Press "Enter" to skip to content

Letters To The Editor



Many years back FAIR, Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting, did a survey of people who relied on Fox News for an understanding of world affairs. Not at all surprising, they found that the Fox fans knew less than people like myself who watch no TV news.

Don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows. — Bob Dylan

In a disturbing turn of mood after dinner with friends last night, I was informed that I knew nothing about the nuclear disaster in Japan heading our way, that I was talking shit for calling Obama another mad-bombing mass-murdering criminal and for saying that I think NASA landing on the moon and all was a colossal waste of money on space stuff which is totally useless in terms of improving life on Earth. Useful for sure as a huge distraction for techno-slaves and futuristic escapist phantasy types. The deciding factor underlying my apparent ignorance and blasphemous irreverence was my nonparticipation in the TV and Internet cults.

You pay for this but they may give you that and once you're gone you can't come back when you're out of the blue and into the black -- Neil Young

My brother just returned from a wedding in Manhattan. He told me a story of he, his wife and her brother and wife and a few others trying to find the Frick Museum. He, like me, doesn't own a smart phone. He, like me, knows the directions of the compass. While many of the others in this group were stumbling around touching their phones, he continued walking, having faith in the grid layout with its obvious names and numbers to guide. As the handheld wonder toys led to increasing head down confusion, he informed them that he understood the grid layout and was on his way, and of course he led them on even having — heaven forbid — to talk to a cabbie once to gain a vital detail. He said that most people on the sidewalks were in fact disembodied gadget slaves bumping along in their little cyber bubbles. Paints a disturbing picture, does it not? Blind cyber drones bumping along in a microwave maze? Some future.

That false secondary power by which in weakness we multiply distinctions then deem our puny boundaries are things that we perceive and not that we have made. — W. Wordsworth

In this climate of gizmo worship and infotainment saturation one who is not a gullible hoodwinked lemming is for all practical purposes a traitor. The length that educated, intelligent and creative people will go to discount print media, poetics, history and intuition are heroic if not outright insane.

What goes around comes around. Hiroshima. Nagasaki. Fukushima. Like I need CNN to tell me the obvious. It's 10,000 times worse than they said. That all heads of all states are liars and fools. That all CEOs of giant utility companies are liars and assholes and fools.

I am mocked because I gather news from the mighty little newspaper from folkways, from KMUD, and from paying attention and having a memory. So be it. There is being informed and there is being deformed. I also read Counterpunch when a computer is handy.

We were talking about the space between us all and the people who pride themselves behind a wall of illusion and never glimpse the truth. — George Harrison

I've lost many friends to the home invasions of the TV where that toxic waste gate from profit hell is allowed, always too loud, to dominate a so-called living room. Then you have a homeless house that I'm not welcome in. Once the home is removed from the house, social space is then filled with all the ghouls of mental illness that lockstep consumer culture relies on and pop culture incubates.

"Well, the moral of this story, the moral of this song, is simply that one should never be where one does not belong. So when you see your neighbor carrying something help him with his load and don't go mistaking paradise for that home across the road. — Bob Dylan

Maybe the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation should start an organization to save human intelligence and meaningful work from the wilds of virtual reality! Maybe the Sierra Club could put civility on the endangered species list and stop paying their heads so much in order to fund it! Maybe the Nobel Prize committee should reward citizens who have fought off the mind managers tooth and nail for being the warriors that we are — protecting the gene pool from Mediocrity Inc.!

Sooner or later it all gets real, walk on, walk on, walk on. — Neil Young

In the same way that religion has no place in public life, television has no place in a living room or social space. Ditto for all these self-aggrandizing devices that are now delivering the final blows to an uncivil society already reeling from addiction to the antisocial drugs of the car and TV cults.

Enough already, and best of luck!

Marvin Blake




Dear Editor,

Is US Violating International Norms?

President Obama is asking us to support a military attack against Syria because he believes the Syrian government has violated an “international norm” against using chemical weapons.

The United States military is poisoning huge regions of the world by using uranium munitions (depleted uranium), creating tons of breathable uranium oxides, toxic and mutagenic for the life of Earth. Does this horrible, unacknowledged war crime justify a military attack against the United States?

Attacking Syria without the backing of the United Nations would violate both international norms and international law, justifying a counter-attack by Syria and its allies. Though the Syrian government has limited powers to retaliate, their Russian ally is moving warships into the Mediterranean, and has a sophisticated arsenal including high-altitude nuclear electromagnetic pulse weapons which could shut down our whole electronic civilization in a hot second.

I hope if enough of us speak out against any military attack on Syria, our nation may move away from making wars and toward dealing with our real problems, including cleaning up toxic uranium oxides.

John Lewallen






I always enjoy the travelogues of Denis Rouse and Bruce Patterson. Sometimes I have to pull the trunk of maps out from under the bed to follow their routes. Forty years ago I read that the Forest Service was going to start charging 50¢ for visitors' maps, so I sent notes to every forest west of Denver, asking for a free map while they were still free. Half of them sent me maps and when I rode a bicycle across the country 35 years ago some of them came in handy. It was a good idea to have two maps of each area because maps tend to be unreliable if not downright full of lies and being misdirected on a bicycle was more trouble than when driving a motor vehicle.

Anyway I had to get the maps out to look at Patterson's route up in N.E. Oregon. The interesting part for me was when he got up to the Pine Creek divide and took a spur east to a big view of Hells Canyon, the alleged and supposed Deepest Canyon in North America. According to the Forest Service maps, and again, maps do tend to be mistaken, the elevation from which Patterson viewed the canyon is about 4700 feet. If true, this means that Hells Canyon is so prodigiously deep that it is more than half underwater. Such a tremendous depth, in fact, that its bottom may have never been properly located, and may actually reach the mantle if not the True Gates of Hell itself!

Now, it's not my purpose to quibble with Mr. Patterson or the Forest Service over trifling errors of thousands of feet. Acute study of the maps with a magnifying glass reveals that Hells Canyon may actually be almost 8000 feet deep if measured from the highest elevation of the Seven Devils area just east of the Snake in Idaho. And I am sure we can all sympathize with the local Chambers of Commerce, a long way from the Big Money, with only a giant hole in the ground to distract from the scenery of universally distributed cowflop. If I were one of these gentlemen I would claim that the canyon was 10,000 or 15,000 feet deep, anything to lure the tourist dollar! So for my money Hells Canyon damn well better be the deepest canyon in the country, given what it costs to get there. But I wish instead to draw your attention to more local topographic wonders, all equal to or better than anything along the Snake, and you don't even have to leave the Golden State.

Many people have stood atop Mt. Whitney. To the east, it's 11,000 feet down to the village of Independence. To the west, the magnificent 150 square mile bowl of the Kern headwaters, bounded by a ring of 14,000 foot mountains, falls 7,000 feet in 6 miles from the summit to Junction Meadow at the head of the upper gorge of the river. This is a view I cannot get tired of.

Much lesser known is Spanish Mountain, the southern peak of the LeConte Divide that separates the North Fork of the Kings from the Middle Fork. The only rational approach to this easily climbed 10,000 foot dome is from the north. Iron Men can probably run up and down in a day but I took several, camping at lakes at the foot of the grade and at a tiny pair halfway up. Spanish Mountain stands out by itself well west of the Sierra crest and has a colossal 360 degree view of the Sierra, the Valley, and the distant Coast Ranges. It is about 8,000 feet, pretty much straight down, from the summit to the Forks of the Kings. The giant lower canyon of the Kings spreads out east and west. Be sure to tank up at Twin Lakes or prepare to filter marmot crap out of rainfilled holes in the summit rocks, if it's rained.

If you are a bicyclist, consider the Cerro Noroeste-Mariposa grade in Ventura and Kern counties. Cerro Noroeste, or Mt. Abel, is the northwesternmost high mountain in the Transverse Ranges at nearly 8400 feet. The road is paved to a dry camp in a forest of Jeffrey pines. The view to the east is of the San Andreas fault cutting a trench along the axis of the chain from Tejon Pass, and to the west are the rugged headwaters of the Cuyama River. It's about an 8,000 foot drop from the summit down Cerro Noroeste Road to State 33 to Maricopa down in the ass end of the San Joaquin Valley, with a few short uphills including where the fault line creates a double summit at the pass near Soda Lake Road. That's an 8,000 foot drop in 40 miles!

Finally, go climb Cone Peak in the Santa Lucia Range south of Big Sur. The tiny marble and limestone summit is 5,155 feet directly above Limekiln Beach, three miles downhill. Cone Peak is the highest mountain on the immediate coast in North America, south of the Olympic Peninsula, and has a view to match. Take State 1 south to Kirk Creek camp, go left on the Nacimiento-Fergusson Road to the pass, go left on the dirt and rock North Coast Ridge Road to the trailhead a half-mile short of the dead end at the Ventana Wilderness boundary.

Have fun, and never tell anyone about your favorite places or you'll probably regret it.

Yours, Jay Williamson

Santa Rosa



Letter to KZYX Requesting Policies

From: Dennis OBrien

TO: Board of Directors, Mendocino County Public


September 3, 2013

P.O. Box 1, Philo, CA 95466

Re: Request for MCPB/KZYX Policies and Procedures

Members of the Board:

Article VI of the bylaws of Mendocino County Public Broadcasting states, in part, that:

“The Board shall develop and maintain written such policies and procedures as the Board deems necessary. A copy of these

policies shall be available to any Member upon request.”

I am currently a member in good standing. Please send me a copy of all of the policies and procedures of Mendocino County Public Broadcasting and its radio station, KZYX.

Please include the board of directors’ decision-making policies and procedures.

You do not need to provide anything that is already on the website. In order to avoid the expense of copying and mailing, I am willing to accept electronic copies sent via email to

Thank you very much for your timely compliance with this request.


Dennis O’Brien




Dear Editor:

In all the discussions about a proposed military strike against Syria I have heard very little about collateral damage. Collateral damage is the term used by the military to describe the deaths of innocent people killed during a military action. Without a doubt some if not most potential targets will be located where civilians live and work and there will be collateral damage. The question is what level of collateral damage is acceptable if we go ahead with a miltary strike? Is President Obama willing to accept say 500 or 1, 000 or 2,000 dead innocent men, women and children? It is a question that the President needs to answer but undoubtedly will not answer.

In peace,

James G. Updegraff




Dearest Editor:

Why do people allow their pooches to poop, in public, and then don't pick it up?


Fort Bragg

Ed reply: Because they're slobs, and we've become a nation of slobs. Feel free, ladies and germs, to ask Mr. Wizard any old question vexing you.




It all started this past spring when the Anderson Valley Farm Supply, under new ownership by Robyn and Anne-Marie Bird, invited the community to their First Annual Vendor-Customer Appreciation Day. Among other activities, they held a raffle with a number of items to raise money for the Anderson Valley Animal Rescue. One winner, David Severn, went home with a brand new weed whacker. However, he knew there was a perfectly running weed whacker in his tool shed. In David's usual way, he thought of how to carry on the generosity. At this point David called me with a proposition to re-raffle the item with all the ticket sales to be donated to Lady Rainbow Hill, who's husband died this April.

I was honored to help, as was Burt Cohen, owner of Boontberry, who allowed the raffle to take place and kept a safe eye on the weed whacker throughout the process. It took the summer to sell off all the tickets, and on one balmy evening I received a call from Justin informing me, “I just bought the last ticket, let me know when I can pick up my new weed whacker.” Sadly, his name was not the one drawn the next week by David Severn. The winning ticket, witnessed by Glad, Marvel, and John Donahue, was Dennis McSweeney of Navarro; owner (along with his wife, Leslie Osman) of the lovely bed and breakfast, the Navarro Mill House.

That's the short version of the story. The long version is you. All of you who put in the donation of time or money, or spiritual goodwill to volunteer for an organization, or to raise a family, or care for a friend in need — for anyone, ever, in any capacity.

Thank You.

Taunia Green




Dear AVA -

A belated thank you from the Hendy Woods Community to the Anderson Valley Brewing Company for their generous donation to us after Boonville Beer Festival 2013. This, of course, would not have happened without the cheerful participation of volunteers Bill Meyer, Vicki Moss, Mark Moss, Nico Milojevich, and George Castagnola, ably coordinated by HWC Treasurer Kate Castagnola. We will be engaged at Hendy Woods for the foreseeable future and fund raising efforts such as the Beer Fest are vital. Thanks so much to all who help us!

Best regards,

Kathy Bailey




To the Editor:

Wow. The headlines in the Ukiah Daily Journal of August 9 informed us that UVMC was laying off six employees because of “The Affordable Care Act” due to take place in October (a needed scapegoat).

Now I'm sure eliminating six low paying jobs really saved UVMC a bundle. I reread the article to see if I'd missed a sentence saying the head honchoes in Roseville had taken a pay cut to help the financial situation. Nope. No such information was found.

Adventist surely knew when they wanted to be the only hospital in town; that Ukiah is basically a Medical/Medicare town.

On an added note, today there was also a letter to the editor, explaining the use of hospitalists. It noted that they are not employees of the hospital, but rather work for an outside company and that this company does not take Blue Cross. In light of this people who are seen in the Emergency Room, or admitted to the hospital and are seen by these hospitalists, are going to be stuck for their bill. Check it out before you check in.

Donna Van Wafu





This great nation of ours has since World War II got into the habit of telling nations what kind of government they should have. It started with Korea which was purely a civil war. We had an obsession with communism which nobody seems to know exactly what that means then or now. Nevertheless it was nobody’s business other than the Korean people’s.

Also, we started tearing apart our Constitution when President Truman called the Korean conflict a police action and Congress never declared it a war. The men who wrote the Constitution never meant for one man to have such power, knowing from history it leads to dictatorship.

Then we had to get our nose in Vietnam with the same baloney. Again it was a civil war and nobody’s business besides the Vietnamese people. Then we spent over a decade in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with no success in what nobody seems to know what we were trying to achieve.

Lately we have again put our nose in none of our business. We have upset the whole Middle East. We got into the Iraq mess by believing our leaders that there were weapons of mass destruction — most nations have weapons of mass destruction — and that they had killed hundreds of their own people with these weapons and that Iraq was going to use them on us. We ended up killing, by some estimates, 100,000 Iraqi people and thousands of US military and civilian workers.

Boy are we great peacemakers.

In the Constitution the president was never to start a war or to make law. He was only to enforce the laws Congress makes. Now our President wants to attack Syria with the claim that the Syrian government used poison gas. First of all, we know from recent experience that our leaders are terrible liars. Why would Syrian President Assad use poison gas? He has the upper hand and the support of Russia, Iran and others. And certainly he doesn’t want to draw the US into this conflict. On the other hand, the rebels would certainly like to get the United States involved on their side which is more logical.

Answer: Stay out of it. We had our civil war some 150 years ago.

Emil Rossi




Dear Editor,

Here is another suggestion for an Alexander Cockburn column to rerun. After the fall of the Soviet Union Alex wrote a memorable column pointing out how without the threat of Russian intervention there would be no restraint on the United States in its global exercise of military power. Truer words were never written as proven by the way the US has been militarily running amok for the last 15 years. It would seem that reviving the column is very timely what with Putin hopefully restraining US from going on a bombing campaign in Syria.

One other suggestion: You used to run an occasional column by Nicolas Von Hoffman. I became a true fan of his during my tenure in Chicago and felt his insights enhanced your paper. Somewhere around here I still have a copy of his hilarious commentary about our young people doing “the grind.” Bring Nicolas back.

Thanks for all your good work.

Don Cruser


Ed note: We'll find that one of Cockburn's. Reading back through his stuff, it's striking how prescient, how correct he was about things. Ditto for Von Hoffman. Other than a handful of fiction writers, there isn't anybody I look forward to reading anymore. The giants are gone.

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *