Letters to the Editor

Some special advice to get writer out of dating hell
Princeton Review chief says blame problems on the tests -- not the test prep.

Published January 3, 2000 5:00PM (EST)

A special hell called dating


Some of the best advice I've heard regarding the "Are we just friends?"
problem involves the use of the goodnight kiss. Seize some appropriate moment to give an unmistakably
romantic, full-on smooch (unseemly grappling or lingual incursions are
advised against) -- a moist, lingering kiss with subsequent eye contact and
courteous but romantic murmurings. If any lady claims to mistake this
for a mere friendly gesture, well, a fellow can hardly blame himself.

There's an old folk song that warns against "a-courtin' too slow." Steve Burgess might want to heed its advice.

-- David Anderson

Steve Burgess should try a dating service. He'll be able to go on a
date with someone whose intentions are remarkably in line with his own.
Abandoning mystery for honesty might not make for pithy journalism, but it
does increase the odds of having a relationship other than the one with
your word processor.

-- Kevin Tudish

Steve Burgess really is a clod. Those women
thought you actually liked them. They didn't realize your interest and
attention were only payment for services to be rendered.

-- Rebecca Day

I'm not too surprised that Stephen isn't having much luck with
dating; if every woman escorted to a restaurant is just one more necessary
investment in a romantic future, if every get-together over coffee some
kind of justifiable capital expense, surely some of the women pursued must
sense some of the zero-sum atmosphere.

If it takes three dates and a little frustration to discover that an
otherwise lovely and charming lady happens to be married, so be it; you're
three pleasant dates to the good, and you might well have a friend for life.

Of course, if you aren't interested in finding friends, you really aren't
interested in marriage, either -- and so, given Stephen's cost/benefit
approach to getting to know people, it's a wonder that he hasn't already
discovered that prostitution is much more efficient.

-- Tom Davidson

As a survivor of dating carnage in suburbia, I have more scars from the women's
version of dating hell than could be captured in a single article. As a
truly unattached, eligible single woman getting ground up by today's world
of brutal mating rituals, I fear that Steve and other honest males in his
situation will be incinerated by the white-hot coals of dating hell before
someone like myself would ever meet them.

-- Stella Phan

She's leaving home


No one has mentioned how Hillary Rodham Clinton treated Lani Guinier after President Clinton withdrew
her nomination. The once overly friendly Hillary dismissed Guinier from
her life entirely. Maybe Hillary will finally come into her own and -- much
like the way she has been repudiating the "don't ask, don't tell" policy -- will finally have
the courage of her convictions. At least, that is my fond hope.

-- Amy Laly


Grilling our young


First, you misunderstand the role of test prep in the world. If you give
a high-stakes test, people should and will prepare for it. On the basis
of these state exams, principals and teachers will be fired, and students
will go to summer school or be left back. Our presence merely confirms that these tests are important.

Second, people spend a lot of time looking at test results, but not nearly
enough looking at the tests themselves. Our prep course for the USMLE (medical
boards) is pure science review. Our prep for the SAT is largely
testmanship. Why? Because the USMLE tests science and the SAT tests
nothing. To the extent that good test prep is not educational, look to the tests themselves.

Third, good test prep is neither expensive nor time-consuming. Homeroom
costs schools $5 per student for 24/7 access by students, teachers and
parents. It is guaranteed to raise scores, it unobtrusively aligns a
school's curriculum with the exam and gives a lot of good feedback and
guidance throughout the year.

Finally, there are much larger problems with these tests than Homeroom.
The state testing issue is going to continue to gather steam in the next
few years, and Salon should make sure it's on the right side of the issue.

-- John Katzman

President, the Princeton Review

Adios to all that


Joe Conason gets it mostly right in reviewing the ways in which the
long-failed Cuban embargo is, and was, a pointless exercise. But the
specter of Cuban children dying of diseases preventable with unavailable
Yanqui drugs is way off the beam.

The only really world-class industry Cuba has is pharmaceuticals. Low production costs and those highly educated citizens Conason alluded to elsewhere have combined to make Cuba one of
the larger exporters of vaccines and anti-infection drugs to the world's
poor nations. The quality is good, the prices are right and the diseases
addressed are those of interest to poor and tropical countries.

Given a first-class production infrastructure, it
is hard to imagine Cuban babies lacking for local knockoffs of any
U.S.-developed pharmaceuticals the embargo would prevent from arriving
directly. Ironically, if the embargo is dropped and trade regularized,
Cuba may have to cease pirate production and pay going royalty rates or be
denied MFN status and admittance to the WTO. As first-world countries
offer hugely lucrative potential markets for Cuban pharmaceutical exports
and cooperative research arrangements -- in many of which Cuba is already
a presence -- I predict Cuba will elect to sign on the dotted line for
Uncle Sam when the time comes and still come out ahead.

-- Dick Eagleson

Sanctions served their purpose: Cuba had few resources to export its
revolution to other countries during the 30 years when the folly of
Marxism wasn't as obvious as it is now. Yes, maybe now it's time to
end the sanctions. But, we should remember that the Western Hemisphere
would be a poorer, sadder, sorrier place if Castro had had the resources
sanctions denied to him.

-- John Hines

Bush and McCain go head-to-head


George W. Bush said banning soft money will damage the Republican Party and hand the
race over to Democrats. The issue isn't whether or not that assessment is
accurate, but what that reliance says about the Republican Party and who
it represents. If the GOP were acting in the best interest of the American
public they wouldn't need the soft-money respirator to survive. To Bush
the principle of democracy is less important than his war chest.

-- Clay Niemann

The McCain camp answers only part of George W. Bush's charge, trying
to make it sound as if Bush said limiting soft money was bad for the
party. He actually said that a unilateral decision by the Republicans to
forgo soft money would be suicide. If the GOP stops taking the
contributions and the Democrats continue, would that be in the best
interests of the party?

Besides, everyone seems to forget that there is one special interest that
would have even more power under campaign finance reform than it has now.
If you think candidates kowtow to the press now, just wait until elections
are publicly funded. There will be no one to compete for the influence
the self-admittedly biased press will have.

-- Eric Ivers

George W. Bush's call for unions to obtain the consent of their members
before spending union dues on political causes makes sense to me, or at
least it would make sense if similar restrictions were imposed on
corporations. Why not require publicly held corporations to obtain consent
from all of their stockholders before spending the corporation's money on
political causes?

-- Charles E. Grant

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