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November 8, 2004

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Trial In Error
As the attorney for Edward Caraballo, one of the journalists who was arrested with Jack Idema in Kabul and sentenced to serve eight years in an Afghan prison [“Operation Desert Fraud,” by Stacy Sullivan, October 25], I am convinced both he and Idema did not receive a fair trial. The proceedings in Kabul were utter chaos and served more to conceal the truth than to uncover it.
—Robert Fogelnest, Manhattan

Revenge Of The Nerd
Don’t we all wish we could look down our noses at the “brainier types,” describe ourselves as “the hottest girl in the room,” and get away with it? Amy Sohn’s article “Geek Love” [“Mating,” October 25] was filled with a kind of contempt and snobbery I haven’t seen since grade school. Trivia nights are held weekly in nearly every British pub, where they’re considered a perfectly normal way to spend an evening with friends and drink pints of beer.
—Megan Merrill, London, England

As a frequent attendee of trivia nights in New York, I disagree with Ms. Sohn’s suggestion that these game nights are prime occasions for the city’s nerdier, less-than-pretty set. The women and men who use their very attractive—gorgeous, even—minds at these social events are no better- or worse-looking than the average person in any bar. In fact, some are quite stunning. Because they are smart should not bias people against their looks. Their intellects should only make them better romantic prospects.
—Evelyn Riley, Manhattan

Rhetorical Wilderness
Lee Siegel’s review of John Updike’s new novel, Villages [“Critics: Johnny One Note,” October 25], is as incomprehensible as much of Updike’s oeuvre, meaning that the obsession of both the reviewer and the novelist with impressing the average reader with words only Bill Buckley would know makes much of their efforts useless. I recently received as a birthday present Updike’s 864-page Early Stories, a collection of his youthful work that is preceded by an interminably tiresome 7-page foreword by the author. I struggled through 97 pages and gave up.
—James S. Gratton, Worcester, Mass.

Corrections: In “Operation Desert Fraud,” by Stacy Sullivan (October 25), Polaris Images is misidentified as representing Jonathan Keith Idema during his sale of video footage aired by 60 Minutes II in 2002. In fact, Polaris licensed the footage more than a year after it was sold to CBS.

Gabon, West Africa,” by Tom Clynes (“The Strategist: The Personalized Vacation Planner,” October 25), contained significant passages that originally appeared in a story Clynes wrote for the August 2004 issue of Backpacker magazine. New York was not aware that any material from the story had been published previously.

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