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Comments: Week of November 4, 2013

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1. In last week’s cover story, Stephen S. Hall explored the growing concern among cancer doctors as the price of new treatments soars exponentially, mostly out of sync with their effectiveness, leading oncologists to wonder if it is worth tens of thousands of dollars to extend life by a few weeks (The Cost of Living,” October 28). “If there is only one article that you read on health care this year, make it this one,” tweeted @amitabhchandra2, a public-policy professor at Harvard. “Lays out the good, bad, and the ugly of cancer-drug economics. Warning: It is mostly bad and ugly,” wrote Stephen Dubner at the Freakonomics blog. “I honestly can’t see these pharmaceutical overlords as anything other than greedy scheming assholes,” noted @reviewssmart on Twitter. But for some readers, the cost seemed like a worthwhile expense. “2 years after stage 4, I’m alive & cancer free on Yervoy/PD1 combo. That’s not a ‘racket,’ that’s a ­miracle,” tweeted Salon writer Mary Elizabeth Williams. “W/ luck, in 2 weeks I’ll have my last treatment. Will also celebrate another birthday.” “The cancer drug Avastin extended my father’s life for several months,” wrote in reader David Laska. “Those extra months were the difference between dying while I was away from home working on a campaign and spending the last four months of his life with me at his bedside.”

2. “Memories of Mike Tyson’s career as undisputed heavyweight champion have been blurred with visions of police blotters and slapstick cameos in movies, but look who’s still standing,” wrote Trent Clark at ­HipHopWired, praising an excerpt from the former heavyweight champion’s forthcoming autobiography (My Life As a Young Thug,” October 28). “To get where you’re going, you have to know where you have been,” Clark continued. “He peels back the layers of his cerebellum to shed light on his gritty childhood.” At Sports Illustrated’s Extra Mustard blog, Ryan Glasspiegel also found himself stirred by the memoir. “He remains very public in facing his demons. This candor has helped shift popular perception of Tyson from unabashed jerk to flawed, but sympathetic guy.” But others objected to that shifting perception and to the role ­Tyson’s own first-person confessionals have played in his “redemption.” “It is a compelling story, even a poetic one. But there are questions about the way this kind of thing gets interpreted and fetishized in the press,” wrote Michelle Dean at Flavorwire. “The overwhelming feeling you walk away from this excerpt with is that he was doomed from the start. Which feels weird and reductive and dishonest in and of itself—it’s worth asking, for example, if the reason the world loves Mike Tyson has something to do with racist beliefs about the nature of black masculinity, just for starters. He behaves wildly, and he behaves ‘honestly,’ for our entertainment. And one hopes, in what seems likely to be a long fall of wall-to-wall Tyson publicity, someone’s going to ask him whether he minds being the person trotted out to ­behave ‘badly’ so that we can all write op-eds about it.”

3. “Friends may come and go, boyfriends may come and go, but children are forever,” an uncharacteristically reflective Perez Hilton told Alex Morris in a profile of the onetime most-hated blogger in Hollywood, now trying to turn over a new leaf after becoming a father (Perez Hilton Has a Baby,” October 28). But are any of our readers buying it? “Hilton comes across as wildly un-self-aware and a bit delusional and sort of cringe-inducing,” wrote Callie Beusman at Jezebel. “Though the diction on his blog has remained more or less the same, the tone has become so markedly Not-Mean that it seems almost insincere, leading one to believe that Hilton might not know what a nice person actually sounds like. Maybe he has learned from his new mistakes, but the fact remains that he’s still responsible for popularizing and espousing a genre of gossip site that courted attention by spewing misogynistic, body-shaming bile.” “I don’t think he will ever get how much he has hurt real people,” wrote a commenter on nymag.com. “The original Internet bully for all the vile kids & trolls to model themselves after.”

Send correspondence to: nymletters@nymag.com


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