Letters to the Editor

Al Gore is slumming again; Mr. Blue chooses insensitivity over prudery; who says Barbie computers are just for girls?

By Letters to the Editor
Published August 11, 1999 4:00PM (EDT)

"I'm not peaking too early"


There he goes again, putting on airs. This time it's Al Gore's expansive insights on the complex nature of stock car racing. The vice president brags to Jake Tapper: "You know, in stock car races, it's usually the second car in the gun lap that wins."

Nothing could be further from the truth.
The reality is that, in stock car racing, the guy who wins the race is
almost always the one who dominates the race. Last-lap, come-from-behind
victories are quite rare. They happen, but definitely not "usually." That's
true for every form of racing, from local dirt tracks to the big-dollar
NASCAR circuit.

Perhaps the vice president is suffering from yet another delusion of rural
Tennessee life: After a hard week of stripping and putting up tobacco, young Al would amble on down to the local dirt track and soak up the last-lap victories.

Or maybe not. But one thing's for sure: Al Gore ain't no Dale Earnhardt.

-- Bill Greene

Arlington, Va.

Gore did not boast to anyone, off the record or
not, about being a model for Oliver in "Love Story." A Tennessee newspaper
first noted the "Love Story" connection, which the New York Times proceeded
to bollix up.

And speaking of myths: Since when is the entire nation suffering from "Clinton
fatigue"? Not the persons I've dealt with. What they have suffered from is
an anger at the 24-7 media, which, since corporate and political
strictures prevent it from dealing with substantive issues, turn to trash to
make money. I suggest that the real issue is this: Big Media is pissed as hell at the
idea that it no longer has quite the opinion-molding power that it thought it did. In their frustrated fury, the media sharks are now trying to smear Al Gore,
and they don't care how many lies they print in order to do it.

-- Tamara Baker

The real problem: We want Al Gore to be the statesman we like to think his father was. And we get good talk, big ideas; but Al Jr.'s actions seldom measure up to the talk. Gore needs to convince us that he has a better attention span than Clinton, and that he will seriously address issues such as
poverty that have been largely ignored during the past seven years. We want Gore to be the fulfillment of what we thought was the Clinton promise now squandered. But he is not. And so we make fun of him.

-- Dale Madren

Are we supposed to be impressed by Al Gore's use of Dr. Shettles' "How to
Choose the Sex of Your Baby"? I find it rather disturbing that he wastes
his time with such pseudoscientific literature. Perhaps Gore would have done better to have read a book on overpopulation instead, rather than irresponsibly increasing the size of his family so
that he could have a son.

-- Travis Hime

Chaos in Kosovo


Obviously it's time for another "humanitarian intervention" in
Kosovo -- this time against the Kosovar Albanians. Then when we've put
the Serbs back in power, we can bomb them again. Then maybe it'll be
time to be humane to the Macedonians ...

-- Jim Crutchfield

Newport News, Va.

Dear Mr. Blue: Porn widow



Garrison Keillor's advice to the "porn widow" whose husband is spending four
hours a night and $200 a month viewing online sex was particularly
bone-headed. Normally, Keillor is able to dispense his wisdom with minimal
damage, but not so in this case. This woman is appealing for help because
her husband is neglecting her for a nightly rendezvous with images on a
screen. Telling her to join him and to try to find "better
deals" to hold down the costs is like telling an alcoholic's spouse to quit
whining and try to help the falling-down drunk become a "control drinker."
It just won't work. The lame advice in this case not only leaves
this porn widow with less of a clue than before, but it also promotes the
collective denial of tens of thousands of other addicted to pornography.

I suspect that Keillor's disregard for the seriousness of this couple's
problem is based at least partly on a hesitancy to appear prudish on the
topic of pornography. But putting aside any arguments of whether naked bodies
doing what they do best is moral or immoral, just look at the mechanics of
this couple's situation. I would venture that doing anything for four hours
a night that costs $200 per month and threatens your marriage is simply
out-of-control behavior. What would his advice have been if the woman had complained that her husband spent that much time and money just watching television?

-- Liam Rooney

Will a Barbie computer make math easy?


Janelle Brown notes that Mattel's Barbie computer, but not its Hot Wheels
computer, will include typing and writing software, and asks what messages
a girl will get from the presence of such software. I wonder what
messages a boy will get from its absence.

Believe it or not, not all boys grow up to be manual laborers. A few take
jobs that require writing skills. If Brown insists on believing
otherwise, at least she should stop presenting such a belief as
enlightened feminism, when it is anything but.

-- David J. Edmondson


I found Janelle Brown's article on Barbie/Hot Wheels
computers extremely sexist. Brown never seemed to
realize that a Hot Wheels computer could easily be
given to a girl and vice versa; she seems to push the idea that
Barbie means "girl" and Hot Wheels means "boy." It is people like her who have it so
ingrained in their heads that Barbie equates to "girl"
that are truly forcing sexism on the younger

-- Andrea Hawksley

Sharps & flats: "Philadelphonic"

I found myself cringing at Joe Heim's attack on a white musician's choice to play blues and
experiment with different sounds -- to be a "cultural interloper." I haven't
heard the new album, but I am familiar with Garrett Dutton's music,
lyrics and vocal style, and yes, they fall into what is usually the domain of black
artists. But unlike, say, Vanilla Ice, he does not pretend to have had a
difficult childhood, to be tough, to be "down with the 'hood''; he
doesn't promote violence or gangster life; he doesn't even use excessive street
slang. Instead, he expresses love for his hometown, family and friends (bourgeois
though they may be); he describes the joy and sadness he has experienced. I
don't think anyone who has actually paid attention to Dutton's lyrics
would call him a poseur.

I can accept that Heim does not like G. Love's music; what I find
ridiculous is that he offers no valid argument to back up his distaste for it. He seems
simply to have a problem with white boys playing black
music. He even goes as far as to state that Dutton "wants to be ... very, very
black." Does he really?

-- Elizabeth Einstein

Cut me open!



Give me drugs!



Take me to a hospital!


Jean Hanff Korelitz has a good message to deliver -- that it's no failure
to give birth by Caesarean section. Two interesting facts that her readers
might be interested to know: Since Jan. 1, 1998, federal law has required insurers to pay for a 48-hour hospital stay after childbirth; and the maternal death
rate for Caesarean births is four times higher than for vaginal births.

-- Pete Danko

Applegate Valley, Ore.

After my first (emergency) Caesarean section, a neighbor came up to me and said how sorry she was. I couldn't believe it -- my daughter and I would have died without that
C-section; and were it not for fetal monitoring, my daughter would have
been born with brain damage due to oxygen deprivation. How could anyone
be "sorry" about that outcome?

Too much of the "natural birth" movement is a vain effort by women to
exert control over the uncontrollable. The tragedy is that they do not
realize how they are endangering their babies by this attitude.

-- Cathie Fornssler

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

I'm all for Caesarean
sections when they are necessary, but to have one
because it's more convenient for the mother seems irresponsible. It's
major surgery, which means it's expensive and invasive.
Until this article, I believed that no responsible doctor would
schedule a Caesarean just because a patient asked for it, and that no
mother would actually ask for one without good cause. How can the author compare a teeny vaginal tear to an incision that slices through seven layers of tissue?

Also: Labor pain isn't that bad. I've had two births without epidurals and they were horrible and wonderful, sort of like parenting. As they say, don't knock it until you've tried it.

-- Eileen Bordy

The cult of pain which glorifies "natural childbirth" prevents many women from
seeking relief and makes others feel ashamed of having sought that relief.
An epidural would have made the birth of my 9-pound, 12-ounce son a less horrifying
experience. By the time he finally emerged I was too exhausted and shaken to
appreciate the miracle. By contrast, my daughter's birth two years later was
pain-free and completely joyous. I was able to leave the hospital within 24
hours and felt "up to the task" of caring for my children at home.

-- Justine van Engen

I am truly sorry that Susan Gerhard felt like her homebirth and her midwife were not to her liking. Homebirth and midwifery care is, obviously, not for everyone. But it is a choice for 1 to 2 percent of women, despite the obstacles insurance companies throw in their way.

In my experience as a midwife as well as a childbirth educator (I've spent 12 years
teaching home as well as hospital couples), women who are cared for by a
homebirth attendant are much more satisfied with their prenatal care and
births than those in an institutional setting. Gerhard was just one disgruntled client who did not take
charge of her own situation despite warning signs all along the way.

I am a Certified Professional Midwife, and I pride myself
on detecting the occasional dissatisfaction from a client; intuition is
one of the "services" I provide. Had Gerhard been my client, I trust I would
have been aware that this was not working and we would have explored how
best to meet her needs -- including considering transferring care to a
hospital-based practitioner before labor began.

-- Susan Moray

I'm desperately tired of the past three days' worth of bashing natural
childbirth, homebirth and midwifery! Please. The natural childbirth movement
is not full of a bunch of activist loonies who aren't looking out for their
own safety or that of their unborn or about-to-be-born children. Stop
trying to justify an individual choice by bashing others.

-- Stephanie Smith

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2000 Elections Al Gore Garrison Keillor Pornography