Letters: Cars, Gospel, and Multiple Personalities

Listeners weigh in on the car of the future and the roots of gospel music. Also, a woman describes what it is like to live with multiple personalities.

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NEAL CONAN, host:

It's Tuesday, the day we read from your e-mails. The authors of the book, "Zoom: The Global Race to Fuel the Car of the Future" gave us a peek at the latest auto technology last week and how it might cut our dependence on oil. But at least one listener was not convinced.

Electric cars not clean cars, wrote Chris Hefner(ph) from Kansas. Energy is required to create the electricity. Biofuels are not the answer either, as we could never grow enough corn, switch grass, et cetera, to replace more than 10 to 20 percent of current oil imports. Hydrogen is not feasible on a large scale if the hydrogen must be created from natural gas, which like oil, is in decline. There is no good alternative to cheap oil and we need to quit trying to figure out how to keep our cars and figure out how to live without them.

These days, many people can't live without social networking. We talked about some of the ways you used sites like MySpace and Facebook to stay in touch with friends. Kate(ph), a high school teacher in Portland, Oregon e-mailed to tell us she logs on for a different reason.

I used MySpace to spy on my students. They talk about things that happen in class and in the school. Often, they will talk about you. I never used it against them, but I would find out about everything that was happening behind the scenes that I would never find out otherwise. It helped me deal with them in a different way to know what was going on. But I could see some people using it against students.

The gospel song "Take My Hand, Precious Lord" turned 75 last month. And like much of traditional gospel, it's in danger of disappearing. We talked with Robert Darden about why so few people seem to value this music and his efforts to save these songs.

Kamala Burton(ph) e-mailed us from Missouri. Many mainstream singers, such as Tony Braxton and Whitney Houston, have their roots in black gospel, but rarely celebrate the songs they were raised on. It is possible that we could preserve the old traditional songs if we celebrated them. If music trends brought them back, I think it could become a strong cultural influence once again.

And finally, many of you wrote in about our conversation last week with psychiatrist Richard Baer. He is the author of the book, "Switching Time: A Doctor's Harrowing Story of Treating a Woman with 17 Personalities." We weren't able to speak with his patient because of concerns over her privacy. He gives her pseudonym in the book.

But in our research before the show, we came across a project called, "I Just Am Who We Are." It's a powerful, sometimes painful, description of Beth Halfling's(ph) life with multiple personalities that came about after childhood abuse and it's told in her own words.

A warning: Some listeners may find some of the language objectionable.

(Soundbite of psychiatry project "I Just Am Who We Are")

Unidentified Woman#1: Jake, Ken, Courtney, Lilibeth, Suzie, Charlie, Kelly, Samuel, Mercy…

MICKEY(ph): My name is Mickey.

Unidentified Woman#1: …Phil, Beth…

MICKEY: I make sure nobody gets hurt.

Unidentified Woman#1: Catherine…

MICKEY: I take care of the older ones…

Unidentified Woman#1: …Marybeth…

MICKEY: …but I was always getting ourselves in trouble. With her mouth, I was talking off…

Unidentified Woman#2: Hello.

MICKEY: …I never understand…

Unidentified Woman#2: I'm going to sing a song that…

MICKEY: Because many times, I'll have to come in…

Unidentified Woman#2: …Stephanie wrote. It's a good song, but it's kind of gross and sad. But I'll sing it to you.

(Singing) One, two, he comes into my room. Three, four, didn't even close my door.

MICKEY: She's a far…

Unidentified Woman#2: (Singing) Five, six…

Unidentified Woman#3: Sympathy-getter, that's what she wants.

Unidentified Woman#2: (Singing) Seven, eight…

Unidentified Woman#3: Attention. She wouldn't be doing all these if she didn't want attention.

Unidentified Woman#2: (Singing) Nine, ten…

Unidentified Woman#4: I'd go away, but I don't know how.

Unidentified Woman#3: Screaming, it's what he does. So…

(Soundbite of laughter)

Unidentified Woman#3: He, she, it. I don't know.

Unidentified Woman#2: (Singing) …no more. Five, six…

Unidentified Woman#5: I can't quit laughing.

Unidentified Woman#3: She screams a lot. Inside…

Unidentified Woman#6: Hey, that's what I'm talking about. It wasn't you. You don't have no goddamn disorder.

Unidentified Woman#7: I'm not going to cry like a baby just to stop you.

Unidentified Woman#2: (Singing) (Unintelligible).

Unidentified Woman#5: I can't quit laughing.

Unidentified Woman#7: Honest. I won't. I promise I won't. I try so hard.

(Soundbite of screaming)

Unidentified Woman#7: You messed up. You hear?

Unidentified Woman#2: (Singing) …from my bed before I sleep.

Unidentified Woman#4: …slow on the inside.

Unidentified Woman#2: (Singing) …if only I can win.

(Soundbite of screaming)

Unidentified Woman#2: (Singing) Three, four, I have to exit through my door. Five, six, I find it inside my head so sick. Seven, eight, I learned how to escape. Nine, ten, into my own land of pretend.

CONAN: Just some of the personalities that Beth Halfling introduced us to in a piece that aired in 1994 called "I Just Am Who We Are." It was the work of Dan Getteman, a radio producer and a friend of Beth's. The audio is also available online at npr.org/blogofthenation.

As always, if you want to reach us with comments, questions or corrections, the best way is by e-mail. That address, talk@npr.org. Please let us know where you're writing from and give us some help on how to pronounce your name.

This is TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News. I'm Neal Conan in Washington.

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