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Airheads
The symbol of a blow-up doll on your December 31 Year in Review issue was particularly appropriate, since Westword is so often full of hot air.

Jayne Riley
Denver

It has been refreshing to move to a new city and discover original literary instincts in Westword. Just wanted to let you know that you have a bent that is so easy to embrace and a wit that has led to more than a little laughter. Kudos to the staff of Westword.

Anthony Peterson
via the Internet

To Tell the Truth
I read Tony Perez-Giese's December 24 "An Honest Living," about the use of polygraphs, with great interest. I am left with the impression that the article advocates the use of polygraphs to detect lies. This disturbs me greatly. The article appears to argue that the computerization of polygraph results increases their reliability and that if the operators were better trained, it would become a very useful investigative tool. This, I believe, is a very flawed conclusion. One of the oldest aphorisms in computer science is "Garbage In--Garbage Out." If the input to a computer is junk, one can be assured that the output will be.

I refer the interested reader to an article I wrote for the May/June 1992 Rocky Mountain Skeptic titled "Truth or Consequences." It details the history of the polygraph, its pseudoscientific basis and pertinent references. I do not see how any of the information in my article is rendered useless by the introduction of a computer for judging polygraph results. Perez-Giese's article mentions work at the University of Utah that was done to increase the reliability of polygraph interpretation; I would be interested in obtaining any citations Perez-Giese might have on the mathematical basis for such work. This research appears to have been completed about the time that the Office of Technology Assessment stated, "A good examiner scares the crap out of you. It's theater." A polygraph has generally been used to convince the person under scrutiny that the machine is infallible, thereby eliciting a confession. The latest innovation is nothing but a bluff with a computer attached.

In recent years, there are some cases where women reporting rape are required to take a polygraph test prior to completing paperwork at their local police station. Perez-Giese's statement that "most Colorado police departments and DA's offices have staff polygraphers" only increases my concern. Any use of a polygraph--in my view--is no better than using medieval methods to locate a witch. I do not think that your article serves the best interest of Westword's readership.

Randy Bancroft
Denver

You ought to check out the book A Tremor in the Blood: Uses and Abuses of the Lie Detector, by David Thoreson Lykken, a professor of psychology and psychiatry at the University of Minnesota Medical School. The book was published by McGraw-Hill in 1981. It is probably out of print now, but perhaps the library or Tattered Cover could get it for you.

Similarly, remember that Aldrich "Rick" Ames, who was selling information to the KGB and its successor in Russia, the MBRF, passed CIA "lie detector" tests in both 1986 and 1991 when he was routinely "fluttered" by the agency. He held "top secret" clearance for 31 years and operated for nine years in charge of counterintelligence on Soviet/Russian intelligence in Russia!

Never agree to take a "lie detector" test: You can only be hurt, whatever your innocence!

Steven Chesler
via the Internet

The Plains Truth
As an Arapahoe County planning commissioner for the past eight years representing the eastern plains, I took more than a passing interest in Stuart Steers's December 24 "A Dunn Deal." I am grateful for your publication's enlightening exposure of what is surely the strangest proposal I have ever had to vote on in my many years of service.

John Dunn's work toward accountability of the counties involved is to be commended, although the Kiowa County resolution, extending their moratorium on application of sludge/biosolids containing radioactive materials or hazardous waste, is certainly far more prudent. Having sent numerous communications to my other planning commissioners, the Arapahoe County commissioners and my congressman, Bob Schaffer, that have been entirely ignored, I remain extremely frustrated at the lack of response to this issue by my county.

Professor Adrienne Anderson's persistence in this matter has been a constant source of inspiration and encouragement that might yet bring some sanity to a discussion that has heretofore been baffling, to say the least. Efforts to keep the populace in the dark about lacing the food chain with radio-nuclides and potentially contaminating adjacent live springs that connect to the Laramie Foxhill aquifer have been the key to the Metro Wastewater Reclamation District's success thus far. No doubt George Orwell would have been proud of Metro's Steve Pearlman and the Environmental Protection Agency's Marc Herman, who have taken torturing language to new heights in their claims that their plan is "safe" and "effective."

Continuing to shine the light on this dangerous proposal will keep the cockroaches scurrying. Thanks!

Leslie Hanks
Arapahoe County Planning Commission

AOL's Out of Line
Regarding Chris LaMorte's "Adios AOL, Hola Problema," in the December 24 issue:

Kenton Kuhn should use adiosISP.com; nobody should have a problem with that. I would really hate to cave in to a big corporation because of legal bills when I'm right legally--but you still have to eat. Don't release the domain name to AOL. Use it later, when the heat has died down. Just be a general pain in the neck. Eventually, they may have bigger fish to fry.

Cheryl Bower
via the Internet

Tag, You're It
Regarding Susan Froyd's December 24 "Vanishing Cowboy":
As a former LoDo resident who happened to have an apartment that faced the wall in question for almost two years, it would have been much more pleasant to wake up and see "A Fine Old Martin" every morning as opposed to the graffiti tags that were there. It's too bad such rigid protocol slows the spread of great art and also fails to stop the taggers.

Laurie Cicotello
Hastings, Nebraska

C'mon, Get Happy
I disagree with Bill Gallo's choice of Happiness as a top-ten best for 1998 ("Splice World," December 31). I saw most of the others and found his choices to be on the mark; however, Happiness was of no value, in either sentiment or entertainment. I found it to be a shallow attempt by the director to continually shock the audience with overdone exaggerations of life's imperfections.

Hugh Daly
via the Internet

The Pluck of the Irish
Regarding Bill Gallo's December 24 "Sisters Doing It for Themselves," about Dancing at Lughnasa:

What a wonderful movie review! I notice that most of the reviews I've read of this movie were by off-the-mark critics who simply didn't get it about the role of the church in the oppression not only of the women in the field, but of the people of Ireland. The movie left me with a profound sadness. I've visited Ireland many times, and I've fallen in love with the people. Their oppression has left them torn between their natural joy of living and their guilt about having the joy at all.

Gallo didn't miss the point. Congratulations.
Sylvia Sullivan
via the Internet

Holy Moses!
I could not believe Michael Sragow's December 24 review of Prince of Egypt, "The Greatest Story Never Told." He virtually ragged on every aspect of the movie. The animation uninspired? Did he see the same movie as the rest of us? Even Disney would have to agree that the animation is brilliant and probably will set the standard for animation to come. He probably would have preferred a wacky talking-Moses walking stick and a singing camel.

Mr. Sragow, set your crack pipe down and give kudos to DreamWorks for a brilliant production and for daring to try something different.

Peter Gula
via the Internet

Methinks Sragow got a bit carried away with overanalyzing Prince of Egypt...and comparing this film to every other biblical one ever made. Did the thought of taking it for what it is ever occur to him? Better yet, take it from the perspective of an agnostic with children whose little consciences get bombarded with Christian dreck at all turns. What you get then is a reasonably entertaining crash course on a portion of the Old Testament...and plenty good enough for this family!

Ron Rusnak
via the Internet

The Samples Truth
Just letting you know that I appreciate the kind mention in Michael Roberts's December 17 Feedback column, in which he talked about the Samples' Here and Somewhere Else. It's nice to see a review that looks at more than just the core members in a group and their impact on the recording.

Lorne Bregitzer
via the Internet

The Samples are an amazing band that evolved from a local success to a nationwide success via a grassroots approach--playing endless tours and spreading their music via word of mouth and not by eMpTV. That, my friend, is certitude. So go out and plug another matchbox 20 band!

Brian Bagenstose
via the Internet

Letters policy: Westword wants to hear from you, whether you have a complaint or compliment about what we write from week to week. Letters should be no more than 200 words; we reserve the right to edit for libel, length and clarity. Although we'll occasionally withhold an author's name on request, all letters must include your name, address and telephone number. Write to:

Letters Editor
Westword
P.O. Box 5970
Denver, CO 80217
or e-mail (include your full name and hometown) to: editorial@westword.com.

Missed a story? The editorial contents of Westword, dating back to July 1, 1996, are available online at www.westword.com/archive/index.html.

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