Adieu, Swank Filer!–II
I find it hard to face life without Frank W. Lewis’s puzzles. Don’t look for a replacement. Just recycle the sixty-two years’ worth all over again. Then in 2072 you can start running them a third time.
BARBARA R. BERGMANN
Buoyed by Poetry
I have little to add to what Ange Mlinko said about the new translations of Rilke ["Angels to Radios," Dec. 14] except to note that I found her review fascinating and inspiring (as well as frustrating, since I’m now going to have to dig up $50 to buy the new translations). Until I can get around to them, I’ll make do with my A. Poulin Jr. edition of Duino Elegies and The Sonnets to Orpheus, which also includes the poems in the original German. With so much in life to weigh one down, thanks for publishing a piece that so sensitively speaks of the nature of poetry.
New Life for ‘Zombie Nukes’
With regard to the problem of old "crumbling, leaky, accident prone" nuclear plants "getting relicensed all over the country," discussed by Christian Parenti in "Zombie Nuke Plants" [Dec. 7], mothballing them cannot be the answer–particularly in the face of the expected increase in demand for electric power for a rapidly rising number of hybrid vehicles needed to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
Instead, while wind, solar and geothermal sources are being developed over the next twenty years, we can convert the dangerous old nuclear plants to operate with relatively clean and plentiful natural gas at a small fraction of the cost of building new plants. This can be done in a year or two by replacing the nuclear reactor with a gas boiler. It was done at the Fort Saint Vrain plant near Denver with no loss of jobs or income for the community.
Not only will this reduce the threat of accidents and terrorist attacks; it will help reduce our rising healthcare costs, because it will end the release of highly radioactive nuclear fission products, which enter our milk, drinking water and food. These emissions are far more damaging than normal background radiation or diagnostic X-rays, and they concentrate in the thyroid, bones and reproductive organs, causing chronic diseases, cancer, stillborns and birth defects. Converting nuclear plants will not only help meet energy needs; it will reduce healthcare costs and improve our health and that of future generations.
ERNEST J. STERNGLASS
Professor emeritus of radiological physics
University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine