I am writing in response to Rita Ferrandino's article "Fueling Fears" [December 18-24], about the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant and how its resources could be turned into catastrophic weapons. While I applaud Ferrandino's thoroughness, her detailed description of the ease with which one could indeed terrorize that particular area was plain dumb. The need for sensationalized storytelling does not outweigh prudence and common sense. The article in effect gives a potential lunatic the ways and means to take life on a large scale.
There are better ways to let the public know that Indian Point is a dangerous area without telling them how one could inflict collateral damage. I'm not paranoid, but I'm not going to give someone a schematic, either. We live in a time in which we must be careful about what we print.
Lower East Side
Rita Ferrandino replies: There is a wealth of public information available on the subject of security and danger at Indian Point. It is also public knowledge that blueprints and other information about nuclear power plants were found in the caves of Afghanistan during the early, rigorous manhunt of Osama bin Laden. I didn't write this story from a safe distance. I live in the "peak fatality zone" of Indian Point. Many people in Westchester who live in such proximity to the plant are well aware of these safety risks, and it is crucial that more people become educated about the reality of this hazard and demand smarter defense. Part of being aware of the threat of terrorism is facing reality, and the reality is that people are out there looking for ways to harm us. They will not overlook the potential destruction that can be caused by attacking a nuclear power plant, and even the most cursory research in this area reveals the vulnerability of storage pools. With that said, I was still extremely cautious about the information revealed in the story.
Thanks for the great story on Barney Rosset and Samuel Beckett and the PEN event [Cynthia Cotts, "Waiting for the Invitation," December 4, villagevoice.com]. As a PEN member, I am thrilled that the event took place. I do wish, though, that Barney had been included in the discussion. A few years back, I had him on a panel that I chaired at the Annenberg School for Communication, and he was terrific. He livened up the whole thing, warning about the dangers of having a publishing industry without independents who would be willing to publish an author like Beckett. He saw Grove Press (under his leadership) as a company dedicated to putting out daring and experimental works.
Barney was also Beckett's theatrical agent, working closely with the late Alan Schneider, who directed Waiting for Godot. One thing is for sure: If Barney had been on the panel, sparks would have flown. What he and Beckett shared was a powerful sense of the absurd. I think Beckett would have noticed the absence of Barney on the panel; in a sense, that absence is a more powerful statement than his presence would have been.
Bridgehampton, New York
Sylvana Foa's "Battle of the Wombs" [December 11-17], on the varying Israeli and Palestinian birth rates, was brilliant. Common sense is so rare in that part of the world that, as she is an Israeli, it is dazzling that she sees the virtues of a Palestinian state. An extremely rare point of view!
The question now is, will the current Israeli leadership take her point? Or will it continue its futile, never-ending plan to supplant all Palestinians by establishing new Israeli outposts, semi-disguised as towns?
Time will tell. Meanwhile the two sides presumably will continue to kill one another, including their children, thereby damaging everyone and all hopes for a peaceful future in the Promised Land.
Catfight, Round Two
Amy Farley criticizes Leora Tanenbaum's use of anecdotal evidence and personal opinion to back up her conclusions in her book Catfight: Women and Competition ["Cat Power," December 4-10], yet when Harvard's gender-issues author and feminist high priestess Carol Gilligan does the same in her books, it's considered sound research. Like Gilligan, Tanenbaum assumes that just because she has been published (though not, like Gilligan, in leading psychological journals), her subjective, non-scientific research must be true. In Gilligan's case it also helps to have legions of man-hating readers who agree with her that men are morally inferior to women. Both Tanenbaum and Gilligan should stick to traditional research methods to avoid making what Farley calls "an erratic read."
Cameron T. Bachmeier
Grand Forks, North Dakota
Dance Dance Dance
For those of us who have read the Voice since the 1960s, when we trekked over to your teensy offices in Sheridan Square to place our concert ads, it was refreshing indeed to read Anya Kamenetz's article on contact improvisation ["On Balance," Mind Body Spirit, December 4-10].
The Voice has played a groundbreaking role covering dance since the 1960swould Judson have become Judson, or modern dance postmodern dance without Jill Johnston's inscrutably brilliant weekly columns? For more than three decades, award-winning Deborah Jowitt has contributed enthusiastically insightful commentary about any kind of dance imaginable.
Other types of dance writing are needed, toomore survey articles, crossover commentary, historical overviews. How about a polemic every five years? Or guest contributors like Baudrillard, Avital Ronell, or Lawrence Rickels for theoretical sirloin? Please restore the Voice once again to its frontline, cutting-edge dance-world preeminence!
Thanks for presenting an honest and informative article about contact improvisation. Its unique position in the dance community gives it a pretty low profile in the rest of the world, so it needs all the publicity it can get. I am a contact improv teacher from NYC, and, having recently moved back from the San Francisco area, I am pretty disappointed by the scene here. I think New York's competitive and goal-oriented tendencies make C.I. a less immediately attractive alternative to technique classes, for example.
I am trying to start a new class and also possibly a new jam and I hope that the article will help to raise interest in this dance form. Please continue to write about C.I. and about dance in general.
To Harry Allen:
Your review of the Jurassic 5 album ["Today's Mathematics," December 4-10] highlighted what is lacking in many music piecesinsight, genre knowledge, and flair. Since I love hip-hop with the same zeal you espouse, I appreciated the elaborate review. And if anyone tells you that it was too long, screw 'em. Short reviews don't convey the breadth of the chosen album, since many albums are less shallow than the drivel pouring out of radio stations.
I applaud the Voice for giving space to musicians who are otherwise ignored by mainstream media. In a market saturated with clones, it's refreshing to know that the vestiges of cultural expression (i.e., hip-hop) are given respect by your publication.
Re "Speculation Gone Wilding," [December 11-17]:
Dasun Allah is right about everything, but left out a potent refutation to the false argument that the 1989 confessions deserve greater weight than Matias Reyes's recent confession: If the confessions made by the now exonerated defendants were really so reliable, why did none of them identify Reyes, the only person whose DNA was found on or in the victim?
Los Angeles, California
Re Amanda Nowinski's "This Old House" [December 11-17]:
I was at Club Shelter a few weeks ago attending a birthday party for Robbi Walcott, the most visible and dedicated promoter of deep house. This was the best party I attended this year! Everyone there had something in common: the total appreciation of deep house in all its forms, shapes, and colors. The audience was made up of true New Yorkers, hip in the real sense of the word: straight, bi, gay; black, brown, red, yellow; lower, middle, and upper class; white collar, blue collar, and no collar; college grads next to high school dropouts.
Thank you, Village Voice, for finally recognizing the true home of deep house, Club Shelter.
Then You See . . . The Ring
Re "Bigger Is Not Better" [December 11-17]:
Please let Mr. Abramson know that a doctoral degree in sports science allows the recipient to deal with health science fields such as kinesiology (movement of the body) and physiology (study of cellular functions) with complete expertise. The fact that heavyweight boxer Wladimir Klitschko was able to acquire a doctoral degree while still competing as an elite athlete is something that any imbecile should be able to appreciate.
In the case of Jameel McCline, the fact that he sleeps in an oxygen tent, does yoga, and watches what he eats shows that he is an athlete who's serious about being the best that he can be. This was evident when he fought GOOFi earlier this year. He displayed an incredible work rate from Round 1 through 10. I doubt Abramson could last a round punching the heavy bag at the same rate.
Black and Proud
Just wanted to let you know that Uni Watch is by far my favorite column in the Voice. As a lifelong sports fan with, some might say, a weird ability to notice the smallest differences in sports unis and logos year after year, I'm glad that my obsession gets satisfiedI wish the Watch were in each week's issue!
Anyway, I did want to correct one thing. In a recent column ["Mono Afflicts NFL," November 6-12] you mentioned that wearing white at home was a somewhat new practice in the NFL, and then named some teams that have actually worn white at home for years now. I recall you noted the 'Skins, Cowboys, and Dolphins.
But I'm a Raider fan, and I'm happy whenever we play one of these teams on the road, since it means we can wear our home black. The more teams wearing white at home, the better! Keep up the good work . . .
Paul Lukas replies: Thanks for the kind words about Uni Watch, and for the Raiders remindermuch appreciated.
Erik Baard doesn't give much insight into anything fundamental about what Randell Mills and BlackLight Labs are doing with plasma energy ["Eureka?," December 11, villagevoice.com]. From what I know of chemistry and physics, plasma is nothing new, and has been discussed for a long time as a rocket propellant. Basically you strip away the electrons around nuclei, rendering them positively charged, then apply a magnetic field that causes them to accelerate. The reaction to the action is the ship's propulsion.
An atom in plasma will be smaller, because (in the case of hydrogen) it's just the nucleus. The various people in the article, when quoted, don't remark in any direct way about what's revolutionary, or even very different, about the hydrino theory, which makes me wonder what scientists really think of it. I finished the article knowing nothing more than when I started.
Bradley D. Tice
Erik Baard replies: The article never states that plasmas are novel, but rather that some regard the plasmas produced by BlackLight Power Inc. to be "unusually energetic" considering the power input used to generate them. I've written about the company's technological claims in some depth elsewhere, but the Voice isn't a science publication, and this article emphasized the continuing saga of Randell Mills. To serve readers who seek a greater depth of understanding, we hyperlinked primary source materials throughout the article, which was published exclusively online. I'm surprised Mr. Tice apparently didn't click those links.
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