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for your free copy of the controversial educational monograph Let’s Take a Look at The REAL Skinner w r i t e: THE INSTITUTE FOR EPISTENIIC STUDIES 2719 Cockrell Avenue Fort \\North, Texas 76109 14 The Texas Observer #rlpitz’ Since 1866 The Place in Austin GOOD FOOD GOOD BEER 1607 San Jacinto 4774171 MARTIN ELFANT SUN LIFE OF CANADA LIFE HEALTH DENTAL 600 JEFFERSON SUITE 430 HOUSTON, TEXAS 224-0686 means of salvation and caught Texas. He never got there, but he was tried for treason in the attempt. Apparently people caught Texas back then the same way they catch, say, feminism nowadays: it is not so much a disease as a cause, and not so much a cause as an effect of acute unhappiness. Aaron Burr had it bad: he wanted to become Emperor of Texas. Jefferson said he also wanted to swipe the Western states from the U.S., just to have some English speaking subjects, but a federal jury disagreed. Vidal not only acquits Burr of the charge but accuses Sam Houston of it at a later time. The maneuvering to acquire Texas for the United States takes on an entirely ribald cast when retailed by a Jacksonian political hack. The story of how Charlie Schuyler sold his Burr-Van Buren slander to a drunken \(and proudly early ghost writing which the Daughters of the Republic of Texas will hardly appreciate. This is where the reviewer always Austin The Austin City Council recently trekked to Arizona to see a coal-fired electric power plant in action. The councilmen were appalled at the dirty mess that coal makes. “This could help you decide that nuclear is better,” commented Jeff Friedman, one of the more enlightened members of the city council. Dr. Bud Dryden allowed as how, “We’d better get going with this nuclear business.” Austin already has decided to join the South Texas Nuclear Project, but, since the plant won’t be ready for operation until 1982, the city, may go ahead and build a stop-gap coal plant. Meanwhile, San Antonio has asked Austin to go in with it on building a second nuclear plant somewhere between the two cities, ’cause nuclear power is supposed to be so clean and cheap. Heaven knows, I don’t want to see coal burned in Texas either, but given a straight countryside by strip mining operations and breathing dirty air for a couple of decades generations with a cancerous inheritance of nuclear wastes, I’ll take the coal. It’s not that kind of an either/or situation, of course. By the end of this century, we’ll probably have figured out how to use fusion, which does not create nuclear waste. And there are hopeful possibilities for tidal and solar energy, to name two alternatives that most people in the energy biz are shortchanging. One of the main reasons you don’t hear a whole lot about these latter two energy possibilities is that catches a foot in the pants. I am going to make a distinction; namely, between “fine” writing and “decent” writing. Briefly, fine writing leaves you gasping at an author’s cunning and audacity in mastering readers’ hearts as well as their language. Decent writing finds you admiring his words’ digestibility and the believability of his characters. It is the distinction between the drama and pantomime, or love and friendship. Perhaps more because of the impeccable civilty Aaron Burr is given than because of any failure of Vidal’s incisive spirit, the novel, while frequently ebullient, is always in the decent writing compartment. I’m glad to have it there, along with its snapshots of Washington in full Presidential rouge make-up, of Jefferson angrily ordering the suspension of habeas corpus and of Charlie Schuyler, the journalist changeling, who couldn’t have been lured to Texas by an ambassadorship. Gore Vidal should be as proud of this book as he probably already is. neither Exxon nor Aramco can get a monopoly on the sun and the tides. Nuclear power, however, looks like the Lost San Saba Mine to the captains of energy. TEXAS IS moving right ahead with no less than four fission reactors in the planning stages: The Aliens Creek Nuclear Project, one plant with two reactors of 1,250 megawatts each, a Houston Lighting & Power facility in Austin County, 45 miles west of Houston. The Comanche Peak Project, one plant with two reactors of 1,150 megawatts each in Glen Rose, to be shared by Texas Power & Light, Dallas Power & Light and Texas Utilities. The South Texas Nuclear Project, two reactors of 1,250 megawatts each at Matagorda Bay, to be shared by the electric companies in Houston, Corpus Christi, San Antonio and Austin. The Blue Hills Nuclear Project, one plant with two reactors of 950 megawatts Dealing with the Devil