NC Media Watch

A quest for reason and accuracy in letters to the editor, guest editorials and other issues of interest to the citizens of Western Nevada County.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Jad Funk expressed his concern,The first one's free, in letters to the editor, November 30, 2004

Lets start up front. Mr. Funk is a disgruntled former Information Systems intern, who after a six month probationary period was not hired. He has limited experience in managing large information systems. On the other hand, I have worked with government information systems from 1975 to the present, including award wining design of an Air Force software development and validation tool, and most recently was project manager for the ERC’s Business ReLocator.
Nevada County's Information Systems Department recently received almost $160,000 worth of free software, equipment and services from various vendors. Did CIO Steve Monaghan appear on "Let's Make a Deal," or was there another reason behind these consolation gifts?
It was another reason. They want to share in the recognition that Nevada County is generating under Monaghan's leadership. Nevada County Information Systems has won over seven e-Government awards, including, the National Academy of Public Administration’s Silver Seal of Distinction for Excellence in eGoverance in 2002, and Second Place in the 2004 Digital Counties Survey, sponsored by the Center for Digital Government and the National Association of Counties (NACo).

Steve Monaghan CIO was awarded a Visionary Award for Information Technology Leadership from the California County Information Services Directors Association in 2003, and The Center For Digital Government and Government Technology Magazine 2004 Top 25 "Doers, Dreamers, & Drivers of Information Technology in Government".
These companies have probably been noticing how Nevada County has been grabbing these free samples, like Marlon Brando wielding his own spoon at a 31 Flavors. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see the ulterior motives. Once a dependency is built on their product, they can charge anything they want for upgrades and consultants, all while getting free beta testing
Well, yes but a lot of the listed $160,000.00 above was in free upgrades to software and hardware that won awards, so that vendors could use Nevada County as an award winning example of how their products are succesfully used. Vendors are basking in the free publicity generated by Nevada County’s success. Other vendors gave Nevada County software in the hope Steve and his staff will win more awards, and some free publicity of the best kind -- Success!
Prior projects which were "initially" free, like the VoIP phones, ended up costing thousands more in upgrades and labor to make them work, and they're rumored to still be very problematic.
The County paid full price for the first VoIP phone systems, including consulting. It was the free upgrades that solved the initial problems. Just the reverse of Mr. Funk’s argument.
Unfortunately, Monaghan doesn't see this way and continues to throw money at these hopeless projects, despite repeated warnings from other counties who have also been recipients of similar products.
OK, but the other Counties are using a different vendor, not 3Com. This is not an apples to apples comparison. The VoIP phones at the County seem to working OK, except when too many people call for flue shorts all at once.

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Friday, November 26, 2004

Laurence Kaufman, in his mind, asked some Simple questions, in the November 25, 2004 Letters to the editor.
Do you believe that it is treason for a citizen to criticize the president?
Depends if you are a civilian or a member of the military. The president is the Commander in Chief. When I was in the military, it was against regulations to make public statements against senior officers, including the Commander in Chief.
One of The Union's readers read Eric Schweizer's column in The Union in which Schweizer was highly critical of George Bush. Since Schweizer was a member of the U.S. Navy, the patriotic reader immediately sent Schweizer's column to the JAG Department, U.S. Navy, in an attempt to get Schweizer punished for his thoughts. Did the reader do the right thing? (C'mon, we're looking for an honest answer.)
According to the military code of justice, he did the right thing. Let the Military investigate and determine if this was an improper act under military law.

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Jeff Kane propagates a growing myth in Disturbing number, November 25, 2004 Letters to the Editor
I wonder how others feel about the recent study by the respected British medical journal Lancet, which found that 100,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed in the war, principally by coalition air strikes.
OK, here is my answer. I am really upset that liberal touchy feely types keep citing a flawed study in letters to the editor about the 100,000 Iraqi citizens, who they claim to be killed by US bombs in just 18 months. The 100,000 deaths is a just number that falls between 8,000 and 194,000, a ridiculous range. We find that 96,000 is the mid point in this absurd mathematical claim of 95 percent accuracy.

And, it was not mostly women and children as implied in the Lancet Study. Just a few minutes on the Internet, would destroy this growing liberal myth. Check it our for your self, here and here.

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Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Apology is owed, writes Peter Arnold in November 24, 2004 Letters to the Editor.
Hey [writer of the letter to the editor, "Shove your apology," Nov. 17], you say, " If anyone needs to apologize, it better be Iraq . . . Did you bomb the World Trade Center?" Sounds as if you believe Iraq did. If so, in the face of all the evidence to the contrary (read the 9/11 Report, authored by a nonpartisan commission) how can you be so totally blind to the truth?
Well, the 9/11 Report did say they could not find any direct connection, between the 9/11 attack, but they did concede that Saddam was a terrorist. We are engaged in a war on terrorism. Saddam was a terrorist. He paid the families of Hammas bombers, he provided training facilities for terrorists, and he killed 300-400 thousand of his own people. He was waiting for the inspectors to leave to restart his WMD programs, including a nuclear bomb. A bomb he could give to terrorists training in Iraq. Do we wait for an Iraqi sponsored terror attack with a nuclear bomb before attacking? I think not. Sorry, no apology is necessary!

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Richard Katz wonders about GOP moral values, in Letters on November 24, 2004
I have a request. Could one of the 22 percent of Bush voters who said they voted Republican to uphold "moral values" please explain the vote of House Republicans that Tom Delay can continue as majority leader even if he is indicted on felony charges by a Texas grand jury?
Well, I will take up the challenge. The District Attorney that indicted Congressman Delay, has a history of indicting political opponents that he does not like. So far, all of those suites have been thrown out for the lack of evidence. The Republican’s in the House changed the rules on indictment, so that rogue DAs cannot short circuit the judicial process. If convicted, then Congressman Delay can step down. Remember, we are innocent until proven guilty. A charge does not make us guilty. Checkout Jeff Ackerman’s Column. Does that help?

As for the other charges, Mr. Katz failed to provide any evidence.

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Mike Sherman in Take a close look, November 24, 2004 Letters to the Editor in the on the right track.
I find it interesting that some readers of The Union are anxious to blast Jeff Ackerman for writing stories about a former supervisor and his financial dealings, as a supervisor and then a private citizen.


Accountability is critical for any government official who oversees hundreds of thousands of dollars, then ends up with some of that same money in his own pocket.
The Union's role is to take a second look at how our government leaders act, and then hold them accountable when they participate in questionable activity.

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Don Jones, writes in Common sense, November 23, 2004 Letters to the Editor.
His [President Bush's] stupid decision has now resulted in the death and maiming of at least 100,000 mostly innocent human beings and the anger of the entire Muslim world.
Common sense, will tell you that the US Troops have not killed a 100,000 innocents in Iraq, when they have gone to extraordinary effort to eliminate collateral damage. This number comes from a seriously flawed study. See my response to Judy Fitanides in letters to the editor, October 30, 2004. The liberals keep telling the same story over and over, as it it were the truth.

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Sorry for the slow response to letters to the editor, we are traveling and could not find many WiFi Cafes to post from. So, we are truing to catch up.

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Friday, November 19, 2004

Up on Yubanet: UC Berkeley Research Team Sounds 'Smoke Alarm' for Florida E-Vote Count, Research Team Calls for Investigation

Well before you take all this in, please check out Patrick Ruffins site, he has a quick and dirty analysis of this bogus study. Using the researcher's own data, Patrick points out:
Percentage Change for Bush in Counties WITH E-Voting: 2.25%
Percentage Change for Bush in Counties WITHOUT E-Voting: 2.54%

It looks like e-voting suppressed the President's vote by about 0.29% -- or 7,800 votes!
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Thursday, November 18, 2004

Jill Walker writes in Letter to the Editor Election hacking, November 18, 2004

Contrary to public opinion, the voting machines were not connected to any network. The votes were downloaded on to memory cards, and entered in the counting computer, under direct supervision of the election officials, observed by poll watchers.
At the last minute, Mr. Bush's numbers jumped up to overtake Kerry's lead in several states. You would have to be a complete moron not to know that a right-wing hack job was taking place.
Really? Early votes come from the blue cities on political maps. The later votes come from rural counties and suburbs, the red counties with red cities. The Bush votes came from rural counties, not early reporting cities, thus the disparity.
All this was ignored by the news media except for MSNBC, which is giving this total coverage.
Yes, MSNBC is the least watched cable network, because they have lost their credibility. On the other hand, the FOX network is growing, it is becoming the network of political record.

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The Sun is a major factor in our daily life, from global warming to the price of wheat in world markets.
Sunspot activity impacts on crop success, New Scientist, 18 November 04

The mysterious sunspot cycle has a subtle influence on crop success, a study of wheat prices in the US suggests.

In 2003, astrophysicist Lev Pustilnik of Tel Aviv University and Gregory Yom Din, an agricultural economist at Haifa University, both in Israel, showed that wheat prices in 17th-century England were influenced by the solar cycle - whereby sunspot numbers rise and fall over a period of about 11 years (New Scientist print edition, 20 December 2003).

Periods of low sunspot activity corresponded to peaks in the price of wheat, indicating a lower crop yield. This backs the idea that the solar cycle affects climate and crop yields on Earth, possibly by changing levels of cloud cover.

Now the team has done a similar analysis for wheat prices in the US during the 20th century. They did not expect to see a sunspot connection due to modern technologies that make crops more robust in unfavourable weather, globalised markets and massive economic disruption during two world wars.

But surprisingly, they did find a link between numbers of sunspots and the price of wheat.

They suspect the effect persists because 70% of US durum wheat grows in one part of North Dakota, where localised weather conditions could have a dramatic impact on total production.
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Wednesday, November 17, 2004


Tree Rings Reveal Sunspot Record, By Larry O'Hanlon, Discovery News
The sun is in the thick of one of the longest and stormiest periods in 8,000 years, say researchers who have tracked down an 11,400-year record of stormy sunspot activity in tree rings.

"During the last eight millennia, the episode with the highest average sunspot number is the ongoing one that started about 60 years ago," reported researchers.
Sixty years ago is about the time we started to see a rapid rise in global warming?

At the end of the article, a sop to the politically correct global warming crowd.
"However, in terms of actual warming it probably isn't a large contributor."
Really, then explain why Mars, Pluto and the Neptune’s moons are also warming, and they do not have any humans.

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Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Eric Engles, explains Why Ackerman should go, in November 16, 2004, Letters to the Editor

He starts by explaining the role of a good newspaper.
A good local newspaper nourishes public life. It leads the community toward resolution of conflicts by promoting civic dialogue, by keeping alive the conversation between parties who respect each other and work to find common ground despite their differences.
In the real world, the role of a good newspaper is to tell the truth, to seek out and expose political corruption by government officials. Even the appearance of corruption should be examined and reported, so we can recognize the difference. Our founding fathers created a free press as a watch dog for citizens. And, the Internet created web logs for citizens to monitor the press.

Having followed the North Star case for some time, I can not find where The Union and Mr. Ackerman distorted the facts. However, we do not know all the details. The Land Trust has not shown us the records proving Mr. Conklin was clearly the best choice to manage the project, among all those submitting resumes. They have not shown us the request for bids that went out to the local contractors, and that Mr. Conklin's friend submitted the most competitive roofing proposal.

All the public is looking for is the facts, the truth. Attacking the messenger is not the solution. The Union was doing what they should be doing, looking for political corruption and reporting if it is real, or just the appearance of corruption, and then let the readers decide.

Maybe we will soon see Mr Engles web log, so he can publish the truth for all us web log lurkers to read. He can lead "the community toward resolution of conflicts by promoting civic dialogue . . ."

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Want more details on what caused all the heat at The Union? Eric Engels' Letter to Jeff Ackerman's bosses is here. Posted on NCFOCUS, a local web log. I think Jeff is just irritating a small liberal segment of our community. A group chaffing at their loss of political power. Engles' e-mail requesting others in his circle to write negative letters is here.

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Monday, November 15, 2004

Jeff Cowen writes in Letters to the Editor that transportation officals are Out of touch, November 15, 2004

The Union's report on cuts to the Gold Country Stage night routes is the latest in the ongoing story of a transportation system that is out of touch with our community's needs.


This is not a time to cut routes. Instead, transit officials should be seeking ways to increase service and ridership..
The simple fact is, it is the loss of riders that caused the termination of services. The buses have been running, but riders are not using the bus services. By law the bus service fare box has to make a small percentage of the service costs. Not enough riders, not enough fares, the service is canceled.

So, the community has expressed it’s needs. If does not need the evening bus service. More details on why people are not riding the bus here.

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Saturday, November 13, 2004

Conflict is all about appearances, writes Jim Hurley in an Other Voices, November 13, 2004
The Nevada County Land Trust testified to the propriety of the selection process. I know many of the board members and I trust them.
Well, not everyone trusts the Land Trust like Mr Hurley. Some would like to see the evidence, which the Land Trust has not provided. Show those who what more than a press conference the other applicants resumes, and how Mr. Conklin stood head and shoulders above all the other candidates. As assessment by restoration professionals indicates that Mr. Conklin lacked the professional skills need to insure history was preserved, being all heart is not enough.
The Union. . . is on the slippery slope of suppressing dissent - it has revoked the venerable tradition of publishing on this page all qualifying letters.
Again, where is the evidence that the Union has revoked its tradition of publishing all qualifying letters.

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Julia Carol wants her questions answered in a Morality puzzle, November 12, 2004
I invite a member of the religious right to explain to me the following: Why is it moral to invade a country that has not attacked or threatened us first, kill over 100,000 of their civilians, and break the Geneva Convention by torturing their prisoners of war, but it is not moral for two women or two men to proclaim everlasting love for one another and get married?
I am not a member of the religions right, but I can help Carols with some details.

Terror is the threat. Saddam was a terrorist. He harbored terrorists. He fired on our troops in the no-fly zone every day.

The report of 100,000 civilians killed is a flawed study, see explanation below.

The Geneva Conventions is for the protection of soldiers of a sovereign county. The Taliban are not soldier of a sovereign nation, and are not prisoners of war, but terrorist. The military has punished those who violated the rules for treating Iraqi prisoners. It was not a national policy.

As to the moral values., it not just the protection of marriage? It was about being honest, about saying what needs to be done and then doing it. Both Republican and Democrats, blacks and whites, by an overwhelming margin voted to enact the protection of marriage initiatives in 11 states. It was the will of the people, not the will of a political party or the religious right.

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Friday, November 12, 2004


Mars is experiencing Global Warming!

At the Geological Society of America's annual meeting in Denver:
“Michael Malin, president of Malin Space Science Systems, talked about gullies that may have been sculpted recently by liquid water; evidence of ancient seas; and the discovery that the planet's south polar cap of dry ice is losing weight.

“Mars is experiencing global warming," Malin said. "And we don't know why."
Could it be that a nearby star is heating up all the planets, Earth, Mars, et al? Could it be that Global Warming on Earth is not caused by human activity, but solar activity? Or, is it those damn Mars microbes which are farting Carbon Dioxide and Methane in parallel with power plants and SUV's on earth. Hummm...

As I have written before, the largest influence on our weather is the Sun. Professor Richard Wilson in a peer-reviewed article in the journal Geophysical Research Letters reported the solar energy produced by our sun over the last 24 years increased by 0.05% every 10 years. Now that may not sound like much; but as Prof. Wilson points out, the cumulative effects of this trend could be significant. For example, if this trend had begun a 100 years ago, it would account for a significant amount of the global warming that is worrying environmentalists.

The Sun inpacts all planets, including the Earth and Mars, but Mars does not have any liberals to claim we all caused the global warming.

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Has the Union changed their one letter a month policy? From todays edition:
Impartial journalism?
R. Owen Barnes
November 12, 2004

R. Owen Barnes
November 12, 2004

God-fearing men
Elbert Hudspeth
November 12, 2004

Speak up
Elbert Hudspeth
November 12, 2004
UPDATE: Richard Somerville writes to assure us that the one letter a month rule still applies. The Barnes doubling up was a computer error, and only appeared in the online editon of The Union. No word on Hudspeth, but I only see one of his letters in the dead tree version.

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Thursday, November 11, 2004

John Ray, a retired Australian university teacher writes about glacial cycles.

New data from Patagonia:

In our many reviews of recently-published studies that reveal the existence of a widespread millennial-scale oscillation of climate, we routinely draw attention to evidence for the worldwide occurrence of the Little Ice Age, Medieval Warm Period, Dark Ages Cold Period, Roman Warm Period, etc. We here continue in this vein in reviewing a study that identifies all of the above climatic intervals -- plus others -- in the Patagonian ice fields of South America.

Glasser et al. (2004) describe a large body of evidence related to glacier fluctuations in the two major ice fields of Patagonia: the Hielo Patagonico Norte (47o00'S, 73o39'W) and the Hielo Patagonico Sur (between 48o50'S and 51o30'S). This evidence indicates that the most recent glacial advances in Patagonia occurred during the Little Ice Age, out of which serious cold spell the earth has been gradually emerging for the past two centuries, causing many glaciers to retreat. Prior to the Little Ice Age, however, there was an interval of higher temperatures known as the Medieval Warm Period, when glaciers also decreased in size and extent; and this warm interlude was in turn preceded by a still earlier era of pronounced glacial activity that is designated the Dark Ages Cold Period, which was also preceded by a period of higher temperatures and retreating glaciers that is denoted the Roman Warm Period.

Prior to the Roman Warm Period, Glasser et al.'s presentation of the pertinent evidence suggests there was another period of significant glacial advance that also lasted several hundred years, which was preceded by a several-century interval when glaciers once again lost ground, which was preceded by yet another multi-century period of glacial advance, which was preceded by yet another long interval of glacier retrenchment, which was preceded by still another full cycle of such temperature-related glacial activity, which at this point brings us all the way back to sometime between 6000 and 5000 14C years before the present (BP).

Glasser et al. additionally cite the works of a number of other scientists that reveal a similar pattern of cyclical glacial activity over the preceding millennia in several other locations. Immediately to the east of the Hielo Patagonico Sur in the Rio Guanaco region of the Precordillera, for example, they report that Wenzens (1999) detected five distinct periods of glacial advancement: "4500-4200, 3600-3300, 2300-2000, 1300-1000 14C years BP and AD 1600-1850."
It would appear the recent multi-decade warming cycle started about 1850. No wonder the glaciers are shrinking.
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Grieving for the future, writes Henry Dax in letters to the editor,
November 11, 2004
“The religious right voted against gay marriage as if it was something so immoral. . . ”
According to an analysis of voter preferences in the 11 states with protection of marriage initiatives, Democrats voted 64 to 57 percent for the marriage protection initiatives. Black Democrats voted 61 percent. It is a liberal myth that this was a Republican religious right homophobic plot. It was voters, Democrat and Republican, voting their values.

When Democratic leaders trash the voters of these winning defense of marriage initiative, they are trashing their own voter base. How short sided.

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Tuesday, November 09, 2004


On the front page of the Union, "The Artic melts away at an alarming rate," page A6. As I predicted below, more scare stories based on flawed studies. Sorry, no link as it is an Los Angles Times story.

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Monday, November 08, 2004


Climate change claims flawed, says study , See UK Guardian for details
"A team of scientists has condemned claims of climate catastrophe as "fatally flawed" in a report released today.

The study appears on the same day that 300 climate scientists warn that winter temperatures in Alaska, western Canada and eastern Russia have risen by up to 4 C in the past 50 years - and could warm by up to 7 C.

Martin Agerup, president of the and colleagues from Stockholm, Canada, Iceland and Britain say in their report that predictions of "extreme impacts" based on greenhouse emissions employed 'faulty science, faulty logic and faulty economics'."
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Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Arctic warming at twice global rate, 02 November 04, New Scientist. Also similar articles in about 69 other newspapers and magazines around the globe by reporters that will not do their home work. So, we get another blizzard of reports that we are doomed -- the ice is melting the oceans are rising, head for the mountains.
“Global warming in the Arctic is happening now, warns the most comprehensive scientific report to date. The reports concludes that the northern ice cap is warming at twice the global rate and that this will lead to serious consequences for the plane.
However the study is based on a flawed IPCC Climate Change model.
"Prestrud told New Scientist that the report draws on models used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its predictions. It has based the Arctic projections on the IPCC’s “middle scenario”, where global warming gas emissions are double their pre-industrial level. In this scenario, sea level will rise between 10 and 90 centimeters in this century, he says.
My emphasis

To understand why the model is flawed, check out this article in Science, reported on at Tech Central Station: Is the Hockey Stick Broken?

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Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Whiff of something, by Larry Miller in Letters to the Editor, November 2, 2004
“What does the way Mr. Engle signs his name have to do with anything?”
I once had a friend who graduated from Yale University. It became the pinnacle of his life. He was always reminding us, “I graduated from Yale.” Everything after that was a down hill slide, he seemed to lack ambition to rise above this initial achievement. It could be that once Mr. Engle received his Doctor of Philosophy degree, it also was the pinnacle of his life. When he signs his name with “Ph.D.,” he is reminding us he has peaked, and is trying to slow his slide in to oblivion.

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