The simple life
I can relate to Bill Lueders' perspective that texting, Twitter and the blogosphere have drastically changed the way people communicate ("Thoreau Wouldn't Be A-Tweeting," 4/16/10). I share his and Thoreau's ideal of a simpler, slower and more conscientious life, and I lament the loss of good old-fashioned books, newspapers, letters on paper and wordless quietude.
But I want Lueders to be more specific about whose culture he means when he says "technology is impoverishing our culture." People in the generations that are tweeting and texting nonstop make and distribute zines, deliver spoken-word performances that would knock the wool socks off Thoreau's feet, and share their own music, poetry, hip-hop, memoir, fiction and art through do-it-yourself media that largely circumvent corporate interests.
This younger generation is producing an astonishingly rich culture of critical and powerful expression. As a middle-aged fuddy-duddy, I owe much to their vision and their art, and I want to see this as part of our culture. I'd also think those of us who prefer slower media have something unique to offer to this conversation.
Bill Lueders' column contrasting Henry David Thoreau's time with ours made me recall one of this thinker's memorable insights: It's quicker to walk from one place to another than go by train.
Of course, Thoreau was factoring in the number of working hours required to earn the fare, but his logic reveals something critical about his era. Free from the modern plague of constant communication and its relentless focus on the question of "what," a person was more apt to ask himself the question of "why."
Accordingly, one was more likely to view his labor as a hypothetical imperative: Only in light of my choice to go to this place by train does this labor [to earn train fare] become necessary.
John Baird, Middleton
Lueders hit the refresh button on the head! Constant, instant communication leaves us with nothing but yammering. It's all immediate and without thought. It's almost never profound, and never from our inner selves.
All day and all night on YouTube, In Your FaceBook and the like gives everyone their 15 minutes of fame every day, sometimes every hour. So whad'ya talk about at dinner, over drinks, after sex? Aren't blackberries supposed to make your tongue purple, not your brain?
Our culture has taken the personality of a rechargeable battery.
Stop monkeying around
Thank you for your recent article on Michele A. Basso ("Monkeys Suffered and Died," 4/30/10). I can't help but consider the cruelty inherent in non-human animal research. Basso caused suffering and unnecessary deaths, but even without a brain hemorrhage, the monkeys were still having screws drilled into their skulls.
My mother spent more than 20 years working for animal rights. When she was diagnosed with ALS, she continued to vehemently oppose this research. She understood that it's not just cruel, but also irrelevant. The only real advancements in treatment come from human trials.
Michele Basso is a symptom of a greater problem. We need to cure this serious disease.
Thanks to Bill Lueders for another article exposing the disgusting reality of animal experimentation. Animals may not have the complex minds of human beings, but that is no reason to assume they are not aware of themselves and have feelings of love and pain. How about we start expanding other methods of searching for cures?
Karim Barrett, McFarland
Down with the draft!
Jason Joyce hit the nail on the head with his piece "Do You Feel a Draft?" (Sports Week, 4/23/10). He accurately dissects the most overhyped event in sports: the NFL draft. This has become a full-time job for Mel Kiper and other screeching idiots who are wrong in their predictions at least 40% of the time. Thank goodness it's over and we may get a month's reprieve before they begin projecting where this year's crop of collegians will go in next year's draft.