Brian Carpenter
Cambridge, Massachusetts

Hoop screams

John Powers's allegation that the widespread disaffection with the Olympic men's basketball team is driven by racism ["Jingo Bells," On, August 25–31] ignores the reality that many true basketball fans have become increasingly disenchanted with the devolving nature of American professional basketball.

For any number of reasons, learning and practicing fundamentals and learning and playing team basketball have become the exception rather than the rule in America, and that makes for ugly, bad, and ultimately losing basketball, as the 2002 World Championships and Athens Olympics have proven. The hope, for those who love the game, is that by getting beaten at the Olympics, USA Basketball and the NBA will be forced to acknowledge that they are leading American basketball in the wrong direction.

That Powers considers Tim Duncan's fundamental bril-liance "boring" suggests that he prefers the NBA's current style-over-substance modus operandi. Which is fine. But he shouldn't make the mistake of attributing improper motives to the large number of people who legitimately find fault with that approach to basketball and wish for its demise.

Jonathan Gelperin
Venice, California

One of a kind

Thanks for Lindsay Waters's "The Bonfire of the Humanities" [The Essay, September 1–7]. What stood out is how books make things new, how they give us an aesthetic experience—neither of these gifts is quantifiable nor the same for every reader. That's what makes the journey so great, and that's what people forget about books. They're an experience.

Jane Barnes

Plane truth

Re "The Bonfire of the Humanities": A brief comment on Waters's statement "What good are books?" is "What are good books?"

I recently had a close friend, a professor at Cal Tech, ask me what to read. A great deal of what he is exposed to is, in his words, "airport trash." It is the responsibility of the intellectual community to reach the global professionals of our country. The humanities may seem less important than two decades ago in academia, but those of us devoted to liberal arts need to make them relevant to our colleagues and friends whose professions require their knowledge to keep pace with jetting around the world.

Nancy Hawver
Portland, Oregon


The top photo on page 22 of the September 1–7 issue, captioned "Jeers and cheers on Seventh Avenue," should have been credited to Nicholas Goldberg/Polaris.

Nat Hentoff's "The Spinning Wheel" [Liberty Beat, September 8–14] misquoted Wendy Kaminer (as interviewed on NPR) in the epigraph. She should have been quoted as saying, "I'm very pleased that the ACLU is rescinding this agreement, but I am very dismayed that it took a front-page story in The New York Times to get the ACLU to rescind the agreement and return the money . . . "

Ta-Nehisi Coates's "The Daily Grind" [Press Clips, September 8–14] misidentified New York magazine as a monthly. It is a weekly publication.

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