I couldn't read Rick Berg's provincial attitudes without feeling that our mayor should hear from those of us who applaud his idea of car-light neighborhoods ("Belatedly, Obama Wises Up on Energy," 8/8/08). Contrary to Berg's sarcastic "Furthermore" note, this is not a wacky German idea.
Jane Jacobs was proposing walkable mixed-use neighborhoods back in 1961 in her book The Death and Life of Great American Cities. Her ideas took hold in the New Urbanism, which led to the development of towns such as Columbia, Md., and sparked downtown revivals in many small towns and cities.
Apart from the obvious environmental benefits, car-light neighborhoods encourage a stronger sense of community as people walk in public areas and get to know each other. They also allow for more greenspaces rather than roads and parking lots.
My wife and I recently moved to Madison from Chicago, and we love the human scale, the mix of nature and a strong arts culture in Madison. We've chosen to live without a car and find Metro very usable (though we'd like to see more bus routes operating on weekends). The money we save on transportation we spend on better housing, local activities and travel.
Rick Berg says we should drill our way to energy independence. T. Boone Pickens, an oilman since the dawn of time, says we can't. Who's right? It depends.
Earth isn't running out of oil. It's running out of cheap oil. While beating his chest about a "home-grown supply of crude oil," Berg carefully avoided saying that offshore drilling and mining oil shale would drop the price of gas. They won't. Those reserves are costly to extract. I suspect Berg's real point was to bash Speaker Pelosi and Senator Obama for supporting renewable energy.
If you want to pass yourself off as a more credible energy expert than T. Boone Pickens, the least you can do is get the name of the Bakken Formation right. (Yes, I know it sounds like "Balkan" when they say it on Fox News.)
Life by prayer
I was quite surprised at the title of your recent cover story ("Death by Prayer," 8/8/08)], considering that prayer has such a long track record for healing all types of illnesses, including life-threatening conditions.
Prayer has given life to many people who were diagnosed otherwise. I am a Christian Scientist and have seen the positive healing results of this prayer-based method of treatment time and time again.
"Death by Prayer" sadly failed to include the joy and miracle of healing prayer. Both are documented clearly in a myriad of sources, including the Journal of the American Medical Association. May I also remind your readers that prayer neither caused Madeline's illness nor her death.