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Monday, Nov. 17, 2014: Sarah Smiley, Ebola, psychic medium, wind power

Smiley spurs memories

I find myself drawn in each time I see the byline of Sarah Smiley. What a wonderful wife, mother and patriot she is. Her Nov. 10 column made me think back to my own servicemen, father (U.S. Navy) and three uncles (Marine Corps and Army), one who never returned from Normandy. Plus two cousins who served in Vietnam. I served as well, at Bethesda Naval Hospital in Washington, D.C., during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Thanks to Sarah for giving me a ticket to revisit proud moments in my own family. The stories she shared of the 1 percent make us aware of the brave souls who protected us in the country.

Thank you to all the “dependent” wives and children for all they do to support the men we love.

Sharon E. Weber



Fear and disease

Franklin D. Roosevelt said “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” He stated the dangers of fear — “nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.” I have concluded the use of fear exclusively does not help. Everyone has a built-in alert system generating a sense of danger and fear. We pay attention to the alert so we can intelligently assess the situation and determine necessary actions to protect ourselves, and others.

When the new disease HIV/AIDS hit towns, panic pulled children from school, and leaders led in panic mode rather than one based on facts. Recently, Ebola seems to have resulted in similar panic paralyses rather than reasoned use of factual information.

Ebola is not a new disease. In 1976, it was named after a river. It struck again in 1989 when infected monkeys were imported into the U.S. at Reston, Virginia. A few people were infected, panic did not take over, and none developed Ebola hemorrhagic fever. In the 2014 outbreak in West Africa there was panic that paralyzed communities. People stayed home, spreading the disease and adding to the mortality rate. Note the difference in our 1989 response when Ebola entered the U.S and its 2014 Texas arrival — calm versus panic.

Many viruses are more deadly than Ebola — influenza causes 35,000 deaths in the United States a year. No one is quarantined for worst-case viruses when no symptoms are prevalent, including Ebola. Remember, fear is an alert system; after that comes reasoned decisions, not decisions based on fear.

Jarryl Larson


Psychic medium questions

I was astonished to read the “news” article of Nov. 12 describing Jocelyn Boucher as a “real-life certified psychic medium” who has reached “Level 4” and says she “has proven the continuity of life and energy beyond death.”

Who certified this medium? How many experience points did it take for her to reach Level 4? Journalistic standards call for verification of claims from multiple independent sources. Have these amazing claims been verified by multiple independent sources? If so, this would be the first proven psychic in history. If not, then how on Earth did such a story manage to get published in a high-quality newspaper?

Boucher charges $100 to $150 an hour to provide desperately grieving people her undocumented “service.” I pay my newspaper subscription to read documented fact. Please stick to the facts in the future.

James Cook


‘Boys of Summer’?

Have they taken the human element out of college and professional athletics? A decision was made to have video replays on umpires and referees for questionable calls in games. In basketball at the professional level, in one game alone, play was stopped three times in the last minute to review a referee’s decision — fans, players, officials were all standing around in what had been a fast-paced game. In the NCAA Final Four, four games were dragged out for video replays.

Baseball this year has put in a replay system. Gone are the days of Earl Weaver, Billy Martin and other fiery managers — these were not arguments, just a part of baseball. Now umpires put on their headsets while everyone waits to see if the umpire was right or wrong. In a recent game between the Red Sox and White Sox, a call was overturned when upon further review the umpire had made the correct call. In hockey, they have replay on goals.

You not only have to be politically correct but now you have to be athletically correct as well. In a few years, there very well could be no more umpires or referees — computers will govern all calls.

What a shame. Where are the boys of summer?

Harriett Real


Wind is not a success

It would be nice if ordinary citizens had the money to hire lobbying groups, as the corporate wind developers and forest landowners do. Then, we could pay lobbyists such as Paul Williamson of The Maine Ocean and Wind Industry Initiative to write letters to the editor for us (BDN, Nov. 13, “Wind energy success”) and lobby state and local governments.

The Maine wind industry has not been a success, contrary to Williamson’s claim. Maine’s inland wind is marginal at best, so wind developers seldom achieve more than 25 percent of their promised capacity. Paradoxically, developers profit through tax credits to build wind projects, not produce power. Taxpayers foot the bill for these tax credits and for the new transmission lines needed to get Maine’s skimpy wind power to population centers. And the kicker is that southern New England states purchase our wind power so they can bargain with renewable energy credits to continue burning fossil fuels in traditional power plants. So much for saving the planet with wind power.

As for the wind industry benefiting Maine’s rural economy, wind development usually also brings enormous community strife, turning neighbor against neighbor. Just ask residents of Mars Hill, Freedom, Vinalhaven, Carroll or Frankfort how wind development affected their communities. Rural areas will not benefit 20 years from now when turbines break down, and there is no money to pay developers to fix them — and no tourists who want to visit Maine’s industrial wasteland.

Paula Moore


Chili for all

Emily Burnham, author of “Searching for the best chili in Bangor” (BDN, Nov. 12), and I share a love of chili, but we disagree on one of her three criteria — taste, texture, heat — used to judge the chili at seven local restaurants. She likes her chili hot, I prefer mine not hot. So, I am grateful that the article provided just the information that would warn me ahead of time away from some restaurants, and towards others. There seems to be plenty for all.

Lucia Knight



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