Letters to the editor

Why not David Crosby? Ugly men can be sperm donors too! Plus: AOL-ers defend their habit -- it's not just for newbies anymore; violence isn't sexy.

Published February 3, 2000 5:00PM (EST)

Melissa, David and me


I thought that it was pretty crappy of Ms. Essig to say such ugly things about David Crosby. My first thought about the situation was that Mr. Crosby was grateful for his second chance at life (via liver transplant) and he wanted to share his gift. What is wrong with that? All of those comments about his looks were, to say the least, rude and mean. Like looks should be a determining factor in who your child will be anyway. Remind me not to be your friend, Ms. Essig, if I should ever meet you.

-- Robin Taylor

Entertaining piece by Laurie Essig regarding Melissa Etheridge's choice of fathers. But did Essig forget that Julie Cypher actually carried and gave birth to the baby?

-- Pat Longfellow

I agree with Laura Essig about David Crosby's low suitability as a sperm donor (she really should have tapped Brad Pitt instead) but parading her donor's identity was even more disgusting. A stranger gabbing in my ear about her hysterectomy on the bus is gross enough, but verbal exhibitionism is far cruder when it involves children. Why couldn't Melissa have gone the sophisticated, discreet route and written a barely- fictionalized song about it? If celebrities would not make public pronouncements of such intimate details, perhaps the press would not be so interested.

-- Lillie Wade

Good God, couldn't she find a better donor? He's short, fat, bald and ugly and has a nasty personality. Sperm banks are out there and what is she hunting for? Publicity? That whole thing should be very private.

-- Patricia Matranga

Obviously Ms. Essig has never been to a ranch, the horse track, or a dog show. If she had, she would know that while it's not everything, biology is a lot.

-- Jim Breed

Kansas City, Mo.

With the millions of single women raising children, why are lesbians always asked about the "male role model" their child will have?

The "gayby boom" has made me reflect on the concept of family. My sister, her husband and two adopted children have a legal but not a biological relationship. Yet they are indeed considered "family." Why can't gay and lesbian families have the same recognition? Compared to most heterosexuals, gay and lesbian couples must go through great lengths to become parents. Proposition 22, the so-called Knight initiative in California, seeks to discredit [gay] families as somehow not worthy. Isn't it love that makes a family?

-- Judy Chiasson

Friends don't let friends use AOL

It's a shame that the possession of an AOL.com address still marks millions of people as newbies. Matter of fact, I like to point out that my own AOL account, which I got in 1990, predates the Web itself. I'm even thinking about reactivating my firstname/lastinitial@aol.com address, which I turned off because, at the time, it wasn't considered distinctive.

But you're right about AOL's walled-off, ad-heavy community; while I still drop by the old burg to pick up my mail, I rarely hang around to chat. How about a compromise? Upgrade your AOL users to Earthlink or a local ISP, then reduce your AOL account to mail-only status. You get to keep your mail and get access to the rest of the Web as well.

-- Robert Vasquez

I've been using computers since 1982, so I'm not a new user by any stretch of the imagination. I still use AOL for e-mail because of its instant messaging capability as well as its ease of use.

My 80-year-old mother, who is not computer literate, started out on AOL and now that she has figured it out would not switch. For her, the learning curve was very steep. I attempted to start out a friend of my mom's, who is the same age, on Earthlink. She finally gave up. It was too confusing and required too much tech know-how for her to master it.

Why do I not move to a freemail system? My daughter has a boyfriend in Chicago and the instant messaging and chat features more than pay for the otherwise phenomenal costs in long distance charges. So, until something better comes along, it's AOL for me.

-- George S. Hunt

Let's face it, there are plenty of reasons to leave AOL. I don't chat hardly at all so I don't care about that. I don't like how AOL has to download the stupid ads before it gives me the screen I want. And even if my modem says it's connected at a certain speed, it doesn't seem that AOL is actually pushing the data through at that speed.

But what AOL provides I can't get anywhere else: There's always a local number and I have five screen names that each give me two megs of Web space for a total of 10 MB for my monthly fee. I could do without everything else and would prefer not to have all that junk on my screen, but no other national ISP seems to be able to provide that national local access that AOL does.

-- Art Grant

I fully understand Lydia Lee's argument against AOL, but it doesn't carry enough weight to persuade me to quit it.

I am using the wide-open Web in addition to AOL, so I get the advantages of both. After signing onto AOL and checking my e-mail there, I simply open up Netscape and use that. Meanwhile, if I ever choose to take advantage of the many AOL features, I'll still have them around.

You can banish the pop-up advertisements by clicking on the marketing preferences screen. Ever since I did that, I never get "software updates" or advertisements. The "teeny window" of AOL can become bigger than Netscape's when you simply change from big graphic buttons to little text buttons. I just ignore AOL search and just use Google, Alta Vista, Yahoo, and the others I have bookmarked on Netscape.

I won't deny the downside to AOL service. For example, the Web image quality sucks compared to Netscape -- why is it always so blurry? The online timer is a bother, but in AOL 5.0 it's easier to deal with than it used to be. I don't know why they don't convert URL texts into links in the mail. But apart from that, the mail is easy to use.

Most of the drawbacks AOL is accused of can be easily gotten around, once you've become a little computer savvy. But the one big reason I still keep AOL is that I have a huge Web page up on their server and if I quit, AOL I would have to take it all down.

-- Yahya Monastra

Smashing violence

Last fall semester I took Dr. Julie Taylor's Anthropology 328: "Violence, Terror, and Social Trauma" here at Rice University. We learned to think about violence in broad new ways. I never found the subject matter "titillating." One of the focal points of the course was to resist exoticizing and pathologizing violence. Not just sick or weird people commit violence; it happens every day in ordinary situations with ordinary people. Violence may be a "sexy subject," given the glorification of violence that permeates America, but the study of violence can give great insights if approached from the right angle and treated with intellectual objectivity.

-- Ben Gran

Yeah, we're not likely targets of random shootings. But one in three women experience rape or assault in their lifetimes. Isn't that number high enough to be relevant? Or at least titillating? But that's not what's being taught in violence studies. In fact, sexual violence and gender-based violence seem to be the redheaded stepchildren of violence studies, dragged out to provide an excuse to contemplate serial killers and other sexy phenomena. In the case of violence against women, the discipline apes, rather than analyzes, a popular culture saturated with images of beaten, raped and murdered women. Why? Don't even get me started.

-- Tina Trent

Emory University

The New Hampshire preview

Witty and slightly flirtatious remark complimenting Jake Tapper's writing ability and creativity. Serious juxtaposition of central campaign issue. Slightly wistful observation about the shallowness of the electoral process. Acerbic sign-off.

-- Patricia J. Raube-Wilson

Binghamton, N.Y.

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