The new format for New Times' Table of Contents is a great improvement! It's much easier to find the sections for which I read this newspaper, even if the advertisers may suffer from less rummaging. And it's no harder to find my favorite staff writers' work. But what happened to Letters?

Richard D. Stern

Editor's note: Very infrequently, because of space limitations or, frankly, lack of scintillating correspondence, we don't print a Letters section. "Very infrequently" means two or three times a year.

Warming Shot
With "The Center of the Warm" (January 25), staff writer Dave Plank certainly earned one of the fat payoff checks the oil companies usually write to pet scientists like Robert Balling. As Plank noted late in his puff piece on Balling, the goal of a carefully crafted and heavily funded PR campaign by the oil and coal industries is to create the perception that global warming caused by fossil fuels is "theory rather than fact." Plank's article serves exactly that purpose by presenting a lengthy exposition of Balling's oddball critiques as the views of a "nationally renowned ASU scientist"--all under a photo that makes Balling look like the poster child for the entire earth-science community.

"Eccentric" would be an understatement to describe the only scientist quoted in disagreement with the consensus of 2,500 (!) of his peers on "the leading international panel of climatologists"--all of whom conclude that global warming is a fact with potentially severe effects. The extent to which corporations increasingly shape intellectual debate at universities by subsidizing scientists who hold positions sympathetic to their continued rape of the environment for profit is well-known. However, as the director of the largest grassroots consumer/environmental organization in Arizona, I expect New Times to cut through corporate smoke screens.

With a little more digging, Plank could have written a great expos detailing the timing and amounts of the payoffs/research grants from the fossil-fuel industry to Balling and his colleagues. My suggested title: "How big oil companies are using a few hundred thousand of their dollars to turn millions of your taxpayer dollars at ASU into a PR campaign questioning the environmental dangers of global warming."

Jim Driscoll, state director
Arizona Citizen Action

Ted Reckoning
I don't usually read New Times. It's of better use as fire food, but my husband and I enjoy Ted Nugent and thought we'd see how much New Times dislikes him.

Nugent did the same thing I would have done in a similar situation--and I have.

When someone comes into your home (office) and calls your hard work garbage, I'd throw him out, too!

Patti Walbridge