Letters to the Editor

Week of Wednesday, May 3, 2006

Code Violation

Oh, come on. Does this paper look like the work of people who fly business class?:Let's be honest: The Da Vinci Code is fervent trash. Dan Brown has made millions with his ramshackle conspiracy tale of pervert priests and masturbating knights. At this point, he could buy the Mona Lisa and decode it in between novels.

So what's missing? Intellectual buttressing, apparently, as Ms. Zuercher seems to argue in her article, "The Condescension Club" [April 26]. The case I believe she was making went something like this: People who read Great Lit should be wary of their exclusivity as it might alienate them from their fellow man. Unfortunately, this sort of polite populism is often espoused by people who should know better. Some mega book is published, millions read it, the media bleeds the phenomenon to death, and those who don't participate in the mass-cult are looked upon as misanthropic sociopaths.

This analysis is mistaken. Those of us who read Great Lit do so because we enjoy the art, voice, style, and (if the writer is any good) humor of a great book. The Da Vinci Code provides none of these things.

Ms. Zuercher should read books because they bring her intellectual pleasure, not because they help her make friends in business class.

Geoffery Berney
San Francisco

Sniping Matt Smith

Corporate neglect, journalists on the take, and baby daddies:Let's see ... the last two "scoops" that crusading journalist Matt Smith has produced concern a nominal ethical violation by a New York Times writer (extended to two issues for maximum self-righteous effect!) ["The Free Press," March 15; "Bogus Pogue," April 5]; an ethical violation that, worst-case scenario, the writer gained no personal advantage from other than not having to claim it on their expense account, and the tragic case of Kathy Brown ["Bank of Indifference," April 26], abused by her bank for her ill-advised decision to let her caretaker use her ATM card and by the police for applying the laws as they exist to the extent of their resources. Although acknowledging to myself that Smith was correct in his analysis of the ethical violation, I also thought that it was something of a tempest in a teapot given that the Pogue had obtained no personal advantage.

The story concerning Kathy Brown, however, slanted to maximum effect on behalf of the victim, is ludicrous. Whether the bank "forced" the ATM card on Ms. Brown or not, it is clear that at some point she had decided it could be useful for her to have her caretaker run errands with it. No one made her give her caretaker her card and code, and her caretaker did not steal them surreptitiously (although the caretaker used them to surreptitiously steal!). To thereupon blame the bank for not giving Ms. Brown her money back and to present this as crusading journalism is self-serving and has all the journalistic quality of Maury Povich's paternity tests.

Don Brownell
Oakland

Matt Smith responds: Regarding the contention that Pogue received "no personal advantage," Pogue went to Drivesavers to service his personal computer after his hard drive crashed and the company waived its $2,000 service fee. The New York Times, CBS, and NPR each stated this transaction violated policies prohibiting journalists from accepting items of significant personal benefit from a source.

Unconscientious Objection

And you make statements we can only attribute to your being a credulous Fox News fan:Bill Gallo ["All Gave Some," April 4] is an idiot! NO ONE WAS KILLED OR INJURED at Abu Ghraib. Well, not since Saddam was removed from power. You make stupid statements I can only attribute to your being a left-wing liberal jack-monkey. What have you ever done in your miserable life to earn your right to put down our country and servicemen and women. My guess is nothing!

Chuck TK
Maumee, OH

Lost in Translation

Emo makes us want to barf, too:Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and I'll do my best to respect said opinion no matter how much I disagree. Dir en grey [Reviews, March 5] classified as "hip hop" and "rock?" Now that is something I never thought I'd see. Dir en grey should be classified as "metal" and "rock." And emo?! Not to sound extremely immature, even though it will make me sound so, but that made me want to go and throw up. Dir en grey are as far from emo as the Backstreet Boys are from rock. Yes, Kyo has cut himself on stage. But from what I've heard from emo bands, they're on total opposite sides of the spectrum. Also, you probably read some of the English translations of the lyrics — one will never fully be able to appreciate them, because it is impossible to truly translate from Japanese to English, as they have words we don't and vice versa. In Japan, and by many who speak the Japanese language, Kyo is considered a poetic genius. Admittedly, Kyo's English is unintelligible. Also, he's from the Kansai area, which explains his Japanese. Kansai dialect is shortened, with more slang, and is often used in Yakuza films. Also, there are things one is not meant to understand, but rather to feel. Dir en grey, to me, is far better than any American band I've heard (they all sound alike now; American music has gone down the drain); their talent, and their passion, is what will make them successful.

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