Subject: Culturebox, Yellow Journalist
From: Kevin MacDonald
Date: Tue Jan 25
Judith Shulevitz's article, "Evolutionary Psychology's Anti-Semite," is so outrageous a piece of yellow journalism that I am surprised that a prominent magazine like Slate would run it. It bears about as much semblance to what I've written as a creationist tract attacking evolution bears to Darwin's Origin of Species. It is so outrageous one almost yearns for British laws on libel so that I could force her to prove her claims, such as that I am "evolutionary psychology's anti-Semite" or that my ideas about Jews "represent the broadest, ugliest, and most vicious anti-Semitism passing for scholarship in this country today." Some of her statements are simply overly general, others simply false, while others are incomplete or take my thoughts entirely out of context. In general Shulevitz fails to even once indicate that I have adduced a great deal of evidence for my claims and that I have developed a fairly elaborate theory based on evolutionary biology and evolutionary social psychology.
[Kevin MacDonald is a professor of psychology at California State University, Long Beach, and the editor of Population and Environment.]
Subject: Stupid Studies Attacking Me
From: Stanley Bing
Date: Fri Jan 21
I want to thank Judith Shulevitz for her report on how business media makes men feel inadequate. It's always been my goal to make other people, regardless of their sex, feel less adequate. This makes me feel bigger and better, no matter how I'm actually doing. The news that I am "laying waste to an entire generation of men" exceeds my greatest ambition in this regard. Here I thought they were just a bunch of losers. Instead, I now understand it's my fault.
As I see it, they have two choices. They can drop out of the entire rat race and become folk singers or something, or they can belly up to the bar and play in the real world where money is generally the accepted way we keep score. If they're tired of feeling inferior to the latter task, I highly recommend my new book, What Would Machiavelli Do? (buy it here), which might not be germane to this discussion, but will help me make more money, which is, of course, one of my most important resolutions.
Thanks for mentioning me in this august setting. And anyone who reads my stuff without knowing I am frequently attempting to achieve irony should probably feel as inadequate as they do.
[Stanley Bing writes a column for Fortune.]
Subject: Hack Magic
From: Gersh Kuntzman
Date: Wed Jan 19
As the Gersh Kuntzman mentioned in today's "Breakfast Table" on the tabloids, I feel I must object to the glowing review Tim Carvell gave me (I believe he called it "the magic of Gersh Kuntzman").
Never forget that Gersh Kuntzman is a hack of the highest tabloid order. Sure, his "MetroGnome" column (every Monday) is the best in the city, but the fact that he can spin dross like the retirement of a Plaza doorman into gold does not mean he deserves awards or even praise.
Job offers, however, are another issue.
Thanks for reading.
[Gersh Kuntzman is a reporter for the New York Post.]
Subject: Sins of Omission
From: Klement Baldensberger
Date: Mon Jan 24
Timothy Noah has lied--by omission.
Yes, Larry Klayman once sued his mother. I'm certain Chatterbox knows why, and you owe it to your readers to tell them: Mr. Klayman sued his mother (successfully) to recover money that she and her husband embezzled from Klayman's maternal grandmother.
Altogether a different story, eh?
Subject: Properties of Net Privacy
From: Todd Zubler
Date: Thu Jan 20
In response to my post, Lawrence Lessig writes:
I don't get what's revolutionary about giving people control over data about them. Some don't care much about data about them. Others do. But that's the benefit of a property system--people can be different, and the system can respect their differences. It is always the government's role to establish property regimes. Even my antagonist in "The Book Club," Richard A. Epstein, argues that. So why not property to protect this, if it will help assure more control over private data?
But that's just my point--we already have property rights in our personal data. No website can steal my data unless I voluntarily agree to deal with that website. Some people will deal with any website regardless of privacy practices. Others will choose to deal only with websites that establish privacy guarantees. The market, in other words, is already working to accommodate consumer preferences and maximize social welfare with only minimal intrusion by the government.
Epstein hits it on the head in his final "Book Club" response:
[T]he standard set of legal techniques, from contract to legislation to constitutional protection, carries over well to [the Internet], even after it ceases to be organized as vast public space, as it was at its outset. … Of course there will be problems on the Net, just as there will be problems in any space to which any of have to venture. No one should be Pangloss, or Cassandra.
Subject: Re: Properties of Net Privacy
From: Lawrence Lessig
Date: Thu Jan 20
A property right in our personal data? I don't know what you mean. Of course, a web site is not allowed to break into your house and read your diary. That's because of the law of trespass, not a law giving you a property right to personal data. If you go to a web site, it can take information about where you were, where you look, what kind of machine you use, how long you browse, what your IP address is, it can coordinate cookies with other sites to figure out who you are, it can share information with that other site.