Letters to the editor

Why the French can have their cake and eat it too; Plus: Napster is good for consumers but bad for recording artists.

Published February 8, 2000 5:00PM (EST)

The French Paradox


When I had responsibility for a large group of American college students
in France for two years I noticed that they immediately gained a good deal
of weight when trying French food. I concluded that the difference
between the French and American rate of death related to diet was caused
by heredity and genetics. The French are largely Celtic and Latin while
most Americans have a healthy (unhealthy, actually) dose of Germanic and
Slavic genes. We gain weight more than the lean French. American women
when older look like milkmaids while the French women look like birds.
Voila la difference!

-- Norman Ravitch

The French live a lifestyle that is different than ours. Thanks
to the design of their cities and towns, French people can't always drive,
or park next to, every place they need to go. We Americans have a tendency
to walk only from the front door to the car, park in the closest spot
possible to the store, and repeat the process as we go home. Then we sit
in front of the TV all evening. As long as the American lifestyle remains
sedentary, we'll be fat, no matter what we eat.

-- T. Farmer

The real answer probably has to do with the structure of French family and social
relationships. In my view, the widespread alienation and decline of family
intimacy in the U.S. probably contribute more to cardiovascular problems than
McDonald's hamburgers.

I recall a landmark study in the U.S. that tracked coronary disease among a
close-knit Italian-American community in Pennsylvania. Although the group
gradually moved from a healthy,
Mediterranean diet to a cholesterol-laden American fare, cardiovascular
disease and heart attacks did not rise appreciably among the group until
the sons and daughters of immigrants moved to America's large bustling
cities where they no longer benefitted from the beneficial effects of
their family and social support structures.

-- Richard Helm

MP3 free-for-all


Regardless of one's opinions about the evils of the major record industry,
the fact is, any artist whose music is traded with programs like Napster
is not getting paid for royalties. But Napster and their (current and future)
stockholders reap profits from ad revenue, venture Internet music craze.
Besides this obvious scam, the fact remains that most MP3 files don't
really sound all that good. They either get compressed too much or too
little, and they often don't sound like the artist intended them to.
Companies like this are set up to make personal profit for the owners, not
to help the artists.

-- Abbey Smith

Sounds like the same old story to me. The old guard, the RIAA, wants to
maintain control over the distribution of recorded music. The avant guard,
Napster, wants to take that control away. Napster may be really hip and
cool right now, but the only difference I see between it and the RIAA is
its newness.

What do the people who create music have to think about all
this? At least, with the RIAA, musicians and composers - in theory - get
paid when their recorded works are distributed. This doesn't seem to be
the case with Napster. Would Napster object to musicians setting up a
company to freely trade their personal collections of Napster software
with other software aficionados? Or would they call that software piracy?

-- D.B. Morton

The RIAA just doesn't realize that if it would stop whining about the loss
of control over distribution, it would come out on top. I use Napster
religiously. But three times in the past week when I've downloaded and
listened to a song I like, I've gone out and bought the CD.
With corporate radio playing nothing but crap, this is how I learn about
music I'd like to own. I'd wager that a lot of people are doing this, and
it's only adding to the recording industry's bottom line.

-- Kasey A. Chappelle

"Rattling the Cage"

This splendid article only vaguely hinted at the horrors of solitary
confinement that were visited on chimpanzees at major, prestigious
institutions of research in this country until an outcry was raised by
animal-rights activists. I well recall Jane Goodall's description of her
visit to the SEMA lab as "The worst day of my life."

Considering how poorly humans treat each other, it is perhaps unwise to
hope for much anytime soon, in the softening of human beings towards other
creatures. Still, the question is one that seems to persist, and has
become more pointed with continued exposure. The real question seems to
be not so much "What kind of animals are these?" as it is "What kind of
animals are we?"

-- Dan Raphael

There is an ongoing group of experiments being done at the National Zoo on
language aquisition with the cooperation of orangutans. I say "cooperation"
because they are free to come and go between the lab and their home pens, utilizing an overhead cable connecting the two
areas known as "The O Line." Sometimes they want to hang out at home,
sometimes they want to go play with humans -- it is their choice. Granted,
no part of the experimentation involves pain, but it was very refreshing
to see animals giving the experimenters obvious
consent to be experimented on.

It only saddens me that they do not give their consent to be kept in a
zoo, but considering they are endangered in their homeland, perhaps it is
for the best.

In addition, the reviewer seems to express a certain amount of contempt
for the "rhetoric" of likening all humans to animals. I have news for him:
we ARE animals. I, personally, do not find that notion at all insulting.

-- Cressida Lennox

Jonesing for votes


Your reporting on George W. Bush's visit to Bob Jones University is welcome. Such
behavior is disgusting and should be treated as such by the press and the
voters. However, it would be nice to see similar editorial outrage when
Democrats -- from Bill Bradley to Al Gore to Hillary Clinton -- pay homage
to racists such as Al Sharpton. Why the double standard?

-- David Bzdak

It seems George W. wants to have his cake and eat it too, be seen as
"compassionate" by minorities and progressives while at the same time
bobbing for votes in right-wing reactionary cesspools. Didn't his daddy
tell him that trying to walk on both sides of the fence at the same time
is liable to get him barb-wired in a very uncomfortable place ... the voting

-- Pauline Graham Binder

By Letters to the Editor

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

George W. Bush