Letters to the Editor

Why send a prude to cover a bondage party? Plus: Mom should worry more about kid's health than Ritalin's stigma; what the heck's an "Agilent," anyway?

Published December 7, 1999 5:00PM (EST)

Crashing the Black Rose


Sneering references to David Cronenberg's horror movie "Dead Ringers," and to depressed adolescents and psych wards, do not lend themselves to an open-minded portrayal of the D/S lifestyle. This is a lifestyle that each participant is in by choice. We find it
fulfilling, exciting, and, yes, fun. Virginia Vitzhum apparently spent some
time speaking to Alexis, yet there are no direct quotes, nor any
opportunity for Alexis to explain the attraction of the lifestyle or the
general relationship between dominants and submissives.

-- Andy King

I also attended Black Rose last month. I wish I could say that Virginia Vitzhum's experience with "the Fed" was a freak incident, but I'm afraid it wasn't. In the kinky vernacular, she was "chickenhawked". There is a small (but visible) minority of jerks like this who inflict themselves on people that are inexperienced or new to BDSM. It is generally not acceptable
behavior at a party, public or private. Please don't let one jerk jade
your view of us all.

Seeing BDSM in practice the first time can be overwhelming (even without
an encounter with "the Fed"); the scale of events like this can even
take aback people well established in the scene. Please don't mistake what
you saw in the dungeon as what happens in the average kinkster's home on
any given Saturday night. Part of the draw of events like this is the
elaborate furniture and play environment. Some things you saw there took months of planning, and were conceived of specifically for that event. Some people even dare to call it
performance art. One of the allures of it is that you don't find that kind
of play-space everyday.

-- "Eve" (real name withheld at writer's request)

I'm sorry Virginia Vitzhum was forced to be exposed to a lifestyle that does not
suit her -- that is the antithesis of safe, sane, and consensual. But
sending someone who views at least some of these practices as a pathology
smacks of a setup. Yes, a lot of macho men are into the scene for the wrong
reasons. A lot of submissive women are there for the wrong reasons too. A
lot of people have "vanilla" sex for the wrong reasons. People don't
change just because they're wearing black leather.

-- Elizabeth Ross

The fact that Virginia Vitzhum enjoys the male submissives in their collars yet lambastes the male dominant with a whip shows that she did not step into the weekend with an open mind. If she considers D/S so sickening, why does she consider the sight of a male in a collar a feast for her eyes? And what's with all the references to "flab" and "overweight" women? D/S might not be for Vitzhum, but there are many, many intelligent, feminist women who choose this lifestyle and enjoy it. She
doesn't have to like it, but the least she could have done was to check her prejudices at the hotel door.

-- Aleasha Royal

Giving in to Ritalin


If the writer had done any real research on ADD/ADHD, she might not
have waited so long with having her son tested and properly diagnosed. ADD is a neurological disorder with a genetic link. That she didn't call a
local CHADD chapter, and instead chose to waltz her son around to quacks
and umpteen different schools, suggests to me that she had more invested in
her own stance than her kid's well-being.

If Zach had diabetes, would she look around aimlessly for a behavioral
modification program or actually break down and go with the insulin?

-- Kate Coe

I'd like to suggest that, with or without Ritalin, I know of many similar children who are much happier homeschooling in an environment where they really can be in control of their own lives.

-- Laurie Clark

I have ADD. I've had it since I was a child and was diagnosed when I was
25. I don't know if I could hold down a career without Ritalin.
What normal people don't seem to understand is how extraordinarily hard it
is to do normal things when you have ADD. Things like returning calls, paying attention to someone speaking to your group, or just completing a task are Herculean chores. Ritalin does not make you successful; it makes people with ADD experience what "normal" is. I wish I had known that when I was trying to study in school. I just thought I was incompetent.

-- Paul Prunty

I too have a son who would have successfully led his tribe to glory 500
years ago. His overwhelming drive to run, fight, challenge himself and
others forces him to push the envelope at every turn.
He is not on medication, but we have racked our brains trying to channel
this energy.

In our society, all boys are required to sublimate the very energy that
ensured their success and status in our culture just a few generations
ago. There's no wild West to tame, no Trojans to conquer, no Crusades. We expect them to be happy just reading about the titanic struggles that make up much of our best literature -- and are shocked when these same impulses appear on the playground.

-- J.T. Snowden

Writer beware



Just as giving birth to a baby means that the world now recognizes you as
a mother, publishing a first novel means that the world is willing to
agree with you that you are a novelist. This is no small matter. I suspect that endless rejection causes many potentially talented writers to give up thinking of themselves as novelists
after a while.

Had my first novel not been well received, I am not sure I would have had
the confidence to write my second novel. Had neither novel been published,
the world would not recognize me as a novelist, and I certainly wouldn't
be teaching fiction writing at Yale.

-- Katharine Weber

The name game


What I find most amazing about these name-generation companies and the
nonsensical gibberish they create is that their own names -- Lexicon,
Idiom, Metaphor, NameLab, NameBase, Name/It, NameTrade, Namestormers, TrueNames, even A Hundred Monkeys -- at least hint at what they do. What was wrong with MacTemps? What the hell does Aquent tell me? It's certainly not a company that can help me put my Mac skills to good use.

-- Jay Milton

The one really hilarious contradiction in this "name game" is that
corporate types believe the naming decision to be so intensely crucial,
yet pick names that mean nothing at all. Show me a guy who charges $1 million to tell me that "Agilent" or "Aquent" or "Acteva" means something, and I'll show you a snake-oil
salesman. These names don't inspire people -- they confuse people. I
just read the damn article, and I can't remember what any of those three
companies actually do, which definitely indicates some sort of marketing

Nobody would be able to charge $1 million for a new name if
companies didn't think it would make the difference between failure and
success -- which implies that those
companies see themselves as having no other advantages over their
competition. ("I can't count on my product, I can't count on my customer
service, so maybe a catchy new name will do the trick!") This is
disturbing: We've made competition our state religion, but we've given up
on trying to compete on the basis of actual achievement.

-- Keith Ammann

Albany, N.Y.

Paying $37,500 for the letter "Q" followed by two numbers? How crazy! They could have gotten that one for free by listening to the radio, where
hundreds of stations that named Q plus their frequency (e.g., "Q97") have been around for the past couple of decades. I'll bet that none of them paid $37,500.

-- Tom Desmond

The music man


ZDTV is already doing everything Butterworth is predicting for the future, and doing it well. Although it isn't as widely available as MTV (yet), ZDTV's innovative use of technology, especially netcams, to create interactive programming (as opposed to pretaped/faked interactivity like WebRiot) should get credit for pushing us into this new media frontier -- not some giant
conglomerate that cares more about Viacom's bottom line than about creating
new and engaging user experiences. Give credit where it's due.

-- Jen Stipcich

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