Random comments

•Could there be any better pre-Christmas economic stimulus package than a two-dollar-per-gallon drop in the price of gasoline? That's money available for spending immediately.

•As much as I enjoy the drop in gas prices, I hope we continue to develop domestic energy sources with as much urgency as when gas was near $4.

•North Dakota has a $1 billion surplus while Minnesota has a $5.6 billion deficit. It is unlikely that Minnesota's plans to annex North Dakota will go very far.

•Not very deep down, I wish the automakers would just go broke. Something better and more efficient would arise in their place. Of course, such a position is easy to take and doesn't extend a lot of hope to the thousands who will lose good jobs.

•Or, as a friend suggested, perhaps Exxon and Mobile could bail out the auto industry. Their quarterly profits of two quarters ago combined could provide the entire amount the Big Three are requesting. Wouldn't it make sense for the oil companies to bail out the companies that make the product that creates their profits?

•My enthusiasm for wind energy has been tempered by the knowledge that each windmill only creates enough electricity to power 20-40 homes. Somebody please correct me if I am wrong, but this is what I have been hearing and reading. Is such a limited output really worth the ugliness of those big windmills?

•I think nuclear energy should be seriously explored. They have made so much progress that the risks have declined markedly. Nuclear energy's reputation has been tarred by its association with nuclear weaponry. It should be viewed on practical, not ideological terms, and I hope Obama is open to it.

•You don't have to agree with the global warming hype to know that the world would be better off if we didn't use so many carbon-based fuels. Some websites and commentators seem inordinately devoted to proving that global warming is a myth. I question their motives. With some of them, I sense that they think all attempts to control emissions are silly. I disagree. I like clean air, the cleaner the better.

•Obama continues to make good choices. However, the proof will be in the pudding: How will he synthesize all of their contributions and viewpoints? What direction will he give his cabinet?

•Tom Brokaw shouldn't have brought up Obama's smoking. What a moralistic priss. The notion that it is any business of the press if Obama has a cigarette every now and then is just crazy. If the president wants to crawl up to the roof of the White House for a puff every now and then, I think the nation would benefit from his having five minutes of reflection and calm.