|(posted Wednesday, Oct. 9)|
| Keep on Rockin'|
Uh-oh. After reading the caustic comments on Mark Jenkins' pop-music " Gist" in the last " E-mail to the Editors," I blush to admit that I found the piece both useful and interesting. Extrapolating from your readers' guesses about the article's intended audience, I suppose my confession makes me an elitist Bob Dole.
Sure, you can publish articles on current pop music without necessarily providing deep background, and I'd read them and probably understand them. But a mind that refuses to read an occasional background article on some complex and fast-changing subject is a mind that is sure that it already knows everything about the issue--and that is probably wrong.
| The Hormone Enthusiast?|
I know you have little time to spend with the magazines you digest for the " In Other Magazines" column, but I suggest you read them more carefully. You misconstrued some pieces I recently wrote in Newsweek. When I wrote a cover story about men's growing infatuation with hormone-replacement therapy, you snidely accused me of "hyp[ing]" the "rejuvenating effects of testosterone, human growth hormone, and related chemicals" (see Sept. 12's " In Other Magazines"). Yes, I recounted the extravagant claims of some people I called "hormone enthusiasts." I also harped on the fact that the new treatments are largely untested, and that some hold clear risks.
I don't know whether your remarks reflect some very exacting standard that prohibits me from repeating the flamboyant things other people are writing and saying, or mere carelessness. After reading subsequent columns, I suspect carelessness is to blame.
Last week, you mentioned a piece I wrote about Frank Sulloway's new book, Born to Rebel. I spent the entire article explaining how Sulloway has salvaged single-handedly a field of study that other social scientists have lacked the imagination to pursue fruitfully. I exposed fatal flaws in his critics' arguments, and concluded that his approach to human history has revolutionary implications. Your verdict: Whereas The New Yorker has "only nice things to say" about Sulloway, Newsweek treats his book "skeptically."
| Sick of Sushi, Give Me Steak|
The " Diary" has been consistently good, but I'd like to see some more variety in the diarists. I mean socioeconomic variety. For example, last week's diarist, Wendy Wasserstein, obviously lives an interesting, elite Manhattan life. But how about a "Diary" from someone who doesn't have "sushi with [their] agent?" How about someone who doesn't even have an agent? This means doing some research to find a diarist, not just flipping through the old Rolodex.
| Hopelessly Liberal|
I loved the call you made in this issue's " Readme" for volunteers for focus groups that will evaluate S LATE: "If you are interested in participating and live in the New York, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, or San Francisco areas ..."
I found it quite humorous that you only want to talk to people in the last great liberal bastions. It's just like Bill Clinton: To get the answers you want, ask only the people who will give them to you.
You people are too funny.
--John F. Lynch
| Death by Word of Mouth|
I found Robert Wright's column about intellectual property on the Net cogent and persuasive, but he overlooks one serious issue. Right now, if I read a book and like it, I'll tell my friends about it. Some of them will go out and buy the book. Eventually, it will become a best seller and then a bad movie. I might lend the book to my friends, but that imposes opportunity costs (I don't have the book anymore) and monitoring costs (I have to make sure they return the book). If, however, books are available electronically, I can simply forward copies to my friends. I no longer have a cost to bear. The result is that "word of mouth" will diminish sales, not increase them.
| Un-intellectual Property|
Robert Wright's " Earthling" column missed the point of Esther Dyson and John Perry Barlow's predictions about the future of intellectual property. We are nearing a time when the marginal cost of publishing a book, for example, will be effectively zero. It is naïve to think that this change won't have profound economic consequences. Barlow and Dyson may have cloudy crystal balls, but their scenarios are much more plausible than Wright's.
Imagine, for example, that it suddenly became possible to duplicate a new automobile at negligible cost. The cost of the first model of a new BMW would remain what it is today, but each additional one could be produced and delivered to the customer at a cost so small that it wouldn't pay to try to collect it. Are we to believe that the only effect would be a decline in BMW prices? Hardly.
I found it ironic that Wright espoused the view that consumers will continue to pay for intellectual property in S LATE, when I'm sure that most consumers of this column, like me, paid nothing for it. Yes, S LATE intends to charge its customers at some future time--but the economic viability of that remains unclear.
| Spinning Hillary|
I enjoy reading S LATE, but have to tell you that the rotating Hillary Clinton graphic in " Hillary, Commie Martyr" is the most distracting, irritating thing I've encountered in the magazine to date. I can't keep my eyes off the graphic, which makes it difficult for me to read the text. Please get rid of it, or make it spin only when one clicks it. You've shown wonderful restraint in your use of technology so far, but I think you crossed the line on this one.
| Fujisaki's the Man|
Judge Fujisaki is a much-maligned and misunderstood character. In his " Dispatch," Harry Shearer recounts the opinions of a lawyer friend who called Fujisaki "dumb." Please. Fujisaki should be praised for staving off tabloid culture and preventing it from interfering with the goings-on in his courtroom. Harry, this ain't entertainment--it's a trial.