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  Rebuttals
  BQR ~ spring 1998

Regarding Ursula Ferrets Out the Truth,
by Earl Perry, bqr 11:1

I personally don't think the bqr should be the forum for that type of material. First of all, it would obviously be offensive to some, so why do it? And, as important, it has nothing to do with the Canyon. I don't think that many, including the bod's, would qualify it as “Setting the highest standards for the river profession.” It's a funny story, and may even be true, but why? What does gcrg, or any boatman, gain from it?
You, I'm sure, will hear both sides of the argument. Like: “Well, that is the way people really talk” Well, not everyone talks that way, so why offend people when you don't have to? We may have differing opinions on what should or shouldn't be printed; I remember a Board meeting when we discussed this same issue and it is a tough call as to what should or shouldn't be used. Here is a standard to consider for the articles and language published in the bqr:
Publish nothing, article or language within an article, that you would not be willing to present during the initial orientation for an average river trip. For a very large part, you are addressing the same audience.

Tom Vail

The author responds:

Well, he's sort of right by his (proposed) definition of the editorial content for the bqr. And he apparently didn't dislike the story, a distinct authorial plus. As to whether boatmen were led by it to achieve the highest standards of the profession, arguable, but improbable; I don't suppose most of what's in the bqr meets that standard. (If I even understand that standard, which I probably don't; the bqr looks to me like what I would call a “magazine” rather than a hortatory/inculcatory/edulcorative decoction for mutual moral, intellectual, and boatal improvement.) I thought of Ursula as an amusing vignette about the sexual tensions on a river trip, and the curious way they can present as parasitism—literately presented.
I could say tendentiously that I think you have to make a decision about including writing for grownups, but that would be tendentious. Anyway, if it looks like canyon, smells like canyon, and tastes like canyon to me, and I wrote it, I'll submit it and you can decide whether it IS canyon. Thanks for passing on the comment; like any writer I'd like to be loved but rather be rebarbative than slip silently beneath the surface.

Earl Perry

Regarding A Matter of Faith,by Tom Vail, bqr 11:1

Tom Vail evinces a disappointing grasp of the basic tenets of science in his essay A Matter of Faith. His fundamental error is that he confuses the comparability of final conclusions in reaching his view that “when you really start to look at the two models, evolutionist vs. creationist, it is a matter of faith.” The error lies in that he doesn't look at what underlies those conclusions and, most particularly, the method by which the conclusions are reached.
The Creationist view relies upon finding evidence that supports its predetermined conclusion and evidence that doesn't support the conclusion is either explained away or ignored. The result is that the Creationist's conclusion can never change, rather his or her explanations of how to get that conclusion changes as she or he is forced to explain away contradictory evidence.
The scientific view, on the other hand, attempts to take all the evidence and hypothesize about what it tells us. As a result, the scientific view is pretty much constantly changing as hypotheses are tested and as new evidence is uncovered.
However, because Mr. Vail doesn't look at how they got to those views, he misses the big picture and arrives at a wildly misleading conclusion.
Mr. Vail also seems unacquainted with the reality that, even among those calling themselves Christian, the Creationist view is a decided minority based on one particular, and very narrow intellectual approach to scriptural interpretation. For him to call for interpreters to “be prepared, at least at some level, to present both sides of the issue,” elevates the Creationist claims to an intellectual level far above anything they deserve.

Michael McCoy

Tom Vail's suggestion that the Creationist model should be part of “an objective job of interpreting the geology” of the Grand Canyon makes as much sense to me as using the model of Aztec ritual cannibalism to understand Communion. In a word, this is nonsense.
Creationism isn't an alternative theory of geology: it's a religious doctrine based upon the belief that the Bible should be taken as “the literal truth.” For Creationists, “In the end, there's the Word, and that's good enough.”
Ignoring a couple thousand years of Jewish and Christian scholarship aimed at discovering the original meaning and context of biblical stories, and how they should be accurately rendered into contemporary language, Creationism is a doctrine of ignorance that dismisses the origin of its own most sacred text with the same facility it uses to deny the most wonderful manifestations of their Deity in the material world…
The sad thing about Creationism is that it blinds the eye and the mind to wonders of Creation, substituting belief in a trivial bit of monotheistic sleight of hand for an appreciation of the immensity of time and space, the divine subtlety of biology and the miracle of evolution.
Darwin's Christianity (Thank God!) didn't close his eyes or cloud his mind. His observations in the material world enhanced his appreciation of creation even as they discredited the notion of Biblical literalism. Today the Pope acknowledges evolution as the handiwork of God, and even the most agnostic scientists write with a sense of wonder and respect for the natural world generally lacking in Creationist tracts.
Religion is not a necessary or desirable element in interpretation. With a sensitive eye toward Creationists and others with differing beliefs, we can present the geological story of the Grand Canyon as—if you will—the “Creation Myth of Western Scientific Culture.” If you have the background to talk about the history and evolution of geologic concepts—rather than just recite formation names, ages, and paleoenvironments—so much the better: it's an interesting story.
People of diverse beliefs and interests come to the canyon for many different reasons; not all are interested in the details of the best geological cross section on the planet. But for those who would see, we should give it our best shot and show them what the rocks reveal, not poke them in the eye with religious dogma. If their eyes offend them, they can pluck them out.

Drifter Smith

the author responds:

It seems I have ruffled a few feathers, and maybe even angered a few. For that I apologize. It was not my intent to alter anyone's beliefs. I only ask that you consider that many in at least two fairly large groups of people, Jews and Christians, base their interpretations on beliefs that may be different from yours.

Tom Vail

Regarding gcrg's comments on the Colorado River Management Plan, bqr 11:1

I read with great interest the article in the last bqr regarding the crmp—issues and solutions. Even though I found myself in agreement with the majority of solutions, I felt compelled to address one of the points concerning river patrols and law enforcement. Like most other boatmen, I thrive on the feeling of autonomy and in general I'm anti-authoritarian, so it's disheartening to hear that the Park Service is spending money on night vision scopes or I might be forced to wear a beard net to prepare a meal. I agree that we need a less invasive attitude from the Park Service and more of a team approach from everyone when it comes to regulations.
Unfortunately, the article made it sound like most experiences with the river patrols are wrought with antagonism. My own experiences reflect the exact opposite. The current river patrol rangers, Dave Desrosiers and Dave Trevino, have been nothing but professional, helpful, and respectful to my passengers and crew. They have aided us in evacuation situations, given sound advice concerning regulations, and been welcome guests in our camps. These guys have earned our respect through friendliness and an ability to do their job without hitting us over the head with a stick... even when we might have deserved it. I dread the thought that they might have taken that article as a personal affront or a statement about the way they have done their job. I think we are lucky to have these guys as rangers and I hope they feel appreciated enough to stick around for awhile.

anonymous

In bqr 11 :1, Winter 1997-98, p.26, is this statement on the crmp Solution: Allocation (Total):
“however, it is extremely important that the canyon and the river be given enough time during the winter months to recover from summer use.”
In The Waiting List, 1:9, November 1997, p.4, in an interview with Earl Perry is this statement on Expanding the Season/More Allocation:
“There's an intuitive feel to allowing a canyon and river to lie fallow for a while in the season of rest. There's (sic) also some data to support it, at least when you are dealing with animals along more northern rivers. They need to be relatively undisturbed in their winter range and they need some “lambing” time to raise their youngest in the early spring.”
I am confused about this, so perhaps someone can explain this to me. This concept of “rest” is one to which I don't subscribe, at least not on the scale of “less” use in winter. A real rest might be one entire boating year, say November through the following October, occurring once each 5 or 7 years.
But what of the Grand Canyon and the Colorado River needs to be “rested” in order to “recover?” Does supplying less use in the winter give enough of a “rest” or enough time to “recover?”

Perplexed

The flashboards at Powell are a wretched idea, even if the Secretary signed off on them:
A) It's outrageous that their lousy design and reservoir management should be compensated by drowning yet more pieces of the rapids and camps in Cataract.
B) This height increase, which seems minimal, results in miles of extra-height bathtub ring, slumping, driftwood accretion, and other environmental damage up in Cataract.
C) I haven't a map with sufficiently detailed contours, but I think that the flashboards' backwater may well invade the National Park and constitute a violation of its establishing act.
D) While they don't have to contain much pressure—4.5 feet of water is 4.5 feet, even if it's 186 miles long—the flashboards are subject to sudden massive rupture or slippage which in itself could overload the spillways. See next point.
E) I don't have a depth-area-capacity table for the lake, but I'll bet money (even in my unemployed state) that raising Powell from 3700 to 3704.5 is far more than 750,000 acre-feet. I bet it's more like 3.5–4 maf. If we accept the lesser figure, it is still worth noting that if the boards fail, you get half a big month's normal discharge in a day, a flow of 375,000 cfs: beyond the design capacity for the spillways, and likely much more than they can take even in their supposedly redesigned configuration.
In sum, it's a damned dumb idea and it isn't safe for downstream boaters. Let them do a drawdown and hold it down.

Earl Perry

Regarding gcrg's comments on the Colorado River Management Plan, bqr 11:1

I read with great interest the article in the last bqr regarding the crmp—issues and solutions. Even though I found myself in agreement with the majority of solutions, I felt compelled to address one of the points concerning river patrols and law enforcement. Like most other boatmen, I thrive on the feeling of autonomy and in general I'm anti-authoritarian, so it's disheartening to hear that the Park Service is spending money on night vision scopes or I might be forced to wear a beard net to prepare a meal. I agree that we need a less invasive attitude from the Park Service and more of a team approach from everyone when it comes to regulations.
Unfortunately, the article made it sound like most experiences with the river patrols are wrought with antagonism. My own experiences reflect the exact opposite. The current river patrol rangers, Dave Desrosiers and Dave Trevino, have been nothing but professional, helpful, and respectful to my passengers and crew. They have aided us in evacuation situations, given sound advice concerning regulations, and been welcome guests in our camps. These guys have earned our respect through friendliness and an ability to do their job without hitting us over the head with a stick... even when we might have deserved it. I dread the thought that they might have taken that article as a personal affront or a statement about the way they have done their job. I think we are lucky to have these guys as rangers and I hope they feel appreciated enough to stick around for awhile.

anonymous



big horn sheep