Smut or Not?
In the December issue you published a letter from a person critical of the contents of "Desert Diary." We read your paper every month and find the items in Desert Diary to be funny and uplifting. Some may be a bit risque, but all are tame in comparison to shows on TV and the content of most movies. Please keep including Desert Diary in your paper.
There are many articles of interest in Desert Exposure and we make certain that we obtain each month's issue. In the current issue, we found that the article by Jeff Berg ("Flexing the Faith Muscle") was particularly interesting. The daily paper and the other monthly publications do not bring us the quality of articles as we find in Desert Exposure. In brief, we enjoy Desert Exposure. Thank you for the efforts you put forth to bring us such interesting stories.
Ron and Vi Cauthon
I just read Roger Lanse's letter and I totally agree. I am tired of jokes or other offensive words in print. (Bad enough it's on TV, billboards, etc.) I feel that this material is in very poor taste. I wonder what the person's parents would think of their offspring's way of expressing themselves on paper for the world to see!
I'm a 61-year-old grandmother who is raising a grandson (he's now 12). I find your paper full of wonderful and fresh, interesting information. I often read to him some of the articles. I also enjoy your ads. They are full of information that I file away for further use. Thank you for all your hard work in bringing this fabulous publication to our community.
P.S. My grandson loves "The Starry Dome" column by Bert Stevens. He enjoys constellations, and this is by far the best information. Mr. Stevens' research leaves my grandson with more information than the book he has on this subject.
I love your stuff. Funny, sad, informative, inappropriate, potentially offensive and even my favorite hilarious conservative, Henry Lightcap. More, more, more. Don't listen to those who want vanilla! Load it up with hot fudge, nuts and even some whipped cream! Let 'em scrape off the toppings if they want. There is always someone who wants to rearrange the stage. You won't ever make them all happy.
Truth or Consequences
I agree with the reader who wrote he found your humor in "Desert Diary" distasteful. The December "Desert Diary" had a joke about dogs having sex and a "Battle of the Sexes" about men and sex. This really doesn't belong in a public newspaper read by all ages and religions. If this humor was told in a workplace, it could be considered offensive and bordering on harassment. So let's remember, if even one (I know there are more) person is offended, it is wrong. Please omit such jokes from your newspaper that reaches many people.
In reference to your open request for feedback re "potentially offensive material," we feel that you provide an enlightening, informative publication geared to please the many personalities in the area. If some people feel that certain snippets are offensive, then turn the page and move on! It's the same as flipping a TV channel if you choose not to watch a specific program. And isn't it up to parents and/or grandparents to do some censoring on their own should their kids wish to read the paper? So, we hope you won't be too concerned about printing some funny adult humor. We're sure it won't send your readers down the road to perdition.
Ben and Mary Wright
Growing Our Own
The solution to peak oil ("Running on Empty?," December 2005) is right in front of our faces, but like the elephant in the room, everyone is ignoring it, and I can pretty much guarantee that it's not the Sierra Club's favorite solution.
The answer is biomass—specifically, genetically modified biomass.
There are two ways to get fuel from biomass: Either you ferment it and produce alcohol, or you use some sort of plant oil as biodiesel. Both are in use now, and both have drawbacks.
You cannot produce alcohol in a living plant; it would become, um, intoxicated. So you have to harvest the remains of plants, and produce the alcohol in some sort of still. The fuel that results works fairly well, and has become very popular in Brazil, which is now the world leader in biomass fuels. However, alcohol mixes with water, and the resulting mixture does not burn well, and can cause a vehicle to stall.
Plant-based oils are also being used as fuel, blended with diesel oil, and are seen as a way to stretch out fossil fuels, but not replace them. The problem is that almost all plant oils solidify at cold temperatures.
There have been attempts at "cracking"—making lighter oils from heavier ones by adding hydrogen, but this is not cost effective. If a light oil could be produced by plants, this could become the biofuel of choice.
Most plants produce oil in seeds (or fruits, in the case of olive oil). This is not a very efficient way for plants to produce oil, but it is what nature has provided. You have to wait for the crop to mature, and then you have a narrow time window in which to harvest. Most of the plant is not usable. And since oil-producing plants have all been cultivated for a long time, they are subject to the usual drawbacks of agriculture—they need fertilizer, attract insect pests, can often grow only in a narrow climate zone, etc. So they require a lot of human intervention in order to grow at all.
So if you want to produce a lot of light oil in a plant, enough to replace the oil of the Middle East, this is what you have to do: Take a fast-growing plant such as kudzu, that grows fine, thank you, without any human help. Modify that plant genetically so that it will produce the oil you want in its leaves, like peppermint. Plant once, harvest often.
OK, so there are laws against that, in the first world, at least. Environmentalists everywhere would have a fit if we turned loose such a "monster plant." But I suspect that as oil supplies dwindle, it will be done somewhere, by somebody. I envision a western-trained geneticist slipping off into some third-world jungle, doing the science in a makeshift lab, producing a crop, and presenting the world with a fait accompli.
This will likely find more favor in poorer, tropical countries, such as Brazil, India or Congo. These countries could soon become energy independent. Adoption would be slower in rich countries, but if the cost falls below that of Middle East oil, it would happen there too. Biomass oil would never become an exportable commodity, because every country (except cold countries like Iceland) could produce its own.
Editor's note: For more on biofuels, see the second installment of our "Living Within Our Means" series in this issue.
First, let me say that I have been a fan of Desert Exposure since its inception and have enjoyed watching it grow and mature over the years. I've especially enjoyed your recent forays into very difficult and controversial areas. You have treated these tough subjects with a good dose of objectivity and due respect for the varied points of view expressed.
That's why I was a little surprised at your obvious show of bias regarding the Intelligent Design vs. Evolutionary Theory controversy (Editor's Note, December 2005) It was a vicious attack. You didn't give the ID folks a chance. They deserve at least as much respect as wolves or illegal immigrants, don't you think?
Editor's note: The piece in question was an opinion column, rather than a reported article in which we do indeed strive to present a balanced view of all sides of a controversy.
Just wanted to say that I'm deeply impressed with your December issue. Your editor's note regarding intelligent design vs. evolution is among the best I've read. (I'm a biologist and follow this stuff pretty closely.) Also the article on Gene Simon ("Making Water Run Uphill") made me want very much to meet the man. We need more like him in journalism now. Finally, the report on oil shortage appears to be (I haven't finished it) better than anything I've read in national news magazines. Keep up the good work.
David Fryxell's editorial in the December issue was very naughty. I have known folks that were three days older than dirt and none of them could remember the origins of the universe, so I don't think any younger people will guess correctly. It's not scientific unless it can be proved using the time-tested scientific method. No one has done that with any theories.
Our schools waste a lot of money trying to manipulate students' beliefs and thinking instead of teaching several skills that assist students in acquiring information with which to make their own decisions. That is called "brainwashing" if we don't agree with what is being taught.
Not only do I not know the origins of the universe, I really don't care. I can't do anything about it if I did care. We all can believe or speculate and it changes nothing.
However, it was naughty of Mr. Fryxell to want to take someone's flu shot just because he believes differently. He can have mine, since I won't take a shot from anything other than a shot glass!
Observations From All Over
What a great magazine! I really admire and appreciate the quality, and quantity, of material that you present every month, and your efforts to present things in an unbiased way. On one hand I wish Desert Exposure was available up here in Albuquerque, but having to go to Silver City, Glenwood or Gila every month or two to get my fix has its rewards, too. It takes a lot of courage to publish articles that range in scope from guns and hunting, border issues, exploitation of chile workers, the Kit Laney vs. USFS controversy, and so on. And judging from the letters you get, I can see that you take a lot of heat for it. I hope you will keep digging into all these controversial issues and don't get discouraged by the negative feedback you get.
A couple of observations. . .
It seems that the people who write letters, like the one in the December issue, who despise hunting are a rather joyless lot. All they see is the killing involved in hunting, not the love of wilderness and wild creatures, the camaraderie, and the quest for healthy, truly organic meat, that are the things that attract hunters like myself. And, if the truth be known, I'll bet most of these people are not vegans or vegetarians. They just pay somebody like Wal-Mart to pay somebody at a chicken farm in Arkansas to do their killing for them. That way "meat" is just another packaged food product and their hands are clean. Honestly, though, all living things have to kill other living things in order to survive. When you do it yourself you are taking personal responsibility for it.
Next, the reason there are so many people swarming north from Mexico ("Borderline Insanity," October 2005) is that Mexico is so miserable. Corruption, criminality and social stratification along racial lines are permanent characteristics of Mexican society. The vast majority of the people down there have little chance of improving their lot given these conditions. They have two choices: head north or start a revolution. The current US policy of running them through a Border Patrol gauntlet in the desert along the border, and then letting the survivors go to work on chicken farms in Arkansas, is dishonest. If we really didn't want millions of Mexicans here doing our dirty work, then we would make it illegal to hire them and would enforce such laws against the companies that hire them. But we really don't want that. If it weren't for all the illegals working on chicken farms and construction sites, we would have to pay fair price for these services.
P.S.—Please don't fire Larry Lightner or Henry Lightcap. And to keep things balanced we need Marjorie Lilly and Siri Dharma, too. The Desert Exposure stew needs all these ingredients to stay so tasty.
I don't see why there is such a fuss about the "immigration problem" when there is a simple, profitable solution right at hand if we can muster the collective will. I haven't mentioned it before because, as you well know, I am reluctant to express political opinion.
OK, let's lay it out simple-like. First, we don't need the Border Patrol or immigration services. None of 'em. Lay 'em off, send 'em to Iraq, whatever is politically expedient. Next we add a few thousand IRS agents to the federal payroll, only these folks are stationed where the immigration people used to be. Gives opportunities for cross training too. Now comes the best part: Every person who enters this country automatically gets a Social Security number. That and a copy of the tax code, if they are strong enough to carry it. You give the suckers out like candy at Mardi Gras. The rules have changed, we announce: You don't need a visa to enter the US, just pick up your SSN at the door. One look at the tax code will probably make more than half turn around and head home. For the rest, hey, welcome to the land of multiple taxation. (It was that great American Will Rogers who pointed out that if our forefathers hated taxation without representation, they should try it with representation.) No matter how long you are in the country, you can't leave until you file a tax return. And, while you are here, you file a tax return. If you came as a tourist, you'll have to prove it. (After all, with the IRS we are all guaranteed the right to be guilty until proven innocent—it's a hallowed tradition.) To me this represent a win/win (or lose/lose) outcome that works out fine for solving our problems.
You say the problem is undocumented workers, right? No more. We just documented them. You say the problem is cheap labor undercutting US citizens, right? No longer. They can't work for peanuts and manage to pay taxes (not our taxes), and all those extra IRS clowns we hired with the money we saved on not guarding our borders are making real sure that everyone is collecting withholding from the paychecks.
So the result of this simple and effective change is that either our tax revenues go up or the influx of foreigners goes down. One of those outcomes will please half the people some of the time, and a mix of those will make all the recent immigrants as miserable as we are. Fair is fair in America, after all.
"Traveling Ed" Teja
Results are in from our November contest regarding a survival scenario lest the country slide into a future economic meltdown. First place and a $25 gift certificate at New Deal Shooting Sports in Deming went to Doug Darrell of Silver City; second place and a handcrafted wooden box by the article's author went to C.N. Flanders, also of Silver City; and third place and a Desert Exposure T-shirt went to Judith Smotts of Lordsburg. To all who entered, thank you, and to the winners, great job—you are true survivors!
Let us hear from you! Write Desert Exposure Letters, PO Box 191, Silver City, NM 88062, email firstname.lastname@example.org or fax 534-4134. Letters are subject to editing for style and length.
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