Letters: Fixing the Levees in New Orleans, YouTube

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Guests comment on New Orleans' hurricane protection systems, same-sex marriages, sports fanatics and YouTube.

NEAL CONAN, host:

It's Tuesday, the day we read from your e-mails. And last week we discussed a report commissioned by the Army Corps of Engineers, which stated that the hurricane protection system it built in New Orleans was incomplete and inconsistent. The Corps accepted the blame for much of the flooding after Hurricane Katrina.

Charles(ph), in Raleigh, North Carolina, wondered why private contractors were not included in the repair and rebuilding process after Katrina. He wrote: "This would not only bring jobs and money into the area to bring it back faster, but there is more accountability with a private contractor, considering that they would be fined if the work is not performed properly and in a timely manner."

Last week, the Senate voted down an amendment that would ban same-sex marriages. Christine(ph), in Tempe, Arizona, complained about the religious tone of the debate.

"We're saying that God defines marriage as a relationship between one man and one woman," she wrote, "but we allow divorce on demand and weddings performed by Elvis, in drive-thrus, underwater, et cetera. It seems profoundly unreligious. The point being that if you're straight you can be married anywhere, religious or secular, but if you're gay, suddenly religion is the guiding authority and it would be a sin for you to participation such a holy event."

On the other hand, Kelly Nyman(ph), a listener in Michigan, asked: "Why push for gay marriage instead of civil unions? By creating a civil union legislation," she wrote, "gay and lesbian partners can legally cohabitate, receive benefits such as Social Security and healthcare, visit the hospital, et cetera. Once gay couples obtain marriage, then they have a higher legal status than heterosexual couples who are cohabitating but not yet married. This seems inappropriate in many ways," she concludes. "Marriage is, by definition, throughout history and across cultures, a heterosexual institution."

The World Cup kicked off last week and that has got us to thinking about the sometimes twisted psychology of sports fanatics. Greg(ph) e-mailed during our discussion and said he's a huge Dallas Mavericks fan in Chico, California. "Sometimes," he wrote, "I stop and ask, why all the fuss? Why not finally pick up that book by Victor Hugo I wanted to finish? And before I formulate my answer I start thinking of how in the world Dirk Nowitzki pulled off that three-point play to help defeat our rival, San Antonio Spurs. I'm hooked! My wife and I are hoping that defeating Miami will make me sane again."

Well, fortunately for Greg and his wife, that's the night Dallas won 90 to 80. They're now up two games to none in the finals, with game three tonight.

Yet another sports nut, Victoria Butler(ph), in Tallahassee, Florida, boasted, "I love Florida State Seminole football. My husband thinks I'm nuts. Because of me, we donate money to the program and have six season tickets. I tell him, honey, you have child support, I have FSU football."

We also talked last week about a website called YouTube, that's Y-O-U-T-U-B-E.com. It lets anybody with a camcorder and an Internet connection post video clips for the world to watch online. Tim Smittana(ph), in Scottsdale, Arizona, e-mailed. He's a fan of good music and said, "Music fans of all types should be or are rejoicing around the globe. I'll sit for hours and watch footage from Miles and Coltrane jamming in black and white in the '50s, to early King Crimson, to clips of a very much alive Chris Whitley playing in Germany. I love it."

(Soundbite of music)

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