Email To The Editors

Brandi’s Bra

What’s the Goal?

Normally, I find William Saletan to be one of the more intelligent journalists on the mainstream beat. However, his analysis (” Cups, Bras, and Athletic Supporters“) of the “controversy” surrounding Brandi Chastain’s removal of her jersey after clinching the World Cup trophy is indulgent, quixotic, and utterly aggravating.

He dismisses the “men do it” explanation as superficial, when it’s the only one that makes any real sense. Does anyone, on either side of this absurd debate, really believe that an athlete, upon scoring the winning goal in an international championship game, was actually trying to stage some kind of cultural coup? With adrenaline pumping, in the moment of realizing the dream of being a hero, with memories of the soccer greats running through her head, she did what soccer players do when they can’t contain themselves. Are the pundits of the world so conceited that they really believe that she was acting to supply them with more fodder?

I think it was the game against North Korea when, in celebration of a goal, one of the players did a running flip-flop-flip, a common soccer-player’s celebration. The announcer called it gymnastics. Apparently, to him, the only sports against which women would be measured were gymnastics and figure skating. Regardless of which side of the sports bra debate Saletan supports, or anyone else who considers Chastain’s behavior in light of its social commentary rather than its expression of athletic competition and pride, it’s the same kind of sexism.

Soccer in America, for the moment, is a woman’s sport. That means that the culture of soccer, with all its grace and skill, brutality and bravado, will be exhibited by female American athletes. It makes me wonder what people would be saying if women’s baseball became popular, and the commentariat was forced to watch women chewing tobacco and grabbing their crotches.

Chad Levinson

New York

Don’t Devaluate Now

Paul Krugman has been for a long time a very critical observer of Argentina’s currency board; he has suggested a devaluation many times in the past. Almost at the end of his article (” Don’t Laugh at Me, Argentina“), he says that given that the Brazilian devaluation didn’t bring hyperinflation, it could be expected that an Argentinian devaluation wouldn’t bring hyperinflation. He concludes that from the fact that the two countries have dismal economic histories, but dismal doesn’t mean the same. On the surface both countries might look quite alike, but people’s reaction to inflation and economic measures has proved to be very different, so we shouldn’t expect to see both countries reacting the same way.

I deeply admire Krugman, but if he wants to write about Argentina or any Latin American country, he should dedicate some time to trying to understand what each country is like. They all might look the same, but they are different; people are very different and react in different ways. Historically, what has been good for Chile (Argentina’s neighbor) has been a disaster for Argentina, and this works the other way around. If he had dedicated time to studying Argentina, he would have found out that Eduardo Duhalde is desperately trying to gain votes, relying on old clichés that he expects will still be appealing to Argentinians, and trying to show how different he is from Carlos Menem–in part because he is different and in part to avoid the opposition attack. Krugman would also have found out that the Buenos Aires Stock Exchange is not representative of the way things are: Bonds are important, and what businessmen are doing is important.

I agree that we have a regular recession and that the currency board prevents us from applying the usual recipe, but it’s not clear that it would work, and at this point breaking the peso commitment would be extremely onerous. Right now we have a recession and an increasing fiscal deficit (a comment on the virtues of keeping balanced accounts would be very appropriate); if we devaluate, chances are we would also have an inflation outburst, a rush against the banking system, and a capital flight. When analyzing Argentina, it’s important to keep in mind that since we’ve been cheated many times, we have learned how to beat the system.

María Laura Segura

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Paul Krugman replies:I was, of course, aware of the politics that led to Duhalde’s remark. And in case this wasn’t clear, the article did NOT claim that Argentina’s currency board is necessarily a foolish idea–only that its downside could not be ignored. But I will say this: One should always be suspicious of arguments that claim that one country is utterly different from others. Yes, every country is unique–but not all that unique. Anyway, only a few months ago many people–including Argentine economists–were claiming that the contrast between Argentine success and Brazilian crisis meant that Brazil must emulate Argentina’s currency board; you can’t take that position and then claim that the role reversal that has taken place since doesn’t teach a contrary lesson.

Pilot Error

I agree with James Fallows’ warning (” Winging It“) to inexperienced pilots who may know how to fly under good weather conditions, but who haven’t much under the belt on a hazy night. We all mourn the death of John F. Kennedy Jr., but at the same time, I will go beyond Fallows’ opinion and say that Kennedy’s decision to fly on a hazy night in a new one-engine plane over water is not risky–it’s down right reckless. I have two daughters, and if I knew that my two daughters were going up in a one-engine plane with a husband who lacked sufficient experience, on a hazy night over the sea, I’d do everything in my power to prevent it from happening. If the pilot wants to take that chance alone, fine, but once he allows passengers, he has to be responsible enough to make the right decision for not only himself but for those two girls as well.

My daughters’ safety is the primary concern. Unfortunately, John Kennedy wasted his own life and the lives of two young and beautiful girls without thinking, This isn’t worth the risk, when he knew it could be dangerous under such conditions.

Sandy Shapiro

Woodside, Calif.

Governer Bush, in Deed

Regarding ” Mister Bush’s Neighborhood“: I have been in the title insurance business for 27 years, and prior to that did my master’s thesis on the field at Wharton.

It is not true that a person must include a prior set of restrictions in a deed when he sells his property. He may simply refuse to include them. It is up to the buyer–and the buyer’s title company–to discover them in the “chain of title” and to determine if they have any legal force or effect.

Bush did not have to do anything except direct that the restrictions be omitted or stricken from the deed he granted to his buyer. (The only circumstance in which he would need to seek the consent of other landowners in the development would be if he wanted to petition to change the restrictions or permit an exception to them.)

As a lawyer, Bush should have been fully aware of the language in this instrument, which both he and his wife had to sign, and of his legal prerogatives. As the governor of his state, he should have had the decency, fortitude, and sensitivity to recognize the importance of refusing to include these restrictions in his deed.

Incidentally, in Pennsylvania, the presence of a racial restriction in a set of deed restrictions makes all the rest of that set of restrictions (e.g., as to the maximum height of fences, the prohibition of nonsingle-family residences, etc.) null and void. (This was a result of a case involving the will of Steven Girard and Girard College in Philadelphia that went to the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1960s and resulted in a landmark decision.)

Robert C. Dean

Lancaster, Penn.