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Going Postal

Fun Bad Habits
Just wanted to drop a line saying how much I like the selection of comics that run in Creative Loafing. "Sidewalk Bubblegum" and "This Modern World" are some of my favorites, but I especially enjoy "The City." These pieces always make me feel better knowing that someone is exposing the ignorance and petty consumerism that has become so pervasive these days.

This country has been militantly laissez-faire for some time now and, while I'm not necessarily anti-capitalist, things really seem to have gotten worse in the last couple of years -- very conspicuous consumption and excessively selfish behavior, especially here in Atlanta. I know plenty of others who enjoy these strips, so I just wanted to drop a word of support for them.

-- Kristopher Monroe, Atlanta

Let's share the pain
Traveling Ga. 400 daily can be a challenge ("Out of Control: Traffic on 400 is Hellish and Certain to Get Worse," March 28). As I inch my way in to work, I look around and the majority of my fellow commuters are flying solo. I am proud to say that I commute in with my boss and feel very comfortable with my contribution to the nightmare we refer to as Ga. 400.

The only short-term solution I can think of is a campaign for ride sharing. By the time HOV lanes, merge lanes and park-and-ride lots are implemented, the nightmare will turn into a living hell (which is very close to happening)! Nice article, I hope it spawns some action.

-- Reggie Watkins, Atlanta

South Atlantic Jane?
I'd like to offer you a corporate sponsorship with South Atlantic Mortgage (Jane Says, "Make Me an Offer," March 28). Henceforward you will be known as "South Atlantic Jane." I dropped the Catoe and Mortgage because "South Atlantic Jane" sounds so cool. We'll need you to write about us in your column, slip promos into every other conversation every five minutes, wear a big button that says "Let Me Refinance Your Home" and just say the words "South Atlantic Mortgage" once every waking hour. We are on a shoestring budget and can't afford much. In return, we'll give you a free membership to Fernbank, some tickets for next week's Braves game and an invite to my grandmother's potluck supper next Sunday.

I can't agree more with you about the whole corporate sponsorship thing. I read your article yesterday sitting in a locally owned and operated restaurant, one of the few left in my part of town. Got to thinking, eventually there will probably be just one corporation. The whole thing has gotten way out of hand. When I heard about the Lenox thing on NPR a couple of weeks ago it got me wondering. What will the city be like when I don't know the places around town anymore? And I also don't think anyone will punish themselves by not going to see a show. But, what do we do?

-- Tony Campagna, Lawrenceville

Jane keeps Macon my day
Hello Jane! I don't know how used to fan mail you are. I'm not used to writing it. I come into Atlanta once or twice a week and read CL (especially Jane Says) avidly. I live in Macon, and I work part time for the Convention & Visitor's Bureau there.

About your Haiku column ("Here Comes the Sunlight," March 14), I can tell you firsthand that it's actually not early for cherry blossoms in this part of the country. They come out in April in their normal climate, but this far south, you pegged it pretty closely. Macon has 250,000 Yoshino cherry trees, and we have a cherry blossom festival every year during the third week of March. This year, we've estimated 600,000 visitors, partly due to a prominent article in Southern Living magazine last month.

Unfortunately, the festival office didn't get the trees' memo about when they would bloom this year, and they were at their peak one whole week earlier than expected.

Anyhow, I thought I'd send you a haiku about how I felt when I pulled into midtown on Thursday and read your column sitting at the Caribou Coffee at Peachtree and 25th:

Beautiful Lady

I despair, the yoshinos

already in bloom

I'll see you next time I read the paper.

-- Andy Hammond, Macon

Nuclear wounds take a looong time to heal
I was disappointed by your misinformed report on The Southern Co.'s plans to build more nuclear plants, ("Southern Co. Eyeing New Nuclear Plant," March 28). Southern floated this leaden trial balloon last year, too. I hope you'll let it sink again.

Your article's tone is cheery, "But time heals all wounds, even those inflicted by nuclear power." That jaunty note belies the crucial fact your article tacitly admits: The persistence of highly radioactive nuclear waste in the environment means that it will take many thousands of years for our wounds to heal. That's a lot longer than the 30- to 40-year life cycle of nuclear power plants.

Over 20 years after Three Mile Island, there's still no solution to the nuclear waste problem. Southern Co. has already dumped this deadly stuff outside Plant Hatch on the banks of the Altamaha River, the second largest watershed in the Southeast, ensuring that we'll have to live with it long after Southern's executives and PR flacks have retired. As for citizens across the world who have fallen victim to the nuclear power industry's dangerous side -- Chernobyl, Harrisburg, Chelyabinsk, Idaho Falls, Irving, Webber Falls and all their downstream and downwind communities -- their wounds from radiation exposure won't heal any time soon either.

Georgia Power and Southern Co. want us to bankroll another plant-construction binge, but we can't afford nuclear power. The people of Georgia still have a sour taste in our mouths after spending billions for nuclear energy. We remember being told that nuclear power would be too cheap to meter. We paid dearly for the boondoggle that resulted.

We intervened in the Vogtle nuclear plant licensing proceedings in the mid-'70s to protest the cost. We saw NRC regulators ignore solid cost-escalation evidence and Georgia Power promise conservation strategies, which it promptly scrapped. Let's not forget that the company's original $500 million construction-cost estimate for a four-reactor plant in Burke County escalated to over $8 billion for a two-reactor plant by the time we got the final bill. That bait-and-switch maneuver resulted in the largest electric-rate hike in Georgia's history.

The industry, along with most of the media, never comment on the real costs of nuclear power: the uranium fuel cycle, construction, start-up, decommissioning, nuclear waste and clean-up, nor do they admit that nuclear power is not and never will be as clean as they claim.

Estimates of the real costs for each plant, including decommissioning and waste disposal, approximate the total supply of cash in circulation in the United States. Multiply that by the 78 plants we've already built, and you'll see that we'll be left holding the bag forever.

The nuclear industry is touting new technologies as cheaper and smaller because they're counting on more subsidies and lenient regulations from pro-industry politicians. But we've already learned that expensive lesson.

We should know better than to let The Southern Company repeat its folly. Stopping nuclear power generation is the only way to stop the waste of our money, the production of more nuclear waste, and the wasting of future generations.

-- Ed Martin, Decatur

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