Letters to the Editor
Readers write about oil, voting, commercial pilots, recent business legislation, and the quality of MP3 downloads.
Oil prices and the effects of consumption, conservation
Regarding your Jan. 4 editorial, "What to do when oil hits $100 a barrel": The article states that one knee-jerk reaction to high oil prices is for people to conserve and that we have done that. Really? Who's conserving? I look out on the road and see huge gas-guzzlers everywhere.
The Bush administration has failed miserably in encouraging the reduction of oil consumption by Americans. In fact, it has actually encouraged people to continue buying oversized vehicles.
There are many comfortable cars available that get 30 m.p.g. or better, yet too many Americans still drive trucks and SUVs that they really don't need for their daily lifestyle.
Look around at all the empty buildings or rooms in homes that are being heated or cooled all year round and see just how much energy is being wasted.
I would guess that we in the US could actually reduce our oil consumption by half without a significant reduction in lifestyle. We could do so if we just used our energy more wisely, and if we actually had some leaders who weren't so beholden to the oil industry and the automobile manufacturers and who recognize that the free market alone will not solve the problem.
Regarding your Jan. 4 editorial about the price of oil: The editorial seems to take a skeptical attitude toward Congress's attempt to mandate conservation through better fuel efficiency in automobiles, noting that better gas mileage may actually encourage some motorists to drive faster or more often.
Perhaps the way to avert that problem is to impose a lower speed limit on federal highways, as we did during World War II. The immediate result would be less oil consumption, fewer highway fatalities, and more durable cars and tires, all without any new engineering or manufacturing requirements.
Change in the voting system
In response to your Jan. 2 editorial, "Build trust in electronic voting": At one time I dreamed of being able to vote from home electronically or over the phone. How naive.
I have found that the checks and balances needed for voting are missing from a pure electronic system.
What is needed is a combination digital-paper system. After voting, the voter would get a printout to verify the vote. An input from the voter would be required as proof of a correct vote. This could be retained for recounts. The form could have an electronically readable code for rapid recounts and plain text for people to read and spot-check the electronic count. Anything less would be subject to tampering or error.
I know some or all of this is in place in some areas, but for national elections a certain minimum standard should apply. Rural areas could keep their paper ballots for economy.
Airline pilots and public safety
Regarding the Jan. 15 article, "Do pilots get enough sleep?": We definitely want pilots on planes who have had enough rest between flights. We also can do the math. Even with 16-hour-flights, which may be necessary, a pilot would only fly about six times a month to achieve 100 hours. That would leave ample time for sleep.
There must be something else going on here.
Accountability of fraud accomplices
Regarding the Jan. 16 article, "Supreme Court keeps investor suits narrow": How interesting that abettors in financial wrongdoing are not held accountable, yet abettors in murder and so many other illegal acts are. The logic fails me.
Sound quality of new technology
In response to the Jan. 2 article, "Six tech trends to watch in 2008": Why is it that no tech writers mention the low quality of MP3 downloads? They offer about 1/10th of the sound quality of CDs. In short, don't throw those discs away yet.
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