Letters to the Editor

If Pete Rose won't fess up, he shouldn't be in the Hall of Fame; why we're chicken-pox party parents.

By Letters to the Editor

Published November 2, 1999 5:00PM (EST)

Pete Rose steals the show


What really struck me was Pete Rose's unrepentant demeanor in the interview. As much as Rose loves the game of baseball, he loves himself even more. He still refuses to acknowledge that he bet on the game of baseball, and, as long as he refuses to do that, he places himself above the
game itself. You simply cannot have ballplayers betting on baseball
games; it would completely destroy the integrity of the game. The only way they should let him into the Baseball Hall of Fame is posthumously. That way, he gets credit for what he did on
the baseball field, but is not rewarded for his criminal behavior.

-- Richard Vigesaa

"From Hell"


While it's nice to see Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell get some mainstream
credit for their fantastic work, I was dismayed to see a few elementary errors. Two that leap to mind are the author's assertion that the "Love and
Death" issue of Swamp Thing was the first mainstream book to be published
without the Comics Code Authority seal (leaving aside Dell/Gold Key
publishing -- who never used the seal -- two issues of Amazing Spider Man still
beat Swamp Thing out by over a decade) and that Moore left DC because "For
Mature Readers" was included on "Watchmen" (the real break being caused by
royalty and merchandising disagreements).

This is, in fact, Moore's
best work since "V For Vendetta" (I've always found "Watchmen," though a
good story, to be highly overrated) and Campbell's best work ever, which is
saying a great deal.

I must say, though, that I am somewhat relieved that Moore has gone back to
writing comics that are meant to be simply fun, like "Tom Strong" and
"Tomorrow Stories." To a great extent, Moore's element is playing with
convention, only slightly twisting it to show us a different light, as with
his Superman and Swamp Thing stories. And of course, "From Hell," where he
twists the basic concepts of history.

Possibly the most dismaying thing about your review, though, is the almost
total lack of mention of Eddie Campbell, himself an artistic genius with a
fairly broad oeuvre. I mean, he only drew the book; surely he rates more than
a paragraph or two. Or is it possible that your author is not familiar
enough with his work to write about it?

-- Jonathan Miller

For too long, Alan Moore's genius has been appreciated only by those lucky enough to
have a well-stocked local comic book store -- and brave enough to not be
self-conscious about reading books with pictures.
Moore has the piercing social insight of William Burroughs combined
with Scheherazade's abilty to keep the reader enthralled from one
chapter to the next. His characters literally come to life, because he
understands the human heart and what motivates it.

-- McCamy Taylor

Microsoft flip-flop



Does Microsoft understand the software business? I wonder at times. Their recent abandonment of support to their financial newsgroups in favor of their buggy, slow, confusing "Web Communities" has caused at least one person (me) to go elsewhere for financial information.

-- Richard Sanchez

I did not mourn the end of the MVP program. I think it could use some
thinning out, actually, because the program has become less about
community support and more about a few people getting free software and a
cliquish designation. The problem is, Microsoft primarily gets feedback
about MVPs from MVPs.

Though I think there are excellent MVPs for Frontpage and IIS, there are
some horrible, self-serving ones for HTML Help and Office. Some MVPs have
developed a cult of personality. Others campaign to get the MVP
designation, then you never hear from them again. I think it's high time
they thinned the herd.

-- Tracey Attwood

The information laundromat



Whispernumber.com is using a straightforward application of the Delphi
Method, published by the Rand Corp. in the 1960s. This is a group
consensus and decision-making method using structured communication,
anonymity and feedback. The method is specially useful for areas where
lack of information renders traditional planning imprecise (such as
predicting the future). Hence the reference to the oracle at Delphi.

If the group can keep their egos under control, anonymity is not necessary,
in my experience. I've used the method for project scheduling, for a
project involving new software methodology for which there was such a severe
time constraint that traditional planning methods wouldn't be appropriate.

-- Conrad Clark

Eating Iberia

A decade ago, while editing a glossy magazine, I took advantage of an
absurd-sounding junket opportunity: free airfare from San Francisco to
London, followed by a two-day excursion to Scotland and back on the
refurbished Royal Scotsman railroad line. (More precisely, the line was its
old furbished self, but the railcars had been spruced up a bit.) Then
instantly back to San Francisco, for four days of constant motion all told. The
Scotsman got stuck in the snow somewhere outside Glasgow -- note to
self: Avoid junkets to Northern Europe in February -- and I got so whipsawed
by jet lag in both directions that I can recall further details today only
with the greatest difficulty. The food, needless to say, did not approach
Cruickshank's Iberian excesses in terms of either quantity or quality.
There's more than Gibraltar separating his octopus from my haddock, believe

-- Jonathan F. King

Senior editor, Mother Jones

San Francisco

Disease parties


Jon Bowen does his readers a disservice by giving equal weight to
anti-vaccine advocates and medical authorities; he fails to make
clear that there is literally no debate within the medical community
about the desirability of vaccination. "Cost-effective, maybe, but
are vaccines always safe?" he writes. I answer, as an
epidemiologist who studies vaccine safety: cost-effective
definitely, and yes, vaccines are always safe, since withholding them
places a child at enormous risk for infection. One child in a
million healthy, immunized children will develop reactions to
vaccines, but no medical procedure is perfectly safe. This is the
tradeoff we must make to live in a society where the majority of
children make it to adulthood.

What happens when ill-informed parents focus on the possiblity of a rare reaction to rather than
the giant benefits of vaccination? There is no better example of
this than in Britain, where some years ago fears about the whooping
cough vaccine led to a drop in vaccination rates -- followed,
predictably, by a huge surge in whooping cough.

-- Logan Spector

Department of Epidemiology

Emory University

I'm a chicken pox party parent. In general, my wife and I believe American medicine is a little vaccine-crazy. Recent actions by vaccine producers to stop using
Thimerisol as a vaccine preservative to prevent significant mercury
exposures to infants getting the full course of shots point out the
distressing lack of research and consideration given to the cumulative
effect of multiple vaccinations. If the doctors have forgotten to
consider something obvious, like accumulating amount of intravenous
mercury, what else may they have missed regarding subtle effects of
multiplied assaults to an infantile immune system?

Specific to chicken pox, we have serious doubts about a vaccine that
provides temporary immunity to a disease that is relatively minor in
childhood, but wears off just in time to make patients subject to life-
and fertility-threatening adult infections. The main selling point of
the chicken pox vaccine is the hours of parental work time saved by
delaying infection. We decided to take the time necessary to give our
son permanent immunity.

When the first child in our community got the pox, we brought our boy,
Coyote, over for a limited time. One of the contributing factors in
chicken pox is the intimacy and duration of exposure to infection, so by
limiting Coyote's exposure, we reduced the severity of his illness. Now he's
got permanent immunity, without a dose of mercury, and without dumping a
whole host of antibody producing agents directly into his bloodstream.

-- Ken Erfourth

Mount Horeb, Wis.

Publisher halts George W. Bush bio


As character assassins go, J.H. Hatfield is maybe an L.H. Oswald -- a guy
who looks kind of like a commie, but who might be something else entirely --
like perhaps the fall guy for a right-wing operation.

It's really amazing that the mainstream press paid little attention to this
"biography" of George W. Bush until the elder Bush denounced it on national TV. That
saved George W. from having to do it himself, which would have only brought
down an avalanche of questions from reporters about his true relationship
with cocaine.

How serendipitous! A paroled felon in Arkansas writes a demonstrably
false book about George W. Bush and cocaine, then dad steps forward and points out
the errors in the book, and all the unanswered questions about the younger Bush and
drug use suddenly evaporate! Count on newsrooms cracking down on
reporters who bug George W. about drugs (or anything else) now that
"publishers" are on the hot seat for checking facts.

-- Mark Kind

Gee, isn't it interesting? A book about George W. Bush has info that is or
is not true; the author is smeared and the books are, quick as
lightning, taken off the shelves. What happens when the books with
hateful lies are published about the Clintons?

-- L. Sparks

Orlando, Fla.

Though its bio of George W. Bush was given the green light by two groups of
lawyers, St. Martin's Press, a hitherto respected publisher, has chosen to
suppress a book that lists negative charges about the man most likely,
according to all polls and political cash registers, to become our next

If there is a lesson to be learned from the still ongoing
Clinton-Starr encounter, it is that in a system like ours, where politics has
become the year-round national sport, the charges against Bush will never
disappear, and that they should be investigated thoroughly before the GOP
nominations are in full swing. Once he takes office, who can doubt that till
the end of his term, foes will provoke the sort of nonstop investigation that
soiled the Clinton administration and deprived the nation of a full-time

Right now, Gov. Bush can best serve the country by calling for the
establishment of a respected nonpartisan group that could investigate the
allegations in the book by J.H. Hatfield. Hatfield appears to have been
convicted 11 years ago of hiring a hit man to kill his boss. I can't excuse
his crime, but I have read enough news stories to know that, at least with
politicians, imprisonment always leads to born-again Christianity and a
rededication to truth and American values.

-- Hy Brett

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