Re: Pigs in Open Space

Dear Editor:

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

There is nothing in this article about pigs and your use of the word as an insult to greedy, gluttonous developers is offensively speciesist. I expect Grist to be more sensitive and sensible.

Mary Finelli

Silver Spring, Md.

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Re: ACT Up

Dear Editor:

Overall the article about the PAC set up to defeat Bush is to the point, but the stuff about Democratic complacency vis-a-vis African Americans is crap, as was the original New York Times article that made the same point.

Unlike the Republican Party, the Democratic Party has to appeal to a wide range of people from many different backgrounds, so they will not spend all their time courting one constituent group. Also, Democrats are not currently in power, so they have no way of appeasing any group. However, when Clinton was president, he actively sought the black vote and was rewarded, as was Gore, with something like 90 percent of the votes. The people quoted in the original article obviously don’t know anything about history, and the fact that the Democratic Party has clearly been the only party supporting African-American interests for 40 years now.

The claim about lack of black voter registration in Florida in 2000 is 100 percent false; I’m surprised your fact-checker didn’t catch it. Black turnout in Florida in 2000 was actually significantly higher than in previous elections, because there were people, like Jesse Jackson, down there registering voters. The figure I recall was a 15 percent increase over 1998.

Dan Benbow

San Francisco, Calif.


Re: Salad Daze

Dear Editor:

I wish everyone who glibly says that Roundup is safe enough to drink would just go ahead and do so. In fact, the ingredients of Roundup are not very dissimilar from those of herbicides used in Vietnam, which have now been linked to high rates of diabetes in veterans. Not only that, but even a simple handheld meter that measures volatile organic compounds will register VOCs up to one year after Roundup has been sprayed. I’m not sure where the notion that it breaks down immediately comes from, but it is clearly false.

I am chemically sensitive (which makes me a walking air quality meter, in effect) and Roundup is one thing that induces debilitating dizziness. It’s especially dangerous because you don’t know where it has been sprayed until days after the fact, since it is odorless. Americans have been lulled into complacency thinking that “the experts” have studied all these pesticides and determined they are safe. This is not so. We are the guinea pigs in a massive experiment.

Jeannette Cabanis-Brewin

Cullowhee, N.C.


Re: Cellout

Dear Editor:

I was disappointed, upon reading your article on cell phones, that you made no mention of the effect of cell phone towers on birds. Please consider our fellow critters as well as recycling when considering environmental impact in the future. Thank you.

T. Wood

Wausau, Wis.


Re: Dennis, Anyone?

Dear Editor:

Wow! I’m really inspired by your readers and their passion for Rep. Dennis Kucinich’s campaign for the Democratic nomination for president. Please, please, please, let’s see an interview with Dennis himself!

Heart Phoenix

Gainesville, Fla.

Editor’s note: We’ve got one in the works. Watch these pages …


Re: Dennis, Anyone?

Dear Editor:

Have any of these folks advocating Kucinich’s candidacy actually seen him speak? I watched his performance at the AFL-CIO debates and cringed at how ridiculous, shrill, and maniacal he comes across. Electable? “When pigs fly.” Sadly, here comes another four years of Bush Co. as the Dems split into factions unable to pull together behind one candidate who would actually stand a chance, as the Bush steamroller plows all its reelection money into propaganda.

Brian Haag

Chicago, Ill.


Re: Dennis, Anyone?

Dear Editor:

I like what I hear about Dennis Kucinich, but I feel he will be branded a liberal, and I don’t believe a liberal can win the presidency. For any Democratic candidate to win, they must moderate liberal tendencies. They must appeal to Middle America. I’m very concerned about the environment and have come to realize that progress on environmental issues requires compromise. We are not going to be able to get everything we want. I’m supporting Howard Dean because I basically agree with him and I believe him to be more appealing to a broad range of people. I do not want another election like last time, where the environmental vote was divided and we ended up with George Bush. President Bush has lived up to every environmental nightmare I could have ever dreamed.

Susan Bernhardt

Ellettsville, Ind.


Re: John Mauro, Pilchuck Audubon Society

Dear Editor:

Very inspiring person. He is a real hero and his story is very entertaining and informative. Thanks for sharing his week with us.

Theresa Perenich

Athens, Ga.


Re: Blackout and Blue

Dear Editor:

I share the fear of many that once again a crisis will precipitate bad public policy that could have consequences lasting decades. Should the failure of the Northeast power grid result in reduced scrutiny of the environmental effects of transmission and generation improvements? Hell no, but given the level of public anxiety, it will.

Your Daily Grist of Aug. 20 suggests that the only solution is conservation and more use of renewables. I disagree, but only partly. First, let’s all accept that even with reasonable safeguards, systems fail. I do not advocate complacency, just the avoidance of panic. Fear leads to bad, even terrible decisions (e.g., Baghdad). Second, conservation and new, “greener” sources would do nothing to solve inadequacies in the transmission system. The real problem with the nation’s transmission system is that there is not a single entity responsible for it. Responsibility is diffuse among an array of owners, reliability councils, and federal regulators.

The simplest solution (conceptually) would be for the entire transmission system to be publicly owned. This solution is, unfortunately, not politically feasible at this time. A second mechanism would be to make our energy distribution systems less dependent on long-distance transmission. So-called distributed generation systems, with smaller, dispatchable generators located closer to service areas, have considerable appeal. It is worth noting that even the most expensive-to-operate small-scale generation systems produce energy for much less than it was being sold on the West Coast in 2001 (diesel generators cost between $70 and $100 per megawatt-hour to run). So, distributed generation would not only provide greater service security, it would also preclude the usurious prices marketers have foisted on us recently. The extreme of distributed generation is the “off-the-grid” movement in which each residence produces its own energy via solar panels, generators, or fuel cells. This I consider impractical and inefficient in most environments, but it certainly has its appeal for those out in the sticks.

I hope that before we embark on fixing the Northeast transmission system we spend a little time thinking outside the private-ownership, transmission-dependent system box. For unless we eliminate the underlying motivations to underinvest in the system, future failure is a certainty.

Richard Domingue

Oak Grove, Ore.

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