Letters to the editor

We don't care about Templegate, Horowitz Plus: Huh? Another subscription will make my life simpler? "Subtle energy researcher" says he'll take homeopathy challenge.

Published March 23, 2000 5:00PM (EST)


In the story "Monica's got a brand-new bag," it was incorrectly reported that Linda Tripp had appeared on Betsy Gibson's radio show. Tripp has never appeared on the show. Salon regrets the error. The story has been corrected. Also, Gibson denies that she called Monica Lewinsky a disparaging name as Gibson was being removed from the Henri Bendel store. Writer Ana Marie Cox stands by her account of this incident.


Why doesn't the media cover/investigate this "story?" Because they are as bored as I am about the whole subject. We American voters accept as a given that politicians are dirty. They raise all sorts of funds in gray areas. So what? Bush is dirty too. This election will not be decided on sins of the fund-raisers. It will be decided on brains, I hope. Gore has part of one. Bush has none.

-- Marshall Brownfield

Maybe journalists are avoiding an indictment of Al Gore and what appear to be his ties to Chinese intelligence agents because the primary season has enlightened them to the potential catastrophe of a Bush presidency. You might have trouble making a convincing argument that the Chinese government is more criminal or less dedicated to the principles of democracy than are the Texans who stand to gain the most from Bush's success in November.

-- Kevin Tudish

Buddhism is a religion and philosophy that seeks enlightenment for all, and Horowitz could use some. A Buddhist temple is not a house of God because Buddhists have no god.

-- Pat Schommer

At this point any allegations of scandalous behavior by the Clinton administration look rather like personal animosity toward Clinton, rather than reasonable allegations. It is a little too much of the boy crying wolf -- if you try and fail to impeach a president on grounds of lying about sexual misconduct after a multimillion-dollar investigation that was supposed to be about illegal financial doings, you can't exactly expect the public to care. After all this time the only sin they might find is that the vice president forgot to pay for a dog license. Maybe the Republicans are right and this is a real scandal, but they have only themselves to blame for public (and media) apathy to further Clinton/Gore scandals.

-- Kylie Seymour

Gore's met the enemy


It's true that the charges against Gore probably won't amount to much unless the GOP engages in Asia-bashing. It's dangerous, however, to think they won't do just that, and get away with it. The GOP has to scare the electorate to win, and China is going to be a likely scapegoat. It won't be hard for the GOP to put together a collage of scary issues -- taking money from Asian foreigners, WTO, being careless with nuclear secrets, being soft on China generally. The public is not making great distinctions among the specific charges. Bush is just saying the words "Buddhist temple" and putting an Asian face on disloyalty and corruption. Shades of Bush Sr. and Willie Horton!

-- Brant Lee

Don't shoot that iMac!

Although I disagree with Epinion's review of the iMac, the banning of the ad depicting a reviewer plunking away at one with a handgun is ridiculous. Just because a couple of maladjusted kids shot up a rich suburban high school, we suddenly go hush anytime we see a firearm. The ad is funny, despite the fact the "star" is dull, hickish and ugly, and there isn't any reason why it cannot be run.

-- Aaron Batty

Happiness is a dead iMac? Regardless of what one's opinions are, expressing them with a gun is not a defensible option. Is this attitude the cause of many of the problems today ("I don't like it, so I'll blow it away")?

To put this further in perspective, it's a computer!

I was pleased to see that Epinions wasn't going to run the offending ad, but I was disturbed but their statement, "The iMac ad will not run at this time." As if running it at another time would be all right.

-- Arne Sjodin

Clean living


I saw an ad for Real Simple in some glossy magazine. Captivated by the lovely, artfully arranged, silk-looking slippers, I logged on to their Web site and registered for a free introductory issue. A few weeks later, I received a bill from Real Simple which was anything but. I eventually puzzled out that they were billing me for a subscription I had never ordered. It was my option to call and cancel my subscription, which I promptly did. In real simple terms.

I then stuffed my new junk mail into a big envelope under my messy desk, and proceeded to strew sections of the paper around my living room, as if in childish revenge.

-- Meredith Low

I loved Sean Elder's piece on Real Simple. I admit that I was tempted by the concept of this minimalist magazine. But in the end, I elected to simplify ... by not buying a subscription to Real Simple.

-- Catherine Hurley

My jaw was hanging open when I read the piece about the new Real Simple magazine. Just when I think I have seen it all, along comes another amusing example of the relentlessness of American commercial interests. Many Americans do want to simplify their lives, which you would think would dismay the consumer products industry, but with the spunk and resourcefulness that is the hallmark of American commerce, they just cheerfully start marketing products to the living simply crowd. And the thing is, it will almost certainly work. I am sure that we will buy even more stuff in the quest for a simpler life if advertising showing serene attractive people in tasteful settings causes us to associate certain products with the life we wish we had.

-- Andy Flach

Abecedarian delights

I realize your short list wasn't intended to be exhaustive, but wouldn't it have been appropriate to have included Richard Firmage's "The Alphabet Abecedarium" (1993)? Firmage's book provides much more than a simple typographical history of the alphabet; it also muses on the literary, historical and whimsical effects those 26 letters have had on the various cultures that have used them.

-- Maury Botton

Idea epidemics

Gavin McNett wonders incredulously about the $1.5 million advance for Malcolm Gladwell's book, "The Tipping Point." I too wonder, not about whether such advances are excessive, rather, about the fact that this book seems to be gaining public attention while the original idea and analysis of how tipping points work has remained in relative obscurity. There is a rich irony here because in Gladwell's applications of the tipping point it can be used to explain how some people can take an idea and become rich and famous, while those who did the original work of conceptualization are comparatively unknown.

The first analytical applications of "tipping points" to social behavior were in a 1957 article in Scientific American by Morton Grodzins. However, this social mechanism was more fully developed in subsequent work in 1971 and 1972 by Thomas Schelling. Gladwell does not discuss the originators in the text of his book, but does at least reference Schelling's work in an endnotes section, though it is actually a reference section because citation numbers are not made in the text.

Schelling is a well-known and highly regarded professor who currently teaches at the University of Maryland. More than just developing and extending the idea of tipping points, Schelling has been a creator of many novel ideas and fruitful applications across academic disciplines, though his home is in economics. Usually those who have accomplished groundbreaking work in economics are given the public recognition and honor of a Nobel prize. Gladwell and others can find a gold mine of interesting ideas in Schelling's works to be borrowed and popularized. Their success is welcomed if it will influence the Nobel prize committee to give Schelling the recognition that is long over due.

-- Bruce J. Reynolds

The Tao of "Seinfeld"

James Nestor's recent piece on my book, "Seinfeld and Philosophy"
is both disappointing and dishonest. During our interview Nestor told me
he liked the book very much and "really got it." After the article appeared
in Salon Nestor sent me an apologetic e-mail and his original draft of
the article. Nestor confessed that he was coerced by his editor to "do
the opposite" of what he wanted to, by knocking the book in print.
Nestor put principles and journalistic integrity aside, yielding to the
power of editorial authority and the demand to say something controversial
and "sexy." That's a shame.

Allow me to set the record straight. The contributors to the book are not
crazed Seinfeld addicts, not that there's anything wrong with that. We are
academics who have seized upon a common language and set of story lines,
known to students and the general public, to make familiar to them what
unfortunately is alien -- philosophy. Our efforts to spark an interest in
philosophy outside of academia have been widely commended for their
boldness, creativity, humor, and insight. For a clear picture of "Seinfeld
and Philosophy"'s purpose and an objective assessment of its merits, see Emily
Nussbaum's "Something for Nothing" in the February edition of Lingua Franca.

-- William Irwin, Ph.D.

Homeopathy is quackery, cry experts

In a letter to the editor at Salon, Andrew Harter of the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) writes, "In the meantime, ask yourselves why none of the homeopathists will take up the James Randi Educational Foundation's offer of $1 million for proving homeopathy works.(The American Physical Society has agreed to conduct the tests.)"

Over a year ago, I applied to JREF to conduct the very test Harter is writing about, and submitted a protocol for it.
Subsequently Randi has personally written to me in over 70 pieces of correspondence regarding his offer to award me the JREF prize should I provide a method to distinguish homeopathic medicines from controls in a double blind trial.
I offered numerous methods by which to do this using plants, animals, enzymes and mechanical surveys after Randi was specifically directed by Nobel prize laureate Brian Josephson to give my claim precedence. However, in November, Randi refused to further correspond with me about scheduling a test for my claim on his offer and wrote to me that he had instructed Harter not to respond to my inquiries either.
This is also the first time I have read of another body other than JREF offering to officiate the JREF offer. Appearances have been that JREF has always been judge, jury and executioner of what have been merely preliminary dismissals of any claim.
I challenge JREF to make good on its offer to me and show the world that their challenge is for real.

-- John Benneth

Subtle energy researcher

Gresham, Ore.

By Salon Staff

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