August 29, 2008

Picking wrong time to repair Bay Bridge

It is unbelievable and sad but true. The geniuses in the Maryland Department of Transportation have decided that it is so important to reinforce the guard rail on the eastbound Bay Bridge that they are closing one eastbound lane over the Labor Day weekend ("Bridge narrows," Aug. 27).

It is not uncommon for the state Transportation Department to close portions of major highways during holiday travel periods. It has done so frequently. However, this action is almost beyond comprehension.

Do officials really think that someone is going to crash through the deteriorating barriers in the next few days? No one went through the barrier in the several decades prior to the recent crash, and no one has gone through since.

And why didn't transportation officials discover the structural deficiencies of the barrier before the accident?

Finally, why not just ban tractor-trailers from the bridge?

Autos have little chance of plowing through or over the barrier.

Dennis Sirman, Selbyville, Del.

Coast Guard officers in service to America

The article "At home on local waters" (Aug. 24) left me very disappointed.

The U.S. Coast Guard is one of the nation's armed forces - just as the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines are armed services. Throughout our history, Coast Guard personnel, male and female, have served, fought and died in our nation's armed conflicts, including the war in Iraq.

Boatswain Stephen Park is a member of these armed forces, not a "federal employee" with "good employee benefits" and a "housing allowance."

Mr. Park serves his country according to the same commitments members of the other armed services abide by. He can be called to act in any capacity required by our nation, at any time, just like any other service member.

The article also failed to mention the Coast Guard's new role as a vital organization in the Department of Homeland Security.

Mr. Park, and other hardworking members of the U.S. Coast Guard, deserve better.

Lori Williamson, Pasadena

The writer's husband and father are veterans of the U.S. Coast Guard.

Force can't solve every global conflict

The suggestion that we attack Iran and Syria to eliminate some hypothetical future danger to our country would be laughable if it were not so dangerously misguided ("Don't wait to fight radical regimes," letters, Aug. 19).

Our unwarranted invasion of Iraq has made us less secure, not more. Those who wish harm to our country now have a concrete example supporting their vision of America as a threat, and a larger audience ready to accept that view.

Attacking Iran and Syria would worsen that situation exponentially. Pouring gasoline onto a blazing house is not a good way to put out a fire.

Attacking Iran and Syria would also raise serious logistical issues. Our armed forces are already spread too thin in Afghanistan and Iraq. Where would we find the troops to manage two more fronts? Would we institute a draft to provide cannon fodder for wars that do not need to be fought?

And let us not forget that if we invade Iran and Syria, we would risk a conflict with Russia.

Any time our country goes to war, the cost must be carefully weighed against the gain. In this case, the cost could be a nuclear confrontation. What gain would we see that makes the price acceptable?

It is simply not feasible, even if it were morally defensible, to throw military force at every country that might someday be a threat.

Bob Wirtz, Baltimore

Moderation is key to good nutrition

I am no nutritionist, but common sense dictates that Kate Shatzkin's article advocating that the McDonald's Hot Fudge Sundae is a preferable choice to the Oreo McFlurry is misleading at best ("Eat this instead: Sundae vs. McFlurry," Aug. 25).

The writer compares the calorie and fat content of the two and concludes that the hot fudge sundae has fewer of both. However, the article compares a 6-ounce sundae with a 12-ounce McFlurry. Ounce for ounce, the sundae is the poorer choice.

The lesson to be learned is simply that whatever delicious dessert one chooses, moderation is the key.

Deborah Hamburger, Baltimore

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