U.S. might, good intentions won't fight age-old mistrust
It's hard to imagine a starker symbol of foreign policy futility than American soldiers dying at the hands of their supposed allies in Afghanistan.
After 11 years of winning hearts and minds, we seem to have fewer friends there than when we started. Are some hearts and minds impervious to our charms?
The U.S. had a right and a duty to neutralize the threat of al-Qaida, but the idea that we could "fix" the civilization that spawned it was foolish. Where poverty, illiteracy and primitivism are the norm, outsiders will always meet with mistrust and resentment. No amount of good intentions outweighs centuries-old culture.
Modern western democracies aren't really capable of the wholesale social transformation true nation-building would require. In earlier times, conquerors killed enemy warriors, seized territory and forcibly converted survivors to their religion — brutal, but effective.
There's no evidence that sending soldiers into Third World backwaters armed with sensitivity manuals can accomplish the same thing.
If cultural disposition were the only factor, the Taliban would be far more qualified to export their socio-political system than we are. They can't, of course, because they lack technological prowess. Hence the standoff in central Asia, and America's longest war.
Understanding climate science
Many scientists believe that the increasing amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is responsible for the small increase in the average temperature that has been observed over the last 50 years, and predict that it will cause a significant temperature increase in the future.
A recent letter in this space repeated some misunderstandings about this theory.
The letter correctly observed that the amount of carbon dioxide that was released into the atmosphere in recent years has been low, yet that the global temperature remains high. However, this is consistent with the theory, because carbon dioxide emitted by human activities is removed from the atmosphere very slowly, by absorption into the oceans and land masses. It is a 500-year-long process.
Every lump of coal and drop of oil burned in the last 500 years is represented in the atmosphere today. The amount of carbon dioxide present has been measured very accurately for almost 50 years, and the concentration has been steadily increasing.
Carbon dioxide does, in fact, trap heat on Earth, because energy arrives in the form of visible light, but leaves in the form of infrared light. Carbon dioxide, methane and water vapor absorb infrared light, preventing the escape of energy. The mechanism is similar to the way that a greenhouse works. The atmosphere makes the Earth warm.
Figuring out what to do about global warming is very hard. The first step is to understand the science and agree that we have a problem to solve.
Joseph Straley and Paul Vincelli
University of Kentucky scientists
Voter-turnout effort open to all
This is in response to a letter in which the writer referenced an Aug. 26 Herald-Leader article concerning Operation Turnout's Kickoff Service.
The writer asked "whether Rep. Ben Chandler was invited by the church for the service or did he show up without an invite?" The writer also asked if Chandler's opponent Andy Barr, was invited.
Both were invited with the understanding that they would be recognized but not be allowed to speak. Barr was unable to attend but sent a member of his campaign staff, who was acknowledged along with Chandler.
Neither candidate was invited by a church; they were invited by Operation Turnout, which has partnered with numerous organizations, including churches.
Operation Turnout is both nonpartisan and impartial. Barr and Chandler have both confirmed they will participate in our Voter Education Candidate Forum, 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Shiloh Baptist Church.
We look forward to hearing from them, along with representations from both presidential campaigns and candidates for offices on the state and local levels.
Everyone is welcome to attend. The goal is for all to leave better informed and better prepared to cast ballots in November.
The Rev. L. Clark Williams
Chairman, Operation Turnout Committee
No downtown slowdown
Anyone has to have a good chuckle at those who advocate the return of two-way streets to downtown Lexington which will cause people to slow down.
This means traffic is going to be a lot worse, there are going to be traffic jams and people will be getting stuck in traffic. There was a good reason the streets went one-way many years ago and today is not the time to try and return to what failed yesteryear.
With downtown continuing to grow and prosper, is traffic gridlock what we want and need? I will put it this way so that each and every business owner understands: The first time I get caught in one of those slowdowns, it will also be my last time downtown as I will be taking my dollars elsewhere.
Kudos for the paper
In this time of political divisiveness, I take offense at people who accuse the Herald-Leader of bias. I find it to be patently untrue.
Without divulging my own bias, I've seen enough of the other side in the paper to cuss under my breath. The editorial board is walking a fine line and is successfully allowing both sides to vent.
I hope I never live to see the day when a newspaper doesn't appear on my front walk. As long as we have people like the editorial board, the Campaign Watchdog and other features that are nonpolitical, I predict that day will be a long time coming.
While I'm at it: however much the paper is paying music critic Walter Tunis, it's certainly getting its money's worth.
Save downtown green space from development
While we are blessed with bright October days, I invite all Lexingtonians — living near downtown or not— to walk up High Street, and look over at the beautiful buildings along Main.
See how spacious the center of the town is. How the library square leads the eye toward the courthouse mall and on toward Transylvania's verdant grounds. Turn around; you'll see the green trees of Maxwell Street sweeten the breezes.
In the center, a peaceful green field. That field cries out to be the park that unites people of Lexington and Fayette County on their happiest occasions. If you want this beautiful field to be a park, and the center of your city, say so. If you allow a giant building to be built on that field, you will never see any of these beautiful sights again. Downtown will go dark, and all the air will be squeezed out of it.
Lexington doesn't need another skyscraper. A human design at the center of town is best. We have just learned that the long-buried creek, Town Branch, could easily be allowed to run its natural course through town.
Such a vision for downtown is worth twice what CentrePointe is worth. The temporary boost the skyscraper would provide is far outweighed by the fact that it will ruin the appearance of downtown Lexington for decades. Better to see than to be blocked off by more concrete walls. Better to breathe than to choke. Stop CentrePointe.
Football tickets too high
There has been a lot of talk about the decline in University of Kentucky football ticket sales. As a longtime fan, I would like to give my reason as to why I gave up my tickets.
I was a season ticket holder from 1975 until 2009 through some good teams and many bad, many good coaches and some bad.
My friends and I went to two or three away games every year and were amazed at how many others were doing the same thing. I saw records from 10-1 to 0-10-1 and through it all there was a feeling we were "all in this together" with the team.
What changed? In just a few years, ticket prices doubled, a "rivalry" game was implemented that costs even more (sometimes it was a team we no longer play), the Blue-White Fund mandatory contributions expanded to most seats in the stadium, and we have a non-conference schedule that is certainly not worth $50 a ticket (look at the 1977 10-1 schedule).
If I hadn't already given up my tickets, the final straw would have been when UK removed the "ring of honor" from the stadium, the very players who essentially built and expanded it, so they could sell even more advertising. Many diehard fans are gone, and the sad part is, we'll never return.
Lower football expectations
In 1951 when the University of Kentucky won the Sugar Bowl, there were only five bowls and only the top 10 teams in the country got to go bowling.
In 2012, there are 35 bowls for the 123 Division 1-A teams. Over 50 percent of those teams are invited to play in bowls and most of them only require six wins.
The accomplishment by the 1951 UK football team was a very big deal. What was accomplished in the Rich Brooks era (39-47) with four bowl appearances was a big deal for UK fans, but on the grand scale of things not so big a deal.
When you have just broken an 0-26 losing streak versus Tennessee and have extended yet another 0-26 playing Florida have poor W-L records versus Alabama, South Carolina and others in the outstanding SEC, what Coach Joker Phillips' doing currently is not a lot different than in the past 60 years.
UK occasionally upsets one of these several major powers in the SEC, but not often enough to render any hope for it to happen on a regular basis.
I claim no authority or genius in any area, especially college football, but visions of grandeur seem to exist that make almost every season a huge disappointment.
Phillips is just the most recent joker to have the pay the price of over-expectation. Either lower expectations or try the ACC. Rebuilding, rebuilding. Reassess your expectations; make them realistic.
Crack down on vote fraud
In the Oct. 3 edition the paper ran an editorial criticizing efforts to combat voter fraud. Why is there such a backlash, hue and cry over the long overdue attempts to ensure honest elections?
The franchise is our most important right and privilege, but a corollary of that right is, that the vote should count at its full weight, not be diluted by fraudulent votes.
Opponents of these measures are quick to claim that there is little evidence of such fraud.
Of course it took Claude Rains in Casablanca a very long time until he was "shocked by finding gambling in Rick's place," too.
Those in my area are well aware how rife our election system is with fraud of all kinds. Seeking to ensure that voters are who they say they are, and that they live where they claim to live (or perhaps live at all) seem pretty tame steps to ensure the integrity of the vote.
And despite the hysteria, what new vote fraud measures have passed that don't make a provision for casting the vote anyway and letting it be counted once identity or residence is proven? That would be none.