From the Editors
“I just got my new 101 objects issue and I am in history heaven!” Judi Schimke of Seattle writes, voicing an opinion that we’re glad to say isn’t unique. Of course, some readers argued with our choices (as we’d hoped they would), insisting we should have included things like the television and the iPod. The object sparking the most commentary is Barbie, probably because of Sloane Crosley’s essay defending the fantastic plastic girl-next-door. “Ridiculous,” PJ Douglas says on Facebook. “Time to dump Barbie for good!” But Heidi Frederick Smith of Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, says concerns about the toy’s unlikely figure are overblown: “I grew up playing with Barbie. That did not mean I wanted to stick a finger down my throat to be what everyone thinks is the norm.” Patti Schanake calls for calm: “It’s just a doll.” On another front, the U.S. military’s use of weaponized drones also sparked disagreement:
It should be pointed out that it [“Predator Drone”] is one of the things that made America despised instead of giving it respect.
ParramaTta, New South Wales, Australia
Not liking something doesn’t make it unimportant or not historically relevant. I view [drones] like other weapons. They have their uses but can have unfortunate results.
Elias J. Moor
The use of drones is an abomination, but denying their status as a game changer would be foolish.
Pondering the Pill
Some argue that the real beneficiaries of the Pill were men, who were also the beneficiaries of the sexual revolution, at the expense of women. For better or for worse, the Pill belongs on your list.
Robert A. B. Sawyer
We build statues to glorify war and libraries to honor political hacks. Perhaps as we honor our troops, we might also wish to honor the scientists and researchers that have made childhood afflictions less deadly [“Polio Vaccine”]. Thanks to Jonas Salk, I was able to take my children to public beaches and pools without fear of polio.
Richard A. Herman
Norman Rockwell [“American Enigma,” October 2013] had all the technical tools: He was a fine draftsman, a good painter, a good colorist and his compositions were always solid. What his paintings did not possess is truth. It is telling that this chronicler of small-town life spent his first 20 years in New York City and the next 20 in the tony NYC suburb of New Rochelle. Everything Rockwell knew about country living came second or third-hand. He recycled things Americans already knew in a way that could instantly register on a magazine rack. Basically, his paintings are finely rendered cartoons.
Los Angeles, California
Commercial artists never get respect. I always enjoyed the humor and simpleness of Rockwell’s art. If some people complain that normal people did not live like those he depicted, they probably also complain about the sea not looking as blue or clouds as fluffy or skin as unblemished in works by other artists. Rockwell’s paintings tell more of what he saw, or wanted to see, about the American way of life.
“Seeing Zapruder” [October 2013] said President Kennedy was riding in a black limousine when he was assassinated; in fact, the vehicle was midnight blue (it was later painted black). The actor Tom Hanks does not star in Parkland, about the assassination; he is one of the movie’s producers. Our review of a biography of Red Cloud mistakenly said the Sioux warrior in 1867 was the last Indian to defeat the U.S. Army; other defeats would follow, notably Little Big Horn in 1876.