November 14, 2005

Femme Fatale
I was struck by how small Dowd’s perspective seems to be [“The Redhead and the Gray Lady,” by Ariel Levy, November 7]. Hers is a self-centered world revolving around boys, girls, clothes, and her image. Ironically, she’s applauded despite the fact that she’s a woman who works against the feminist cause—if inadvertently. No man could get away with the constant personal attacks found in her writing, which must lead with the glass jaw of her gender so we can appreciate her “sensitivity.” She is a writer most emblematic of our time: one who’s consumed with the politics of personal destruction and yet devoid of ideas and conviction.
—Steve Gidumal, Manhattan

I agree with much of what Maureen Dowd writes, but I can’t completely forgive her for going after Bill Clinton with guns blazing for a very ill-considered, but ultimately trivial affair. I had recently started to enjoy reading her column again, but when I learned about her cavalier attitude regarding Aaron Sorkin’s marital status while they were dating—sending flirtatious e-mails and taking day trips to Hawaii together—I was disgusted all over again by her hypocrisy.
—Anne Wolfson, Manhattan

Good Shrink, Bad Shrink
I would like to clarify the record on statements made about me in “Behaviorists Behaving Badly” [November 7]. Matt Dobkin reports that according to Dr. Ellis, I allowed Andy Hopson, an outsider, to observe a therapy session. I never granted such permission. To have done so would have constituted a blatant ethical violation. The incident was later brought to our attention by trainees and participants who attended that group and were rightfully outraged by Hopson’s presence. In addition, I challenge Dr. Ellis or any of his handlers to show a shred of evidence of any lie I ever told him during our 29-year association or any motive for or evidence of “power grabbing” at the institute. Nobody, not even Dr. Ellis, disputes that my tenure as executive director was always understood to be a temporary one.
—Michael S. Broder, Ph.D. , Executive Director, Albert Ellis Institute

Your article about Dr. Albert Ellis is unfair to the institute’s directors who, despite their personal and professional loyalties to him and their sympathy for his medical condition, are trying to ensure that the institute lives up to its legal obligations. As one of the attorneys for the Albert Ellis Institute, I’d like to emphasize the serious violations of federal tax law concerning “excess benefit” transactions that compelled them to take corrective action by removing Dr. Ellis. His receipt of unreasonable compensation during the past year substantially exceeded $500,000 (much more than the $300,000 reported) and is at the heart of the current dispute between the institute and Dr. Ellis, not any imagined struggle over the soul of the institute or individual ambitions.
—Daniel L. Kurtz, Manhattan

The L Frontier
I was disappointed that Charles Graeber ended his expedition prematurely [“L-ification,” October 31]. I used to live off the Halsey stop, and there was plenty of gentrification going on as far east as Wilson Avenue. When I originally moved into my $1,000-a-month railroad apartment in January, there was one building of hipster tenants near the subway, other than me and my roommate a few blocks down. A few months later, when I could finally afford to move to Manhattan, a bar and two restaurants had opened up, rent shot up to $1,250, and both the Times and soy milk were available at two of the local bodegas.
—Samantha Hulkower, Manhattan

Lethal Philosophers
I thought I had few illusions about doctors, but I was shocked to read that New York’s practice of publicizing the mortality rates of its heart surgeons has led “surgeons to turn their backs on the sickest patients in order to prop up their personal success records” [“Heartless,” by Robert Kolker, October 24]. Surgeons who put their own professional status above patients’ lives should go into another line of work. Maybe mine: No one is more status-conscious than academic philosophers, but at least philosophers’ obsession with their departments’ national rankings has never killed anyone.
—Felicia Nimue Ackerman, Department of Philosophy, Brown University

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November 14, 2005