Thursday, November 20, 2014

Friends of Wolf Creek vs Village at Wolf Creek - The Game Is Afoot!

The Rio Grande National Forest has agreed to the Red McCombs Landswap offer and the future development of Alberta Park.  
For more information visit: 

Village at Wolf Creek Breaking News - 

RGNF Decides in Favor of Developing Alberta Park, 

near Wolf Creek Pass!


VWC Access Project "Final Environmental Impact Statement" index

Text of Draft index; and introduction; and background. 
"The publication of the draft record of decision in the Valley Courier starts a 45-day objection period. The final decision will be signed if no objections are received.RGNF
{By my math that makes it Sunday January 4th - excellent timing for the release I must say}


For the decision see:


Saturday, November 15, 2014

An Honest Liar - Considering James Randi

{Since first posting this, it's been in a state of evolution, but I think this may be my last edit Wednesday 11/19 
Thanks to Gail at the FCFP I realized I short-changed the heart of this review, the documentary and Randi's debunking career. 
I hope to have fixed that. 11/23 }

Last Wednesday {November 12} I learned about a new documentary concerning James “the amazing” Randi, it’s called "An Honest Liar". Unfortunately, it won't be out until early spring. What a shame, because though I'm no movie buff, here was one I wanted to watch.

You see, I grew up watching the "The Amazing Randi" doing incredible stunts on TV during the ’60s and ’70s, then in the 80s I started paying attention to his other career, that of the stinky eye ferreting out frauds.

That started earlier, as the young magician Randi got better he got sick of seeing others using his same tricks not to entertain, but to gain the confidence of innocents in order to steal hard earned money from then. His life long crusade began in 1964 with a thousand dollar challenge for anyone who could offer proof of the paranormal.  The prize went to $10,000, then to a cool million dollar challenge.

The media attention around his crusade was big and it trickled down to young adults such as myself. You know, we of the happy hippie generation, still in the afterglow of discovering and experiencing a wonderfully miraculous world all around us. Spiritual and chemical energy infused everything and there was so much to take in and wonder about. The spiritual and metaphysical seemed interwoven with everything and now science was starting to find supporting evidence.

Then came Randi to remind those of us who would listen about skepticism and turning a critical eye on amazing claims. While these exposures were sobering for many, they enraged just as many who resisted having their bubbles burst.  It’s telling that over a thousand claimants have failed Randi’s “Challenge” yet spiritual/psychic con artists are raking in as much as ever.

Still for many Randi’s interviews were teaching moments of rational critical thinking and he taught many how to recognize bunk. Skills that helped me navigate a world filled with too many predators hiding behind the smiling mask of the con artist.-But all that’s known to me from snippets, various articles and media stories I’ve read. I actually didn’t know much about the man himself. So, reading the synopsis of this documentary, I knew I wanted to see it.

Life is full of surprises. As serendipity would have it, I was reading the program the very afternoon of the evening "An Honest Liar" (Co-Directed by Tyler Measom and Justin Weinstein, Produced by Duane Andersen ) was being screened in Yountville, California as part of the Napa Valley Film Festival.

Now, I'm just a working stiff, in the area because of a lucky short job I landed and was heading home the next morning. The last thing on my mind was attending the fancy Napa Valley Film Festival, yet that’s were I found myself. Sipping on some Cabernet Sauvignon that proclaimed to me: Now you see? Taste me... look at me... swirl me and breath me in... take your time, savor the moment. Now you see wise guy… you see why some don’t mind dropping a Ben Franklin for a bottle, or a glass; if they can?

With that boisterous glass of wine in hand, I was ready as “An Honest Liar” began with a review of Randi’s career and fun old TV clips.  The film recalled the unmasking of Uri Geller the “psychic” spoon bender who was investigated by some gullible scientists that judged him legitimate, making him a media sensation, then a bust after Randi exposed his tricks.

There was also Reverend Popoff the minister with miraculous telepathic “gifts” - provided by his wife transmitting information gleaned off the prayer cards visitors filled out - into Popoff’s “hearing aid”.  Using that information he mesmerized his flock and proceeded to “heal” his hapless victims and rake in the donations.

It got fascinating when we learn of the various fictitious psychics Randi created. They managed to fool the world despite Randi liberally sprinkling hints.  When Randi wasn’t all hell and brimstone on frauds, he found time to help Alice Cooper create some on stage.

Then came the plot twists, for those of us who haven’t kept up with Randi’s amazing life. There was the surprise of Randi coming out in 2010 and publicly revealing his 25-year partnership with Jose Alvarez, a fascinating survivor and amazing fellow in his own right. Then, while still absorbing all that, we're hit with an even more startling revelation unfolding in real time, heightened by the dead seriousness of jail time and worse. 

After the film was finished, we were treated to a Q/A with Tyler Measom and Justin Weinstein, the co-directors. They surprised us by announcing a couple visitors, Randi and Alvarez in the flesh.-Watching Randi walk down the aisle, I couldn't help but think that he looks like Charles Darwin in his later years. That’s fitting, though Harry Houdini would probably deserve it more considering he's the grand-daddy of debunking spiritualists and con artists, as Randi acknowledges.

Taking questions, Randi responded to one with something I'd already jotted down in my notes as the single best line in the documentary, "People need to believe.” Later, I had a chance to shake his hand and speak with him. I asked: “OK, people need to believe. – what can we do with that? Where do we go from there?"

He looked at me with those deep intense eyes, shrugged and shook his head for a beat, then perking up: “Teach the young ones.”  Then he reminded me of his foundation and invited me to check it out: - James Randi Educational Foundation -  http://web.randi.org 
in particular http://web.randi.org/educational-videos--podcasts.html

After watching the documentary, I came to appreciate that Randi had given me more than skills to deal with con artists. He'd helped me learn that I was my own toughest challenge – falling in love with my own notions and refusing to acknowledge my own blindspots, being afraid to be proven wrong. Fabricating bubbles of contrived realities in order to justify rejecting contrary evidence, no matter how valid it is.
Those are each of our worst enemies.

And what of our allies? There's the passion to keep learning about this incredible world I inhabit for a short moment. Appreciating that no matter how much I think I may have learned or know, there’s more to learn. Besides, I could be wrong and need to remain willing to honestly listen to and digest new information – then base my belief on the strength of the evidence presented – not on my tender ego or desires. 

If I’m wrong it’s a learning opportunity and not an excuse to lash out against the bearer of better information.

In closing, what I thought would be an entertaining, informative movie about one of the interesting characters of my time turned into an enthralling, even compelling journey of discovery and reflection. It gets my thumbs-up recommendation, with or without an accompanying glass of fine wine.

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For those that want to learn about James Randi's scholarly work, 
check out the Google Scholar search results:


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“An Honest Liar was a highlight of what had been a very strong documentary program at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. “

This week has four showings (Nov 12,14,15,16) up and down the Napa Valley during their Film Festival. http://napavalleyfilmfest.org.

For more information about the documentary here’s the website for "An Honest Liar"

Out of a half dozen reviews I’ve read in the past couple days, the most serious and true to the spirit of the film seemed to me:  
Film Review: An Honest Liar

Friday, November 14, 2014

Honorable Senator Bennet, Why do you support Keystone XL Pipeline ?


Elections are over and it seems the first order of business in Washington DC is shoving the destructive Keystone XL Pipeline down USA's throat.  Another in a long line of self-destructive actions our politicians do too much of, without ever learning from mistakes.  KeystoneXL is a big issue and I've pretty much stayed away from it (only so much I can focus on) but now with a Senator I voted for in the middle of the storm, along with my pondering the how and why of people deliberately ignoring real, in your face, inescapable evidence.  I was inspired to write an open letter to Senator Bennet, and his colleagues, all told it included a couple dozen links to further information and support for the claims I make.  Most listed at the end of my letter.  It's an important timely issue, and there's always that hope, gotta at least try - So I'm reposting it here and invite others to pass it along, if you see fit.   ~ Senate vote is this Tuesday, November 14th ~  
The bill was narrowly defeated, with no help from Senator Bennet, who voted in favor !  

Keystone XL pipeline bill dies in Senate
WASHINGTON Tue Nov 18, 2014 8:50pm EST
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Senate Defeats Bill on Keystone XL Pipeline in Narrow Vote
By ASHLEY PARKER and CORAL DAVENPORTNOV. 18, 2014

Honorable Senator Bennet, I remember shaking my head back in March when I read the stories of you turning tail on your 2010 campaign talk.  

March 25, 2013, 11:23 am 
Senator Michael Bennet says yes, Udall says no in split vote on Keystone Pipeline 
http://blogs.denverpost.com/thespot/2013/03/25/bennet-says-yes-udall-says-no-in-split-vote-on-keystone-pipeline/93099/ 
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As one of those who voted for you, it seemed to me during the 2010 campaign you sure sounded like you appreciated the destructiveness and shortsightedness of the Canadian Tar Sands project on general terms, which was reflected in your implied opposition to allowing Keystone XL pipeline to cut through the US. Now there's this:

Friday, October 31, 2014

Imani's Nine Spine-Chilling Reasons to Vote in These Midterms

I came across the following article outlining Imani Gandy's main reasons for encouraging those who still haven't voted, to do so by November 4th's voting deadline.  She makes a lot of sense so I thought I'd share part of it here and perhaps you could share the link with a friend(s) who haven't voted yet.

Following that I've linked to a review of Katha Pollitt's provocative book "Pro - Reclaiming Abortion Rights" challenging the soft underbelly of the "Pro Choice Movement" 

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Nine Spine-Chilling Reasons to Vote in These Midterms

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Abortion, Right and Wrong By Rachel Richardson Smith

Regarding Colorado's Proposition 67:
"If approved by voters, the measure would include unborn human beings under the definition of "person" and "child" in the Colorado criminal code.[1]"  


For all the propositions see: http://www.sos.state.co.us/pubs/elections/Initiatives/ballotContactList.html

They are once again trying to mandate that a freshly fertilized egg has the same legal rights as a full fledged human.  The abortion issue is not a cartoon that can be summed up in superficial soundbites.  Why do right wingers constantly try to ignore the complexities in life?

In any event, Rachel Richardson Smith, wrote an essay that stands to this day as one of the most intelligent, thoughtful articles written on the issue of Abortion. 


Originally published in Newsweek, March 25, 1985.

Here is the full text:

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Abortion, Right and Wrong
By Rachel Richardson Smith

I cannot bring myself to say I am in favor of abortion. I don’t want anyone to have one. I want people to use contraceptives and for those contraceptives to be foolproof. I want people to be responsible for their actions, mature in their decisions. I want children to be loved, wanted, well cared for.

I cannot bring myself to say I am against choice. I want women who are young, poor, single or all three to be able to direct the course of their lives. I want women who have had all the children they want or can afford or their in bad marriages or destructive relationships to avoid being trapped by pregnancy.

Why do Republican's want to deny a woman her right to self defense?

Here's another reason why rational voters, should get out and vote.

Once again religious extremists have managed to force their hateful obsession with interfering in and eliminating a woman's right to self-determination, including a woman's right to the self defense of her own body onto our Colorado ballot with their Proposition 67 their so-called "Personhood Amendment"


I'd love to ask these self-certain folks who presume they know "God's mind":  If God hated abortion so much why does he spontaneously abort over half the conceptions that occur?




Medline Plus - a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine 
From the National Institutes of HealthNational Institutes of Health
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001488.htm
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Saturday, October 4, 2014

LaPlata County Commissioners wanting to close rural libraries?

La Plata County Commissioners are actively considering axing La Plata County's two rural Public Library satellite branches.  I'd heard the rumors, then after reading an October 3rd Durango Herald article outlining the situation I was so unsettled by the prospect that I decided to write a Letter to the Editor and County Commissioners.

The following post is based on that letter along with quotes from the informative Durango Herald article and since I'm hoping this may inspire some others to contact our County Commissioners I've included their contact information at the end.
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A belated update: 
It’s not the end for two libraries

By Mary Shinn | Durango Herald staff writer " November 12, 2014

The La Plata County Commissioners responded to public concern about the fate of two county libraries Wednesday, and announced they will be fully funded.
 ... the total number of comments on libraryfunding to about 200, the most on any county issue in the last few years, County Commission Chairwoman Julie Westendorff said.  Commissioners asked for public feedback earlier this year about the relevancy of rural libraries, and they received an outpouring emphasizing their importance via email and at public meetings. …

To look at the budget, visit:
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