Letters to the Editor

(January 5, 2004)


Regarding Phil Rockstroh's Of Meds And Mendacity

To the Editor:

Rockstroh is brilliant; I could never have imagined Colin Powell hanggliding naked and shitting on bystanders -- keep up the good work!

Jeff Richardson
Tacoma, Washington, USA - December 7, 2003


Regarding Louis Proyect's Haroldo Dilla And The Cuban Revolution

To the Editor:

Es realmente lamentable que una pagina web que reclama el calificativo de marxista abra espacio a articulos calumniosos y manipuladores como el que se refiere a mi persona. Primero tiene errores de datos que han hecho reir muchisimo a las personas medianamente conocedoras de los asuntos a que se refiere. Segundo, produce una "purga" stalinista de mi articulo, donde me pone a decir lo opuesto de lo que digo. No creen Uds que los lectores de vuestra pagina merecen conocer el articulo que se critica y que deben publicarlo? Como cubano, intelectual y socialista me honra profundanmente ser criticado de esta manera. Solo lamento que mi país y su revolucion tengan tan tristes defensores.


Haroldo Dilla Alfonso
Coordinador general de investigaciones, Programa FLACSO
Gazcue, Santo Domingo, República Dominicana - December 11, 2003


Regarding Michael Stowell's The World According To My Bicycle (January 2003)

To the Editor:

I just read Michael Stowell's rant about SUVs and would like to add a couple of comments.

First, my recent history:

My 17-year-old son and I were riding our bicycles down a straight stretch of road and were T-boned by a Mercury Topaz, a small car. Both of us survived the accident with only 5 broken bones between us. Had we been hit by an SUV the results probably would have been different for me.

The auto was turning left at an intersection and ran into our left sides as we drafted. Both bicycles were totaled in the crash. My son was hit by the left front bumper which caused a compound fracture of the left leg.

Momentum carried him clear of the car. Being hit by an SUV probably would have made no difference in the severity of his injury. The right front bumper hit the front wheel of my bicycle and I apparently flew over the front of the auto and landed on the asphalt on the far side. Had this been a slab-walled SUV with a front-end 18 inches higher I would have been like a bug on the windshield. Just a quick SPLAT instead of a short flight with a hard landing.

In summary, the SUV may be more hazardous than is pointed out in the piece.

On the other hand, my boss at work drove a station wagon for years until it finally cost more to maintain than it was worth. He replaced the wagon with an SUV -- something big enough to haul his suburban stuff around. He does not match the profile of the typical SUV buyer in the article.

Full disclosure: I don't own an SUV. I do own old Volvos and a small pickup (which I use for hauling my suburban stuff around). I rode my bicycle for errands as much as I could (100-mile ride to trade swimwear? 30 miles to get the oil filter for the car?) but counter that with a 90-mile round trip as a single-occupant vehicle to work (multiple sites, irregular hours). I did ride in van pools/car pools for 20 years.

Still practicing sophistry.

Joe Glasscock
Prosser, Washington, USA - December 13, 2003

Michael Stowell responds:
Thanks for your comments, you are absolutely right about the dangers of being on the road with SUVs. I am sorry for your misfortune and glad you both survived.

I know good-hearted people who drive SUVs, some of them probably pick up hitchhikers when so inclined. We who grew up in those years after America built all the interstate highways have developed a love for traveling and the automobile has become our icon. It is very difficult to let go of that icon, to see the machine for what it is and what it does, in realistic terms. I wonder when our society will recognize that a 'love affair' with a machine is an unnatural affection, and I wonder what occurrence will catalyze the change of perception necessary for such a broad cultural shift. Perhaps they will become unaffordable for many people.

Thanks for reading Swans.


Regarding Gilles d'Aymery's Grand Guignol

To the Editor:

beautiful and funny essay!!
I shall share the link widely.

Best wishes,

Andy Coates
Albany, New York, USA - December 29, 2003


To the Editor:

Another nice piece.......and much needed during this season of insanity and unreality.

Watching the latest pentagon press conference......following the declassifying of the Shultz memo to Rummie (circa '83) I can't say I was surprised to hear nary a mention of this document......and perhaps even I have become jaded.....it all seems so obvious at times.....so cynical. That the U.S. invented Saddam in large measure, and then helped him stay in power and looked the other way during those messy gassings.....he was still "our man" in the region.

Following this was a small clip with Negroponte......who along with Eliot Abrams, makes up a nostalgic tour back to the days of Central American slaughter and Rioss Mont (who, as I recall, was as rabid a Christian nut case as Ashcroft and Dubya). Then came a year in review summary.....well, you can imagine......statue of Saddam falling, smiling Iraqi kids, Jessica Lynch....and oh, Madonna kissing Britney ("I support my president") Spears......and then some vague mention of Wes Clark's edited testimony at the Hague.....although we DID get to hear Wes discuss his testimony.....just didn't get to actually HEAR THE TESTIMONY.......but what the hell, Wes is a general, a patriot, a lunatic........and let's not mention the spike in carcinoma clusters in Kosovo......Lord Robertson assures us it has nothing to do with DU.....and that should be good enough for any of us. It's Orange Alert time......we need air marshals on all flights......we need Arnold to save my old state......we need Dubya because the American white man is suffering from serious insecurity.......black guys get all the chicks and score all the touchdowns.....and smart ass college professors still support Marx, and hell, I just got laid off....but Dubya is my man, he visited the troops on Thanksgiving.....

Well, you can see the mood I am in. Let's hope for better in the coming year......it's just as awful here in Poland though......the government is possibly even more corrupt than Cheney and his pals.......just not as experienced.......and the fucking Pope continues to stifle culture and point the populace backwards.......but again, we shall hope for better.....and for you all at Swans, a genuine wish for a good new year.


John Steppling
Krakow, Poland - December 30, 2003


Regarding Steve Gowans's Mugging Mugabe (February 2002) and Zimbabwe on Swans

To the Editor:

It's good to hear the other side of the story about Mugabe for once, especially those of us who live with him everyday.

Masaraure Sunslay
Harare, Zimbabwe - December 29, 2003


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Published January 5, 2004
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