Letters to the Editor

From the week of January 27, 2005

Uncle Tomahawk

Beating the drum: In the January 20 Off Limits, Tom Tancredo is asked by the interviewer, "Any truth to the rumor that you're going to declare yourself Native American?" To which he replies, in part, "I'm calling myself Tom Tom Tancredo. And I came up with that all by myself."

Yow. I guess he thinks that's funny, but I recall reading an interview with him in one of the dailies a couple of years ago. He was going to march in the Columbus Day parade, and he was insisting that he would only march if they didn't capitulate to the Indian groups that wanted the name changed. And in a rant in the Rocky Mountain News last year against what he called "radical multiculturalists," he referred to North America as the "New World" -- which is, of course, how the European colonizers/occupiers thought of it.

Of course, North America is a very old world, and there were millions of folks already here when Columbus and crew arrived and proceeded to take the gold and land, and kill, often by incredibly bestial tortures, most of the native inhabitants they encountered. So by my way of thinking, Tancredo has no right, even in jest, to suggest any sort of kinship with the Indians. It's obvious from what I've read that he is more sympathetic to the invaders. Thus I think a nickname like "Dumb Dumb," or maybe even "Dik Dik," would be much more appropriate, don't you?

Neil Haverstick

Of Mouse and Holthouse

Skull session: David Holthouse did a great job on Rob Ramey with "Building a Better Mousetrap," in the January 20 issue. I never imagined a leftie pinko paper like yours would play a story on scientific integrity with such journalistic integrity.

Even libertarians such as myself would be willing to make changes in our lifestyles if and when the science justifying those changes is credible. Building a mini-consulting industry and a political empire upon three skulls and eleven skins is not justified.

Anyway, good work.

Dave Skinner
Whitefish, Montana

Lacking support: As a scientist who has studied the genetics of endangered animals and questioned Rob Ramey's conclusions on the Preble's Meadow Jumping Mouse, I was stunned by David Holthouse's recent article and its inadequate portrayal of the scientific community's response. Ramey's research may sound sophisticated, but many of his peers, including myself, have strongly criticized his work (see reviews of Ramey's work at http://mountain-prairie.fws.gov/preble/#news and in the August 1 Daily Camera). In my opinion, Ramey's conclusions extend far beyond what can be adequately supported by the data. Ramey claims he'll go "to the mat" to defend his conclusions, yet he refuses to make his data -- paid for by tax dollars -- public, and has not subjected his science to standard peer review. Ramey's call to "update the ESA to meet today's scientific standards" echoes hollow, since he himself failed to apply the high standards that scientists currently use to assess the taxonomic status of species.

Holthouse's highly biased perspective on the important issue of endangered species suggests that Ramey isn't the only one with standards that fail to meet general expectations.

Andrew Martin
Associate Professor of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
University of Colorado at Boulder

The write stuff: I get Outside magazine e-mailed to me, and since I was in a hurry and focusing more on what I was reading and not where, I literally thought I was reading an Outside article when I read David Holthouse's "Building a Better Mousetrap" on the web. At the end of the article, I saw I was in fact reading Westword. I've read Westword for about twelve years and Outside about forever. What I want to say is that this story was outstanding in its own right, but is worthy of the highest outdoor writing standards, including Outside when it's not selling clothing and such.

A pleasant surprise from Westword. Good work, and thanks for a well-written, informative article.

Bill Skaggs
via the Internet

Correction: In David Holthouse's "Building a Better Mousetrap," published in the January 20 issue, comments were incorrectly attributed to Michael Harris, chief legal counsel for Earthjustice. Although Harris was a member of the panel that discussed the proposed Preble's jumping mouse delisting, the comments were actually made by Jacob Smith, founder and director of the Center for Native Ecosystems. We apologize for the error.

The Ride Stuff

Wheel life tragedy: I read with much angst and sympathy Luke Turf's article "The Ride of Their Lives," in the January 13 issue. That was a tragedy that no family should have to go through.

Most bikers I've seen on the roads are very careful riders, and I respect that. However, there are exceptions. Some of them weave in and out of traffic at very high rates of speed and also tailgate. They have to pay attention, too.

The bikes that I am mainly concerned with are the smaller sports bikes that have a loud, almost "buzzing" sound and can be very distracting. They seem to come out of nowhere and cut in front of me, causing me to slam on my brakes. One time, a whole "gang" of them came screeching around a curve, encircling my car and almost daring me to hit them. I've never experienced anything like that before, and it scared me to death!

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