'Tis rather dog-in-the-mangerish of Mattel to object to feminists playing with their Barbie ("Seal of disapproval," Books, 3/2). I mean, they should allow everybody to play with Barbie in their own way (including in print). After all, that's what toys are for! But I think that Barbie-playing pre-adolescent girls still have it over Barbie-playing feminists. I contrast my golden 'Barbie on a Stick' (she's crucified on a cross of narcissism!), done by a feminist and sold to me at a Fremont street fair, with some really nicely outrageous butch-punk Barbies that I saw done by a smart little pre-adolescent girl.
Barbie's like a Marvel Comics Super-Heroine, but ruling an entirely different domain in an entirely different way. She looks more than capable of getting whatever she wants, going wherever she wants, doing whatever she wants, having whoever she wants (like Zeus), in an absolute orgy of female pre-adolescent wish-fulfillment. A toy goddess, in other words; uniquely American, continuingly contemporary (can you appreciate the irony that a toy company is responsible for her perpetration and well-being—and that they are driven by sales and profit on this—thus pandering much, much, much more to the tastes of pre-adolescent girls than any religious establishment ever would? Delicious!). And so, I feel that the feminists are justifiably outraged if Barbie's influence extends beyond that of a mere toy. No red-blooded American woman wants to have the ideals of any goddess permanently imposed (imprinted?) on her; be it Barbie, Vogue models, The Shesus, Virgin Mary, Kali/Durga, The Plain Woman, etc. And I can't blame them for having those feelings. Us men have had to stagger under the idealistic load of Jesus, YHWH, Allah, Confucious, Buddha, and all of those other male gods for centuries now; and the burden is considerable (and just as narcissistic in its own way).
We love Orville
Re: Metro Gnome, 3/2: Please take a minute out of your day to listen to the music of our own local music legend. Orville Johnson is not just "some old guy named Orville." Call any of our local blues and folk venues and you can [get] a full report on his talents and contributions to the Northwest music scene. Better yet, buy one of the many CDs that he has contributed to, then just try to play along. Take a lesson from Goofus and Gallant in Highlights magazine. Mind your manners and lay off the ageist remarks.
LANCE AND LAURIE HASLUND
Eds. note: The Gnome is well aware of ol' Orville's illustriousness; see p. 47. As for whether the Gnome's remarks make the Gnome a Goofus, we leave it to regular readers of Highlights for Children to decide.
Geeks and those unpredictable women
Bravo to Angela Gunn for her sweet article on the Alpha Geek Male in the 3/2 Weekly (Kiss my ASCII)! I recently broke off an engagement to an AGM, who complained that I was "unpredictable" and "unable to follow [his] instructions"—his words verbatim. As for the lack of women "pushed or raised to take interest in scientific or technological fields," I did not see Keith's letter, but my ex-fiance for one claimed that the females in his department (Electrical Engineering) were "undatable." He had to come sniffing around the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures to snag me. I do not believe that I am the last of the "liberal-artsiest, poetry-writingest" chicks (as Angela so aptly coined) that he is to date. The sad thing is, I deeply loved this person. But life is not good when you have to take enough yoga classes for two people because your partner does nothing to deal with stress or achieve spiritual balance in his life. I have left him to his wonderfully neat and tidy, logical relationship with his computer, and am now happily living my own messy, beautifully human life on my own terms. As for the perverse secret attraction we artsy types have for the computer geek, that's another article altogether.
All the news that's pit
In Quick & Dirty in your February 17th issue, Eric Scigliano ponders which of the Seattle daily papers will survive once they both start publishing in the morning next month, and further ponders what name the victor will emerge with after the inevitable conquest/merger. My vote will be for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer-Times, so that we all may affectionately refer to our remaining daily paper as the "Seattle PIT."
ROY D. GOODMAN
Eds. note: See p. 24 for more news on the news.
There are a couple of valid points here ("How broad is your bandwidth?" 3/2), but what it leaves out renders the overall effect more harmful than beneficial.
My cable service (Shaw Victoria) delivers 600KB/s downstream (net) using one television frequency band to the local segment. This works out to approximately 2GB/hour, which is roughly 1500GB/month. The average person who considers themselves to be a "heavy user" perhaps draws down 0.1 GB/month.
The exceptions to this rule are people who download a lot of media (MP3s, porno, illicit commercial software, etc.) and software enthusiasts who download a new 600MB distribution set for Linux every other week. How much of this traffic is running while you sit down to your morning coffee? Most of us bandwidth hogs seek refuge in the dark hours of the day.
Think of the GBs of crap which you end up collecting if you sustain this pace in the long term. Half a dozen packet packrats on the local segment with 20GB disk drives stuffed to overflowing hardly makes a dent in this monthly total.
A typical network service delivers at most 30KB/s sustained (e-mail servers, Web pages). It takes 20 concurrent connections at this speed before individual connections even begin to notice the degradation.
Here's a simple test of whether "load factor" is killing your bandwidth. Start up your typical bandwidth-intensive Monday morning coffee activity (the author must surely have had such a service in mind) and observe the pace at which it delivers the goods. Then start up a concurrent task on the same machine (to another network service in a different branch of the Internet) which is bandwidth intensive and see if you can even tell that the "demand connection" is impacted. Chances are that the first service is bandwidth-limited somewhere else along the way.
In my area I notice evening "sluggishness" for about a month prior to each local segment repartitioning. The rest of the time I'm home alone, as far as I can tell.
The Weekly's recent article on Sound Transit ("Nickeled and damned?" 3/2) troubles me. It seems strange that the Weekly, which represents some of the region's best progressive and liberal journalism, would print a reactionary, near-sighted article which sees nothing more in an incipient railway station than "a giant gaping hole on Broadway." That's how Victoria Station once looked.
Rail is a necessity, though only the left acknowledges it. To people who have lived in European or Japanese cities, to people who have studied the problem—to people willing to think outside of the American mainstream/fast lane—this has been evident for decades. The notion must even occur (as through a windshield, darkly) to the SUV'd suburbanite gridlocked on I-5. Rail is fast, efficient, and clean. It simply requires a large initial investment and sufficient communal consciousness to walk to stations, sit near other human beings, and abandon the absurdity of a car for every commuting person.
And, of course, it requires taxes. This ensures opposition from the right (witness I-695). But it should not mean opposition from the left—it should not mean opposition from long-sighted, intelligent people such as those who write and run the Weekly. Why, then, run such a captious, one-sided article—an article with only token admission of the good Sound Transit aims to accomplish and with no understanding for the difficulties inherent in realizing such an accomplishment? It is the product of that species of "left-wing intelligentsia" journalism George Orwell described as "irresponsible carping" of those with a "negative, querulous attitude [and] a complete lack at all times of any constructive suggestion" ("England Your England," 1941). We are facing real problems, and we need suggestions instead of complaining.
Certainly, there are problems with Sound Transit; certainly, these problems must be considered within the long-term context of the community, the economy, and the environment.
David Massengill's article ("Guess who's coming to supper?" 3/2) on the Very Rev. Robert Taylor's life and ministry was fascinating and encouraging: fascinating because of the glimpse it gave into the life of someone hitherto known to me only through sound bites and videotape vignettes, and encouraging in that Rev. Taylor exemplifies the best qualities of Christians irrespective of sexual orientation.
However, I wonder whether it would have been possible for Massengill to make his point in a manner less prejudicial to other religious groups, specifically orthodox Jews. At one point in the article, Massengill equates rules against homoerotic acts with rules governing 'fish consumption, beard-trimming, and tattoos,' in a context that implies that the former are as outdated as the latter. I have dozens of friends who are Orthodox Jews who live by just those ostensibly outdated rules, and while I cannot speak on their behalf, I can speak on my own when I say that I find this allegation insensitive at best and explicitly anti-Semitic at worst, which is very ironic, given that the sentence following the above quotation decries anti-Semitism!
Rev. Taylor speaks, and Massengill writes, from the standpoint of the dominant Christian culture. (This is my culture, also: I am Roman Catholic.) Consequently, their conclusions and interpretations about the nonapplicability of Levitical proscriptions are rather clearly foregone, therefore prejudicial. Perhaps a more tolerant way of framing the article would have been to make it clear that this judgement is arrived at strictly from a Christian perspective, and that others of non-Christian persuasions might arrive at other conclusions, not as a matter of homophobic prejudice but as a matter of (non-Christian) religious principle.
The alternative is to accept the primacy of Christianity, which would put the Seattle Weekly squarely in the company of Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Bob Jones III, and others whose company I believe you would not welcome given your past editorial stance on related issues.
JAMES R. COWLES
New radical color
Just got through reading your article "New Radical Seattle" (2/24). Just wanted to make a correction. Erica Kay, John Fox, and I have all participated in antioppression/antiracist trainings dating back to the late '80s. It's unfortunate though that it is true that many white activists have never participated in any such trainings, even though they have been offered in the Seattle area for as long as I can remember. Just as disappointing is the fact that so many white activists play the role of the white missionary—they go into communities of color with their own agenda and then wonder why everyone doesn't join them in their issue. Because people of color are the recipient of society's ever-present institutional racism, their day-to-day struggles to exist in this police state often supersede an agenda coincident to the white activists who have comparatively cushy lives. It is not because people of color are concerned less, are apolitical, or need to be educated; people of color know first-hand the problems with this country and our society far better in my opinion than most whites. It is without a doubt that it is the whites who need to be educated.
If we are to work with communities of color we must go to them not expecting them to jump on our bandwagon, but to see how we can join with them in their struggles.
Most importantly we must all realize that racism, sexism, ageism, etc., are inherent in all of us and we must all make a commitment to work on this every day, every minute. It's not necessarily how many workshops that we have participated in, but how often we think of the topic of racism as individuals and as groups,how we are dealing with it, and what we are doing to negate it.
Morrison door diligence
Since my office is located in the building which houses the Morrison Hotel, I read your article ("Hotel of horrors," 2/17) with keen interest. No knowledgeable person would deny that unsavory activities occur constantly in the building, or that Seattle Housing Authority lacks the specialized expertise to satisfactorily manage housing for the Morrison's current population. If the article's author, Nina Shapiro saw the first floor door to the Morrison propped open, I will not contradict her, but I do take issue with her report that the second floor door between the Downtown Emergency Service Center and the Morrison is frequently left propped open. In case of a fire or other emergency, it would be impossible to safely and quickly evacuate over 200 people from the shelter if this door were locked from the inside. My office is located 20 paces from this door. I have colleagues working on the other side, so I walk past or through this door over 100 times each week, and I have never seen it propped open. DESC monitors both sides of the door constantly via closed circuit television. The door is equipped with an electronic keypad. If the door is opened without a secret code being entered, an ear-splitting siren is immediately activated. Disabled clients who must use the elevator are admitted by staff individually. Any unauthorized person using this door is subject to the same penalty as someone who violently assaults a staff member or client.
DESC staff work diligently and compassionately with people that other agencies will not or cannot serve. Any implication that DESC is not acting aggressively to enhance the safety and security of the building is misleading.
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