Letters from our readers.
April 18 1997 3:30 AM

Address your e-mail to the editors to letters@slate.com.


Be Fruity and Multiply

"Be Fruitful and Multiply," by Steven E. Landsburg, makes no sense. He argues that refraining from having a child may impoverish those who would have been your child's friends and mates. But that wouldn't be the case if the parents of those potential children also refrained from reproducing. Also, there are over 5 billion people on earth, surely more than enough to provide everyone with "potential friends." And one does not tend to encounter small acts of kindness between strangers in overcrowded cities.

--Chris Ryan

Make Love, Make War


The article "Be Fruitful and Multiply," by Steven E. Landsburg, explores a key area in the search for new directions in economics: the connection to biology. Unfortunately, it is likely to sow considerable confusion by suggesting that an individual could or should add value to humankind through additional reproduction.

Reproduction is not guided by a moral imperative toward humanity as a whole but by a competitive struggle to pass on genes. This includes the effort to give one's progeny the power to pass genes even further-- hence, family names, mansions, and monuments. But as the species grows to fill its biological space, nature itself provides limiting forces like single lifestyles, wars, and famines.

--Paul Kailor

Steven E. Landsburg replies: Chris Ryan thinks that among the 5 billion people on earth, he has more than enough friends. Good for him. Surely he's aware that there are others less fortunate. Among all his many friends, is there none, for example, who has had difficulty finding a friend who will make a suitable marriage partner?


Paul Kailor says that reproduction is not guided by a moral imperative toward humanity. That was exactly my point. If they were guided by moral imperatives, people would have more children than they do. In the absence of those moral imperatives, there's a case for subsidizing reproduction.

FashionSense 2.0

I was greatly encouraged to see Michael Goff's proposal of a Microsoft fashion-upgrade strategy, titled "Dressing Up the Nerds." The development of Microsoft FashionSense 2.0 is long overdue, and I for one would like to offer my services as a volunteer beta tester.

I agree that your initial ramp-up strategy of having everyone wear more black is an excellent starting point. It will be especially helpful to inexperienced FashionSense users, many of whom are likely to encounter usability issues related to the color-coordination decision-making process. You may want to clarify, however, that polar fleece is not a recognized attribute of FashionSense in any color.


As you move through your first product cycle, you may also want to consider some of the following additional features or revisions:

1) As Microsoft employee time is at a premium and offsites are quite expensive, you may wish to consider having Barneys perform weekly on-site seminars instead. Preferably these would be held between 9 and 11 p.m. to accommodate everyday activities such as feature cutting, server breakdowns, office moves, cross-divisional re-orgs, and the like. Right before ship dates, these seminars could be held between 11 p.m. and midnight to provide additional convenience for employees attempting to finish their daily tasks.

2) You might want to add Birkenstocks to your list of footwear banned between Labor Day and Memorial Day. Wearing Birkenstocks with dresses should be prohibited at all times.

3) Small VR glasses/headsets would make both a chic, high-tech alternative to sunglasses and provide users with something additional to do during discussions of SQL server and ODBC-connection failures.


4) Increased revenue potential may also be realized by leveraging existing Microsoft Money technologies to create direct-debit relationships between approved fashion vendors and Microsoft employees' stock accounts.

Thank you for your attention to these suggestions. I look forward to further status reports of this product's development and am certain that you will do a fine job in your implementation.

--Kerry Carnahan

Toot Liu

I was impressed with Eric Liu's article on Asian-Americans, "Feng Shui America." With the current demonization of Asian-Americans, it was refreshing to find an informed Asian-American voice here.

After having lived in Hong Kong for five years, I was shocked upon my recent arrival in New York. While Asian influences are being bandied about, there is clearly a backlash against Asian-Americans, especially the Chinese. Also, all Asian-Americans (like Latin Americans) are effectively lumped into one group by mainstream America. It's as blinding as saying that French, German, English, and Spanish cultures are all alike. I welcome more of what Slate has offered: thought-provoking and unsung viewpoints.

--Andrew Ingkavet

Address your e-mail to the editors to letters@slate.com.