Treadmill test endorsement scanted factsYour paper's...


October 12, 1997

Treadmill test endorsement scanted facts

Your paper's contribution to the recent media blitz intended to soften the blow of the treadmill emissions test is disappointing, given your perpetuation of bad "facts" on which the blitz relies and on which misinformed individuals and organizations have chosen to support the test.

I'll give but two examples:

Check the math. We are told (in American Lung Association commercials) that the test will reduce emissions by 71 tons per day. We are also told by officials (as quoted in The Sun on Sept. 29) that 1.2 million cars will be tested annually. The same article indicates that this test will fail an average of 11 percent of cars, as opposed to 7 percent to 8 percent under the old test.

Based on the necessary assumption that the 71 tons improvement can only come from failing cars which have been repaired, and converting all figures to average daily number of tests, daily average of failures and total daily pounds of pollution reduction, the calculations indicate that each failing car must currently be producing 393 pounds of pollutants daily.

Right. Even if 50 percent of a gallon of gas is converted to pollutants when burned, the offending car would have to be using nearly 800 gallons of gas daily to be polluting at that level.

It gets even more questionable if we are to believe that the 71 tons is an improvement upon the old test. Then we are asked to believe the 71 tons come from the 3 percent increase in failures between the two tests. This would translate into the newly failed cars representing approximately 1,000 pounds of pollutants daily. And people are passionately defending the program based on this pretzel logic?

Second, about the low number of claims for damage to date. The state's agreement with the contractor makes it next to impossible for an owner to file a claim after leaving the test station.

Damage to the drive train, cooling system and ABS brakes are not likely to manifest themselves until well after the car has left the station. Those owners either will not make the connection, or will not be successful with their claim, and thus will not be part of the "low" figure proudly quoted by officials.

But reality hits hardest when your Sept. 29 article quotes health care officials as admitting that the program very likely won't result in fewer dangerous air days.

So what's the point?

There are other technologies which can attain comparable results without being as intrusive.

Todd Brace

Ellicott City

Curb on porn vs. liberty; why use the word 'adult'?

The Sun's editorial (Sept. 22) concerning adult book and video stores in Howard County was a disappointment, to say the least. I would expect an enemy of individual liberty and freedom of expression to favor making it as tough as possible for such facilities to operate. I would not expect such from a newspaper.

It is bad enough that you praise the planning board's recommendation of "a thoughtful approach to controlling the spread of a business that few people would want in their neighborhoods."

It is worse that you call on the County Council to "do even better" by adding to the restrictions.

After everybody gets through with their pandering, I wonder if there will really be any spot in the county from which these "terrible" establishments can operate. Of course, that is the admitted goal of some and the unspoken goal of others.

I am neither an owner nor a patron of any Howard County video store, but fail to see why any thinking person would regard them as such a menace as some of those who testified at the planning board hearing. After all, they do not sell guns or grow snakes and require no one to step foot in their doors. They apparently have adult books and videos for sale to adults and if they are lacking in sufficient customers to make a profit, they will probably go out of business. Big deal.

If some parents will not adequately tend to their own children (who are not welcome in these establishments anyway), should we require that government by law restrict us all to the reading or viewing level of those children? Should not adults be entitled to make their own reading or viewing decisions without having to go to east Siberia to do so?

Some supporters of these planned restrictions on individual liberty may rejoice at the prospect of them going into effect, but The Sun should know better. Who knows where the censorship juggernaut will stop once it gets rolling?

Kenneth A. Stevens



Your article Sept. 24 titled "Fight to limit adult stores is resumed" caused me to wonder how pornography came to be labeled as "adult" literature or video. Most adults do not patronize facilities of this nature.

The designation of "adult bookstore," "adult material" and other such descriptions of pornographic material constitutes the greatest coup ever for the pornographic establishment. It is not adult literature or material: It is pornographic literature or material.

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