Security means convenience to Americans

Regarding "Airplanes get fuller, airports friendlier" (March 14): Your article hints toward America's obsession with convenience as an underlying factor for the lack of security at airports before Sept. 11. We must also remember that it was this need for convenience which allowed two planes to leave Boston's Logan Airport that day within minutes of one another – both headed for the same destination, both at less than half-full capacity, and both equipped with a thousand gallons of fuel.

After Sept. 11, "friendly skies" evoked briefly a time gone by when it was a rarity to see a jet in the sky. Our sky was not scarred by streaks of vapor trails. I hardly think of our commercial sky any longer as "friendly." Remarkable efforts have been made to ensure security for those flying, but no system will ever be infallible.
Sally Fisher Worthington, Mass.

I disagree with those who say lines at airports are getting shorter. I barely made my plane at the Seattle airport with an hour and half to check in, and returning from Florida, I made it with plenty of time but was ahead of an enormous line since I arrived two hours early. All of my flights were full, and the security lines were very long. The people in your story must have been lucky. All of my traveling companions' experiences have matched mine: long lines and waits, and they advise being at least two hours early. The story you published could lull people into a false sense of normalcy. But it's not there yet.
Bronwyn Edwards

What's cheaper, gas or water?

Regarding "Keeping track: prices at the pump" ( March 18, Work&Money): The same folks who complain about paying $1.22 for a gallon of gas think nothing of buying unregulated, bottled water for as much as $8 per gallon. For all we know, "natural spring water" could have come from someone's tap – but we're still willing to pay as much as $1 per pint.

Gas, on the other hand, has to be located, drilled, pumped, transported to, and loaded onto ships. It must then be safely shipped (often from the other side of the planet), unloaded and sent to refineries, refined, reloaded onto trucks and transported to local distributors to keep our cars on the road. So why do Americans expect it to be cheaper than water? The answer isn't to drive prices down, but to curtail our dependence on gas.
Shirley Smith
Falls Church, Va.

SUV crusaders

Regarding "Go Valpo! Go ... Crusaders?" (March 11): Jon Pahl worries that after Sept. 11 Valparaiso University's Crusader mascot implies that the US is the "home of the defiantly narrow." He proposes changing the mascot. However, now that the American front on the war against terrorism stretches worldwide, and the Senate has rejected many higher fuel-efficiency standards for light trucks, the Crusader title seems appropriate – just lose the knight in armor and replace it with a suburbanite in an SUV.
Matt Orr
San Francisco

Memories of Africa sparked

Regarding "Sharing sadza and warm conversation with the Zimbabwean people" (March 18, Opinion): Thank you for former Peace Corps volunteer Sarah Hill's piece on the real Zimbabwe. Although not a Peace Corps volunteer, I had a similar experience in Zimbabwe while in a study-abroad program in 1994. The people are wonderful – I felt more at home there than I often do in America, although I've lived here my entire life. I cringe at the news prompted by the elections, and I long for the day when peace returns to the country so that I may, too.
Alyson Browett

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