It was another hot summer night, 43 years ago. Apollo 11 had landed the first humans on the moon. I was 16, imbued with visions from Ray Bradbury and glued to my TV set. Earlier, CBS news anchor Walter Cronkite had explained to viewers wishing to chronicle this historic event how to set the f-stops and shutter speeds on their SLR cameras to best capture the flickering, grainy images from their TV screens.

I still have those photos, stored away in an envelope in a drawer.

I experienced a similar elation the other summer night when NASA successfully landed Curiosity on Mars. No men stepped out upon the Red Planet, but this incredibly complex and deftly executed mission was yet another giant leap for mankind.

If we believed the futurists of the 1950s, we’d all be zipping around in jetpacks and flying cars like “The Jetsons” and visiting moon colonies for long weekends. That vision of the future, so hopeful and naive, remains the stuff of old Saturday morning cartoons. But we still live in an age of miracles, if we can apply that ancient religious term to today’s scientific adventures and discoveries.

It brings to mind a literary quote, from a different time and about an entirely different subject, but yet seems apropos of our time and this subject. It’s from “The Great Gatsby.” F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote: “For a transitory enchanted moment man must have held his breath in the presence of this continent — face to face for the last time in history for something commensurate to his capacity to wonder.”

Fortunately, not the last time in our history. Once again we come face to face with something commensurate to our capacity to wonder, fueled by curiosity and rewarded with awe.

Truly, we live in an age of miracles.

Steven Price

Kennebunkport

 

CMP criticized over its handling of smart meters

 

When CMP put their smart meters into our homes, they told us that we would have access to the detailed data by the spring of 2102. As of a week ago, their website still carried that promise. Summer is half over, and I still don’t have that access. They have a PDF guidebook ready and waiting online, but you can’t use it until you get the URL to their data site, and they won’t release it.

Over the past month, I’ve been trying to get CMP to tell me when I will have access to my data. Their repeated reply has been: “When we have completed all smart meter installations and testing.” You do not need a graduate degree in logic to understand that this means whenever they wish, possibly not this year, perhaps not in my lifetime. (I’m 68 years old).

CMP has glaringly failed to provide the quid pro quo that they offered customers at the outset, and they won’t even tell us when they might make good on their offer. Maine’s newspapers have ignored this sleight of hand, perhaps because they get so much advertising revenue from CMP. Do any Maine journalists have the interest and courage to pursue this?

Lewis Lester

Oakland

 

Boy Scouts ‘should be ashamed’ for gay ban

 

The national leadership of the Boy Scouts of America has recently reaffirmed its long-held homophobia. Gays not allowed! Didn’t we start to believe that this sort of ignorance was becoming an embarrassing thing of the past?

I’ll put it simply and clearly: disgusting! They should drop the word “America” from their name. They should be ashamed.

Elliot Burton

Portland

 

Time to end subsidies for gasoline with ethanol

 

The Senate refused to kill a $5 billion annual subsidy for ethanol last year, and our Maine senators both supported the end to fuel tax breaks, as reported here on June 15, 2011. These senators have the foresight to know when to stop spending money that we don’t have on things that we don’t need.

Maine Public Law 650 provides a state fuel tax incentive of 1 cent per gallon on E10 (gasoline with 10 percent ethanol). A federal tax incentive is 5.1 cents per gallon and has created an industry incentive, at our cost.

There is about a 3 percent loss of fuel economy from the use of E10, potentially making it more costly for the consumer who has to refuel more often. (Read that again.)

Ask any user of gas-powered two-cycle and four-cycle business and recreational engines and tools: There are heavy costs involved in maintenance and unexpected repairs. Repair facilities would rather be doing productive operations than correcting the poor results of this government’s mandate.

And then we have a boost in food prices. Recent reports of Midwest droughts will result in shortages of food for the animals that provide us with our wants and needs to survive.

“The use of corn to make ethanol in the U.S. is helping to lift the grain price worldwide,” Bloomberg News has reported.

Maine should take the lead in having real gas authorized to be sold at all retailers. For environmentalists, E10 would be available as their option and expense.

Robert Klowas

Scarborough

 

Paper shouldn’t have used photo without permission

 

The article at the top of the Aug. 7 front page of the Portland Press Herald (“Husson let chaplain join events after he quit”) features a photograph of Bob Carlson at an event in 2010. The photo was not taken by a Press Herald photographer but was instead copied from the online photo sharing site flickr.com and used without any compensation or attribution to the original photographer. The Press Herald did not even contact the photographer to ask if they could use her work within the article.

As a photographer I’m saddened by the questionable journalism displayed by the Press Herald and its view that any photo available online may be used without compensation, credit or even consent. It should also be noted that the paper’s own usage guidelines do not allow photos from the paper to be used on articles published on other sites; why are the standards they use for their own paper different than those they expect others to follow?

Justin Russell

Orono