Letters to the Editor

Too much fluff in "Nothing Personal"; does Little League care about your kids?

Published April 8, 1999 9:24AM (EDT)

Charity @ the speed of thought


Reiter may well be a very nice and intelligent person, but Salon does not need a cutesy People-style gossipy fluff of a column. To date, Salon seems to have hit its stride with a focused combination of hard news, analysis and social commentary. Exactly what is "Nothing Personal" intended to accomplish?

-- Bernard G. Schneider

Amy Reiter must've been a bit desperate for material on April 5. Picking on Bill Gates for a charitable donation to help Kosovo refugees was petty and pointless. Sure, $1.5 million is a small percentage of the Microsoft mogul's net worth, but it's probably 100 percent more than Reiter's donation.

-- Rob Carson

Loveland, Colo.

The great Pretender


Very, very nice work. Chrissie Hynde
scared this 19-year-old male back in 1980 (albeit in a good way). But I
had good company: Pete Townshend, in that wonderful 1980 Rolling Stone
interview (the one with the picture of his bloody hand pressed against his
face, published back when that magazine meant something), expressed the same awe. I didn't need Squeeze to croak "it's a woman's world" -- as you so aptly
illustrate, such matters were seemingly irrelevant to Chrissie (even her
first name was at odds with the rest of her persona). But even then, in my
less-evolved teenage male state, I thought there was something
counterfeit about the commodification of Pat Benatar (and, of course, I
couldn't stand the music), while Blondie left me cold. Your article
rightly crowns Chrissie, putting her at the head of the class.

Although I was never a huge fan, that band was special. I refuse to allow
the output since 1984 (even Johnny Marr couldn't help re-create the
magic, and other than "Last of the Independents" I haven't purchased
anything since "Learning to Crawl") to tar her contribution, because what
she gave me circa 1980-82 was more than sufficient: It kicked me in the
ass and reminded me that all of the "new wave" bands I listened to
(remember the Lambrettas or the Headboys?) were, although
well-intentioned, the real pretenders. Thanks so much for the "shiver of

-- Fred Harring

Batter Up!



If Little League wants to reduce injuries, the first thing that should be considered is not a softer ball, but a larger diamond. An 11- or 12-year-old Little Leaguer, capable of throwing a ball 60 mph, stands only 40 feet from the batter. His pitch is the equivalent of a 90 mph fastball on a major league diamond: No wonder kids get hurt. In addition, if the batter is lucky enough to make contact with such a pitch, the ball takes off like a rocket from modern aluminum bats, putting the infielders at risk.

I played baseball as a kid in Holyoke, Mass., and as 8- to 10-year-olds we and kids in the surrounding cities used the standard Little League diamond. However, as 11- and 12- year-olds, we played on a larger diamond, with 75-foot base paths and the pitcher's mound at 50 feet. This gave the batter enough time to get out of the way of an errant pitch. It also gave fielders more time to react to a sharply hit ball. A larger field combined with bats engineered to transmit less energy would go a long way toward reducing injuries. In addition, the larger field lessens the importance of pitching and puts more emphasis on hitting and fielding -- much to the delight of fans and 89 percent of the players.

-- Daniel R. Gaulin

Little League Inc. has been well aware of the dangers of its sport for many years; the failure to mandate the use of safer equipment is bewildering and shameful. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, more children are killed each year playing baseball/softball than any other sport. The primary cause of death is ball impact to the head or chest; two children are struck by a ball every game. Until parents band together to force Little League to consider the safety of children, we'll just have to accept the inherent danger of what should be a safe and enjoyable pastime.

-- Ericka Lozano

Los Angeles

Short attention spawn



After seeing "The Matrix," I was wondering what Salon Magazine's review would say. After all, most of Salon's writers have a delightful combination of technical savvy and literateness. Unfortunately, they seem to have assigned the wrong reviewer to this movie. Andrew O'Hehir states that "There's no point defending 'The Matrix' on intellectual grounds." There certainly isn't, if you miss every single literary or scientific reference in the script. Just off the top of my head I can think of several places where O'Hehir missed the boat: misinterpreting a very funny reference to Harlan Ellison's classic science fiction story "I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream" as "melting his face," for example, and missing the multiple levels of irony when Neo stores his secrets from the Agents in a postmodern text on simulacra.

Furthermore, O'Hehir's article completely ignores the excellent references to computer science in "The Matrix" -- from the rather obvious use of "Agents" and the reference to humans as viruses to the skillful manner in which Hugo Weaving imitates speech generation software in his performance. It's true that a lot of the most delightful references in this movie require somewhat thorough and esoteric knowledge. But that level of knowledge is something I've come to expect from Salon.

-- Ryan Shaun Baker

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