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When Great Shows Don't Make It on TV I read with interest the article ''Why Groundbreaking TV is So Rare,'' Aug. 16. Indeed, it is sad that some of the wonderful shows are not given a chance because of less-than-excellent ratings. A perfect example is ABC's cancellation of ''My So Called Life.'' This sophisticated drama was one of the few examples of intelligent television. Its characters were strongly developed and its writing was often subtle and elegant. It was much more than the standard adolescent soap opera or sitcom. Although I know that many of its former viewers, including myself, remain hopeful that the show will be brought back, the unfortunate reality is that it will not be brought back because it did not generate successful ratings. Brian K. Jordan Mystic, Conn. Flaunting democracy in Burma The opinion-page article ''Suu Kyi's Release: Act I in Burma's Drama,'' Aug. 2, is misleading. Ms. Suu Kyi's influence on Burma's people is going to be transitory and there are sound reasons for that, democracy or no democracy. The democracy that the West is flaunting, only after the loss of the colonies, sounds hollow. Why doesn't anyone try to impose Western-type democracy on Saudi Arabia or so many other Muslim states, for instance? The family values of the Burmese are far superior to Western democracy which, like a chameleon, changes color as needed. There is always room for improvement, but not at the expense of forsaking one's ancestral faith (Suu Kyi married a foreigner and is not a Buddhist). It is quite clear that the West is after supplanting Buddhism by Christianity in Burma, as they have succeeded in doing in South Korea. As for the Nobel Prize, it was devalued considerably by being awarded to the likes of Henry Kissinger and Yasser Arafat. The Nobel Prize doesn't mean much these days. Arvind Ghosh Houston Railroads built at expense of lives I was shocked to read the opinion-page article ''On Track: America and Europe,'' Aug. 2. Well before the railroads were ever built across the western plains of the United States, the land was populated by thousands of Native Americans including the Cheyenne, Dakota, Pawnee, and Mandan. The railroads may have brought certain people together, who before had been separated by distance or class, but never forget that it did so at the expense of killing and forcibly removing others. Markha G. Valenta Iowa City, Iowa Your letters are welcome. For publication they must be signed and include your address and telephone number. Only a selection can be published and none acknowledged. Letters should be addressed to ''Readers Write'' and sent by mail to One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, by fax to 617-450-2317, or by Internet e-mail (200 words maximum) to OPED@RACHEL.CSPS.COM.

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