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Electric cars can drive us to the future

Batteries not included | May 3. Perspective story

Cars to drive us to the future

Go, go, Shai Agassi! Years ago, before I retired as a science teacher in 1994, I would benumb my students with my vision of all-electric cars crossing the continent by exchanging run-down batteries with recharged ones at filling stations that also provided such a service robotically with a swipe of a credit card. My vision included recharging of batteries, where possible, with renewable energy, like solar panels or wind turbines.

I am not now saying to Mr. Agassi, "Hey, it's my idea. I thought of it before you did!" The time was not yet right and I did nothing but visualize.

I am heartened by the baby steps taken so far — the hybrids, the all-electric cars like the Tesla. Many of the first American autos were all-electric and were abandoned because of the same problem that Agassi calls "range anxiety," which still plagues all-electric cars today.

I took what Agassi calls a "half-step" about 5½ years ago and bought a "second-generation" Prius, which has delivered close to 50 miles per gallon and which I will give up when (as the late Charlton Heston said about guns) they pry my cold, dead hands off the steering wheel. Or when they make me stop driving (I am pretty old) or provide something better (which will probably be a plug-in Prius delivering around 100 mpg).

I doubt that I will see widespread implementation of Shai Agassi's ideas, but he is garnering support from governments, as he must, from auto manufacturers and, I hope, eventually from energy companies that will go along, if for no other reason than to avoid being left out or behind.

Joseph F. Bohren, Ph.D., Odessa

Confidence to collapse | May 4, David Broder column

Seeking scapegoats for the problems of Detroit

David Broder blames the decline of the America auto industry on "Big Three executives and their families, living the good life in their suburban enclaves" who "were caught napping." They supplied Americans with what they wanted: substantial cars for long-distance travel on American highways when gas was cheap.

Even fully awake, what could the executives do about the high cost of labor and lifetime retirement and health care? The automotive union was as complacent as anyone. Everyone thought the good times would roll forever.

Whoops! Here comes the cheaper foreign competition. Years ago I predicted in a letter to the St. Petersburg Times (unpublished) that American wages would decline more in line with the rest of the world, and it has been happening. General Motors is just more conspicuous.

Now, the left is casting about for a scapegoat. It's those somnolent rich guys who did us in. Yeah, sure. So what else is new?

Francis J. Sullivan, St. Petersburg

In Room 006, education's future | May 3

Egalitarianism isn't reality

Your front-page story on AP classes in Hillsborough County is a reminder of the ongoing saga in which government pushes schools to do things that violate what are well-known scientific realities. Only in education do we defy science because some dream of a land of academic equality when science says equality cannot exist in a fair system.

In his recent book Real Education, Charles Murray shot down the No Child Left Behind plan and assorted other schemes that want to "bridge the gap." Since half of our children are "below average," then only perhaps one-third should even go to college. Now, like Barack Obama, we have brainwashed kids into thinking that effort is enough. Effort in an average or below-average IQ child is only leading to great difficulties unless we reduce the academic program to his level! This is called "dumbing down" and is rapidly growing across America as egalitarians only shout more loudly.

With an extensive background in research, I marvel at the misdirections taken in the name of equal results. It is a quixotic and dumb crusade — not to mention immensely wasteful of precious funds. Next I expect them to outlaw IQ testing! Our esteemed meritocracy will then die a rapid death.

Cornelius J. Troost, Tampa

Pulitzers and beyond | May 3, story

Lighting the way

The subhead on Neil Brown's article last Sunday said, "Especially in tough times, journalism should help light the path." This statement is so true, especially with your coverage of the Legislative session and your editorial, Out of the shadows and Tim Nickens' column Infuriating, depressing session.

Your opinions may help change the way the Legislature operates. Real change will only come through citizens' involvement and their vote in all elections.

Journalists have lit the path, and opened the doors so that we may see. Now it is up to us to walk through those doors and express ourselves with our voices and our votes.

Gloria Marlene Turnbull, Dunedin

Infuriating, depressing session | May 3, Tim Nickens column

Our sorry legislators

Thank you, Mr. Nickens, for putting in print what most of us have been thinking for years: how self-serving that misbegotten group of humans who call themselves the Florida Legislature (God help us all!) have become — excluding the one-quarter percent who honestly try to help those who elected them.

Hurray for Department of Community Affairs Secretary Tom Pelham, who tries on our behalf to rail against that body so lacking in common sense. Thank you, sir!

Helen Mac Feeters, Dunedin

Send them packing

"Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it." The same can be said about our lawmakers in Tallahassee.

But unlike the weather, you can do something about our Legislators. You voted them in, and you can vote them out. You'll have no one to blame but yourself if you send the same self-serving influence-peddlers back to the Capitol for yet another term.

Lou A. Murphy, Kenneth City

Random Acts

Keep the stories coming

These articles are wonderful. Please print them often as this is good "news," and we need good news in the paper.

My family loves your paper and has stopped reading the Tribune. The Times is so much better organized and the point of view suits me much more than the Tribune's. Keep up the spirit of the bay area and your excellent work! Thank you,

Carmen Pelletz, Tampa

Electric cars can drive us to the future 05/09/09 [Last modified: Saturday, May 9, 2009 4:32am]
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