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Letters to the Editor

Compiled by Vail Daily staff

Vail Daily, Vail Colorado CODeclare victory now If you remember, the original justification for this war was to rid the world of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. But there were no such weapons, so President Bush decided to save face by changing the war’s rationale to ridding the world of Saddam Hussein. We sort of accepted that switch and shortly thereafter, Mr. Hussein was captured. Once that was accomplished, Bush could have said, “We won. Now let’s go home.”Unfortunately, that was never even a consideration because his real goal was to establish a permanent presence in Iraq and gain some measure of control over their oil reserves. Towards that end, we have established a consulate of a thousand people and done the necessary planning for five or six permanent military bases. But then too there had to be a stable and friendly government in order to assure the permanence of those American outposts. He couched this requirement as bringing democracy to the Middle East, a goal never even mentioned when he asked for and received congressional approval for his war. Nonethe-less, that is the problem, and that is why we have lost 3,000 American lives.In truth, most of us don’t give a hoot about controlling their oil or about having a presence in Iraq. At the same time, most Iraqis now consider our servicemen to be an army of infidels and, as shown in a recent survey, 78 percent of them want us to be gone. Many of them are willing to kill and die for that reason, while many others are willing to kill and die for a variety of religious grievances, be they real or imagined. Nonetheless, Bush tries to convince us that we can enable a secular and friendly democratic society, even when the current situation, the last three years, and the entire history of Iraq refute that possibility. So, we’ll continue to lose American lives and spend billions of our dollars – not to make our country safer, but to prevent Iraqis from killing Iraqis and to satisfy Bush’s hidden agenda. Unfortunately, this stupidity will now likely continue until 2009, when a new president can say that’s enough, and then the Iraqis will be forced to choose between endless sectarian chaos and some semblance of order. My personal belief is that they will achieve some semblance of order. In any case, I say let’s give them that choice right now! David Le VineWrong imageI’m writing about the Charles Agar article on brain injury that was in the Sunday Vail Daily. In particular, I’m interested in the reference to some Dr. Rodman, supposedly the head of the trauma department at the Aspen hospital. I think it means that he’s an ER doc. Who knows? Anyway, if his description of the anatomy of the brain and head was translated accurately, it’s just plain wrong. Maybe Agar just couldn’t remember it right after his concussion.The brain isn’t wrapped by something like saran wrap or paper surrounded by cardboard. That’s not only a joke. It’s just plain stupid. The brain is surrounded by several membranes (pia mater, dura mater, etc,) then has the protective covering of the skull. In places, the bony calvarium (skull) is as thick as 1cm. Yes, there are places where it’s thinner, but for the most part, a skull fracture isn’t the cause of brain injury or death in skiers.In skiing, people who die from hitting trees do so as a result of a high cervical spine fracture, not a brain injury. For skiers who suffer brain injury, very rarely does it involve a skull fracture. On the other hand, it involves the shaking of the brain in the skull, which results in brain swelling. The skull is inelastic, and when the brain swells, the pressure inside the calvarium goes up, it compresses the brain and may even cut off its own blood supply (brain herniation). Helmets do not prevent skier deaths that are the result of collisions with trees. Helmets do some good by lessening the amount of shaking the brain sustains when a skier bumps his head on the snow or on something else. The helmet absorbs some of the shock, so the brain doesn’t rattle around in the skull as much. However, if the impact of an object or the snow on the helmet is great enough, the brain can still sustain significant bruising, swelling and damage. We’ve all heard of cyclists who fell down and who hit their heads and whose helmets did not prevent them from death. The impact was just too hard. If you take a skull with a brain in it and slam it into a wall hard enough, it doesn’t matter what kind of helmet it is, the brain can still sustain a huge bruise and die.Nevertheless, helmets are a good idea. They keep the head warm. They prevent injury from branches and bark from skiing in the trees. They prevent injury from your head hitting the ski lift or from wayward skis or poles or boards from people walking around with them. They protect the brain from low-energy impacts.Nope, the brain isn’t a cauliflower wrapped with saran wrap in a paper bag surrounded by cardboard. It’s not nearly as hard as cauliflower. That description isn’t even close to the truth. The fact of the matter is that this ER doctor probably hasn’t even seen what the brain really looks like after a trauma. What skiers and boarders need to do is to ski in control, use safety devices, look up the hill when entering a ski run, avoid skiers below them, ski slowly on green trails, etc. Hey! Wait a minute! I just read that on a napkin at a Beaver Creek restaurant! It’s the skier safety code! Whaddya know about that? Following the safety code will save more brain injury than helmets, and research has proven that. Obviously, Mr. Agar sustained a brain injury. David Schaut, MDBeetle battlesAs an owner of property in Vail and a part-time resident, I have read with interest the articles about what the pine beetle is doing to our trees. Recently, I attended a lecture in Vienna given by an Austrian forester who answered my question about a solution to the pine beetle problem. He stated that in Austria they cut down the damaged tree as soon as they see red pine needles. When they cut the tree, they peel back the bark so that the birds eat the larva of the beetles. They have found this to be a successful way to control the beetle. Pamla Moore Vienna, Austria


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