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Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2005 03:28 am

Letters to the editor

In and around Springfield

Letters policy
We welcome letters, but please include your full name, address and a daytime telephone number. We edit all letters for libel, length and clarity.

Send letters to: Letters, Illinois Times. P.O. Box 5256. Springfield, Illinois 62705. Fax: (217) 753-3958. E-mail: editor@illinoistimes.com

In February 2005, state Sen. Larry Bomke sent a letter to my daughter, Mariya, congratulating her on being “an Illinois State Scholar finalist.”
In May 2005, Mariya was sent a certificate recognizing her “outstanding performance in the 2005-06 Illinois State Scholarship Program competition.”
In July 2005, Mariya was sent a letter stating that although she had qualified for the “2005-06 Merit Recognition Scholarship (MRS) program, she would not be receiving this scholarship.” The letter stated that the Illinois General Assembly had failed to fund the MRS program in the 2005 fiscal budget. As parents, we ask out children to strive for excellence, to pay all the debts they incur, and to make good on all of their promises. How do we justify the actions of the representatives of our Illinois state government when they fail to uphold their promises or to make good on their implied debts to our children? I understand that 6,000 Illinois students have qualified under the 2005-06 MRS program, just like Mariya. If the state representatives are going to fail to provide for the program, it would be better not to have promised these students merit scholarships. Laura L. Ratz Springfield
As a homeowner who lives within the Oak Ridge Neighborhood Association’s boundaries, I want to thank the Salvation Army for clarifying that just one aspect of its proposed community center on the J. David Jones Parkway is a homeless shelter. However, is this the best location for this state-of-the-art facility? Has the Salvation Army considered the impact of the traffic, noise, and congestion that this 15,000-square-foot center, associated facilities, and parking areas will bring to this seven acres of open space? It is my understanding that this proposed complex will take up all of the green space that is right across the street from where our state honors our military veterans in Oak Ridge Cemetery. Has the Salvation Army considered the peace and serenity that is taking away from this area?
The J. David Jones Parkway is one of the most beautiful gateways into Springfield. As a parkway, it was intended to be just that! Building the Salvation Army facility here will take away seven acres of green space from one of our most scenic and welcoming entrances to our city.
Judy Donath Springfield
Springfield, in your great town, you have a comedy club that is celebrating its sixth year of business. Your local club is talked about all over the country, by comedians and agents, on how well it is run and the kindness of its customers. Just this past year it was the backdrop in a VH1 special feature shown all over the country. Don Bassford’s commitment to comedy for your town is unbelievable; many club owners would have closed. He has spent more than $1 million in fees and expenses over the years to bring Springfield the best, even still, paying on losing weekends. Congratulations, Funny Bone Springfield — may your support grow for another six years. David Carlow Executive vice president Funny Bone Entertainment St. Louis
Why did you decide to ridicule us hearing-impaired people [Mark Stern, “Springpatch,” Sept. 22]? What did we do to offend you? What is next on your agenda, tipping over wheelchairs or setting fire to the tails of guide dogs? Blair Whitney Springfield
In the Gilded Age, robber barons justified their riches by invoking “social Darwinism.” The current rash of “industrialists” holds a similar ideology. It all amounts to the same thing: more for the rich and less for the poor. The poor are considered undeserving, and the rich attempt to justify their riches by arguing that they are somehow better than the rest of us. This kind of thing can lead to revolutions.
According to conservative ideologues, the federal government is only useful when it pads the pockets of the fat cats through war profiteering (as in Iraq), when invoking the false god of “supply-side economics” (as in tax cuts for the rich), or in abolishing the estate tax or the capital-gains tax. But it has no use in rescuing people from imminent peril and economic hardship. The rest of us be damned!
Beni Kitching Springfield
Until we Americans take practical, everyday steps to control our dependence on oil, oil companies will continue to generate astronomical record profits. Here are several ideas as to what we can do to decrease our seemingly insatiable oil appetite. First, if we live close enough to our work locations, we can commute by bicycle. Second, if we live farther away, we can carpool. Third, local bus services could set up routes from a 50- to 60-mile radius and provide rides. Fourth, the governor could have certain state workers work four-day weeks or provide computer access to allow others to work from their homes. Fifth, the governor could put the state’s school districts on four-day school weeks for a couple of months. Sixth, we can all plan our trips, whether short or long, better and more productively. Seventh, we can all drive the speed limit. I’m sure there are many more ideas that need consideration. If we will work together, we will make a difference. Chris Babb Rochester
A recent letter by Jerry Collins claimed that “intelligent design” is a scientific concept [“Letters,” Sept. 15]. The letter stated that it is scientific to believe that living organisms were designed by an unspecified being, that it is unscientific to accept evolution because it can’t be observed, and that the probability of life arising from nonliving matter is “effectively zero.” In science, there is a concept called the “rule of parsimony.” The rule of parsimony provides that when more than one explanation is proposed for a scientifically observed phenomenon, one is to accept the simplest explanation that fits the observations. Any theory that necessitates the existence of one or more incredibly knowledgeable and incredibly capable supernatural beings, which must perform incredibly complex tasks for comparatively mundane results, will always be the most complex theory proposed and will always fail the rule of parsimony. Barring actual observations of the incredible efforts of the incredibly knowledgeable and incredibly capable supernatural beings, explanations that only require natural processes will always be simpler and more scientific. It is unscientific to suggest that living organisms must have been created by incredibly knowledgeable and incredibly capable supernatural beings because humans have only been around for thousands of years. As in many other aspects of life, humans are capable of using artifacts to understand scientific principles (that is, when was the last time you saw gravity?). Biologists have fossils, the genetic code, and morphological similarities of living organisms to use in studying evolution. By comparison, “intelligent-design” proponents have no such artifacts and no observations of any living organism’s being created by incredibly knowledgeable and incredibly capable supernatural beings. The claim that the probability of life’s arising from nonliving matter is effectively zero is meaningless. The phrase “effectively zero” is not defined or derived from scientific research. Since we are not aware of the exact conditions needed for the formation of self-replicating molecules, any claims about the probability of the conditions existing are ignorant speculation.
“Intelligent design” is not science. It is religious mythology and superstition repackaged as science to skirt the constitutional prohibition against using the public schools for the establishment of a government-sponsored religion. William Zierath Petersburg

The last sentence of Dusty Rhodes’ column in the Sept. 29 issue was “So maybe he [the editor] won’t mind that I wrote this column — while’s he’s on vacation.” Part of the sentence was omitted in the print edition. Illinois Times regrets the error.
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