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01.02.08

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I am writing to express my disappointment with Erin Sherbert's article (supposedly) on hybrid cars ("Prius, Schmius, Cover Story, Dec. 12).

I expected to read about the disposal challenges of the batteries in hybrids, or perhaps how hybrid SUVs offer little in the way of real fuel efficiency. Unfortunately Ms. Sherbert did not cover either of these topics, instead opting to repeat a very familiar whine about the sorry state of public transit, the dominance of U.S. car culture, etc.

When she did get around to hybrids it was only to make the preposterous suggestion that cars like the Prius are encouraging us to use more fuel, not less. Please explain how someone trading in their current vehicle for one that gets better mileage than any other on the road is using more gas.

Yes, we need better mass transit, much of which by the way is currently also oil-powered. In the meantime, hybrids offer perhaps the most immediate way to significantly reduce our oil consumption. I expect better from Metro, but in this case I can't help but think a provocative headline trumped the facts.


Bob Fesmire

Sunnyvale


Transit Saves

Re "Prius Schmius": If drivers really think taking a car to work is more affordable than taking public transportation, it may be further evidence of a national decline in math skills. The total cost of car ownership —which includes monthly financing or lease payments, insurance, license fees and taxes, maintenance costs, fuel, and depreciation —averages $8000 per annum, according to the Automobile Association of Southern California. If you own your car outright, and drive an older economy model, I figure that the cost is much lower, probably around $2,000. But that's still much more than the average annual cost of a transit pass.


Gregory Murphy

Redwood City


Glad I Don'tLive in S.J.

In regards to your editorial of the "Little Saigon" controversy ("Political Theater of the Absurd," Silicon Alleys, Dec. 18): I live in S.F. and came across this interesting controversy in San Jose and am a bit puzzled. Can someone please explain to me two simple questions:

(1) Why is Madison Nguyen so stupid to go against her constituents (the majority of the people who voted her in) and go for an unpopular name "Saigon Business District?" What's her logic? Clearly she does not what her role is as a public servant representing her constituents. (2) Why did these idiots on the city council think "Saigon Business District" is better than "Little Saigon?"

"Saigon Business District" is so dry, so industrial, so capitalistic, so bureaucratic, so boring. If I was a tourist, I would not want to visit it because I think it's a district filled with liquor stores, 99 cent stores, and auto repair shops, and that it's all about the money there.

Do you see Little Italy, Japantown, Chinatown, Koreatown, Little Russia all around the U.S. being called Italy, Japan, China, or Russia "Business District?" No. When I see these names on a map, I think of an interesting, rich, vibrant, diverse, colorful, wonderful, and unique cultural center where I will be have a great time exploring and enjoying the wonderful authentic food of the region where these citizens came from. I think of fun. "Little Saigon" is this. It represents a rich and colorful Vietnamese cultural district where you'll get a great bowl of pho or that Vietnamese sandwich or that strong Vietnamese ice coffee. It represents a friendly group of immigrants who are happy to make a region vibrant and prosperous.

I understand that many Vietnamese families have been greatly tortured by the communist regime and are terribly hurt. But ordinary Americans and especially Madison Nguyen (sadly, as she is Vietnamese by blood and culture) do not understand that and you cannot use it to back up the name Little Saigon. You have to argue that Little Saigon represents not only a "business district" but also a cultural heritage center. I don't see it fragmenting San Jose, but actually enriching it and making it a more unique place to visit. Given that San Jose has the largest Vietnamese population outside Vietnam, it's sad that your mayor and councilmembers ignore its constituents and chose a heavily rejected name. I am shaking my head right now in pity to see that you have these people representing you. Thank god I'm not a San Jose citizen as I know my voice will not be heard.

As for those who say that San Jose shouldn't copy the Little Saigon name from Orange County (Westminster), it has nothing to do with that. Do you think other communities who got together and named a region Little Italy, Chinatown, or Koreatown say, "Hey, why are we copying NYC's name? Let's name it New Bejiing Business District of San Francisco of the U.S."? No. It's lame. We want cohesiveness in our community, not factions. That's why Little Saigon should be the official name on the map at every Vietnamese communities. Really, I think it's a pretty catchy name and not that bad!


James Nguyen

San Francisco


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