Letters from our readers.
Oct. 17 1997 3:30 AM

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One Thumb Down

You have your nerve, touting Slate Explorer and making me go through the whole process of registering before revealing that it's not available for the Macintosh. This information belongs up top. Of course, if you're obtuse enough not to support the Macintosh, I guess I shouldn't be surprised. Just remember: If it weren't for the Mac, there wouldn't be any Windows for Slate Explorer to run on. Ingrates!

--Roger Ebert

Down on the Farm


This is in response to Stephen Chapman's "Smokey and the Bandits." Finally--a voice in the wilderness. I have been trying to understand why I should cry for tobacco farmers, and can't understand why others do. When slavery ended, cotton growers had either to figure out how to harvest their crop without dirt-cheap labor, or find another crop to grow. Many opted to grow tobacco, and it looks like it's time to switch again.

I find it interesting that my representative in Congress, Thomas Bliley, can, with a straight face, recommend subsidies for these farmers when he and others in his party have vowed to get rid of "welfare as we know it." Tobacco subsidies are just another form of welfare. I say give the growers two years, then make them get a job like everybody else!

--Dina ColesGlen Allen, Va.

Shugerless Latte


Slate received several letters in response to the Oct. 8 absence of "Today's Papers," whose author, Scott Shuger, had fallen ill:

Wow! Shuger withdrawals this morning. My morning latte just isn't right without it. Get well soon!

--Barbara RosePacific Grove, Calif.

Diary of an (Under-) Gradman


The notion of having college freshmen explore the "realities" of these two campuses in a "Diary" (Seth Bisen-Hersh of MIT, Ben Trachtenberg of Yale) is very appealing--the problem arises in the execution. Why did you choose two pompous, straight, white ultranerds for your subjects? These kids aren't the stuff of excitement, controversy, provocation! Their particular narcissism renders them incapable of viewing any sort of interesting scandal around them.

--Jay Schwartz

High Frat Content

I just wanted to make a comment on your "Diaries" of Ivy League students (Bisen-Hersh and Trachtenberg) that, in your words, "tell us what life at these top schools is really like." First, when you pick two guys that are basically similar in background and basically similar in every other way, you get two diaries that--here comes a shocker!--sound similar. Therefore, how is two better than one? What kind of sample of real college life is that?


Second, speaking from experience of being at an Ivy and being in a fraternity, there are some things that are really missing in their diaries. It's a crime to quote that story about the fallen teen-ager, and then bring in two guys who would have no clue about Greek life! Sure, I find it interesting to read that some people have fun playing Boggle and touring the dorms together, but is this a good way to find an answer to a question that uses "hotbed" and "sexual abandon" in the same sentence?

Next time, fit your point--pick somebody in a fraternity or a sorority, or somebody that would bring meaning to the anecdote you quoted. Be prepared to take the good with the bad. For instance, members of Greek organizations have a higher average GPA than regular students. Or maybe that's not what Yale or MIT wanted everyone to hear. We wouldn't want everybody to know about our games of binge drinking, sexual abandon, and Boggle, too!

--Brad Webber

Four Weddings and an Assimilation

There was a funny moment in one of Eric Liu's responses to Elliott Abrams in their "Dialogue" on mixed marriage. Liu declared himself unconcerned with the very high rate of intermarriage among Asian-Americans, and proposed that the same easygoing attitude should work for Jews. And on the face of it, why not? It is only when one considers numbers that the comparison becomes quite hilarious. To Abrams' concern that the (fewer than) 15-million Jews in the world might disappear through assimilation, Liu replies with the generosity and lack of worries of one backed by a billion people. Give me a tenth of that in Israel and I could also see it his way. Instead, in the case of Jews the depth of the mother country runs at about 4 (embattled) million.

Of course, underlying this discussion is the deeper question of whether there is any value in the preservation of Jewish religion and culture. Those of us who believe there is such a value are worried.

--Sanda KaufmanCleveland

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