Ben Domenech’s article
on the Capitol murders ("Capitol Shooter: Russell Weston, Three Years Later,"
7/18) was riveting and poignant; I hadn’t known the details. Kudos.
Stupid and Illiterate
Are you paying Tim Hall
to spew that swill in defense of illiterate teachers on the New York Press
website ("Daily Billboard," 7/13 and 7/16)? I can deal with his carping
that the New York Post’s take-down of Sunny Liang was unfair and
cruel. Who doesn’t make mistakes in e-mail notes? But Hall’s clearly
operating his word processor under the influence of stupidity when he goes on
to claim that it doesn’t matter if Liang is illiterate because: 1) he’s
a foreigner, 2) he teaches social studies, not English, and 3) Hall once had
a teacher who couldn’t speak English very well and look how smart Hall
The first two points are
pure fool’s drool. Being from a foreign land shouldn’t exempt you
from being qualified to do your job. If there were any sense to Hall’s
second point–the notion that writing grammatically is only important for
English teachers–why would we bother having students take English classes
at all? Most of them won’t be English teachers either.
It turns out that Hall’s
third point is nothing more than a boring fact of his biography. A recent study
by Harvard’s George Borjas demonstrated that students perform worse when
they are taught by foreign-born teachers who have trouble with the English language.
For God’s sake, MUGGER, keep Hall off of education and safely in the music
Nkomo Mon Amour
Maybe y’all should
steer Nkomo Morris and her next "Nothing Happened" piece over Salon’s
way ("First Person," 7/11). That’s why they’re going Chapter
A Childs’ Love
John Strausbaugh: Reading
your article on Komar & Melamid’s RBS Gazette ("Publishing,"
7/11), I couldn’t believe you failed to mention the wonderful article by
Josh Zeman regarding Jewish pirates. Jewish pirates! What a fascinating and
original idea. To tell you the truth, I found the piece to be quite enchanting
and extremely well-written. I think we’re going to be hearing a lot from
this writer in the future. Best regards from Josh’s grandmother…
Andrey Slivka: There is
one thing I would like to hear from Western Europeans ("Daily Billboard,"
7/16): "Thanks, America, for the Marshall Plan." Maybe from the Germans
a "thanks for the Berlin Airlift." We heard no whining about smog
from all those C-54s landing food and coal at Tempelhof, did we? No sniveling
about greenhouse gases from the tractors used to harvest that food, no finger-wagging
superiority about the pollution generated by the machinery used to mine the
coal to heat German homes in the winter.
I dare Europeans to actually
ratify, rather than just sign, the Kyoto Protocol. Then they might have a point.
But of course they won’t do it. I hope that next time those wine-besotted,
soap-averse cowards in France scream for help we sit on our hands instead.
Jung and the FBI
I liked Alexander Cockburn’s
article on the polygraph ("Wild Justice," 7/18). About two years ago
I translated and synopsized 80 articles on the polygraph for the Pentagon. The
manner of questioning that is used in conjunction with the polygraph goes back
to Jung. (Other systems of measuring various reactions were also tried out.)
Jung would compose a block of questions relating to the crime and person. Reaction
times were also measured. If the person took a long time to answer, I think
more than four seconds or so, the answer was considered invalid.
Based on the subconscious,
Jung could tell if the person knew something of the crime. It was all very interesting,
but Jung did not like using the method for criminal investigations. He also
cautioned against abuse and pointed out that only a fully trained psychologist/psychiatrist
could make the system work. It is worth noting that even Nazi Germany found
the polygraph useless and deemed it illegal.
In Defense of Cal
MUGGER: Cal Ripken a mediocre
athlete over the past decade? In 1991, Cal Ripken Jr. won the MVP award. His
.323 average is the fourth highest of MVP winners in the past decade. It takes
a pretty good athlete to take the field every day. As for Ripken being indifferent
toward his teammates, if you had upstanding citizens such as Albert Belle, Roberto
Alomar and Armando Benitez on your team, would you down beers with them after
the game? Ripken’s best friend on the team is Brady Anderson, which is
no surprise at all since Anderson has been an O since 1989.
All superstars get the first-class
treatment, that’s just the way sports has evolved. It’s not a good
thing, but Ripken can’t be faulted for it. Do you think the Sox treat Nomar,
Pedro and Manny the same way they treat Troy O’Leary? Do you think they
stay in the same hotel as Craig Grebeck? I’m not saying Ripken is still
a great baseball player, far from it. He should have retired two or three years
ago. He did revolutionize the position of shortstop, though. I can’t help
feeling you’re knocking the man because you hate the O’s and Peter
replies: A preposterous letter. Agreed, I do think Angelos and his fellow trial-lawyer
pirates are a scourge on society. But having lived in Baltimore for 14 years,
being a vendor in their old Memorial Stadium for three years while in college,
a season ticketholder for many more, the Orioles were always my favorite team
aside from the Sox. Ripken was an exciting player in the 80s, just as Jim Palmer,
Boog Powell, Frank and Brooks Robinson, Mike Cuellar and Eddie Murray were in
their days. But something snapped with Ripken, and as any Baltimore fan will
tell you, it wasn’t good for the team.
Sam’s Champ Is MUGGER’s
MUGGER: Now that Clinton
is out of office and "Clinton sucks" articles are out of fashion,
you have taken to assailing Cal Ripken. Here’re a few facts you might want
to mull over in the name of accuracy and fairness:
Lou Gehrig is not heroic
because he died young. He was spiteful and jealous of Babe Ruth, and tight with
a buck to teammates and waiters. Considering that Gehrig died about 60 years
ago, it is not incumbent on Ripken to know anything about him. Pete Rose was
a baseball historian, would you like to praise him?
Ripken gets perks because
he can, just as anyone would if they could. Ripken is credited with saving the
game by unselfishly signing autographs for free and acting like a champ during
the time he was breaking the streak. You should read Boswell, a baseball writer
who still loves the game and writes with passion.
Brooks Robinson sold himself
like the worst trollop around; he sold parts of his fame and reputation to the
highest bidder. Your anti-Ripken rant is emblematic of a man who roots for a
team that comes close but has yet to smoke the cigar. Although I think the Red
Sox should play the Cubs in the new millennium’s first World Series, poetic
saps who lionize the last team to integrate leave me longing for more parades
in the Canyon of Heroes.
I write for The New
York Times, Vanity Fair, GQ, etc., and am based in Los Angeles.
I don’t have Armond White’s e-mail, but he wrote a letter to the editor
in the L.A. Times that really impressed me with its truth and clarity.
It impressed me enough to look up your website and search for his writing. I
only saw the review of The Score ("Film," 7/18), which was
as truthful as his piece on A.I. ("Film," 7/4). I am totally
impressed, and would like you to convey those sentiments to him. I don’t
know much about your paper, but it’s a testament to his writing that if
you publish his work, it must be great.
After reading Alexander
Cockburn with less and less interest over the last six months, it finally occurred
to me that he’s nothing more than a highly informed windbag.
Michael Yockel: I read your
online obituary of Monica Coughlan ("Obit," 5/16). I always believed
her, and did not understand why Archer got 500,000 in damages. I am really
sorry that she did not live to see herself vindicated. She was one of the small
people, in both senses, who got trampled on.
This One Better Not
Your 7/11 issue contains
two points I wish to comment on. Tama Janowitz refers to "a petrified trilobite
of the pre-Cambrian era." ("Food," 7/11). There are no pre-Cambrian
trilobites. The Cambrian era began 580 million years ago with the appearance
of the jellyfish-like Ediacaran fauna. The oldest trilobites are thought to
be 522 million years old. The mass extinction of trilobites, roughly 500 million
years ago, marks the end of the Cambrian era.
I’d also like to express
my agreement with the caption under Chris Caldwell’s column, "The
era of the Perot-style outsider hasn’t ended yet." It certainly hasn’t:
I predict Ted Turner of Atlanta will be the Democratic presidential nominee
in 2004. And my predictions always come true.
The editors reply: According
the Encyclopedia Britannica online, "Because trilobites appear fully developed
in the Cambrian Period, it appears likely that the ancestral trilobites originated
during the Precambrian (3.96 billion to 540 million years ago)."
Wrong, Right, Very Right
MUGGER: The Barstow/Van
Natta Jr. Times piece is revelatory, groundbreaking and a necessary corrective
to the evils done in Florida (7/18). Okay, I didn’t actually read it, but
this is my opinion and I’m sticking to it. More importantly, there are
at least two Sandy Denny best-ofs out there: a three-disc set called Who
Knows Where the Time Goes? and a single disc that culls 16 tracks from the
former called The Best of Sandy Denny. (The three-disc set is never far
from my stereo–in this case, more is more.)
Meanwhile, the Yankees suck
and I’m convinced Nick Johnson is ticketed for Oakland in exchange for
Jason Giambi. At least this is what I’m hoping, and, like most spoiled
Yankee fans, I actually have cause to expect it.
Get Me Rewrite!
MUGGER: I don’t know
your age but mine is 63, almost. Earned my journalism degree from the University
of North Carolina in 1961. I have seemingly forever read The New York Times,
The Wall Street Journal, The Charlotte Observer, and since
Al Gore invented the Internet I’ve added daily papers from across our country.
The Times article on "Mining the Overseas Vote" is by far the
most embarrassing piece of journalism I have ever seen. Terribly written. Ugly.
And enlightens no one. No wonder in some public opinion polls today’s journalists
are ranked lower than used-car salesmen on the respect scale. I wouldn’t
even buy a newspaper from these awful writers, much less a mode of transportation.
They should be put on obits, where you have to get the facts and get them right
or some dearly departed will haunt your ass for decades.
Witty and Penetrating
Sam Schulman: I thought
you were merely a keen mind when you wrote an earlier essay; to find that you
are also an extraordinary wit, as your recent column on the recession and gender
roles proves, is a pleasant surprise ("Taki’s Top Drawer," 7/18).
Thanks for the very amusing take on vanishing (perhaps vanished) social norms.
That’s All, Folks!
Thanks for the laugh, Steve
Sailer ("Taki’s Top Drawer," 7/18). I shouldn’t be astounded
that people are paid to sit around and formulate such ridiculous claptrap–after
all, Peter Singer passes as an "ethicist" in the new, improved America.
(He is the one who thinks that sex with animals and euthanizing the elderly
are both dandy ideas.) That creationism is an exclusively American "disorder"
is not surprising either. Europe is the place that most of us fled in disgust.
Note that Europe is not sending peacekeepers here, nor have we ever required
a "Marshall Plan."
It is not the slightest
bit surprising that those lovelies should imagine "survival of the fittest"
gave us humanity. But wait–weren’t the Nazi SS and Hitler Jugend the
"fittest" to ever walk the planet? Gee, I wonder what went wrong.
Maybe someone should consult with Margaret Sanger or Nietzsche. Darwin would
have no comment because it was he who drove the theories of the former. Surprising,
isn’t it, that there are still black people in the world–after all,
those fine folks heartily recommended that blacks, being inferior, should be
allowed to die out. But then we don’t mention that part of Darwinism anymore,
as it wouldn’t be politically correct.
I can understand why racist
whites with a socialist agenda would push the dark religion of Darwinism. In
the last 100 years white European Darwinists have given us Stalin and Hitler.
That black people (at least in academe) buy into this malarkey puts me in mind
of the old Looney Tunes where Porky would morph into a giant lollipop and the
word "Sucker" would flash on the screen.
Thank you so much for your
recent bit about Christian Science ("Healed," 7/4). It was informative
and just risible enough. If John Strausbaugh wishes to read a bit more about
the cult, I would suggest Edwin Franden Dakin’s Mrs. Eddy: The Biography
of a Virginal Mind. The book contains some very interesting facts about
the builder of the First Church of Christ, Scientist, here in New York City,
one Augusta Stetson. Mrs. Stetson is, in her own right, just about as, if not
more, interesting than Mother Eddy.
Quite frankly, just reading
an account of the physical structure of the church makes me almost mad to be
allowed to explore it. It happens, most fortuitously, that I am the editor,
explicator and propagator of the poetical work of the famous Boston poetess,
Eleanor Thayer Alain. Mrs. Alain is now quite old and rabidly Anglo-Catholic,
but in her much younger days she was just as rabidly a disciple of Mrs. Eddy’s
and some of her best, though most dreadful, work comes to us from those days.
I am happy to tell you that I have an extra copy of one of Mrs. Alain’s
most affecting works, entitled The Healing Art. I am sending it to you
under separate cover and hope that you and your staff find it as pleasing and
satisfying, not to say "ghastly," a work of poetry as you’ve
seen in a long, long time. All in all you have a pretty good paper. Keep up
the good work.
MUGGER: How come a baby
in his/her third trimester suddenly can be spared when a week earlier, in the
second trimester, you would acquiesce to the aborting of that child (7/18)?
What happens on the calendar between second trimester and third trimester that
"grants" a baby the "right" to be defended? Won’t you
join me in believing that everybody has a right to his/her own body, no matter
what gender and age the body is?
I like your articles, and
I hope to read that book about Muhammad Ali. I personally believe that Ali was
the worst thing to happen in the world of modern sports. He was the first to
so publicly gloat as a victor and mock his victim; he’s a trash-talker,
an arrogant, ungentlemanly, defiant athlete. Standing over the fallen Liston
and mocking him while lavishing his praise on himself was disgraceful. Now athletes
everywhere do this. When "they" crowned Ali the Sportsman of the Century,
Ain’t Life Grand
First the Times makes
a fool of itself trying to justify the millions they spent to prove those wascally
Wepublicans stole the election in Florida. I think the word for this is "obfuscation,"
but it’s also "hilarious" and as far as I can tell, absolutely
everybody is laughing. That would have been enough to make my week, but along
comes Tina Brown, threatening WWIII over a book that is probably accurate in
every respect and is already skyrocketing up the Amazon.com bestseller list,
three days before publication. MUGGER, it doesn’t get any better than this.
Powell in Eire
Scott McConnell’s "Poor
England" ("Taki’s Top Drawer," 7/11) told us much but not
all about that super English Tory MP Enoch Powell.
Powell’s racist remarks
caused the embarrassed Tory Party to get rid of him in England as an MP. Enoch
then went to Northeast Ulster for a seat as MP. There he allied himself to the
KKK-type Orange-super-Tories, bigots all. His attitude toward the indigenous
oppressed was one of vigorous collaboration with the Paisley mentality. Maggie
Thatcher was close to Powell’s "solutions" in N.E. Ulster. Better,
MUGGER: "Where have
you gone, Brooks Robinson?" (7/18) Amen, brother. You should be down here
again. It’s nonstop Cal Ripken. Every news cycle has at least one Cal story.
They even managed to get something in about him during the big train fire–"Cal
was spotted entering his limo still in his uniform!" Oh my. My cycling
route takes me by his big, ugly house out by where the Hunt Cup is held–there
are often people standing outside of the huge iron gates to his property, even
though it’s way out in the country. Losers. However, I am 100 percent certain
that I am the only Baltimoron who feels that Ripken should have said goodbye,
quietly, years ago.
MUGGER: Do you disagree
that an individual life is formed at the time of conception? When the DNA from
each parent is fused into one specific individual code that will never again
be re-created and cellular division begins, is this not the beginning of a human
life? If so, is there anything that would make that life worth terminating?
Is the possibility of curing diseases for other people enough reason to kill
children who have never had a chance to experience the world? (7/18)
If you’ve read this
far, thank you. I am pro-life–in all circumstances. I believe these questions
illustrate my foundation for this view.
MUGGER: Your articles are
a breath of fresh air for me. You’ve got a great mix of topics and irreverent
inside views on politics, journalism and city life in New York. I am living
in Saudi Arabia and the first thing I look up every day is the Drudge Report
to get a quick fix on the real headline news. Then I move down to MUGGER, which
is the best option on the list.
My only complaint is the
amount of space you sometimes use up on the topic of baseball, though I know
it’s America’s traditional sport. I’ve been over here for 18
years, and having raised three muggers myself, I get a kick out of the antics
of your young ones. It gives me faith that I have given my own a reasonable
sense of American life while we’re here. We go to Arizona to "another
desert" for our holidays and I’ve taken them to see the Diamondbacks
a couple of times, but they can’t seem to get into the game. Maybe if I
get them into MUGGER… Thanks again for your fine writing.
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Satire Can Be Ugly
Will someone please explain
the meaning of two of the three words that constitute the title of your publication?
"Press" I understand, but "New" and "York" have
me scratching my skull. Judging by contributions to "The Mail," very
few of your readers actually reside in New York City. Perhaps this is the reason
for a recent editorial slant better suited to David Duke country than to a city
boasting the largest Jewish population outside of Israel. First we have Editor-in-Chief
Russ Smith crowning himself "honorary kike" for pocketing a penny
("MUGGER," 7/4); a week later, music critic Bob Pomeroy treats
us to a laudatory review of the Scottish rock group Country Teasers ("Music,"
7/11), whose lyrical musings include, "we are the Hitlers of comedy and
everybody else is the Jew," and "[kill the] women and children first,
then the jews and the niggers and the faggots."
Maybe this sort of thing
plays as humor in Peoria, but when this New Yorker reads such balderdash, he
can’t help thinking of the old Borsht Belt chestnut: Q: "How many
feminists does it take to screw in a lightbulb?" A: "That’s not
funny!" Indeed–some things just aren’t.
MUGGER: My wife and I look
forward to your remarks every week. Your willingness to call things as you see
them is something many of us wish we could do. Thanks.
Gary and Betty
Gatzen, Newington, CT
Leaning Tower of Jello
MUGGER: Agree with you on
the Republicans keeping mum on Condit (7/18). Let the Democrats roll with those
punches. Agree with you on Trent Lott. This guy is a tower of Jello, and personally
I wish they’d throw Don Nickles in his place. Don’t agree with you
on Bob Barr. He’s the only guy who has the courage to come out really swinging
and mean it–he was, as you’ll recall, the first to call for Clinton’s
I love Hastert giving it
in the eye to both the Democrats and McCain. If people can’t recognize
a very clever double play when they see one, that’s their misfortune.
Jean Van Etten,
Not Your Fight, MUGGER
MUGGER: Kindly take a look
at volume 344, issue 10, of the New England Journal of Medicine before
you again claim that fetal stem cells "could possibly yield incalculable
advances." What it comes down to is this: the fetal cell uproar is a scam,
in the same sense that Kyoto and the endless "investigations" in Florida
are scams, designed solely to embarrass George Bush and throw as many roadblocks
in his path as possible, the devil take the social cost. You shouldn’t
be involved in this.
New Brunswick, NJ
MUGGER: I read your column
every day and normally enjoy everything you write, except the stuff with a local
flavor. Since I don’t frequent the Big Apple and have no desire to do so,
a discussion of eating joints in Manhattan or Junior’s Little League experiences
doesn’t really hold my attention.
There are two points I’d
like to cover briefly. On stem cell research, why is there very little discussion
(at least in the media I read) on the feasibility of using adult stem cells?
I heard a Christian doctor/researcher on the tube last year debate some "expert"
who advocated embryonic stem cell research as the only way to go. The "expert"
was unable to refute the Christian doctor’s assertion that adult stem cells
would work just as well as those cells derived from embryos.
Second, as a member of the
NRA, I consider Bob Barr to be the ballsiest guy in the GOP. I would trade him
in for Arlen Specter in a heartbeat. I’d like to hear more from him. His
outspokenness on the issues puts the Democrats on the defensive, which is where
the majority of the slugs belong.
Jr., Woodlyn, PA