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Ned Madden's article was more editorial than factual reporting ("The Death Ray," Oct. 1). First, much of what TRW does in this area is classified by the Department of Defense. Second, the houses grew up around Capistrano Test Site (CTS)—it was developer choices and buyers' decisions. CTS is not an intruder.
The "infamous, scandalous $50 billion corporate-welfare program" called Star Wars? Any defense analyst can easily describe the new threats that arose from the breakup of the Soviet Union and their weapons dump on anti-American countries. No longer are Russia and China isolated threats; instead, we have large numbers of countries and groups with nuclear capability and almost with delivery systems placing America and its allies under grave threat.
Many scientists who doubted laser capabilities and other Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) strategies have been publicly and privately proven wrong. The technology existed or was in development, but security did not allow discussion. The SDI budget for the majority of the programs was not funneled through the congressional budget process because of its classified nature (civics lesson). The term "dried up" is a laugher for those in the defense industry.
The airborne-laser program has been demonstrated effective. The Russians were treated to a demonstration firing of the laser, reflecting off a mirror in space, knocking out a missile. This was before 1990. May I suggest that intercontinental ballistic-missile capability presently exists in China and several other Asian and African nations and is close to being commercially marketed to certain political groups?
Suggested reading materials on the subject are Aviation Week (more right than wrong) and Jane's books on present military capabilities. I would like to go into more detail, but the Department of Defense and other military units don't allow this, in the name of national security.—Bob Stevenson, via e-mail Ned Madden responds: I'm on vacation in the Greek Islands, spending all the cash I made writing this article for theWeekly. Let me be brief so I can get back to the cruise ship's all-you-can-eat-lamb-and-all-you-can-drink-ouzo buffet spread: First, in writing about classified subjects, it's predictable that critics will claim as Stevenson does that the real story can't be told—a fact that, however sad for democracy, may be true, but it doesn't keep me from restating the simple point of my article: in South County, TRW is working on the world's most powerful beam weapon. That fact is open to anyone with two years to spend looking through the public record as I did. And it seems that if I can spend two years reading reams of unclassified government data, the least Stevenson can do is take a half-hour to read that story carefully: I didn't blame TRW for building CTS near homes. In fact, I wrote that CTS has been in South County since 1963 and used to be "hidden in the canyon. Suburban sprawl has changed that." There's no question that many countries have missiles capable of firing warheads a great distance; as necessary as that might make laser-beam weapons seem to U.S. national defense, it won't make them any more effective. (Now that I'm floating around in the Aegean, this brings to mind Diogenes: "If only were it possible to banish hunger by rubbing the belly.") Other documents in the public record indicate that U.S. intelligence agencies are far more concerned with highly mobile delivery systems—like so-called suitcase weapons and car bombs. To take the rest of Stevenson's letter in order: to my knowledge, no scientist critical of a space-based nuclear laser beam has ever been proven wrong publicly, and Stevenson offers no evidence to the contrary. I acknowledge that it would be logically impossible to say what has happened privately. Stevenson is right about one thing at least: the true cost of laser-beam research is probably pornographically higher than the numbers the government has allowed to escape into the public record. Perhaps most discouraging about Stevenson's letter is its technocratic tone, suggesting as it does that average citizens shouldn't endeavor to question the scientific elite and—more to the point—the corporations for whom the elite work. If that becomes the prevailing attitude toward government, Americans won't have to wait for someone to impose fascism from the outside; it will have been imposed from within. HILLBILLIES 'R' US
Re: Buddy Seigal's column "Train in Vain" (Music, Oct. 1): Seigal states in his preview of the Doublewide Hayride Show that you won't find hillbilly/rockabilly broadcast elsewhere "no matter how much fancy dial twisting you do." I'd like to call his attention to the alternative country/rockabilly/hillbilly radio show Howdylicous! on KUCI 88.9 FM every Sunday from 8 to 10 p.m. and available via the Internet at www.kuci.org. If Seigal "appreciates being exposed to this stuff," I invite him to tune in any Sunday for great classic and contemporary country music without the cornpone humor and hillbilly accents. Just good music.—Julie Espy,Howdylicious!, KUCI 88.9 FM, Irvine HE'S FONDA STIGMATA
Reviewer Paul Malcolm didn't seem to have paid much (not even minimal) attention to Stigmata (Calendar, Sept. 24). Perhaps he was so busy thinking of a cute, clever way to fit "astigmatism" into his review that he couldn't do anything so silly as to actually pay attention to the screen. If he had, he might have noticed that Patricia Arquette's character was possessed by an "angelic messenger," not a demon: while possessed, Arquette's character reveals lost words of Jesus and scribbles them on a wall in Aramaic. A devil would not do that. Duh.
Malcolm complains that the movie "spins off into a muddled, pointless story of Vatican intrigue and conspiracy." Not hardly. Let me spell it out, Paul: the real message of Jesus was lost and kept from humanity by devils who manipulated and possessed church officials. A heavenly messenger possessed a lively atheist in order to circumvent the diabolical control of the church and bring the message out. Silly maybe, but not muddled or pointless.
Whatever problem there might be with the story lies actually at Christianity's door. The movie is not nearly the mess Malcolm's thoughtless, sloppy review was.—Ron Leighton, Fountain Valley CRACK UP
Re: Mark Boal's "Chillin' With Uncle Sam" (Machine Age, Sept. 17): I stopped reading your article midway to check out the site, and the first thing I noticed was the dated video game that screamed out to anyone with eyeballs, "FEDS! FEDS!"
What flavor of crack was Disney smoking when they approved this site? Boal calls this "slick layout"? (Pardon while I laugh—HA, HA, HA!) The colors are all suspiciously vomit-colored, and every paragraph on the page has an anti-drug message. Are you sure they're trying to identify with teens? If this is what $183 million per year is buying, they should change their strategy and just buy out Kid Rock's record contract and extort him to write some "O.G." anti-drug songs (hey, if they steal that idea and it works, I want 15 percent!).
Okay, in case the federales are reading this, here's another tip: go back to the dog in the trench coat. At least he might have passed as "à la Disney." Crawling back into my hole,—Dusty van Buren, via e-mailTEED-OFF
Re: Rebecca Schoenkopf's "Sallys! Rockers golf badly, spark up and drive fast—all for the kids" (Commie Girl, Oct. 1): I have been golfing for 22 years and have participated in many golf events over the years. I played in the Angel Care Golf Tournament referenced in Commie Girl as part of the White Kaps Fearless Records entourage. Not only was I a major contributor to the event, but I was also the person who won the event.
In all my years of golfing, this is the first tournament I ever won. How disappointed I was when I read Ms. Schoenkopf's account of the event, wherein she refers to me only as "some guy." Is this all I get for my 15 minutes of fame?—Blaine Kolkoski, Newport Beach The editors respond: Yep, that and a letter to the editor.
Maybe this has been addressed and I missed it. But if not, then I must ask: Why have you banished Commie Girl to the back of your paper? Her humor, wit and name-dropping are wildly entertaining and belong in front, where readers look first—not banished to the basement, like some old, senile, drooling relative you are embarrassed of. Schoenkopf's column is a treasure to be enjoyed and shared by all.
If this move is a comment on her socialistic leanings, then she is being persecuted because of her political views. As a Libertarian and voluntary socialist (not to be confused with mandatory, government-by-force socialism), I hate to see unpopular political views sent to the back of the bus. This is behavior I would expect from members of Young Americans for Freedom, but not from your socially and politically tolerant newspaper.—Doug Scribner, vice chairman, Libertarian Party of Orange CountyWANTED: CLUES
I was wondering if you fine people knew or have heard about how scary the ocean water is between Huntington and Newport beaches. Guys are getting really sick left and right, and most of us just won't surf here anymore. I've heard all of these crazy rumors about hepatitis-B and viral meningitis, and with all of the needles washing up onshore, it might be safe to assume there's some shit going on.
Being that you rule at getting to the bottom of everything around here, I'm hoping that you might be looking into this to inform us about what's really going down.—Austin Brown, via e-mail The editors respond: Dirty water? In Huntington Beach? It's news to us.
I noticed that your weekly magazine is missing one very important feature: a horoscope! The first thing most people do when opening any newspaper or magazine is read their horoscopes, so I feel this would be a great addition to your magazine.
I am the creator of TarotScopes. com, a unique and very popular Web site and weekly "tarotscope" column, and I would like to offer my column to your magazine.—Kim Kucera-Mandat, via e-mail The editors respond: You know, we're soooo brainless that we can't decide whether to include your horoscope column. So we asked Rockie Gardiner, who writes our weekly Rockie Horoscope column. Rockie's answer is listed under "Virgo" this week. Correction
Due to a transmission error, the review of Contempt attributed to Greg Stacy in This Week in Rude French Men was not written by Stacy (Calendar, Oct. 8). Instead, the text was from the Internet Movie Database. We apologize for the error.