don’t know where I would be.
When I first met him (about a year and half ago), I drank, smoked cigarettes and pot, was a cutter and had a lot of problems. I hated the world and everyone in it. I was so numb and lost. I was anti-God—I hated Him.
I have been clean and sober for a while now, and I stopped cutting a long while ago. I am now part of the worship team.
Jim devotes a lot of his time to help others, and he never forced God upon me—I have never seen him force God upon anyone. He accepted me for who I was. He is like family now.
Without him and all the others at the church, I would be still in that rut. Everyone in the church has supported me and has cared about me from the day I walked in with a lot of jewelry, black lipstick and chains on my pants.
So now I thank God every day for what He has put in my life, including the people.
Re: “Courts in session” (Newslines, by Richard Ek, CN&R, March 13): Several people at Chico State contacted us to say former Physical Education Department head Dick Trimmer played a larger role in the tennis facility’s renovation project than our story suggests. We apologize for shorting any credit where it’s due.
Re: “Cruisin’ for a bluesin’ “ (Music, by Miles Jordan, CN&R, March 13): One of the musicians was misidentified in the photo caption. The guitarist is Steve Edmondson, accompanist for Earl Thomas. We have replaced Edmondson’s photo with Thomas’ online.