Stowaway story shows safety priorities flawed

In ancient times, pilots were taught to carefully inspect the airplane they were about to fly. On retractable-gear airplanes, particular attention was given to the gear to ensure they would come down at landing.

In view of some 80 stowaway fatalities you reported, inspecting the plane a pilot is about to fly does not seem such a bad idea. But then one can always get comfort from the fact that passengers at least do get grabbed for security before boarding.

Vlado Bevc

Danville

Wisconsin's job numbers are in dispute

As a former Wisconsinite, I had to fact-check Cathy Lucas' recent letter extolling Republican Gov. Scott Walker's administration and absurdly suggesting that had the ruling class of 18th century France followed Walker's policies, the monarchy would have been cheered as wise.

Fact: Wisconsin's current unemployment rate is 5.9 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' website, not the 3 percent claimed by Lucas. Wisconsin is 28th among the 50 states in job creation and its 1.2 percent growth rate is 35th out of 50 states. The state has a projected budget surplus but so do many other states, some with Democratic governors. Wisconsin's projected budget surplus results largely from the savage slashing of public education and job training funding in order to provide tax breaks to the state's propertied and wealthier citizens.

Hopefully, Gov. Walker's Wisconsin gets no closer to resembling 18th century France. The interests of this beautiful state with its distinguished political history, are best served with the truth, not "Foxy-facts" from Fox News.

Lynne L. Goodman

Danville

Stop PG&E from cutting down trees

Isn't it interesting that PG&E's vice president, Kirk Johnson, is changing his reasoning for wanting to cut down thousands of our trees to "it's the roots" instead of the original reason of "needing access to the pipeline" since our communities are now fighting back against their ludicrous plan? How dare they! They want to ruin our towns with this plan.

Someone needs to explain how PG&E is able to just bypass our local tree protection ordinances and not obtain permits and environmental reviews before going crazy with their chain saws. Our lovely towns will be changed forever if they are allowed to follow through with their plans to destroy our trees. This is totally unnecessary. These agencies should be bound by the same laws that we citizens are.

We all must get involved and do whatever is necessary (legally, of course) to stop PG&E. They are out of control, and we cannot let this happen. Let's hold them accountable. I try to picture how someone at PG&E came up with this idea and thought it would go unnoticed. Write to your representatives and let PG&E know that you disagree with their plan. They need to be stopped!

Nancy Quintel

Alamo

Carbon tax is suicide pact for U.S. economy

A recent article "U.S. should enact carbon tax" cited a "study" claiming a carbon tax would actually boost our GDP! Taxes always have a depressing effect.

The study further claimed that such a tax burden could be used to push us into using more "renewable" energy sources. The reason "renewables" have to be heavily subsidized and mandated to exist is that they offer far more expensive energy. Driving up energy will push up business and living costs, leaving less money for all else.

The author further suggested that the high energy and operating costs would not drive business and jobs from America if stiff tariffs and quotas were enacted. The author likely did not realize that one of the known causes of the Great Depression was the Smoot-Hawley Tariff that imposed similar restrictions. It seems to make little difference to the author that the average temperature has actually declined 0.8 degrees Celsius since 1998! This is clear proof that the IPCC predictions are very wrong. If still enacted, this will be economic suicide.

Mark Fernwood

Danville

Worshiping science makes a lot of sense

A recent letter by Mr. Andrus, of Dublin, sharply attacked science and "science worshipers" as promoting speculation and dealing in "flights of fancy." His main criticism of cosmology, the science of how our universe came to be, is that we cannot infer the past from the present because of unknown forces that we don't recognize and that may have worked differently in the past than today.

Andrus should be reminded that science ultimately deals only with what it can experimentally observe -- it does not deal with "forces that are unknown or unobservable." The power of science, in this case physics, lies in its two-pronged approach. First, based on what we know, theoretical physics uses mathematics to derive equations that predict phenomena that have not yet been observed. Secondly, experimental physics builds expensive machines (like particle colliders, space telescopes, space probes) in the attempt to confirm experimentally the theoretical predictions. Last year's experimental discovery of the esoteric Higgs particle confirmed a theoretical prediction made 50 years earlier by Scottish theoretical physicist Peter Higgs. By the way, as we look at the universe through increasingly powerful telescopes, the light that arrives at our eyes has traveled many millions and even billions of years. So, we can see the past!

Andrus probably uses a computer, a cell phone, a microwave oven, takes airplane rides and may have had X-ray and MRI scans. All of these are the result of generations of hard working scientists who may initially have speculated about nature's ways, but didn't stop there by invoking God. Instead they kept on searching and thinking and experimenting until they got their answers. Given the successes of science, you can count me in as a "science worshipper."

Patrick Weidhaas

Dublin

Common Core methods lack common sense

Thanks to California's Common Core proponents, our kids will be able to deftly find the answer to 32 minus 12 in four simple steps.

They've cleverly expanded this historical autonomic reflex of a math problem to only four steps, so while California children use four fingers to count the steps they'll always have one left over to pick their noses. Ironically, proponents proudly claim that, "these new principles are to prepare students to work at jobs that do not yet exist" and if that's not funny enough "these jobs will be using technologies that have not been invented."

How could they have missed "on planets that haven't been discovered?" Parents have a responsibility to prepare their own children with basic math and reading skills -- the simple building blocks to learning. Clearly, the public school system has revised their charter "to boldly go where no man has gone before" at the peril of our children.

Dennis McHugh

San Ramon