Reader Mail

Retiring Sorts

In the Grutter with Sandra Day O'Connor. Greg Barnard rocks back. Plus more.

6.27.03

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DEEPLY UNSETTLING
Re: Tracy Robinson's Settled Law:

The author points out that the four dissenting justices in the Grutter case attacked the concept of "diversity" for its apparent phoniness. It can be attacked on other grounds as well: if "diversity" is a compelling interest, who actually benefits from it?

It can't benefit the members of the narrow set of minorities at the expense of non-minorities whose academic records are superior. The Supreme Court has just confirmed the illegality of such practices.

Presumably, we are to believe that white and Asian law school students are the ones who benefit from the inclusion of members of a narrow set of minorities. Aren't, then, the people chosen to achieve the arbitrarily defined level of diversity no more than teaching aids and props for the whites and Asians? Don't the white and Asian students already have advantages over minority students? What happens if selected minority students drop out or flunk out at greater rates than the non-minority students? Is there then a compelling interest to retain them as students, regardless of grade, so that diversity can be maintained throughout the three years of law school? Or does diversity count only in the first semester?

My guess is that it counts only in the first semester and is therefore mainly a benefit to the self-images of the law school faculties. Just a little more self-anointing at the expense of the health of the American culture. Just a little more anti-Americanism, as Shelby Steele notes in today's WSJ.
-- Pat Birmingham
Hilton Head Island, SC

Settled law? I suppose now that this issue has been "settled" that we'll no longer see claims of ... shall we say "racial profiling"?
-- Tom
Princeton, NJ

SANDRA RETIREMENT DAY O'CONNOR
Re: George Neumayr's O'Connor's Great Con:

Sandra Day O'Connor has now proven herself to be the biggest nitwit the Supreme Court has seen in the last half-century. She issues an opinion which she admits is contrary to the Fourteenth Amendment and which she invites to be reversed at some point in the future. She cannot retire soon enough. Good riddance.
-- David Heinekamp
Indianapolis, IN

DAILY PROVIDER
Re: The Washington Prowler's Golden Hillary:

Hillary is the single best weapon the Republicans have to ensure their majority status in both houses of Congress. I hope she runs for Daschle's position of minority leader which will truly relegate the Democratic Party to the fringes of American politics. The Democrats chose to hang their fortunes on the Clintons and in return received the kiss of irrelevance (check out the nine candidates running for president)...
-- Cari Gravellinini
Cambridge, MA

NOW HEAR THIS
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.'s Dry Socks:

Although I shudder to correct R. Emmett Tyrrell, his statement "Here, here for a coherent plan." Should use "Hear, hear" instead. As he was in London while writing this, one would think he'd check out the famous shouts in Parliament.

"hear, hear: An expression used to express approval, as in Whenever the senator spoke, he was greeted with cries of 'Hear! hear!' This expression was originally. Hear him! hear him! and used to call attention to a speaker's words. It gradually came to be used simply as a cheer. [Late 1600s]"
-- Bob Johnson
Bedford, TX

ROCK OF AGES
Re: A. Simmons' letter in Reader Mail's Mission Impossible:

If I may:

I'm amazed at A. Simmons' psychic ability to completely define someone from a throw away sentence about whether or not Nirvana will be played in 2028 on the generic Oldies Rock stations. The amazement is that he wasn't even close.

I don't know what he thinks "relatively old" is but I can assure you I don't own any cardigan sweaters.

I appreciated his passion on the issue but I would caution him on getting so bent out of shape that he starts making rash observations. My mother said the same thing to me about my Led Zeppelin and Ted Nugent albums. Oh, she really hated Kiss.

And I don't put much weight on his arguments about the pop culture when he says kids are still wearing baggie pants. Kids are still wearing Polo shirts and khaki Dockers with penny loafers in college, so what?

As to his statement, "that stylistic trends shift with the passage of time, not based on their perceived quality" and that "what constitutes a "golden oldie" now will no longer be recognized as such by as substantial a segment of the general populace in twenty-five years", I totally disagree. Explain why Elvis and John Lennon are the #1 and #2 best selling dead artists still today? Since their stylistic trends shifted decades ago all that is left is the quality of their music. And given the millions of dollars in sales that must be more than a perception. Golden oldies is a term that today stretches from Doo-Wap '50s groups to 1970s Elton John (I have all of his stuff before 1980) and even moves into some '80s tunes.

But I'll give Mr. Simmons the benefit of the doubt and keep my "Smells Like Teen Spirit" CD (which is next to my AC/DC collection) for years to come. But instead of meeting at a Love concert circa 1966 (a year that found me mostly sitting in my pajamas watching cartoons) I'd rather plan a meeting 25 years from now.

We can sit and troll the radio dial for Nirvana songs. But given the changes in technology I will use my psychic ability and predict Oldies Rock stations won't even exist. With increased broadband there will be easily available music based on the user's preferences on many devices. And I'm 100% sure Mr. Simmons will bookmark the 24/7 Nirvana website and even possibly own it.
-- Greg Barnard
Franklin, TN

Seldom have I read something so meaningless, yet so full of clues about the writer's mental state. Brings to mind Virginia Woolf's novel Mrs. Dalloway written just before Virginia's third -- and successful -- suicide attempt.

First, he exposes his propensity to use ten-dollar words to disguise his two-cent logic. "You are regrettably unaware of some key components of the pop culture dialectic, and I have no choice but to personally educate you on the most essential issues at hand." Yes, he has a choice. Keep his opinions to himself. And "dialectic" means "The art or practice of arriving at the truth by the exchange of logical arguments."

Ahem! "Logical arguments"? None that I can find. For example, to prove that what he espouses is worthwhile, he shows us a significant portion of the pop-music buying public:

"... sixth-graders still stuff the baggy side-pockets of cut-off shorts with change..." Well, they have an excuse. They are still relatively young, and hopefully they will grow out of baggy cut-offs and pop-music.

Then he goes on to share with us a high moment in his recent life: "...only last week, three of my coolest old college buddies and I rented a cheap motel room, plowed through several large jugs of Rebel Yell bourbon, and listened, again and again, to "Aneurysm", an agonizing, beautifully cathartic Nirvana ditty, whilst jumping up and down atop the rickety bed-frames, splashing our drinks about, nearly sobbing, howling the lyrics..." Etc., ad nauseam. You get the point. "Cool" means whatever today's younger generation thinks it means, "cheap motel room" because his parents (he probably still lives at home) wouldn't permit such a bacchanal, "jumping up and down" on the beds indicating that his development is still in the pre-teens or earlier, and "splashing our drinks about" which at the very least shows a profound disregard for others' property. And his use of the British term "whilst" suggests that he's either being "profound" or hasn't the background to appreciate real music.

"My main point is that you are probably relatively old,..." Yes, and you are probably relatively young.

"...you can keep your Benny Goodman and I can keep my drug-addled late 1990's four-chord dissonance..." As long as he doesn't have to keep the dissonance turned down? "Dissonance" by the way means "Music. A combination of tones contextually considered to suggest unrelieved tension and require resolution" and I and most other "mature" aka "old" people want their tension relieved and their music to resolve. If Mr. Simmons wants his tension unrelieved, I suggest he lock himself in a room and listen to non-stop Lawrence Welk polkas!

"...the splendid speaker system in my brand-new ultra-hot mid-life-crisis-machine sports-car twenty-five years from now." Ah! Here we have it. Twenty-five years to his "mid-life-crisis"? So he's about twenty years old now? Figures. Unless he gains an enormous amount of maturity in those twenty-five years, I predict that the only "brand-new ultra-hot sports-car" he will be able to afford will be a clapped-out Toyota with a "splendid" boom-box.

And what he and others like him, including Rap and Hip-Hop addicts, will face after twenty-five years of listening to "dissonance" at high decibels is deafness. Which means they will really have to turn their garbage up high. Sigh...

To give Mr. Simmons his due, Nirvana is one of the exceptions which prove the rule about the transient nature of pop music "artists." But then, "Even a blind pig can sometimes find an acorn."
-- Bob Johnson (Proficient on the violin, classical guitar, jazz and Western music string base [the real stand-up bass], theater organ, banjo, ukulele, and mandolin)
Bedford, TX

MAN'S SEARCH FOR MEANING
Re: Steve's letter in Reader Mail's Mission Impossible:

After crying for an hour or so about Steve from Dallas's search for complexity on TV, I wanted to voice my complaint (following Steve's civilized and probably complex argument) that Fox's hiring of Alan Colmes, Greta Van Susteren and Clintonista Jerry Rivers puts it pretty far away from the right and it is obvious to the deep, complex and civilized minds that Fox is just trying to out Al Gore Al Gore. Steve could find the desired complexity and proper amount of anti-Americanism in North Korea or if he could handle the complete loss of freedom of thought, an American university campus. There he finally would not be exposed to any ideas he didn't approve.
-- Clif Briner

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