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Letters (August 12, 2021)

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I have been greatly disappointed that no one to my knowledge has explained the basics of pandemic math. Let’s start with the way diseases spread by exponential growth: Early in covid the virus spread in a way that on the average each person with covid would give it to two other people and then each of them would give it to two people and those four would give it to eight and so on. The sequence of numbers looks like this (^n is an exponent):

1 (2^0) 2 (2^1) 4 (2^2) 8 (2^3) 16 (2^4) 32 (2^5) 64 (2^6) . . . 4096 (2^12) . . . 2^n

The Delta variant is more contagious in that for each person they will on average give covid to four other people. The exponential growth, or in this case the spread of covid looks like this:

1 (4^0) 4 (4^1) 16 (4^2) 64 (4^3) 256 (4^4) 1024 (4^5) . . . 16,777,216 (4^12) . . . 4^n

It is easy to see that when it comes to exponential growth the numbers get big in a hurry, and it is important to note that the Delta virus has a much better chance of survival since it is infecting many more people in a shorter amount of time. Because viruses replicate so quickly they give us an opportunity to watch mutations and natural selection in action. The Delta virus is a classical example of "the survival of the fittest". Of greatest importance is the fact that given enough time mutations and natural selection will produce even more contagious, vaccine resistant, and deadly new variants. Then we go back to ground zero.

Also of great importance is the mathematics of mask wearing and it is pure probability. Lets take the case of N-95 masks and to make the math simpler lets assume they are 90% effective. This means that a person wearing this mask has a 10% chance of getting covod from someone, or a 10% chance of giving it to someone else. The person has a one in ten (1/10) chance of getting or giving covid. But, what are the odds if other people encountered are also wearing a mask that is 90% effective? You take the odds of each and multiply them:

1/10 X 1/10 = 1/100. So if everyone is wearing a mask then the chance of getting or giving covid is 1/100 or a 1% chance.

Suppose the masks are 80% effective or a 20% (2/10) chance of getting or giving covid. If every one wears a mask the chances are 4/100 or 4% chance. It is easy to see that masks work well if everyone wears them.

The math of vaccines is even more definitive. Like any other drug there are some side effects to the vaccine. After both of my Moderna shots I ran a fever and was a little weak. But, after millions of Pfiser and Moderna shots no one has died. One person has died frpm the Johnson and J shot. Meanwhile, over 600,000 people have died from the virus in the United States alone. Which risk do you want to take here?

Vaccination will protect the individual but, has another purpose of greater importance based on the premise that the pathogen will have trouble spreading when a significant part of the population has immunity. This is called "herd immunity" and theoretically happens when about 70% of the population is immune. However, this percentage depends on how contagious the disease is. It would have been easier to reach herd immunity with the alpha virus then with the Delta variant. Also complicating things is the fact that vaccinated people can still get and spread the delta virus. In any case, the anti-vaxers are putting us all in greater danger, and especially a large group of unvaccinated children.

Remember that covid has presented us with the opportunity to watch natural selection at work. It is thinning out the human population by killing the old, the weak, and the cognitively deficient. Unvaccinated people are offering themselves as a willing host to what could be a mutated variant that is vaccine resistant and more deadly. The result could be millions of deaths more. Hardly a Christian thing to do.

Don Cruser

Little River 

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This is an appeal to help us all with the loud, louder, loudest cars that now go up and down our street all day and night. We used to love our home; where we live is close to shopping, a park and a hospital. We have great neighbors and bought our home in 1997 thinking it would be our forever home. Now we spend time looking at homes in states with quieter places to live due to the stress of living anywhere in Santa Rosa.

A police officer told us there are so few of them they are unable to take the time it takes to write noisy car tickets and that there are only five officers assigned to traffic enforcement for all of Santa Rosa.

That is crazy and not at all the officers’ fault. We support local law enforcement. We are grateful for the difficult tasks they handle. We know they aren’t responsible for the incredible lack of traffic enforcement officers needed to maintain law and order with regards to the insane flow and extremely loud cars with modified exhaust systems that nobody seems inclined to do anything about.

Laurie Seale

Santa Rosa

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After long study, we should simply change Fort Bragg to Mendoza. Keep Noyo its own name. We can deal with other changes. I’m in favor of keeping Fort Bragg “Unified” High School and Greenwood Middle School. Then maybe change the local newspaper name from Fort Bragg Advocate to Greenwood Times. And so on from there.

David C. Giusti

Fort Bragg

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Forest “Demonstrators” have an element of selfish elitism generally associated with the filthy rich.

In an area with thousands of acres of State Parks Forests these folks (mostly pale people like myself) have not participated in the public comment component of the project but after the fact done their utmost to stop projects.

Our area has a wealth of public forests dedicated to recreation. Stopping approved projects which took years of planning is self-serving. Unsaid is our Forest Global Imperialism will involve importing forest products from other areas.

People come to the Coast to cool off and have fun and the argument that preservation of the State Forest will provide economic benefits is specious…ask the good people of the economic powerhouse that is Orick California…home to Redwood National Park.

Most of the men who work in the woods are Spanish Speaking Men who are paid a living wage for arduous seasonal work in the woods. These men are hard workers and good citizens. Timber Harvest keeps men working in manufacturing in Fort Bragg, Willits, Ukiah and Cloverdale.

Is including the JDSF and Cal Fire people and having a civilized conversation a reasonable position? 

Tom Kisliuk


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I think that carpool lanes should be eliminated. First, is there any factual documentation that they actually serve the intended purpose — namely to reduce the number of vehicles on the road by encouraging carpooling? The impact can hardly be significant.

Second, by my observation, it seems like more than 50% of vehicles illegally have only one occupant. Enforcement is infrequent, and risk of apprehension is extremely low. Why else risk a $271 fine?

Third, restricting the use of an entire lane during the heaviest traffic periods adds to congestion of the remaining lanes. As all drivers know, the number of available lanes has a marked impact on the flow of traffic. Increased congestion in remaining lanes increases fuel consumption and air pollution and incentivizes illegal use of carpool lanes.

So, if carpool lanes don’t reduce the number of vehicles on the road, increase congestion for other drivers and aren’t enforced effectively, why have them? A more practical alternative, which already exists in some high-density areas, is express toll lanes, which are enforced by cameras. This creates revenue and eliminates cheating.

If you agree, let Caltrans know.

Leland Davis

Santa Rosa

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We all know how commonly PG&E’s lack of sufficient annual maintenance to its equipment has played a role in wildfires. It would be interesting to see The Press Democrat do some investigative reporting on why the costs of increased maintenance and vigilance that should have happened as part of PG&E’s daily priorities for many years have to continually be paid by their innocent customers instead of from shareholder profit and reserves.

It seems that senior management’s focus has been on shareholders, not the communities PG&E is supposed to serve. We just got a notice of yet another possible increase in our bills of over 18%. It’s understandable that their deliberate negligence has cost them mountains of cash.

Veronica Reed


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After the United States atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima, Shinoe Shada began to write tankapoetry in order to never forget the attack. Since the US Occupation censored work such as hers, Shada had a Hiroshima prison guard mimeograph 150 copies of this book, which she then hand delivered to survivors of the blast. Amongst those poems is this short, piece of brilliance:

Since so many small skulls

are gathered here,

these large bones

must be the teacher’s.

Frank Scott

San Francisco

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Letter to the Editor:

The pandemic is spreading again, the climate crisis is worse than we expected, and our democracy is under attack. All three crises are exacerbated by Republicans. 

Trump and his Fox Lies mouthpiece said Covid was a hoax, don’t get vaccinated. 600k Americans have died, and today’s big surges are mostly in — Surprise! — red states. 

Likewise, the GOP has long denied that their funders’ fossil fuels cause global heating, despite steadily increasing temperatures, wildfires, flooding and droughts. Yet they still stymie efforts to reduce carbon emissions and relieve those most affected. 

Thirdly, most Republicans support Trump’s Big Lie that he won the election and are working to increase voting restrictions, gerrymandering and dark money funding of elections. 

A party with this terrible record, that relies on divisive culture wars and hot-button issue and doesn't have a program to better Americans, is a disgrace and deserves an indecent burial. 

Tom Wodetzki


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To the Editor:

I have been hesitant to speak on the new cannabis ordinance because of how it’s been portrayed by referendum proponents, but I feel an issue this important for our community merits thoughtful discussion.

It’s ok for community members to come down on both sides of this issue and it’s ok if you signed the petition with the best of intentions but, didn’t realize the impacts a referendum would have. You can contact the County Clerk if you would like to remove your signature.

For those of us who hold a vision of environmental stewardship and sustainable economic development for Mendocino County, the referendum is unfortunately not the path that it promises to be. While claiming to protect the environment, it would actually remove all environmental protections and limits to activities like water hauling and illegal diversions.

A referendum would effectively shut down the legal cannabis industry and set back our economy several years in terms of developing new tourism opportunities which celebrate our local legacy farms. The new ordinance offers a path forward for licensed farms which will allow them to build out the Mendocino brand and build on our rich heritage of local agriculture to share with the world. This agriculture heritage and the Mendocino Cannabis brand directly support our tourism economy. Visitors are traveling for cannabis, exploring, learning and engaging with communities and tend to stay longer as visitors, spending more during their stays.

Travis Scott, 

Executive Director Visit Mendocino County

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In the early 1970s while attending San Jose State University one of my professors talked about the fact that California is for all intents and purposes with little rainfall other than in the northern part of the state. In the 1970s there was already talk of droughts, but yet we have done very little to prepare for the future. While I am not a great believer in filling up land with water for reservoirs, our population continues to grow with little long range planning taking place for water needs. Solutions: reservoirs, water percolation ponds to keep the water table up, and desalination plants.

We are now seeing the shortsightedness of this inaction. We need to start planning now for the near future. We have clean water, as Healdsburg has demonstrated, to create short term reactions in the near future. What about the rest of the county, or for that matter the state? Are our heads going to be hidden in the sand like an ostrich? I hope not.

Our water crisis is somewhat like COVID... we need a vaccination of common sense to survive.

Francisco Alves


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A comparison of COVID-19 death rates in California against other states that chose to not shut down their economies such as in Georgia and Florida reveals that there are several thousand Californians who are alive today as a result of Gov. Gavin Newsom and his staff’s actions taken to manage this crisis over the past 17 months.

If only we knew who those thousands of people who are alive today are, I am sure they would vote to not recall Newsom for his actions in managing this ongoing crisis.

Paul Hough

San Rafael

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Yes to the Newom recall.

Of course Gavin Newsom will survive the recall. Of course there are bad faith actors pushing it. But I will be voting in favor for an unusual reason, something that has fallen off our political radar. When pushing Prop 64 Newsom promised small emerald triangle growers that no large farms over one acre would be allowed for five years, The idea was this time would allow small growers to establish collectives and establish a market niche, or transition out of the business. 

Newsom lied. 

In Salinas and Santa Barbara County we have farms up to 40 acres, and the price is plummeting. Mom and Pop growers who supported our communities and economies for decades are finding themselves pushed aside by Gavin’s broken promise. Mr. Newsom has been very toxic to our North Coast community, and although my vote is completely symbolic, I will be adding it to the recall effort. 

Chris Skyhawk

Fort Bragg

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Point of fact is that there is no such thing as a “symbolic” vote. Votes are real. They add up. In any viable democracy they count. They matter. The right to vote has been hard-earned and not to be frivolously frittered away.

Prop 64 passed in 2016. Five years have passed. The County of Mendocino so botched the permitting process to get Mom&Pops legal, we’re now facing a referendum which, if adopted, will jettison all the long hard rehabilitative work that has gone into trying to straighten out the train wreck our County’s initial permitting process was/is. Is this progress?

Finally, Governor Newsom does not — never has — directly administered the implementation of Prop 64. All he (ever) did was sign off on the implementing legislation (if that) and left it (rightly) to the appropriate agencies to run.

Gawd, how greatly our country, state and county would benefit from mandatory courses in government and civics… Such education might (?) help shed real light on the continuing malfunctioning of our own county’s government.

I’m just too old and cranky to waste time on “symbolic” acts. I want real ones.

Vote NO on the Recall.

Vote NO on the Referendum.

Now, as for coastal water…

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On August 3, the USGS flow gauge reported flow on the drought stricken South Fork Gualala River near Sea Ranch dipping below a quarter of a cubic foot per second. The median or normal flow for this time of year is around 3 cubic feet per second.

The normally aquatic bed of the lagoon below Highway 1 was mostly drained and exposed by the end of July. The last shallow aquatic habitat around Mill Bend is concentrating native aquatic plants and algae that normally shelter juvenile steelhead and stickleback, stranding them in dense mats.

In 2015, in the third year of the last historic extreme drought I wrote a letter to the editor asking, “Does the Gualala River have 25,000 gallons per day to spare in addition to ongoing diversions during yet another historic critical drought year?” That question was a reference to the water drafting proposed for dust control on logging roads of the then new "Dogwood" Timber Harvest Plan.

The Dogwood THP has been approved by all state resource agencies along with numerous other THPs that propose water drafting from the river to keep down the dust that is kicked up by logging truck traffic. The approvals are based on assurances by timber company consultants that pumping 25,000 gallons a day (3,350 cubic feet) in itself would have “no effect on downstream flow” based on analysis from pre-drought 2010 conditions.

Again in 2021 there is no cumulative impact analysis of water drafting in all logging plans adjusted for drought conditions. No change in conditions for approval. Business as usual.

Gualala and Sea Ranch and Gualala Redwood Timber divert water from the same river — regardless of whether it is from below or above the gravel bed. The river and estuary are collapsing from business as usual during another extreme drought.

Peter Baye


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To the Editor

I was so inspired by the letter to BOS of Mendocino County, from the San Hedrin Chapter of the California Native Plant Society, stating, not to expand cannabis growing.

I grew up in a time of plentiful water, in this county. Hiking every weekend and anywhere, was safe to do so. Tourist flocked here for fishing and camping, in Lake & Mendocino counties. Hunters kept herds, from starving and most respected the ways of honorable hunting practices. Sacred practices.

But now there is a disrespectful use of watershed diversion. There is a disrespectful abandonment of animals, closing off access of water and lands. There are no trespassing signs, with fences and guns. The fines do not deter abusers, from the damage to the environment, already done. A fine, after the fact, does not protect the environment at all. When will we learn.

Looking at a Redwood Grove, on a screen saver, is not the same as being in one, in person. Or living near one. Watching salmon spawn and tide pools grow generations of fish, cannot be replaced by books and photos, even art, of what used to be?

The next generation, deserves the preservation, of our counties natural beauty. Yes. The drought is a big part. But why are we making things worse, with the precious nature that’s left? The next generation, needs us to protect, nurture and care, about the healthy mountain areas that are left, after drought and fires. Please, become one of Natures Guardians. Find healthy alternatives to earn money. Inspiration and imagination, can provide revenues. And let’s be the change. For the future of the children. Let’s stop promoting body and wilderness abuse.

Because as nature goes, so shall we.

Catherine Lair


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I urge all voters to participate in the recall of Gavin Newsom. This includes voting yes or no for the recall and voting for a candidate. Even if you vote no, please find a suitable candidate and vote. Right now, it looks like the most enthusiastic voters are conservatives. If you disagree with the Republican platform, vote for a candidate that is more suitable. There are 46 candidates running and good sources of information about them are their webpages. Sources of candidate information include, maintained by the nonpartisan League of Women Voters, and, which includes links to the candidates’ websites.

Unfortunately, the anti-recall ads do not include the fact that there are two parts to this election, the recall and choosing a candidate. If the recall wins, the candidate with the most votes wins even if it is not a majority of the votes. So, remember to choose and vote for a candidate.

Linda Robinett


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Will Larry Elder, ultraconservative talk show host, participate in debates with other Republican gubernatorial candidates? Of course not. Why? He and his handlers want to rely on his name recognition and don’t want blue state, progressive, California voters to know how completely unfit he would be for California leadership.

Despite the need for vaccine mandates and mask mandates to stop the rampaging delta variant, and reduce probabilities for even more lethal mutations, Elder is avidly opposed, tweeting in all caps: “One has a right not to wear a mask.”

He also contends that “If I win, you won’t be forced by the state to get a vaccination.” Apparently he’s unaware of laws that already exist for the responsible protection of everyone, like helmets for motorcycle riders or the seatbelt requirement or that your 5-year old can’t start kindergarten unless she’s had required shots.

He argues that “racism isn’t a problem,” wants to get rid of all gun regulations, eliminate the IRS and get rid of welfare (at least “social’ welfare.” He seems to be OK with “corporate” welfare, which is several orders of magnitude greater).

Where do conservatives even find these guys?

Larry Lack


One Comment

  1. Pat Kittle August 13, 2021

    Francisco Alvez says:
    “While I am not a great believer in filling up land with water for reservoirs, our population continues to grow with little long range planning taking place for water needs. Solutions: reservoirs…”

    So — when the land is reluctantly “filled with reservoirs” — and the “population continues to grow, ” THEN WHAT??

    Stopping population growth is actually “long range planning” that doesn’t rely on silly already-discredited techno-fixes that merely postpone & worsen the inevitable.

    If you hate me for stating an irrefutable FACT, simply call me horrible names and demand that the editor ban me.

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