Letters to the Editor

Loose guns and small kids are a bad combination; the "Woodstock 99" review is an excuse for Hornsby-bashing; is "Militia U." about educational liberty or military aid?

Published October 28, 1999 4:00PM (EDT)

Love me, love my guns


Susan Straight was right to be concerned, and right to get out of that
environment. I've been around guns all of my life. I own a few now, and the primary
reason I keep them around is for defense.
However, I do not leave ammunition lying around. Any weapon not in
my hand is unloaded, locked and put away. With the right to own a
weapon comes responsibility -- the responsibility to make sure that
the ownership and use of that weapon does not constitute a greater
threat than the alternative. Anyone who would leave unsecured and possibly loaded weapons lying
around has abdicated that responsibility.

-- Andrew Templin

Dublin, Calif.

This guy Dwayne, as described in the story, is irresponsible for not telling his wife that he has a shotgun. He had children running around his apartment and guns that are
stored improperly. If, God forbid, one of the children should shoot themselves,
the parent will feel guilt that will most likely ruin their life.
But Susan Straight is also irresponsible for possessing, fearing and not
learning how to safely handle a firearm. Guns do deserve respect, just like any dangerous tool or animal. Fearing guns, and pretending they don't exist, is the worst treatment of this issue.

-- Jonathan Hastings

Waiting room


I, too, work in an emergency department, several hundred miles north in
San Francisco. Like L.A. County, we have a problem of long waits, but
part of the problem was revealed in your story. You mention Mr. Funk,
of the ear infection and clogged sinuses. What is the "emergency" in
that condition? Another gentleman complains of a "stomach virus." That's an emergency?

Far too many people use the E.R. instead of primary care. In San
Francisco, a number of community health centers (set up in the late '60s
and early '70s) exist to treat the uninsured and the poorly insured;
they get some use, but are not filled to capacity. Most county
hospitals (San Francisco General Hospital included) run outpatient
clinics, also treating those of limited means. In short, there are
alternatives to the emergency department.

Next time you're in a waiting room in an E.R. with deep cuts, bleeding
copiously and wondering why it's taking so long to be treated, look around
the room at the number of sniffling kids and muttering adults. Ask them
about their ailments. Assess their medical urgency in your own mind.
Then ask yourself if at least part of the problem of long waiting-room
times might be easily remedied.

-- Michael Treece, M.D.

Sharps & flats: "Woodstock 99"

Any sentient music lover who has spent time with Bruce Hornsby's latest work, "Spirit Trail," knows that Hornsby's compositions are imbued with a rhythmic, melodic intricacy that few possess. Andy Battaglia is apparently incapable of grasping such subtleties, and instead dismisses Hornsby and his music as "offensively bland." Hornsby's appearance at Woodstock 99 may have not been a good match for a crowd that was looking for Neanderthal histrionics ` la Fred Durst. Battaglia could have made that point, however, without trashing one of the coolest musicians alive.

-- David Maland

Tyler, Texas

Was this intended to be inflammatory?
I didn't get any sense of what the CD is like, only that it
offended the reviewer's chic and hip sensibilities. The review itself was
of little use to someone intending the buy the CD. Isn't that the
purpose of a review? Or are we only to marvel at how profound the reviewer is?

-- Jackie H. Walsh

Naughty Bits: Use a pill, go to jail


The outdated "Khalwat" law is only enforceable on Malaysian Muslims --
approximately 55 percent of the population of 22 million to 23
million. The other 10 million of us happily and regularly engage in illicit sex free of persecution.

-- Tony Shue

Kuala Lumpur

Choosing a titillating name for a fairly serious column on a topic that many
people unfortunately still have a hard time discussing intelligently was
unfortunate. Perhaps I'm being oversensitive to the implications (joking and
ironic though they may be) of the word "naughty," but it seems that Salon's
creative editorial team could have come up with a catchy name for the column
that more accurately described its contents without the puritanical baggage.

-- David Hoberman

Militia U.


Kenneth Rapoza's article on the presence of Indonesian students at
Norwich University misses the point entirely. This is an
issue of great relevance for American higher education. Should colleges
and universities make admissions decisions based on a student's country of
origin or political beliefs? Not unless they intend to apply some
form of litmus test to every student who applies to their institution.
To do so would be the first step on a slippery slope,
leading to arbitrary judgments based on factors other than academic
qualifications. It would, in essence, be a new form of admissions
McCarthyism; it would be discrimination. The Indonesian
students at Norwich are here simply because they met our admissions criteria.
Norwich University condemns the Indonesian military's long history of
repression and believe we all have an obligation to stand tall in the
face of crimes against humanity. But we stand by our students.

-- Thomas Greene

Director of public relations

Norwich University

Northfield, Vt.

I'm sure the graduates of the Virginia Military Institute, including
General George C. Marshall and a long list of others whose names
would be immediately familiar to any student of American military
history, would be interested to learn that Norwich is the only
private military university in the United States. In fact, it's not.

I wonder what Rapoza thinks would be the appropriate solution to this
"problem." Based on my own ROTC experience I can assure him that
Norwich is not teaching torture, repression or anything other than
basic military leadership and tactical principles. Kicking them out
because Indonesia currently has a repressive government wouldn't seem
to accomplish anything useful -- though at least the State Department
could be seen to be Doing Something.

-- Paul Robichaux

The war for America's thumbs


The Genesis and Super NES did not crush the Atari Lynx. The Atari Lynx was
the first color handheld and actually fared quite well in the market. The
Atari Jaguar is the system that really dashed Atari's
hopes in the console market. For one thing, they claimed it was a 64-bit system, but it
was actually two 32-bit processors running in parallel. That combined with
awful games (excepting Aliens vs. Predator, which debuted on that system),
spelled a quick death.

Also, Power Stone is not the only game to have gotten glowing reviews on the
Dreamcast. In fact, Power Stone has gotten rather mediocre reviews. Just
look at videogames.com or dreamcast.ign.com -- and it will become instantly
clear that the best game for the Dreamcast is Namco's absolutely incredible
Soul Calibur. It's the only game to have gotten a perfect 10 score from
videogames.com -- and it deserves correct recognition.

Also, I've not heard of any delays of Sega's "Phantasy Star Online,"
which you don't even refer to by name (in fact, it doesn't even have a
release date yet -- just "Q2 2000" in Japan). There have been delays of another Sega title, but it's not a "massively multi-player online game ` la Ultima Online."

-- Barrett W. Nuzum

Nashua, N.H.

Brilliant Careers: Emmylou Harris



Ernest McLeod refers to the great Gram Parsons as a
"a Harvard dropout on a trust fund [who] hardly had country music in
his soul, but he loved it and wrote it." This heedless statement
betrays a risible ignorance of the genre. Gram Parsons nearly single-handedly brought genuine
"country music" (which he called "cosmic American music") into the
generational mainstream of the 1960s. Through
cross-pollination with seminal groups such as the Byrds and the Flying
Burrito Brothers, as well as musical collaborations with rock giants
like the Rolling Stones, he created a musical language that is as influential and revered today as that of any other musician of the last 30 years. To dismiss Gram Parsons as blithely as
McLeod does is to debase the very source of exaltation that gave Emmylou Harris the inspiration to fly on her delicate gossamer wings.

-- Alexander Ackley

Where's the beef?


The Fed's concern is not inflation now. Its concern is where inflation will
be in 18 months to two years -- because that's how long it takes Fed
policies to work through the system. If your author has good arguments for claiming inflation will not be a problem in two years, by all means let's hear them; but mention of how
inflation today is in an acceptable range is really irrelevant to the discussion.

-- Maynard Handley

By Letters to the Editor

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