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Marketplace Staff Sep 26, 2006

KAI RYSSDAL: Write us letters, you did. Lots of them. . . . We had Nick Gillespie on the program recently. Nick’s the editor of Reason magazine and he wrote a commentary for us about a new study. It showed workers who drink alcohol socially make more money than those who don’t. Courtney Ray from Baltimore, Maryland, says Mr Gillespie made a common error of logic.

COURTNEY RAY: I am surprised that your guest would come to the conclusion that he did. Any good researcher knows that correlation does not equal causation. It is more probable that people who earn more have more disposable income to drink socially as opposed to the guest’s theory. In reading the report statistics online, it would seem that the conclusion of the researchers is flawed.

Amtrak got a new CEO recently. He’ll have to do a lot more than just make the trains run on time. And we had author Joseph Vranich on to talk about the beleagured rail company’s future. But many listeners thought we missed a big part of the picture . . . Including Christopher Puchalsky in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

CHRISTOPHER PUCHALSKY: Your statement that Amtrak has lost $35 billion in its 35 years of operation was misleading and biased. Why is federal money spent on Amtrak a “loss,” while federal money spent on highways and airports are “investments.” And why did you use cumulative numbers to make the “losses” seem bigger? If the same yardstick were used for highways and airports, both would be seen to have “lost” trillions of dollars over the last 35 years.

Conspiracy theorists had a field day with our report yesterday on oil prices. We noticed a Gallup poll showing 42 percent of those surveyed think the White House is manipulating oil prices to gain an advantage in the fall elections. Robert Davidson from Placerville, California, captured the general mood:

“Of course Chenny/Bush and fellow oil bosses are in cahoots. Who doesn’t know that?”

We don’t know Mr. Davidson’s political persuasion, but we ought to point out Gallup also said two-thirds of those who feel that way are registered Democrats.

And finally this. . . . A couple of weeks ago we put Al Gore on the air. Well, not so much Al himself as his movie, “An Inconvenient Truth.” We had noticed how it’s inspired other politicians to use documentaries as a public policy tool. And our story said the former vice president made his presentations on global warming in the movie using a laptop and Microsoft’s Powerpoint. Peter Adams listens to the program in Framingham, Massachusetts:

PETER ADAMS: Wrong. The slide show in Mr. Gore’s presentation was done using Apple’s Keynote software on a Mac laptop. Microsoft doesn’t completely control the planet . . . Yet. And they don’t need marketing assistance from Marketplace.

No, Mr. Adams, they don’t. Believe me when I tell you, you weren’t the only listener to write in. The best part of that whole thing, though? Ethan Lindsey, our reporter on the story, is about the biggest Mac geek we know.

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