Thanks so much for Jennifer Margulis' lovely article about geocaching and letterboxing! They sound like delightful and fun activities for families, combining the world of electronics and the great outdoors. I hope many get involved. It was great to read Margulis' words again. I loved her parenting columns that ran every Monday in the Tidings some time ago and deeply regretted their ending. There was always a marvelous honesty, transparency, authenticity and deep humanity about her words that touched even an old geezer like me whose parenting days are long in the past!
Mondays are a bit of a downer for me, but the day was brightened by anticipation of reading her column. I especially remember with gratitude her articles from her family's time in Niger — so much sensitivity and compassion and love of humanity. She was a real spiritual support for me. I'd love to read her thoughtful and gracious words regularly again!
Rev. Tom Murphy
Slow network speed
I have been paying Ashland Fiber Network for my Internet service for years and never really tested to verify I was receiving the level of service that my contract specifies. I recently decided to start streaming movies via Netflix and encountered a problem. I reviewed the service level options and found that I had a very basic service, and for only $2 additional per month I could more than double my speed. So I increased my service level. I still had problems streaming from Netflix, so I contacted my provider and was given this link to test my speed: http://redwood.ashlandfiber.net/speedtest/. The test revealed my speed was not as advertised. I increased to the 7 megabyte/second service level for almost $20 additional. I still had problems. I tried a new modem and no improvement. They sent a service representative from the Ashland Fiber Network (city of Ashland), and he claimed nothing was wrong.
I just ran the test eight times. My lowest speed was 3.058 mb/sec and highest 4.146 mb/sec. My service level is supposed to be 7 mb/sec. I have never had a test reach 7 mb/sec, and it appears my average speed is approximately 3.5 mb/sec. I recommend everyone test your speed and verify you are getting what you are paying for, as I certainly am not. I expect some speed fluctuations, but I would think my average would be above 6 mb/sec, as the service level below mine is 3 to 5 mb/sec. Maybe I am alone in my problem, or maybe we are being sold a false bill of goods.
My service is approximately 50 percent of advertised speed. Is this not similar to a grocery store selling a gallon container of milk that only contains 2 quarts? Please check your speed and let them know if it is way less than advertised.
The truth about Iraq
"The Lancet," one of the oldest, most established medical journals in the world, conducted a massive, peer-reviewed study to determine the number of Iraqis who died as a result of the U.S. invasion. They couldn't fix a number for the top possibility, but were sure that (conservatively) no fewer than 654,965 more Iraqis died than would have under Saddam Hussein's alleged regime of terror. On August 2007, another solid British organization with extensive experience researching in Iraq supplied the top number: 1.2 million, saying that no fewer than 1 million Iraqis perished. These are the authentic numbers; there's no legitimate controversy.
For the mainstream U.S., there hasn't been much of an illegitimate controversy either. These numbers have been off the T.V., out of Newsweek, out of Obama's audacious and hopeful speeches. Whenever the truth slipped through, educated people didn't know just how credible the sources were, didn't want to believe a million.
If our military killed 1 million Arabs while most voters hailed the invasion without troubling to know the public information that Al Qaeda was not linked to Iraq, they might have had to consider perspectives like mine.
An aspiring political leader, I've long written that absolute democracy is not a good form of government; that scholars and other worthies need more influence; that there's nothing wrong with tribal and "elitist" rule in Africa, the Middle East, etc.; that the best leaders for Afghanistan don't wear fur-hats or have campaign managers.
Sean Lawlor Nelson
Tax water usage
I was very sad to see the Ashland food tax get renewed. Mind you, I am not against taxes per se, what I am against is taxing meals to pay for water — it is illogical. Doesn't it make more sense to tax water usage, which directly affects the water treatment? Let's see, the more water you use directly equates with more use of the water treatment plant. Hmm. Compare this to, "The more you eat out, the more you pay for the water treatment plant, regardless of how much water you use." Ridiculous logic. If you want to tax meals to pay for items directly associated with meals — like restaurant inspections or health care for wait staff — then I am all for it!
A Nov. 3 article on the meals tax stated: "'I'm thrilled that Ashland citizens put community before themselves,' said former city council member and Standing Stone owner Alex Amarotico, one of the few restaurant owners to back the levy. 'It means we keep sewer rates at a reasonable level, and everyone takes part in the funding of it,' he said, referring to the contribution paid by tourists as they dine out."
Everyone takes part in the funding? How about all the people who don't eat out but use a lot of water — where is their part in all of this? Why should tourists pay for our water treatment plant. Their cost should be reflected in the hotels' cost of their water usage, not their dining preferences.
In short, the City Council acted irresponsibly to use the fear tactic that the sewer rates would go way up and that it is better to have someone else to pay for something we use. Instead, they should have educated everyone with, "If you use a resource, then you should pay for that resource, and by doing so you have direct control, based upon your usage, as to how much you will pay." I had to do a lot of calling but finally found out that, based upon the city's estimate, we would only have had to tax a gallon of water 0.2 cents to pay for the water treatment plant. Tax what you use ... a strange new concept.
Letters and letters at length November 5