Letter to the Editor

Nuclear Reactions

Gutsy: Congratulations on a well-written and informative piece ["Bring It On," by Josh Harkinson, March 9]. You managed to effectively challenge one of the big orthodoxies with facts. The status quo on energy will not change until we accept the fact that nuclear energy is clean and effective. We must bring it back, and we must not let those who so irrationally hate it control the agenda for its development. No other feasible energy source is as clean or as cost- effective as nuclear energy. Thank you, Houston Press, for having the guts to publish this article in your market.

Name withheld by request
Houston

Listen to the radioactivity: Well, I see that it has started. The pro-nuke crowd is trying to tell the public that, no, really, we may need nuclear power to save our asses from rising gas prices and global warming. Thanks to Josh Harkinson for this heads up. I thought we had driven a stake through the heart of nuclear-plant proliferation. I should state that I was an intervener against Allens Creek in Wallis, Texas (near where I live in Spring Branch). I also was a member of Mockingbird Alliance, an anti-nuke group.

The premise of the article that nuclear power is safe, clean energy is a lie. What pro-nuclear people don't say is that because of the fission process, any nuclear plant has to emit hundreds of thousands of curies of radiation each year, or bust the containment vessel holding the core. The radiation released leads to an increase in cancer in the area surrounding the plant, especially among women and children. And, of course, there's the nuclear waste, which stays radioactive for millions of years. And accidents. People, remember Chernobyl and Three Mile Island? How about Windscale? SL-1? Browns Ferry? Enrico Fermi, which is the accident referred to in the title of John Fuller's book We Almost Lost Detroit? Plus, the fact that when you get down to it, most nuclear plants run by splitting the atom so they can use the heat to make steam to turn an electric generator. When you really think about it, nuclear power is a Rube Goldberg device.

Rick Potthoff
Houston

Yes nukes: Your article is thoughtful, well written and excellent. Tom "Smitty" Smith is a cherished friend from the South Texas Nuclear Project battle so long ago. I loved your description of him...he's definitely one of the good guys. I don't know any rational person who suggests that coal is preferable to nuclear energy. I remember a person I regarded as intelligent and responsible during the STNP battle saying that if HL&P would just buy all its rate-payers a new energy-efficient refrigerator, that would save more energy than STNP would produce. I think that's the kind of thinking we need to start with. Your writing has impressed me so, I am going to resume reading the Press. Thank you.

Eleanor Culberson
Houston

Doing it better: I like your article about nuclear reactors and how they'll probably be a reality. I, like many, think we need them, but also hope like hell we have a better handle on them, better than we had 20 or 30 years ago. Not that I think we should act like them, but the French have been mostly nuclear for 15 years or so. Hell, if they can do it, we can do it better! I would love to see a follow-up article, maybe find out what the big dogs have up their sleeve that makes them so confident we won't glow in the dark.

Bill Esposito
Lucas, Texas

The Reverend

Cheap shot: The Reverend Sun Myung Moon does not lead a "cult" in the modern-day, derogatory sense of the word ["Moon Swoon," Hair Balls, by Richard Connelly, March 9]. You are just out of date or nasty.

I like wordplay, but "Moon Swoon" is a pretty cheap shot, as is taking the Reverend Moon's statements out of context and shooting them at the good reverend without, it seems, any real interest in his response unless you could get him to say something stupid.

It's articles like this that bring what could and should be an honorable profession into disrepute.

Christopher Davies
Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Defending DJ AM

Top-notch: I just read the Nightfly column ["Hollywood in Houston?" by Travis Ritter, March 2] and I'm so sorry that Travis Ritter didn't have the same experience that most people at the DJ AM show did! My friends and I had a great time at the Celebrity All-Star party, and despite the cold it was worth it to head out there. Not only was DJ AM surprisingly top-notch, but I did see stars Mark Cuban and Mischa Barton (from The O.C. ) at the event. It sucks that you had a bad experience, but even worse that you tried to portray your own Houston Press event that way. I mean, it was free for you! It seemed like everyone else felt like it was worth the cover price. I hope the Houston Press decides to promote more events like this despite what your writer said!

Amy Lee
Houston

Mention the Music

Sin of omission: I have just read the review of Houston Ballet's Swan Lake ["Soaring Swan," by Marene Gustin, March 2]. While she describes in great detail the synopsis, choreography, costumes and sets, her only mention of the music performed was a brief reference to "Tchaikovsky's haunting score." The music apparently did not haunt Gustin enough to even mention the Houston Ballet Orchestra or conductor Ermanno Florio. Neither did she hear three extraordinarily difficult violin solos spectacularly played by the orchestra's concert-master, Denise Tarrant. These are serious errors of omission.

Houston readers have become accustomed to inadequate references to the Houston Ballet Orchestra in Houston Chronicle ballet reviews. Perhaps the Press can assume a more enlightened role and responsibly mention the sound that the audience hears for more than three hours. That sound is not the patter of feet but an orchestra of highly skilled professional musicians. The training and continued practice needed to achieve and maintain professional status is considerably more than that which is required to write ballet reviews. Appropriate deference is very much in order.

Lawrence Wheeler
Houston

School Shaft

Carnegie shortchanged: I read with great interest Todd Spivak's two-part article regarding the top ten public high schools in the Houston area ["Houston's Best Public High Schools" and "These Kids Go to the Best Public High School in Houston," February 23 and March 2]. My interest turned to great disappointment when I realized that my daughter's school, HISD's Carnegie Vanguard High School, was buried at No. 33 on the list (at the very bottom of the "Tier 1 schools"). This apparently happened because as a school that has existed on its own campus since only 2001 (despite the fact that the Vanguard program has been around for more than 25 years), Carnegie Vanguard could not be assigned a graduation rate. It also was not assigned any points for "innovation" since it was not ranked in the top ten.

While I understand the importance of adhering to your report's methodology, I feel it was incumbent on the Houston Press to make it clear that even though Carnegie didn't qualify for actual ranking in your study given the report's methodology, the school still stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the best high schools in the Houston metropolitan area. In a recent Texas A&M study, which can be viewed at Carnegie's Web site (www.vanguardian.org), we were ranked second on the list of the best public high schools in Houston and seventh in the entire state of Texas.

In fact, when you add up all the points for the categories in your report in which Carnegie Vanguard was assigned a score and compare the total of those scores to the other schools' totals in those same categories, we are virtually tied with No. 1-ranked DeBakey; we're two points ahead of No. 2-ranked HSPVA; and we're a full seven points ahead of No. 3-ranked YES College Preparatory School.

As to the "innovation" category (for which Carnegie received no points), I note that there is no explanation whatsoever concerning the criteria used or how the score was assessed. But if you had looked at innovation and creativity on our campus, you would have discovered unique courses like "1968" and "World Religions," and a campus culture more akin to that of a small liberal arts college than a typical Texas high school. You also would have discovered a thriving theatrical department that mounted a superb outdoor production of A Midsummer Night's Dream last fall, is working on The Importance of Being Earnest and sponsors an annual One-Act Play Festival featuring works that are written, directed, acted and produced by students.

We invite you to visit our campus and see for yourself what makes Carnegie Vanguard such a special place for Houston teenagers to prepare for college.

Lisa Robinson
Vice President Communications
Carnegie Vanguard PTO
Houston

Boo, Beatles

Bubblegum boy band: I agree with Brian McManus's assessment of the Beatles [Wack, March 16]. He asks, "...has there ever been a band with more smoke blown up its ass than the Beatles?" I've heard all the fanatical claims about "musical genius" and "greatest rock and roll band ever" but have yet to be convinced. Songs like "Fool on the Hill," "Michelle," "I Wanna Hold Your Hand"? This has been bubblegum boy-band fare and elevator music from the word go. I've also heard the crap about other bands "stealing" the Beatles' ideas. Even if this were true, I think bands such as the Rolling Stones, the Who and Led Zeppelin made much better use of any "stolen" material than the Beatles ever did and certainly rocked much more.

Hey, if you like them, fine by me, more power to you. Just don't expect me to believe all the boomer hype.

Of course, to me, the Beatles' biggest sin was unleashing Yoko Ono upon an unsuspecting, and largely unwilling, world.

Brian Bartz
Clear Lake

CHEERS

Robb Walsh is a national finalist for writing about drinks

Houston Press food writer Robb Walsh has once again been named a finalist for a James Beard award in the prestigious national competition honoring cookbook authors, chefs and journalists.

Walsh is a finalist in the category of "Newspaper Writing on Spirits, Wine, or Beer" for his story "Mixing It Up," which was about the increasing involvement of restaurant chefs in planning special, often unusual, cocktails with meals.

Winners of the award will be announced at a dinner in New York City on May 8.

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