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Thursday, May 13,2010

Letters | Of nudity and naturalists

Of nudity and naturalists

(Re: “Much ado about melons,” May 6.) Good article and interview with Catharine Pierce. I’ve spent quite a bit of time in Germany over the years, and believe me, folks, Western civilization and Christian culture do not decay in the face of widespread public nudity. Visit Munich or Berlin on a hot August day and you’ll see what I mean. Even in stuffy old England, there may be swimsuits worn at most beaches, but it is quite common for people to change into them in full view of their peers and not even bother with a concealing towel. Yet somehow the Empire persists. … Boulder should have the courage to follow suit.

More to the point, though, I wonder about the use of the word “naturalist” in the article. Isn’t a naturalist one who studies plants and creatures in their native habitat? I think the accurate word for nudist is “naturist.” In this case, it would be Pamela White who is the naturalist, interviewing Catharine Pierce, who is the naturist.

Peter Johnson/Longmont

Danish makes a point

This is the first time that I’ve ever agreed, at least in part, with a Paul Danish article, “Crying over spilled oil.” (Danish Plan, May 6.)

“Spill or no spill, the country is still economically and strategically addicted to oil, and that isn’t going to change for at least a generation, even if we started converting to electric cars and green electricity tomorrow. We are currently fighting two wars with enemies who are at least in part funded by dollars spent by American consumers on gasoline made from imported crude. The U.S. currently imports about 5 billion barrels of oil a year. Think of it as a half-trillion dollar economic stimulus plan in reverse.”

Thank you Paul! I couldn’t have said it any better. Yet, I don’t agree with his conclusion: “But when it comes it spilling, there are two options: oil and blood. If you’re not willing to spill blood for oil, you better be prepared to drill for it.”

This is the insanity of our addiction.

The spill in the Gulf of Mexico is not only destroying the environment, but also a way of life for people who make a living off the formerly rich seas. The after-effects of this spill will last for many generations, if not permanently.

We are addicted to petroleum and other fossil fuels — like heroin addicts. We need our daily fix of filling up our vehicles and using throwaway “everything” (plastic bags, plastic utensils, styrofoam cups and plates, ad infinitum) for the sake of convenience. However, there is a way to rehabilitate ourselves. By instituting a carbon tax on all forms of fossil fuel use, its true costs will be revealed. Suddenly renewable energy will shine. It’s not going to be that easy getting there, but renewable energy is our hope for the future.

The other cruel fact that our denial won’t allow us to hear is: peak oil. Our government commissioned a report in 2005 (called the Hirsch Report), “Peaking of World Oil Production: Impacts, Mitigation and Risk Management,” at: publications/others/pdf/Oil_Peaking_ NETL.pdf. The report explores in great depth that we are at or near the peaking of oil. You’ll be surprised how close to the edge we really are, gobbling oil so fast that there will be little left for future generations.

Teresa Foster/Longmont

Showing papers isn’t the problem

(Re: “Show me your papers,” In Case You Missed It, May 6.) In this column you state that one should look into history about this. Well, in other countries I have traveled to, I have to have my passport and visa with me at all times. In U.S. immigration law, a legal visitor to this country is supposed to carry their passport and visa with them.

So that particular part of the law is actually quite normal around the world. If you get stopped for speeding or some such in Mexico and are obviously not Mexican, you can be asked for your documents.

What’s different is that it is a state law, putting Arizona in the position of asking its law enforcement agents to do what should be the work of federal agents.

This actually interferes with their normal functions of attacking crime, as they need to have the people be their allies. If the people in an area fear deportation resulting from their reporting of a crime, lots of crimes will go unreported.

They are also not equipped to hold people for the crime of entering the country illegally. Major problem.

But people who are not citizens do not enjoy the rights of citizens. We merely extend them as a courtesy in most cases.

There are a lot of problems with illegal immigration, such as exploitation of that status by employers, forging of documents, stealing identities, etc.

There needs to be an easier work visa program; people shouldn’t have to cross the desert to get here.

Hugh Robertson/Boulder

Article made me change my ways

After reading your article “Are your gadgets killing you?” (Cover story, April 22), I have dramatically changed my behavior regarding my iPhone usage and practices.

I am convinced the EU warning is real and should be taken very seriously. Years ago a friend of my father’s owned one of the old brick cell phones … Sadly, he died of brain cancer around the ear a few years back.

After hearing of his passing, I figured his tumor was due to the old technology and not something I needed to be concerned with. But now with the iPhone beaming EMR (electromagnetic microwave radiation) into my ear … no wonder my head gets fuzzy after a long phone call. Thanks to your article, I think I hit my tipping point; I have created my new system of cell phone usage.

First, I am going back to my simple Samsung cell phone with a glued neutralizer button on the back. I found the button at It seems to work fine.

Second, I am using a cord earphone as much as possible. It’s tough to get used to … especially in the car, but I am getting the hang of it. Lastly, I try not to keep the cell phone on my person, instead on the desk or on the console of the car.

I may not be as trendy as I once was with all my stimulating new gadgets I used to own, but I am beginning to enjoy my simpler life … free of upgrades and buzzing eardrums.

Scott Rose/Superior

Pine beetle facts

(Re: “What now? Debate burns over beetle-kill pine,” cover story, April 29.) Being a forest entomologist often means dealing with gaps in public knowledge while being considered a novelty.

For years it was obvious from the reports out of Canada and Alaska that a wider bark beetle epidemic was inevitable and would carry unprecedented consequences, but fires always win in a competition for funding and attention. This dramatizing of fire risk is not surprising. Insects and pathogens affect an area of forest 50 times greater than fires every year in North America. Nevertheless, the federal fire budget is billions of dollars, while pest monitoring and control are often ignored. Dead trees are being used to politicize policies and further pad the fire budget.

Given this history and the importance of proper forest management, I was disappointed that Jefferson Dodge’s report did not mention the impending release of billions of tons of greenhouse gases from decaying trees, a problem that far outweighs the exaggerated fire risks. The current epidemic of mountain pine beetle making headlines in Colorado was first reported in B.C., Canada. There is now an area of dead pines in B.C. more than half the size of Colorado. A 2008 report in Nature calculated that carbon released from these trees would equal five years of emissions from ground and air transport in Canada. This estimate only includes pines killed in B.C., while the larger epidemic from pine and spruce beetles now extends from Alaska to southern California, east to the Dakotas and south to New Mexico.

I also wonder why Boulder Weekly chose to place images of dung beetles on the cover instead of bark beetles. Perhaps this was intended as a joke that only a few would get? Maybe the issue is viewed as a ball of excrement? Or does the vast ecological upheaval spreading across the West still not even warrant a quick Google Images search while we await the more sensational images of fire season?

Scott Ferrenberg/Nederland

Nice perspective

Kudos to Boulder Weekly editors for printing “Pot perspectives” (Letters, May 6) with historical references that expose the constitutional basis for drug prohibition as “shaky,” exactly as the author writes.

Is marijuana legally included with drugs that have “no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States and a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision”?

Consider that legal Marinol is a synthetic chemical that works like THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. Marinol is four to five times the potency of the strongest street weed, about twice as strong as hashish. Generically named Dronabinol, warning labels specifically permit driving and using machinery when users know how the medicine affects them.

Also, while some decline to enforce them, 31 states “in the United States” have medical marijuana laws on the books.

Even the title of U.S. Patent No. 6630507, “Cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants” factually demonstrates currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.

The text of that patent details a wide variety of accepted, safe and proven uses under medical supervision.

Therefore, is marijuana prohibition legal?

Don’t hold your breath for an honest answer.

Jose Melendez/DeLand, Fla.

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