THE ANSWER IS . . . 42

Re Jessica Winter's "Are You a Koan Head?" [Education Supplement, April 16-22]:

I have never personally encountered the sort of logic-puzzle interview that you describe in your article.

However, I hope that if I ever do get an interviewer who rudely demands to know how many elevators there are in Manhattan, or how many licks to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop—or how many roads a man must walk down before you can call him a man—that I have enough self-respect to get up and walk out of the room!

Jonathan R. Zuckerman
Scarsdale, New York


Thanks for Dennis Lim's article on the Riemann Hypothesis ["Satisfying a Zeta Jones," Education Supplement].

In my opinion Goldbach's Twin Primes and Riemann's Hypothesis are not analytical propositions but statistical situations disguised as mathematical conjectures. They belong to the realm of probability calculus.

Because of this, they never will be proved, notwithstanding the millions of dollars in reward money.

Luis Rodriguez Torres
Milwaukee, Wisconsin


Re Anya Kamenetz's "Let There Be Light" [Education Supplement]:

I take exception to the statement that "many scientists" are committed atheists. Granted, I have not seen polls or surveys done on this topic, but I have a hard time believing that the percentage of atheists among scientists is anything but marginally greater than it is in the general population. As a physics student, and the son of a 36-year NASA employee, I have known too many religious scientists (of varying religions, of varying levels of practice) to believe otherwise.

Suggesting that "many scientists" are atheists only spreads the notion that science and religion are not just separate, but conflicting fields of knowledge. There is no reason why they can not coexist and interact like numerous other fields of human knowledge. Furthering the notion that they are conflicting only locks in place this culture's fear of the sciences. That fear is yet another thing adding to the biggest long-term problem of American society—the lack of (and even disdain for) critical, analytical thinking in our schools and in the culture at large.

Lawrence Daniel Caswell
Cleveland, Ohio


In his review of the new White Stripes album ["Mr. and Mrs. Used to Be," April 16-22], Chuck Eddy writes, "Meg, as wonderful a person as she seems to be, is an entirely replaceable drummer—musically, at least, if not conceptually."

Bullshit! Meg is Crazy Horse!

Jack White will eventually make records without Meg White and those records won't be half as cool.

Mark my words! Screw 16th notes!

David McMullin


Re Jerry Saltz's "Architectural Follies" [April 16-22]:

After enjoying Jerry Saltz's reviews for years on the subway, I'm finally thanking him profusely on the Net for making my morning a little brighter. Thank you for tossing the Diller + Scofidio show into the dumpster.

It is a constant annoyance when people who design suddenly get the idea they can make art after shoving a mouse around for a while without actually making anything. Saltz nails their inexperience and pretentiousness to the wall.

In the New York Times article on these two yahoos, they are "daunted by the gritty task of sawing through Sheetrock, plywood and studs." Here's an idea, d + s. Use a Sawzall, and saw up your own show by yourself real quick as penance for wasting our space.

Chuck Webster
Binghamton, New York


Re Richard Goldstein's "War Horny" [April 16-22]:

This excellent story makes a good point. I've been viewing this war as one big orgy of death and destruction with those missiles being as the ultimate phallic symbols. And sadly with all of the embedded media, we've become voyeurs to the madness. It's all about lust all the way around.

Angela Toomer
Orange, New Jersey


Re Chisun Lee's "Dollar Dissent" [April 2-8]:

Lee applauds the idea of refusing to pay taxes as a way to stop the war in Iraq. Doesn't she realize that if enough people did that and it worked, then others would follow and tax-resist their own pet peeves—such as welfare payments to the shiftless, undeserving poor, or for mass transportation, or for the environment?

David I. Caplan
Delray Beach, Florida


Re "The Unquiet American" by Kareem Fahim [March 26-April 1]:

Bravo! Another sharp, well-observed story by Kareem Fahim. We are lucky he is there, close to the fighting. It is fascinating to get the opinions of ordinary taxi drivers and housewives. We overseas Americans value the counterbalance to Fox and the rest.

Dale and David Egee
Lodève, France


Re "Nigella Lawson" [Short List, April 23-29]:

Hans De Krap has gone too far this time. With his usual, seemingly winning prose, De Krap asks his trusting readers to stomach Nigella Lawson and her dumbed-down Dining In column, which he hails as "one of the few things that must be read every week." De Krap and his myriad fellow foodies who have been too easily seduced by the sight of this saucy strumpet have neglected to ask, Does she have a precursor?

She does, indeed she does. In point of fact, there might have been no Nigella at all had we not loved, some decades ago, a certain initial girl. Nigella's "bodacious, carb-fortified, fertility goddess arms"—to say nothing of the cloying treats they loft before the camera—are merely lustless limbs when compared with the stooped shoulders of Julia Child, hunched over a hot plate of coq au vin. Nigella is but a simpleton seraph to Julia's siren; a Kinbote to her Shade; a Nicky to her Paris.

Walter Faure
Cobble Hill

Hans De Krap replies: My "winning prose" is patball to Faure's great game.


Yours is one of the very few publications I've seen that allow responses to letters to the editor. I think this practice is really lame.

Jane Liddell
Boston, Massachusetts

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