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It’s Got It All

Thank you, Siobhan Braun, for your multilayered perspective on love, youth, aging, hope, attitudes (for better or for worse), and transcending borders (Cover Story, November 24). This feature is a treasure for the Reader — insightful, delightful, and robustly poignant.

Laura Dvorak
via email

How To Get Through The Gate

Interesting article on the Gate program (Cover Story, November 18). Some points to keep in mind:

The Raven Progressive Matrices test has a test-retest reliability correlation of between 70 and 90 percent. Let’s be generous and take 90 percent.

This does not mean the test is 90 percent reliable in accurately finding Gate kids. It means that a retest shows a 10 percent variation in questions answered correctly.

The Gate program is taking the kids who score in the top 2 percentile on the Raven test. This is a very finely grained selection. They are using a test with 10 percent variation in questions answered, given a retest. While 10 percent is considered very reliable for an intelligence test, it is not reliable when being used to make such a finely grained determination.

Given the 10 percent random variation on retest and the elite 2 percent target that the school district is trying to get into the Gate program, it is possible to calculate how many kids would not qualify for the Gate program on retest who originally qualified for it.

Two out of three kids who qualify for Gate on the Raven test would fail to qualify on retest. A complement of this statement is that two additional kids would qualify for Gate who failed to qualify on the first test.

It is important to understand that this is not an ideological indictment of the Raven test. It is simply a result of using a relatively blunt instrument (the Raven test) to make a very finely grained decision (who are the top 2 percent of the students). It is also important to note that my estimates here are conservative. The reliability is likely lower, especially over time.

Some conclusions:

If you want your kid in Gate and your kid scores above the 90th percentile, get the kid retested. Also, get the kid retested six months or a year later.

We probably should stop paying educators extra who get Ph.D.s. We are not getting our money’s worth sending them off for more education. The statistics outlined here are not particularly hard.

Currently two-thirds of the kids in Gate are not actually in the top 2 percent. This means that the Gate program could be significantly expanded, probably to the top 15 percent of the kids, without significantly impacting the effectiveness of the program. The washout rate would increase, perhaps to 5 percent, but this is not unmanageable.

Brian Gulino
via email

We Have To Go There

Re “Lynn Schenk’s Trip to Spain Questioned” (“Under the Radar,” November 18, print title: “Under Investigation”).

We recognize your article was simply a rehash of an L.A. Times story with no new reporting, but it inaccurately and unfairly mars the name of a person who has been instrumental in bringing high-speed rail to California.

Travel by High-Speed Rail Authority boardmembers to other countries to learn about their high-speed train systems has never been questioned — and, in fact, it has been okayed by the state Fair Political Practices Commission and the state attorney general’s office. What is in question is the authority’s filing of a one-page form to document those trips, and on that aspect, authority state staff are working with the FPPC and are committed to being transparent and accountable.

Because the United States does not have high-speed train systems, it is necessary that those planning California’s system visit other countries to see the technology firsthand.

Jeffrey M. Barker
Deputy Executive Director
California High-Speed Rail Authority

Plenty Of Dirt At Home

Why are we reading about the dirty deeds in far-off Lake County, Illinois (“Where Did the Money Go?” “City Lights,” November 18), concerning a grieving mother, maybe; an embezzler, maybe; a child abuser, maybe; who may or may not be living at Palomar Estates in San Marcos? Did we all of a sudden run out of dirt here in America’s Finest City?

Ron Lux
San Diego

Diversity. Too Much? Too Little?

While I enjoy reading the wide variety of poetry, prose, philosophy, and theology found in the Reader, I have noticed that for the past several weeks the excerpts quoted in “Sheep and Goats” are taken mostly from Islamic works (November 11, pages 70 and 72, for instance).

Could this be the result of an overreaction by the guardians of political correctness who may be embarrassed that much of today’s terrorism is committed by people claiming to be Muslim?

Because of my belief that the 27 books of the New Testament constitute the Creator’s final revelation to mankind, I tend to measure anything that purports to be the truth by that standard. Accordingly, I have found many nuggets of truth in the basic text of Islam, the Quran.

On the other hand, I have also discovered that the prevailing message of the Quran is a call for believers to inflict retribution, punishment, and death upon those perceived to be enemies, oppressors, or infidels.

Muhammad acknowledged the Torah of Moses and the Gospel of Jesus, but he considered the disciples of both to be rebellious unbelievers and infidels (Quran 5:64 and 72).

How would Muhammad deal with these unbelievers? In Surah 8:59 and 60, he said that the infidels must not be allowed to get away; his followers must attack them by whatever arms that can be mustered, striking terror in their hearts.

No wonder so many Muslims think it is their duty to Allah to wage violent jihad against America, the Great Satan!

This outpouring of hatred is in stark contrast to the teaching Jesus gave us in Matthew 5:44 that we must love our enemies and pray for them.

It seems odd that the culture that made modern science possible by introducing the decimal system and algebra into Europe is also the same culture that produced a religion that would send women back 3200 years to a time when the early Greeks were laying siege to ancient Troy.

Muhammad would treat women as chattel or spoils of war (Quran 4:24). Like the girl Briseis in the Iliad, women are to be owned, bought, traded, and used, similar to cooking pots or goats.

So, in comparison to Christianity, I find Islam to be sorely lacking. Perhaps your “Sheep and Goats” section should show a little more diversity in the future.

Jim Crooks
Oceanside

Schedule Our Meeting for May 23

I am writing in response to the full-page advertisement on page 77 of the November 18 Reader, in the “Sheep and Goats” section. This ad, placed by an organization called Family Radio, claims that Judgment Day will begin on May 21, 2011.

This claim is backed up in the ad by many Bible verses quoted out of context along with erroneous interpretation of those verses and a wacky, speculative theory about time lines to which theory the ad falsely assigns the seal of divine authority.

Family Radio will have major egg on its face when, on May 22, civilization will still be intact and human history will keep rolling along. Be on the alert. Don’t let anyone deceive you under any circumstances. Christians who are ignorant about eschatology might easily be fooled by Family Radio’s phony claims.

According to Ephesians 3, the present age was not revealed to the human authors of the Old Testament. Therefore, it is ludicrous to use any Old Testament passage to calculate the end of times with reference to the present age. Furthermore, the New Testament does not reveal how long the present age will last. So far, the present age has lasted approximately 1980 years, give or take a year or two. The present age will terminate only when the church, the body of Christ, has reached its full number. This could happen today or a thousand years from today. No mortal human being alive on the earth today knows when this will happen. Anyone who claims to know the date is a liar.

Both the Old Testament and the New Testament reveal much about the ages of human history that immediately follow the present age. Revelation, chapters 6 through 20, covers a period of 1007 years of human history culminating with the final judgment. These 1007 years won’t begin until the present age has ended by means of the exit resurrection of the church. So even if the Rapture occurs today, human history will continue on this planet for 1007 years after the Rapture. The day of the Lord will not overtake the faithful as a thief, not because they have been given a date, but because they are spiritually prepared for His coming whenever He comes.

John Pertle
Santee

Save Yourself The Trip

In her Thanksgiving Day dining review (November 11), Naomi Wise twice listed the Quail Inn toward the end of her review. Please let her know that the one at Lake San Marcos has been closed for some time.

Jan Fenner
via email

No More Noise Hooligans

Your interesting article “The Chargers Don’t Wear Pink” (Cover Story, November 4) reminded me of something I have been wanting to say about football fans for a long time.

It has become accepted practice for the home crowd at NFL football games to make noise whenever the opponents have the ball. The main purpose is to keep the quarterback from communicating with his team. Noise provides much of what is called “the home field advantage.” This is not merely unsportsmanlike conduct but shameful behavior.

Anyone who complains about disruptive noise will be told (1) that it evens itself out and (2) that nothing can be done about it anyway. “Evening itself out” means, of course, that when the home team becomes a visiting team, it will get the same treatment, or worse. Is this what civilized people want to experience at sporting events? Do they want to see the best players playing their best, or do they want one team to have the same advantage the lions had over the Christians in the Roman Colosseum?

It is not true that nothing can be done about hooliganism. For one thing, the team owners could agree to stop encouraging it. Some stadiums actually have electric signs on which the word NOISE! will appear in huge letters when the visiting team — their guests — are about to make a crucial play. Some home-team players can be seen making what has become the standard signal for amplified crowd noise. The players stretch out their brawny arms and wave their palms at the sky like conductors demanding more volume from the orchestra. Some members of the coaching staff can be seen making this same gesture. Isn’t professional football dirty enough without these incentives?

If the owners agreed to ban noise encouragement by players and staff, the referees could at least start penalizing teams for that specific kind of unsportsmanlike conduct. This would not eliminate crowd noise, but it might give spectators the idea that their team wants to win on its own merits, without the dirty tricks of the “12th man.”

William Arthur Delaney
Hillcrest

You Got It Right

“Look Inside Pet Rescue” by Vivian Dunbar (Letters, October 28) was right on! I, too, live down here in Baja, and while I was not aware of the start of strong-arm tactics by the San Diego “Humane?” Society, I am well aware of some nonprofit operations not being so nonprofit. The last paragraph, stating that “any nonprofit organization…that solicits donations from the public should be open to questions and happy to provide answers” really said it like it is. Please ask Mrs. Dunbar to contact me; there are things that I cannot make public and would like to disclose to her.

Also, a big thank you for printing the pets who need homes — and in color too!!!

Thank you, thank you.

Marylyn Jester
via email

Secret Readership

I enjoy your publication, but please bring back the movie reviews and the travel articles by A. Gracia. I also prefer the print version, which I can read while enjoying a burrito or waiting for a professor to arrive. I’d also say that several people read a single copy of the Reader on college campuses, so your circulation is higher than what you might think.

Name Withheld
via email

Less Flesh

In the past, the Reader used to have many advertisements (pictures) with women wearing very little (bikinis, low-cut shirts, high skirts, showing lots of skin). Recently, you have cleaned it up a lot (thank you). Can you go all the way and eliminate the female pictures with too much flesh?

Name Withheld by Request
via email

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