'Embarrassing Don'

Boeing's Blown It

When I read the Boeing story 'Embarrassing Don' [Dec. 1], by Rick Anderson, I was saddened that a corporate icon could sink so low. A company that was once the leader in the aerospace industry by its technological innovations and long-term vision has fallen victim to corporate scandal and short-term profit seeking.

I can only sympathize with the engineers and workers who, after a lifetime commitment to Boeing, must be worrying about their jobs and their company's future.

Believe it or not, I can also empathize with Sen. Patty Murray and Congressman Norm Dicks, who, out of concern for their constituents, were drawn into a massively corrupt deal.

That is why one must wonder if all the recent rhetoric by Boeing over subsidies isn't a hoax to cover up the whole mess and divert attention from its own mismanagement through lack of investment, lack of R&D, and lack of capital improvements. Instead, Boeing has chosen short-term gain over long-term investment in a stock buyback to boost its stock price and enrich its shareholders at the expense of new aircraft programs. Boeing mistakenly underestimates the aerospace industry by its lack of competitiveness and a false consciousness of dominance in the market.

David J. Pritchard

Buffalo, NY

Election Nirvana

The Montana primary was supposed to ensure the free-association rights of the major parties by corralling voters with affiliated ballots ["Top-Two Blues," Dec. 1]. But fringe candidates, like Mike the Mover and Will Baker, seemingly walked in off the street and "associated" with the parties by appearing on their respective ballots.

Chris Vance bemoans "closed-door conventions" as "goofy and stupid." If so, why did he slam the door on Pierce County Director of Health Federico Cruz-Uribe's GOP candidacy for governor?

Vance needs to speak for his own party. (Which is his job—and his comments are noted.) As an active Democrat, I've seen our district, county, and state conventions function from the bottom up with inclusion. Our presidential caucuses were certainly not "closed-door."

The Democrats are right to protect their trademark and hold nominating conventions.

Krist Novoselic


They're Terrorists, Stupid

I have to take issue with something said by Geov Parrish in his column "On the Brink of Civil War" [Dec. 1]. He mentions how insurgents blew up some oil wells, and calls them "guerrillas." I object to that term for these people. Using that word in this context gives their actions quasi-respectability, and brings to mind images such as Che Guevara or the mujahideen in Afghanistan during the '80s. These images, however, do not and should not be applied to the fanatics in Iraq; it is almost like calling the IRA "freedom fighters," a term that hasn't applied to those bastards in almost a century. I ask that Parrish give them the moniker these baby-killers deserve: "terrorist."

Erin Utz-Darr


Alexander the Gay

" . . . [Oliver] Stone's film peddles the same old sexist, homophobic shtick: that great love between two men cannot be sullied by sex, an activity reserved for the lowly sensations one feels toward females. This isn't history, it's the wishful thinking of macho blowhards afraid of women—and each other" [Small World, "Alex's Closet," Dec. 1].

Sorry—I am afraid Steve Wiecking is the one who is mistaken. The "Greeks" of the late B.C./early A.D. period did in fact highly value the spiritual aspects of love between men, while their literature, philosophy, and laws displayed their contempt not only for women as persons but also for the sex act necessary for procreation as one born of "baser emotions" (i.e., mere lust).

Stone may be a cinematic coward, but he has in fact given us more than most filmmakers with his Hollywood budget pull, and more than previous so-called biographies of Alexander the Great.

Colin Farrell deserves our respect for taking on a difficult role—for the physical training alone—and a risky one. This is not his first same-sex lover role, and that is a big risk in the heavily closeted world of Hollyweird. And if Wiecking wants to talk about historical accuracy—rather than his own fantasies—"gay" identity did not even exist in 300 B.C. It's a modern phenomenon; something we attach to an ancient act.

Just because Wiecking doesn't get to see enough of Colin Farrell humping Jared Leto does not make this a bad or inaccurate film. And all the fuss by fag reviewers and homophobes alike pretty well ensures that more films this (yes!) daring will not be made and few of the military-epic buffs who could use some mind expanding are likely to see this particular film. Being bi was only one aspect of Alexander's life, and of the film. Wiecking's "review" is pathetic.

Misha Williams


Vintage Mochatini

In response to last week's vitriol concerning wine buyers [Sips, "Seven Things They Hate About You," Dec. 1], here's "Seven Things to Whine About":

Wine is a beverage with a worldwide industry, mythology, and cult of its own brimming with members who are, for the most part, passionately dedicated to the very thing that is most distasteful about wine: snobbery. Face it, wine's only special because of the hoopla, marketing, and celebration revolving around one (admittedly very unique) characteristic: Its flavor varies almost infinitely.

The whole point of being special is having something almost no one else can get their hands on. If Starbucks installed velvet ropes and doormen, they could charge $175 for a "Shade-Grown Miniature Brazilian Arabica 2001 Limited Edition Anisette Espresso Mochatini" and everyone in Hollywood would buy it. Of course the buyer wants to find a rare wine and feel special!

Wine Spectator (or any supposed expert) is the nation's ultimate authority on wine for most regular folk.

The column complains about people expecting low prices. Hello! This is America, where price is king and quality is queen. To some, low prices are a driver; to others, no limit is the ideal.

People are overloaded with information. How are we supposed to recall a particular bottle if there are thousands of different brands? And they change every season. And merchants move them every week?

If buyers think a wine that ages well is superior to another, sellers should hand them Wine Spectator and roll their eyes. The buyers will appreciate feeling they are part of the whole "scene."

Time is not a factor for wine buyers. They stroll through life, spending a weekend in Florence following a season in Madrid, if only in their minds. Why should they care if a fellow consumer is perusing the back of their head while waiting to pay for a $12 pinot grigio? Those who can't afford to lose time will appreciate another glimpse into the life of leisure. Isn't that exactly what the industry attempts to emulate?

Natasha McClain


More From Mensa

An interesting concept [Gift Guide 2: Mind, Body, Spirit, "Play, Einstein!" Dec. 1]. Unfortunately, Roger Downey missed a major opportunity. Had he gone to the site of American Mensa (www.us.mensa.org) instead of British Mensa, he would have found information about Mind Games and some 75 games Mensans have tested and designated as Mensa Select over the past 16 years. The list includes such games as Apples to Apples, Scategories, the Poll Game (made in Seattle), and many, many more.

The board game he mentions, "Mensa Connections," cannot be sold in the United States under our licensing agreement. We tested it last year at our games competition and found it wanting. We did not want the Mensa name on the game in this country.

Jim Blackmore

National Marketing Director,

American Mensa, Ltd.

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