Scott: Higher learning is about higher earning | Dec. 23
Science, liberal arts not enemies
Recent articles make it sound as though engineering and science students are training for jobs and that is all. All engineering students are required to take two years of liberal arts courses. I took English literature, humanities, sociology, psychology and history as part of my balanced education at USF.
The answer to the Cryptoquote in Friday's Times was authored by the great physics Nobel laureate Richard Feynman, and it is appropriate to quote him again in this discussion:
"Poets say science takes away from the beauty of the stars — mere globs of gas atoms. I, too, can see the stars on a desert night, and feel them. But do I see less or more?"
To suggest that engineers and scientists are void of feeling, empathy and understanding of the arts is absurd.
Martin Keiner, Tampa
We're not plugged in | Dec. 29
Performance at low cost
As a Chevy Volt owner, I have come to realize that most hybrids are misunderstood. The biggest misconception about my Volt is its performance. It has incredible acceleration, with a sports car feel to the overall driving experience.
I don't look at the Volt as an overpriced hybrid, but as a reasonably priced high-end car that allows me cruise around town without using gas. I've driven over 500 miles around the Tampa Bay area in the past month and have used one gallon of gas, plus spent around $10 to charge it. That is a novelty that never gets old.
James Harvey, Tampa
Never been happier
I traded in my 2008 Lincoln MKZ for a 2013 Chevy Volt in November and have never been happier with a car. Not only does it get way over 100 mpg (the first month was 198 mpg), but the acceleration from 0 to 60 is amazing. The Volt has more options than any car I ever owned. There is even a collision alert when you're too close to another car.
I'm semiretired and definitely do not make six figures. The Volt is ranked No. 1 in Consumer Reports for the second year in a row. I have yet to find a Volt owner that has even one complaint.
Sally Kruse, Pinellas Park
Effective leaders act on facts, not emotions Dec. 30, Bill Maxwell column
A matter of empathy
I have noticed for many years that most people really don't care about what happens to other people unless it affects them personally in some way. I call this the "human condition." In fact, some in leadership roles actually dismiss whatever the issue is as "their problem," not mine.
I was brought up to believe that one doesn't have to personally experience something to care about it. My parents taught me the gift of empathy. I don't have to be homeless to care about homelessness; I don't have to be hungry to understand hunger; and I don't have to be shot at or read about another mass shooting to care about gun control.
The list goes on and on. It's too bad that our leaders have to have something happen to them personally before doing something about it — especially when they could have made a difference much sooner.
Alan Roberts, Largo
2012 a deadly year for cyclists | Dec. 30
Learn from other nations
The article on local bicycle accidents and fatalities in Sunday's Times mentioned several countries where provisions are made for cyclists. It neglected to include the Netherlands, which like Florida is basically flat and lends itself to this means of transportation, with separate bike lanes constructed alongside all major roadways. Beijing, China's capital, has a huge number of bicyclists, and its major streets are mostly paralleled on either side by wide bike lanes adjacent to but separated from vehicular traffic. I'm sure we could learn much from both of these countries about safely accommodating cyclists.
The trend toward increasingly using bicycles for exercise, sport, transportation and pleasure is rapidly growing in the United States. We should welcome, accept and prepare for it.
Walt Smyth, St. Petersburg
Stepping into the spotlight | Dec. 30
Picture of cruelty
The appalling picture titled "Stepping into the spotlight" is another example of our society's cruelty to animals. It shows an elephant being coaxed out of a train car by two men with prods so that it could "parade" down Cass Street. The Greatest Show on Earth should be called the Cruelest Show on Earth.
Lynn C. Arthur, St. Petersburg
Already familiar with the agenda Dec. 29
Contempt of Constitution
In defending his strong support for the diversion of public funds to private school vouchers, Florida's new education commissioner, Tony Bennett, says: "I believe the state collects taxes to educate children, not to fund schools."
The first half of that statement is fine, but the second half flies in the face of the Florida Constitution, which unambiguously states that "adequate provision shall be made by law for a uniform, efficient, safe, secure, and high quality system of free public schools that allows students to obtain a high quality education."
The Constitution also states that "No revenue of the state … shall ever be taken from the public treasury directly or indirectly in aid of any church, sect, or religious denomination or in aid of any sectarian institution."
Florida's tax credit vouchers directly violate both provisions of the Constitution, which is why they are funded through pretax donations from corporations who then receive an equal tax credit from the state. The system is set up as an end-run around the Constitution.
Bennett's appointment is merely a symptom of our current leadership's contempt for the rule of law.
John Perry, Tampa
Senate okays $60.4B Sandy aid bill | Dec. 29
Rubio's disaster aid vote
The Senate aid bill for Hurricane Sandy passed on a 62-32 vote. Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio voted no, but he would be the first to have his hand out if Florida experienced a similar disaster. The one thing you can say about Republicans: It's all about me.
Doug Bauer, Clearwater