Regarding your article about ghosts in your offices ("Ghoul, interrupted," Cover story, Nov. 30): No conclusive evidence of the existence of anything supernatural or spiritual has ever been found by anyone studying the question from a serious scientific viewpoint.
Magician and skeptic James Randi has for years had a standing offer of $1 million to anyone who can prove that the paranormal or supernatural exists. No one has come forward to claim it. What scientists do know is that the human mind is extremely complex and subject to a huge variety of delusions, misunderstandings and misinterpretations of sensory data, all of which is, of course, filtered through the brain and can be altered or reinterpreted by the unconscious mind before it becomes an item of conscious awareness.
For those who still insist that inexplicable things are happening outside their own minds, we skeptics prefer the assumption that, sooner or later, all such occurrences will be explained by science, once our understanding of physics has advanced far enough. This universe is complex and mysterious enough; let's not clutter it up with ghosts and gods and fairies that are all, very evidently, simple products of our fertile imagination.
Calling for help
Dear School District 11 residents:
Please mail in your ballots to recall reactionary board members Eric Christen and Sandy Shakes, and vote for Janet Tanner and Charlie Bobbitt as their replacements on the school board.
I would encourage all of my moderate and progressive friends, whether they are Republicans, independents or Democrats, to work for the recall. The forces who want to defeat the recall have just come off a win with the election of Doug Lamborn to the 5th Congressional District. They believe that an active minority can drive the agenda, especially while they have power.
We need to win this recall election so that we can mobilize our El Paso County resources to defeat Douglas Bruce when he comes up for re-election. If you have questions or can help, contact "Citizens for Quality Public Education," P.O. Box 722, Colorado Springs, CO 80901-0722.
Also, congratulations to Governor-elect Bill Ritter for picking Manitou Springs Mayor Marcy Morrison to be on his transition team. It was a wise choice.
Thirsty in the rain
Loss of habitat is the biggest threat to wildlife and hunting today, and hunters understand that habitat means wild, rugged country not overrun with roads, trails and OHVs. That's what we have in Colorado's Browns Canyon. However, clever opponents of wilderness and roadless lands protection, like Chris Cox, executive director of the NRA Institute for Legislative Action, argue that roads provide hunters with more opportunity.
They say that new roads provide easy access to areas that are otherwise too hard to get to. Today, only 8 percent of the national forest acreage in Colorado lies beyond one mile of a road (and only 4 percent for Bureau of Land Management lands). So, the truth of the matter is that we already have good access, but no matter how much access there is, some people will still complain. Driven by dissatisfaction, they are thirsty in the rain.
Besides, top-of-the-line OHV models can outpace sticker prices for many standard passenger cars. Hiking boots are cheap. Most hunters rely on "sweat equity," not OHVs. That's tradition. That's how it should be, how it should remain. According to NRA life member Chas S. Clifton, "Although I am 55 years old, I am not so feeble as to require motorized access everywhere I go hunting ... Colorado has plenty of heavily roaded public lands for those who do."
For the record, I own lots of guns; I've hunted most of my life, and I believe the Second Amendment is one of our vital basic freedoms. I was also an NRA member, but left the flock when they began regularly supporting politicians making the "Dirty Dozen" lists. While the NRA leadership may support guns, it does not apparently support hunters and hunting. If it did, they would be supporting Rep. Hefley and Sen. Allard's Browns Canyon Wilderness bill.
As the NRA's Cox says, "Anyone who argues differently doesn't have their facts straight."
David A. Lien, Front Range director,
Colorado Backcountry Hunters and Anglers
The city of Colorado Springs has gone through an interesting few weeks with the recent Ted Haggard fiasco. I am a left-leaner who has recently been transplanted to Colorado Springs and subsequently much out-numbered in a northeast neighborhood of our city. After living here for a year and a half, one thing has come through loud and clear: Most of this city does not appreciate diversity.
The evangelical right is so completely against/afraid of "gays" that it will drum a beloved leader out of the church for admitting to strong attractions to men. Pastor Ted has stated that he has struggled with this personal war his entire adult life. Shouldn't that clue people into that maybe, just maybe, being gay isn't a choice? If it were a choice, I'm pretty sure that the head of the evangelical movement would not have picked it.
Isn't it amazing that the folks who preach the Bible to anyone who will listen (sometimes amid obvious discomfort) are the first ones to condemn? It is the highest form of hypocrisy.
I don't believe that gay people marrying will ruin the "institution" of marriage. How could someone else, someone you don't even know, ruin your marriage? I do not feel the need to share my beliefs with everyone I meet on the street. I don't think my children will burn in Hell for not going to church, or for listening to a certain radio station. And, I also do not believe that a "red devil" made Ted Haggard turn toward the dark side. He is gay, folks ... not evil.
It is estimated that 10 percent of our population is gay. If that is the case, it is more than likely that you are going to know someone who is gay. What Pastor Ted did do that was shameful was preaching one thing and living another.
Big, dirty steam
The first-phase plan to redevelop southwest downtown Colorado Springs is pretty darn exciting. I like the vision City Council has in mind, but here's a big "but": I don't see anything about removing that God-awful power plant that sits next door to America the Beautiful Park.
It's the first thing you see whether you come in from the north or the south. Big, dirty steam rising into the air, piles of coal waiting to be shoveled, pipes and pulleys, tracks and conveyors, soot ... it's downright ugly. There's no better way to say it.
I'm power-dependent just like most of us, but can't we move it somewhere downstream? Maybe there's a parcel in the Broadmoor area. Our vision won't clear until we do.
Down on lockdown
Imagine having the bus drop you off at a homeless shelter. The only money you have is in the form of a check in the amount of $100, which is going to be a problem to cash because you do not have a valid ID. The only clothes you own are what you have on. You need to get a job but there is a long gap in your job history to explain and you have no transportation.
How many of you think you would be able to overcome your situation well enough to become a law abiding, taxpaying citizen?
Unless a former inmate has family or friends to take him in, this scenario is what they face when they are released from prison with or without parole. Is it any wonder that 65 percent of them will be back in prison within three years?
The Colorado Department of Corrections budget for 2006 was around $644 million. It is in a budget crisis because it cannot keep up with the prison growth. It costs close to $83,000 per bed to build a prison and an additional $28,000 a year to house an inmate.
We are currently sending 100 people to prison a month. In Colorado there are currently around 21,000 inmates. This is expected to reach 28,000 by 2011.
Due to budget cuts, there are no meaningful programs for rehabilitation while in prison and none when inmates get out. Unless we as citizens wake up and start pushing our legislators to enact more pre-release and re-entry programs for these former inmates, our safety and security does not look bright. We will keep paying and paying and paying in tax dollars to put these same inmates back in prison after they have committed other crimes.
The strategy of giving longer sentences and cutting rehabilitation programs in prisons, as a way to deter crime, has not worked. We need to find better solutions and alternatives to crime besides prison.