Sunday, March 26, 2023

Sunday mail bag

     The negative emails that my column used to draw by the dozen every day have dwindled away to practically nothing. I'm not sure why. Maybe newspapers have fallen off the table, culturally. Maybe email has died as a medium of conversation, joining Morse code and the semaphore flag on the shelf of defunct forms of communication. Maybe the haters have finally wandered off, disgusted. Maybe it's just a slow week. Maybe some other thing. 
     My page two update on a trans reader, "There's no downside," drew a number of compliments and just one critical email, two days late. Her opening sentence refers to my lede, where I describe going through the Reader classified looking for story ideas. It isn't that she doesn't have a point, somewhere. It's the tone of aggrievement that I object to, the idea that a slice of pie given to A must necessarily steal some pie from B, C and D.
     I try to carefully compose my replies, subtly delivering a point that in the past might have been conveyed more forcefully. The reader's name was shielded, as a kindness.
Date: March 22, 2023 at 6:50:48 AM CDT
To: Steinberg Neil <>
Subject: Today’s Article

Read your article in S-T’s today in which you mention seeking news articles to write about. As my Dad always said “it’s right under your nose” as we missed the obvious. Jill Biden recently gave the International Woman’s Award to a male transgender. What a slap in the face to woman of today (and the past) who have accomplished so much on their own. This has nothing to do with male gender or the gay community as they could never walk in our shoes!

Margaret C.
S-T Subscriber
Steinberg, Neil

Dear Ms. C.:

I don't pay much attention to awards and honors, and feel people put too much stock in them. Though that might be sour grapes, as I tend not to win many. As far as slaps in the face of women, I'd say with half the country taking away women's rights to conduct their own reproductive health as they see fit, there are bigger problems than the birth gender of someone Joe Biden hung a ribbon on. Though as a subscriber, you have a right to feel offended by anything you please, and I appreciate your reading, and your letting me know what bothers you. I do agree with you that someone who lived most of life as a male could never have the full female experience. Though I've met more than my share of biological women who supposedly had the full female experience yet seem to have missed out on the sympathy and compassion that the public often associate with being a woman. Thanks for writing.



  1. Her head must have exploded when President Biden draped that medal on the athlete. Good.

  2. I think your reply is too subtle for that particular reader.

  3. More total logic from you, Neil. Always a good way to start the day.

  4. The subtilty is the art. Well said. Especially the last line. Perfection.

  5. "I've met more than my share of biological women who supposedly had the full female experience, yet seem to have missed out on the sympathy and compassion that the public often associate with being a woman."

    Way to throw shade, Mr. S. That's snark like my Mum used to make.

  6. Ha! Love the photo of the plant store, too.

  7. This exchange brought to mind a story about a woman who went to a monk who was said to be adept at bearing up under the slights of life to focus on what matters, and could teach others this remarkable life skills. She’d felt her vital energy drain every time she complained, and wanted to live beyond perpetual annoyance.
    He told the woman that when disturbed or disgruntled, she was to say to herself / others, “ Thank you very much. I have no complaint whatsoever.” Then focus on the important work to be done that day.
    A month later she went back to the monk, who was working in his garden, and told him his teaching was ridiculous and didn’t work. “I don’t think you know what you’re doing!” She huffed.
    He returned her gaze with loving kindness, and paused before saying, “Thank you very much. I have no complaint whatsoever,” and returned to his work.
    And then she realized.

  8. Well, I knew nothing about this, which is not unusual, as I know nothing about a lot of things. Googling it now, it quickly becomes clear that one of the reasons Ms. C is exercised about it is because, unsurprisingly, it was quite the topic for various outlets of the right-wing media and the craven politicians championed by the likes of Fox News and the New York Post.

    While I hesitate to make this point, as I'm trying to adapt to the brave new world that we live in and this may make me look like a hater, it does kinda seem that this could be construed as an instance where "a slice of pie given to A must necessarily steal some pie from B, C and D." Whoever would have gotten the award that was given to Alba Rueda did not receive it. Is this something to be aggrieved about, especially given the much more significant attacks on women's rights being openly and aggressively pursued by the same folks who are wailing about it, as noted by NS? Well, while one would like to think not, it's the kind of thing that's tailor-made to rev up to the workings of the Perpetual Outrage Machine cynically employed by the Biggest Loser and his minions. A compassionate effort at inclusion, in other words.

    Just to clarify for those unfamiliar with the matter, when Ms. C refers to "the International Woman’s Award" it may be somewhat misleading, in that 11 such awards were presented that day.

    Regardless, that was a fine reply to her provocation.

  9. As the Mr., Mrs., & Ms. C's of the world choose to impose their definitions on the rest of us, they fail to see the "forrest" because they are only concentrating on "one or two trees"..."trees" they, I have no doubt, were raised with as being more important than the "forrest." If that works for them, then fine, but they should only apply it to their own lives and not attempt to impose it on the rest of society.

    Fortunately, I was raised by a father and mother (born in 1922 and 1927, respectively) who allowed my brothers and me to actually "think on our own" about changing issues that affected our generation. While my parents shared their beliefs based on their "growing up" years as we were growing up, they readily acknowledged that the world we were growing up in was vastly different than the world they experienced as young teens and young adults. They listened to our beliefs as we matured and experienced life. And with the same open minds they taught us to possess, my parents used their own open-mindedness to accept and embrace the changing world. Their love for us and how well we had matured into self-thinking adults told them that we were maturing in "our time," not theirs, so they chose to also change with the times. I was immensely proud of them and have been eternally grateful I was blessed with them as parents.

    Am I being too harsh on the Mr., Mrs., and Ms. C's of this world? I think not because they are stuck in the past and they are missing out on the joys that occur when we accept others for who they know they are. Ms. C. is missing out on a wonderful world of diversity, and acceptance always breeds love and friendship, living in the "forrest" if you will, rather than only under a few "trees!"

  10. Is there a point of arguing anymore? There are two camps and VERY few in either camp will concede anything to the other side. We're stuck.

    I liked when Trump visited North Korea. We tried sanctions and hard diplomacy for 40 years and they built a nuclear arsenal aimed at us.

    I like Joe Biden's new law that banks can't charge ridiculous fees to small depositors.

    @Neil is there any hope? Will the C.S.T. survive the digital age? An online outfit can have 5 writers and a web dude. Is a large newspaper an economically viable enterprise in the New digital age.

    I don't like your politics I come by for your regular stories.

    1. what exactly do you disagree with this. I see this with a lot of people on both sides of the aisle but more often with those of conservative views. They never seem to be able to explain exactly what their disagreements are.

    2. Sanford, the opinions of a guy who felt Trump made some kind of breakthrough by kissing Kim Jong-Un's ass aren't worth consideration. His not liking my politics is a compliment.


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