Critical Thanking

Kudos to Greg Burk on his Blackmore’s Night review [Live in L.A., February 11–17]. He is the finest practitioner of critical wordsmithery currently plying his trade in Los Angeles, and possibly the only one who actually likes the music he so deftly describes. Imagine, a music critic who actually knows something about music. Thanks, Greg.

—Adam Landers Northridge

Bad Sensation

Thank goodness talented lawyers like Greg Jessner [“Who’ll Stop the Reign?” February 4–10] are willing to forgo huge salaries at white-shoe firms in favor of lower-paying government gigs . . . protecting us from vicious criminals. It’s a shame that your sensationalized account of his work and use of his picture could make him — and others like him — a lot less motivated to do so in the future.

—Jordan Sollitto Los Angeles

Grains of Truth

The article “Reason to Wheeze” [January 28–February 3] does not report the reality and truth about ethanol. As a California Green Party member and a biofuels businessman for the last 20 years, this is what I know to be true about ethanol and California. 1. Total vehicle emissions today with ethanol-blended gasoline measured by the state are approximately 400 tons per day less than they were when MTBE was banned in 2002. 2. All of California saw its best air quality this summer. While ethanol might not be all the reason for good results, it’s certainly not hampering success. 3. The price of ethanol over the last five years has consistently been about 30 cents cheaper than California gasoline. Adding more ethanol extends a chronically short fuel supply and puts downward pressure on prices. We need more diversity of fuels, not less. 4. California can produce over 3 billion gallons of ethanol, creating over 60,000 new jobs and $5 billion worth of investment in new clean technology. 5. A waiver from the Clean Air Act would likely produce more pollution and increase prices. Promotion of the waiver flies in the face of the state’s goals to increase fuel diversity and decrease petroleum consumption. 6. Anyone who tells you that we can’t have clean-burning renewable fuel in our gasoline either has not done their homework, is corrupt, has an interest in competing products, or does not have an open mind. We sent a man to the moon over 30 years ago. Surely we can add renewable ethanol to gasoline and clean the air.

—Neil Koehler Davis, California

William J. Kelly responds: Ethanol made from corn ultimately is unsustainable. Ethanol adds to summertime emissions of hydrocarbons, which form lung-damaging ozone. (It does cut carbon monoxide emissions, but the state already has met the health standard for that pollutant.) Meanwhile, Midwest corn is grown with pesticides and fertilizers made from finite natural gas and oil that pollute the Mississippi River. The real way to reduce air pollution from cars is to create new jobs by increasing gas mileage, building a real public transit system, ending the sprawl that makes Californians auto dependent, and getting electric or fuel-cell cars on the road powered by wind, solar and other forms of truly sustainable energy. As to air quality last summer, the lower level of smog was due to cooler-than-normal weather.

Barking Up the Liberal Tree

Obtaining accurate and impartial news has become something of a lost art. Growing up in Los Angeles, I’ve found my media outlets dominated by a leftist movement that has become increasingly intolerant of other POVs. I, myself, am not a conservative but I like to view all sides of an argument in order to make an informed decision. I would appreciate it if your publication would at least make an attempt to be less partisan and more objective. I realize I may be barking up the wrong liberal tree, but one can ask.

—Brandon J. Hart Sherman Oaks

How is it that most right-wingers (including myself) despise Bush and Arnold, yet Harold Meyerson continues to mislabel those charlatans’ proposals as “right wing”?

—Arie Leavitt West Los Angeles

Now Playing

As a postscript to “The Next Four Years: A Survival Guide” [January 21–27], I’d like to add this. The film titles vying for the “Best Picture” Academy Award could easily have been not only Oscar nominees but also a commentary on President Bush’s first term in office. To wit: Finding Neverland — a fantasy story about WMDs in Iraq. The Aviator — a tragicomedy featuring a faux-flyboy on an aircraft carrier whose memorable line is, “Bring ’em on!” Million Dollar Baby — a war that goes over budget and needs to be renamed the “Trillion Billion Million Dollar Baby.” Ray Troops deployed without a “ray” of hope for bringing them home for years and years to come. Sideways — where truth, civil liberties and the Geneva Conventions have gone under the Bush administration. Unfortunately for us and the rest of the world, the bad political movie playing in the White House will continue to run for another four years, long after the Academy Awards ceremony. Wake me when it’s over.

—Karen D. Myers Eugene, Oregon

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