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| No Snow Jobs|
Since I know what high standards Paul R. Krugman ("Down-Sizing Downsizing") sets, I appreciate his tribute to our April jobs study in the July 1 SLATE. But the very integrity for which I am praised forces me to clarify the record: Secretary Robert Reich co-authored the April jobs study with the Council of Economic Advisers. Since we both released the paper, it is not surprising that Secretary Reich and I concur on its conclusions.
We believe that our jobs study was a balanced account of what is happening in the U.S. labor market. We noted that, while 68 percent of the jobs created since the Clinton administration took office are higher-paid jobs, there are important challenges that need to be addressed still--namely, increasing wages and enhancing security for American workers. The Clinton administration recognizes the significance of recent economic accomplishments, but we know that we must continue to pursue policies that will raise productivity growth and living standards and increase educational opportunities for all Americans.
|--Joseph E. Stiglitz|
chairman, Council of Economic Advisers
| Sexual Suicide|
The cutesy article by Steven E. Landsburg ("More Sex Is Safer Sex") is particularly unfortunate. We are at a stage in the HIV epidemic in which heterosexual spread is becoming increasingly significant. Casual readers surfing the Net may justify increasing their sexual-risk-taking behavior. Unfortunately, failure, lasting in a shortened lifetime, can result from a sexually successful one-night stand.
For an appropriate sequel, Michael Kinsley might solicit an article in cooperation with the National Rifle Association defending Russian roulette as statistically OK but cautioning that three loaded chambers is too risky.
| High-Frequency Sex Increasing the frequency of sex for low-risk individuals would change the ratio of potential high- and low-risk partners ("More Sex Is Safer Sex," by Steven E. Landsburg). In theory, this could reduce transmission to individuals who have frequent sex, since they would now have more uninfected partners. However, for low-risk individuals the risk INCREASES, because their frequency of sex doubles. In the example you use, increasing sex to twice a year is accompanied by a 33 percent INCREASED risk of acquiring HIV every year compared with sex once per year. Are you suggesting that low-risk individuals should increase their risk of acquiring HIV so that those who have sex frequently could lower theirs? I don't think so.|
| Seduced by Landsburg|
What a seductive argument Steven E. Landsburg ("More Sex Is Safer Sex") makes for promiscuity! I will, however, resist being wooed. More sex will reduce our chances of getting AIDS? Maybe chicken sushi will stamp out salmonella as well.
The problem lies in his assumption that more entries into the sexual market will dilute the number of encounters with promiscuous, virus-carrying subjects. I might be betraying some cynicism about my gender, but it seems to me that promiscuity among males is not a choice so much as an ability. As the sexual market grows, the rakish Maxwell will benefit disproportionately over the demure Martin. To think otherwise is akin to thinking that if the automobile market swells next year, some upstart company will benefit as much as General Motors will.
| Steven E. Landsburg Replies|
My article made two points. First, when a low-risk person takes an additional partner, he confers a benefit on that partner. Second, because such people account for costs to themselves (i.e. the risks cited by Dr. Bleicher) and not for benefits to others, they systematically choose to have too few partners.
Dr. Bleicher merely restates the second point when he says that people will not adopt additional risk just as a favor to others. Thus, though he doesn't seem to realize it, Dr. Bleicher's letter is in support of my position.
There is certainly nothing in my argument that would convince any low-risk person to increase his activity; the whole point is that low-risk people are already pursuing strategies that are optimal from their own selfish points of view. In fact, I argued at some length that we have to subsidize sex to get enough of it precisely because there is no reason for people to provide enough of it on their own. I have no idea how Dr. Seligman jumped to the conclusion that such an argument (absent the actual subsidy) could convince people to have more sex.
Seligman goes on--with his Russian roulette analogy--to reveal the depth of his misunderstanding. It is critical to my argument that sex confers benefits on others; playing Russian roulette conveys no such benefits, so his analogy is completely off-base.
Mr. Gadea makes the interesting point that much depends on the details of who matches with whom and how. That point is correct.
| American Gladiators|
I really enjoyed your article on the antics of the campaign press corps ("Beasts on the Bus," by Roger Simon). Tragic as it may seem, it brought back memories of when I worked with the Clinton-Gore campaign in '92. Until you have either attended a campaign event or worked on a campaign, you are oblivious of the contact-sport possibilities presented by a political campaign. My best memory is a particular event during Clinton's bus tour through Texas.. The press corps had taken positions on the sidewalks and retaining walls around the hotel to get those "perfect" shots of both candidates boarding the bus. A camerawoman had just been shoved off a retaining wall by a cameraman. Without batting an eye, the camerawoman took her 40 pounds of steel and strategically found the cameraman's weak spot, causing him to double over and miss the shot. I couldn't help but laugh, rejoicing that the press corps are just as violent with each other as with the innocent public. However, in defense of some of the more civil members, my favorite times during that tour were talking with a print journalist from AP who found refuge in my van away from his rowdy cohorts on the press buses. I can only hope that your article will get the attention of network producers and tone down the rough tactics.
Thanks for the great piece and good luck on your new venture.
| Hit and Run|
How brave of you to let Roger Simon ("The Beasts on the Bus") write his screed about television photographers (among whom I count myself) and not even include a "mail to" hook in his copy. I'd enjoy sending this message to him much more than to a group of editors arrayed around some meeting-room table.
I was in New Hampshire this February, shooting for a PBS co-production called "Citizens '96." Maybe you've seen it, maybe not. (I assume the answer is "no," since PBS was the only network that wasn't mentioned in your column.) You may find this hard to believe, but not many of us get our jollies from getting into ridiculous crush situations, and we enjoy pushing the public aside even less. But that's the way the game is played today.
The focus of our New Hampshire program was the phenomenon of "retail politics," and whether it was a reality anymore. It isn't, and I'll tell you why: It's a good photo op for Lamar, or Bob, or (insert politician's name here) to shake hands with a voter in the snow in Milford, N.H. But you know what? That poll just made contact with one voter. The Betacam on my shoulder is the eyes and ears of--potentially--millions of voters. And they can all be touched simultaneously! No candidate who has any desire to win can afford to forget that.
Is it ridiculous? Certainly. Should it be changed? Absolutely. I'd like to see a one-month, four-primary-day system. All 50 states can hold caucuses or primaries in the month of June, each Tuesday. That'll reduce the insanity of a system that essentially nominates a candidate in March or April and lets the campaign molder till August. Of course, because New Hampshire has a constitutional requirement that it have the first primary, it can be in the first group.
This reduces the time lag that turns the electorate off the process, would make candidates work harder in more states simultaneously, and reduce the roving packs of regional and local crews that have jumped on the bandwagon of late by giving them something to worry about in their own home area.
Of course, there's no reason to pay any attention to any of this--I'm just a videographer, ooops, Visigoth.
And yes, I hate to be touched when I'm shooting. I have a job to do, and if we want to make my contact with the public less taxing on both of us, let's change the system, not blame the pawns in the system.
By the way, perhaps the "pencil press" would have a little more empathy for the Visigoths if their notepads weighed 25 pounds and cost $60,000 apiece.
By the way, I like the look of the issues of S LATE I've seen--like HotWired, but with less caffeine.
|--Bruce A. Johnson|
Wisconsin Public Television News & Public Affairs
| Hyper About Hyperlinks Robert Wright gets it wrong about the role of commentary on the Web ("Shadow Boxing"). Rather than a newly discovered danger, the ability to annotate other people's pages and text is a fundamental capability of hypertext systems as originally conceived. The Web in fact supports this capability rather badly--you shouldn't need to use a search engine to find such annotations. Ways to do it better have been under discussion for some time: See http://playground.sun.com:80/~gramlich/1994/ annote/ for a discussion of some of the issues. Keep in mind that hypertext in general and the Web in particular were originally conceived as a medium akin to academic publishing, in which continuing commentary on the works of others is the norm. If the medium now is dominated by advertisers who are uncomfortable with the ability of their audience to answer back, it is the advertisers who must adapt to the medium rather than the other way around.|
| This Flame's for You|
In his piece about Sky Dayton, Robert Wright wrote: "Evaluation of the claims is hampered by the apparent reluctance of the page's author to discuss them. I sent two messages to the e-mail address at the bottom of the firstname.lastname@example.org got no reply."
You should not take bad timing as reluctance. I refuse to apologize for the fact that my vacation didn't fit your publishing schedule, and I stand behind my Web page.
Come on, Michael Kinsley, I think you owe Deirdre and alt.religion.scientology an apology ("Shadow Boxing" by Robert Wright). You guys did a crappy job fact-checking Wright's piece; it's *obvious* you'd never been to Ron Newman's comprehensive and seminal Web page (at http://www.cybercom.net/ ~rnewman/ scientology/home.html); and I have to wonder whether there weren't ulterior motives involved in making Dayton look better than he really is.
As it stands, Dayton's Earthlink has become the home of every 1-900 sex-spamming artist on the planet, and if you and your fact-checkers had done even a teensy bit of research using a Web searcher like AltaVista, you would have found out that Dayton's Earthlink may be given the Usenet Death Penalty.
All this journalistic integrity makes me proud of the fact that I switched my major to political science while one class (three hours) short of a bachelor's in journalism at the University of Texas back in 1982. At least poli-sci majors (and later lawyers) don't make any sort of pretensions to "ethics."
| Deaf Jam|
How disappointing to see that not only does your publication look like the New Republic thrown (up) onto the Web, but your content has the hipness factor to match. Mark Steyn's "Rap Victoriana" is another example of an ill-informed critique of rap and hip-hop that is now legitimized by an intelligent (?!) publication. Steyn attempts to cover his ass by referring to "gangsta rap"--everyone knows that it's okay to slam gangsta rap--but he interchanges the term with the unqualified "rap" so often that it is clear that he doesn't understand the difference. His ignorance damages (even further) an art form which does have its share of innovation: For a small sampling, check the lyrical dexterity of Common Sense, the messages of De La Soul, or the beats of A Tribe Called Quest.
And when was this piece written? The references to rappers and specific rap songs date this article back to '90 or '91. Steyn writes: "Even as the subject matter in each case proclaims its modernity (railroads and telephone on the one hand, guns and crack on the other), in both cases, the music underneath belies it." I write: "Your prime examples are Public Enemy and N.W.A.? In 1996? Right back at you, #*%$!"
A London "opera host" (whose idea of humor is pointing out the silliness of grouping Mozart and Brahms together) pans rap based on a small sample of dated lyrics, and this is supposed to be the Web's intelligent journalism? It would be foolish to allow a hip-hop MC to critique opera based on a few lines from The Magic Flute and The Barber of Seville. Why doesn't that respect work both ways?
| Blinded by the Sight|
Lee Rosenbaum's essay on exhibitions in art museums ("Stuff and Nonsense") makes a fairly unexceptional point: Time was when you could go to an art museum and just look at the pretty pictures. Now you have to put up with the preposterous proposition that works of art actually arose in a historical context, the understanding of which might help someone looking at a work of art both to appreciate it and the time and culture in which it was produced. Art museums, we are informed, are in danger of becoming history museums. What could be more terrifying? We are surfeited with history already after all.
As the director of a history museum and one who actually enjoys art for its own sake on occasion, I find Rosenbaum's argument both precious and silly. Rosenbaum doesn't HAVE to read all that irrelevant historical stuff. The prerogative of looking blissfully at works of art without worrying about meaning or history remains. Just don't read all that confusing interpretive material, Lee; it might give you a headache by forcing you to think.
In the meantime, God forbid, Rosenbaum might want to take an aspirin and consider visiting a good history museum where beauty and history and meaning and interpretation all manage to coexist cheek by jowl. Art and history are not incompatible. Pablo Picasso didn't think so. Neither did Abraham Lincoln. But then their taste may not have been as exquisite, nor their sensibilities as easily damaged, as Lee Rosenbaum's.
| Cuckoo Nest|
In his "Diary" yesterday (Day Six, Monday, July 6) David O. Russell reports hearing an owl that lives near the window of his apartment on New York's 99th Street. However, I don't believe the "very comforting, rural rhythm" he reports is from an owl, but rather, that it is from a mourning dove.
I know this because I've also been hearing (and seeing) a pair of those gray, demure, birds lately, with their lovely and mournful cooings--from my own 99th Street window, six flights directly above his.
| Our tech guy answers your questions.|
| Thanks to the many who sent feedback this last week. There's nothing like hearing real problems to help a program manager come out of his or her ivory tower. I hope we have solved most of your problems. Today, lots of mail about printing (more to come), some requests fulfilled, some requests denied, and at least one mystery as yet unsolved.|
| Must-see Movie Trailer I downloaded an .avi file from your review of the movie Independence Day. However, I did this on a Macintosh computer and was unable to view the file. Is there a converter or system extension that you know of that will enable me to view .avi movies using Simple Player or another movie-viewing application?|
| You can tell I really did my homework here. There isn't one. The only Macintosh .avi viewer I know of is built into Microsoft Internet Explorer 2.0 for the Mac. So starting later this week, in our ongoing attempt to prove we are not corporate lackeys, we will also provide QuickTime videos. Enjoy.|
| Untouchable Features This is the most nave and ridiculously stupid question you will probably ever receive--however: Once I access S LATE, I find that I cannot access any of the material in the Features section--why? What am I doing wrong.|
| It's not a stupid question at all. S LATE uses an HTML feature called Client-Side Image Maps, which are descriptions of where to go when you click on a graphic (for instance our navigation bars or the Features section of the Table of Contents). Older browsers, particularly Netscape Navigator 1.x, do not support this feature. As always, I advise upgrading to Netscape Navigator 2.0 or Microsoft Internet Explorer 2.0|
| Printing the Newest Stuff How do I print just the articles that are new or have changed since the last time I printed the magazine?|
| This is a common request, with many complaints about wasting paper. Until we apply more technology to this problem, my answer is: Ask your word processor to only print the pages you want. We have also been shrinking the size of the printable edition of S LATE so as to reduce download time.|
| Mac Printing S LATE is wonderful! We've been reading it on a Macintosh running Netscape, and the only problem we've had is printing the entire magazine. We are able to download it easily enough, but have been unable to open it with any program. We've tried Microsoft Word 5.0, Aldus PageMaker, QuarkXPress, and ClarisWorks. Tried everything we could think of. You do not offer a Microsoft Word reader for Macintosh. Any suggestions, or are Mac users out of luck?|
| Unfortunately, none of the above fine products is Microsoft Word 6.0, which is what's required on the Macintosh. (A variety of word processors work on Windows machines.) And you are right that Microsoft Word Viewer is currently available only for Windows. See below for an upcoming solution.|
Late note (7/11/96): If you run Microsoft Word 5.1 for the Macintosh, you can download a converter here that will allow you to read this file.
| A PDF (Pretty Darn Fine) Idea It seems to me that S LATE's design would be better served by .pdf than by Microsoft Word's .doc format. .pdf is a standard widely used for disseminating highly designed documents.|
| If you can't afford to get the .pdf writer thing from Adobe, I'll do it for you for free.|
| Since there is no free solution for reading S LATE on the Macintosh (it requires Microsoft Word 6.0), and no solution at all for UNIX, we decided to take up a collection in the office. As soon as I finish bagging all the loose change, which might be a few days, S LATE will be available in Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) format as well as .doc format.|
| Netscape Print Conspiracy Why are you (seemingly) not allowed to print directly from Netscape 2.0 (Macintosh)? It seems as if the printing function is disabled. Is this intentional?|
| Whenever a page loads into my browser (Netscape 2.02--one of the anointed) it consistently stalls at 99 percent. It certainly appears that the entire page, graphics and all, has loaded, so perhaps it's my browser (running under Digital UNIX). It's hardly a major issue, but constantly hitting the "Stop" button gets old. Thanks for your time.|
| These are the same problem--sometimes S LATE confuses Netscape about how much stuff to load, so it never really finishes, and keeps the Print button disabled. I suspect we are telling them one thing, and delivering something else. I know this is annoying, and we will fix it as soon as possible. And it's not intentional. We at S LATE are not nearly that crafty.|
| Anti Anti-Aliasing Your headline typography looks like hell. Ever hear of anti-aliasing?|
| Overall, I like the look of S LATE, but one thing bugs me: Why do all the title graphics contain aliased text? The reason you use an image that contains text for title graphics is that you can use nice, smooth anti-aliased text (and of course whatever typeface you want). It looks sloppy and rough. ... I can't imagine that there's one Mac to be found at S LATE headquarters. ... What a pity. Get with the program.|
| One of the reasons to be polite to the guy who answers letters is that he might print them. In any case, this question is way too hard for me to answer, so I've brought in special guest answerer Ian Adelman, SLATE's art director. Take it away, Ian.|
"Simply put, the reason we don't use anti-aliased graphics on SLATE is that Hypertext is not anti-aliased. We wanted to embrace the visuals of the medium. We generally use 1- and 2-bit graphics to keep with this 'look,' and to keep file size down. Another part of our 'look' is the scale of our graphics. We can use larger (physical size) graphics this way. A good example is on our table of contents: the FEATURES imagemap. That graphic is 610x419 pixels and is only 7k! We could never achieve that with anti-aliased graphics."
Well put. I'll add that there are more Macs in the S LATE offices than I have seen in one place at Microsoft in years.