Soft on Microsoft
David beats Goliath -- now, that's news: The Plain Dealer sucks, okay? Scene had a story on March 30 ["Kill Bill"] about David Zamos, who got into some legal hassle with Microsoft over selling software on eBay. Zamos, instead of just caving, countersued. He didn't even have a lawyer.
Microsoft was so used to people just giving up, apparently they had no guts for a real fight and just dropped their suit. Zamos asked for an apology. Microsoft refused. So Zamos tried to garner some publicity to get Microsoft to do so. The Scene article states: "He [Zamos] typed up a one-page press release and contacted The Plain Dealer and the Akron Beacon Journal. The PD blew him off . . ."
Big surprise, huh? Could it be because they have no real interest in little people going against big corporations? Zamos came out on top. How rare is that? But still, The PD blew him off. Could it also be because The PD sucks?
The GNU alternative: After reading about Microsoft's army of lawyers tangling with a college student, I thought it important to let people know that the student does not have to use Microsoft's software. He could use a Linux-based GNU system. Generally speaking, free software avoids many of the pitfalls of proprietary software.
Free and open-source software is being used much more widely, and he should be able to connect with a student-based Linux-users group at the college. It is fairly easy for most people to use as a simple desktop operating system. I know this personally, as I am the author of Penguin in the Pew, a book about using free software in churches, and I pastor a local house-church in Charlotte.
Charlotte, North Carolina
If a little is good . . . : Great story. I'm glad someone stood up to these asshole lawyers. I would have gone on with it and made it sting a little more.
The write stuff: I really enjoyed "Kill Bill," but that's hardly a surprise. The talented Denise Grollmus has written three outstanding cover stories in a row. I rarely seek out a writer's byline in any publication, but now I do. Denise Grollmus is brilliant. I eagerly look forward to every story she writes. Scene has a real star on its hands.
Ends and Means
Bait-and-switch served a higher cause: Your First Punch item on Harvey Pekar's talk to the Cleveland Professionals 20-30 Club [April 6] was unfair to Harvey and the people who organized the event.
Harvey's point was that, in an era when the entire city is in decline, both East Side and West Side residents should be talking about regional policies to stabilize and rebuild the city and its inner suburbs. Your columnist missed an opportunity to do some real journalism and report on the issues he raised. Instead, you went for the easy and cheap shot.
It shows a real lack of integrity and courage to hide behind a screen of anonymity and snipe at people who are trying to do something worthwhile, even if it means going beyond the usual conversation. It is hypocritical to practice this kind of sensationalized "journalism" and then lament that this community suffers from a lack of vision and leadership. You can do better, and we deserve better.
However you add it up, CVNP is aces: Your article "Basic Math: Cuyahoga Valley uses creative counting to get a top ranking" [First Punch, March 30] implies that the National Park Service exaggerates visitor statistics at Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Scene attributes our ranking in 2004 as the third-most-visited national park in the country to counting people in cars on public roadways as park visitors. Interesting theory, but dead wrong.
We do not count travelers on Riverview Road or any other public roadway, unless they actually enter a park parking lot or another visitor facility. While we appreciate that Scene was trying to have a little fun with this subject, your readers need to know that our system is credible and consistent with the approach used in park settings around the country.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park is a hugely popular asset for Cleveland and Northeast Ohio -- just ask the 3.3 million annual users who hike the towpath and other beautiful trails, ride our rails, attend our programs, or otherwise take advantage of this 33,000-acre green garden lying along 20 miles of the Cuyahoga River.
John P. Debo Jr. , Superintendent
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Editor's note: All information used in "Basic Math" came directly from the Park Service.
Dental student takes on all comers: The bias of the Scene article on my lawsuit against Cuyahoga Community College President Jerry Sue Thornton ["Pass Me, or I'll Sue," April 6] is shown by its total omission of the lawsuit's main claim -- the conflict of interest regarding her outside earnings. In addition to being one of Ohio's highest-paid public officials, she also receives outside compensation of hundreds of thousands of dollars from private companies.
Does anyone really believe that Thornton would jeopardize her annual half-million-dollar paycheck by investigating abuses of power within Tri-C? Scene's failure to include this key fact of Thornton's outside compensation in its one-sided article is typical of its yellow journalism.