Letters to the editor

Black athletes may dominate track and field -- but whites dominate bowling! Plus: Aqua will let "Macidiots" finally get with the program; at least Bill Bradley's heart is in the right place.

Published February 1, 2000 5:00PM (EST)

The black edge


Like the author Mr. Entine, Gary Kamiya is totally out to lunch. Kamiya pats himself on the back for having the courage to challenge "political correctness" and speak the unspeakable -- to wit, blacks dominate [certain sports] because it's in their genes. This is probably what Hitler said to himself as he watched a black man fly by his Nazi ass.

I also love the way Kamiya, like Entine, cautions us not to compare black dominance in certain types of sports with white domination of other sports. Why is it that only when blacks dominate, the Kamiyas and Entines want to haul out the microscope and dust off the old genetics books?

I wrote a piece for a Tallahassee newspaper explaining why whites dominated bowling. Like Entine I cautioned against trying to compare white domination of bowling with black-dominated sports. I proceeded to outline my theory of the white race's inheritance of the quick-twitch wrist. My theory is as valid as Entine's tripe.

-- Jack McCarthy

If certain populations, defined by race, possess athletic ability marginally superior to other populations, it would be surprising if there were not marginal differences in intellectual skill similarly clustered in certain populations. Is the "science" demonstrating the athletic "black edge" more sophisticated than that showing Asians to be particularly adept at mathematics? I doubt it. I tend to think that there are genetic differences between populations on a whole range of variables, marginal though those differences may be. Ignoring those differences between groups might be politically prudent -- but intellectually dishonest.

The science is easy. The recognition of our common humanity, despite our differences, is the real challenge.

-- Bruce G. Whittaker

Gary misses the "taboo" in his review of Entine's book "Taboo: Why Black Athletes Dominate Sports and Why We Are Afraid to Talk about It." There is little to object to in a statement like "The West Africans are exceptionally fast and can jump high." It's even OK to discuss West African athletic ability and phenotype in the same breath. Of course, only a small percentage of the dark-skinned peoples of the world inhabit or are descended from West Africa. To say "blacks are genetically superior to whites as athletes" is still [as N.Y. Times columnist Bob Herbert once wrote] just a "genteel way to say nigger." The big bad taboo lives. The term "race," as commonly used, is still scientifically bankrupt.

-- Jim Hershberger

Congratulations to Gary Kamiya for his reasoned, insightful review of Jon Entine's ideas on race and athleticism in "Taboo." One question, though: Instead of puzzling over the genetic "advantage" that we people of African descent are said to possess, why not try to figure out why non-Africans lack our "normal" physical abilities?

-- Cameron Bailey





Apple isn't radically changing its OS in a me-too effort to copy something
else (like New Coke trying to be Pepsi). Rather, it's offering a great product (a modern OS based on the mature NeXT technology -- which was awesome but not commercially successful) and making people feel comfortable with the marketing end (with some new flash). So compare OS X to the new Pepsi can.

In any case, Bruce "Tog" Tognazzini's denigration of Aqua should be taken with a grain of salt. The classic Mac UI was Tog's design, so he's unlikely to approve of anything that replaces it. Secondly, Tog doesn't reveal his conflict of interest in criticizing Apple's UI: He works as an interface designer for Sun.

Finally, demos are demos. Summer
2000 will only show off version 1.0 of the new UI; Apple has plenty of
time to evolve and make corrections.

Aqua is unique, but hardly groundbreaking. It's a few new uses of color and minor tweaks to the same familiar
controls; essentially a new skin. If anything describes the steak-less sizzle of New Coke, it's Windows 2000 -- a server OS that isn't ready for the consumer desktop, yet plods along
requiring at least 128 MB of RAM and provides too much fancy look and too
little new real capacity.

-- Tony Drolson

Information Systems Director, PHP

I always get a kick out of seeing the frustrations of Macinistas like
Scott Rosenberg finally surfacing after
years and years of self-suppression. As a graphic artist working
exclusively on the PC (as I have since 1990), I'm no stranger to the many
shortfalls of the Mac. Especially amusing were comments such as "the good
news about OS X is that it ... finally drags the Mac into the modern world
of preemptive multitasking and protected memory" -- a world Rosenberg could
have lived in a long time ago if he and his ilk weren't so concerned about
not admitting the mistake they've made in sticking with the Little Beige
Doorstop all these years.

The Mac OS "burned and crashed" long ago, Rosenberg says, but he can still summon up that fabled Mac arrogance by asserting the Mac is better than a PC because of the "disdain" he feels "every time I try to click on a resize-window button and, missing by a few pixels, close the window by accident instead" on a PC. Better to lose "everything you've been working on for hours" than have to figure out which button to click? Sums up Macidiocy perfectly.

-- Dave Abston

There they go again! Mr. Rosenberg is dead-on when he says that the kernel improvements and performance enhancements on Macs are much more important than the pretty buttons.

Apple is choosing form over function -- again. The single most important thing Apple's new OS had better do is provide preemptive multitasking and protective memory, like a real operating system. These concepts have been used in operating systems since the IBM 360 mainframe of the early 1960s. I can't believe that anybody even bothered to make an operating system without them.

I've always liked the Macintosh because it's easy to use. If they glom on a load of sliding, whooshing, animated crapola, they will kiss that advantage goodbye. And if they don't implement a real OS kernel, they can kiss me goodbye as a customer, after 14 years.

-- Max Magliaro

Adding an OS that's better integrated to its
hardware, whatever its aesthetics, makes the Mac a more compelling
buy than the PC alternative to Mac users.

Despite the new eye candy, Aqua is to retain the best of Mac GUI routines.
Who wants to invest time in learning the idiosyncrasies of a different OS,
unless there is some substantial benefit?

Like sex, aesthetics sells, and a savvy buyer wants a make purchases from
a healthy company and is willing to accept the superficial compromises made
in your critique if it helps keep that company in business. So just as I
accept the lingerie advertisements in my newspaper, I can accept the curved
lines of Aqua if I still get the real technological advantages that the Mac

-- Joe Egan

Bruce Tognazzini is wrong to view Aqua as "New Coke." New Coke
was something none of Coke's customers wanted; it came out of nowhere, for
no good reason, and was roundly (and rightly) rejected by the marketplace.
OS X is something Mac users have wanted for years. It remains to be seen
if Aqua represents a major leap forward in UI design or a mixed blessing,
but at the least it should keep the Macintosh well ahead of whatever
Microsoft has to offer.

-- John Bauer

lonely heart club


I was born with heart arrhythmia and I've always led a very active and sometimes stressful life. I am 69 years old and still going strong. Sen. Bradley's heart is a good one -- and that's what matters.

-- Florence Tate

I too, have had heart flutter for way over 20 years. Something that seems to be denied and overlooked about it is that Bradley's condition, as well as mine and many others, is often exacerbated by stress. Since the presidency is probably one of the most stressful job a person can do, I think that we all need to reevaluate Bradley's viability as a candidate. Will his heart problem kill him? Probably not. Will it hamper his ability to perform? Of course.

-- Mary Lou McManus

With all the hubbub about Bill Bradley's cardiac arrhythmia, your
article missed Al Gore's own candidacy for a heart attack.

A study indicates that men with Al Gore's type of male pattern balding (called vertex balding) and high cholesterol have a statistically significant 178 percent increased risk of coronary heart disease. Gore's combination of risk factors -- male pattern balding and high cholesterol -- was the most dangerous according to this study of 22,071 U.S. male physicians conducted by Harvard researchers and funded by the National Institutes of Health. According to medical records, Gore's cholesterol level is 231 (below 200 is "normal") and his LDL cholesterol (so-called "bad cholesterol") level is high at 157 (the target level is 130).

Voters may want to cast their ballots in the upcoming presidential election primaries so as to prevent a heart attack in the Oval Office.

-- Steven Milloy

Publisher, Junkscience.com

David Weir's article on Bradley's arrhythmia performs one of the sharpest functions a personal essay on politics can: It clears up misinformation in public discourse on a potentially vital issue. The connection with "palpitations" puts the perfect spin on an issue which, in my cardiac ignorance, I had begun to take seriously. Now if we can just have a coke hound do the same for Dubya or someone with a terrible temper do an apologia pro vita McCain.

-- Tim Adell

does it



I am so glad Mr. Shaw has brought up the unfortunate plight of Americans denied real cheese. I have (I now know illegally) smuggled cheese across the border to American friends, trying to convince them of what they are missing. Even those whose palates have been crushed by Cheez Whiz and Kraft American Slices and who think that smelly cheeses are just awful can taste a fundamental difference between lait cru and pasteurized. If enough have a chance to taste, perhaps this barbaric regulation will be overthrown one day.

-- Laurent Castellucci

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Paul Shirley