Letters to the editor

Competing for the perfect man; Cisneros, an imperfect man.

Published July 1, 1999 4:00PM (EDT)

Total Quality Dating


I'm glad to see that these "dating" books are recognized for what they are: manuals on how to compete for the attention of a tiny number of perfect men.

It's ironic that books like "The Rules" suggest modern "liberated" women adopt models of behavior very much like those expected of women in the 1950s and 1960s. It's humorous that others like "The Art of War for Lovers" encourage women to use assertiveness and role-playing to recruit men to fulfill women's needs, while ignoring the real needs of the men they manipulate into caring about them.

As a father of teenage girls, I find this gender-confused age especially disturbing. Traditionally masculine aggressiveness and appreciation of women by men are behaviors regarded as crass and socially unacceptable; traditionally feminine behaviors are "employed" as a means to capture males targeted for their fiscal and physical attractiveness.

I only hope that in this era of traditional-paradigm destruction we can erect a few new sexual paradigms that don't require human beings to use Sun Tzu as a guide toward romantic compatibility.

-- Scott Douglas

New York

I really appreciated this article. This industry of self-help and dating books boggles my mind. I don't want to look for love the way I look for a job. The two are so completely different.

I'm glad to hear there are more people out there who feel the same way. Because of the saturation of these books in the media and so many people trying to whip us women into a frenzy, it's sometimes easy to forget that love is like nature, not math.

-- Erin Hennicke

Garbage of higher education

The whole "outsider vibe" of Gillian Andrews' essay is a joke. Her woeful tone of pilfering the privilege of Smith and Mount Holyoke is bizarre, considering the cost of a Hampshire education. I went to school in the Happy Pioneer Valley in western Massachusetts, home to four private, prized academic gems (including Hampshire) and one festering public university. I went to the public one. I used to go to the Hampshire campus (aka "Camp Hamp") to watch all the tie-dyed and Manic Panic-ed "freaks," inhale the clove-patchouli scent of the campus and read their course offerings (The Rise of Artificial Intelligence, Literature and the Post-Apocalypse, Modern Compost Strategies). While Hampshire may be alternative, in the real world of obscene tuition and privileged students, Anderson comes off like a poseur. To think, "Even Hampshire" students get rid of useful wares? Why not poke through the garbage at U. Mass.? I think Anderson already knows that a public school can't offer very much.

-- Melissa Weinberger

Henry Cisneros and the Starr syndrome



Thank you, Salon, for publishing an article about one of the true outrages committed by an independent counsel -- and unfortunately, a case that has slipped through the cracks of public and media attention.

What an outrage that ANY arm of law enforcement would be used to investigate and indict a CONSENSUAL act between two CONSENTING adults. Was the behavior wrongheaded? Naturally. But criminal? You must be joking. And in the process, a talented man has been driven to financial ruin, a jury has been impaneled for no good reason, lots of time and money are wasted and the bottom line is, yet again: Yes, it IS about sex.

What a pointless waste.

-- Clara Frenk


Guy Raz's excellent article on the sad plight of Secretary Cisneros did contain one major error: He says that Oliver North was acquitted by a Washington jury. He was actually convicted, but his conviction was reversed on the technical grounds that his immunity had been tainted when he testified before the Iran-Contra Joint Congressional Committee. The conviction was on a 2-1 split in the appellate court panel, and the author of the opinion was Judge David Sentelle, who got on that court through the efforts of Sen. Jesse Helms, and is one of the special judges overseeing the Starr endeavor. There is a story that Starr was appointed after Helms had lunch with Sentelle, and it is a fact that Sentelle's wife got a job on Helms' staff after the Starr appointment. You can make of this whatever you want, but the point is that Oliver North, who appears daily on MSNBC, was duly convicted, only to have his conviction overturned on a most abstruse legal theory.

-- Donald Juneau

It is incredible to me how the independent counsel law has become an excuse to get politicians that the conservative Republicans don't agree with. I think that this is the most serious threat to our democratic way of life that we have faced since the McCarthy hearings. I know that this country is at a crossroads in regard to ethics and morals. It is my fear that we will fail and the morals police will win through intimidation and prosecution. Henry Cisneros is not a perfect human being. He certainly has not been accountable at times that it would have been in his best interest (and ours) for him to be so. But I know that he has been an exemplary public servant. If truth be told, I know that my God will recognize that. It is my hope that our country has not turned so totally away from the meaning of true democracy that we will not recognize that continued persecution of this man could be the death of democracy. If people use the threat of imprisonment to control those who disagree with them, we will not be living in a democracy. It is more like the worst excesses of communism or fascism. May God be with this country.

-- Judy Schwartz-Naber

McGinniss vs. Little, Brown: Publisher avoids the "s" word

As one of about a billion soccer coaches in America, I have to tell you that soccer is much more common than you think. Metric system? My kids, as well as every other suburban kid, play soccer, not football or basketball. We don't play Italian soccer, but it is soccer nonetheless.

-- James Cramer

Beastly lectures


I woke up this morning to discover that the chipmunks had gnawed the heads off the lilies, the squirrels had dug up and eaten the tulip bulbs, and the deer had chomped off the apple tree's limbs. The rabbits, up a little later, were busy chewing up the bean patch and the perennial garden.

I have often been told I should "share" with the animals ... but I have not yet had a squirrel come up to me and offer a share of his nuts.

The world does not consist of "good" animals and evil men. When I figure out what it DOES consist of, I'll let you know. Meanwhile, I'll muddle along, hating the idea of raising living things just for meat while referring to the deer on the hillside as venison.

Nice review. Thanks.

-- Alan S. Kornheiser

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