Prius: Quiet, but Not Diminutive

Re: Hy Jinx

Dear Editor:

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I read the New York Times story about the Toyota Prius at the Oscars before I saw it in the Daily Grist, and I was already annoyed about those descriptions of my Prius as “diminutive.” The Prius offers all the comfort and performance of upscale sedans such as the Toyota Camry, and it costs less. The new Prius is even better, with a roomy hatchback and lots of cool features. And, my Prius never gets less than 40 mpg (it gets 50 mpg on the highway). With gas over $2 per gallon, that makes more sense than ever. Plus, it’s a California SULEV (super ultra low-emission vehicle) which means no annual smog test. And it’s quiet! No high-end luxury car can improve on silence, which is what you get while you’re stopped at a traffic light. I could go on and on. Just stop dissing my car!

P.S. — Let’s tax Hummers and build bike paths!

Alex Madonik,

Berkeley, Calif.

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You’ll Prius It from My Cold, Dead Hands

Re: Hy Jinx

Dear Editor:

I was roiled by your acceptance of the statement from the so-called “consumer advocates” that hybrid automobiles “don’t come out in the black.” I don’t know who these consumer advocates are, but my 39-month-old Toyota Prius has had lifetime fuel efficiency of 45.4 mpg. I know this because I keep meticulous records.

For the 170,000 miles I have driven it, I have saved over 3,800 gallons of gasoline versus what I would have consumed with the Mercury Sable I was driving before the Prius. At an average price of $1.70 per gallon for fuel, the Prius has saved me about a third of the overall purchase price of the car. Furthermore, I’ve had absolutely no mechanical trouble with it. Taking into account the federal tax credit, the ability to use HOV lanes, the low maintenance costs, etc., the Prius is by far the lowest in cost of any car I have owned.

We cannot afford to continue to allow naysayers, especially “consumer advocate” naysayers, to make these statements unchallenged. Consumers need to know that investments in energy technologies like hybrid automobiles are a sound place to put their money.

Alden Hathaway

The Solar Patriot

Hillsboro, Va.


The Prius Is Right

Re: Hy Jinx

Dear Editor:

I’ve had a 2002 Prius for about a year and a half and my experience has been completely positive. I bought my new Prius at a tiny dealership in western Colorado and only paid $19,000 for it. The price seemed low compared to comparable non-hybrid vehicles — not pricey at all!

There is a computer screen on the dashboard that shows continuous gas mileage. I have taken to using this as a built-in biofeedback machine and in doing so have taught myself to get consistently better than advertised gas mileage.

Andrea Robinsong

Hotchkiss, Colo.



Re: Hy Jinx

Dear Editor:

I have a 2000 Honda Insight which is used mostly in fairly short trips around the suburbs, sometimes longer highway trips, but usually under 20 miles. My mileage is regularly 52-55 mpg, and I can ignore the gas gauge for over 500 miles. It’s a terrific car, and fun to drive; I just wish Honda would promote it as Toyota does the Prius.

Tina Rhea

Greenbelt, Md.


Trickle-Down Hybrids

Re: Hy Jinx

Dear Editor:

Your point is well taken that the new hybrids, due to their higher price, take a while to pay back the initial investment. But if stars using them encourage those who can afford the extra money to buy the environmentally kinder hybrids, this is a very good thing. More demand makes Detroit take alternative cars more seriously. More demand brings more choices and, ultimately, lower prices.

Libby Dodd

Boca Raton, Fl.


Hybrid Cheat Sheet

Re: Hy Jinx

Dear Editor:

Someone didn’t do their homework on hybrid cars. I live with two proud owners of Honda Insights and they love the cars’ fuel economy. Yes, they do get the advertised mileage and then some. My husband has learned to be a more fuel-efficient driver from paying attention to the heads-up display and changing his driving habits. Results: 70 miles per gallon on the highway. He commutes about 50 miles one way to work, so he saved $1,500 the first year he had his Insight. My daughter fills her Insight every six weeks whether it needs gas or not because it is so easy to forget about gas at all! Cost is not much more than the average sedan. You can get a cheap car for less, but the reliability, efficiency, and fun of driving just isn’t there. These are not budget-breaker cars, and you do save money with them.

Cynthia Kern,

West Chester, Penn.


Are We Grounded?

Re: Hy Jinx

Dear Editor:

Your piece which critiques hybrid cars is based on the same faulty reasoning that got us into our environmental predicament. You’re basically saying the payback is too long to make them worth the while, as if fiscal payback is the only yardstick to measure with.

I’d expect that Grist (of all sources) would critique this short-sighted analysis — and instead hail the benefits of reduced emissions and reduced fuel use as values worth pursuing in and of themselves.

Please, folks, with vehicles arguably the No. 1 contributor to air and water pollution in most communities, why are you not speaking more favorably about the non-fiscal benefits of this emerging technology?

Richard Gelb

Seattle, Wash.


And Children Won’t Chew the Couch!

Re: Kid Commando

Dear Editor:

Umbra’s article on diaper-disdaining parents is fascinating to this childless dog trainer. Their practices mirror caring owners getting a pup off to a good start in life with gentle house-training. They substitute alertness and communication for confrontation and possible abuse. Were they socializing dogs, I would predict a relationship of trust and respect, going beyond “obedience” to mutual understanding.

Chris Williams

Long Beach, Calif.


This Computes

Re: Not OK Computer

Dear Editor:

While the U.S. as a whole has not officially jumped on the “manufacturer responsibility” approach for computer electronics, there is a national initiative afoot to do just that.

Additionally, states such as California have issued regulatory interpretations and passed legislation banning consumer electronics that contain cathode ray tubes and other hazardous wastes from landfills. In addition, California is in the early stages of implementing a new law that sets up advanced recycling fees and systems to fund proper management of end-of-life electronics. See here and here for more info.

Kirsten Liske

Ecology Action

Santa Cruz, Calif.


Sucka Testifies

Re: Race Matters

Dear Editor:

As a bona fide sucka who voted Nader in 2000, I write to offer final words on the Nader issue.

Look — I’m an enviro-ecology-botany-wildlife-socialist wacko. I work for a wilderness land trust, want all public lands permanently and forever protected from logging, mining, ATVs, snowmobiles, and stupid yahoos with no care for nature. I want free health care for all, education free through the end, and medicine for the elderly. I want America to defend, not offend. I want the U.S. to stop operating as a state terrorist organization. The current Admindustry is … just that. I’m as far left as it gets.

And I swear upon all the wolves that ever lived, the spotted owl, the manatee, and the whorled pogonia that if you vote for Nader, you vote against all your own causes and all living things.

Anyone who thinks Nader can bring any issue to the table that’s not already been addressed by Kucinich or Dean should just go ahead and vote for Bush.

Sure you’re “free” to vote for whomever you want, but the sad, sad truth is that whether you like it or not, whether you believe it or not, Nader has no chance to win the 2004 election.

Yes, I think Nader is truly the most honest, concerned, compassionate, and caring person who could ever be president of the U.S. (though entirely without clue on nature/environmental issues). His/our causes will be better addressed under a non-Bush presidency.

Kerry’s not remotely close to my daydream of a leader, but the truth is, it’s either him or Bush.

Wake up and work on electoral reform and multi-party candidacy year-round. The only thing Nader can do is drag votes from removing Bush.

Kevin Caldwell

Stoddard, N.H.


Kucinich Via Kerry

Re: Race Matters

Dear Editor:

All those earnest, well-meaning folks who prefer Nader to Kerry miss the huge, main point: If we don’t beat Bush, say goodbye to the environment, public health issues, peace in the world, and democracy at home for who knows how long. The Republicans of the far right have shown clearly that they care for none of our values, only for what helps the big corporations who feed them millions in campaign contributions for billions of perks in return. I know that this probably sounds hysterical or exaggerated, but really serious, well-informed people who have paid close attention to what is happening (like Paul Krugman) agree. If Bush wins, this may be the last relatively free election in what will be in effect a one-party state. But if Kerry wins, we will at least have hope of getting someone like Kucinich someday.

Bob Holt

Truro, Mass.


Nader: Unsafe in Any Election

Re: Race Matters

Dear Editor:

After 30 years of working the technical side of environmental issues and policies, I am saddened and horrified by the Bush administration’s egregious environmental and economic policies. We are watching 40 years of environmental progress and 70 years of social progress quickly erode from an onslaught of policies and practices that benefit no one in the long run and precious few in the short run. Many technical specialists, such as myself, and higher profile crusaders, such as Ralph Nader, are watching a lifetime of effort disappear in a fog of Republican lies and self-interest.

Does that justify an ill-conceived token presidential campaign that can only help the current administration? Anyone who thinks Nader did not spoil the election for Gore needs to go back to school and study our electoral process. Nader christened the Corvair “Unsafe at Any Speed,” yet, because of superior handling, the innovative little car was a favorite of car enthusiasts for years after its demise. Ralph and his supporters must be applying the same intellectual process to elections that he applied to the Corvair. Instead of taking a phantom menace off the highway, let’s get a real menace off the campaign trail before he destroys his own life’s work.

John Molburg

Minooka, Ill.


Exhibit A

Re: Race Matters

Dear Editor:

I am astonished at the ignorance of many Americans writing in to Grist about Nader. People who blame Nader for Gore losing the presidency should have their heads checked. What percentage of Americans even voted? Lazy, apathetic, finger-pointing, blame-laying little whiners. You have no one to blame for yourselves. Democracy requires activism and participation to work, especially American democracy. You have to drive people to those polls. If 5 percent more of the eligible voters went to the polls and half of those voted Nader, the Green Party would have received federal matching funds. That one, minimal, tiny little event would have greatly empowered the Greens to do more.

But what do people say instead of “go out and vote”? They say “Don’t vote Nader.” You idiots. You think Kerry’s going to make things better? He loves war. You think Democrat bombs are going to make the world like America better than Republican bombs? You must be joking. Americans don’t have the guts to look in the mirror and say “America is fucked from the inside, and our democracy-hating, war-mongering, war-profiteering, world-killing government is killing the world faster than we can record its destruction.”

Better wake up freakin’ quick, U.S.A. The window of opportunity to salvage what’s left and turn the tide is closing extremely fast. Who’s gonna bring corporations to heel? Kerry? Who’s gonna†put a stop to†World Banks ruling the Earth? Kerry? Who’s gonna mandate a green economy and basic human rights enshrined for all? Kerry?

How empowering to the voters would it be if Nader got 20 percent of the popular vote because people voted for what they wanted instead of “strategically” voting for one face or the other of the corporate war party? Vote with your hearts.

Stephan Larose


Exhibit B

Re: Race Matters

Dear Editor:

How can anyone criticize Ralph Nader, who has devoted 35 to 40 years of his life to champion the great cause of the working people — the environment. This unselfish man is second to none in devotion to bettering all of our lives.

I voted for him in 2000 knowing that if Bush and Co. got into office that we may have to “take it to the streets” to correct our government’s misdirection. Yes, Bush has been extremely damaging to life on Earth, but he is only a symptom of the overall disease that our world is faced with. With Clinton, that illness was more asymptomatic but was indeed growing and spreading (i.e., NAFTA, consumerism, worse fuel economy, growing military budget, etc.).

Kerry will not bring about meaningful change. For one, as long as the Senate and the House of Representatives still subscribe to the same ideology as the Bush administration, we will only continue in this unhealthy state. We might not even be as socially active because we believe that we rid ourselves of the root of our illness, and feel we can sit back on our fat American asses.

Continuing to compromise from election to election will only bring our world to greater destruction. It is time to make a stand! Meaningful change is hard and slow. If we build this movement right the first time, maybe we will have something good to pass on to our children and their children on to the seventh generation.

Roger Santerre

New Paltz, N.Y.


Risk Factor

Re: Fish and Tips

Dear Editor:

Thank you for your piece about contaminants in seafood. I wanted to alert you and your readers to a new online mercury calculator at that helps seafood consumers calculate how much mercury they are likely to be exposed to by eating seafood. It is easy to use and can help protect us from this growing threat in our food supply.

Andy Peri

Sea Turtle Restoration Project

Knolls, Calif.


Prozac & Good Scotch

Dear Editor:

I don’t know how you guys manage to stay so unrelentingly cheerful in the face of such unendingly bad news stories courtesy of the Bush administration. But whatever you are on — keep it up! At least in this part of the globe we can retreat into the fantasy world of Middle Earth and enjoy the scenery.

Wren Green

New Zealand

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