Re: Gendy Alimurung’s “The Forgotten Woman” [January 10–16]. Please plus size me! Who was it who first said that “thin is acceptable, fat is not”? No doubt some obese male who hadn’t seen his feet for years. Forget Kate Moss, Christy Turlington, Elle MacPherson and all those other 10-foot-tall, 10-inch-wide supermodels. Forget fashion spreads in magazines featuring chisel-cheeked waifs who wouldn’t look out of place in a colony of stick insects. Forget dieting, body wraps, pills, lotions and grueling exercise programs. Why? Because there really are a lot of decent, attractive and successful men out there who prefer larger women. Given the choice of Kate Moss or Kate Winslet, I’d choose Kate Winslet any day.

To say that only women who are less than size 12 are beautiful is a fallacy. I don’t really find tiny, small or thin women at all sexy. There’s something pedophilic and unnatural about men who prefer women with small, boylike physiques. To me, there’s nothing more beautiful than a woman with ample curves. Who wants to cuddle up to a skeleton at night? There’s nothing that puts me off more than taking a woman out to a nice restaurant, and then watching her pick at her food all night, especially when I want to tuck into my food without feeling guilty about the fact that I actually enjoy eating it. Generally, if a woman enjoys her food, it’s a sign that she has a good appetite for life, love and friendship — among other things.

—Tom Knutson Watertown, Minnesota

In the interview by Michelle Huneven [“Fat & Fucked Up,” January 10–16], Greg Critser overlooked the most important trend over the past 30 years, one that has done more to foster obesity than declining meat prices, disappearing P.E. programs or a dearth of prenatal care programs for the poor. The demise of the home-cooked meal is the main cause of obesity. Parents rarely invest any time to prepare healthy meals with wholesome ingredients and regulated portions for their children or themselves. Fewer sit down for a regular family supper at the table to even talk to each other. Instead, children fend for themselves by heating up frozen burritos, fish sticks, pizzas and French fries. Then they chase that garbage down with some sugared soda water while watching TV number two. Meanwhile, one or both parents are watching TV number one in a separate room, eating the same prefabricated meal. Today, the majority of meals we consume are prepared by strangers in food-processing plants, school cafeterias and restaurants. These strangers extract dietary fiber, and load their portions with salt, fat and preservatives.

Of course, these developments are symptoms of the decline of family values. Not exactly the kind of problem a left-wing social reformer like Critser could seriously address without incurring the wrath of the “It takes a village” crowd.

—David Barulich Highland Park


I agree with much of what John Powers wrote in his essay “Beyond Smart” [On, January 10–16]. Some have made a fetish of being “wised-up, pragmatic, detached.” But pragmatism was sorely needed in the election of 2000 — not detached pragmatism, but engaged pragmatism. Unfortunately, in its stead, idealism and its attendant disasters once again reared their ugly heads when Ralph Nader voters decided “It doesn’t matter who gets elected, they’re the same.” Can you imagine Al Gore making the “axis of evil” speech? North Korea just pulled out of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty today, we’re about to drop bombs on Iraq, and we’re going to give billions in tax cuts to the wealthiest 2 percent of the nation. Nader voters: It really does matter who gets elected, and you owe the rest of us an apology for your childishness. We need an engaged, pragmatic leader in the Democratic Party, and yes, even one as “promiscuously intelligent” as Bill Clinton was. We are playing for very big stakes now (hello, nuclear bombs and terrorism), and we can’t sit around wishing the world was different or making gestures that cause more harm than good. A two-party system is what we have, and we must use it to find a way to get us out of this mess.

—Lisa Nichols Los Angeles


If anyone wonders why the American left is irrelevant, all they need to do is read Judith Lewis’ profile of “Accidental Artist” David Rees [January 3–9]. Rees based his “rage” (and his October 9, 2001, epiphany) on the speculation that “hundreds and thousands of people were going to die.” Odd there was no mention of any rage in connection with the thousands who had already died — namely, those Americans and citizens from all over the globe who had perished in three separate crash sites 28 days earlier. ä

It’s also interesting to note that either he or Lewis goes to the trouble of citing Graydon Carter’s ludicrous autopsy of irony when setting the scene for Rees’ weepy, drunken epiphany. That “unrelenting social critic” is typical of many on the left, a cheap-shot machine who, while “plumb[ing] the depths of his political rage,” manages to betray an appalling shallowness.

—Brian McKim Merchantville, New Jersey


Re: “The Bad Doctor” [January 10–16]. Thank you, Doug Ireland, for boldly stating the case about Senator Bill Frist. By all accounts, Bill Frist is a very competent physician and on occasion “a Good Samaritan.” He is also, however, a multimillion-dollar stakeholder in his family’s for-profit enterprise, Health Corporation of America (HCA). HCA has, so far, paid $1.7 billion in penalties for fraud, i.e., for diverting precious senior-health-care dollars to illicit personal gain. Given this monumental conflict of interest, Senator Frist, ethically, has no other choice than to recuse himself from legislative activity in health matters.

—Quentin Young, M.D. Kimberly Soenen Chicago, Illinois

I was directed to your site by way of a link — to a very funny story you ran about Bill Frist — from an equally hysterical Web site, www.whatreallyhappened.com. You liberals are really good for a laugh. You have no idea why your numbers are dwindling so quickly. Please keep up the good work!

—James Trimble St. Louis, Missouri


Although I agree with Brendan Bernhard’s sentiments on the reality-based televison show The It Factor [“American Asshole,” Box Populi, January 10–16], I have to wonder if he’s lost touch with reality. Yes, it would be nice to see a show about struggling actors who possess some semblance of insight, or perhaps aren’t completely narcissistic and self-obsessed. But the sad truth is, a reality-based show featuring actors like that wouldn’t be based in anything resembling reality.

—California Watson Los Angeles


Re: “The New Year’s Eve Riot You Didn’t Hear About” [January 10–16]. I love the way Alec Hanley Bemis writes. He made me feel like I was there. I wish I had been. It sounds like it was a blast. I am a reader who usually reads one or two paragraphs, and if I don’t like the way a story is written (no matter the subject), I will lose interest quickly and quit, or force myself to find what the point is and skip a lot of the stuff. Bemis’ article made me laugh and smile.

—V.A. Salazar Victorville


An article last week on instant runoff voting, “What Democracy Votes Like” [January 17–23], incorrectly identified someone being criticized in the last paragraph. Dave Robinson chastised Steve Chessin — not Steven Hill — for suggesting in a proposed letter to the editor that runoff voting is more popular among “progressive” voters. Hill is dedicated to promoting runoffs as a nonpartisan alternative to the current system.


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