I think I can do one better than the letter writer ("No-cell zone" Letters, July 21) who doesn't own a cell phone. I haven't owned or used a computer, laptop or "smart phone" since the AOL days and find my life immensely enriched without the things. I'm privileged to talk to people in person.
When I want directions to a good pizza place, I pull over and ask somebody. If I want to know the population of Pakistan, I visit the library and ask the research librarian, and when I need a motorcycle part, I use the phone book. This newspaper provides movie listings and smart reviews, as well as reasons why the Giants can't score runs. All that and no spam, unless it's from a can.
I do confess though, my lovely girlfriend and dutiful son send things like this letter through the Internet for me when a letter by post isn't accepted.
The 2014 Tour de France is over. Vincenzo Nibali, an Italian, won easily. Along the way, he won four stages. I hope he's clean. Cycling can't stand, and doesn't need, another doping scandal. Here is the New York Times report on the Tour.
The postmodern attempt to disenfranchise the individual artist has been characteristic of academic writing and teaching for decades. Mr. Shenk joins this crowd.
“But the lone genius is a myth that has outlived its usefulness,” we read with amusement. Says who? Didn’t Mr. Shenk write his article himself? Or did he have help? Of course, there was the New York Times editor.
Hemingway and Fitzgerald had a great editor, but Maxwell Perkins didn’t write their books. Sure Cézanne and Pissarro learned from each other and from many, many predecessors. Artists always have. This doesn’t change the fact that the artist is the one who makes the work, and, yes, the one who is influenced. To emphasize otherwise not only diminishes the individuality of human beings, artists in particular, but also foists either a politically underpinned communality or a New Age-y codependency onto them, or both.
Most artists are dedicated, in service to their art, to resisting such undermining forces and cultivating their own whole beings, which may or may not thrive on collaboration.
DANA GORDON New York, July 20, 2014
The writer is a painter and an author.
Note from KBJ: We're seeing the fruit of John Rawls's liberal egalitarianism, which has filtered down from academia to the arts and professions (including practical politics). Rawls (1921-2002) famously excluded desert from his theory of justice, on the ground that nobody really deserves anything. Each of us has what he or she has (including character, initiative, and talent) by accident. Rawls reasoned that, if nobody really deserves anything (including talents), then all good things belong equally to everyone (the so-called talent pool), and if all good things belong equally to everyone, then people collectively can decide how the goods (such as income and wealth) ought to be distributed. The letter writer is standing up to this insidious idea (as we all should).
Re “End Partisan Primaries, Save America” (Op-Ed, July 22), by Senator Charles E. Schumer, suggesting a “top two” primary in which all voters, regardless of party, participate, and the top two vote-getters enter a runoff:
At first pass, Mr. Schumer’s “open primary” proposal sounds like a great idea, a straightforward way to promote bipartisanship and functional government, and to prevent extremism and gridlock. On further analysis, however, it is not the panacea that he describes.
Extremism in modern American politics is basically a one-way street: The right has moved dramatically rightward; the left hasn’t moved much. It is exacerbated by a lot of factors besides primaries (many of which he alludes to), most notably a broken and corrupt campaign finance system, an anti-democratic (lowercase “d”) redistricting process, and a consolidated, homogeneous media landscape.
Rather than keeping fringe characters out of office, an open primary would allow a pair of well-funded zealots to lock up a “top two” primary by driving turnout of a few passionate voters in what are typically pretty apathetic primary environments, especially in a gerrymandered district.
I’m not saying that Mr. Schumer’s idea is a bad one; in fact, on paper it’s a very good one. But in the absence of other necessary (arguably more necessary) reforms, it probably won’t have the intended result, and might even backfire.
RICHARD JAY NUSSBAUM New York, July 22, 2014
Note from KBJ: "The left hasn't moved much"? That's because it's already on the lunatic fringe.
Seven-Inning Felix (Hernandez) did it again: he pitched only seven innings. The poor little boy got tired after throwing 102 pitches. Talk about inefficient! Instead of staying in the game like a man, he ran off to the shower, careless of what happened to his team. You guessed it: his team lost, 2-1. This is the story of Seven-Inning Felix. Game after game, year after year, he leaves early. More often than not, his team loses. This is Seven-Inning Felix's 10th season. He has never won 20 games. He's on pace to win 16.6 games this year. He has never appeared in the playoffs. He's on pace to miss the playoffs this year. Apologies by David Fryman and Ray Stahl in 10, 9, 8, . . .
I own one album (There Were Signs ) by Bill Gable. I love it. "High Trapeze" is one of my favorite songs of all time. This afternoon, Bill posted a comment on my blog! I'm flattered. He directed my attention to newly discovered demo versions of the album's songs. Here they are.
The state of Israel has accomplished what no Roman Empire, no Nazi persecution, no bigot has ever been able to do. It has made me ashamed to be a Jew. We are witnessing another massacre of the innocents. Anybody who cannot respond to the disproportionate response, to the suffering of the Palestinian people, to the targeting of schools, water plants, mosques and hospitals is truly a lost soul. And it grieves me beyond measure that my government is Israel's enabler.
As another Jew, killed by our mentor the Roman Empire, once asked: "Having eyes, do you not see?"
Michael Beer, Richmond
Note from KBJ: I have a feeling that Michael Beer would be ashamed to be a Jew even if there were no state of Israel. It's called self-loathing.