July 10, 2006

The Etiquette Handbook
Thank you, Adam Sternbergh, for listing the most obnoxious subway behaviors and making me laugh out loud. I really wish the city could post “Mass Transit: Breaching Subway Decorum” inside all subway cars [“The Urban Etiquette Handbook,” June 26].
—Crystal Cooper, Brooklyn

Adam Sternbergh left out some crucial acts of misconduct: Where was the pole leaner on crowded subways (the guy who stands by the door even when it opens and no one can get on or off)? Where were the stroller hogs on the sidewalks? (Recently, in your cover story about twins, you published a photograph of side-by-side triplet baby strollers—egregious!) And what of side-by-side slow walkers? Or those who walk straight down the middle of the sidewalk—usually tourists? I did appreciate “The Groomer” in the roundup, though, as just this morning, I had one on my train—a girl doing her boyfriend’s nails, no less.
—Megan Rogers, The Bronx

I wonder how you would rank a stranger who is not only a “Sherpa” but also a “Groomer”? On Metro-North I witnessed a woman changing a dirty diaper directly on the seat of the hot, unventilated car. Not only that, but her huge two-seater stroller blocked two perfectly usable seats on a severely overcrowded train.
—Allison Dahl, New Haven, Conn.

To suggest that the worst subway offense is not giving your seat to a pregnant woman or elderly person is way off the mark. Holding the subway doors, which you rate just a two out of ten on the rudeness scale, inconveniences the thousands of people who are on the subway and waiting on platforms down the line. This includes, no doubt, scores of pregnant women and older people.
—Leland Scruby, Manhattan

In your recent guide “The Urban Etiquette Handbook: Love & Sex,” the answer given to “Who pays the bill on a date?” is, “The asker pays, unless the woman does the asking—then the man should pay.” Does one have to be in a same-sex relationship to be treated as an equal? The author later notes that “for same-sex couples, the asker really does pay.”
—Barbara Bleier Schlachet, Manhattan

Of course, all the rules in the “The Urban Etiquette Handbook” make common sense and are worth reiterating. On the other hand, given the recent reports of planned cyanide attacks in the subways, this article best serves as a quaint distraction from the notion that at any moment, we might all be blown to bits.
—Andrew Trauben, Manhattan

Best Doctors
Ii take issue with the boosterish approach in your “Best Doctors 2006” issue and fear the “celebrity” doctor system that you are fostering [June 19]. Although many, if not most, of these doctors may indeed be the “best” in their respective fields, the issue doesn’t address a critical question for most potential patients: Do they accept health insurance? My encounter with one doctor on this list regarding a vital operation for my son was depressing. First, we could not get an appointment for a few weeks. Second, when we did, we discovered that he didn’t take any form of health insurance. I was shocked, since the operation we were inquiring about—which would make a life-changing impact on my son—costs at least $90,000. I guess there are enough New Yorkers out there who can afford such an expense.
—Jay Strell, Brooklyn

Several years ago, in response to your “Best Doctors” issue, one of your readers wrote to complain that you had neglected any mention of podiatrists. Having foot problems myself, I silently blessed the letter writer and you for publishing it. So here it is, 2006, and now that I have Morton’s neuroma in both feet, making it impossible for me to get around comfortably in any shoe, let alone my Jimmy Choos, you again leave out podiatrists, despite the fact that almost all my amies d’un certain âge complain of the same problem. How about an addendum?
—Valerie Foley, Manhattan

Best doctors? You mean best “medical” doctors. Your paean to the medical industry perpetuates the myth that alternative doctors are unqualified and not to be trusted when it comes to serious disease. Cases of people suffering complications and death from traditional medical practice outnumber the miracles performed. Medical doctors should be revered when they perform “miracles,” but not at the expense of the naturopaths who help people heal themselves, a gift that, in my opinion, is more valuable and cost-effective than any health-insurance plan.
—Stephanie Sellars, Manhattan

ABC News
Joe Hagan’s excellent article on the goings-on at ABC was not at all well served by the illustration of Elizabeth Vargas [“Charlie the Conqueror,” June 19]. The woman looks as if she’s about fifteen months pregnant. Her pregnancy is a pertinent issue, but the absurdly exaggerated illustration was a cheap shot.
—Joe Nowlan, Boston, Mass.

Will Shortz
I have followed Will Shortz’s career since our undergraduate days at Indiana University in the early seventies [“The Puzzlemaster’s Dilemma,” by Clive Thompson, June 19]. His room was always filled with puzzles, and he often had conundrum sessions that lasted into the wee hours. His stint at Games and his weekly Sunday NPR segment entranced me. Although I do not purport to have the intellectual capacity to always successfully complete his puzzles, his “haven’t we met before?” attitude makes it fun to enter the fray.
—John Ribar, Louisville, Ky.

AIDS Timeline
When I received your magazine a few weeks ago, I rolled my eyes at the Epcot Center–like cover [“2016,” by Alexandra Lange, June 5]. When I finally finished reading the grueling account of next new hottest areas, I came upon the fascinating retrospective marking the 25th anniversary of the first medical report on what later became known as aids [“AIDS in New York: A Biography”]. Thankfully, because I was stuck on a subway, I had time to read through “2016” and get to the heartbreaking account of how this epidemic affected us so close to home.
—Melissa Shiffman, Manhattan

Correction: Contrary to a statement in “Vu: What Went Wrong at Astor Place?” (by S. Jhoanna Robledo, June 26), only five apartments remain unsold in the new building at 165 Charles Street.

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July 10, 2006