Comments: Week of June 3, 2013

1. “If the twentieth-century space race was about the might of the American government, the emerging 21st-century space age is about something perhaps even more powerful—the might of money,” wrote Dan P. Lee in a cover story on the brave new world of private space exploration, spearheaded by big-think billionaires like Richard Branson, Elon Musk, and Jeff Bezos (Welcome to the Real Space Age,” May 27). “Let the exploration begin!” wrote one commenter. “It’s always funny when people whine that we are entering an era of limits, of the boom years being over, etc. Not even remotely close … just look up. We haven’t even scratched the surface on all mankind can achieve.” Another griped that the for-profit space race was only taking place thanks to the nonprofit one: “So we spend zillions of taxpayer dollars for nasa to develop the technology that allows the very rich to have a jaunt in space to make the even more rich even richer.” That thread—debating how “private” the new space age really will be—was picked up on Reddit: “Yep, 100% private. The state of New Mexico certainly didn’t fork over 209 million dollars to build it,” snarked one Redditer. “Government is and should be involved in increasing the speed at which we can reach new frontiers,” argued another. “I have absolutely no idea why you’re upset.” A third played patronizing grown-up. “States routinely fork over large tax breaks, cheap loans, even direct subsidies to attract industry … Look at what Kentucky did to land Toyota’s largest operations in the Western hemisphere, or what North Carolina did to land Apple, Google, and several other huge data centers.”

2. “Every time Serrano handed out a summons to someone he believed didn’t deserve it, he thought, I can’t do this,” wrote Jennifer Gonnerman in a profile of the NYPD stop-and-frisk whistle-blower Pedro Serrano, who recently became the first officer to speak out against the practice in court (Officer Serrano’s Hidden Camera,” May 27). “It’s a sad story about a good cop trying to do the right thing in an impossible situation, and it just adds to the mounting evidence indicating that, despite its claims to the contrary, the NYPD puts its officers on a quota system, and if they don’t meet their targets, they get in trouble,” wrote Justin Peters at Slate’s Crime blog. “This all goes back to CompStat, the departmental initiative in which crime statistics are rigorously examined, and supervisors are held to account if those statistics don’t consistently decrease. The end result is that cops face tremendous pressure to make stops and arrests so their bosses can have something to bring to the meetings. Stop and frisk primarily comes out of fearful, sclerotic management techniques like these … Every reporter who’s paying attention realizes that these tactics are ineffective, counterproductive, passively racist, and likely unconstitutional. And you know what? Plenty of cops realize this, too.” Readers at also applauded Serrano. “All of us want less crime, but stop and frisk—as some officers noted—leads to distrust between the community and cops and will likely be found unconstitutional,” wrote one. “Regardless, it’s abhorrent.” Wrote another: “Every part of life has bad apples; the ‘blue line’ that has kept cops from ratting out the bad ones in their midst has amplified the impact of the bad apples among their ranks. I’m truly thankful for officers like Mr. Serrano who buck the system and stick their necks out.”

3. Readers absolutely swooned for Benedict Cumberbatch, the cerebral British actor playing villain Khan in J. J. Abrams’s Star Trek Into Darkness and the subject of a profile by Mary Kaye Schilling just ahead of the film’s release (Benedict Cumberbatch, Out of Darkness,” May 27). “He’s like the Linda Evangelista of British male actors—somehow he manages to make all sorts of hair colors and hair styles (well, I dunno about that Assange hair, though) look great on him,” wrote one admirer at; “I love him so hard!” wrote another. “He may be weird looking but he’s one of the most beautiful men I’ve ever seen. He was great in Trek. His voice is so sexy and he seems smart and grounded. I can’t help myself—I turn into a teenage girl when I see him or hear/say his name. You are an international treasure, Mr. Cumberbatch! I want to live in his closet.” Another added: “I’m being so quiet that he doesn’t even know I’ve already been living in here for 2 years.” And other fans tossed around nicknames for themselves: “I’m a Cumberbitch!” “What about Cumbersnatches … too crude?” The lesson was unmistakable: “More of this, please. And by more I mean more Cumberbatch because … do you see your comments?”

4. “You can’t encapsulate what Matt Harvey stands for, to a Mets fan, in statistics,” wrote Will Leitch in an assessment of the Mets’ 24-year-old all-of-a-sudden ace (Phenom,” May 27). “The cover of Sports Illustrated was huge. But a four-page color spread in New York magazine isn’t too shabby either,” wrote Ellyn Santiago at Groton Patch—a local blog from Harvey’s Connecticut hometown. “He is our shining ray of hope in an otherwise very bleak season,” wrote one Mets fan at Another had a more … well, a more Mets-like response. “Season started only two months ago. This kid will probably choke after the All-Star break.” And one correction: Tom Seaver left the Mets in 1977 by trade, not free agency.

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Comments: Week of June 3, 2013