Comments: Week of November 2, 2009

1. While Chris Smith argued that the mayor’s dismantling of the term-limits law does raise serious questions about his reelection bid (“Mike Bloomberg Owns This Town,” October 26), many readers were inclined to give Bloomberg the benefit of the doubt. “I am grateful on a daily basis that he chose NYC and that he is my mayor,” wrote a commenter on, whose pro-Bloomberg sympathies were consistent with a majority of respondents. Another supporter put it this way: “I don’t have a problem with someone who does a decent job running for mayor repeatedly—even if that means he changed the law to get there.” If our commenters can be relied on as a poll, however, he won’t win in a landslide. Some detractors wondered whether the mayor had done as good a job as advertised: “Under Bloomberg, New York has become even more about keeping up with the Joneses than it was in the eighties,” complained one commenter. “I watched in horror as my former neighborhood was destroyed by rampant development … Bloomberg is a power-hungry freak completely out of touch with anyone besides his wealth-crazed, Hamptons-bound cronies.” Finally, we would like to acknowledge the Times’ Michael Barbaro and David Chen for originally reporting the links between Bloomberg’s charitable donations and supporters of extending term limits.

We tallied the comments to all the components of the Strategist’s Circumcision package (“For and Against Foreskin,” October 26) and discovered that the debate is quite lopsided, at least by the evidence here. The majority of American men may be circumcised, but that doesn’t mean they dare to speak up in its defense.

2. For pure debate pyrotechnics, though, nothing can touch the subject of Ayn Rand and the durability of her objectivist philosophy, which was broached by Sam Anderson on the occasion of Anne Heller’s new biography of Rand (“Mrs. Logic,” October 26). “Anderson makes an excellent case that Objectivism appeals to certain emotional needs that must be … concealed from the person experiencing them. My impression of the Objectivists I’ve met is that they feel overwhelmed and frightened by their social environment, and particularly the fact that some aspects of their lives and happiness will always lie outside their control.” Laura Miller, the writer for, also wrote in: “You can see why adolescents who are embarking on the great project of identity formation would find this reductive ideology appealing. The ones who stick with it through adulthood mostly seem to be in flight from the fundamental uncertainties and ambiguities of life.” Jakob Lodwick, founder of Vimeo and an Objectivist himself, stepped in to rebut Miller and defend the philosophy: “There are still uncertainties in my life—I am uncertain about my career, about the future of the country, about the health of my loved ones. I am thankful for a philosophy that gives me certainty about some things. Many of my peers are not even certain that existence exists, that they exist. Don’t confuse my certainty on some subjects with a neurotic aversion to uncertainty in general.”

3. Meat-eaters of the world united to defend themselves against Jonathan Safran Foer’s indictment of carnivores (“Intelligencer: 76 Minutes With …,” October 26). “Novelists should stick to writing novels,” snarked one commenter. Groused another: “Is eating meat unethical? Possibly. It’s also delicious, and eating good food is one small pleasure we have in our fleeting mortal lives.” Celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain felt moved to defend himself as an unapologetic meat-eater; read his response to Foer in this issue’s “Grub Street Digest” (page 47). And one Foer supporter wondered about all the name-calling in the commenters section: “Why are you people so angry? I’m a vegetarian. I’m not rotten.”

4. There were only kind words to be heard about David Amsden’s profile of musician Killian Mansfield, a teen who recorded his one and only album before dying of a rare cancer (“Never Mind the Pity,” October 26). “This is the first time a New York piece has brought me to tears,” confessed one commenter. “I look forward to listening to his music and keeping in mind his passion and creativity.” Members of Killian’s family also wrote in, saying, “Thank you so much for your honest and illuminating treatment of my nephew’s later days. He burned so bright that he inspired people he never met.”

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Comments: Week of November 2, 2009