SLATE'S ARMCHAIR SHRINKS
Chris Suellentrop thinks deep thoughts about John Kerry's height; Michael Lewis reveals that employees of Netscape have funny names; Mickey Kaus drowns in his own stream of consciousness; and (in an unbelievably rich recent example of Slate's "constant campaign updates that drill down into the blow by blow") Jacob Weisberg skis, soaks in a tub, and ponders "Clark's eyelashes and Lieberman's neutering sweater" while his mind wanders off to the ski trails again. Nina Shapiro's piece on Slate ["Survivors of the Fray," Feb. 4] portrays—accurately, yet without any apparent awareness of having done so? a bunch of armchair (or ski-trail) psychologizers who recite vacuous scripted spin and "insider" self-flattery while avoiding any actual content or substance because, after all, Slate is "a place to go . . . when you already know what's happening." And this is supposed to represent "sophisticated fare for people in the know" and "an original take . . . delivered with style [and] intellectual vigor"! Perhaps the most unintentionally revealing example cited in the article is Lewis' "brilliantly funny" series on the Microsoft antitrust case. Gee, could Lewis' clowning around while everybody else diligently reported on the content of the case possibly have anything to do with the fact that Slate is owned by Microsoft???
After reading Salon for a while for free, I felt that it was important to pay for the service ["Survivors of the Fray," Feb. 4]. It is consistently terrific. Slate is hack insider baseball crap. I'd never pay for Slate. The roundups of papers and magazines are the only consistently informative pieces. There are occasional articles that are fairly decent, but nothing sticks out as the sort of article that stays with one over time. Michael Kinsley should stop being so arrogant about how wonderful his Microsoft-bought-and-paid-for site is compared with Salon. He's got the wealthiest corporation in the world backing him, and Salon has only its own good talent. Arrogance and hubris are not attractive qualities, something Kinsley, as a watcher of our current administration, should know.
San Diego, CA
DOES RICK WANT SPRAWL?
Rick Anderson lacks vision ["A 14-Mile-Long Bridge," Feb. 4]! The monorail will be the best thing to happen to Seattle since the Seattle Center. Everyone with a vested interest in the livability of this region should be championing the monorail's cause (and its expansion throughout King County).
As the Puget Sound region grows, Seattle's streets will get more and more congested. (Seattle can't just add more traffic lanes like the sprawl cities around us; there's no room.) Those who are content to sit in gridlock can do so. Those with vision (I, for one) will choose to live near a monorail station, making their local, walkable neighborhood as large as the system becomes.
Perhaps Anderson should get a job with the Suburban Sprawl Weekly. Oh, that's right, there isn't one. Gee, I wonder why?
END SILLY DEBATES
I didn't know whether to laugh or cry while reading the latest "praise and protests" of the public ["A 14-Mile-Long Bridge," Feb. 4]. The Times Square Building is one of the most "dramatic and dynamic" urban spaces in the city? I walk past there every day, and other than the butt end of Macy's and some plastic bags swirling in the air, dynamic and dramatic it's not.
And Denny's is a landmark? Denny's is nothing more than another "suburban, auto-oriented" building like the Walgreens across the street. The only difference is it's a "shining" example of 1970s suburban "architecture."
If Seattle is to grow into the future and become a bona fide city, then viable public transit (and not the light-rail-glorified-bus-on-tracks kind) should not be open to endless silly public debate. All the power to the Seattle monorail planners. Now if they only had the sense to act like a true urban-planning commission and not a gathering at Floyd's barber shop of Mayberry. Enough with the PC NIMBYs who don't know urban space from their cul-de-sacs and whine about "landmark" diners.
RAMBLING AND ENRICHED
I have been fortunate in the last five years to be able to travel extensively through Europe and Central America ["Culture Shocks," Feb. 4]. I have safely traveled alone as a single American woman. I have spoken to men in San Salvador about why the U.S. funded the death squads. I've talked to Hondurans about the sweatshops U.S. companies operate in their cities.
This past summer, I spent over three weeks in Turkey. One day, I came across a group of French tourists. They asked me if everyone in the U.S. was really pouring French wine down the drains and if McDonald's had officially changed the name of their potatoes to "Freedom Fries."
I have never had anyone react with hostility toward me after learning I am an American. No one has ever held me personally responsible for the decisions of the U.S. government.
The most reassuring thing I can say to anyone contemplating a trip abroad is that I have never encountered problems because of my nationality, and my outlook on the world has been greatly enriched by the people I've met along the way. The important thing to remember is that you aren't going to learn much about other cultures if all you do is sit around the pool at the Best Western in Panama, having coffee with Americans.
I wanted to thank Laura Cassidy for her article on travel ["Culture Shocks," Feb. 4]. I work for an expedition travel company, and we have certainly seen things change over the past several years.
I have been fortunate to do a fair bit of travel, first to Europe, Central America, and the Caribbean in my teens and 20s, and more recently to Asia, the Russian Far East, Africa, and the Indian Ocean. Travel is the best education you can get. Often the American public is very sheltered from our outside world. While exposing ourselves to other cultures and traditions, we gain an appreciation for that way of life, and often, more importantly, a greater understanding of how truly blessed we are.
However, I would caution on the separation between government and governed. After all, we are a democracy, right? I find it difficult to hide behind "it's not me, it's the government." If we are a true democracy, are we not responsible for giving power to those who lead us?
Thanks to Knute Berger for another well-written column [Mossback, "Jumping for Joe," Feb. 4]. I have subscribed to The Seattle Times for 15 years until now. Two recent events goaded me into overdue action: one, the useless endorsement of Sen. "Mr. Insurance Company" Joe Lieberman; two, the banner headline about the Franklin High School basketball sanctions. It is appalling that the paper would choose to feature a truly minor story as a lead-in while the WMD issue is so hot, avian flu is putting the world at such risk, Scalia is enjoying Southern Comfort courtesy of Cheney, and more Americans die in Iraq. The Times has dissolved into bona fide irrelevancy.
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