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(posted Thursday, Feb. 20)
Wild About Harry, Part 1
I would just like to say how much I have enjoyed reading Harry Shearer's "Dispatches" from the O.J. civil trial. Brilliantly well written, and with the right mix of sarcasm and serious analysis, they have been virtually unmissable throughout the trial. The same can be said for his earlier "Diary" entries on the Republican and Democratic party conventions during the summer.
Now that the civil trial has come to a conclusion, does Slate have any more projects up its sleeve for him to have a crack at?
Wild About Harry, Part 2
You really should issue Harry Shearer's incredible O.J. "Dispatches" in book form. His "coverage" has been far more insightful than anything else for either the criminal or the civil trial (including the acclaimed book by that sly revisionist Jeffrey Toobin). He also added something this whole escapade has needed from the start--a little humor. The material ought to have much broader exposure.
The Editors' Reply
Funny you should ask. We've collected all of Harry's O.J. "Dispatches" into one gargantuan Microsoft Word (and Adobe Acrobat) document that will you can dowload by clicking here.
It Was a Simple Error
"The Week/ The Spin" (Feb. 6, 1997) contained a terrible error: "Welfare reform was the hot topic at the National Governors' Association winter meeting. Several Republican governors supported restoration of aid to illegal immigrants (which was cut in the new welfare law)."
Unfortunately, the substitution of "illegal immigrants" for "legal immigrants" in this blurb rendered this passage not only factually inaccurate, but politically unintelligible. The cuts the governors complained about were the elimination of benefits to legal immigrants, who heretofore have been treated pretty much the same as citizens with regard to welfare benefits. The big cuts were in SSI benefits to current legal immigrants, and these cuts accounted for most of the welfare reform "savings." In California, cutting legal immigrants off federal aid simply dumps them onto local taxpayers, even though millions of poor continue to arrive. Your coverage made a complicated subject even more obscure and made light of a sea change in the treatment of immigrants which carries grave human consequences. Was it a simple error or muddled arrogance?
Dwarves Through the Ages
I enjoyed "Pop Technology," Louis Menand's take on the Star Wars legacy, particularly his observation that human beings have become dwarfed by computer-created images on the big screen. It strikes me as a modern-day perversion of ancient Chinese landscape paintings in which people are depicted as miniscule figures at the base of immense mountains and valleys. Will our generation one day be interpreted as similarly insignificant in the face of colossal technology?
Worth Every Nickel
"A Penny for Your Thoughts?" by Nathan Myhrvold was excellent! While I usually go to Slate for the political and social insights (especially those by Jacob Weisberg [see also his latest "Strange Bedfellow"]), Myhrvold's article was the first really well done, concrete analysis of an aspect of the Web that I have ever seen. I hope you all continue to capitalize on your ownership by Microsoft to get some of Microsoft's brainpower on your pages.
The Price Is Right
I read with interest Nathan Myhrvold's "A Penny for Your Thoughts?"--especially the comparison between Internet micropayments and the "Dutch Auction"-style downward pricing structure of movies. The movie-going experience does have one other advantage over the other forms of intellectual stimulation you mentioned, however: nonregulatory price caps. Patrons of Waterworld, produced at a cost of $172 million, paid the same flat fee--say, $7 at a first-run theater (this was two years ago, remember)--as did fellow multiplexers interested in The Brothers McMullen, produced for a mere $25,000. Such a price ceiling is downright reassuring compared to the world of, say, print publishing--in which a newsstand browse yields magazines ranging from $2 to $20 per issue. Now, micropayments for popcorn, on the other hand, might be worth a try.
--Erich Van Dussen
Liberal Love Fest
I consider this 'zine to be the epitome of corporate statism. This is nothing but a Bill Clinton/liberal love fest. Browsing the "Contents," I see a "Dialogue" about the credibility of Kenneth Starr; "The Conservative Collapse," about the foundering Republican Party; and "I Had Coffee With Clinton," speaking glowingly about a White House visit.
If Kenneth Starr is so inexperienced, why has he won so many felony convictions, each closer and closer to the White House? And the Republican Party is bereft of ideas? Slate must believe that during the last 60 years, the Democrats (who never met a tax they didn't like, and want to expand the rat hole known as the welfare state) have had new ones. The only ideas the Democratic Party has are tax-and-spend ideas!
And these hundreds of White House "coffees"! Slate is obviously so misinformed that they don't know (or don't care) that using the White House for political fund-raising (not to mention using the Lincoln Bedroom as a motel) is against the law! Slate is obviously a product of our foundering educational system: It does not know or care about the law or what is right and wrong. If this is what passes as American culture, God help us!
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