Letters to the Editor: Volcanoes and fireworks

For real fireworks, visit a volcano

I heard fireworks going off every night for at least two months up to the Fourth of July. While I like fireworks for a very special occasion, it is mainly to watch their colorful displays in the sky. On the other hand, I’m willing to bet that the fireworks I have heard are mostly just firecrackers thrown on the ground, such as M-80s, which are about the largest commercially available, and only in a few places. I don’t understand the attraction to setting off such fireworks. As a child, it seemed kinda macho to me, but now it just seems silly.

If it is explosions you like, let’s compare some. The largest commercial fireworks, like M-80s, are equivalent to less than 1/2 gram of TNT, and less than 1/60 of a stick of dynamite. But if you really like explosions, go visit a volcano. There are at least 20 volcanoes erupting on any given day, and more than 40 are going this week. Some erupt every day. Even very small eruptions, such as the almost hourly eruptions at Stromboli, Mount Erebus, Sangay and Yasur volcanoes, are still equal to at least 1 billion M-80s during each eruption, and often have colorful aerial displays as well.

The explosion during the May 18, 1980, Mount St. Helens eruption sent a blast cloud 15 miles high, blew down large trees 19 miles away and was heard 140 miles away. About 540 million tons of volcanic ash fell over more than 22,000 square miles. The main blast released energy equal to 24 megatons of TNT, about 1,600 times more than the Hiroshima atomic bomb. It was equivalent to more than 50 trillion M-80 firecrackers.

The Mount Pinatubo eruption in the Philippines on June 15, 1991, was about 20 times larger than that, and the 1883 Krakatau eruption was similar! For real fireworks, go visit a volcano.
Randy White
Volcanologist
U.S. Geological Survey
(retired)

Clarifying Douglass’ words of wisdom

On page 3 of the July 8 edition of the Town Crier, under “Latest Happenings,” there is a reference to Frederick Douglass’ 1852 speech to a group of abolitionists, “… in which he called Independence Day a ‘sham’ given the enduring system of slavery in the U.S.”
But just for the record, Douglass did not “call Independence Day a ‘sham.’” He said, “What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; …” And so it was to all the slaves at that time, a decade before the Civil War.
Douglass also paid great tribute to the country’s founders and their desire for freedom from oppression, thereby ultimately leading to his main issue of the evils of slavery.
He also said, “Let the dead past bury its dead; Act, act in the living present, Heart within, and God overhead,” as well as, “Now, take the Constitution according to its plain reading, and I defy the presentation of a single pro-slavery clause in it. On the other hand it will be found to contain principles and purposes, entirely hostile to the existence of slavery.”
Here was a wise man.
Dave Rigney
Mountain View

Congress must protect voting by mail

COVID-19 is wreaking havoc on our families, our economy and our elections. But Congress has the power to intervene right now.
In response to safety concerns and pressure from constituents like me, Congress has already passed limited funds to expand absentee voting, online registration and in-person early voting, but it’s simply not enough.

Without $4 billion in total funding for election assistance, voters may not be able to make their voices heard during one of the most important elections of our lifetime.

We need our leaders to prevent a situation where any voter is forced to choose between protecting their health and casting their ballot.
While these policies are critical as we recover from this national crisis, voting reforms like expanding no-excuse absentee voting and online voter registration are common-sense changes that will help voters participate in the political process.

Multiple states have already adopted vote-by-mail, and their models could be implemented across the country.

I expect Congress to provide more economic relief, but the next bill also needs to include expanded funding for mail-in voting, more early voting at safe polling places and other options to make voting as safe as possible this November.

If voting by mail is good enough for Donald Trump, it should be good enough for all of us. Congress needs to make it possible for every eligible American to vote by mail if they choose to do so.
Shaye Chirotarrab
Los Altos

Could BCS’ $2M loan hurt local businesses?

Could we find that certain Los Altos businesses and nonprofits lose out because Bullis Charter School has secured $2 million for its largely Los Altos/Los Altos Hills families?

Given these Paycheck Protection Program loans are not unlimited, BCS is drawing from the same pool that local businesses and nonprofits are.

Hopefully we won’t see that PPP funds are exhausted, and our deserving local businesses and nonprofits get shut down as a result of loans like BCS’s.

Barry Smith
Los Altos Hills

Legislation supports Alzheimer’s sufferers

I am 16 years old, and my grandmother is one of the 5 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease.
People living with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias are at heightened risk of experiencing elder abuse. In fact, as many as two-thirds of older adults with dementia experience psychological abuse, and as many as one-quarter have been physically abused.
Given the growing population of people with dementia, our police officers, firefighters, emergency personnel and social workers will increasingly encounter these vulnerable individuals, and working with them can be fundamentally different from working with other older victims of abuse or exploitation.

Unfortunately, the professionals who deal with elder abuse often have little knowledge or training. The Promoting Alzheimer’s Awareness to Prevent Elder Abuse Act (H.R. 6813) would require the U.S. Department of Justice to develop training materials to assist professionals supporting victims of abuse living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

Please join me in urging Rep. Anna Eshoo, who represents Los Altos, Los Altos Hills and Mountain View, to sponsor the Promoting Alzheimer’s Awareness to Prevent Elder Abuse Act to protect vulnerable members of our community.
Jack Albright
Los Altos

Submit a Letter to the Editor

The Town Crier welcomes letters to the editor on current events pertinent to Los Altos, Los Altos Hills and Mountain View. Write to us at 138 Main St., Los Altos 94022, Attn: Editor, or email editor Bruce Barton at bruceb@latc.com. Because editorial space is limited, please confine letters to no more than 200 words. Include a phone number for verification purposes. Anonymous letters will not be printed.

You can also have your say right here at losaltosonline.com – scroll to the bottom of any story to add a comment. 

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