The Right Notes

Letters to the Editor: From Beethoven to Zappa, new technology hasn't been out of tune with beautiful music.
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Letters to the Editor: From Beethoven to Zappa, new technology hasn't been out of tune with beautiful music.

As a composer who fuses technology and the orchestra, I think the blending of the two is a great thing ("Triumph of the Cyborg Composer," March-April 2010). It's something that Varese, Frank Zappa and Bob Moog pushed the limits of. Even Beethoven was amazed at the "new technology" of adding two more octaves to the piano within his lifetime.

Rather than see it as a threat, it should be welcomed because these are new tools to work with, which creates innovation, new music, ideas and collaboration.

I look forward to more music and technology articles from you. It was a great read.

Walt Ribeiro
New York, N.Y.

Recalling overdue library books
Take a close look at the spines of the books in the photo on Page 55 of your March issue, captioned, "One of many stacks in Cope's home office." Note that almost all are library books. Among the experiences and memories of my time in academia this image brought up was the story a friend in grad school told me of visiting a professor's home and proudly being shown his personal library. Although polite in the instance, my friend laughed as he told me [the story] because the majority of the books in the professor's library belonged to the university library. It also brought to mind the time my recall notice for a book was removed from the computer by library staff so that a faculty member could renew the book for another year, after which staff reinstated the now castrated recall notice. I write because I'm confident your subscriber list contains many thousands of faculty members who participate in this enduring abuse of their library privileges, hoarding library materials they neither need nor use at the expense of students and fellow scholars.

Ken Wing
Havertown, Pa.

Revitalization or gentrification?
I was amazed after reading "Would You Like a Latte With That Library Card?" (March-April 2010) Besides the clever title, the article was sorely wanting. Due to the fact that Mr. Lerner's interests include urbanism, I was intrigued why he would believe urban revitalization is somehow a good thing.

Mr. Lerner would be better informed if he trolled the library stacks and did some reading on "the city as a growth machine" or perhaps "gentrification" and urban planning. Or, he could drink a $5 latte from Starbucks while researching these aforesaid topics on his Kindle.

Let's get real, folks. You're promulgating capitalism and consumerism. Bill Ayers would have had a field day critiquing this article — he, too, was a member of the Weather Underground.

Nicholas Hartlep
Milwaukee, Wis.

Response to the editor's response: Don't idolize the IPCC
I find your response to Verne Dow in the latest issue rather offensive.

You seem to have ignored the realistic criticism of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an organization you seem to idolize. As magazines, such as The Economist, have pointed out, it has often based its reports and conclusions on opinions rather than scientific facts and, like Toyota, may require years, if not decades, to restore its credibility.

I, for one, do not doubt global warming, but I find the behavior of the scientists at the University of East Anglia and elsewhere unethical at the least and possibly illegal. (We await the results of the investigation by the university authorities.)

Furthermore, the IPCC has lost all of its credibility as far as I am concerned.

David Lester, Ph.D.
Pomona, N.J.

Groupthink isn't science
Mr. Mecklin, you are confusing groupthink with scientific facts. There are no "consensuses" in pure science, only in the social "psuedosciences." Can you actually produce a list of the "overwhelming consensus of thousands of scientists around the world" that supposedly supports this erroneous hypothesis? However, if you visit the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine Web site, you will find 31,500-plus scientists' and other intellectuals' signatures on a petition rejecting the anthropogenic climate change. More than 820 prominent professionals also signed the Manhattan Declaration on Climate Change, stating "human caused climate change is not a global crisis." And the Cato Institute publishes the signatures of more than 100 physical scientists, including institute and university department heads stating the hypothesis "is not true."

These combined lists include at least as many legitimate physical scientist "peer reviewers" and a dozen times more highly credentialed intellectuals who deny the hypothesis' legitimacy. If collective conjecture is determinative, I'm sorry, but the "deniers" obviously win.

Doug Baker
Fenton, Mo.

The elitist snobbery of citing the IPCC
Editor-in-Chief John Mecklin's elitist snobbery suggestion that those who do not agree with him should seek out the Flat Earth Society Web site is symptomatic of the low road some will take to uphold their "superior" beliefs. Citing the Nobel panel as a factual source is a pretty weak argument. It was also a Nobel panel that made Barack Obama a Nobel Peace Prize winner. The fact is that the arguments put forth for "global warming" had to be changed to "climate change" as conditions no longer made the "warming part" a viable slogan.

Russell Eldridge
Eugene, Ore.

Sarcasm unneeded
I think it wrongheaded as well as impolitic to have dismissed with sarcasm the letter of geologist Verne Dow. You referred to Dow as a "climate change denialist," but that's not necessarily so.

At least in his letter, Dow did not dispute climate change, only the possibility that the current climate change might not be a product of human activity. We know that there have been some remarkable climate changes in the past that could not have been caused by man, and you provide no argument why contemporary changes might not be partially (or even totally) the product of some natural cycle. Your comparison of anyone who questions received wisdom on this matter to advocates of a flat Earth was injudicious at best.

John Matzko, Ph.D.
Greenville, S.C.

Response was disappointing
I was just about to send in my request for your complimentary subscription when I read your response to Mr. Dow's eminently reasonable letter. First, to bring up Copernicus is question-begging. In his day, the issue wasn't settled for many, many decades. The current debate is but a half a century old, if that much, and is, just as in Copernicus' time by religion, often derailed by politics. Second, your stubborn refusal to consider debating the matter thoroughly is disappointing to say the least, maybe even journalistic malpractice.

There are researchers at MIT and elsewhere who are skeptics - not deniers (which is a nasty label suggesting that the skeptics are like anti-Semitic, ideologically driven Holocaust deniers). The world community of scientists simply has not reached a consensus.

Tibor R. Machan
Orange, Calif.

Editor in Chief John Mecklin responds: On further review, I can see that what I intended as a humorous aside could also be read as harsh sarcasm. For that ambiguity — and to anyone offended by my tone, including Mr. Dow — I apologize. I can't extend the apology from tone to substance, however; in my view, the research supporting anthropogenic climate change is overwhelming, and the complaints about the IPCC are peripheral.

Our story "Exterior Designer" (March-April 2010) in some cases misstated the name of the Bronx Zoo's parent entity, the Wildlife Conservation Society. We regret the error.