Letters: Hybrid Cars, Obituaries, and Chernobyl Melissa Block and Robert Siegel read from listeners' letters and emails. Among the topics this week, our interview with Jamie Kittman of Automobile magazine about hybrid cars, Walter Cronkite's piece on the art of crafting an obituary, and our segment on the 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster.

Letters: Hybrid Cars, Obituaries, and Chernobyl

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Okay here's what we learned from going through our e-mail inbox this week, there are quite a few hybrid car owners out there and they stand ready to defend their Priuses.

Earlier this week I spoke with Jamie Kitman, the New York Bureau Chief for Automobile magazine, and he says that just because a car is a hybrid doesn't mean that it's particularly economical and we discussed a number of smaller conventional cars that are coming to market with pretty impressive fuel economy.

BLOCK: Well hybrid wonders flew to their keyboards to write to us. Chris Candler from Neenah, Wisconsin, writes, “I currently own a Toyota Prius and drive 100 miles a day to and from work. I average 45 to 50 miles per gallon depending on the weather and wind conditions. There is a secondary benefit to driving hybrids which is often overlooked. Hybrids reduce the amount of emissions in the atmosphere. For instance, say you're stuck in traffic, which vehicle would you rather be behind, a diesel truck or a hybrid?”

SIEGEL: Terry Dickie of Fresno, California says she heard my interview as she was getting into her Honda Civic hybrid and she writes, “I was surprised to hear your interviewee state that all hybrids currently on the market get better gas mileage in stop and go traffic. Not true. I have always gotten better gas mileage on the freeway than in town. I specifically purchased the Civic hybrid over the Toyota Prius for this reason.”

BLOCK: Our look back at the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear plant brought in these comments from Rabbi Dennis Ross of Worchester, Massachusetts, “Your report touched me on two levels,” he writes, “the concern and fear I recall from two decades ago as well as the parallels to our country's inadequate preparations and response surrounding Hurricane Katrina. I sadly wonder, is Katrina our Chernobyl? Who could have possible imagined that America, almost 20 years later, would so fail to plan adequately, gather and manage information, evacuate citizens or provide for those left behind. I pray that we do better and can act more boldly than the former Soviet Union when it comes to restoring a region, the people and the land who still suffer in a disaster's wake.”

SIEGEL: Chico Goetz of Warrenton, Missouri was impressed with Walter Cronkite's piece on the art of putting together an obituary. “The segment certainly evoked plenty of nostalgia for me,” he writes, “just like a (unintelligible) bit. However, with all the dignitaries and celebrities mentioned I couldn't help but notice that John Kennedy was missing. He certainly fit the bill for some of the categories that were noted and I would have been interested to learn how his unexpected end caught CBS. I was disappointed that we didn't get some comment on that.”

BLOCK: Finally today a discordant note from Michael White of Rockford, Illinois. He writes, “Your piece on vintage guitar collecting can only succeed in further inflating the prices of these old instruments and keeping them out of the hands of actual musicians. The vintage guitar market has been on a steady incline for the past 20 years and it is now to the point where only the wealthiest working musicians can afford to own and play these desirable instruments. Instruments are meant to be played, not stashed in the vaults or hung on the walls of status-seeking millionaires.”

SIEGEL: And of course, your comments are meant to be heard so let us know what you think. The best way to reach us is to go to NPR.org and click on the Contact Us link at the top of the page.

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