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Letters to the editor

Barney Frank clarifies he's no big fan of Steve Forbes Plus: Women should deal with sexism in college -- just like men do! Geek sex -- a waste of marketable energy?

What’s at stake in the 2000 elections?


The editing of my response to your questions on the 2000 election severely distorted my view on two important points. In my answer to the request that I describe the particular qualities of the various candidates that I would like to see put together in an ideal president, I wrote that I would like to include “Steve Forbes’ willingness to defy the establishment taboo and debate with Alan Greenspan about the unwisdom of raising interest rates just because we are growing rapidly.” In the printed version, the emphasized words were simply omitted, which resulted in a double misrepresentation of my views. First, it left out my reference to what I think is the single most important economic decision likely to be made in the country over the next few months — whether or not the Federal Reserve should try to slow down economic growth and raise unemployment simply because we have been growing rapidly, given that there has been no significant sign of impending inflation.

And by leaving out that phrase, you transformed my expression of admiration for one very specific part of Steve Forbes’ platform into a more general — and entirely inaccurate — favorable assessment of him on my part. I do admire Forbes’ willingness to challenge the notion that we should deliberately hold down economic growth in the current context, and I am disappointed that the great bulk of the press is unwilling to entertain serious debate on this issue. Indeed, the Washington Post went so far as to rebuke Mr. Forbes in an editorial for having the temerity as a mere presidential candidate to discuss the holy subject of interest rates. But I disagree with virtually everything else Mr. Forbes has to say, and I am therefore disappointed not simply that Salon’s editing distorted my comment, but that when I asked for a correction, you refused to do it on the ground that my expressing my admiration for Forbes’ stance on interest rates was essentially the same as expressing admiration for some — unknown to me — general anti-establishment stance on his part. With that approach, the editors of Salon ought to consider hiring themselves out as blurb writers for movies and theatrical productions seeking to convert mixed reviews into uncritical praise for advertising purposes.

Radical relics


I enjoyed reading Joyce Hackett’s article and especially her perspective, as I had
been a student of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) for my
freshman year of undergraduate study. The environment there is
prototypically sexist and thoroughly disgusted me.

I am now a sophomore at UC-Berkeley and just finished an introduction to
women’s studies class. I completely understand the feelings Hackett was
trying to describe. It would be gratifying to read more of Hackett’s perspective,
particularly if she were to write an article on Caltech’s horribly sexist

– Andrew Hon

A big round of applause to Joyce Hackett’s column on her academic
experience at Wellesley vs. a traditional male-dominated university. My
experience at Bryn Mawr College mirrors much of Ms. Hackett’s, including
my initial incredulous reaction to the “real” world upon graduation and
attending grad school at NYU.
Sad as it is, the respect for yourself, your intellect and your abilities as
a person are best taught at a women’s college — you learn by example!

– Dagmar Mueller

Bryn Mawr College ’89

Success is the ultimate revenge, so stop complaining and succeed already.
Equality means taking the same responsibility for yourself that men have
to. When I went to NYU, I had to endure numerous insufferable female
professors who’d use any opportunity to inflict their personal bile or
political beliefs into discussions of everything from Greek drama to German
pronouns. They were offensive, condescending, arrogant, inappropriate, and
sometimes just flat-out nuts, and because I’m male, there was nothing I
could do or say to combat their favoritism (towards the female students),
or neurotic, anti-male interpretations. And you want to know something? It
didn’t kill me, didn’t ruin my career — if anything, it only inspired me to
succeed to spite them.

As far as I’m concerned, if women don’t have the ability to be equally
inspired by their negative experiences with male professors, then they’re
simply not my equal. I did it, why can’t you?

– Frank Scott

When I read the last few paragraphs in this article in Ivory Tower about
feeling one has a “divided self” I thought, Welcome to what it’s like being
African-American, female and a college graduate from a well-known
university in a business that assumes you’re there as yet another “token.”
Glad the author figured that much out. I just hope she extrapolated the
lesson to apply to other people she knows and sees in daily life.

– Lisa Myers

No sex please, we’re geeks

The reason people in Silicon Valley don’t date is the same reason they don’t have other hobbies. The prevalent focus of their mental, physical and spiritual energy is twofold — work and money. Men brag in locker room tones about how much they’ve earned, spent or worked lately — not about their sexual conquests. Getting some means you’re wasting your time and energy, spilling your seed, if you will — a sort of Silicon Valley onanism that is simply not looked upon highly. After all, why bother [with sex] when your portfolio is easier to manage, and your conquests in the office at 3 a.m. are so much more provable? It’s just another symptom of a place with very strange priorities; one that grows sicker all the time. The fetish people are the healthy ones — at least they’re getting out occasionally.

– Elizabeth Olson

Paulina Borsook’s article about engineers in Silicon Valley glossed over the important issue of growing up as a “geek.” The term “geek” currently has some positive connotations. But at the time when today’s engineers went to high school, the term was purely derogatory.

Being a geek in high school often meant being excluded, not getting invited to parties and being made fun of. Every day it was made crystal clear that dating was a game that was never going to get you anywhere. This delivers two blows to a person. First, you are convinced that you’re undesirable. Second, even if you decide you are desirable, you have missed several critical years in developing the social skills required for dating.

Engineers are still held as something of an oddity. Borsook’s article is evidence of this. She is examining this group of people as if they are different and need to be explained to the rest of the “normal” world. She even goes so far as to refer to her dinner companions as “creatures” — decent creatures, but creatures nonetheless. Perhaps engineers would date more if they were accepted as normal people.

– Matthew Calef

Somerville, Mass.

As a senior (and founding) editor of Business 2.0 magazine, I can assure you that no one wearing a polo shirt has ever graced our cover.

– Eric Hellweg

An article written partially in “code” is clever for the first few paragraphs, then increasingly trying. I gave up on the second page.

– Katey Pearson

Bush gets


I just finished reading the article about the third debate and I
must write about one comment made by Alan Keyes. The quote was that Bush
doesn’t have the “depth of understanding to articulate the relationship
between this country’s moral principles and the great serious practical
issues.” Maybe that is what makes him the front-runner. I for one find it
refreshing after all these years of Clinton’s articulating on this
country’s moral principles to listen to a man who speaks from the heart and
isn’t trying to do the “Washington shuffle” with every question that comes
down the Pike.

– Sharyne A.

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