ORANGE BEACH, Ala. — Wherever disaster strikes, there’s always an associated crud.
There was the Exxon Valdez Crud. The Nine Eleven Crud. The Katrina Cough, and then the TVA coal ash cough.
Now, along the entire coast of the Gulf of Mexico, there is the BP Crud, afflicting workers and the general population from Louisiana to Florida.
When the Deepwater Horizon oil rig blew up in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, Robin Young, a 47-year-old director of guest services for a property management company in Orange Beach, Alabama, was gearing up for what promised to be the best tourist season on the coast in years. From the city of New Orleans to the Florida panhandle, communities were finally starting to feel like they were recovering from the devastation left in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Ivan.
Since suffering a debilitating bout of what locals are calling the “BP Crud,” however, like thousands of other people along the coast due to their exposure to the oil and chemical dispersants, she is now part of a growing community of activists along the coast who are worried about their health.
Just a few days after BP’s oil made landfall along the Alabama Gulf Coast in June, Ms. Young’s symptoms started with “a fiery, burning sore throat,” she said. Then came the horrible, constant cough, followed by an achy feeling much like a severe flu virus — and a lethargy that kept her in bed for two weeks solid. Her memory started playing tricks on her, and her motor skills and even hand-to-eye coordination went south.
She started communicating with other sick folks over the Internet, and attending local meetings with corporate and government officials. At one meeting early on, she asked for a show of hands in a room of maybe 400 people to see how many had suffered symptoms similar to hers.
“Half the people in the room raised their hands,” she said in an interview at her cottage right next to the Intercoastal Waterway, which was polluted with oil and chemicals at the height of the disaster. Clearly, this was not some isolated event unrelated to the oil rig blowout.
Her new friends, who soon started a nonprofit group called Guardians of the Gulf, tried to find a local doctor to help them. After having no luck, they eventually found an out of state toxicologist and a doctor who knew enough about a new area of occupational and environmental health to order blood tests.
They found Dr. Michael R. Harbut, a clinical professor of Internal Medicine and director of the Environmental Cancer Program at Wayne State University’s Karmanos Cancer Institute, board certified in Occupational and Environmental Medicine. And they found Metametrix, a lab to test their blood.
What they found in the blood tests was a stew of toxic chemicals directly associated with oil and gas production and the chemical dispersant Corexit, including ethylbenzene, xylenehigh and high levels of hexane, a hydrocarbon chiefly obtained by the refining of crude oil.
The long-term toxicity of hexane in humans is extensive peripheral nervous system failure. The initial symptoms are tingling and cramps in the arms and legs, followed by general muscular weakness. In severe cases, skeletal muscles atrophy and those exposed suffer a loss of coordination and vision problems, the very symptoms Ms. Young reported.
Town officials and even local doctors have tried to silence her and others who raise the health issue, worried that if news got out, it could hurt the local economy even more. But a group of local pharmacists started keeping diaries of people coming in with similar symptoms.
“There’s a core group of them that finally said, ‘Holy Cow,’ something’s going on,” she said. “They started listening to what we were saying. But we still couldn’t get a lot of help. We couldn’t get help from the local doctors because they didn’t know what to do.”
Early on, Ms. Young invited a crew from Bio-Cascade, air-pollution specialists out of New Jersey and Boston, to come down and test the air. She put them up in a house right on the beach.
On the third day John Vallier of Bio-Cascade woke up with a sore throat. He put the air monitoring machine on the deck and within 15 minutes it showed 110 parts per million of Volatile Organic Compounds in the air. The crew quickly packed and said they would help from outside the vicinity of the bad air coming off the Gulf. It was striking how scared they were and how fast they got out of town, Ms. Young said, while EPA was downplaying the threat coming from its own air monitoring stations.
Another member of her group who suffered similar symptoms but does not want to be identified by name called the local schools and confirmed that there were an unusual number of children out sick with what was diagnosed as “strep throat” and a “stomach virus,” at the end of summer and long before flu season is supposed to start.
Another woman, Robyn Hill of Foley, actually passed out while working for a BP contractor cleaning up the beach. When she was taken to the hospital by ambulance, the doctor tried to make her sign a form saying she suffered a heat stroke. She refused, and has now joined the cause to save the Gulf.
“It really fired us up,” Ms Young said.
So they found a chemist in Mobile to test the water, Bob Naman, an analytical chemist with nearly thirty years of experience. They have tracked the oil, natural gas and Corexit. One sample right off Dauphin Island was so full of methane that it blew up in the lab’s test tube.
Meanwhile, Ms. Young and her friends are now being told they need a high resolution scan of their lungs, brain, liver and kidneys.
“They’ve also told us that in five to 10 years — they don’t have a time frame, they’re just guessing,” she said, “that we could come down with some godawful form of cancer.”
That’s exactly what happened in the area around Prince Williams Sound, Alaska, after the Exxon Valdez ran aground in the spring of 1989 and leaked about 11 million gallons of crude into the water, according to Dr. Riki Ott, a recognized expert with a Ph.D. in marine toxicology and a specialty in oil pollution.
Dr. Ott’s information is so sought after in four of the five Gulf states most affected by the largest and worst environmental disaster in U.S. history that she has practically moved to the Gulf Coast. I finally caught up with her in a hotel room on my iPhone from Gulf Shores.
After spending the past four months working to try to get a handle on the scope of the problem, and getting sick herself, she has heard similar stories first-hand now from people ranging from Terrebonne Parish Louisiana to Apalachicola Florida.
“What struck me when I first started hearing these stories was how similar the symptoms were to what happened after the Exxon Valdez oil spill,” she said.
The human health effects of that spill were mostly confined to sick workers, she indicated, because that area of Alaska is not heavily populated like the Gulf Coast.
“I expected the vessel of opportunity workers to get sick because they were given hard hats instead of respirators just like our guys were. So it really didn’t surprise me in early May when I heard pretty much identical health symptoms,” she said. Dizziness, sore throat, headache, nausea, burning eyes, and eventually skin rashes resistant to treatment with antibiotics.
“What convinced me that we may have a really big problem here,” she said, is when she heard similar stories at community forums from people not working directly in the oil and chemical tainted water, marshes and sand, and when she talked to pharmacists who reported seeing a huge increase in respiratory illnesses and bad skin rashes.
“Now that the children are back in school, there’s a series of ’strep throat,” she said. “It’s the same symptoms, the blisters in the throat, the rashes I’d heard about all summer.”
There is a new area of occupational and environmental medicine covering chemical related illnesses, and the symptoms literally mimic flu-like symptoms. Dr. Ott is launching a Gulf-wide health survey along with coastal non-profit groups including the Louisiana Bayoukeeper and Ultimate Civics, a project of Earth Island Institute. The groups are also holding community health forums and opening health centers to try to get a handle on the scope of the problem.
But there are serious gaps in the law that allows workers to be exempted from coverage by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and even under the existing workers compensation regime. Under the U.S. Department of Labor, OSHA does not recognize chemical illnesses, Dr. Ott said, although it is recognized under the American Disabilities Act.
“We’ve got a safety net with two big holes in it, and the workers are falling through those holes. It’s time to close those holes, and not only for the workers, but for the public,” she said. “What’s going on in the Gulf is to pretend that we can have this release of 200 million plus gallons of oil, 2 million plus gallons of toxic chemicals, and it’s not going to have any effect? In a highly populated area? I mean, come on!”
Thanks for doing this David.
Glynn The kudos should go to you. We are just happy to do our part. But you are the one going after the story.
really good work. nobody should ever fork over a penny to the new york times and the rest of those msm fools who are paid NOT to do reporting like this.
Interesting, is there more?
Alas, it appears I read it all. I'm frankly disappointed in Mr. Wilson's story. The pitch promised a story spanning issues " the most complete information on air and water quality and health issues." but all I read are unbalanced anecdotal stories and quotes from Riki Ott, a respected but controversial expert who has a well-known prior perspective (certainly valid on many points) and position with regard to these events and issues. Obviously lightly written as "the human story" it is still a rather pedestrian treatment of issues of real concern that need the comprehensive treatment promised. Nor is there really anything new to be found. More detailed information was available prior to the pitch (See July 20, 2010 http://www.newsinferno.com/archives/22189 LSU Survey Chronicles BP Oil Spill Health Impacts in Louisiana.) and others gave given it broader perspective (see http://www.mnn.com/lifestyle/health-well-being/stories/experts-say-bp-oil-spill-health-effects-need-to-be-tracked ). The human story needs set against a more comprehensive treatment of facts too -- not just a hit-and-run mention of lab tests, or other tantalizing but unfulfilling tidbits etc.There is mention of an oil and dispersant polluted waterway near one subject. But polluted when, how often? In what concentration? What about impacts on geographically close neighbors? Are there identifiable clusters of illness linked to lab tests, winds, pollution levels, etc? Many experts suspect there are such links, but better constructed and balanced stories are needed to articulate case.
Nebulous assertions, even if we all suspect they are true, just help BP and other responsible parties slither away. The other key angle promised, but neglected, was the assertion that "local health departments and government officials tend to downplay the threats in the interest of promoting tourism." While that is something many people suspect, Mr. Wilson fails to offer anything beyond the naked assertion contained in his pitch. Although there are drips of blood-pressure-raising allegations (i.e., doctors who refuse to help patients or try to get patients to sign false statements) there is no evidence or balanced assessment. In addition, there are simply too many links back to the author's own work. Perhaps unintentional, but that seems self-promotional, and contains elements too often associated with shill or PR-like pseudojournalism.
More importantly, however, the problem with weak treatments is that lets the guilty off the hook far too easily, IMHO, that's the case here. Again, even if unintentional, this article could easily be dismissed as a PR job for trail lawyer interests (however, for clarification, I am not making the argument that this is the case). After making that observation, however, one of the first Google hit I ran across while fact checking this story was a reposting by New Orleans based plaintiff attorney http://oilspillaction.com/thousands-of-people-along-the-gulf-coast-suffer-‘bp-crud’-video . I'm sure that was a coincidence based upon the subject matter, but that does nothing to set aside my larger fears about these type of articles. The lawyers may have real cases, and there certainly seems to be a real story out there about the dangers and consequences of the BP spill, but that story is still "out there." IMHO, this particular story falls very short of the pitch's promise and potential. What a disaster if BP gets out of real responsibilities they have to the people of the Gulf Coast because of weak or unbalanced stories, that are, arguably, much too easily dismissed. ==30==
Thanks for the comments Sandy. And while I cannot speak on behalf of Glynn - I will point out a few things. This was actually one of many pieces Glynn produced (http://spot.us/pitches/524-bp-s-oil-spill-is-causing-health-problems-the-human-story/posts_). Others appear on his own site. Yes - he does link to his own work, but that's because it's a series. I often say journalism is never "done." As long as things progress more attention to a story is merited. When you look at one specific story frozen in time - it will often come off as lacking. That's just the nature of hindsight and not being able to consume all of Glynn's work all at once. 3. While I agree - it doesn't nail BP in a 'red-handed' sense, I don't think that was the point of this particular article. It's shinning a light on a specific and important story that wasn't being told. If you don't think it's important, perhaps you'd be strong enough to tell that to Robin Young herself? 4. Could it go deeper - certainly. But when you consider the amount of work Glynn did - and the fact that Spot.Us only raised a few hundred bucks, it's fantastic work. Much more than just commenting which is what the majority of us do. I think we should hold Glynn up for making a trip down and interviewing people and getting it on video so that you and I can listen to their story and then decide for ourselves from the comfort of our computer using Google to fact-check. Now that said: if you believe the article has fallacies, needs corrections, etc - please let us know. Finally: While I can't speak on behalf of Glynn all I can say for Spot.Us is: Shucks - we'll keep trying and do better. Our goal is to support folks doing good work.
Since we know nothing of the critic, and his recent sign up, it appears to be from a paid shill. Look at the date on the story. This was the first and one of the only substantive articles documenting that there were health effects from the disaster. It included documented medical evidence and quotes from experts, and yes, links to other stories corroboration the story further, which is how all online journalism now works. And it is a story that is still being covered up and unreported, although if you dig down onto the coast, you can find a few other stories still coming out on it now. The author even suffered the rash from coming into contact with the water. The news feature writer in this case uses one subject to tell the larger story through the eyes of one victim. That is often how journalism works, even in the New York Times, the Washington Post, etc. Go read some of the best Pulitzer Prize winning journalism in the news feature category. I would like to know who this commenter is, and what business he has of coming into this interface at this late date to say these things.
As far as all the blogs it got linked on and published on, with or without our permission, we do not control that. Anyone who uses the Web these days should know that.
The above attack is being made by an uneducated outsider. There are plenty of facts and data relating to all claims made available via the internet. There have been people ill up to 100 miles away with blood tests to prove it that have never stepped foot on the beach. This person is from the dark side. They do not care to have the real information or they would be able to locate it. It's silly to think that one article could possibly contain all said facts about 40 million gulf residents over 10 months and still ongoing. Kudos to you Glenn for all your hard humanitarian journalism. It means a lot to the people of the Gulf and beyond.
Sandy, you pose quite a few questions and referenced your_self (i,i'm, etc) in excess of 7 instances within your writing. perhaps you shoud requested answers prior to developing "your_opinions". This might be difficult task for you considering your ego is a bit inflated I am curious, when was the last time you put your feet in the Gulf's waters ?
Any fool can see enough info in Glynn's story to form their own opinion.....and yours is clearly that of a paid shill who wishes to deny what is going on with the health issues of Gulf residents. If I had wanted to see the "everything is fine in the Gulf", "the well is capped" and "the seafood is fine" rah, rah, sis-boom-bah, I would have gone to the BP corporate page. There are more than enough references in Glynn's article to indicate that something is very wrong with the health of residents in the Gulf. Apparently Sandy, you have poor multitasking skills as you are unable to read, click on links and count your little windfall at the same time. (Do realize that it is probably a one time only payment). As far as the "guilty"--they were "let off the hook" months ago, by the current presidential administration. I also noticed your constant references to yourself, so it can only be assumed that you not only can't read, can't multitask, but you also can't stop looking at your own reflection. If you can tear yourself away from the mirror, why not go to the Gulf and see for yourself what is going on. Visit with the folks down there, then write your own story about YOUR truth. I am sure spot.us would love to pick up your story.
Perhaps Sandy got her orders from BP after the latest tests prove once again the Gulf is DEAD, there are barely any sea life to be seen, and even the test results on the shrimp, the fish, the sand, the water and the air all show that BP has killed the Gulf and everything in it. Sandy can go to hell, because I can guarantee she (that's *if* she's a 'she') doesn't live anywhere near the Gulf, cashes her paycheck from BP, and could give a rats ass what happens to anyone down in the Gulf states. Here's the latest test results - and yes Sandy, get a life, it's completely legal to post links, so get over yourself, and go polish Hayward and Dudley's boots somewhere else: http://www.truth-out.org/the-tragic-state-gulf-mexico-sampling-reveals-oil-and-dispersants-mississippi-coast66726
My Volatile Solvents Profile 11/8/10 Benzene NOT DETECTED Ethylbenzene 0.1 - 0.3 Styrene NOT DETECTED Toluene NOT DETECTED m,p-Xylene 0.4 - 1.3 O-Xylene NOT DETECTED Hexane 110.90 2-Methylpentane 33.1 3-Methylpentane 29.8 Isooctane 3.15 I live 6 miles inland, 30N x 86W, avoided all contact with the beach, ate no seafood, did not participate in oil clean up. Sick from the toxic contaminants. There are hundreds, if not thousands of residents of the Gulf Coast that have tested positive for these chemicals. All you have to do is ask.
Glynn, we've met through other stories (my pet project is election theft, TN techies for GOP ops, Connell) but I don't think that when we last chatted, you knew I'm a trained scientist. And Sandy talked in terms that I'd be happy to see being met, that go to comprehensive ongoing monitoring of marine conditions and while establishing routines sampling over time and geography, etc, etc. Systematic science on scales which span Gulfs is not what BP is coughing up (obviously that would create a whole lotta evidence in discovery during litigation). From the perspective of a scientist, your work has always seemed to add to my knowlledge base and I've learned from this one as well. I'm not so sure that Sandy isn't a hireling out to make the case that the diggable facts from this story are not comprehensive or systematic enough to be taken seriously, So Sandy may be out here stamping stories that might just finger BP's laywers for mo' money, mo' money. The more I consider the prospect, the more that scenario seems an appropriate explanation. Look up 'netvocates" as the name of one example I recall).. Might be a handy reference in the future if keep log archives.
Thank you, David, for an innovative website. It is a concept that I hope gains traction and success. Community based and funded journalism is increasing in its importance. Accordingly, using the same standards of review applied to professionals, especially when they hold themselves out as professionals and seek money from the public is warranted.
I'm going to briefly respond to your post and then to Wilson's. I then intend to then let my comments stand. All comments stand on their own merit .
David wrote: Glynn produced (http://spot.us/pitches/524-bp-s-oil-spill-is-causing-health-problems-the-human-story/posts_). Others appear on his own site. Yes - he does link to his own work, but that's because it's a series.
It does not matter if it is a series if one attempts to cite their own work as additional or independent proof. Mr. Wilson somehow tries to elevate his work to the level of the NYT, WP, or
David wrote: "When you look at one specific story frozen in time - it will often come off as lacking…. Granted. If this were an "amateur" article I think the standards might be different in term of how we view effort and intentions. However, Mr. Wilson holds himself out as a highly experienced skilled professional and solicits funds based on that representation (see his bio and pitch). Once you take funds from the public, I respectfully think there is a higher level of accountability. I must also say that, in attempting to construct a response to Mr. Wilson, that his representations are, at best, something that should not be taken at face value. Other sites dispute (or better put in context) some of his representations. This, however, is not my area of interest. People should be able to comment, especially offering constructed criticism with links and citations, without fear of wide-open personal attacks (made by posters who joint he same day). Let's stick to the subject -- which is digging for the truth and holding those responsible for the Gulf spill fully accountable.
Dear Mr. Wilson, I ran across your article and reviewed it as above. I then dug a bit further, read your other "work" (equally disappointing), reviewed your site, your Facebook site, and sites that debunk your alleged experience and credentials. "Since we know nothing of the critic, and his recent sign up, it appears to be from a paid shill. What an appalling, if not pathological, first response. You need to simply respond to the criticism, or as a professional let it roll off your shoulders. If you wish to make personal credentials an issue I think you should look in the mirror. As you were the author and solicited money from the public to do this entry, I would think we should start with yours. It’s not my intent to engage in this level of discussion, but those interested can simply Google your name and see information on the real Glynn Wilson squares with your versions. All I can say is that I must have struck a nerve. Moreover, all of the responders above except for David, of course) have more recent sign ups -- perhaps in response to your Facebook and site campaign (misrepresenting my criticism) to join and "support you." All you need do, Mr. Wilson is fairly answer questions. Wilson writes: "Look at the date on the story. This was the first and one of the only substantive articles documenting that there were health effects from the disaster. I'm sorry, that is simply false. There are hundreds of sites and stories we sift through. I've included links to work published by legitimate investigative bodies.
Wilson writes, "As far as all the blogs it got linked on and published on, with or without our permission, we do not control that. Anyone who uses the Web these days should know that." Do you specifically deny consulting with trial lawyers during the writing and publishing of this entry on the content of the entry? Do you specifically deny granting permission, expressed or orally, to any lawyer to publish or republish the article published with funds raised at Spot.us? Do you deny seeking funding specifically from, as you describe, "trial lawyers" to fund your journalism?
Thank you, Mr. Wilson, for being one of the very few journalists thus far who have addressed this health catastrophe that's unfolding in the Gulf region. Yes, Sandy Ross could hardly be more transparent. ("The lady doth protest too much, methinks.") It's such a shame that such a critical thinker couldn't be turned in service of humanity instead of working on behalf of corporate criminals and complicit governments. It would be a more wholesome path. However, we should be grateful to Sandy Ross for reviving this story so it can get even wider readership. But, I wonder, what is a "trail lawyer"? ("[T]his article could easily be dismissed as a PR job for trail lawyer.interests...") Is this merely a typo, or does this BP-contaminated Sandy malcontent not only have it out for a journalist with a conscience (few and far between these days) also have it out for trail lawyers? When I Google "trail lawyer," I get: "Showing results for trial lawyer. Search instead for trail lawyer." When I chose the latter, to find out what trail lawyers are all about and what this rather toxic Sandy has against them, I found this: "Trail Lawyer's Hardest Day." This gentleman in the video--he's apparently a trail lawyer himself--says that "some lawyers can be more difficult than others." And here we get to the meaning of Sandy's three-part series of complaints, and can only wish she would be a little more direct. Sandy Ross, and BP, are shaking in their boots about all those lawyers who are going to be so much more difficult than others, including BP's, because they're working on behalf of so many poisoned, very sick people, and they're not going to let them skate away relatively unscathed like Big Oil has managed to do in the past. Let's hear it for the trail lawyer!
I forgot to include the link to the trail lawyer video: http://www.ehow.com/video_4970878_trail-lawyers-hardest-day.html
So called trial lawyers, usually plaintiff attorneys, are a valuable part of the judicial system. When they bring legitimate cases (as many Oil Spill cases are) they are defenders of the weak and ensure justice for all. However, these are separate estates, journalism and the judiciary, each must work independently to insure ethical standards.
I am not a shill, an assertion that is nothing more than a specious attempt to divert attention and deflect criticism. The only shill here MAY be Wilson. As it is never constructive to devolve into a flame war and my critical comments and questions stand on their own. I will simply signoff. I will read and respect any legitimate and well constructed rebuttal. Such is the nature of civil discourse. Please excuse any typos, at least part of my response was composed on a smart phone keyboard. The sun is up, the Quarter is stirring. Good work and stories await.
We should no longer wonder how it was that so many Germans later claimed they didn't know. Had they known, they would of course have done something, right?
Any attempt is better than none. As a citizen of the Gulf, I appreciate this journalists sentiments and facts. I don't expect him to tell the entire story or give you all the data you want. I don't think it's wise to exspose all personal data online as it gives bp's lawyers the time they need to figure out how to debunk the given info. This attack is either coming from someone being paid or someone with too much time on their hands and a heart full of misguided anger. Why are you picking on Glynn shouldn't you be focused on much bigger fish if you are in fact just an inquisitive person?
I think Sandy nails it in her review. The health impacts are, the dangers are real, the damage by BP and others is very real. The weak link is Glynn Wilson. I see where David argues that Wilson made several trips to the coast, always soliciting funds to do that. Interestingly to those of us who followed it all, there was a decided disconnect between the time Wilson actually spent at coast and what he later claimed. Wilson has made direct and frequent appeals to lawyers for financial support. Wilson does not deny it and these are always legitimate questions and criticisms. Even if we now take him at face value, Wilson has a history of false claims and trying to promote himself in the wake of disaster. After Katrina, in forums where people were looking for loved ones, Wilson (working high and dry in Birmingham Alabama) tried to get people to contact him and get himself involved in the story by representing himself as the former Dallas Morning News Bureau Chief. The only problem was that Wilson never worked for the DMN and the DMN did not have a New Orleans bureau (Wilson was just a freelance stringer). It is the point here to raise legitimate question about story accountability, not trash Wilson, per se. There are plenty of sites online that document and discuss Wilson's claims about his credentials. If, for example, Wilson denies the assertions made in the paragraph above, I will post links with the evidence and send the same to the foundations supporting Wilson.
The people of the coast need champions. Real investigative journalism IS desperately needed. But there are a lot of hucksters out there too. Sandy is simply saying that hack jobs weaken the cause! It should also be fairly pointed out that Wilson specifically mounted a campaign to have people write and attack Sandy simply for being critical of his work. If not made by sock puppets of Wilson, I suspect at least some of the specious attacks on Sandy in this thread were made in response to at Wilson's request. If Spot.us wants to live the TAO and support real journalism it must be sensitive to the concerns raised by Sandy. The spotlight must shine in all directions.
John is reading and repeating the claims of the right-wing attack machine. My credentials are not determined by anonymous bloggers. For Spot.us to continue allowing these shills to libel and slander the real journalists getting the big stories and connecting the dots is a waste of time and bandwidth. The Locust Fork News-Journal does not accept advertising money from the likes of BP. Just like Spot.us, we accept donations from people who care enough to see the real story told. We do this on a daily basis at LocustFork.Net. Where are Sandy and John's credentials? What have you done for your country today, other than attack people who are trying to make a better world? Here's what I think of your vicious attacks: The Measure of a Man in Times of Challenge http://blog.locustfork.net/2011/01/the-measure-of-a-man-in-times-of-challenge/
@All - I'm afraid this thread has deteriorated. If we want to discuss the merits of a persons work - fine. But this site/thread is NOT to attack individuals. I'm afraid that's what has happened on both parties. People unfairly attacking and accusing Glynn of things - something I will not stand for. Glynn worked very hard and did a great job. If you think you can do better - GREAT! Go do better! Do not comment anonymously attacking him as an individual. Similarly - we have no idea who Sandy or John are. They are ghosts bumping in the night. To the extent they made some criticism - fine. Take it. Ignore anything you felt was overtly personal and let's all move on with our lives. It is pointless to try and attack the personhood of anonymous comments. This thread is over and future comments may be deleted if they are attacking individuals/off point, etc.