'Smart meters' save money and energy
The Sun's thoughtful article "'Smart meters' could generate ways to save on electricity" (Jan. 7) previews a growing debate around the country: How do we change the culture in, and regulation of, utility companies so that they do all they can to help customers use energy more efficiently?
Smart meters are electricity's version of the business school adage: "You can't manage what you can't measure."
For years, these meters were too expensive to be worthwhile for homes and small businesses but they (and other devices that provide feedback to consumers) have greatly benefited from the developments and cost-reductions in digital technology, miniaturization and telecommunications. So the meters are now an affordable way to help consumers track and reduce power use.
Better yet, smart meters help produce a conservation effect: Consumers who use them save energy - 3 percent to 10 percent or even more, depending on the effort invested in educating and assisting consumers with conservation and the discounts offered for off-peak usage.
This conservation effect is well-documented in dozens of experiences from all regions of the United States as well as Europe, Canada and Australia - which is a key reason California and Illinois are pushing the smart meters statewide.
However, these advanced meters shouldn't have to compete with other efficiency measures.
Utilities should be encouraged to invest in all such cost-effective demand-management measures in a coordinated and aggressive manner because this approach can cut power bills, improve the reliability and efficiency of the utility system, cut carbon dioxide and other pollution and give customers more and better choices to manage their energy use.
The writer is a former president of the Alliance to Save Energy.
Expanding Route 29 strains water supply
I am not surprised that Michael D. Zimmer, Carroll County's newest commissioner, failed to acknowledge the county's shortage of natural resources in his proposal for highway expansion that "has incredible potential to open up economic development" ("Carroll commissioner thinks big on highway extension," Jan. 10).
I am surprised The Sun would devote a large article to the commissioner's dream without mentioning Carroll County's long-acknowledged water shortage.
While the economic and environmental costs of traffic congestion might justify highway expansion, growth in Carroll County depends on new water sources.
However, proposals for reservoirs within the county have been challenged for decades on environmental and land-use grounds by state and federal authorities.
Throw in the latest complication - a National Historic Landmark in the path of a proposed reservoir ("2 oppose putting farms in plan," Dec. 17) - and it becomes clear that the commissioner is putting the cart before the horse.
Linking 9/11, Iraq extends a fallacy
In his speech Wednesday, President Bush could not resist making the allusion, albeit in a way that was more tenuous than in previous formulations, to the connection between the 9/11 attacks and the Iraq war: "On September the 11th, 2001, we saw what a refuge for extremists on the other side of the world could bring to the streets of our own cities" ("Iraq Situation 'Unacceptable,'" Jan. 11).
The refuge to which he referred was, of course, Afghanistan.
By attacking Iraq, we have created terrorists in that country where few had been before, and none was responsible for the 9/11 attacks.
This needs to be pointed out every time Mr. Bush tries to make a connection between 9/11 and the war in Iraq.
Hypocrisy doomed Wilson's principles
A major shortcoming of President Woodrow Wilson, which was left unmentioned in The Sun's essay "Professor-President" (Jan. 7), was his unwillingness to follow through on what he started in leading the United States to war in Europe.
The self-determination of nations and his 14 Points were noble in concept, but they remained hollow, bordering on hypocritical, because they were never carried out.
The Paris Peace Conference of 1919 broke up the Austro-Hungarian Empire. But what was put in its place was based on the balance of power, not self-determination.
The instability inherent in the new order led to World War II. And the final nail in the coffin of the Paris accords was the recent breakup of Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia.
The lessons are clear. It is not enough to have lofty ideas. Those who advocate for them must also have the political will and the means to carry them out.
Georgette P. Zoltani
Rap is poisoning city's young minds
I was so proud to see Gregory Kane's column "Rap is the culprit in killing of black men" (Jan. 6) that I had to add more to the subject.
As a young high school teacher in Baltimore who is a member of the so-called hip-hop generation, I see firsthand how rap music influences kids' minds, bodies and souls more than anything else I have seen.
My students follow the words of artists such as Lil Wayne and Young Jeezy as if they were supreme beings. They look, act, dress, talk, walk and, worst of all, think in step with the rap lyrics they blast into their heads every day.
The worst part is that they don't see anything wrong about this.
They view positive rap artists as fakes, phonies and just boring. They want to see videos with naked girls and hear about gangs, drugs and shootings in their songs.
I fear we as teachers, parents, mentors and others who come in contact with these kids have a long and hard battle - unless, of course, we arrive with a BMW, gold chains and half-naked women everywhere.
The writer teaches American government at Samuel L. Banks High School.
Still much to learn from King's precepts
Just a cursory glimpse at recent headlines concerning war and ongoing conflicts reveals that there is still much we can learn from the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
We need not accept official definitions of what is possible or desirable for, as Dr. King observed, "Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted."
Time for the fans to reshape Orioles
The Baltimore Orioles have had nine straight losing seasons. The owner refuses to put the name "Baltimore" on the home uniforms. The baseball professionals have experienced repeated interference in baseball decisions. Attendance is down significantly.
In short, what was once a great franchise is now on the brink of disaster.
Isn't it time for Orioles fans to take action?