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Comments: Week of September 26, 2011

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1. How readers reacted to Jada Yuan’s profile of Zooey Deschanel (The Pinup of Williamsburg,” September 19) had a lot to do with how they react to Deschanel herself. “Will I ever get tired of reading about Zooey Deschanel? Not in the foreseeable future,” tweeted @mahnooryawar. “I love her,” wrote one commenter on nymag.com. Wrote another: “She’s so self-­consciously sweetie-poo it makes me cringe. She practically sticks her finger in her dimple and twists it when she sings.” In the profile, Deschanel defends her right to be cute. “What a great article undermining the notion that girlieness is oftentimes equated with weakness,” tweeted @stephmansolf. “Deschanel is right that we need to be able to see femininity as powerful,” agreed @ShesFascinating. “It’s true that women should be allowed to like smiling lambs and cupcakes all they want without being told that they’re failing feminism,” wrote Irin Carmon at the website Jezebel. “On the other hand, saying you can never criticize anything being put out by a woman isn’t feminism—it’s a cop-out … As it happens, the picture that emerges from the piece is Deschanel having savvily figured out how to sell almost every aspect of her apparently authentic self.” One correction: because of an editing error, Molly McAleer’s name was misspelled in the story.


2. Christopher Beam’s article on the newest crop of computer whiz kids coming out of California (Bubble Boys,” September 19) lit up Twitter, predictably. “Crazy interesting time in tech,” wrote @lisa_meri. Elsewhere, @laureltouby, @rachelsklar, and @­susanmcp1 all wondered why the only coders profiled were men, and @LisaMcIntire wrote that the lack of women in the story “makes me gag.” “Hey NY Mag, girls write code and develop awesome tech startups too!” wrote @iHollaback. Others wondered whether the boomlet for young programmers could possibly last. “I’m not sure if the current tech boom is a bubble—I could see it lasting for a long time,” wrote another on nymag.com. “But this article depicts these guys as being very cool (’cause as we know, making money is cool). That’s the part I don’t think will last, the necessity to depict all things tech as ‘geek chic.’ ” An anecdote about Mark Zuckerberg stumbling through an impromptu public-coding session generated a minor bit of news. “He doesn’t code much nowadays, and when he does, he sucks,” wrote Casey Chan at Gizmodo. “Zuckerberg stays away from the code (probably because he has better things to worry about, like the privacy of Facebook users).”

3. Readers were struck by the sympathetic tone of Jennifer Gonnerman’s portrait of child-welfare workers Chereece Bell and Damon Adams, who were arrested for negligent homicide after the death of a young girl on their watch (The Knock at the Door,” September 19). “We’ll probably never know for sure if Bell and ­Adams are as capable as this story suggests, any more than we’ll know if they are as awful as they’ve been portrayed elsewhere,” wrote Richard Wexler of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform on nymag.com. “But thank you for finally letting us know there is another side to this story.” Some readers were convinced that Bell and Adams were being unfairly targeted. “This is a classic case of scapegoating,” added another commenter, “with what appears to be two social workers who truly cared about the work they did but were hampered by the system in which they had to work.” Others with experience in the system agreed. “As someone who worked in the child-­welfare system of NYC, it is horrifying to me that the Brooklyn D.A. would indict these caseworkers ... The Brooklyn D.A. should be ashamed, as should ACS for hanging its workers out to dry.” But one child-welfare veteran found Gonnerman’s account too sympathetic to be credible. “Absolutely no reports about home visits? Sorry, that indicates a serious problem with the caseworker ... Maybe it was difficult for them to protect their charges, but it wasn’t impossible. And they failed.”

Send correspondence to: nymletters@nymag.com


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