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Doubts About Expanded Telecommunication Networks

The article "US Poised for New Telecommunications Era," Dec. 19, echoes the century-old belief that fundamental problems can be solved through mechanical ingenuity.But has the quality of our lives been increased by the deluge of paper from our fax machines? Are we a better people because we can dial direct from an airline seat at 40,000 feet?

One source in the article asserts that the biggest impact of the networks would be "on education and training." Will our students be better readers, writers, and thinkers as a result of the electronic gear in modern libraries? Unfortunately, too often mechanical short-cuts result in students' having less exposure to ideas.

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The siren call of "information, information, information" should be replaced with the more mature plea for "ideas, ideas, ideas." James Newbill, Yakima, Wash.

Are we going to continue marching blindly off to the call of high technology?

Admittedly, the personal computer has its function in the office. But how many of us remember the '80s notion that the personal computer would become the "command center"of the American home, ushering in a new era of efficiency and power? It was a notion that never came to pass.

No doubt a similar fate awaits the nationwide network linking all homes and businesses together. I don't doubt that there will be such a network, at a cost of untold billions. But in the end, what will be the fruit of such effort - the ability to order greater quantities of consumer products without having to leave our homes? Russ Bush, Bethel, Conn. Electric cars on the horizon?

The article "L.A. Launches Electric Car," Dec. 11, paints a bright future for electric vehicles (EVs). Someday we'll have smog-free cars and clear urban skylines. In the meantime we can just plug our noses and wait for the LA301 [prototype car] in 1993.

Several years ago GM said they would have an EV by 1991. Now they can't be pinned down on a time, estimating their Impact or newly unveiled Mule to be available towards the mid-'90s.

While the Big Three consider the marketability of electric vehicles, there are a number of small manufacturers around the nation who believe a market already exists using today's technology. Solar Electric Engineering makes a compact EV retrofit, capable of traveling 40 to 60 miles, at speeds of 65 mph; remarkably similar to the LA301, minus the auxiliary gas engine.

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These cars are available today. Those waiting for Detroit may see a lot of foot-dragging. It's the oil-automotive alliance that has the most to lose in a world full of clean, efficient, low-maintenance electric cars. Alex Campbell, Santa Rosa, Calif. Solar Electric Engineering, Inc.

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