CRACKPOTS, AN ANALYSIS
Dear Lee Simon,
Thanks for your scientific response to my conjecture about possible after-life scenarios. My father was an atheist medical doctor and his religion was Science, so reading your letter was like reading old gospel. I wasn't going to respond, but then I read the following line and thought I would try arguing with you a little, mostly for fun.
“Secondly, not knowing is the basis of all crackpot beliefs, usually religious.”
Actually, not knowing is the basis of all science. Science is the exploration of what we don't know and want to know about. Crackpot beliefs are only crackpot to those who don't agree with those beliefs.
Furthermore, theories are not necessarily testable, nor do they have to be. Nor do theories have to be proven or disproven conclusively to be valid theories. A theory is not a fact. The theory of relativity is constantly being tested in new ways and there are constant ongoing challenges to that theory. This doesn't mean Einstein's theory isn't a good theory. After all it has lasted almost a hundred years. In fact, I'm surprised they, the scientists who believe in his theory, don't call it Einstein's Fact of Relativity.
You took offense at my use of the word may. I take offense at it sometimes, too, but the fact is, the word may is fundamental to all hypotheses. Otherwise the hypothesis is not a theory, but either a true or erroneous fact, or a crack-pot belief. Official science, by the way, said the world was flat and that cigarettes were good for you until those “scientific facts” were proven to be incorrect. It is always easy to dismiss an idea that doesn't fit our notion of reality. You might find it interesting to read detailed and scientifically rigorous comparisons of Chinese medical science and western medical science wherein highly trained doctors of each school of facts determine wholly different causes and cures for the same patients.
There is what you call proof, much of which will be subsequently disproved, and then there is, for me (based on a good deal of personal experience supporting my thinking and believing and knowing) the very real possibility that so-called experts and scientists don't know what they're talking about, probably because they try to make wishful theories into possible facts prematurely.
NO PARADES YET
Welcome back from the edge. You would have pissed me off if you transitioned to the great parade-ground in the ether.
PS. Here’s a clever quote: “Witnessing the Republicans and the Democrats bicker over the US debt is like watching two drunks argue over a bar bill on the Titanic.”
GIVE RETIREES A BREAK!
To the Editor:
My husband retired two years ago from the County of Mendocino after working as a groundskeeper for 28 years. When he was hired, and all through his long career, he was told he would be covered by health insurance in retirement. We planned ahead, lived and managed our money responsibly, and looked forward to a secure retirement.
Shortly after he retired the County began to contribute less toward the cost of the premium. His cost went from $171 per month to $531. It was a large increase, but we have been able to pay it. Now the Board of Supervisors has voted to abandon all support, requiring retirees, starting in January, to pay the full cost of $922 per month. That's almost 40% of my husband's pension. So much for the promise of health insurance in retirement. For some retirees, the health premium will swallow up their entire pension, and they will have to send a check to the county to pay the balance.
Last year those retirees 65 years and over were taken off the plan and assisted in signing up for Medicare Supplement plans. However, there are about 120 retirees under the age of 65 who will be gravely impacted by this cost increase. I have heard some say they plan to drop out the plan, since they cannot afford it, and go without any insurance at all, risking their health and possibly losing their homes if they have a serious illness. As retirees drop out, the plan will continue its “death spiral” of increasing costs and decreasing number of participants.
The County may even drop the plan altogether if not enough people sign up to continue.
When we heard about the increased costs, we thought we might drop the plan and get a private, individual plan. I began calling insurance companies and brokers, and to my dismay I discovered that my husband may not be insurable due to a “pre-existing condition” that seems minor. In fact, one broker told me that 80% of people over 50 who call him for individual plans are rejected by all insurance companies. I was shocked.
We understand all the financial issues involved, but we strongly believe that the County has a moral obligation to keep the promise it made to these retirees during their working years. The Board ignored a recommendation by its health consultant, Mercer, to combine this small retiree group with the current employees (about 1,000 enrollees). This change would decrease the cost to retirees by 22% while increasing the costs for employees by only 2.3%. Current employees might be willing to accept this increase if they were able to continue on the plan after they retire, which most of them aren't allowed to do now. This change would also halt the death spiral. There would be an increased cost to the County, but it would be minor compared to the pain they are now inflicting on their retirees.
We plead with the Board of Supervisors to review their decision and put this option into effect.
WAIT A MINUTE!
I'm curious. Is the welfare to work program now welfare to unemployment? Why can corporations be persons? They can cause cancer but they can't get cancer themselves?
Thanks to The Major for reporting on Supervisor McCowen’s skepticism about the likely success of plans to update the Mendocino Town Plan (MTP). However, a correction is called for regarding The Major’s statement that it was “mostly innkeepers” challenging staff’s 2008 data showing essentially unchanged balance between residential and visitor serving units in the Town.
Staff studies have consistently shown little or no commercial growth in Mendocino, whether measured by video camera, square footage or by counting overnight lodging units. These numbers have been repeatedly challenged by the confirmed anti-change contingent to support increasingly Draconian controls on property owners and prevent phantom growth. Their current objectives include further reducing the dwindling supply of visitor accommodations, annexing additional homes and Inns on North Lansing, and making residential projects subject to Coastal Commission appeal in addition to the existing and generally successful local constraints imposed by the Mendocino Historical Review Board and the BOS.
The original MTP was drafted in 1992 and certified by the California Coastal Commission in 1996. The final sentence of the first paragraph states the over-arching goal of the Plan: “The Town of Mendocino is a ‘special community’ as described in Section 30253 (5) of the Coastal Act, and is recognized as a special community with an existing balance of residential, commercial and visitor serving facilities that is to be generally maintained.”
We need credible land use numbers to maintain this balance. While perfection in such counting will always be an elusive goal, staff achieved a high standard of credibility in 2008 by working with 2005 data secured from code enforcement visits to the Inns and a thorough review of 2008 County business and bed tax records, Mendocino Community Services District files and citizen input. It is time to fine tune and apply that information to update the lists of existing lodging, by type, establish policies for on-going management and then use the update process to address far more dire threats to the Town’s sustainability such as the general constriction of the economy, and our limited and highly variable water supply.
Rather than continuing to deny our inescapable dependence on tourism, we could also use this process to discuss how to meet the needs of visitors while minimizing negative impacts on residents. We could start by determining how to meet their basic needs for toilets, water and trash receptacles and then consider how to make the Historic District more enjoyable, safe, parkable and walkable for residents, nearby locals and visitors alike.
People from Caspar to Comptche, Little River and Elk consider Mendocino “their town.” On any given day, they far outnumber those of us who live here, as do visitors from more distant locations. We’re all impacted by external as well as immediately local factors. Only those who are out of touch with reality can argue seriously that protecting Mendocino's residential character will be achieved by an exclusive focus on further reductions in overnight lodging that has already diminished, and by placing more burdens on the people who are trying to live and work here. If we stay stuck on these issues and fail to examine other contributing factors, we will neither achieve the goal of “maintaining balance” nor take necessary steps to strengthen our defenses against genuine threats to the Town’s sustainability.
Thomas Thomson, Wendy Roberts, Michael St. John, Jim & Ayla Douglas, Michael & Beth Litton, Roger Martin, Laraine Galloway
LIBRARIES, YES; DEBT, NO
Let me be clear: I am not against public libraries, nor have I been. I feel they are just as important as any other part of County government. This election has nothing to do with saving our Library. It’s about our County government which is a bloated, ineffective governing body, as are many others in our state, including the State of California. We are only small potatoes in the State. But we can make a significant voice by turning down Measure A.
Our debt per capital is the highest in the state, some $1300 per capita, compared to our northern neighbor, Humboldt County, a little over $100 per capita and our Eastern neighbor, Lake County, at about $100 per capita. You notice I did not mention our Southern neighbor, Sonoma County, which is almost as bad as us. Who do you think our officials compare us to? You got it! Sonoma County.
Our County credit rating is BBB and our bond rating is BBB-. For those who don’t know what credit ratings are for, our BBB ratings are the bottom of the barrel and the consequence is that when we borrow, we pay the highest interest which is like throwing money in the ocean. This County in the last decade has gotten huge increases of money. It’s not the income that is the problem, it’s the spending. We have to come to grips with it or we will be in the same pickle as our federal government which also has that over spending problems, as do many many European countries. One can read about them every day.
Recently our County wanted to lower their interest rate on some $23 million borrowed previously at 5% interest. The national average for municipal bonds is 2.5%. Average means there are half higher and half lower. But us at 5% are the king of the hill, and if we were just average we could save about a half a million dollars a year. That’s just on that $23 million of debt. Anything else is kept secret. We don’t have a not-too-good credit rating, we have a lousy credit rating and falling. Our county is like an alcoholic. You don’t keep giving an alcoholic more booze to cure them. Vote No on Measure A. It’s a beginning to sanity.
LOVE AT SECOND SIGHT
Dear Mighty Editor:
The re-examined life, after a brush with death, is twice as much worth living. I'm so glad you are still around to let us know what things look like with second sight.
THE TITANIC CLOWN SHOW
These are wacky times! The US Attorneys target small businesses that provide valuable services for our communities and employ people and, unlike, the Bank of America, they pay taxes.
The IRS targets these same businesses, disallowing legitimate expenses, jacking up their taxes by a few million dollars.
Then Jerry Brown vetoes the industrial hemp bill in this economy?
When is the federal clown-show going to end this politics of the absurd and turn this Titanic ship of state around?
JOY & SORROW
Please sign me up for another year of outrage and umbrage. Your newspaper, among other things, highlights the foibles of the left, correctly assuming that your readership already considers the Republicans beyond hope.
Note to Steve Sparks: God doesn't live in a gated community.
To Todd Walton: I enjoyed your contributions when they were more focused and less frequent. Commenting all the time on everything puts you in danger of becoming the AVA's Andy Rooney.
Participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world.
Port Townsend, Washington
Sorry to hear about the editor's health and plumbing problems. Glad he's better. They say that's the second thing to go and I'm not looking forward to either.
I'm still sitting in administrative segregation for an assault on staff that truly never happened. It's just taking time for the truth to rise as I sink. I am deeply indebted to you and the AVA and Northern California for the best of life while I was free and now I'm getting cold chills to think that my subscription is close to expiring.
As I said, I'm an artist/tattoer and mainly receive payment for certain illegal acts in confinement with postal stamps or money received from other inmates families becaise payment for the body art is frowned upon here and a write-up usually follows.
When I'm a free soul I will be in the clear with my tab with both the AVA and Laughing Dog Books.
It sure would help to have you print my name and number so that maybe lost friends will be renewed.
I'm still not sure where I'll lay my hat this go round but being a veteran helps in some matters. You have always put out the most informational newspaper out there. It makes us all proud on this side of the bars when you make good on your promises.
If you could extend my subscription or take some stamps as payment it sure would alleviate this induced depression.
Hopefully you will print this letter because I've lost contact with most friends and family having been gone these last 10 years. Again, thanks, my friends, for giving us this wealth of information and also smiling about it which is truly rare nowadays.
Drink lots of water and make vigorous use of your plumbing. That should keep you up and running stronger.
I'll see you soon. After all, any day above ground is a very good day indeed.
A brother in arms,
Joseph D'Avey C-62414
PO Box 689 O-W-240 ad-seg
Soledad, CA 93960-0689
NOT OBAMA’S PAPA
Please add my name to the list of those praising Ian Baruma's fine “Obama's Mama” article and you for running it in the October 12 edition. Well researched, wide-ranging, fact-packed, well-written and fascinating. Good work. Seems that what Obama got from his father was: cogitate, conform, climb. From his mother: “stick it in their eye!” So far, he's been pretty much his dad's son. But it ain't over yet.
PS. My concerned wishes for your good health. Not enough of your kind around that we can afford to lose any.
PPS. Hephalumpe for President! Hip Hip, Replacement! He could run on the ProFusion ticket. (The Republicans have long since pre-empted Con.)
I'LL BE DARNED
After Krystallnacht, the smash-up of Jewish shops, an uneasy representative of the German insurance companies appeared before a panel of Nazis chaired by Reichsfuhrer Hermann Goering, hoping to escape liability and payment for the property damage. The appalling transcript begs for dramatic performance, with the high Nazis several times bursting out laughing, and Goering eerily frank with the insurance representative regarding Party motives in respect to the Jews, to which the rep could bring himself to reply only with an uncontentious and ambiguous “Aha!” But the question of payment was settled by Goering, who stated flatly and simply, “You will pay because you are liable.” And that was that.
Correct me, but the only court action I know concerning responsibility for 9/11 was an appeal by the owner of the Towers that his insurance settlement be doubled and paid as two separate acts of terrorism, not one, because there were two planes, not one. Which would seem to imply that one of the two planes was directed by… Lex Luthor? — and the other, it goes without saying, by Osama bin Laden.
Now, there is no parallel between the above cases, none whatsoever, of course. Except that in both cases there was no forensic investigation to determine who perpetrated the crimes. Yet in both cases the insurance companies paid.
Well, uh… aha!
Funny way to do business, eh?