Die, Santa! Die!
BY ELIZABETH BOBRICK
As a devout atheist, I have to say that Santa Claus is not a valid secular
substitute for God. If anyone can tell me how lying to their children for
the first eight or so years of their lives teaches them anything about
love, compassion or "being good," please do so. When a house is filled
with love and compassion no symbols are needed.
My kid will be the one on the playground that tells your little
one that there is no Santa Claus, no Easter Bunny, no Tooth Fairy and
where babies really come from. You better watch out!
-- Dave Magaro
All parents have to face the curious (or disenchanted)
child's Santa question sooner or later, and we all hope that we have a
quick and plausible retort when that time comes. When my son was in
kindergarten, we were shopping for Toys for Tots. I thought it was such a
good idea to include him so he would learn to think of others. He asked,
"Why doesn't Santa bring them anything?" I mumbled something about how some move and he doesn't know where to find
I better prepared for his Santa question several years later when he
asked it in front of his younger sister. "Do you believe really believe in
Santa, Mom? Do you really think some guy goes around giving away free
stuff like that?" "Yes, I do," I said with gusto for my daughter's ears --
"and we all take a turn being him some day," I whispered in his ear.
-- Georgine Cooper
Elizabeth Bobrick fails to explain why, exactly, it is bad for a child
to believe that what one gets in life is connected, however remotely, to one's choice of behavior.
I don't know where she got her notions about religion, but if you believe
that any major religion, whether Christian, Jewish, Muslim or Hindu,
teaches that "no one is out there watching you," you need to do a little
more studying of religion and a little less about myth.
One wonders how life in Littleton, Colorado might have been different
if Klebold and Harris had believed that someone was out there watching
them. What has become apparent this week with the release of their video
tapes is that the thing that animated them most was their fervent belief
that no one out there was watching them.
-- Ken Miller
Sharps & Flats: "EP + 2"
BY CARLENE BAUER
Carlene Bauer doesn't like Mogwai -- OK, fine. I'm at a loss to understand why
this should mean that those who do -- and who happened, at this show, to be
primarily men -- are somehow false or insincere in their enthusiasm. If
she's complaining about the sexism of the indie-rock critical
establishment, her point might be stronger if two of the four indie fave
artists she mentions weren't female (Cat Power and Sleater-Kinney).
Are Mogwai critical faves because they're men? Are Cat Power or
Sleater-Kinney because they're not? Granted that Sleater-Kinney's
press coverage has overplayed their gender -- but generally it's in
order to praise the band members' strong but non-doctrinaire feminist stance.
If Bauer wants to write an essay about excessively male crowds at
indie rock shows and the discomfort she and other women feel because of
that fact, fine -- but don't blame a band for its audience.
-- Jeffrey Norman
Carlene Bauer is dead wrong about Mogwai. If she were to listen carefully to the sequence of albums, she might be less inclined to make the simplistic pronouncement
that the band is making the same song over and over again. "Young Team" (1997)
is full of distortion and violence, and operates on a clearly defined
loud/quiet formula. It was a decent album. Now listen to "EP + 2." Something
lovely has happened. Suddenly the songs are elegiac, softer, prettier, relying less on the punctuation of harsh guitar outbursts and more on beauty qua beauty.
Meanwhile, Bauer is wrong in claiming only indie boys like Mogwai;
in fact, I was introduced to the band by a woman. Bauer should ignore the hype and listen closer.
-- Erik Kraft
It's bad enough that Carlene Bauer dismisses Mogwai's music as wank -- their performance on the closing night of this year's
Glastonbury Festival was brilliant -- but it would seem to me to be grossly
unfair to call them soccer thugs based on the fact that they are male, from Glasgow, and play
music that she doesn't like.
-- Simon Hall
Will multinationals gobble up Ben and Jerry's?
BY KENNETH RAPOZA
As an investor I am torn: While
I would like to see Ben and Jerry's become more profitable, I am also a fan of
their quirky business practices. Before majority shareholders make a move, however, they
may want to look at what happened when the Famous Amos label sold out.
-- A. Evonti Anderson
It's sad that so many people are leaping aboard the "save Ben and Jerry's"
bandwagon. It's true that Ben and Jerry's does a number of incredibly
cool things. But despite their counterculture "Cherry Garcia"
credibility, Ben and Jerry's is awash in the blood of many, many animals.
Cows, even cows from bucolic Vermont, are almost always slaughtered after
four or five annual milking cycles. So to produce its ice cream, Ben and
Jerry's requires the slaughter of about 12 cows every day. And
over 23,000 cows are impregnated
each year in order to produce the milk required to supply Ben and Jerry's.
A substantial number of the resultant calves are put in veal crates and
slaughtered before maturity.
Ben and Jerry's noble ethics stop short where animals are concerned. Fortunately,
thanks to the burgeoning soyfoods industry, milk
and ice cream are obsolete in terms of ethics, health, and taste.
-- Erik Marcus
William F. Buckley: Retiring line
BY AMY REITER
I feel just awful that Amy Reiter felt "cheap and dirty" the day after. The great big secret
about ideological conservatism is that it's all about laughing and having a good time with life. Bill Buckley isn't my favorite conservative in the world, but I do like the delightful old
gent, and he is as quick with the bon mot as he is with the mot juste.
She ought to quit feeling guilty about having a good life. Most liberals are
too concerned about matters that do not touch them to feel good about
anything. A liberal will eat a steak and feel bad because the wheat that the
cow ate could sustain 30 people at a subsistence level for one year; a conservative will eat
the steak and enjoy it, and perhaps ask for another glass of bordeaux.
I feel her pain, though; I felt something similar when
cultural arbiter/cranky old establishment liberal Walter Cronkite retired. I
miss him, and my conservative friends don't understand that. Good enemies are harder to
find than good friends, so they are missed more when they are gone.
I only hope that Reiter can find some witty conservative crank to keep her
entertained after Buckley's retirement.
-- Jim McNeely
Orphans of managed care
BY ARTHUR ALLEN
Sickle-cell disease is only the tip of the coming crisis. We see see the sickle-cell problem because of its racial implications and because we have known how to treat this fairly simple disease for 40 years; once the technology arose the crisis was inevitable.
Soon we will be able to treat a vastly greater number of diseases -- but at a
price. Expensive treatments available soon or now include the cloning of body parts,
gene therapy for single-gene diseases (like sickle cell), protein-based drugs for chronic diseases (arthritis) and
transplant-based therapies for diabetes and cancer. But who will pay if cardiac transplant becomes routine?
For all the talk about "preventive medicine," technology will now
inevitably give us the tools to treat diseases but not the economic means
to use these treatments.
-- S.M. Schwartz
The emergency rooms of this country serve as the safety net for a very
large number of sickle-cell patients that have nowhere else to go because
of over-"managed" HMOs or lack of funds. Virtually all of those E.R.s provide
excellent care for these patients, and the overwhelming majority of the
time they are not reimbursed for the care. Arthur Allen's statement -- "When their regular care suffers, they end up being treated in the emergency room, and suffering unnecessary
complications" -- is untrue and a slap in the face to the many nurses and
physicians that take care of these patients, many times for free.
-- Joseph M. Soler, M.D., FACEP
As long as he doesn't sound gay
BY PAUL FESTA
There appears to be a bit of hypocrisy in Paul Festa's article about the race. Early in the article, Festa states, "On the brighter side, there were people, myself
included, who wanted to see San Francisco elect the first gay mayor of a
major American city." Then, later in his article, he says, "These
volunteers, like me, were fired up not about race or sexual orientation
but about economic issues that have become acute problems for anyone who
doesn't own property or a pile of stock options in an overhyped Internet start-up." So, which was it?
Don't get me wrong, I think it would be wonderful to elect competent gay
people to mayorships of American cities. But let's not make the same mistake that the Human Rights Campaign did with Chuck Schumer, and turn our backs on someone who has
already proven for years that he is a very loyal friend to
the gay community. It seems to me that the gay community would have won with either candidate.
-- Michael Mauzey
Although Tom Ammiano lost the election, his campaign has become a sharp focal
point for the people of San Francisco to express their growing
resentments, fears, and angers. Not only did the success of the campaign
make a loud political statement, it provided an organizing center for a
movement that until then had no real leaders.
The movement that Ammiano sparked may just put San Francisco back on
the map as the place where radically progressive social and political
action can happen -- and can get the attention of the rest of the country.
Fight the good fight San Francisco, it's really just begun.
-- Richard Lovejoy
I always choose a corrupt machine politician over a rampant socialist.
The machinist can be bought, and is a good politician because he
stays bought. Ammiano wants to confiscate property and have me admire him for it, all under the rubric of good government.
Brown will be content with his pound of flesh -- Ammiano wants my whole
body and my soul too.
-- Richard D. Henkus
The bloody truth about Kosovo
BY ARIANNA HUFFINGTON
Arianna Huffington is right. The situation here in Kosovo is a mess. But as I drive around this province and see children who can now go to school,
and as watch people react to my presence -- the presence of an American
military officer -- without fear, I feel like we are getting somewhere.
The U.N. police are not toothless, either; many of them are
American law enforcers serving their country and the international
community by trying to create an environment that is safe and stable.
Most people in the world aren't able to flee their circumstances and move
to the United States, as Huffington did. For those that can't, I'll
pick up my rifle and do all I can to help.
-- Craig A. McNeil
Arianna Huffington was a well-known and vociferous opponent of
the war in Kosovo from the beginning and has continued her anti-Albanian
and anti-Muslim campaign through to the present.
One wonders how much her Greek, Orthodox heritage have to do with
her opposition to Western intervention in Kosovo or indeed for her loud
support of Serbian ethnic cleansing. Unfortunately she has never explained
herself other than to apologize for Yugoslavian atrocities and plead for
understanding of the Serbian mentality.
The Serbs in Kosovo are getting exactly what they deserve. Would you
expect the Jews of Poland to live side by side with the people who
murdered them in Auschwitz? Serbs in Kosovo are not exactly innocent
victims of ethic cleansing. They watched and indeed participated in
terrible acts of ethnic cleaning, revenge killings and rape. The Serbs in Kosovo and Serbia are
only now beginning to pay a just price for their deeds over the past nine years.
-- Shane Hensinger