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Top 10 Letters

"Queer Eye for the Straight Guy," Gary Coleman, why Saddam's innocent, and more.

12:00 AM, Aug 18, 2003
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THE DAILY STANDARD welcomes letters to the editor. Letters will be edited for length and clarity and must include the writer's name, city, and state.


While I agree with David Skinner's Queer Like Us, there is one thing worth adding. If we straight guys are so barbaric and clueless, how come I can cook, decorate, entertain, and occasionally impress a nice female? Well, I'll give you a hint: I've never had one--let alone five--homosexuals tutor me.

Instead, I had women take care of me. My mother taught me to treat girls as equals who weren't as physically strong as I was and to understand that good manners were a good way to get girls to like me. I now have three grown kids and seven grandkids and am unfortunately divorced. But I had years of training for my late life bachelorhood--from my wife. She made me behave despite myself. She helpfully (and often forcefully) pointed out my social gracelessness. She taught me how to put a room together. She taught me how to put colors and patterns together. And when I would carelessly put on some hideous ensemble when attempting to leave the house, she used her best chilly voice to say "Oh, no you don't, mister. You're not going out in public looking like that. People will think I don't take care of you!"

Unfortunately, the generation depicted on "Queer Eye" doesn't understand that such a society existed. And their lives are much emptier for it.

--Larry Hawk


Here's the problem I have with "Queer Eye": I see more and more in popular culture the idea that hetero men have to be "fixed" somehow by women or gay men. The dumb-guy stereotype is ubiquitous on television, as is the smart-aleck wife / girlfriend.

Maybe I am overreacting, but I don't like seeing hetero guys diminished in this way. It's especially galling considering that these dumb brute hetero guys are doing the sometimes dangerous work that make "the civilized world" possible--working on oil rigs, soldiering, policing, etc.

--Anastasia Drost


Victorino Matus's take on Gary Coleman's candidacy, while deep and insightful, indicates that he, like the rest of us Generation X-ers, watched way, way too much television as a kid (I'm Just Wild About Gary). Such detail work, while impressive, is equally disturbing.

Never forget, though, Coleman's penchant for truthfulness. On one episode of "Diff'rent Strokes" he played Honest Abe Lincoln in a school play. Lincoln had over three feet on him, but all of that honesty crammed into that a little package can only spell good things for California.

--Peter Byrnes Jr.


Matt Labash missed one generation of "covering" in Ruben's opening number at the American Idol concert (False Idols). Karin Carpenter (and let's not forget brother Dick) covered "Superstar" from Leon Russel's (the song's composer) original. So, if you're keeping score at home: It's Carpenter(s) covering Russel, Vandross covering Carpenter(s), and Ruben covering Vandross. Which makes what Labash heard during his night of the living dead a cover cubed.

--Carl Pendley


Since Bill Whalen mentioned "The Beverly Hillbillies," here's The Beverly Bill-Hillaries (Guess Who's Coming to the Recall):

Come and listen to a story about a man named Bill.

Out of work pol; no longer on the Hill.

Then one day he wanted back into the fray,

And hopped on a plane to go help his buddy Gray.

Davis that is. Budget buster. Vote buyer.

Will the first thing you know 'ol Hillary's seeing red.

She wants the gig herself, "how dare he?" she said.

"Californy is where I need to be",

And she loaded up the staff and flew out of D.C.

Washington that is. August recess. Searing heat.

--Greg Barnard


In addition to the aspects mentioned in Ami Horowitz's Kazakhstan's Run, Kazakhstan is also the site of Russia's main space launch base, Baikonur, as well as the former Soviet Union's nuclear weapons testing facilities. Also, although not generally known, the government of Kazakhstan asked the United States to send a team to destroy the old Soviet underground nuclear test sites in order to make sure they would never be used again. America's involvement in a country that was once so important to the USSR--and is still very important to Russia--shows just how thoroughly the Cold War was won, and just how valuable our friendship is considered to be.

--Robert Eleazer


In response to Christian Lowe's Learning On the Fly, I have some questions.

Why is Saddam a fugitive? What court of law has examined evidence and found Saddam Hussein guilty of a crime? Does the Iraqi population continue to suffer while this criminally incompetent administration finds a cure for its ills?

--Otis G. Barlow


Insightful comments from David Skinner on "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy"--and it was refreshing not to read the sort of panic about homosexuals that I tend to find in another popular conservative periodical that will go nameless.

With regard to Skinner's point that "Queer Eye" is to gay / straight relations what "Diff'rent Strokes" was to race relations, I would offer that the comparison is probably less to "Diff'rent Strokes" and more to "The Jeffersons" (or even "The White Shadow") which was a far more aggressive, comedic take on race relations and stereotypes than Gary Coleman and company.

--David Penn


I watch "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" and enjoy it immensely (I'm a single, straight, 44-year-old female).

I am encouraged when I see that straight, clueless, slovenly males are capable of making the jump to Civilized Man (unlike many of the men I have encountered in my life). And the gay patter throughout the show is laugh-out-loud hilarious.

But has anyone else noticed that most of the clueless straight guys depicted in the show are from the generation of males who were raised by wolves (no dads, working moms, and latchkey)? Most of these men seem to be stuck in their late adolescence. I find it ironic that all those moms whose career fulfillment came first ended up raising sons that no decent, intelligent woman would want to date or marry-- and that only a team of 5 gay men can teach them to stop dragging their knuckles and grow up.

--Janet Stroble


As someone intimately familiar with U.S. MagLev initiatives and the Transrapid high-speed MagLev technology, I would like to offer some insights on Rachel DiCarlo's dismissal of Maryland's MagLev project (Slow-Motion Boondoggle).

The MagLev project is neither unnecessary nor a waste of money. Investment in a U.S. MagLev project, which also has military applications, would provide valuable experience in implementing and improving this revolutionary and safe transportation technology--experience the Chinese are now gaining, while we cut taxes and wonder why there are budget deficits.

Building a MagLev between Baltimore and D.C. would be a boon to the area's economy; from the estimated 25,000 jobs created, the demand for steel and other materials, the launching of a new industry, the additional passenger capacity created without adding to our already overburdened road systems, and the truly fast and improved travel reliability between travel destinations. Imagine being at Union Station and entering a MagLev that departs at 12:00 p.m. and knowing that you will enter the BWI air terminal at precisely 12:14--every time, regardless of weather conditions. Or, quite possibly, leaving D.C. at 12:00 p.m. and arriving in New York City at 12:43. This type of high-speed, safe, ultra-reliable, and stress-free transportation system will also spur intense economic development within a half mile of any station along its route and reintroduce Americans to reliable travel schedules. It is estimated that travel delays cost this economy an estimated $80 billion a year.

In 1998, Congress authorized the development of a high-speed inter-city DEMONSTRATION PROJECT as part of TEA-21's MagLev Deployment Program. If the B-W is indeed selected as the first MagLev construction project, it is with the idea of being the first link of a line that would run north to Boston and south to Atlanta, a line that would make many short haul flights along the east coast obsolete. The B-W MagLev is not, and never was, conceived as a commuter line.

Incidentally, events on the other side of the world have conspired to make the concept of a U.S. MagLev demonstration project irrelevant. In January of 2001, the Chinese government signed a contract with Transrapid International to build an elevated 19-mile dual-track MagLev between Shanghai's Longyang Station and its new Pudong International Airport. Remarkably, the line for this entirely new transportation system was built in less than two years; including, two stations, a 1.1 mile-long guideway beam manufacturing plant, a maintenance facility, and even landscape beautification.

The Shanghai MagLev Transportation (SMT) system had a ceremonial debut last New Year's Eve where it attained a speed of 267 mph; the trip takes precisely 7.5 minutes. Until the SARS epidemic ceased visitor rides in May, more than 80,000 paying passengers took weekend rides. It will take the rest of the year to complete full commissioning of the SMT and deliver and install all 15 MagLev vehicles. When the system is in full commercial operation early next year, three 5-section MagLevs will shuttle passengers back and forth every 10 minutes, with an additional section to be added to each set by the end of next year. In other words, this extremely safe, quiet, comfortable, non-polluting, computer operated and controlled MagLev will operate more like a high-speed horizontal elevator than a train. Simply by adding more sections and/or increasing the frequency of operation, thousands of additional passengers per hour can be transported without a single additional penny being spent on the guideway infrastructure. A boondoggle? I think not, because it works and works well.

Critics often cite the high costs of building MagLev guideways, but the truth is that dual guideway construction per mile is comparable to building a traditional dual track high speed rail system or an eight-lane interstate-style highway. However, to speak of cost without relation to benefit is meaningless. When comparing MagLev transportation capacity per hour to a highway, the fog of data is lifted. It would take the minimum of a 22 lane highway, with 2,000 cars per lane per hour with an average U.S. vehicle capacity of 1.2 passengers to carry the same number of passengers. Shall we also consider the right of way costs for all those additional highway lanes and the health costs from all the additional air pollution and traffic related injuries and deaths?

Daily Standard readers have a right to know the facts of an issue. Who knows, they might even agree to an increase in the gasoline tax if the money went to funding an efficient non-polluting, safe, quiet, fast, and reliable new transportation mode that promises to alleviate air and automobile traffic--and improve the quality of our lives.

--Kevin C. Coates, President, Coates Communications, MagLev consultant, and former spokesperson for Transrapid International-USA, Inc.