Stars in his eyes
Re "A new frontier in interstellar quest," Column One, April 14
I remember growing up in the 1970s and seeing the pictures from Voyager 1 of Jupiter and its moons and, later, Saturn and its rings. It left me with a feeling of awe that I have never lost.
Years later I keep hearing news about how far Voyager 1 has flown and thinking what an accomplishment of human ingenuity it was to make such a craft.
People like Caltech physicist Ed Stone, project scientist for Voyager 1, should be recognized as American heroes. May his example remind us all that science can change the world for the greater good.
I hope in the near future that America can see the benefits of a good education for all and stop the endless funding of the military-industrial complex. It would be nice if I could see my daughter, and all children, fly to such accomplishments as Stone has.
Reading of Stone's accomplishments reminded me of sitting around in my uncle's backyard along with my cousins, one of whom became project engineer for the first Mars probe. Of course, we didn't know that then.
However, God forbid you asked my cousin a question about the stars. He would go on for about 45 minutes, giving you more information than you cared to know or could comprehend. My uncle would ask, "What does that have to do with the fur business?"
Thanks for reminding us that people like Stone are important in our lives.
'Path to Poverty' from the GOP?
Re "House GOP unites behind budget," April 16
How utterly ludicrous and shameful that the GOP's goal is to take away from the needy, who rely on Social Security and Medicare, while giving tax breaks to the unneedy rich. This is the hypocrisy of the Christian ethic at its worst.
So it's OK to attack what is so inaptly named "entitlements" to destroy support for the middle class and poor? Why? Maybe it's because GOP House members will have pensions, savings from salaries that we pay and health insurance, so they do not need to worry. I hope their children fare as well.
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and the House Republicans passed their budget plan. They call it a "Path to Prosperity." Because it would greatly increase out-of-pocket healthcare costs for seniors, I call their plan a "Path to Poverty."
John D. Kelley
Politics and the space shuttle
Re "Shuttle snub sends Houston into orbit," April 15
I have to say that I totally agree with the people of Texas in their anger over NASA's decision to bypass Houston in favor of Los Angeles as a recipient of a space shuttle orbiter.
As a native Southern Californian and a retired 34-year employee of McDonnell Douglas in Huntington Beach, I worked actively for many of those years on several shuttle-related projects. Houston has been the voice of the space program since 1963, when the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center was opened. It is more deserving of an orbiter than any of the four cities selected by NASA.
The California Science Center should do the right thing and decline its selection in favor of Houston. It makes total sense, particularly at a time when Los Angeles can ill-afford the $29-million cost necessary to take possession of the orbiter.
So Rep. Pete Olson of Texas thinks the decision not to send Houston a retired shuttle had the "smell of politics." I guess the decision had a similar odor to the decision to build the Johnson Space Center there in the first place.
The plight of the Venezuelan press
Re "Latin America's press pass," Opinion, April 13
Venezuela President Hugo Chavez obviously needs some PR help. His new land policy of "land for the people, not for landowners, nor for fascists" flies in the face of his heavy hand in revoking, shutting down or taking over independent radio and television stations.
He continues stifling the free press by regulating Internet access and outlawing any question of his authority, critical or otherwise. If this isn't an authoritarian, nationalistic right-wing system of government and social organization, then he also must have nationalized Webster's dictionary and decreed a new definition of fascism.
It is disingenuous for Marc B. Haefele to argue that corporate-owned newspapers and media are victims of politicians who fear the truth. Almost all major news vehicles in most Latin American nations are owned by large corporations.
The truth is that in Latin America, the corporate-owned media often omit or distort news content to influence the political process for their own ends and to promote their power over governance. Corporate-owned media and the oligarchic interests to which they are tied have all too often been the real enemies of free expression and social justice in Latin America, to the detriment of the people and most of all the poor, who typically make up the vast majority of the population.
Parking their cars
Re "Lawmakers lose their state cars," April 15
California is broke. Lawmakers have cut back money to schools and much-needed social programs for poor people to help balance the budget. Yet these same legislators can't live without their taxpayer-paid cars. We, the taxpayers, own and pay for our cars to and from work. Yet these overpaid legislators can't give up something for the cause.
So does our governor agree with this action? It doesn't seem so. He replaces Charles Murray, chairman of the California Citizens Compensation Commission, which made the decision. Murray happens to be doing the right thing in trying to save money for our state.
Gov. Jerry Brown must realize that legislative expenses and pensions must be scaled back along with social programs to balance our budget. Otherwise, his actions are not fair to Californians.
The fine print
Re "It pays to read the fine print on subscription renewal notices," Business, April 15
If people don't realize that the National Geographic subscription rate isn't $59.98 a year, they have no one but themselves to blame.
David Lazarus writes about "senior citizens who may not think twice about responding to something like this."
Why are senior citizens always deemed to be stupid? I believe they have more sense than the population at large because they've had a little more life experience and tend to ask a few more questions before spending that kind of money on a magazine subscription.
Fred A. Rosenberg
Soaps in Spanish
Re "ABC pulling the plug on two longtime soaps," Business, April 15
I stopped watching "All My Children" and "One Life to Live" in 1998. They became boring, so I switched to Spanish-language telenovelas. One, watching them improved my Spanish, and two, they are interesting.
American soaps should learn from telenovelas, which typically last a few months. This keeps them interesting, and they keep moving.
If you miss one day, you're almost lost, whereas with American soaps you can go months without watching and you haven't missed much.
Ida-Maria A. Molinari