6 minute read

And the Best Invention Is … ?

In naming the iPhone the best invention of 2007, you forgot about Windows-based PDA phones [Nov. 12]. They’ve been out for years. Touch interface? Big deal. As you noted, it’s been done before. A miniaturized operating system? Done. Windows-based phones are everything the iPhone is and more. The phones can text, MMS, e-mail (through POP, IMAP, Exchange), surf the real Web at broadband speed on EVDO networks and open, edit and save documents. The iPhone is for kids. Windows Mobile PDA phones are for adults who need to do real work.

Eagle Bear Morgan, SEATTLE

What a brilliant piece of writing from Lev Grossman. I don’t yet own an iPhone, but I plan to in the near future. Like Grossman, I’m sick of the sour grapes from naysayers who moan about what the iPhone doesn’t do and ignore what it does do and just how well it does it. I hate my conventional cell phone with its 100-page, four-language manual that I can’t begin to understand. I’ve used the iPhone without having to look at the manual. And the only language required is intuition.

Brad Cathey, WHEATON, ILL.

Failed Farms, Fattened Pockets

Michael Grunwald’s analysis of wasteful farm-commodity programs and farm-bill politics was right on the money, but his assertion that the Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (SAC) “dropped its opposition [to the House farm bill] for scraps” was false [Nov. 12]. SAC celebrated the House Agriculture Committee’s increased funding for organic and value-added programs mentioned in the story. But we characterized these and related measures as “small steps forward.” As a whole, we said the House bill moved in reverse with its substantial weakening of commodity-program payment limitations and the gutting of the landmark Conservation Security Program. We applaud Grunwald for addressing the negative impacts of current commodity programs, but he does our work and that of our national network of grass-roots family-farm and conservation advocates a disservice. For the past 20 years, SAC has been a leading advocate for commodity reform, and we certainly did not–nor do we ever plan to–back down.

Ferd Hoefner, Policy Director

Sustainable Agriculture Coalition


Grunwald was right about all that is wrong with farm subsidies. Let’s hope that he’s wrong about the prospects for eliminating them–that citizens will wake up and demand they be halted. Contrary to the fears of House members Nancy Pelosi and Collin Peterson, a large number of rural voters get it that subsidies are killing their communities. The failure of reform in the House and Senate shows once again who really runs this country’s agriculture: the likes of Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland. Shame on the reform-minded organizations that gave up and settled for crumbs. No amount of conservation, rural development or nutrition education can compensate for the harm done by the subsidies. Let’s just hope that President George W. Bush vetoes any farm bill that doesn’t at least start the process of rolling back the subsidies.

Lois Braun, ST. PAUL, MINN.

The Rise of an Underdog

Joel Stein’s repeated references to Ron Paul’s campaign as “nerdy,” especially the idea of a “free-market commodity-based money,” indicates how ignorant most Americans are about the monetary system [Nov. 12]. Money affects virtually every interaction we have with other people. When this interaction is in effect controlled by a private cartel (the Federal Reserve) instead of free-market forces, there is room for manipulation. I wish media institutions like TIME would stop dismissing scrutiny of something as important as the monetary system. You do a disservice not only to yourselves but to future generations as well.

Ben Johnson, CHICAGO

Was Thomas Jefferson a nerd too? I suppose George Washington was an isolationist loon. I’m gung-ho for Paul because I have been reading him for years, recognize his consistency and have come to understand that he is correct on many issues. I resent Stein’s attempt to pigeonhole me and those like me.

Benjamin J. Thompson, ELKHART, IND.

Thanks to Stein for the mostly fair piece on Paul. While you may get a deluge of criticism from other Paul fans, Stein’s job is to report the story as he sees it and not provide pro-Paul propaganda. Regarding the possibility of Paul’s getting the nomination: yes, it is a long shot. But then, I bet that six months ago, Stein didn’t expect he would be writing a piece about an obstetrician Congressman from Texas.

Chris Fountain, ALPHARETTA, GA.

I support a gold-backed currency because I want my money to be worth something. You know, I like money that has value. A lot of Americans do–and we’re going to vote for Ron Paul.

Mickey Wember, MILWAUKEE

Paul supporters are not sheep; they are intelligent, informed people. If all citizens spent half the time studying government that the average Paul supporter does, our country would not be in shambles.

Bret Nelson, ST. JOSEPH, MO.

Most Americans have never seen a politician like Paul–humble and unassuming, wise and unwavering. He is not a flip-flopper, and he votes on principle. Watch this guy. He’s going to be our next President if folks can get out of the habit of voting for the lesser of two evils and vote for real change.

Joe Alvarez, AUSTIN, TEXAS

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